Breast milk protein may be key to protecting babies from HIV infection

DURHAM, N.C. – A substance in breast milk that neutralizes HIV and may protect babies from acquiring HIV from their infected mothers has been identified for the first time by researchers at Duke Medicine.

The protein, called Tenascin-C or TNC, had previously been recognized as playing a role in wound healing, but had not been known to have antimicrobial properties. The discovery could lead to potential new HIV-prevention strategies.

Reporting in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences during the week of Oct. 21, 2013, the researchers describe how the TNC protein in breast milk binds to and neutralizes the HIV virus, potentially protecting exposed infants who might otherwise become infected from repeated exposures to the virus.

“Even though we have antiretroviral drugs that can work to prevent mother-to-child transmission, not every pregnant woman is being tested for HIV, and less than 60 percent are receiving the prevention drugs, particularly in countries with few resources,” said senior author Sallie Permar, M.D., Ph.D., assistant professor of pediatrics, immunology and molecular genetics and microbiology at Duke. “So there is still a need for alternative strategies to prevent mother-to-child transmission, which is why this work is important.”

Worldwide in 2011, an estimated 330,000 children acquired HIV from their mothers during pregnancy or birth, or through breastfeeding according to UNICEF. As international health organizations have set a goal of eliminating mother-to-child infections, researchers have worked to develop safe and affordable alternatives to antiretroviral therapy that can be used to block HIV transmission to infants.

Permar and colleagues focused on breast milk, which has long been recognized as having some protective quality that inhibits mother-to-child transmission despite multiple daily exposures over months and even years of nursing. Earlier studies had identified some antiviral properties in breast milk, but the majority of the HIV-neutralizing activity of breast milk remained unexplained. More recent studies pointed to a large protein that had yet to be identified.

In their study, the Duke team screened mature milk samples from uninfected women for neutralizing activity against a panel of HIV strains, confirming that all of the detectable HIV-neutralization activity was contained in the high molecular weight portion. Using a multi-step protein separation process, the researchers narrowed the detectable HIV-neutralization activity to a single protein, and identified it as TNC.

“TNC is a component of the extracellular matrix that is integral to how tissues hold themselves together,” Permar said, noting that co-author Harold Erickson, Ph.D., professor of cell biology at Duke, was among the first to identify and describe TNC in the 1980s. “This is a protein involved during wound healing, playing a role in tissue repair. It is also known to be important in fetal development, but its reason for being a component of breast milk or its antiviral properties had never been described.”

Further analysis described how TNC works against HIV by blocking virus entry. The protein is uniquely effective in capturing virus particles and neutralizes the virus, specifically binding to the HIV envelope. These properties provide widespread protection against infection.

“It’s likely that TNC is acting in concert with other anti-HIV factors in breast milk, and further research should explore this,” Permar said. “But given TNC’s broad-spectrum HIV-1-binding and neutralizing activity, it could be developed as an HIV-prevention therapy, given orally to infants prior to breastfeeding, similar to the way oral rehydration salts are routinely administered to infants in developing regions.”

Permar said TNC would also appear to be inherently safe, since it is a naturally occurring component of breast milk, and it may avoid the problem of HIV resistance to antiretroviral regimens that complicate maternal/infant applications.

“The discovery of the HIV inhibiting effect of this common protein in breast milk provides a potential explanation for why nursing infants born to HIV-infected mothers do not become infected more often than they do,” said Barton F. Haynes, M.D., director of the Duke Human Vaccine Institute. “It also provides support for inducing inhibitory factors in breast milk that might be even more protective, such as antibodies, that would completely protect babies from HIV infection in this setting.”

###

In addition to Permar, co-senior author was S. Munir Alam. Other authors include Genevieve G. Fouda, Frederick H. Jaeger, Joshua D. Amos, Carrie Ho, Erika L. Kunz, Kara Anasti, Lisa W. Stamper, Brooke E. Liebl; Kimberly H. Barbas, Tomoo Ohashi, M. Arthur Moseley, Hua-Xin Liao and Harold P. Erickson.

The study was funded by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation Clinical Scientist Development Award; Duke University School of Medicine; Center for HIV/AIDS Vaccine Immunology; and the National Institute of Allergic and Immunologic Diseases (U19 AI067854) (K08AI087992) (CA047056).

