Engineered Human Fusion Protein Stops HIV-1 Replication in Mice

(GENEVA) – Inspired by New World owl monkeys’ ability to make a fusion protein that potently blocks HIV-1 infection, scientists at the University of Geneva in Switzerland have engineered a human HIV-1 inhibitor.

Lead researcher Jeremy Luban points out that owl monkeys make AoT5Cyp, and that the human genome encodes the equivalent of the two components of this fusion protein, namely TRIM5 and cyclophilin A.

However, adds the researcher, humans do not make the T5Cyp fusion protein.

In their new study, Luban and colleagues have engineered a human HIV-1 inhibitor modeled after AoT5Cyp, by fusing human cyclophilin A to human TRIM5 (hT5Cyp).

The researchers said that the human fusion protein blocked HIV-1 infection of human macrophage and T cell lines, without disrupting normal cell function.

During the study, the researchers engineered some mice to lack B, T, and NK immune cells, so that the animals would not reject grafts of human material.

The team then engrafted with human CD4+ T cells engineered to contain hT5Cyp. HIV-1 replication was potently inhibited in these animals.

Based on their findings, the researchers came to the conclusion that hT5Cyp is a robust inhibitor of HIV-1 replication, and a promising anti-HIV-1 gene therapy candidate.

The study has been published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation.

The Importance of Potassium

 Potassium is a mineral that is involved in both electrical and cellular functions in the body. (In the body it is classified as an electrolyte).

Potassium is a very important mineral to the human body. It has various roles in metabolism and body functions:

    * It assists in the regulation of the acid-base balance and water balance in the blood and the body tissues.

    * It assists in protein synthesis from amino acids and in carbohydrate metabolism.

    * It is necessary for the building of muscle and for normal body growth.

    * It is needed for the proper functioning of nerve cells, in the brain and throughout the body.

Potassium in Diet: Food Sources

Fish such as salmon, cod, flounder, and sardines are good sources of potassium. Various other meats also contain potassium.

Vegetables including broccoli, peas, lima beans, tomatoes, potatoes (especially their skins), and leafy green vegetables such as spinach, lettuce, and parsley contain potassium.

Fruits that contain significant sources of potassium are citrus fruits, apples, bananas, and apricots. Dried apricots contain more potassium than fresh apricots.

Potassium in Diet: Recommendations

There is no recommended daily allowance for potassium, although experts recommend approximately 2 to 2.5 grams per day. The average American diet provides 2 to 6 grams of potassium per day.

Over-the-counter potassium supplements provide 99 milligrams of potassium per tablet. Potassium supplementation should never be taken without the approval of your GE E-Care health care provider.

Potassium in Diet: Side Effects

A deficiency of potassium (hypokalemia) can occur in people with chronic disease or as a result of the aging process. The most common problems associated with reduced potassium levels are hypertension, congestive heart failure, cardiac arrhythmias, depression, and fatigue. A variety of conditions can cause the loss of potassium from the body. The most common of these conditions are vomiting, diarrhea, and other gastrointestinal problems.

Hypokalemia can also be caused when too much water is taken in too quickly in conjunction with heavy perspiration — for example, in an overzealous attempt to prevent dehydration during sports. This can affect marathon runners and other serious athletes.

Renal disease (such as acute renal failure) and diabetes, depending on the stage of either, can also cause fluctuations in the levels of potassium. Additionally, many medications can cause depletion of potassium. Examples include diuretics, cortisone, prolonged use of aspirin, and laxatives.

The most common symptom of potassium depletion is fatigue. Other symptoms of potassium deficiency include slow reflexes, muscle weakness, and dry skin. A quick loss of potassium could lead to cardiac arrhythmias.

Severe potassium deficiency symptoms include decreased heart rate, extreme muscle weakness, bone fragility and, if untreated, death. A low level of potassium can be determined with a blood test and can be treated with potassium supplements.

