New Study Suggests Shark Compound Could Be Used To Treat Parkinson’s

There are up to 1 million people in the United States living with Parkinson’s disease. About 60,000 people each year are diagnosed with the disease. Parkinson’s disease is a progressive condition characterized by movement problems, tremors, limb stiffness and problems with coordination and balance. It remains unclear what exactly causes Parkinson’s disease, but studies have shown that a buildup of the protein alpha-synuclein in the brain could contribute to its development. A new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences shows that a chemical compound found in dogfish sharks may be able to treat Parkinson’s disease.

The chemical compound is called squalamine, and it may be able to reduce the formation of toxic proteins associated with the development of Parkinson’s disease. The results of the study showed that in roundworm models of Parkinson’s disease and human neuronal cells, squalamine halted the toxicity and buildup of alpha-synuclein.

For the first step of the study, the researchers conducted several in vitro experiments to observe the way squalamine interacts with alpha-synuclein and lipid vesicles. According to previous studies, vesicles trigger the buildup of alpha-synuclein in neurons.The team found that by preventing the protein from binding to negatively charged lipid vesicles, squalamine was able to halt alpha-synuclein buildup. This is important because the negatively charged lipid vesicles are where alpha-synuclein aggregates usually form.

Then, the team applied squalamine to human neuronal cells, which had been exposed to pre-formed alpha-synuclein aggregates. They found that squalamine prevented alpha-synuclein aggregates from binding to the outer membrane of the cells, thus stopping the toxicity of the protein.

The next step of the experiment was testing squalamine on the roundworm Caenorhabditis elegans. This roundworm is an ideal experimental model for human disease because according to the first whole-genome sequencing study of Caenorhabditis elegans, these roundworms share at least 40 percent of their genes with humans. This makes them a useful experimental model for human disease. The researchers in this study genetically modified the Caenorhabditis elegans in order to overexpress alpha-synuclein in their muscle cells. This would lead them to become paralyzed as they developed. However, the researchers found that when they administered squalamine to the Caenorhabditis elegans orally, the compound stopped alpha-synuclein aggregates from forming.

This study may have a big impact on the way doctors treat Parkinson’s disease in the future. The researchers believe that this study suggests that the buildup of alpha-synuclein has the potential to be prevented using squalamine. The team is currently organizing a clinical trial to test the compound in people with Parkinson’s disease.

The team notes, however, that before squalamine can be considered a possible treatment for Parkinson’s disease, a number of questions should be addressed through future research. One unanswered question is whether squalamine can target areas of the brain that are susceptible to alpha-synuclein buildup when it is taken orally. However, researchers suggest that squalamine could offer benefits through the gut. Study co-author Professor Michele Vendruscolo says that targeting alpha-synuclein in the gut may be helpful in delaying the progress of other aspects of the disease, particularly for symptoms concerning the peripheral nervous system.

It will be interesting to see what future studies find. Hopefully, squalamine will one day be able to treat Parkinson’s disease, a disease that affects so many Americans.

Celebrities Do Not Know It All: Precautions When Listening to Popular Opinion

Katie Couric influenced thousands to undergo colonoscopy exams after having a screening of her own televised in 2003. Kylie Minogue’s decision to share her breast cancer diagnosis inspired millions of Australians to make appointments for mammogram tests. Even Kim Kardashian has dabbled in health care by inadvertently suggesting Diclegis as a solution for morning sickness.

With celebrities’ sphere of authority growing by the day, it is important to keep a few things in mind before accepting medical advice from Hollywood stars.

Celebrities Have Been Wrong

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) slammed the makers of Diclegis after Kim Kardashian sang the praises of the medicine on Instagram. The FDA called the manufacturer out for allowing the reality star to share all of the benefits Diclegis without also commenting on the product’s limitations. While they may be your favorite television personalities, celebrities are no different when it comes to health care. Products that benefit them may not bring restoration to your situation.

Hollywood Stars are Not Medical Experts

It should go without saying that the majority if not all actors and actresses giving health and wellness advice do not have medical degrees. You should, therefore, take their suggestions lightly and follow-up with a medical professional.

You would never take a complete stranger’s advice about medication to combat asthma attacks without asking your primary physician a few questions about the proposed remedy first. Why, then, would you accept the suggestion of a person who you’ve only seen on television as it pertains to your health without further investigation?

Consider the Source

Celebrities who partner with reputable health agencies are more likely to deliver accurate information than those who go off their cognizance. Christy Turlington teamed up with the Center for Disease Control and Prevention to spread awareness about the adverse effects of smoking a few years back. All of the information that the model gave during her public service announcement was factual and supported by medical experts.

On the other hand, Jenny McCarthy claimed that vaccinations could lead to autism in children. Health professionals later debunked such theory. It is important to look at the source behind the source when you listen to advice given by a famous person.