Middle class poverty, USA: Women forced to sell their own hair, breast milk and eggs to make ends meet as economic recovery fails to raise wages

  • The top Google results for ‘I want to  sell my…’ have been ‘kidney,’ ‘eggs’ and ‘hair’ since 2011
  • Websites have sprung up that allow women  to post their hair and breast milk for sale online
  • Long locks of hair can fetch up to  $1,500
  • Breast milk can sell for $5 an ounce  online
  • Egg donations nets up to  $8,000

By  Michael Zennie

PUBLISHED: 18:25 EST, 15  October 2013 |  UPDATED: 18:31 EST, 15 October 2013

Thousands of women across the country are  turning their bodies into ATMs, selling their hair, eggs and even their breast  milk to make ends meet as the economic recovery fails to bring wages and job  opportunities back to pre-recession levels.

Many of the women who are auctioning off  pieces of themselves are middle-class mothers who are struggling to maintain the  same standard of living for their children five years after the biggest economic  crash since the Great Depression.

Online market places have sprung up, making  it easy for women to make up to $1,500 selling their locks and $5 an ounce for  breast milk.

Online marketplaces like Only the Breast have sprung up to allow women to sell their breast milk for up to $5 an ounce 

Online marketplaces like Only the Breast have sprung up  to allow women to sell their breast milk for up to $5 an ounce

 

The site buyandsellhair.com features hundreds of women, and a few men, who want to sell their locks 

The site buyandsellhair.com features hundreds of women,  and a few men, who want to sell their locks

 

Selling eggs, which is a much more  complicated and intrusive process, can net up to $8,000 per donation.

Bloomberg reports that since 2011, the top Google auto-completion results for ‘I want to  sell my…’ have included ‘hair,’ ‘eggs’ and ‘kidney.’

Google’s fill-in results reflect the most  popular searches by Google users.

‘The fact that people even explore it  indicates that there are still a lot of people worried about their financial  outlook,’ Nicholas Colas, who tracks economic indicators for ConvergEx Group,  told Bloomberg.

‘This is very much unlike every other  recovery that we’ve had. It’s going to be a slow-grinding, very frustrating  recovery.’

Selling kidneys is illegal in the United  States, though evidence suggests that black market organ sales exist. A  University of Chicago study suggested that kidneys could be worth more than  $15,200 each, if sales were legalized.

Egg donation, which is much more complicated and requires several trips to donation clinics, can bring $8,000 per donation 

Egg donation, which is much more complicated and  requires several trips to donation clinics, can bring $8,000 per  donation

 

April Hare, a 35-year-old mother of two who  has been out of work for two years, resorted to selling 18 inches of her auburn  hair to help support her family.

She told Bloomberg she cut off her long locks  and posted them on the website buyandsellhair.com for $1,000.

She had several responses within hours.

Hare, who has a four-month-old son and a  seven-year-old daughter, said she is also looking into selling her breast milk.  A similar site, onlythebreast.com, allows mothers to list their milk for sale  online. It can go for up to $5 an ounce.

‘These are tough times. The rich are getting  richer and everybody else is losing their jobs and their homes. It’s just  terrible,’ she said.

She previously worked as a sales manager  before losing her job in 2011.

Bridie MacDonald, from the wealthy Detroit  suburb of Farmington Hills, Michigan, cut off her red locks and posted them  online for $1,500 after she lost her job last month.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2462103/Women-forced-sell-hair-breast-milk-eggs-make-ends-meet-economic-recovery-fails-improve-wages.html#ixzz2hr26Gxqz Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook

New study reveals important role of insulin in making breast milk

Contact: Jim Feuer jim.feuer@cchmc.org 513-636-4656 Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center

Why do so many mothers have difficulty making enough milk to breastfeed?  A new study by scientists at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center and the University of California Davis adds to their previous research implicating insulin’s role in lactation success.

The study is the first to describe how the human mammary gland becomes highly sensitive to insulin during lactation.  It is also the first study to get an accurate picture of how specific genes are switched on in the human mammary gland during lactation.

The researchers used next generation sequencing technology, RNA sequencing, to reveal “in exquisite detail” the blueprint for making milk in the human mammary gland, according to Laurie Nommsen-Rivers, PhD, a scientist at Cincinnati Children’s and corresponding author of the study, published online in PLOS ONE, a journal of the Public Library of Science.

Nommsen-Rivers’ previous research had shown that for mothers with markers of sub-optimal glucose metabolism, such as being overweight, being at an advanced maternal age, or having a large birth-weight baby, it takes longer for their milk to come in, suggesting a role for insulin in the mammary gland.  The new research shows how the mammary gland becomes sensitive to insulin during lactation.

