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Updated Nov 16 97

Antibiotics for Rhematoid arthritis (Yahoo nov 13)

Rheumatoid arthrtis is a very painful swelling and inflammation of small joints of fingers etc. and minocycline in studies under Dr.Odell at University of Nebraska have shown that in over half the patients minocycline -an antibiotic over 3 years lead to marked reduction in swelling and pain. It has also been found that there is an altered p53 gene in the lining of the joints suggesting that a virus or bacterium alters the DNA of the cell causing them to produce chemcials which destroys the joint cartilage. Gene therapy could cure this condition.

High altitude protection

A paper written by Indian doctors some years ago showed that there was a markedly lower incidence of Diabetes , Heart disease, Asthma and allergies at higher altitudes over 5,000 ft in the Himalayas. This suggests that these illnesses may be due to a virus or bug which cannot live at these high altitudes rather than be diseases of affluence as most think.

Mad cow worries

Doctors are worried that a patient suffering from mad cow disease -CJD -who donated blood before developing the disease may have passed it on to recipients. There is no reliable test for CJD and the first sign are symptoms of brain damage.

Vaccine for Rotavirus diarrhea

A vaccine which is about 80% effective has been developed for this one of the commonest illnesses of children. A Bangladeshi scientist recently came up with a very effective method of rehydrating children who had lost too much fluids. To one liter ( 2 pints) of water add 9 small spoons of sugar and one spoon of salt and boil it . Feed the child on this and it is readily absorbed from the stomach.

Contraceptive Neem cream

Trials in India have shown that a contraceptive cream made from the Neem tree extract is very effective and free of side effects. In other news the morning after pill- 2 tablets to be taken in a day , is almost 100% effective in preventing pregnancy within 3 days of intercourse and the Indian govt has licensed it for widespread use.

Grow your own heart

Dr Gail Naughton of Advanced Tissue Sciences of California has succeeded in growing organs in articifical womb like incubators where cells taken from babies are cultured and with the right framework can grow into any organ of any shape. So far skin , cartilage , liver and heart have been grown. As heart disease is rife in South Asians -due mainly to lack of physical excercise in middle aged men, this technique promises to provide human hearts . The first product Dermagraft from human foreskin is already on the market and heals diabetic foot ulcers in as little as 8 weeks more cheaply than conventional treatment.

Common cold cure

By spraying a specially tailorred proten into the nose the cold virus attaches to this protein rather than nose cells and for the first time there is now an instant cure for the common cold without any side effects. This technique of decoy proteins is expected to have futher applications.

Mad cow disease in USA

The first case of mad cow disease caused by the same variant as in Britain has been diagnosed in the states. It is not known how the woman got this illness. Recently some men who had eaten squirrel brains came down with the same illness. It might be wise not to eat any animal brains for a while, although it does seem that the prion can be present in nerves to the muscles as well.

Paraplegics can walk again

Doctors are now implanting electronic stimualtors directly in the nerve roots in the spinal cord . Patients who hadnt walked since suffering spinal damage have been able to ride tricycles. Previously the implants were done at the muscle level and were not succesful. Stroke patients should benefit too.

Bacterial Vaginosis

An increasingly common infection causing premature birth , infertility and pelvic inflammatory disease caused by E.Coli and Gardenella bacteria can be cured by a 5 day course of metronidiazole - flagyl - according to trials done by Dr Mcgregor at Colorado School of Medicine.


A new technique can save women from a major operation to remove large fibroids from the womb. It consists of injecting polyvinyl alcohol into the uterine arteries -enough to block the blood supply to the fibroid which shrivels up . More than half the large fibroids can be treated this way.

Aggresive behaviour

Doctors have found that aggresive criminals have lower zinc/copper ratios in their blood. It may be possible to modify such behaviour with zinc supplements . Much of Britain's present record crime wave amongst teenagers may be due to the abolition of school meals which has left the kids malnourished.

AZT for breast cancer

In animal tests AZT an anti Aids drug has shown to have remarkable effects , providing a complete cure in about 30% of mice with breast cancer. It is thought that breast cancer , one of the most common cancers in women is due to a virus and AZT is an anti viral drug.

