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A man with deadly brain cancer that had spread to his spine saw his tumors shrink and, for a time, completely vanish after a novel treatment to help his immune system attack his disease – another first in this promising field.The type of immunotherapy that 50-year-old Richard Grady received already has helped some people with blood cancers such as leukemia. But the way he was given it is new, and may allow its use not just for brain tumors but also other cancers that can spread, such as breast and lung.

Grady was the first person to get the treatment dripped through a tube into a space in the brain where spinal fluid is made, sending it down the path the cancer traveled to his spine.He had “a remarkable response” that opens the door to wider testing, said Dr. Behnam Badie, neurosurgery chief at City of Hope, a cancer center in Duarte, California, where Grady was treated.The case is reported in this week’s New England Journal of Medicine.Each year in the United States, about 20,000 people are diagnosed with a type of brain tumor called glioblastoma. Grady, who lives in Seattle, had the usual surgery, radiation and chemotherapy, but the cancer came back.He enrolled in a clinical trial at City of Hope and had some of his own blood cells, called T cells, removed and genetically modified in the lab to turn them into specialized soldiers to seek and destroy cancer.

The treatment, called CAR-T cell therapy, has been used for blood cancers, but its value for solid tumors is unknown. City of Hope has been testing injecting the cells directly into the brain.First, Grady had more surgery to remove three of his largest tumors. Then he got six weekly infusions of the cells through a tube into his brain, where the biggest one had been. No cancer recurred there, but the remaining tumors continued to grow, new ones appeared, and cancer spread to his spine.

Doctors decided on a bold step: placing a second tube in his brain, into a cavity where spinal fluid is made, and putting the cells there.”The idea was to have the flow of the spinal fluid carry the T cells to different locations,” along the route the cancer had taken, Badie said.After three treatments, all tumors had shrunk dramatically. After the 10th treatment, “we saw all the tumors disappear,” and Grady was able to cut back on other medicines and return to work, Badie said.

New tumors, though, have now emerged in different spots in his brain and spine, and he is getting radiation treatment. But his response to immunotherapy lasted more than seven months, and “for him to live more than a year and half” after starting it is amazing for a situation where survival often is measured in weeks, Badie said.Side effects of the treatment were manageable, including headaches, fatigue and muscle aches, and some may have been due to other medicines Grady needed, doctors reported.

It’s early research, but it’s an advance for the field “that they showed this is safe, at least in this patient,” said Dr. Donald O’Rourke, a neurosurgeon heading a similar study at the University of Pennsylvania.O’Rourke treated 10 brain tumor patients with CAR-T cells but used a single IV dose. A paper detailing results is in the works, but “it’s pretty striking what we’ve found,” he said.At City of Hope, nine patients have been treated so far, but only three with infusions into the spinal fluid brain cavity. Two of the nine have not responded to treatment, Badie said.

His study is supported by the nonprofit Gateway for Cancer Research, the Food and Drug Administration, the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine and the National Institutes of Health. Some authors get royalties from pending patents or money from Mustang Bio, Inc., which has licensed some of the technology.



Study Shows Aging Process Increases DNA Mutations

Study shows aging process increases DNA mutations in important type of stem cellAs it is in much of life, the aging process isn’t kind molecular and cellular neuroscience to an important type of stem cell that has great therapeutic promiseResearchers at the Scripps Translational Science Institute (STSI) and The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) who looked at the effect of aging on induced (iPSCs) found that genetic increased with the age of the donor who provided the source cells, according to study results published today by the journal Nature Biotechnology.The findings reinforce the importance of screening iPSCs for potentially harmful DNA mutations before using them for therapeutic purposes, said lead investigators Ali Torkamani, Ph.D., director of genome informatics at STSI, and Kristin Baldwin Ph.D., the study’s co-lead investigators and associate professor of molecular and cellular neuroscience at the Dorris Neuroscience Center at TSRI.

“Any time a cell divides, there is a risk of a mutation occurring. Over time, those risks multiply,” Torkamani said. “Our study highlights that increased risk of mutations in iPSCs made from older donors of source cells.”Researchers found that iPSCs made from donors in their late 80s had twice as many mutations among protein-encoding genes as stem cells made from donors in their early 20s.

