Stay Positive

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

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Vegetarianism is good for you and for Mother Earth


Nothing will benefit human health and increase the chances for survival of life on Earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet. - Albert Einstein

Small acts, when multiplied by millions of people, can transform the world. - Howard Zinn

“Earth provides enough to satisfy every man’s need, but not every man’s greed.”
- Mahatma Gandhi

WHEN spiders unite, they can tie down a lion.
-Ethiopian proverb


“Realize that all things change, and you stop trying to hold on.”

- Lao Tzu

“Let us be grateful to the people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.” 
- Marcel Proust

“Happiness can be found even in the darkest of times, if only one remembers to turn on the light.”      - Albus Dumbledore

Let each moment be exactly what it is; no more, no less.    -Anon.

“Life is grace. Sleep is forgiveness. The night absolves. Darkness wipes the slate clean, not spotless to be sure, but clean enough for another day’s chalking.” 
-- Frederick Buechner

“There’s no such thing as ruining your life. Life’s a pretty resilient thing, it turns out.” - Sophie Kinsella

“One of the most courageous things you can do is identify yourself, know who you are, what you believe in and where you want to go.” - Sheila Bethel

 “Even instant gratification takes too long.”  - Carrie Fisher

“For attractive lips, speak words of kindness.
For lovely eyes, seek out the good in people.
For a slim figure, share your food with the hungry.
For beautiful hair, let a child run their fingers through it once a day.
For poise, walk with the knowledge that you never walk alone.
People, more than things, have to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed.”

- Sam Levenson

"Simple in actions and thoughts, you return to the source of being." ~ Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching

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 “A man with outward courage dares to die; a man with inner courage dares to live.” ― LaoTzu, TaoTeChing

 "Follow your path to the end. Accept difficulty as an opportunity. That is the sure way to end up with no difficulties at all."   Lao Tzu 

 "Beware of those who promise a quick and easy way. For much ease brings many difficulties." - Lao Tzu

The heart that gives, gathers

A man's existence means nothing if he doesn't live it in harmony with the rest of the universe.  - TaoTeChing

Never too late to start exercising for health

M.S. seems to make us lazy because of the constant fatigue that is a symptom of  the disease.

Tuesday 26 November 2013 

Featured Article Academic Journal

A new study published recently in the British Journal of Sports Medicine finds a direct link between the likelihood of healthy aging and the amount of exercise older people take - even if they only started being physically active around retirement age, they enjoyed significantly better health than their inactive peers.

Doireann Maddock, Senior Cardiac Nurse with the British Health Foundation, which helped fund the study, says:

"This research shows us that, even if you don't become active until later in life, your health will still benefit."
However, she also urges people not to wait until retirement to become active, something the study appears to confirm since it found those who were already active seemed the most likely to be enjoying the best health in their later years.

Link between healthy aging and physical activity

For the study, Dr. Mark Hamer, of the Department of Epidemiology and Public Health at University College London, and colleagues tracked the health of nearly 3,500 people in England aged between their mid-50s and early 70s for over 8 years.

At the end of the study, they ranked the participants according to overall health and found the top 19% fell into the "healthy agers" category.

The researchers defined healthy agers as "those participants who survived without developing major chronic disease, depressive symptoms, physical or cognitive impairment."
Their analysis showed a direct link between participants' chances of being in the healthy aging group and their physical activity - those who exercised regularly every week were around three times more likely to have the best mental and physical health than those who did not exercise.

This link was strong even after adjusting for factors such as age, sex, smoking, alcohol intake, marital status and wealth.

Late-life exercisers had better health than elderly non-exercisers

When they looked at the split between becoming active and remaining active, they found those who only took up exercise later in life were still three times more likely to be among the healthy agers over the period of the study than non-active participants.

For those who remained active over the period of study, the chance of being a healthy ager was over seven times that of non-active participants.
Doireann Maddock explains:
"It's well worth getting into the habit of keeping active, as we know it can help reduce the risk of heart disease along with many other conditions.
Every 10 minutes counts, so even hopping off the bus a couple of stops early or taking a brisk walk on your lunch break will help."
She says adults should try to do some exercise every day and aim for a total of 150 minutes a week. The activity should be demanding enough to make you breathe harder and feel warmer.
Earlier this year, researchers in France wrote in the BMJ how they found exercise may prevent fall-related injuries in older adults.

Written by Catharine Paddock PhD

    Taking up physical activity in later life and healthy ageing: the English longitudinal study of ageing; Mark Hamer, Kim L Lavoie, Simon L Bacon; Br J Sports Med, bjsports-2013-092993, published online 25 November 2013; DOI:10.1136/bjsports-2013-092993; Abstract.
    Additional source: British Heart Foundation press release 26 November 2013.
    Visit our Seniors / Aging category page for the latest news on this subject.
    Please use one of the following formats to cite this article in your essay, paper or report:
    Paddock, Catharine. "Never too late to start exercising for health." Medical News Today. MediLexicon, Intl., 26 Nov. 2013. Web.
    30 Nov. 2013.

