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Friday, August 26, 2016

Coma Patient Awakened by Ultrasonic Beam and Recovery Greatly Enhanced

There are tens of thousands of patients in a so-called vegetative state after head trauma or other incidents but researchers in LA MIGHT have found a new treatment, although they caution that the patient’s rapid recovery COULD be a coincidence. But further research should be easy to conduct and a definitive answer may be found quickly.


The patient (25 year-old Bradley Crehan) sustained a brain injury from a fall which required removal of part of his skull to relieve pressure and he was put into a medically induced coma.

But when the doctors tried to bring him out of the coma he was mostly unresponsive and it was predicted that it would take a minimum of 6 months for any real recovery.

The team at UCLA then targeted his thalamus with ultrasonic waves for five minutes guided by MRI images.

According to a report in STAT, “A day after the treatment,  Crehan started recognizing objects, attempted to use a spoon, and could blink on command, [said the study’s lead author, Martin M. Monti, a UCLA psychologist and neuroscientist]. Three days later, Crehan understood questions and could reliably gesture yes and no.

“He even gave me a fist bump when I was leaving,” Monti said. “He had emerged.”
Crehan’s recovery was swift and smooth. He left the hospital in four months, faster than anyone expected. “When I left, the nurses were saying, ‘Whoa, you’re leaving already?’” Crehan said.
Unfortunately for this important development, the case study was published in Brain Stimulation, an Elsevier publication I don’t have access to.

There are two drugs which have also been shown seperately to stimulate coma/vegetative state patients in rare instances, one is the sleep medication Ambien and the other is Amantadine.

Both are long shots but given the alternative and the safety of the two drugs it might be worthwhile to suggest to doctors that they give them a try if you have a relative in this condition.


Thursday, August 25, 2016

Another Big Advance in Cancer Treatment On the Horizon Uses Magnetic Bacteria

One of the biggest problems in treating the 85% of cancers which are solid tumors is getting the chemotherapy to the portions of tumors which are starved of oxygen (hypoxic) due to the rest of the tumor consuming so many of the available resources.

Now (August 15) Nature Nanotechnology is reporting that McGill university researchers in Canada have been experimenting with the use of a magnetotactic bacteria Magnetoccus marinus (A.K.A. MC-1) to carry drugs to the parts of tumors which can’t be reached using the conventional transport methods using liposomes, micelles and polymeric nanoparticles.

MC-1 has some nanoparticles which act as magnets and can therefore be moved to the tumor with a weak magnetic field.

The MC-1 bacteria then seek out the hypoxic cells because they normally live in deep water where there is a low oxygen concentration.

The researchers feel this technique can be applied quickly but are currently collaborating on developing the necessary medical protocols for a trial.

This is an exciting time in cancer research. I recently published a report on bypassing the blood brain barrier, and another on a potential cure for melanoma which blocked metastasis and another about a newly effective drug combination.

Stay tuned, or better yet, get an RSS feed and keep ahead of diseases with information before your doctor gets home to read his journals.


Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Potential CURE for Melanoma, the Deadliest Skin Cancer May Be On Near Horizon

Anyone who has ever had malignant melanoma (as I have) and takes any interest in the disease which will probably kill them, knows that it isn’t the melanoma on the skin which matters - it is entirely benign EXCEPT that sooner or later it will spread to the brain and other organs (metastasis) and that’s what is eventually fatal.

Treatments for MM are basic, beginning with excising (cutting out) the tumor and, 10 years ago, simply hoping it hadn’t spread yet.

Just 10 to 15 years ago if the tumor had spread that was essentially a death sentence because there was no good chemotherapy.

I was fortunate.

My cousin who was diagnosed at almost the same time, wasn’t.

The Situation Today

Today there are various chemotherapy treatments which save many patients at the high cost of making them very sick for a period.

But a recently announced discovery by Israeli researchers at Tel Aviv University holds the hope of an actual CURE for all malignant melanoma if discovered early enough.

What they found were two substances which stop the metastasis of the cancer by preventing the epidermal tumor from reaching a blood vessel and spreading to other organs.

The newly discovered chemicals don’t actually cure melanoma but do something almost as good by preventing the metastasis which is actually the cancer’s danger.

