Gut-Brain Axis

Gut-Brain Axis

Up until recently, scientists had minimal understanding of how our GI tract and brain are connected.  Until this new research I naively figured the only connection was my tummy telling my brain when I was hungry.  As it turns out there is a very strong bidirectional interplay between the brain and the GI tract and a major fulcrum is the gut microbiome.  The ENS (enteric (GI) nervous system) interacts with the intestinal membrane and its immune cells.  Changes in the…

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Hypnotherapy for IBS

Hypnotherapy for IBS

Scientists at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia have developed a hypnotherapy-based computer app to help people with IBS (irritable bowel syndrome).  The program called Nerva guides users through a ten-minute hypnotherapy session every day for six weeks.  The neural therapy is designed to correct the disordered signaling from brain to gut.  Patients who complete the six-week program report a reduction in symptom severity from 67 (on a scale of 100) to 39.  Adding a low FODMAP (fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides…

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Alpha Fold

Alpha Fold

An AI called Alpha Fold developed by London based company Deep Mind is a computer-based program trained to predict protein shapes by recognizing patterns in structures already solved by years of tedious experimental work using electron microscopes and other methods.  So far, it has predicted 400,000 protein structures including most of known human proteins.  Now you might ask: “OK, what is the big deal and why is this in your newsletter?”  Well as it turns out many biologic processes work…

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House Plant Police

House Plant Police

Researchers at the University of Washington have developed a “souped-up” house plant to “police” indoor pollutants.  Indoor air pollution is a reality.  A myriad of chemicals from cooking to cleaning materials to increasing outdoor pollutants can adversely affect human health.  Benzene and Formaldehyde are known carcinogens and certain states have strict rules limiting their use (notably California and Minnesota).  It has been known that indoor plants can remove these pollutants but their impact is very minor.  The scientists in Seattle…

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Dear Dr. K- 

Dear Dr. K- 

I recently read that monkey pox vaccine can be given ID.  Is that true? Yes, it is true.  In fact, early research indicates that it is the preferred route of administration in terms of getting the best immunologic protection.  At this point the only other vaccines approved for ID (intradermal) dosing are the flu vaccines and the polio vaccine.  The advantages of ID vaccination are several.  It can generate an immune response as good or better than an intramuscular vaccine…

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A Shift in Asthma Strategy

A Shift in Asthma Strategy

They say “nothing stays the same” and as I keep aging, I couldn’t agree more! Change is always occurring in medical guidelines as well.  What I’d like to address here is how this applies to asthma therapy.  For quite some time now, the standard of care for asthmatics has been to have both a rescue inhaler and a maintenance inhaler.  The majority of rescue inhalers use albuterol, a bronchodilator, which relaxes airway smooth muscles that are constricted.  The benefit is…

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Tardigrade Research

Tardigrade Research

Tardigrades are microscopic organisms about the size of a dust mite but are really cute as they look like a baby manatee.  For being so tiny they have some really special properties that scientists hope to adapt to human health.  Tardigrades are incredibly tough.  They can survive being frozen down to minus 272° Celsius, being exposed to a vacuum in outer space, being completely dried out and being exposed to 500 times the dose of x-rays that would kill a…

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Bronchiectasis

Bronchiectasis

Bronchiectasis is a lung condition characterized by cough and sputum production in the presence of abnormal thickening and pocket formation of bronchial walls which is visible on special lung imaging.  The little pockets are similar in their mischief to the pockets that can occur in the wall of the colon:  diverticula.  In both scenarios the pockets can sometimes accrete enough bacteria that it leads to acute bronchitis in the lung and diverticulitis in the colon.    In the bronchial tubes the…

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Hydrogels

Hydrogels

Hydrogels are cross linked networks of biocompatible polymers that can swell or shrink in a controlled and reversible manner that can be tuned to specific physiologic conditions.  Wow!  That was a mouthful.  But if you re-read that sentence carefully you will find the description of an almost perfect delivery system (think UPS/Fedex) for intact proteins via the GI tract.  Since the development of recombinant human insulin in the 1970’s a new class of medications called protein therapeutics has changed the…

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Dear Dr. K;

Dear Dr. K;

I recently read something about micro needles and vaccines.  Is that anything similar to my getting my flu shot intradermally? Actually yes, it is.  As you know, the traditional and standard way to administer most vaccines (including Covid) is intramuscular; that is, injecting the vaccine fluid into a muscle.  The vaccine is then processed by migratory immune cells in the blood vessels and lymph system.  Obviously, this method works well.  But the dermis of our skin actually contains 1,000 times…

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