    Paddock, C. (2013, November 26). "Never too late to start exercising for health." Medical News Today. Retrieved from

    Please note: If no author information is provided, the source is cited instead.
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Never too late to start exercising for health

Necessary Changes

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The more severe the pain or illness, the more severe will be the necessary changes.  These may involve breaking bad habits, or acquiring some new ones.

For many, negative thinking is a habit, which over time, becomes an addiction... A lot of people suffer from this disease because negative thinking is addictive to each of the Big Three -- the mind, the body, and the emotions. If one doesn't get you, the others are waiting in the wings.

The little things? The little moments? They aren’t little.  JKZ

"The very substance of the ambitious is merely the shadow of a dream." -William Shakespeare

“If you don't feel it, flee from it. Go where you are celebrated, not merely tolerated.” ― Paul F. Davis

"And the Day came when the risk it took to remain tight in a bud, was even more painful then the risk it took to blossom"- Anis Nin

Supplements 'beneficial' for vitamin D-deficient ballet dancers

Because of the high occurrence of M.S. in countries with lesser amounts of daily sunshine, lack of Vitamin 'D' (the Sunshine Vitamin) comes up as a possible causal factor of the disease.

Supplements 'beneficial' for vitamin D-deficient ballet dancers

Saturday 30 November 2013 - 12am PST

Featured Article Academic Journal

Current ratings for:
Supplements 'beneficial' for vitamin D-deficient ballet dancers
It is widely known that a lack of sunlight can sometimes cause a deficiency in vitamin D. But how does a lack of this vitamin affect athletes who train indoors, especially during the winter months? To find out, researchers in the UK studied vitamin D-deficient ballet dancers and observed whether supplementation helped.
The study, published in the Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport, was conducted through a collaboration between researchers at the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital (RNOH), the University of Wolverhampton and dancers at the Birmingham Royal Ballet.

These three institutions are founding partners of the National Institute of Dance Medicine and Science (NIDMS).

To conduct their study, the team split 24 elite classical ballet dancers into two groups. During the 4-month study, one group took oral supplementation of vitamin D3 to the tune of 2,000 IU per day, while a control group did not take any supplements.

Isometric muscular strength and vertical jump height were measured at the start and end of the study. Additionally, the in-house medical team recorded any injuries the dancers experienced.

The researchers found that the dancers who took vitamin D supplements showed greater improvements in muscle strength and vertical performance, while also experiencing fewer injuries, compared with the control group.
Dr. Roger Wolman, consultant in rheumatology, sport and exercise medicine at the RNOH, says:
"Vitamin D is important for bone development and has a wide range of functions. In a deficient state, dancers are at increased risk of bone injuries, and this latest research indicates an increased risk of muscle injury, which can be detrimental to their health and their careers."
Following on from their findings, the researchers suggest that medical staff and instructors monitor vitamin D levels in dancers throughout the whole year and provide supplements for them during winter months.

This can help their serum levels return to normal, they say, ultimately leading to improvement in overall performance.

'Findings could cover other sports'

Ballet dancer
Ballet dancers from the Birmingham Royal Ballet participated in the study, which revealed vitamin D supplements improved their muscle strength and resulted in fewer injuries.
Photo credit: RNOH
The National Health Service (NHS) in the UK notes that vitamin D has several important functions, including regulating calcium and phosphate in the body.

While a lack of it can lead to bone deformities, such as rickets, we can get it for free from the sun - vitamin D is made by our body under the skin as a reaction to sunlight.

However, individuals who live in areas of the world with low annual levels of solar irradiation have difficulty getting enough sunlight for their body to efficiently manufacture the vitamin.
The alternative - vitamin D supplementation - has been widely debated in the medical community.

While some researchers have shown that vitamin D could help treat asthma or even help prevent hypertension, others have warned that raising vitamin D levels in healthy people may be potentially harmful.

Still, the researchers from this latest study say supplementation may be the way to go for dancers.

"These findings could also be extrapolated to cover other sports and training activities that take place indoors," Dr. Wolman adds.
Helen Laws, NIDMS Manager at Dance UK, says:
"Traditionally dancers spend between 6 and 8 hours training indoors for 6 days a week throughout the year, and they need to be able to execute highly technical movements during high intensity periods of training and when performing.
This study provides important advice on performance enhancement as well as offering vital insights into the overall health and well-being of dancers."
NIDMS, the first specialist dance clinic in partnership with the NHS, provides a novel approach to the health care of dancers. Injury treatment of dancers costs the dance sector an average of £900,000 ($1.4 million) each year.
Written by Marie Ellis

Copyright: Medical News Today
Not to be reproduced without the permission of Medical News Today.