Transforming melanoma into a nonthreatening illness

“Having discovered the mechanism, the researchers proceeded to look for substances that could intervene and block the process in its earliest stages. They found two such chemicals: one (SB202190) inhibits the delivery of the vesicles from the melanoma tumor to the dermis; and the other (U0126) prevents the morphological changes in the dermis even after the arrival of the vesicles. Both substances were tested successfully in the lab, and may serve as promising candidates for future drugs. In addition, the changes in the dermis, as well as the vesicles themselves, can be used as powerful indicators for early diagnosis of melanoma.
"Our study is an important step on the road to a full remedy for the deadliest skin cancer," said Dr. Levy. "We hope that our findings will help turn melanoma into a nonthreatening, easily curable disease."

This discovery has important implications because, if it proves possible to put this into a drug and the drug isn’t dangerous to humans, it would virtually eliminate the threat of malignant melanoma, very important to survivors because it usually reoccurs.

While waiting for a "cure" patients should probably read what I found about Vitamin D-3 and its potential to extend life of MM patients. It was vital before recent chemotherapy advances and today won't interfere with more modern treatments.

See my pamphlet on the subject which includes citations from medical studies published in Europe.

CDC Adds Bahamas to Zika Travel Warning List Also, GBS Death in San Juan PR

A few minutes ago the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Atlanta, Ga., USA) announced that it has added The Bahamas to the interim travel guidance for pregnant women and heir partners.

Find the travel notice here

The island of New Providence (including Nassau) is the site where the Zika virus has been detected.

See the full list of Zika travel area recommendations here.

The CDC reminds travelers that the particular mosquitoes which transmit Zika are unusual in that they are aggressive daytime biters. (Most mosquito species show a preference for nocturnal feeding.)

The CDC also warns that some of those infected with Zika will show no symptoms and can therefore transmit the virus unknowingly to sexual partners even after leaving the infection zone.

Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS) Death

A further note, Zika isn't just a danger to babies, pregnant women and their fetuses, it can also apparently trigger the Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS) in adults which is a serious paralyzing neurologic condition which has recently been the cause of death of at least one person in Puerto Rico a 35-45 year old male.

Find a Guillain-Barré report here.

GBS causes muscle weakness, loss of reflexes, and numbness or tingling in your arms, legs, face, and other parts of your body.

Now that Polio has been virtually eliminated, GBS is the leading cause of such paralysis. Although virtually eliminated, there has been a recent outbreak of poliomyelitis in Nigeria.

Assessment of Guillain-Barre Syndrome Mortality and Morbidity in the UnitedStates: Implications for Acute Flaccid Paralysis Surveillance

A CDC travel warning for Zika involves warning pregnant women to avoid the area and not have unprotected sex with anyone recently returned from the region.

Effective barriers include include male and female condoms and dental dams. Dental dams are latex or polyurethane sheets used between the mouth and vagina or anus during oral sex.

For additional information on preventing the sexual transmission of Zika click here,

Monday, August 22, 2016

New Parkinson’s Hope - Preliminary ONLY

I don’t normally cover medical developments at this stage but with zero useful long term treatments for Parkinson’s Disease available, I feel that this is worth reporting.

The standard of treatment (essentially the ONLY treatment) for this nerve disease which affects about 700,000 Americans and upwards of 10 million worldwide has, for thirty years, been the chemical levodopa drug which initially gives very good relief from the disease which causes tremors and progressive paralysis along with a number of other symptoms.

Problems with L-dopa

Levodopa or L-dopa works great for most patients when initially given to Parkinson’s and other nerve damaged patients but the effectiveness wears off either gradually for Parkinson’s or dramatically for some other diseases.

Now a Cambridge, MA company, Voyager Therapeutics is conducting AADC gene therapy trials which shows promise in extending the period when L-dopa works.

This was shown in the 1990 Robert De Niro/Robin Williams movie Awakenings which chronicle the discovery by Dr. Oliver Sacks who produced dramatic awakening of catatonic patients who had suffered encephalitis infections.

Clinical Trial

The following is a direct quote from the clinical trial information sheet.

Parkinson's disease is a neurodegenerative disorder involving loss of neurons that release dopamine in the striatum. To compensate for the loss of dopamine, patients are typically prescribed levodopa medication which is converted to dopamine by the enzyme Aromatic L-Amino Acid Decarboxylase (AADC). As Parkinson's disease progresses, levodopa therapy becomes less effective and is associated with motor fluctuations, involuntary movements and other complications.

