Axolotl eggs could provide a potent weapon in fight against cancer

A common cause of cancer is when cells are altered or mutated and the body’s tumor suppressor genes are switched off. Scientists at the University of Nottingham have managed to bring cancer cells back under control by reactivating the cells’ cancer suppressor genes using an extract from axolotl oocytes. The scientists say the discovery could form a powerful new technology platform for the treatment of a variety of cancers.

The process of cell division is controlled by specific genes and these are turned “on” or “off” depending on their function. Among the most important of these genes are tumor suppressor genes. These genes repress the development of cancers and normally act as a control point in the cell division cycle. Therefore, the switching off of tumor suppressor genes is a common cause of cancers.

The on/off switch in genes is controlled by the modification of proteins that are bound to the DNA in a cell, which are known as epigenetic modifications. Tumour suppressor genes in many cancers are switched off by epigenetic marks, which is the underlying cause of tumors.

In an effort to reverse this process the researchers looked to the axolotl salamander – an animal well known for its ability to regenerate most of its body parts. The scientists found that humans evolved from animals that closely resemble axolotls and therefore, proteins in axolotls are very similar to those in humans. Axolotl oocytes – eggs prior to ovulation – are also packed with molecules that have very powerful epigenetic modifying activity and a powerful capacity to change epigenetic marks on the DNA of human cells.

By treating the cancerous cells with axolotl oocyte extract, the researchers were able to reactivate the tumor suppressor genes and stop the cancer from growing. After 60 days there was still no evidence of cancerous growth.
The researchers say the identification of the proteins in axolotl oocytes responsible for this tumor reversing activity is a major goal of future research, and could form a powerful weapon in the fight against cancer.


Human protein may help muscular dystrophy patients

Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy is the most common and severe childhood form of muscular dystrophy (MD), affecting one in 3,500 boys. The disease progressively weakens muscles cells and tissues until muscle degradation is so severe that the patient dies, most often in their late teens or twenties. Scientists at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island and the University of Pennsylvania, hope their research into the human protein, biglycan, will ultimately improve the condition of muscular dystrophy sufferers. Their studies have shown that biglycan significantly slows muscle damage and improves function in mice with the Duchenne genetic mutation. Human clinical trials will be the next step.

Boys with the genetic mutation causing Duchenne MD (as the gene is on the X chromosome MD mostly affects males; female carriers have milder symptoms) are unable to produce dystrophin, a protein that keeps muscles strong.

Dystrophin is part of a complex protein that connects the cytoskeleton of a muscle fiber to the tissue framework surrounding each cell through the cell membrane. In cases of muscular dystrophy, contraction of the muscle leads to disruption of the outer membrane of the muscle cells and eventual weakening and wasting of the muscle.
 The research, published online on 27 December in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, found that biglycan delivered to the bloodstream restores the muscle-strengthening presence of another protein called utrophin. Utrophin is prevalent in very young children and although it still exists to a far lesser degree in adults, it is not available in a way that can benefit those with muscular dystrophy.

The muscle-strengthening effect of biglycan continued through the testing and there were no indications of side effects on kidney or liver function.
In one experiment there was a 50-percent reduction in “centrally nucleated” fibers in the muscle tissue of mice treated with biglycan treated compared to untreated mice. Biologists recognize the fibers as indicators of recent tissue damage and repair, so a reduction suggests that the muscle tissue is suffering less damage.

In addition, a standardized stress test simultaneously stretched and contracted mouse muscle. Eventually even healthy muscle is weakened however the muscles of muscular dystrophy mice treated with biglycan lost their strength 50 percent more slowly in some muscles than in untreated mice.
“This is all aimed at getting a therapy that will meaningfully improve the condition of patients,” said Justin Fallon, professor of neuroscience at Brown University and the senior author of the Paper.

Multiple sclerosis-Definition, Causes & Risk factors-By Mayo Clinic staff


Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a potentially debilitating disease in which your body's immune system eats away at the protective sheath that covers your nerves. This interferes with the communication between your brain and the rest of your body. Ultimately, this may result in deterioration of the nerves themselves, a process that's not reversible.
Symptoms vary widely, depending on the amount of damage and which nerves are affected. People with severe cases of multiple sclerosis may lose the ability to walk or speak. Multiple sclerosis can be difficult to diagnose early in the course of the disease because symptoms often come and go sometimes disappearing for months.
There's no cure for multiple sclerosis. However treatments can help treat attacks, modify the course of the disease and treat symptoms


The cause of multiple sclerosis is unknown. It's believed to be an autoimmune disease, in which the body's immune system attacks its own tissues. In multiple sclerosis, this process destroys myelin - the fatty substance that coats and protects nerve fibers in the brain and spinal cord.
Myelin can be compared to the insulation on electrical wires. When myelin is damaged, the messages that travel along that nerve may be slowed or blocked.
Doctors and researchers don't understand why multiple sclerosis develops in some people and not others. A combination of factors, ranging from genetics to childhood infections, may play a role

Risk factors

These factors may increase your risk of developing multiple sclerosis:

■Being between the ages of 20 and 40. Multiple sclerosis can occur at any age, but most commonly affects people between these ages.

