I didn’t even know they had venom!

I didn’t even know they had venom!

By:  Sasha Klemawesch, MD Most people know the Duckbill Platypus as one of the only two mammals that lay eggs rather than give birth to live offspring (the other being the Echidna (spiny anteater) but no one remembers him!).   However, they are ALSO some of the few mammals who produce venom.  Others on the list include vampire bats, hedgehogs, shrews, and moles. Researchers in Australia have discovered that the Platypus’s venom contains a hormone called GLP-1.  Humans also have a…

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Q – Tips : Garlic

Q – Tips : Garlic

Many people suspect they are allergic to garlic owing to “GI tumult” that occurs after eating it.  However, it is more likely due to a genetic deficiency in cytochrome P450 and FAD-linked enzymes which metabolize sulfur containing foods.  Garlic contains very high levels of alkyl and dialkyl sulfide which give it its characteristic taste and smell.

Q – Tips: Mushrooms

Q – Tips: Mushrooms

Another less common mimic of food allergy is mushroom intolerance.  In this syndrome the deficient enzyme is Trehalase disaccharidase.   Mushrooms contain “double” (di-) sugar (saccharide).   If the sugar isn’t broken down into single sugar (mono-saccharide) it ferments in the colon causing bloating, gas, and diarrhea.  

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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