Tag Archives: FDA

The world’s top influenza (Flu) research laboratories decided to institute a self-imposed moratorium


Should research work that attempts to make the H5N1 virus more potent, virulent, dangerous and transmissible under laboratory conditions be allowed? A meeting will be held in New York in July that will discuss whether the voluntary ban should be lifted.

The controversy over influenza risky levels of research ban and non-publication issues began over research by Netherlands researchers. They took an influenza (flu) virus that previously could only infect birds. They selected mutations from Influenza (Flu) viruses that had caused human pandemics with millions of deaths in 1918, and other years. They combined these mutations with the bird (avian) flu virus and passed it through ferrets. The reason they passed it through ferrets was that these animals most closely resemble how a person behaves when they are sick with the flu – the ferrets sneeze. The flu virus changed a little bit with each passage helped by the scientist to pass it from one sick ferret to a healthy ferret. In the first passage the scientist had to help or assist the mutant bird virus to infect the ferret by actually introducing it into the ferret. It could not “fly” through the air when the infected ferret sneezed to infect a healthy ferret in the vicinity. However, by the fifth passage onwards, this bird flu virus had mutated or picked up the ability to infect a healthy ferret by “flying” through the air in a sneeze pellet released by a sick ferret. The Dutch scientists could show how a new dangerous flu virus could emerge to cause a pandemic in people by existing previously in birds only, but by picking up mutations in flu virus infecting other animals or people and becoming able to “fly” in the air and infect a population. The scientists feel that knowing this ability will help them arm in advance and better equip governments to prepare in advance for the next pandemic. None of the ferrets died from this infection, a result of genetic engineering and multiple ferret transmission.

This research, by Ron Fouchier, PhD, of Erasmus Medical Center in the Netherlands and colleagues, was announced in a meeting of scientists and along with other researchers announcing their research on similar topics. Click here to read the reaction of the other researchers and policy makers present. Derek Smith, of the University of Cambridge, coauthored the second science paper, on June 21, 2012 gave a press release saying that such a pandemic event was in the realm of reality. Yoshihiro Kawaoka at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, published online by Nature discovered how the flu virus recognizes and stabilizes on a host cell through a protein during an influenza attack process. (Every human being is made up of several cells, as are all living things like birds, ferrets and plants; just in case you did not have a biology class in school. Also, a virus is not a bacterium. Only bacterial diseases can be cured by antibiotics. Viral diseases cannot be fought or cured by antibiotics).

The Dutch people were pondering on not allowing publication of research that might be dangerous in the hands of the wrong scientist, who might want to hurt all people. This view was contested by other scientists, including Nobel prize winner and head of the National Institute of Health, USA, who believe that the Dutch scientists research and similar research by University of Wisconsin scientists should be published in full. Click here to read what proposals made the Dutch Government reconsider their decision on banning this pubication of a bird flu study.

So, the question here is:
Is it better to be knowleadgeable and thus prearmed and prepared for the pandemic war that could possibly arise in the near future given the three deadly pandemics since the first one in 1918 last century?
Or,
is it better to just wait and see what hits the public with a severe health blow to millions of people (about 50 million are estimated to have died in 1918) and then figure out what flu combination is causing the pandemic and look for scientists available to find a vaccine to prevent further spread?
You may contact via email: r.fouchier@erasmusmc.nl This group did show that …”The transmissible viruses were sensitive to the antiviral drug oseltamivir”….

Related Articles about the controversial flu virus current research
Bird flu study published after terrorism debate ….could start a deadly pandemic among humans. These initial findings were presented last September in Malta at the European Scientific Working group on Influenza meeting to an auditorium packed with fellow scientists and policy makers…
Fouchier anticipates resuming H5N1 studies soon….said the voluntary 60-day moratorium on lab-modified H5N1 viruses expired Mar 20 and added that researchers are waiting for national governments to release their lab biosecurity assessments. These assessments were a component of a plan stemming from a World Health Organization (WHO) meeting of technical experts in February.

Fouchier made his comments during a live episode of virologist Vincent Racaniello’s “This Week in Virology” (TWiV), which was broadcast via webcast from the Society for General Microbiology conference in Dublin, Ireland. Racaniello, a virologist at Columbia University, authors Virology Blog and hosts the weekly virology podcast series.

