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CORONAVIRUS PERSPECTIVES by Dr. John A. Lopes Ph.D

The current pandemic caused by novel coronavirus emerged from Wuhan in China. The World Health Organization declared the illness resulting from the new virus, COVID-19 (now named SARS-CoV-2), a Public Health Emergency of International Concern.  Previous viral outbreaks of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) from 2002-2004 and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) in 2012 were caused by different coronaviruses.

CORONAVIRUS FAMILY

Coronaviruses have been reported to cause a large variety of diseases in animals, including severe disease in livestock and domestic such as pigs, cows, chickens, dogs and cats. Transmissible Gastroenteritis in young piglets (TGEV), nervous system infection (PEDV), causing encephalitis, vomiting and wasting in pigs, feline infectious peritonitis (FIPV) in cats. Bovine CoV, Rat CoV, and Infectious Bronchitis Virus (IBV) cause mild to severe respiratory tract infections in cattle, rats, chickens, and ruminants like elk, deer and camels respectively. Bat CoVs, are the likely ultimate source for SARS-CoV and MERS-CoV.

NOVEL CORONAVIRUS RESEARCH

The SARS-COV-2 is a spherical virus which carries genetic information in large RNA molecule. It is called Coronavirus because of crown like club shaped protein spikes protrude from the outer edge of the virus particle. The scientists in China have released the sequence of genome of SARS-COR2 that codes for structural proteins. Drs. A.R. Fehr and  S. Perlman from the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine have reported Coronavirus virus particles contain four main structural proteins: the spike (S), membrane (M), envelope (E), and nucleocapsid (N) proteins, all of which are encoded within the viral genome. S spike proteins bind to host cells.

The researchers used cryo-electron microscopy to take detailed pictures of the structure of the spike protein by freezing virus particles and firing a stream of high-energy electrons through the sample to create tens of thousands of images. The researchers found that the SARS-CoV-2 spike was 10 to 20 times more likely to bind ACE2 on human cells than the spike from the SARS virus from 2002. This may enable SARS-CoV-2 to spread more easily from person to person than the earlier virus.

S spike protein binds to receptors on the human cell surface called angiotensin-converting enzyme 2. A collaborative team of scientists including Dr. Jason McLellan, at the University of Texas and the NIAID Vaccine Research Center (VRC) isolated a piece of the genome sequences predicted to encode for its spike protein, an important step for large scale production of proteins for vaccine development.

Following receptor binding, the virus next gains access to the host cell cytosol. This is generally accomplished by acid-dependent proteolytic cleavage of S protein by a cathepsin (protein cleaving enzyme). The next step in the coronavirus lifecycle is the translation of the replicase gene from the virion genomic RNA.

Following assembly, virions are transported to the cell surface in vesicles and released by exocytosis. S protein that does not get assembled into virions transits to the cell surface where it mediates cell-cell fusion between infected cells and adjacent, uninfected cells. This leads to the formation of giant, multinucleated cells, which allows the virus to spread within an infected organism without being detected or neutralized by virus-specific antibodies.

VACCINE OR CONTROL PERSPECTIVES

There are a few important issues why it is difficult to control this virus. One is its ability to bind host cells 10-20 times more likely than SARS and MERS Coronaviruses resulting in rapid spread from person to person. Second is its covert ability to infect internally from cell to cell hiding from circulating antibodies. Third is its inflammatory manifestation in multiple organs causing rapid fatality. Since it resembles influenza viruses in its structural vulnerability to simple sanitizing and chemical agents, the best way to control is prevention through social distancing and limiting its spread through sanitizing and disinfecting body and inanimate surfaces.

Using safer Covid-19 tested products like Pro-San® L to disinfect counters, cell phones, doorknobs and other inanimate surfaces at home, school, or the office as well as alcohol free Silky-Soft® hand sanitizer used with or without water, can help provide a safer environment. Look for them at www.microcide.com or ask your local stores to carry.