This study will primarily investigate the safety of increasing AADC levels in the striatum via AADC gene delivery. The hAADC gene is packaged into a gene transfer vector derived from a common, non-pathogenic virus (AAV2) to which >90% of humans have been exposed. This investigational drug, termed AAV2-hAADC, will be injected directly into the striatum during a neurosurgical procedure that is performed with real-time MRI imaging to monitor delivery.
Subjects will continue to take Parkinson's disease medications, including levodopa.
The safety and potential clinical responses to AAV2-hAADC will be assessed by repeated clinical evaluations of Parkinson's disease, cognitive tests, laboratory blood tests and neuroimaging. Clinical evaluations will be performed over a 3 year follow-up period. A test to specifically assess the clinical response to levodopa will be performed once before AADC gene delivery and approximately 6 months after.”

Find information on the clinical trial here:

Saturday, August 20, 2016

New MRSA Drug Found In Novel Location - Snot

This may sound strange but it’s snot funny, it’s an exciting potential new source of critically needed antibiotics which has already yielded a way to combat MRSA, a hospital acquired infection which probably kills 100,000 people each year worldwide - 10,000 just in the U.S.

The need for new antibiotics is desperate because overuse and misuse has rendered many drugs useless resulting in killer infections such as MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) which is the target of lugdunin a new drug emerging from, of all things, human snot.

The new drug which appears to be very effective against MRSA is actually produced by another strain of Staphylococcus, unsurprisingly known as S lugdunin.

What is really novel about this drug is where it is found, right in the human body, specifically the nose.

The Nose Knows?

This happened because the nasal passages are actually not a very hospitable environment for bacteria so those which dwell there, including both strains of Staphylococcus, which battle it out for living space.

Researchers knew that about one-third of people have S. aureus in their noses so they wondered why the other two-thirds don’t and it turns out that S. lugdunin produces a chemical which kills the MRSA infection.

(Although S aureus is extremely common, which is why it is often found in hospital settings, it seldom gains a fatal foothold in humans unless they are sick and hence in hospitals.)

“We’ve found a new concept of finding antibiotics,” Andreas Peschel, a bacteriologist at the University of Tübingen in Germany, said on Tuesday at the EuroScience Open Forum, a biennial science and policy meeting. “We have preliminiary evidence at least in the nose that there is a rich source of many others, and I’m sure that we will find new drugs there.”
Peschel and bacteriologist Bernhard Krismer discovered the new drug while looking at why one bacteria predominated in some people and not others.
See the complete report in a recent issue of Science Magazine, one of the peer-reviewed science journals of the AAAS.

Friday, August 19, 2016

CDC Warns Pregnant or Potentially Pregnant Women to Avoid Miami Beach and Miami/Date County

Following a detected spread of infected mosquitoes, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control is warning pregnant women and those who might become pregnant soon to avoid Miami Beach.

Male partners of such women should either avoid sex during the pregnancy or use condoms to prevent sexual transmission of the virus.

CDC Update, "Florida Department of Health has identified two areas of Miami-Dade County where Zika is being spread by mosquitoes. In addition to the previously identified area in the Wynwood neighborhood, there is now mosquito-borne spread of Zika virus in a section of Miami Beach." Miami/Date County map.
 Areas in Miami, FL where Zika virus is being spread by mosquitoes.  See guidance for living in or traveling to this area.

CDC data showing 579 confirmed Zika cases in New York State and even 69 in Pennsylvania and 66 in New Jersey might seem comparable or even worse than the 408 cases reported in Florida, but the raw numbers are misleading - the important number is 14 which is the number of LOCALLY ACQUIRED Zika infections for Florida.

There are NO other locally infected Zika patients in any of the 50 U.S. States, hence no need to warn women to avoid the areas. All of the reported cases outside Florida were people who were infected elsewhere and traveled to those states where the infection was detected in their blood.

See a map and chart at the CDC site for details.

  Map of the United States showing Travel-associated and Locally acquired cases of the Zika virus. The locations and number of cases can be found in the table below.

There are active outbreaks in some U.S. territories which should also be avoided by those who might be pregnant.

American Samoa has 44 locally acquired cases, Puerto Rico has 7,855+, and the U.S. Virgin Islands together have 101 cases.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Elder Care Goal - Get Out of Hospital Soonest!

Hospitals are very bad for elderly patients according to recent studies.

Thirty-three percent of patients over 70 and 50+% of those over 85 are more disabled when they leave than when they arrived according to research published in JAMA.

