Friday, 31 May 2013

40% of all heart disease is estimated to be related to smoking

The cost of lighting up
It is addictive. It is glamorized.
It directly and indirectly damages hearts around the globe. Smoking is the common denominator in 40 percent of all cardiovascular disease, according to an environmental scan report published late last year in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology (JACC).

Why Mothers Kiss Their Babies ?

Claiming behaviors such as kissing the baby provide not only emotional but biological attachment. There is also a very real health benefit for the baby in terms of kissing. "When a mother kisses her baby, she 'samples' those pathogens that are on the baby's face - the very ones that the baby is about to ingest. These samples are taken up by the mother's secondary lympoid organs like the tonsils, and memory B cells specific for those pathogens are re-stimulated. These B cells then migrate to the mother's breasts where they produce just those antibodies that the baby needs!"

Sompayrac, Lauren. (1999). How the Immune System Works. Malden, MA:
Blackwell Science, Inc. p. 71.

Copyright 2001-11 Judie Snelson and The Center for Unhindered Living

Bee venom kills HIV cells, new study.

Scientists have recently found that a key ingredient in bee venom destroys HIV without harming other cells. The researchers loaded the toxin, called mellitin, onto nanoparticles fashioned with “bumpers” that normal, larger cells bounced off of unharmed. HIV is small enough that it fits between the bumpers and makes contact with the surface of the nanoparticles, where the bee toxin awaits. Melittin on the nanoparticle fuses with the viral envelope and ruptures it, stripping the virus’s shell.

The difference between this technique and existing anti-HIV drugs is that most drugs attempt to inhibit the virus’s ability to replicate, which the virus is able to evolve to evade. These drugs also don’t arrest the initial infection. But melittin attacks the virus’s inherent structure. There’s theoretically no way to develop adaptive evasion responses to that.

The antiviral therapy has implications for areas rampant with HIV, to be used by women in a vaginal preventative gel that prevents the initial infection. Treatments could also be developed for drug-resistant HIV infections, to be delivered intravenously and potentially clear the blood of the infection. There is also the possibility for this treatment being useful for couples in which one member is HIV-positive but who want to have a baby together.

The nanoparticle itself was developed years ago for an artificial blood experiment, but it was lousy at carrying oxygen. It’s proving its worth now as a promising drug-delivery system instead: the particle can be loaded to target all kinds of infections.

Mellitin attacks double-layered membranes, like the kind many viruses use, indiscriminately, which also means that other viruses like Hepatitis B and C, which rely on a protective envelope to evade the body’s immune system, could be slayed by this potent little toxin. Researchers say the nanoparticles are easy enough to make that they can be reproduced for clinical trials soon.


We investigated whether cytolytic melittin peptides could inhibit HIV-1 infectivity when carried in a nanoparticle construct that might be used as a topical vaginal virucide. Free melittin and melittin-loaded nanoparticles were prepared and compared for cytotoxicity and their ability to inhibit infectivity by CXCR4 and CCR5 tropic HIV-1 strains.

TZM-bl reporter cells expressing luciferase under the control of the HIV-1 promoter were incubated with HIV-1 NLHX (CXCR4) or HIV-1 NLYU2 (CCR5) viral strains and different doses of soluble CD4 (positive control) or free melittin to determine infectivity and viability. Melittin-loaded nanoparticles were formulated and different doses tested against VK2 vaginal epithelial cells to determine cell viability. Based on VK2 viability, melittin nanoparticles were tested for prevention of CXCR4 and CCR5 tropic HIV-1 infectivity and viability of TZM-bl reporter cells. Low-speed centrifugation was used to compare the ability of blank non-melittin nanoparticles and melittin nanoparticles to capture CCR5 tropic HIV-1.

As expected, the soluble CD4 positive control inhibited CXCR4 (50% inhibitory concentration [IC₅₀] 3.7 μg/ml) and CCR5 (IC₅₀ 0.03 μg/ml) tropic HIV-1 infectivity. Free melittin doses <2 μM were not cytotoxic and were highly effective in reducing HIV-1 infectivity for both CXCR4 and CCR5 strains in TZM-bl reporter cells, while VK2 vaginal cell viability was adversely affected at all free melittin doses tested. However, VK2 cell viability was not affected at any dose of melittin-loaded nanoparticles. Melittin nanoparticles safely and significantly decreased CXCR4 (IC₅₀ 2.4 μM and IC₉₀ 6.9 μM) and CCR5 (IC₅₀ 3.6 μM and IC₉₀ 11.4 μM) strain infectivity of TZM-bl reporter cells. Furthermore, melittin nanoparticles captured more HIV-1 than blank nanoparticles.

These data illustrate the first proof-of-concept for therapeutic and safe nanoparticle-mediated inhibition of HIV-1 infectivity. Future investigations appear warranted to explore the antiviral prophylactic potential of melittin nanoparticles to capture, disrupt and prevent initial infection with HIV-1 or potentially other enveloped viruses.


Alien? Or human?

Alien? Subhuman primate? Deformed child? Mummified fetus? The Internet is buzzing over the nature of "Ata," a bizarre 6-inch-long skeleton featured in a new documentary on UFOs. A Stanford University scientist who boldly entered the fray has now put to rest doubts about what species Ata belongs to. But the mystery is not over.

The story began 10 years ago, when the diminutive remains were reportedly found in a pouch in a ghost town in the Atacama Desert of Chile. Ata ended up in a private collection in Barcelona; producers of the film Sirius latched onto the bizarre mummy as evidence of alien life.

Last fall, immunologist Garry Nolan, director of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute's Proteomics Center for Systems Immunology at Stanford in California, heard about Ata from a friend and contacted the filmmakers, offering to give them a scientific readout on the specimen. They asked him to give it a shot.

full story:

The Heart, Mind And Spirit

Brain vs. Heart !
Brain is the master ????
Well, you must rethink !!

- The brain in the heart !!
- the concept of functional ‘heart brain’.
- the heart can act independently of the cranial brain, can learn, remember, and even feel and sense.
- in a heart transplant, nerve connections do not reconnect for an extended period of time; in the meantime, how the transplanted heart is able to function in its new host without nervous connections ??
After extensive research, Armour (1994) introduced the concept of functional ‘heart brain’. His work revealed that the heart has a complex intrinsic nervous system that is sufficiently sophisticated to qualify as a ‘little brain’ in its own right. The heart’s brain is an intricate network of several types of neurons, neurotransmitters, proteins and support cells similar to those found in the brain proper. Its elaborate circuitry enables it to act independently of the cranial brain – to learn, remember, and even feel and sense. The heart’s nervous system contains around 40,000 neurons, called sensory neurites (Armour, 1991). Information from the heart - including feeling sensations - is sent to the brain through several afferents. These afferent nerve pathways enter the brain at the area of the medulla, and cascade up into the higher centres of the brain, where they may influence perception, decision making and other cognitive processes (Armour, 2004). Thus, it was revealed that the heart has its own intrinsic nervous system that operates and processes information independently of the brain or nervous system. This is what allows a heart transplant to work. Normally, the heart communicates with the brain via nerve fibres running through the vagus nerve and the spinal column. In a heart transplant, these nerve connections do not reconnect for an extended period of time; in the meantime, the transplanted heart is able to function in its new host only through the capacity of its intact, intrinsic nervous system (Murphy, et al, 2000)

The Heart, Mind And Spirit ;
Professor Mohamed Omar Salem, Royal College Of Psychiatrists

Pineal gland, Parietal eye and The third eye; The mystery of life or just another medical science fiction story ???

