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Friday, September 30, 2016

Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Type II Diabetes Are Similar At The Molecular Level

Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Type II Diabetes Are Similar At The Molecular Level

(DrEddyClinic News) Summary: Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, type 2 diabetes, the human version of mad cow disease, and other degenerative diseases are more closely related at the molecular level than scientists realized.

A montage of 100 microcrystals of protein fragments derived from amyloid fibrils. To provide scale, the image of a U.S. dime is superimposed.
Credit: UCLA

Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, type II diabetes, the human version of mad cow disease and other degenerative diseases are more closely related at the molecular level than many scientists realized, an international team of chemists and molecular biologists reported April 29 in the online version of the journal Nature (print version to follow).

Harmful rope-like structures known as amyloid fibrils, which are linked protein molecules that form in the brains of patients with these diseases, contain a stack of water-tight "molecular zippers," the scientists report.

"We have shown that the fibrils have a common atomic-level structure," said David Eisenberg, director of the UCLA–Department of Energy Institute of Genomics and Proteomics, a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator and a member of the research team. "All of these diseases are similar at the molecular level; all of them have a dry steric zipper. With each disease, a different protein transforms into amyloid fibrils, but the proteins are very similar at the atomic level."

The research, while still preliminary, could help scientists develop tools for diagnosing these diseases and, potentially, for treating them through "structure-based drug design," said Eisenberg, a UCLA professor of chemistry and molecular biology.

The researchers, including scientists with the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility in Grenoble, France, report 11 new three-dimensional atomic protein structures, including those for both of the main proteins that form amyloid fibrils in Alzheimer's disease

"It has been a joy to see so many new structures," said Michael Sawaya, a research scientist with UCLA and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and a member of the team. "Each one is like a Christmas present. Now that we have so many of these that we can classify, I am thrilled to see each three-dimensional arrangement of atoms, what the structural similarities and differences are, and which of the differences are significant. We see many similarities, but there are details that are different. As we study more structures, we expect to determine the common features among them.

"It is clear from the positions of the atoms where the zipper is," Sawaya added. "Like pieces in a jigsaw puzzle, they have to fit together just right. We are finding out how they fit together. We don't yet know all the ways of forming the zippers; we are working to fill in the missing pieces and are hopeful of doing so. Thanks to our colleagues in Grenoble and Copenhagen, technology is not limiting us."

In an earlier Nature paper (June 9, 2005), Eisenberg and his colleagues reported the three-dimensional structure of an amyloid-like protein from yeast that revealed the surprising molecular zipper.

"In 2005, we were like prospectors who found flakes of gold in a stream," Eisenberg said. "Now we see the real nuggets. In this paper, we present atomic-level structures for crystals related to fibrils from proteins associated with numerous human diseases."

The research shows that very short segments of proteins are involved in forming amyloid fibrils; Eisenberg and his colleagues know some of the segments. Knowing the segments makes it easier to design tests to detect whether a new drug is effective, Eisenberg noted. Several proteins contain more than one amyloid fibril-forming segment.

"It's exciting how rapidly this work is progressing," said Rebecca Nelson, a UCLA senior postdoctoral fellow with the UCLA-DOE Institute of Genomics and Proteomics and a member of the team. "Once we formed the collaboration with the scientists in France to use the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility, everything became easier."

Nelson describes the proteins associated with Alzheimer's and other amyloid fibril diseases as "transformer" proteins that instead of doing their normal work start forming pathological fibril structures.

Eisenberg's research team used a sophisticated computer algorithm to analyze proteins known to be associated with human diseases. Magdalena Ivanova, a senior research scientist, found that when the computer algorithm says a protein will form an amyloid fibril, the protein almost always does.

While the molecular zipper is very similar in all cases, there are differences, which are cataloged in this Nature paper. For example, while the amyloid fibrils are all characterized by a "cross-beta X-ray diffraction pattern" in a small section of the protein that the scientists call the spine, and there are always two sheets, the sheets can be face to face, or face to back.

If the molecular zipper is universal in amyloid fibrils, as Eisenberg believes, is it possible to pry open the zipper or prevent its formation?