This is hospitalization-associated disability and can occur even when the event which put them in the hospital is cured.

What elderly need most is to eat well, exercise daily, and get plenty of sleep.

Anyone who has ever been in a hospital knows that patients are awoken in the night to take vitals, tied down to beds with IVs, and given food the average cat wouldn’t eat.

Is it any wonder they do badly and so many who were living on their own before entering a hospital go to skilled nursing facilities when they leave, unable to care for themselves ever again?

Doctors' Goals Should be to Treat Less, Rather Than More.

The main goal of doctors treating the elderly should be the opposite of that for treating kids and younger people who usually benefit from bed rest and hospital care.

The elderly, on the other hand, should be released as soon as possible, fed in a room with others, not from a tray in bed, and left to sleep through the night.

They should also be encouraged to walk as much as possible rather than lie in bed even if this means the inconvenience to staff of disconnecting IVs, some of which wouldn’t be needed it the patient exercised and ate decent food.

Simply put, bed rest is BAD for the elderly and just a week confined to bed can do permanent damage which a younger person could simply shake off in a few days at home.

Some hospitals have taken notice of the fact that less care is probably best for the elderly and have set aside special elder care sections where the special needs of elderly patients are addressed.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

ZIKA Weekly SitRep from WHO, the Zika virus has been reported in 68 countries and territories.

See world map at


As of 3 August 2016, 68 countries and territories (Fig. 1, Table 1) have reported evidence of mosquito-borne Zika virus transmission since 2007 (65 of these countries and territories have reported evidence of mosquito-borne Zika virus transmission since 2015):

51 countries and territories with a first reported outbreak from 2015 onwards (Table 1).
Four countries are classified as having possible endemic transmission or have reported evidence of local mosquito-borne Zika infections in 2016.

13 countries and territories have reported evidence of local mosquito-borne Zika infections in or before 2015, but without documentation of cases in 2016, or with the outbreak terminated.
The United States of America reported mosquito-borne Zika virus transmission for the first time on 29 July 2016.

Since February 2016, 11 countries have reported evidence of person-to-person transmission of Zika virus, probably via a sexual route (Table 2).

As of 3 August 2016, 14 countries or territories have reported microcephaly and other central nervous system (CNS) malformations potentially associated with Zika virus infection or suggestive of congenital infection. No additional countries or territories have reported microcephaly in the last week. Three of the 14 total countries reported microcephaly cases born from mothers in countries with no endemic Zika virus transmission but who reported recent travel history to Zika-affected countries in the WHO Region of the Americas (Table 3).

As of 3 August 2016, the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (US-CDC) reported 13 live-born infants with birth defects and six pregnancy losses with birth defects with laboratory evidence of Zika virus infection.

As of 3 August 2016, 15 countries and territories worldwide have reported an increased incidence of Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS) and/or laboratory confirmation of a Zika virus infection among GBS cases (Table 4).

In Guinea-Bissau, on 29 June 2016, Institute Pasteur Dakar (IPD) confirmed that three of 12 samples tested positive for Zika by PC-R. All 12 samples tested negative against IgM Zika. One additional sample from a recent case also tested positive for Zika virus infection. All four samples were sent to IPD on 1 July for gene sequencing and the results are pending. Twenty-two additional samples were collected and sent for testing; the results are still pending.

A roster of WHO technical and communication officers is available to answer media queries during the Olympics.

WHO has developed advice and information on diverse topics in the context of Zika virus. ,

Monday, August 1, 2016

Zika outbreak in north Miami,CDC issues travel warning

CDC issues travel guidance related to Miami neighborhood with active Zika spread

New assessments of mosquito populations and test results this past weekend by Florida public health officials, as part of a community survey in the Miami neighborhood where several Zika infections were recently confirmed, have found persistent mosquito populations and additional Zika infections in the same area. This information suggests that there is a risk of continued active transmission of Zika virus in that area. As a result, CDC and Florida are issuing travel, testing and other recommendations for people who traveled to or lived in the Florida-designated areas on or after June 15, 2016, the earliest known date that one of the people could have been infected with Zika. At Florida’s request, CDC is also sending a CDC Emergency Response Team (CERT) with experts in Zika virus, pregnancy and birth defects, vector control, laboratory science, and risk communications to assist in the response. Two CDC team members are already on the ground in Florida, three more will arrive today, and three more on Tuesday, August 2.