Pineal gland, Parietal eye and The third eye;
The mystery of life or just another medical science fiction story ???

The pineal gland, now called "the third eye", may have been the "first" eye according to scientist David Klein. Long recognized as a light-sensing sensory organ in reptiles and birds, until recently, scientists thought that, in humans, the third eye was a vestigial (underdeveloped) organ that served as little purpose as the body's appendix. However, recent studies indicate that the third eye helps regulate the metabolism and the body's circadian (or biological) clock through its production of the hormone melatonin. Current scientific research reveals that the third eye is possibly a tumor inhibitor and plays a role in sleep disturbances, reproductive irregularities and psychological disorders.


The pineal gland (also called the pineal body, epiphysis cerebri, epiphysis, conarium or the "third eye") is a small endocrine gland in the vertebrate brain. It produces the serotonin derivative melatonin, a hormone that affects the modulation of wake/sleep patterns and seasonal functions.

The secretory activity of the pineal gland is only partially understood. Historically, its location deep in the brain suggested to philosophers that it possessed particular importance. This combination led to its being regarded as a "mystery" gland with mystical, metaphysical and occult theories surrounding its perceived functions.

René Descartes, dedicating much time to the study of the pineal (Pine-cone shaped) gland, has called it the "principal seat of the soul." He believed that it was the point of connection between the intellect and the body. Descartes attached significance to the gland because he believed it to be the only section of the brain which existed as a single part, rather than one half of a pair. He argued that because a person can never have "more than one thought at a time," external stimuli must be united within the brain before being considered by the soul, and he considered the pineal gland to be situated in "the most suitable possible place for this purpose," located centrally in the brain and surrounded by branches of the carotid arteries.

Baruch de Spinoza criticized Descartes' viewpoint for neither following from self-evident premises nor being "clearly and distinctly perceived" (Descartes having previously asserted that he could not draw conclusions of this sort), and questioned what Descartes meant by talking of "the union of the mind and the body."

The notion of a "pineal-eye" is central to the philosophy of the French writer Georges Bataille, which is analyzed at length by literary scholar Denis Hollier in his study Against Architecture. In this work Hollier discusses how Bataille uses the concept of a "pineal-eye" as a reference to a blind-spot in Western rationality, and an organ of excess and delirium. This conceptual device is explicit in his surrealist texts, The Jesuve and The Pineal Eye.

Numerous spiritual philosophies contain the notion of an inner Third Eye that is related to the ajna chakra and also the pineal gland, and to which is attributed significance in mystical awakening or enlightenment, clairvoyant perception and higher states of consciousness. This idea occurs historically in ancient, central and east Asia; and also in contemporary metaphysical theories relating to yoga, Theosophy, Pagan religions, and New Age spiritual philosophies.


The third eye (also known as the inner eye) is a mystical and esoteric concept referring to a speculative invisible eye which provides perception beyond ordinary sight. In certain dharmic spiritual traditions such as Hinduism, the third eye refers to the ajna, or brow, chakra. In Theosophy it is related to the pineal gland.The third eye refers to the gate that leads to inner realms and spaces of higher consciousness. In New Age spirituality, the third eye often symbolizes a state of enlightenment or the evocation of mental images having deeply personal spiritual or psychological significance. The third eye is often associated with religious visions, clairvoyance, the ability to observe chakras and auras, precognition, and out-of-body experiences.


Parietal eye:
A parietal eye, also known as a third eye or pineal eye, is a part of the epithalamus present in some animal species. The eye is photoreceptive and is associated with the pineal gland, regulating circadian rhythmicity and hormone production for thermoregulation.

The lizard-like reptile tuatara has a "well-developed parietal eye, with small lens and retina". Parietal eyes are also found in lizards, frogs and lampreys, as well as some species of fish, such as tuna and pelagic sharks, where it is visible as a light-sensitive spot on top of their head. A poorly developed version, often called the parapineal gland, occurs in salamanders and in fish such as zebrafish. In birds and mammals the parietal organ (but not the pineal gland) is absent.

The parietal eye is a part of the epithalamus, which can be divided into two major parts; the epiphysis (the pineal organ, or pineal gland if mostly endocrine) and the parietal organ (often called the parietal eye, or third eye if it is photoreceptive). It arises as an anterior evagination of the pineal organ or as a separate outgrowth of the roof of the diencephalon. In some species, it protrudes through the skull. The parietal eye uses a different biochemical method of detecting light than rod cells or cone cells in a normal vertebrate eye.

As shown in the accompanying figures, the parietal eye of amphibians and reptiles appears relatively far forward in the skull; thus it may be surprising that the human pineal gland appears far away from this position, tucked away between the corpus callosum and cerebellum. Also the parietal bones, in humans, make up a portion of the rear of the skull, far from the eyes. To understand this, note that the parietal bones formed a part of the skull lying between the eyes in sarcopterygians and basal amphibians, but have moved further back in higher vertebrates. Likewise, in the brain of the frog, the diencephalon, from which the pineal stalk arises, appears relatively further forward, as the cerebral hemispheres are smaller but the optic lobes are far more prominent than the human mesencephalon, which is part of the brain stem. In humans the optic tract, commissure, and optic nerve bridge the substantial distance between eyes and diencephalon. Likewise the pineal stalk of Petromyzon elongates very considerably during metamorphosis.


The first arabic medical science fiction novel is Al- Ankabout (The Spider العنكبوت) by Dr.Mustafa Mahmud; this novel discussed the idea of the activation of the pineal gland so that you can get higher levels of perception of time and space and hence you can live millions of years in minutes.

just ammmazing topic !!

1 Pineal gland

Foodborne botulism

Foodborne botulism, a potentially lethal neuroparalytic disease, is caused by ingesting preformed Clostridium botulinum neurotoxin.

Botulism is a rare but serious paralytic illness caused by a nerve toxin that is produced by the bacterium Clostridium botulinum and sometimes by strains of Clostridium butyricum and Clostridium baratii. There are five main kinds of botulism. Foodborne botulism is caused by eating foods that contain the botulinum toxin.
Wound botulism is caused by toxin produced from a wound infected with Clostridium botulinum. Infant botulism is caused by consuming the spores of the botulinum bacteria, which then grow in the intestines and release toxin. Adult intestinal toxemia (adult intestinal colonization) botulism is a very rare kind of botulism that occurs among adults by the same route as infant botulism.
Lastly, iatrogenic botulism can occur from accidental overdose of botulinum toxin. All forms of botulism can be fatal and are considered medical emergencies. Foodborne botulism is a public health emergency because many people can be poisoned by eating a contaminated food.

