Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Magic Finger Powder

Via plime: the BBC reports on an Ohio man who allegedly regrew a severed fingertip using his brother's experimental extra-cellular matrix.

"There are all sorts of signals in the body," explains Dr Badylak.
"We have got signals that are good for forming scar, and others that are good for regenerating tissues.
"One way to think about these matrices is that we have taken out many of the stimuli for scar tissue formation and left those signals that were always there anyway for constructive remodelling."
In other words when the extra cellular matrix is put on a wound, scientists believe it stimulates cells in the tissue to grow rather than scar.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Heparin Update

Via ProMED-mail: The New York Times reported the latest news on the counterfeit heparin scandal this week.

The F.D.A. sent a warning letter on Monday to Changzhou SPL, the Chinese plant identified as the source of contaminated heparin made by Baxter International in the United States. It warned that the plant used unclean tanks to make heparin, that it accepted raw materials from an unacceptable vendor and that it had no adequate way to remove impurities.
Heparin is made from the mucous membranes of the intestines of slaughtered pigs that, in China, are often cooked in unregulated family workshops. The contaminant, identified as oversulfated chondroitin sulfate, a cheaper substance, slipped through the usual testing and was recognized only after more sophisticated tests were used.
The F.D.A. has identified 12 Chinese companies that have supplied contaminated heparin to 11 countries — Australia, Canada, China, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, New Zealand and the United States. Deborah Autor, director of compliance at the F.D.A.’s drug center, said the agency did not know the original source of all the contamination or the points in the supply chain at which it was added.
Officials have discovered heparin lots that included the cheap fake additive manufactured as early as early as [sic] 2006, although a spike in illnesses associated with contaminated heparin began in November and persisted through February, officials said.

China apparently admits to the contamination but denies that it caused any adverse reactions. All PlagueBlog recommendations concerning China still stand.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

The Smoking Hamster

Via an unnamed source: WBZ reports that a local woman is suing PetSmart for selling a diseased (Lymphocytic choriomeningitis) hamster to a Rhode Island woman who later passed away and donated her organs. The plantiff's husband received a liver, and also died.

Magee claims her husband died because the liver he received was infected with the rodent-borne disease. Five days after the transplant, which was performed at Mass. General Hospital, Magee's husband developed a high fever and began to bleed internally. According to Magee, one of his lungs collapsed.
He died about one month after the transplant.
The suit filed against PetSmart also alleges two other people also died after receiving organs from the same donor who bought the hamster.

If you must have pets, PlagueBlog recommends fish.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

MS, Gout, and Lactose

Via Mathilda37, a paper from 1998 on the inverse relationship between multiple sclerosis and gout:

A possible association between multiple sclerosis (MS), the disease on which EAE is modeled, and uric acid is supported by the finding that patients with MS have significantly lower levels of serum uric acid than controls. In addition, statistical evaluation of more than 20 million patient records for the incidence of MS and gout (hyperuricemic) revealed that the two diseases are almost mutually exclusive, raising the possibility that hyperuricemia may protect against MS.

Here's her analysis:

No-one with MS has gout, no-one with gout has MS[.]
So what? Well, this is really, really important. It means that something about gout effectively puts the brakes on MS, and the causal factor of gout is high uric acid levels in the blood. It turns out that MS sufferers tend to have very low uric acid levels in their blood, and so can’t get gout.
This explains why some of the MS treating diets have worked in the past. They all seem to require ‘no dairy’ . This works because… consumption of dairy products lowers the risk of gout attacks, so you are looking at a factor that lowers blood uric acid levels. The lactose seems to be the real culprit, as cheese and butter didn’t seem to have any effect on the gout sufferers[.]