Thursday, December 29, 2016

The Power To Turn Back Time

Blood from human teens rejuvenates body and brains of old mice -The power to turn back time
Blood plasma from young people has been found to rejuvenate old mice, improving their memory, cognition, and physical activity. 
The method has the potential to be developed into a treatment for people, says Sakura Minami of Alkahest, the company behind the work.
 Previous research has found that stitching old and young mice together has an interesting effect. 
While sharing a blood system works out well for the older mouse, the younger one isn’t so lucky. The young animals started to show signs of brain ageing, while the brains of the older mice started to look younger. “We see a rejuvenation effect,” says Minami.
The key to youth appears to be in the blood plasma – the liquid part of blood. 
Several studies have found that injecting plasma from young mice into old mice can help rejuvenate the brain and other organs, including the liver, heart, and muscle.
Could blood plasma from young people have the same benefits? 
To find out, Minami and her colleagues took blood samples from 18-year-olds, and injected them into 12-month-old mice. At this age, the equivalent of around age 50 for people, the mice start to show signs of ageing – they move more slowly, and perform badly on memory tests.
The mice were given twice-weekly injections of the human plasma. 
After three weeks of injections, they were submitted to a range of tests. 
The treated mice’s performance was compared to young, 3-month-old mice, as well as old mice who had not received injections.
New neurons
They found that human plasma does have the power to rejuvenate. Treated mice ran around an open space like young mice. Their memories also seemed to improve, and they were much better at remembering their way around a maze than untreated mice.
“Young human plasma improves cognition,” says Minami, who presented her findings at the Society for Neuroscience annual meeting in San Diego, California, on Monday. “Their memory was preserved.”
“It’s more or less what we would expect,” says Victoria Bolotina, at Boston University in Massachusetts. “The blood of young people must have something in it that’s important for keeping them young,” she says.
The team then examined the brains of the treated and untreated mice. They looked for clues on the birth of new neurons in the hippocampus – a process called neurogenesis, which is thought to be important for memory and learning. Sure enough, the treated mice appeared to have created more new cells in their brain. “Young human plasma treatment can increase neurogenesis,” says Minami.
Minami says she has identified some factors in young blood that might be responsible for these benefits, but that she won’t reveal what they are yet. 
Some of them seem to be crossing into the brain, while others may be acting remotely, elsewhere in the body, she says.
She hopes to one day translate the findings into an anti-ageing treatment for people – one that might help those who start to experience the effects of an ageing brain. “There’s anecdotal evidence that people experience benefits after blood transfusions,” she says.
The company she works for, Alkahest, has already started a trial of young blood in people with Alzheimer’s disease.

By Jessica Hamzelou in San Diego

Source:     Facebook 

Monday, December 19, 2016

12 Diseases That Altered World History

 It's often taught that the course of history hinges upon great battles, both in war and among competing ideas.

The stars are a few powerful individuals—presidents, monarchs, dictators—whose actions can shift a society's development one way or another.

But some influential actors are nasty and ruthless—and microscopic.

In his book Twelve Diseases That Changed Our World, Irwin Sherman, a professor emeritus of biology at the University of California Riverside, describes how bacteria, parasites, and viruses have swept through cities and devastated populations, felled great leaders and thinkers, and in their wake transformed politics, public health, and economies. 

U.S.News  & World Report spoke with Sherman about how 12 key diseases—smallpox, tuberculosis, syphilis, AIDS, influenza,bubonic plague, cholera, malaria, yellow fever, two noninfectious diseases (hemophilia and porphyria), and the plant disease behind the Irish Potato Famine—have altered history.

Sherman also answered our questions about how the threat of disease outbreaks is affecting our world today.

1.      Smallpox. 

It's the only infectious disease that has been eradicated through vaccination.

The medical science of vaccination was a direct result of the devastating effects of smallpox.

Essentially, studies of immunity and vaccines emerged from studies of smallpox. That gives hope that other diseases, too, will be eradicated by similar means.