For a long time, insulin was not thought to play a direct role in regulating the milk-making cells of the human breast, because insulin is not needed for these cells to take in sugars, such as glucose.  Scientists now, however, appreciate that insulin does more than facilitate uptake of sugars.

“This new study shows a dramatic switching on of the insulin receptor and its downstream signals during the breast’s transition to a biofactory that manufactures massive amounts of proteins, fats and carbohydrates for nourishing the newborn baby,” says Dr. Nommsen-Rivers. “Considering that 20 percent of women between 20 and 44 are prediabetic, it’s conceivable that up to 20 percent of new mothers in the United States are at risk for low milk supply due to insulin dysregulation.”

Dr. Nommsen-Rivers and her colleagues were able to use a non–invasive method to capture mammary gland RNA – a chain of molecules that are blueprints for making specified proteins – in samples of human breast milk. They then created the first publicly accessible library of genes expressed in the mammary gland based on RNA-sequencing technology.

This approach revealed a highly sensitive portrait of the genes being expressed in human milk-making cells.  They discovered an orchestrated switching on and off of various genes as the mammary gland transitions from secreting small amounts of immunity-boosting colostrum in the first days after giving birth to the copious production of milk in mature lactation.

In particular, the PTPRF gene, which is known to suppress intracellular signals that are usually triggered by insulin binding to its receptor on the cell surface, may serve as a biomarker linking insulin resistance with insufficient milk supply. These results lay the foundation for future research focused on the physiological contributors to mothers’ milk supply difficulties.

Now that they’ve demonstrated the significance of insulin signaling in the human mammary gland, they are planning a phase I/II clinical trial with a drug used to control blood sugar in type 2 diabetes to determine whether it improves insulin action in the mammary gland, thus improving milk supply.  While a drug is not an ideal way to solve the problem of sub-optimal glucose metabolism impairing breastfeeding, according to Dr. Nommsen-Rivers, it is excellent for establishing proof-of-concept through the use of a placebo controlled randomized clinical trial.

“The ideal approach is a preventive one,” she says. “Modifications in diet and exercise are more powerful than any drug.  After this clinical trial, we hope to study those interventions.”

Dr. Nommsen-Rivers began her quest to understand why so many U.S. mothers today struggle with low milk supply when she was a doctoral student at the University of California Davis.

###

The lead author of the study is Danielle Lemay, PhD, of the University of California Davis Research Center.

About Cincinnati Children’s

Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center ranks third in the nation among all Honor Roll hospitals in U.S.News and World Report’s 2013 Best Children’s Hospitals ranking. It is ranked #1 for cancer and in the top 10 for nine of 10 pediatric specialties. Cincinnati Children’s is one of the top two recipients of pediatric research grants from the National Institutes of Health, and a research and teaching affiliate of the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine.  The medical center is internationally recognized for improving child health and transforming delivery of care through fully integrated, globally recognized research, education and innovation. Additional information can be found at http://www.cincinnatichildrens.org. Connect on the Cincinnati Children’s blog, via Facebook and on Twitter.

Formula-feeding linked to metabolic stress and increased risk of later disease

Contact: Michael Bernstein m_bernstein@acs.org 202-872-6042 American Chemical Society

New evidence from research suggests that infants fed formula, rather than breast milk, experience metabolic stress that could play a part in the long-recognized link between formula-feeding and an increased risk of obesity, type 2 diabetes and other conditions in adult life. The study appears in ACS’ Journal of Proteome Research.

Carolyn Slupsky and colleagues explain that past research showed a link between formula-feeding and a higher risk for chronic diseases later in life. Gaps exist, however, in the scientific understanding of the basis for that link.

The scientists turned to rhesus monkeys, stand-ins for human infants in such research, that were formula-fed or breast-fed for data to fill those gaps.

Their analysis of the monkeys’ urine, blood and stool samples identified key differences between formula-fed and breast-fed individuals. It also produced hints that reducing the protein content of infant formula might be beneficial in reducing the metabolic stress in formula-fed infants. “Our findings support the contention that infant feeding practice profoundly influences metabolism in developing infants and may be the link between early feeding and the development of metabolic disease later in life,” the study states.

###

The authors acknowledge funding from the Fonterra Research and Development Centre.