    The influence of winter vitamin D supplementation on muscle function and injury occurrence in elite ballet dancers: A controlled study, Wyon MA, Koutedakis Y, Wolman R, Nevill AM, Allen N, Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport, published online 2013, Abstract
    Please use one of the following formats to cite this article in your essay, paper or report:
    Ellis, Marie. "Supplements 'beneficial' for vitamin D-deficient ballet dancers." Medical News Today. MediLexicon, Intl., 30 Nov. 2013. Web.
    30 Nov. 2013.

    Ellis, M. (2013, November 30). "Supplements 'beneficial' for vitamin D-deficient ballet dancers." Medical News Today. Retrieved from

    Please note: If no author information is provided, the source is cited instead.
Rate this article (click to rate)

Supplements 'beneficial' for vitamin D-deficient ballet dancers

Monday, November 11, 2013

The flash od a firefly...

What is Life?

It is the flash of a firefly in the night.

It is the breath of a buffalo in the winter time.

It is the little shadow which runs across the grass
and loses itself in the Sunset."

 Crowfoot on his deathbed, April 1890

Doctors look into the effect of blasts on brains of soldiers

 Articles about brain injury always get my attention because my hope is for a drug to undo the damage caused by living with m.s. for many years.

Canadian soldiers patrol an area in the Dand district of southern Afghanistan.
Photograph by: Colin Perkel, The Canadian Press Files , Postmedia News


The long-term impact of roadside bombings on the brains of Canadian soldiers in Afghanistan is the focus of two research projects underway in Western Canada.
"In recent years, encounters with improvised explosive devices or IEDs in Afghanistan have inflicted traumatic brain injury on a number of Canadian soldiers," said Dr. Robert Thirsk, a former Canadian astronaut who is now a vice-president with the Canadian Institute of Health Research.

"The impact of these blasts may not be immediately apparent. Months after the event the soldiers can suffer from the neurological problems and the mental disorders like anxiety that we're reading about in the newspapers. These weapons may be improvised, but our response to them needs to be strategic."

Dr. Yu Tian Wang of the Brain Research Center at the University of British Columbia is looking at the biological changes that occur in the brain at the cellular level following an injury by an explosive device.

Wang is studying whether a drug can reduce the death and dysfunction of brain cells following injury.

"We know that during traumatic brain injuries some synaptic connections become weakened and the information from one neuron to another is slowed down," Wang said. "Now we know the underlying reason is due to a particular memory surface protein being reduced."

Wang said an injection of peptides could provide protection to brain cells before a blast and possibly help repair damage if given immediately after an explosion.

"Obviously if you give it before, it's best. If you give it early, the rescue is more dramatic." Wang said. "We're testing now to see if it works after injuries and how long after injury it can be given."

In another project, Dr. Ibolja Cernak from the University of Alberta is researching the link between damage to the cerebellum — the motor control centre at the back of the brain — and the chronic balance, memory and behavioural problems that are brought on by blasts.

It's hoped the research may lead to new therapies and can identify soldiers who are at the greatest risk for developing neurological and mental disorders associated with blast exposure.

"Very often, the soldiers are exposed to multiple low-intensity blasts. They just shrug with their shoulders, but the problem with that is low- intensity blast exposures very often can cause damage in accumulated ways and cause degeneration in the brain," said Cernak, who holds the Canadian Military and Veterans chair in clinical rehabilitation at the University of Alberta.

Cernak is exposing mice to repeated blasts to determine the actual degeneration.

She said blast-induced concussions are much different than would been seen in something such as a hockey injury.
It's possible soldiers are feeling effects just by being present during training exercises where explosions and artillery are being tested. Often soldiers do not even realize they've being affected, Cernak said.

"In low-intensity blasts they often just feel a pressure change like a wind on the face and that's it. There are so many blasts during a bomb deployment."


Doctors look into the effect of blasts on brains of soldiers

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Twitter Tweets

Loss makes artists of us all as we weave new patterns in the fabric of our lives. ― Greta Crosby

« Control thy passions lest they take vengence on thee. » Epictetus

 Learning how to take responsibility leads to a humble wisdom that nourishes the world.

Look at everything as though you were seeing it either for the first or last time. -Betty Smith
To do more for the world than the world does for you - that is success. ― Henry Ford

« Reverie is when ideas float in our mind without reflection or regard of the understanding. » John Locke

Never let a problem to be solved become more important than a person to be loved. -Barbra Johnson

Like the soap bubbles kids like to blow, stock market bubbles often appear as though they will rise forever, but since they are not formed from anything substantial, they eventually pop. And when... 

