docSamSBH Blog

Politics priority-pipeline assistance vs Churchill railroad

If recent negotiation with the BC government fails before end of May 2018,  our federal  government is willing to  help financially  the cost of  this interprovincial pipeline from Alberta to the Vancouver port, but not for the repair on the washout railway line to Churchhill- a problem  unresolved for over 2 years and which has resulted in the cost of living for residents of Churchill.  Where are our government  priorities?

Hayflick limit, telomere length and stem cell therapy

Stem cells therapy is becoming a common form of therapy in medicine especially for strokes, heart attacks degenerative diseases like arthritis and disc degeneration. In some cases the cells undergo many cell divisions as they become miniature organ structures  like beating hearts etc.  It is now generally accepted that as normal cells divide their telomeres become shorter and when reach a certain shortening length  the cells eventually stop division. This phenomenon of telomere shortening is believed to be the cause of Hayflick limit of  cell divisions.

I wonder is some of the failures in using stem cell therapy may be due to telomere shortening.

Importance of knowledge of tumor biology

In previous blog posts, I discuss the importance of formal courses in tumor biology and nutrition for medical students, as well as for practicing physicians, especially oncologists.

We all know that pathogenic bacteria can develop resistance to specific antibiotics. I wonder whether the poor response to specific anti-tumor drugs in some cancer patients, and/or the development of remissions, are related to the ability of cancer cells to undergo heteroploid transformation and the specific selection of a karyotype.

I recall from my research as a cell biologist with the Department of Cancer Research at the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon (from 1961 to 1965) where I demonstrated that if a single cancer cell from a cell line was isolated and then allowed to undergo numerous cell divisions in cell culture – I used the tumor cell line called HeLa – that chromosomal analysis of many cells from this population showed cells with varying number of chromosomes. This phenomenon is called heteroploid transformation. Chromosomal values in my experiment ranged from the low 50’s to the 70’s, with a stem cell line in the early 60’s. (Hrushovetz, S.B. Importance of heteroploid transformation in the etiology of neoplasia. Proceedings of the 17th Western Regional Group MRC/NCI. 1963).

For my Master’s degree in Biochemistry from the University of Alberta, I had earlier shown that the addition of specific amino acids to the culture medium on which the cereal plant pathogen – called Helminthosporium sativum – was sub-cultivated could alter the virulence of this pathogen in producing root rot disease. (see publication Phytopathology 47:261-264. 1957).

Alternatively, these experiments could be interpreted as demonstrating that for a pathogen to retain its virulence, it requires the presence of specific nutrients in its environment.

Time to study the possible role of hydergine in concussions.