The classic symptoms of botulism include double vision, blurred vision, drooping eyelids, slurred speech, difficulty swallowing, dry mouth, and muscle weakness. Infants with botulism appear lethargic, feed poorly, are constipated, and have a weak cry and poor muscle tone. These are all symptoms of the muscle paralysis caused by the bacterial toxin. If untreated, these symptoms may progress to cause paralysis of the respiratory muscles, arms, legs, and trunk. In foodborne botulism, symptoms generally begin 18 to 36 hours after eating a contaminated food, but they can occur as early as 6 hours or as late as 10 days.

Botulism can result in death due to respiratory failure. A patient with severe botulism may require a breathing machine as well as intensive medical and nursing care for several months, and some patients die from infections or other problems related to remaining paralyzed for weeks or months. Patients who survive an episode of botulism poisoning may have fatigue and shortness of breath for years and long-term therapy may be needed to aid recovery.

The respiratory failure and paralysis that occur with severe botulism may require a patient to be on a breathing machine (ventilator) for weeks or months, plus intensive medical and nursing care. The paralysis slowly improves. Botulism can be treated with an antitoxin which blocks the action of toxin circulating in the blood. Antitoxin for infants is available from the California Department of Public Health, and antitoxin for older children and adults is available through CDC.If given before paralysis is complete, antitoxin can prevent worsening and shorten recovery time. Physicians may try to remove contaminated food still in the gut by inducing vomiting or by using enemas. Wounds should be treated, usually surgically, to remove the source of the toxin-producing bacteria followed by administration of appropriate antibiotics. Good supportive care in a hospital is the mainstay of therapy for all forms of botulism.

Because the botulinum toxin is destroyed by high temperatures, persons who eat home-canned foods should consider boiling the food for 10 minutes before eating it to ensure safety.


CDC, National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases;
CDC Research, Foodborne Botulism in the United States, 1990–2000;

The Happening: Science Fact or Science Fiction?

The Happening: Science Fact or Science Fiction?

" I’ve not heard of any experiments that would be considered scientifically sound that would confirm that plants respond in any positive or negative way to human stimulus. I’d say that’s clearly over the line." David Caron;

5 Reasons Why Researchers Say The Happening Is Junk Science:

1. Plants Can Talk to Each Other
Throughout the course of The Happening, the foliage gets furious at the mere presence of humans: First it's the city parks attacking the urban masses, then the prairie fields going after country roads. The deadly pattern, radiating outward within 36 hours, leads the nursery owner to surmise that plants are communicating, then releasing toxins to specific areas. "If you take a very broad definition of communication, which means any type of signal that is made by one organism that can be sensed by another, then yes, under some circumstances, plants can communicate," says Joe Armstrong, a professor of botany at the University of Illinois.

Still, it's not a communication like a conversation. Instead, plants sense the presence of other vegetation through photoreceptors and chemical means. When herbivores chew on some types, for example, a plant's response is two-fold: chemical, to deter the herbivore; and a volatile emission into the air that other plants can sense, then respond with protective chemicals. The same chemicals are not produced when leaves are simply torn or damaged. Some plants have been shown to recognize others nearby that are competing for sunlight--ripening fruits release hormones that can cause a response in surrounding plants, and parasitic plants can sense chemicals emitted into the air and soil by other plants.

There's even research to suggest that plants may have a social life that we, as yet, don't understand: According to a recently released study by scientists at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, the Great Lakes sea rocket weed can recognize plants related to it. "This is important," says Susan A. Dudley, an evolutionary plant biologist who conducted the study, "since places often live with relatives and, like animals, can increase their fitness by benefiting relatives." It's neat stuff, but hardly adds up to a crosscountry network of conniving, chatty trees.

2. Plants Can Sniper Enemies
The Happening's ominous nurseryman claims that plants can target specific threats. He cites tobacco as an example, which he insists releases certain wasp-calling pheromones as caterpillars munch on it; when the wasps show up, they kill the caterpillars.

While some plants can target specific plants, the film seemed to imply that the plants were purposefully, knowingly going directly after humans--and that's not exactly how it works. "[Some] plants send out volatile hormones when they are attacked," Dudley says. "The signals are evoked by a combination of damage and insect saliva. Predators such as wasps use this cue to find their prey." In other words, says Armstrong, in all likelihood wasps have developed sensory apparatus to detect injured plant hormones. So it's not the plant that's calling the wasp to its defense.

3. Plants Can Wage War With Genetics
Shyamalan seems to suggest that plants might evolve to the point of attack because humans pose a threat to the planet. But Armstrong stresses that individuals don't evolve--populations do, by selecting for genetic variants that promote survival. How quickly it happens all depends on how fast those plants reproduce. "Something like trees are going to be very slow because their generation time is low," he says. "Something like weeds can evolve pretty fast."

In the case of the killer vegetation, some plants would have had to come up with the killer genetic variant randomly, and over time those plants would have to have been selected because they were more fit than their less toxic relatives. Only in this case, it's not at all clear why killing humans would help these plants evolve--especially in places like parks.

Plus, says Jenny Cruse-Sanders, director of research and conservation at the Atlanta Botanical Garden, "it's unlikely across the entire plant kingdom that all these unrelated species would be producing the same compound." Armstrong agrees: "There are many different types of defense mechanisms," he says.

4. Plants Can Breathe Poison
Botanists agree that plants can emit volatile compounds. There are literally thousands of plants that have neurological impacts on humans when ingested, but researchers have yet to discover any that can emit airborne neurotoxins. And there's certainly no evidence to suggest that plants will emit them on a massive scale, because developing chemical defenses requires extraordinary amounts of energy.

Producing even simple defense mechanisms has a high energy cost--particularly for big organisms like trees and common, but inefficient, species such as grass. "For the most part, trees are big organisms and things eating them are small organisms," Armstrong says. "Under those circumstances, why expend the energy for chemical defenses?" Grasses, says Sanders, grow quickly and don't put a lot of resources into the structure or seeds--so the likelihood that they'd be able to emit toxins is nil.

Smaller plants with smaller populations, however, are a different story. "When getting eaten is a problem for smaller plants, that's a common situation where plants are toxic," Armstrong says. But that's not the scenario depicted in The Happening, in which characters spend the bulk of their time running from toxins in the fields of Central Pennsylvania--not exactly the hub of exotic plant life.

5. Plants Can Hear Us
All of our scientists agree that plants can respond to certain stimuli--it's a phenomenon called tropism--but speech isn't one of them. "You can talk to them an awful lot, and raise the CO2 content in their vicinity," Armstrong jokes, "[but] I don't think plants can sense our presence. There are plants that respond to touch--carnivorous plants like the venus fly trap have trigger hairs, and if you touch them in the right sequence, the plant will close. I don't think most other plants have a mechanism for responding to the presence or lack of presence of people."

Brain Never sleeps

Until the 1950s, most people thought of sleep as a passive, dormant part of our daily lives. We now know that our brains are very active during sleep. Moreover, sleep affects our daily functioning and our physical and mental health in many ways that we are just beginning to understand.

