AbledResearch-Diabetes-Stem-Cell-Breakthrough

POSTED ON October 10th  - POSTED IN AbledConditions, AbledHealth, AbledResearch, AbledWellness
AbledResearch Banner shows two scientists sitting by a microscope in a lab checking a vial of something. The image is in the foreground with a photo of the earth at sunrise as seen from space with the AbledResearch logo at the top.
AbledResearch Post banner shows a close-up photo of someone holding a lancet in one hand just after pricking the forefinger of their other hand to be able to take a blood sugar reading from the drop of blood on that finger. The headline reads: Abled research: Diabetes breakthrough: 15 years of work pays off getting stem cells to produce insulin.
AbledResearch photo shows an image of highlighted cells in a mouse. The caption reads: Human stem cell-derived beta cell islet-like clusters are producing insulin in a mouse.

A Giant Leap Forward Towards A Cure For Diabetes

Researchers never want to jinx their work by using black and white terms like ‘cure’, but Harvard stem cell researchers are tantalizingly close to what amounts to a cure for Type 1 Diabetes.

For millions of diabetics around the world, this is the biggest hope yet that might bring an end to daily insulin injections, the thousands of times each year they have to prick their finger with a lancet to test their blood sugar levels, or having to wear external insulin pumps while also fearing the disease’s potential long-term side effects such as blindness, kidney disease, amputations, strokes and heart attacks.

Doug Melton, Harvard’s Xander University Professor and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator who leads the team of researchers at the lab that bears his name, says  “we are now just one-pre-clinical step away from the finish line.” That’s about as close to saying ‘cure’ as you can get without actually saying it.

And he’s got two good reasons for not wanting to over-state the possible outcomes before the definitive conclusions are reached – he has two grown children with Type 1 diabetes. When his, then, infant son Sam was diagnosed 23 years ago, Professor Melton dedicated his career to finding a cure for the disease.

In work that has just been published in the journal Cell, the Melton lab researchers have, after 15 years of trying and failing and trying and failing, have finally made a giant leap forward in diabetes research by being able to use human embryonic stem cells to produce human insulin-producing beta cells equivalent in most every way to normally-functioning beta cells.

As Professor Melton told the Harvard Gazette“There have been previous reports of other labs deriving beta cell types from stem cells. No other group has produced mature beta cells as suitable for use in patients,” he said. “The biggest hurdle has been to get to glucose sensing, insulin-secreting beta cells, and that’s what our group has done.”

Part of that hurdle is being able to produce those beta cells in the massive quantities needed, not only for cell transplantation, but also for pharmaceutical purposes. In this research, some stem cells came from human embryos, but Professor Melton’s team was able to reprogram human skin cells into a stem-cell-like-state  – a technique that is obviously more ethically acceptable.

The challenge with Type 1 diabetes is that it’s a metabolic response in the body’s immune system that goes rogue and kills off all the beta cells in the pancreas that produce insulin. About 150 million beta cells are needed for transplantation into a single patient and the final pre-clinical step involves protecting those cells from the immune system by using an implantation device. The device Melton is collaborating on with Professor Daniel G. Anderson and his colleagues at MIT and the Koch Institute has, so far, protected beta cells implanted in mice from immune system attacks for many months while they continue to produce insulin.

The lab-grown cells, currently being tested in primates, are just one step – albeit a few years – away from being clinically-trialled in humans.

And what do the Melton offspring think of this? Their father who also is Co-Scientific Director of the Harvard Stem Cell Institute and the University’s Department of Stem Cell and Regenerative Biology  — both of which were created more than a decade after he began his quest — said that when he told his son and daughter, they were surprisingly calm. “I think like all kids, they always assumed that if I said I’d do this, I’d do it,” he said with a self-deprecating grin.

Others are more willing to make a big deal about this. Richard A. Insel, M.D., the Chief Scientific Officer at the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) which along with the Helmsley Charitable Trust has contributed funding, says“JDRF is thrilled with this advancement toward large-scale production of mature, functional human beta cells by Dr. Melton and his team.”

Elaine Fuchs,  the Rebecca C. Lancefield Professor at Rockefeller University, and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator who is not involved in the work, hailed it as “one of the most important advances to date in the stem cell field.”

Jose Oberholzer, Associate Professor of Surgery, Endocrinology, and Diabetes, as well as Bioengineering, at the University of Illinois at Chicago, Director of the Islet and Pancreas Transplant Program and Chief of the Division of Transplantation, called the discovery bigger than the discovery of insulin and says the work “will leave a dent in the history of diabetes. Doug Melton has put in a lifetime of hard work in finding a way of generating human islet cells in vitro. He made it. This is a phenomenal accomplishment.”

Felicia W. Pagliuca, Jeff Millman and Mads Gurtler of the Melton Lab are co-first authors on the Cell paper.

Other funding for the research, for which Professor Melton and his colleagues are extremely grateful, came from the National Institutes of Health, The Harvard Stem Cell Institute, the JPB Foundation, and Howard and Stella Heffron.

Description of Video

The beginning shows a spinner flask containing red culture media and cells, the cells being too small to see. Inside the flask you can see a magnetic stir bar and the flask is being placed on top of a magnetic stirrer. 

This is followed by a time-lapse series of magnified images showing how cells start off as single cells and then grow very quickly into clusters over the next few days. The size of the clusters is the same as the size of human islets at the end.

The final image shows 6 flasks, enough for 6 patients, spinning away. If you look closely, you can see particles spinning around, the white dust or dots are clusters of cells, each containing about 1000 cells.

Credit: Mikey Segel

AbledResearch photo shows Harvard's Xander University Professor Doug Melton whose team has announced a major breakthrough in Diabetes Research.
Abled.com Banner: Related Coverage.

Transcript of NPR Report

Copyright ©2014 NPR. For personal, noncommercial use only. See Terms of Use. For other uses, prior permission required.

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

We’re going to turn now to health news of an advance that could eventually lead to a cure for diabetes. Before the discovery of insulin in the 1920s, diabetes was a feared disease that often led to a rapid death. Today, insulin injections to control blood sugar levels are a mainstay of therapy for Type 1 diabetes. They’re also used by many with the Type 2 form of the disease.

But insulin injections aren’t a cure. People can still suffer complications, including heart attacks and blindness. NPR’s Rob Stein reports on work by scientists at Harvard that could someday eliminate the need for injections.

ROB STEIN, BYLINE: For Harvard cell biologist Doug Melton, the search for something better than insulin shots for diabetes has been a very personal quest.

DOUG MELTON: My six-month-old son Sam came down with diabetes some 20 years ago. And some years later, my 14-year-old daughter Emma also came down with Type 1 diabetes. Since that time, I don’t know how to say it except that I’d do what any parent would do, is to say that I’m not going to put up with this. And I want to find a better way.

STEIN: Now, Melton and his colleagues are reporting in the journal Cell that they finally found that better way. They figured out how to mass-produce the kind of cells that naturally produce insulin in the body – cells that could be transplanted into patients so their bodies could control their blood sugar normally.

MELTON: We are reporting the ability to make hundreds of millions of cells – the cell that can read the amount of sugar in the blood which appears following a meal and then squirt out or secrete just the right amount of insulin.

STEIN: They did this using human embryonic stem cells. They can be turned into almost any kind of cell in the body. But for 15 years the researchers tried and failed and tried and failed to find just the right mix of chemical signals that would coax human embryonic stem cells into becoming insulin cells. Finally, they came up with a recipe that works.

MELTON: A short way of saying this might be like if you were going to make a very fancy kind of new cake – like I do know, a raspberry chocolate cake with vanilla frosting or something. You pretty much know all the components you have to add. But it’s the way you add them and the order and the timing, how long you cook it, et cetera. The solution to that just took a very long time.

STEIN: And when Melton and his colleagues transplanted the cells into mice with diabetes, the results were clear and fast.

MELTON: We can cure their diabetes right away in less than 10 days. This finding provides the kind of unprecedented cell source that could be used for cell transplantation therapy in diabetes.

STEIN: Other scientists are hailing the research as a big advance.

MELTON: Well, it’s a huge landmark paper. I would say it’s bigger than the discovery of insulin.

STEIN: Jose Olberholzer is a professor of bioengineering at the University of Illinois.

JOSE OLBERHOLZER: The discovery of insulin is important and certainly saved millions of people. But it just allowed patients to survive but not really to have a normal life. The finding of Doug Melton would really allow to offer them really something that I would call a functional cure, you know. They wouldn’t really feel any more being diabetic if they got a transplant of these kinds of cell.

STEIN: Now, Melton and others caution there’s still a lot more work to do before they’re ready to try this in people with diabetes. For one thing, they need to come up with a way to hide the cells from the immune system, especially for people with Type 1 diabetes, so the immune system doesn’t attack and destroy the cell. Melton and his colleagues are working on that. And they think they may have come up with a solution – a kind of protective shell.

MELTON: We’re thinking about it as sort of like a teabag were the tea stays inside, the water goes and then the dissolved tea comes out.

STEIN: And so if you think about a teabag analogy, we would put ourselves inside this teabag.

