This device can bypass spinal injuries to help defeat paralysis.


It’s restored finger movement in a quadriplegic patient.

Doctors in the US have developed a stimulator that bypasses spinal injuries by forcing the body to use alternative pathways to transmit signals from the brain to other areas of the body.

In the latest test, the team has shown that the device can improve a quadriplegic patient’s finger motion by 300 percent while improving grip strength, helping him to perform everyday tasks again.

Back in June, the team from the Ronald Reagan University of California, Los Angeles Medical Centre performed surgery to implant the newly developed device inside a 28-year-old California man named Brian Gomez.

During a dirt biking accident five years ago, Gomez broke his neck at his C-5 vertebra – the vertebra at the middle of the neck near the thyroid cartilage – causing him to lose function in all of his extremities.

“Even though he was injured in 2011, in many ways [Gomez] is a perfect candidate for this experimental treatment,” said team member Daniel Lu.

“He still has head-to-toe sensation, so he can give us feedback as we fine-tune the stimulator. And he is such a positive and motivated young man.”

The device, which is a series of 32 electrodes that can send pulses around the injured area, was implanted into Gomez’s neck where his C-5 vertebra was injured.

According to the team, this allows the brain to continue to send messages to the rest of the body by bypassing the injured pathways.

“The spinal cord contains alternate pathways that it can use to bypass the injury and get messages from the brain to the limbs. Electrical stimulation trains the spinal cord to find and use these pathways,” Lu said.

“If there is an accident on the freeway, traffic comes to a standstill, but there are any number of side streets you can use to detour the accident and get where you are going. It’s the same with the spinal cord.”

Alongside these stimulating electrodes, the team has also implanted a battery pack that can be fine-tuned into certain patterns, providing more or less stimulation to certain areas where needed.

The basic idea here is that the electrodes continue to pulse into the region, stimulating pathways that the brain might be ignoring.

Over time, these pathways open up and allow messages from the brain to pass through them. In a way, it’s like retraining the body to use these undamaged ‘side streets’, Lu says, to bring functionality back to the extremities.

In previous studies, the team used a similar device on two paraplegic patients with lumbar injuries – ones occurring lower in the spine – but it was noninvasive.

The device Gomez is currently using is the first time that the doctors have tried their electrode technology on someone suffering from quadriplegia stemming from a neck injury, and also have it implanted under the skin.

“We’d used electrical stimulation to recover paraplegic patients’ abilities to stand and move their legs on their own following injury to the lower spine,” explains team member Reggie Edgerton.

“There was considerable scepticism in the field that we could use a similar approach to regain hand function in quadriplegic patients with injury to the upper spine. [Gomez]’s strong response to the implant has been very exciting.”

That “strong response” is seen in Gomez’s ability to now utilise his hands for everyday tasks such as working at his coffee roasting company. As he recounts:

“It’s making a huge difference for me. I use an industrial roaster that heats up to 450 degrees Fahrenheit [232 degrees Celsius] and just a few months ago, I reached up to pull a lever to empty a batch of beans after they’d finished roasting.

But because I didn’t have the arm or core strength, I burned myself. That doesn’t happen anymore because of the strength and dexterity I’ve developed.”

Gomez’s remarkable improvements are all the more impressive because his injury happened so long ago. The team says that spinal injuries like his usually have a window of time for treatment before they are irreversible.

Their goal isn’t to bring back 100 percent function, though. It’s mainly to allow patients to perform daily tasks that were impossible before. This includes many things that we take for granted, such as brushing our teeth, tying our shoes, or simply eating food with a fork.

“A normal hand is able to impart about 100 to 200 newtons of force, but after an accident, that often drops to only 1 or 2 newtons of force,” Lu says.

“Our goal is to get these patients back to the 20 to 30 range. That will allow them to do everyday tasks and will make a huge difference in the quality of their lives.”

So far, the device has only been tested on one patient, so we can’t get too excited. The next step is for the team to have the results peer-reviewed and published in a journal once they have more data.

In the meantime, check out the video below to hear more about the treatment:

 

FDA expediting approval for deadly flu shot linked to autoimmune disorders, paralysis and death


Last week, Vaccines.news published a snippet about the FDA fast tracking an incredibly dangerous flu vaccine called FLUAD. The piece generated a lot of buzz, prompting us to provide our readers with the full scoop.

Prepare to share this news with all of your friends and family, because, after reading this, you really wouldn’t want your loved ones to have this vaccine, which is scheduled to be rolled out for the 2015/2016 flu season.

Officials from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have decided to accelerate the license of a flu vaccine geared for use in seniors over the age of 65, and also one that has been linked to at least 13 deaths last year, prompting several countries to temporarily suspend vaccine lots containing the drug.

The fact that the FDA is fast tracking this vaccine is a mystery, as that approval process is typically reserved for emergencies during vaccine shortages.

