Alcohol Linked To Seven Cancer Types

Alcohol has long been recognised as a carcinogenic substance, yet there is now ‘strong evidence’ that it causes seven cancers and potentially even more, according to a new study.

Jennie Connor, a researcher from the Department of Preventive and Social Medicine, University of Otago, New Zealand, scoured through a plethora of pre-existing studies regarding alcohol and cancer, hoping to highlight alcohol’s malevolent role by ruling out other factors.

The author notes that alcohol-attributable cancers at these sites constitute up to 5.8 percent of cancer deaths worldwide. This means that in 2012, for example, around half a million people died through alcohol-induced cancers.

Dr Connor insist that although the link between alcohol and cancer is not news, she wanted to ‘clarify the strength of the evidence’ in an ‘accessible way.’

‘Currently, alcohol’s causal role is perceived to be more complex than tobacco‘s, and the solution suggested by the smoking analogy — that we should all reduce and eventually give up drinking alcohol — is widely unacceptable,’ writes Dr Connor.

Treatment for cancer is proving to be more successful year on year, but as these studies highlight, prevention should be considered a priority.

Image credit: Alex Ranaldi

Scientists Develop Diesel That Emits Less CO2

Researchers from KU Leuven and Utrecht University have discovered a new method in the production of fuels, resulting in a much cleaner diesel.

The diesel can be quickly be scaled up for industrial use and we may see the first cars driven by this new clean diesel in as little as five to ten years.

The production of fuel involves the use of catalysts. In the case of diesel, small catalyst granules are added to the raw material to sufficiently change the molecules of the raw material to produce usable fuel.

Catalysts can have one or more chemical functions. The catalyst that was used for this particular study has two functions, represented by two different materials: a metal (platinum) and a solid-state acid. During the production process for diesel, the molecules bounce to and fro between the metal and the acid. Each time a molecule comes into contact with one of the materials, it changes a little bit. At the end of the process, the molecules are ready to be used for diesel fuel.

“Our results are the exact opposite of what we had expected. At first, we thought that the samples had been switched or that something was wrong with our analysis,” says Professor Martens. “We repeated the experiments three times, only to arrive at the same conclusion: the current theory is wrong. There has to be a minimum distance between the functions within a catalyst. This goes against what the industry has been doing for the past 50 years.”

Image credit: Ben Robinson

The new technique can be applied to petroleum-based fuels, but also to renewable carbon from biomass.

Surgeons Perform Most Extensive Face Transplant To Date

Physicians at NYU Langone Medical Center have announced the successful completion of the most extensive face transplant to date, setting new standards of care in this emerging field.

Patrick Hardison – a volunteer firefighter who suffered a full face and scalp burn in the line of duty – became the first responder to have a face transplant performed.

Hardison’s face ‘melted’ off during a fire at a mobile home in Senatobia on September 5, 2001. In the painful years that followed, Hardison underwent 71 operations (at a rate of around seven a year) to try to rebuild his mouth, nose and eyelids using skin grafts.

This summer, doctors found a donor for a face transplant that matched Hardison’s skin tone: a 26-year-old man named David Rodebaugh who died in a cycling accident in August.

Hardison was given just a 50 percent chance of surviving the surgery but he was willing to take the risk. The surgery all went to plan and has left Hardison ‘feeling normal again’ and should restore his impaired sight, too.

Image credit: NYU Langone

Does Caffeine Reset Your Body Clock?

A new study has revealed why drinking coffee after dinner can lead to a sleepless night.

Caffeine before bed distorts the master clock that tells the body what time it is, and it was found that an evening dose of less caffeine than whjat is in a Starbucks tall medium roast delayed people’s clocks by about 40 minutes, scientists report September 16 in Science Translational Medicine.

Bodily clocks tick throughout the body and caffeine taps directly into the master clock that syncs these far-flung timekeepers, Kenneth Wright of the University of Colorado Boulder and colleagues found. “This suggests that caffeine has a larger impact on us than we may have realized, from the circadian perspective,” he says.

