Foot Cream Kills HIV by Tricking Cells to Commit Suicide

Ciclopirox is currently approved by the FDA as a topical antifungal cream (Credit: Fougera) A common drug that dermatologists turn to treat nail fungus appears to come with a not-so-tiny side effect: eradicating HIV .

CNET

Ciclopirox is currently approved by the FDA as a topical antifungal cream.

A common drug that dermatologists turn to treat nail fungus appears to come with a not-so-tiny side effect: eradicating HIV.

In a study performed at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, not only does the drug Ciclopirox completely eradicate infectious HIV from cell cultures, but unlike today’s most cutting-edge antiviral treatments, the virus doesn’t bounce back when the drug is withheld. This means it may not require a lifetime of use to keep HIV at bay.

The same group of researchers had previously shown that Ciclopirox — approved by the FDA and Europe’s EMA as safe for human use to treat foot fungus — inhibits the expression of HIV genes in culture. Now they have found that it also blocks the essential function of the mitochondria, which results in the reactivation of the cell’s suicide pathway, all while sparing the healthy cells.

The researchers said that one aspect of HIV that makes it particularly persistent, even in the face of strong antiviral treatments, is its ability to disable a cell’s altruistic suicide pathway — which is typically activated when a cell is damaged or infected. In other words, infected cells that would normally commit suicide to spare healthy cells no longer pull any altruistic kamikaze missions. Ciclopirox tricks these cells back into their old ways with a double negative, disabling the disabling of the suicide pathway.

It’s obviously still going to take clinical trials on humans to study the safety and efficacy of Ciclopirox as a potential topical HIV treatment, but the fact that it’s already deemed safe for one type of human use could make the regulatory process faster than usual.

In fact, the researchers note that another FDA-approved drug now thought to help subdue HIV, called Deferiprone, skipped studies in animals and went straight from tests in culture to a phase I human trial in South Africa, possibly paving the way for other FDA-approved drugs to move faster through the study phases. (Unlike Ciclopirox, which is approved for topical treatment, Deferiprone is FDA- and EMA-approved for systemic use, meaning it effects more than just one part of the body.)

The new findings on Ciclopirox appear in the current issue of the journal PLOS ONE.

CNET ©2013 CBS Interactive Inc., a CBS Company. All rights reserved. Used by permission.

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=foot-cream-kills-hiv-by-tricking-ce-2013-09

Turkish ministry report suggests psychic assassins using telepathy could be responsible for ‘mysterious’ deaths of four young engineers

Neuropsychology expert asks government not to rule out possibility of telepathy being responsible for suicide of engineer

Rob Williams

Thursday, 8 August 2013

The deaths of four young Turkish engineers, all within the space of 14 months during 2006 and 2007, could be connected to telepathy, according to a report from the Inspection Board of the Turkish Prime Ministry.

Four engineers working for Turkish defence giant ASELSAN died in alleged mysterious circumstances and all four deaths were recorded as suicide.

Sceptical families have, however, continued to question the cases despite reports that the men had been undergoing psychological treatment before they died.

According to ‘Today’s Zaman’ the investigation into the deaths of the men, Hüseyin Başbilen, Halim Ünsem Ünal, Evrim Yançeken and Burhaneddin Volkan, suggests that the victims could have been directed toward the suicides by way of telekinesis, citing the work done by neuropsychology expert Nevzat Tarhan.

Nevzat Tarhan asks prosecutors not to disregard the possibility of telepathy being responsible for the headaches and severe distress that may have caused the men to take their own lives.

One of the men, Hüseyin Başbilen, was found dead in his car in August 2006, Halim Ünal died from a gunshot in January 2007, Evrim Yançeken fell from the balcony of his sixth-floor apartment nine days later and two years later another engineer at the company, Burhanettin Volkan, allegedly also killed himself.

At least two of the men were said to be working on a friend-or-foe recognition system for Turkish warplanes at the time of their suicides, a project that was brought back to debate during the Ergenekon coup trials which saw significant numbers jailed for an alleged plot to overthrow the government.