Correcting Gene Defects

This week doctors in Britain are going to take bone marrow cells from a baby and put in them a gene to correct for Hurler's syndrome. The cells are then put back in the marrow. If successful this could form a new way to cure haemophilia and other genetic diseases.

Preventing cancer with a vaccine

Taiwanese doctors report a marked drop in liver cancer caused by Hep B virus after all children were immunised against Hepatitis B virus. It is a little expensive at about $40 but is expected to save thousands of lives. Hep B virus is endemic on the subcontinent.

Cutting death from heart attacks

South Asians have the highest rate of heart attacks in the world . The first most middle aged men come to know of it is when they drop dead unexpectedly (sudden death) . When doctors checked the levels of chlamydia pneumonia antibodies in the blood of those who had had a heart attack and treated the positive ones with antibiotics which can kill chlamydia a bactrium which colonises the fat deposits in heart arteries , deaths dropped by an 40% . These findings are by a cardioligist Dr Sandeep Gupta at George's Hospital in London . It is thought that the reason why the French have such low levels of heart attacks is that they use five times as many antibiotics as the English. South Asians should go to their doctors and get their chlamydia antibodies checked and take antibiotics like erythromycin if positive.

Ultrasound heals venous ulcers

Ultrasound for a few minutes a day has been shown to heal leg ulcers in half the time.

Checking for coronary heart disease

Heart attacks kill more middle aged South Asians than any other illness. Now there is a non invasive method of spotting narrowing of the arteries which supply the heart muscle with blood.Called Electron beam computed tomography (EBCT) it can within seconds spot calcium in narrowed parts of the blood vessels. It is actually more sensitive than coronary angiography and is non invasive. More details Journal of the American College of Cardiology (1997;30:57-64)

Turning grey hair black

Doctors have managed to stimulate melanocytes - cells in the shaft of the hair which secrete pigment to start again by chemicals and soon hope to have a lotion on the market.

Heart Attack gene

Dr Grobee of the American Heart Association reports that a gene for tPA -tissue plasminogen has been disovered. t-PA makes a chemical to dissolve blood clots and a mutation in this gene makes people prone to blood clots in the heart arteries when they have furred up with smoking or sedentary living. South Asians who are very liable to heart attacks may be able to get themselves tested for this gene soon and take effective measures like more excercise.

Bee Stings good for MS

Many multiple scelrosis patients report amazing improvement -even regaining the ability to walk with 20 live bee stings each day from hives they keep at home. One University in America has started clinical trials.

Asthma due to acid reflux

New research indicates that the vast majority of asthmatics have acid reflux from the stomach which irritates the lungs. Doctors advise not to eat within one hour of going to bed and anti acid medications like omperazole .

Yeast Infections

Women who get recurrent yeast (thrush) infections may be doing so from Baker's Yeast used in breadmaking , a study has shown that they are responsible for 70% of thrush infections and not candida. Women are advised to wash hands after making bread.

Glue near approval

For superficial cuts in the skin the American govt is about to approve a glue which can hold the skin together and let it heal without a scar. There is no need for an anaesthetic beforehand and it is expected to make the job of casualty room staff much less stressful.

Ultrasound unblocks arteries

Israeli doctors have develpoed a method of sending sound waves via an arterial catheter to shatter hard fat in heart arteries . This shatters them into very minute pieces and makes the blood flow again. The patient is given GTN ( gunpowder tablets ) beforehand to dilate the blood vessels.

Frog skin chemicals

Scientists have discovered a new class of chemicals called peptides on the skin of frogs which kill bacteria even when sprinkled in very minute quantities . This will soon - hopefully within a year - lead to skin creams which will clear up infections quickly .

Superglue in wounds

People with painful cracks in the skin ( fissures) can now protect them with superglue . It sets in just 20 seconds and stops bacteria infecting the wound so that it heals faster. Get a nurse or doctor to do it for you.

