The star actor of the popular show “Stranger things” on Netflix has alone raised awareness about a rare genetic condition called cleidocranial dysplasia (CCD), also known as cleidocranial dysostosis. The 17 years old actor, Gaten Matarazzo, is one of the stars of the show playing the role of Dustin Henderson. He was born with CCD.
CCD is a very rare condition that mainly affects bone and teeth development. In this condition, the collar bones are either absent or poorly developed. Their shoulders are sloppy and narrow. Therefore, the individual can bring his shoulders closer to each other in front of the body.
Among the dental abnormalities, CCD causes a delay in primary or baby teeth loss and appearance of secondary or adult teeth as well as misalignment of jaws and unusually-shaped teeth.
The other symptoms of CCD abnormal curvature of the spine, broad thumbs and short fingers, short forearms, a wide and short skull, prominent forehead and others. The symptoms vary among individuals, even within the same family. CCD develops due to mutations in the RUNX gene. This gene codes for proteins involved in the development of bones, cartilage, and teeth.
The writers added the condition in the script. The character of Matarazzo referred to the condition in the very first episode. Later, he got dentures. The actor has already discussed it in several tv talk shows.
Dustin, the character of Matarazzo, fights against the bullies by making the statement “I have told you a million times. My teeth are coming in. It is called cleidocranial dysplasia” in one of the episodes of the show.
Dustin shared the photos of his treatment including surgeries to spread awareness regarding CCD and decreasing the sense of shame from people suffering from it.
Researchers from Oklahoma State University, Tulsa stated that after this exposure, the Google searches regarding CCD have sharply increased by over 94%.
After the premiere of the 3rd season of Stranger Things in July 2019, an informative page reported about a 125-fold increase in views.
For CCD, there is no complete cure. The supportive treatments include the management of individual symptoms including the provision of calcium and vitamin D for promoting bone development ad strength and dental care, as these individuals are usually osteopenic.
According to the National Organization for Rare Disorders, CCD is a very rare genetic condition with a birth prevalence of 1 in a million. In medical literature, only 1000 cases of this condition are reported.
The study published in the journal of JAMA Otolaryngology-Head and Neck analyzed data from Google searches and trends as well as CCD-related organizations after each season of Stranger Things.
Researchers reported that after each season, they found a tremendous spike in searches related to CCD above the expected trend. They showed that there was approximately 11.2% and 12.9% increase in Google searches for CCD after season 1 and 2 respectively. However, the highest spike was observed after the 3rd season, with an increase of 94.4% in related Google searches.
The authors of the study wrote that raising awareness has contributed to increasing funding for researches, early diagnosis, increasing treatment choices, reducing the sense of isolation among affected individuals and improving the quality of life for them.
Dustin recently shared the photos of his treatment including surgeries to spread awareness regarding CCD and decreasing the sense of shame from people suffering from it.
Medical Cannabis Might Be Stronger Than It Needs To Be
The THC levels in medical cannabis are reported to be 15 percent, according to US researchers. These reported THC levels are double of what studies suggest are needed for medical uses such as pain relief.
A new study has found the majority of medical cannabis to be stronger than it needs to be for pain relief, by tracking the potency of cannabis products across various American states. The research further suggests the increase of negative side effects that can be caused by higher THC levels that are unnecessary for medical uses.
Alfonso Edgar Romero- Sandoval is the lead author in the new study, who explains how high-potency products should not exist in the medical realm, considering the high risk of the development of cannabis-use-disorders that are related to the exposure to high THC-content products.
Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), is the primary psychoactive compound in cannabis which provides pain relief and intoxication, has been increasing consistently, in herbal cannabis over the past few decades. According to one study conducted between 2006 and 2016, the THC levels rose from five percent to 10 percent, on average. Along with the spread of recreational laws, THC levels have further risen to 20 percent.