Read more: Understanding Sleep
Sleep: A Dynamic Activity
How Much Sleep Do We Need?
What Does Sleep Do For Us?
Dreaming and REM Sleep
Sleep and Circadian Rhythms
Sleep and Disease
Sleep Disorders
The Future
Tips for a Good Night's Sleep

Ways to Reverse Food Addiction.

What do we know about how the human brain forms addiction? It's clear that the more we do something, the deeper the pathways created in our brain. Those "neural pathways" become automated habits and eventually addictions. Just like toweling off after a shower is now automatic and likely done the same time each way, your brain will do everything it can to make all of the choices in your life simpler to preserve energy. So how can you cut your addictions off at the source?

1. Don't give up! If you truly want to become healthier, you can

2. Find healthy swaps for high sugar, salt and fat foods (processed / preservative laden foods.) For example, instead of having potato chips, eat something with avocado. Have fresh berries instead of candy!

3. Acknowledge each time you feel the pleasure circuits trigger in your brain and body after eating something high in salt, sugar or fat. The more aware of your physical responses to phoods, the easier it will become to make a new choice.

4. Learn the art of "future pacing". Imagine how you will feel after eating the potato chip, the candy bar or the fried piece of chicken. Recent studies on the human brain have shown that most people who have cravings actually get more pleasure in their minds than they do after following through and eating what they craved. Knowing this is empowering, choose differently!

5. Have your "swap it out" list prepared and keep the foods you want to eat around you at all times. If you usually carry M&M's in your purse, swap that out for a healthier chocolate bar that's dairy free and made from real cacao. If you normally crave french fries, consider bringing a few pieces of fruit along with you because your body is likely craving carbohydrates.


Have Asthma? You Likely Have an Allergy as Well

Asthma is becoming an epidemic in the United States. The number of Americans diagnosed
with asthma grows annually, with 26 million currently affected. And according to a new study, nearly two-thirds or more of all asthmatics also have an allergy, which can make this spring season particularly bothersome.

The study, which is published in the April issue of Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, the scientific journal of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI), found that an astonishing 75 percent of asthmatic adults aged 20- to 40-years-old, and 65 percent of asthmatic adults aged 55 years and older, have at least one allergy.

"Allergists have known the prevalence of allergies among asthmatic children is high at 60 to 80 percent, but it was thought allergies were not as common in asthmatic adults," said allergist Paula Busse, MD, lead study author. "These findings are important, and can help lead to proper diagnosis and treatment."

A total of 2,573 adults were studied in a National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). A panel of 19 allergens was used to detect allergy among asthmatics.

While asthma is frequently associated with children, it is not uncommon among adults 60 years and older, affecting three to seven percent. This number is likely higher, however, because asthma is often underdiagnosed in older adults.

"Both asthma and allergies can strike at any age, and are serious diseases," said allergist Richard Weber, MD, ACAAI president. "Anyone who thinks they may be having symptoms of an allergy or asthma should see a board-certified allergist. Allergists are experts in diagnosing and treating both conditions."

According to the ACAAI, more than 50 million Americans have an allergy, a number which is also on the rise. Is the link between asthma and allergies a reason?

"It could be one of many creating this perfect storm for allergies," said Dr. Weber. "Other factors, such as the hygiene hypothesis, climate change and an increase in awareness and education can also be reasons for this growth."

Thursday, 30 May 2013

Egyptian New Research: Blocking protein Meis1 may regenerate heart tissue

Generating new heart muscle cells (cardiomyocytes) in mice can be achieved by blocking the action of a protein called Meis1, according to a new study published in Nature*.

Adult hearts in mammals cannot regenerate tissue to recover from injury, but the hearts of mammals in the first week after birth are able to do so by multiplying existing cardiomyocytes.

The team, including Egyptian researchers Ahmed Mahmoud and Hesham Sadek from The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, as well as Ahmed Koura from Ain Sham University, Cairo, found that Meis1 regulates the cardiomyocyte cell cycle. If Meis1 is deleted in adult mouse hearts, the proliferation of cardiomyocytes can be reactivated without damaging heart function.

To determine whether the omission of Meis1 increases the total population of cardiomyocytes, the team isolated adult mice cardiomyocytes from wild-type and knockout mice and found a significant increase in the total number of cells in the hearts of knockout mice.

The researchers examined the effect of Meis1 deletion at the postnatal stages of 28 days and 7 months and found that cardiac function and heart size were normal in these mice. In addition, the authors found that increased expression of Meis1 in newborn mice blocked the heart's ability to regenerate.

These findings suggest that Meis1 could be a potential therapeutic target in cases of damage to heart tissue.

*Mahmoud, A. et al. Meis1 regulates postnatal cardiomyocyte cell cycle arrest. Nature (2013) :


Toward a digital camera to rival the human eye

All things considered, electronic imaging systems do not rival the human visual system despite notable progress over 40 years since the invention of the CCD. This work presents a method that allows design engineers to evaluate the performance gap between a digital camera and the human eye. The method identifies limiting factors of the electronic systems by benchmarking against the human system. It considers power consumption, visual field, spatial resolution, temporal resolution, and properties related to signal and noise power. A figure of merit is defined as the performance gap of the weakest parameter. Experimental work done with observers and cadavers is reviewed to assess the parameters of the human eye, and assessment techniques are also covered for digital cameras.
The method is applied to 24 modern image sensors of various types, where an ideal lens is assumed to complete a digital camera.
Results indicate that dynamic range and dark limit are the most limiting factors. The substantial functional gap, from 1.6 to 4.5 orders of magnitude, between the human eye and digital cameras may arise from architectural differences between the human retina, arranged in a multiple-layer structure, and image sensors, mostly fabricated in planar technologies. Functionality of image sensors may be significantly improved by exploiting technologies that allow vertical stacking of active tiers.

full paper: University of Alberta;


Why can't I just point my camera at what I'm seeing and record that? It's a seemingly simple question. It's also one of the most complicated to answer, and requires delving into not only how a camera records light, but also how and why our eyes work the way they do. Tackling such questions can reveal surprising insights about our everyday perception of the world — in addition to making one a better photographer.

Dosimetric investigation of the solar erythemal UV radiation protection provided by beards and moustaches.

A dosimetric technique has been employed to establish the amount of erythemal ultraviolet radiation (UVR) protection provided by facial hair considering the influence of solar zenith angle (SZA) and beard-moustache length. The facial hair reduced the exposure ratios (ERs) to approximately one-third of those to the sites with no hair. The variation in the ERs over the different sites was reduced compared with the cases with no beard. The ultraviolet protection factor (UPF) provided by the facial hair ranged from 2 to 21. The UPF decreases with increasing SZA. The minimum UPF was in the 53-62° range. The longer hair provides a higher UPF at the smaller SZA, but the difference between the protection provided by the longer hair compared with the shorter hair reduces with increasing SZA. Protection from UVR is provided by the facial hair; however, it is not very high, particularly at the higher SZA.

After a Yoga exercise, there could be a change in your gene expression !

