The One Disease That Rules Them All

Cancer is the disease that they say affects everyone. It seems everyone in the world has been personally affected by the disease or has known someone who was. According to, Cancer is a disease defined by the uncontrolled division of abnormal cells in the body that results in a tumor or malignant growth. The main problem with cancer as a disease that makes it so hard to combat is that it causes human “self” cells to grow and divide uncontrollably. This comes in to play when the immune system is trying to kill such infected cells, the immune system does not kill “self” cells. What is so unique about cancer is that it has multiple mechanisms to hide from the body’s immune system that is trying to get rid of it. One mechanism of hiding from the immune system is the down regulating of MHC molecules so that antigen-presenting cells show a few number of antigens to T cells. In the early stages of growth, cancer cells produce stress signals and tumor-associated antigens that T cytotoxic cells and Natural killer cells can recognize for destruction. As the tumor matures, the cells no longer produce these signals, so the cells are not destroyed; this is another mechanism of avoiding the immune system. And finally, tumor cells can express PDL-1 that binds to PDL on cytotoxic T cells to deactivate them; as well as they attract immune cells, such as T regulatory cells and Macrophages to the site to inhibit other immune cells. Science has tried desperately to keep up with Cancer’s pace with immunotherapies using T cell transfer, cytokines, and immune checkpoints, but so far cancer has been smarter and it continues to come back or the therapies cause damage to the patient. Thus, cancer is smart. But now, science may be smarter.

The Force Awakens

A recent clinical trial showed positive results when 11 lymphoma patients received a new “vaccine” for cancer. Dr. Joshua Brody reported to WebMD that all 11 patients experience partial or full destruction of the tumor that was directly injected into and as the initial tumor began to be killed, other ones in the body did also. This vaccine is different than the definition of a normal vaccine because it teaches the body to kill the disease after it is already infected, whereas a vaccine is usually used as a preventative. Nevertheless, the results were significant enough to warrant further clinical testing on other types of cancers.

How It Works

This new approach targets the activation of dendritic cells as opposed to the traditional cancer treatment using T cells. To teach these cells how to recognize the cancer, immune stimulants are injected directly into the tumor 9 times to attract the dendritic cells and label infected cells as infected. Then, more immune stimulant injections are administered to activate the dendritic cells to direct the actions of cytotoxic T cells towards the now recognized cancer. Future research and trials will be done to see how combining this new treatment with checkpoint inhibitors will affect the rate of tumor destruction. Basically, scientists are using the tumor against itself by turning it into a dendritic cell magnet which exposes it to the immune system. If thats not karma, I don’t know what is.

Although the results of the tiny study were positive, only three of the patients went into remission for an extended period of time. I would like to see these methods applied to a larger group of people to really see how effective it can be. Also, the article does not mention anything about adverse side effects or toxicity with this treatment which is a stark contrast to the ill effects of chemo and radiation. I hope this treatments opens a lot of doors for a lot of people and finally awakens the force of science against Cancer once and for all.

In honor of my Star Wars reference in my second blog.

Thimerosal Controversy


Have you heard of Thimerosal? I sure haven’t. So, before we can understand why there is hesitation when this compound is found in vaccines, we should explore what it is. Thimerosal is an organic mercury compound, an organomercurial, created in the 20th century to combat bacterial presence in vaccines. Before such compounds were brought into the world of vaccines, bacterial contamination of vaccines was a real problem resulting in sickness and even death is some cases when people, usually children, were vaccinated with toxic batches. These batches may have been stored at the wrong temperature or removed from the stock solution aseptically, but regardless it was really dangerous to be vaccinated with a contaminated batch. Thus, scientists started using germicides to combat these bacteria and originally, the germicides themselves were causing harmful side effects. For example, mercury chloride was used despite its harmful skin irritations. So when scientists developed this new class of mercuries that were not toxic, it was a big thing and lead to a lot safer vaccination.

So What’s the Problem?