Mirena a miracle contraceptive

This progestrone IUD implant in the uterus promises to be method of choice to slow down population growth in third world countries.It is the most effective method of all -out of 1000 women using it for over 10 years only one would be expected to get pregnant compared to 800 for condoms . It decreases the incidence of cancer of the uterus , fibroids etc. Most remarkably it reduces bleeding by over 90% and with anaemia etc. a common problem in the third world it should lead to a great improvement in the health of women .
It is readily implanted in less than five minutes once a woman has taken a paracetamol tablet an hour before , using a topical local anaesthetic if necessary . It stays in for three years and can be removed if pregnancy is desired. The only side effect is irregular bleeding for the first few months but over 80% of women in trials were very happy with it. At about a dollar a month it is the one of the cheapest forms of contraception but may need aid from Western countries to get going. It has been tested by millions of women over the last ten years.

End of Tooth Decay

Dentists can now attach a small implant the size of a grain of rice to one of the back teeth . This releases fluoride over a 2 year period , cutting down the risk of tooth decay by an amazing 76 % . Tooth brushing is not very effective , it merely redistributes the bacteria which cause decay.

Heart disease an infection ?

There is increasing evidence that heart disease or atherosclerosis may be due to infection and inflammation by the chlamydia bacteria . Those who have high levels of C Reactive protein - a marker for inflammation are three times as likely to get heart attacks and this protein is lowered by daily low dose aspirin. Some may even benefit by yearly doses of an antibiotic like Ciproxin which kills the baceria.

Heart disease risk

Only 22% of Asians living in the prosperous borough of Hounslow use the leisure and gym facilities while nearly 60% of the English do . This may account for the high rate of heart disease in Asians . Brisk excercise such as a 10 minute treadmill run three times a week markedly raises the good HDL cholestrol and protects from heart attacks.

Skin gets younger

Dr Gilhar at Haifa University in Israel grafted skin patches from people aged 75 or over on to mice which could not reject them . Three months later he found that this old skin had become like young skin ie lost its wrinkles , become thicker etc. He speculates that there are cytokines -proteins which turn young genes on. Full story in the March 24 Edition of Times (link from the front page) . Anita Ahuja who wrote this article is one of the top science writers in Britain. Even old kidneys transplanted into young patients have been found to behave like young kidneys. This suggests that there is a hormone produced by the brain , called the death hormone , which gradually becomes more active as one gets older and which turns repair and other genes in the body off. Blocking this death hormone may lead to immortality ! The female octopus dies after giving birth but if a certain part of the brain , thought to be producing the death hormone is excised , it does not . The human brain may be producing the death hormone at the same site.

Targeting TB

A combination of four antibiotics given directly to patients under supervision to make sure they take the full course which can last many months has proved effective in curing multiple drug resistant TB. This supervision can be done in the community. Some of the antibiotics used in TB are Streptomycin, Prothionamide and Ciprofloxacin , Isoniazid,Rifampicin, Pyrazinamide and Ethambutol.

Preventing Alzheimer’s

Those who have a family history of this condition may think of taking small daily doses of Ibuprofen which appears to cut down the risk by 80%. However aspirin must not be taken as well as it can lead to stomach bleeds

Benefits of drinking

Doctors at Brigham University have found that drinking one alcohol drink a day (glass of wine) reduces the risk of a heart attack -an epidemic amongst Asians by 31% and two drinks by 47%

Asthma due to infection

Johns Hopkins scientists have found the first hard evidence that viral infections can help cause asthma and allergies, a connection long suspected but never directly confirmed in the lab. They showed that weak viral infections can cause immune system B cells to produce immunoglobin E or IgE, a protein that orchestrates the reactions that cause allergies and many cases of asthma. This suggests that it may be possible to vaccinate against these viruses and cure asthma

Memory drugs

Arocept and metrifonate are two new drugs which appear to reverse the memory defect in Alzheimers disease , dementia in the elderly. Some have become well enough to go shopping.

Protease Inhibitors

People with early Aids who have been treated with a new class of drugs called protease inhibitors combined with two other drugs have had the viral count reduced to zero in a study of 20 patients. Aids is spreading very fast in the third world and paying a couple of billions for licencse rights to these companies and then making the drugs cheaply available to millions could save millions of lives and a lot of money in the long run.

