Nanoparticles loaded with bee venom kill HIV

Anti-HIV nanoparticles

Nanoparticles (purple) carrying melittin (green) fuse with HIV (small circles with spiked outer ring), destroying the virus’s protective envelope. Molecular bumpers (small red ovals) prevent the nanoparticles from harming the body’s normal cells, which are much larger in size.
Credit: Joshua L. Hood, MD, PHD.

Nanoparticles carrying a toxin found in bee venom can destroy human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) while leaving surrounding cells unharmed, researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have shown. The finding is an important step toward developing a vaginal gel that may prevent the spread of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.

“Our hope is that in places where HIV is running rampant, people could use this gel as a preventive measure to stop the initial infection,” says Joshua L. Hood, MD, PhD, a research instructor in medicine.

The study appears in the current issue of Antiviral Therapy.

Bee venom contains a potent toxin called melittin that can poke holes in the protective envelope that surrounds HIV, and other viruses. Large amounts of free melittin can cause a lot of damage. Indeed, in addition to anti-viral therapy, the paper’s senior author, Samuel A. Wickline, MD, the J. Russell Hornsby Professor of Biomedical Sciences, has shown melittin-loaded nanoparticles to be effective in killing tumor cells.

The new study shows that melittin loaded onto these nanoparticles does not harm normal cells. That’s because Hood added protective bumpers to the nanoparticle surface. When the nanoparticles come into contact with normal cells, which are much larger in size, the particles simply bounce off. HIV, on the other hand, is even smaller than the nanoparticle, so HIV fits between the bumpers and makes contact with the surface of the nanoparticle, where the bee toxin awaits.

“Melittin on the nanoparticles fuses with the viral envelope,” Hood says. “The melittin forms little pore-like attack complexes and ruptures the envelope, stripping it off the virus.”

According to Hood, an advantage of this approach is that the nanoparticle attacks an essential part of the virus’ structure. In contrast, most anti-HIV drugs inhibit the virus’s ability to replicate. But this anti-replication strategy does nothing to stop initial infection, and some strains of the virus have found ways around these drugs and reproduce anyway.

“We are attacking an inherent physical property of HIV,” Hood says. “Theoretically, there isn’t any way for the virus to adapt to that. The virus has to have a protective coat, a double-layered membrane that covers the virus.”

Beyond prevention in the form of a vaginal gel, Hood also sees potential for using nanoparticles with melittin as therapy for existing HIV infections, especially those that are drug-resistant. The nanoparticles could be injected intravenously and, in theory, would be able to clear HIV from the blood stream.

“The basic particle that we are using in these experiments was developed many years ago as an artificial blood product,” Hood says. “It didn’t work very well for delivering oxygen, but it circulates safely in the body and gives us a nice platform that we can adapt to fight different kinds of infections.”

Since melittin attacks double-layered membranes indiscriminately, this concept is not limited to HIV. Many viruses, including hepatitis B and C, rely on the same kind of protective envelope and would be vulnerable to melittin-loaded nanoparticles.

While this particular paper does not address contraception, Hood says the gel easily could be adapted to target sperm as well as HIV. But in some cases people may only want the HIV protection.

“We also are looking at this for couples where only one of the partners has HIV, and they want to have a baby,” Hood says. “These particles by themselves are actually very safe for sperm, for the same reason they are safe for vaginal cells.”

While this work was done in cells in a laboratory environment, Hood and his colleagues say the nanoparticles are easy to manufacture in large enough quantities to supply them for future clinical trials.

(news.wustl.edu. March 7, 2013)

 

Reference

Hood JL, Jallouck AP, Campbell N, Ratner L, Wickline SA. Cytolytic nanoparticles attenuate HIV-1 infectivity. Antiviral Therapy 2013; 19: 95-103.

 

Folic acid supplements early in pregnancy may reduce child’s risk of autism by 40 percent

Large study in Norway finds early timing of supplements is critical:

JAMAPrenatal folic acid supplements appear to reduce the risk for autistic spectrum disorders, according to a study published today (February 13) in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that about 1 in 88 children in the U.S. have been identified with an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). ASDs are amongst the most heritable of mental disorders, but little is known about how the disorder develops. Consequently, methods for diagnosis, prevention, and treatment are limited.

Folic acid (Vitamin B9) is required for DNA synthesis and repair in the human body, and its naturally occurring form—folate—is found in leafy vegetables, peas, lentils, beans, eggs, yeast, and liver. Taking folic acid supplements during early pregnancy is known to protect against spina bifida and other neural tube defects in children. In the United States, Canada, and Chile, folic acid is added to flour, so as to automatically provide these supplements to consumers. Norway does not enrich its flour, and since 1998, the Norwegian Directorate of Health has recommended that all women planning to become pregnant take a daily supplement of folic acid from one month before the start of pregnancy through the first trimester.