Neurologists, other medical professionals especially sport doctors and therapists, and sports announcers among others, regularily gather for seminars and/or conventions to discuss concussions. Recently (on 06th Dec 2016) on a national evening TV program I viewed a seminar chaired by our Governor General a victim himself of concussions with 2 speakers Ken Dryden and Eric Lindros,- also victims of concussions. Although this presentation seem to provide valuable information on the incidence and long term effect of concussions they seemed to do little for finding a cause and/or a cure judging from the finding that both the incidence and costs for concussions continue to rise. The management of concussions still remain basically symptomatic with the affected individuals often making the final decision themselves as to when they are considered fit to return to their professional sport.
In an earlier post I outlined there are 4 levels of scientific proof categories for doing medical research. These are testimonial, argumentative, correlational and scientific -the latter being the accepted gold standard or double blind random study. In my opinion meetings and/or programs outlined above seem to only provide testimonial evidence. What is needed is more scientific based research- the 4th category or the gold standard. In 1998 The Life Extension Foundation published a pocket book entitled “The Physician’s Guide to Life Extension Drugs”. In this 268 pocket book, 14 pages were devoted to hydergine- In this section the authors mention that in many European countries (at least in the 1980 period) hydergine was used for emergencies with claims of reviving accident victims who were thought dead from heart attacks, drowning, and drug overdose! Many Hospitals in Europe routinely give hydergine to many patients before operations( Pearson and Shaw entitled Life Extension: A Practical Scientific Approach).Other effects of hydergine include increasing blood supply and amount of oxygen delivered to the brain resulting in enhancing metabolism of brain cells. Three other major effects of hydergine on the brain include protecting the brain from periods of insufficient oxygen supply (The Cat experiment), the prevention of free radical damage, and also the ability to increase memory, intelligence, learning and recall- the latter being the rationale for its use for treating senile dementia which is why hydergine is often labeled the smart drug. Incidentally hydergine was once the 5th most prescribed drug in Europe. What I have just described are the rationale for treatment of concussions with hydergine based on these argumentative and/or correlational observations and/or associations. We all know that in medicine before a drug can be prescribed as a treatment it must pass the gold standard test ,i.e. the 4th category of scientific proof- the highest level.. But here is the dilemma. Since we cannot predict who is likely to suffer a concussion following a head injury, and furthermore since the symptoms themselves are slow to appear whereas the damage to the brain may actually occur within minutes after the injury like in strokes and/or heart attacks, would it not be prudent to give the athlete prophylactically a drug like hydergine before they go on the playing field or an intravenous injection immediately following their head injury? Some time ago I posted such a post in my blog (docsamBlog). I have also sent emails to several professional hockey and football clubs suggesting that since they cannot predict who is likely to sustain a head injury and concussions, why not give them hydergine just like the surgeons in Europe were doing,i.e.before the scheduled games begin? I have also discussed this potential protocol with many of my medical colleagues. It seems this medical idea and others like the many paradigm shifts suggested for medical practice that I have presented at several meetings, reversing the aging process and many other ideas , have fallen on deaf ears.
Just a footnote for the reader to consider: Remember that Dr.Jenner and others who developed a vaccine for smallpox introduced this ” vaccination ” form of protection before they knew that smallpox was caused by a virus, Dr. Lind prescribed limes for those “adventurous & pirate sailors ” on their long sea journeys before we knew the role of vitamins (vitamin C) in nutrition- treatment of scurvy.
Posted 7th December 2016 by Dr. Semeon B. Hrushovetz
Labels: cat experiment concussions docSamBlog Eric Lindros Govenor General hydergine jenner and smallpox vaccination Ken Dryden life extension foundation categories of scientific proof neurologists

Iron Lungs of Gerontology, Alzheimer’s and Aging

Tuberculosis, also known as the white plague, was the leading cause of death in the middle ages and remained as one of the 3 major causes of death into the early decades of the 20th century. Patients in Manitoba infected with tuberculosis were usually sent to the sanatorium in Ninette, Manitoba to recuperate from tubercular bacillus.

The advent of anti-tuberculous antibiotics changed that and Ninette has become an abandoned historic site.  When polio became an epidemic in the early 1950’s, those patients who had bulbar polio and paralysis of their respiratory muscles could only survive with machines called iron lungs. Manitoba archives show wards at one of the city’s hospitals with thousands of patients  in such incubators.

Dr. Roy Walford in his textbook Maximum Life Span, detailed the choices that the medical profession had when confronted with epidemic outbreaks of polio. Here is a  quote from his textbook (pages  17-18):

“… Our long-term efforts should be for prevention ahead of treatment. The national Foundation for infantile Paralysis faced a similar kind of policy decision in the 1940s and 50s. It could have invested all its resources in perfecting better iron lungs. If that had been the choice, we would now have the best designed iron lungs imaginable, inhabited by thousands of polio victims. Instead of iron lungs the Foundation invested heavily in basic research on the conquest of polio. It was certainly the wiser decision. …” He goes on to say “…My point is that old-age homes and the vast social support structures  continuously accumulating to care for the helpless aged are the iron lungs of gerontology. Improvements in the social, economic,and medical support system for the elderly  will merely provide symptomatic relief for an expanding problem…” – Dr. Roy Walford

Of note, a similar worldwide vaccination program for smallpox was successful in irradicating the so-called red plague.

Cancer etiology: genetic or environmental

In order to prevent what is going to kill you, you need to know what those factors are. Let’s zero in on Canada’s number one killer: cancer.