Developed by Swiss pharmaceutical company Novartis, FLUAD, also known as MF59, contains a squalene-based adjuvant that’s added to enhance the body’s immune system response. Adjuvants, many of which are toxic, are added to vaccines as a cost-effective way to increase antibody titers using fewer antigens.

Squalene adjuvant vaccines create an extremely strong antibody response that may cause death in some people

While squalene occurs naturally in the human body in small amounts to assist with vitamin D production, administering synthetic squalene is much different, particularly when it’s injected via a vaccine.

When the body’s immune system is exposed to a vaccine, it induces cytokine storms, a potentially fatal reaction involving your red blood cells. When squalene adjuvants are introduced to the body via vaccines, the body’s immune system invokes a furious attack against its naturally produced squalene, leading to a number of autoimmune disorders including partial or complete paralysis, rheumatism and even death, according to Sott.net.

“This outcome was common during the 1976 national fake swine flu epidemic that spawned a very strong vaccination push,” subsequently generating numerous lawsuits due to the number of deaths it caused, leading to the eventual creation of the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (NVIP).

Vaccine injuries and deaths led to the creation of vaccine compensation program

NVIP was established in 1988 supposedly “to compensate vaccine-related injury or death claims,” but in reality, it was just there to protect vaccine makers from being held liable for harm caused by their products. According to Health Impact News:

“The National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program was established by Congress because the drug manufacturers threatened to stop manufacturing vaccines if they were not granted legal immunity from damages due to vaccines. It was no longer profitable for them to continue manufacturing vaccines in a free market, because of the large amount of lawsuits for injuries and deaths due to vaccines. So instead of requiring the drug companies to produce safer vaccines, Congress granted them total immunity from civil litigation due to injuries or deaths resulting from vaccines.

“Today, one cannot sue drug companies for damages or deaths due to vaccines. You have to sue the Federal Government and try to get some of the funds ‘set aside’ from this Vaccine Injury Compensation Trust Fund that your tax dollars paid for to begin with.”

Vaccines containing squalene adjuvants have a pretty frightening track record. For one, these vaccines were prohibited for quite some time, thus adding less credibility to its effectiveness, and more to its risk.

Secondly, three people died within 48 hours of being vaccinated with MF59 on November 28, 2014, which was reportedby the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy (CIDRAP).

On November 29, 2014, that number rose to 11.

Controversy encircled Novartis flu vaccines even before those deaths. In 2012, Switzerland, Austria, Germany, Spain and France suspended deliveries of four flu vaccines produced by Novartis after testing identified possible side effects.

Italy eventually lifted their ban, and unfortunately, 13 people paid the price with their lives.

Thirdly, squalene adjuvants used in experimental anthrax vaccines were strongly linked to Gulf War Syndrome (GWS), also known as Desert Storm Disease, which killed more soldiers than combat. GWS symptoms include fatigue, persistent headaches, neurological symptoms (tingling/numbness in limbs), chemical sensitivities, heart problems, respiratory complications and many more.

Squalene adjuvants allow toxins to cross blood-brain barrier

Author and retired neurosurgeon Dr. Russell Blaylock warns:

“No one should take the swine flu vaccine — it is one of the most dangerous vaccines ever devised. It contains an immune adjuvant called squalene (MF-59) which has been shown to cause severe autoimmune disorders such as MS, rheumatoid arthritis and Lupus. This is the vaccine adjuvant that is strongly linked to the Gulf War syndrome, which killed over 10,000 soldiers and caused a 200% increase in the fatal disease ALS (Lou Gehreg disease),” reports Sott.net.

FLUAD consists of a combination of squalene and Polysorbate 80, a common surfactant used in vaccines, which literally blows up the blood brain barrier allowing aluminum, Thimerasol (a mercury derivative) and other vaccine toxicants to enter the brain, creating dementia and other debilitating neurological disease, Scott.net reports.

In addition to FLUAD, Novartis manufactures two other flu vaccines that are currently used in the U.S., Flucelvax and Fluvirin.

Injectable electronics now exist that could one day help treat paralysis


It sounds like something taken straight from a science-fiction movie, but this is science fact: a group of international researchers led by Professor Charles Lieber of Harvard University have developed a method for injecting nano-scale electronic scaffolds into animal bodies. Once connected to electronic devices, these meshes can be used to monitor neural activity and even stimulate tissue and neurons.

Ultimately the methods pioneered by Lieber and his colleagues could lead to new ways to treat neurodegenerative diseases and paralysis, as well as mapping out the brain in greater detail than ever before. Parkinson’s is just one of the conditions that could be treated in this way, if it’s proved to be safe for humans – so far it has only been tested on mice.

The team brought together by Lieber is made up of internationally renowned physicists, neuroscientists and chemists, and he thinks the technique could make a huge difference in the future. “I do feel that this has the potential to be revolutionary,” Lieber said, as Phys.org reports. “This opens up a completely new frontier where we can explore the interface between electronic structures and biology.”

