Regenerative Bandage Hydrogel Boosts Internal Self-Healing for Wounds

A very notable advance that should become a promising part of healing in the future.

A simple scrape or sore might not cause alarm for most people. But for diabetic patients, an untreated scratch can turn into an open wound that could potentially lead to a limb amputation or even death.

A Northwestern University team has developed a new device, called a regenerative bandage, that quickly heals these painful, hard-to-treat sores without using drugs. During head-to-head tests, Northwestern’s bandage healed diabetic wounds 33 percent faster than one of the most popular bandages currently on the market.

“The novelty is that we identified a segment of a protein in skin that is important to wound healing, made the segment and incorporated it into an antioxidant molecule that self-aggregates at body temperature to create a scaffold that facilitates the body’s ability to regenerate tissue at the wound site,” said Northwestern’s Guillermo Ameer, who led the study. “With this newer approach, we’re not releasing drugs or outside factors to accelerate healing. And it works very well.”

Because the bandage leverages the body’s own healing power without releasing drugs or biologics, it faces fewer regulatory hurdles. This means patients could see it on the market much sooner.

The research was published today, June 11, in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Although Ameer’s laboratory is specifically interested in diabetes applications, the bandage can be used to heal all types of open wounds.

[…]

The difference between a sore in a physically healthy person versus a diabetic patient? Diabetes can cause nerve damage that leads to numbness in the extremities. People with diabetes, therefore, might experience something as simple as a blister or small scratch that goes unnoticed and untreated because they cannot feel it to know it’s there. As high glucose levels also thicken capillary walls, blood circulation slows, making it more difficult for these wounds to heal. It’s a perfect storm for a small nick to become a limb-threatening — or life-threatening — wound.

The secret behind Ameer’s regenerative bandage is laminin, a protein found in most of the body’s tissues including the skin. Laminin sends signals to cells, encouraging them to differentiate, migrate and adhere to one another. Ameer’s team identified a segment of laminin — 12 amino acids in length — called A5G81 that is critical for the wound-healing process.

[…]

The bandage’s antioxidant nature counters inflammation. And the hydrogel is thermally responsive: It is a liquid when applied to the wound bed, then rapidly solidifies into a gel when exposed to body temperature. This phase change allows it to conform to the exact shape of the wound — a property that helped it out-perform other bandages on the market.

“Wounds have irregular shapes and depths. Our liquid can fill any shape and then stay in place,” Ameer said. “Other bandages are mostly based on collagen films or sponges that can move around and shift away from the wound site.”

Patients also must change bandages often, which can rip off the healing tissue and re-injure the site. Ameer’s bandage, however, can be rinsed off with cool saline, so the regenerating tissue remains undisturbed.

Not only will the lack of drugs or biologics make the bandage move to market faster, it also increases the bandage’s safety. So far, Ameer’s team has not noticed any adverse side effects in animal models. This is a stark difference from another product on the market, which contains a growth factor linked to cancer.

“It is not acceptable for patients who are trying to heal an open sore to have to deal with an increased risk of cancer,” Ameer said.

Next, Ameer’s team will continue to investigate the bandage in a larger pre-clinical model.

Playing Hard to Get is Usually a Turn Off, Study Shows

“…Sexual desire seems to thrive on reduced uncertainty.” It’s not something I typically write much about, but seeing that fallacious reasoning play out enough in my life prompted me into creating an entry on it.

When you first start dating someone, at least one of your friends will tell you to “play it cool.” It’s a piece of advice that’s almost as old as dating itself, and it’s based on the idea that if you act like you’re not really eager for the relationship, you suddenly become irresistible.

According to a new study, published in the journal Computers in Human Behaviour, you can try your best with that method, but it probably won’t work.

The team, led by IDC Herzliya psychology professor Gurit Birnbaum, conducted a series of six studies – some experiments and some looking at diary entries – to see whether uncertainty about a partner’s romantic intentions affected how sexually attractive they were perceived to be.

In the first study, 51 women and 50 men, aged 19 to 31 and all single, were told they were chatting to another participant online who was in another room. Then they were told their photo would be shown to the other person and they could see a photo of who they were talking to in return. In reality, the other person in the chat was one of the researchers, and every participant was shown the same photo of someone of the opposite sex.

At the end of the chat, participants could send one final message. Some were told their chat partner was waiting for them, while others were told they weren’t. The idea was to create certainty or uncertainty about the online partner’s interest. Then, participants rated their partner’s sexual desirability and how much they wanted to talk to them again.

