Stem cell treatment for MS in five years?

Scientists hope to show that stem cell replacement can slow, stop, or even reverse damage caused by the disease of the central nervous system.

Some 100,000 people in Britain suffer from MS, with symptoms that can include dizziness and lack of balance, muscle spasms and blurred vision. It tends to get worse over time and there is no cure. However, later this year an international £10 million trial of up to 200 volunteers will begin looking at the effects of stem cell transplantation.

The participants, including 13 in Britain, will have stem cells harvested from their own bone marrow and grown in a laboratory before being re-injected into the bloodstream.

MS is caused by the immune system attacking a protective substance around nerve fibres called myelin. Where this happens scars, called lesions, are left behind. The hypothesis is that the stem cells will target these lesions and repair the damage…

Paolo Muraro, lead researcher on the study, based at Imperial College, London, said: “This is the first time that researchers from around the world have come together to test stem cell therapies in MS in such a large-scale clinical trial…

Just another positive avenue of experimentation now that most of the superstitious interruptions to such research have been set aside. The Brits have had less interference than physicians in the United States and we can only hope American voters won’t return us to the darkness of faith-based “science” again in the next few years.

Drinking wine helps stop sunburn

Ultraviolet (UV) rays emitted by the sun are the leading environmental cause of skin complaints, premature ageing, sun burn and even skin cancer. But in another nod towards the healthy mediteranean diet, Spanish scientists found substances in the grapes protect cells from the damage…

The University of Barcelona and the Spanish National Research Council looked at the chemical reaction in the skin when hit by UV rays from the sun. They found that flavonoids in the grapes can stop the chemical reaction that causes cells to die and therefore skin damage…

Marta Cascante, a biochemist at the University of Barcelona and director of the research project, said it proves grapes could help protect the skin from sun burn and even skin cancer. She said the research could help to develop skin creams and other products to protect skin from sun damage.

“This study supports the idea of using these products to protect the skin from cell damage and death caused by solar radiation, as well as increasing our understanding of the mechanism by which they act”, she said.

The study also adds to the popular image of the healthy and tanned population of the mediteranean.

Previous research has put the low cancer rates and good health down to tomatoes, olive oil and even red wine.

I would add garlic and love.

Woman dies after extreme spa detox treatment

The association representing the spas in Quebec is calling on people to be cautious when choosing a spa after a woman died following a detoxification treatment at a facility near Drummondville. Chantal Lavigne, 35, died in hospital Friday.

Police said Lavigne had undergone treatment at the Reine de Paix farmhouse in the town of Durham, about 100 kilometres southeast of Montreal. She was one of about 10 people taking part in a lengthy detoxification session.

“The treatments consisted of a process of sweating by being all wrapped in plastic with mud, and also with blankets,” said Sgt. Éloise Cossette. Lavigne died Friday afternoon, while another woman was in stable condition Saturday. Both women were also encased in cardboard boxes.

Police were trying to determine if negligence or criminal conduct was involved. Or just plain stupidity?

Spas in Quebec are not regulated, said Lucie Brosseau with Alliance Spas Relais Santé, which represents some Quebec spas. Brosseau said the association has developed standards for spas to follow, but they are not mandatory…

Police say at least 10 people were undergoing the same detox treatment, which lasted for several hours, and did not include drinking water…

Neighbours have previously complained to police about the farmhouse after hearing loud screaming on the property…

The spa specializes in Reiki therapy, and offers energy therapy, massage and natural products, according to an online listing.

Maybe one of their specialties is primal scream therapy. Another winner – for neurotics.

I would hope that anyone considering any wingy-dingy extreme therapy for anything would take the time to consult a physician about the procedures. Dying is as extreme as it gets.

GM crops may be capable of making their own nitrogen fertilizer

Two University of Alberta researchers have published a step by step plan to one-day end the use of environmentally harmful chemicals on commercial crops by developing plants that produce their own fertilizer.

U of A plant biologist Allen Good says the energy required to produce nitrogen fertilizers has pushed the world-wide cost for agricultural producers to $100 billion a year. Good says that while they are necessary for high yields, those nitrogen fertilizers also damage the environment.

Emissions from nitrogen fertilizers add to greenhouse gas emissions and chemical run-off from farm fields cause algae blooms in fresh water lakes and rivers. Good says the cost of cleaning up the environment adds another $50 billion to the world-wide cost of commercial agriculture fertilizers.

Good and his U of A co-author Perrin Beatty says some plants, like peas, have the natural ability to split atoms of nitrogen gas and use the bioactive elements that enhance growth. Mass produced and consumed cereal crops like wheat, rice and maize cannot naturally split nitrogen atoms and need commercial fertilizers…

Good and his U of A co-author Perrin Beatty say the fix is to genetically alter agricultural products like cereal crops so they can process nitrogen from the atmosphere naturally and still get the same growth enhancing effect as commercial fertilizers.

They’ve published their scheme to encourage discussion and research in this direction. Sounds reasonable to me. But, then, I think good genetic research can solve many problems we haven’t yet started to address.