“For the past thirty years, people have made incremental improvements in micro-fabrication techniques that have allowed us to make rigid probes smaller and smaller, but no one has addressed this issue – the electronics/cellular interface – at the level at which biology works,” adds Lieber. His work has just been published inNature Nanotechnology.

Once injected, the miniature scaffolding is able to unfurl itself and melds with the existing brain tissue – the neurons apparently look at the new mesh as a friendly support rather than something alien to the body. From there, individual neurons can be both monitored and stimulated through a small connection to the brain. The team says the next step in the research is to try the same technique with larger meshes and more sensors.

MeshThe electronic mesh being injected into a solution unmagnified (left) and through a bright-field microscope (right). Credit: Lieber Research Group, Harvard University

The group of scientists Lieber has brought together are trying to solve a long-standing neuroscience mystery: exactly how the activity of individual brain cells lead to larger cognitive powers (like emotion or perception). Because the new mesh is 95 percent free space, and made of very soft and flexible silk, the brain tissue is able to comfortably rearrange itself around it.

“I think it’s great, a very creative new approach to the problem of recording from large number of neurons in the brain,” Rafael Yuste, director of the Neuro­technology Centre at Columbia University in New York, told Nature.com.

At this stage not everyone is confident the new procedure can be applied safely to human beings, however. Jens Schouenborg, who is head of the Neuronano Research Centre at Lund University in Sweden, has said he wants to see more evidence of long-term compatibility with the body. Schouenborg is also working on his own gelatin-based ‘needle’ for delivering electrodes into the brain.

If You Are a Cancer Survivor, This Is a Must Read .


Getting through cancer treatment successfully is something to celebrate. To stay in good health, doctors say you need to watch for other symptoms, including vision changes, headaches and problems with balance.

What many cancer survivors don’t realize is that 25 percent of people who survive some common cancers go on to develop a brain tumor. These brain tumors don’t originate in the brain but are actually cancerous cells from the original tumor that travel to the brain through the bloodstream. When this happens, doctors call these tumors brain metastases.

“About one-third of patients with the most common cancers — lung, breast and kidney cancer and melanoma — are at risk of developing brain metastases,” says Cleveland Clinic neurosurgeon Gene Barnett, MD.

When this happens, the resulting growth needs early treatment. Dr. Barnett says early detection can help people get the right treatment at the right time to avoid serious complications. This is why you need to be vigilant and pay attention to your symptoms.

Watch for these 9 signs

If you’ve had cancer and experience these symptoms, be sure to tell your doctor:

  1. Vision changes (such as double vision or partial vision loss)
  2. Headaches (possibly with nausea)
  3. Numbness or tingling in part of the body
  4. Paralysis or difficulty moving any part of the body
  5. Inability to walk
  6. Difficulty with balance and an increased incidence of falls
  7. Difficulty speaking (including slurred words or incoherent speech)
  8. Problems with mental acuity (such as not being able to read or tell time)
  9. Seizure or convulsions

Metastatic brain tumors tend to develop gradually, although severe episodes can occur. No matter what, it’s important to tell your doctor immediately so he or she can evaluate you and treat you early as needed.

Treatable brain tumors

For years, doctors believed that brain metastases were uniformly fatal. Treatment could only to relieve symptoms. Today, they know that such tumors are treatable, thanks to technological and medical advances. The key is early detection.

To help in this fight, Cleveland Clinic teamed with the Northern Ohio American Cancer Society to establish the B-Aware Program. “Our goal is to educate at-risk cancer patients so that brain metastases are detected as early as possible, when they have the greatest number of treatment options,” says Dr. Barnett.

Many treatments available

We’ve come a long way from the days when the only treatment option available for brain metastases was whole brain radiation. This often failed to control the tumors. Today, aggressive and precisely delivered treatments produce better outcomes with fewer side effects.

Treatment options depend on the location, type and extent of the tumor, and include:

  • Radiosurgery. Radiosurgery directs highly focused beams of radiation at the tumor with extreme precision. This will not destroy the tumor, but may succeed in stopping tumor growth. Surgeons deliver this radiation so precisely that they can spare the surrounding brain tissue. Gamma Knife surgery is a common form of radiosurgery.
  • Minimal access surgery. This type of surgery allows doctors to remove the tumor in a faster, simpler way. Surgeons make a very small incision in the skull or hidden in a nearby structure. This reduces postoperative complications, minimizes pain and scarring, and shortens recovery time.
  • Localized radiotherapy, or radiation therapy. Radiotherapy exposes the cancerous cells to ionizing radiation that injures or destroys them. Doctors often use radiotherapy before or in addition to radiosurgery.
  • Medical therapies. Chemotherapy uses drugs to kill tumor cells that are dividing most rapidly. Many drugs used successfully for tumors in the body cannot penetrate into the brain. However, in certain cases, chemotherapy or other medical treatments may secure control of certain brain metastases.

“We want to help patients ‘be aware’ of all management options, so they don’t blindly agree to a proposed treatment which may not be in their best interest,” says Dr. Barnett. “They always have the right to seek a second opinion.”