Increased levels of potassium in the blood is known as hyperkalemia. Some common causes of this are reduced renal (kidney) function, an abnormal breakdown of protein, and severe infection. If there is no pathological cause for increased potassium levels, the kidneys are able to handle a large amount of potassium, and prevent the blood levels from increasing.

Oxidized Form of Vitamin A May Treat Bowel Diseases

CHINA – Here’s another reason why you should take your vitamins: A new research report suggests that retinoic acid could be a beneficial treatment for people suffering from ulcerative colitis and other irritable bowel diseases.

Researchers found that retinoic acid, he oxidized form of vitamin A, helps suppress out-of-control inflammation, which is a hallmark of active ulcerative colitis.

“Pharmaceutical strategies based on this research may offer a promising alternative to our current approaches of managing immune diseases including, IBD, arthritis, multiple sclerosis, and so on,” said Aiping Bai, a researcher involved in the work at Nanchang University in Nanchang City, China.

To make this discovery, reported in the October print issue of the Journal of Leukocyte Biology, Bai and colleagues conducted in-vitro studies with human tissue and in vivo studies in mice.

Both studies ultimately found that treatment with retinoic acid reduced the inflammation in the colon by increasing the _expression of FOXP3, a gene involved with immune system responses, as well as decreasing the _expression of IL-17, a cytokine believed to cause inflammation. Because many experts believe that IL-17 relates directly to the uncontrolled inflammation seen in ulcerative colitis and irritable bowel disease, the discovery that retinoic acid reduces IL-17’s ability to cause inflammation could accelerate the development of treatments for these chronic diseases.

“Runaway inflammation is serious problem, no matter where it occurs in the body, but in many instances, the root cause is a mystery,” said John Wherry, deputy editor of the Journal of Leukocyte Biology. “This research helps scientists better understand what causes and controls inflammation in the colon, which in turn, helps lay the groundwork for new classes of drugs to treat this devastating condition.”

1 in 5 U.S. kids found deficient in vitamin D

1 in 5 U.S. kids found deficient in vitamin D

Chicago(AP) — At least 1 in 5 U.S. children ages 1 to 11 doesn’t get enough vitamin D and could be at risk for a variety of health problems including weak bones, the most recent national analysis suggests.

By a looser measure, almost 90 percent of black children that age and 80 percent of Latino kids could be vitamin D deficient – “astounding numbers” that should serve as a call to action, said Dr. Jonathan Mansbach, lead author of the new analysis and a researcher at Harvard Medical School and Children’s Hospital in Boston.

The deficiency is a concern because recent studies suggest the vitamin might help prevent infections, diabetes and some cancers.

The new analysis, released online today by the journal Pediatrics, is the first assessment of varying vitamin D levels in children ages 1 through 11. The study used data from a 2001-06 government health survey of almost 3,000 children who had blood tests measuring vitamin D.

Know the Difference between Cold and Swine Flu Symptoms

Know the Difference between Cold and Swine Flu Symptoms

 

Symptom

Cold

Swine Flu

Aches

Slight body aches and pains can be part of a cold.

Severe aches and pains are common with the flu.

Chills

Chills are uncommon with a cold.

60% of people who have the flu experience chills.

Tiredness

Tiredness is fairly mild with a cold.

Tiredness is moderate to severe with the flu.

Sneezing

Sneezing is commonly present with a cold.

Sneezing is not common with the flu.

Sudden Symptoms

Cold symptoms tend to develop over a few days.

The flu has a rapid onset within 3-6 hours. The flu hits hard and includes sudden symptoms like high fever, aches and pains.

Headache

A headache is fairly uncommon with a cold..

A headache is very common with the flu, present in 80% of flu cases.

Sore Throat

Sore throat is commonly present with a cold.

Sore throat is not commonly present with the flu.

Chest Discomfort

Chest discomfort is mild to moderate with a cold.

Chest discomfort is often severe with the flu.

