Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Cancer-Killing Stem Cells Could Be Used To Treat Cancer

Researchers in Japan have for the first time shown it is possible to make cancer-specific immune system cells from induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs). Their work brings closer the day when therapies use cloned versions of patients' own cells to boost their immune system's natural ability to kill cancer cells. The researchers, from the RIKEN Research Centre for Allergy and Immunology in Yokohama, describe how they created cancer-specific killer T lymphocytes from iPSCs, in a paper published online on 3 January in the journal Cell Stem Cell. Hiroshi Kawamoto and colleagues started with mature T lymphocytes specific for a certain type of skin cancer and reprogrammed them into IPSCs with the help of "Yamanaka factors". The iPSCs cells then generated fully active, cancer-specific T lymphocytes. Yamanaka factors are named after Shinya Yamanaka, who with British scientist John B. Gurdon, won the 2012 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine for discovering that mature cells can be reprogrammed to become pluripotent stem cells. Yamanaka discovered that treating adult skin cells with four pieces of DNA (the Yamanaka factors) makes them revert back to their pluripotent state, where they have the potential, almost like embryonic stem cells, to become virtually any cell in the body. Stem cell image Scientists have created cancer-specific immune system cells that could be capable of killing cancer cells. Speaking about their breakthrough in making cancer-specific T cells, Kawamoto says in a statement: "We have succeeded in the expansion of antigen-specific T cells by making iPS cells and differentiating them back into functional T cells." Previous attempts using conventional methods to make cancer-killing T lymphocytes in the lab have not been very successful. The cells failed to kill the cancer cells, mainly because they did not live long enough. So Kawamoto and colleagues thought they would have more success if they went down the iPSC route. After making a batch of iPSCs by exposing melanoma-specific mature T lymphocytes to the Yamanaka factors, they grew them in the lab and coaxed them to differentiate into killer T lymphocytes again. "In this study, we established iPSCs from mature cytotoxic T cells specific for the melanoma epitope MART-1," they write. They showed that the new batch of T lymphocytes was specific for the same type of melanoma as the original lymphocytes. The new cells kept the same genetic structure that enabled them to express the cancer-specific receptor on their surfaces: "more than 90% of the resulting cells were specific for the original MART-1 epitope," note the researchers. They also showed that the new T lymphocytes were active and able produce the anti-tumor compound interferon-gamma when exposed to antigen-presenting cells. Kawamoto and colleagues are now planning to test whether the new T cells can selectively kill tumor cells without harming healthy cells. "If they do, these cells might be directly injected to patients for therapy. This could be realized in the not-so-distant future," says Kawamoto. Written by Catharine Paddock PhD Copyright: Medical News Today

The Cinnamon Challenge Lands Many Children In Hospital

The "Cinnamon Challenge", which involves trying to swallow a teaspoon of cinnamon without water within sixty seconds, has led to many calls to poison centers, emergency departments visits and hospitalizations of teenagers who require ventilator support for collapsed lungs. Swallowing a teaspoon of Cinnamon within sixty seconds is a nearly impossible challenge. Even on the online dare, there is a warning: "It's going to burn, you are going to cough, and regret you tried." The Cinnamon Challenge is a dare that has spread throughout the Internet. While most children know about it, very few parents and teachers do, researchers from the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine wrote in the journal Pediatrics. Steven E. Lipshultz, M.D., the George Batchelor Professor of Pediatrics and Director of the Batchelor Children's Research Institute, said: "Given the allure of social media, peer pressure and a trendy new fad, pediatricians and parents have a 'challenge' of their own in counseling tweens and teens regarding the sensibilities of the choices they make and the potential health risks of this dare. Ingesting and Aspirating Dry Cinnamon by Children and Adolescents: The 'Cinnamon Challenge." The authors said that parents need to be told about the Cinnamon Challenge, and they need to advise their children about the dangers. Parental advice really matters to kids, they added. "Schools and pediatricians should be encouraged to discuss with children the 'Cinnamon Challenge' and its possible harmful effects." Co-author Judy Schaechter, M.D., M.B.A., Interim Chair of Pediatrics, was surprised to find out during a recent dinner with a dozen pediatricians that none of them had ever heard of the Cinnamon Challenge. Even though most teenagers who choose to do the challenge endure only temporary effects, the researchers wrote that poison centers are receiving an increasing number of calls related to the Cinnamon Challenge, and more kids are ending up in emergency departments and being hospitalized. Cinnamon is a caustic powder consisting of cellulose fibers which do not dissolve and are not biodegradable in the lungs. Animal studies have shown that cinnamon can cause inflammation of the airways and lungs (if it is inhaled), and it can also cause lesions and scarring in the lungs and airways. People with asthma, pulmonary cystic fibrosis, chronic lung disease or a hypersensitivity to spice need to be especially careful. The authors wrote: "Although we cannot make a strong statement on documented pulmonary sequelae in humans, it is prudent to warn that the 'Cinnamon Challenge' has a high likelihood to be damaging to the lungs. These discussions can also help children learn to weigh the risks and rewards of yielding to peer pressure when considering senseless and risky behaviors." Since August 2012, millions of people have watched at least 50,000 YouTube videos of adolescents and young adults coughing, gagging and chocking as they accept the Cinnamon Challenge. Most of the participants are aged from 13 to 24 years. This age has the "greatest need for conformity" (susceptible to peer pressure). The authors are in no doubt that the growing Internet presence of the Cinnamon Challenge has led to a significant rise in calls to the American Association of Poison Control Centers. From January through June 2012, 178 calls related to this fad were made, compared to just 51 during the whole of 2011. Of those calls, 69% (122) were because of intentional misuse or abuse. 17% of callers required medical attention. Serious or life-threatening consequences from the Cinnamon Challenge are extremely rare, the authors emphasized. However, "they are unnecessary and avoidable." Written by Christian Nordqvist Copyright: Medical News Today

What Are Fordyce Spots? What Causes Fordyce Spots?

