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Month: October 2018

Anti-Mitochondrial Antibodies in Autism – A Marker for Treatment?

Posted on October 29, 2018 in Uncategorized

Recent focus on new treatments for Autistic Spectrum disorders have zeroed in heavily on the immune component of this disease. Physicians around the world are becoming more and more convinced that Autism may be triggered by some autoimmune process leading to damage of the body’s own neurological system.

Quite a few studies have pointed to aberrant immune markers found more commonly in autistic children compared to normal healthy children, but most of these markers have never made it to the masses, instead their access was strictly for research.
However that now has changed.

A few years ago researchers discovered that a protein called Neurotensin was found extremely elevated in Autistic Children. They showed that this peptide released mitochondrial DNA into the extracellular space (outside the cell), which acted as an autoimmune trigger.

The mitochondria is basically the “power house” of the cell. If its function becomes abnormal, the cells no longer have the energy to function properly, thus leading to either cell death or severely limited function. Either way the cells with the damaged mitochondrial don’t function well. Neurons are very sensitive to mitochondrial damage, having a smaller amount compared to other cells requiring large amounts of energy, such as muscles.

The mitochondria has its own DNA content separate from our own cells. If this mitochondrial DNA was released somehow into the extracellular space, the body would then react to it as if it was foreign, like a virus or bacterial, creating an immune response. Well that’s exactly what Neurotensin was causing. Studies showed that when Neurotensin was elevated mitochondrial DNA was found outside in the extracellular space.

Recently in the Journal of Neuroinflammation researchers took it a step further. Since Neurotensin is not commercially available they decided to test markers that were. They also wanted to determine if this extracellular mitochondrial DNA was actually causing an immune response. This way parents may be able to definitely decide if their child’s immune system was attacking the mitochondria.

Enter anti-mitochondrial antibody type II, a marker used for primary biliary chirrosis.

Researchers found that this antibody was significantly elevated in Autistic children as compared to children not affected with Autism, effectively demonstrating that many children suffering from Autism were reacting to their own mitochondria. They postulated that this reaction was affecting multiple aspects of the immune system, laying the ground work for potential damage or excessive inflammation.

This is a great study, showing a possible cause and effect process. Anti-mitochondrial antibody is available to test for, with most insurance companies covering it.

If your child has never been tested for the antibody, it may be worthwhile to have your physician order it. Having knowledge that maybe your child is suffering an autoimmune process is huge. It definitely will be a marker I use and will change how I treat my patients.

Humanized Monoclonal Antibody Therapies in Neoplastic Disease

Posted on October 21, 2018 in Uncategorized

In the last ten years the treatment of many types of cancer has been revolutionized by monoclonal antibody therapies. There are many, many print and audiovisual advertisements for these drugs bringing them into the public mainstream.. So, this brings to point some important questions: 1) What are monoclonal antibodies? 2) What types of cancer are treatable by this therapy? 3) What is the basic mechanism of action, i.e., How do these drugs work?

Antibodies are the body’s natural immune defense against invading pathogens. They are produced by specific cells of the immune system termed B cells. When an infection of the body occurs, the immune system takes note. After a brief time, when the front line defenses of the immune system battle the infection, [termed the innate immune response- the first line of battle], the cellular part of the fight takes over [the adaptive response]. The adaptive immune response involves antigen presenting cells, T and B cells. Very briefly, what happens within your body when an infection occurs is this: Circulating “detectives” called macrophages and dendritic cells find the infection and literally eat it or eat cells infected [in the case of a viral infection]. The cells then “present” specific protein parts of the eaten pathogen [bacteria or virus–called antigens] to cells called T and B cells. This is a call to arms: this is literally a scream saying “time to kick butt” by the immune system. The T cells are activated by the B cells upon finding the presenting antigen. The B cells then decide that they can better fight by changing themselves into a plasma cell. This is where the action happens. The B cell changes into a protein pumping machine, the protein being antibodies. The antibodies then go find from the blood the pathogen that the original antigen presenting cells early in the infection encountered. When the antibodies find their target, they bind to it and mark it for death. Think of this as a ball with toilet plungers attached. The wooden handle is what tells the immune system, “this thing needs to die”.

