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Updated Mar 17

Superglue for Stitches

Surgeons in England are using a specially formulated superglue to bond incisions together . Just 15 sec of pressure causes the skin to knit together . This eliminates scarring and bleeding from sites . It is also being used on blood vessels .More info in the Times paper -link from the front page.

Dangerous type of Aids in India

Reports indicate that the type of Aids infection in India is the variant which spreads by heterosexual mucosal contact and so will cause far more infections than the type 1 in USA which is transmitted cell to cell in the the homosexuals a smaller part of the population.

Vitamin C prevents dementia

Free radicals -ie oxygen atoms which have lost one of outer electrons and so are very reactive - tend to damage cells and cause blood vessel constriction - thought to be one of the causes of dementia. Vitamin C - as little as one glass of orange juice a day in the elderly , is an antioxidant and mops up these free radicals -appears to prevent this in trials over five years.

Medical breakthrough:

Genetic research uncovers gene that causes Friedreich's ataxia

Researchers have known for several years that they were very close to finding the specific malfunctioning gene that causes the inherited disease called Friedreich's ataxia. Of 100,000 or so human genes distributed among the 23 pairs of chromosomes duplicated in most of our cells, scientists had narrowed the location of this particular gene to the ninth chromosome pair, but final identification remained frustratingly elusive - until now. The announcement in the current (March 8) issue of the journal Science revealing the discovery of the Friedreich's ataxia gene and the nature of its defect is bound to bring new hope to thousands of families worldwide that are affected by this degenerative disorder.

Dr. Massimo Pandolfo, of the neurology department at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston and originally from Italy, is credited with this important gene discovery. In a communication to the National Ataxia Foundation headquarters in Wayzata, Minnesota, Dr. Pandolfo pointed out that the accomplishment was made possible not only by his own years of work, but also the painstaking research by his Houston-based team in collaboration with researchers in France, Italy, and Spain. In addition, he acknowledged the invaluable participation in the research studies by individuals and families affected by Friedreich's ataxia, saying,

"All of us working on Friedreich's ataxia owe a tremendous debt of gratitude for the tireless support of patient groups that permitted this and previous discoveries. [Their] continued efforts to support research will ultimately yield the final goal: the complete understanding and treatment of Friedreich's ataxia."

SIDEBAR Dr. Massimo Pandolfo will speak on the discovery of the Friedreich's ataxia gene at the National Ataxia Foundations 39th annual meeting in Little Rock, Arkansas, on Sunday, March 31.

The most immediate benefit of the gene identification will be the development of a direct DNA blood test which will allow physicians to diagnose Friedreich's ataxia with certainty. It will also enable individuals to learn, if they wish, whether they are carriers of the gene defect. And with greater knowledge of this disease, more effective treatments and better management are likely to be developed.

"This discovery," said Dr. Pandolfo, "will surely kindle the interest of researchers with expertise in the development of therapeutic approaches."

Dr. Pandolfo's discovery is a giant step toward understanding exactly how the malfunctioning gene produces Friedreich's ataxia symptoms. According to Dr. Pandolfo, experiments are already being designed and performed to try to determine the precise mechanism. When that is discovered, the final challenge will be to devise a way to eliminate the defect or prevent it from causing symptoms. It might be hoped that a cure, toward which genetic research is moving at an ever increasing pace, will be the closing chapter of the history of this disease which was first described by the German neurologist Nikolaus Friedreich in 1863.

Friedreich's ataxia occurs in children who inherit two copies of the defective gene, one from each parent. This "double dose" inheritance is necessary for the disease to manifest itself. Since having a single defective Friedreich's gene does not produce any symptoms, the parents often have no idea they are carriers until the disease shows up in one or more of their children. Even then they may be unaware of it until the first symptoms - such as abnormal clumsiness, slurred speech, and difficulty with balance - begin to appear usually during early adolescence. As the disease progresses, there is likely to be weakness and atrophy of the muscles in the legs and hands, curvature of the spine, heart problems, and many other complications. Often, a wheelchair is required for mobility by the age of 25 or sooner. Because there is no cure, physicians currently focus on managing symptoms in order to prolong functioning as long as possible.