The controversy surrounding this compound is kind of cloudy. So let us rewind some more. After Thimerosal was introduces around WWI, it went under extensive testing to determine if it was toxic, how much could be tolerated, how effective it was against certain bacteria, and if there were any side effects… rabbits. After startling results of a pretty high dose being tolerated by the animals with no impairments to their life, Thimerosal became very promising and made its way into the medical world. According to Jeffrey Baker with the U.S National Library of Medicine, after about 50 successful years in the field, questions were raised concerning Thimerosal after organic mercury poisoning, usually from fish, hit populations and caused illnesses. This fear was addressed when it was determined that the type of mercury in fish stays in the body system, while the mercury in Thimerosal does not and is flushed out, but people still were not fans of vaccines with this compound. Studies began claiming the toxic effects of Thimerosal when used as a topical agent for pain, even though the levels of the drug in topical use were far beyond those in a vaccine. Despite this inconsistency in claims, there was only one child vaccine with Thimerosal in it by the 1970’s.

The real panic came with Thimerosal, an ethylmercury, became associated with methylmercury, a compound known to affect the developing brains of infants and children. After a devastating event of the coast of Japan, more questions were raised. A large factory deposited its waste into the shore and it was converted to Methylmercury that killed fish, seagulls, cats, and affected humans who ate infected fish. Children born to asymptomatic parents were affected more severely than those exposed and the photos of symptoms circulated the world and made their way to the U.S. After this event and many others linked to “mercury”, extensive research was conducted to define a safe amount of “mercy” for the average adults and for pregnant women. Despite the word “mercury” being an umbrella term and not all mercuries acting the same in the human body, it was ruled that Thimerosal would be removed from vaccines because the levels in the vaccine were too high for fetus in vaccinated mothers.

Somewhere along the way, the debate concerning vaccinations and their linkage to autism came about and a group called the “mercury moms” blamed Thimerosal for the disabilities of their children. This group got political with it and was a large influence on the removal of Thimerosal from vaccines. This essentially nailed the lid on the coffin for Thimerosal use.

So Now What?

Thimerosal is still seen in vaccines, like the flu-shot, because of its long outstanding record of preventing bacterial growth and making vaccine batches toxic. I think the reason there are alternative vaccines for anti-Thimerosal populations is because the push to encourage vaccination and to eradicate vaccine hesitancy is so great that the scientific society is willing to find alternative ways to bring as many people of the vaccine train as possible. According to the FDA, the reason for the decline in use all together is due to scientific advancements in single-dose vaccines to eliminate the need for long periods of storage. I find it interesting that the FDA website does include the fact, “The CDC’s ACIP does not preferentially recommend vaccines that do not contain thimerosal for any populations.” which kind of rips the lid off the coffin for Thirmosal emphasizing that it is no more or less effective than other vaccines for any type of person, regardless of age.

All aboard the vaccine express! CHOO! CHOO!


The Raw Importance of Vaccinations

Recently, a 26 year old man died from the Measles, despite receiving full doses of MMR vaccine as a child. According to Phillip Jent, MD, his death was due to a lack of herd immunity in European countries.

Measles is a disease characterized by a rash, fever, weepy eyes, cough, nasal discharge, and diarrhea. It is caused by the Rubeola virus, an enveloped single-stranded RNA paramyxovirus. This disease is spread through the air and direct-contact and thus, is highly contagious. Basically, the virus enters the blood stream and is carried throughout the body, even infecting skin cells and the brain. When skin cells become infected, cytotoxic T cells attack them, resulting in the rash. The virus replicating in the lungs can result in pneumonia and an infected brain can result in subacute sclerosing pan-encephalitis.

Measles is a very dangerous disease but because of the years of vaccinating and attempting to eradicate the disease from the places like the U.S and Europe, the seriousness of the disease has faded. When a population vaccinated and reaches a certain threshold, there are not enough susceptible hosts (unvaccinated individuals) for the disease to spread. This is called herd immunity. Basically, if an infected individual spreads the disease to someone vaccinated, it is taken care of and rendered not contagious before it can make its way into the body of someone at risk. Now with an increase in number of people refusing vaccination, serious diseases, like Measles, are making their way back into the population and leaving it devastated. According to the article, within the first half of 2018, 41,000 children and adults in Europe were infected with Measles. Thus, as a population, there are not enough people vaccinated to protect those that are not. Europe is far below the threshold and Measles is going around.