Higher THC concentrations have been believed to be linked to greater rates of psychosis, according to a study from last year. Alongside, as THC levels in plants rise, CBD (cannabidiol) levels drop. CBD is a suspected potent anti-psychotic agent. Consequently, in order to reduce the risk of negative long-term effects, a balance between THC and CBD is important.
Meanwhile, this new research aims to understand the levels of THC and CBD in various legal cannabis products, and how suitable the products may be for medical uses.
According to Romero-Sandoval, various earlier studies have shown than up to 5 percent THC levels were sufficient for the reduction of chronic pain, along with minimal side effects.
Over 8,000 cannabis products from more than 600 dispensaries in 9 American states, were examined by researchers, with results revealing that the majority of products –advertised either for medical or recreational purposes, contained over 15 percent THC. The study also reported that products with lower levels of CBD contained the highest concentrations of THC.
One study that investigated the legal cannabis market in Washington state between 2014 and 2016, reported that over 90 percent of all cannabis flower sales, consisted of a product that contained higher than 15 percent of THC concentrations. Although it was not surprising, it suggested the preference of potent products by the commercial markets, and how it subsequently ends up dominating markets, both in recreational and medical circles.
The researchers had further concluded how their findings suggested that the operation of medicinal programs is similar to the operation of recreational programs, based on the products that they sold online – that contained high concentrations of THC. While they were not adequate for medical use, they also held the possibility of contributing to risky misconceptions towards medical cannabis.
If studies suggest the 5 percent THC concentrations to be the ideal concentration to be used in medical cannabis for pain relief, and if there are potential increases in the risk factors for negative side effects and complications, with the rise of THC levels, then Romero-Sandoval, suggests the need for a clear regulation of medical cannabis products.
According to Alfonso Edgar Romero-Sandoval, it is essential to regulate the potency of medical cannabis products. Romero-Sandoval further adds that policies and regulations by the FDA could be useful in medical cannabis, something that is far more dangerous, compared to the presently regulated over the counter pain medications that have dose-specific side effects, such as ibuprofen.
PLOS ONE is the journal where the new study was recently published.
‘Recovered’ Coronavirus Patients Are Being Tested Positive Again
While the coronavirus is still creating havoc across the world, many authorities are taking active measures to overcome this pandemic. With the rapid spread of the COVID-19, the authorities have no choice but to take harsher measures, in an attempt to reduce the increasing number of COVID-19 infected cases. As the highly infectious disease takes lives of over 23,000 people worldwide with the increasing number of infected cases, the number of recovered cases is another figure that deserves just as much attention.
China has declared the recovery of over 74,000 cases alone that were recovered and virus-free. These patients could help the researchers for the invention of vaccines and treatments that could treat more severe cases. However, the doctors were puzzled as they found out that some of the recovered patients that were discharged from the hospital, were later were tested positive for the COVID-19. Thankfully, there isn’t much to panic about because there seem to be several explanations as to why a patient might test positive for the virus, even after the recovery, according to experts
According to official reports, more than 100 COVID-19 patients in China were called in for testing, after being “recovered” and discharged from the hospital, and were tested positive again. Two such cases were found in Japan and South Korea. One such case in South Korea was a patient who was tested positive after five negative results. This surprising case also occurred in Italy- the second-largest number of confirmed infected cases in the world. Another case was the 40-year old male who was “patient zero” in Turin but is now in isolation after being tested positive for the virus again.
The recovery of the patient was declared by Professor Giovanni Di Perri – the virologist and the person in charge of the infectious disease section of Amedeo Di Savoia. According to Di Perri, an oscillation between positivity and negativity can be expected to be seen in these cases, which happens after other infections. However, doctors will continue testing the patient.
Other professionals who talked to the LA Times, had somewhat shown agreement to Di Perri’s claims, about patients who were tested positive again after recovery. The general agreement was regarding the concept that the body gains immunity after an infection. Hence, an occurrence of reinfection is not the necessary possible meaning of another positive test. According to the director of Hong Kong University’s School of Public Health, Dr. Keiji Fukuda, reinfection is unusual when the patient’s immune system is revved up against a virus that the patient was infected with – unless the patient’s immune system’s functionality was questionable.