Smoking mothers

Yet another reason not to smoke is a new study showing that women who smoke in the last third of pregnancy or in the first year of a child's life , double the risk of asthma for these children. Asthma is one disease that is increasing strongly in Western countries and the high prevalence of smoking in young women may be the cause.

Winter Depression

A small dose of Lustral (Sertarline) has been shown to be very successful in keeping away the winter blues - a form of mild depression due to lack of sunlight in cloudy countries. Patients also found relief by sitting under an artifical sun for 2 hours a day but many found this inconvenient.

Eat more and stay slim

Scientists monitoring a group of women who had lost 10 kilos ( 22 pounds) on a crash diet found that after two years the ones who were told to cut down on fats-butter , margarine , oil etc but eat as much of potatoes , bread and pasta kept twice -5 kilos off while the ones who were told to count calories and stick to about 1800 did only half as well. Carbohydrates like potatoes get burnt quickly while fats go directly to fat stores .

Add one foot to your height

Doctors in Russia pioneered and now Orthopaedic experts in Leeds and other places in Britain have taken up the operation of putting a ring around the lower leg. This is then tightened until the bone breaks. As new bone forms it adds a little to the height by new bone formation in the break area. By constantly breaking upto 9 inches a year can be added. Although painful it works.

Dr Shami Ahmed makes cancer discovery.

As the Earth's protective ozone layer disappears a lot of harmful ultraviolet light is being let through ( this is different wavelength than in sun beds which are safe) and the incidence of skin cancers especially malignant melanoma is rising inexorably. The number of deaths has doubled to 2000 in Britain in the last ten years. In Brisbane Australia where ironically lack of pollution lets a lot of UV light get through to the ground- schoolchildren are advised to wear hats when playing outside.

Dr Ahmed leading a team at Nottingham Trent University has discovered compounds in skin cells which are activated by the UV light. These cross link DNA strands giving rise to skin cancers. The next step is make drugs to deactivate these compounds. In the meantime early detection is the best hope. Any skin mole which has changed color or started to bleed or itch should be removed. It is also to get the spouse to examine the soles of the feet and the upper back as these are fairly common sites to be missed. Many also consider that the rising incidence of asthma is linked to the loss of ozone.

Smokers can give cancers to future offspring

Studies have shown that fathers who smoke damage their sperm which can cause cancers in the children conceived. It is best to stop smoking three months before conception.

Gene Therapy for Arthritis

In a fantastic breakthrough doctors have managed to take joint lining cells from the knee and other places and inject genes into them. Normally inflammation is caused by a protein called IL-2 . The genes make another protein which blocks the receptor for this protein , so stopping inflammation. Rhematoid and Osteoarthritis are crippling diseases and these therapies promise long term treatment as the genes stay active for a long time.

Improved Ultrasound

Scientists in Britain where the technique of ultrasound was invented , have added a new refinement . By injecting a sugar solution into the blood and then doing the ultrasound they get reflections from the sugar molecules which outlines the structures much better , so well in fact that they hope to see small cancers with it.

Estrogen helps memory

In trials it has been found that estrogen patches help women affected with Alzheimers regain their memory functions. This is early news , more details when av. All women should have hormone therapy after the menopause , it protects from heart disease , strokes , bone softening and cancers. Many women even in their 80s are choosing to stay on it. Women on HRT live on average 5 years longer.

Big Hips OK

Doctors have found that for women with an hour glass Marilyn Monroe figure ie big hips is protective from heart attacks and strokes . Laying fat around the waist increases risk markedly both for men and women. Being underweight however in an effort to get smaller hips is riskier than being overwieght and can lay one open to infections and illness.

Parkinsons gene

The gene for this condition has been located. It is likely now that the protein made by this gene which causes the damage to the brain will be made and antiproteins made to inactivate it. Although a cure still seems far , at least there are theoretical ways that the problem can be dealt

with. Liquify the fat

American scientists have perfected a technique of getting rid of fat by liquifying it first with ultrasound and tthen sucking it out. This is much less traumatic than the normal liposuction which tries to strip fat from the surounding tissues. Middle aged men are reported to be flocking to use the technique in a big way to get rid of big bellies.Those without money can however do it the hard way by going on a 1000 calorie diet and increasing excercise .See the medical advice page on Ukindia.

