research

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...

Medical Advancements To Look Forward To This Year #5: Telemedicine

5. Telemedicine The medical field is always at the heels of innovation. There is rarely a dull moment. Some new discovery or invention always grips our imagination and intrigue as passionate followers of this developing art. However, every advancement undoubtedly carries with it a risk of taking away something else. After all, this is human beings we are talking about – the most complex creatures in the world that excel in their ability to think, feel, and rationalize their existence amidst the every-growing complexity around them. Most recently, the concept of telemedicine has invited significant discussion as well as skepticism from the medical community and the world as a whole.     In essence, telemedicine can be simply described as an effort to remove the physical boundaries of medicine and equip healthcare providers with the capacity to deliver care in any corner of the world with the use of communication technologies. While the practice has already been applied in its initial stages in some sectors of medicine (such as dermatology), it is still in its infancy. The benefits are obviously numerous. The immediate access to an advanced level of care has the unique potential to improve outcomes. For instance, if a patient has stroke-like symptoms, a family member can get in touch with a stroke neurologist through a video call. He/she may be able to help determine the emergent...

A Research Manifesto: How to Make the Most of Your Pre-Med Research Position

A ‘manifesto’ is a published declaration of someone’s intentions, motives, or views. Although often associated with radical politics and revolution, manifestos can be written to capture the spirit of any group or movement.   Why does research need a manifesto? We’ve worked with hundreds of pre-meds, and many struggle to write about their research in meaningful ways. What’s the problem? Usually, it’s their approach to their work in the lab. Too often, they’ve taken on research as a way to check off one of their pre-med boxes, rather than a means for exploration, growth, and discovery.   Our manifesto is designed to help you avoid these obligatory feelings by inspiring a deeper commitment to the research. Hopefully, you read our manifesto early on in your research career. But regardless of how far along you are in the process, our principles will help you maintain the right mindset in the lab.   Karl Marx called the subpoints of his manifesto ‘planks,’ but for our purposes, ‘theses’ seemed more appropriate.   Thesis #1 – Get Involved in Research Early and Often in Your Pre-Med Career You will not make the same mistake as most pre-meds. You will look for research opportunities as early as possible, because you’ll recognize how long it can take to secure a spot. You will remain open-minded towards different projects, even if they seem outside of your...