The Devastating Truth

In regard to the young man mentioned before, he took all the necessary precautions but it was society that let him down. This patient was receiving treatment for Leukemia at a Swiss Hospital when he was admitted with having a rash, mouth sores, and conjunctivitis. This patient tested positive for Measles but despite treatments such as Ribavirin (an antiviral), immunoglobulins, and vitamins, his body could not fight the disease and he died from a secondary infection of pneumonia.

Just to reiterate, this man was vaccinated and should have had immunity for the MMR vaccine rounds he did as a child. The development of cancer and the treatment he was undergoing for that is what lead to his infection AND the fact that society as a whole had not vaccinated enough to reach that threshold and protect him when he was compromised.

One would think that it would be common sense to protect yourself from a deadly disease, but unfortunately that is not the head-space that 2018-19 humans are in. As a human race, we strive to show compassion for everyone and to unite and include everyone, yet the movement to avoid vaccinations is indirectly causing others to fall ill. Why don’t we unite together to eradicate Measles and Mumps and Polio, while we are at it? If theres an understood responsibility to treat others the way one wants to be treated, shouldn’t there be an understood responsibility to protect your own health as well as those around you?

Infectious Mononucleosis

From Kissing Disease to Cancer

Infectious Mononucleosis is an illness caused by the Epstein-Barr Virus, an enveloped double-stranded DNA virus, as well as Kaposi’s sarcoma herpesvirus (KSHV). Signs and symptoms of this virus include fatigue, fever, sore throat, and enlarged lymph nodes. This illness is often called the “kissing disease” because it is spread via saliva and thus can be obtained by kissing someone who is infected. What most people don’t know is that once you have Mono, you always have Mono. This virus is life-long and can be reactivated by various things as it lies dormant in the tissues. Another thing that many people don’t know is that the reactivated form of this virus can result in cells that grow abnormally and are cancerous. These cancerous results are the focus for scientists at the University of Minnesota and the University of Toronto.

A Human Enzyme

According to this new research, there is a human enzyme, APOBEC3B, that is able to replicate and kill the viruses, but this is not how the plot unfolds. In reality, both viruses can produce defense proteins that bind to and combat this enzyme to remove if from the sites of infection. Thus, new research is being conducted using CRSPR/Cas-9 to delete the defense protein from the virus genome so that the human enzyme can continue to target the virus. In labs, these trials have been successful but they have yet to be used in living organisms, such as mice. But once it develops, this method of treatment will serve as a treatment for Mono, and prevent possible cancer development.

This research is a prime example of scientists targeting certain virulence factors on microbes in order to render them less pathogenic. In this case, that virulence factor is the release of the defense mechanism that hinders enzyme APOBEC3B of the human immune response to this virus. Although there trivial opinions of CRSPR and the manipulation of genes, I think this counts as an extraordinary example where this technology is beneficial, and if it doesn’t harm the recipient of the treatment, who could argue the ethics? PLUS, one more way to combat cancer? I mean it doesn’t get better than that! #VFORVICTORY

Salmonella Vaccine

Salmonella, what is it?

Salmonella is a diseased caused by a Gram-negative bacteria. Signs and symptoms of this illness include diarrhea, abdominal cramps, nausea, vomiting, and other things that don’t feel too great. The bacteria works by attaching to the epithelial cells in the small intestine and making these cells engulf them so that it can multiply and hide from phagocyte activity. After it is released by exocytosis, macrophages come to consume it which causes inflammation. It is the disease that explains why your mom tells you to not eat raw cookie dough. Salmonella is famously associated with raw eggs and uncooked chicken.

Although this disease may not be super prevalent in the United States due to food regulations and other factors such as sanitation and education, it has become deadly in places such as Sub-Saharan Africa and parts of Asia with a mortality rate of 20-25% of infected people dying. The specific strain causing such problems is Salmonella Typhi. The increase in illness prevalence is due mainly to immunocompromised people, such as children, the elderly, and HIV patients. A illness that would usually result in a severe upset stomach in healthy individuals, is becoming deadly for the immunocompromised. Due to the massive effect that Salmonella is having in places around the world, scientists in Australia and UC Davis are collaborating to develop an effective vaccine.

