What Is Inflammation? What Causes Inflammation?

Inflammation is the body's attempt at self-protection; the aim being to remove harmful stimuli, including damaged cells, irritants, or pathogens - and begin the healing process. When something harmful or irritating affects a part of our body, there is a biological response to try to remove it, the signs and symptoms of inflammation, specifically acute inflammation, show that the body is trying to heal itself. Inflammation does not mean infection, even when an infection causes inflammation. Infection is caused by a bacterium, virus or fungus, while inflammation is the body's response to it. The word inflammation comes from the Latin "inflammo", meaning "I set alight, I ignite". Inflammation is part of the body's immune response. Initially, it is beneficial when, for example, your knee sustains a blow and tissues need care and protection. However, sometimes inflammation can cause further inflammation; it can become self-perpetuating. More inflammation is created in response to the existing inflammation. According to Medilexicon's medical dictionary, Inflammation is: "A fundamental pathologic process consisting of a dynamic complex of histologically apparent cytologic changes, cellular infiltration, and mediator release that occurs in the affected blood vessels and adjacent tissues in response to an injury or abnormal stimulation caused by a physical, chemical, or biologic agent, including the local reactions and resulting morphologic changes; the destruction or removal of the injurious material; and the responses that lead to repair and healing. The so-called cardinal signs of inflammation are rubor, redness; calor, heat (or warmth); tumor, swelling; and dolor, pain; a fifth sign, functio laesa, inhibited or lost function, is sometimes added. All these signs may be observed in certain instances, but none is necessarily always present." Plaque...

Severe Sleep Loss Affects Immune System Like Physical Stress Does

Sleep deprivation and physical stresshave similar effects on the immune system of human beings, researchers from the Netherlands and the United Kingdom reported in the journal SLEEP. Both physicalstress and severe sleep loss jolt the immune system into action, the authors explained. The scientists , from Erasmus MC University Medical Center Rotterdam, and the Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences at the University of Surrey, United Kingdom, compared the number of white blood cells in 15 healthy young adult males who were subjected to normal sleep and severe sleep loss. The greatest impact was on granulocytes - types of white blood cells - which lost their day-to-night time rhythmicity as numbers shot up, especially during nighttime. Lead author, Katrin Ackermann, PhD, said: "Future research will reveal the molecular mechanisms behind this immediate stress response and elucidate its role in the development of diseases associated with chronic sleep loss. If confirmed with more data, this will have implications for clinical practice and for professions associated with long-term sleep loss, such as rotating shift work." The authors explained that prior studies had found a link between lack of sleep and the development of certain diseases and conditions, such as high blood pressure (hypertension),diabetes and obesity. Other studies have demonstration that adequate sleep helps keep the immune system working properly, and that long-term sleep loss is a major risk factor for immune system problems. The 15 young men were made to follow a strict routine of eight hours sleep every day for one whole week - their white blood cells were categorized and measured. Within 90 minutes of waking up, they were exposed to 15+ minutes of outdoor light. They were not allowed to...

Antibody Shrinks Tumors Of Seven Cancers

A single antibody caused tumors from seven different human cancers transplanted into mice to shrink or disappear, according to a new study led by Stanford University School of Medicine in the US. The researchers hope to repeat this dramatic finding with tests in humans within the next two years. Senior author Dr Irving Weissman, professor of pathology at Stanford, and colleagues, write about their success in treating bladder, brain, breast, colon, liver, ovarian, and prostate cancertumors in this week's online ahead of print issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. They say the antibody blocks a protein known as CD47, that sends "don't eat me" signals that cancer cells use to stop macrophages and other cells of the immune system from gobbling them up. Anti-CD47 is the first antibody treatment to work against a variety of human solid tumors. The investigators said they are now eager to get started with phase 1 and phase 2 clinical trials in humans within the next two years. The treatment also significantly reduced the ability of the tumors to spread (metastasize) to other parts of the mice's bodies, and in some cases, the animals appeared to be "cured". Weissman, who directs the Institute of Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine and the Ludwig Center for Cancer Stem Cell Research and Medicine, both at Stanford, told the press their findings show "conclusively" that CD47 is a "a legitimate and promising target for human cancer therapy": "Blocking this 'don't eat me' signal inhibits the growth in mice of nearly every human cancer we tested, with minimal toxicity," said Weissman. Dr Robert Weinberg is a professor of...

India Polio-Free For One Year

India, which was once a major polio hotspot, has reported no new cases of the disease in just over 12 months, ever since a two-year old female case on 13th January, 2011, in the state of West Bengal. According to WHO (World Health Organization), India used to be known as the planet's "epicenter" of polio. WHO scientists say that as soon as all remaining lab investigations come back negative, India will be officially recognized as a nation that has stopped indigenous transmission of wild poliovirus, leaving just three countries with existing indigenous transmissions - Pakistan, Nigeria and Afghanistan. Despite this major achievement, scientists say India must not become complacent. Childhood immunity against wild poliovirus must be religiously maintained, as should nationwide surveillance. Unfortunately, and also rather worryingly, Pakistan and Afghanistan have had rising numbers of reported poliovirus infections over the last 12 months. Poliovirus found its way from Pakistan into China, re-infecting the country after it had been polio-free for over a decade. Nigeria, DR Congo, and Chad continue having active polio transmission. There have also been sporadic outbreaks in Central and West Africa over the past year. Polio will remain a global threat as long as it exists somewhere in the world, says WHO. Health experts and leaders throughout the world praised India for its dedication and commitment to the eradication of polio, as well as the millions of health workers, including vaccinators, community mobilizers, Rotarians, caregivers and parents who have been behind this drive over the last decade. Over 170 million kids under 5 are vaccinated annually in India - this includes 70 million in very high-risk areas. A...
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