In the United States, it is estimated that one of every 100 people is a carrier of the Friedreich's gene defect, and one of every 40,000 is affected with Friedreich's ataxia. Each child of parents who are both carriers has a 25 percent chance of inheriting the disease. Since the gene is not sex-related, boys and girls inherit the condition with equal frequency. There can be considerable variability in the type and severity of symptoms.

The term ataxia, meaning incoordination, refers to a symptom which a group of neurological disorders has in common. Of the 10 or so hereditary forms of ataxia, Friedreich's was the first to be distinguished from other types. It is a recessively inherited disease, which means that two copies of the defective gene must be inherited in order to produce symptoms. Genes occur in pairs on their respective chromosome pairs, with half of each pair inherited from the mother and half from the father. Families might pass a single copy of the defective Friedreich's gene from generation to generation without anyone experiencing symptoms or even being aware of their carrier status until eventually someone in the family marries and has children with another silent carrier and one or more of their children inherits a copy of the Friedreich's gene defect from each parent - the "double dose" that produces symptoms. Several other forms of ataxia exhibit dominant inheritance, which means that only a single defective gene is needed to produce symptoms, allowing the disease itself to be passed from parent to child.

In order to develop effective disease treatments, scientists are trying to understand more and more precisely, on a molecular level in fact, how disease affects the body's tissues, such as muscle, bone, or nerve tissue. In the biological scheme of things, our tissues are made up of groups of similar cells. Cells contain the chromosomes which consist of long strands of DNA on which the genes are arranged. Genes are sets of instructions that tell the cells how to build the proteins which enable the cells to carry out their various functions. These genetic instructions are "written" in a code consisting of different arrangements of the four chemical constituents of DNA, nicknamed A, G, C, and T. The code occurs in groups of three, such as CTG. It is not unusual for errors (mutations) in the codes to occur, with some errors being serious enough to result in disease.

Although the majority of our cells contain our complete gene set, the only genes active in any group of cells are those required for the specific function of the tissue. According to Dr. Pandolfo, the newly identified gene, which has been named X25, is active in the spinal cord where, in Friedreich's ataxia, atrophy leads to loss of movement coordination; in the heart, which becomes thickened and prone to arrhythmias; and in the pancreas, where abnormal insulin secretion occurs. The researchers have concluded that the occurrence of Friedreich's ataxia is a consequence of a lack of the protein frataxin - for which X25 provides the code - in the involved tissues. Dr. Pandolfo reported that "studies showed that in the Friedreich's ataxia patient the expansion of X25 is very low," accounting for the frataxin inadequacy.

As in any good mystery adventure, the protagonists of this story encountered unexpected findings. Though it is common here and there throughout the chromosomes for a piece of genetic code such as CTG to be repeated a few times, longer (expanded) repeats have been associated with some diseases. It is known that a dominant form of ataxia called SCA1 is associated with expanded CAG repeats. However, Friedreich's ataxia is the first autosomal (not sex-linked) recessive disease associated with such expansion. According to Dr. Pandolfo,

"The discovery of an expanded GAA repeat in patients with Friedreich's ataxia came as a surprise because expanded GAA repeats had never been observed before. The location of the repeat in a supposedly silent portion of the gene, called an intron, was also an unexpected finding, and raised many questions about how it causes malfunctioning of the gene."

He explained that experiments are underway to learn how GAA expansion suppresses X25's production of frataxin. Upcoming investigations will also be aimed at learning how the lack of frataxin causes tissue degeneration.

SIDEBAR Dr. Massimo Pandolfo will speak on the discovery of the Friedreich's ataxia gene at the National Ataxia Foundations 39th annual meeting in Little Rock, Arkansas, on Sunday, March 31.

The research leading to identification of the Friedreich's ataxia gene was funded in part by the National Ataxia Foundation. More information about ataxia and the research being done on it can be obtained by writing to:

National Ataxia Foundation 15500 Wayzata Blvd., Suite 750 Wayzata, MN 55391 Phone: 612-473-7666 Fax: 612-473-9289 Email: WWW site:

Mirena -a miracle contraceptive

This is a new IUD containing only progestrone which can be inserted and left in place for three years. It markedly cuts down bleeding at periods and may even stop them altogether . The progestrone stops any uterine endometrium build up. Because very liitle progestrone leaks into the blood stream women have none of the side effects apart from irregular periods for the first few months. It is more effective than the normal pill and gives protection against sexual deisease and tubal infections. Many third world women tend to be anemic and this would be the ideal contraceptive.

