Posts in the Medicine category

The Herpes Virus - what is it? (part 2)

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Suppressing herpes virus may reduce infectiousness of HIV

This is a picture of a herpes virus. It's a virus that most people come into contact with at one stage or other during their lives - usually when they're children. Different forms of this virus cause:

Virus SubtypeClassificationDisease
Herpes Simplex Type 1 (HSV1)HHV1Coldsores
Herpes Simplex Type 2 (HSV2)HHV2Genital Herpes
Varicella Zoster Virus (VZV)HHV3Chickenpox, shingles
Epstein-Barr Virus (EBV)HHV4Mono (infectious mononucleosis), Burkitt's Lyphoma, CNS symptoms in AIDS patients, post-transplant lymphoproliferative syndrome (PTLD), nasopharyngeal carcinoma
Cytomegalovirus (CMV)HHV5Mono-like symptoms (infectious mononucleosis-like syndrome), retinitis, cytomegalovirus colitis, cytomegalovirus hepatitis
RoseolavirusHHV6, 7"Rose rash" (roseola infantum), "sixth disease", "three day fever", "baby measles"
Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV)HHV8Kaposi's sarcoma, primary effusion lymphoman, some types of Castleman's disease

Table taken from Wikipedia.

There may be other forms of this virus associated with other diseases in humans; there are over 100 known herpes viruses - there may well be many more.

The viruses are classified into three groups based on the types of tissue they exhibit affinity for in the body.

VirusesTissue typeClassification
HSV1, HSV2, VZVNervous system tissueAlphaherpesvirinae
CMV, RoseolavirusLymph tissue and lymphatic systemBetaherpesvirinae
EBV, KSHVT or B lymphocytes; also lymphotropicGammaherpesvirinae

As many as 90% of the population carry one or all of these viruses in their systems. After infection, the virus hides in a latent form, where it can stay dormant for years - possibly forever - until the conditions are ripe for it to come out and replicate again.

In the alpha viruses, it hides inside the cytosome of the nervous tissue awaiting reactivation, often caused by stress or inflammation. I mentioned this previously in an earlier post on Alzheimers, Herpes and Etanercept; the key trigger for alpha virus reactivation appears to be the presence of TNEF-alpha in large quantities, telling the virus that it's safe to come out because the immune system is currently busy.

In the beta viruses, they hide inside the nucleii of the lympahtic cells themselves, causing what are known as "Owl's Eye" inclusion bodies - so called from their appearance:

CMV Owl's Eye inclusion bodies

The gamma viruses behave similarly to the beta viruses, but target specific lymphocytes.

When the virus replicates, it often destroys the host cell in the process, or severely distorts it.

The Herpes Virus - A cause for more diseases than we give it credit for?

Most of the literature on the web tends to only consider the problems with chronic and acute infections by herpes viruses. These typically form in children (upon first exposure), in the form of sexually transmitted disease (HSV2), or in immunocompromised patients (for example, people with AIDS, organ transplant patients, cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy).

They don't tend to consider the long-term effects of a sub-clinical infection; after all, if there are no symptoms, then the body is looking after itself - it's why we have an immune system.

However, I believe that it is important to consider sub-clinical infection and asymptomatic infection as potential causes or cofactors in a wide number of diseases - ranging from heart disease to most cancers.

This is becoming more possible now, partly because of the creation of gene-chip technology - especially viral chip assays, which allow any tissue sample to be tested for the presence of a virus quickly and efficiently. This is something that was not easily possible before, and has lead to the discovery of the presence of herpesviridae in many cancers. However, the researchers are not yet willing to draw a conclusive line between these results and the cause of the diseases themselves. In the case of Alzheimer's disease, however, we can definitively say at this point that there is a direct connection. And much of the research is showing other connections too.

The next article in this series will cover the path that led me to this conclusion. After that, I'll start tackling each disease, with references to the research. And finally, some proposed treatments that can if not cure the diseases, at least slow them down as long as doctors are willing to prescribe common medications off-label.