You should never begin a new health regimen without discussing such plan with your primary physician. Remember that celebrities are experts in show business. They will never be as knowledgeable as your doctor who has devoted a lifetime to the field of medicine.

Protecting Health Through Fidgeting

SittingIn this day and age, we do a lot of sitting. If you are one of the millions of Americans with an office job, you are sitting for several hours throughout the day. However, office jobs are not the only culprit. Those who travel for extended periods of time are forced to remain seated on airplanes. Those who enjoy watching television may find themselves starting a Netflix show then, hours later, being riveted in the same position. A couple years back, evidence was uncovered concerning the harmful effects of sitting. Remaining seated was found to increase risk of heart disease and diabetes. This new information brought on a standing desk craze, however, it has been found that overusing standing desks is also not good for health. So, what is good for your health? A recently published study found that fidgeting while seated may be your best bet.

One of the immediate dangers of sitting for extended periods of time concern the arteries in the leg. Sitting restricts the amount of blood flowing to the legs, which heightens risk of cardiovascular disease. Researchers at the University of Missouri wanted to know if there was a way to offset those negative effects when standing is not an option. Their reasoning was that fidgeting would encourage increased blood flow in the leg. They did not expect it to completely solve the arterial problem, but they hoped it would at least help.

The researchers tested the leg vascular function of 11 men and women. The subjects were made to sit for three hours. Each participant kept one leg still throughout the entire study, and tapped the other one at specified intervals. The subjects averaged about 250 foot movements per minute. At the conclusion of three hours, researchers measured the amount of blood flow in each leg of each subject.

Sure enough, this fidgeting increased blood flow in the legs significantly, to a point where it could help stave off cardiovascular disease. Toe tapping was indeed enough to increase vascular health. This is groundbreaking information in a society in which, a lot of the time, people do not have the option to take breaks to stand up continuously during a long period of sitting.

The researchers want to make it clear, however, that fidgeting should not be used as a substitute for standing and walking around when breaks can be taken. Walking or standing has more overall cardiovascular benefits, and is therefore better for you in the long run. However, fidgeting is a good alternative in situations in which standing is not permitted. As they say, any sort of movement is better than none at all.  

Unnecessary Antibiotics

Antibiotics Antibiotics have developed the reputation of being a ‘cure-all’ in today’s society. Whenever a patient is feeling ill for more than a couple of days, his or her first request is to be put on antibiotics. This makes sense, of course. In today’s fast-paced world, people do not have the time to be sick for more than one or two days at a time. Feeling ill for a period any longer than that could result in missing work for more time than allowed, or simply not being able to complete daily responsibilities. Unfortunately, putting antibiotics up on a pedestal has had consequences. A new federal study was recently released that stated nearly 1 in 3 antibiotic prescriptions are unnecessarily given to patients.

Antibiotics, since they have reached such an unreasonably high status, are being prescribed for many conditions that do not require any medication at all. These conditions mostly consist of respiratory issues that only last a short amount of time. For example, a patient with the common cold can request antibiotics if he or she is still experiencing symptoms a few days after its onset. Also, bronchitis is being treated more and more with antibiotics, as are ear and sinus infections.

This overuse of antibiotics can have detrimental effects on patients in the long run. It allows bacteria resistant to antibiotics to grow and flourish. Such bacteria is responsible for the deaths of tens of thousands of Americans every year.

Those who investigated the misuse of antibiotics in the newly released study found that, out of their sample size, hundreds of unnecessary antibiotic prescriptions were administered for every 1,000 people when respiratory conditions were present. With all other conditions, the number of unnecessary prescriptions was even higher.

Why is it that doctors are giving out antibiotics to those who do not need them? It is speculated that this is because the patients are asking for them. If a patient enters a doctor’s office and asks for antibiotics to feel better, doctors will prescribe them in order to satisfy the patient’s desires. However, doctors must take everything patient’s say with a grain of salt. Usually, when a patient is asking for antibiotics, he or she just wants something to alleviate the symptoms. There are ways to accomplish this besides antibiotics. More communication is necessary between doctors and patients to determine what is actually necessary.

Therefore, it is useful for doctors and patients alike to know what conditions require antibiotics, and which ones will get better without. For example, antibiotics are not useful in the treatment of the common cold, bronchitis, and viral infections.

Cancer Screening Controversy

Anyone who is keeping up with the medical world has heard of the newly arisen doubt surrounding cancer screenings. More specifically, their effectiveness at preventing cancer has come into question. Of course, there are several moving parts involved in cancer screenings that must be separately examined to come to any real conclusion.

There is a difference between disease-specific mortality and overall mortality, as The BMJ described in their study about why cancer screenings need to change. Disease-specific mortality is looking at a person’s living in terms of one specific disease, such as cancer. Overall mortality, however, refers to a broader picture. The evidence claiming that cancer screenings lower mortality rates are only valid for people with tumors. Apparently, overall mortality can be affected by situations that stem from getting screened for cancer.