Hurriyet Daily News quotes Nevzat Tarhan saying that the headaches and distress in the men could have been sent using brainwaves from 1.5km (just under a mile) away.

The report, which has been submitted to the Ankara Chief Prosecutor’s Office for further investigation, doesn’t come to any conclusion over whether or not the deaths were murder or suicide.

Recently the news anchor and editor-in-chief of private Turkish broadcaster 24, Yiğit Bulut, claimed that ‘certain powers’ were attempting to kill controversial Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan using telekinesis. Mr Bulut, although widely ridiculed for the comments, has since been named a chief consultant for Erdoğan.

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/turkish-ministry-report-suggests-psychic-assassins-using-telepathy-could-be-responsible-for-mysterious-deaths-of-four-young-engineers-8752302.html#

 

Parents of U.S. software engineer found dead in Singapore quit inquest saying the police evidence is fake and they do not trust the country’s legal process

  • Shane Todd, an American working on an  18-month assignment in Singapore, was found hanged in his apartment in June  2012
  • Dr Todd was researching new technology that  could be used by the military
  • His family believe he was murdered over his  research project
  • Authorities in Singapore say he committed  suicide

By  Daily Mail Reporter

PUBLISHED: 00:00 EST, 1  March 2013 |  UPDATED: 09:00 EST, 22 May 2013

 

Rick and Mary Todd, the parents of an  American software engineer Shane Todd – who was found hanged in his apartment in  Singapore in June 2012, said on Wednesday they were withdrawing for the  country’s inquest into their son’s death.

The Todds do not believe their son committed  suicide and want a thorough investigation into the circumstances of Shane’s  death but say they have no confidence in the city-state’s legal  process.

They believe he may have been murdered over  his research  into material used to make heat-resistant  semiconductors, a technology with  both civilian and military  applications.

Enough 

Enough: Rick and Mary Todd believe their son was  murdered last year in Singapore. They withdrew from the inquest on Wednesday,  saying they have no confidence in the city-state’s legal process

 

Tragic 

Tragic: Shane Todd, a high-tech researcher, was found  hanged in his apartment in Singapore in June 2012. His parents believe he was  murdered due to the sensitive research he was involved in

The body of 31-year-old Shane Truman Todd’s  was found in  his Singapore apartment by his girlfriend Shirly  Sarmiento, a Filipino nurse, on June 24, 2012.

Police have  said he killed himself.

The engineer was found hanging after he had  reportedly been unhappy at work and had written suicide  notes before he died,  authorities have said.

Police  found no signs of forced entry into the apartment and he had no visible signs of injury on his body except redness on his forearms and  legs.

But police did find links to suicide websites  on his laptop and suicide letters written to Todd’s family members and loved  ones.

k

Close: Mary and Rick Todd, center, are mourning the death of their son Shane  (back right, pictured with brothers John, back left, Dylan, front right, Chet  and his wife Corynne , front left)

Shirly Sarmiento had earlier told the inquest  that he suffered from depression and that  he had mounting unhappiness with the  ‘dishonest environment’ in his  workplace.

She also mentioned he feared ‘heavy hands  coming after him.’

His parents Rick and Mary Todd have said they  consider the evidence presented by police to be fake.

Rick Todd said his son in early 2012  had  expressed concerns to his parents that he was being asked to  compromise U.S.  security. But he said Shane Todd wasn’t specific.

Mary Todd also said the alleged  suicide note  was obviously fake because it thanked the Institute of  Microelectronics, the  former employer he had grown to hate, and had  other false details.

Family 

Family: Shane Todd’s brothers John (left), Dylan (second  from left), Chet (second from right) and his sister-in-law Corynne (right) had  traveled to Singapore this May to attend the inquest

Witness 

Witness: Shane’s girlfriend Shirley Sarmiento (center on  May 14 with the Todd family) testified at the inquest into the 31-year-old death

On Tuesday, a key witness in the ongoing  inquest withdrew his initial claims that Todd was strangled. The state,  meanwhile, introduced a witness who contradicts the parents’ claim that their  son was killed before June 23.