Theres a New Vaccine on the Horizon

Traditionally vaccines are targeted towards antibody and T cell responses. The vaccines, either attenuated or inactive, produce an artificially acquired immune response where T cells are activated, antibodies are forms by B cells, and memory cells are stored incase of second exposure. According to Professor Stephen McSorley with Science Daily, there is a type of T cell that has flown under the radar for many years and now scientists are trying to understand its role in the immune system, and its possible role in vaccine therapy. There are two categories of T cells, those that circulate in the body, and those that remain stagnant in tissues. After experimenting with mice and following the path of T-cells with florescent markers, scientists were able to identify specific non-circulating T-cells in the liver that target reoccurring Salmonella Typhi. Thus, efforts are now geared towards manufacturing these memory cells in vaccines and preventing the deadly effects of Salmonella in Africa and Asia.

The research provided in this article does not specifically state what the vaccine will entail and this is probably due to the fact that these efforts are still in an infancy stage. What is known is that the goal is to induce a response from these specific memory t-cells in the liver and my best guest would be with an inactivated virus. Although an attenuated virus would induce better memory and longer immunity, the target population for this vaccine is immunocompromised people, so attenuated virus vaccines are dangerous. But, the immune response generated would be a t-cell response that results in memory cells that get stored in the liver and do not circulate through the body after the infection is gone. Hopefully as research continues, the outcomes will be positive and the therapy cheap enough to get it to the people in these countries that need it.

Science is such an interesting and amazing field because we, as humans, are always discovering new things about the world and how our own bodies work. Not only are we gaining this understanding, but the knowledge is being put to good use saving the lives of those at risk. One day, probably really far in the future, we will know about every type of memory cell and every role they play, and diseases will have to up their game tremendously to keep up as long as we keep vaccinating!

The mast is a syringe….like a vaccine syringe sailing over the horizon……if you couldn’t tell.


Global Eradication

Polio is a virus that attack nerve cells in the spinal cord that can lead to muscle weakness and paralysis. Polio can lead to death if the muscles associated with breathing are effected. This virus is highly contagious through person to person contact and can still be passed around even without the appearance of symptoms. This disease has always been highly feared around the world but back in the 1950’s, it was increasingly prevalent in the United States and caused thousands of cases of paralysis each year. Due to vaccination efforts though, it was declared eradicated in 1979 and the vaccine continues to be administered to maintain a Polio-free country. This is not the case for many countries around the world today, especially Pakistan, Nigeria and Afghanistan where Polio is considered an endemic disease. The CDC and the Polio Global Eradication Initiative are working with scientists and local doctors and caregivers to make the vaccine more accessible to the people in these countries.

Originally and IPV vaccine, or inactivated polio vaccine, was used for immunization but because the virus cannot replicate, the immune response mounted against it is smaller and thus, immunity is shorter-lived. Now, in these endemic countries, an OPV vaccine, or oral polio vaccine, has been the dominant form of immunization as it contains a weakened form of the virus that results in a stronger immune response against the virus and longer immunity. The global eradication effort has been quite successful, but the Polio virus continues to through obstacles at healthcare workers. According to the Polio Global Eradication Initiative, new cases of vaccine-derivative poliovirus have surfaced due to large populations not being immunized. These cases involve new strains of Polio that have mutated from the strain used in the OPV, which is a risk that comes with using live virus as compared to inactivated. Thus, two new goals of the Initiative are to quickly eradicate wild-type virus and stop using OPV world-wide.

New research fostered by the Initiative is to create and start using novel Oral Polio Vaccine (nOPV), a supposedly safer form of oral vaccination that reduces the risk of vaccine-derivative strains. Although I cannot find any documentation of the difference between novel and regular OPV, if there is a vaccine version that is safe and immunogenic, I don’t see why Polio cannot be eradicated globally in the next 10 years. Of course, vaccines are expensive and research is time-consuming, but other countries around the world have the resources and man-power to make this happen and should help our fellow humans around the world survive.

Which Vaccine Type is Better?

As mentioned above, there are two different vaccine types used for Polio. The first is Intravenous Polio Vaccine (IPV). This vaccine is made of inactivated virus that has been treated to be non-infectious but still maintain its epitopes. This means that it cannot replicate within the host. An advantage of this vaccine type is that the virus cannot revert to its wild-type (become infectious). Disadvantages of IPV vaccines include the mounting of a smaller response to the virus since it is inactivated, and thus result in a shorter immunity period. Also, regular boosters are needed to continue to increase the immunity.