This is the basic theory behind monoclonal cancer therapy. Except in the context of monoclonal antibody cancer treatment, the antibodies are produced to a single epitope (a particular protein that the immune system readily sees from a cancer cell). These cells are then taken into the laboratory, grown and stimulated to produce a single antibody that “sees” a cancer cell.

An example of monoclonal antibody treatment in cancer is Herceptin. Herceptin is a monoclonal antibody specific for an antigen called HER2. HER2 is a protein that is more prevalent on cancer cells of the breast than in normal cells. This protein is from a family of receptors that tells normal cells to grow. The drug then takes advantage of this and can specifically target cancer cells of the breast in order to kill them. This drug too has side effects of being NOT heart friendly.

Another good example of neoplastic cancer therapy is the drug termed Rituxan (Rituximab). Rituxan is a monoclonal antibody directed towards the antigen CD20 on circulating lymphocytes of the blood and is indicated for the treatment of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. It works by depleting the blood of cells that have over-produced cells that have CD20 on their cell surface. When the antibody binds, like Herceptin, the body sees those cells as foreign and kills them.

So, the question is now that we know what neoplastic antibody therapy is, how does this killing work?
The current research and thinking is that when cancer cells are coated by these antibody drugs, the extending end of the antibody [called the Fc portion] attracts Natural Killer, NK, cells from the immune system. These cells actually have receptors that recognize this very event. When NK cells find antibody coated cells, they bind to them tightly and commence to kill them. The close proximity of the two cells allows the NK cell to release protein degradating enzymes, and other cytotoxic elements to kill the target.
This entire process is termed Antibody Dependent Cellular Toxicity, ADCC.

ADCC is a powerful tool being utilized by numerous biotech companies with the intent to augment the immune response with other, novel drugs. Such drugs that come to mind are TLR agonists, chemotherapy drugs and gene transfer strategies.

Genentech makes Herceptin, while Rituximab is in combination with Biogen Idec/Genentech. Both drugs are multimillion dollar assets to both companies. The side effects of Herceptin have been documented and are under intense research to understand them. Rituxan continues to be a key element to the bottom line of both companies with it’s successful treatments.

Herceptin is produced by Genentech.
Rituxan is another monoclonal antibody treatment indicated for the treatment of lymphoma.

Laughter – The Natural Antibody That Burns Calories

Posted on October 14, 2018 in Uncategorized

For some people who want to stay healthy without getting tired of doing hard exercises or spending a lot of money on medicine, laughing may be the alternative activity they have to choose.

Laughing is almost the same as aerobics exercise, which benefit especially the upper part of the body. It is a work out for diaphragm, abdominal, respiratory, facial, shoulders, back muscles and even legs. Moreover, it makes digestion and absorption system functioning better. According to some studies, laughter can burn calories equal to walking or biking.

A study conducted at Vanderbilt University demonstrated that 10 to 40 percent calories are burnt through 10 to 15 minutes laughing. In fact, new research published in the International Journal of Obesity said that laughing is the best medicine for a weight problem.

One thing for sure, laughing needs no cost all. It is a natural antibody or in other words priceless medicine. The same as smiling which can increase endorphin hormone, so as laughing can strengthen the immune system and increase natural killer cell levels that prevent the growth of cancer cells. Laughing also makes a person’s body more relaxed and thereafter reduces problems related to high blood pressure, heart attack or stroke, depression, anxiety, stress, arthritis, and ulcer.

Most of the time, laughing is also an exercise for the heart and lungs. It can increase the amount of oxygen getting through our body. Thus, laughter is believed to stimulate both sides of brain and enhance the brain function related to retaining information and solving problem.

Believe it or not, children laugh more than adult. This is pathetic because adult is the one who has more problems. That is why they need more laughter to overcome them. Or is it because they laugh less thus they have more problems?