Fentanyl vaccine poised to be ‘game changer’ in fight against addiction

The end to the fentanyl crisis may be in sight, thanks to a team of researchers in Texas who claim they have successfully developed a vaccine that could be a “game changer” in addiction treatment.

A team led by the University of Houston has developed what they say is a fentanyl vaccine that can block the synthetic opioid from entering the brain — essentially curing addiction by eliminating the euphoric high.

“There’s no question about it. We developed something that’s a new game changer,” Dr. Colin Haile, a research associate professor of psychology at UH and the Texas Institute for Measurement, Evaluation, and Statistics (TIMES) told Fox News during a recent tour of the research facility.


“It’s a completely different strategy of treating an individual with opioid use disorder.”

Their vaccine works in an entirely different way, said Dr. Haile, from other treatments for opioid use disorder and overdose deaths.

Dr. Colin Haile (center, wearing glasses) is seen here cleaning a sample at his lab at the University of Houston. He believes that the fentanyl vaccine his team has developed can help those in addiction recovery.
(Fox News Media)

It essentially produces antibodies much like other vaccines make those antibodies against a virus or bacteria.

Dr. Haile’s vaccine does the same by blocking fentanyl from entering the user’s brain.

Proteins are used to keep the drug in the bloodstream—then it is flushed out through the kidneys.


“It’s similar to the hepatitis B vaccine. The vaccine stimulates the body to make antibodies against fentanyl,” Dr. Haile said, “and if an individual consumes fentanyl, those antibodies will bind to the drug and prevent it from getting into the brain. “

He added, “Without the vaccine, fentanyl penetrates the brain quite readily, stimulates euphoric centers, and also can stimulate parts of the brain that control respiration, leading to overdose and death.”

A lethal dose of fentanyl is pictured next to a penny.

A lethal dose of fentanyl is pictured next to a penny.
(Drug Enforcement Administration)

Testing on lab rats and mice showed very promising results, said Haile, and he believes they will see the same findings once human trials begin in the coming weeks.

“We have done extensive studies in mice and rats and the effect of the vaccine was quite dramatic,” he says. We demonstrated that, yes, the vaccine prevents fentanyl from penetrating the brain. It keeps it in the blood. And then the fentanyl is removed from the body.”


He believes the vaccine could be available to the public within two years, he said.

“Given that the vaccine is already made up of components that are already on the market and already have been tested in humans, we feel that when it comes time to submit our application to the FDA, we are hopeful that the approval process will be expedited .”

The team began working on the fentanyl vaccine nearly six years ago.

Dr. Haile and his team began working on the vaccine nearly six years ago when an unprecedented rise in overdose death started to surface. The vaccine was developed from two protein strands already used in other vaccine treatments.

Fentanyl and other synthetic opioids have become the primary cause of overdose deaths in the US and it’s estimated that over 110,000 occurred between August 2021 and August 2022 – a stunning record for a single 12-month period.

Haile and his team say human trials will begin soon.  They hope for FDA approval within the next two years.

Haile and his team say human trials will begin soon. They hope for FDA approval within the next two years.
(Fox News Media)

With over 150 people dying every day from overdoses of synthetic opioids, according to the CDC, the vaccine comes at a crucial time as the drug crisis grips the country.

“Unfortunately, starting about 10 years ago or so, the manufacture of fentanyl was increased, and it became much more part of the mainstream in terms of illicit drug markets, to see it first being part of the drug supply and more recently, just completely taking over for any other illicit opioid,” Dr. Wilson Compton, deputy director with the National Institute on Drug Abuse, which consults with Dr. Haile’s research team, said to Fox News.

“So, heroin [use] is dropping in many parts of the country because fentanyl is cheaper, easier to smuggle, and produces the same brain effects.”


The vaccine development has been funded by the Department of Defense, where officials tell Fox News that backed the project after the need to address the prevalence of addiction among the families of many service members.

“We need this vaccine…There’s so many people that can be helped.”

Dr. Haile points out that this vaccine would be best for those who have already undergone detox, as it will prevent relapses.

“This vaccine is for individuals that want to quit. It is not for individuals that do not want to quit,” he says.

“A vaccinated individual — if they do not want to quit their opioid addiction, they can take other drugs, other opioid drugs, or just other drugs that are vaccine antibodies do not target.”


People have already been contacting the team at the University of Houston asking to be added to the upcoming trials — something that Dr. Haile says underscores the need for this treatment.


“We need this. We need this vaccine. And there’s so many people that can be helped,” he says.

“It needs to happen, and it will happen.”

Fox News’ Evan Goldman contributed to this report.


How Much Testosterone Do Men Need? A New Study Sparks A Fiery Debate

Trouble getting pregnant, fatigue, erectile dysfunction, and hair loss are all common symptoms of low testosterone. Ads from a booming testosterone industry remind us of this constantly, as do food and fitness “hacks” touted by so many influencers. Professional opinions on the right levels of testosterone for men vary widely — even among tenured experts. No wonder so many men obsess over their testosterone levels. A new study aims to clear up what can be defined as low T — by outlining the differences in testosterone through age. But some doctors wonder whether the proposed change could throw tens of millions of men into even more confusion over where they stand and what to do about their testosterone.

Getting To A New Testosterone Threshold

The new study, published in The Journal of Urology, argues that the standard cutoff point for clinically low testosterone levels in men needs to be adjusted. There’s currently a single cutoff for low blood testosterone: 300 nanograms per deciliter (ng/dL). But the study researchers argue that what counts as low T depends on a man’s age — an aspect previously overlooked because most data collected came from men over 40.

“Young men have different testosterone reference ranges than older men,” said lead author Alex Zhu, DO, a urology resident at Michigan Medicine, in a press statement. “Our findings suggest we should be using age-specific cutoffs when assessing testosterone levels in younger men.”

How much testosterone a cisgender man has in his body — measured through a blood test — can change throughout his lifetime, and most start experiencing a decline around age 30 to 40 as the glands that produce testosterone, including those in the testicles, start slowing down . Testosterone levels also drop when a man becomes a dad, which may have an evolutionary root in the dad giving up hunting for new mates and instead becoming a family man, increasing the survival of his baby.