The other type of vaccine used is Oral Polio Vaccine (OPV). This vaccine is made from an attenuated virus that is a weakened form of the pathogen that is still able to replicate within the host. The fact that it replicates induces a mild form of infection that has no side affects and is usually undetectable which results in a stronger immune response and results in a longer immunity. There are some disadvantages of this form as well. One is that the virus can sometimes mutate back to the wild-type form and become more infectious and spread this infection to other people in a more severe form. Another disadvantage is it requires refrigeration and is unsafe for young children, pregnant women, and elderly persons.

It is hard to say which vaccine type is better because it depends on the situation. In some cases, OPV is going to be the better option because it is the only way to stop transmission when an outbreak is occurring, according to the World Health Organization. The refrigeration aspect is an obstacle in third world countries though, like Afghanistan and Pakistan and the fact that the virus can wake back up. This leads to the fact that IPV is being reintroduced and used more around the world mainly because of the risk of wild-type emergence. Most countries are converting to three doses of IPV or one larger dose if capable.

It is encouraging to know that there are specific organizations being put in place to eradicate this disease. It still seems that Polio, for now, has the upper hand since it is finding away to mutate in the presence of the vaccine. As long as people continue to choose vaccination, the war will be over soon….


Cover Your Mouth When You Cough

Tuberculosis is a disease caused by the Mycobacterium tuberculosis and is defined by signs and symptoms such as coughing, chest pain, weight loss, fatigue, fever, chills, and many others. According to the CDC, this disease is the number one killer world wide and it has spread to every country on the planet. What is scary though, is that TB is becoming increasingly antibiotic-resistant and harder to control. The disease spreads through coughing and sneezing as droplets are suspended in the air and are inhaled or land in the mouth or nose of another person close by. Thus, since controlling the air quality throughout an entire country is impossible this disease spreads quickly. Also, it does not help that in many places, the illness goes unreported and thus spreads like a wildfire.

According to the same CDC article, the reason TB is becoming increasingly resistant is primarily due to improper treatment measures and protocol. Basically, when people receive medication, they do not finish it or take it correctly, allowing the bacterium to adapt and become unaffected by it. Other factor include healthcare providers prescribing the wrong dose/length of time, a lack of availability of treatment, and poor quality drugs. For these reasons and in an attempt to protect its own citizens, the United States began a program in 2016 partnering with 25 different countries to combat the spread of TB. The measures being taken include improving screening methods of diagnosis and tracking, improving treatment methods and making them more accessible, and breaking the transmission cycle by targeting TB hotspots and improving care in the surrounding areas to prevent the hotspot from growing.

It is scary to think that the resistance of this bacteria to so many different treatments has gone so far that efforts are being concentrated in preventing the spread rather than searching for better treatments. This almost sounds like a zombie apocalypse and the classic quarantine attempt. The question is, will these identification measures work quicker than the TB bacteria?

Sunny D

Recent developments in MDR-TB research points to vitamin D promoting the clearance of TB bacterium from the lungs of MDR-TB infected patients. Researchers at the Queen Mary University of London, have discovered that adding vitamin D to the antibiotics being used against these aggressive TB bacterium can boost the immune system to aid those antibiotics in fighting the infection. So, instead of looking for more medicines to attack the bugs, scientists are turning back to the immune system and the human body for back-up. Not only has this found to be quite effective in over 1,850 patients, but it is inexpensive and virtually accessible to everyone via….the sun. The reason science is resorting back to the basics is because, as the article states, trying to “keep up” with the bacterium is not working. TB is always a step ahead. So instead of trying to find new fancy ways to outsmart the bacterium, we are calling for reinforcements. This new addition is non-toxic too, which is in stark contrast to most TB drugs being used against MDR-TB. Science is looking more towards “host-directed therapies” rather than drug therapies.

It is important to note that the addition of Vitamin D does not, by itself or even with the antibiotics, completely clear TB from the lungs more effectively, it just speeds up the process. So for now, the bacterium is still ahead of us humans, but slow and steady wins the race right?

Human Papilloma Virus

I Thought Toads Gave Us Warts?

