Thursday
May072015

A new horizon.. a new hope for cancer patients!

We have been talking about fighting cancer for so many years and I remember listening to my mentor tell me that while 2015 is unrealistic for cancer cure, 2025 is probably going to see great leap in the field of cancer cure.

As I read more and more about immunotherapy and novel drug delivery modules I am beginning to think this might be a reality sooner then 2025.

 G. Szeto, Adelaide Tovar, Jeff Wyckoff/MIT, Wellcome Images (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0)

This amazing image is a testament to one such drug delivery module. MIT based team of scientists have designed a polymer capsule that can be used for targeted therapy. I know as soon as you hear the word polymer you think well but a polymer could have its own gamete of problems, scientists are ahead of the game, the polymer is bio-degradable and dissolves quickly to release the drug.

While this testing currently is only in animal models and it needs to be refined to get access to deeper tissues, it is a step towards the goal, I might even say a leap towards the goal.

When I see an image like this, I don't just see science, I see Art, I see hope and the peak of human ability.

And then I wish why can't we use the same will to fight for peace, what if we eliminate all war and work towards creating a world free of diseases. What if we fought for not just us but for other species to have harmonious life.

And then I wish for my wish to come true.

Sunday
Apr192015

Butterfly child 

Here is a video that will move you beyond words.

And when I saw this video ofcourse I wanted to share it, but it also inspired me to write this blog. This video as you will see after watching touches your heart, and speaks volumes about JonathanPitre's spirit. He is a power house. He is generous and kind, compassionate and committed and most importantly full of life. More then many of us who have perfect health. 

I could not help but think how awesome would it be if the world fought for his condition. What could we accomplish if we used all our time, energy and resources to make this world a better place for him? Instead of spending our resources on wars, and proving one religion is better then the other, or fighting for more money, or land or oil, if we as a world chose to spend all our resources on finding cures for rare and not so rare diseases, what could we create?

If we gave away all the politics, and I mean the politics in science then I am positive we would find cure for Jonathan and other kids who are suffering from rare and painful diseases. 

 

Sometimes I wonder if there is a reason we focus on the wrong things? Things that don't matter! Wars, hate, pride, ego all the things that make us the worse versions of ourselves. Could we not be like Jonathan or be inspired by him? Videos like this and children like Jonathan can make us better human beings.

Perhaps we start by sharing his video and touching hearts. Perhaps we start by talking about him and his greatness over a dress on pinterest. Perhaps we start by dreaming of a world we want to live in and how we could create it. Now that is my dream...

Thursday
Apr162015

Sunscreen 101: A beginners guide to choosing a suncreen

Spring is here and will soon turn into summer, and swim suits will come out of hibernation. This then, is a good time to educate ourselves in sunscreens. Lets get right into it. There are two kinds of sunscreens, chemical and physical. Chemical sunscreens are absorbed by the skin and chemicals then absorb UV rays to protect your skin.
 
Physical sunscreens form a protective barrier on your skin and usually deflect or block the UV rays.
 
So far so good. Seems that both types are giving you benefits of UV protection. Let's dig deeper!
 
Physical sunscreens can be made of Titanium dioxide (TiO2) or Zinc oxide (ZnO). Chemical sunscreens can be made of Avobenzone, Oxybenzone, Octisalate and the list goes on! Most common chemicals I have seen being used in sunscreens are the above three.
 
Why am I talking about these ingredients you might ask! Here is why. The problem with chemical sunscreens is they get absorbed in your skin and can interact with your DNA. Yes! You read correctly your DNA. They can metabolite to produce free radicals and behave as carcinogens themselves. Same is true for Vitamin A, also known as Retinyl palmitate found in sunscreens. It can also harm your DNA. And you know how protective I am of the DNA ;)
 
More then half of the chemical sunscreen can cause hormonal issues and imbalance.
That's not all, chemical sunscreens find their way into your blood, urine and even breast milk if you are breastfeeding, AND can hang out in your body for up to 2 days after a single application. OUCH!
 
Preventing cancer from UV, but causing cancer by damaging DNA or at the very least, aging your skin faster and/or irritating your skin, not good news then is it?
 
y rule of thumb is to avoid chemical sunscreens. At first I used to just think of SPF factor, the higher the SPF the better.  But, I found out that an SPF between 30 and 45 is all you need anything higher is just a marketing ploy.
 