“The duty of a translator is to live up to the vivid drama that runs through Homer’s lines and song.” —Robert Fagles

 He who would travel happily must travel light." - Antoine de Saint-Exupery

What do parrots do when their human travels? | video |


 Archaeologists are making incredible discoveries -- from thousands of miles away. Here's how:

Master worry and fear. Don't let them master you.

« And what, Socrates, is the food of the soul? Surely, I said, knowledge is the food of the soul. » Plato

Life's as kind as you let it be. ― Charles Bukowsk

 Born to be wild - live to outgrow it. - Lao Tzu???

The past is behind, learn from it. The future is ahead, prepare for it. The present is here, live it.

  thing about music, when it hits you, you feel no pain. ~ Bob Marley

Everybody has talent, it's just a matter of moving around until you've discovered what it is. -George Lucas

"The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another." - William James

 "Worry is interest paid on trouble before it is due."  - RDL

To know everything there is to know about one subject is the secret of happiness. -Theodore H. White



Saturday, November 9, 2013

CoQ10 versus Ubiquinol

Story at-a-glance

  • Coenzyme Q10 is used for energy production by every cell in your body, and also helps protect against cellular damage from free radicals. CoQ10 is especially important if you’re taking a statin drug as statins deplete your body of CoQ10, thereby speeding up progression of heart disease
  • Ubiquinol is the reduced form of CoQ10 – the effective form your body naturally uses to transfer free electrons – and research shows that this reduced form is superior for your health in a number of ways, primarily due to its superior bioavailability if you’re over 25
  • CoQ10 has been available for many decades, but the reduced version, ubiquinol, has only been commercially available for about six years. Prior to that it could only be made for research studies. There are well over 100 studies supporting its use and demonstrating its many health benefits, including its beneficial effect on statin-induced myalgia and other diseases rooted in mitochondrial dysfunction
  • Studies have demonstrated that ubiquinol has a positive effect on: inflammatory processes, septic shock (which is also associated with mitochondrial dysfunction), cardiac arrest and stroke recovery, and periodontal disease (including gingivitis and dry mouth)

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Alzheimer's Protecting

Some people do brain exercises to stave off this building epidemic...

Studies say fasting twice a week staves off Alzheimer's

 By Makiko Kitamura / Bloomberg News

LONDON -- For the past year, Stuart Adams has been fasting twice a week. While he has lost 15 pounds, the real reason he's depriving himself is to stave off brain disorders including schizophrenia and Alzheimer's disease.

"There's a virulent strain of madness running through my family, and I reckoned my chances of going down that route were pretty high," said Mr. Adams, 43, a freelance translator and interpreter in London who learned of a possible link between Alzheimer's and diet while watching a BBC documentary last year. "Anything that could help with that was of great interest."

Because there is no cure for Alzheimer's, which afflicts more than 35 million people, any possibility of prevention holds huge potential. 

Mr. Adams was inspired to try the diet last year after the BBC documentary called "Eat, Fast and Live Longer" cited a study in mice that suggested intermittent fasting could delay the onset of cognitive disorders.

The study was led by Mark Mattson, professor of neuroscience at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore and senior investigator at the U.S. National Institute of Aging. Mr. Mattson is planning a new project to measure how fasting twice a week for two months affects human brain function and early signs of Alzheimer's.

While this and other similar diets are gaining in popularity even as they spawn a steady outpouring of new books on the subject, some experts have doubts.

"This is part of a never-ending carousel of diet books," said Kelly Brownell, former director of the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at Yale University and now dean of the Sanford School of Public Policy at Duke University.
"There will be some buzz and then the diet will go away, never to be heard of again."

Nonetheless, the studies and the books keep coming. Another examination into the fasting-dementia link will be led by Krista Varady, an associate professor of kinesiology and nutrition at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Her research focuses on alternating a normal diet with eating 500 or 600 calories every other day. Nutritionists recommend men consume about 2,500 calories a day and women 2,000 calories.

While research on fasting diets and dementia still has a long way to go, the early evidence is promising.

The mouse study led by Mr. Mattson found that intermittent fasting may have protected the function of brain cells, even if it didn't reduce levels of the plaque and tangles that are typical signs of Alzheimer's.

At the same time, fasting is increasingly seen as playing a role in the prevention of other diseases including breast cancer and diabetes.

That's paved the way for a flurry of how-to books including Ms. Varady's "The Every-Other-Day Diet," which goes on sale Dec. 24. Competing with that is "The Fast Diet" by science journalist Michael Mosley, who was behind the BBC documentary Mr. Adams watched, and lifestyle writer Mimi Spencer. Their regimen is known as the 5:2 diet.