Before that decline begins, “normal” testosterone levels range from about 264 ng/dL to 916 ng/dL, according to the Endocrine Society. But different studies over the years have yielded slightly varying results of what normal ranges can be.

To learn more about normal testosterone levels throughout a man’s lifetime, Zhu’s team analyzed testosterone data from nearly 1,500 US men between the ages of 20 and 44. For each age group, they split up the testosterone levels they found into thirds: a low third of the population, an average third, and a high third. They found that with every year a man gets older, his testosterone drops by an average 4.3 ng/dL.

The researchers found that a testosterone level anywhere below 409 ng/dL — well above the current low testosterone cutoff — is already low for a man in his early 20s compared to the average T levels of his 20- to 24-year-old peers. This calls for an update to low testosterone standards, Zhu’s team argues, and that man should be considered to have low T and be eligible for insurance-covered testosterone therapy.

The Argument For Age-Specific Testosterone Cut-Offs

With these findings, clinicians could use age-specific low T cutoffs instead of a “one size fit all” approach, according to Zhu’s team. Changing the official thresholds used by doctors — like the one set by the American Urological Association Testosterone Deficiency guidelines, which came out in 2018 and probably won’t get updated for a few more years — could make it easier for younger men who may need it to access testosterone therapy. Currently, insurance only tends to cover patients who fall below the standard 300 ng/dL cutoff.

But having lower testosterone than your peers — specifically, falling into the lower third of testosterone levels for your age group — doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll have symptoms of low testosterone or need treatment, says Kevin Campbell, MD, a urologist at the University of Florida Health who was not involved in the study. Not everyone under 300 ng/dL has symptoms that can be traced back to low T, and not everyone above that level is symptom-free.

“We do have to take it with a grain of salt,” says Campbell. Testosterone, like everything in the body, operates in a complex system — although blood levels of testosterone can be high or low, the amount of T actually available to the body might be different, because testosterone is bound to other molecules that orchestrate whether testosterone is used or not.

“The concept of age-appropriate thresholds for testosterone deficiency makes a lot of sense,” says Guillaume Paré, MD, a molecular epidemiologist at McMaster University in Ontario, Canada, who was not involved in the study. Paré does, however, worry that testosterone deficiency is too often defined as testosterone concentration below the 33rd percentile, basically saying that one in three men will always be testosterone-deficient. He doesn’t think that’s reasonable.

“By design, current thresholds categorize a third of males as having low testosterone. This is a large proportion of individuals and might not reflect whether biologically there is too little testosterone,” says Parè.

The Risks And Rewards Of Testosterone Treatment

He believes that there should be stricter thresholds for low testosterone, and worries that a diagnosis of testosterone deficiency at a young age could lead to overzealous long-term treatment with testosterone replacement therapy, of which the potential side effects are yet to be researched in detail .

“The potential side effects of such treatment are not well understood,” Parè says. “Our own research suggests it could lead to an increased risk of prostate cancer, high blood pressure, and baldness,” he says, pointing to his 2020 study in the journal eLife.

The FDA has issued warnings that testosterone therapies can increase the risk of heart failure. However, its European equivalent, the EMA, notes that the data doesn’t sufficiently support that testosterone therapy causes heart problems. The scientific jury is still out on other effects of the therapy, including whether it betters or worsens sleep apnea, for example.

A 2022 study by Northwestern Medicine suggests that commercial brands providing testosterone therapy are quick to provide medication without going through its pros and cons — for example, 83.3% of the surveyed brands did not mention the possibility of an increase in blood thickness.

“We should make sure there is a clear benefit to each patient started on testosterone replacement therapy, as it might not be as benign as sometimes assumed,” Parè says

To avoid unnecessary treatment, it’s important not to interpret testosterone levels in isolation, says Richard Anderson, Ph.D., MD, co-director of the Center for Reproductive Health at The University of Edinburgh in Scotland, who wasn’t involved in the study. Whether the man is experiencing symptoms, has other health issues, has been under recent stress, or has experienced any lifestyle changes that could affect his testosterone levels, such as increased smoking or drinking, is imperative for interpreting testosterone blood levels in context.

Sometimes patients are able to wean off of testosterone replacement therapy, though they would likely have all the same symptoms that first brought them to therapy. And stopping high-dose testosterone therapy can cause drastic withdrawal symptoms.

“We know of the consequences of very low levels, and it is clear that treatment is beneficial,” says Anderson. “But this is not the case for less marked low levels, and we must avoid over-treatment, as it’s very difficult to stop treatment later.”


Living near a ‘food swamp’ could raise stroke risk in adults 50 and older: research

Adults ages 50 and older who live near fast food-dense environments may be at heightened risk of stroke, preliminary research has determined.

So-called “food swamps” typically contain an abundance of fast-food chains and convenience stores — essentially “swamping” neighborhoods with unhealthy eating options, the authors explained.

Meanwhile, food swamps also often overlap with food deserts, where insufficient grocery stores complicate the quest to find fresh produce, they added.

“An unhealthy diet negatively impacts blood pressure, blood glucose and cholesterol levels that increases the risk of stroke,” lead author Dixon Yang, a postdoctoral fellow at Columbia University Irving Medical Center, said in a statement.

“Independent of one’s own demographics or socioeconomic status, living in a neighborhood with an abundance of poor food choices may be an important factor to consider for many people,” Yang added.

To determine the connection between food swamp density and stroke risk, the researchers performed a secondary analysis of data collected from 2010 to 2016 on 17,875 adults.

The initial data came from the University of Michigan’s ongoing Health and Retirement Study, which recruits participants across the US to explore the challenges and opportunities associated with aging.

The researchers then cross-referenced this information with food environment details from the US Department of Agriculture, to create a so-called “retail food environment index.”

The index, they explained, indicates the ratio of unhealthy food options to the number of healthy choices in each neighborhood.

Unhealthy food options included convenience stores, fast-food and full-service restaurants, while healthy food retailers included grocery stores, farmer’s markets and specialized food stores, according to the report.