Fouchier’s group at Erasmus and a University of Wisconsin team led by Yoshihiro Kawaoka, DVM, PhD, conducted experiments that involved engineering an H5N1 virus and an H1N1-H5N1 hybrid, respectively, that were transmissible in ferrets via airborne droplets.

The studies have been accepted for publication in Science and Nature, but advisors to the US government in December recommended against publishing the full details of the studies, due to bioterrorism concerns….
Debate Persists Over Publishing Bird Flu Studies – you may click to hear a NPR discussion on this subject by biosecurity expert D.A. Henderson on the risks of publishing the research.
N.Y. Times: H5N1 ferret research should not have been done – by virology blog shows the New York Times editorial on 8 January 2012, entitled ‘An Engineered Doomsday’.
Mutant-flu paper published: Controversial study shows how dangerous forms of avian influenza could evolve in the wild. By Ed Yong on 02 May 2012 in Nature.com …Kawaoka found that the hybrid virus could spread between ferrets in separate cages after acquiring just four mutations. Three of these allow the HA protein to stick to receptor molecules on mammalian cells, and the fourth stabilizes the protein. “Before we initiated this experiment, we knew that receptor specificity is important,” says Kawaoka. “We didn’t know what else was needed.”…

Related Articles: The Controversial Flu virus papers being discussed above
1. Airborne Transmission of Influenza A/H5N1 Virus Between Ferrets in Science 22 June 2012: Vol. 336 no. 6088 pp. 1534-1541
by Sander Herfst and colleagues – A report. (…..The genetically modified A/H5N1 virus acquired mutations during passage in ferrets, ultimately becoming airborne transmissible in ferrets. None of the recipient ferrets died after airborne infection with the mutant A/H5N1 viruses. Four amino acid substitutions in the host receptor-binding protein hemagglutinin, and one in the polymerase complex protein basic polymerase 2, were consistently present in airborne-transmitted viruses. ……)
2. Pathogenesis and Transmission of Swine-Origin 2009 A(H1N1) Influenza Virus in Ferrets / http://www.sciencexpress.org / 2 July 2009 / Page 1 / 10.1126/science.1177127
3. Severity of Pneumonia Due to New H1N1 Influenza Virus in Ferrets Is Intermediate between That Due to Seasonal H1N1 Virus and Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza H5N1 Virus. J Infect Dis. (2010) 201 (7): 993-999. doi: 10.1086/651132

Related Articles about the history of the Flu virus and vaccine development
History of the 1918 pandemic and the search for a vaccine
Should I get a flu vaccine this year?
Why am I feeling fatigued after getting the flu vaccine?

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Aloe: sunburn relief and more


Aloe extracts soothe a sun burn. I don’t know if that is FDA approved or not. However, I would not use any thing else if I were to be sunburnt. The reason being I have been sunburnt badly and I was saved by Aloe. I was vacationing in Barbados and fell asleep under the sun by the poolside. A few hours later, I was in much pain and my skin was peeling. The local people quickly slit open a few thick, fresh Aloe leaves, emptied it’s contents into a little bowl and applied it all over my sunburnt skin. I healed so quickly. I became a convert and a staunch Aloe worshipper. I got an Aloe plant and repotted it as it grew. It does not need much water. I can even leave on vacations to get sunburnt again and return to an Aloe plant that was thriving in spite of not being watered while I was away! That’s my kind of house plant: Low nurture – High value. I include several photos below.

By the way, I was vacationing in the Maldives, a country where the people have this fabulous skin that has been genetically selected to never get sunburnt. So naturally, they had no idea what the Aloe plant was when I got sunburnt, again. They handed me some bottled concoction recommended in medical lectures to diligent students, who had never heard of or taught about Aloe for free, natural sunburn relief. I was left with a hefty fee and I was very disappointed with it’s results. Once burnt with no Aloe, I am twice shy. I now always travel with bagged slices of the leaves of my Aloe plant. I am so Brilliant! I found that in Hawaii and Florida too, the doctors do not prescribe free Aloe for sunburn.