The American Chemical Society is a nonprofit organization chartered by the U.S. Congress. With more than 163,000 members, ACS is the world’s largest scientific society and a global leader in providing access to chemistry-related research through its multiple databases, peer-reviewed journals and scientific conferences. Its main offices are in Washington, D.C., and Columbus, Ohio.

To automatically receive news releases from the American Chemical Society, contact newsroom@acs.org.

Follow us Twitter Facebook

Breast Milk Reduces Risk of Sepsis and Intensive Care Costs in Very-Low-Birth-Weight Infants

(CHICAGO) — Feeding human breast milk to very-low-birth-weight infants greatly reduces risk for sepsis and significantly lowers associated neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) costs, according to a study by Rush University Medical Center researchers.

The study, published Jan. 31 in the advance online version of the Journal of Perinatology, showed that every 10 milliliters of human milk per kilogram that a very low birth weight infant received during the first 28 days of life decreased the odds of sepsis by almost 20 percent.

A daily dose of 25 to 49.99 milliliters of human milk per kilogram cut NICU costs by more than $20,000, while 50 milliliters per kilogram per day lowered NICU costs by nearly $32,000.

The research, which was led by Dr. Aloka L. Patel, is the first report of an economic impact of an average daily dose of human milk for days 1 to 28 of life on risk of infection and related hospital care costs. Dr. Patel is an associate professor in pediatrics at Rush University Medical Center. She specializes in neonatal and perinatal medicine.

Of 175 very-low-birth-weight infants, 23 (13 percent) developed sepsis from gram-positive bacteria such as staphylococci, Streptococcus and Enterococcus species, and gram-negative bacteria such as Escherichia coli (E. coli), as well as species of Klebsiella, Enterobacter, Pseudomonas and Serratia.

Late-onset sepsis commonly occurs in about 22 percent of very-low-birth-weight babies the United States. In addition to predisposing these infants to other diseases and later neurodevelopmental disabilities, sepsis significantly raises NICU costs due to increased use of ventilation and longer lengths of stay. It also translates into higher societal and educational costs for neurologically affected survivors.

“The substantial NICU hospital cost savings associated with increased dosages of human milk are likely to offset the maternal and institutional costs of providing and feeding human milk, such as breast pump rental, lactation care providers and milk storage,” Patel stated.

She and her co-researchers are further investigating this premise.

Collaborating with Patel on the current study were Tricia J. Johnson; Janet L. Engstrom; Louis F. Fogg; Briana J. Jegier; Harold R. Bigger; and Paula P. Meier at Rush University Medical Center, Chicago. Dr. Engstrom is also affiliated with Frontier Nursing University, Hyden, Ky. The research was funded by NIH grant NR010009.

In vitro study finds digested formula, but not breast milk, is toxic to cells

Contact: Catherine Hockmuth chockmuth@ucsd.edu 858-822-1359 University of California – San Diego

Findings may help explain development of fatal condition in premature infants

             IMAGE:   This microscopic image of cells shows the effects of breast milk vs. infant formula digestion. Cells are alive and healthy after the digestion of breast milk (top row) with only…

Click here for more information.     

Free fatty acids created during the digestion of infant formula cause cellular death that may contribute to necrotizing enterocolitis, a severe intestinal condition that is often fatal and occurs most commonly in premature infants, according to a study by University of California, San Diego bioengineers. Their report, which was based on in vitro tests comparing the digestion of fresh human breast milk and nine different infant formulas, was published online in the journal Pediatric Research.

Scientists have long known that premature infants fed formula are more likely to develop necrotizing enterocolitis than those fed breast milk. The condition is the leading cause of death from gastrointestinal diseases in premature infants, but the underlying mechanism has not been understood.  Alexander Penn, a research scientist working in the Microcirculation Laboratory of bioengineering Professor Geert Schmid-Schönbein from the UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering, believes they have come closer to an answer.

Penn and others had previously determined that the partially digested food in a mature, adult intestine is capable of killing cells, due to the presence of free fatty acids which have a “detergent” capacity that damages cell membranes.  The intestines of healthy adults and older children have a mature mucosal barrier that may prevent damage due to free fatty acids. However, the intestine is leakier at birth, particularly for preterm infants, which could be why they are more susceptible to necrotizing enterocolitis.