The parents, who traveled to Singapore from  their home in Montana, issued a statement Wednesday saying they will no longer  participate in the inquest and will return to the U.S.

‘We have been told that the coroner’s inquiry  is not adversarial, rather it is a fact-finding mission with the sole purpose of  getting to the truth,’ the statement said.

‘This has not been our experience. We no  longer have confidence in the transparency in the findings of the system. It  appears to us that the outcome has already been predetermined.’

The parents, who had been expected to testify  at the inquest, also have said the crime scene at their son’s apartment was  compromised, with key computer evidence mishandled.

The FBI, however, has supported Singapore  police claims that a hard drive found at Todd’s apartment was handled by  Singapore authorities who were checking for evidence, and not by an unknown  person.

‘We were looking forward to an honest and  transparent court proceeding,’ the parents’ statement said. ‘Sadly, this has not  been the case. Therefore, we have decided that our presence in Singapore will  have no bearing on the outcome of this case.’

 

 

kBrothers: Shane Todd was one of four boys and is  grieving family want to know the truth about his death

Warning signs: Todd became increasingly paranoid during his last couple weeks in Singapore Warning signs: Todd became increasingly paranoid during his last couple weeks in Singapore

Warning: Shane Todd’s father Rick said his son had  become fearful for his safety due to the sensitive technological research he was  engaged in

 

Singapore Foreign Affairs Minister K.  Shanmugam said the government regrets the family’s decision to leave the  inquiry.

‘For reasons best known to them, they walked  out and it’s unfortunate that  they decided to leave,’ Shanmugam told a news  conference.

‘The family had said previously that they had  found the hard drive  themselves, and they asserted that this hard drive had  been processed by a third party,’ he said.

‘It would have been useful to hear the  family’s side as to how they had come to a different view of the  facts.’

Gloria James-Civetta, a lawyer for the Todds,  said the family would leave  Singapore this week, but she would not comment on  what their intentions  were.

While Singapore  authorities insist there was  no evidence of foul play in Todd’s death,  the parents maintain he was murdered  over his work researching  semiconductor technology in a secretive project  involving the Institute  of Microelectronics and Chinese telecom giant  Huawei.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2329042/Parents-U-S-software-engineer-dead-Singapore-quit-inquest-saying-dont-trust-countrys-legal-process.html#ixzz2U6NDJg2p Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook

Secret Service agent found dead, apparent suicide: source

 

 

A U.S. Secret Service agent was found dead on Saturday in an apparent suicide, a law enforcement source said on Thursday.

The agent, Rafael Prieto, was under investigation for having an unreported romantic relationship with a foreign national, the source said.

The agent’s death is being investigated by the District of Columbia police, said Max Milien, a spokesman for the Secret Service.

“Rafael Prieto has a distinguished 20-year career with the Secret Service that was marked by accomplishment, dedication, friendships and the Secret Service is mourning a valued colleague,” Milien said.

Prieto was not under investigation for compromising sensitive or classified information, but because failure to report the relationship he was in is a violation of rules, the source said.

 

http://updatednews.ca/2012/11/01/secret-service-agent-found-dead-apparent-suicide-source/

68th Health Research Report 27 OCT 2009 – Reconstruction

 

Editors Top Five:

1. Pesticides exposure linked to suicidal thoughts

2. Why antidepressants don’t work for so many

3. Popular antidepressant associated with a dramatic increase in suicidal thoughts amongst men

4. Music makes you smarter

5. Neurologists Investigate Possible New Underlying Cause of MS (43 FOLD Increase)

In This Issue:

