research

Do Herpesviruses Cause Alzheimer’s disease?

Alzheimer’s disease affects millions of people around the world, but what ultimately causes dementia is unknown. It is typically thought to be caused due to unusual buildup of the protein amyloid plaques in the brains. Though small these plaques can grow into large clusters that are toxic to neurons. However, recently, a new study presented another potential causative agent of the disease. Decades ago, certain scientific studies came up with correlative data linking Herpesvirus infections to Alzheimer’s disease. The idea was long-dismissed but was recently rejuvenated by a new study. The study also found evidence that the viruses can interact with brain cells in ways that could accelerate the Alzheimer’s disease. Herpes viruses 6 and 7 are widely present in humans, but poorly understood. They infect nearly every human, typically during infancy, and have been closely linked to the childhood rash called roseola, according to the HHV-6 Foundation. These viruses can get to the brain and remain inactive for decades. Brains riddled with Alzheimer’s disease contain high levels of these two strains of human herpes virus. But just having herpes virus present in the brain isn’t enough to cause Alzheimer’s. Something needs to activate the viruses, which causes them to begin replicating. However, the trigger for activation of these viruses in not known. In the study — one of the most detailed analyses of Alzheimer’s brain tissue done to date — the team...

CBD, A Chemical Found in Marijuana Could Be The Future of Medicine

I’ve seen it advertised in moisturizers, oils, tinctures, candies, and even coffee. Some osteopathic doctors are even advising patients to take this chemical compound in supplement form to ease stress, anxiety, or minor gastrointestinal pain. Unless you’ve been living under a rock these past few months, you know CBD is the big buzzword in health and wellness. Maybe you have or are experimenting with it because of its claims to miraculous health benefits, or maybe you think it’s another wellness fad that will be forgotten next month. Nonetheless, cannabis was first reported in 2,6000 BC for its plethora of physical and psychological benefits in a Chinese pharmacopoeia. There’s no doubt about it, phytocannabinoids such as CBD have the potential to treat—as a primary or adjunct therapy— a wide range of pathologies as a consequence of its neuroprotective, anti-inflammatory, and immunomodulatory functions. Right now, we’re just lacking the evidence. CBD or cannabidiol is a chemical found in both marijuana and hemp and is actually the most studied nonpsychotropic phytocannabinoid—not to be confused with tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the only phytocannabinoid that gets you “high.” You will typically see CBD oil or supplements extracted from hemp since the plant has less than 0.3% THC as compared to marijuana which can have up to 15-20%. Despite what you see in the media, there is actually very little hard evidence on the therapeutic potential of CBD. This...

Cortisol: How Stress Could Actually Kill You

We’ve all heard of the infamous “stress hormone,” cortisol. This adrenal hormone usually gets a bad rap for weight gain, acne, and poor sleep. However, without it, essential physiological functions that promote survival would not be possible, such as mobilizing glucose to muscles. Yes, I’m referring to that “fight or flight” instinct when we perceive any sort of threat in our surroundings, say if you encounter a bear on a hiking path. Almost immediately, your heart rate increases, breathing becomes more rapid, senses sharpen, and beads of sweat appear. Epinephrine, better known as adrenaline, is responsible for this initial response. But what happens when the stress response is constantly stimulated due to anxiety from classes or financial matters? Cortisol is how your body adapts when you go into overdrive. Stress is a normal physiological process that all living organisms experience; as I previously mentioned, it is an innate defense mechanism that aids in survival. However, when a stressor exceeds the severity and time of the initial response period, our body shifts into another mode to keep us alive. When sustained long enough above baseline, inflammation and disease ensue. A twentieth-century Hungarian endocrinologist, Hans Selye, described the general adaptation syndrome (GAS) as a set of responses that are highly similar across all living organisms. Of course, variations in GAS occur depending on conditioning factors such as genetics, environment, or comorbidities....

Cancer Immunotherapy To The Rescue: Commanding The Immune System To Fight!