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Mask or Unmask by Dr. John Lopes

Masking has become a very controversial and political issue. To mask or not to mask is a purely scientific subject and should be handled on its scientific merit and not be considered on aesthetic, emotional or convenience basis. Just like a wrap or cast on a sprained ankle is inconvenient to wear but is essential for correcting the pain, masking may be necessary to correct the current situation.

When dealing with harmful chemical particles or infectious agents, it is a practice in medicine as well as in industry to avoid harmful particles that can enter the respiratory system.  We live in a complex world full of harmful particles in the air we breathe. We might be allergic to pollens, or harmfully exposed to asbestos particles. Simply walking in polluted environments, we are continuously exposed to dangers. In short, we need to be protected from carcinogenic particles, allergens and other unknown asthmatic chemical agents.

While masking is not a fool proof protection, masks recommended to be used for public are made up of material that allow only very small particles to go through. For special use there are masks that can filter chemicals and tiny virus particles. There are masks that can prevent poisonous gases or radioactive materials. These masks are prepared for special professional individuals who continuously handle dangerous chemical and biological materials. Besides these are expensive materials for everyday use.

WHY do we need to wear mask every day?

Then why would we need daily use masks? Although a mask cannot stop all incoming particles, it can reduce the number of virus particles that can pass through. Without a mask you could breathe 100 particles, when masked you can limit the incoming number of particles. There is a threshold number for certain infective agents to initiate infection. A mask can reduce the threshold number and can protect from the infective agent.

If everyone uses a mask, they reduce the number of infectious agents passing from person to person. Masking is also our good neighborly responsibility. In a mixed population there will be a number of immunocompromised individuals, or more susceptible individuals like children or older members.

When we go to the hospital to greet our newly arrived child or grandchild we are asked to use a mask and we have no qualms about using it. Let us be good Samaritans even if we are not related and help someone who may be immunocompromised or asthmatic or allergic or undergoing cancer chemotherapy. Thus, in doing good we help ourselves and our neighbors as well as our country from increasing the COVID-19 statistic.

Why mask vaccinated individuals

Why can vaccinated and masked people be positive to Coronavirus? Coronavirus can grow like a “weed”. Certain viruses need certain types of specialized cells to grow and multiply. Coronavirus can grow and multiply on most mucosal surface cells. Corona virus attaches to ACE-2 receptor molecule on cells.  Since almost all mucosal surface cells have ACE-2 receptors, Coronavirus can attach and multiply on all exposed mucosal cells like those found in our oral and nasal cavities.

If a person has received two vaccine doses, he might have a high level of antibodies that can prevent infection if the virus come in contact with serum or in the blood stream. However, these protective antibodies may not be present on oral or nasal mucosal surface cells. So, the virus has no inhibiting environment in oral and basal mucosal cavity. Thus, a vaccinated person can have a live virus in oral and nasal mucosa. Studies in Cornell university and other institutions has reported that the virus can grow in parotid and salivary glands in oral cavity. Thus, a person can carry the virus and is capable of infecting other susceptible individuals. Masking can help reduce the risk of spreading the virus.

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Controlling Covid infections while waiting for new covid vaccine John Lopes, Ph.D.

Microcide®. Inc.

Introducing COVID-19 vaccines in a short time is a great scientific achievement. Scientists have been researching coronavirus for many years enabling them to quickly develop these vaccines. SARS-CoV2, one of many coronaviruses, is a fast-spreading virus rapidly mutating as it passes from person to person. With every mutation It can alter its surface structure to bypass vaccine induced neutralizing antibodies. Pfizer & Moderna vaccines are only 30% or so effective against Delta variant as compared to Alpha variant. Because mutation out paces vaccine development against a new variant, we need alternative control measures in the time gap

Besides usual control measures such as self-quarantine, face mask & safe distancing, we need safer products besides chlorine or alcohol-based sanitizers, to kill the virus quickly. Alcohol based hand sanitizers are flammable & hazardous, their use dries up skin, and chlorine or quaternary based sanitizers cannot be used on food.