CMV Owl's Eye Inclusion picture source: Dan Wiedbrauk, Ph.D., Warde Medical Laboratory, Ann Arbor, MI. Used for educational purposes.
Herpes Virus picture source: taken from; original source unknown


Public Enemy Number 1 - The Herpes Viruses as Causative Agents For Most Later-Life Diseases (part 1)

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This is the story of a life-form. A very small, tiny encapsulated bundle of DNA that can replicate by itself, with the help of a host - specifically, in this case, human beings. It is also the story of its siblings - a set of viruses called 'herpesviradae' - which together form a large family of viruses which infect humans and other animals.

This is also a personal story, which touches on the death of my mother in 1996, and on the lives of other friends and family, all of whom are in some way or another inextricably tied to this virus.

And this is a story of hope. The hope that as soon as this is published, people can start taking preventative measures, and active measures against a great many diseases.

If I am correct in my hypothesis - which I hope to shore up with as much direct data as possible, along with references to many medical research papers - then I hope to prove that all of the following diseases are in some way caused by the family of herpes viruses.

If this is the case - and I believe this to be true - then there are direct nutritional and pharmaceutical measures that can be taken to stave off the progress of these diseases. Hopefully this series of blog posts will help to focus the medical community, and lead to the creation of cures, treatments and preventative measures against all of these diseases.

The diseases and symptoms I will cover in this series of posts include:

  • Alzheimer's Disease
  • Type-II Diabetes
  • High Cholesterol, including high HDL and high triglyceride levels
  • Heart disease, including atherosclerosis (aka arteriosclerosis)
  • Cancer of the gallbladder (cholangiocarcinoma)
  • Colon cancer
  • Crohn's disease
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Arthritis
  • Osteoporosis
  • Multiple myeloma
  • Glioblastoma multiforme
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Schizophrenia
  • Hodkin's Disease
  • Lymphoma
  • Breast Cancer
  • Kaposi's Sarcoma

There may also be other diseases for which I have not made this association yet.

I will also touch on:

  • Parkinson's disease
  • Prostate cancer

- both of which may be caused by other viruses, and as such are not as eminently treatable, but are similarly caused.

While I cannot prove a direct link between the virus and the symptomatic disease in all of these cases, I will be collecting enough papers together and also mechanisms of action that will provide enough evidence to show that we should be looking at the herpes viruses as the major causative agent (in combination with specific genetic variations) for these diseases.

When I have completed this series, I will collect the information together, remove most of the personal anecdotes, and attempt to publish in a medical journal. However, I believe that this information is important enough to publish in pieces while I put together the final paper.

The next post in this series will detail the changes in medical approaches to disease agents over the last 20 years or so, and my original hypothesis as to fungal, bacterial and viral agents being the underlying cause of non-juvenile cancers.

(If you are new to this series, you may want to read this post regarding the treatment of Alzheimer's with Etanercept, and how the mechanism of action may involve the herpes virus, and not simply be due to the action of TNF-alpha on synaptic function)

For some reason, Technorati isn't resyndicating this post. I'm trying to post it again to see what I can do on my end to fix it before I talk to their support people.


A Call for the Open Publication of Scientific Papers

Science has a long institution of collaboration; ideas flourish and multiply when they're shared, and that creates progress.

Until the 1990s, the only way to readily share that information was via published journals; an expensive, slow way of sharing information that requires the movement of little pieces of paper from place to place.

There's no reason it should be like this any more. And I argue that this is actually hurting our ability - as a species - to progress.

The Internet (and specifically Google at the time of writing) is the biggest source of information on the planet. Potentially, everything could be out there, readily accessible by everyone. It has way surpassed my wildest dreams in that.

But the information isn't itself useful (and this is where Google comes in). What's really useful is the mining of that information. The ability to enter keywords, and find related articles. The stuff that lets you take data points and connect A to B.