Written by Sahil Chopra and Mitali Adlakha A pioneering new therapy saves the life of a woman with terminal breast cancer. Judy Perkins, an engineer from Florida was diagnosed with Stage IV breast cancer. While traditional chemotherapy and hormone therapies failed for Judy, she showed a dramatic recovery after receiving a personalized immunotherapy. Although few years ago she was just preparing to die, this experimental treatment gave her a new life. What seems like a modern-day medicine miracle is in reality a path paved by over a century of extensive scientific studies. Immunotherapy is a revolutionary technology that uses your body’s immune system as a tool to fight cancers. The immune system is your body’s own defense mechanism against invaders such as bacteria, viruses and other pathogens. Our immune system has a number of tools in its arsenal to launch an ‘immune response’ to fight these invaders. Some of the most striking tools from your immune arsenal are the T cells, B cells, dendritic cells and other immune cells. Cancer is a life-threatening disease and also the leading cause of death worldwide. By 2030, the estimated cancer cases per year is expected to rise to 23.6 million. Cancer occurs when certain cells in your body keep multiplying without stopping. Although, the immune system would fight these cells and stop them from spreading; yet these cancer cells can outsmart the...

It Might Be Worth Shrinking Your Coffee Habit

There’s no denying the fact that caffeine is an addictive drug. Maybe you’ve experienced that morning coffee craving right when your feet hit the ground, before your cortisol levels spike to give your morning that much-needed jumpstart. Caffeine, in most cases coffee, is the substance that fuels the go, go, go lifestyle and sleep-deprived culture in America. College and graduate students especially exploit the quick boost of energy provided by that cup of Joe or two or three—especially if an all-nighter is in the agenda. In fact, caffeine is the most widely used psychoactive drug in the world. According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), some form of caffeine is consumed by approximately 80 percent of American adults every day. There are a plethora of benefits that caffeine bestows; however, as with almost everything, moderation is crucial. Throughout my undergraduate premedical career, I noticed instances where I allowed myself to overindulge in coffee to keep up with the incessant workload. I know I’m not alone. Double and sometimes even triple exam weeks called for all day and occasionally all night (I only pulled one all-nighter which is an understated shock to most) cram sessions. I typically consumed 4-5 cups of coffee a day, trying to avoid that dreaded caffeine crash until I reached a comfortable stopping place in my studies. Yes, the stimulating effects of caffeine did increase...

University of Virginia Research Reveals What Determines Autism Risk

A mother’s microbiome, the collection of microscopic organisms that live inside us, determines the risk of autism and other neurodevelopmental disorders in her offspring, new research from the UVA School of Medicine shows. The microbiome can be manipulated by changing what we eat, by consuming beneficial bacteria known as probiotics or even by transplanting fecal material from one person to another. This suggests simple ways we might prevent the development of autism. The UVA researchers prevented the development of autism-like disorders in mice by blocking an inflammatory molecule produced by the immune system – a molecule already implicated in multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis. The discovery could also offer a way to detect autism early in pregnancy. CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va., July 18, 2018 – The risk of developing autism-spectrum disorders is determined by the mother’s microbiome – the collection of microorganisms that naturally live inside us – during pregnancy, new research from the University of Virginia School of Medicine suggests. The work raises the possibility that preventing forms of autism could be as simple as an expectant mom modifying her diet or taking custom probiotics. Further, the UVA scientists were able to use their discovery to prevent the development of autism-like neurodevelopmental disorders in lab mice. They found they could halt the development of such disorders by blocking a particular inflammatory molecule produced by the immune system. Targeting this molecule, interleukin-17a, offers another potential avenue...

Is Air Conditioning a Problem in the Workplace?

Almost half of people have experienced tension at work because of temperature Temperature is a big issue in the workplace. Half of those asked said that temperature affects their ability to work, with almost half experiencing tension at work because of temperature. Whether to keep the air conditioning on or off is a hot topic. This amount of workplace bickering sounds pretty dramatic and a study found that 2% of office hours in the UK are lost to temperature arguments. Being warm helps boost creativity A study at the Technical University of Denmark found that ‘creative thinking was […] significantly and negatively affected by noise, anxiety and hunger, and to be significantly and positively affected by moderately raised temperature in the absence of noise.’ A study at Cornell University also found that when temperatures rose from 68°F (20°C) to 77°F (25°C), typing errors fell by 44% and typing output rose by 150%. Almost half of men will change the temperature at work, with only a third of women doing the same Despite more women reporting they are negatively affected by being too hot or cold, it is men who are more likely to adjust the temperature at work without telling their colleagues. A quarter of women have had to take time off work because of the temperature Women are more likely to be affected by workplace temperature, with almost three quarters reporting their productivity is negatively...