The areas with more unhealthy choices generally had a ratio of higher than five, while those with healthier options had a ratio of five or lower.

“Prior research has shown that a retail food environment index ratio of five or higher may predict the prevalence of people with obesity in a neighborhood,” Yang said.

Yang and his colleagues then weighted the 17,875 adults to be representative of a much larger US population of more than 84 million community-dwelling adults.

More than 3 million people — or 3.8 percent of those studied — self-reported having experienced a stroke, the scientists found.

About 28 percent of those surveyed lived in areas with a retail food environment index below five — the areas with healthier options.

The remaining 72 percent lived in regions ranked five or higher on the index, according to the research.

Those who lived in the neighborhoods with less healthy options had 13 percent greater odds of stroke in comparison to residents of areas that ranked below five, the authors found.

The scientists acknowledged several limits in their research, including the single time period evaluated and the fact that stroke events were self-reported.

In addition, the research is still in preliminary stages — to be presented at next week’s American Stroke Association conference — and has yet to be peer reviewed.

“At this early stage of our research, it’s important to raise awareness that a person’s neighborhood and food environment are potentially important factors affecting their health,” Yang said.

“In the future, it may help to focus on community-based interventions or dietary guidance to improve cardiovascular health, thereby, hopefully reducing the risk of stroke,” he added.



Aspiring actress, 30, diagnosed with brain tumor after homeless man punched her is hit by a car

An aspiring actress has been dubbed the ‘unluckiest woman in the world’ after she was attacked by a homeless man who broke her jaw, diagnosed with a brain tumor and hit by a car on her way to radiation therapy.

Alli McLaren, 30, describes the ‘series of unfortunate events’ that left her with a traumatic brain injury and two broken feet in a now viral TikTok video.

‘I’m the friend that lives that “Can’t catch a break lifestyle,”‘ McLaren, a Los Angeles resident originally from Australia, tells viewers in a clip that has garnered 1.6million views.

She explains in the video that her life started to take a turn for the worse in October 2021, when a homeless man assaulted her in the City of Angels.

McLaren was a social butterfly at the time, with many friends who enjoyed going out in the city and having fun. But when she walked back from Starbucks on her last day of what she described as a ‘toxic job,’ the TikTok star was punched in the head by a homeless man.

Alli McLaren, 30, described in a recent TikTok the ‘series of unfortunate events’ that left her with a traumatic brain injury, cancer and two broken feet

‘He walked across the road, and I saw him out of the corner of my eye,’ she told Media Drum. ‘He punched through my phone, which broke from the impact and I fell over. It all happened in about two seconds.’

She said she sought medical attention at an urgent care facility in West Hollywood, where doctors told her she had a concussion but ‘looked fine’ and dismissed her concerns.

But she started to feel jaw pain a month later, and a dentist confirmed her jaw was fractured from the attack.

McLaren said in a video posted in June that the dentist originally told her it would heal on its own. But three months later, she said, she was in ‘more pain than ever and can’t eat solid food.’

At that point, she said, she sought another opinion from a different dentist who took another X-ray which showed the fracture was even worse than it was before.

After attempts to wire her jaw back in place failed, the New York Post reports, she was forced to wait another two months before getting oral surgery to fix the fracture.

McLaren explained in the now-viral TikTok: ‘I had to get jaw surgery to fix it, and my immune system was super weak and I ended up getting an infection and pneumonia.’

During that bout with pneumonia, the Post reports, she fell and hit her head, causing a Traumatic Brain Injury which spurred back-to-back seizures.

Her life started to take a turn for the worse in October 2021, when a homeless man assaulted her in the City of Angels

Her life started to take a turn for the worse in October 2021, when a homeless man assaulted her in the City of Angels

The homeless man punched her in the head, leaving her with a fractured jaw

She had to get oral surgery to fix her jaw, after which she got pneumonia and fell on her head, leaving her with a traumatic brain injury

The homeless man punched her in the head, leaving her with a fractured jaw. She had to get oral surgery to fix her jaw, after which she got pneumonia and fell on her head, leaving her with a traumatic brain injury

McLaren had to get several surgeries for the traumatic brain injury, and later brain cancer

McLaren had to get several surgeries for the traumatic brain injury, and later brain cancer

She received treatment for the seizures, but soon she started to experience more seizures, vomiting and mood changes — having unexplainable anger and confusion.

Ultimately, the doctors discovered she had a noncancerous giant cell tumor growing in her brain.

From there, her TikTok shows, she was in and out of the hospital. One video from January showed she was spending $43,000 a month on medical bills and rent.

And when she went to get radiation treatment at a local hospital just last month, she was run over by a driver who failed to brake at a stop sign.

The accident left her with two broken feet.

McLaren is pictured at one of the many hospitals she has been admitted to over the past few years after she was diagnosed with a brain tumor

McLaren is pictured at one of the many hospitals she has been admitted to over the past few years after she was diagnosed with a brain tumor

When going to one of the hospitals to receive radiation treatment last month, she was hit by a driver who ran a stop sign.  The accident left her with two broken feet

When going to one of the hospitals to receive radiation treatment last month, she was hit by a driver who ran a stop sign. The accident left her with two broken feet

McLaren describes on TikTok how difficult treatment has been for her physically and emotionally

McLaren describes on TikTok how difficult treatment has been for her physically and emotionally

Online, some TikTok users praised the homeless man for landing the blow that ultimately led to the discovery of the tumor.

One commentator wrote: ‘Okay, but the homeless guy kinda saved your life??’ The comment received over 43,000 likes.

But McLaren says she doesn’t agree.

‘Although it would be a great story for the homeless man, the only thing he’s done is cause me a lot of stress and medical bills,’ she said, explaining: ‘The timing of everything doesn’t work for him to have helped me discover the tumor, as it wasn’t there when I was originally hit.’

In fact, she suggests, the homeless man may have even caused all of his problems over the last few years.

‘Although the cause for this type of tumor is unknown, a possible explanation I’ve been given is that it may be the result of head trauma, so he may have even caused it.’