2.      Tuberculosis. 

The struggle against TB stimulated some of the first quests for antibiotics.

The disease most likely promoted pasteurization, which heats and kills TB and other pathogens that can contaminate milk.

The infectious nature of tuberculosis also prompted the building of sanitariums, where people could be isolated and treated.

3.      Syphilis. 

Once treated with heavy metals like mercury, which had devastating effects on patients, syphilis inspired the discovery of chemotherapeutic agents.

The sexually transmitted disease prompted chemotherapy pioneer Paul Ehrlich to look for what he called a magic bullet, which turned out to be the drug salvorsan.

The history of many drugs can be traced to Ehrlich's work with dye materials that stained not only fabrics but organisms as well, spurring him to look for drugs that could bind to and kill parasites.

4.      HIV/AIDS.

 "You can't talk about infectious diseases without discussing AIDS," Sherman declares.

While today's chemotherapy cocktails—when available—are effective at reducing the number of AIDS-related deaths, it's a disease that also can be controlled by what he calls the most difficult intervention: behavioral control. "It's also a disease that is modern and yet has its parallels with the past in the kind of reactions that populations have when there's an unforeseen epidemic," he says.

5.      Influenza. 

Few diseases have had such widespread effects on the number of deaths in the modern world as the flu, which remains a major threat worldwide despite the existence of vaccines against it.

The disease very likely influenced the course of World War I by sickening and killing soldiers and straining military healthcare systems.

Some have suggested that President Wilson's negotiations during the Treaty of Versailles were affected by the influenza infection he had at the time.

6.      Bubonic plague. 

Quarantine—the isolation of infected or potentially infected people as a way to stem the spread of disease—developed from Europeans' long and storied history with bubonic plague.

Sherman notes parallels between popular reactions to the plague in medieval times and reactions to HIV/AIDS in the modern era. Fear and ignorance, anxiety, prejudice, isolation, and panic can all result from not understanding the nature of a disease, he says.

7.      Cholera. 

Spread via paltry or nonexistent sewage systems and lack of clean water, cholera was—and still is—rampant in many parts of the world.

But improvements in sanitation have reduced cholera's impact in a number of regions.

The power of epidemiology allowed 19th-century English physician John Snow to deduce that the disease was present in the water, even though the bacterium wasn't identified until many years later.

8.      Malaria. 

One of the most lethal infectious diseases in history, malaria causes over 300 million cases worldwide and up to 3 million deaths a year.

It's one of the earliest examples of the importance of controlling vectors—animal or insect carriers (in this case, mosquitoes)—in preventing the transmission of disease.

One of the reasons Europeans managed to colonize Africa, according to Sherman, was that they utilized quinine, an antimalarial drug derived from the bark of the cinchona tree.

9.      Yellow fever. 

Although vanquished in some countries, this mosquito-borne disease hasn't been eradicated and probably never will be, says Sherman.

The disease influenced the building of the Panama Canal, the Louisiana Purchase, and, in fact, the pre-World War II development of the southern United States. "The stereotypes of the lazy, drawling southerner and the energetic, bright northerner were typical characterizations due to disease or the absence of disease," Sherman says. "In the North, mosquitoes couldn't survive overwintering, so there wasn't yellow fever. In the South, on the other hand, you had a population that was either decimated or debilitated by the disease."

10.    Hemophilia and 11.  Porphyria. 

As genetic blood disorders, hemophilia and porphyria had serious effects on the crowned heads of Europe.

According to Sherman, the rise of Spanish dictator Francisco Franco can be traced to the lack of an heir to the throne because of hemophilia.

Another example is the collapse of the Romanov dynasty in Russia, which was due to hemophilia in the family.

The czar was debilitated and couldn't take over, setting the stage for the rise of the Bolsheviks.

Many of the British monarchs were unable to manage their kingdoms because of porphyria, which can cause a variety of mental problems, like hallucination, paranoia, and anxiety.

Some describe George III's treatment of his American subjects, which helped to trigger the American Revolution, as being in part affected by his porphyric attacks.

