Immune cells may heal bleeding brain after strokes


Credit: Courtesy of Aronowski lab, University of Texas Health Science Center, Houston.

While immune cells called neutrophils are known to act as infantry in the body’s war on germs, a National Institutes of Health-funded study suggests they can act as medics as well. By studying rodents, researchers showed that instead of attacking germs, some neutrophils may help heal the brain after an intracerebral hemorrhage, a form of stroke caused by ruptured blood vessels. The study suggests that two neutrophil-related proteins may play critical roles in protecting the brain from stroke-induced damage and could be used as treatments for intracerebral hemorrhage.

“Intracerebral hemorrhage is a damaging and often fatal form of stroke for which there are no effective medicines,” said Jaroslaw Aronowski, M.D., Ph.D., professor, department of neurology, at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, and senior author of the study published in Nature Communications. “Our results are a hopeful first step towards developing a treatment for this devastating form of stroke.”

Accounting for 10 to 15 percent of all strokes, intracerebral hemorrhages happen when blood vessels rupture and leak blood into the brain, often leading to death or long-term disability. Chronic high blood pressure is the leading risk factor for these types of strokes. The initial phase of damage appears to be caused by the pressure of blood leaking into the brain. Over time, further damage may be caused by the accumulation of toxic levels of blood products, infiltrating immune cells, and swelling.


Decades of research suggest that neutrophils are some of the earliest immune cells to respond to a hemorrhage, and that they may both harm and heal the brain. In this study, the researchers found that interleukin-27 (IL-27), a protein that controls the activity of immune cells, may shift the role of neutrophils from harming the brain to helping with recovery.

Injections of IL-27 after a hemorrhage helped mice recover. Days after the strokes, the treated mice had better mobility, including walking, limb stretching and navigating holes in a floor. In contrast, injections of an antibody that blocked natural IL-27 activity slowed recovery. The brains of the mice treated with IL-27 also showed less damage. They had less swelling around the hemorrhages and lower levels of iron and the blood protein hemoglobin, both of which are toxic at high

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Brain Activity and Good Diet May Prevent Insomnia-Related Depression

Brain Activity and Good Diet May Prevent Insomnia-Related Depression
While lack of sleep is a major risk factor for depression, not everyone who tosses and turns at night becomes depressed. According to a study, individuals whose brains are more attuned to rewards may be protected from the negative mental health effects of poor sleep. The findings revealed that students with poor quality sleep were less likely to have symptoms of depression if they also had higher activity in a reward-sensitive region of the brain.”This helps us begin to understand why some people are more likely to experience depression when they have problems with sleep,” said Ahmad Hariri, Professor at the Duke University in North Carolina, US. “This finding may one day help us identify individuals for whom sleep hygiene may be more effective or more important,” Hariri added.

For the study, appearing in The Journal of Neuroscience, the team examined a region deep within the brain called the ventral striatum in 1,129 college students. Ventral striatum helps regulate behaviour in response to an external feedback as well as reinforce behaviours that are rewarded, while reducing behaviours that are not. The results showed that those who were less susceptible to the effects of poor sleep showed significantly higher brain activity in response to positive feedback or reward compared to negative feedback.

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The effects of poor sleep showed significantly higher brain activity

“Poor sleep is not good, but you may have other experiences during your life that are positive. And the more responsive you are to those positive experiences, the less vulnerable you may be to the depressive effects of poor sleep,” Hariri said.


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Graham-Cassidy health care bill: What you need to know


Sens. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Bill Cassidy of Louisiana have drafted the latest Republican attempt to repeal Obamacare. The bill would overhaul or eliminate major sections of the health care law, including its subsidized insurance coverage and Medicaid expansion. Instead, states would receive block grants, or a lump sum of money from the federal government, which they could use largely as they see fit.

How Graham-Cassidy would alter federal funding

Center on Budget and Policy Priorities analysis

The liberal-leaning think tank Center on Budget and Policy Priorities released estimates of how federal funding would change if the bill became law. In its analysis, California would be hardest hit, losing $27.8-billion in funding.

  • $-15,000
  • $-10,000
  • $-5,000
  • $0
  • $5,000
  • $8,500


Graham-Cassidy-Heller-Johnson block grant model

Cassidy’s office released its own estimates. Massachusetts takes the hardest hit with a more than $5 billion loss in funding. Overall, Southern states that did not expand Medicaid are poised to receive more in federal funding.

