Stay Positive

"In the midst of winter I finally learned that there was in me an invincible summer." - Alert Camus

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Soil-based bacteria discovered in humans 'may trigger MS'

Soil-based bacteria discovered in humans 'may trigger MS'

Monday 21 October 2013 - 12am PST

Featured ArticleAcademic Journal

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Soil-based bacteria discovered in humans 'may trigger MS'
Scientists have discovered a soil-based bacteria in humans for the first time, and they believe it may be a trigger of multiple sclerosis. This is according to a study published in the journal PLOS ONE.
Researchers from Weill Cornell Medical College and Rockefeller University discovered the bacterium Clostridium C. perfringens type B in a 21-year-old patient suffering from multiple sclerosis (MS).

The researchers say although their study is small, their findings are so "intriguing" that it has caused them to start work on new treatments for the debilitating disorder.

The researchers explain that Clostrodium perfringens - found in soil - is one of the most common bacteria worldwide. The bacterium is divided into five types, A to E.
Type A is a common form found in the human gastrointestinal tract that is thought to be harmless. However, the researchers say that type B and D carry a gene (epsilon toxin) that emits a protoxin, which develops into a potent epsilon toxin in the intestines of grazing animals.

The epsilon toxin then goes through the blood stream to the brain, causing damage to brain blood vessels and myelin - insulation protecting neurons - resulting in symptoms similar to that of MS in humans.

The researchers say that only two humans have been found with type D bacterium, while type B had never been found. But they wanted to determine whether both types B and D did exist in humans, and whether these bacterium are linked to MS.

C. perfringen type B in humans 'truly significant'

After blood and spinal fluid samples were taken from patients with MS, these were tested for antibody reactivity to epsilon toxin and compared with samples from patients without MS.
Stool samples were also taken from both MS patients enrolled in the Harboring the Initial Trigger for MS (HITMS) trial, and those without the disease.

Results showed that patients with MS had levels of epsilon toxin antibodies ten times higher than those without MS. Furthermore, the stool samples showed that only 23% of MS patients carried the type A bacterium, compared with 52% of healthy patients.
"This is important because it is believed that the type A bacterium competes with the other subtypes for resources, so that makes it potentially protective against being colonized by epsilon toxin secreting subtypes and developing MS," the researchers note.
But most importantly, the researchers discovered the type B bacterium in one patient who they say was experiencing a "flare-up" of MS.

The researchers explain that this discovery is of vital importance:
"This bacterium produces a toxin that we normally think humans never encounter.
That we identified this bacterium in a human is important enough, but the fact that it is present in MS patients is truly significant because the toxin targets the exact tissues damaged during the acute MS disease process."

Bacterium 'may send toxin to the brain'

The researchers hypothesize that after a human is infected with C. perfringens B or D, the bacterium can reside in the gut as an endospore, defined as a "seed-like structure" allowing certain bacteria to stay dormant for long periods.

"The human gastrointestinal tract is host to approximately 1,000 different bacterial species, but is not a hospitable environment for C. perfringens type B or D, so it does not grow well there," explains Dr. Timothy Vartanian, professor of neurology and neuroscience at Weill Cornell Medical College and senior study author.

"It hibernates in a protective spore. When it does grow, we anticipate it generates a small quantity of epsilon toxin, which travels through the blood into the brain."
He adds that they believe the bacterium's growth is always present, but "rears its ugly head from time to time."

Potential for 'probiotic cocktail' that destroys bacteria

From these findings, the research team have already begun looking at various treatments that could help to block or destroy C. perfringens B and D.

They note that there are already vaccines available for farm animals that target these pathogens, so a human vaccine is possible. The team are also looking at the creation of small-molecule drugs that would work by stopping the epsilon toxin from binding to the receptor.

But Dr. Vartanian says he is particularly excited about the possibility of a "probiotic cocktail" that can kill the pathogens:
"One of my favorite approaches is development of a probiotic cocktail that delivers bacteria that compete with, and destroy, C. perfringens types B and D. It would be such a beautiful and natural way to treat the gastrointestinal system and solve the problem."

Although the researchers are unaware of how humans can become infected with C. perfringens B or D, Dr. Vartanian says future studies will analyze the potential routes of exposure for MS patients:
"While it is clear that new MS disease activity requires an environmental trigger, the identity of this trigger has eluded the MS scientific community for decades.
Work is underway to test our hypothesis that the environmental trigger for MS lays within the microbiome, the ecosystem of bacteria that populates the gastrointestinal tract and other body habitats of MS patients."
Medical News Today recently reported on a study detailing the discovery of specific viruses that eat bacteria, called bacteriophages.