Microcide has developed several innovative safe & food grade based products. These products have been tested against SARS CoV-2 virus at a certified level 3 biosafety national laboratory. PRO-SAN® L a water-based food grade spray kills more than 99.999% viruses in less than 30 seconds. Available as ready-to-use spray or instant powder concentrate water-soluble refill. Silky-Soft® is an alcohol free herbal antimicrobial hand and body wash containing Aloe vera to use with or without water. Order from www.microcide.com.

Introducing COVID-19 vaccines in a short time is a great scientific achievement. The fast-spreading virus rapidly mutating makes vaccines only 30% or so effective against Delta variant. Microcide’s innovative food grade based products are safer.  https://conta.cc/3xMw6nA .

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The Multivariant Monster

The Multivariant Monster:COVID-SARS-2 Dr. John A. Lopes, Ph.D., CLD.

Just like Kaliyathe multi headed snake of Indian mythology ormultiheaded Hydra monster of Greek mythology, CORONA-SARS-2 isthe21st century version with the multivariant virus. In virology we enhance the virulence of a virus by serially infecting a particular host animal. The virus gets more and more virulent. Present pandemic of Covid-19 offers human population as the ideal natural host system. Increasing its infectivity and transmissibility during each infection.

The Hallmark of Corona Virus.

The speed of infection allows the virus to multiply and produce millions of viruses in a short time before the host immunity can build up to cope with the virus. The aerial route of infection allows the virus to be transmitted from person to person at an amazing speed. CORONA-SARS-2 virus mutation is a random process. Of all mutant viruses some are harmless and die out. At least one or more of its progenies is more transmissible and faster infective than its parent virus. Thus, a new variant virus is borne.Of the initial variants studied, five are particularly of more concern. To simplify this complex nomenclature, the WHO proposes new nomenclature for virus variants using Greek alphabet including UK B.1.1.7 in United Kingdom(Alpha variant),South African B.1.351 (Beta variant), P.1. in Brazil (Gamma variant) and Japan and lately the variants from India (Delta variant) and Vietnam account for newer more infective variants.

The outer surface binding crownon the virus,like a “VELCRO” product, is capable of infecting multiple mucosal surfaces of nasal, oral, pulmonary, and other organs. Basically, both influenza and corona viruses have structural similarity for rapid mutations in the outer attachment sites. Ability to attach any mucosal surface is a hallmark of CORONA-SARS-2 virus. Influenza virus has been with us for a long period. The corona virus will mutate every timeit passes through human population and dodge host immunity acquired during previousinfection.

Beyond Vaccine?

Thus Covid-19 will be with human population for foreseeable period and more likely we may have to be vaccinated every time a new variant is introduced. Our ability to produce vaccines to combat every variant strain in a timely manner would be limited.  We haveto resort to safe preventive measures to combat this. If the virus multiplies in nasal cavity, we need nasal disinfection, for possible multiplication in oral cavity we need safe and rapidly active oral disinfection and for controlling hand to hand or infected objects like doorknobs transmission we need safe and effective virucidal products.

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Oral Cavity: A Nursery for Coronavirus Dr. John A Lopes Ph.D.

COVID-19 is primarily an infection of the lungs, upper airways, and nasal cavity. Coronavirus 2 (SARS‑CoV‑2), the causative agent, has multiple attachment ligands (molecules) that can bind to and infect cells in oral cavity, eyes, the digestive system, blood vessels, kidneys, and potentially other mucosal surfaces. Dr. Huang and colleagues have reported that coronavirus 2 (SARS‑CoV‑2) that produces COVID-19 infection can actively infect cells that line the mouth and salivary glands (Nat. Med. 2021 Mar 25.).  Almost half of COVID-19 cases include oral symptoms, such as loss of taste, dry mouth, and oral ulcer.  Such symptoms could also be due to infection of the olfactory tissues in the nose.