The international varieties of Aloe are seemingly endless, as you can see from the photos below. I have no idea if all the Aloe varieties behave the same way or not. If you do know the species names of the Aloe that do give sunburn relief then please share it here. Below, I am including photographs of all the varieties that I saw at the New York Botanical Garden conservatory. I would highly recommend that trip just to see this fascinating display of Aloe in the most beautiful display. It will make you want to go home and uproot your manicured garden and replace it with a low water requiring stunning Aloe garden. However, unless you are in a desert climate you may have to invest in a sunroom – just a minor adjustment but a fabulous mood enhancer and spirit uplifter.

Properties:

There have been claims of both effectiveness and ineffectiveness of Aloe gel in wound healing, anti-inflammatory, anti-fungal, anti-viral, anti-bacterial, anti-diabetic, anti-neoplastic, immunostimulant and promotion of radiation damage. The differences in activity may be because of seasonal fluctuations and the several cultivar varieties around the world (see photos below). Conflicting results in wound healing in particular may be dependent upon compound stability as time of treatment after harvesting was an important factor. A 5.5kDa Glycoprotein isolated from Aloe gel has shown increased cell migration and mobility. This in my opinion is good news for wound healing and explains why my sunburns may have responded so well to freshly harvested Aloe leaves.

A Pharmaceutical scientist from Tshwane University of South Africa, has reviewed in great detail the effects and applications of the Aloe leaf gel and if you are interested in one content filled article, then this 2008 review is the one I would recommend. 75 ingredients in the inner leaf gel have been identified but only a few have been correlated with therapeutic activities. A synergistic effect of many components in the leaf gel probably bring about the healing that I raved about above.  Aloe vera is the single most Aloe species that is used in large scale manufacture of Aloe leaf gel for cosmetics, pharmaceutical products and health drinks.

The Aloe leaf has an outer hard green rind and an inner colorless viscous liquid gel. The gel is over 99% water and about 1% enzymes, minerals, vitamins, polysaccharides, phenolic compounds and organic acids. The large varieties of Aloe show variations among cultivars and seasonal fluctuations in their mannose containing polysaccharides. The acemannan found in Aloe is structurally unique and is a characteristic of Aloe species.

Aloe vera gel increased the bioavailability of Vitamin C in the laboratory. The Aloe vera gel is being researched as a vehicle to enhance transdermal delivery of drugs.

Aloe juice is being bottled and sold. Now, I have no comments on that. If you do, please, discuss it here. A scientist at University of Karachi, Pakistan has studied the anti-epileptic properties of Aloe for a doctoral thesis. Also, some have bottled Aloe as a laxative ingredient.

Why should you not use aloe extracts as a laxative? The FDA (The Food and Drug Administration, USA) has issued a warning about Aloe after reviewing data. The FDA’s final warning in 2002 advises that aloe extracts and flower extracts are generally unsafe, ineffective or misbranded as stimulant laxative ingredients. So, my advice would be to avoid using laxatives listing aloe extracts as an ingredient. The scientists at University of Illinois at Chicago’s Department of Pharmacy explains why. Anthraquinone category of stimulant laxatives are derived from natural sources such as Aloe extracts. The International Aloe Science Council filed a petition saying that FDA did not base that decision on appropriate data but that decision remains unchanged. So, if you visit a foreign country and finds the natives using Aloe extract as a laxative successfully, you may want to bring it to the attention of a reputable Department of Pharmacy.

Photos of Aloe plant from the New York Botanical Garden Conservatory are below:

Large, Grey leaves

Large Green Leaves

Dark Green Medium Leaves

Dark Green Small Leaves

Light Green Variegated Leaves

Light Green Small Leaves

Dark Green Tiny Leaves

The Tree Aloe

Soft Green White Flecked Leaves

Dark Green White Flecked Leaves

Spiky Dark Green Small Leaves

Dark Green Very Small Leaves

Light Green Large Slim Leaves

Light Green Large Upright Leaves

Purplish Green Small Variegated Leaves

Yellow Green Small Bushy Leaves

Light Green Small Orange Spiked Leaves

Dark Green Small Bushy Leaves

Purplish Brown Small Leaves

Now, that you can that there are several varieties of Aloe plants all over the world beginning exploring how you can benefit from it. Especially, when you are planning a vacation on the beach (1,2, 3,4,5,6, 7,8, 9, 10, ). You may want to begin today.

This article has been cited by DIDI of scoop.it for “Top home remedies”.

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