Taking Canadian vital statistics on causes of death for the year 2011, there were 246,596 deaths. Statistics Canada divided the population into 4 age groups: 1-24, 25-44, 45-64, 65 years and over. The percentage of cancer deaths were 10%, 21%, 44% and 28% respectively.

Not surprisingly, cancer was the number one cause of death in all 4 age groups. But what surprised me was that cancer caused 10% of the 2,679 deaths in the youngest age group.

Most oncologists estimate that only 10-20% of cancers are genetically determined, with the rest due to environmental factors, with diet responsible for 35% and tobacco 25%(at least for males with the percentage in females rapidly approaching the same figure). It is also well-documented that the main reason for the higher cancer deaths in those 45 and over for lung cancer, and possibly also for the other environmental factors like diet and radiation, is due to the so-called lag period.

If this hypothesis for the mechanism of environmental carcinogenesis applies, then genetically-determined cancers in the 1-24 age group should be responsible for more cancer deaths with fewer from environmental such as by food, smoking, radiation, etc. Such information may give the oncologists, epidemiologists, and genetic counselling specialists new tools for their management of this major killer.

Genetic etiology of cancers

Earlier this month- about a week ago- in my other blog <docSamBlog>  I published a post citing ( using the argumentative scientific approach )  that oncologist might wish to use the argumentative  approach that with the data suggestion that 20% of tutors are genetically determined and that for the other 80% which have an environmental cause , and further that because there is a lag period of requiring up to 20 years or more before the precancerous lesion becomes an established cancer, and further it could be argued that in the first quarter of life  ( 1-24 Yeatrs these predetermined factors have not had sufficient time for these precancerous lesions to become established, that  a higher if not indeed most of the cancers of this age period  may ineed be of genetic origin

Today I read a report (or was it on the TV) detailed the history of this tumor by a neurological surgeon from my alma mater. Apparently after a vigorous chemotherapy protocol the lesion resolved only to appear in another part of the brain which I believed again went into remission . I would like to comment that what we are seeing is the epigenetic effect of chemotherapeutic effect on cancer genes.. Also that the approach for treating the majority- probably 80% or more-whose etiology aare caused by environmental factors- like smoking, food (nutrition), radiation etc. Epigenesis may explain the often observed phenomena of miracle cured in children.-

Choices for Alzheimer’s management: more nursing home beds or medical research?

Before discussing these 2 choices, here are some interesting facts regarding Alzheimer’s that I have come across in my research.

Alzheimer’s ranks as the 6th leading cause of death in the US, surpassing  breast and  prostate cancer deaths combined; currently, someone develops Alzheimer’s every minute (thats 60 new cases every hour, 1440 for each day (24×60) and  525,600  for each year (1440×365). Predictions are that by 2050, this rate will double to a new case of Alzheimer’s developing every 30 seconds doubling the number to over 1 million new cases annually.

The medicare costs today to treat Alzheimer’s in the USA is $236 billion annually, excluding the $5000 that caregivers also spend annually. Based on the increase in the number of people over age 85, it is predicted that these costs will rise to over one trillion dollars annually by 2050.

Canadian picture -just as gloomy: according to Canadian vital statistics for  2013 , Alzheimer’s ranked as the 5th major cause of death behind, cancer, heart disease, stroke, and chronic respiratory disease; because the elderly are currently the fastest growing segment of our population  there are now more people over age 65 than those under age 17 with the prediction that by 2050 half of the elderly will be over age 85.

Since incidence of Alzheimer’s increases with age, only 8% of the Canadian population have some degree of Alzheimer’s at age 65, but by age 85 this incidence increases to 35%.  By the year 2050, with half of the the Canadian population over the age of 85, 35% of them could have Alzheimer’s, an alarming prognosis. It could also become the number one cause of death. The current annual health care costs for Alzheimer’s is around $30 billion,  which could increase to over $300 billion by 2050. It alone could bankrupt our healthcare system in Canada.