 

Vitamin D may save your life from swine flu

Vitamin D may save your life from swine flu

People still don’t get it: Vitamin D is the “miracle nutrient” that activates your immune system to defend you against invading microorganisms — including seasonal flu and swine flu. Continue reading

Healthy Foods that Contain Vitamin A

Healthy Foods that Contain Vitamin A

Many plant-based eaters are under the impression that they can obtain all the vitamin A that they need from plant foods that contain carotenoids, particularly beta carotene found in foods like spinach, sweet potatoes, and carrots.

It’s true that some carotenoids like beta carotene can be converted to vitamin A in your body once they make it into your blood. What you may not know is that carotenoids are not always absorbed efficiently into your blood.

Given that vitamin A deficiency is one of the most common nutritional deficiencies in the world and is also a leading cause of death in young children, it’s critical for the general public to know that relying solely on carotenoids in plant foods for daily vitamin A needs may lead to any of the following health problems over time:

Skin Lesions Like Acne and Acne Rosacea: Vitamin A is needed to develop and maintain moist and healthy epithelial tissues, including your skin. Many long time vegans find it difficult to understand why they have acne while on a whole food, plant-based diet. Vitamin A deficiency is undoubtedly a common cause of acne for all acne sufferers, but particularly for people who eat mainly a plant-based diet and don’t include a reliable source of vitamin A in their diets.

Poor Night Vision: Vitamin A combines with a protein in the back of your eye to enable night vision.

Weak Bones, Weak Teeth, and Poorly Spaced Teeth: Vitamin A is needed for proper growth and maintenance of bones and other soft tissues throughout your body.

A Weak Immune System: Because vitamin A is needed for the development and maintainance of all of your body’s barriers to infection like your skin, lungs, and the mucosal linings in your digestive and urinary tracts, a deficiency almost assures you of an immune system that is not as strong as it can be.

Cancer: Since vitamin A is essential to the health of your immune system, a deficiency could increase your risk for developing certain forms of cancer, such as breast, lung, stomach, and cervical cancer.

Anemia and Associated Fatigue: Vitamin A is needed for proper red blood cell formation.

Vitamin A is actually a group of compounds that includes retinol, retinal, and the carotenoids. Retinol and retinal are found in animal foods such as liver, eggs, and butter. Because these forms of vitamin A are ready to be used by your body straight from their food sources, they are often referred to as pre-formed vitamin A.

Carotenoids, in turn, are often referred to as provitamin A since they are precursors to Vitamin A and need to be converted in your body.

The total vitamin A in your diet is therefore a combination of the pre-formed vitamin A and provitamin A in your diet.

It’s important to note that optimal absorption of retinol, retinal, and the carotenoids into your blood requires an adequate amount of healthy fat in your diet. This is because pre-formed and provitamin A are fat soluble compounds that are best absorbed into your blood in the presence of digestive juices that are needed to digest fat. The more healthy fat you include in your diet, the better you will absorb fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K into your blood.

It is not practical to offer a chart that lists specific amounts of useable vitamin A in different foods because the amount of vitamin A that ultimately reaches your blood depends on the variables described above.

So, here are two simple lists of healthy foods that contain significant amounts of pre-formed and provitamin A. I believe that it is best for most people to eat foods from both groups on a regular basis to to meet their daily vitamin A needs.

Pre-formed Vitamin A:

  • Organic beef liver
  • Organic lamb liver
  • Organic eggs
  • Organic butter
  • Cod liver oil

Provitamin A:

  • Sweet potatoes or yams
  • Cantaloupe
  • Spinach
  • Carrots
  • Butter nut squash

What About Toxicity?

With the exception of cod liver oil, all of the other foods listed above have virtually no potential to cause vitamin A toxicity in your tissues. So long as you stick to an appropriate dose of cod liver oil, you can rest assured knowing that you aren’t getting too much vitamin A each day.

Every study that discusses the potential for vitamin A toxicity looked at synthetic sources of vitamin A. Clearly, it is best to get vitamin A from the healthy foods listed above and to avoid synthetic sources at all times.