February 26, 2012

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February 26, 2012 in Medical research

Japanese scientists have found that the odorous compound responsible for halitosis – otherwise known as bad breath – is ideal for harvesting stem cells taken from human dental pulp.

In a study published today, Monday 27 February, in IOP Publishing's Journal of Breath Research, researchers showed that hydrogen sulphide (H2S) increased the ability of adult stem cells to differentiate into hepatic (liver) cells, furthering their reputation as a reliable source for future liver-cell therapy.

This is the first time that liver cells have been produced from human dental pulp and, even more impressively, have been produced in high numbers of high purity.

"High purity means there are less 'wrong cells' that are being differentiated to other tissues, or remaining as stem cells. Moreover, these facts suggest that patients undergoing transplantation with the hepatic cells may have almost no possibility of developing teratomas or cancers, as can be the case when using bone marrow stem cells," said lead author of the study Dr. Ken Yaegaki.

The remarkable transforming ability of stem cells has led to significant focus from research groups around the world and given rise to expectations of cures for numerable diseases, including Parkinson's and Alzheimer's.

In this study, Dr. Ken Yaegaki and his group, from Nippon Dental University, Japan, used stem cells from dental pulp – the central part of the tooth made up of connective tissue and cells – which were obtained from the teeth of dental patients who were undergoing routine tooth extractions.

Once the cells were sufficiently prepared, they were separated into two batches (a test and a control) and the test cells incubated in a H2S chamber. They were harvested and analysed after 3, 6 and 9 days to see if the cells had successfully transformed into liver cells.

To test if the cells successfully differentiated under the influence of H2S, the researchers carried out a series of tests looking at features that were characteristic of liver cells. In addition to physical observations under the microscope, the researchers investigated the cell's ability to store glycogen and then recorded the amount of urea contained in the cell.

"Until now, nobody has produced the protocol to regenerate such a huge number of hepatic cells for human transplantation. Compared to the traditional method of using fetal bovine serum to produce the cells, our method is productive and, most importantly, safe" continued Dr. Yaegaki.

Hydrogen sulphide (H2S) has the characteristic smell of rotten eggs and is produced throughout the body in the tissues. Although its exact function is unknown, researchers have been led to believe that it plays a key role in many physiological processes and disease states.

More information: "Hydrogen sulphide increases hepatic differentiation in tooth-pulp stem cells” Ishkitiev et al. 2012 J. Breath Res. 5 017103. http://iopscience. … 3/6/1/017103

Provided by Institute of Physics (news : web)

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Slu Doctor Investigates the Silent Cause of Liver Disease

french-fries

February 24, 2012 2:10 PM

ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOX) – A local researcher picks up a $50,000 grant to continue studying the link between liver disease and trans fats.

St. Louis University liver disease specialist Brent Tetri M.D has been feeding mice a diet that includes a high level of trans fats, (which are in french fries , chicken nuggets , and many snack foods) and high fructose corn syrup, an ingredient in soda.

Tetri found the mice developed a severe illness called nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) after four months, signs of cirrhosis after 12 months, and “between a year and a year in a half on the diet the mice start to develop liver cancer,” said Tetri.

Tetri says NASH is a very common illness that is seen in about 5 to 10 percent of people, including children. The condition has already been proven to put people at risk of developing cirrhosis and liver cancer later on in life.

Tetri also found that when the mice were given a higher amount of high fructose corn syrup the ate more than the other mice, indicating that fructose likely suppresses the feeling of being satisfied and full.

While he continues to study why this is the case. Tetri has this advice, “I think anybody who can eliminate trans fats from their diet should do so.”

Trans fats have already been found to increase our risk of heart attack and stroke.

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Popular but Dangerous: 3 Vitamins That Can Hurt You

If you take a vitamin pill, these warnings probably apply to you

By Anna Miller

February 24, 2012

If you tuned into The Daily Show earlier this month, you would have heard Jon Stewart’s guest, David Agus, a physician and author of the new best-selling book The End of Illness, fret about what could be called America’s vitamin abuse problem.

There have been 50 large-scale studies on supplements, he said, and not one has shown a benefit in heart disease or cancer. “I don’t get it,” he said. “Why are we taking these?”

Agus is not alone in his frustration. Other experts liken buying vitamins to flushing money down the toilet. In some cases, they mean it literally: If the body gets more of certain vitamins than it needs, it often excretes the excess in urine.

That doesn’t stop Americans from spending about $28 billion a year on dietary supplements, including vitamins and herbal supplements.

In some cases, people may be spending money only to put their health at risk. “As Americans, we think more is better, but that’s not the case with vitamins,” says Dee Sandquist, a registered dietician and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Here are three popular vitamin supplements that prove you can, in fact, get too much of a good thing.