  • $-5,000
  • $-2,000
  • $0
  • $1,000
  • $3,000
  • $5,000
  • $10,000
  • $16,000


The bill comes after three failed GOP repeal attempts in the Senate, and a proposal from Sen. Bernie Sanders to extend the reach of government subsidized health care to all Americans.

But Republicans are up against a tight deadline. Their budget reconciliation bill, which allows them to overhaul Obamacare with a simple majority, expires on Sept. 30. The deadline could work to Graham’s and Cassidy’s advantage, however, by spurring hesitant Republicans to seize what may be their last opportunity to deliver on their seven-year promise to repeal Obamacare.


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Shipley Center Website Offers Prostate Cancer Facts for Patients

One in every seven men in the United States will get prostate cancer, making it the second most common type, after skin cancer, for American men. It tends to be a slow-growing disease, but can sprint to life-threatening severity if detected too late. Screening for prostate cancer can yield false-positive findings, but those most at risk for the disease—men whose father or a brother had prostate cancer, African American men, overweight men, and those in their 60s and 70s who are in good health and could expect years more of life—still should ask their doctors whether screening makes sense for them.

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The website for the Shipley Prostate Cancer Research Center provides basic information about the prostate gland and how disease affects it.

That information comes from the just-launched website of the Shipley Prostate Cancer Research Center at the School of Medicine. Created with a $10.5 million gift from BU trustee Richard Shipley (Questrom’68,’72), the center’s labs will be in the Conte Building on the Medical Campus when it opens. The center’s research will be focused on finding genomic approaches to determine which prostate cancers are aggressive and need treatment, and which can simply be monitored.

The center’s website and its Facebook page and Twitter account are up and running now, offering easy-to-follow, impartial information on practically everything anyone needs to know about prostate cancer. There’s “Prostate 101,” an overview about the prostate, information about prostate cancer and getting a second opinion, and a checklist of symptoms; information on screening; treatment options; and the state of research.

This knowledge is available to patients everywhere, “irrespective of where they choose to get their medical care or where they are in terms of testing, diagnosis, or treatment,” says site editor Gretchen Gignac, a School of Medicine associate professor of hematology and medical oncology.

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Most cases of prostate cancer are slow-growing tumors that have a very high cure rate, but some cases are fast-growing.

For its founding donor, the center is as much a beacon of information to patients as an incubator for medical research. Shipley was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2014 and chose focal laser ablation, a new and less invasive treatment than surgery and other therapies.

“The website will be unique in that it will provide up-to-date information, both on diagnostic and treatment options, in a form the layman can easily understand,” Shipley says.

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Teens also at risk for organ damage from high blood pressure

Teens also at risk for orga

And the damage to the heart and blood vessels can occur in youth at that are below the clinical definition of hypertension in youth.

High blood pressure in youth is defined differently than it is in adults. In childhood, high blood pressure is based on percentiles, rather than blood pressure level. Researchers looked at whether in teens develops below the 95th percentile, which is the clinical definition of in youth.

Researchers studied blood pressure and measured organ damage in 180 teenagers (14-17 years old, 64 percent white, 57 percent males). They found evidence of organ damage even among the youth categorized as “normal” with blood pressure less than in the 80th percentile. They also found heart and vessel damage in the mid-risk group, which had blood pressures in the 80th to 90th percentiles and the high-risk group, with blood pressures above the 90th percentile.


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Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cells

Currently, regenerative medicine through stem cells is a game-changing field that has great potential to change everything. Recent advances have unlocked new opportunities and approaches for the use of stem cells such as rejuvenation, replacement, and regeneration according to The Center for Regenerative Medicine. With stem cells, it is possible to grow organs and tissues specifically for the needed person, reducing the chance of transplant rejection. Moreover, since stem cells can be grown in cultures, the shortage problem currently associated with transplants could be fixed entirely with the use of growth factors. Stem cells can also treat neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s among others, which do not have a cure currently, by working as replacement cells or tissues.


