Researchers Discover a New Gene That Causes Parkinson’s Disease

Although Parkinson’s disease has no cure, researchers have discovered a new gene definitively linked to confirmed cases of the nervous system disorder. The findings were the result of 20 years of research and represent just the third known gene linked to the disease.

Parkinson’s results from nerve cell damage in the brain that causes dopamine levels to drop. The disorder often starts with a tremor in one hand, and while there is no cure yet, medications can help control the symptoms of Parkinson’s.

Mutations in the gene TMEM230 provide new clues about how the disease develops and could help researchers find additional therapies to treat and maybe one day cure Parkinson’s disease. Researchers at Northwestern Medicine published their findings in Nature Genetics.

“This particular gene causing Parkinson’s disease is not just limited to one population in North America,” principal investigator Teepu Siddique, MD, the Les Turner ALS Foundation/Herbert C. Wenske Foundation Professor of Neurology and of Cell and Molecular Biology, said in a statement. “It’s worldwide, found in very different ethnic and environmental conditions. These mutations are that strong.”

According to the findings, TMEM230 is produces a protein involved with packaging dopamine. The protein is also thought to be involved in the movement of synaptic vesicles that then release dopamine to cells that project into parts of the brain.

The study’s first author, Han-Xiang Deng, MD, PhD, research professor of neurology, explained that these findings suggest one strategy for future development of therapies to treat Parkinson’s could focus on normalizing the synaptic vesical trafficking.

Only 15% of Parkinson’s disease cases are thought to be caused by genetics. The other genes known to be associated with the disease are SNCA and LRRK2.

“Previous research has associated Parkinson’s disease with various factors in the environment, but the only direct causes that are known are genetic,” Dr. Siddique said. “Many genes have been claimed to cause Parkinson’s disease, but they haven’t been validated. We show that mutations in this new gene lead to pathologically and clinically proven cases of the disease.”

Six Interesting Medical Facts You Will Enjoy Reading

Mother with ChildrenIt is interesting to note how little we know of our own body. From things that seem unbelievable to things we think are true, here are six interesting medical facts you will enjoy reading:

  • Fact #1: You have a Unique Tongue Print Just like Fingerprints

Yes, your tongue has a distinct pattern. Every human being has unique tongue prints that both help us perform various functions as well as are affected while we perform them. For instance, they help us in eating food, pushing it down, controlling our tongue when speaking, and much more.

With these functions and activities, our tongue also develops unique textures and ridges unlike other human beings. In the future, security experts may use the tongue as part of biometric scanning.

  • Fact # 2: Your Brain Works More Actively at Night than During the Day

to all night owls, here is an interesting fact for you. They say night has its own mystery that is why our brains are more active, creative and work faster at night than during the day. In addition to night’s mystery, you likely have fewer distractions at night, hence you can freely let your minds focus and ponder on specified tasks.

Night is definitely the best time to go about things creatively, because we are more mindful at night and great ideas can pop up in our minds during the dark. With that being said, we are sure all night owls out there, now have an authentic and better justification to stay up at night for studies or work?

  • Fact # 3: Female’s Heart Beats Faster Than Male’s Heart

A woman’s heart is different from a man’s. It beats faster. A man’s’ heart is larger than a female’s’ heart. An average adult male heart rate is from 70 to 72 beats per minute. On the contrary, a woman’s average adult heart rate is from 78 to 82 beats.

Also, due to a smaller heart, they have a smaller area for blood pumping with every beat. So ladies, next time you bump into your crush and your heart starts beating faster, it may be because of him, but actually it is just natural!

  • Fact # 4: Your Skin Also Sheds

Normally, we observe that our pets are a victim of skin shedding. But you will be amazed to know that it is not just them, you are also a victim. Our skin is the largest organ in our body; therefore it constantly flakes away, shedding 600,000 skin particles every hour. Needless to say, it is invisible to us, but an average person loses 105 pounds of skin as they age.

  • Fact #5: There are 30 to 40 Trillion Cells in Our Bodies

Each person has over 30,000,000,000,000 cells and according to one study, each human has 37.2 trillion cells. The majority of these cells consist of red blood cells. And although they comprise over 80 percent of our body in number, they total only around 4 percent of our total body mass. This is because red blood cells only measure on average 8 micrometers in diameter, which is 10 times smaller in diameter than an average human hair. Quite amazing when you think about it.

  • Fact # 6: Your Hair Color Determines Your Hair Density

Yes, you read that correctly, your hair color is one of the ways to determine your hair density. While there are different hair color and styles, blondes top the list. An average human being has 100,000 hair glands, capable of producing 20 individual hairs in a lifetime.

Coming on top of the list, the ones with blondes likely have 146,000 hair glands while the ones having brown hair are exactly as of the average range, 100,000 glands. People with red heads have about 86,000 glands and not to forget blackheads have good hair glands averaging 110,000.

We really hope you enjoyed reading these interesting medical facts. We have some more interesting information for you. Do come and check what more we have in our stores for you!



Hepatitis C and the High Cost of Treatment

The past year has been exciting hepatitis C with the introduction of drugs that have cure rates at 100%, according to clinical trials. However, these drugs have stirred up controversy because of the high costs.

Hepatitis C is a contagious liver disease that affects more than 3 million Americans. However, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say that most people don’t know they are infected because they don’t look or feel sick. But, people who have been infected for many years may have liver damage. Chronic hepatitis C is the leading cause of cirrhosis and liver cancer and the most common reason for liver transplantation in the US.