Vitamin E. Supplement skeptics often point to the story of vitamin E, which was once considered a promising tool for cancer prevention. The National Cancer Institute was so hopeful that vitamin E supplements would decrease rates of prostate cancer that in 2001 it funded a study designed to test the theory. Instead, the findings revealed that the men who took vitamin E were 17 percent more likely—not less—to develop the disease.

While vitamin E is a key player in immune function and cell communication, it’s best obtained through diet—in foods like wheat germ, sunflower seeds, and broccoli—and worst when taken regularly in high doses. Like many vitamins, it appears to lose its main benefits when taken in excess.

Vitamin A. Vitamin A is what gives carrots their good-for-your-vision reputation. Found in both animal and plant-based products, it’s also important for reproduction, bone health, and immune function. Supplements can be important for people with certain conditions that hinder fat absorption, including celiac disease, Crohn’s disease, and pancreatic disorders.

But vitamin A deficiency is uncommon among healthy Americans. And partly because the nutrient can build up to toxic levels in the body, taking more than you need over time can lead to serious liver problems, birth defects, and disorders of the central nervous system.

A form of vitamin A called beta-carotene is thought to help prevent cancer—but perhaps only when obtained through the diet. In pill form, it seems to do just the opposite. Much as the pivotal vitamin E study backfired, so did the Alpha-Tocopherol Beta-Carotene Cancer Prevention Study, which found that male smokers who took beta-carotene supplements were 18 percent more likely to develop lung cancer, and 8 percent more likely to die, than the ones who did not.

Gerard Mullin, director of integrative gastrointestinal nutrition services at the Johns Hopkins Hospital and author of The Inside Tract: Your Good Gut Guide to Great Digestive Health, has cared for patients who developed liver fibrosis because they overdosed on vitamin A. “A lot of people don’t know it can be dangerous,” he says. “They think it fights infections."

Vitamin C. Infection-fighting prowess is often attributed to vitamin C, as well. From orange-flavored chewables to Emergen-C packets, mega-doses of vitamin C are staples in many American medicine cabinets. While the natural form of the vitamin supports immune function, there is only a weak scientific link between regular use of vitamin C supplements and shorter or less severe colds. There’s no good evidence that vitamin C pills can prevent a cold altogether.

Unlike vitamin A, vitamin C is water soluble, which means that if you take more than your body can use, the excess is usually excreted without causing harm. However, Sandquist says, adverse reactions like diarrhea, stomach cramps, and nausea can occur.

Adds Mullin, “In high-enough doses, vitamin C can cause kidney stones.” Any amount larger than 500 milligrams per day can be enough to cause a problem, he says. That’s only half a 1-gram packet of Emergen-C. “It rarely happens, but there have been case reports.”

Reasonable Doses. Sandquist recommends that healthy people abide by the Institute of Medicine’s “Tolerable Upper Intake Levels,” which indicates the maximum daily intake of a vitamin you should consume through a combination of diet and supplements. Taking more than that amount means the risks likely outweigh the benefits. The recommended amount is often less than the limit.

“When the IOM makes their recommendations, they look at all the available research,” she says, so its conclusions are more reliable than any single study, even one that gets a lot of publicity.

Because taking supplements is second nature for many consumers, vitamins are often overlooked as a potential culprit for symptoms like headaches or diarrhea, Sandquist says. It’s important to be conscious of what you’re consuming—in natural, supplement, and fortified forms—and to tell your doctor about every last one.

“The best strategy is to follow the ‘choose my plate’ method,” she says, referring to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s healthy food guide. If people do that, she says, “then they probably wouldn’t have to worry about a vitamin supplement unless they have a specific medical condition.”

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13/02/2012 21:41:00

COLUMBUS, Ohio – New research conducted at The Ohio State University’s Wexner Medical Center suggests an alternate form of natural vitamin E delays the progression of disease in patients awaiting liver transplantation, the only definitive therapy that reduces a patient’s morbidity, mortality and improves their quality of life.

The study shows, for the first time, successful delivery of the vitamin – administered orally – to vital human organs such as the brain, heart, liver, skin and fatty tissue.
Researchers at Ohio State’s Wexner Medical Center initially sought to measure levels of vitamin E tocopherol (TCP) and vitamin E tocotrienol (TE) in tissue and vital organs of patients with end stage liver disease. The data displayed a significant increase in TE levels in the bloodstream and tissue of study participants who received daily oral supplements of TE.

“This work is the first to show oral supplements of tocotrienol are being transported to the vital organs of patients,” says Chandan K. Sen, associate dean for translational and applied research in The Ohio State University College of Medicine. “This is exciting evidence for patients at high risk for stroke because our previous work identified low levels of TE to be protective against stroke-induced damage to the brain. Findings of this current research are equally excited for patients on the liver transplant list as it increases their chances of receiving a new liver, and therefore survival.”