Despite this policy, studies from North America and Europe have shown that many pregnant women have a lower dietary intake of folate than what is necessary to prevent neural tube defects.

The report in JAMA emerged from the Norwegian Mother and Child Cohort Study (MoBa) and its sub-study of autism, the Autism Birth Cohort (ABC) Study. This international collaboration (see list of members below) comprises the largest prospective birth cohort devoted to the investigation of gene-environment interactions and biomarker discovery for neuropsychiatric disorders.

A total of 85,176 MoBa babies—born from 2002-2008—and their parents participated in the study. Prenatal dietary habits were recorded, and families were regularly surveyed for 3-10 years to measure the development of autism spectrum disorders. A total of 270 cases of autism spectrum disorders were identified in the study population (114 autistic disorder; 56 Asperger syndrome; 100 atypical or unspecified autism; i.e., pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified, PDD-NOS).

Mothers who took folic acid supplements in early pregnancy had a 40% reduced risk of having children with autistic disorder compared with mothers who did not take folic acid. The reduction in risk was observed in those who took folic acid during the time interval from 4 weeks before to 8 weeks after the start of pregnancy. Autistic disorder is the most severe form of autism spectrum disorders in children. No reduction in risk was observed for PDD-NOS. For Asperger syndrome, the number of children was too low to obtain sufficient statistical power in the analyses.

The use of folic acid in early pregnancy increased substantially from 2002 to 2008 among women who participated in MoBa. In 2002, 43% of mothers took folic acid supplements; by 2008, 85% of mothers did. However, many women began taking folic acid later than recommended, and only half started before the beginning of pregnancy.

The timing of a mother’s intake of folate appears to be a critical factor. Her child’s risk of autism was reduced only when the supplements were taken between 4 weeks before to 8 weeks after the start of pregnancy.

“We examined the rate of autism spectrum disorders in children born to mothers who did or did not take folic acid during pregnancy. There was a dramatic reduction in the risk of autistic disorder in children born to mothers who took folic acid supplements,” says Pål Surén, first author and epidemiologist at the Norwegian Institute of Public Health (NIPH).

The researchers also analyzed whether the risk of autistic disorder was influenced by the use of other dietary supplements. They did not find any association between the mother’s use of fish oil supplements (cod liver oil and omega-3 fatty acids) in early pregnancy and the risk of autistic disorder, and no association for the mother’s use of other vitamins and minerals.

In recent years, researchers have started to investigate whether folic acid has other beneficial effects on the development of the fetus’ brain and spinal cord. A study of language development from MoBa, published in 2011, showed that children whose mothers took folic acid supplements in early pregnancy had only half the risk of severe language delay at age three years compared with other children. A separate 2011 study from the University of California, Davis, demonstrated a lower risk of autism spectrum disorders in children of mothers who had used prenatal vitamin supplements during pregnancy. Prenatal vitamin supplements contain folic acid in combination with other vitamins and minerals.

Joint senior author Ezra Susser, professor of Epidemiology at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health and professor of Psychiatry at the College of Physicians and Surgeons, stated, “Our findings extend earlier work on the significance of folate in brain development and raise the possibility of an important and inexpensive public health intervention for reducing the burden of autism spectrum disorders.”

“This elegant work illustrates the power of the ABC cohort for not only chipping away at the riddle of what causes autism, but for developing new methods for early recognition, prevention and treatment,” says W. Ian Lipkin, John Snow Professor of Epidemiology at the Mailman School of Public Health and principal investigator of the ABC cohort.

 

Reference

Surén P, Roth C, Bresnahan M, Haugen M, Hornig M, Hirtz D, Lie KK, Lipkin WI, Magnus P, Reichborn-Kjennerud T, Schjølberg S, Smith GD, Øyen AS, Susser E, Stoltenberg C. Association Between Maternal Use of Folic Acid Supplements and Risk of Autism Spectrum Disorders in Children. JAMA 2013; 309 (6): 570-577.

 

Prenatal folic acid supplementation associated with lower risk of autism

JAMAIn a study that included approximately 85,000 Norwegian children, maternal use of supplemental folic acid from 4 weeks before to 8 weeks after the start of pregnancy was associated with a lower risk of autistic disorder in children, according to a study appearing in the February 13 issue of JAMA.

“Supplementation with folic acid around the time of conception reduces the risk of neural tube defects in children. This protective effect has led to mandatory fortification of flour with folic acid in several countries, and it is generally recommended that women planning to become pregnant take a daily supplement of folic acid starting 1 month before conception,” according to background information in the article. It has not been determined whether prenatal folic acid supplements protect against other neurodevelopmental disorders.