Therefore, the researchers wanted to know what happens to breast milk as compared to infant formula when they are exposed to digestive enzymes.   They “digested,” in vitro, infant formulas marketed for full term and preterm infants as well as fresh human breast milk using pancreatic enzymes or fluid from an intestine. They then tested the formula and milk for levels of free fatty acids. They also tested whether these fatty acids killed off three types of cells involved in necrotizing enterocolitis: epithelial cells that line the intestine, endothelial cells that line blood vessels, and neutrophils, a type of white blood cell that is a kind of “first responder” to inflammation caused by trauma in the body.

             IMAGE:   This chart shows the high concentration of unbound (cytotoxic) free fatty acids (FFAs) (shown in white) created by the digestion of infant formula compared to the relatively small presence of…

Click here for more information.     

Overwhelmingly, the digestion of formula led to cellular death, or cytotoxicity – in less than 5 minutes in some cases – while breast milk did not. For example, digestion of formula caused death in 47 percent to 99 percent of neutrophils while only 6 percent of them died as a result of milk digestion.  The study found that breast milk appears to have a built-in mechanism to prevent cytotoxicity. The research team believes most food, like formula, releases high levels of free fatty acids during digestion, but that breast milk is digested in a slower, more controlled, process.

Currently, many neonatal intensive care units are moving towards formula-free environments, but breastfeeding a premature infant can be challenging or physically impossible and supplies of donor breast milk are limited. To meet the demand if insufficient breast milk is available, less cytotoxic milk replacements will need to be designed in the future that pose less risk for cell damage and for necrotizing enterocolitis, the researchers concluded.

This may be of benefit not only to premature infants, but also to full-term infants at higher risk for disorders that are associated with gastrointestinal problems and more leaky intestines, such as autism spectrum disorder. Dr. Sharon Taylor, a professor of pediatric medicine at UC San Diego School of Medicine and a pediatric gastroenterologist at Rady Children’s Hospital, San Diego, said the study offers more support to an already ongoing push by hospitals, including neonatal intensive care units, to encourage breastfeeding even in more challenging circumstances in the NICU. For patients who are too premature or frail to nurse, Dr. Taylor said hospital staff should provide consultation and resources to help mothers pump breast milk that can be fed to the baby through a tube.

The research was carried out in collaboration with Dr. Taylor, Karen Dobkins of the Department of Psychology, and Angelina Altshuler and James Small of the Department of Bioengineering at UC San Diego and was funded by the National Institutes of Health (NS071580 and GM85072).  The researchers conclude that breast milk has a significant ability to reduce cytotoxicity that formula does not have. One next step is to determine whether these results are replicated in animal studies and whether intervention can prevent free fatty acids from causing intestinal damage or death from necrotizing enterocolitis.

Breast milk transmits drugs and medicines to the baby

Contact: SINC

info@plataformasinc.es

34-914-251-820

 

FECYT – Spanish Foundation for Science and Technology

 

There is great confusion among the scientific community about whether women who are drug abusers should breast feed their babies. In order to shed some light on this issue, scientists from various Spanish hospitals and research centres are reviewing the methods used to detect substances in breast milk, their adverse effects, and the recommendations that mothers should follow in this month’s issue of the journal Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry.

 

“The general recommendation is to totally avoid drug abuse while breastfeeding, because these substances can pass directly through to the newborn”, Óscar García Algar, co-author of the study and a doctor in the Paediatrics Department at the Hospital del Mar in Barcelona, tells SINC.

 

The researcher adds: “This recommendation extends to the prenatal period, because these substances are passed on to the foetus via the placenta, and then in the postnatal period via the environment. If they have exposure through the milk, they will certainly also have had it during the pregnancy, and they can also be in the environment, as is the case with tobacco smoke”.

 

For this study, the team used the average daily intake of the breastfeeding baby, around 150 millilitres of milk per kilo of weight, as a benchmark. The recommendations are listed for each substance, taking the advice of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) as a reference.

 

Nicotine, caffeine and alcohol

 

The breast milk of smoking mothers contains between 2 and 240 nanograms of nicotine per millilitre, which means their babies receive a dose equivalent to 0.3 to 36 micrograms/kg/day. These infants tend to suffer more from colic and are more prone to respiratory infections.

 

The advice is to give up smoking during pregnancy and breastfeeding, or at least to limit the habit as much as possible, extend the time between the last cigarette and the baby’s feed, use nicotine patches, smoke outside the house and avoid smoky environments.