Hepatitis Virus C

In December 2013, the Food and Drug Administration approved Sovaldi to treat the hepatitis C virus (HCV). It was the first drug to demonstrate efficacy and safety to treat multiple types of HCV infection without the use of interferon. With nearly a 95% cure rate, Gilead Sciences put a high price on the drug: $84,000 for the full course of treatment, which comes out to $1,000 a pill.

By the end of 2014, there were 2 more HCV drugs on the market: Harvoni, also from Gilead Sciences, and Viekira Pak, from AbbVie. Harvoni is a single pill that combines Sovaldi with another medication and costs $94,500 for a 12-week full course, while Viekira Pak costs only slightly less at $83,319 for a full 12-week course.

The approval of Viekira Pak brought competition to the market. The beginning of 2015 was marked by a number of exclusivity deals with pharmacy benefit managers and health plans, which was able to drive down the cost of the treatments. Express Scripts started off the spree by negotiating a discount on the price of Viekira Pak by making it the exclusive option to treat patients with genotype 1 hepatitis C.

Although there are more drugs in the pipeline from Bristol-Myers Squibb and Merck, additional competition in the market won’t drive down prices any further, Ed Cohen, PharmD, FAPhA, senior clinical director at Walgreens, said during a panel discussion with The American Journal of Managed Care.

I-STOP Reduces Drug Abuse, Minimizes Medication Errors

Doctor Writing Perscription
Medical Providers are not allowed to hand write prescription for controlled substances.

As health information technology (HIT) becomes integrated more and more into the everyday workload of healthcare providers, it has also become an ideal tool for monitoring the use of prescribed controlled substances.

Nearly 15,000 people die every year from overdoses of prescription painkillers, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and New York State has taken advantage of the increased usability of EHR (Electronic Health Records) to try to control this epidemic.

The New York State legislature passed the I-STOP law in 2012, which mandates electronic prescribing for all controlled substances. Doctors will be sending their prescriptions via EHR over a HIPAA regulated, secure transmission method over the web, directly to the patient’s pharmacy, instead of handwriting them. This move to E-Prescribing helps eliminate alteration and prescription forgery. 

Starting on August 27, 2013, doctors and other medically qualified providers must consult the prescription database prior to prescribing Schedule II, III and IV controlled substances, which are drugs that have the potential to act as narcotics that cause psychological or physical dependence and have the potential to be abused, such as opioids. Pharmacists also have access to this prescription registry.

From an EHR standpoint, it is quick and easy to electronically write a prescription, and also illegal for physicians to paper write a prescription for a controlled substance  in New York State, with a few exceptions.

The I-STOP law also includes changes that enact a “real-time” monitoring registry which consists of mechanisms that file and track all prescribed controlled drugs into a database.

The law not only cracks down on drug abuse, but will improve the efficiency of health care providers and pharmacies. Unintentional errors in written prescriptions cost the New York health care system about $130 million a year. The E-Prescribing requirement minimizes these medication errors.

How Binge Drinking Affects Your Immune System

The end of the year is typically time for overindulgence. Holiday dinners and parties with an abundance of food and drinks are not uncommon. As New Year’s Eve approaches, researchers warn against the effects of binge drinking.

In young, healthy adults, binge drinking disrupts the immune system. Majid Afshar, MD, MSCR, now at Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine, and colleagues studied participants who drank 4 or 5 shots of vodka. Depending on their weight, when they were measured at 2 hours and 5 hours after peak intoxication, their immune systems were less active than when sober. This was a reversal from immediately after peak intoxication, when the immune system is revved up.

The study included 8 women and 7 men with a median age of 27 years. The researchers took blood samples at 20 minutes, 2 hours, and 5 hours after peak intoxication. These times were chosen because they are often when intoxicated patients typically arrive at trauma centers for treatment of alcohol-related injuries.

Previous studies corroborate the findings here and have shown that binge drinking delays wound healing, increases blood loss, and makes patients more prone to pneumonia and infections to catheters. Not only does binge drinking impair the body’s ability to recover from injuries, but binge drinking increases the risk of falls, burns, gunshot wounds, car accidents, and other traumatic injuries. In fact, a third of all trauma patients have alcohol in their systems.

While most individuals are generally aware of how binge drinking can affect behavior and judgment, they typically are less aware of the effect alcohol is having on other areas, according to Elizabeth Kovacs, PhD, a co-author of the study and director of Loyola’s Alcohol Research Program.

Rheumatoid Arthritis

Movement of our joints are taken granted for by most of us until we start feeling the pain . For the most part, it would be arthritis that’s causing this and there are many forms of arthritis; namely, Infective, Psoriatic, Reactive, Viral and Rheumatoid.

There are many reasons for a person to be affected by the list above, but there is no known reason (as of yet) for Rheumatoid arthritis, although it is known that with this disease, the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks its own tissues, thinking that they are a foreign entity that must be destroyed, which in turn causes the joints to become painful. It usually begins after age 40 and is more common in women then in men.

Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic disease and its symptoms can be swelling of the joints, bumps of tissue under the skin or your arms, severe pain in the morning and possible fatigue. If rheumatoid arthritis is not addressed, the problem can become severe and can affect organs like the heart, lungs and eyes.

There are numerous medications available that can reduce inflammation and help relieve pain. If you feel you have rheumatoid arthritis or any type of pain in your joints, make an appointment to see your doctor, who will run a complete diagnosis to determine what the exact issue is and then develop a plan to manage it.