Written by Honor Whiteman


Isolation of Clostridium perfringens Type B in an Individual at First Clinical Presentation of Multiple Sclerosis Provides Clues for Environmental Triggers of the Disease, Kareem Rashid Rumah, Jennifer Linden, Vincent A. Fischetti, Timothy Vartanian mail, published in PLOS ONE, 16 October 2013. Open access
Toxin-Emitting Bacteria Being Evaluated as a Potential Multiple Sclerosis Trigger, news release from Weill Cornell Medical College, accessed 18 October 2013.


Please use one of the following formats to cite this article in your essay, paper or report:
Whiteman, Honor. "Soil-based bacteria discovered in humans 'may trigger MS'." Medical News Today. MediLexicon, Intl., 21 Oct. 2013. Web.
29 Oct. 2013.

Whiteman, H. (2013, October 21). "Soil-based bacteria discovered in humans 'may trigger MS'." Medical News Today. Retrieved from

Please note: If no author information is provided, the source is cited instead.


Sunday, October 27, 2013

Never Give Up

Health and fitness over the long term is about being committed to the process, taking one day at a time, taking risks that lead to small progressive steps forward, and being consistent -- showing up, even when you don't feel like it, and never giving up.

Focus on the process, not the outcome.   Keep showing up.  Don't quit.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Canada Gazette


As the official newspaper of the Government of Canada published since 1841, the Canada Gazette is one of the vehicles that Canadians can use to access the laws and regulations that govern their daily lives. 

Government departments and agencies as well as stakeholders from the private sector are required by law to publish certain information in the Canada Gazette. The official newspaper is published under the authority of the Statutory Instruments Act and of the Statutory Instruments Regulations

The Canada Gazette contains formal public notices, official appointments, proposed regulations, regulations and public Acts of Parliament from government departments and agencies. It also contains miscellaneous public notices from the private sector.

The Canada Gazette serves as a consultative tool between the Government of Canada and Canadians. It gives Canadians the opportunity to provide their comments on the proposed regulations published in the Canada Gazette, Part Ⅰ. For each of the proposed regulations listed, there is a contact name from the relevant department or agency and a closing date for comments. Anyone who may be affected by the proposed regulations can also request background information from the issuing department. 

The Canada Gazette plays an important role in Canada’s regulatory process. Not only does it serve as official notice to Canadians, it also allows participation in the regulatory process by voicing opinions or providing comments as befits our democratic system.

The Canada Gazette Directorate

The Canada Gazette Directorate is part of the Integrated Services Branch of Public Works and Government Services Canada.

The Directorate is made up of four teams: Editing and Publications Support Services, Communications, Administration Support Services and Information Technology and Web Services. 

Undivided attention to detail and dedication are required by all employees in order to follow a rigorous publication process and to ensure that strict deadlines are met for the publication of laws, regulations and other statutory instruments.


Thursday, October 24, 2013

Medicinal benefits of CBD

Chemicals in marijuana 'protect nervous system' against MS

Sunday 13 October 2013 - 12am PST

Editors' ChoiceAcademic Journal

Chemical compounds found in marijuana can help treat multiple sclerosis-like diseases in mice by preventing inflammation in the brain and spinal cord, according to a study reported in the Journal of Neuroimmune Pharmacology.
"Inflammation is part of the body's natural immune response, but in cases like MS, it gets out of hand," says Dr. Ewa Kozela of Tel Aviv University, Israel.
"Our study looks at how compounds isolated from marijuana can be used to regulate inflammation to protect the nervous system and its functions."
Dr. Kozela and colleagues set out to see if the known anti-inflammatory properties of two substances found in marijuana - the cannabinoids known as tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) - could also be applied to the treatment of inflammation associated with MS.
With either THC or CBD, the researchers treated immune cells that specifically target and harm the brain and spinal cord. In response to both chemicals, the immune cells, isolated from paralyzed mice, produced fewer inflammatory molecules, particularly interleukin 17 (IL-17).
Interleukin 17 "is strongly associated with MS and very harmful to nerve cells and their insulating covers," the researchers say. They conclude:
"The presence of CBD or THC restrains the immune cells from triggering the production of inflammatory molecules, and limits the molecules' ability to reach and damage the brain and spinal cord."