HPV, or Human Papilloma Virus, is a very common wart virus. If you have or have had a wart, you had HPV. On the other hand, HPV is one of the most common sexually transmitted diseases. Most infections with HPV are harmless and the human body can take care of it without help, but there are some strains that have been closely connected to genital warts and cancer, mainly cervical cancer. While there is no cure for HPV, there are quite a few preventative measures that can be taken. For example, there are vaccines (highly encouraged for young girls), genital warts can be removed, and using condoms can help prevent getting HPV, as long as the virus is not all around the genital area.

Vaccines are Coming ‘Round the Mountain When They Come…

The most common vaccine being used today for HPV is Gardasil 9. This particular vaccine is a non-infectious recombinant vaccine made with purified virus-like particles. This vaccine has been very successful in protecting vaccinated individuals from acquiring the virus, but it only protects against nine strains, of which seven of those are cancerous. There are around 200 different strains of HPV. That ratio is a little startling…..Never Fear, Dr. Xia Ningshao is here! There is a new HPV vaccine on the horizon that potentially covers twenty HPV strains. Researchers at Xiamen University are conducting vaccine trials on monkeys and mice with this new development. According to the article, this new vaccine uses the anatomy of the HPV virus to its advantage. The virus has “loops” on its surface that the body and vaccines can mount a response against, but it is specific to those particular loops. This new serum contains a virus-like particle that contains triple loop groups of three different strains in one group. They are working on increasing that number to four loops per group, and five loop groups per virus-particle. Thus, the body is introduced to 20 or so strains of HPV at once and can prepare its troops in the event of an actual infection. To add to the impressive features of this vaccine, it is supposedly more accessible and will be cheaper than Gardasil 9 to the general public. Less expensive AND more protective? Who doesn’t love a two for one deal?

The Trials

As I mentioned above, the researchers working on the new vaccine are testing it on monkeys and mice. This alludes to the fact that in order to test the effectiveness of the vaccine, the monkeys and mice have to be infected with HPV. Is this moral? Who knows. The debate has been and will always be there. If the vaccine shows some kind of promise, it will advance to humans so either way people are brought into the equation. The human trials for the HPV Vaccine back in the earl 2000’s went to extensive lengths to make sure the right people were being tested and that the results were unbiased. According to the HPV Organization Website, the original Gardasil vaccine was tested on over 20,000 women and 4,000 men from various places all over the world. The practice of blindly assigning groups to getting the actual versus a placebo was used and the results proved Gardasil to be almost 100% effective in preventing abnormal cells in the cervix that are related to cervical cancer in women. The trials also proved Gardasil to be 90% effective in preventing HPV caused penile lesions and genital warts.

After looking through various sources, one of which was the U.S Governments Clinical Trial Website, I cannot find super specific details of this research. My question is, how did they test this vaccine without having to infect healthy people? If someone already has the disease, the vaccine isn’t really necessary, but it does not seem ethical to infect someone with HPV, whether they consent or not. Maybe more research is necessary on my part, but the vaccine is proven to be safe and highly effective which is all the really matters!

Dang this is a four-for-one sale. The HPV vaccine (including the new one being researched) is inexpensive, protects you from lots of HPV strains, is safe AND highly effective? It doesn’t get much better than that!

Andrew Wakefield

For Real or For Fraud?

Andrew Wakefield was a scientist who published the paper, Ilead-lymphoid-nodular hyperplasia, nonspecific colitis, and pervasive developmental disorder in children, in the Lancet Journal in 1998. Now if that title isn’t impressive, I don’t know what is. In this scientific article, Wakefield announced his research discoveries of the correlation between the MMR (Measles, Mumps, and Rubella) vaccine, regressive autism, and inflammation of the colon. After these results were not replicated in other laboratories and were refuted in the scientific community, Wakefield basically looked like a fraud, yet the hysteria he cause was enough to bring back an almost eradicated disease in the United Kingdom.