Pal Surén, M.D., M.P.H., of the Norwegian Institute of Public Health, Oslo, and colleagues investigated the association between the use of maternal folic acid supplements before and in early pregnancy and the subsequent risk of autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) (autistic disorder, Asperger syndrome, pervasive developmental disorder-not otherwise specified [PDD-NOS]) in children. The study sample of 85,176 children was derived from the population-based, prospective Norwegian Mother and Child Cohort Study (MoBa). The children were born in 2002-2008; by the end of follow-up on March 31, 2012, the age range was 3.3 through 10.2 years (average age, 6.4 years). The exposure of primary interest was use of folic acid from 4 weeks before to 8 weeks after the start of pregnancy, defined as the first day of the last menstrual period before conception. Analyses were adjusted for maternal education level, year of birth, and parity (the number of live-born children a woman has delivered).

A total of 270 children (0.32 percent) in the study sample have been diagnosed with ASDs: 114 (0.13 percent) with autistic disorder, 56 (0.07 percent) with Asperger syndrome, and 100 (0.12 percent) with PDD-NOS. The researchers found that there was an inverse association between folic acid use and subsequent risk of autistic disorder. Autistic disorder was present in 0.10 percent (64/61,042) of children whose mothers took folic acid, compared with 0.21 percent (50/24,134) in children whose mothers did not take folic acid, representing a 39 percent lower odds of autistic disorder in children of folic acid users.

Characteristics of women who used folic acid within the exposure interval included being more likely to have college- or university-level education, to have planned the pregnancy, to be nonsmokers, to have a pre-pregnancy body mass index below 25, and to be first-time mothers.

“No association was found with Asperger syndrome or PDD-NOS, but power was limited. Similar analyses for prenatal fish oil supplements showed no such association with autistic disorder, even though fish oil use was associated with the same maternal characteristics as folic acid use,” the authors write.

The researchers note that the inverse association found for folic acid use in early pregnancy was absent for folic acid use in mid pregnancy.

“Our main finding was that maternal use of folic acid supplements around the time of conception was associated with a lower risk of autistic disorder. This finding does not establish a causal relation between folic acid use and autistic disorder but provides a rationale for replicating the analyses in other study samples and further investigating genetic factors and other biological mechanisms that may explain the inverse association,” the authors conclude.

 

Reference

Surén P, Roth C, Bresnahan M, Haugen M, Hornig M, Hirtz D, Lie KK, Lipkin WI, Magnus P, Reichborn-Kjennerud T, Schjølberg S, Smith GD, Øyen AS, Susser E, Stoltenberg C. Association Between Maternal Use of Folic Acid Supplements and Risk of Autism Spectrum Disorders in Children. JAMA 2013; 309 (6): 570-577.

 

Cancer Industry Doesn’t Want A Cure

Researchers at the University of Alberta believe dichloroacetate (DCA) may soon be used as a safe and effective treatment for many forms of cancer. DCA was once used for unusual metabolic problems. It is an odourless, colourless, inexpensive, relatively non-toxic, small molecule. However, because the compound is no longer patented, you may never see it on the market as pharmaceutical companies can’t profit from it.


 

Read More

 Relevant publications in PubMed by Dr. Michelakis

Lemmo W. DCA—my clinical experiences—intravenous and oral uses

Louis PF. Proof that the cancer industry doesn’t want a cure – even if it’s a pharmaceutical (NaturalNews, January 31, 2012)

Mad Child Disease (Lecture)

Is the autism epidemic a “mad child disease” linked to mercury? This lecture was presented by Boyd Haley, Ph.D. at the 22nd Annual Meeting of the Doctors for Disaster Preparedness held in San Diego, California; June 2004.

Rethinking Cancer

Rethinking Cancer (2009) is a educational documentary film that provides a rare look into the psychological and therapeutic journeys of five men and women who used biological therapies to overcome serious illness. Their stories represent successes that mainstream medicine and the public ought to know about.

Four of the featured subjects had been diagnosed with cancer; two of these patients were considered terminal cases. The fifth patient had a severe case of Lyme disease. All five have outlived their diseases, between 15 and nearly 40 years, thus far.

Learn more at http://www.rethinkingcancer.org

Prebiotic May Help Patients With Intestinal Failure Grow New and Better Gut

Fructooligosaccharides (FOS)

Adding the right prebiotic to the diets of pediatric patients with intestinal failure could replace intravenous feeding, says a new University of Illinois study.

“When we fed the carbohydrate fructooligosacharide (FOS) as a prebiotic, the gut grew and increased in function,” said Kelly A. Tappenden, a U of I professor of nutrition and gastrointestinal physiology. “The study showed that using the correct pre- and probiotic in combination could enhance these results even more.”

When FOS enters the intestines, bacteria convert it into butyrate, a short-chain fatty acid that increases the size of the gut and its ability to digest and absorb nutrients, she said.

But today’s IV solutions don’t contain butyrate and adding it would entail drug development trials and regulatory red tape. She wanted to see if adding this carbohydrate to the diet while continuing to provide most nutrients intravenously would cause the gut to start producing butyrate on its own. It worked.