Those who knew the partner was eager to hear from them perceived them as more sexually attractive than those who were uncertain. The rest of the studies showed a similar pattern – that sexual desire seems to thrive on reduced uncertainty. And this was true for men and women in committed relationships too.

So where did the idea come from that playing hard to get is a turn on? According to the study authors, it could all come down to self-preservation.

“People may protect themselves from the possibility of a painful rejection by distancing themselves from potentially rejecting partners,” said Harry Reis, a professor of psychology and Dean’s Professor in Arts, Sciences & Engineering at Rochester, and co-author of the study.

Birnbaum added that the findings suggest sexual desire may “serve as a gut-feeling indicator of mate suitability that motivates people to pursue romantic relationships with a reliable and valuable partner,” and “inhibiting desire may serve as a mechanism aimed at protecting the self from investing in a relationship in which the future is uncertain.”

In other words, we all fear rejection and playing it cool makes us appear less vulnerable. But in reality, by pretending you’re not interested, that’s exactly how you come across – literally not interested.

So if playing it cool is your dating method of choice, good luck with that. It might work if you’re attracting a player or someone with an avoidant attachment style. But if you’re looking for long-term happiness with someone who’s right for you, it seems honesty really might be the best policy.

Moderate Drinking Linked to More Potential Health Problems in New Study

There’s a link to heart problems and more in the study. On a personal note, in my view there’s something pretty wrong with society when you can go to a store and find alcohol around in all corners of it — and the alcohol must sell like that, that’s why it’s done. It also reminds me of the alcohol industry recently funding the NIH (which often does amazing work) in their attempts to dissuade concerns about moderate alcohol usage.

Regularly drinking more than the recommended UK guidelines for alcohol could take years off your life, according to new research from the University of Cambridge. Part-funded by the British Heart Foundation, the study shows that drinking more alcohol is associated with a higher risk of stroke, fatal aneurysm, heart failure and death.

The authors say their findings challenge the widely held belief that moderate drinking is beneficial to cardiovascular health, and support the UK’s recently lowered guidelines.

The study compared the health and drinking habits of over 600,000 people in 19 countries worldwide and controlled for age, smoking, history of diabetes, level of education and occupation.

The upper safe limit of drinking was about five drinks per week (100g of pure alcohol, 12.5 units or just over five pints of 4% ABV beer or five 175ml glasses of 13% ABV wine). However, drinking above this limit was linked with lower life expectancy. For example, having 10 or more drinks per week was linked with one to two years shorter life expectancy. Having 18 drinks or more per week was linked with four to five years shorter life expectancy.

The research, published today in the Lancet, supports the UK’s recently lowered guidelines, which since 2016 recommend both men and women should drink no more than 14 units of alcohol each week. This equates to around six pints of beer or six glasses of wine a week.

However, the worldwide study carries implications for countries across the world, where alcohol guidelines vary substantially.

The researchers also looked at the association between alcohol consumption and different types of cardiovascular disease. Alcohol consumption was associated with a higher risk of stroke, heart failure, fatal aortic aneurysms, fatal hypertensive disease and heart failure and there were no clear thresholds where drinking less did not have a benefit.

Shell Also Knew About Climate Change Decades Ago

Fossil fuels corporations such as Shell and Exxon studied climate change because there was a realization among them that they were causing it. The new documents also reveal that Shell predicted that it might be sued for this cover up, which is another indication that shows their responsibility for causing the emerging climate crisis seen today.

In response to a Dutch journalist publishing a trove of internal Shell documents revealing what Shell knew about climate change and its risks to both the world’s people and the company’s profit, Greenpeace USA Acting Climate Director Naomi Ages said,

“In 2015, we learned that Exxon knew decades ago about the severity of climate change and hid that knowledge from the public and shareholders. Now, we know that Shell knew too and even anticipated public backlash. Just like Exxon, Shell peddled scientific uncertainty and dragged its feet, maximizing its profits while the climate crisis grew. What makes Shell different from Exxon, is that Shell predicted that it would get sued over this – and, just like climate change, it was right about that too.

“These new reports increase the likelihood of more legal actions against Shell and bolster pending climate lawsuits. It’s time for Shell to reckon with the global costs of catastrophic climate change for which it is responsible.”

Big Tobacco is Increasingly Targeting the Most Vulnerable to Boost Profits

This is simply exploitation of the vulnerable for profit, using arguably the most dangerous consumer products (cigarettes) ever made no less.