Medicinal benefits of CBD

Cannabidiol, found in marijuana, provides medicinal benefits without the psychedelic side effects of THC, researchers say
THC was discovered in marijuana by scientists in Israel in 1964, and about 70 cannabinoids - compounds that are unique to cannabis, with interesting biological effects - have been identified since.
Professor Zvi Vogel, co-author of the present study, was among the first researchers to describe endocannabinoids in the 1990s, molecules that act like THC in the body.
Cannabidiol is the most plentiful and potent cannabinoid in marijuana, the Tel Aviv University researchers say. They are particularly interested in CBD "because it offers medicinal benefits without the controversial mind-altering effects of THC."
In a 2011 study, they showed that CBD helps treat MS-like symptoms in mice by preventing immune cells attacking nerve cells in the spinal cord.
For this previous work, the researchers injected mice that had an MS-like condition and partially paralyzed limbs, with CBD. The animals regained movement, "first twitching their tails and then beginning to walk without a limp."
The researchers noted that the mice treated with CBD had much less inflammation in the spinal cord than their untreated counterparts, and this led to the present study, which they want to build on toward possible treatment for humans.

Quests to find a treatment for MS continue

Further research is needed to prove the effectiveness of cannabinoids in treating MS, although the researchers note that in many countries, CBD and THC are already used for symptoms, including pain and muscle stiffness.
"When used wisely, cannabis has huge potential," Dr Kozela says. "We're just beginning to understand how it works."
Another naturally occurring compound believed to have anti-inflammatory properties and found in the skin of red grapes, red wine and peanuts has been the subject of a safety warning, as reported by Medical News Today at the beginning of October 2013. The warning is not to use resveratrol supplements for MS after a study found "detrimental effects in some disease conditions and should be discouraged for supplemental use by MS patients pending further research."
Written by Markus MacGill
Copyright: Medical News Today
Not to be reproduced without the permission of Medical News Today.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Michael J. Fox battling incurable, progressive illness

Staying positive the Fox mantra for battling illness

Michael J Fox describes to Nick Miller the progress of his disease, how it opened up a world of possibilities, and the inspiration he has drawn from the reality of living with an incurable, progressive illness.

OCCASIONALLY while watching late-night TV, waiting for the moment when his hyper-kinetic Parkinson's-plagued body will grant him sleep, Michael J. Fox will be confronted by his former self.

Fox used to skip past it, avoid watching.  What do I have to avoid?

Lately, his habits have changed. Sometimes he lingers.
Actor Michael J. Fox will soon head to Australia to fundraise and promote awareness of Parkinsons Disease.
Actor Michael J. Fox will soon head to Australia to fund raise and promote awareness of Parkinsons Disease. Photo: Trevor Collens

It is now three decades since TV sitcom Family Ties turned a young Canadian high school dropout into one of America's most recognised stars. Those boyish looks sit gracefully on a 50-year-old man, his wit is sharp and charming, and a tonne of charisma still burns through those blue eyes with the crinkly edges.

But it is two decades since a twitching little finger betrayed the early onset Parkinson's disease within Fox, a disease whose relentless progression now turns the simple act of trying to sit still in a chair into a visible, physical struggle. ''It's like your body, your physical movements are kind of hijacked,'' Fox says.

Every day when he wakes up he asks his brain, ''what kind of day is it going to be?'' and waits for the answer with apprehension.

''You take a measure of how much control you are going to have over what your body does, and how it feels. Your brain has its own agenda, so you have to deal with your mind - two separate things. You have to occupy your mind and not your brain because your brain is not a good neighbourhood.''

When his medication kicks in too hard, he sways and lurches; when it doesn't work enough his face and body freeze up and he cannot speak. Predicting how much medicine to take on a given day is part science, part art, part lucky dip.

''I've kind of got control of it today. But other days I might not, just inexplicably it doesn't work, and those are difficult days.''

When the diagnosis was made in 1991 and his future prospects explained, Fox turned to drinking. ''If I couldn't obliterate the problem, I would obliterate myself, or at least my awareness of what was happening,'' he wrote a few years ago. '

''Medication for the symptoms, alcohol for the feelings.'' 