STEIN: But that’s not the only problem. Some people have moral objections to anything that involves human embryonic stem cell research because it destroys human embryos. Daniel Sulmasy, a doctor and bioethicist at the University of Chicago shares that view.

DANIEL SULMASY: If, like me, someone considers the human embryo to be imbued with the same sorts of dignity that the rest of us have, then in fact this is morally problematic. It’s the destruction of an individual unique human life for the sole purpose of helping other persons.

STEIN: Melton says he’s also found a way to use another kind of stem cell – cells that don’t destroy any embryos. He’s trying to figure out if they work as well and hopes to start testing his insulin cells in people with diabetes within three years. Rob Stein, NPR News.

Copyright © 2014 NPR. All rights reserved. No quotes from the materials contained herein may be used in any media without attribution to NPR. This transcript is provided for personal, noncommercial use only, pursuant to our Terms of Use. Any other use requires NPR’s prior permission. Visit our permissions page for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio.

Click the + sign to the right of AbledHearing to close this window.

Abled.com Banner: Related Videos.

Previous Breakthrough Discovery About New Hormone To Treat Type 2 Diabetes

In 2013, HSCI Co-Director Doug Melton and postdoctoral fellow Peng Yi discovered a hormone that holds promise for a dramatically more effective treatment for type 2 diabetes. The researchers believe that the hormone might also have a role in treating type 1, or juvenile, diabetes.

Harnessing The Potential Of Stem Cells

HSCI Co-Director Doug Melton speaks at TEDxBeaconStreet in 2013 about the potential of stem cell biology for regenerative medicine, with a focus on finding new treatments for diseases such as diabetes.

Related Agencies Banner
AbledEvents Public Service Ad for Worlf Diabetes Day, 14 November, 2014. Click here to go to the International Diabetes Federation website for the event.
Abled Public Service Ad link to the International Diabetes Federation
Abled Public Service Ad for The International Diabetes Federation 2015 World Congress in Vancouver, Canada. Click here to go to the Congress website.
Abled.com Public Service Ad for the European Coalition for Diabetes. Click here to go to their website.
Abled Public Service Ad link to the Asia DIabetes Foundation
Abled Public Service Ad link to the American DIabetes Association.
Abled Public Service Ad link to the Canadian DIabetes Association
Abled.com Public Service Ad for DIabetes UK. Click here to go to their website.
Abled.com Public Service Ad for Diabetes Australia.
AbledResearch More Posts Banner.
AbledResearch Post banner shows a silhouette of Abled.com Co-Founder Laura Meddens walking with her Seeing Eye guide dog Wagner against a magnified golden-hued image of Wagner's T-Cells as seen through an electron microscope. The headline reads: Cancer: A Brave Guide Dog's Legacy In T-Cell Immunotherapy Research for Humans.
AbledNews - More Posts banner
AbledConditions post link banner shows a background graphics montage of slides from a brain CT scan slightly blurred behind a side profile view of an X-ray of a person's head and shoulders with the brain area highlighted with an orange glow. The headline reads: AbledConditions: Alzheimer's Disease: Ground-breaking treatment at UCLA improves failing memory. Click here to go to the post.
AbledAlert link banner Shows a photograph of healthcare workers dressed in turquoise blue surgical gowns , hairnets and pink medic al gloves set against a world map and chart showing data on Ebola outbreaks since 1976. The headline reads: Abled Alert: Outbreak: Tracking the deadliest yet. Click here to go to our Special Ongoing Coverage on the Ebola Virus outbreak in West Africa.
AbledALERT-Outbreak post link banner shows 13 year old Will Cornejo of Lone Tree, Colorado breathing with the help of an oxygen mask while lying in a hospital bed, while text in the foreground reads: Enterovirus. The headline reads: Outbreak: Virus Primer For Parents. Click here to go to the report.
AbledAlert link box shows a photograph of an Asian Tiger Mosquito set against a transparent red layer covering a map of the Caribbean region with the word Chikungunya in WHite at the top. The headline reads: Outbreak: 'Contorted With Pain Virus. CLick here to go to our special ongoing coverage.
Abled Warriors post link banner shows sketches of the American Veterans Disabled For Life Memorial dedicated on October 5, 2014 in Washington, D.C. A stone wall bears the name of the inscribed into it in the background while we see two men observing an eternal flame in the granite star centerpiece of the memorial while we see the left profile of an Armed Forces officer and another man in the center foreground looking off to the left. The headline reads: AbledWarriors: Moving Memorial: The Dedication. Click here to go to the post.
Abled Conditions Special Report link banner shows a black and white photo of Robin Willieams kneeling on one knee and clasping his hands around his other leg which is bent at the knee. He is looking at the camera with an impish grin on his face. There is a candle burning in the right foreground. The Headline reads: AbledConditions: Depression | Parkinson's: Tears of a Clown. Click here to go to our Special Report.
AbledRx link box shows a photo of various Aspirin bottles and boxes. The headline reads: AbledRx; Aspirin: Linked to Huge Cut in Cancer. Click here to go to the post.
AbledCauses link box shows Nick Auden hugging his three children. The headline reads: Locky's Dad: His 'Right To Try' Legacy. Click here to go to the story.
AbledKids post link box shows a screen grab from a new App for emergency preparedness for children produced by Sesame Workshop, the prodders of Sesame Street. It shows a video frame featuring Grover in a construction helmet. The headline reads: AbledKids: Sesame Street: Disaster Apps for Kids. Click here to go to the post.
AboutAbled link Banner shows Abled Co-Founder Laura Meddens looking out at the seaside at sunset in Curaçao with the text Laura Meddens: An Abled Vision For Global Accessibility, Inclusion and Equality. Click here to go to the AboutAbled page.
Return to the Abled.com Homepage banner. Click here.

AbledConditions-Alzheimers Disease-UCLA Treatment Improves Memory

POSTED ON October 8th  - POSTED IN AbledConditions
AbledConditions category banner shows the covers of medical books on heart disease, stroke and other conditions agains the backdrop of the sun rising over the edge of the Earth
AbledConditions post banner shows a background graphics montage of slides from a brain CT scan slightly blurred behind a side profile view of an X-ray of a person's head and shoulders with the brain area highlighted with an orange glow. The headline reads: AbledConditions: Alzheimer's Disease: Ground-breaking treatment at UCLA improves failing memory.

Improvements Allowed Some Patients To Return To Work

 

A multi-discipline lifestyle intervention study at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) has produced some breakthrough results in slowing or reversing memory loss in patients with Alzheimer’s Disease.

While it’s a small study, the implications could be huge. The findings come from a joint effort between UCLA’s Mary S. Easton Center for Alzheimer’s Disease Research and the Buck Institute for Research on Aging.

The team implemented a 36-point lifestyle overhaul program that included dietary changes, use of specific supplements and medications, optimal sleep and increased brain stimulation. The results were so positive nine out of 10 patients showed remarkable memory improvements, and six patients were able to either return to work or demonstration significant performance improvements in their jobs.

The author of the resulting paper on the study, Dale Bredesen, Augustus Rose Professor of Neurology, Director of the Easton Center at UCLA, and Professor at Buck Institute says that current medications for Alzheimer’s aren’t working. “The existing Alzheimer’s drugs affect a single target, but Alzheimer’s disease is more complex. Imagine having a roof with 36 holes in it, and your drug patched one hole very well – the drug may have worked, a single “hole” may have been fixed, but you still have 35 other leaks, and so the underlying process may not be affected much.”

“It is noteworthy that the major side-effects of this therapeutic system are improved health and an improved body mass index, a stark contrast to the side effects of many drugs.”

While he admits the findings are anecdotal and the study group small, Professor Bredesen is optimistic, saying, “the current anecdotal results require a larger trial, not only to confirm or refute the results reported here, but also to address key questions raised, such as the degree of improvement that can be achieved routinely, [and] how late in the course of cognitive decline reversal can be effected.”

That last one is an important point. The one patient who did not show any improvement had been diagnosed with late-stage Alzheimer’s Disease.

Professor Bredesen also wants to find out whether this multi-faceted approach can be effective in patients with early onset Familial Alzheimer’s Disease (eFAD), which can develop in people as young as 30,  and he and his team are curious to know how long the improvements that have been shown in this study can be sustained.

You can read the full study published in the online edition of Aging.

Mary S. Easton Center for Alzheimer’s Disease Research is part of the UCLA Department of Neurology which encompasses more than 26 disease-related research programs. This includes all of the major categories of neurological diseases and methods, encompassing neurogenetics and neuroimaging as well as health services research. The 140 faculty members of the Department are distinguished scientists and clinicians who have been ranked #1 in NIH funding for 9 consecutive years beginning in 2002. The Department is dedicated to understanding the human nervous system and improving the lives of people with neurological diseases, focusing on three key areas: patient/clinical care, research, and education. For more information, see http://www.neurology.ucla.edu/

The Buck Institute is the U.S.’s first independent research organization devoted to Geroscience – focused on the connection between normal aging and chronic disease. Based in Novato, CA, The Buck is dedicated to extending “Healthspan”, the healthy years of human life and does so utilizing a unique interdisciplinary approach involving laboratories studying the mechanisms of aging and those focused on specific diseases. Buck scientists strive to discover new ways of detecting, preventing and treating age-related diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, cancer, cardiovascular disease, macular degeneration, osteoporosis, diabetes and stroke.  In their collaborative research, they are supported by the most recent developments in genomics, proteomics, bioinformatics and stem cell technologies. read more about this study at the Buck Institute for Research on Aging.

