research

Can Spinach Leaves Replace Damaged Cardiac Tissue?

Featured From The Doctor’s Channel     Perfusion decellularization has recently been used to remove genetic material in pig organs, allowing them to be seeded with human stem cells in the hopes of securing a renewable source of organs for transplantation. In a similar (but non-mammalian) vein, researchers from the Myocardial Regeneration Lab at Worcester Polytechnic Institute have performed decellularization processes on spinach leaves and infused them with human heart muscle cells to determine if the remaining cellulose scaffold could support the demanding job of replacing dense heart tissue. The spinach-heart combinations were able to beat for up to three weeks in some of the experiments.   Next steps in this research include more in-depth testing of the compatibility of cellulose with human heart tissue, as well as “stacking” the plant-derived material to determine if layering the decellularized spinach leaves will yield “tissue” strong enough to maintain efficacy over long periods of time. The team, led by Glenn Gaudette, PhD, and Joshua Gershlak, MSc, have already begun testing other abundant plant species for viable veinous networks.   Click here to read an article about this research in the Washington Post.   Click here for the paper published in the journal Biomaterials via ScienceDirect.   Featured Image:...

Would You Google a Patient?

With social media permeating our lives, the lines between professional life and personal life often become blurred. Going on a first date? A quick Google search can give you a glimpse into your date’s life and potential conversation topics. Taking a class with a new professor? Google will give you a heads-up as to his or her professional interests or recent publications. Have an appointment for a check-up with a new doctor? Many websites will give you patient reviews and ratings of the practice.   …But what if your doctor is Googling you right back?     Researchers have had the better part of two decades to figure out if doctors could use social media to the benefit of their patients, but there still seems to be a wary skepticism among med school students and practicing physicians of all ages that prevents investigation of potential benefits. After all, knowledge is power, but it often comes with an ethical dilemma.   Research from James Brown et al at the University of Sydney found that 1 in 5 doctors surveyed had received a “friend request” from a patient. A similar survey from Bosslet et al found that 93.5% of medical students surveyed used social media in their everyday lives, but it was practicing physicians who were more likely to have looked up the profile of a patient or patient’s family members...

The Language of Transplanted Organs

Researchers at the University of Montreal Hospital Research Centre have discovered a cellular structure that could potentially revolutionize organ transplantation. Mélanie Dieudé, PhD, and Marie-Josée Hébert, MD, identified apoptotic exosome-like vesicles, which, when injected into mice, stimulate autoantibody production and increase the risk of graft rejection after transplantation. They also identified a novel concept: The transplanted organ “talks” to the immune system. As Dr. Hébert explains, “It’s not only the immune system of the recipient of the organ that sees the organ as foreign, the organ shouts to the immune system ‘I may be detrimental to you.’ This starts a feud between the immune system and the recipient.” This feud may end in rejection of the graft.   Video: Source   How to interrupt this feud? Dr. Dieudé and Dr. Hébert have identified a way to block the enzyme activity of apoptotic exosome-like vesicles through the administration of bortezomib, a proteasome inhibitor currently approved for the treatment of certain bone marrow cancers. Results are preliminary and phase 3 trials are underway, but this research suggests new ways to anticipate and control organ rejection after transplantation. Click here to review the article published in Science Translational Magazine.   Featured From The Doctor’s Channel   Featured Image:...

OTC Painkillers: How Dangerous Are They?

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications or “NSAIDs” are sold over the counter in grocery stores, gas stations and pharmacies, even though research has long shown that they can be dangerous for people with kidney disease, heart failure or high blood pressure. NSAIDs can also produce adverse reactions when they interact with other medications, both prescription and non-prescription, including antidepressants, antihypertensives, alcohol or aspirin.   However, two new studies, one from BMJ and the other from the European Heart Journal of Cardiovascular Pharmacotherapy have shown again that NSAIDs may be associated with increased risk of heart failure and cardiac arrest. In BMJ, Arfe et all utilized healthcare databases from four European countries to find adults who began NSAID treatment between 2000-2010. The authors found that the use of any NSAID was associated with a 19% increase of risk of hospital admission for heart failure, with some variation for the type of NSAID and the dosage.   Image: Source   Sondergaard et al utilized the Danish Cardiac Arrest Registry to identify patients with out-of-hospital cardiac arrest and identified patients who had used an NSAID within the 30 days before their cardiac arrest. They found that ibuprofen and diclofenac were associated with a significantly increased risk of cardiac arrest.   Image: Source   This new evidence, along with other studies that have shown the potential for gastric damage and impaired ability to recover after...