Dental Researchers Dr. Blake Warner (NIH), Dr. Kevin Byrd Univ. of North Carolina and colleagues found that a small portion of salivary gland and gingival (gum) cells around our teeth, simultaneously expressed the genes for encoding proteins: ACE2 receptor protein and TMPRSS2 enzyme protein required for the virus to bind and enter the cells, pointing to potential sites for attachment and growth of Coronavirus 2 (SARS‑CoV‑2).

Besides the large mucosal surface in the oral cavity, salivary glands present additional potential surfaces for binding and growth of the virus. In addition to the hundreds of smaller salivary glands, there are three large pairs of salivary glands including, a) parotid glands present in front of and just below each ear, b) submandibular glands below the jaw and, c) sublingual glands under the tongue. Although saliva keeps the mouth clean and healthy because it contains antibodies that kill germs, it can be a source of coronavirus 2 (SARS‑COV‑2)  transmission.

The scientists detected signs of SARS-CoV-2 in just over half of the salivary gland tissue samples that it examined from people with COVID-19 including one person who had died from COVID-19 and another with acute illness. The researchers also found evidence that the coronavirus was actively replicating to make more copies of itself. In people with mild or asymptomatic COVID-19, oral cells that shed into the saliva bathing the mouth were found to contain RNA for SARS-CoV-2, as well as the proteins that it uses to enter human cells.

The researchers also found that saliva from asymptomatic COVID-19 people when added to healthy cells grown in a lab dish infected the healthy cells. These findings raise the unfortunate possibility that even people with asymptomatic COVID-19 might unknowingly transmit SARS-CoV-2 to other people through their saliva. Thus, any activities that involve direct or indirect contact with saliva droplets like speaking or breathing unmasked, singing in public can easily spread the virus infection.

There is a silver lining to this grim situation with the highly infective SARS-CoV-2 virus. Microcide Dentoral broad spectrum antimicrobial alcohol free mouthwash has been tested against SARS-CoV-2 and found to be highly effective by killing 99.999% of the virus in suspension test at prestigious national testing facility.

Huang, N., Pérez, P., Kato, T. et al. SARS-CoV-2 infection of the oral cavity and saliva. Nat Med (2021). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41591-021-01296-8.

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Controlling Corona infections using computers

Controlling Coronavirus infections is basically the lock and key issue. Only the right key can open or lock the door locker. Coronavirus several spike proteins on its surface we can consider as locks. A proper chemical that can bind to the spike protein can bind the receptor binding proteins on the cells and inactivate the virus stopping penetration that would start infection.

We have all seen the images of the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes Coronavirus (Covid 19). Researchers are working to develop monoclonal antibody therapies to combat the virus. Antibodies against coronavirus are such keys that tightly bind to the spike proteins and prevent the virus from binding to the cells. Several companies are developing vaccines that can produce specific antibodies against the virus. Some of the vaccines are large and sensitive molecules requiring refrigeration and also have short shelf life making them difficult to be used for large scale trials over longer periods. Instead of vaccination, one can deliver pre-generated (passive) antibodies (REGENERON®) to the infected individuals.

Researchers led by Dr. David Baker of the University of Washington set out to design synthetic “miniproteins” that bind tightly to the coronavirus spike protein. Their study was funded in part by NIH’s National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS) and National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID). Findings appeared in Science News on September 9, 2020.

The team used two strategies to create the antiviral miniproteins. First, they incorporated a segment of the ACE2 receptor into the small proteins. The researchers used a protein design tool they developed called Rosetta blueprint builder. This technology allowed them to custom build proteins and predict how they would bind to the receptor. It is similar to going to “locksmith” ( ACE2 receptor protein) and ordering a key that would lock the coronavirus (spike protein) lock.

