Amoeba Linked to Severe Gum Disease

For the first time, researchers from Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin have shown that a unicellular parasite commonly found in the mouth plays a role in both severe tissue inflammation and tissue destruction. Most patients with severe and recurrent periodontitis (gum disease) showed an increased presence of the amoeba Entamoeba gingivalis inside their oral cavities. The effect of this amoeba is similar to that of Entamoeba histolytica, the parasite responsible for causing amebiasis. Once the parasite has invaded the gingival tissue, it feeds on its cells and causes tissue destruction. According to the researchers’ findings, which have been published in the Journal of Dental Research*, the two amoebae show similar mechanisms of tissue invasion and elicit a similar immune response in the host.

Periodontitis, or gum disease, is an inflammation of the gums and supporting structures of the teeth. It is one of the most common chronic diseases in the world. In Germany, approximately 15 percent of people are affected by a particularly severe form of this disease. If left untreated, periodontitis will lead to tooth loss. The disease also increases the risk of arthritis, cardiovascular disease and cancer. In patients with periodontitis, a decrease in the diversity of the oral flora coincides with an increase in the frequency of E. gingivalis. A team of researchers, led by Prof. Dr. Arne Schäfer, Head of the Periodontology Research Unit at Charité’s Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Sciences, was able to show that oral inflammation is associated with colonization by the oral parasite E. gingivalis.

Scientists have long been aware of the virulence potential of this genus of amoebae. The gastrointestinal parasite E. histolytica, for instance, causes a disease known as amebiasis, one of the most common causes of death from parasitic diseases worldwide. “We have shown that an amoeba like E. gingivalis, which colonizes the oral cavity, will invade the oral mucosa and destroy gingival tissue. This enables increased numbers of bacteria to invade the host tissue, which further exacerbates inflammation and tissue destruction,” says Prof. Schäfer. The international team of researchers was the first to describe precise roles of E. gingivalis in the pathogenesis of inflammation. During their analysis of inflamed periodontal pockets, the researchers detected evidence of the amoeba in approximately 80 percent of patients with periodontitis, but in only 15 percent of healthy subjects. Their observations revealed that, after invading the gums, the parasites move within the tissue, feeding on and killing host cells. Cell culture experiments showed that infection with E. gingivalis slows the rate at which cells grow, eventually leading to cell death.

The researchers concluded that the amoeba’s role in inflammation shows distinct parallels to the pathogenesis of amebiasis. “E. gingivalis actively contributes to cell destruction inside the gingival tissue and stimulates the same host immune response mechanisms as E. histolytica during its invasion of the intestinal mucosa,” explains Prof. Schäfer. “This parasite, which is transmitted by simple droplet infection, is one potential cause of severe oral inflammation.”

Treatment success is often short-lived in patients with periodontitis. This might be due to the high virulence potential of this previously unnoticed, yet extremely common amoeba. Summing up the results of the research, Prof. Schäfer says: “We identified one infectious parasite whose elimination could improve treatment effectiveness and long-term outcomes in patients with gum disease.” He adds: “Current treatment concepts for periodontitis fail to consider the possibility of infection by this parasite or its successful elimination.” A clinical trial is underway to determine the extent to which the elimination of this amoeba might improve treatment outcomes in patients with periodontitis.

Source: Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin

Pecan Bread Pudding with Caramel Whiskey Sauce


8 cups cubed egg bread or brioche (about 10 ounces)
1/2 cup coarsely chopped pecans, toasted
1-2/3 cups sugar, divided
3 eggs
3 egg yolks
3 cups whole milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons butter, cut into pieces
1/3 cup whipping cream
2 to 3 tablespoons Irish whiskey or bourbon