Fordyce spots, also known as Fordyce's spots, Fordyce granules or Sebaceous Prominence, are small raised, pale red, yellow-white or skin-colored bumps or spots that appear on the shaft of the penis, the labia, scrotum, or the vermilion border of the lips of a person's face. They can also be found on the foreskin of the penis (called Tyson's glands). The vermilion (vermillion) border of the lips is the normally sharp demarcation between the red colored part of the lip and the adjacent normal skin of the face. Fordyce Spots are named after the American dermatologist John Addison Fordyce (1858-1925) who first described them clinically in a medical journal. He also coined the terms Fox Fordyce disease, Fordyce's disease, Fordyce's lesion, and Brooke-Fordyce trichoepithelioma. Fordyce Spots are common in both males and females. Fordyce spots are a type of ectopic sebaceous gland: Ectopic = in an abnormal location or position. Sebaceous - fatty, greasy, adipose, fat - relating to oil and fat Glands = organs or collection of cells that secrete things. Endocrine glands secrete things, such as hormones, into the body. Exocrine glands secrete things outside the body, such as sweat or mucus. Sebaceous gland = a small skin gland that secretes sebum (oily matter) into the hair follicles to lubricate the hair and skin Ectopic sebaceous gland = a sebaceous gland that is on the skin but not in the hair follicle. According to Medilexicon's medical dictionary, Fordyce spots are: "A condition marked by the presence of numerous small, yellowish-white bodies or granules on the inner surface and vermilion border of the lips; histologically the lesions are ectopic sebaceous glands." Although Fordyce Spots are sebaceous glands which are in "the wrong place" (not in hair follicles), they are not associated with any disease or illness. Dermatologists say they are of cosmetic concern only - people who have them might not be happy with how they affect the way they look. Experts say that Fordyce Spots are natural occurrences on the body and are not infectious. Some men may wonder whether they have some kind of STI (sexually transmitted infection) or cancer and see their doctor, only to be told that they are harmless. What are the signs and symptoms of Fordyce Spots? Small, pale (skin color, yellowish or pinkish) bumps or spots from 1 to 3 mm in diameter are visible on the: Shaft of the penis (in males) Scrotum (in males) Where the lips on the face meet the skin of the face (vermilion border) Labia (in females) On the penis glans/shaft, scrotum and labia they may appear as bright red or purple papules, as a solitary lesion or in crops of 50 to 100. They are painless and do not itch. They are simply abnormally dilated blood vessels that are covered by thickened skin. In some cases they made bleed during/after intercourse. fordycespots 30-year-old male patient, worried about herpes simplex, saw his doctor. Physical examination revealed several 1mm-wide smooth, white spots. He was diagnosed with Fordyce Spots (Hong Kong Medical Association) What are the treatment options for Fordyce Spots? Dermatologists and primary care physicians (general practitioners, family doctors) emphasize that Fordyce Spots are normal physiological occurrences and are not dangerous for human health. Many, in fact, advise against treatment. Electro desiccation or CO2 laser have been used with some degree of success in making the spots less visible, if the patient's concern is purely cosmetic. Pulsed dye lasers have also been anecdotally reported to be effective in some cases. This is a laser treatment usually used for sebaceous gland hyperplasia (a skin disorder of the sebaceous glands, basically, an enlarged oil gland). Although expensive, pulsed dye lasers tend to leave fewer scars than other methods. In the majority of cases, the treatment methods mentioned above are not effective enough for most patients. However, a recent article regarding a Micro-punch technique provides some hope. Micro-punch technique for treatment of Fordyce spots - Professor Norbert Pallua, who works at the Department of Plastic Surgery, Hand Surgery, Burn Center, University Hospital RWTH Aachen, Germany, reported in the Journal of Plastic, Reconstructive & Aesthetic Surgery promising results with Micro-punch technique for the treatment of Fordyce spots. In a retrospective study involving 23 patients from 2003 to 2011, Pallua and team say they achieved satisfactory functional and cosmetic results. They added that so far during post-operative observations, there have been no signs of recurrence from 12 up to 84 months (median = 51.3 months). What are the possible complications of Fordyce Spots? For patients with severe Fordyce Spots on the vermilion border of the lips of the face, there is a risk of anxiety and depression, because the eyes and lips are the first things people look at. The spots can affect people emotionally. Those with severe symptoms in their genitalia may be embarrassed or concerned about what their sexual partners might think. In some cases, the spots may bleed if injured or during intercourse. Many doctors fail to diagnose Fordyce Spots accurately It is not uncommon for patients with Fordyce Spots on their lips to go to several dermatologists and plastic surgeons and find that only a minority are able to identify what they are and to provide information regarding their causes, nature and possible treatments. Written by Christian Nordqvist Copyright: Medical News Today Not to be reproduced without permission of Medical News Today