Then one day, spurred by his wife Tracy's disappointment in him, he realised he was on a bad path, and quit drinking altogether. This began a transformation that has left him, in his own words ''kind of weirdly optimistic and positive, to the extent that it probably grates.

''There's this aphorism that I learnt when I quit drinking, which is that
my happiness grows in proportion to my acceptance, and in inverse proportion to my expectations,'' he says. ''The more I expect, the more unhappy I am going to be. The more I accept, the more serene I am.''

It wasn't an easy realisation. He wrote in his book A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Future that the first years without drinking were ''like a knife fight in a closet''.

But, he says, he has come to realise that Parkinson's actually enriched his life.

''The experience of dealing with the reality of a diagnosis with an incurable progressive illness … once I recognised that and accepted it, that opened [life] up for me in terms of possibilities. You see the entirety of your life in a way that you don't when you myopically focus on your career, or what your last movie did. All of a sudden it's all bigger, the stakes are bigger, the implications are bigger and the possibilities are bigger.

''The only thing you know for sure is that there's no cure for this, it's going to get worse. Given that's what your great truth is, you have to find ways to make things better.''

The word optimism is one he returns to, time and time again. 

 ''It's really important for me to stay positive,'' he says. ''It's not a 'thing' that I 'do', though. I don't have a … what's the word, when you look in the mirror and say positive things about yourself? Affirmation. I don't have any affirmations, I don't have any of that stuff.

My natural state is to look at things as possibilities and as opportunities.''

He traces a lot of this back to his parents - his father a career soldier - both making the most of a tough life with few luxuries. But it's also a practical deal he has made with himself. ''That's the way I look at things - if you focus on the worst case scenario and it happens, you've lived it twice. It sounds like Pollyanna-ish tripe but I'm telling you - it works for me.''

Ten years ago Fox put this positivity to work, creating the Michael J. Fox Foundation, which has raised more than $300 million towards research into treatments for Parkinson's. Not only that, as The New York Times wrote, ''it doesn't just dole out money and hope for the best, it has used its money to take control of Parkinson's research [and] become the most credible voice on Parkinson's research in the world''.

Fox says he doesn't believe celebrities should necessarily use their fame to change the world, though he admires people like George Clooney, Bono and Sean Penn - ''they really see that they've been blessed in wonderful ways, and that they have … an opportunity.''

Once he revealed his condition, he realised he had an obligation to use his fame to help fellow Parkinson's sufferers. His foundation pushes government to turn basic science into potential cures (''one of the things we found when we got in to cure this disease is we found out the system had to be cured''). It pushes pharmaceutical companies to keep working on promising compounds even if the dollars don't quite add up as a commercial venture. And it is close to some exciting breakthroughs, such as preventing the ''dyskinesia'' side-effect that makes medication such a double-edged sword.

Fox says his experience with the foundation has been more fulfilling than being a movie star. But, it is clear from the way his face lights up, the central joy of his life these days is his family - wife Tracy, and their four children.

''What's great about Tracy is she doesn't dramatise her role,'' he says of the actress he met on the set of Family Ties. ''She's quite uncomfortable when people deal with her as a 'rock', or she's asked questions like 'how can you stay with him?' She is like 'huh, he's my husband'.''
Just as the family home didn't have a lot of movie posters on the walls in the early days, these days he keeps his Parkinson's work separate from the kids - they know and understand, but ''it's not a focus in our life''. But he admits he tends to bombard them with advice. ''I have so many things that I say to my kids, I just drive them crazy,'' he says.

He is bringing his adult son Sam with him on his first trip to Australia -in August he will headline a theatrical event in Melbourne called The Visionary Series, where he will talk about his life, his career and how he has overcome the challenges posed by Parkinson's.

But while he's here, he also hopes they can make a pilgrimage to Uluru. In the past he has found calmness and perspective in big natural features like the Rocky Mountains or the Grand Canyon, he says.

''It's such a magnificent thing,'' he says. ''Whatever our issues are, whatever we're working out, whatever, there is something that is a record of millions of years of drops of water … [compared to that] it's just hard to get all twisted up in a knot about whether you've got a reservation at a restaurant.''

As the interview wraps up, Fox thinks back about his more grand statements about life and living, and his instinct to play things down kicks in. ''I hope that wasn't too much mumbo-jumbo,'' he says, disarmingly. I assure him it wasn't.