  1. Grease 13 X 9-inch baking dish or shallow 2-quart casserole.
  2. Combine bread cubes and pecans in prepared dish.
  3. Beat 3/4 cup sugar, eggs and egg yolks in medium bowl until blended. Add milk, vanilla, salt and nutmeg. Beat until well blended.
  4. Pour egg mixture over bread mixture. Let stand 15 to 20 minutes, pressing down on bread occasionally.
  5. Preheat oven to 350°F. Combine 1/4 cup sugar and cinnamon in small bowl. Sprinkle over bread mixture.
  6. Bake 45 to 50 minutes or until puffed and golden brown. Cool on wire rack 15 minutes.
  7. For sauce, place butter in small heavy saucepan. Add remaining 2/3 cup sugar. Shake pan to make even layer but do not stir. Cook over medium heat 5 minutes or until golden and bubbly.
  8. Stir mixture and cook 2 minutes or until deep golden brown.
  9. Gradually stir in cream. (Mixture will sizzle.) Cook and stir until smooth. Remove from heat.
  10. Stir in whiskey, 1 tablespoon at a time.
  11. Serve bread pudding warm or at room temperature topped with warm sauce.

Makes 8 servings.

Source: Irish Cooking Bible

Infographic: How to Clean and Sterilize Your Homemade Face Mask

Source: Digital Trend

Plant-based Diet without Stomach Troubles: Getting Rid of FODMAPs with Enzymes

A plant-based diet is a good choice for both climate and health. However, many plant-based products, especially legumes, contain FODMAP compounds that are poorly digestible and cause unpleasant intestinal symptoms. A study by VTT and Finnish companies succeeded in breaking down FODMAPs with enzymes and producing new, stomach-friendly plant-based food products.

FODMAPs are short-chain carbohydrate molecules that are poorly absorbed in the human small intestine. These non-absorbed compounds move along to the large intestine, where intestinal microbes feed on them. This results in the production of gases that causes symptoms especially for those suffering from intestinal disorders, but also for many others. These problems are relatively common, as it has been estimated that the irritable bowel syndrome alone affects between 10% and 20% of the population.

Many foods containing FODMAPs are in themselves healthy and good sources of fibre, nutrients and vegetable proteins. However, those suffering from symptoms will often avoid these foods and miss out on their health benefits.

Enzymes to do away with FODMAPs

In a study funded by VTT, Gold&Green Foods, Raisio, Roal and Valio, VTT focused on two key FODMAP compounds: galactan and fructan. Galactan is abundant in, for example, legumes, while fructan is found in many cereals, among other things.

“We investigated whether these compounds can be removed from food by breaking them down with enzymes. We utilised both commercial enzymes and ones produced at VTT in the project. We used them to test the removal of FODMAPs from faba bean and pea protein concentrates as well as from rye, graham and wheat flour”, says Senior Research Scientist Antti Nyyssölä from VTT.

The solution proved to work: there were only small amounts of FODMAPs remaining in the raw materials after enzymatic treatment.

“The method is similar to that used to make Hyla milk, in which lactose is broken down in advance. Similarly, enzymatic treatment can be used to remove FODMAPs from food.”

New plant-based foods suitable for the FODMAP diet

The research project also tested whether enzymes work in connection with the preparation of food products. This would allow the food industry to eliminate harmful FODMAP compounds in their own processes. The project focused on testing plant-based spoonable products, meat analogues and bakery products to investigate different types of plant-based foods suitable for the FODMAP diet.

“The study showed that enzymes also work under a variety of conditions and in different food processes. This is interesting new information especially for legumes, as there are currently no similar legume-based foods suitable for the FODMAP diet on the market”, says Nyyssölä.

“The results are most likely to be utilised next in the development of new food items, but also in academic research in order to verify the effects on intestinal symptoms with certainty”, he continues.

Source: VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland

Annual ‘COVID-19 Season’ May Be Here to Stay, Scientists Predict

Dennis Thompson wrote . . . . . . . . .

COVID-19 is likely to be around for years to come, haunting humans as either a yearly flu-like illness or as a virus that occasionally resurfaces following years of dormancy, a new Harvard modeling study argues.