Despite it all, McLaren manages to remain positive, even joking in a recent TikTok

Despite it all, McLaren manages to remain positive, even joking in a recent TikTok

She said she believes all of these trials have made her stronger, claiming everything happens for a reason

She said she believes all of these trials have made her stronger, claiming everything happens for a reason

Making matters worse, her medical struggles have been compounded by new mental and emotional health issues.

‘I have really struggled to be honest,’ she said. ‘I’ve had both depression and anxiety.

‘I also get really uncomfortable walking near people on the street because I don’t trust anyone,’ McLaren revealed, before saying she ‘got demoted… because I had to work from home so much and I ended up leaving after that, so financially it’s been a strain.’

And she said, ‘I have nowhere near as many friends as I used to.

‘I stopped responding to messages and stopped showing up at places,’ she explained. ‘A lot of the time I’m super tired and just have no energy.

‘I used to be super social and now I just have a hard time leaving my house.’

At times, McLaren said, she will randomly become angry, which has distanced her from many of her friends.

She said now only has her ‘tolerant’ friends and family members who aren’t easily offended by her behavior.

McLaren is an aspiring actress living in Los Angeles who is originally from Australia

McLaren is an aspiring actress living in Los Angeles who is originally from Australia

But through it all, McLaren remains positive, even joking recently on TikTok that nothing bad has happened to her since she was hit by a car last month.

‘I think I stay strong by knowing it can’t be like this forever and also knowing that one day I’m going to wake up and I won’t be in pain anymore,’ she said.

‘I do believe that everything happens for a reason. I am hoping to maybe one day write a book about it and keep using my platform to talk about chaotic life.’

McLaren added that she believes all of these trials have made her stronger.

‘We don’t choose our lives and what happens to us, but we do choose how to take what happens to us and make it into something beautiful.’



Get Rid of Moobs as You Age With 4 Kettlebell Exercises

Most gym enthusiasts have one particular area of ​​their body that’s their main focus. For some individuals, it’s a thick waist. Others spend a solid amount of time strengthening flabby arms. Another frustrating issue to address during workouts happens to be man boobs, also known as “moobs.” If you fall into this frustrating category, we are here with four kettlebell exercises to get rid of moobs as you age.

To learn exactly how to tackle this stubborn area, Eat This, Not That! spoke with Chad Barribeau, BS, CSCS, a field support director for D1 Training, a leading fitness concept that spotlights the five basic tenets of athletic-based training to help individuals at any age accomplish their fitness goals. Barribeau is also a certified nutritionist and has worked with a ton of NFL, MLB, and NHL athletes. He specifically raves about using kettlebells in workout programs, as they provide a wealth of benefits that you won’t get with other equipment.

Barribeau explains, “How you can manipulate your grip and load the muscles is very different from using traditional dumbbells. Depending on the grip, you can create ‘chaos’ and make movements much more unstable, causing muscles to strain even more, further strengthening them through the entire range of motion.”

Barribeau suggests some specific kettlebell exercises for toning and strengthening your chest to get rid of moobs, including the bottoms-up kettlebell bench press. “This will cause a great change in balance/stability throughout the movement,” he tells us, adding, “A few other great movements to incorporate into your program would be supine lying kettlebell pullover, kettlebell chest flys, and standing kettlebell chest press. “

Kettlebells are a total staple for any solid routine, as they provide such variation and challenge to many basic moves. Let’s get started with this productive workout!

Bottoms-Up Kettlebell Bench Press


First up is the bottoms-up kettlebell bench press. To get started, form a standard bench press position. Next, take hold of the kettlebell horn; the bell should be pointing up toward the sky. Using control, slowly start the movement using a similar form to a standard dumbbell bench press.

RELATED: 5 Everyday Habits To Get Rid Of Your ‘Moobs’ After 50, Expert Says

Supine Lying Kettlebell Pullover

Start this next exercise by lying flat on your back, using the floor or a bench. Then, take hold of the round bell part of your kettlebell. Lower the kettlebell to chest level, maintaining straight arms. Next, bring it back to the starting position.

Kettlebell Chest Flys

Begin your chest flys by taking the horn of your kettlebell; the round bell should be on the back of your forearm/wrist. While keeping your elbows bent and firm, start to lower both arms to each side. Squeeze your chest while returning your arms to the start position. This motion should look like hugging a tree.

RELATED: Eliminate Your Man Boobs With 5 Dumbbell Exercises, Trainer Says

Standing Kettlebell Chest Press

For the standing kettlebell chest press, stand straight and keep a firm hold on the kettlebell on one side as you attempt to push both of your hands together. At the same time, press the kettlebell slowly away from your torso, then get back into the starting position. You should be consistently squeezing the kettlebell throughout the move.

Alexa Mellardo

Alexa is the Mind + Body Deputy Editor of Eat This, Not That!, overseeing the M+B channel and delivering compelling fitness, wellness, and self-care topics to readers. Read more about Alexa


Smartphone app may help detect stroke symptoms, research shows


Smartphone technology can detect heart irregularities and listen to a cough to help flag potential health problems. Soon, it may be able to help identify symptoms of a stroke.

Stroke experts said they hope this technology could help educate people about the signs of a stroke and encourage them to seek emergency medical care more quickly.

Researchers have developed an app called FAST AI to detect the most common stroke symptoms — facial asymmetry, arm weakness and changes in speech — using machine learning algorithms. The preliminary findings will be presented next week at the American Heart Association’s International Stroke Conference.

“Our goal is very simple. We want to detect stroke at onset,” said Radoslav I. Raychev, lead author of the study and a vascular neurologist at the University of California at Los Angeles.

The app is not ready for public use, and it is unclear when it will be available or to whom it will be marketed.

Eventually, Raychev said, the goal is to go beyond the app to other devices or platforms.

“When someone’s on video chat, or when they’re talking to” a virtual assistant such as Alexa, “or when they’re driving their autonomous driving vehicle, we want to be able to have that passive surveillance to capture the patient’s symptoms as the stroke happens,” he explained.

Using the app as an educational tool

Neurologists at four major metropolitan stroke centers in Bulgaria tested the app with nearly 270 patients who had a confirmed diagnosis of acute stroke.