12.    Potato blight (cause of the Irish Potato Famine). 

Sherman expanded the range of maladies to indicate to readers that diseases affect not only humans but also sometimes what we eat.

Potato blight had a profound impact because it devastated a staple food that fed much of Ireland in the mid-1800s.

Other plant diseases could have similarly far-reaching consequences today, says Sherman.

Many agricultural economies focus on a particular crop, so a single disease could be a big threat—and a major historic force.

The Irish famine influenced America by generating an influx of Irish immigrants to U.S. cities; those newcomers expanded the Democratic Party, participated in the development of labor unions, and molded the nation's character in numerous other ways.

Source:     USNews

Sunday, December 18, 2016

10 Rarest Diseases In The World

 Top 10 Rarest Diseases in the World

Each one of us must have heard of cancer or HIV but have you ever heard of Dercum’s disease or Alpha-1 Antitrypsin Deficiency?

Apart from the most common diseases that takes away the attention of media and charities or we have heard of or seen someone suffering from them, there are many more deadly diseases.

Such diseases are found in the rarest of the rare cases and are so uncommon that even a successful doctor is not able to diagnose more than one such disease in their lifetime.

Here is a list of 10 diseases that rarely affect people and you may have never heard of and hope that nobody has to encounter them up close.

1. Human Pappiloma Virus: The Tree Man


Human Pappiloma Virus (HPV) is a skin disorder which is lifelong.
It is a rare disease which is hereditary in nature.

HPV is extremely rare and only 195 cases have been documented till now all over the world.

It is due to some immunity deficiency which results into a typical skin disorder, mostly severe.

The immunodeficiency allows this virus present on our skin to develop themselves on the person’s skin.

They are present all over the body, but sometimes it can be concentrated to the parts of the body which are exposed to the sun, like face, legs and hands. Yet no significant treatment has not been found, physicians have proposed treatments but none of them is working

2. Hypertrichosis: Werewolf Syndrome

Also known as Werewolf Syndrome, Hypertrichosis is medical hormonal imbalance which triggers an unusual amount of hair growth on the body.

It can occur in male or female anyone and can be hereditary in nature.

The disorder causes abnormal growth of hair in body areas where hair does not grow normally.

It can be over the entire body, or in one or more areas. It’s not innate.

Some are born with it while some develop it later in their life.

This rare case was also seen in India in 2008, where an 11 year old boy was suffering from excessive hair on his face and body.

The family took various measures from homeopathy to traditional Ayurvedic remedies even they took help of laser surgery but could not find a permanent cure.

3. Hereditary angioedema (HAE)

Hereditary angioedema is an inherited disorder.

The symptoms include recurrent episodes of swellings.

The swelling is due to accumulation of fluids outside the blood vessels, jamming the normal flow of either blood or fluid which causes rapid swelling.

Swelling can be seen in the various parts of the body like hands, feet, limbs, face, intestinal tract and airway.

The symptom does not show any sign of itching.

This is a rare case which affects only one among 50,000 people worldwide.

These swellings make daily activities hard to perform for the patient.

Swelling in the gastrointestinal leads to cramping, swelling in airway lead to obstruction, patient suffers very serious complication.

The disease is due to deficiency or inappropriate functioning of certain proteins in the body system which maintain the normal flow of fluids or blood through very small blood vessels.

4. Argyria: Blue Skin

The Blue skin disorder is a real life smurf disease.

The Fugate family was suffering from this disease for nearly last 200 years.

The members of the family suffer from inherited disorder which gives their skin a shocking blue or purple color.

Medically known as methemoglobinemia, it is an outcome of a blood disorder that leads to excessive amount hemoglobin.

Patients have blue skin, purple lips and somewhat brown blood due to insufficient levels of oxygen in the body.

High levels of met hemoglobin can result into heart disorders or even can lead to death.

This disorder is permanent.

The main symptoms include shortness of breath, headache, fatigue, dizziness, and mental changes.