The Hidden Killer: Salt

Food fads and trends are an unavoidable nuisance – one day Gwyneth bakes kale chips on Ellen and suddenly everyone is eating kale until we are all totally and completely sick of kale – kale ice cream, anyone? With today’s focus on low fat and low sugar options, we have learned to check the labels for all different kinds of sugars (glucose, sucrose, sucralose, high fructose corn syrup, barley malt, dextrose, rice syrup, etc.) and we can compare saturated, unsaturated and trans fats in our sleep. But in response, food manufacturers have been racing to provide tasty foods that fit those diet criteria, and in some cases, that means LOTS of salt – even in foods we don’t usually think of as “salty.”   It’s well known that sodium intake is a factor in many health problems, raising blood pressure and contributing to kidney and cardiovascular disease. Other studies have linked salt to cancer, asthma, Meniere’s disease, osteoarthritis and obesity. The American Heart Association recommends “no more than 2,300 mg per day and an ideal limit of 1,500 mg per day for most adults.” It’s not enough to avoid the saltshaker, as more than 75% of sodium intake comes from prepackaged, processed or restaurant foods.   Image: Source   Recent analysis in Australia has found that one of the biggest culprits of hidden sodium is, surprisingly, bread. Even what is...

Supplement or Superfluous?

Whether you’re watching TV, listening to the radio or surfing the internet, it’s almost impossible to escape multiple ads for dietary supplements that claim to make you feel healthier, be stronger and have more energy.   90s kids are sure to remember this vitamins jingle Video: Source   But how do you know if they work? And what exactly is a supplement anyway? According to the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994, a supplement is “a product intended to supplement the diet that contains one of the following ingredients: vitamins, minerals, herb or botanical, and/or amino acid.”  However, dietary supplements are not intended to “treat, diagnose, mitigate, prevent or cure disease.” The FTC has ruled that advertising for supplements that claim health benefits must be “truthful, not misleading and substantiated.”   Why does it matter? Recent data estimates that Americans spend over $21 billion a year on supplements, with an estimated 1 in 5 Americans taking some sort of supplement. The makers of supplements must abide by the FDA’s good manufacturing guidelines and accurately identify what their products contain – but that doesn’t always happen. Manufacturers are supposed to report serious adverse effects, and the FDA can pull products found to be unsafe.   What’s the evidence? Daily Multivitamins – If you have a healthy, well balanced diet, there is little evidence that a multivitamin can prevent...

Treatment Devices for Migraines

This month the FDA updated their consumer information on migraines to include 2 devices approved for the treatment of migraines:   – the Cefaly transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) device, and – the Cerena Transcranial Magnetic Stimulator.   Those who suffer from migraines know the intense throbbing or pulsing pain that can last up to 72 hours, and is often accompanied by sensitivity to light and sound, nausea and/or vomiting. The National Institutes of Health estimates that 37 million Americans suffer from migraines, and women are three times more likely than men to have migraines.     These devices are great news for migraine suffers because the currently approved migraine medications can often have serious side effects that vary from patient to patient. “Although these migraine drugs are quite effective, they are not for everyone. Some can make you tired, drowsy or dizzy. Some can affect your thinking. And some migraine drugs can cause birth defects, so pregnant women can’t use them,” says Eric Bastings, M.D., an FDA neurologist.   Although TENS treatment for pain has been around for a while, Cefaly was the first TENS device to be approved for use as a preventative measure, before the onset of a migraine. It can be used daily and studies have shown that it reduces the number of days that patients have experienced migraines.   Video: Source   According to...