We desparetly need a solution now. In the title of this post I suggested there were 2 routes available: more nursing home beds or basic research to find the cause and cure  of Alzheimer’s. As with other pandemics in the past we also had similar 2 choices. For example, in the 1940’s and 50s with the polio epidemic, governments were facing a similar policy decision – should they   invest their resources to build more and better iron lungs and hospitals for the patients who need them? Or should they invest in basic medical research to find a cure for polio? The National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis as it was called in those days chose the latter – a wise decision.

Regarding Alzheimers we have the same 2 choices-more nursing home beds or medical research.  I especially like the comments by Dr. Roy Walford in his book  Maximum Life Span. (pages 17-18):

“… My point is that old age homes and all the vast social support structures continuously accumulating to care for the helpless aged are the iron lungs of gerontology. Improvements in the social, economic and medical support system for the elderly will merely provide symptomatic relief for an expanding problem. …” .

By giving top priority to constructing 1200 more nursing home beds, the province of Manitoba would seem to have made their decision. Of note in  Saskatchewan, the government claims that everyday there are 10 new cases of Alzheimer’s. That’s over 3600 cases each year. If eventually, 25% of these cases require nursing home beds, then the province would need to build over 900 beds annually. In the 19th century, tuberculosis – known also as the white plague – was the leading cause of death, claiming over 35% of the population. Sanatoria like the one in Ninette, Manitoba were quickly constructed and filled. With the discovery of antibiotics which specifically killed the tuberculosis bacterium, patients no longer needed to go to sanatoria to be cured and these buildings soon became museums.

I have become quite fascinated with the advances made in Alzheimer’s research, and will discuss the topics of the role of Vitamin D and the 7 common ways we have to slow the aging process in my future posts.

Criteria when person is officially dead.

I ask this question because of my research experience will behaviour of human lymphocytes in cell culture at the Kidonan Institute of Gerontology- a private non profit research Lab I set up in December 1974 during my early years of Medical practice.

To discuss the  history of this private non profit research Lab you have to go  back to July 1965- actually 1961- the year after I graduated from Medicine from U. of Manitoba in 1960 and had done  a one year rotating internship at St. Boniface General Hospital, Upon completing my rotating internship I was invited by the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon to join their newly formed Department of Cancer research as a cell biologist with the rank of Asst. Professor.. At this Cancer Research Lab they had  just hired Dr. Joesph Morgan – from the Connaught Research Lab in Toronto where together with Dr. C Parker they perfected the tissue culture techniques to grow human polio virus in tissue culture and enabled Dr. Salk to developed the polio vaccine for which he received the Nobel Prizefor Medicine..This enabled me to perfect the techniques of tissue culturegrowth of human tissue  Not only did I he esearch LOver the next 4 years I when I set up the Winnipeg Clinic Research Institute  Laboratory at the Winnipeg Clinic on the invitation  by Dr. PHT Thorlakson.  I was invited by theU. of Saskatchewan to work as a cel biologist in their newly established Department of Cancer Research in 1961 to set up a private Research Labmat the Winnipeg Clinic.

Can fingerprint from deceased person be used to unlock their iPhone ?

There are 3 basic ways to open your iPhone: 1)typing in the 4 number password code, 2)using your finger print. 3) using Siri- I haven’t tried Siri but theoretically it should work since you can ask Siri to do many things-all you need is the recording of your voice on file and/or in your “will”. Scenarios where being able to unlock cell phones include where a person dies suddenly and did not leave password and other data in their will or in cases of terrorism where the victims involved are killed by the police, and companies like the recent experience with apple where they refused to unlock the phone of such victims for the police. The idea occurred to me that maybe their fingerprints could be used to open their iPhone devices if they had installed this method to unlock their cell phones . One would easily test this hypothesis by going to a funeral and/or post mortem room and place the thumb of the deceased on the home button of their iPhone – or whichever finger they used for opening their iPhone when they were alive. .If it is not successful, I wonder whether fingerprints found in police files could replace the fingerprint method for opening iPhones or similar devices. Maybe the finger print is altered shorty after death by rigour mortis changes. A note of caution to the police : when killing the suspected terrorists they should try and save the upper extremities especially the fingers and/or thumbs before they blow them up!