The results have implications for the huge number of people who consume one of the world’s most popular stimulants, says pharmacologist and sleep researcher Hans Peter Landolt of the University of Zurich. Figuring out the details of how caffeine influences the body’s clocks might lead to better ways to prevent or treat sleep disorders, he says.

While the study is a good first step, there’s still much more to learn, says Landolt. Factors like age, genetics and culture can all influence how people respond to caffeine. More studies are needed to untangle how the stimulant influences people’s daily lives.

Image credit: Helen K

Donor Heart Beats Outside Body for 10 Hours…

A donor heart has beat outside the body for 10 hours thanks to a new invention.

Approximately 5,000 heart transplants are performed around the globe annually, and although this form of surgery has become more efficient and routine, delivering donor organs has always been a race against time.

Iranian Professor Abbas Ardehali, head of Heart and Lung Transplant Ward in UCLA Hospital in the US, has managed to invent a device to keep donated organs alive outside of the human body for a longer period.

The new device preserves hearts for up to 10 hours after people have died, and could therefore dramatically increase the number of organs that can be donated.

Ardehali said the donated heart can stay alive for a maximum six hours outside of the human body in ice, which makes the surgery more complicated when the donated organ is to be transferred from long distances.

“I invented a device which helps preserve the donated heart for longer hours, which is about nine hours and 56 minutes and may increase to even 24 hours,” he said.

He referred to the device as a revolution in the field of heart transplant surgery, saying that it increases the survival rate among those suffering from heart failure.

“The invention of the new device is done for the first time in the world and no such thing has already been registered in the history of medical sciences,” Ardehali said.

“My device pumps blood through human hearts, allowing them to stay warm and survive longer during transport. This can help a donated heart stay alive for 10 hours outside the human body.”

The device has been approved by FDA. Other nations will be able to use the technology in the near future.

Image credit: University of Liverpool, Faculty of Health & Life Science

First Drug to Slow Alzheimer’s Discovered

Scientists have discovered the first drug of its kind that appears to slow the pace of mental decline in Alzheimer’s patients.

Solanezumab, developed by the American pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly, was shown to block memory loss in patients with a mild version of the disease, making it the first medicine ever to slow pace of damage to patients’ brains.

Existing drugs, such as Aricept, can manage only the symptoms of dementia by helping the dying brain cells function, but Solanezumab attacks the deformed proteins that build up in the brain during Alzheimer’s.

Dr Doug Brown, head of research at the Alzheimer’s Society, said: “Today’s findings strongly suggest that targeting people in the earliest stages of Alzheimer’s disease with these antibody treatments is the best way to slow or stop Alzheimer’s disease. These drugs are able to reduce the sticky plaques of amyloid that build up in the brain, and now we have seen the first hints that doing this early enough may slow disease progression.”

Should further trial results be positive, it could still be up to several years before the drug would become available on the NHS. Another phase-three trial is due to report in 2016 and then the drug would need to go through regulatory approval and would need to be shown to be sufficiently beneficial to patients.

Image credit: Ann Gordon


Arthritis Drug Restores Skin Colour in Vitiligo Patient

Dermatologists from the Yale School of Medicine have successfully used tofacitinib, a drug used to treat rheumatoid arthritis, to reduce the effects of vitiligo.

Vitiligo is a disease which causes skin to lose its pigmentation and is commonly treated through the use of steroid creams and light therapy. These however, do not offer consistent results and so the improvements seen through the use of tofacitinib could represent a breakthrough in vitiligo treatment.

Assistant Professor of dermatology Brett King who headed the research first explored the benefits offered by the Janus kinase inhibitor (a drug which obstructs the activity of Janus kinase enzymes) to those suffering from alopecia before considering its potential as a treatment for the skin disease.

He investigated the drug’s effectiveness by trialing tofacitinib on a 53 year old woman who was experiencing the effects of vitiligo as large white patches extended over her face, hands and body.  Prior to the use of tofacitinib the area of skin affected was increasing however after two months of treatment the patient was able to observe re-pigmentation in the problem areas. Following five months of medication the white patches covering the face and hands had disappeared, leaving only a few small, white spots elsewhere on the body.