1. Don’t block folic acid in early pregnancy

2. Comfort food: Chocolate, water reduce pain response to heat

3. Popular antidepressant associated with a dramatic increase in suicidal thoughts amongst men

4. Promising novel treatment for human cancer — Chrysanthemum indicum extract

5. Mangosteen juice could protect health in the obese

6. Herbal tonic for radiotherapy

7. Drinking coffee slows progression of liver disease in chronic hepatitis C sufferers

8. GAO: FDA fails to follow up on unproven drugs

9. Amphetamine use in adolescence may impair adult working memory (Ritalin ?)

10. Pesticides exposure linked to suicidal thoughts

11. Long-term treatment with proton pump inhibitor (Antacids) can increase weight

12. Why antidepressants don’t work for so many

13. Neurologists Investigate Possible New Underlying Cause of MS (43 FOLD Increase)

14. Latest analysis confirms suboptimal vitamin D levels in millions of US children

15. Weekly and biweekly vitamin D2 prevents vitamin D deficiency

16. Music makes you smarter

17. Medical food reduces medical costs and use of anti-convulsant medication

18.Vegetables can protect unborn child against diabetes

Health Research Report

68th  Issue Date 27 OCT 2009

Compiled By Ralph Turchiano

www.healthresearchreport.me www.vit.bz

www.youtube.com/vhfilm www.facebook.com/engineeringevil

www.engineeringevil.com

 

 

Cyberbullying only rarely the sole factor identified in teen suicides

Contact: Debbie Jacobson djacobson@aap.org 847-434-7084 American Academy of Pediatrics

NEW ORLEANS – Cyberbullying – the use of the Internet, phones or other technologies to repeatedly harass or mistreat peers – is often linked with teen suicide in media reports. However, new research presented on Saturday, Oct. 20, at the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) National Conference and Exhibition in New Orleans, shows that the reality is more complex. Most teen suicide victims are bullied both online and in school, and many suicide victims also suffer from depression.

For the abstract, “Cyberbullying and Suicide: A Retrospective Analysis of 41 Cases,” researchers searched the Internet for reports of youth suicides where cyberbullying was a reported factor. Information about demographics and the event itself were then collected through searches of online news media and social networks. Finally, descriptive statistics were used to assess the rate of pre-existing mental illness, the co-occurrence of other forms of bullying, and the characteristics of the electronic media associated with each suicide case.

The study identified 41 suicide cases (24 female, 17 male, ages 13 to 18) from the U.S., Canada, the United Kingdom and Australia. In the study, 24 percent of teens were the victims of homophobic bullying, including the 12 percent of teens identified as homosexual and another 12 percent of teens who were identified as heterosexual or of unknown sexual preference.

Suicides most frequently occurred in September (15 percent) and January (12 percent) although these higher rates may have occurred by chance. The incidence of reported suicide cases increased over time, with 56 percent occurring from 2003 to 2010, compared to 44 percent from January 2011 through April 2012.

Seventy-eight percent of adolescents who committed suicide were bullied both at school and online, and only 17 percent were targeted online only. A mood disorder was reported in 32 percent of the teens, and depression symptoms in an additional 15 percent.

“Cyberbullying is a factor in some suicides, but almost always there are other factors such as mental illness or face-to-face bullying,” said study author John C. LeBlanc, MD, MSc, FRCPC, FAAP. “Cyberbullying usually occurs in the context of regular bullying.”

Cyberbullying occurred through various media, with Formspring and Facebook specifically mentioned in 21 cases. Text or video messaging was noted in 14 cases.

“Certain social media, by virtue of allowing anonymity, may encourage cyberbullying,” said Dr. LeBlanc. “It is difficult to prove a cause and effect relationship, but I believe there is little justification for anonymity.”

U.S. military aims to prevent suicides by taking soldiers’ private guns away from them

  • Pentagon and  Congress to back policies encouraging the separation of at-risk soldiers from  their private weapons
  • Suicide rate among U.S. military staff rising again in 2012, almost half of those committed with personal firearm
  • Likely to  spark opposition from gun rights groups such as National Rifle  Association

By Alex Horlock

PUBLISHED:03:43 EST, 8  October 2012| UPDATED:03:47 EST, 8 October 2012

With nearly half of all suicides in the U.S.  military committed with a privately owned firearm, Congress and the Pentagon are  moving to implement policies that will discourage at-risk members of the armed  forces from retaining their personal weapons.

As suicides continue to rise in 2012, the  Defence Department officials are developing a suicide prevention campaign, part  of which will encourage friends and family of the potentially suicidal to  convince the soldiers to give up their weapons.