Why is smoking so hard to give up?

Researchers have found that smoking blocks an enzyme in the brain which breaks down a chemical called dopamine.
So the dopamine levels get high and smokers feel more alert . When they stop smoking dopamine levels fall and they feel unwell. Drugs like moclobemide which keep the dopamine high could help people to stop smoking.

The low dopamine levels when smokers are not smoking also causes them to be vulnerable to the actions of alcohol , cocaine , amphetamines and heroin and that is why scientists speculate they may experiment and become addicted to them as well..

No more needles

A new gun blasts powdered drug through the skin as in Star Trek. Insulin and other vaccines are sutiable eliminating the need for fridges. Each application costs $1 which may make it too costly for third world countries but would eliminate the risk of needle injuries.

Vaccine for Cancer

Skin melanoma cancer ( a cancer which is increasing exponentialy as the earth's protective ozone layer declines) cells were subject to radiation and injected back into the patient . The patients who were terminally ill were cured and are still healthy after many years. It is thought that this damaged the cancer cell membrane antigens and allowed them to be recognised by the body's CD4 cells as foreign and which then makes antibodies and killer cells against them.

One idea is to take two terminally ill patients and inject cancer cells from one to the other . Their bodies would make killer cells and antibodies against each other's cancers and then using blood transfusions from one to the other could lead to their own cancer cells being killed by the other's antibodies.

At John Hopkins trials are to start for a vaccine against cervical cancer which is caused by a wart virus.

Treatment for Diabetes

Scientists implanting cells protected by plastic capsules have managed by six monthly injections to keep animals free of diabetes without any side effects. Trials will start in humans.

Keep your own teeth

A new BMP protein has been found which in trials caused bones around teeth to reform. Giving this to elderly patients may prevent tooth loss.

Flu virus

Why does China give rise to so many new influenza viruses? It appears to be a deficiency of selenium in the diet which makes the people vulnerable to mutant viruses from domestic pigs. Giving selenium to people in the areas affected could eliminate the biggest killer of humans.

Brain Clocks

Cells in the brain stem form the ticking clock which the cody needs to go to sleep and those in the striatum give it a sense of time and these cause the pineal glands to produce melatonin which makes us go to sleep .

Cure for Aids

it has been reported that a drug produced by Merck called crixavin together with other drugs has reduced the virus levels to below detectable level in patients with HIV. This drug is a protease inhibitor.

Antibiotic for MRSA

Edinburgh researchers have found a natural antibiotic for the multiple resistant staph bacteria. Until now there was no cure for this condition. Meningitis Cure

Doctors have managed to cure four children expected to die from menegitis by haemodialysing their blood. All four are back at home.

Bells Palsy virus

Most cases have been found to be due to herpes simplex virus and may respond to zovirax.

Coats cancer cells

A new technique coats cancer cells with proteins which makes them recognisable by immune cells

Laser drills holes in the heart

Patients who are too ill to undergo angiplasty are having tiny holes drilled in the heart muscle. The blood seeps through to the outside of the heart and clots sealing the hole. the tunnel remains to nourish the heart muscle affected by the blocked arteries. Miracle cures with bedbound patients resuming normal life are being reported.

Anti Ageing

Telomeres -DNA sequences at the ends of each chromosome get progressively shortened with each cell division and this causes cell disfunction and ageing. Scientists hope to genetically engineer longer chromosomes so that life is prolonged for ever.-Sunday Times Jan 7th -http://

Chronic fatigue

Trials have reported good success in treating Gulf war sickness -muscle aches , tiredness with doxycycline over many months. Perhaps this would work with chronic fatigue as well. Apparently a virus sensitive to this antibiotic causes the Gulf syndrome.


By injecting hens with salmonella scientists are trying to extract the antibodies made to the bug from the eggs.

Hunger chemical

Neuropeptide Y is a chemical that signals hunger to the brain. Scientists hope to make drug to block this chemical in the fight against obesity.

Baboon cells to fight aids

One person has been injected with baboon white stem cells. Monkeys white cells are not affected by the hiv virus and so it is hoped that these ceels will take over the marrow and multiply and protect the person from infections.