The sixth edition of The Tobacco Atlas and its companion website TobaccoAtlas.org finds the tobacco industry is increasingly targeting vulnerable populations in emerging markets, such as Africa, Asia, and the Middle East, where people are not protected by strong tobacco control regulations. The report was released at the 17th World Congress on Tobacco OR Health in Cape Town, South Africa.

The Atlas, which is co-authored by American Cancer Society (ACS) and Vital Strategies, graphically details the scale of the tobacco epidemic around the globe. It shows where progress has been made in tobacco control, and describes the latest products and tactics being deployed by the tobacco industry to grow its profits and delay or derail tobacco control efforts. In response to an evolving tobacco control landscape, the Sixth Edition includes new chapters on regulating novel products, partnerships, tobacco industry tactics and countering the industry.

In 2016 alone, tobacco use caused over 7.1 million deaths worldwide (5.1 million in men, 2.0 million in women). Most of these deaths were attributable to cigarette smoking, while 884,000 were related to secondhand smoke. The increase in tobacco-related disease and death has been outpaced by the increase in industry profits. The combined profits of the world’s biggest tobacco companies exceeded US $62.27 billion in 2015, the last year on record for all the major companies. This is equivalent to US $9,730 for the death of each smoker, an increase of 39% since the last Atlas was published, when the figure stood at US$7,000.

“Every death from tobacco is preventable, and every government has the power reduce the human and economic toll of the tobacco epidemic,” said Jeffrey Drope, PhD, co-editor and author of The Atlas and Vice President, Economic and Health Policy Research at the American Cancer Society. “It starts by resisting the influence of the industry and implementing proven tobacco control policies. The Atlas shows that progress is possible in every region of the world. African countries in particular are at a critical point — both because they are targets of the industry but also because many have opportunity to strengthen policies and act before smoking is at epidemic levels.”

“Tobacco causes harm at every stage of its life cycle, from cultivation to disposal,” said Dr. Neil Schluger, Vital Strategies’ Senior Advisor for Science and co-editor and author of The Atlas. “It is linked to an ever-increasing list of diseases, burdens health systems, and exacerbates poverty, especially when a breadwinner falls ill and dies from tobacco use. At a conservative estimate, there are more than 7 million tobacco-related deaths and global economic costs of two trillion dollars (PPP) each year, not including costs such as those caused by second-hand smoke and the environmental and health damages of tobacco farming. The only way to avert this harm is for all governments to vigorously implement the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control and to enforce the proven strategies that reduce tobacco use.”

Tobacco use and exposure to secondhand smoke costs the global economy more than two trillion dollars (PPP) every year — equivalent to almost 2% of the world’s total economic output. More than 1.1 billion people are current smokers, while 360 million people use smokeless tobacco. Low and middle income countries represent over 80% of tobacco users and tobacco-related deaths, placing an increased share of tobacco-related costs on those who can least afford it. A growing proportion of that burden will fall on countries across Africa in the future, if governments do not implement tobacco control policies now to prevent it.

[…]

“The ultimate path to improved tobacco control is political will,” said José Luis Castro, President and CEO, Vital Strategies. “Strong tobacco control policies deliver a significant return on investment, and The Tobacco Atlas offers the best and most recent data on the tobacco epidemic as a resource for governments to pursue effective strategies. The answer does not lie with the industry: as The Atlas makes clear, there is a complete disconnect between the tobacco industry’s claims about harm reduction and its actual work to grow tobacco use among vulnerable populations. Governments must be accountable to their citizens in reducing tobacco use and improving health. They must prepare to rebuff the tobacco industry’s challenges to legislation, seek the appropriate assistance to build capacity, and be transparent about the industry’s inevitable approaches. We urge governments, advocates, organizations and people who care about health, the environment and development to stand together to reduce this man-made epidemic in pursuit of a healthier planet.”

The Common Drug That Can Prevent Type 1 Diabetes

This should help millions of people since diabetes still doesn’t have a cure. It’s nice to see that people at risk for this disease now have the potential to prevent it with medication.

There’s new hope for stopping Type 1 diabetes in its tracks after researchers discovered an existing drug can prevent the condition from developing – and the same techniques used here could also be applied to other diseases.

The drug in question is methyldopa, currently on the World Health Organisation’s list of essential drugs having been used for more than 50 years to treat high blood pressure in pregnant women and children.

By running an analysis of thousands of drugs through a supercomputer, the team of researchers was able to pinpoint methyldopa as a drug able to block the DQ8 molecule. The antigen is found in a proportion of the population and has been implemented in auto immune responses.