 

Caffeine – found in coffee, tea, cola drinks and medicines – can cause irritability and insomnia. Although the level of caffeine absorption varies greatly from one person to another, this substance has a lengthy half-life in newborns. For this reason, it is recommended to reduce consumption during breastfeeding to a maximum of 300 mg/day, equivalent to around three cups of coffee per day.

 

For alcohol, the exact risk is still ill-defined, and no studies have been carried out to correlate the dose, although some research suggests it can harm the infant’s motor development, as well as causing changes to their sleep patterns, reduce the amount they eat, and increase the risk of hypoglycaemia.

 

The AAP feels that alcohol consumption is compatible with breastfeeding, but this study states that no amount can be considered safe until the levels in breast milk are established. Strategies for minimising risk include feeding the baby before consuming alcoholic drinks, or at least allowing two or three hours to pass after drinking. Alcoholic women are advised to feed their babies with a bottle.

 

The risks of alcohol to the foetus in pregnant women have already been shown. “But despite this, a recent study by our group showed that 45.7% of the women who came to give birth in our hospital had consumed considerable amounts of alcohol during pregnancy”, says the doctor.

 

Cannabis, cocaine and other drugs

 

Cannabis, which is transmitted both through the mother’s milk and smoke, can cause sedation, lethargy, weakness and poor feeding habits in breastfeeding babies. The long-term risks are also unknown. Women are advised not to use it, but if they use marijuana occasionally, the experts advise them to do so several hours before feeding, and not to expose their children to the smoke.

 

The advice on cocaine, meanwhile, is to “totally avoid it” during breastfeeding. The first case of toxicity caused by this drug through breast milk was a baby boy just two weeks old who suffered irritability, trembling, dilated pupils, tachycardia and high blood pressure after feeding.

 

Women are also advised against breastfeeding if they take amphetamines. These can cause agitation, crying and lack of sleep. Using them also reduces a mother’s ability to care for her children.

 

Breastfeeding is not recommended either for women who use heroin, which is excreted into the milk in sufficient amounts to cause addiction in the baby. In the case of “need”, the advice is to allow at least one or two days to pass after taking the drug before feeding the baby, and to start a substitute treatment as soon as possible, if possible with methadone.

 

Other opiates used as medicines – morphine, meperidine and codeine – are excreted into the milk in minimal amounts and are compatible with breastfeeding, as are benzodiazepines, as long as they are taken in controlled doses. These are the drugs most frequently prescribed to women during pregnancy and after birth.

 

In terms of anti-depressant and anti-psychotic drugs, the AAP says “these can be a cause for concern during breastfeeding”. For now, their effects on breastfeeding babies are unknown, and further studies are recommended.

 

 

###

 

References:

 

Fríguls B, Joya X, García-Algar O, Pallás CR, Vall O, Pichini S. “A comprehensive review of assay methods to determine 5 drugs in breast milk and the safety of breastfeeding 6 when taking drugs”. Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry 397(3):1157-79, junio de 2010. Doi 10.1007/s00216-010-3681-0.

 

Substance in breast milk kills cancer cells: ” kills 40 different types of cancer “

2010 study posted for filing

Contact: Roger Karlsson
rogerk@chem.gu.se
46-317-869-059
University of Gothenburg

A substance found in breast milk can kill cancer cells, reveal studies carried out by researchers at Lund University and the University of Gothenburg, Sweden.

Although the special substance, known as HAMLET (Human Alpha-lactalbumin Made LEthal to Tumour cells), was discovered in breast milk several years ago, it is only now that it has been possible to test it on humans. Patients with cancer of the bladder who were treated with the substance excreted dead cancer cells in their urine after each treatment, which has given rise to hopes that it can be developed into medication for cancer care in the future.

Discovered by chance

HAMLET was discovered by chance when researchers were studying the antibacterial properties of breast milk. Further studies showed that HAMLET comprises a protein and a fatty acid that are both found naturally in breast milk. So far, however, it has not been proven that the HAMLET complex is spontaneously formed in the milk. It is speculated, however, that HAMLET can form in the acidic environment of the babies´ stomachs. Laboratory experiments have shown that HAMLET kills 40 different types of cancer, and the researchers are now going on to study its effect on skin cancer, tumours in the mucous membranes and brain tumours. Importantly, HAMLET kills only cancer cells and does not affect healthy cells.