There's also "The 2-Day Diet" by dietitian Michelle Harvie and Tony Howell, a professor of oncology at the University of Manchester in England. Their approach was developed specifically to help prevent breast cancer, for which obesity is a known risk factor.

Health experts say fasting diets can't substitute for eating healthy foods.

"In general, intermittent fasting is a good thing if it's done properly," said Dean Ornish, a professor of medicine at the University of California at San Francisco and a physician consultant to former President Bill Clinton. "But if you're already eating very healthily, then you may not need to do that."

In a study conducted with Mr. Mattson and published this year, they found the two-day diet led to greater drops in body fat and insulin resistance in women with high breast-cancer risk after three months, compared with a diet where calories are cut every day, suggesting that intermittent fasting is an easier approach to follow.

The bottom line, though, is that any fasting diet needs to be undertaken thoughtfully, including eating healthy foods on non-fasting days, Ms. Harvie said.


Tuesday, November 5, 2013

"Rebooting" MS

"Rebooting" MS Drug Succeeds In Trials

Friday 2 November 2012 - 3am PST

Featured ArticleAcademic Journal

Two phase 3 trials of a drug for treating multiple sclerosis (MS) that "reboots" the immune system showed it to be effective in patients who had not responded to first-line therapy: it reduced risk of disability and brain shrinkage. 

Reporting in the 1 November issue of The Lancet, the researchers describe how alemtuzumab (known commercially as Lemtrada), previously used to treat a type of leukaemia, was able to help people with early MS who relapsed on previous treatments as well as patients who had not yet received any treatment.

Alastair Compston, a professor from the University of Cambridge was principal investigator on both trials and also chaired the Steering Committee that supervised them and an earlier trial. He said in a statement from the University:

"Our research shows the transformative effect that alemtuzumab can have for people with MS."

The findings mark the conclusion of a unique development program for an MS drug that started in Cambridge in 1991.

The statement from the University says:

"Never before has an MS drug been tested in clinical outcomes against such a high hurdle, an active first-line drug,
in both one phase II trial and two phase III trials; and 
no drug for MS has been shown to be more effective, in both reducing the risk of disability and reducing the rate of brain atrophy,  
when compared to another active treatment."

MS is an autoimmune disease where the patient's immune system destroys nerve fibers and their protective insulation, the myelin sheath. The resulting damage stops nerves communicating with each other, leading eventually to loss of the nerve fiber, and progressive physical and cognitive disability.

The disease affects millions of people worldwide, including almost 100,000 in the UK, and 400,000 in the US.

The two randomized, controlled phase 3 trials, reported in two separate papers, are called CARE MS I and CARE MS II. They were both funded by Genzyme (Sanofi) and Bayer Schering Pharma.

The developers expect decisions on drug licences for alemtuzumab by the European and US regulatory authorities to be made in 2013.

In another study reported this week, scientists describe how it may be possible to repair the nerve fiber damage caused by MS.

CARE MS I: Alemtuzumab Versus Interferon beta-1a as First Treatment in RRMS Patients

This three-year trial involved 334 patients with active, early relapsing remitting MS (RRMS) who had not received any treatment for the disease (drug-naïve patients). It tested the performance of alemtuzumab against the first-line drug interferon beta-1a (commercially known as Rebif).

The patients were randomly assigned to one of three groups. One group received interferon beta-1a injections three times a week, and the other two groups each received a different daily intravenous dose of alemtuzumab.

The results showed that alemtuzumab reduced the number of attacks by 55% over and above that achieved by the other first-line drug.

Over a 2-year period, 78% of the patients taking alemtuzumab remained relapse free, compared with 59% in the interferon group.

The percentage of patients whose disability got worse during the trial was slightly lower in the alemtuzumab patients than in the interferon patients, but the result was not statistically significant.

The researchers conclude:

"Alemtuzumab reduced disease activity compared with interferon beta-1a in most of the analysed subgroups. Significantly greater numbers of patients experienced sustained improvement in disability after treatment with alemtuzumab than interferon beta-1a.  
The efficacy offered by alemtuzumab is a substantial advance in the treatment of multiple sclerosis."

CARE MS II: Alemtuzumab After Failed First-Line Treatment in RRMS Patients

For this 2-year trial, researchers recruited 840 patients agd 18 to 55 with RRMS (from which data from 628 participants was used in the principal analysis), who had received first-line treatment but had recently relapsed during their therapy.

As with the MS I trial, the participants were randomly assigned to received either alemtuzumab or interferon beta-1a. Each patient had their disability assessed every three months by a researcher who did not know which drug they were receiving. They also underwent annual scans to assess lesions and brain shrinkage due to MS.

The results showed that new relapses were reduced by 49% more in the alemtuzumab than the interferon patients.

Over the 2-year period, 65% of patients on alemtuzumab remained relapse free compared with 47% of interferon patients.