Using video recordings and device sensors, the app was able to identify facial asymmetry with more than 97 percent accuracy and arm weakness with more than 72 percent accuracy, according to the abstract, which has been peer-reviewed but has not yet been published in a medical journal.

Since the initial research phase, the app has been tested on several hundred more patients, Raychev said. It is also designed to detect abnormal speech, but that function has not yet been tested on patients, he said.

Experts said a smartphone app that can help detect stroke symptoms is a great idea. But, they said, the app should be used to educate people about the signs and motivate them to call 911, not as a diagnostic tool.

Some experts expressed concern that a false negative result may discourage some people from seeking emergency medical care, for instance, which could have devastating consequences.

“This is an exciting and interesting opportunity to see how we can use AI technology to further information about stroke symptoms,” said Andrew Russman, head of the stroke program and medical director of the Comprehensive Stroke Center at the Cleveland Clinic.

“But by no means should this be considered a methodology for deciding whether to call 911 or deciding whether someone definitively is having stroke symptoms. It’s just one piece of information that sounds interesting right now but doesn’t have an actual application yet.”

Early detection is crucial for strokes

Stroke, which occurs when a blood clot blocks blood flow to the brain or when a vessel bursts within the brain, is the fifth leading cause of death and a leading cause of long-term disability in the United States.

Time is critical in diagnosing the condition and initiating treatment protocols, said Matthew Potts, surgical director of the Comprehensive Stroke Center at Northwestern Memorial Hospital. “When you have blood cut off to the brain, every minute that passes, neurons are dying,” he said.

“Clot-busting” medications can break up clots during the first few hours of an ischemic stroke, which accounts for 87 percent of strokes, preventing or minimizing brain damage.

But these medications such as Alteplase IV r-tPA must be given within 4.5 hours of ischemic stroke onset. In some cases, the clot may be removed during a thrombectomy, a procedure to manually remove it from an artery.

Hemorrhagic stroke may be managed with medications or require surgical intervention.

The prognosis depends on the area of ​​the brain and amount of tissue that is affected, but timing is key, and in some cases, quick action can prevent damage, experts said.

Even with transient ischemic attacks, or TIAs, in which the blood clot is temporary and does not cause permanent injury, they can be a warning sign that the patient is at risk of future strokes. That’s why stroke patients—and those around them—should be aware of the symptoms.

More women than men suffer strokes, but many don’t realize the risk

Common warning signs of a stroke

The acronym FAST is used to teach people the most common warning signs of a stroke.

  • “F” is for facial drooping: The face may droop on one side, particularly when the person smiles.
  • “A” is for arm weakness: When both arms are raised, one arm may start to drift downward.
  • “S” is for speech difficulty: The person may be slurring words.
  • “T” is for time: If someone is experiencing any of these symptoms, call for an ambulance immediately.

There are other symptoms, too, which an app may have a hard time detecting, that could signal a stroke, Russman said. Stroke patients may experience sudden and severe headaches, confusion, vision loss in one or both eyes, numbness or tingling down one side of their bodies or trouble walking because of dizziness or a loss of balance or coordination.

Greg Albers, director of the Stanford Stroke Center at Stanford Medical Center, said stroke symptoms can be disabling.

“The type of vision you lose from a stroke, for example, is typically half of your visual field,” he said. “If you’re bumping into things because you can’t see, you’re waving a hand in front of your eyes and there’s a big chunk of missing vision, that’s very concerning.”

“Symptoms come on very abruptly,” he added.

Other times, however, symptoms are mild, and patients may not take them as seriously and seek medical attention, which could leave them with permanent deficits, experts said.

Albers acknowledged that determining whether someone is having a stroke can be tricky, which is one reason people should have “a low threshold” for calling 911 when symptoms indicate a stroke.

Even in the emergency room, he said, medical professionals must perform brain scans and other tests before making a definitive diagnosis and starting treatment because giving a “clot-busting” drug to a patient who is having a hemorrhagic stroke — in which an artery in the brain leaks or ruptures — could result in “a disaster.”

“They’re going to bleed more,” he explained.

Experts said the goal of smartphone technology that can detect stroke symptoms should be to get stroke patients into the ER more promptly.

“We want people to err on the side of coming to the hospital, not err on the side of staying home,” said Matthew Fink, chief of neurology at Weill Cornell Medical Center and NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital.

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Heart Disease Breakthrough: New Immune Target Discovered

Heart disease, also known as cardiovascular disease, is a leading cause of death worldwide. It refers to a group of conditions that affect the heart and blood vessels, including coronary artery disease, heart failure, and arrhythmias.

Research has identified suPAR as a protein that contributes to the development of atherosclerosis and kidney disease, offering new opportunities for treatment.

Traditionally, clinicians have approached the treatment of disease by controlling diabetes and blood pressure, and utilizing cardiovascular medications such as aspirin and statins to lower cholesterol.

However, heart disease continues to be the leading cause of death in the United States. Even when risk factors are managed, many patients still experience heart attacks, according to Salim Hayek, MD, physician-scientist and medical director of the University of Michigan Health Frankel Cardiovascular Clinics.

But a study led by Michigan Medicine has uncovered a protein produced by the immune system that causes atherosclerosis – the hardening of arteries that affects over a billion people worldwide – which offers the promise of new treatments.

“Targeting the immune component central to the development of atherosclerosis is the Holy Grail for the treatment of heart disease,” said Hayek, senior author of the study “This is the first time that a component of the immune system is identified that meets all the requirements for being a promising treatment target for atherosclerosis.”

This protein, called soluble urokinase plasminogen activator receptor, or suPAR, is produced by the bone marrow. It acts as a regulator, essentially a thermostat for the activity of the immune system, or “immunostat”.

Past studies have shown suPAR to be a marker of cardiovascular disease. But this study, published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation, is the first evidence showing that the protein actually causes atherosclerosis when at high levels.

Three-pronged findings

First, the research team analyzed the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis, which consists of over 5,000 people without known cardiovascular disease and found that those who had higher suPAR levels were much more prone to develop atherosclerosis and experience cardiovascular events, regardless of their underlying risk factors.