Knowledge of the way the disease affects the body combined with the researcher’s familiarity with how this already FDA approved drug works, has prompted confidence in tofacitinib’s future use as a popular treatment. This is further supported by the absence of any harmful side effects over the course of the study. Though additional research will be needed to confirm the drug’s safety, moving forward Professor King hopes to conduct a clinical trial using tofacitinib, or similar medicines such as ruxolitinib, to establish whether a JAK inhibitor could provide a successful remedy for those suffering with vitiligo.

Image credit: Nadine Mitchell


Wonder Drug Cures Eczema, Hair Loss & Arthritis

A newly discovered ‘wonder cream’ could help millions of patients with eczema, arthritis and a form of alopecia.

All three conditions are caused by an issue which causes the immune system to target the body’s healthy cells. Scientists looking for a way to help blood cancer patients have stumbled on a way to switch off that response.

Dr Aurore Saudemont, of the Anthony Nolan Research Institute, said: “This ­accidental discovery could offer a major breakthrough.

“These findings could eventually lead to treatments that eradicate ­symptoms of eczema, rheumatoid arthritis and even alopecia areata without causing major side effects.”

Over six millions Britons have eczema, four hundred thousand suffer crippling joint pain with rheumatoid arthritis and over a million have alopecia areata.

The Anthony Nolan experts were looking for a way to cure a complication that affects 80% of stem cell transplant patients. It happens when donated cells see existing cells as foreign and start to attack them. Researchers made a breakthrough when they found a protein in umbilical cord blood that stops a pregnant mum’s immune system attacking the unborn baby.

They studied cord blood donated by new mums, while stem cells were harvested from the umbilical cords.

Dr Saudemont added: “It is very exciting to discover that a product usually discarded could be so valuable.”

Image credit: Betsy Jons

Tapeworm Drug Effectively Treats MRSA Superbug

A study carried out by researchers at Brown University has indicated that niclosamide, a drug used to treat tapeworm, and the closely related oxycloxanide, a veterinary parasite drug, could be used to successfully treat strains of the superbug MRSA.

During the study the drugs suppressed the growth of MRSA cultures in laboratory dishes and preserved the life of nematode worms infected with the bacteria. Ninety percent of MRSA-infected worms survived and large zones of growth inhibition in MRSA culture covering the petri dish plate was cleared. Both were also found to be as effective at lower concentrations as vancomycin, the drug currently used as a last resort treatment against the superbug.

Oxyclozanide was discovered to be the more effective of the two in killing the MRSA bacteria. Niclosamide, on the other hand, successfully curbed MRSA growth however it did not completely eradicate it. Moving forward experiments on rodents are now being planned.

Potential issues have been highlighted concerning the rapid way nicolsamide is cleared from the body and the poor job it performs in working its way out of the bloodstream and into tissues. However, it has been suggested that this rapid clearance may not reduce performance and could in fact be an advantage as the toxicity of the drug may be reduced.

With noclosamide already FDA approved and featured on the World Health Organization’s list of essential medicines, there are strong motivations for investigating its use as a boost to the immune system in those that have essay writing uk contracted MRSA. The less toxic oxycozanide could present an even more promising treatment should it be approved for human consumption. As oxycozanide targets the cell membrane rather than metabolic pathways, it could help prevent MRSA developing resistance to the drug.

Image credit: FWC Fish & Wildlife Research Institute

The Breath Test Predicting Stomach Cancer…

A simple breath test could help predict whether people with gut problems are at high risk of developing stomach cancer.

Scientists are hoping that the early study could develop to save thousands of lives, including many of the 7,300 people diagnosed with stomach cancer in the UK each year.

The test works by detecting chemical compounds in the breath of people in an attempt to distinguish unique ‘breath prints’ in those with risky pre-cancerous changes.

Experts say if proven in large trials, it could spot patients on the brink of cancer so they can be treated earlier.

Symptoms of stomach cancer are often mistaken for other complaints and there is no effective early screening test, so is often write my essay diagnosed when it is too late for treatment to be effective.

The new test developed by Israeli scientists senses tiny changes in the level of organic compounds in exhaled breath which signal that stomach cancer is present.

More research is required to validate the test, and research involving thousands of European patients is now underway.

Image credit: Filip Bunkens