One Patient’s Treatment Regimen

Professor Bredesen’s approach is personalized to the patient, based on extensive testing to determine what is affecting the plasticity signaling network of the brain.

As one example, in the case of the patient with the demanding job who was forgetting her way home, her therapeutic program consisted of some, but not all of the components involved with Bredesen’s therapeutic program, and included:

(1) Eliminating all simple carbohydrates, leading to a weight loss of 20 pounds;

(2) Eliminating gluten and processed food from her diet, with increased vegetables, fruits, and non-farmed fish;

(3) To reduce stress, she began yoga;

(4) As a second measure to reduce the stress of her job, she began to meditate for 20 minutes twice per day;

(5) She took melatonin each night;

(6) She increased her sleep from 4-5 hours per night to 7-8 hours per night;

(7) She took methylcobalamin each day;

(8) She took vitamin D3 each day;

(9) Fish oil each day;

(10) CoQ10 each day;

(11) She optimized her oral hygiene using an electric flosser and electric toothbrush;

(12) Following discussion with her primary care provider, she reinstated hormone replacement therapy that had been discontinued;

(13) She fasted for a minimum of 12 hours between dinner and breakfast, and for a minimum of three hours between dinner and bedtime;

(14) She exercised for a minimum of 30 minutes, 4-6 days per week.

The results for nine of the 10 patients reported in the paper suggest that memory loss may be reversed, and improvement sustained with this therapeutic program, said Bredesen. “This is the first successful demonstration,” he noted, but he cautioned that the results are anecdotal, and therefore a more extensive, controlled clinical trial is needed.

Experts Caution More Study Is Needed

“It’s way too early to draw any conclusions from this,” said Heather Snyder, director of medical and scientific operations for the Alzheimer’s Association in Chicago. “It raises a lot of questions that should be explored in larger studies.”

Dr. James Galvin, a professor of neurology at NYU Langone Medical Center in New York City, echoed that sentiment.

“I’m not knocking the concept,” Galvin said. The factors the program targets — including diet, physical activity and chronic body-wide inflammation — are scientifically valid, he said.

But, Galvin added, it’s hard to evaluate the specific therapies, particularly the supplements, based only on these case reports.

“There’s not enough here to understand why these things were chosen, or how the doses were chosen,” Galvin said.

The supplements included curcumin, vitamins B12 and D3, fish oilcoconut oil, resveratrol, coenzyme Q10 and ashwagandha — a herb used in traditional Indian medicine.

(Source: HealthDay)

Related Agencies Banner
Abled.com Public Service Ad for Alzheimer's Disease International. Click here to go to the website of their 2015 Conference in Perth, Australia.
Abled.com Public Service Ad for Alzheimer's Disease International 2014 Asia Pacific regional Conference. Click here to go to their website.
Abled.com Public Service Ad for The Alzheimer's Association in the United States. Click here to go to their website.
Abled.com Public Service Ad for the Alzheimer's Foundation of America. Click here to go to their website.
Abled.com Public Service Ad for Alzheimer Europe. Click here to go to their website.
Abled.com Public Service Ad for the Alzheimer's Society in the United Kingdom. Click here to go to their website.
Abled.com Public Service Ad for The Alzheimer Society Canada. Click here to go to their website.
Abled.com Public Service Ad for Alzheimer's Australia. Click here to go to their website.
AbledConditions - More Posts banner
AbledConditions - Special Report Banner: Depression | Parkinson's Disease: Robin WIlliams - The Tears Of A Clown. The background shows a black and white photo of Robin Williams crouching on one knee with his hands crossed over his other knee as he looks at the camera with a small smile. There is a candle burning in the foreground. Click here to go to our Special Report.
AbledConditions story link banner shows a photo of Linda Ronstadt with the headline: Parkinson's: A Songbird Silenced. Update: Video Interview. Click here to go to the story.
AbledConditions Post link Banner shows a digital display of an MRI scan of a prostate with certain areas showing blue, green or red. The headline reads: AbledConditions: Prostate cancer: Vitamin E and Selenium Supplements May Double Your Risk For It. Click here to go to the post.
AbledConditions Post Link Banner shows a New York Times illustration by Lauren Nassef depicting three open milk cartons seen at an angle with a 'Missing' message on one side and the image of a male teenager 'walking' through the side panels. The headline reads: Autism: How to prevent children and teens from wandering and how to respond if they do. Click here to go to the post.
AbledConditions story link shows a photo of HLN 'In Session' producer Erik Nivision looking to his left with his hands in his pockets and wearing a blue, green and white striped shirt along with a grey fedora with white trim. He was diagnosed with Lyme Disease last month after 2 years of what he calls 'hell'. Click to go to the story.
AbledNews - More Posts banner
AbledALERT-Outbreak post link banner shows 13 year old Will Cornejo of Lone Tree, Colorado breathing with the help of an oxygen mask while lying in a hospital bed, while text in the foreground reads: Enterovirus D68: Special Ongoing Coverage. The headline reads: Outbreak: Spike in cases Overwhelms Hospitals | What parents need to know. Click here to go to the report.
AbledAlert link banner Shows a photograph of healthcare workers dressed in turquoise blue surgical gowns , hairnets and pink medic al gloves set against a world map and chart showing data on Ebola outbreaks since 1976. The headline reads: Abled Alert: Outbreak: Tracking the deadliest yet. Click here to go to our Special Ongoing Coverage on the Ebola Virus outbreak in West Africa.
AbledAlert link box shows a photograph of an Asian Tiger Mosquito set against a transparent red layer covering a map of the Caribbean region with the word Chikungunya in WHite at the top. The headline reads: Outbreak: 'Contorted With Pain Virus. CLick here to go to our special ongoing coverage.
AbledRx link box shows a photo of various Aspirin bottles and boxes. The headline reads: AbledRx; Aspirin: Linked to Huge Cut in Cancer. Click here to go to the post.
AbledCauses link box shows a photo by RonnMurrayPhoto.com in which 9 year-old Ben Pierce stands with his arms outstretched in a 'victory salute' as the Northern Lights cast a green hue in the sky in the background. Ben is wearing a blue parka with and orange stripe and ivory hood. He wears tinted glasses and is smiling at the camera. The headline reads: AbledCauses: Ben Pierce: UPDATE: Visual Bucket List. Click here to go to the story.
AboutAbled link Banner shows Abled Co-Founder Laura Meddens looking out at the seaside at sunset in Curaçao with the text Laura Meddens: An Abled Vision For Global Accessibility, Inclusion and Equality. Click here to go to the AboutAbled page.
Return to the Abled.com Homepage banner. Click here.

AbledConditions-Prostate-Cancer-Vitamin-E-And-Selenium-Supplements-May-Double-Your-Risk-For-It

POSTED ON March 7th  - POSTED IN AbledConditions
AbledConditions category banner shows the covers of medical books on heart disease, stroke and other conditions agains the backdrop of the sun rising over the edge of the Earth
AbledConditions Post Banner shows a digital display of an MRI scan of a prostate with certain areas showing blue, green or red. The headline reads: AbledConditions: Prostate cancer: Vitamin E and Selenium Supplements May Double Your Risk For It.

The Risk Depends On Your Selenium Status Before Taking The Supplements

 

A multi-center study led by the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, Washington, has found that high-dose supplementation with both the trace element selenium and vitamin E increase the risk of high-grade prostate cancer. But importantly, this risk depends upon a man’s selenium status before taking the supplements.

 

 
The findings, published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, are based on data from the Selenium and Vitamin E Cancer Prevention Trial, or SELECT, a rigorously executed, randomized and placebo-controlled trial conducted by the Portland, Oregon-based SWOG cancer research co-operative group that involved more than 35,000 men. The study sought to determine whether taking high-dose vitamin E (400IU/day) and/or selenium (200mcg/day) supplements could protect men from prostate cancer.

 

 
The trial, which began in 2001 and was designed to last 12 years, stopped early, in 2008, because it found no protective effect from selenium and there was a suggestion that vitamin E increased risk. While use of the study supplements stopped, men were still followed and after an additional two years the men who took vitamin E had a statistically significant 17 per cent increased risk of prostate cancer.

 

 
When the study started, there was some evidence that selenium supplementation would not benefit men who already had an adequate intake of the nutrient. For that reason, researchers measured the concentration of selenium in participants’ toenails and planned to test whether selenium supplementation would benefit only the subset of men with low selenium status at baseline.

 

Instead, they found that taking selenium supplements increased the risk of high-grade cancer by 91 per cent among men with high selenium status at baseline. When selenium supplements were taken by men who had high selenium status to begin with, the levels of selenium became toxic.

 

 
The study also found that only a subgroup of men was at increased risk of prostate cancer from taking vitamin E. Among men with low selenium status at baseline, vitamin E supplementation increased their total risk of prostate cancer by 63 per cent and increased the risk of high-grade cancer by 111 per cent.

