It's not uncommon for parents to be baffled at first by strange behaviors in their children, but as blood tests and other procedures become more exacting and pick up on more kinds of illnesses, getting an accurate diagnosis is much easier. Understanding the underlying issues can help physicians better treat immediate symptoms, resulting in better overall care and quality of life.
A struggle for a cure... Full Story
Understanding how the body functions as a unit can be difficult to grasp, since it contains so many intricate systems interacting and working independently at the same time. Doctors try to treat individual illnesses as they arise, but sometimes these ailments are products of problems in other parts of the body. Knowing this is only half the battle, however, as finding applicable treatments has heretofore been uncommon at best.
Recent research involving tissue and blood testing revealed that some of these medications are more effective than others in treating underlying and associated conditions. Specifically, clinicians found that those taking beta blockers for high blood pressure saw far fewer degenerative brain symptoms than those taking mixed or non-beta blocker prescriptions.
The American Academy of Neurology (AAN) revealed that a 20 year research trial, the Honolulu-Asia Aging Study, showed a strong correlation between healthier hearts and brains. The study looked at more than 750 Japanese-American men between the ages of 70 and 95, some of whom were taking only beta blockers, while the majority took other blood pressure medications or a mixture of the two kinds. Those only being administered beta blockers saw a highly reduced incidence of lesions and infarcts, abnormalities in cerebral tissues associated with Alzheimer's and dementia.
Identifying problems before they arise... Full Story
A new animal study from the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai has uncovered a mechanism responsible for the development of autoimmune hepatitis. The mechanism, a gene mutation, interferes with the activity of some cells in the immune system and causes them to target the liver.
According to the Mayo Clinic, autoimmune hepatitis occurs when the body's immune system attacks the liver and results in inflammation. Gone untreated, it can lead to cirrhosis and liver failure. Previously, it was unclear what causes the condition, but the Mount Sinai study may have shed some light on the phenomenon.
The researchers sought to explain why T-cells would attack healthy tissues in the body and lead to inflammation and diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, autoimmune hepatitis and lupus. To find out what causes these reactions, they looked at depleted supplies of medullary thymic epithelial cells (mTECs) in mice. mTECs are supposed to teach T-cells when they should attack tissue, so a lack of them would theoretically cause a number of autoimmune diseases. However, without mTECs, the mice's T-cells went straight for the liver.
"We thought that deleting Traf6 would trigger an autoimmune reaction due to a depletion of mTECs, but did not expect the autoimmune response to be specific to the liver," said Konstantina Alexandropoulos, lead author of the study. "These findings provide an exciting new animal model to study autoimmune hepatitis. We hope that this research will pave the way for new therapies to address a significant unmet need for people with this disease."
Treating autoimmune hepatitis... Full Story
Researchers out of Purdue University have discovered a way to convert blood cells into treatments for autoimmune diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis and Crohn's disease. By direction the differentiation of T-cells to make them keep autoimmune disease-induced inflammation from developing, scientists can combat some of the painful side effects.
The researchers were able to do this by using naive T-cells - immature cells that all T-cells come from - and turning them into suppressive cells that are able to cease inflammation. The immature cells can be gathered from patients' blood and are altered before getting injected back into the bloodstream.
"These cells are being directed to become a type of cell that is already present in our bodies, where a fine balance between inflammatory T-cells and suppressive T-cells is maintained," said Chang Kim, lead author of the study. "We are just tipping the scales in favor of suppressive T-cells to reduce inflammation."
Kim went on to note that this method of treatment doesn't cause the same side effects that immune-suppressive drugs have, and the fact that the cells are coming from the patients means that the body won't reject them upon injection. He also expressed hope that this treatment strategy be used in patients once every six months, rather than having to take a pill every day.
The report noted that autoimmune diseases are when an individual's immune system attacks his or her body rather than targeting viruses and bacteria. By directing cells to healthy tissue and organs, the immune system actually causes tissue destruction and painful inflammation.
Autoimmune diseases and current treatments... Full Story
Researchers from the Stanford University Medical Center have recently discovered that a gene generally considered to be dead reactivates when inflammation occurs in the body. These findings may shed some light on how anti-inflammatory steroid drugs work, and they have the potential to lead to improved anti-inflammatory treatment.
"Inflammation tells your body something is wrong," said Howard Chang, senior author of the study. "But after it does its job of alerting immune cells to a viral or bacterial infection or spurring them to remove debris from a wound site, it has to get turned off before it causes harm to healthy tissue."
