Good News/Bad News

Good News/Bad News

On September 13, 2019 an FDA advisory board recommended approval of an oral peanut vaccine (“OIT” for oral immunotherapy).  If this recommendation leads to approval, peanut allergic individuals will be faced with a tough decision. Approval is based in part on large studies done in California on children and adults with severe peanut allergy.  In this study, 85% of the OIT treated patients were able to tolerate 4 grams of peanut without serious reaction.  That’s the good news. The bad…

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High Dose Flu Vaccine

High Dose Flu Vaccine

High dose flu vaccine contains 4 times the amount of antigen (killed flu virus) than the standard vaccine.  People with the highest risk for death from influenza are infants, pregnant women and adults over 65.  The high dose flu vaccine is recommended as an option in the latter group.  People over age 65 have immune systems that are also aged and by giving them a higher dose there is a better chance of stimulating a good immune response.  In fact,…

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Vaping and Lung Disease

Vaping and Lung Disease

Vaping has become extremely popular in the last few years in part because it has been promoted as “a safe alternative to cigarettes”.  Currently 1/3 of all high school students report “some use” of vaping. Unfortunately, hundreds of individuals have been hospitalized and died with an acute lung disease.  The most common cause of this lung disease is lipoid pneumonia which can affect multiple lobes of the lungs and lead to respiratory failure.  This form of disease seems to occur…

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Don’t Worry, Be Happy

Don’t Worry, Be Happy

By:  Sasha Klemawesch, MD Scientists have known for a while that optimists tend to enjoy better health, and recently, a BU study came out reemphasizing just that.  Their research followed a large and varied group of people for more than a decade, and found that those with the sunniest dispositions lived 11 to 15% longer than their negative counterparts! And the results held even when they accounted for chronic diseases, socioeconomic status, smoking, et al; a Positive Mental Health Attitude…

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Ligelizumab

Ligelizumab

Ligelizumab is a “next generation” humanized monoclonal antibody to IgE.  It was designed to be a “better mousetrap” to treat people with severe chronic urticaria.  Chronic urticaria (recurrent hives) is fairly common, occurring in 1 case per 200 people.  In most cases it can be controlled with oral medications primarily in the form of antihistamines.   Many people gain control with a single H1 receptor antihistamine such as Allegra or Zyrtec.  Some patients require the addition of an H2 receptor…

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Hatfield’s and McCoy’s

Hatfield’s and McCoy’s

The “stolen pig” that set-in motion the famous Hatfield and McCoy feud may have been (excuse the pun) a scapegoat for the underlying medical condition that probably caused all the anger.   Because of rural family dynamics and inbreeding among relatives it seems many of these people, especially the McCoy’s may have suffered from a genetic disease, von Hippel-Lindau, that causes tumors on the adrenal glands called pheochromocytoma.   The adrenal glands are a normal part of our adaption to…

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Dear Dr. K – I heard that there is a new drug to treat flu. Is that true? And, does it work?

Dear Dr. K – I heard that there is a new drug to treat flu. Is that true? And, does it work?

Yes, and yes.  The new drug is Xofluza and it is the first flu drug with a new mechanism of action to come along in 20 years.  It is (hold on to your hat) a polymerase acidic endonuclease inhibitor, (PAEI).  PAEI is essential for the viral RNA messenger that allows the flu virus to replicate itself.  By shutting down viral replication, it shuts down the infection.  It is effective for both influenza A and B.   The only other available…

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Post-Lyme Disease

Post-Lyme Disease

Some compelling research on Lyme disease was recently published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science.  The focus for the research was to try and elucidate the reason that in some patients with Lyme disease they continue to have symptoms despite prompt and appropriate treatment with antibiotics.  It turns out to be caused by post-infection inflammation caused by ongoing immune response against part of the bacteria.   Lyme disease is caused by the tick born bacteria Borrelia burgdorferi. …

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Q – Tips: appendix

Q – Tips: appendix

Researchers at Duke University have discovered a new and important function for the appendix. It turns out that the appendix contains special “nurturing” immune cells that protect the healthy gut bacteria.  Thus, when people suffer severe diarrheal illness the “sheltered bacteria” can be a healthy source to repopulate the colon.

Q – Tips: fire ant venom

Q – Tips: fire ant venom

Not to be outdone by Duke, scientists at Emory have discovered two beneficial aspects of a protein in fire ant venom: solenopsin. This protein helps human skin maintain its resilient barrier function and may be useful in people experiencing thinning and easy bruisability of the skin.  Solenopsin also seems to have anti-cancer properties and may provide a mechanism to lessen skin cancers.