The second approach was to design miniproteins from scratch, which allowed for a greater range of possibilities. Using a large library of miniproteins, they identified designs that could potentially bind within a key part of the coronavirus spike called the receptor binding domain (RBD). In total, the team produced more than 100,000 miniproteins.

Next, the researchers tested how well the miniproteins bind to the RBD. The most promising candidates then underwent further testing and tweaking to improve binding. Using cryo-electron microscopy, the team was able to build detailed pictures of how two of the miniproteins bound to the spike protein. The binding closely matched the predictions of the computational models.

Finally, the researchers tested whether three of the miniproteins could neutralize coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2). All miniproteins protected lab-grown human cells from infection. Candidates LCB1 and LCB3 showed potent neutralizing ability. These were among the designs created from the miniprotein library. Tests suggested that these miniproteins may be more potent than the most effective antibody treatments reported to date.

“Although extensive clinical testing is still needed, we believe the best of these computer-generated antivirals are quite promising,” says Dr. Longxing Cao, the study’s first author. “They appear to block SARS-CoV-2 infection at least as well as monoclonal antibodies but are much easier to produce and far more stable, potentially eliminating the need for refrigeration.”

Notably, this study demonstrates the potential of computational models to quickly respond to future viral threats. With further development, researchers may be able to generate neutralizing designs within weeks of obtaining the genome of a new virus. The implication of this development goes beyond infection control and can lead to prevention of several disorders such as allergic reactions where binding two molecules can be effectively controlled.

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High SALT: A Risk Factor for Alzheimer’s Disease

John Lopes Ph.D.

 Evolutionary process has naturally integrated salt, an absolute nutrient ingredient, with taste buds. Since millennium salt has been used as preservative for pickles, meat, and fish to prevent spoilage by microorganisms. Even animals crave salt. An elephant matriarch leads the herd several miles to salt rocks to get dietary complement. Cockatiels fly hundreds of miles to distant salty mountain peaks to get their dietary salt requirement.

Although salt has been long associated with high blood pressure. In a hurried lifestyle, it is difficult to get low salt hamburgers, fries, ham sandwiches, hot dogs, pizza and more fast food items. Even in regular sit-down restaurants it is difficult to order a low salt meal.

Recent findings suggest that in addition to high blood pressure, high salt may can also cause stroke, declining cognition and memories. Dr. Costantino Iadecola and a team of researchers at Weill Cornell Medicine found that mice fed with high salt diets had trouble recognizing novel objects and navigating through a maze. They found that high salt diet reduced the level of enzyme (nitic oxide synthase) that produces NO (nitric oxide). Nitric oxide helps blood vessels to relax resulting in increased blood flow. A high salt diet stimulates TH-17 cells in the small intestine to produce circulating plasma interleukin-17 which in turn inhibits nitric oxide synthase in cerebral endothelial cell (Giuseppe Faraco, et al, Nature Neuroscience).. Thus, high salt in diet inactivates Endothelial Nitric Oxide Synthase in endothelial cells

The scientists found that reduced thinking and memory function was directly related to lower nitric oxide levels. After being placed on a high salt diet for 12 to 36 weeks the mice were tested for cognitive functions and their brains were examined for molecular changes.

 Mice on the high salt diet had reduced blood flow to the brain resulting in poorer performance on a standard set of cognitive tasks. Further investigations by the researches showed that only reduced blood flow to the brain did not entirely explain reduced cognition in the mice. Advanced molecular studies showed that the effects of high salt on the phosphorylation of the protein tau were mediated through nitic oxide levels, and not through the reduction in blood flow. In other words nitic oxide prevents phosphorylation and high salt inhibits the eNOS enzyme that produces nitic oxide.

 It has been known that a protein called TAU accumulates in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s disease. The research team found that a high salt diet reduces the level of nitric oxide which indirectly results in adding phosphate groups (phosphorylation) to TAU. When phosphorylated TAU protein clumps together in the brains. Clumps of TAU are linked with some dementias, such as Alzheimer’s disease.