That trend followed a predictable linear track paired with age with one exception. Unexpectedly, iPSCs made from blood cells donated by people over 90 years old actually contained fewer mutations than what researchers had expected. In fact, stem cells from those extremely elderly participants had mutation numbers more comparable to iPSCs made from donors one-half to two-thirds younger.Researchers said the reason for this could be tied to the fact that remaining in have been protected from mutations over their lifetime by dividing less frequently.

“Using iPSCs for treatment has already been initiated in Japan in a woman with age-related macular degeneration,” said paper co-author and STSI Director Eric Topol, M.D. “Accordingly, it’s vital that we fully understand the effects of aging on these cells being cultivated to treat patients in the future.”STSI is a National Institutes of Health-sponsored site led by Scripps Health in collaboration with TSRI. This innovative research partnership is leading the effort to translate wireless and genetic medical technologies into high-quality, cost-effective treatments and diagnostics for patients.

Of the 336 different mutations that were identified in the iPSCs generated for the study, 24 were in genes that could impair cell function or trigger tumor growth if they malfunctioned.How troublesome these mutations could be depends on how well the stem cells are screened to filter out the defects and how they are used therapeutically, Torkamani said. For example, cells made from iPSCs for a bone marrow transplant would be potentially dangerous if they contained a TET2 gene mutation linked to blood cancer, which surfaced during the study.

“We didn’t find any overt evidence that these mutations automatically would be harmful or pathogenic,” he said.For the study, researchers tapped three sources for 16 participant blood samples: The Wellderly Study, an ongoing STSI research project that is searching for the genetic secrets behind lifelong health by looking at the genes of healthy elderly people ages 80 to 105; the STSI GeneHeart Study, which involves people with coronary artery disease; and TSRI’s research blood donor program.

The iPSCs were generated by study co-authors Valentina Lo Sardo, Ph.D., and Will Ferguson, M.S., researchers in the TSRI group led by Baldwin.”When we proposed this study, we weren’t sure whether it would even be possible to grow iPSCs from the blood of the participants in the Wellderly Study, since others have reported difficulty in making these from aged patients,” Baldwin said. “But through the hard work and careful experiments designed by Valentina and Will, our laboratories became the first to produce iPSCs from the blood of extremely elderly people.”


How To Improve Your Thyroid Condition

It is estimated that 20 million Americans suffer from a thyroid condition and 12 million of them are unaware they have a thyroid problem. Women are 5 times more likely than men to have thyroid problems and 1 out of 8 women will develop a thyroid disorder at some point in life.

Your thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland in the neck that influences a variety of bodily functions and greatly influences your mood and energy levels. The thyroid gland is sometimes called the body’s thermostat because it controls energy flow. Hypothyroidism, also called low thyroid, means the gland isn’t producing enough hormones to do its job. This shortage of thyroid hormones also makes you feel sluggish at every level.

Low Energy and Low Thyroid

You may be feeling sluggish in the morning and have trouble with your memory, concentration and focus. Your metabolism and digestion may move slower, which causes weight gain, constipation and even high cholesterol. Your hands and feet may feel colder than normal and your hair and skin may feel more dry and coarse (your hair may even fall out). You may start feeling depressed, anxious or moody or experience really bad PMS, cramps or periods. you may have muscle pains and feel more bloated. You may even find that the outer third of your eyebrows are gone. These are all signs of low thyroid.

Most of these symptoms may sound like a normal part of growing old. It’s not unusual for a woman between 30 and 50 years old to feel tired, bummed out, and a little bit overweight. This is why thyroid health is often ignored by doctors. Most doctors specialize in acute illness, but they often fail miserably when it comes to addressing subtle changes in your body that affect the quality of your life.

In many cases, doctors assume a woman is simply going through perimenopause or suffering mild depression. “It’s all too common for a doctor to hear ‘tired, moody, forgetful’ and offer the patient a prescription for antidepressants,” explains Richard Shames, M.D., of San Rafael, California, a thyroid specialist.

Thyroid disease puts you at risk for cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis and infertility. Pregnant womenwith undiagnosed or inadequately treated hypothyroidism have an increased risk of miscarriage, preterm delivery, and severe developmental problems in their children.


What Causes Low Thyroid?

Chronic thyroid problems can be caused by many factors, including what you eat, what you don’t eat, your environment and your stress levels.

