Thursday, February 21, 2008

Acupuncture Regulates Many Aspects of The Immune System as Measured in the Blood

Acupuncture Regulates Leukocyte Subpopulations in Human Peripheral Blood

Acupuncture has recently been attracting more and more people throughout the world as an alternative treatment, however little is known about its physiological activities (i.e. immune system). We examined acupuncture both quantitatively and qualitatively by measuring CD-positive cell counts and cytokine expression levels in the blood, to determine the activity of T cells, B cells, macrophages and natural killer (NK) cells. Fifteen milliliters of peripheral blood obtained from 17 healthy volunteers aged 21–51 years, were analyzed using flow cytometry before and after acupuncture treatment. There was a statistically significant increase in the number of CD2+, CD4+, CD8+, CD11b+, CD16+, CD19+, CD56+ cells as well as IL-4, IL-1β and IFN-{gamma} levels in the cells after acupuncture stimulation of meridian points. These observations indicate that acupuncture may regulate the immune system and promote the activities of humoral and cellular immunity as well as NK cell activity. In this article, we discussed how acupuncture regulated leukocyte numbers and functions since they are considered to be potential indicators for evaluating complementary and alternative medicine.

For the full text article click here

Acupuncture shines in this kind of basic research of objective changes. Acupuncture is amazing. Can sticking a needle in the skin really have all these effects? Apparently, Yes it can!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Cancer and the Bacterial Connection

A very interesting article. I have seen this phenomena in a patient of mine. Whenever she caught a cold her tumor burden would drop significantly.

Cancer and the bacterial connection

Lee Bloomquist / Associated Press
Exposure to high levels of manure dust is linked to decreased incidence of lung cancer among dairy farmers, Italian studies have found. The flip side: Respiratory problems are common.
Germs may actually help our bodies fight tumors -- which means an infection-free lifestyle comes at a price
By Brendan Borrell, Special to The Times
February 18, 2008
IN the 1890s, a New York surgeon named William Coley tested a radical cancer treatment. He took a hypodermic needle teeming with bacteria and plunged it into the flesh of patients.

After suffering through weeks of chills and fevers, many showed significant regression of their tumors, but even Coley himself could not explain the phenomenon.

His experiments were sparked by the observation that certain cancer patients improved after contracting infections. One patient experienced regression in a tumor in her arm after developing Saint Anthony's fire, a streptococcus skin infection.

Doctors at the time considered Coley's bacterial mixtures to be more black magic than medicine, and with the advent of radiation therapy, the well-meaning doctor was soon consigned to the annals of quackery.

But today, some scientists think Coley had it right: Germs can teach our bodies how to fight back against tumors. Dr. John Timmerman, a cancer immunotherapy expert at UCLA's Jonsson Cancer Center, says this revolution has produced "the most exciting sets of compounds in cancer immunology."

These scientists have not yet proved their case. But new studies are revealing that certain cancers may be reduced by exposure to disease-causing bacteria and viruses, and pharmaceutical companies are testing anticancer treatments that capitalize on the concept by using bacterial elements to boost the body's natural immunity.

The studies also imply that our cleaner, infection-free lifestyles may be contributing to the rise in certain cancers over the last 50 years, scientists say, because they make the immune system weaker or less mature. Germs cause disease but may also fortify the body, a notion summed up in a 2006 report by a team of Canadian researchers as "whatever does not kill me makes me stronger."

Almost a century after Coley, in the 1980s, dermatologists began noticing that patients with severe acne, which is caused by another type of bacterium, have reduced rates of skin cancer, lymphoma and leukemia. According to a paper by Dr. Mohammad Namazi at the Shiraz University of Medical Sciences in Iran, studies showed that these bacteria, when injected into animals, appear to stimulate the immune system and shrink tumors.

More recent evidence for this phenomenon comes from studies on cotton and livestock workers, who are constantly breathing endotoxins, a component of bacterial cell walls that causes swelling of lung tissue.

In reports published in the last two years, Harvey Checkoway, a University of Washington epidemiologist, has found that female cotton workers in Shanghai have a 40% to 60% lower risk of lung, breast, and pancreas cancer than other factory workers.

Other recent studies by Giuseppe Mastrangelo at the University of Padua in Italy found that dairy farmers exposed to high levels of manure dust are up to five times less likely to develop lung cancer than their colleagues who work in open fields.