Alemtuzumab reduced the risk of acquiring disability by 42% compared to interferon: disability worsened in 20% of interferon patients and 13% of alemtuzumab patients.

Plus, at the end of the study, on average, the patients taking alemtuzumab had less disability than when they started the trial whereas the patients taking interferon had more disability.

The brain scans showed that alemtuzumab not only reduced the number of new lesions, compared to interferon beta-1a, but also reduced the rate of brain shrinkage from the tissue damage caused by MS.

The researchers conclude:

"For patients with first-line treatment-refractory relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis, alemtuzumab could be used to reduce relapse rates and sustained accumulation of disability. Suitable risk management strategies allow for early identification of alemtuzumab's main adverse effect of secondary autoimmunity."


Compston says:

"Patients who continue to show disease activity while on their initial therapy are especially difficult to treat. Now, we have shown that alemtuzumab works where first-line drugs have already failed."

The drug "not only reduces the chances of disability associated with MS", but it "may even result in long-term clinical improvements," he adds.

In both trials the main side effect from alemtuzumab was the development of other autoimmune diseases.
Additional work by some of the Cambridge researchers on these trials is looking into how to identify people who are susceptible to this side effect, and they are currently recruiting for a trial that is testing alemtuzumab with a new drug aimed at reducing the adverse reaction.


Written by Catharine Paddock PhD  
Copyright: Medical News Today

"Alemtuzumab versus interferon beta 1a as first-line treatment for patients with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis: a randomised controlled phase 3 trial"; Jeffrey A Cohen, Alasdair J Coles, Douglas L Arnold, Christian Confavreux, Edward J Fox, Hans-Peter Hartung, Eva Havrdova, Krzysztof W Selmaj, and others, for the CARE-MS I investigators; The Lancet, published online 1 November 2012; DOI: 10.1016/S0140-6736(12)61769-3; Lin

k to Abstract
"Alemtuzumab for patients with relapsing multiple sclerosis after disease-modifying therapy: a randomised controlled phase 3 trial"; Alasdair J Coles, Cary L Twyman, Douglas L Arnold, Jeffrey A Cohen, Christian Confavreux, Edward J Fox, Hans-Peter Hartung, Eva Havrdova, Krzysztof W Selmaj, and others, for the CARE-MS II investigators; The Lancet, published o


Repair MS

Repair Of Multiple Sclerosis Brain Damage May Be Possible

Thursday 1 November 2012 - 7am PST

Featured ArticleAcademic Journal

In what they describe to the press as a "life-changer" for millions of people with the disease, researchers in the US report this week a study where they discovered blocking an enzyme in the brain may help repair the damage associated with multiple sclerosis (MS), and other brain diseases.

The findings are due to be published online this week in the Annals of Neurology.

Myelin Damage

In MS, the protective sheath or myelin around nerve fibers is damaged or destroyed, disrupting the ability of nerve cells to communicate with each other. This process, called demyelination, is what causes the range of sensory, movement and cognitive problems typical of the disease.

Lead researcher of the new study, Larry Sherman, a professor at Oregon Health & Science University, heads a lab that for nearly 15 years,    has been studying MS and other disorders where myelin gets damaged.

Back in 2005, Sherman's team published a study in Nature Medicine reporting their discovery that a sugar molecule called hyaluronic acid appears to play a key role in demyelination. 

 They found large deposits of hyaluronic acid at sites of myelin damage in humans and animals, and suggested the sugar itself stops remyelination, or repair of damaged myelin, by preventing the cells that form the myelin from differentiating at the damage sites.

Enzyme Prevents Myelin Repair

MRI of brain showing multiple sclerosis
Multiple sclerosis is a chronic disease that attacks the brain, spinal cord and optic nerves.
Now, in their latest findings, Sherman and colleagues propose that it is not hyaluronic acid, but the compounds it breaks down into when in the presence of an enzyme called hyaluronidase, that prevents remyelination or myelin repair.

They found very high levels of the enzyme in brain lesions of patients with multiple sclerosis and in the nervous systems of mice with an MS-like disease.

When they blocked the activity of the enzyme in the mice with the MS-like disease, myelin-forming cell differentiation was restored.

But perhaps the more significant result of the study was that the drug the researchers used to restore myelin repair, also led to improved nerve cell function.

New Target for Drugs to Promote Myelin Repair

"What this means is that we have identified a whole new target for drugs that might promote repair of the damaged brain in any disorder in which demyelination occurs," says Sherman in a statement.

"Any kind of therapy that can promote remyelination could be an absolute life-changer for the millions of people suffering from MS and other related disorders," he adds.

Sherman, who is also a senior scientist in the Division of Neuroscience at the Oregon National Primate Research Center, says the next step is to develop a drug that specifically targets the effect of hyaluronidase.