Then, the investigators did a genetic study of 24,000 people to find whether certain genetic variations affected levels of suPAR in blood. They discovered a specific variant in the PLAUR gene that codes for suPAR, and people with that genetic variant tended to have higher suPAR levels. Most importantly, that genetic variant was linked to atherosclerosis in a Mendelian randomization analysis of 500,000 participants in the UK Biobank, which was replicated in two other large data sets.

“We also found that participants lacking a copy of the PLAUR gene have a lower risk of heart disease,” said first author and geneticist George Hindy, MD, Ph.D., of Regeneron Genetics Center. “Altogether, the genetic data is truly compelling for high suPAR being a cause of atherosclerosis.”

Finally, in mouse models with high suPAR levels, researchers saw a dramatic increase in atherosclerotic plaques of mouse aortas compared to mice with normal suPAR levels.

“Even prior to developing atherosclerosis, the mouse aortas with high suPAR levels contained more inflammatory white blood cells, and the immune cells circulating in the blood were in an activated state, or ‘attack-mode,’” said Daniel Tyrrell, Ph.D ., co-first author and research fellow at the UM Health Frankel Cardiovascular Center. “High suPAR levels appear to activate the immune cells and prime them to overreact to the high cholesterol environment, causing these cells to enter the blood vessel wall and accelerate the development of atherosclerosis.”

What is unique about this study, Hayek says, is that it brings to light high-quality clinical, genetic, and experimental data – all pointing to suPAR as a cause of atherosclerotic disease.

“Now, we’re looking into developing treatments to reduce suPAR levels safely as a strategy to prevent and treat heart disease, especially since traditional therapies for atherosclerosis have no impact on suPAR,” he said.

suPAR linking kidney and cardiovascular disease

The study doesvetails findings that suPAR is known to be a pathogenic factor that causes kidney disease, which impacts one in seven Americans. People often experience the two conditions together: two-thirds of people with kidney disease are affected by cardiovascular disease, and over 40% of patients with cardiovascular disease have signs of kidney disease.

“This paper places suPAR as the link between kidney and cardiovascular disease; a common factor causing both through this inappropriate, persistent activation of the immune system,” said co-author Jochen Reiser, MD, Ph.D., chair of the Department of Medicine at Rush University and an expert in the study of suPAR. “This is pointed out in the Mendelian randomization genetic analysis done by the investigators, showing that high suPAR is also linked to kidney disease.”

For both conditions, suPAR has long been known as a biomarker for poor outcomes and disease progression. In a 2020 study, Hayek’s team found that suPAR can worsen acute kidney injury and that blocking suPAR prevents it. A recent study led by Hayek found that levels of protein are high in patients with heart failure and predict death for patients.

Research into suPAR’s role in health and disease has advanced rapidly in the past 10 years. Hayek says suPAR has great potential to be a successful treatment target for cardiovascular and kidney disease. His lab has already begun work designing anti-suPAR therapies and planning clinical trials.

“My hope is that we are able to provide these treatments to our patients within the next three to five years,” he said. “This will be a game changer for the treatment of atherosclerotic and kidney disease”.

Reference: “Increased soluble urokinase plasminogen activator levels modulate monocyte function to promote atherosclerosis” by George Hindy, Daniel J. Tyrrell, Alexi Vasbinder, Changli Wei, Feriel Presswalla, Hui Wang, Pennelope Blakely, Ayse Bilge Ozel, Sarah Graham, Grace H. Holton, Joseph Dowsett, Akl C. Fahed, Kingsley-Michael Amadi, Grace K. Erne, Annika Tekmulla, Anis Ismail, Christopher Launius, Nona Sotoodehnia, James S. Pankow, Lise Wegner Thørner, Christian Erikstrup, Ole Birger Pedersen, Karina Banasik , Søren Brunak, Henrik Ullum, Jesper Eugen-Olsen, Sisse Rye Ostrowski, on behalf of the DBDS Consortium, Mary E. Haas, Jonas B. Nielsen, Luca A. Lotta, on behalf of the Regeneron Genetics Center, Gunnar Engström, Olle Melander, Marju Orho-Melander, Lili Zhao, Venkatesh L. Murthy, David J. Pinsky, Cristen J. Willer, Susan R. Heckbert, Jochen Reiser, Daniel R. Goldstein, Karl C. Desch and Salim S. Hayek, 4 October 2022, Journal of Clinical Investigation.
DOI: 10.1172/JCI158788

The study was funded by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), the Michigan Institute for Clinical & Health Research (MICHR), and the Gilead Sciences Research Scholar Program in Cardiovascular Disease.

Hayek and the University of Michigan have patents filed for the use of suPAR levels in the management of cardiovascular disease and the use anti-suPAR therapies as a strategy to prevent and treat atherosclerosis. Hayek and Reiser are scientific advisory board members of Walden Biosciences, a company devising therapeutics targeting suPAR in kidney disease. Hindy, Haas, Nielsen and Lotta receive salary, stocks and stock options from Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, Inc. Eugen-Olsen is a co-founder, shareholder, and chief scientific officer of Virogates and a named inventor on patents related to suPAR.


Lower your risk for dementia by spending time in nature


Richard Sima will return next week.

Spending time in nature—even as little as two hours a week—has been linked to several health benefits.

It seems to support healthy aging and has been associated with, among other things, improved cognitive function, blood pressure, mental health and sleep.

Now, a study of nearly 62 million Medicare beneficiaries suggests that nature may also help protect against the risk of developing certain neurodegenerative disorders.

The results revealed that older adults who lived in a Zip code with more green space had a lower rate of hospitalization for Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias such as vascular dementia and Lewy body dementia.

Blue space — bodies of water such as lakes, rivers and oceans — and the amount of land dedicated to parks in a given Zip code were also associated with fewer hospital admissions for Parkinson’s disease, but not for Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias.

New study finds 6 ways to slow memory decline and lower dementia risk

Nature can reduce stress levels

Why that is remains unclear, but leading theories propose that nature reduces our body’s stress levels while heightening our ability to focus. Proximity to forests, parks and other green outdoor common spaces can also encourage physical activity and provide opportunities to connect with other people.