 

This explained one of the original SELECT findings, which was that only men who received vitamin E plus a placebo pill, and not those who received both vitamin E and selenium, had an increased prostate cancer risk. Selenium, whether from dietary sources or supplements, protected men from the harmful effects of vitamin E.

 

 
“Many people think that dietary supplements are helpful or at the least innocuous. This is not true,” said corresponding and first author Dr. Alan Kristal, a faculty member in the Public Health Sciences Division of Fred Hutch. “We know from several other studies that some high-dose dietary supplements — that is, supplements that provide far more than the daily recommended intakes of micronutrients — increase cancer risk. We knew this based on randomised, controlled, double-blinded studies for folate and beta carotene, and now we know it for vitamin E and selenium.”

 

Journal of the National Cancer Institute; U10 CA037429

Related Videos about Prostate Cancer Banner
Related Stories Banner

Cancer Protector or Cancer Promoter?

Another perspective on Selenium and Vitamin E

By Rob Verkerk PhD – Executive and Scientific  Director, Alliance for Natural Health International

Can Vitamin E and selenium supplements increase prostate cancer risk?

Newspaper headlines this week claim that vitamin E and selenium supplements may increase, rather than decrease as originally thought, the risk of prostate cancer.

SELECT groups

You may remember reading similar headlines about selenium and vitamin E supplements and prostate cancer from 2008.  Both these findings relate to a large trial – the Selenium and Vitamin E Cancer Prevention Trial (SELECT) – started in 2001 and involving over 35,000 men studied in more than 400 centres in the United States, Puerto Rico and Canada. The men were considered to be at moderate risk of prostate cancer based on prostate-specific antigen (PSA) scores and digital rectal exams, and were randomised to four different treatment groups:

  1. Vitamin E alone (400 IU/360 mg per day, equivalent to 3,000% of the European RDA), with selenium placebo
  2. Selenium alone (200 mcg per day as L-selenomethionine, or 360% of the European RDA) alone,  (with vitamin E placebo)
  3. A combination of both supplements
  4. Full placebo.

 

High-dose synthetic vitamin E: No thanks

The treatments were stopped in 2008 after the SELECT safety monitoring committee for SELECT issued a unanimous recommendation opinion that the goal of a 25% reduction in incidence of prostate cancer among any of the treatment groups would be highly unlikely. The initial results from the first 7 years of follow-up showed no evidence of any net reduction, and a small, but statistically non-significant, increase in risk among the vitamin E-only group.

Needless to say, the vitamin E form being taken was the now somewhat infamous synthetic DL alpha-tocopherol, which suppresses the beneficial gamma-tocopherol form of vitamin E, the most common form consumed via the diet.

Further follow-up results published in 2011 showed that, for every 1,000 men, 76 of those taking the vitamin E supplements alone developed prostate cancer, as against 65 on placebo. Those additional 11 cases per 1,000 amounted to a statistically significant 17% increase. That generated headlines around the world, and high-dose synthetic vitamin E – justifiably – got another kicking.

 

Why did SELECT not work to plan?

Publishing in the Journal of American Medical Association (JAMA), the authors considered a host of reasons why the anticipated 25% prostate cancer risk reduction threshold was not realised. They mulled over the possibilities that the vitamin E dose may have been too high, that it was the wrong form of vitamin E, and that the selenium form used in SELECT – selenomethionine – may not be as good as the selenium yeast shown to be beneficial in previous trials. Theoretically, this could be related to the synthetic nature of the methionine part of the selenomethionine supplement used in SELECT: a form that may best be described as ‘biosynthetic’. They referred to other trials, like the Alpha-Tocopherol, Beta Carotene (ATBC) trial and Nutritional Prevention of Cancer (NPC) Trial, in which selenium yeast showed a protective effect, and the Physicians Health Study II, in which lower-dose vitamin E (50 IU as against the 400 IU used in SELECT) was also found to be beneficial.

 

Latest SELECT findings

The latest swathe of negative headlines followed the issue, on 21st February this year, of press releases linked to new findings released ahead of print in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute (JNCI).

Last year, a picture emerged from SELECT of older men with double the risk of prostate cancer in the selenium or vitamin E arms of the study and high selenium status, as measured in their toenails. The latest JNCI findings show that those whose selenium status was high at the start of the study, and who then took selenium supplements, were at significantly increased risk of developing more aggressive forms of prostate cancer.  It also confirms the risk associated with high-dose synthetic vitamin E, but also shows that this risk is confined to subjects with low selenium status.

 

Take-home messages

Taking the results at face value, the key messages from the JNCI data are perhaps simpler than it might seem:

  1. Don’t take synthetic high-dose (over 200 IU/180 mg per day) synthetic vitamin E on any account
  2. Taking natural vitamin E at a moderate dose will likely be protective.

The data also suggest that men shouldn’t take high-dose (200 mcg/day or more) selenium in the form of L-selenomethionine if they already have high selenium status.  Based on other trials, such as the Nutritional Prevention of Cancer (NPC) Trial, selenium yeast was found to be protective against both prostate and skin cancers when taken at 200 mcg/day, but this effect was again limited to those with low selenium status.

 

Double-edged sword

This research shines more light on the double-edged sword of selenium in cancer: on one hand a protector against it, while on the other, a potential cancer promoter. Selenium’s role as an essential nutrient has been very well studied. But, as is the case with some micronutrients, more is not always better – and the form, as well as an individual’s specific needs, are key. Critically, sufficient selenium status is needed to reduce DNA damage, and it plays a key role in supporting vital glutathione antioxidant enzymes. Let’s face it, in the US, thanks to a successful lawsuit against the FDA by our colleagues at ANH-USA, the words selenium and cancer can appear on the same product label under the tight conditions of a qualified health claims regime.

Yet, as is so often the case, it will in time likely become increasingly apparent why these new results have emerged. Possible explanations may include artefacts of the experimental set-up, the effect of unblinding the trial and the wrong groups being given the wrong forms and an inappropriate amount of the micronutrients.

Across a diverse group of average-risk men, as is the case in SELECT, who took the supplements for an average of just 5 years yet were followed-up for 12, it’s not possible for benefits among specific groups to be isolated. Then, we must bear in mind that negative news, especially about synthetic vitamin E, has been rampant in the media for most of the duration of the study. How do you think this would have affected you, had you been a participant in the trial? 

As increasing evidence of the emotional and psychological triggers for cancer emerge, could it be that one day we’ll recognise this as a factor mediating additional risk in trials? And let’s not forget the potential direct and indirect impact of the biopsies used to confirm the presence of cancer in SELECT.

 

It’s the dosage – and form – stupid!

Melchor and Timmermans, two lawyers interpreting various rulings by the European Court of Justice as to which botanical products should be viewed as food supplements or medicines, famously titled their 2009 paper “It’s the dosage, stupid”.

This notion could equally be applied to vitamin E and selenium. Except it’s also about the form of the nutrient – and the recipient population. This is something central to the risk/benefit assessment that the Dutch research scientists at TNO are grappling with at present, as they develop a risk/benefit approach applicable to vitamins and minerals following our commissioning of them late last year.

It’s not hard to fathom why we face such a plethora of papers showing conflicting results. Artefacts of the study, the effect of unblinding, increased concomitant treatments among those subject to screening or biopsy and genetic risk or predisposition, including specific genetic polymorphisms and an individual’s epigenetic profile, all provide a highly variable backdrop to these studies. But there’s much more too. The duration of intake or supplementation, the length of follow-up, what pre-cancerous processes may already have been initiated prior to the start of supplementation trials and interactions with other nutrients or drugs can also play key roles. For a given individual, taking too much or too little of a less-than-ideal form of the nutrient is crucial.

 

Doing nothing ain’t an option!

If you study the background science and the few large trials that placed question marks over high-dose supplementation of synthetic vitamin E, beta-carotene, folic acid and now selenium, one consistent pattern emerges: Elevated levels of these vitamins taken in optimal forms – from the diet – are consistently protective against cancer. There is also clear evidence that some supplementation trials have worked very well indeed. These facts alone mean that, for the vast majority of men, doing nothing isn’t the best option.

We must bear in mind that micronutrients cannot be considered in the same way as drugs. Not everyone needs the same amount, nor are all forms of micronutrient given in supplemental form the same, nor are they necessarily equivalent in their effects to those we get from our diets.

That’s why people at particular risk of cancer and other chronic diseases – and that means most aged 50 or over, as well as those with a high familial risk – should be assessed for their nutritional status by a practitioner skilled in such matters. It’s a sad fact that the average general practitioner has little or no background in this area, and can do little to check your status or recommend an appropriate dietary, nutritional and lifestyle protocol relevant to you.

By contrast, functional medicine practitioners are the primary group trained specifically in this field.

If you’re concerned, use your contact network, the Internet or other means to find an experienced and qualified functional medicine practitioner who can provide the support you deserve.

 

Non-standard therapies could save your life – and its quality

For those wishing to avoid biopsies, chemotherapy, radiotherapy or surgery, and wanting to benefit from the views of over 50 specialist doctors and health practitioners specialising in prostate cancer, we can’t recommend highly enough Peter Starr’s documentary, Surviving Prostate Cancer Without Surgery, Drugs or Radiation. As Peter Starr, ex-motorcycle stuntman, film director and ANH supporter himself asserts, the film should be essential viewing for all men over 40.

