Hope for asthma, alcohol addiction and pain
Two new studies give hope to asthma sufferers. See our expert Dr Sandi Nye’s advice in this issue, on how naturopathy can be used to manage asthma.
A potential long-term asthma treatment has passed early trials1
Scientists have just come up with the beginnings of a potential long-term treatment for asthma, blocking the movement of a type of stem cell, pericyte, most often found in the lining of blood vessels. Pericytes are known to thicken the airways of people with asthma when an allergic and inflammatory reaction happens, making breathing more difficult.
A biologist and pharmacologist from Aston University in the UK, Jill Johnson, says: ‘By targeting the changes in the airway directly, we hope this approach could eventually offer a more permanent and effective treatment than those already available, particularly for severe asthmatics who don’t respond to steroids.’
Stopping pericytes from traveling to the airway walls – where they turn into muscle cells and other cells that make the airway thicker and more rigid – would impact one of the underlying causes of shortness of breath. In tests on asthmatic mice, scientists saw a reduction in symptoms in just a week and the clearing up of all asthmatic symptoms in two weeks. The treatment needs to be developed and made safe for human testing.
Monoclonal antibody reduces asthma attacks in urban youth2
A clinical trial has found that a monoclonal antibody, mepolizumab, decreased asthma attacks by 27%. The antibody reduced the activity of three networks of genes associated with airway inflammation and asthma attacks in the study population but did not reduce the activity of six other such networks.
Lab-made cartilage outperforms the real thing
Writing in the journal Advanced Functional Materials, a Duke University-led team says they have created the first gel-based cartilage substitute that is even stronger and more durable than the real thing.3 Mechanical testing reveals that the Duke team’s hydrogel – a material made of water-absorbing polymers – can be pressed and pulled with more force than natural cartilage, and is three times more resistant to wear and tear.
Hope to patients in persistent pain
Another interesting opioid alternative for pain. Over the past few issues, I have shared many new studies on alternatives to opioids – see our back issues. Damaged nerves can now be regenerated ‘by placing a cold needle through the skin under imaging guidance’ said the lead author of the study, Dr J. David Prologo, an interventional radiologist and associate professor at Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta.4
Researchers treated eight patients with chronic nerve pain related to a prior trauma with CT-guided interventional cryoneurolysis. CT-guided cryoneurolysis uses imaging to place a needle and freeze damaged nerves, causing them to degenerate and lose function. Prologo says. ‘If the nerve is exposed to the correct amount of cold, over the correct area, for the right amount of time, it will regenerate – replacing the previously damaged nerve with a healthy one.’
Psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy for alcohol addiction
Two administrations of high-dose psilocybin, in combination with motivational enhancement therapy and cognitive behavioural therapy, lowered percentage of heavy drinking days.5 According to Dr M. Bogenschutz of the NYU Langone Center for Psychedelic Medicine (New York City): ‘The treatment effects observed in our study were considerably larger than those reported in meta-analyses of approved treatments for alcohol use disorder.’
It is interesting to note the lasting effects of this therapy. ‘It is remarkable that the effects of psilocybin treatment persisted for 7 months after people received the last dose of medication,’ Bogenschutz said. ‘This suggests that psilocybin is treating the underlying disorder of alcohol addiction rather than merely treating symptoms.’
The ‘chemical imbalance’ theory of depression debunked?
Depression has been linked to a lack of serotonin, which is involved in transmitting emotions to the brain. Now recent claims that depression has no link to a chemical imbalance in the brain related to serotonin, is casting doubt on the need for anti-depressants.
According to Professor Joanna Moncrieff, lead author of the study published in the journal Molecular Psychiatry6: ‘It is always difficult to prove a negative, but I think we can safely say that after a vast amount of research conducted over several decades, there is no convincing evidence that depression is caused by serotonin abnormalities, particularly by lower levels or reduced activity of serotonin.’ The studies included in the review involved tens of thousands of participants.
I hope you enjoy this issue and please keep the feedback coming. Your health is my life’s work!
THANK YOU TO OUR EXPERTS
Our authors receive no payment or any other form of remuneration from us or from industry. The result is a credible platform that you, are readers, can trust. Here’s to all of them! May their tireless and tremendous efforts bring them well-deserved rewards.
- Joanna Moncrieff et al, The serotonin theory of depression: a systematic umbrella review of the evidence, Molecular Psychiatry (2022). DOI: 10.1038/s41380-022-01661-0
Yours in Healthy Living