We are on the cusp of a revolution in science. For the first time in the history of humanity, you don't actually personally have to do experiments to test a theory. The sheer weight of numbers of other people out there, doing the research, and publishing their results removes the burden of performing those experiments themselves from the individual scientist. We're democratizing science, and making it accessible to the intelligent individual in a way that previously was only possible for the theoretical sciences. You no longer need tenure, or to be working in a research facility, to actually draw conclusions from research.

And data-mining allows that to come to the fore. In the near future, I can even imagine a world where Google itself could be mechanized. Computers themselves could draw conclusions from all of the research data, and come up with useful correlations. It's the Kurzweil singularity; at some point the system feeds off itself, and will spiral off to infinity.

But what's stopping that now?

The problem we have right now is that for most papers, only abstracts are available online. The actual detailed information is stored in academic publications, such as Phys. Review Letters A, and the Journal of Neuroimmunology - but the barrier to entry is too high for the skilled individual. It just plain costs money to read those papers. Scientific progress isn't supposed to work that way. It's supposed to be for the benefit of all of us.

That's not to say that there aren't considerable advantages to the peer review and publishing of papers. In fact, it's still an essential part of the scientific method. And it could continue, but not in the way it stands right now.

A proposal

We should change the way academic papers are published. We need to democratize this system. And partly, this has already happened. Pubmed, run by the US National Library of Medicine, and the National Institutes of Health is a good example of how to collect papers online. arXiv is another example - it's Cornell University Library's database of preprints of papers in Physics, Mathematics, Computer Science, Quantitative Biology and Statistics.

How should it work?

  • All papers get published online, either in collector sites such as those mentioned above, or on the individual author's sites - preferably both, so they can be archived for the future.
  • The journals take the papers, they are reviewed and refereed, and the papers which pass muster are published by them. This allows a bound archive of the best of the best work; the stuff that we know is real. It also provides an instantly accessible catalogue of verified high quality work, which those journals could charge for. What they're providing here is convenience, and a level of trust - which in an increasingly growing, polluted internet information space is becoming more and more important. (I've noticed recently that it's much more difficult to search for something on Google now, than 2 years ago... without serious AI advances, that problem is only going to get worse).
  • The authors and collector sites mark the papers as "peer reviewed", and provide references to where they were published, after they are published. This means that people can still access the useful information, and still have a hope of finding out which papers are valid - or not.

Sure, the scientific publications will make less money this way. But frankly, I don't have much sympathy for them; we're way past that business model's useful lifetime (as much as I, an ex-freelance journalist, regularly bemoan that). We could entirely bypass this system by providing something like Digg for scientific publications. At least this way, they're still involved in the game.

Come on people. Let's get some science done here, and use the singularity to our advantage.


Amazing Alzheimer's Treatment - And Why It Works

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News today hit the interwebs of a fantastic new potential alzheimer's treatment that works on a timescale of hours. Yes, you read that right, hours.

The drug involved is Etanercept, which is used to treat rheumatoid arthritis and psoriasis, and has been used off-label for Alzheimer's.

Of course, this kind of scoops the posts I was planning on making here - but in a really good way :) I'll explain how all this ties into my hypotheses when I make my big posts.

(Which I'm still working on - but it's a big topic so I'm still trying to figure out how to approach it).

But as a sneaky teaser:

Etanercept is a TNF-α antagonist; TNF-α being a cytokine created by white blood cells which is used to signal an inflammation response in the host.

So why does that help? Is Alzheimer's merely an inflammatory disease? And Etanercept turns that inflammation off, letting your body get back to business as usual?

Nope, that's not what's going on here... not entirely... Here's my hypothesis - you'll see my theme starting here:

The trick here is another part of the equation. Recent research has shown that Herpes Simplex Virus I is found in huge quantities in plaque riddled brain tissue in Alzheimer's patients.

Other recent research in mice shows that when the body has an inflammation response, it creates cytokines such as TNF-α - which cause the latent herpes viruses to re-activate.