Previous study by the team has shown that even with high salt diets mice, fed with a compound that increases production of nitric oxide, can overcome the accumulation of phosphorylation of tau. Further studies with mice which lacked TAU had no deleterious effect to cognitive tasks with high salt diet.

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Shake N’ Shake-Salt

By Dr. John A. Lopes Ph.D.

Are you a salt everything or a salt minimalist? Besides taste salt is an important component of healthy life. Both animals and plants require salt for wellbeing. An elephant matriarch leads the herd several miles to get salt in their diet. Cockatiels fly hundreds of miles to distant salty mountain peaks to get their salt complement.

Camel caravans traveled to distant places to trade salt a valuable commodity. Mahatma Gandhi initiated passive resistance to the unjust tax for making salt from sea water to start to get freedom from British rule.

Recently fast food giants amassed wealth by increasing profit margin with cheaper products high in salt to customers. Besides diet salt has also been used since millennium as a food preservative to prevent spoilage by microorganisms, for pickles, meat, and fish. However, there is a recent trend to overuse salt in fast food either for enhanced taste or to extract more profit by increasing weight of products.

Excess salt in fast food has become a norm. People are always in hurry. It is difficult to get low salt foods such as hamburgers, french fries, ham sandwiches hot dogs, pizza and more fast food items. Even in regular sit-down restaurants it is difficult to get a low salt meal.

Although, recent findings suggest that high salt may not be the only cause of high blood pressure, stroke and declining cognition and memories. Dr. Costantino Ladecola and a team of researchers at Weill Cornell Medicine found that mice fed with high salt diets had trouble recognizing novel objects and navigating through a maze. They related high salt diet to the reduced level of enzyme that produces NO (nitric oxide). Nitric oxide helps blood vessels to relax resulting increased blood flow. The mice on the high salt diet had reduced blood flow to the brain resulting in poorer performance on a standard set of cognitive tasks.

Further investigations by the researches showed that only reduced blood flow to the brain did not entirely explain reduced cognition in the mice. It has been known that a protein called TAU accumulates in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s disease. The research team found that a high salt diet reduces the level of nitric oxide which indirectly results in adding phosphate groups (phosphorylation) to TAU. When phosphorylated TAU protein clumps together in the brains. Clumps of tau are linked with some dementias, such as Alzheimer’s disease.

Further molecular studies showed that the effects of high salt on the phosphorylation of the protein tau were mediated through nitic oxide levels, and not through the reduction in blood flow. The scientists found that reduced thinking and memory function was directly related to lower nitic oxide level. After being placed on a high salt diet for 12 to 36 weeks the mice were tested for cognitive functions and their brains were examined for molecular changes.

Previous study by the team has shown that even with high salt diets mice, fed with a compound that increases production of nitric oxide, can overcome the accumulation of phosphorylation of tau. Further studies with mice which lacked TAU had no deleterious effect to cognitive tasks with high salt diet.

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My Mom the Family Surgeon

By Dr. John A. Lopes Ph.D.

Did you know you may have a personal surgeon in your home?  In the early days of surgery, a barber performed surgical procedures. People rushed to his salon for minor cuts in the skin, or to get skin poultices and bandages. He even made house calls. How does mom qualify like the earlier surgeons? She trims our hair, cleans cuts on our skin with antibacterial sprays and applies bandages to our sprained ankle. But she certainly qualifies as a modern-day surgeon as she does surgical procedures on other living objects as well. In our clean kitchen she uses shining stainless steel knives, forks and utensils for surgical procedures.

My mom even uses similar procedures as used in the hospital surgery rooms. Mom first cleans and sanitizes her hands with a powerful foaming hand sanitizer approved for sanitizing hands in meat and poultry plants. She takes enough time cleaning hands to meet the required minimum time to disinfect for killing the germs. She even tells you to complete singing one happy birthday song while rubbing hands with foam soap as most germs are spread by contaminated hands. Since she needs to wash her hands many times during her work, she uses SILKY SOFT® a mild but powerful alcohol-free hand sanitizer approved by the USDA.