He says the drug they used in the study would not be suitable for humans because it has potentially serious side effects. But a drug designed just for blocking hyaluronidase would most likely have few, if any, side effects he suggests.

The findings are likely to impact research and drug development for MS and a range of other disorders involving demyelination, including complications arising from premature birth.

Not an MS Cure

Sherman also makes the point that blocking the enzyme does not constitute a cure for MS. Other factors could be contributing to demyelination in MS and related diseases. But the discovery of the enzyme, and finding a way to block it, may at the very least "lead to new ways to promote the repair of brain and spinal cord damage either by targeting this enzyme alone or by inhibiting the enzyme in conjunction with other therapies," he says.

Grants from the National Institutes of Health, Fast Forward, LLC (a subsidiary of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society), the Laura Fund for Multiple Sclerosis Research, the March of Dimes Birth Defects Foundation and the American Heart Association, helped fund the study.

Written by Catharine Paddock PhD
Copyright: Medical News Today

Today's news comes as The Lancet this week reports two successful trials of a new drug for MS that "reboots" the immune system so it does not attack the nerve fibers.


Sherman et al, 2012, article expected to be published online in Annals of Neurology early November 2012.

Main source: Oregon Health & Science University.


Tapping Medical Marijuana’s Potential

                                                                                                                                                              Ken Orvidas

November 4, 2013, 12:01 am
Tapping Medical Marijuana’s Potential

Marijuana has been used medically, recreationally and spiritually for about 5,000 years. Known botanically as cannabis, it has been called a “crude drug”: marijuana contains more than 400 chemicals from 18 chemical families. 

More than 2,000 compounds are released when it is smoked, and as with tobacco, there are dangers in smoking it.

Medical marijuana clinics operate in 20 states and the District of Columbia, and its recreational use is now legal in Colorado and Washington. 

A Gallup poll conducted last month found that 58 percent of Americans support the legalization of marijuana.

Yet researchers have been able to do relatively little to test its most promising ingredients for biological activity, safety and side effects. 

The main reason is marijuana’s classification by Congress in 1970 as an illegal Schedule I drug, defined as having a potential for abuse and addiction and no medical value.

American scientists seeking clarification of marijuana’s medical usefulness have long been stymied by this draconian classification, usually reserved for street drugs like heroin with a high potential for abuse.

Dr. J. Michael Bostwick, a psychiatrist at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., said the classification was primarily political and ignored more than 40 years of scientific research, which has shown that cellular receptors for marijuana’s active ingredients are present throughout the body. Natural substances called cannabinoids bind to them to influence a wide range of body processes.

In a lengthy report entitledBlurred Boundaries: The Therapeutics and Politics of Medical Marijuana,” published last year in Mayo Clinic Proceedings, Dr. Bostwick noted that the so-called endocannabinoid system has an impact on the “autonomic nervous system, immune system, gastrointestinal tract, reproductive system, cardiovascular system and endocrine network.”

There is evidence that several common disorders, including epilepsy, alcoholism and post-traumatic stress disorder, involve disruptions in the endocannabinoid system, suggesting that those patients might benefit from marijuana or its ingredients.

The strongest evidence for the health benefits of medical marijuana or its derivatives involves the treatment of chronic neuropathic pain and the spasticity caused by multiple sclerosis.

Medical marijuana is widely recognized as effective against nausea and appetite loss caused by chemotherapy, although better treatments are now available. But preliminary research and anecdotal reports have suggested that marijuana might be useful in treating a number of other conditions, including irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn’s disease, glaucoma, migraine, cancer growth, abnormal heart rhythms, Alzheimer’s disease, fibromyalgia, incontinence, bacterial infections, osteoporosis, intense itching, Tourette’s syndrome and sleep apnea.

“Medical experts emphasize the need to reclassify marijuana as a Schedule II drug to facilitate rigorous scientific evaluation of the potential therapeutic benefits of cannabinoids and to determine the optimal dose and delivery route for conditions in which efficacy is established,” Diane E. Hoffmann and Ellen Weber, legal experts at the University of Maryland, wrote in The New England Journal of Medicine.

Marijuana’s best-known ingredient, tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, is responsible for the high sought by recreational users. But many people who try smoking marijuana to relieve a health problem are distressed by its psychoactive effects.

Experts believe that some people would do better with a derivative of marijuana that offers therapeutic action without the mind-altering baggage. A more precise dose, free of unwanted contaminants, would be safer, and its effects would be reproducible.

“We believe that physicians should clearly explain to their patients that medical marijuana is not approved by the Food and Drug Administration and that it is not a standardized or purified product,” Dr. Herbert D. Kleber of Columbia University and Dr. Robert L. Dupont of Georgetown Medical School wrote last year in The American Journal of Psychiatry.