So if HSV-1 is a primary cause of Alzheimer's, TNF-α increases its activity, and Etanercept decreases the amount of TNF-α in the bloodstream (decreasing its activity), then the case for HSV-1 being a cause of Alzheimer's is strengthened. And what's more, you can help it along with other drugs and nutritional supplements that are antagonistic towards herpes viruses.

So why is Etanercept prescribed for rheumatoid arthritis? The answer lies with another herpes-class of virus - Varicella Zoster. And that part I'll save for the series...

Meanwhile, my suggestion and recommendation to anyone dealing with this, and doctors treating it:

Supplement any treatment with Etanercept with Interferon-α/β, acyclovir (or valcylovir, or any of the other related antivirals), L-lysine supplements matched with an equal ratio of Vitamin C supplementation, and a low sugar (fructose, glucose, mannose) diet.

I'll explain more about why in coming posts. You can get L-lysine and Vitamin C over the counter. Most doctors would probably be willing to try acyclovir (Zovirax) or valcyclovir (Valtrex). Interferon may take a bigger push - in which case, give him the links in this article. They're listed at the bottom.

NOTE: I am NOT a doctor. Do not take any advice from this page without consulting with a certified physician. I'm just someone who's really good at Googling and building models.

Supporting Documentation:
ScienceDaily report on the use of Etanercept as a miracle Alzheimer's cure
Herpes Simplex 1 and Alzheimer's link
Latent HSV-1 infection reactivation due to TNF-α

Journal of NeuroInflammation paper on the use of Etanercept (the ScienceDaily report is based on this)


The Teaser: Medical Science and the Quest for the Cures...

You know, I'm not sure where to start with this post... but I think it's going to be a big one. I'm about to embark on a series where I explain how medical science is currently progressing, and how within the next 20 years we will have cures for most kinds of heart disease, type II diabetes, arteriosclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, arthritis, osteoporosis, multiple myeloma, high cholesterol, multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer's disease, glioblastoma multiforme, prostate cancer and a whole host of other cancers and diseases, particularly those that strike in later life.

Yes, I know, this is a bit of a departure for me, but this is the culmination of several months worth of research (a basic pubmed search that anyone with a willingness to wade through the vocabulary can do) into the subject. And while we don't have those cures today (possibly...), I can point you in the direction that medical science is going. And possibly give you a nudge in the direction that will help you stave off any of these effects in the near future. Bear with me, I'm not crazy, I promise. I'll be backing up these statements with links to papers on pubmed, and the latest medical research from as many sources as I can. The only thing I'll be doing that is a little out there is giving you a hypothesis and a connection which ties all of these together. There's a pattern here, folks.

Thus begins a whirlwind tour of the current medical research, and a story that will sound like something out of the recent movie I Am Legend. I'll be covering human endogenous retroviruses, xenotropic mouse retroviruses, herpes viruses (of which there are several, 8 of which are well known at this point), influenza type-A, adenoviruses and more. We'll see how herpes is connected to Alzheimer's disease, how chickenpox is connected to arthritis, and how to stave it off. We'll see how coldsores can increase your cholesterol level, how having the flu can give you (in exceptionally rare cases) Parkinson's disease, and how a virus originally found in mice could give you prostate cancer. And I'll also, while I'm at it, I'll explain why high fructose corn syrup could cause high cholesterol and diabetes - and in some people, why they have those problems anyway, no matter how they shift their diet. We'll cover why statins work, and what you may need to take in conjunction with them to get things going.

Now the disclaimer:

I am not a doctor. I have no medical training. I have a degree in Pure & Applied Physics with a minor in Electronic Engineering. I work as a programmer, and I'm damn good at spotting patterns and debugging.



I have to put that there, because my advice may be flawed, and I don't want to hurt anyone. All I'm aiming to do here is to push people in the direction of recognizing a pattern here, and hopefully saving a few lives along the way.

Hold on folks, it's going to be a bumpy ride.