Regular exercise and social interaction can help prevent Alzheimer’s disease and general cognitive decline, while chronic stress has been linked to an increased risk for dementia. Exercise may reduce the likelihood of developing Parkinson’s disease as well.

“We also know that, in general, air pollution and noise levels are lower in greener environments,” said study author Jochem Klompmaker, a postdoctoral research fellow at the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health. “Some of these mechanisms may be related to Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease.”

The protective associations of green space with hospitalization decreased after adjusting for air pollution, but still remained significant, implying that other factors are at play. The findings were published by JAMA Network Open in December.

“It’s not the first study to show this association between green space” and dementia/Parkinson’s, “but one of its big strengths is the extremely large study population,” said Anjum Hajat, associate professor of epidemiology at the University of Washington, who was not involved in the research. “No other study has been that large.”

Klompmaker and his colleagues looked at Zip codes and hospital admissions for all fee-for-service Medicare beneficiaries ages 65 and older who lived in the contiguous United States from 2000 to 2016.

Health benefits of green space, blue space and park cover

To assess exposure to natural environments, they analyzed the amount of green space, blue space and park cover for each beneficiary’s residential Zip code. Green space was defined by the normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI), a measurement of the greenness of a parcel of land calculated using satellite imagery.

An NDVI of 1, for example, signifies the presence of dense green vegetation such as a forest, whereas urbanized areas with a scarcity of trees would score closer to 0. “NDVI captures green vegetation,” Klompmaker said. “That could be the grass in your backyard, trees on the street, or even crops on agricultural lands.”

The researchers also used satellite imagery to gather blue-space values ​​for water, while the percentage of park cover was based on the US Geological Survey Protected Areas Database. Hospitalizations included those Medicare beneficiaries who had a primary or secondary discharge diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease or related dementias.

The results confirm what other, smaller studies have observed in terms of nature and neurodegenerative disorders.

A 2022 study of four US cities found that high residential green space was associated with a reduced risk of dementia among older adults. A 2021 review of 22 studies suggests positive associations between green space and brain health measures related to Alzheimer’s disease.

DuWayne Heupel, 69, lives in Colorado Springs, a nature lover’s paradise with over 9,000 acres of parkland and 500 acres of trails. “We have loads of green space in Colorado Springs,” Heupel said. “It definitely helps with my health, particularly my mental outlook.”

And in a 2020 study, residents of Vancouver, BC, living close to roads had a greater incidence of Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias, but greenness seemed to have a protective effect.

“Based on the available evidence, we can say that the more contact with nature, the better,” said Payam Dadvand, associate research professor at the Barcelona Institute for Global Health, whose own research focuses on the effects of air pollution and green space on human health. His 2018 analysis of 6,506 older adults in the UK discovered slower cognitive decline over a decade-long follow-up period for those who lived in areas with more green space.

Researchers have theorized that exposure to nature provides health benefits by:

  • Reducing harm — reducing exposure to air pollution, noise and heat.
  • Psychological restoration—stress reduction and improved ability to concentrate.
  • Facilitation of healthy behaviors — encouraging physical activity and social cohesion.

Bill Furey, 61, of Placentia, Calif., recalls the exact moment he witnessed the healing power of nature. At age 12, he and his classmates, with their middle school science teacher, went on a hike to the bottom of the Grand Canyon.

Furey’s dad had died of pancreatic cancer a year earlier, and his mom thought the trip would be good for him.

“It was the first time I felt peace since my dad passed away, and it was the start of me wandering into the woods to find some soul care,” said Furey, who now leads Heritage Hiking Club (HHC), based in Orange County , Calif. “I’m definitely no scientist, but something magical happens when you get on your feet with dirt beneath your boots.”

He has met some of his best friends through the hiking group, and several members have even gotten married to each other, Furey said.

Josie Robarge of Banning, Calif., started regularly walking and running outdoors a little over a decade ago. Now, at 56, she hikes at least twice a week with fellow members of social groups such as HHC.

“They are the people you choose to do life with — encouragers, motivators, and friends that will make a wall around you if you have to use the restroom at Zion National Park and can’t make it back to the visitor’s center!” Robarge said.

If your neighborhood doesn’t boast an abundance of nature, visit a forest preserve or hiking trail, experts said.

The mounting evidence on green space being good for health should also lead national and local leaders to increase such space in urban areas and develop new natural spaces, Dadvand said.

“Getting out in nature is good for your health — not just in terms of dementia and Parkinson’s, but many different health endpoints we can assume are going to be improved by being outside and more connected with nature,” Hajat said.

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NY, NJ linked to outbreak of ‘extensively’ drug-resistant bacteria in EzriCare eye drops

New York and New Jersey are among 12 states involved in a small outbreak of an “extensively” drug-resistant bacteria, according to an alert released Wednesday evening by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC has linked several of the cases to EzriCare Artificial Tears, a brand of over-the-counter eye drops.

The germ is a rare, mutant strain of Pseudomonas aeruginosa, a type of bacteria commonly found in freshwater, soil and other environmental settings.

But in recent years, antibiotic-resistant forms of the bacteria have become a scoop of health care settings because it easily survives on surfaces, forming “biofilms” on equipment and devices. It can also spread via contaminated hands. To cause an infection, the germ must get through the skin — via a needle stick during an IV, for example, or via an organ transplant.

But Pseudomonas aeruginosa can also invade the body through a person’s wet, skinless mucosal eyes. These infections are typically seen when people wear contact lenses for too long.

Of the 55 cases identified so far, 35 patients are linked to clusters in four health care facilities. So far, one patient has died, and others have been hospitalized or suffered permanent vision loss.

Many but not all of the patients developed eye infections, and most used artificial tears or lubricating eye drops. Although patient investigators told about more than 10 different brands, the most common was EzriCare Artificial Tears.

“Patients and health care providers should immediately stop the use of EzriCare Artificial Tears pending additional information and guidance from CDC and FDA,” the CDC stated.