 

ANH-Europe Homepage

AbledNews - More Posts banner.
AbledRights Post Link Banner shows riot police standing guard in front of the regional administration in Donetsk, Ukraine before nearly a hundred pro-Russian protestors seized two floors of the building. Click here to go to the Post.
AbledPoll link Box shows a photo of Oscar Pistorius dressed in a grey hooded sweat top as he leaves the Boschkop police station, east of Pretoria, South Africa, Thursday, Feb. 14, 2013 en route to appear in court charged with murder. Click here to go to the poll on the story page.
AbledAlert Post Link Banner shows a graphic from CBS News titled Testosterone Treatment 55 thousand 593 Men within 90 Days of treatment Heart Attack Risk Almost Tripled in those younger than 65 with a history of heart disease. The AbledAlert headline reads: Testosterone Supplements: Linked to Double and Almost Triple Risk of Heart Attack. Click here to go to the post.
AbledHealth Post link Banner shows a background photo of an industrial poultry shed with thousands of broiler chickens crowded together. In the foreground are two screengrabs - one of the ConsumerReports.org website showing their story The High Costs of Cheap Chicken with a photo of a package of raw chicken breasts with yellow tape wrapped around it and the word caution printed twice. The other is the cover of the PEW Report on the Weaknesses in the USDA's Food Safety Inspection Service's Salmonella Regulation. It features a photo of packages of poultry products in a grocery store display. The headline reads: Salmonella Poisoning: Two reports slam poultry safety - One finds 97 per cent infection rate. Click here to go to the story.
AboutAbled link Banner shows Abled Co-Founder Laura Meddens looking out at the seaside at sunset in Curaçao with the text Laura Meddens: An Abled Vision For Global Accessibility, Inclusion and Equality. Click here to go to the AboutAbled page.
Click here to return to the Abled.com homepage.

AbledConditions-Autism-How-To-Prevent-Wandering

POSTED ON January 22nd  - POSTED IN AbledConditions
AbledConditions category banner shows the covers of medical books on heart disease, stroke and other conditions agains the backdrop of the sun rising over the edge of the Earth
AbledConditions Post Banner shows a New York Times illustration by Lauren Nassef depicting three open milk cartons seen at an angle with a 'Missing' message on one side and the image of a male teenager 'walking' through the side panels. The headline reads: Autism: How to prevent children and teens from wandering and how to respond if they do.

The Death of Mute Autistic Teen Avonte Oquendo Heightens Wandering Fears

 

In the lexicon of Autism, it is called ‘wandering’ or ‘elopement’ and a study published in the journal Pediatrics in 2012 found that nearly half of the children diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) have done it and more than half of those who do end up missing long enough to cause concern.

 

The study, which conducted an online survey via the Interactive Autism Network with the families of over 1,200 children with autism and over 1,000 siblings without autism, found that the more severe the symptoms of autism, the more likely the child was to bolt.

 

Study researcher, Dr. Paul Law, Director of Medical Informatics at the Kennedy Krieger Institute in Baltimore, Maryland, said – at the time – “We tend to hear about the most traumatic stories on the news. It’s just the tip of the iceberg of what parents are experiencing with this issue”.

 

Today, the news delivered on that sad, but true, observation when it was reported that DNA analysis confirmed that human remains that washed up on a beach in Queens, New York were indeed those of Avonte Oquendo, the non-verbal 14 year-old autistic teen who bolted from his school in October and went missing.

 

Avonte brought tragic realism to the statistic in the study that more than 25% of children with autism who bolted from home were in  danger of drowning – barring any sinister interference by others. The investigation has yet to confirm the cause of death and, in the face of various body parts washing up, ruled out dismemberment.

 

Because of his fascination with trains, the police investigation targeted rail yards and subway stations, areas where Avonte had been found before when he had wandered off.

 

The term ‘wandering’ is a bit of a misnomer because these children and teens usually have a specific obsession with something and a goal of trying to find it, rather than wandering aimlessly. That’s why many prefer the term ‘elopement’.

 

Regardless of the terminology, it’s a nightmare for parents.  Lori McIlwain, Executive Director of the National Autism Association, pointed out in a New York Times Op-Ed piece in November last year at the height of the Avonte Oquendo investigation just how real a nightmare it is, “

 

The day Avonte went missing, a Friday, a 12-year-old boy with autism was in a medically induced coma in Oakland, Calif. According to reports, he had wandered from his mother in a parking lot and entered eastbound traffic on I-580, where he was struck by at least one vehicle. By Sunday, another child with autism had gone missing: 5-year-old Devonte Dye wandered from his grandparents’ home in southeast Missouri. Tragically, he was found the next day, drowned, in a slough near the St. Francis River.

 

Since 2011, 41 American children with autism have died after wandering, or “bolting,” from caregivers. Water is often a fatal draw for these children. Since April of this year, 14 out of 16 deaths were from drowning.”

 

She’s the parent of an autistic son, Connor,  who had bolted in 2007. His fascination is with highway exit signs. One day, like Avonte, he wandered away from his school and headed toward a four-lane highway.

 

“Luckily, a passing driver noticed our son; the driver turned around, just in case. When Connor failed to answer a few basic questions, he was taken to another nearby school. That school called the police. The police had no idea how to deal with Connor: An officer mistook our mostly nonverbal child for a defiant rule-breaker who needed some “tough love.”

Finally, a staff member at the school reached me, but exactly how long Connor had been missing by the time I got to him, no one could tell me. Connor was hysterical, shaking. I scooped him up in a hug, whispering through my own tears, “You’re O.K.”

 

That was our big wake-up call, but it didn’t end there. Connor’s wandering had started in day care and continued through school. He slipped out during classroom transitions, as Avonte did. We found ourselves keeping Connor home on days we feared it might be easier for him to slip away. Here I was, an advocate for others, yet I could not keep my own child safe.

 

Today, the National Autism Association, where I work, provides information and resources for caregivers. Back then, there were no fact sheets to support our pleas for greater vigilance. And, to this day, there is no guidance from the Department of Education; no protocols, not even a mandate to notify parents of any wandering attempts. At the N.A.A., we often hear from parents who have a child who cannot sleep, forcing caregivers to barricade doors and take shifts staying awake. Others are so desperate that they hide their child’s shoes to slow them down in case they escape.

 

Under federal criteria, which most states follow, the Amber Alert system can be used only for children known to have been abducted. Wandering doesn’t count. Instead, the refrain most often thrown at parents is simply “watch your child better,” or “find a school that will watch your child better . . . Now 13, my son wears a tracking device, and is learning ways to keep himself safe. In his room are miniature replicas of his favorite exit signs, and a laptop, which he uses to draw them whenever he likes. He hasn’t attempted to reach the highway since getting the laptop. He’s also at middle school now, cared for by an amazing staff. While Connor still has phobias that can make bolting behaviors difficult to prevent, we finally have the resources to help keep him safe.

 

But not nearly enough is being done to keep children like Avonte from disappearing. Too many parents are still going through the anguish of losing their wandering children.

 

 

7 Steps To Prevent Your Autistic Child From Wandering

 

Autism Speaks has put together some information resources for parents of autistic children to help keep their kids safe at school:

 

  1. If your child has a tendency to wander, it is critical to address wandering issues in his or her Individualized Education Program (IEP). If there is a history of wandering incidents, it’s important to call a meeting with school staff, administrators, and your child’s IEP team to make them aware of these past situations, as well as educate them on the autism wandering issue in general. If something changes or an incident occurs, you as a parent have the right to amend the IEP and adjust the particular items, at any time. 
  2. Write a letter requesting that you always be informed, immediately and in writing, of any wandering incident on or off the campus. If your child requires 1-on-1 supervision, be sure to make this extremely clear to school staff – and clearly documented in the IEP – and emphasize that under no circumstances should your child be left alone at any time. A sample letter can be found here. 

 

  1. Carefully document all wandering-related incidents. Sharing this information with the staff at your child’s school will help prepare them if such an incident occurs at school. For example, where has your child been found in the past? What are his or her fascinations or obsessions? Where would he/she most likely be drawn to near campus? 

 

  1. Try to eliminate all possible triggers that have led to wandering in the past. For example, if your child is drawn to water, be sure that all pools, lakes, etc. in the area of the school are blocked off so that there is no chance your child will be able to access them.

 

 

Read the other 3 tips and discover more resources at Autism Speaks.

Related Stories Banner

 

AbledAlert Post Link Banner shows photos from the posters of three missing autistic teen males. Two are marked with red banners and the words 'found', while the third read 'Found Dead'. The headline reads: Missing Autistic Teens: Tragic Update. Click here to go to the story.

 

Related Organizations banner

 

Abled Public Service Ad for the National Autism Association. Click here to go to their website.

 

Abled Public Service Ad for Autism Speaks shows a jigsaw puzzle piece that resembles a person with the text Autism Speaks - It's time to listen. Click here to go to the organization's website.

 

Abled Public Service Ad for the Canadian Autism Spectrum DIsorder Alliance. Click here to go to their website.