Virus helps

A benign virus carries the gene to make ADA an enzyme lacking in certain diseases ,into T cells allowing the T cells to become normal bacterial fighters.

Computers analyse gait

Reflector pads worn by cerebral palsy and other victims reflect infra red light which can then be analysed by computers to determine the best type of treatmetn to correct gait problems.

Reflective pads on the limbs transmit Virus kills cancer cells

Solid head and neck cancer cells inactivate the p53 gene which prevents cancer cells from dividing. An altered adenovirus developed by Onyx of California can however get into these cells and take over the machinery of the cell killing it. This is a promising way of killing cancer cells. Once they are all dead the adenovirus cannot affect normal cells because the normal p53 gene stops the cell from dividing.

Plants clear the air

Potted plants and other office plants have been show to clear up toxic pollutants including carbon dioxide and nitrogen oxides - a common cause of closed air office syndromes. Plants also secrete a waxy substance from the leaves which traps bacteria and fungii and keeps the air clean . Asthmatics could benefit from this discovery.

Arthritis treatment

British Biotech are developing a compund whihc acts against tumour necrosing factor the chemical that in rheumatoid arthritis attacks the joints. Early results are promising.

Brain cells can regrow

Scientists have managed to persuade brain and spinal cord cells to regrow by blocking the normal inhibitor chemicals . Scientists say miracles will become common , already paralysed rats have regained the use of legs. This is a very exciting develpment for spinal cord injury patients and others -eg stroke , Parkinsonism etc where some part of the brain is damaged. Cartilage and one cells can also be regrown in tissue culture giving hope to arthritic patients.

Miserable make more sense.

Researchers at Warwick university say that miserable people make more logical decisions while when somebody is happy emotion gets in the way . They do not advocate making employees deliberately miserable to get the best out of them at least until they can confirm their preliminary results.

Red wine makes you slim.

Scientists report that while beer makes one fat , red wine has the opposite effect . It probably does this by decreasing appetite.

Dangerous Life Form

Professor Blakemore from Oxford is advising people to give up eating beef. A protein from the infected cow brain called Prion which can reproduce without DNA causes holes to appear in brain substance. Four dairy cowherders and two teenagers have died from this disease much higher than statistical probability. A similar illness is contracted by Borneo aborigines who eat their dead ancestors.

Young age Hormone

Melatonin- a hormone made by the pineal gland when give to rats extends their life span by over 50% . Professor Reglans from the University of Virginia believes it can do the same for humans.

Cure for Cancer ?

British Biotech company reports falling cancer antigen levels in trials involving 94 patients with advanced cancers of the ovary , prostrate canceers. The drug stops the cancer from metastasising by preventing the breakdown of collagen in the endothelial cells of the blood vessels. Biotech shares have multiplied since the discovery was announced.

HIV meets its match

Scientists report that anti sense DNA strands ie artificial DNA with a strand matching the aids virus can get into the cell and attach to the aids virus in the gene so stopping the virus from replication. Early results are encouraging with dropping viral counts in patients treated.

Abandon Australia?

Scientists report that the ozone hole is developing earlier in the year and lasting longer . Already schoolchildren have to wear hats to school . UV light damages DNA and this causes skin cancer of which their is an epidemic in Australia. UV light can also damage plant DNA so food supply will be affected. There may be no alternative but for humans to abandon Australia.

Mad cow diseasse spreading to humans ?

A one year research project is being undertaken to see if infected human brain tissue (from CJD sufferers) injected into mice causes the same holes in the brain that mad cow brain tissue does. Many scientist are afraid of an epidemic of mad cow disease in humans who have eaten infected cows. Infected sheep brains were fed to cows in the 80s in animal feed.

Reverses the damage

Vitamin E at 1200mg or 1600 units per day is reported to reverse the damage to the lining of the arteries in Type 2 diabeties. Diabetes is extremely common in Asians from the subcontinent and this may protect them from heart diseaase.

Burns heal faster

Insulin infusions after severe burns are reported to heal wounds 40% faster.

Mind's Eye

The part of the brain directly behind the eye generates the mental images even when the eye is closed . These are later assigned labels by the rest of the brain.