Melinda Balbirnie, a UCLA postdoctoral scholar and a member of the research team, is able to produce fibrils and has developed a test, using a wide variety of chemical compounds, to determine whether the fibrils break up. She is "hopeful" her strategy will succeed in breaking up the fibrils.

A mystery on which the new Nature paper sheds light is what causes different strains of prions (infectious proteins) in which the protein sequence is identical.

"Our research gives a strong hypothesis that the origin of prion strains is encoded in the packing of the molecules in the fibrils which we are seeing in the crystals," Ivanova said.

The research unfolded over nearly a decade. A key breakthrough occurred when the UCLA team began working closely with Christian Riekel, a distinguished scientist at the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility in Grenoble, France, who studies the crystal structures of small-scale molecules with an X-ray microcrystallography instrument, and Anders Madsen, Riekel's former graduate student, who is now with the University of Copenhagen in Denmark. Riekel invented ways to get a fine beam of X-rays to bombard microcrystals. He and Madsen were able to collect valuable diffraction data.

"It has been a great international collaboration," Eisenberg said.

Co-authors on the research, in addition to Riekel and Madsen, are Shilpa Sambashivan, a recent graduate student in Eisenberg's laboratory who is now a postdoctoral fellow at Stanford University; UCLA graduate students Stuart Sievers, Marcin Apostol, Jed Wiltzius and Heather McFarlane, all members of Eisenberg's laboratory; and Michael J. Thompson, a former postdoctoral scientist in the laboratory;

"We could not have done this long-term research without substantial funding and are very grateful to the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation for supporting our research," Eisenberg said.

Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by UCLA. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Salmon caught near Seattle proven to be inundated with antidepressants, cocaine and more

Salmon caught near Seattle proven to be inundated with antidepressant, cocaine and more

(DrEddyClinic News) We're all familiar with horror stories about juveniles on drugs, but normally it's humans that are involved, not fish. This case, however, involves juvenile chinook salmon who never had the chance to "Just Say No."


Disturbing new research has indicated that young salmon found in Puget Sound tested positive for more than 80 different drugs, including cocaine, antidepressants and dozens of other medications used by humans.

When researchers tested the water at and near sewage treatment plants in the estuaries of Puget Sound near Seattle, Washington, they discovered high levels of drugs and personal care products – at some of the highest concentrations found anywhere in the nation.

The tissues of migratory chinook salmon and local staghorn sculpin also contained these compounds – even in the fish found in estuaries far from the sewage treatment plants where the water was previously considered "pristine."

As reported by The Seattle Times:

"The medicine chest of common drugs also included Flonase, Aleve and Tylenol. Paxil, Valium and Zoloft. Tagamet, OxyContin and Darvon. Nicotine and caffeine. Fungicides, antiseptics and anticoagulants. And Cipro and other antibiotics galore.

"Why are the levels so high? It could be because people here use more of the drugs detected, or it could be related to wastewater-treatment plants' processes, said Jim Meador, an environmental toxicologist at NOAA's Northwest Fisheries Science Center in Seattle and lead author on a paper published this week in the journal Environmental Pollution."

Sewage treatment plants unable to cope

The presence of these drugs in the water appears to be related to the inability of the wastewater plants to fully remove these chemicals during treatment. But high fecal coliform counts in some areas of the Sound suggest that leaky septic tanks may also be contributing to the problem.

Some of the drugs found in the fish and the water of Puget Sound are difficult to remove using standard sewage treatment methods:

"Treatment plants in King County are effective in removing some drugs in wastewater, but many drugs are recalcitrant and remain. Seizure drugs, for instance, are very hard to remove, and ibuprofen levels are knocked down — but not out — during treatment, said Betsy Cooper, permit administrator for the county's Wastewater Treatment Division."

Who is really to blame?

But the blame should not be placed entirely on the treatment plants, according to Cooper. "You have treatment doing its best to remove these, chemically and biologically," she said, "but it's not just the treatment quality, it's also the amount that we use day to day and our assumption that it just goes away."

Shamefully, our own drug dependence is now poisoning other species as well. We have become a nation of drugged-out zombies, but that doesn't give us the right to turn fish and other animals into the same.

Maybe it's time to start realizing that prescription pharmaceuticals, over-the-counter remedies and illicit drugs are doing us – and our environment – far more harm than good.