For the dairy farmers and cotton workers, "it's good news and bad news," Checkoway says. They have lower rates of cancer but tend to have higher rates of other respiratory problems. Sniffing cotton dust or inducing pimples is never going to be a therapy, he says, but studying the body's reactions to bacteria could explain why cancer rates go down upon endotoxin exposure. And that might help in developing anticancer drugs.

Dr. Arthur Krieg, chief scientific officer of the Boston-based Coley Pharmaceutical Group, thinks the success of Coley's toxins comes largely from a difference between DNA of humans and bacteria and viruses.

In 1995, Krieg was at the University of Iowa working with strands of DNA created in the lab, hoping to find a way to turn off genes involved in the autoimmune disease lupus. To his surprise, this DNA stimulated the immune cells he was studying in lab dishes. "I got interested, and I got puzzled," he says.

His synthetic DNA contained several regions called CpGs. In humans, that region has a kind of chemical "cap" on it, but bacteria -- and Krieg's synthetic DNA -- lack that cap. Thus, in effect, exposure to that CpG makes the body "think" it's being assaulted by pathogens, and triggers the immune system to shift into attack mode -- and, in doing so, more effectively battle cancer cells.

Krieg saw medical potential: Maybe one could design small drugs with CpGs in them and use them as immunity boosters. After patenting the method, he left his university job and founded Coley Pharmaceutical Group, which was acquired by the New York-based drug company Pfizer in January.

Five years after his discovery, Krieg's first compound has proved safe in early trials but has not yet been proved effective. Last year, the injected compound failed to increase survival time in a trial of 1,600 lung cancer patients also undergoing chemotherapy. But Krieg thinks it will prove effective in other patients: "It's just a matter of finding the right way to use it," he says.

Timmerman is a strong believer in CpGs, and has been using them with the antibody drug Rituximab in his lab research on mice. Finding the right drug combination is key, he says: "It's very naive to think that a single off-the-shelf immune stimulant is going to magically treat cancer."

Krieg's CpG-based chemicals have proved useful in another arena. Because CpGs boost the immune system, they also can enhance certain vaccines. In a trial sponsored by the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, one of Krieg's chemicals, VaxImmune, accelerated the body's response to anthrax vaccine by a factor of two -- from 40 days to 20. Other collaborations are exploring using CpG-containing DNA to develop hepatitis B vaccines and anti-asthmatic drugs. (The company has many CpG compounds, four in clinical trials.)

But Don MacAdam, chief executive of MBVax Bioscience in Ancaster, Canada, is not sure that the healing properties of Coley's fluids are due to a short strand of DNA. "The immune system is very complicated," he says, "Any of these therapies that are doing one little thing are very likely to fail."

And so MacAdam wants to revive the formulation that Coley himself found most effective -- a mixture of two kinds of bacteria, Streptococcus and Serratia. Such an extract would contain naturally occurring CpGs, endotoxins and other bacterial components that may have therapeutic potential.

MacAdam has solved Coley's major difficulty: maintaining consistency of the brew from batch to batch. His preparation has been tested on terminal cancer patients outside the U.S. and Canada, and he contends that 24 in 38 patients have shown signs of tumor regression, although nothing is published yet. Dr. Vikas Sukhatme, a professor at Harvard Medical School, says he hopes to run clinical trials once the product has been manufactured according to Food and Drug Administration guidelines.

Other groups have been experimenting with injections of other types of heat-killed bacteria, including Myobacterium vaccae, a tuberculosis relative. In two studies in January's European Journal of Cancer, researchers report that these bacteria may help fight certain lung and renal cancers.

The first study is a reanalysis of a trial with 162 patients who received heat-killed bacteria (and chemotherapy). In the original study, the treatment didn't seem to improve survival and in 2004, the company developing the therapy, London-based Silence Therapeutics, gave up on Mycobacterium.

But John Stanford, a shareholder in the company and a researcher at University College London, says these studies were poorly designed and analyzed. When he and collaborators re-analyzed the results, they found that Mycobacterium injections could increase survival of adenocarcinoma patients by four months. Stanford believes that part of the bacterial cell wall switches the body from producing ineffective antibodies to sending out cancer-killing blood cells.

In the second study, researchers reported that 60 renal cancer patients injected with Myobacterium survived just as long as those treated with standard chemotherapy.

Stanford has formed a company, Immodulon Therapeutics, and wants to run trials with a stricter and more intense injection regime, to repeat the results and, hopefully, extend patients' lives longer.