The Research

From what I can tell from reading the actual research report, Wakefield really did not create a non-biased, educated hypothesis. Instead, he took a small group of children with varying gastrointestinal problems and used the word of mouth from the parents and tests he did not run to put it all together and blame it on the MMR vaccine. A huge flaw in this research is the sample size. Wakefield used only twelve children in his study. That sample size is not enough to get any useful information from. Also, there was only one girl in this sample so yes the sample was very inclusive…(sarcasm). It does not seem that the children being studied were intially screened or that the research was conducted witout bias. First of all, the report itself says that the mothers and fathers of the children noticed the onsets of slowed mental development RIGHT AFTER GETTING THE VACCINE, basically. Although it may not have been right after, they all already attributed their childrens’ declining mental states to the vaccine before any tests had been done. Secondly, there is no mention of a placebo or double blind procedure. A double blind procedure is one in which neither the researcher or the subject now what treatment they are getting or what control group they are placed in. This is done to eliminate bias and allow the science to speak for itself. So, there goes the honesty of the results.

What is crazy is that the children used in his study did not have vert similar symptoms and signs to conclude they all were sick with the same thing. Only eleven of them were referred to a GI specialist and not all of them had been seen by a psychiatrist. Even for the children that did see a psychiatrist, a new one was not brought in to further assess their mental states, rather the researchers used their previous diagnosis’ as a factor for their own research. This whole process lacked uniformity. For example, only four stool samples were obtained from the eleven subjects and only nine of them had a colonoscopy all the way to the cecum. The methods are just all over the place and not consistent.

The Social Implications

The releasing of this research spread fear like a wild fire in a forest. It was not vaccine hesitancy, it was vaccine-phobia. According to David Gorski with Science-Based Medicine, the amount of people who refused the MMR vaccine shot up so much that fourteen years after the release of this research, measles, a disease previously eradicated in the U.K., was deemed endemic again. The levels dropped lower than herd immunity levels. No one was safe at that point because virtually no one was immune.

Almost immediately after the release of Wakefield’s findings, other scientist tried to replicate his results and none were successful. A major theory behind why he found correlation between young children, the MMR vaccine, and developmental regression is the fact that these things occur at a young age. CHILDREN receive the vaccine and autism is first seen in CHILDREN. What a coincidence. According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, Wakefield was actually found guilty of literally fraud and this was the final nail in the coffin. The twelve scientists who did this research who found guilt of falsifying facts in an attempt to increase their financial gain in the journalism world. So, there was widespread fear of vaccines which caused outbreaks of measles in the U.K and the U.S up until 2008-2009 and this hesitancy continues to linger today (almost 20 years later). All of this happened because a reporter wanted to make some money and a group of scientists went along with it…..NICE.

Clostridium difficile

What Is It and What Are We Doing to Stop It?

Clostridium difficile is a bacteria that is found in the gut of every living person. So how is it infectious then? Usually when someone is sick and they take antibiotics, some antibiotics are not specific to the pathogen only, so the natural gut microbiome can be weakened and unbalanced. A term used to describe this is dysbiosis. During these period, some gut microbiota, like C. diff, are not weakened and take advantage of the lack of constraints on their power. So, this bacteria releases an A-B toxin that causes inflammation. The signs and symptoms of C. diff are diarrhea (ranging from mild to severe), fever, abdominal pain, and colitis (inflammation of the colon).

According to Maria Cohut with Medical News Today, there has been extensive research done recently on how C. diff survives and thrives so well. Apparently, this specific bacterium secretes something called para-cresol, a compound that can inhibit the growth of other bacteria, such as E. coli, which usually competes with C. diff. With this new information, scientists are going to look for a way to target the para-cresol secretion and maybe prevent C. diff from dominating large intestines undergoing antibiotic therapy. C

C? Its not so Difficile….

Alongside the research going on with para-cresol, there have been new advances in the research pertaining to predicting who is most susceptible to obtaining this disease. According to Science Daily, at the Mayo Clinic, scientists have been using humans and mice to study their gut microbiota and narrow down patterns that increase likely hood. For example, they took the stool samples of individuals that had diarrhea, and then later attained C. diff after the digestive problems had already started and compared it to a healthy individual. There are abnormal numbers of metabolites and amino acids in the stool of the unhealthy individuals. When this stool was transplanted to a mouse, the mice receiving the abnormal stool were more likely to get C. diff than mice who received healthy stool. Thus, scientists are turning towards alternative ways to prevent this disease, such as dietary changes.

Yes, that study sounds absolutely disgusting….but someone’s gotta do it. It seems that in the near future, us humans will have a hold on C. diff and hopefully all healthcare-acquired diseases will be in check and under control.