We've bought into the Big Pharma-created myth that there is a chemical solution to all our problems – physical and mental – when in reality these substances are the cause of much of our "dis-ease" and general out-of-balance lifestyles.

The obvious solution

Although Western pharmaceutical medicine arguably has some value, almost everything these drugs are designed to treat can be more effectively dealt with using natural methods which promote healing rather than dependence.

And one of the obvious lessons from the situation in Puget Sound is that when you make bad decisions at one level, there will be negative effects on other levels as well. We don't live in a vacuum, and our unhealthy lifestyles have an impact on all living things.

We're simultaneously poisoning ourselves and our surroundings. Maybe it's time for another approach ...


Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Is Your Shower Curtain Toxic?

Is Your Shower Curtain Toxic?

(DrEddyClinic News) Have you ever noticed how a new shower curtain smells? There is a distinctive odor in shower curtains pulled fresh from the packaging. This noxious odor is plastic softener, a potently hazardous chemical compound that may do more than soften shower curtains.


Today, companies selling many of our daily household products spray these products with a plethora of chemicals meant to soften the plastic, sterilize, and keep things from going up in flames. One of the many downsides to this practice is that we are literally coating our household items in a host of toxic “gender-bending chemicals.”

In fact, a scientific study from a conglomerate of environmental agencies such as The Center for Health, Environment and Justice’s (CHEJ), People for Puget Sound, the Washington Toxics Coalition, the Toxic-Free Legacy Coalition and the Work Group for Safe Markets, found that toxins coating shower curtains, flooring and many common children’s toys can lead to low birth weight in babies. [1]

Dr. Fuhrman

The study also confirmed that these items may be linked to other serious health problems in both children and adults. It was demonstrated that these items, commonly bought at stores such as Wal-Mart, Target, Sears, Kmart and Bed, Bath and Beyond, were coated in toxic chemicals linked to liver failure, nervous system disorders, respiratory issues, as well as poor reproductive health.

Phthalates and Vinyl Chloride

Shower Curtain Dangers

Researchers found that plastic shower curtains from the aforementioned stores all contained very high amounts of phthalates, a chemical which has been scientifically linked to birth defects.

One of the curtains even showed concentrations of over 100 volatile organic compounds (VOCs). This same curtain emitted concentrations of these VOCs into the air for almost one month after being aired-out.

The Environmental Protection Agency has publicly demonstrated that seven of the chemicals found in shower curtains are hazardous air pollutants, and yet companies can still sell them to uninformed consumers? One of the chemicals, vinyl chloride [2], is a well-known carcinogen that has been shown to cause to liver cancer in humans in scientific studies [3]. The VOCs found in these curtains was over 15x higher than the recommended amount the Washington State Indoor Air Quality Program recommends for households.

The study on birthweight shows that these chemical plastic-softeners have a devastating effect on the health of newborn babies, as the chemical actually mimics female estrogen. If a pregnant mother breathes these chemicals during her shower, it may be interfering with the development of the fetus.

The study found that the fetuses were particularly vulnerable to what the mother was breathing in during the developmental stages of the first trimester. What is of greater importance, these business practices or the health of our unborn children?

Currently, society exposes pregnant women to a whole host of chemical toxins This includes everything from cleaning products to the flame retardants on mattresses.

How Can We Avoid This Scenario?

Do not buy shower curtains that contain these chemicals. Look for labels that say PVC or “vinyl” and avoid them.

High Quality Iodine Supplement - Detoxadine

The more flexible the shower curtain seems, the more likely it is to contain plastic softeners. Look for a shower curtain made from natural substances, like organic cotton. There are many on-line shops that sell these organic curtains, as well as shops like Ikea and Marks & Spencer that sell PVC-free versions.

This is especially important if you are pregnant, or planning on getting pregnant, as the first three months are crucial to your baby’s development.

I recommend you choose household cleaning products, deodorants, make-up and other cosmetics that are chemical-free. This will help ensure your baby’s healthy development.

For a full list of all household toxins and how to safely remove them, I recommend reading my book ‘The Green Body Cleanse‘.

by Dr. Edward Group DC, NP, DACBN, DCBCN, DABFM


1. Stephen Lester, Michael Schade, Caitlin Weigand. Volatile vinyl the new shower curtain’s chemical smell Center for Health, Environment and Justice’s (CHEJ). 2008 June.