The researchers suspect that this revived gene, known as Lethe, does just that. The report noted that inflammation is a key player in diseases, especially those that are autoimmune-, heart- and neurodegenerative-related as well as cancer. Traditional treatments, which consist of anti-inflammatory steroids, target the underlying cause of the inflammation.
According to the study, Lethe came back to life, so to speak, after the master regulator of inflammation inside of cells (NF-kappa-B) was activated. The protein kept NF-kappa-B from stimulating the pro-inflammatory genes that cause inflammation. Additionally, the researchers found that Lethe was particularly effective when dexamethasone was used. Dexamethasone is commonly prescribed to fight inflammation, and illicit a response in Lethe that vitamin D, estrogen and male steroid hormones failed to replicate.
"We're wondering whether there might be ways to artificially raise Lethe levels without steroids," said Chang. "These drugs have potentially deleterious side effects such as elevated blood pressure and blood sugar, thinning of bones and general suppression of the immune system."
What does inflammation have to do with autoimmune disease?... Full Story
Research from the University of California, San Diego, revealed that exercise may help the brain function of people diagnosed with human immunodeficiency virus. For those living with the auto-immune disorder, memory and other brain functions often falter as a result of the disease.
The disease... Full Story
New findings could help improve techniques when it comes to fighting autoimmune disorders. These disorders are common but can sometimes be hard to track and diagnose without proper lab tests.
What are autoimmune diseases?... Full Story
For those diagnosed with celiac disease, coming in contact with any gluten can be extremely harmful. New practices for restaurants in the Atlanta area could help those with celiac disease and other food-related issues to keep away from allergens.
Food contamination... Full Story
A new study revealed that many more people may have celiac disease than previously estimated. The study used a randomly selected control group and tested members of the group's gluten tolerance to determine if they had the disease. Researchers found that the disease was much more common than current estimates among the study group.
New parameters for celiac disease... Full Story
A new breakthrough in studying Crohn's disease may be able to provide the starting point for better treatments for the autoimmune disorder. Prior to the current research, the origin of Crohn's disease was fairly mysterious, but now that an understanding has been gained, new treatments may be developed.
The origins of Crohn's disease... Full Story
New research from the Mayo Clinic has found that there may be a connection between those diagnosed with inflammatory bowel disease and an increased chance of heart disease. Though the study was not able to pinpoint why exactly the two conditions were related, there was a distinct correlation between the two diseases.
New connections found in the study... Full Story
While most teens would shy away from taking STD tests, a new study conducted last month in the Bronx shows that strong communication between partners leads to higher testing in adolescents. In addition, teens in a committed relationship were more likely to get tested for HIV than those with increased education in HIV or those engaging in risky sexual behavior.
Surveying almost 1,000 Bronx teens, the findings released by researchers at the Montefiore Medical Center and Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University show that 48 percent of the participants who had been tested for HIV (44 percent) engaged in open conversations with their partner regarding HIV. Committed relationships also attribute to a higher frequency in testing, as the study shows more than half of those tested were engaging in sexual activity with just one partner.
Higher HIV knowledge does not lead to more testing... Full Story
More than a dozen years ago, scientists developed the antioxidant MitoQ to fight damage within human cells. Recently, researchers at Oregon Health and Sciences University discovered through lab tests that this same drug helped with symptoms of a multiple sclerosis-like disease found in animals.
Published in Biochimica et Biophysica Acta Molecular Basis of Disease, the study's team was led by P. Hemachandra Reddy, Ph.D., from the Division of Neuroscience at OHSU's Oregon National Primate Research Center. As part of their study, the scientists had mice contract a disease similar to MS in humans called experimental autoimmune encephalomyeltisis, or EAE. It is a disease of the nervous system in rodents that is commonly studied as an animal model of MS. Afterward, the mice were split into four separate groups based on specific parameters: one group had EAE only, one was administered the antioxidant then given EAE, one was induced with EAE then given MitoQ, and finally, the control group had no disease or treatment.
After two weeks of observation and blood testing, it was discovered that mice treated with MitoQ both before and after being given EAE exhibited signs of increased activity in the neurons of the spinal cord, a location of the brain most commonly affected by MS. It was clear that treatment with the antioxidant drastically improved the quality of health in the mice. These results could lead to a completely new method of treatment for humans living with MS, which affects more than 2 million people around the world.
"The MitoQ also significantly reduced inflammation of the neurons and reduced demyelination. These results are really exciting. This could be a new front in the fight against MS," explained Reddy.
Although there were significant results in their study, human trials are still years away from being conducted. Next, Reddy and his team will be examining how MitoQ protects the brain cells of the mice with EAE.
What is multiple sclerosis?... Full Story
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