It’s unlikely that COVID-19 will go the way of its closest cousin, SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome), which was eradicated by an intense public health effort following a brief pandemic, the researchers said.

Instead, COVID-19 is expected to be an ongoing fact of life, with the duration of human immunity determining exactly how often the virus returns.

If immunity to the COVID-19 coronavirus is not permanent, the virus will likely enter into regular circulation — just like the influenza virus or the beta coronaviruses responsible for the common cold, the model showed.

“It does seem likely that, under a wide range of parameter values, SARS-CoV-2 [COVID-19] will continue to circulate as a seasonal wintertime virus,” said lead researcher Stephen Kissler, a research fellow of immunology and infectious diseases at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, in Boston.

In that case, it might be necessary to have several years of intermittent social distancing to fully introduce the entire human population to the COVID-19 virus without overwhelming the health care system, the researchers concluded.

That scenario would require social distancing rules to be relaxed in the summer, when transmission of the virus would be somewhat reduced, said senior researcher Marc Lipsitch, a professor of epidemiology with Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

That way, a limited number of people could be exposed to the coronavirus and help build up herd immunity, which now is essentially nonexistent because it’s a novel virus, Lipsitch said.

“By permitting periods of transmission that reach higher prevalence than otherwise would be possible, they allow an accelerated acquisition of herd immunity during the ‘off’ periods of social distancing,” Lipsitch said.

For this study, the Harvard researchers evaluated the transmission patterns of two beta coronaviruses that are the second most common cause of colds. These two viruses are close relatives of the COVID-19 virus, said study co-author Christine Renata Tedijanto, a doctoral student of infectious disease epidemiology at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

The model then incorporated the COVID-19 coronavirus, using the other two viruses as a means of patterning the behavior of the third.

The Harvard model found that the novel coronavirus probably will be able to proliferate at any time of the year, the researchers said. It’s also very likely that the virus will wax and wane with the seasons.

“It is a consistent finding in this model that, absent control interventions, even in the summer we would expect increasing numbers of cases,” Lipsitch said. “Unlike those seasonal coronaviruses, most of the population remains susceptible, and that overwhelms the modest declines in transmission in the summer.”

The researchers did not rule out the possibility that coronavirus might disappear for a number of years, if human immune systems adapt both to it and to the coronaviruses that cause the common cold.

It’s also conceivable that the common cold coronaviruses might provide some mild cross-immunity against COVID-19, the study team noted. In that scenario, a follow-up wave of COVID-19 cases could be delayed as much as three years, assuming that immunity against the novel coronavirus lasts two years.

However, it’s more likely that COVID-19 will continue to infect people year round, with the virus springing forth every time social distancing rules are relaxed, the researchers explained.

In that case, the human immune system will determine the best strategy for adapting to the virus, Lipsitch said.

“If intermittent social distancing is the approach that is chosen, it may be necessary to do it for several years, which is obviously a very long time,” Lipsitch said.

“That could get better if, as some early indications suggest, there is more herd immunity in the population than we believe, indicating that each case we know about is actually generating more immunity through mildly ill cases or unobserved cases,” he continued.

“On the other hand, there are indications coming out that not every case of COVID-19 infection, even confirmed cases, generates a robust immune response, which would mean the buildup of herd immunity is slower than is anticipated here,” Lipsitch concluded. “There are many uncertainties about the scale of this.”

A comprehensive program of testing for both the virus and its antibodies will be needed to carefully guide the public health response to COVID-19, the researchers said. That way, enough people can be exposed to improve herd immunity without so many that hospitals are flooded with cases.

To that end, hospitals might need to beef up their emergency departments and intensive care units so they are ready to deal with cases caused by the relaxation of social distancing in the summer, as well as increasing infections as the seasonal virus increases in transmission during the winter, the researchers added.

The new study was published online in the journal Science.

Source: HealthDay

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