Earlier research published by Dr. Sen and colleagues at Ohio State’s Medical Center proved tocotrienol a safe and neuroprotective nutrient, which minimizes stroke-related damage to the brain. “We also showed in previous studies that TE can be part of a regular diet and keeps the brain enriched and better prepared to defend itself,” added Sen, also vice chair for research in Ohio State's Department of Surgery.
For this recent study, published in the February issue of Journal of Nutrition, researchers studied blood and tissue samples from 80 participants. One cohort involved healthy patients who received oral TE or TCP supplements. Vitamin E levels found in tissue were measured in healthy participants after 12 weeks of receiving oral supplementation. Healthy adult participants were selected for this study because they could receive oral supplements for a designated period of time, whereas the other cohort was bound by surgery schedules.
In another cohort, adult surgical patients were randomized and received daily oral supplements of either TE or TCP. Concentration levels of both vitamin E sources were measured in vital organs, including: cardiac muscle from heart transplant patients with end stage heart failure; liver from transplant patients with end stage liver disease; abdominal fatty tissue from morbidly obese patients undergoing reconstructive plastic surgery; and brain tissue from epileptic patients.

The results showed oral supplementation of tocotrienol significantly increased the levels of the nutrient found in blood, skin, fatty tissue, the brain, cardiac muscle and the liver. Tocotrienol was delivered to the human brains of study participants at levels found to be neuroprotective in earlier stroke-related research.

Oral administration of tocotrienol also lowered the model for end stage liver disease (MELD) score in 50 percent of the patients who received TE supplements, while only 20 percent of patients who received TCP supplements experienced a reduction in their MELD score. MELD score refers to a clinical scoring system used to determine the severity of chronic liver disease and assess the priority and need for liver transplant allocation.

The tocotrienol form of vitamin E is available as a nutritional supplement in American supermarkets. One of the richest and healthiest food sources for TE is palm oil, which contains an abundance of the nutrient. It contains zero tans fat content and is also a popular component of a typical Southeast Asian diet. Other foods containing TE include rice, bran, oat, barley, and wheat germ.

Sen says he and colleagues are planning a much larger Phase II clinical trial testing the safety and effectiveness of tocotrienol against stroke and end stage liver disease in humans.

Along with Sen, other Ohio State researchers involved in the study were Viren Patel, Cameron Rink, Gayle M.Gordillo, Savita Khanna, Urmila Gnyawali, Sashwati Roy, Bassel Shneker, Kasturi Ganesh, Gary Phillips, J. Layne Moore, Atom Sarkar, Robert Kirkpatrick, Elmahdi A. Elkhammas, Emily Klatte, Michael Miller, Michael S. Firstenberg and E. Antonio Chiocca. Kalanithi Nesaretnam, from the Malaysian Palm Oil Board’s Food Technology and Nutrition Unit, also participated in the research.

The research was supported by a grant awarded by the National Institutes of Health. In addition, the Malaysian Palm Oil Board – an institution of Government of Malaysia – funded the study.

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Hepatitis C hepatoma deaths rise by over 10 percent: study

Updated Monday, February 27, 2012 0:12 am TWN, The China Post news staff

The China Post news staff--The mortality rate of hepatoma derived from hepatitis B in Taiwan has reduced significantly, while the mortality rate of hepatoma derived from hepatitis C has more than 10 percent incremental growth, according to recent study from the 22nd conference of Asia Pacific Association for the Study of the Liver (APASL) in Taiwan.

Liver disease is identified as national disease in Taiwan. Traditionally people believe a hepatitis B patient has higher risk of getting liver cancer.

Among the patients with hepatoma derived from hepatitis C, women have a higher rate than men. This leads to hepatitis C replacing hepatitis B as the primary basis for contracting hepatoma, said Yu Ming-lung, superintendent of Kaohsiung Municipal Ta-Tung Hospital.

When a hepatitis C patient gets early diagnosis and treatment, the recovery rate is higher than 70 percent. In the future there will be orally administered medicine incorporated with standard treatment.

The mortality rate of hepatoma derived from hepatitis C is 1.6 times of which derived from hepatitis B, with rates for women being twice of that for men, according to the study.

Hepatitis B used to be prevalent in Taiwan, but since the initiation of national neonatal hepatitis B vaccination program in 1984, probability of hepatitis B infection has dropped significantly.

Meanwhile, the implementation of nationwide anti-viral treatment against chronic hepatitis B has made the probability of acquiring hepatoma and dying from the disease less likely every year.

On the other hand, since there is no vaccine available for hepatitis C, the mortality rate as a result of hepatoma increased every year to 1.6 times of hepatitis B. This demonstrates that hepatitis C is going to be a more severe threat to public health in Taiwan. The mortality rate for women is twice as high as for men.

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