Sunday, April 15, 2012

Mum's diet can stop child allergies?

The omega-3 theory has long been  a popular one and the article below is based on a report by an omega-3 enthusiast -- so the positive result reported below  is rather to be expected  -- but there is other research that questions the benefits of Omega-3

And the report below is in fact a bit of a fraud.  The journal article referred to below is Effect of n-3 long chain polyunsaturated fatty acid supplementation in pregnancy on infants’ allergies in first year of life: randomised controlled trial.  The subjects were infants at high risk of hereditary allergies but even so, omega-3 had no effect on allergies overall.  A slight benefit was found with two allergies only, which looks like a data dredging effect.

One word summary:  Rubbish

JUST one gram of omega-3 long-chain fatty acids a day can prevent some allergies, such as sensitivity to eggs

A co-author of the world's biggest study into the effect of omega-3 on allergies, University of Adelaide Professor Bob Gibson, said pregnant women who included omega-3 in their diet could help prevent certain allergies.

The findings, published in the prestigious British Medical Journal, show omega-3 could improve the health of children "on a massive scale", he said.

"Children born to the mothers who received the fish oil treatment when they were pregnant had less atopic eczema and were less sensitive to egg exposure than those who were born to mothers in the placebo or control group," Prof Gibson said.

"Not all signs of allergy were influenced but some allergic conditions like asthma do not appear in children until they are older."

The study involved 2000 children from across Australia. Prof Gibson and his team will continue to follow them in coming years to monitor the longer-term benefits, including whether omega-3 has any impact on asthma.

Prof Gibson will travel to Canada next month to become the first Australian to receive the Alexander Leaf distinguished scientist award for his lifetime achievements in the study of fatty acids.

His earlier work, which found omega-3 fatty acids were beneficial for brain development, led to changes in infant formula regulations and the addition of fatty acids in commercially sold products.

That work includes a groundbreaking paper from the early 1980s on the fatty acid composition of human breast milk, which sparked new research in the area across the globe.

"The work to find a cure for allergy goes on," he said. "Although I've been working in this field for more than 30 years, I'm constantly astounded by the discoveries.  "Just when you think you've found everything there is to find, we realise there is more and more that science can uncover."


Could a cure for AIDS be on the horizon?

Sounds promising but a long way to go yet.  Also sounds expensive so may never be generally available

Human stem cells can be genetically engineered into 'warrior' cells that fight HIV - and the new cells can attack HIV-infected cells inside a living creature.  The breakthrough, by UCLA scientists, is hoped to be the first step towards a treatment that can eradicate HIV from an infected patient.

Much HIV research focuses on vaccines or drugs that slow the virus's progress - but this new technique could offer hope of a 'cure'.

The study, published April 12 in the journal PLoS Pathogens, demonstrates for the first time that engineering stem cells to form immune cells that target HIV is effective in suppressing the virus in living tissues.

'We believe that this study lays the groundwork for the potential use of this type of an approach in combating HIV infection in infected individuals, in hopes of eradicating the virus from the body,' said lead researcher Scott G Kitchen.

The scientists took CD8 cytotoxic T lymphocytes — the 'killer' T cells that help fight infection — from an HIV-infected individual and identified the molecule which guides the T cell in recognizing and killing HIV-infected cells.

However, these T cells, while able to destroy HIV-infected cells, do not exist in great enough quantities to clear the virus from the body.

So the researchers cloned the receptor and used this to genetically engineer human blood stem cells. They then placed the engineered stem cells into human thymus tissue that had been implanted in mice, allowing them to study the reaction in a living organism.

The engineered stem cells developed into a large population of mature, multi-functional HIV-specific cells that could specifically target cells containing HIV proteins.

The researchers also discovered that HIV-specific T cell receptors have to be matched to an individual in much the same way an organ is matched to a transplant patient.

In this current study, the researchers similarly engineered human blood stem cells and found that they can form mature T cells that can attack HIV in tissues where the virus resides and replicates.

They did so by using a surrogate model, the humanized mouse, in which HIV infection closely resembles the disease and its progression in humans.

In a series of tests on the mice's peripheral blood, plasma and organs conducted two weeks and six weeks after introducing the engineered cells, the researchers found that the number of CD4 "helper" T cells — which become depleted as a result of HIV infection — increased, while levels of HIV in the blood decreased.

'We believe that this is the first step in developing a more aggressive approach in correcting the defects in the human T cell responses that allow HIV to persist in infected people,' Kitchen said.


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