2. Chemical Industry Archives. vinyl chloride: health risks kept secret from workers & consumers Environmental Working Group. 2009 March 27.

3. Wong RH, Chen PC, Du CL, Wang JD, Cheng TJ. An increased standardised mortality ratio for liver cancer among polyvinyl chloride workers in Taiwan Occup Environ Med. 2002 Jun;59(6):405-9.

New Blood Test for Colon Cancer Developed

New Blood Test for Colon Cancer Developed

(DrEddyClinic News) -- Seeking to increase screenings for colorectal cancer, scientists say they have developed an inexpensive and effective method that uses less than one milliliter (mL) of a patient's blood.

In trials, the new approach -- referred to as a microRNA -- has successfully detected disease in patients already diagnosed with colorectal cancer

Next, the research team will launch screening tests among a larger group of patients who show symptoms of the disease. These patients will also undergo colonoscopies, which will be used to confirm the new diagnostic tool's effectiveness.

"Our test has the potential to be safe, cheap, robust, accurate and of little or no inconvenience to the individual, and could, therefore, easily be integrated into national screening programs as part of an annual checkup," study author Dr. Soren Jensby Nielsen, a scientific manager with Denmark-based Exiqon A/S, said in a news release from the American Association for Cancer Research.

"We envision that this type of miRNA profile, once developed and marketed as a screening kit, can be used to screen entire populations in order to facilitate a focused selection of individuals who should undergo colonoscopy," Nielsen added.

Nielsen and his colleagues were to present their findings Wednesday in Denver at an American Association for Cancer Research conference.

The authors note that colorectal cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer fatalities in developed nations. Early-stage diagnostic methods do exist, and the disease is considered to be curable with surgical intervention, if caught quickly.

But fewer than half of all Americans over the age of 50 undergo the kind of routine colorectal screening currently recommended, Nielsen notes.

He hopes the new approach can help boost screenings and reduce mortality rates.

More information

For more on colorectal cancer, visit the U.S. National Cancer Institute.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Donor Stem-Cell Transplant Best For Acute Myeloid Leukemia

Donor Stem-Cell Transplant Best For Acute Myeloid Leukemia

(DrEddyClinic News) -- For most patients with acute myeloid leukemia (AML) who come out of remission, donor stem cells appear to offer the best shot at survival, a new analysis shows.

AML is the most common form of acute leukemia, striking about 12,000 adults a year in the United States. Treatment usually involves chemotherapy to achieve a first remission, but the best subsequent therapy to prolong disease-free survival has been unclear, although the researchers say the results of this latest review could lead to a new standard of care.

"First complete remission does not mean you are cured. It doesn't mean that you have eradicated every last cancer cell; in fact, we know you haven't," said review author John Koreth of the Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Boston. "If we stop therapy, then almost invariably the disease will relapse, and you die from a relapse of the leukemia."

The next step is to achieve a cure and, for that, several treatment options exist. One is more chemotherapy; another is an autologous cell transplant, which uses the patient's own bone marrow cells. The third option is to use compatible donor stem cells in what is called an allogeneic transplant, Koreth said.

"The question has been which of these treatments is the best," he said. The report appears in the June 10 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Currently, treatment decisions are often based on risk of relapse, a determination made through chromosome analysis, called cytogenetic analysis. Depending on the results, patients are put into good-, intermediate- and poor-risk groups for the likelihood of survival at three and five years, Koreth said. 

The traditional consensus has been to use chemotherapy or autologous transplants with patients in good risk. "For patients with poor-risk acute myeloid leukemia, the consensus has been they should all go to donor transplantation. For people in the biggest group, intermediate risk, there has really been no consensus," he said.

To determine which treatment is best for which patient, Koreth's team analyzed data from 24 clinical trials. They looked at the relapse-free survival and the benefit of allogeneic stem-cell transplantation vs. nonallogeneic stem-cell transplantation, plus chemotherapy for patients who had good, intermediate or poor survival risk.