 

Abled Public Service Ad link to The National Autistic Society in the United Kingdom. Click here to go to their website.

 

Abled Public Service Ad link to Autism Europe. Click here to go to their website.

 

Abled Public Service Ad for Autism Awareness Australia. Click here to go to their website.

AboutAbled link Banner shows Abled Co-Founder Laura Meddens looking out at the seaside at sunset in Curaçao with the text Laura Meddens: An Abled Vision For Global Accessibility, Inclusion and Equality. Click here to go to the AboutAbled page.
Click here to return to the Abled.com homepage.

AbledConditions-Diabetes-Islet-Cell-Transplants-Offer-New-Hope-For-People-With-Type-1-Diabetes

POSTED ON November 8th  - POSTED IN AbledConditions
AbledConditions category banner shows the covers of medical books on heart disease, stroke and other conditions agains the backdrop of the sun rising over the edge of the Earth
AbledConditions Post banner shows Islets of Langerhans cells stained orange against a yellow filter under a micrscope. The text reads: AbledConditions: Diabetes: Islet Cell Transplants Offer New Hope For People With Type-1 Diabetes.

Two Human Clinical Trials Are Underway – Results Go To The FDA

 

Of the nearly 26 million Americans who are living with diabetes, 5% of them have Type 1 or what used to be called Juvenile Diabetes in which the pancreas doesn’t produce enough insulin. That insulin is needed to convert sugar, starches and other food into energy.

 

A screengrab from an animated video by Blausen explaining diabetes. Click on the photo to open the video window.

 

Most Type 1 diabetics regulate their blood sugar levels by using injectable insulin in slow-release and/or fast-release forms. That’s why you may sometimes see someone injecting insulin into their abdomen or arm at a restaurant, because the fast-release insulin is usually taken around meal times.

 

Then there’s the tedious and painful process of having to prick the ends of fingers to check blood sugar levels with a glucose tester that uses disposable strips. There are even talking testers for blind diabetics.

 

A lot of research has been going on to find a better and easier way of providing the insulin and checking resulting glucose levels and it’s divided along two tracks: biological solutions and hardware/software solutions.

 

Some diabetics have been fitted with external insulin pumps that automatically monitor and regulate the blood glucose levels, and scientists are on the verge of a breakthrough in making an artificial pancreas. We’ll cover that in a related story.

 

In this report, we’ll deal with one of the promising advances in biological solutions, and while medical science is not quite at the stage where pancreas transplants are a viable option, the next best thing might be the transplantation of Islets of Langerhans cells, named for the 22 year-old German pathalogical anatomist who discovered them in the late 1800’s.

 

The islets are the parts of the pancreas that contain its hormone-producing endocrine cells, and there’s usually about a million of them in a healthy adult. The islets’ alpha cells produce the hormone glucagon, and their beta cells produce insulin, both instrumental in regulating the blood sugar levels in the body.

 

Graphic diagram by Bruce Blaus  shows the location of the pancreas in the human body just under the bottom central part of the ribcage. It also shows closeups of the pancreas and a further closeup of the islet cells .

Diagram by BruceBlausen

 

As CNN reports: In the 1990s, scientists in Alberta, Canada, figured out how to isolate these islets from a deceased donor’s pancreas and transplant them into the liver of a diabetic patient. The procedure was dubbed the “Edmonton Protocol.”

 

Since then, researchers have been trying to improve the survival rate of the cells during transplantation. Most patients who undergo the procedure now need two infusions of islet cells to maintain normal glucose levels long-term.

 

Dr. Michael Rickels, associate professor of medicine at University of Pennsylvania and his colleagues recently published a study in the journal Diabetes detailing a new protocol, which gives the extracted islets three days to “rest” before they’re transferred to the living recipient. All of the patients in Rickels’ study were able to come off insulin therapy for at least a year after a single transplant.

 

Data from patients in other countries where the procedure has already been approved shows some patients can stop using insulin for anywhere from five to 10 years.

 

Read the complete story at CNN and meet two people whose lives have been changed by a young man’s decision to be an organ donor and how it facilitated an islet transplant operation.

 

Abled Public Service Ad shows the top of the Empire State Building in New York City lit up in blue and text that reads: It's National Diabetes Awareness Month! Become a JDRF Advocate. Click here to go to the JDRF blog.

 

AbledALERT Animation showing the red pulsing bars of a transmission signal against the background icon of the gradient green rounded triangle set in a rounded square black frame with the text Abled ALERT below it.

 

AbledALERT-Recall-EU link box shows two insulin pen products from Novo Nordisk Pharmaceutical company with the headline: Diabetics: Insulin pen recall in EU. Click here to go to the story.

 

Abled Public Service Ads banner

 

Abled Public Service Ad link to the International Diabetes Federation

 

Abled Public Service Ad link to the American DIabetes Association.

 

Abled Public Service Ad link to the Canadian Diabetes Association

 

Abled Public Service Ad link to the Asia DIabetes Foundation

 

Abled Public Service Ad link to Diapedia - the Living text Book of Diabetes.

 

Click here to return to the Abled.com homepage.

AbledConditions-Parkinsons-Disease-Linda-Ronstadt

POSTED ON September 9th  - POSTED IN AbledConditions
AbledConditions category banner shows the covers of medical books on heart disease, stroke and other conditions agains the backdrop of the sun rising over the edge of the Earth

AbledConditions story headline shows a soft-lit photo of Linda Ronstadt with the headline: Parkinson's Disease: Linda Ronstadt - A legendary voice sings no more

 

Singer reveals a years-long battle with tick disease and Parkinson’s Disease

UPDATE: September 13: Linda Ronstadt – ABC World News Tonight Person of the Week

In an exclusive interview with ABC World News Tonight anchor Diane Sawyer, Linda Ronstadt reveals that she suspected she might have Parkinson’s Disease for the last 12 years. 

In her interview with AARP, Ronstadt said she had suffered from Lyme Disease after she was bitten by a tick that she got from one of her cows. Other persons with Parkinson’s, such as Michael J. Fox, have also reported suffering from Lyme Disease after a tick bite and going on to develop Parkinson’s Disease.

Ronstadt explains the effects Parkinson’s has had on her singing voice and why it’s now left her unable to sing in public. She displays her characteristic humor and a courage few people knew she possessed.

 

 

Linda Ronstadt has been one of the most distinctive voices in popular music, from her time fronting the Stone Ponys in the Sixties, through her solo successes in the following decades, including the phenomenal Trio albums with Dolly Parton and Emmylou Harris.

But now that voice has been silenced, at least when it comes to singing, because she has now revealed to the world that she has been diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease. 

 

Photo of the cover of Linda Ronstadt's new autobiography 'Simple Dreams' published by Simon and Schuster and Free Press. Click here to buy the book at Amazon.com.The revelation isn’t contained in Ronstadt’s new autobiography Simple Dreams , (published by SImon and Schuster and Free Press), because the official diagnosis wasn’t confirmed until months after the final submissions for the book. You can click on the book’s cover photo to purchase it at Amazon.com.

 

From Wikipedia: ‘Parkinson’s Disease is a degenerative disorder of the central nervous system. The motor symptoms of Parkinson’s disease result from the death of dopamine-generating cells in the substantia nigra, a region of the midbrain; the cause of this cell death is unknown. Early in the course of the disease, the most obvious symptoms are movement-related; these include shakingrigidityslowness of movement and difficulty with walking and gait. Later, thinking and behavioral problems may arise, with dementia commonly occurring in the advanced stages of the disease, whereas depression is the most common psychiatric symptom. Other symptoms include sensory, sleep and emotional problems. Parkinson’s disease is more common in older people, with most cases occurring after age 50.

 

A montage of photos from Google Search shows the covers of some of Linda Ronstadt's albums.

A montage of some of Linda Ronstadt’s album covers from Google Search.

 

The AARP Interview with Linda Ronstadt

In a wide-ranging interview with AARP (American Association of Retired Persons) in advance of the coming release of her autobiography Simple Dreams, the notoriously private Ronstadt lifts the veil on her growing health challenges. And, despite the heartbreaking end to her singing career, she manages to face it with her characteristic sense of humor:

‘Though her book mentions that her voice began to change at age 50, Ronstadt, now 67, had never offered a solid explanation for her 2009 retirement (the book does cryptically mention a time when she had a “still-healthy voice”).

Ronstadt opens up about the life-altering news she did not put in her new book — she has Parkinson’s disease — and its tragic side effect: “I can’t sing a note.”

The winner of 11 Grammys during a 40-year career that produced more than 30 albums, Ronstadt recorded her final CD (Adieu, False Heart, with Cajun musician Ann Savoy) in 2006. Three years later — on Nov. 7, 2009 — she gave what she calls her last concert at the Brady Memorial Auditorium in San Antonio.

After that, Ronstadt simply declined all invitations to do more.

In late 2012, when a friend asked her to sing on a tribute album to Jackson Browne, a close friend from her L.A. days, she wrote in an email: “I have a serious case of being 66 years old and am completely retired from singing. Of course, one is always pleased to be asked, so tell them I said thank you.”

