June 9, 2014

Health roundup: 'Jaw-dropping' melanoma breakthrough, regenerating liver, new leukemia drug, colon cancer, COPD, red wine and fasting

Skin cancer drug 'cures' man given months to live: Doctors hail results of 'astonishing' medical trial that could give hope to millions

They say the results of medical trials are ‘jaw-dropping’ and offer hope for victims of other forms of cancer.
The medicine, pembrolizumab, is the latest in a new generation of ‘immunotherapy’ treatments that prevent cancers from shielding themselves from the immune system. Instead it lets the immune system attack the disease, often in conjunction with other conventional drugs.

“Pembrolizumab looks like it has potential to be a paradigm shift for cancer therapy" said Dr David Chao, Consultant Medical Oncologist, Royal Free Hampstead NHS Trust

Advanced skin cancer, which has spread to other parts of the body, has a poor prognosis and currently only one in ten people live for a year after diagnosis…..However some people have lived for two years while receiving the new treatment. The study, presented at the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO 2014), showed three quarters of patients responded to the drug. 

Hopes rise for new cure for liver disease after researchers make cells 'go back in time'

Researchers say it is possible to repair a chronically diseased liver by forcing mature liver cells to 'go back in time' to a stem cell-like state.  Switching off a liver-growth pathway in mature cells generates high levels of dedifferentiation, which means the cells can revert back to an unspecialized state and regenerate a diseased liver.  The breakthrough, published in the journal Cell, could pave the way for liver cell transplants to cure genetic liver disorders. Harvard Stem Cell Institute scientists at Boston Children's Hospital made the discovery while investigating whether a biochemical cascade called Hippo, which controls how big the liver grows, also affects cell fate.

Widespread colon cancer screening has saved an estimated 500,000 lives since the mid-70s reports a new study from the Yale School of Medicine using data from the National Cancer Institute.

New leukemia drug boosts survival rate to 90% and could eventually replace invasive chemical treatment

Ibrutinib drug trial showed better rates of survival than chemotherapy. Trial showed higher rate of people entered remission than chemotherapy. Breakthrough alternative for people with resistance to chemotherapy

If you or someone in your family has COPD, try eating grapefruit and bananas.  Could grapefruit beat lung disease? Eating fruit and other foods including cheese and bananas found to help patients suffering one of most common variants

Eating grapefruit, bananas, fish and cheese could help patients suffering one of the most common lung conditions in Britain, say scientists.  Research showed a direct link between the foods and improvements in people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Scientists from the US and Europe used diet records for 2,167 COPD sufferers over a three-year period.
Those who had eaten the products within 24 hours showed improvement in a range of measures such as lung function, fitness scores and white blood cell count.  Lead study author Dr Corrine Hanson said patients should now be offered dietary and nutritional counseling as part of their treatment.

Think of it as a reward for flossing.  Red wine is good for your teeth 

New research has revealed that red wine could protect against cavities. Research published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry revealed grape seed extract also prevents cavities.
Researchers say the discovery could lead to the development of natural products to ward off dental diseases.

By all means be skeptical and consider the source of the information you are asked to accept.  Cynicism, however, carries risks.  Cynics 'face far higher risk of Alzheimer's': Those who mistrust others at greater risk of mental illness, doctors warn

Cynics could be three times more likely to develop dementia, doctors have warned.  The trait has already been linked to heart disease and heart attacks – but now a study suggests that those who mistrust others are at far greater risk of mental illnesses such as Alzheimer’s.

How a flash of light can delete bad memories: Breakthrough may help dementia patients

The discovery, which has been shown to work in rats, may have huge potential for curing phobia sufferers of their fears, helping soldiers to recover from the horrors of battle or allow accident victims to put their trauma behind them. It might also be used for boosting memories in dementia patients.
Roberto Malinow, professor of neurosciences, said: ‘We can form a memory, erase that memory and we can reactivate it, at will, by applying a stimulus that selectively strengthens or weakens synaptic connections.’….Professor Malinow added:  ‘We have shown that the damaging products that build up in  the brains of Alzheimer’s disease patients can weaken synapses in the same way that we weakened synapses to remove a memory. ‘This research could suggest ways to intervene in the process.’

Fasting for three days can regenerate entire immune system, study from the University of Southern California  that starving the body kick-starts stem cells into producing new white blood cells which fight off infection.

The researchers say fasting "flips a regenerative switch" which prompts stem cells to create brand new white blood cells, essentially regenerating the entire immune system.
Prof Valter Longo, Professor of Gerontology and the Biological Sciences at the University of California said, “Now, if you start with a system heavily damaged by chemotherapy or aging, fasting cycles can generate, literally, a new immune system."
Scientists found that prolonged fasting also reduced the enzyme PKA, which is linked to aging and a hormone which increases cancer risk and tumor growth.
Fasting for 72 hours also protected cancer patients against the toxic impact of chemotherapy.
Posted by Jill Fallon at June 9, 2014 4:38 PM | Permalink