Physical sunscreens are the way to go, but the white tint is a big no-no for fashion forward people like me ;) So I went on a search for a perfect sunscreen.
 
My search brought me to MyChelle, it is a physical sunscreen that does not leave a white tint on your face and it has moisturizing components as well.
 
There are other sunscreens that might work for your skin as well, the best thing to do is look for Titanium dioxide and Zinc oxide as active ingredients and absence of Vitamin A or any other harmful chemicals like dimethicone. More on that another time.
 
If you have any questions on how to choose a good sunscreen write them in the comments section and I will try my best to answer them for you.
 
Enjoy the sun and be SAFE.
Thursday
Apr092015

Could a difficult cancer be treated with little bit of Sun?

Little bit of sun can do a lot of good.
We all know that being in the sun makes us feel good. Our productivity goes up as Sun shines. Longer the days the better we feel and the better we function.
 
Also we get most of our vitamin D from the sun. Now there is an even better reason to be in the sun!
 
A group of scientist in Germany recently discovered that vitamin D can make Tumor associated macrophages fight Burkitt's lymphoma(BL) cells effectivley. BL is a cancer that impacts one's immune system and progresses really quickly.
 
Tumor associated macrophages are like soldiers trying to fight a loosing battle when it comes to BL. These soldiers, as in macrophages are able to kill BL cells in a vitamin D dependent manner. But in BL patients vitamin D metabolism gets altered there by making macrophages ineffective in killing cancer cells.
 
When scientists treated BL cells with bioactive form of vitamin D these same macrophages got their groove back on. The same cells that were unable to kill BL cells before getting a healthy dose of vitamin D were now like SWAT team ninjas.
This research has significant potential towards possible treatments for BL by activating vitamin D pathway. As I always say answers to all our questions are in nature, all it takes is a little bit of looking.
 
A little bit of sun can do a lot of good. Do not forget your sunscreen though! Sun can give you cancer too and so can your sunscreen.
Shocked to hear that, the thing is in creating sunscreens we made products that protect us from sun but added chemicals that we need protection from! Ouch!
 
So then the question is, which sunscreen will protect you and not harm you? I might have the answer for you in next week's blog. so don't forget to visit my blog next Thursday.
Thursday
Apr022015

Lung damage a side effect of education!

An alarming studyshowed 44 Lakh students in Delhi are growing up to be adults with possible irreversible lung damage. That is 4.4 million kids. Why are they prone to irreversible lung damage you might ask?
 
They are breathing poisonous air on their way to and back from schools! I am just speechless to read this report. And I am all the more shocked at the blind eye that authorities are turning to the concerns.
Scientists from Kolkata-based Chittaranjan National Cancer Institute (CNCI), did studies and found the following :
  • In lung tests conducted on 5,718 students, 43.5% suffered from “poor or restrictive lungs”.
  • About 15% of the children surveyed complained of frequent eye irritation, 27.4% of frequent headache, 11.2% of nausea, 7.2% of palpitation and 12.9% of fatigue.
  • Delhi’s numbers were far higher than that among the ‘control group’ of 4,536 students selected from 17 schools spread across the “much less polluted” rural areas of Uttaranchal and West Bengal. 
If that does not shock you this will.
Scientists have made recommendations to move schools away from the arterial roads that are heavily polluted in Delhi and also made recommendations around the time of the day that students should not be out and about amongst other things.
If you are still not shocked here is a fun fact that will drop your jaw, the above study was done in 2002, more then a decade ago.
The recommendations that scientists made were never shared with the schools.
So after all these years the pollution is worse and kids are suffering even more. And no one is listening.
 
Here are my two cents. People are not only asleep when it comes to serious issues like this, they are in a freaking coma!
Why recommend moving schools away from polluted roads, when we should be actually working to reduce pollution. Always treating the symptom, never looking at the cause! Isn't that the irony of the world we live in.
 
How about we deal with the problem? Delhi does not have a good public transport system, would that not be a good place to start? Or car pooling! Or using hybrid car! Or planting more trees!
I think solutions can be found, if our government stops turning a blind eye to every problem. Until then God save these children.