Mom is very particular about sanitizing contaminated surfaces. spraying PRO-SAN® L RTU spray on even previously cleaned cutting boards and counter tops, stove and refrigerator handles, cleans and disinfects the knives, forks, pots and plates with PRO-SAN® L spray sanitizer and leaves for one to five minutes while she sanitizes her hands. She is environmentally concerned to avoid the many spray sanitizers that are not safe as they may have alcohol and other harmful volatile organic compounds.

Our kitchen is odor free and free of toxic chemicals so that she does not have to use face masks like the hospital surgeons use. However, because she uses some pungent objects like mustard, onions, and pepper that can induce coughing which can spray germs in the kitchen, she uses an antimicrobial oral rinse. She prefers to use alcohol free and sugar free DENTORAL® containing either mint or clove oil. However, she knows I love bubblegum flavored SPRINGKISS® jr mouth wash with xylitol recommended for prevention of dental caries by the World Health Organization.

Like a well-prepared surgeon, who cleans and disinfects the skin before a cut mom cleans and sanitizes the outer surface of fruits and vegetables with a highly fast acting microbicidal US EPA approved PRO-SAN® sanitizer. Leafy vegetables have convoluted surfaces on both sides. It is sometimes hard to sanitize these vegetables. She sprays both the surfaces of leaves or she uses a dipping solution to immerse the leaves in the solution for decontamination. She is aware that contaminated cutting board surfaces as well as contaminated fruits and vegetables can introduce bacteria into the cut food. Just like cut melons from the supermarket and salad makings we often hear about in recall reports for food borne infections. Thanks, mom, for taking such care to keep us safe and healthy.

 

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Is Rheumatoid Arthritis a Life Sentence?

By Dr. John A. Lopes

Forty years ago, Joe was an avid athlete with muscular body that could marvel Greek god Apollo. Today he is no longer is active and is virtually home bound. He struggles to hold a cup of coffee with his hand. He has severe rheumatoid arthritis (RA) with severe joint pain. RA has limited his movement.

Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic inflammatory disorder that can cause pain, swelling, stiffness, and loss of function in the finger, wrist, and other joints throughout the body. It occurs when the immune system mistakenly attacks the body’s own tissue, such as the membranes that line the joints.

 Although RA occurs more common with advanced age, anyone can experience this disease. Drs. Soumya Raychaudhuri M.D., Ph.D. and Michael Brenner M.D. at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Jennifer Anolik M.D., Ph.D. at the University of Rochester, and Laura Donlin Ph.D.at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York examined synovium, a thin tissue that lines joints.

Dr. Donlin’s team investigated the process of inflammation in tissue culture. The cells included both macrophages and fibroblasts cell. The fibroblast cells make joint tissue. The macrophages signal fibroblasts through a growth factor called HB-RGF to destroy joint tissue. The growth factor attaches to a receptor called EGFR present on the cells. The team of researchers found that an experimental anti-cancer drug can block the attachment and prevent the destructive process that could potentially lead to the prevention or cure of RA.

The inflammation of the joints can also be prevented by using immune suppressive drugs. However immune suppressive drugs can block natural resistance to infective agents. Dr. Dan Littman M.D., Ph.D. of NYU School of Medicine has reported that there is some correlation between RA and gut microbes. The researchers found that 75% of people with new-onset, untreated rheumatoid arthritis had the bacterium Prevotella copri in their intestinal microbiome. Increased levels of P. copri correlated with reductions in several groups of beneficial microbes, such as Bacteroides. The researchers performed more complete DNA sequencing on a subset of samples and identified unique Prevotella bacterial genes that correlated with rheumatoid arthritis. Mice were then given a chemical that induced colitis, a model of gut inflammation. Animals with P. copri developed more severe symptoms than the mice that hadn’t received the bacteria. Thus, RA is a complex disorder and requires multiple solutions.