PROBLEM: The flight or fight response -- the natural response to stress -- essentially puts the nervous system in overdrive. So it's no surprise that its opposite state, known as the relaxation response to stress, is associated with feeling good, in a general sense. People are able to evoke the relaxation response by repeating a yoga pose, prayer, or mantra while disregarding other thoughts, and it's been shown to protect against psychological disorders like anxiety and depression as well as physical conditions like hypertension, cardiovascular disease, and types of cancer that are exacerbated by stress.

METHODOLOGY: Researchers at the Benson-Henry Institute for Mind/Body Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center Subjects trained 26 adults with no prior experience in this type of meditation for eight weeks. They practiced deep breathing, repeated mantras, and learned to ignore intrusive thoughts. Initially, they were given blood tests immediately before and 15 minutes after listening to a 20-minute health education CD. This was repeated after their training, only with a CD that guided them in their meditation. Twenty-five other participants, who had long-term experience in evoking the relaxation response, were tested as well.

RESULTS: All of the subjects' blood samples revealed changes in gene expression following meditation. The changes were the exact opposite of what occurs during flight or fight: genes associated with energy metabolism, mitochondrial function, insulin secretion, and telomere maintenance were turned on, while those involved in inflammation were turned off. These effects were more pronounced and consistent for long-term practitioners.

IMPLICATIONS: People who practice simple meditation aren't "just relaxing," explained the study's senior author, Dr. Herbert Benson (he of the aforementioned institute). Instead, they're experiencing "a specific genomic response that counteracts the harmful genomic effects of stress." While this study only looked at one way of reaching this state, people have been figuring this out for themselves for thousands of years, through yoga, prayer, and other forms of meditation. Yet this is the first time researchers have been able to use basic science to show that these practices actually have an observable, biological effect.

It's only gene expression that is altered, not the genes themselves. But these results also showed that the effects of the relaxation response become stronger with practice, typically twice a day for 10 to 20 minutes. Fortunately it's not hard to learn -- in what was perhaps the most pleasant turn an interview has ever taken, Benson guided me through a meditation session. "Do it for years," said Benson, "and then these effects are quite powerful in how they change your gene activity."

Flesh-eating bacteria !

Flesh-eating bacteria !
Necrotizing soft tissue infection is a rare but very severe type of bacterial infection that can destroy the muscles, skin, and underlying tissue. Necrotizing refers to something that causes tissue death.

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

Many different types of bacteria can cause this type of infection. A very severe and usually deadly form of necrotizing soft tissue infection is due to Streptococcus pyogenes, which is sometimes called "flesh-eating bacteria."
Necrotizing soft tissue infection develops when the bacteria enters the body, usually through a minor cut or scrape. The bacteria begins to grow and release harmful substances (toxins) that:

Directly kill tissue
Interfere with the blood flow to the tissue
Break down materials in the tissue, which rapidly spreads the bacteria, leading to widespread effects such as shock


The first sign of infection may be a small, reddish, painful spot or bump on the skin. This quickly changes to a very painful bronze- or purple-colored patch that grows rapidly. The center may become black and die off. The skin may break open and ooze fluid. The wound may quickly grow in less than an hour.
Symptoms may include general ill feeling, fever, sweating, chills, nausea, dizziness, profound weakness, and finally shock. Without treatment, death can occur rapidly.

Signs and tests

How the skin and tissue look can help the doctor diagnose a necrotizing soft tissue infection. Often a patient will be diagnosed in the operating room by a surgeon. Imaging tests, such as CT scans, are sometimes helpful.
Tests performed on blood, fluids, or tissue from the area may determine the bacteria that is causing the infection.


Powerful, broad-spectrum antibiotics must be given immediately through a vein (IV). Surgery is required to open and drain infected areas and remove dead tissue. Sometimes donor immunoglobulins (antibodies) are given by vein to help fight the infection.
Skin grafts may be needed after the infection goes away. If an arm or leg infection cannot be controlled, amputation of the limb may be considered.
If the bacteria is determined to be an oxygen-avoiding organism (anaerobe), the patient may receive hyperbaric oxygen therapy. This involves placing the patient in a chamber that delivers 100% oxygen at high pressure.

Expectations (prognosis)

How well a patient does depends on:

How fast the diagnosis was obtained
The type of bacteria causing the infection
How quickly the infection spreads
How well the antibiotics work

Scarring and deformity are common with this type of disease. The death rate is high, even with aggressive treatment and powerful antibiotics. Untreated, the infection spreads and causes death.


Local spread of infection, progressive tissue damage
Systemic spread of infection, sepsis, shock
Scarring and disfigurement
Functional loss of an arm or leg


Precision medicine

Precision medicine will harness technology, science and medical records to better understand the roots of disease, develop targeted therapies and ultimately to save lives.




Haemolacria refers to the presence of blood in the tears. Concentrations may be so low that it can only be detected with laboratory testing, or the patient may appear to be bleeding from the eyes due to the high blood content. It usually appears as a symptom of disease, although it can also develop spontaneously in some cases, particularly in fertile women. Research suggests that some women produce some blood in their tears in connection with the hormone cycle, and may be unaware of it because only traces are present.
Read more:

Left Vs. Right Brain !

 for high resolution:

Marfan syndrome

Marfan syndrome (also called Marfan's syndrome) is a genetic disorder of the connective tissue. People with Marfan tend to be unusually tall, with long limbs and long, thin fingers.


The syndrome is inherited as a dominant trait, carried by the gene FBN1, which encodes the connective protein fibrillin-1. People have a pair of FBN1 genes. Because it is dominant, people who have inherited one affected FBN1 gene from either parent will have Marfan syndrome.

Marfan syndrome has a range of expressions, from mild to severe. The most serious complications are defects of the heart valves and aorta. It may also affect the lungs, the eyes, the dural sac surrounding the spinal cord, the skeleton and the hard palate.

In addition to being a connective protein that forms the structural support for tissues outside the cell, the normal fibrillin-1 protein binds to another protein, transforming growth factor beta (TGF-β). TGF-β has deleterious effects on vascular smooth muscle development and the integrity of the extracellular matrix. Researchers now believe, secondary to mutated fibrillin, excessive TGF-β at the lungs, heart valves, and aorta weakens the tissues and causes the features of Marfan syndrome. Since angiotensin II receptor antagonists (ARBs) also reduce TGF-β, ARBs (losartan, etc.) have been tested in a small sample of young, severely affected Marfan syndrome patients. In some patients, the growth of the aorta was indeed reduced.

Marfan syndrome is named after Antoine Marfan, the French pediatrician who first described the condition in 1896. The gene linked to the disease was first identified by Hal Dietz and Francesco Ramirez in 1991.

Animal Testing !

Take charge of your life

7 Simple Ways to Improve Your Memory

Boost your memory easily by writing about your problems, looking at a natural scene, predicting your performance and more...

You'll have heard about the usual methods for improving memory, like using imagery, chunking and building associations with other memories. If not Google it and you'll find millions of websites with the same information.

The problem with most of these methods is they involve a fair amount of mental effort.

So here are seven easy ways to boost your memory that are backed up by psychological research. None require you to train hard, spend any money or take illegal drugs. All free, all pretty easy, all natural!

