Posts Categorized: News & Information

Salk scientists find control signal for immune system that could help treat autoimmune diseases

From left: Xudong Li, Professor Ye Zheng, Yuqiong Liang
Credit: Salk Institute for Biological Studies

[8/18/14] When faced with pathogens, the immune system summons a swarm of cells made up of soldiers and peacekeepers. The peacekeeping cells tell the soldier cells to halt fighting when invaders are cleared. Without this cease-fire signal, the soldiers, known as killer T cells, continue their frenzied attack and turn on the body, causing inflammation and autoimmune disorders such as allergies, asthma, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis and type 1 diabetes. Now, scientists at the Salk Institute have discovered a key control mechanism on the peacekeeping cells that determine if they send a halt signal to the killer T cells. The new research, published today in Cell, could help develop treatments for autoimmune disorders as well as some types of cancer…. Read more..

Why Getting ‘High on Life’ May be Good for Immunity


[8/9/14] We all like things that make us “high on life” — that feel-good rush after exercising, a good belly laugh, playful activities with friends, meditation, a good massage, or a loved one’s touch. These are examples of things that release endorphins, the body’s chemicals that give us a natural high. But endorphins do more than make us feel good; endorphins are necessary for proper immune function. In fact, some studies suggest people with chronic illness suffer from low endorphins. If you have an autoimmune disease, chronic pain, or chronic illness, boosting your endorphins could help you better manage your health. We are an endorphin-deprived society, with our emphasis on being busy. Not only does this result in less happiness,… Read more..

What The FDA’s New “Gluten-Free” Label Really Means


[8/9/14] If you’ve been buying foods labeled “gluten-free,” there is some good news and some bad news for you. The bad news: Nothing you’ve bought up until this point has had to adhere to a uniform standard of what it actually means to be “gluten-free.” The good news? As of August 2, 2014, there’s finally a definition to go along with the label. Late last week, the FDA published a new regulation defining the term. To be considered “gluten-free,” a product now must contain less than 20 parts per million of gluten. Products bearing the labels “free of gluten,” “no gluten,” and “without gluten” are also now required to meet this standard. “Adherence to a gluten-free diet is the key to… Read more..

Juvenile Arthritis: New Discoveries Lead to New Treatments


(7/17.14) Juvenile arthritis is one of the most common chronic illnesses affecting children. In fact, nearly 300,000 youngsters nationwide have been diagnosed with the disease. The most common symptoms include joint pain, inflammation (swelling), tenderness and stiffness. One early sign may be limping in the morning. Nikolay Nikolov, a rheumatologist and clinical team leader at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), says that children with juvenile arthritis and their parents have reason to be optimistic. In the last several years, new therapies have been developed by drug companies and approved by the FDA that moderate the effects and control the disease, likely preventing significant disability in later years. While no one knows exactly what causes juvenile arthritis, scientists do know… Read more..

Does “body-stressing” help relieve symptoms?


[7/15/14] A video of young Dutch adults lying barefoot and bare chested in the snow, swimming in frozen ponds, and purposely hyperventilating looks more silly than legitimate biomedical research. But the findings emerging from their efforts may suggest new treatments for millions of Americans suffering from autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease and multiple sclerosis. If you place the human body under enough stress, this new study finds, the immune system will stand down. And that, in turn, may calm the systemic inflammation and relieve the pain and disability that comes with a chronically overactive immune response. If the odd training that Dutch subjects undertook can be translated into a safe behavioral regimen for patients with autoimmune… Read more..

Does intestinal bacteria influence autoimmune diseases?

gut batcteria

[7/2/14] Animal models have long suggested that intestinal bacteria can influence the development of some autoimmune diseases. This may also be the case with rheumatoid arthritis, according to emerging research, a finding that could lead to novel treatments and diagnostic methods. Though long ignored by researchers, “these bacteria clearly exert a great deal of influence on many physiological processes in the body, including metabolism, digestion and the nutrients we take in,” said Dan Littman, professor of pathology and microbiology at the New York University School of Medicine and an investigator at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. “The part that’s less appreciated is the profound influence the microbiota can have on the immune system.” Bacteria and other microbes, such as viruses… Read more..

Pills For Celiac Disease Almost Here ?


[6/18/14] Going completely gluten-free is socially restrictive, expensive and time-consuming. Yet the diet is the only treatment out there for people with celiac disease, an autoimmune condition that damages the lining of the small intestines when triggered by gluten. What’s more, gluten-free eating might not be totally effective. It turns out that even celiacs who are very strict with their diet can still significantly injure their small intestines simply from incidental gluten contamination. Gluten lurks in a lot of unexpected foods, and even explicitly labeled gluten-free foods could still be contaminated, mislabeled or just plain misleading. With this in mind, a new pill may work to reduce incidental damage and complement a special diet. The ALV003, as it is known, is made… Read more..

Chia Powder used as Gluten-free Flour Recalled


[6/16/14] More than 70 people in the United States and Canada have been sickened in two so-called “sproutbreaks” involving foods made from either sprouted chia seeds or clover, federal investigators say. More than 10 of them have been hospitalized. In the chia outbreak, the illnesses have been traced to two products: a powder made from sprouted, ground chia seeds and a separate product made from sprouted chia and flax seeds, sold by Health Matters America. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has reports of 21 people in 12 states falling ill from the chia products. An additional 34 infections have been reported to the Public Health Agency of Canada. The ground chia powder was also distributed to and sold by Navitas… Read more..

Stem Cells May Be Key to Multiple Sclerosis Treatment


[6/10/14] New research released in the journal Stem Cell Reports suggests that stem cell therapy may be the key to treating patients with multiple sclerosis (MS). Currently, there are few medically-accepted treatments for MS, and these only help with symptoms in the early stages of the progressive neurological disorder. The new research, however, shows that stem cells may actually help in reversing the progression of this disease. Multiple sclerosis is thought to be an auto-immune disease in which the bodies immune system attacks the myelin sheath around nerve fibres. This myelin, a fatty substance that is vital for proper nerve function, also protects the nerves, but does not readily grow back following loss. As a result of this progressive demyelination… Read more..

New T-Cell Study Leads to Better Understanding

T cell receptors shown in bright red

[5/27/14] A study led by researchers at Stanford’s School of Medicine reveals how T cells, the immune system’s foot soldiers, respond to an enormous number of potential health threats. X-ray studies at the Department of Energy’s SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, combined with Stanford biological studies and computational analysis, revealed remarkable similarities in the structure of binding sites, which allow a given T cell to recognize many different invaders that provoke an immune response. The research demonstrates a faster, more reliable way to identify large numbers of antigens, the targets of the immune response, which could speed the discovery of disease treatments. It also may lead to a better understanding of what T cells recognize when fighting cancers and why they… Read more..