Scientists have developed a therapy that may help permanently treat vitiligo — a disease that causes the loss of skin colour in blotches — within a few weeks.
In many parts of the world there is great shame and stigma tied to vitiligo, an autoimmune disease of the skin that causes disfiguring white spots, which can appear anywhere on the body.
In some societies, individuals with vitiligo, and even their family members, are shunned and excluded from arranged marriages.
“The rejection is so crippling that one person suffering from the disease even requested an amputation of his forearm affected by vitiligo because he could marry with only one arm, but could not with vitiligo,” said John Harris, from University of Massachusetts in the US.
While existing treatments such as topical steroids and light therapy can be effective for patients, they take one and two years to show results. In most cases the white spots reappear at the same location, often within just one year after stopping the treatments.
This recurrence can be just as devastating as when the white patches first appeared.
“Our research team suspected that “memory” forms within the skin when the white spots first appear, so that the spots “know” where to return when treatments are stopped,” said Harris.
Researchers found cells in vitiligo skin from mice or humans that looked a lot like the memory cells that protect the skin from a second exposure to a viral infection.
The body “thinks” it is fighting a viral infection when it “misfires” at the patient’s normal cells, killing the pigment-producing cells in the skin called melanocytes and causing vitiligo.
These cells are called “resident memory T cells.”
Researchers isolated the disease-causing memory cells and analysed them more closely. They were able to determine that these cells specifically targeted the melanocytes.
“We hypothesised that if we could remove these memory cells from the skin using a new treatment, then treatments to re-pigment the skin would be long-lasting and possibly permanent,” Harris said.
Researchers tested the hypothesis on mice specifically engineered to develop vitiligo. They found that the vitiligo-causing memory cells require a special protein called “IL-15” to survive.
“We injected the vitiligo mice with an antibody that blocks the IL-15 protein from interacting with the memory cells,” Harris said.
The treatment wiped out the memory cells from the mouse skin within just a few weeks, allowing the brown pigment to return in a spotty pattern, just as we see in patients who respond to therapy.
Just two weeks of antibody treatments caused repigmentation that lasted for months, suggesting this strategy, unlike existing treatments, might provide long-term benefit for vitiligo patients.
The team is now working to develop a clinical trial to test this antibody treatment in human patients.
How to Keep Stroke at Bay
Stroke can affect everyone regardless of their age and sex. You might think that you’re healthy one minute then the next you’ve been hit by this cardio problem. Although those who often smoke, drink, and eat unhealthy meals are highly likely to suffer from stroke, you can never be too sure unless you learn how to keep this disease at bay.
If you want to avoid triggering stroke, these tips can help you out.
Pay attention to your emotions. Depression is a silent killer and one that can increase your risk of stroke. When you feel depressed, your body won’t function properly thus putting you at risk of suffering from various health issues with stroke being on top. If you are aware of your feelings, you will be able to get help from your family and even professionals to address this issue immediately.
Exercise more. Exercise has always been recommended by doctors to those who want to stay healthy because keeping your heart pumping and your blood flowing prevent buildup of plaque in your arterial wall. This also promotes more oxygen being delivered to different parts of your body which can boost their functions.
Sleep. If you think that late nights are good for your health, you should think again. Sleep plays an important role in your health as it is at this moment of rest does your body regenerate itself. Without proper sleep, you’re putting yourself at risk of suffering from high blood pressure which can trigger stroke when you are not careful.
Drink in moderation. If you often go out with friends or party all night, you’re probably drinking several bottles of booze every night. Although you’ll look cool in the presence of your friends, you are not actually helping yourself in terms of health. Too much alcoholic beverage can wreak havoc in your liver which can increase your cholesterol level and putting you at risk of suffering from stroke. Following the recommendation of one glass of wine for women and two glasses for men should be beneficial to you rather than drinking several bottles of beer.
Use olive oil. Cooking with palm oil, canola oil, and the like can increase your risk of stroke. A better option would be to switch to olive oil when cooking as it has low melting point and it contains plenty of nutrients that your body needs to combat various diseases including stroke. Using olive oil regularly will reduce your risk of stroke up to 40%.
Keep an eye on your weight. Another tip to keeping stroke at bay is to learn how to manage your weight. Going beyond the weight suitable for your age, height, and sex will already put you at risk of suffering from various cardiovascular diseases like stroke, heart attack, and high blood pressure just to name a few. If you keep your weight down by eating healthy foods and exercising regularly, you will be able to successfully keep stroke at bay.
Eating junk food can raise risk of bipolar disorder, depression
Feeling depressed? It’s time to cut out the unhealthy junk food from your diet as it increases the risk of psychological disorders including bipolar disorder and depression, said researchers.
Junk food is not only harmful for metabolism but also increases the risk of psychological problems such as bipolar disorder and depression, irrespective of personal characteristics such as age, gender, education and marital status, according to the study, published in the International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition, indiatvnews.com wrote.
High-sugar consumption was found to be linked with bipolar disorder, while fried foods or processed grains were associated with depression.
“Perhaps the time has come for us to take a closer look at the role of diet in mental health because it could be that healthy diet choices contribute to mental health,” said lead author Jim E Banta, Associate Professor at Loma Linda University, California.
“More research is needed before we can answer definitively, but the evidence seems to be pointing in that direction,” Banta added.
The findings provide “additional evidence that public policy and clinical practice should more explicitly aim to improve diet quality among those struggling with mental health”.
It also pointed out that “dietary interventions for people with mental illness should especially target young adults, those with less than 12 years of education, and obese individuals.”
For the study, the team of researchers reviewed data from over 2,40,000 telephone surveys conducted between 2005 and 2015.
Drinking carbonated beverages during and after exercise can cause kidney injury’
After an intense workout session, it is common for people to drink either water or soft drinks. But according to the latest study, while drinking water is safe and causes no harm to the body, carbonated beverages may lead to kidney damage.
According to the study, published in the American Journal of Physiology-Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology, it has been found that drinking soda after exercise is a big No-No — “The purpose of this study was to test the hypothesis that consuming a soft drink (i.e., a high fructose, caffeinated beverage) during and following exercise in the heat elevates biomarkers of acute kidney injury (AKI) in humans.”
The researchers recruited twelve healthy adults who were made to drink 2 litres of an assigned beverage during 4 hours of exercise in the heat. While half of the people were given a popular soft drink, the other half were given water to drink. They also had to drink 1 litre of the same beverages after leaving the laboratory. Stage 1 AKI was detected at post-exercise in 75 per cent of the participants in the soft drink trial compared to 8 per cent in water drinking trial.
Furthermore, according to the findings, “urinary neutrophil gelatinase-associated lipocalin (NGAL), a biomarker of AKI, was higher during an overnight collection period after the soft drink trial compared to water.”
The study further added, “Changes in serum uric acid from pre-exercise were greater in the soft drink trial than water at post-exercise. There were greater increases from pre-exercise in serum copeptin, a stable marker of vasopressin, at post-exercise in the soft drink trial than water. These findings indicate that consuming a soft drink during and following exercise in the heat induces AKI, likely via vasopressin mediated mechanisms.”