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

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

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

The 1000 Year Old Cow Bile & Garlic Remedy That’s Killing MRSA

Microbiologists have been amazed to find a 1000 year old Anglo-Saxon remedy has the power to kill antibiotic-resistant MRSA.

The British Library in London holds an old leather-bound volume that is known as Bald’s Leechbook, that experts say is one of the world’s earliest medical manuscripts.

Bald’s Leechbook contains not only medical advice, but also recipes for various medicines, treatments and ointments, including one for a salve that was used to treat eye infections. It is this eye ointment that proved to kill antibiotic-resistant MRSA (Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus).

Scientists at Nottingham University made four separate batches of the salve using fresh ingredients – garlic, onion, wine and cow bile – as well as a control treatment using the same quantity of distilled water and brass sheeting to mimic the brewing container but without the vegetable compounds. The salve was then strained and left to set for 9 days before testing commenced.

“Take cropleek and garlic, of both equal quantities, pound them well together…take wine and bullocks gall, mix with the leek…let it stand nine days in the brass vessel…” the medieval recipe instructs.

None of the individual ingredients alone had any measurable effect, but when combined according to the recipe, the Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) populations of bacteria, were almost totally obliterated – only about one bacterial cell in a thousand survived.

Image credit: Dirk-Jan Kraan

 

The Worms Detecting Cancer…

A research group in Japan has carried out a study which suggests that roundworms can be used to accurately detect cancers in patients through odours in their urine.

The nematodes (or roundworms) used in the study were attracted to the urine of cancer patients and avoided the urine of the healthy candidates taking part. Their behaviour provides a more useful method of detection than that afforded by dogs which have also been used in cancer detection. The dog’s ability to concentrate on the task affects the accuracy of diagnosis; an issue avoided through the use of nematodes.

The researchers were able to identify five cancer-positive patients who were not recognized as such when their urine was obtained.

The group is now working to produce a screening device incorporating this method to be put to use commercially as early as 2019.  The test is painless and would allow for urine samples to be taken at home and then along to a testing site. A patient’s results could then be obtained within ninety minutes in a process which would save time and reduce medical costs.

The nematodes detected cancers at an earlier stage than conventional testing, allowing for the possibility of earlier screenings and diagnosis in the future. Earlier treatment for those testing positive could also be achieved. With the sensitivity of the test placed at 95.8% (higher than tumour-marker diagnosis tests conducted using blood samples) more accurate results may be attained.

Although this method of testing cannot detect which type of cancer a person is suffering from, researchers have succeeded in developing nematodes to react in different ways to specific cancers.

Image credit: John Donges

Does the Naked Mole Rat have the Power to STOP Cancer?

The underground naked mole rat has been found to produce a hybrid protein that prevents tumour growth. The discovery was made by scientists at the University of Rochester in New York.

The protein is associated with a cluster of genes (called a locus) that is also found in humans and mice. It is the job of that locus to encode several cancer-fighting proteins. The locus found in naked mole rats encodes a total of four cancer-fighting proteins, while the human and mouse version encodes only three.

Despite their names, naked mole rats are neither moles nor rats (nor are they totally hairless). These remarkable creatures are more closely related to porcupines and guinea pigs. They are subterranean rodents that have never been known to get cancer despite having a 30-year lifespan.

Naked mole rats live in the horn of Africa and are native to Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya. They’re not blind, yet their eyes are very small and naked mole rats will often close them when they run through the tunnels.

The findings by Seuanov and Gorbunova research team have been published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of SciencesIn an effort to determine whether the effective protein is also found in mice and humans, the researchers tried to screen mouse and human cells and tissues for the protein hybrid, but were unsuccessful. “While our work doesn’t eliminate the possibility that the protein exists under some conditions in mice and humans, the results suggest that it’s highly unlikely,” said Gorbunova.

Tests have shown that the protein can prevent human cells from turning cancerous, and researchers hope to use it develop new treatments in the future for patients with cancer.

Image credit: Jedimentat44

First Organ Donation from UK Newborn

Organs from a recently-deceased baby have been successfully transplanted in to two patients.

In a procedure described as a milestone in neonatal care, a newborn baby girl’s kidneys and liver cells were given to two separate recipients after her heart stopped beating.

It is the first time in Britain that transplant surgeons have carried out such an operation involving a new-born child. Despite newborn organ donations being performed in the US, Germany and Australia, doctors say guidance about the diagnosis of newborn death in the UK may hamper life-saving operations.

Experts argue there is potential for more life-saving donations, but say current UK guidelines are prohibitive.

Prof James Neuberger of NHS Blood and Transplant, said: “We are pleased the first transplant of organs from a newborn in the UK was a success and we praise the brave decision of the family to donate their baby’s organs.

“The sad reality is for everybody to get the lifesaving transplant they are desperately in need of, more families who are facing the tragic loss of their young child will need to agree to donation.”

The parents of the deceased gave permission for the life-support to be switched off and for the baby girl’s organs to be used by the National Organ Retrieval Service after death had been confirmed.

In the last year, 4,655 organ transplants were carried out in Britain from donations made by 2,466 living and deceased organ donors. These included 206 heart transplants, 3,257 kidney transplants and 924 liver transplants.

At the present time, about 10,000 people in Britain are in need of an organ transplant and each year about 1,000 people die while waiting for a transplant.

Image credit: Christine Szeto