Your stress levels, or cortisol levels, are probably the biggest influencers on your thyroid gland. There is an intimate interaction between stress hormones and thyroid function. Studies have shown that chronic stress suppresses thyroid function. So the more stress you are under, the worse your thyroid functions.

Another important factor that leads to hypothyroidism is exposure to environmental toxins, like pesticides. Pesticides act as hormone or endocrine disruptors and interfere with thyroid hormone metabolism and function. Heavy metals, like lead and mercury, can also disrupt thyroid function.

Another factor leading to hypothyroidism is iodine deficiency. Not giving our bodies the nutrients that are important for a healthy thyroid will also slow your thyroid down. Since the body does not make iodine, it relies on the diet to get enough. Some people can maintain adequate iodine through their diets by using table salt that is fortified with iodine, but most of us are trying to limit our sodium intake.

Many medications also slow down the thyroid and also cause iodine deficiency. Pain medications, antihistamines and antidepressants are thought to slow the thyroid down, as well as all medications that make you feel sleepy or slow.

What To Do

There are a number of things you can do to boost your thyroid function. Thankfully, most of them do not involve medications, although some people choose a prescription too. Here is my five step plan to boosting your thyroid.
1. Focus On The Cause

The first thing you should do is identify the underlying causes of your thyroid conditions or hypothyroidism. Food allergies, gluten intolerance, heavy metals, nutritional deficiencies, and stress are all factors that need to be focused on and tested.
2. Eat Better

The second thing you can do to support your thyroid is eat foods that are high in iodine, zinc, omega-3 fats and selenium. Eat more low fat cheeses, undenatured whey protein, eggs, low fat yogurt and ice cream, saltwater fish, seaweed (including kelp, dulce, nori), shellfish and soy sauce.

At the same time, you should avoid foods that slow your thyroid. These foods are called goitrogens, which are chemicals that lower thyroid function. Even though they are very good for you, you should really only eat these foods once every four days or so. They include almonds, cauliflower, broccoli, pears, turnips, Brussels sprouts, corn, mustard, pine nuts, cabbage, kale, spinach, peanuts, canola oil and soy products.
3. Reduce Stress

The third thing you can do to strengthen your thyroid is reduce your stress. Meditation, guided visualizations and yoga are certainly helpful, but so is a general positive outlook on life. Trust that you have the strength to improve your health. There will be bumps in the road but when you expect a healthier life for yourself, you begin to live it.
4. Exercise

The fourth thing you can do for optimal thyroid function is exercise. Doing my bounce and shake or even walking every day will give your thyroid a boost.
5. Supplement

Supplementing is the best way to keep your thyroid running at an optimal rate and to keep your weight under control. You should choose very potent high quality supplements with high levels of iodine, selenium, magnesium, zinc, vitamin B, D, E and at least 2 grams of vitamin C. Omega-3 as well as amino acids can also help regulate the thyroid. High quality formulas that combine many of these vitamins and minerals can be very helpful too.


Why you should NEVER eat after 7pm

      Eating late at night is putting millions of people in danger of heart attacks and strokes, experts warn. A late-night meal keeps the body on ‘high alert’ when it should be winding down, researchers found. Heart experts last night advised that adults should never eat within two hours of bedtime – and ideally nothing after 7pm. In a healthy person, blood pressure drops by at least 10 per cent when they go to sleep .But the results of a study of more than 700 people with high blood pressure found that eating within two hours of bedtime meant their levels stayed high. Experts think this is because eating releases a rush of stress hormones when the body should be starting to relax. People who do not see their blood pressure fall at night are known as ‘non-dippers’ – and have a much higher rate of heart-related death. Late eaters were nearly three times more likely to be non-dippers, the Turkish researchers found. Researcher Dr Ebru Özpelit, presenting her results at the speaking at the European Society of Cardiology congress in Rome, said: ‘If we eat late at night, the body essentially remains on high alert as during the day, rather than relaxing for sleep.