Cream for baldness

American scientists claim to have discovered the cause of male pattern baldness. Apparently it is due to sensitivity of the scalp to the female hormone oestrogen produced in small quantities in men. They are patenting an anti oestrogen cream - probably tamoxifen which they say acts against oestrogen.

Baby needs blood

new research suggests that just after the birth the cord should not be clamped for at least two minutes or until ultrasound indicates blood flow has stopped as babies especially premature ones need the extra blood. Many problems of prematurity can be prevented if this done.

Take the pain killer before..

Studies from the USA suggest that pain killers are more effective if taken before surgery. So take the asprin or paracetamol an hour before going to the dentist.

Breast milk protein attacks cancer cells

Swedish scientists have made the sensational discovery that human breast milk protein attacks and kills cancer cells in vitro. Trials in animals are being planned .

Brain attacks

American doctors are advising that those with suspected strokes - unable to move a limb etc. should be rushed to hospital right away where they should have a brain scan within three hours. If a clot is seen on the scan it can be dissolved with a drug called TPA. One man with paralysis walked out of hospital a day after being given this injection. this clot dissolving is similar to heart attack cases. Until now stroke patients had been left and many got permanent brain damage and stroke from the part of the brain which had been deprived of blood by the storke.

Freezing Organs

The rush to transport kidneys in time may soon be a distant memory. Scientists have found a way of freezing organs to -196 C without cell damage. The organs - at the moment only pig ones have been tested can be kept frozen indefinitely. Many organs could be recycled to benefitt millions.

Multiple Sclerosis Vaccine

American Scientists report that they have made a vaccine that halts progress of this disease which appears to be due to the Measles or some other similar virus. More details when availaible.

Oleasterone -anti fat drug

Scientists believe that they have discovered a blood chemical which tells the brain to shut off the appetite centre and start burning up only the fat , not muscle as happens in dieting . In tests mice lost 15 % of body weight in only two months equivalent to a 40 pound wt loss for humans. Should be on the market in a couple of years.

Skin scaffold

American scientists have invented a new type of scaffolding for skin cells to grow on. This is put on after burnt areas of the skin have been cut out. An ultathin layer of the patients skin is then put ontop of this and grows over it . The new skin formed does not scar or cause contractures. Patients with more than 70% of the skin area burnt can now be saved. CMV and heart disease

Heart disease is the biggest killer of South Asians and others and doctors have found a high incidence of a herpes virus infection called CMV. This raises the exciting possibility that immunisation against heart disease may be possible.

Oral Insulin

Insulin injections may soon be a distant memory. A British company Cortec is now in final phase of trials of oral insulin tablets which are just as effective.


In a discovery that could prove the most valuable of all in human health scientists have made fake fat from natural fibre. Called Z trim it will go on sale in America in a few months. It cuts down calories in fat by more than 50% , has no side effects and tastes the same. The effects are going to be amazing !. Nearly 700 calories or one pound of fat loss every five day or 70 pounds -thirty kilos a year could be lost without effort!. Obese people may soon start to shrink away.

Protects from ozone

Dr Sharma at Southampton University has found in trials that antioxidants like Vitamin A , C and E in diet can protect the bronchi of the lungs from ozone - a form of oxygen which protects at high altitudes but is harmful when formed low in pollution, cutting down drastically the need for inhalers in Asthmatics and Bronchitics.

Easy cure for Asthma

Asthma it is thought is caused by allergy to house dust mites which lives on the pillows and is inhaled. Putting the pillow in a freezer for 2 hours a week kills them and stops asthmatic attacks. Research also indicates that putting children on steroid inhalers early can prevent the condition becoming chronic.

Non blood Aids test

Available at Doctors surgeries is a new Aids dipstick urine test. It eliminates the dangers associated with blood tests. News that many people are immune from Aids because their cells lack a protein on the surface which the Aids virus needs to latch on and it may be possible to vaccinate people so that this protein can be blocked in other people.