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Estrogen May Stop Infection-Induced Brain Inflammation

Estrogen May Stop Infection-Induced Brain Inflammation

The chemical best-known as a female reproductive hormone — estrogen — could help fight off neurodegenerative conditions and diseases in the future. Now, new research by American University neuroscience Professor Colin Saldanha shows that estrogen synthesis, a process naturally occurring in the brains of zebra finches, may also fight off neuroinflammation caused by infection that occurs elsewhere in the body. The finding reveals clues about the interplay between the body’s neuroendocrine and immune systems. While inflammation is a normal part of immune response, in the brain, too much inflammation can cause degenerative effects, or in the worst-case scenario, death. Humans and other mammals produce estrogen in the brain, but songbirds have evolved a rapid way to harness estrogen to regulate inflammation following trauma to the brain. Saldanha wanted to take his experiment on estrogen in the songbird brain and see if the birds responded similarly when faced with everyday infections that pose a threat, such as flu. Indeed, the experiment revealed that estrogen synthesis in the brain increased in response to infection elsewhere in the body. So why does the brain start making a sex hormone in response to a sickness or bacterial infection? “Possibly to protect vulnerable brain circuits, and to keep the brain from being overtaken by infection or chronic inflammation,” Saldanha said. “Ask any physician. Infections, once they get in the brain, are difficult to control. The estrogen synthesis could be in response to protect neural circuits, of any kind, from damage an infection could wield if it travels to the brain.” In the experiment, the findings of which published today in the open-access journal Scientific Reports,...
#PWChat Recap – Convincing Antivaxxers: Winning the Vaccine Argument With Patients

#PWChat Recap – Convincing Antivaxxers: Winning the Vaccine Argument With Patients

The Physician’s Weekly #PWChat series continued with another informative discussion on Wednesday, Aug. 30, focusing on how to handle antivaxxers in your practice. Topics discussed included the current status of the antivaxxer movement in the United States; why, despite evidence behind the safety & efficacy of vaccines, there are still antivaxxers; the most important things for clinicians to know about antivaxxers as a whole, and more. It was co-hosted by Dr. Linda Girgis, MD, FAAFP. You can view our upcoming schedule, or read our other #PWChat recaps here. Below are the highlights from the chat. You can read the full transcript here.   Question 1 Q1: What do we know about the #antivaxxer movement in the US?#PWChat — Physician’s Weekly (@physicianswkly) August 31, 2017 A1. The #antivaxxer movement has gained some strong support in recent years. #PWchat https://t.co/nBvW50o9QZ — Linda Girgis, MD (@DrLindaMD) August 31, 2017 Question 2 Q2: Why, despite so much evidence behind the safety & efficacy of vaccines, are there still #antivaxxers?#PWChat — Physician’s Weekly (@physicianswkly) August 31, 2017 A2. There is a lot of fake science out there and many celebrities supporting it. #PWchat https://t.co/lCdlppSCXt — Linda Girgis, MD (@DrLindaMD) August 31, 2017 Q2 VERY few antivaxers in places where the diseases are still common. Cultural memory still fresh and raw #PWChat — Matthew Loxton (@mloxton) August 31, 2017 Question 3 Q3: What are the most important things for clinicians to know about #antivaxxers as a whole?#PWChat — Physician’s Weekly (@physicianswkly) August 31, 2017 A3. It is hard to convince them of the true scientific facts. #PWchat — Linda Girgis, MD (@DrLindaMD) August 31, 2017 T3 Anti-vacc is a belief,...
Blood Test Can Predict Early Lung Cancer Prognosis

Blood Test Can Predict Early Lung Cancer Prognosis

Cancer cells obtained from a blood test may be able to predict how early-stage lung cancer patients will fare, a team from the University of Michigan has shown. This information could be used to determine which patients are most likely to benefit from additional therapies to head off the spread of the cancer to other areas of the body. With a new single cell analysis service in U-M’s Comprehensive Cancer Center, the researchers are making the necessary technology more widely available in the university system. They hope these “liquid biopsies” will be offered to patients within the next five years. Circulating tumor cells, representing only about one in a billion cells in the bloodstream, are largely untapped sources of information about tumors, but new methods are bringing their diagnostic value ever closer to patient care. Related Articles Vitamin B6, B12 Supplements May Up Risk of Lung Cancer in Men Total, Saturated Fat Linked to Increased Risk of Lung Cancer ATS: Cancer-Related Suicide Risk Highest for Lung Cancer Patients Sunitha Nagrath, U-M professor of chemical engineering who designs devices that can capture these rare cells, led a team including oncologists and surgeons to explore how cancer cells escape tumors and travel through the body in the bloodstream. This is how metastases, or satellite tumors elsewhere in the body, are thought to form. “The tumors were constantly shedding cells even when they were small — that’s one thing we learned,” Nagrath said. “Although we define the tumors as early stage, already they are disseminating cells in the body.” Early-stage lung cancer patients, whose tumors may only measure a few millimeters in...
Bladder catheter + oxygen supply tubing = death

Bladder catheter + oxygen supply tubing = death

  According to the coroner of South Australia, a 72-year-old former member of the Australian national men’s soccer team died a “horrific” and “macabre” death after his urinary bladder catheter was connected to his oxygen supply. His bladder then filled with oxygen until it burst. As the oxygen continued to flow at 2 L per minute, the resulting tension pneumoperitoneum caused his diaphragm to rise and eventually collapse his lungs so he could not breathe. The photo of an x-ray below illustrates what occurred. It is not an x-ray of the Australian patient, but the findings are similar to what would have been seen if an x-ray had been taken. The green arrows show the extent of the intra-abdominal free air leading to elevation of the diaphragm (blue arrows). The red arrows represent the decreasing lung volumes on both sides as the diaphragm rises. Not long after this tragedy came to light in late 2016, I blogged about the early progress of the coroner’s inquest. Speculation on how this could have occurred centered around two possibilities—the patient somehow cross-connected the tubing himself or a caregiver did so. As I explained in my original post, it was hard to imagine a confused old man figuring out how to connect two very different types of tubing. The coroner came to the same conclusion. A nurse said she had seen a white connector between the green oxygen tubing and the brown catheter but did not know what it was or understand its significance. Reports said the evidence was “destroyed” before it could be examined. Ironically, he should not have been receiving oxygen...
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