Stem cells are unique because they are unspecialized, they can differentiate, and they can self-renew. Stem cells do not have a tissue-specific structure yet, and they can differentiate, meaning they can become a wide variety of specialized cells. Unlike muscle, blood, and nerve cells, stem cells can immortally make millions of more of themselves. There are three main types of stem cells that I will address: totipotent, pluripotent, and multipotent stem cells. Three days after fertilization, there is a clump of sixteen cells called the morula, which is made up of totipotent stem cells because they can become anything in the body, including the placenta. Soon after, the cells begin to differentiate more with the outer layer becoming the blastocyst while the inner cell mass continues to divide. The inner cell mass is made up of pluripotent stem cells, which can also be referred to as embryonic stem cells. These stem cells can become anything except for the placenta because the blastocyst itself is the pre-placental cells. After the egg’s implantation in the uterus, gastrulation begins, and the embryo separates into three distinct layers, which are the ectoderm, mesoderm, and endoderm. Stem cells in each of these layers are multipotent or adult stem cells because they are more restricted in the variety of mature cells they can become. Adult stem cells can also be harvested from the bone marrow of an adult as well. Researchers generally experiment more with embryonic and adult stem cells rather than totipotent stem cells because they are a little more mature and specialized.

stem cell transplant

While stem cells hold extreme potential, there are some reasonable ethical concerns that need to be addressed because they are currently holding back research and experimentation. Some believe that an embryo, at the blastocyst stage, is a living human being rather than a group of cells. They believe that life starts at conception rather than in the womb or at birth. Thus, those people believe that it is essentially “murder” when researchers destroy the embryo to extract the pluripotent stem cells. A counterargument to this takes a more utilitarian standpoint, arguing that it is worth the possible death of one to save maybe hundreds of others. I do not agree nor disagree with these arguments, but maybe one day scientists do have arguments that appease everyone.


Regenerative medicine is now on of the of priorities of researchers throughout the world because of how it could change the future of medicine. Diseases thought to be incurable before may very well be treatable within even the next decade as clinical trials come in and researchers experiment more and more. At the moment, there are almost 120,000 people waiting to receive an organ, and three people die every hour because they could not get an organ in time. Stem cells could solve many of these cases, making breakthroughs in every medical field, and there is a solid reason to trust that they will.

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“About Regenerative Medicine.” Mayo Clinic, 2017, Accessed 8 June 2017.

Autologous Stem Cell Transplant. 28 Feb. 2014. BioNews Texas, Accessed 8 June 2017.

CNN library. “Stem Cells Fast Facts.” CNN, 2 June 2017, Accessed 8 June 2017.

“Data.” United Network for Organ Sharing, 2015, Accessed 8 June 2017.

Ernst, Liz. “What Are the Potential Uses of Human Stem Cells? What Obstacles Must Still Be Overcome before These Potential Uses Will Be Realized?” Global Stem Cells Group, 28 June 2016, Accessed 8 June 2017.

Potential Uses of Stem Cells. 2014. All Things Stem Cell, Accessed 8 June 2017.

“Stem Cell Therapy Ethics.” Biomedinvo4all, Accessed 8 June 2017.

Writes, Laura. “Ethical Problems of Human Embryonic Stem Cell Use in Scientific Research.” Soapboxie, 19 Dec. 2015, Accessed 8 June 2017.

How stem cells could help solve the transplant problem and make breakthroughs in almost every disease

via Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cells — Medical Blog

Are You Obese but Healthy? You May Still Be 96% More Susceptible to Heart Failure


Are You Obese but HealthyObesity is one of the biggest causes of non-communicable, lifestyle diseases today. According to the World Health Organisation, close to 1.9 billion adults were obese in the year 2014. Around 2.8 million people die due to some complications associated with obesity every year. A recent study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology notes that obese people who may otherwise be healthy and free from ailments like diabetes, hypertension, et cetera may still run at a high risk of heart failure. Such individuals are 96% more likely to be at a risk of heart failure over people with normal weight who are also metabolically healthy.

“Obese individuals with no metabolic risk factors are still at a higher risk of coronary heart disease, cerebrovascular disease and heart failure than normal weight metabolically healthy individuals,” noted lead author Rishi Caleyachetty, from the University of Birmingham. “Obese patients, irrespective of their metabolic status, should be encouraged to lose weight and that early detection and management of normal weight individuals with metabolic abnormalities will be beneficial in the prevention of CVD events,” suggested Krish Nirantharakumar, senior lecturer from the varsity.

Experts studied electronic health records of close to 3.5 million British adults to assess cardiovascular diseases.


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