Cancer screenings are not perfect. There is a fairly large percentage of cancer screenings that result in a false positive. There has also been a rise in the the misdiagnosis of cancers that are not harmful. These blips in the system lead to cancer treatment for individuals who may not need it. For example, treatment for prostate cancer involves hormonal therapy. This hormonal therapy significantly raises the risk of heart attacks in men.

Basically, the screenings cannot distinguish between lesions that need to be removed and those that do not, and can lead to unnecessary procedures for people who may not need them.

So, what can be done about these screenings? Cancer experts agree that the entire way we go about screening for cancer needs to change. The real issue here is that there is not enough evidence to prove that screening for cancer is beneficial to an individual’s overall mortality. Therefore, the medical industry must increase the number of people that get screened on a yearly basis, and run a number of trials. This would, however, cost billions of dollars.

Until that money is available for such screenings and tests, cancer experts must be more truthful about both the benefits and risks of cancer screenings. Currently, the medical industry admits only the upside of cancer screenings to the public, but this much change in order to allow individuals to make informed decisions about whether or not to get screened.

As a medical professional, I am dedicated to the health and quality of life of patients. I believe that everything having to do with an individual’s health should be explained in its entirety, without bias or the hiding of information. Honesty leads to informed health decisions by patients. I would suggest cancer experts adopt this mentality as well, in order to prevent cancer screenings from becoming a thing of the past.

Hologram Victory

Holograms have been a popular culture phenomenon since they started appearing in Science Fiction films. However, not even Star Wars could have predicted this – Japanese scientists have found a way to make holograms touchable.

Before you get too excited, let me clarify. Japanese scientists have found a way to make holograms able to be sensed by a human hand. We will not find ourselves playing a successful game of touch football with hologram players anytime soon, but this is still a major find. These scientists have been the only ones able to successfully use lasers to simulate a feeling – other failed experiments ended up burning skin.

One scientist working on this new technology, Dr. Yoichi Ochiai from Tsukuba University,

calls the new discovery a ‘Fairy Lights’ system, which creates fast-traveling laser pulses that react to human touch. Three-dimensional images are projected, and the lasers are used in such a way that those touching it have the sensation that something is there. So, humans are able to have a three-dimensional holographic image in front of them, reach out, and feel it. The hologram’s pixels will move in response to where they are touched.

So, touchable holograms have been discovered. This is truly a scientific revelation, but does it have any practical uses?

As a matter of fact, touchable holograms, depending on how they progress, can have large implications for the medical sphere, as well as for the construction and technology industries.

People have many ideas of how such technology, when developed, can be used. I can only imagine how holograms will be used in the future in the medical field, such as by revolutionizing certain physical therapy programs, or by comforting patients. The possibilities are truly endless. I have listed some of the more popular usages of our future touchable hologram technology below.

Computer Keyboards

Haven’t we all always wanted a virtual computer keyboard that we can project onto any surface? Well, with this technology, we would have that resource. It would give us a computer keyboard to type on, no matter where we are.

Video Chatting

Have you ever been video chatting with someone and wanted to reach out and touch them? With this technology, that may just be in your future. The person you are chatting with could be made into a hologram that responds to your touch. If anything, this technology will entirely change long-distance relationships.

Construction Sites

Projecting images to simulate where things should be when building. That could bring ‘blueprints’ to a new level.

Virtual Gaming

Virtual reality games can now be filled with holograms that you can move. That in and of itself is pretty cool.

For more information on ‘Fairy Lights,’ check out this article from Tech Times.


Patient Advocacy

In a perfect world it would be possible for every patient to focus on getting well and not utilize their energy on figuring out a complex health care system.

Patient advocates or Patient Advocacy is one of the newest sectors of the healthcare system, working for hospitals, healthcare organizations, or private clients. These advocates have backgrounds  in nursing, social work, case management, or law. Have no fear, this role is not limited. Friends or loved ones can serve as advocates too.  “Imagine if every patient had someone with them to ask questions and track information—or just remind providers to wash their hands when they come into your room,” he says.

[See Medical Errors Harm Huge Number of Patients]

A savvy helper. Many large hospitals, assigns a advocate for the patients to their more complex or critical cases and to assist those from low-income communities. Although these advocates who are employed by hospitals play a very valuable role, they also have a  built in conflict of interest. Private-hire advicates play a specialize role in research, and finding reliable doctors, managing paper work and helping patients understand their conditions. Meanwhile others  focus on one area such as insurance disputes or legal matters.

Derrick Alger

Compensation ranges from Hourly fees of $60 to over $250. As yet, the emerging field has no official licensing and credentialing requirements, but the National Association of Healthcare Advocacy Consultants is developing professional standards and best practices. A directory is available at