Today’s Headlines: Multiple Sclerosis, Stem Cells and Breath Tests

Bacterial toxin may trigger multiple sclerosis, research finds: A bacteria that can cause food poisoning has been linked to the neurological disease multiple sclerosis (MS) by a new study. “Researchers from Weill Cornell Medical College have pinpointed a specific toxin they believe may be responsible for the onset of MS, offering hope for future therapies or vaccines to prevent the condition.” The toxin comes from a rare strain of Clostridium perfringens, a common cause of foodborne illness. According to study authors, data shows that the toxin can cross the blood-brain barrier and damage brain cells. Prior research showed that patients with MS are “are 10 times more immune-reactive to the epsilon toxin than healthy patients.” (Fox News)

Study says new method could be a quicker source of stem cells: “A surprising study has found that a simple acid bath might turn cells in the body into stem cells that could one day be used for tissue repair and other medical treatments.” The technique, which has only been tried on mouse cells so far, could be significantly quicker and easier than current methods. Stem cells may be grown in a laboratory and have the potential to become any type of cell in the body. “Researchers think these stem cells may one day be used to repair damaged cells and organs in the body, though experiments trying this in people are in very early stages.” (The New York Times)

Breath test may detect signs of lung cancer: study: A new study suggests that a “simple breath test might reveal if a person has early-stage lung cancer.” Researchers examined patients for suspicious lung lesions using CT scans and then tested their breath for four different carbonyls, which are cancer-specific substances. “Having elevated levels of three of the four carbonyls was predictive of lung cancer in 95 percent of patients, while having normal levels of these substances was predictive of a noncancerous growth in 80 percent of patients, the researchers found.” In addition, carbonyl levels dropped back to normal levels after patients with lung cancer underwent surgery. (U.S. News & World Report)