HERBS FOR HEALTH MANAGEMENT

Herbs are a foundational root in medicine and health treatments, dating back thousands of years throughout every culture around the world. Modern Western herbalism comes from ancient Egypt. The Greeks developed a comprehensive philosophy of herbal medicine by 100 BCE and the Romans built upon it to create a variety of medical practices, some of which are still used today.

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ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE IMPACTS PSYCHOLOGICAL HARDINESS

Psychological hardiness is an individual’s resistance to stress, anxiety and depression. It includes the ability to withstand grief and accept the loss of loved ones. Alternative medicine is a more popular term for health and wellness therapies that have typically not been part of conventional Western medical approaches but are often used along with conventional medicinal protocols.  Coping and dealing with stress in a positive manner play a major role in maintaining the balance needed for health and well-being.

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ALTERNATIVE REMEDIES FOR ANXIETY AND DEPRESSION

Interest in complimentary and alternative medicine (CAM) is increasing as consumers and health care professionals search for additional ways to treat anxiety, depression and other mental health disorders. Some of these remedies include:

St. John’s Wort.  More than 30 studies show it to be effective for treatment of mild forms of depression,…

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unedited bone marrow cells were destroyed with chemotherapy and then re-injected through a catheter. The goal was to generate 20 percent or more HbF in the bloodstream for at least three months. This trial is scheduled to conclude in May 2022. If successful, the therapy will offer another option for sickle cell disease. The only current cure for it is a bone marrow transplant, but the likelihood of finding a marrow donor match is low, says the National Heart, Blood, and Lung Institute. Just two FDA-approved drugs currently exist for sickle cell. One of them, hydroxyurea, also works by increasing HbF.


At the end of July, Cambridge-based Editas Medicine and Irish company Allergan began enrollment for a clinical trial for a treatment for a type of inherited childhood blindness known as Leber Congenital Amaurosis (LCA). This is the first CRISPR clinical trial to do cellular editing in vivo, or in the human body. About 18 participants, some as young as 3 years old, will be included. These patients have a particular subset of LCA caused by a single genetic mutation that impairs photoreceptors, the cells in the eye that convert light into signals. A type of adenovirus is injected into the space behind the retina. It infects the photoreceptor cells with DNA instructions that cut the photoreceptor genome in specified locations. This causes the cells to regrow without the mutation. Previously, the EDIT-101 treatment was tested in non-human primates and also in tiny samples of a donated human retina.

CRISPR TRIALS UNDERWAY IN US

ANGELA S. HOOVER

Angela is a staff writer for Health & Wellness magazine.

more articles by Angela s. hoover

Massachusetts-based Vertex Pharmaceuticals and CRISPR Therapeutics have two separate clinical trials underway. One focuses on editing donor T cells to fight non-responsive or relapsed non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. It has 95 participants and works with T cells edited to target CD-19, a protein that makes B cells that can become malignant in this cancer. Researchers removed two proteins to prevent the patients’ immune systems from rejecting the donated T cells and to stop the T cells from attacking non-cancerous cells. Before human clinical trials began, a prototype treatment in mice with acute leukemia stalled tumor growth for about 60 days. Additionally, lab tests showed the modified human T cells were successfully able to target and kill marked cancer cells. The patients’ survival and recurrence rates will be tracked for five years.


Another clinical trial involves boosting fetal hemoglobin (HbF) in patients with sickle cell disease, a genetically inheritable condition that causes hemoglobin proteins to clump into long fibers that warp disc-shaped red blood cells into sickle shapes. The irregularly shaped blood cells are short-lived and can’t flow smoothly through blood vessels, causing blockages, intense pain and anemia. Patients’ own stem cells were edited outside of the body to pump out high levels of HbF, a protein that typically has only trace levels (1 percent) in adulthood. The patients’

CRISPR-Cas9 is a snipping technology that enables precise changes in highly specific locations in a cell’s genetic code. It does this by removing or replacing parts of the genome. Even tiny changes to individual genes can alter the function of a cell. The technology is derived from single-celled prokaryotic micro-organisms and is composed of guided strands of RNA as well as the Cas9 enzyme. The enzyme does the cutting.


Several different clinical trials using CRISPR to treat and potentially cure patients of serious medical conditions launched in the United States in the past year. These trials are in Phase 1 and 2 small studies designed to demonstrate the safety and efficacy of potential treatments for melanoma, lymphoma, sickle cell disease and blindness.


The first U.S. CRISPR clinical trial began last September, led by University of Pennsylvania professor of medicine Edward Stadtmauer. It included 18 patients with relapsed cancer who tend to overproduce the antigen NY-ESO-1. The genetic modification was derived from viruses such as HIV. The researchers added a gene to direct modified T cells to target cells with NY-ESO-1. They also sought to eliminate the protein PD-1 that could prevent the T cells from killing cancer cells. Patients underwent chemotherapy to deplete their natural reserves of T cells, then received an infusion of the edited T cells to replace them. The trial is scheduled to conclude in 2033.