It appears in some 60 percent of people at risk from developing Type 1 diabetes.

“This is the first personalised treatment for Type 1 diabetes prevention,” says one of the team, Aaron Michels from the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus. “This is very significant development.”

Based on the supercomputer calculations, the scientists found that methyldopa not only blocked the binding of DQ8 but didn’t harm the immune functions of other cells, which is often the case with drugs that interfere with the body’s immune system.

Overall, the research covered a period of 10 years – after the supercomputer analysis, the drug was tested in mice and in 20 patients with Type 1 diabetes through a clinical trial. The new drug is taken orally, three times a day.

While it’s not a full cure (work on that continues), methyldopa could help delay, or even limit the onset of Type 1 diabetes – a disease that currently starts mostly in childhood.

“We can now predict with almost 100 percent accuracy who is likely to get Type 1 diabetes,” says Michels. “The goal with this drug is to delay or prevent the onset of the disease among those at risk.”

That 100 percent prediction rate is made possible by looking at a variety of genetic and biological markers, including autoantibodies in the blood. Those at risk could now be put on a course of treatment to ward of the development of diabetes.

With diagnosed cases of Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes on the rise in the United States – and the Type 1 condition believed to affect around 1.25 million people in the US alone – such treatments could make a huge difference.

Accounting for about 5-10 percent of people with diabetes, Type 1 involves the body’s own immune system attacking the pancreas, stopping the production of insulin and hampering the absorption of glucose and the production of energy.

In Type 2 diabetes, the body can’t process the insulin it does make properly.

Methyldopa is far from the first drug to show benefits in treating health issues other than the ones it was first designed for, but we now have better ways to spot these extra powers: this idea of identifying certain molecules and then applying modern-day computing power to find drugs that block them could work in other situations too.

“This study has significant implications for treatment of diabetes and also other autoimmune diseases,” says one of the researchers, David Ostrov from the University of Florida.

“This study suggests that the same approach may be adapted to prevent autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, coeliac disease, multiple sclerosis, systemic lupus erythematosus and others.”

The research has been published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation.

Selected Links for Feb. 10, 2018

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Various links from around the web.

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How to Know When a Child’s Flu Turns Serious

Daniel Ellsberg Interview on Denial About Nuclear War

The Legacy of Internet Pioneer John Perry Barlow

Climate Change

With US Carbon Footprint Set to Grow by 2050, Fossil-Free Movement ‘Our Only Hope’

To Help Save Humanity, A Six-Step Guide to Combat Fossil Fuel Industry’s Climate Lies

Climate change is increasing flood risks in Europe

Polar bears could become extinct faster than was feared, study says

Antibiotic Overuse

Insane drug cocktails in India net drug makers millions and pose global threat

Huge levels of antibiotic use in US farming revealed

50+ Groups Back Landmark Effort to Halt ‘Out of Control’ Factory Farming in Iowa

Technology

Uber and Lyft, Driving Drivers into Poverty and Despair

Early Facebook and Google Employees Form Coalition to Fight What They Built

Private Censorship Is Not the Best Way to Fight Hate or Defend Democracy: Here Are Some Better Ideas

Newly Released Surveillance Orders Show That Even with Individualized Court Oversight, Spying Powers Are Misused

Google Chrome to Mark HTTP Sites as “Not Secure” Starting July 2018

Screen-addicted teens are unhappy

Stealing data from air-gapped computers in Faraday cages

Chinese police are using facial recognition sunglasses to track citizens

Political Economy

Fueled by Broken Social Contract, Study Finds Inequality and Despair Driving US Life Expectancy Down

Article on Millennials Organizing in Unions

Amazon warehouses don’t lead to broad job growth, study finds

The Rise and Fall of the Stock Market: What to Expect

U.S. Politics and Government

Congress Puts Aside Partisan Differences For Good Of Military Contractors

Academic audit finds about $21 trillion of unauthorized military spending from 1998-2015

The threat to America’s public lands is increasing

Majorities Say Government Does Too Little for Older People, the Poor and the Middle Class

Citing U.S. Prison Conditions, British Appeals Court Refuses to Extradite Accused Hacker Lauri Love to the U.S.

Doctors floored by epidemic levels of black lung in Appalachian coal miners

Scientific Research

Scientists Rank 9 Drugs on Dangerousness by Looking at Emergency Room Visits

11 Health And Fitness Myths

New ‘4-D goggles’ allow wearers to be ‘touched’ by approaching objects

Viruses — lots of them — are falling from the sky