The Pentagon’s move would be hugely  controversial as some lobbyists may construe it as gun control.

Concern: Almost half of all suicides in the U.S military are committed with a private firearm, not service weapons  

Concern: Almost half of all suicides in the U.S military  are committed with a private firearm, not service weapons

Gun rights groups – along with many service  members themselves – are likely to oppose any policy which could seem to limit a  citizen’s private ownership of a firearm.

‘This is not about authoritarian regulation,’ said Dr Jonathan Woodson, the assistant secretary of defence for health  affairs.

‘It is about the spouse understanding warning  signs and, if there are firearms in the home, responsibly separating the  individual at risk from the firearm.’

Dr Woodson said the campaign would also  include measures to encourage friends and family of at-risk soldiers to remove  possibly dangerous prescription drugs from their homes, but declined to provide  any further details.

Another significant step is the fact that  Congress appear willing to implement legislation which would allow mental health  counsellors and commanders to discuss the issues of privately owned weapons with  the troops.

The measure would amend last year’s  legislation, that prohibited the Defence Department from collecting information  from members of the armed forces about lawfully owned, personal  firearms.

The measure was part of the Defence  Authorisation Act and was backed by the National Rifle Association. The NRA  claimed the provision was in response to efforts by defence officials to  maintain records of all firearms owned by their personnel.

The new amendment, which is part of the  defence authorisation bill for 2013, has been passed by the House of  Representatives but not the Senate.

It would allow mental health experts and  commanders to ask service members about their private firearms if they have ‘reasonable grounds’ to believe the soldier is at ‘high risk’ of harming himself  or others.

Trauma: Congress are taking steps to prevent at-risk soldiers from retaining their private weapons  

Trauma: Congress are taking steps to prevent at-risk  soldiers from retaining their private weapons

The NRA are wary over the moves, and have  said that, although they are happy for the commanders to ask questions of those  they are concerned about, the commanders should not be confiscating  firearms.

‘We’re OK with the commanding officer being  able to inquire,’ said Andrew Arulanandam, a spokesman for the NRA., ‘but they  can’t confiscate.’

Senator James M Inhofe, an Oklahoma  Republican who sponsored the 2011 restrictions, said he would support the new  amendment ‘if it clears up any confusion.’

‘This is a national tragedy that Congress,  all branches of D.O.D. and numerous outside organizations have been working  together to solve,’ Mr Inhofe said.

The Senate is not expected to take the bill  until after the general election.

Suicides in the US military rose rapidly  between 2005 and 2009, and reached 285 active service members, along with 24  reservists in 2009.

Opposition: Gun rights lobbyists are likely to oppose any policy that would result in the confiscation of weapons  

Opposition: Gun rights lobbyists are likely to oppose  any policy that would result in the confiscation of weapons

The numbers plateaued in 2010 and 2011, but  the 2012 figures look set to exceed those of 2009, according to the New York Times.

As of last month, 270 active-duty service  members killed themselves this year alone, and half were from the  Army.

More than six out of 10 military suicides are  by use of firearms, and nearly half of those involve privately owned  guns.

Guns are also the most common method of  suicide among young males across the country.

When troops are identified as high risk,  commanders have the authority to confiscate their service weapons, but under  current legislation they can not ask them to hand over their personal  firearms.

The rising figures are of greater concern to  the military staff considering the efforts from the suicide prevention  campaign.

John Ruocco, a helicopter pilot, killed  himself in 2005 between deployments in Iraq. His wife, Kim, said he felt unable  to seek help.

She said: ‘He was so afraid of how people  would view him once he went for help.’

‘He thought that people would think he was  weak, that people would think he was just trying to get out of redeploying or  trying to get out of service, or that he just couldn’t hack it. In reality, he  was sick.

‘He had suffered injury in combat and he had  also suffered from depression and let it go untreated for years.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2214441/U-S-military-aims-prevent-suicides-taking-soldiers-private-guns-away-them.html#ixzz28j1gwO4j Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook

Suicide, Not Car Crashes, #1 Cause of Injury Death

By
WebMD Health News

Sept. 20, 2012 — Suicide has overtaken car crashes as the leading cause of injury-related deaths in the U.S.

