Bacteriophages

Bacteriophages

Bacteriophages are viruses that infect bacteria.  Phage is a Greek word meaning “to eat”.  Bacteriophages invade bacteria, replicate themselves and then destroy the host cell.  There are many types of viruses in the world.  Some infect only certain animals.  Some infect only humans.  But bacteriophages are by far and away the most numerous viruses.  They number 10 to the 31st power on the planet and this number is greater than all of the other organisms on earth added together (including…

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Dear Dr. K;

Dear Dr. K;

Any new information on peanut vaccines? Actually yes; and it seems to be very promising news.  As you may recall from previous articles in this newsletter, the one FDA approved oral peanut vaccine is less than ideal:  it causes a lot of side effects including occasional anaphylaxis and it confers very modest protection.  But, a breath of fresh air came to peanut vaccine research based on astute observation by immunologists at Boston Children’s Hospital.  They discovered a major difference in…

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New Treatment for HAE (HANE)

New Treatment for HAE (HANE)

The New England Journal of Medicine recently published research done at the University of California on a new treatment for hereditary angioneurotic edema (HANE) also called hereditary angioedema (HAE).  HANE or HAE is a rare genetic disorder that leads to unpredictable, disabling and occasionally fatal episodes of swelling.  The swelling can occur in any part(s) of the body.  It is caused by uncontrolled activity of the contact system components factor X11a and plasma Kallikrein which leads to excessive release of…

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EILO not EIEIO

EILO not EIEIO

EILO stands for exercise induced laryngeal obstruction and it is a newly understood reason for DOE (dyspnea on exertion) especially in children and adolescents. Dyspnea (breathlessness) on exertion can occur for very diverse reasons including anemia, cardiovascular problems, neuro muscular problems and respiratory issues.  The most common respiratory cause for DOE is exercise induced bronchospasm (EIB) due to underlying asthma.  But asthma is an exhalation disease; that is, the main issue is getting air back out of the lungs.  EILO…

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Global Warming

Global Warming

The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology had a recent article on global warming and the allergy epidemic.  Allergic diseases have reached epidemic proportions globally affecting 30% of the people on earth.  Just 20 years ago statistics in the US showed allergy affecting roughly 15 to 18% of Americans.  Despite new therapies allergic conditions are increasing in spectrum, frequency and severity.  Since 1970 average temperatures have increased by 2 degrees Fahrenheit and green house gases have increased dramatically (primarily carbon…

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Dear Dr. K;

Dear Dr. K;

As you know I’m overweight and I’m always reading about the health liabilities of fat.  But recently, I saw something about brown fat being good for health.  Can you elaborate? Yes, I can, or at least I’ll give it my best shot.  Adipose tissue (fat) is an underappreciated and misunderstood vital organ in the human body.  It consists of two types of fat:  white adipose tissue (WAT) and brown adipose tissue (BAT).  In lean adults WAT accounts for 30 to…

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Microglia and COVID

Microglia and COVID

The last issue of this newsletter had an article about COVID brain studies in the UK.  A recent article in Science adds to these preliminary findings.  Neuroscientists in this country have noticed that the neurologic symptoms seen in many COVID patients (fatigue, brain fog, trouble remembering and headache) are very similar to those seen in other viral infections and with disorders such as myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS) and even with chemotherapy.  In addition to similar symptoms, the brains in…

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Drug Resistance is a Prolific Killer

Drug Resistance is a Prolific Killer

Bacterial infections that don’t respond to antibiotics are becoming a major cause of death around the world.  The British Medical Journal Lancet recently reported 1.3 million deaths globally due to antibiotic resistant infections.  This translates to 16.4 deaths per 100,000 people.  This is twice as many people than those who died from malaria (the fifth leading cause of death worldwide).   The bacteria that are the mischief makers include E. coli, Staph aureus, Clostridium difficile, Klebsiella spp, Acinetobacter baumannii, Pseudomonas…

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Getting Not-Ready-To-Quit Smokers to Quit

Getting Not-Ready-To-Quit Smokers to Quit

JAMA (Journal of American Medical Association) just published research on this quit smoking project.  After years of decline in the number of smokers in the US, sadly there is a major upsurge among American youth.  Currently 14% of adults use tobacco (cigarettes or E. cigarettes) while 24% of teens do.  The prevailing thought among psychologists has been that until a smoker is ready to quit the likelihood of motivating them or helping them is nil.  The JAMA article reflects research…

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Alpha-gal Revisited

Alpha-gal Revisited

Several years ago, this newsletter discussed a new form of anaphylaxis due to tick bites.  The syndrome is peculiar in several ways.  Most importantly the anaphylaxis is delayed from the exposure by several hours.  Also, it occurs after eating mammalian meat such as beef and pork.  Alpha-gal is a glycoprotein that is found in mammalian meats.  The patient becomes sensitized to the alpha-gal from a tick bite because the ticks secrete alpha-gal in their saliva when they bite humans.  In…

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