1. Write about your problems

To do complex tasks we rely on our 'working memory'. This is our ability to shuttle information in and out of consciousness and manipulate it. A more efficient working memory contributes to better learning, planning, reasoning and more.

One way to increase working memory capacity indirectly is through expressive writing. You sit down for 20 minutes a few times a month and write about something traumatic that has happened to you. Yogo and Fujihara (2008) found that it improved working memory after 5 weeks.

Psychologists aren't exactly sure why this works, but it does have a measurable effect.

2. Look at a natural scene

Nature has a magical effect on us. It's something we've always known, but psychologists are only just getting around to measuring it.

One of nature's beneficial effects is improving memory. In one study people who walked around an arboretum did 20% better on a memory test than those who went for a walk around busy streets.

In fact you don't even need to leave the house. Although the effects aren't as powerful, you can just look at pictures of nature and that also has a beneficial effect (I describe this study in detail here).

3. Say words aloud

This is surely the easiest of all methods for improving memory: if you want to remember something in particular from a load of other things, just say it out loud. A study (described here) found memory improvements of 10% for words said out loud, or even just mouthed: a relatively small gain, but at a tiny cost.

4. Meditate (a bit)

Meditation has been consistently found to improve cognitive functioning, including memory. But meditation takes time doesn't it? Long, hard hours of practice? Well, maybe not.

In one recent study, participants who meditated for 4 sessions of only 20 minutes, once a day, saw boosts to their working memory and other cognitive functions (the study is described here, also see my beginner's guide to meditation).

5. Predict your performance

Simply asking ourselves whether or not we'll remember something has a beneficial effect on memory. This works for both recalling things that have happened in the past and trying to remember to do things in the future.

When Meier et al. (2011) tested people's prospective memory (remembering to do something in the future), they found that trying to predict performance was beneficial. On some tasks people's performance increased by almost 50%.

6. Use your body to encode memories

We don't just think with our minds, we also use our bodies. For example, research has shown that we understand language better if it's accompanied by gestures.

We can also use gestures to encode memories. Researchers trying to teach Japanese verbs to English speakers found that gesturing while learning helped encode the memory (Kelly et al., 2009). Participants who used hand gestures which suggested the word were able to recall almost twice as many Japanese words a week later.

7. Use your body to remember

Since our bodies are important in encoding a memory, they can also help in retrieving it. Psychologists have found that we recall past episodes better when we are in the same mood or our body is in the same position (Dijkstra et al., 2007).

This works to a remarkably abstract degree. In one study by Cassasanto and Dijkstra (2010), participants were better able to retrieve positive memories when they moved marbles upwards and negative memories when they moved marbles downwards. This seems to be because we associate up with happy and down with sad.


How to Recognize the Plastics That are Hazardous to You

Look around your home and take note of just how many plastic items are around you. From food containers and utensils to bags, water bottles, shower curtains and children’s toys, plastic has become a permanent fixture in our everyday lives – but it’s one that comes with serious consequences.

Approximately 200 billion pounds (that’s 100 million tons) of plastic are produced every year. Some now say we have entered the “Age of Plastics.”1 But all of these plastic chemicals are now finding their way into your body and the environment, where they are accumulating over time with potentially catastrophic biological consequences.

Why You Should Check the Resin Identification Code

It is possible to seriously cut back on the amount of plastic in your life, which I strongly recommend and give tips for below. However, for the plastics you do use it’s important to be aware of the risks they pose.

This can be determined through a classification system called the Resin Identification Code, which is the number printed on the bottom of most plastic bottles and food containers. It describes what kind of plastic resin the product is made out of.

The featured article2 compiled a breakdown of what each Resin Identification Code means, which you can use to help you make informed decisions on your plastic usage. As you’ll read below, you should generally avoid plastics labeled #7, #3 or #6, while those that may be somewhat safer include #1, #2, #4 and #5.

Getting to Know Your Plastics: What the 7 Numbers Mean

Plastic #1: Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET)

Typically used to make bottles for soft drinks, water, juice, mouthwash, sports drinks and containers for condiments like ketchup, salad dressing, jelly and jam, PET is considered safe, but it can actually leach the toxic metal antimony, which is used during its manufacture.

One study that looked at 63 brands of bottled water produced in Europe and Canada found concentrations of antimony that were more than 100 times the typical level found in clean groundwater (2 parts per trillion).3

It also found that the longer a bottle of water sits on a shelf -- in a grocery store or your refrigerator -- the greater the dose of antimony present. It is believed that the amount of antimony leeching from these PET bottles differs based on exposure to sunlight, higher temperatures, and varying pH levels.

Brominated compounds have also been found to leach into PET bottles.4 Bromine is known to act as a central nervous system depressant, and can trigger a number of psychological symptoms such as acute paranoia and other psychotic symptoms.

Plastic #2: High Density Polyethylene (HDPE)

HDPE, which is considered a low-hazard plastic, is often used for milk, water and juice bottles, as well as bottles for cleaning supplies and shampoo. It’s also used to make grocery bags and cereal box liners. HDPE (like most plastics) has been found to release estrogenic chemicals.

In one study, 95 percent of all plastic products tested were positive for estrogenic activity, meaning they can potentially disrupt your hormones and even alter the structure of human cells, posing risks to infants and children.5 In this particular study, even products that claimed to be free of the common plastic toxicant bisphenol-A (BPA) still tested positive for other estrogenic chemicals.

Plastic #3: Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC)

PVC plastic can be rigid or flexible, and is commonly found in bags for bedding, shrink wrap, deli and meat wrap, plastic toys, table cloths and blister packs used to store medications.

PVC contains toxic chemicals including DEHP, a type of phthalate used as a plastics softener. Phthalates are one of the groups of "gender-bending" chemicals causing males of many species to become more female. These chemicals have disrupted the endocrine systems of wildlife, causing testicular cancer, genital deformations, low sperm counts and infertility in a number of species, including polar bears, deer, whales and otters, just to name a few.

Scientists believe phthalates are responsible for a similar pattern of adverse effects in humans as well. If your home contains soft, flexible plastic flooring, such as vinyl or those padded play-mat floors for kids (often used in day cares and kindergartens, too), there’s a good chance it is also made from toxic PVC. PVC flooring has been linked to chronic diseases including allergies, asthma and autism.

Plastic #4: Low Density Polyethylene (LDPE)

Another plastic that is considered a low hazard, LDPE is used in bags for bread, newspapers, fresh produce, household garbage and frozen foods, as well as in paper milk cartons and hot and cold beverage cups. While LDPE does not contain BPA, it may pose risks of leaching estrogenic chemicals, similar to HDPE.

Plastic #5: Polypropylene (PP)

PP plastic is used to make containers for yogurt, deli foods, medications and takeout meals. While polypropylene is said to have a high heat tolerance making it unlikely to leach chemicals, at least one study found that PP plastic ware used for laboratory studies did leach at least two chemicals.6

Plastic #6: Polystyrene (PS)

Polystyrene, also known as Styrofoam, is used to make cups, plates, bowls, take-out containers, meat trays and more. Polystyrene is known to leach styrene,7 which can damage your nervous system and is linked to cancer, into your food. Temperature has been found to play a role in how much styrene leaches from polystyrene containers, which means using them for hot foods and beverages (such as hot coffee in a polystyrene cup) may be worst of all.