■Being female. Women are about twice as likely as men are to develop multiple sclerosis.
■Having a family history. If one of your parents or siblings has had multiple sclerosis, you have a 1 to 3 percent chance of developing the disease — as compared with the risk in the general population, which is just a tenth of 1 percent. But the experiences of identical twins show that heredity can't be the only factor involved. If multiple sclerosis was determined solely by genetics, identical twins would have identical risks. However, an identical twin has only a 30 percent chance of developing multiple sclerosis if his or her twin already has the disease.
■Having certain infections. A variety of viruses have been linked to multiple sclerosis. Currently the greatest interest is in the association of multiple sclerosis with Epstein-Barr virus, the virus that causes infectious mononucleosis. How Epstein-Barr virus might result in a higher rate of MS remains to be clarified.
■Being white. White people, particularly those whose families originated in northern Europe, are at highest risk of developing multiple sclerosis. People of Asian, African or Native American descent have the lowest risk.
■Living in countries with temperate climes. Multiple sclerosis is far more common in Europe,
southern Canada, northern United States, New Zealand and southeastern Australia. The risk seems to increase with latitude.
A child who moves from a high-risk area to a low-risk area, or vice versa, tends to have the risk level associated with his or her new home area. But if the move occurs after puberty, the young adult usually retains the risk level associated with his or her first home.
■Having certain other autoimmune diseases. You're very slightly more likely to develop multiple sclerosis if you have thyroid disease, type 1 diabetes or inflammatory bowel disease

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Multiple sclerosis-Symptoms & Complications-By Mayo Clinic staff


Signs and symptoms of multiple sclerosis vary widely, depending on the location of affected nerve fibers. Multiple sclerosis signs and symptoms may include:

■Numbness or weakness in one or more limbs, which typically occurs on one side of your body at a time or the bottom half of your body
■Partial or complete loss of vision, usually in one eye at a time, often with pain during eye movement (optic neuritis)
■Double vision or blurring of vision
■Tingling or pain in parts of your body
■Electric-shock sensations that occur with certain head movements
■Tremor, lack of coordination or unsteady gait
Most people with multiple sclerosis, particularly in the beginning stages of the disease, experience relapses of symptoms, which are followed by periods of complete or partial remission. Signs and symptoms of multiple sclerosis often are triggered or worsened by an increase in body temperature


In some cases, people with multiple sclerosis may also develop:
■Muscle stiffness or spasms
■Paralysis, most typically in the legs
■Problems with bladder, bowel or sexual function
■Mental changes, such as forgetfulness or difficulties concentrating

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Multiple sclerosis-Tests and diagnosis-By Mayo Clinic staff

Tests and diagnosis

There are no specific tests for multiple sclerosis. Ultimately, the diagnosis relies on ruling out other conditions that might produce similar symptoms. Your doctor may base a multiple sclerosis diagnosis on the following:

Blood tests
Analysis of your blood can help rule out some infectious or inflammatory diseases that have symptoms similar to multiple sclerosis.

Spinal tap (lumbar puncture)
In this procedure, a doctor or nurse removes a small sample of cerebrospinal fluid from within your spinal canal for laboratory analysis. This sample can show abnormalities associated with multiple sclerosis, such as abnormal levels of white blood cells or proteins. This procedure can also help rule out viral infections and other conditions that can cause neurological symptoms similar to those of multiple sclerosis.

This test uses a powerful magnetic field and radio waves to produce detailed images of internal organs. MRI can reveal lesions, indicative of the myelin loss on your brain and spinal cord. However, these types of lesions can also be caused by other conditions, such as lupus or Lyme disease, so the presence of these lesions isn't definitive proof that you have multiple sclerosis.
During an MRI test, you lie on a movable table that slides into a large, tube-shaped machine, which makes loud tapping or banging noises during the scans. Most MRIs take at least an hour. While the test is painless, some people feel claustrophobic inside the machine. Your doctor can arrange for a sedative if necessary.

You may also receive an intravenous dye that may help highlight "active" lesions. This helps doctors know whether your disease is in an active phase, even if no symptoms are present. Newer MRI techniques can provide even greater detail about the degree of nerve fiber injury or permanent myelin loss and recovery.
Newer MRI techniques may help with diagnosing multiple sclerosis. They include:

■Magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS). This provides information about the brain's biochemistry.
■Magnetization transfer imaging (MTI). MTI can detect abnormalities before lesions are visible on standard MRI scans.
■Diffusion tensor imaging (DTI). This technology provides 3-D images of demyelinated areas of the brain, which are useful in determining disease progression.
■Functional MRI (fMRI). This is used during cognitive performance tests.
Evoked potential test
This test measures the electrical signals sent by your brain in response to stimuli. An evoked potential test may use visual stimuli or electrical stimuli, in which short electrical impulses are applied to your legs or arms

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Multiple sclerosis-Treatments and drugs-By Mayo Clinic staff

Treatments and drugs

There is no cure for multiple sclerosis. Treatment typically focuses on strategies to treat attacks, to modify the course of the disease and to treat symptoms. Some people have such mild symptoms that no treatment is necessary

Strategies to treat attacks

Corticosteroids. The most common treatment for multiple sclerosis, corticosteroids reduce the inflammation that spikes during a relapse. Examples include oral prednisone and intravenous methylprednisolone. Side effects may include increased blood pressure, mood swings and weight gain. Long-term use can lead to cataracts, high blood sugar and increased risk of infections.
Plasma exchange (plasmapheresis). This procedure looks a little like dialysis as it mechanically separates your blood cells from your plasma, the liquid part of your blood. Plasma exchange is sometimes used to help combat severe symptoms of multiple sclerosis relapses in people who aren't responding to intravenous steroids.