Although both Krieg and Timmerman are inspired by Coley's work, they question the philosophy behind reviving Coley's preparation and using other bacterial extracts. But, Krieg says, "as a physician you have to maintain a sense of humility and avoid being overly skeptical."

Dr. Revicis Approach to Cancer

The following comes from a newsletter written by Dr. Harold Kristal. He was a practicing dentist who became very interested in Metabollic nutrition. Dr. Kristal's book and work is not original but it synthesizes systems of metabolic typing. In other words, defining the right type of diet for the individual based upon their individualized metabolism.

Approximately twelve years ago, I had a chance to meet the late great Romanian physician Dr. Emanuel Revici at a gathering in San Francisco to honor his extraordinary research work. Dr. Revici, who developed the theory of anabolic and catabolic imbalances as a factor in disease progression, was a genius whose monumental contribution to medicine and to our understanding of the disease process has yet to be widely recognized. Recently I had a chance to meet with Dr. Revici’s niece, Elena Avram, who is proudly carrying on her uncle’s work at the Revici Metropolitan Center in New York City. She gave me a copy of The Doctor Who Cures Cancer by William Kelley Eidem, a book about Dr. Revici’s work, as well as a short monograph titled Cancer: Causes and Implications for Treatment that she herself had written summarizing Dr. Revici’s observations about the pathogenesis and progression of cancer. I will be drawing primarily on this short essay in the following discussion of Dr. Revici’s research, and how it dovetails with my own work on Metabolic Typing.

There is a widespread bias among alternative health practitioners favoring anabolic processes over catabolic ones. This, however, is an oversimplification that Dr. Revici went to great pains to clarify. Both processes are vital to the survival of the organism, and need to be in proper balance for optimal health to be maintained. A persistent anabolic imbalance is equally undesirable as a persistent catabolic imbalance. In fact, up until the shock or terminal phase, the progression of cancer is marked by an imbalance of anabolic factors, which push the cell in the direction of unregulated growth, beyond the original need of the body to heal itself from the damage caused by the initiating insult. It is only in the shock phase that the catabolic processes start to dominate the anabolic, and the organism begins to break down at a systemic level. However, even at this stage, the cancer process itself remains anabolic; but it has so deranged and destabilized the metabolism that the body systemically begins a downward catabolic spiral.

Conventional treatment focuses exclusively on destroying the cancerous cells, but in so doing it fails to address the underlying anabolic imbalance that set the stage for the development of the cancerous condition in the first place. It is well known that cancerous cells are found in most healthy middle aged or elderly people, but they are usually kept in check or destroyed by a well-functioning immune system. It is only where an anabolic imbalance persists, or when the various lines of defense between the different levels of bodily organizational are compromised, that cancer can take hold and spread. An effective treatment protocol must therefore address the underlying imbalances if it is to have a reliable success rate.

This bias in favor of the anabolic in alternative health circles parallels another widespread misunderstanding that I constantly encounter in teaching my own Metabolic Typing work to other health practitioners. There is a widespread belief abroad that most people are too acid and need to be alkalized. In point of fact, an overly alkaline condition (as measured at the level of the blood pH) is almost as common as an overly acid condition (acid and alkaline being here defined relative to the perceived ideal venous blood pH of 7.46, as defined by the groundbreaking work of George Watson, Ph.D.). Furthermore an overly alkaline condition can have equally dire consequences as an overly acid condition in terms of disease progression.

For the rest of the story click here.

I have used Dr. Revici's instrument to analyze anabolic vs. Catabolic metabolism and to metabolically type patients in the development of specific nutrition plans. This is another valuable piece.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Cancer Experts: Don't Look To Supplements For Cancer Protection

Experts at the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) said that whole foods, and not dietary supplements, play a role in lowering cancer risk. Citing a huge and comprehensive AICR report on cancer prevention, the panel of experts cautioned against relying on pills and powders as a means of protection.

"When the panel examined the accumulated evidence from almost 50 different supplement trials, cohort studies and case-control studies, the results were simply too inconsistent to justify using supplements to protect against cancer," said AICR Nutrition Advisor Karen Collins, MS, RD

Under certain conditions, some high-dose supplements seemed protective at specific doses, some did nothing, and some actually increased the risk of cancer. In contrast, the research was much more consistent when the AICR expert panel examined over 440 studies on cancer risk and foods that contained specific vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals. These widely different results led them to conclude: "Dietary supplements are not recommended for cancer prevention."

For the rest of the story click here