One vocal proponent of a more scientific approach to medical marijuana is Martin A. Lee, the author of “Smoke Signals” and director of Project CBD, an acronym for cannabidiol, a compound in marijuana with high therapeutic potential but no psychoactive properties; indeed, it can neutralize the high caused by THC.

Mr. Lee said in an interview that medical marijuana clinics “offer a hodgepodge” of products, including many strains of the plant with varying ratios of active ingredients. While all clinics are in business to make money, he said, the more serious ones try to direct consumers to products that best suit their needs.

Still, access to purified and well-tested drugs derived from marijuana would be a far better approach. One such drug, Sativex, is currently in Phase 3 trials in the United States for the relief of neuropathic pain. It is a combination of CBD and THC in a ratio that minimizes the appetite stimulation, drowsiness and anxiety induced by THC while magnifying painkilling and anti-tumor properties, Mr. Lee said.

The endocannabinoid system has two types of receptors, CB1 and CB2, that bind to different components in marijuana. CB1 receptors are concentrated in the central nervous system; when activated, they can make people feel high. And when THC stimulates CB1 receptors governing food intake, the resulting “munchies” can help people whose appetites are depressed by AIDS or cancer.

The drugs Marinol and Cesamet are THC compounds in pill form, approved by the Food and Drug Administration to treat chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting and AIDS-related anorexia and wasting. Their action is slowed by having to pass through the digestive system before reaching their target.

CB2 receptors are concentrated in the peripheral nervous system and immune system. Their stimulation, primarily by CBD, can relieve pain and increase the body’s anti-inflammatory activity.

Sativex, the THC-CBD combination, is available in Canada to treat cancer pain and neuropathic pain in multiple sclerosis. It is sprayed under the tongue for quick entry into the bloodstream, as happens when marijuana is smoked.

Dr. Bostwick described the medical potential of marijuana as “incredibly exciting.” But, he added, “it is not being realized, because researchers can’t get the material for study.”

Lamenting the current patchwork of state laws governing medical marijuana, he said consumers should be sure to know the law in their jurisdiction and work closely with a physician to assure they are using marijuana appropriately.

Ken Orvidas


Friday, November 1, 2013

Henry Davis Thoreau and Ralph Ealdo Emerson


Warning about resveratrol supplements for MS

Tuesday 1 October 2013 - 12am PST

Featured Article

People with multiple sclerosis (MS) are being warned against taking resveratrol supplements, after a new study using two MS models has found that the compound worsened MS-like neuropathology and inflammation, and had no neuroprotective effects.
Results of the study were published in The American Journal of Pathology.
Reservatrol is a naturally occurring polyphenol compound found in the skin of red grapes, red wine and peanuts, and it is believed to have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.
This has been supported by some experimental studies, whereas others suggest a lack of benefit.
Lead investigator Dr. Ikuo Tsunoda, assistant professor in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at the Center for Molecular & Tumor Virology of the Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center, says:
"Resveratrol may have detrimental effects in some disease conditions and should be discouraged for supplemental use by MS patients pending further research."

Effects of resveratrol in mice

The researchers tested resveratrol in autoimmune and viral models of MS in mice.
In the autoimmune model, they simulated an experimental autoimmune encephalomeylitis (EAE) using myelin oligodendrocyte glycoprotein peptide. The mice were then fed either a control diet or a diet containing resveratrol.
After 12 days, the mice all showed clinical signs, such as tail and hind limb paralysis, and the symptoms worsened and peaked by 3 weeks.
After 5 weeks, the mice eating the control diet recovered completely or suffered only mild paralysis, whereas mice on the resveratrol diet all exhibited severe and lasting EAE without remission.
Neuropathological tests on the spinal cords of the mice also showed higher pathology scores for demyelination, meningitis and inflammation for those fed the resveratrol diet. There was no evidence that resveratrol suppressed autoimmune responses, leading the researchers to conclude that it did not have any anti-inflammatory properties.
Further experiments conducted to test whether resvertrol had any anti-viral properties again cast doubt about the claims.
Mice were infected with the Daniels (DA) strain of Theiler's murine encephalomyelitis virus (TMEV) to induce TMEV-induced demyelinating disease (TMEV-IDD).
The findings here showed that the mice fed on the resveratrol diet developed significantly more severe TMEV-IDD than the control group.
The degree to which resveratrol exacerbated demyelination and inflammation surprised the research team.
"Our findings illustrate that caution should be exercised for potential therapeutic application of resveratrol in human inflammatory demyelination diseases, including MS," says Dr. Tsunoda.
The jury is still out on any benefits resveratrol may have. Recent studies have shown it is effective in treating vascular dementia, but a 2012 study queried any benefits for healthy women.
Written by Belinda Weber
Copyright: Medical News Today
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