5. Alien Hand Syndrome

  Alien hand syndrome is a rare disorder in which neurologically one hand functions involuntarily.

The victim is completely unaware of its actions and doings.

The affected person's hand seems to take a mind of its own.

They are not in the control of the sufferer, hands do not exist for them.

The terrible symptoms include uncontrolled reaching and grasping for things, touching the face or tearing of clothes.

This disorder occurs after conditions like brain surgery, infection, stroke, tumor and specific degenerative brain conditions.

AHS is the condition in which the affected limb does not have any purpose and are not goal-oriented.

Patients keep all sense of feeling in the hand, but they still have the feelings of disassociation.

They may exhibit strange behaviors like talking to the hand or claiming demonic possession.

Extreme cases involve involuntarily stuffing food into the mouth and preventing hand from simple daily tasks.

Since 1909 there have been only 40 to 50 cases.

6. Fatal familial insomnia: No sleep

The nightmare of FFI is never to have a nightmare or a dream.

It starts with a mysterious sleeplessness starting from middle age and rapidly develops as the person grows old.

For years, the members of an Italian family suffering from this disorder have been dying as they were unable to sleep.  

It is generally resultant of a genetic mutation which leads to a prion disease, related in nature to diseases like Mad Cow, Kuru and even Alzheimer’s.

Till date this disorder has only been found only in 40 families worldwide.

FFI is a rare genetic sleep disorder.

The main symptom includes the inability to sleep, high pulse, blood pressure, excessive sweating and sometimes loss of coordination and motor abilities.

7. Porphyria

Weird but true that 18th century English King George III suffered from this infamous disease.

Porphyria leads to purple urine and feces which is caused due to complications in the production of a protein forming a vital part of the red blood cells.

Affecting skin and the nervous system, common symptoms of this disease are vomiting, constipation, abdominal pain, stomach disorder, increasing sensitivity to sun, swelling, itching and nausea. In few cases, the hair growth of forehead increases.

Toxins after exposure to sunlight due to deficiency of heme protein causes coloring of skin areas like reddish teeth and nails, dark urine etc.

Some of the known people suffered from Porphyria are Mary Queen of Scots, King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon and Vincent Van Gogh.

8. Laughing Death or Kuru

 Also known as Laughing Death, Kuru is so rare that it was found only amongst the tribal Fore people of New Guinea.

The main symptom of the disease is sudden burst of maniacal laughter which ultimately leads to death with a hole in the brain.

The disease was a result of cannibalism, a ritualistic practice where tissues of the brain of the deceased were cooked and consumed.

The sufferers are usually not able to eat and stand, begin to sway and stumble, lose power of speech and ultimately die in a comatose state.

However, in most of the parts, Kuru has disappeared because of government intervention to put an end to cannibalism.

9. Water Allergy

 Also known as Aquagenic Urticaria, this disease is extremely rare and has affected only 30 people till date.

Water Allergy is a disease confirmed by Medical Review Board where sufferers are allergic to water.  

Mostly it occurs in the latter part of the life and is often caused due to hormonal imbalance brought about by giving birth.

In a case in UK, a 21 year old female developed this allergy where she could not drink water or touch water because her skin develops a burning rash.

She could only consume diet coke, bath for 10 seconds in a week and not get caught in the rain. 

This is basically a hypersensitivity to the ions present in non-distilled water.

10. Progeria

 If you have seen the movie Paa, you must be familiar about this disease.

Affecting one in about 8 million children, Progeria is a genetic condition where aging of the patient begins in childhood.

The usual life span of the people affected by this disease is 13 years while few others have been able to survive till their early twenties.

Progeria is not inherited in most of the cases and is an incurable disease though various cures like anti cancer drugs and hormone treatment have been tried by doctors. 

Victims of this fatal disease have an appearance resembling premature aging leading to abnormal development of body parts like bulging eyes, abnormally small face and wrinkled skin.

The hair starts falling at the age of two.

 In 90% of the cases, the victim dies due to a heart attack or stroke.

Source:     ListDose