Our intestinal microbiodome — so crowded; so constantly busy

Our intestinal microbiodome — so crowded; so constantly busy

A recent article in The New England Journal of Medicine points out that the human GI tract contains up to 10-million different microbial species. This review of the human intestinal microbiome found bacteria, fungi (yeast), viruses, archaea (specialized bacteria with a resistant cell wall) and algae. More than a billion years of co-evolution of mammals and their gut flora has led to a complex interdependency of the mammal and the microbes, and the microbes with one another.  Humans today are…

Read More Read More

Heavy metals in blood increase asthma

Heavy metals in blood increase asthma

Having elevated levels of the heavy metals lead and cadmium does result in an increased incidence of asthma, as demonstrated in recently published research from Brown University. Elevated lead levels can be seen in children living in homes with old-fashioned lead paint, and in adults with workplace-exposure to lead fumes. Elevated cadmium levels are typically only seen due to industrial workplace exposure. The heavy metals cause a shift in TH1/TH1 response, thus leading to much greater production of IgE, the…

Read More Read More

Eczema

Eczema

Dermatology researchers at the University of Oregon recently published two Phase 3 trials of Dupilumab in eczema. Phase 3 trials are the ones that can lead to FDA approval of a new drug. These trials were very successful. Dupilumab is a human monoclonal antibody against interleukin-4 receptor alpha. Interleukin-4 is a cytokine (inflammatory molecule) that is an important cause of allergic eczema. The studies were done on 1,500 patients with moderate-to-severe eczema that was not responding to topical medications. In…

Read More Read More

Dear Doc: Why long-term allergy shots for some?

Dear Doc: Why long-term allergy shots for some?

Dear Dr. K: My friend and I, who have both been on allergy shots for four years, went off them. My friend remains allergy-free, but my allergies are coming back again. What gives? That is a simple question to ask, but a more difficult one to answer. Let’s start with how allergy shots work. Actually, we should call them allergy vaccines because all vaccines lead to the production of protective antibodies (called IgG). For example: in the case of tetanus…

Read More Read More

Q – Tips: Eustachian Tube dilation

Q – Tips: Eustachian Tube dilation

A new technique to dilate the eustachian tube, pioneered at Stanford University, might bring relief to some families of young children with frequent ear infections. Among the sufferers are some with anatomically small or scarred eustachian tubes who experience repeating ear blocking and ear fluid. Until now the only help was putting tubes through the ear drum

Alas, what we have wrought

Alas, what we have wrought

Allergic diseases arise in response to normally innocuous environmental agents, including airborne allergens and the foods we eat. Why does the immune system cause this mischief and why is it becoming so prevalent? The answer to both these questions is T-regs. T-regs, better known as T-regulatory lymphocytes, were first discovered about 20 years ago. However, over the past 10 years scientists have learned the vital role they play in causing allergy. As their name implies, these cells regulate the immune…

Read More Read More

Dear Doc: So carbon monoxide not always harmful?

Dear Doc: So carbon monoxide not always harmful?

Dear Dr. K: I’ve always heard that carbon monoxide is deadly, but then I read it’s being researched as a transplant medicine. What gives? What gives is the dynamic of toxic levels versus helpful levels. There are many examples of this in the history of medicine. For example, in the pre-antibiotic era, heavy metals such as gold, silver and arsenic were used to treat infections, in very controlled doses. Even oxygen, which we breathe every day, and can be supplemented…

Read More Read More

DRESS: Short name for scary new allergic reaction

DRESS: Short name for scary new allergic reaction

DRESS, a helpful acronym for Drug Reaction with Eosinophilia and Systemic Symptoms, is a newly recognized form of allergic reaction. Potentially quite severe, it is important to recognize and stop the offending medication and start proper treatment. The exact pathogenesis is still not fully understood, but it seems to occur because of immune response and reactivation of a latent herpes virus. A form of rash with facial redness and swelling is common, but a measles-type rash also can occur. Other…

Read More Read More

One less parental worry

One less parental worry

Harvard researchers at Boston Children’s Hospital recently finished a detailed study of the use of acetaminophen in asthmatic children. The outcome allows for a sigh of relief. In 2000 British researchers questioned whether acetaminophen use led to exacerbation of wheezing in children. The concern arose because when children are sick with respiratory infections, this common, over -the-counter drug is frequently used to treat fever. So, the question arose: was it the illness itself or, perhaps, the acetaminophen that caused worsening…

Read More Read More