What old friends and fans did not know is that for the past seven or eight years, Ronstadt had suffered from symptoms that suggested Parkinson’s disease. Eight months ago, a medical diagnosis confirmed it. Never one to shy from a challenge, Ronstadt faces her disease with the determination to push for more and better treatments, both for herself and for other Parkinson’s patients. (For more about Parkinson’s disease, see the box on page 4.)

In the exchange that follows, Ronstadt assesses her career and explains how her Parkinson’s was detected.

Q: You wrote your “musical memoir,” Simple Dreams, entirely yourself. Was that difficult for you?

A: Well, I’d never written anything longer than a thank-you note before. I never kept a diary or a journal. But I’m a reader, and I can put a coherent sentence together, so I thought I could make it honest and clear.

Q: You talk in the book about your love for animals and your pet, Luna the cow.

A: Oh, Luna! Yeah, I loved her — she was such a nice old girl — but I got a tick from her, and that’s probably why I’m sick.

Q: You mean you have a tick disease now?

A: Well, I had two very bad tick bites in the ’80s, and my health has never recovered since then.

Q: Is that why we don’t see so much of you?

A: I can’t sing. I have Parkinson’s disease, which may be a result of that tick bite. They’re saying now they think there’s a relationship between tick bites and Parkinson’s disease — that a virus can switch on a gene, or cause neurodegeneration. So I can’t sing at all.

In fact I couldn’t sing for the last five or six years I appeared on stage, but I kept trying. I kept thinking, “What if I tried singing upside down? Or standing on my head? Or while juggling? [Laughs] Maybe I’d be able to sing better then.”

So I didn’t know why I couldn’t sing — all I knew was that it was muscular, or mechanical. Then, when I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s, I was finally given the reason. I now understand that no one can sing with Parkinson’s disease. No matter how hard you try. And in my case, I can’t sing a note.

Q: When were you diagnosed with Parkinson’s?

A: About eight months ago — just when I was writing the acknowledgments for the book, actually. I got the initial diagnosis, but they didn’t confirm it until six months later. I didn’t want to write about it in the book, because I wasn’t sure.

Q: You noticed the symptoms in your voice before anything else?

A: Yes, but it didn’t occur to me to go to a neurologist. I think I’ve had it for seven or eight years already, because I’ve had the symptoms that long. Then I had a shoulder operation, so I thought that must be why my hands were shaking. Parkinson’s is very hard to diagnose. So when I finally went to a neurologist and he said, “Oh, you have Parkinson’s disease,” I was completely shocked. I was totally surprised. I wouldn’t have suspected that in a million, billion years.’

Read the rest of the AARP interview with Linda Ronstadt

 

A photo shows Linda Ronstadt sitting on a bench in a changing room chatting with Linda McCartney while Paul McCartney plays a guitar riff for Peter Asher, Ronstadt's producer and former member of the 60's singing duo Peter and Gordon during the 1976 Wings Over America Tour.

Linda Ronstadt chats with Linda McCartney while Paul McCartney plays a guitar riff for Ronstadt’s producer Peter Asher in the backstage changing room during the 1976 Wings Over America tour. Asher was formerly one-half of the 60’s singing duo Peter and Gordon for whom McCartney wrote the song ‘World Without Love’.

 

In addition to her interview with Diane Sawyer, Linda also sat down with Robin Roberts on ABC’s Good Morning America to talk about her memoir Simple Dreams and her diagnosis with Parkinson’s Disease:

 

 

Could voice therapy help Linda Ronstadt to sing again?

The Internet has been all abuzz about Ronstadt’s interview and many people in the field of Parkinson’s treatment and therapy have expressed sadness at her declaration that she can’t sing anymore. Many have wondered if she has tried vocal or singing therapy.

Linda Ronstadt only hints at problems with the ‘mechanics’ and the muscles involved with singing, and for someone who has been blessed with one of the most naturally beautiful voices in contemporary music, it’s got to be incredibly frustrating for her. Not to mention her demands on pitch, tone, vibrato and other technical elements of singing would be incredibly high, given her professional pedigree. So her assertion that she can no longer ‘sing a note’ may well be true.

Marsha Kogut, MS, CCC-SLP, a speech pathologist at New York Institute of Technology’s Adele Smithers Parkinson’s Disease Treatment Center says most individuals with Parkinson’s disease exhibit symptoms of soft volume, hoarse and breathy vocal quality, monotone, imprecise articulation (perceived as mumbling) and other problems modifying their speech rates.

She says says individuals with Parkinson’s disease often find relief and success with certain intensive voice therapies.

Although Kogut is not familiar with the specifics of Ronstadt’s case and cannot speak directly on Ronstadt’s condition, she regularly treats individuals with Parkinson’s disease and has had favorable results, particularly with the use of the Lee Silverman Voice Treatment program, an exercise-based behavioral program with a focus on the speech motor system. Kogut and her colleagues work with patients at the center, part of NYIT’s College of Osteopathic Medicine. The center’s guiding concept is to provide comprehensive care to help people improve and maintain quality of life while living with Parkinson’s disease.

LSVT trains individuals to target loudness as a way to trigger improvement of all systems and generalize them to daily communication.”

As part of the therapy process, Kogut often uses singing exercises to enhance the vocal and respiratory mechanisms. She says these exercises can be therapeutic and are a fun way to enhance a tedious therapy session.

Ronstadt says she was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease eight months ago but began to show symptoms eight years ago.

“The most important thing is to consult with a neurologist who specializes in movement disorders who will tailor the appropriate medications and strongly encourage the initiation of the rehabilitation process,” says Kogut. “Almost anyone can benefit from this program. Although there are some prognostic variables that may indicate that certain individuals may have better outcomes, speech therapy is an essential part of improving the communication process for Parkinson’s patients.”

Adds Kogut: “Individuals with impaired cognitive abilities can benefit from this program, which encourages patients to talk loudly. As a result of reduced amounts of the neuro transmitter dopamine in the brain, Parkinson’s patients have reduced movements in all parts of their body.

LSVT trains the individual’s brain to use the command “talk loud” and the vocal system will respond. Individuals with PD lose the automatic ability to talk loud – they have to command their body to do that. The individual learns to implement the talk loud command, use increased conscious effort, and take deep breaths, which results in family and friends being able to understand them once again.”

Kogut is a practising speech language pathologist since 1975, with expertise in working with the adult neurologically impaired population.

Source: NYIT Newsroom

 

AARP: Linda Ronstadt: New Parkinson’s Therapies May Help You To Sing

Even the AARP’s Blog contains opinions from others on whether voice and singing therapy might benefit Linda Ronstadt:

 

An excerpt from the AARP blog discusses whether new Parkinson's therapies could help Linda Ronstadt to sing again and includes a photo of the members of the Parkinson Voice Project in Dallas in performace while the accompanying text reads, “No one can sing with Parkinson’s disease. No matter how hard you try,” lamented legendary singer Linda Ronstadt, who was recently diagnosed with the condition. That may be true for Ronstadt, but speech pathologists and other Parkinson’s experts say there is enormous hope for most people.  “It made me very sad to hear her say that,” says Samantha Elandary, founder and CEO of the nonprofit therapy group Parkinson Voice Project in Dallas, which has helped patients to sing. “Twenty years ago, speech therapy didn’t work for Parkinson’s patients. But now we know that voice treatment does work, but it has to be a specific kind.”  Whether it could help someone of Ronstadt’s stature regain her full singing range is unclear, but vocal therapy “is very effective,” says neurologist Zoltan Mari, M.D., interim director of the Parkinson’s Disease and Movement Disorders Center at Johns Hopkins University medical school in Baltimore.

 

Read the rest of the article at the AARP’s Blog

On NBC’s ‘The Today Show’, NBC News Chief Medical Editor, Dr. Nancy Snyderman, provided additional insight into Linda Ronstadt’s proclamation that she can no longer ‘sing a note’: “People forget that vocal chords are muscles, so if Parkinson’s causes stiffness and slowing down of the muscles, there is no reason to think your voice wouldn’t be affected too. “If you have to rely on the fine muscle quivering of a vocal chord, that means that a singer can’t do what he or she wants to do.”

Linda Ronstadt joins Muhammad Ali and Michael J. Fox, among celebrities also battling Parkinson’s.

Fox turned out to be 1 of 4 cast members of a Canadian sitcom diagnosed with Parkinson’s under the age of 40, prompting investigations into the cause of the cluster. More recently, the bio of the sitcom’s Director, Don Williams, claims, ‘Current evidence suggests that as many as eight crew and cast members on the project have developed Parkinson’s symptoms’, leading many to speculate about an environmental trigger such as pesticides or previous toxic landfill material possibly being in the ground beneath the studios.

Also, in a previous appearance on David Letterman’s talk show in 1997, Fox claimed he previously had Lyme DIsease from a tick bite, saying, ‘I got a dose of the Lyme. You feel like crap. l got bit by a tick,’ he confessed. ‘They’re really tiny. Then what happens is you get this little red mark. You think it’s a rash or you think it’s some bad thing, but it’s a tick bite. Then you are doomed because it’s already too late.’

Keep in mind, Fox was diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 1991 and didn’t disclose it to the public until 1999. If the tick bite and Lyme Disease part of the story is true, then Linda Ronstadt would be the second celebrity to be diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease following a bout with Lyme Disease, strengthening the theories about a correlation between the two conditions.