According to Tappenden, at least 10,000 U.S. patients are totally reliant on intravenous feeding because their intestines have been surgically shortened.

Many of these patients are premature infants who develop necrotizing enterocolitis, a kind of gangrene of the intestine. In the U.S., one in eight infants is a preemie, and removing necrotized, or dead, intestine is the most common surgical emergency in these babies.

“Surgery saves their lives, but with so much intestine removed, they’re unable to digest or absorb nutrients. These babies are also at risk for long-term complications, such as bone demineralization and liver failure. Our goal is to take kids who’ve had this resection and cause their gut to grow and adapt,” she said.

She tested her hypothesis about butyrate using newborn piglets, an excellent model for the human infant in metabolism and physiology. Piglets with intestinal failure were assigned to one of four groups: a control group; a group whose diet contained FOS, a carbohydrate given as a prebiotic to stimulate the production of butyrate by beneficial bacteria; a probiotic, or actual live bacteria; and a combination of pre- and probiotics.

“We believed that bacteria in the gut would use the prebiotic to make butyrate and support intestinal growth. But we thought that might only happen in the group that received both pre- and probiotics because we didn’t know if the newborn gut would have enough bacteria to make this important short-chain fatty acid.”

Actually, the neonatal piglets did have enough bacteria in their guts, and the prebiotic alone was effective in increasing intestinal function and structure, she said.

“In fact, the probiotic that we used in one of the groups eliminated the beneficial effect of the prebiotic. That shows us that we need to be exceptionally careful in selecting the probiotic we use, matching it to the specific disease,” she noted. Many consumers believe all probiotics are equal, but the effect of specific bacterial strains is different, she said.

“At this point, we can only recommend consumption of the FOS prebiotic alone,” she added.

 

Reference 

Barnes JL, Hartmann B, Holst JJ, Tappenden KA. Intestinal adaptation is stimulated by partial enteral nutrition supplemented with the prebiotic short-chain fructooligosaccharide in a neonatal intestinal failure piglet model. JPEN J Parenter Enteral Nutr 2012; 36 (5):  524-37.

Ingredients

American food is in a state of crisis. Obesity and diabetes are on the rise, food costs are skyrocketing, family farms are in decline and our agricultural environment is in jeopardy. Ingredients (2009) explores a thriving local food movement as our world becomes a more flavorless, disconnected and dangerous place to eat. Discovering better flavor and nutrition, Ingredients is a journey that reveals the people behind the movement to bring good food back to the table and health back to our communities.

Learn more at www.ingredientsfilm.com

Antibiotics During Pregnancy Increases Risk of Epilepsy in Children

foodconsumer.org – Prenatal antibiotics linked to high risk of epilepsyMonday Oct 22, 2012 (foodconsumer.org) — A new study in Pediatric and Perinatal Epidemiology suggests that taking cystitis antibiotics during pregnancy increases risk of epilepsy in children. J. E. Miller of School of Public Health, University of California, Los Angeles, CA and colleagues conducted the study and found taking cystitis antibiotics during pregnancy was associated with 10 to 20 percent increased risk of epilepsy in children.

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Reference
Miller JE, Pedersen LH, Sun Y, Olsen J. Maternal Use of Cystitis Medication and Childhood Epilepsy in a Danish Population-based Cohort. Paediatr Perinat Epidemiol 2012; 26 (6): 589-95.

 

Pomegranates & Cancer

Pomegranate may inhibit metastatic breast cancer(NaturalNews) Pomegranate juice is already known to be active against several cancers, but a new study out of California has just shown for the first time that it potently inhibits three key processes involved in breast cancer metastasis. The researchers were so impressed, they remarked that pomegranate juice is “potentially a very effective treatment to prevent cancer progression in general.”

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References

Rocha A, Wang L, Penichet M, Martins-Green M. Pomegranate juice and specific components inhibit cell and molecular processes critical for metastasis of breast cancer. Breast Cancer Res Treat 2012, DOI: 10.1007/s10549-012-2264-5

Adhami VM, Khan N, Mukhtar H. Cancer Chemoprevention by Pomegranate: Laboratory and Clinical Evidence. Nutr Cancer. 2009 November; 61(6): 811–815.

Paller CJ, Ye X, Wozniak PJ, Gillespie BK, Sieber PR, Greengold RH, Stockton BR et al. A randomized phase II study of pomegranate extract for men with rising PSA following initial therapy for localized prostate cancer. Prostate Cancer Prostatic Dis 2012 Jun 12. doi: 10.1038/pcan.2012.20.

Jeune MA, Kumi-Diaka J, Brown J. Anticancer activities of pomegranate extracts and genistein in human breast cancer cells. J Med Food 2005; 8 (4): 469-475.