The CDC said subsequent testing of opened EzriCare bottles detected a strain of Pseudomonas aeruginosa that’s resistant to a dozen antimicrobial drugs. But federal health investigators found the germ is still susceptible to the antibiotic cefiderocol. The CDC said it continues to test unopened bottles to see if the contamination occurred during the manufacturing process.

In a statement posted on its website on Wednesday, EzriCare wrote that its Artificial Tears product is manufactured in India by Global Pharma Healthcare PVT Limited and imported into the US by Aru Pharma Inc. The company is based in Lakewood, New Jersey.

“EzriCare LLC’s only role in introducing the product to the market was to design an exterior label and to market it to our customers,” the company stated. “We understand that the same product is also marketed under other brand names. We understand that Global Pharma Healthcare PVT Limited will be initiating a recall of the product.”

The company said that it is contacting customers to advise them against using its product. The CDC said health care providers treating new or current patients with eye inflammation should ask them if they’ve recently used EzriCare Artificial Tears.

Pseudomonas aeruginosa is one of several bacteria known to gain the ability of drug resistance. According to CDC data, multidrug-resistant forms of Pseudomonas aeruginosa hospitalized 32,600 people in 2017 and killed 2,700.

The same report shows that ahead of the COVID-19 pandemic, rates of this germ were dropping due to infection control efforts. But it and other antibiotic-resistant germs rebounded during the pandemic. The CDC estimates that more than 2.8 million antimicrobial-resistant infections occur each year, leading to more than 35,000 deaths.


An 81-year-old brain doctor’s 7 ‘hard rules’ for keeping your memory ‘sharp as a whip’

Like any other part of your body, your brain needs daily exercise. Neglecting your brain health can make you vulnerable to degenerative brain diseases like Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia.

As a neuroscientist, I’ve spent decades guiding patients with memory problems through brain-enhancing habits and exercises — many of which I practice, too.

Here are seven brain rules I follow to keep my memory sharp as a whip:

1. Choose fiction when you can.

You can learn a lot from non-fiction works, but they are often organized in ways that allow you to skip around based on personal interests and previous familiarity with the subject.

Fiction, on the other hand, requires you to exercise your memory, as you proceed from beginning to end and retain a variety of details, characters and plots.

Incidentally, I’ve noticed over my years as a neuropsychiatrist that people with early dementia, as one of the first signs of the encroaching illness, often stop reading novels.

2. Never leave an art museum without testing your memory.

“Western Motel” by Edward Hopper 1957. Oil on canvas, 30 1/4 x 50 1/8 inches (77.8 x 128.3 cm). Located in the Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, Connecticut, USA. (Photo by VCG Wilson/Corbis via Getty Images)

Fine Art | Getty

My favorite painting to do visualization exercises with is Edward Hopper’s “Western Motel,” which depicts a woman sitting in a sunlit motel bedroom.

Start by intently studying the details until you can see them in your mind’s eye. Then describe the painting while looking away from it.

Artwork: Olivia from Recat for CNBC Make It

Did you include the tiny clock on the bedside table? The gooseneck lamp? The piece of clothing on the chair at the lower right of the painting? Can you recall the colors and the composition of the room?

You can do this with any piece of art to boost your memory.

3. Keep naps under 90 minutes.

Naps lasting anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour and a half, between 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm, have been shown to increase later recall for information encoded prior to the nap.

Several studies have also found that naps can compensate for poor sleep at night. If you struggle with insomnia, a mid-afternoon nap can boost memory performance.

Over the years, I’ve trained myself to nap for exactly half an hour. Some people I know have learned to nap for only 15 minutes, and then wake up refreshed and reinvigorated.

4. No party is complete without brain games.

My favorite activity is “20 Questions,” where one person (the questioner) leaves the room and the remaining players select a person, place or thing. The questioner can ask up to 20 questions to guess what the group decided.

Success depends on the questioner’s ability to keep clearly in mind all of the answers and mentally eliminating possible choices on the basis of the answers.

Bridge and chess are also great for exercising your memory: In order to do well, you have to evaluate previous games, while also considering the future consequences of your decisions in the past and present.

5. Eat brain foods.

Dr. Uma Naidoo, a nutritional psychiatrist at Harvard Medical School, has a great acronym for a BRAIN FOODS:

  • B: Berries and beans
  • R: Rainbow colors of fruits and vegetables
  • HAS: Antioxidants
  • I: Include lean proteins and plant-based proteins
  • NOT: Nuts
  • F: Fiber-rich foods and fermented foods
  • O: Oils
  • O: Omega-rich foods
  • D: Dairy
  • S: Spices

And good news for chocoholics (like me): A 2020 study found that cocoa flavonoids, the ingredients in dark chocolate, can enhance episodic memory in healthy young adults.

6. Use images for hard-to-remember things.

My wife’s dog, Leah, is a Schipperke (pronounced “SKIP-er-kee”). It is a distinctive name, but I’d have the hardest time remembering it. So to finally be able to answer “What kind of breed is that?” at the dog park, I formed the image of a small sailboat (small dog) with a burly skipper holding a huge key.

Get in the habit of converting anything which you find hard to remember into a wild, bizarre or otherwise attention grabbing image.

7. Don’t sit on the couch all day.

One recent study of 82,872 volunteers found that participants 80 years or older who engaged in moderate to high level of physical activity were at lower risk for dementia, compared with inactive adults aged 50 to 69 years.

Even just a shift from sedentary non-activity (prolonged sitting, a “never walk when you can drive” attitude), to active movement (standing, climbing stairs, walking a mile daily) made a difference.

Housework has also been linked to higher attention and memory scores and better sensory and motor function in older adults.

Dr. Richard Restak, MD, is a neuroscientist and author of 20 books on the human brain, including “The Complete Guide to Memory: The Science of Strengthening Your Mind” and “Think Smart: A Neuroscientist’s Prescription for Improving Your Brain’s Performance.” Currently, he is the Clinical Professor of Neurology at George Washington Hospital University School of Medicine and Health Sciences. In 1992, Dr. Restak was a recipient of The Chicago Neurosurgical Center’s “Decade Of The Brain Award.”

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