While public health efforts have curbed the number of car fatalities by 25% over the last decade, a new study shows suicide deaths rose by 15% during the same period.

In addition, deaths from unintentional poisoning and falls have also increased dramatically in recent years.

Researchers found deaths caused by accidental poisoning and falls increased by 128% and 71%, respectively.

“Comprehensive and sustained traffic safety measures have apparently substantially diminished the motor vehicle traffic mortality rate, and similar attention and resources are needed to reduce the burden of other injury,” researcher Ian Rockett, PhD, MPH of West Virginia University and colleagues write in the American Journal of Public Health.

Causes of Death Evolving

In the study, researchers looked at cause of death data from the National Center for Health Statistics from 2000 to 2009.

“Contrasting with disease mortality, the injury mortality rate trended upward during most of that decade,” write the researchers.

The top five leading causes of injury-related deaths were:

  1. Suicide
  2. Motor vehicle crashes
  3. Poisoning
  4. Falls
  5. Homicide

Researchers say the findings demonstrate that suicide is now a global public health issue.

“Our finding that suicide now accounts for more deaths than do traffic crashes echoes similar findings for the European Union, Canada, and China,” they write.

Researchers say deaths from unintentional poisoning rose, in part, because of a sharp rise in prescription drug overdoses.

For example, drug overdoses accounted for 75% of unintentional poisoning deaths in 2008, with prescription drugs accounting for 74% of those overdoses.

The study also showed that women had a lower injury-related death rate than men. Blacks and Hispanics had a lower rate of car fatalities and suicides, and a higher rate of homicides than whites.

http://www.webmd.com/mental-health/news/20120920/suicide-top-cause-of-injury-death

Study reveals ‘huffing’ household chemicals connected to teen suicide

Contact: Dave Brendsel dbrendse@du.edu 303-871-2775 University of Denver

Girls who ‘huff’ are at higher risk of suicidal thoughts and behaviors

DENVER— With suicide as the third leading cause of death among adolescents in the United States, a new University of Denver (DU) study reveals inhaling or “huffing” vapors of common household goods, such as glue or nail polish, are associated with increased suicidal thoughts and attempts.

Of the study’s participants, 33 percent reported having inhaled volatile solvents, 25 percent had attempted suicide, and 58 percent reported suicidal thoughts.

Stacey Freedenthal and Jeffrey M. Jenson of DU’s Graduate School of Social Work joined researchers from Chapel Hill and the University of Pittsburgh in a study of 723 incarcerated youth. “Inhalant Use and Suicidality among Incarcerated Youth” appeared in the September 2007 issue of the academic journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence. The study was the first work to categorize both levels of severity of inhalant use and gender in relation to suicidal ideas and suicide attempts.

The investigators found a significant increase in suicidal thoughts and attempts with higher use of volatile solvents. Researchers did not determine which problem came first, the huffing or the suicidal behavior, but showed that the two are undeniably connected, even when accounting for numerous other factors. Freedenthal warns parents to be aware of the possibility of suicidal thoughts in children who have been caught inhaling household chemicals.

“Inhalant use has many serious, physiological consequences, including death,” says Freedenthal. “Now we are learning ever more strongly that they are also linked to suicidal thoughts and behaviors.”

The study found the correlation between huffing and suicidality greater in girls than boys. More than 80 percent of girls who abused inhalants revealed a history of suicide attempts, while less than 60 percent of boys showed the same history. The study also indicated that suicidal thoughts were much higher for girls than boys. Suicidal thoughts and attempts were considered two separate constructs, since thoughts do not always lead to attempts, and attempts are not always preceded by much thought.

The study involved 723 participants incarcerated by the Missouri Division of Youth Services, 629 boys and 94 girls at an average age of 15. Participants were asked if they huffed any of the 35 common household substances, such as paint, paint thinner, shoe polish, spot remover, floor polish, kerosene, gasoline, antifreeze, permanent markers, nail polish remover, mothballs, waxes, lighter fluid, and others.