Experts say that the detection of the virus during the chemical reaction of the COVID-19 test is the possible presence of dormant fragments of the virus in the recovered patient. A sequence of genomes of both infections would be the best way to prove reinfection – to be able to look for any differences that would support the idea of the mutation of the virus that helped it avoid the immune system’s antibodies, according to Deputy Director for Clinical Research and Special Projects at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Dr. Clifford Lane.
Potential explanations for the unusual cases could also be human errors and issues with testing. Due to the overwhelming situation in hospitals in China, the possibility of patients being discharged before being fully healed also exists. Based on the statement of Chinese authorities, the general agreement would be that these cases aren’t a source of danger to the general public. However, with the existing ambiguity of the virus, it might be too early to say anything.
Experts Say Mapping of Cannabis Genome Could Potentially Improve Crops And Health
Assigning/locating a specific gene to a particular region of a chromosome, along with the determination o the location and relative distances between genes on the chromosome, is what the process of genome mapping is. Researchers are now emphasizing on the importance of cannabis genome mapping in order to improve crops and health.
According to the recently published international study that the researchers of the University of Saskatchewan led, a coordinated scientific effort to assemble and map the cannabis genome, would be required to explore the complete potential of cannabis for agriculture and human health.
Moreover, the Annual Review of Plant Biology published a statistical analysis of existing data and studies, where the authors concluded that there are indeed large gaps in the scientific knowledge of this high-demand, multi-purpose crop. According to the authors, genomics has immense importance in the development of any crop, and the analysis underlines how essential a co-ordinated effort is, in order to quantify the genetic and biochemical diversity of this species.
According to a team of scientists from The Netherlands, Germany, and the U.S., it was estimated that less than 50 percent of the cannabis genome is accurately mapped, while 10 percent of the genome is missing, leaving a further 10 to 25 percent of genome unmapped. Lead author and plant scientist in the USask College of Agriculture and Bioresources, Tim Sharbel, concluded that it shows the lack of foundation we have, to build a molecular breeding program that could be comparable to what exists for other crops.
According to Sharbel, these findings are expected to be the foundation of several types of research that the USask-led Cannabinoid Research Initiative of Saskatchewan (CRIS) will conduct. USask researchers from the College of Pharmacy and Nutrition, College of Medicine, and the School of Environment and Sustainability, will also be involved in the multi-disciplinary team. The author also stressed on the importance of these data, which was required to be able to set up a core collection of genotypes so that the various cannabis traits can be further studied.
The author has been working on medicinal plants, for 15 years in Europe. He added that the emergence of the cannabis industry is a good sign for the accomplishment of the larger goal- to normalize the use of traditional medicinal plants.
Medicinal Purposes of Cannabis
The author had also talked about the increase in the interest of companies in medical applications of cannabis that the recent societal and governmental acceptance of cannabis spurred. He is currently focusing on his academic research that will map, contrast and make complete use of the closely related genome of cannabis, hemp, and hops, and is consequently on the hunt for collaborators in order to fund this research.
Cannabis as a Food Source
In the light of the limited data that currently exists, the researchers discovered the support for the potential that cannabis could have, to provide health benefits along with treatments for pain, spasticity in multiple sclerosis, and opioid use minimization.
Despite this, the negative short-term effects of THC – the main psychoactive compound in cannabis, cannot be ignored. The short-term effects include decreased cognitive function, increased anxiety and fatigue, addiction, and potential long-term consequences that include permanent loss of memory, intelligence, mental focus, and judgment.
According to the author, like any other investigation of any other novel drug, the recognition of the potential benefits and associated risks, of cannabis and cannabinoids, is essential.
Furthermore, the team had noted the evidence of the possibility of developing hemp-type cannabis, that could be highly digestible as well as a protein-rich food source, and was expected to not be the cause of any allergic reactions.
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