Plastic #7: Other

This is a catch-all designation used to describe products made from other plastic resins not described above, or those made from a combination of plastics. It’s difficult to know for sure what types of toxins may be in #7 plastics, but there’s a good chance it often contains BPA or the new, equally concerning chemical on the block in the bisphenol class known as Bisphenol-S (BPS).

BPA and BPS are endocrine disrupters, which means they mimic or interfere with your body's hormones and "disrupts" your endocrine system. The glands of your endocrine system and the hormones they release are instrumental in regulating mood, growth and development, tissue function, metabolism, as well as sexual function and reproductive processes.

Some of the greatest concern surrounds early-life, in utero exposure to bisphenol compounds, which can lead to chromosomal errors in your developing fetus, causing spontaneous miscarriages and genetic damage. But evidence is also very strong showing these chemicals are influencing adults and children, too, and leading to decreased sperm quality, early puberty, stimulation of mammary gland development, disrupted reproductive cycles and ovarian dysfunction, cancer and heart disease, among numerous other health problems.

For instance, research has found that "higher BPA exposure is associated with general and central obesity in the general adult population of the United States,"8 while another study found that BPA is associated not only with generalized and abdominal obesity, but also with insulin resistance, which is an underlying factor in many chronic diseases.9

Plastics Pose a Great Risk to the Environment, Too

Plastics are not only an issue in products while they’re being used but also when they’re disposed of. While approximately 50 percent of plastic waste goes to landfills (where it will sit for hundreds of years due to limited oxygen and lack of microorganisms to break it down) the remaining 45 plus percent “disappears” into the environment where it ultimately washes out to sea, damaging marine ecosystems and entering the food chain.

Plastic particles are like “sponges” for waterborne contaminants such as PCBs, pesticides like DDT, herbicides, PAHs, and other persistent organic pollutants. This phenomenon makes plastics far from benign, and scientists have yet to determine the full extent of the dangers posed by their consumption or the effects higher up the food chain.

One of the biggest environmental assaults is the massive accumulation of plastic trash in each of the world’s five major oceanic gyres. Gyres are large, slowly rotating oceanic whirlpools, driven by global winds and ocean currents.10 Garbage and debris is funneled into the center of these gyres, in a kind of toilet bowl effect or vortex.

One of these gyres, the North Pacific Gyre, is in the middle of the Pacific Ocean about a thousand miles from the Western coast. In its midst is a huge mass of trash (90 percent plastics), which floats in a soup of smaller pieces that have been broken apart by wave action.

Some call it the “Great Pacific Garbage Patch” and others the “Pacific Trash Vortex,” but regardless of its name, it’s the largest “landfill” in the world. In it you will find everything from plastic netting to bottles and bags and buckets, paint rollers, hula-hoops and medical equipment. Most of the garbage patch, however, is not made up of large items but rather microplastics you can’t see with the naked eye, forming a sort of plastic soup where pure seawater used to be. Filter-feeding marine animals ingest these plastic particles, and the toxins they contain, and subsequently pass them up through the food chain, and eventually to humans.

Tips for Cutting Down on Your Plastic Use

If at all possible, seek to purchase products that are not made from or packaged in plastic. Here are a few ideas for doing so:

Use reusable shopping bags for groceries Bring your own mug for coffee Bring drinking water from home in glass water bottles, instead of buying bottled water
Store foods in the freezer in glass mason jars as opposed to plastic bags Take your own non-plastic container to restaurants for leftovers Request no plastic wrap on your newspaper and dry cleaning
Avoid disposable utensils Buy foods in bulk when you can Replace your plastic kitchenware with glass or ceramic alternatives
Use stainless steel or high-heat-resistant nylon for utensils in lieu of plastics

Since plastic is found widely in processed food packaging (this includes canned foods and beverages, which typically have a plastic lining), modifying your diet to include primarily fresh, whole foods that you purchase at a farmer's market or food co-op will have the added benefit of helping you cut down on exposure to plastic chemicals that are common in the food packages sold at most supermarkets.

Amazing Facts About Human Eye


Human Body; 18 Amazing Facts

Amazing anatomy picture !

The Amazing Benefits of Bananas

Click image to enlarge

I can read it! Can you??

Good Start :)

 بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

Dr.Hossam Elgnainy

Blood Test to Diagnose Alzheimer's in Earliest Stage?

Researchers analyzed cerebrospinal fluid and plasma samples from 45 people in the Mayo Clinic Study on Aging and Mayo Clinic Alzheimer's Disease Center (15 with no cognitive decline, 15 with mild cognitive impairment and 15 with Alzheimer's disease). They detected significant changes in the cerebrospinal fluid and plasma in those with cognitive decline and Alzheimer's. Most important, changes in plasma accurately reflected changes in the cerebrospinal fluid, validating blood as a reliable source for the biomarker development.

The team uses a relatively new technique called metabolomics, which measures the chemical fingerprints of metabolic pathways in the cell -- sugars, lipids, nucleotides, amino acids and fatty acids -- to detect the changes. Metabolomics assesses what is happening in the body at a given time and at a fine level of detail, giving scientists insight into the cellular processes that underlie a disease. In this case, the metabolomic profiles showed changes in metabolites related to mitochondrial function and energy metabolism, further confirming that altered mitochondrial energetics is at the root of the disease process.


The researchers hope that identified changes in the metabolic pathways could lead to the panel of biomarke which can eventually be used on a larger scale for early diagnosis, monitoring of Alzheimer's progression, and evaluating therapeutic approaches, says co-author Eugenia Trushina, Ph.D., a Mayo Clinic pharmacologist.

"We want to use these biomarkers to diagnose the Alzheimer's disease before symptoms appear -- which can be decades before people start exhibiting memory loss," Dr. Trushina says. "The earlier we can detect the disease, the better treatment options we will be able to offer."

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

The brain in the heart & The Heart is an endocrine gland !

Does your heart can really influence your decisions ?
Where is our emotions really located in our bodies ?
Does the heart have endocrine activity and can release hormones ?
The brain in the heart:
After extensive research, Armour (1994) introduced the concept of functional ‘heart brain’. His work revealed that the heart has a complex intrinsic nervous system that is sufficiently sophisticated to qualify as a ‘little brain’ in its own right. The heart’s brain is an intricate network of several types of neurons, neurotransmitters, proteins and support cells similar to those found in the brain proper. Its elaborate circuitry enables it to act independently of the cranial brain – to learn, remember, and even feel and sense. The heart’s nervous system contains around 40,000 neurons, called sensory neurites (Armour, 1991). Information from the heart - including feeling sensations - is sent to the brain through several afferents. These afferent nerve pathways enter the brain at the area of the medulla, and cascade up into the higher centres of the brain, where they may influence perception, decision making and other cognitive processes (Armour, 2004). Thus, it was revealed that the heart has its own intrinsic nervous system that operates and processes information independently of the brain or nervous system. This is what allows a heart transplant to work. Normally, the heart communicates with the brain via nerve fibres running through the vagus nerve and the spinal column. In a heart transplant, these nerve connections do not reconnect for an extended period of time; in the meantime, the transplanted heart is able to function in its new host only through the capacity of its intact, intrinsic nervous system (Murphy, et al, 2000),-Mind-and-Spirit---Royal-College-of-Psychiatrists-download-w7323.pdf

The Heart is an endocrine gland !
For many years, it was known that distension of the atria of the heart enhanced sodium and water excretion. The distension of the atria was thought to cause a diuresis through a neural reflex mechanism. It is now clear that a peptide is secreted from the heart into the blood to cause a diuresis by the kidney. This peptide called atrial natriuretic factor or ANF (also auriculin, atriopeptin, atrin) fulfills the requirements for a hormone.