Banner for the new Michael J. Fox show 2 hour Season Premier, Thursday September 26, shows Michael in a suit and tie being kissed on the cheek by his co-star with other cast members dancing about in the background. Click here to visit the show's website at NBC.

 

For many years it was also thought that actress Katharine Hepburn had Parkinson’s because of the tremor in her voice and body movements. She set the record straight in the 1993 TV documentary Katharine Hepburn: All About Me (1993) (TV), which she narrated herself, ‘Now to squash a rumor. No, I don’t have Parkinson’s. I inherited my shaking head from my grandfather Hepburn. I discovered that whiskey helps stop the shaking. Problem is, if you’re not careful, it stops the rest of you too. My head just shakes, but I promise you, it ain’t gonna fall off!’.

In 2003, her niece Katharine Houghton, confirmed in a television interview that it was not Parkinson’s disease, but a progressive ,albeit treatable, neurological disorder called essential tremor, that used to be called palsy. Her aunt’s form of it was called a familial tremor, which is inherited. Children of a parent with the disease have a 50 percent chance of inheriting a gene that causes it. 

Linda Ronstadt’s memoir, “Simple Dreams: A Musical Memoir” is slated for release on September 17, 2013. In the book, she does not discuss her diagnosis of Parkinson’s or her battle with the disease.

 

Return to the Abled.com homepage link banner

Related Stories Banner

 

AbledHealth link module shows an illustration of a tick being pulled out of someone's skin with a tweezer with the headline: Lyme Disease - 10 times bigger threat

 

AbledConditions story link shows a photo of HLN 'In Session' producer Erik Nivision looking to his left with his hands in his pockets and wearing a blue, green and white striped shirt along with a grey fedora with white trim. He was diagnosed with Lyme Disease last month after 2 years of what he calls 'hell'.

 

Abled Public Service Ads banner

 

AbledPSA Link ad to The Michael J. Fox Foundation for research into Parkinson's disease

 

Abled Public Service Ad link to the National Parskinson's Foundation in the United States which features a ohoto of their smartphone app for persons with Parkinson's Disease.

 

Abled Publis Service Ad link to the Parkinson Society Canada.

 

Abled Public Service Ad link to the European Parkinson's Disease Association and shows links from their site to other International Parkinson's and Movement Disorders websites.

 

Abled Public Service Ad link to Parkinson's UK shows a headline that says Change attitudes, find a cure, join us, above a photo of a middle aged woman with dark reddish-brown hair holding a peacock blue sign with text that reads: 'No one has to face Parkinson's alone'.

 

Abled Public Service Ad link to the Parkinson's Association of Ireland shows a photo of a group of people gathered outside around a sign showing the line art green leaf that's part of the organizations logo.

 

Abled Public Service Ad link to  The Parkinson's and Related Movement Disorders Association of South Africa which shows an orange, yellow and purple tulips above the text of the logo.

 

Abled Public Service Ad link to Parkinson's Australia shows a multi-colored map showing the different regions of the country along with a line art drawing of a red, orange and yellow tulip.

 

Abled Public Service announcement shows a Golden Retriever puppy standing with its front paws hanging over an orange board with the following text on the board: Your Golden Retriever Could Save Others From Cancer. We need 3,000 purebred Golden Retrievers for a groundbreaking study. Will you join us? The Golden Retriever Lifetime Study aims to learn how to prevent cancer in dogs, and the results may eventually help humans too. We’re looking for Golden Retrievers younger than 2 years of age with a pedigree of three generations. Join the force - 3,000 Goldens strong! Click here to learn more and enroll your dog by connecting to the Morris Animal Foundation, where science meets Hope.

 

Abled Public Service Ad for World Access For the Blind shows a silhouette of its Founder and President Daniel Kish walking with a long cane against a gradient orange half sonar wave positioned in front of a reflecting grey sonar wave with the subtitle 'Our Vision Is Sound'. Click here to learn more about echolocation for the blind.

 

Abled Public Service Ad for the Canadian National Institute for the Blind's (CNIB) Night Steps program. The the white text on a gradient blue black background to simulate the night sky reads: CNIB Night Steps brings together family, friends, and community members for a fun 5K night walk that raises funds for CNIB’s vital programs and services for people who are blind or partially sighted, such as independent travel skills. Enjoy an evening of live music, a BBQ and exclusive party favors!.  Some of the stars in the night sky of the design are punctuated with braille dots.  Click here to go to the CNIB website to learn more.

 

Headlines banner

 

AbledBabies headline link banner reads: Alert: Stop using If Part of recall over a photo of the product box for 1/2 ounce Motrin Infants Drops - Berry Flavor. Click to go to the story.

 

AbledHealth headline link banner shows a computer-generated image of a red heart and arteries visible through a bluish x-ray effect of a human chest that shows the ribcage and the outline of the shoulders and arms with the title: heart Disease and Stroke: 200 thousand deaths avoidable. Click here to go to the story page.

 

AbledNetworks sidebar banner

 

About Abled - An Abled Vision shows Abled.com Co-Founder Laura Meddens photographed at the seaside in Curaçao at dusk

AbledConditions-Lyme-Disease-My-2-years-of-hell

POSTED ON September 8th  - POSTED IN AbledConditions
AbledConditions category banner shows the covers of medical books on heart disease, stroke and other conditions agains the backdrop of the sun rising over the edge of the Earth

AbledConditions story headline shows a photo of HLN 'In Session' producer Erik Nivision looking to his left with his hands in his pockets and wearing a blue, green and white striped shirt along with a grey fedora with white trim. He was diagnosed with Lyme Disease last month after 2 years of what he calls 'hell'.

 

Erik Nivison was diagnosed with Lyme Disease last month after suffering symptoms for 2 years 

Erik Nivison is a producer for HLN TV’s ‘In Session’ program. Before moving to Atlanta, he grew up in one of the hot belts for Lyme Disease – Connecticut. 

His journey through the medical system over the past two years reads like a parallel diary to other people who develop mysterious and unexplainable symptoms that are misdiagnosed by physicians who are ill-schooled in the complexities of tick-borne diseases – chief among them – Lyme Disease.

Like other patients he had no recollection of being bitten by a tick and didn’t remember any characteristic rash, but went on to develop neurological symptoms, numbness and muscle weakness, as well as Bell’s Palsy, which paralyzed part of his face. 

And like other Lyme patients who were diagnosed late into their battle with the disease, Erik faces an unknown future of possible continuing health complications.

He’s sharing his story at CNN.com to raise awareness in the hope that others won’t suffer the same fate. Here’s an excerpt :

‘For most people it starts with a telltale, bulls-eye rash and flu-like symptoms. It then develops into neurological problems, such as numbness in the limbs or facial paralysis, leaving the patient in excruciating pain.

About 300,000 Americans each year are infected with Lyme disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That number, the CDC reported last week, is about 10 times higher than they had previously estimated.

But what if you never get the rash? What if you blow off your symptoms as a bad case of the flu?

I spent the first 30 years of my life in New England, where talk about Lyme disease was prevalent. When I was little my mother would have us slather on the DEET before we went outside made sure we had long pants and socks on, especially when we’d play in the woods. She’d check us for ticks and remove any she found with a match and tweezers. Problem solved — no rash, good to go.

Then in 2006 I moved to Atlanta, and Lyme disease faded from my mind. Common in the Northeast, Lyme disease is found less often in the South. The year I arrived, eight cases were reported in Georgia, compared to 1,788 in my home state of Connecticut.

I am now one of the cases for 2013.

At least once a week, my muscles start to twitch uncontrollably; they tighten so much my fingers turn into fists. I can feel my fingernails digging through my skin. My heart races out of control and my blood pressure skyrockets.

My doctor holds me down, consoling me, telling me to breathe because he has no idea what’s going on. My face is numb, and it feels like I have the flu. I have trouble breathing. The pain is so bad I start to cry.

A few years ago I noticed a pain radiating down my leg, starting from the small of my back. I had had artificial disc surgery in my spine a couple years prior and thought this new pain was due to scar tissue from the surgery.

Then I went to work one day and lost all feeling in my legs. My arms were tingling and it felt like I had pins and needles everywhere in my body.’  

 

Read more of Erik’s story at HLNTV.com and CNN.com.

 

And read our special coverage on Lyme Disease.

 

Return to the Abled.com homepage link banner

Related Stories banner

 

AbledHealth link module shows an illustration of a tick being pulled out of someone's skin with a tweezer with the headline: Lyme Disease - 10 times bigger threat

 

AbledConditions related story link shows a photo of Linda Ronstadt with the headline: Parkinson's: A Songbird Silenced

 

Featured Stories banner

 

AbledHealth story link headline reads: H7N9: First Human to Human Spread. A photo provided by the Centers for Disease Control shows a lab worker sorting samples of flu virus into vial trays while dressed in protective lab gear

 

AbledHealing story link headline reads 'Boston Bombing: Sister's Recovery' and shows a front page from the New York Daily News that featured 8 year old victim martin Richard and his message of peace while also showing a photo of his younger sister Jane, who survived the blasts, trying out her new prosthetic leg using crutches.

 

Back to Top