First evidence that a common pollutant may reduce iodine levels in breast milk: perchlorate

2008 study posted for filing

 

Environmental Science & Technology

 

Researchers in Texas are reporting the first evidence from human studies that perchlorate, a common pollutant increasingly found in food and water, may interfere with an infant’s availability of iodine in breast milk. Iodine deficiency in infants can cause mental retardation and other health problems, the scientists note. The study also provides further evidence that iodine intake in U.S. mothers is low and that perchlorate may play a key role.

 

In a study scheduled for the November 1 issue of ACS’ semi-monthly Environmental Science & Technology, Purnendu Dasgupta and colleagues note that perchlorate occurs naturally in the soil and is also manufactured as a rocket fuel and explosive ingredient. Past studies showed that perchlorate can inhibit iodine uptake. However, scientists did not know its effects on iodine levels in the milk of nursing mothers.

 

To find out, the researchers collected breast milk samples from 13 breastfeeding mothers and measured their content of iodine, perchlorate, and thiocyanate, another iodine inhibitor found in certain foods. The study showed that if these breast milk samples were fed to infants, 12 of 13 infants would not have an adequate intake of iodine. It also showed that nine of the infants would have ingested perchlorate at a level exceeding those considered safe by the National Academy of Sciences. “Even though the number of subjects was not large, in terms of the number of total samples analyzed, this is the most extensive study on the topic,” the researchers say, adding that the low iodine levels are “disconcerting.” — MTS

High levels of DDT in breast milk

The highest levels ever of DDT in breast milk have been measured in mothers living in malaria-stricken villages in South Africa. The values lie well over the limits set by the World Health Organization. DDT has been used for many years in South Africa, sprayed indoors to fight malaria. It works, but it exposes the inhabitants to other risks not yet fully known.

Henrik Kylin

“To our ears, spraying DDT inside people’s homes sounds absurd. But it is one of the most effective agents against malaria. And by only spraying adult mosquitoes in the vicinity of people, the risk of developing resistance in mosquitoes decreases, ” says Henrik Kylin, environmental chemist and professor at Water and Environmental Studies, Linköping. Together with South African researchers and doctors, he is collaborating on a project to map the effects of DDT on the population.

“We know a lot about how DDT affects nature and animals, but the effects on people’s health are not as well studied, especially concerning long-term exposure.”

“Based on the argument that “malaria is worse than DDT”, people accept this spray treatment programme. The purpose of our project is to study the side effects, thereby creating a better basis for decisions.”

In a newly published article, the researchers report on a study of DDT levels in breast milk from nursing mothers in four villages, of which three are afflicted by malaria. DDT has been used continuously in these three villages for more than 60 years. The spray treatment takes place a couple of times a year and is carried out by specially trained and equipped staff.

The levels proved to be unacceptably high in the villages sprayed. They were well over (100 times greater) the highest daily dosage recommended by WHO. In once case they measured the highest known level of DDT in breast milk ever, more than 300 times higher than the level allowed in cow’s milk.

DDT has been associated with diagnoses such as breast cancer, diabetes, impaired sperm quality, spontaneous abortions, and neurological disorders in children. In the region where the measurements were carried out, malformed genitalia among boys was significantly more common in areas treated with DDT compared with untreated areas.

“DDT contains oestrogen-like substances; we know that the breakdown products from DDT counteract male sexual development,” Kylin says. Based on breast milk samples, it was estimated that boys ingest somewhat more DDT than girls, with the exception of first-born children. This could depend on the fact that the fat content of breast milk is higher if a boy is nursing. First-born children, however, get the highest levels, depending – as Kylin explains – on the mother’s higher stored levels of DDT at her first birth.

What surprised the researchers more was the large differences between the treated villages. Despite apparently similar conditions, the measured DDT levels were twice as high in one treated village compared with one of the others. A whole range of factors may come into play here, such as procedures in connection with treatment, the condition of the walls, ventilation, people’s behaviour and cleaning habits. Identifying these factors, the researchers write, could contribute to decreasing exposure, thereby also the risk for both mothers and children.

“Unfortunately the smallest children are exposed to the highest DDT levels; they are also extra sensitive to chemical influence,” Kylin says.

He also emphasizes the staff operating the spray treatments as an overlooked risk group requiring further study.

As things stand today, there is no real alternative to DDT in these malaria-stricken areas. “Mosquito-proof netting has successfully been tested in a few places, but doesn’t work everywhere,” Kylin says.

He is convinced that research could have come farther in finding alternatives for DDT if malaria were a widespread illness in rich countries

http://www.liu.se/forskning/forskningsnyheter/1.359612?l=en