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Back up Battery of Marathon Runners

By Dr. John A. Lopes

One wonders whether marathon runners havealong lasing battery such as a toy bunnythat is going and going. These long distant runnersuse energymore efficiently.Lactateis produced by the body during exercise.Lactate, a molecule leftover primarily aftersugar and other nutrients are used to produce energy. These Marathon Runners havemore of certain bacteria in the digestive tract that can further utilize lactate“spent fuel”.Usually after exercise lactate builds up in the bloodstream and muscles feel weak andtired.

Dr. G. M. Church at Harvard University and Dr. A. D. Kostic at the Joslin DiabetesCenter compared the gut microbes of people who ran the 2015 Boston Marathon withthose of sedentary people.Veillonellabacteria types in the digestive system can uselactate as a food/energy source. The researchers reportedahigher population ofVeillonella in the digestive tract of Marathon Runners. Thus the abundance of thesebacteria in the gut is significant.

The scientistsfurther tested whetherVeillonellacould impact exercise performance.They gave a group of mice theVeillonellabacteria taken directly from the marathonrunners. They gave another group of micea different type of bacteria that are unable touse lactate. Mice given theVeillonellaran on average 13% longer on a treadmill.Doeslactate formed after exercise in the bloodstream enter the digestive tract so Veillonellabacteria can use and produce more energy? The researchers found that lactate inblood stream of mice can cross into the gut signifying that lactate generated by exercisecan be metabolized by bacteria in the gut.

Olympic trial rowers, the researchers found that the activity oftheseVeillonellagenes,involved in processing lactate,increased after exercise. Veillonella bacteria can alsoconvert propionate to lactate. The scientist found that propionate could also haveenhancing effect on exercise.

Increased exercise capacity is a strong predictor of overall health and protection againstcardiovascular disease, diabetes, and overall longevity.These findings suggeststrategies, such as a probiotic supplement, might help boost the ability to do meaningfulexercise and therefore protectagainst chronic diseases.

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House plants may not be just for Decoration

By Dr. John Lopes

House plants give a sense of serenity and the presence of nature can help reduce tension. Plants are also reported to purify indoor air quality. However, we often get aphids and spiders on the plants and need to take care of the plants. PRO-SAN a non-toxic antibacterial spray has been found useful in controlling these small insects.

Several chemicals found in our homes can pollute indoor air, for ex. disinfecting sprays, carpet, furniture coating, house paints, hair sprays, cooking, and even beauty products, used every day can release chemical vapors also known as VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds). These pollutants include benzene, quaternary ammonium compounds, various alcohols, preservatives and unknown chemicals that can exacerbate asthma, allergies and can be carcinogenic.

Animals have cytochrome P450 2E1 (CYP2E1), based enzyme system to breakdown and to remove toxic chemicals. A key enzyme in mammals that helps clear toxins from the body, (CYP2E1) normally helps break down toxins in the liver. To enhance their ability to remove VOCs, some plants, have been genetically modified to produce (CYP2E1), an enzyme that can effectively remove toxic chemicals from indoor air.

Dr. Stuart E. Strand and colleagues at the University of Washington genetically modified the common houseplant pothos ivy (Epipremnum aureum) to produce CYP2E1. They further tested the ability of the plants to remove two important volatile organic compounds namely benzene and chloroform, known for their carcinogenicity. They found that the genetically modified plants cleared out 4.7 times more benzene than the wild-type plants. The genetically modified plants also decreased the concentration of chloroform by 82% during the first 3 days and almost completely after 6 days. In contrast, the wild-type plants did not clear any chloroform from the air.

 Since it is difficult to remove these stable chemicals, plants can remove and in fact potentially use the chemicals. Chloroform is converted to carbon dioxide and benzene is converted to phenols used for plant cell walls. The scientists are further working to be able to remove formaldehyde used in wall and furniture material.

 

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