The researchers found that patients with poor- and intermediate-risk AML who received allogeneic stem cell transplants -- the donor stem cells -- in first clinical remission were more likely to survive and less likely to suffer a relapse over the long term than patients given alternative therapies.

"For all comers, there is a statistically meaningful survival benefit to getting a donor transplant," Koreth said.

People in the poor-risk group had a survival advantage, which is consistent with current practice, he noted.

Without a donor transplant, the survival range for those in the poor-risk group is 15 percent to 20 percent at five years. With a donor transplant, the chance of disease-free survival at five years is about 33 percent.

For patients in the intermediate-risk group, a donor transplant was also clearly associated with improved survival -- of around 40 percent, Koreth said. This could become the new standard of care for these patients, he said.

"This is obviously not a home run yet," Koreth said. "We need better treatments, but for what we have today, this [donor cell transplantation] is a better treatment than the alternative."

Dr. Marshall A. Lichtman, professor of medicine, biochemistry and biophysics at the University of Rochester Medical Center, described the study as a very thoughtful analysis of a complex problem.

"It does reinforce that the cytogenetic abnormality in the leukemic cells of a patient are a singularly important factor, but not the only factor, in determining the therapeutic approach," Lichtman said.

"As the authors emphasize, their study gives the therapist an evidence-based perspective on the use of allogeneic stem-cell transplantation in the patient with acute myelogenous leukemia who has entered a chemotherapy-induced remission, always recognizing that these group data may require modification to satisfy the special circumstances of an individual patient," he said.

Dr. Barton A Kamen, chief medical officer at the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, thinks this study will help doctors develop treatment plans. 

"If I find out I have acute myeloid leukemia, I want them to do my cytogenetics and tailor the therapy to fit me and my disease," Kamen said. "This article confirms that."

More information

For more information on acute myeloid leukemia, visit the American Cancer Society.

What is leukemia?

What is leukemia?

A. Leukemia is cancer of the blood cells. To understand leukemia, it is helpful to know about normal blood cells and what happens to them when leukemia develops.

Normal Blood Cells:

The blood is made up of fluid called plasma and three types of cells, each with special functions:

White Blood Cells (also called WBCs or leukocytes help the body fight infections and other diseases. 
Red Blood Cells (also called RBCs or erythrocytes carry oxygen from the lungs to the body's tissues and take carbon dioxide from the tissues back to the lungs. The red blood cells give blood its color. 
Platelets (also called thrombocytes help form blood clots that control bleeding.
Blood cells are formed in the bone marrow the soft, spongy center of bones. New (immature) blood cells are called blasts. Some blasts stay in the marrow to mature. Some travel to other parts of the body to mature. Normally, blood cells are produced in an orderly, controlled way, as the body needs them. This process helps keep us healthy.

Leukemia Cells:

When leukemia develops, the body produces large numbers of abnormal blood cells. In most types of leukemia, the abnormal cells are white blood cells. The leukemia cells usually look different from normal blood cells, and they do not function properly.

Types of Leukemia:

There are several types of leukemia. They are grouped in two ways. One way is by how quickly the disease develops and gets worse. The other way is by the type of blood cell that is affected.

Leukemia is either acute or chronic. In acute leukemia, the abnormal blood cells are blasts that remain very immature and cannot carry out their normal functions. The number of blasts increases rapidly, and the disease gets worse quickly. In chronic leukemia, some blast cells are present, but in general, these cells are more mature and can carry out some of their normal functions. Also, the number of blasts increases less rapidly than in acute leukemia. As a result, chronic leukemia gets worse gradually.

Leukemia can arise in either of the two main types of white blood cells, lymphoid cells or myeloid cells. When leukemia affects lymphoid cells, it is called lymphocytic leukemia. When myeloid cells are affected, the disease is called myeloid or myelogenous leukemia. 

These are the most common types of leukemia:

Acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL) is the most common type of leukemia in young children. This disease also affects adults, especially those age 65 and older. 
Acute myeloid leukemia (AML) occurs in both adults and children. This type of leukemia is sometimes called acute nonlymphocytic leukemia ( ANLL). 
Chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) most often affects adults over the age of 55. It sometimes occurs in younger adults, but it almost never affects children. 
Chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) occurs mainly in adults. A very small number of children also develop this disease.