''I'm not a [motivational speaker] Tony Robbins guy. I don't have a seminar and the speeches, I don't have a package and a tape collection. I just feel this way.''

Staying positive the Fox mantra for battling illness

Thursday, October 17, 2013

October 16, 2013

This Is Your Brain on Toxins


“Lead helps to guard your health.”

That was the marketing line that the former National Lead Company used decades ago to sell lead-based household paints. Yet we now know that lead was poisoning millions of children and permanently damaging their brains. Tens of thousands of children died, and countless millions were left mentally impaired.

One boy, Sam, born in Milwaukee in 1990, “thrived as a baby,” according to his medical record. But then, as a toddler, he began to chew on lead paint or suck on fingers with lead dust, and his blood showed soaring lead levels.

Sam’s family moved homes, but it was no use. At age 3, he was hospitalized for five days because of lead poisoning, and in kindergarten his teachers noticed that he had speech problems. He struggled through school, and doctors concluded that he had “permanent and irreversible” deficiencies in brain function.

Sam’s story appears in “Lead Wars,” a book by Gerald Markowitz and David Rosner published this year that chronicles the monstrous irresponsibility of companies in the lead industry over the course of the 20th century. Eventually, over industry protests, came regulation and the removal of lead from gasoline. As a result, lead levels of American children have declined 90 percent in the last few decades, and scholars have estimated that, as a result, children’s I.Q.’s on average have risen at least two points and perhaps more than four.

So what are the lessons from the human catastrophe of lead poisoning over so many decades? To me, today’s version of the lead industry is the chemical industry — companies like Exxon Mobil, DuPont, BASF and Dow Chemical — over the years churning out endocrine-disruptor chemicals that mimic the body’s hormones. Endocrine disruptors are found in everything from plastics to pesticides, toys to cosmetics, and there are growing concerns about their safety.

The Endocrine Society, the Pediatric Endocrine Society, the European Society of Pediatric Endocrinology and the President’s Cancer Panel have all warned about endocrine disruptors — also referred to as E.D.C.’s, for endocrine disrupting chemicals. The World Health Organization and United Nations this year concluded: “Exposure to E.D.C.’s during fetal development and puberty plays a role in the increased incidences of reproductive diseases, endocrine-related cancers, behavioral and learning problems, including A.D.H.D., infections, asthma, and perhaps obesity and diabetes in humans.”

Alarm about endocrine disruptors once was a fringe scientific concern but increasingly has moved mainstream. There is still uncertainty and debate about the risk posed by individual chemicals, but there is growing concern about the risk of endocrine disruptors in general — particularly to fetuses and children. There is less concern about adults.

Scientists are also debating whether the old toxicological models are appropriate for chemicals that mimic hormones and thus may trigger bodily changes, especially in fetuses and children.

These are the kinds of threats that we in journalism are not very good at covering. We did a wretched job covering risks from lead and tobacco in the early years; instead of watchdogs, we were lap dogs.

One common thread is industry’s greed, duplicity and powerful lobbying in Washington and around the country. The chemical industry spent $55 million lobbying last year, twice the figure a decade earlier, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

The Chicago Tribune last year documented how the chemical industry created a fake movement for flame retardants in furniture, supposedly to prevent fires; in fact, flame retardants don’t reduce fires but do contain endocrine disruptors that may be harmful to our children.

This summer 18 scientists wrote a scathing letter railing against European Union regulations of endocrine disruptors. That underscored the genuine scientific uncertainty about risks — until Environmental Health News showed that 17 of the 18 have conflicts of interest, such as receiving money from the chemical industry. Meanwhile, more than 140 other scientists followed up with their own open letters denouncing the original 18 and warning that endocrine disruptors do indeed constitute a risk.

Andrea C. Gore, the editor of Endocrinology, published an editorial asserting that corporate interests are abusing science today with endocrine disruptors the way they once did with lead: for the “production of uncertainty.”

She added that the evidence is “undeniable: that endocrine-disrupting chemicals pose a threat to human health.”

When scientists feud, it’s hard for the rest of us to know what to do. But I’m struck that many experts in endocrinology, toxicology or pediatrics aren’t waiting for regulatory changes. They don’t heat food in plastic containers, they reduce their use of plastic water bottles, and they try to give their kids organic food to reduce exposure to pesticides.

So a question for big chemical companies: Are you really going to follow the model of tobacco and lead and fight regulation every step of the way, once more risking our children’s futures?