     Stress hormones are secreted, causing blood pressure not to decrease during sleep, which should normally happen. ‘Dr Özpelit, from Dokuz Eylül University in Turkey, tracked 721 on people diagnosed with high blood pressure, with an average age of 53. She found that those who ate within two hours of going to bed were 2.8 times more likely to retain high blood pressure overnight. Some 9.4 million people in the UK are diagnosed with high blood pressure, which is also known as hypertension.They are already at a higher risk of heart disease, but if their blood pressure does not fall at night, that risk increases to a far higher level. Experts estimate that 40 per cent of patients with hypertension are non-dippers – potentially 3.76million people in Britain – putting them at serious risk of major heart problems. Dr Özpelit said: ‘It is more dangerous. If blood pressure doesn’t drop by more than 10 per cent this increases cardiovascular risk and these patients have more heart attacks, strokes and chronic disease.’

       But even healthy people with normal blood pressure should take note of the findings, Dr Özpelit said. ‘How we eat may be as important as what we eat,’ she said. She advised that people do not skip breakfast, eat lunch, and keep dinner to a small meal. ‘Eating breakfast and lunch is important but dinner must not be later than seven o’clock in the evening,’ she said. The findings add to a growing body of evidence which suggests keeping all meals to within a fixed period of time – and fasting at night – can have a wide range of health benefits. Previous research has found that an early dinner reduces the risk of breast cancer, lowers blood sugar levels, and helps burn off calories. Experts think part of the reason is that the body evolved to expect meals much earlier in the day – because people went to sleep when it got dark. Dr Özpelit said the invention of electricity changed that – introducing ‘erratic’ eating patterns.  With the advent of affordable artificial lighting and industrialization, modern humans began to experience prolonged hours of illumination every day and resultant extended consumption of food,’ she said.

        Late night eating and skipping breakfast is such an erratic eating pattern which is becoming more prevalent day by day. Professor Peter Weissberg, medical director of the British Heart Foundation, said: ‘This research suggests that eating a meal late at night may contribute to the failure of their blood pressure to reduce. ‘It is normal for blood pressure to reduce overnight, even in people with high blood pressure. ‘However, in some their blood pressure remains elevated throughout the night putting them at potentially higher risk of future complications.


A Sedentary Path To The Graveyard

  A study, stretching over almost half a century, shows that physical inactivity is second only to smoking as a risk factor for mortality.
Physical inactivity was found to be second only to smoking as a mortality risk factor.Fitness levels have long been known to play an important role in staving off a number of serious illnesses.At the same time, evidence has been steadily mounting that demonstrates the negative health implications of a sedentary lifestyle, according to this article written by Tim Newman     READMORE

The Mindfulness Prescription

 As highlighted in an article by Samantha Olson,  research is showing promising insight on how mindfulness is beginning to help patients heal  .  Over the course of 12 weeks, participants who were diagnosed with conditions Including  generalized, social, and separation anxiety disorder  underwent functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scans while they practiced mindfulness-based cognitive therapy, a wide range of therapeutic techniques that included meditation, yoga, and learning how to pay nonjudgmental attention to one’s life . READ MORE 

How To Check Your Self Before You Wreck Your Self

How To Know If You’re Stressed Out Or Suffering From Anxiety

We live in a society that applauds stress. You have too much to do? You don’t have a moment to breathe? Good, you’ve made it. Add in the violent current events that seem to be in our newsfeeds every single day, and it’s no wonder we’re all constantly worrying about one thing or another. Both stress and anxiety are normal feelings everyone experiences, Julie Pike, Ph.D., a licensed psychologist and expert in the treatment of anxiety disorders, tells SELF. Feeling either one so intensely that it  READ MORE

Not Enough Sleep May Help Alzheimer’s Take Hold

In recent years, scientists have made small steps towards understanding the relationship between sleep and Alzheimer’s disease. Now, researchers from Oregon Health & Science University in Portland may soon illuminate the connection—they are launching the first experiment of its kind that will study a key process in the brains of sleeping humans, as NPR reports.

Disrupted sleep patterns have long been a common complaint for patients in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease, sometimes decades before they develop cognitive problems or noticeable memory loss. The reason, researchers have discovered, is likely the buildup of beta amyloid plaque, a sticky amalgamation of proteins that collects in synapses and is characteristic of Alzheimer’s disease. A number of studies published in the last five years have found that people (and mice) with disrupted sleep patterns had more beta amyloid plaque in their brains.

Researchers are starting to get a sense for why this is the case—sleep maysweep toxins from the brain, preventing beta amyloid from collecting in synapses. But scientists are still not sure….Read More.