Strategies to modify the course of the disease

Beta interferons. These types of drugs — such as Avonex, Betaseron, Extavia and Rebif — appear to slow the rate at which multiple sclerosis symptoms worsen over time. Interferons can cause side effects, including liver damage, so you'll need blood tests to monitor your liver enzymes.
Glatiramer (Copaxone). Doctors believe that glatiramer works by blocking your immune system's attack on myelin. You must inject this drug subcutaneously once daily. Side effects may include flushing and shortness of breath after injection.
Fingolimod (Gilenya). An oral medication given once daily, this works by trapping immune cells in lymph nodes. It reduces attacks of MS and short-term disability. To take this drug, you'll need to have your heart rate monitored for six hours after the first dose because the first dose can slow your heartbeat (bradycardia). You'll also need to be immune to the chickenpox virus (varicella-zoster virus). Other side effects include high blood pressure and visual blurring.
Natalizumab (Tysabri). This drug is designed to work by interfering with the movement of potentially damaging immune cells from your bloodstream to your brain and spinal cord. Tysabri is generally reserved for people who see no results from or can't tolerate other types of treatments.
This is because Tysabri increases the risk of progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy — a brain infection that is usually fatal.
Mitoxantrone (Novantrone). This immunosuppressant drug can be harmful to the heart, and it's associated with development of blood cancers like leukemia, so it's usually used only to treat severe, advanced multiple sclerosis.
Strategies to treat symptoms
Physical therapy. A physical or occupational therapist can teach you stretching and strengthening exercises, and show you how to use devices that can make it easier to perform daily tasks.
Muscle relaxants. If you have multiple sclerosis, you may experience painful or uncontrollable muscle stiffness or spasms, particularly in your legs. Muscle relaxants such as baclofen (Lioresal) and tizanidine (Zanaflex) may improve muscle spasticity. Baclofen may increase weakness in the legs.
Tizanidine may cause drowsiness or a dry mouth.
Medications to reduce fatigue. Drugs such as amantadine (Symmetrel) may help reduce fatigue.
Other medications. Medications may also be prescribed for depression, pain and bladder or bowel control problems that may be associated with multiple sclerosis.

A number of other drugs and procedures such as stem cell transplantation to treat multiple sclerosis are under investigation

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Multiple sclerosis-Lifestyle and home remedies-By Mayo Clinic staff

These steps may help relieve some symptoms of multiple sclerosis:

■Get plenty of rest. Fatigue is a common symptom of multiple sclerosis, and although it's generally unrelated to your activity level, resting may make you feel less tired.
■Exercise. Regular aerobic exercise may offer some benefits if you have mild to moderate multiple sclerosis. Benefits include improved strength, muscle tone, balance and coordination, and help with
depression. Swimming is a good option for people who are bothered by heat.
■Cool down. Multiple sclerosis symptoms often worsen when your body temperature increases. Cool baths can reduce your core temperature, especially if you submerge your upper torso.
■Eat a balanced diet. Eating a healthy, balanced diet can help keep your immune system strong.
■Relieve stress. Because stress may trigger or worsen signs and symptoms, try to learn to relax.

Activities such as yoga, tai chi, massage, meditation or deep breathing — or just listening to music — might help

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Antioxidants .. Are they really helpful to us

What are antioxidants? Essentially, they are substances that reduce, neutralize, and prevent the damage done to the body by free radicals. Free radicals are simply electrons that are no longer attached to atoms. Instead of circling the nucleus of an atom (much like the earth circles the sun), free radicals are both free and radical enough to go careening through our cells, inflicting damage as they go

What causes free radicals to be formed? A process called oxidation creates free radicals and this process happens in the context of normal metabolic processes and our everyday exposure to our environment. In other words, eating, breathing, and going out in the sun all contribute to the the process of oxidation, free radical formation, and the resulting damage that is caused to the cells of our bodies

What kind of damage are we talking about? Pretty much every kind you can think of: the deterioration of bone, joints and connective tissue; the wearing out of organs; the decline of the immune system; the irritating advance of the visible effects of aging; and even, possibly, to some extent, the aging process itelf

List of known Antioxidants
Alpha Lipoic Acid
Beta Carotene
Coenzyme Q10
Ginkgo Biloba
Grape Seed
Green Tea
Pine Bark
Superoxide Dismutase
Vitamin C
Vitamin E