"Helicobacter pylori" The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 2005 Barry J. Marshall, J. Robin Warren


This year's Nobel Laureates in Physiology or Medicine made the remarkable and unexpected discovery that inflammation in the stomach (gastritis) as well as ulceration of the stomach or duodenum (peptic ulcer disease) is the result of an infection of the stomach caused by the bacterium Helicobacter pylori.

Robin Warren (born 1937), a pathologist from Perth, Australia, observed small curved bacteria colonizing the lower part of the stomach (antrum) in about 50% of patients from which biopsies had been taken. He made the crucial observation that signs of inflammation were always present in the gastric mucosa close to where the bacteria were seen.

Barry Marshall (born 1951), a young clinical fellow, became interested in Warren's findings and together they initiated a study of biopsies from 100 patients. After several attempts, Marshall succeeded in cultivating a hitherto unknown bacterial species (later denoted Helicobacter pylori) from several of these biopsies. Together they found that the organism was present in almost all patients with gastric inflammation, duodenal ulcer or gastric ulcer. Based on these results, they proposed that Helicobacter pylori is involved in the aetiology of these diseases.

Even though peptic ulcers could be healed by inhibiting gastric acid production, they frequently relapsed, since bacteria and chronic inflammation of the stomach remained. In treatment studies, Marshall and Warren as well as others showed that patients could be cured from their peptic ulcer disease only when the bacteria were eradicated from the stomach. Thanks to the pioneering discovery by Marshall and Warren, peptic ulcer disease is no longer a chronic, frequently disabling condition, but a disease that can be cured by a short regimen of antibiotics and acid secretion inhibitors.
Peptic ulcer – an infectious disease!

This year's Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine goes to Barry Marshall and Robin Warren, who with tenacity and a prepared mind challenged prevailing dogmas. By using technologies generally available (fibre endoscopy, silver staining of histological sections and culture techniques for microaerophilic bacteria), they made an irrefutable case that the bacteriumHelicobacter pylori is causing disease. By culturing the bacteria they made them amenable to scientific study.

In 1982, when this bacterium was discovered by Marshall and Warren, stress and lifestyle were considered the major causes of peptic ulcer disease. It is now firmly established thatHelicobacter pylori causes more than 90% of duodenal ulcers and up to 80% of gastric ulcers. The link between Helicobacter pylori infection and subsequent gastritis and peptic ulcer disease has been established through studies of human volunteers, antibiotic treatment studies and epidemiological studies.
Helicobacter pylori causes life-long infection

Helicobacter pylori is a spiral-shaped Gram-negative bacterium that colonizes the stomach in about 50% of all humans. In countries with high socio-economic standards infection is considerably less common than in developing countries where virtually everyone may be infected.

Infection is typically contracted in early childhood, frequently by transmission from mother to child, and the bacteria may remain in the stomach for the rest of the person's life. This chronic infection is initiated in the lower part of the stomach (antrum). As first reported by Robin Warren, the presence of Helicobacter pylori is always associated with an inflammation of the underlying gastric mucosa as evidenced by an infiltration of inflammatory cells.
The infection is usually asymptomatic but can cause peptic ulcer

The severity of this inflammation and its location in the stomach is of crucial importance for the diseases that can result from Helicobacter pylori infection. In most individuals Helicobacter pylori infection is asymptomatic. However, about 10-15% of infected individuals will some time experience peptic ulcer disease. Such ulcers are more common in the duodenum than in the stomach itself. Severe complications include bleeding and perforation.

The current view is that the chronic inflammation in the distal part of the stomach caused byHelicobacter pylori infection results in an increased acid production from the non-infected upper corpus region of the stomach. This will predispose for ulcer development in the more vulnerable duodenum.
Malignancies associated with Helicobacter pylori infection

In some individuals Helicobacter pylori also infects the corpus region of the stomach. This results in a more widespread inflammation that predisposes not only to ulcer in the corpus region, but also to stomach cancer. This cancer has decreased in incidence in many countries during the last half-century but still ranks as number two in the world in terms of cancer deaths.

Inflammation in the stomach mucosa is also a risk factor for a special type of lymphatic neoplasm in the stomach, MALT (mucosa associated lymphoid tissue) lymphoma. Since such lymphomas may regress when Helicobacter pylori is eradicated by antibiotics, the bacterium plays an important role in perpetuating this tumour.
Disease or not – interaction between the bacterium and the human host

Helicobacter pylori is present only in humans and has adapted to the stomach environment. Only a minority of infected individuals develop stomach disease. After Marshall's and Warren's discovery, research has been intense. Details underlying the exact pathogenetic mechanisms are continuously being unravelled.

The bacterium itself is extremely variable, and strains differ markedly in many aspects, such as adherence to the gastric mucosa and ability to provoke inflammation. Even in a single infected individual all bacteria are not identical, and during the course of chronic infection bacteria adapt to the changing conditions in the stomach with time.

Likewise, genetic variations among humans may affect their susceptibility to Helicobacter pylori. Not until recently has an animal model been established, the Mongolian gerbil. In this animal, studies of peptic ulcer disease and malignant transformation promise to give more detailed information on disease mechanisms.
Antibiotics cure but can lead to resistance

Helicobacter pylori infection can be diagnosed by antibody tests, by identifying the organism in biopsies taken during endoscopy, or by the non-invasive breath test that identifies bacterial production of an enzyme in the stomach.

An indiscriminate use of antibiotics to eradicate Helicobacter pylori also from healthy carriers would lead to severe problems with bacterial resistance against these important drugs. Therefore, treatment against Helicobacter pylori should be used restrictively in patients without documented gastric or duodenal ulcer disease.
Microbial origin of other chronic inflammatory conditions?

Many diseases in humans such as Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis, rheumatoid arthritis and atherosclerosis are due to chronic inflammation. The discovery that one of the most common diseases of mankind, peptic ulcer disease, has a microbial cause, has stimulated the search for microbes as possible causes of other chronic inflammatory conditions.

Even though no definite answers are at hand, recent data clearly suggest that a dysfunction in the recognition of microbial products by the human immune system can result in disease development. The discovery of Helicobacter pylori has led to an increased understanding of the connection between chronic infection, inflammation and cancer.




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