###

The University of Denver (www.du.edu), the oldest private university in the Rocky Mountain region, enrolls approximately 11,117 students in its undergraduate and graduate programs. The Carnegie Foundation classifies the University of Denver as a Research University with high research activity.

Total undergraduate enrollment for fall 2007 is 5,311, including 1,140 first-time, first-year students, compared to 1,142 last year. Graduate enrollment is 5,806

*Reposted for Filing

Common parasite may trigger suicide attempts – “seven times more likely to attempt suicide”

Contact:   Jason Cody, Media Communications, Office: (517) 432-0924, Cell: (734) 755-0210, Jason.Cody@cabs.msu.edu; Lena Brundin, College of Human Medicine, Office: (616) 234-0996, lena.brundin@hc.msu.edu

EAST LANSING, Mich. — A parasite thought to be harmless and found in many people may actually be causing subtle changes in the brain, leading to suicide attempts.

New research appearing in the August issue of The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry adds to the growing work linking an infection caused by the Toxoplasma gondii parasite to suicide attempts. Michigan State University’s Lena Brundin was one of the lead researchers on the team.

About 10-20 percent of people in the United States have Toxoplasma gondii, or T. gondii, in their bodies, but in most it was thought to lie dormant, said Brundin, an associate professor of experimental psychiatry in MSU’s College of Human Medicine. In fact, it appears the parasite can cause inflammation over time, which produces harmful metabolites that can damage brain cells.

“Previous research has found signs of inflammation in the brains of suicide victims and people battling depression, and there also are previous reports linking Toxoplasma gondii to suicide attempts,” she said. “In our study we found that if you are positive for the parasite, you are seven times more likely to attempt suicide.”

The work by Brundin and colleagues is the first to measure scores on a suicide assessment scale from people infected with the parasite, some of whom had attempted suicide.

The results found those infected with T. gondii scored significantly higher on the scale, indicative of a more severe disease and greater risk for future suicide attempts. However, Brundin stresses the majority of those infected with the parasite will not attempt suicide: “Some individuals may for some reason be more susceptible to develop symptoms,” she said.

“Suicide is major health problem,” said Brundin, noting the 36,909 deaths in 2009 in America, or one every 14 minutes. “It is estimated 90 percent of people who attempt suicide have a diagnosed psychiatric disorder. If we could identify those people infected with this parasite, it could help us predict who is at a higher risk.”

T. gondii is a parasite found in cells that reproduces in its primary host, any member of the cat family. It is transmitted to humans primarily through ingesting water and food contaminated with the eggs of the parasite, or, since the parasite can be present in other mammals as well, through consuming undercooked raw meat or food.

Brundin has been looking at the link between depression and inflammation in the brain for a decade, beginning with work she did on Parkinson’s disease. Typically, a class of antidepressants called selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors, or SSRIs, have been the preferred treatment for depression. SSRIs are believed to increase the level of a neurotransmitter called serotonin but are effective in only about half of depressed patients.

Brundin’s research indicates a reduction in the brain’s serotonin might be a symptom rather than the root cause of depression. Inflammation, possibly from an infection or a parasite, likely causes changes in the brain’s chemistry, leading to depression and, in some cases, thoughts of suicide, she said.

“I think it’s very positive that we are finding biological changes in suicidal patients,” she said. “It means we can develop new treatments to prevent suicides, and patients can feel hope that maybe we can help them.

“It’s a great opportunity to develop new treatments tailored at specific biological mechanisms.”

Brundin and co-senior investigator Teodor Postolache of the University of Maryland led the research team. Funding for the project came from several sources, most notably the Swedish Research Council and American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

###

Michigan State University has been working to advance the common good in uncommon ways for more than 150 years. One of the top research universities in the world, MSU focuses its vast resources on creating solutions to some of the world’s most pressing challenges, while providing life-changing opportunities to a diverse and inclusive academic community through more than 200 programs of study in 17 degree-granting colleges

http://news.msu.edu/story/common-parasite-may-trigger-suicide-attempts/