Category Archives: In General

Has an Italian avian virus affair the potiential for a biothriller?

It has ingredients of a thriller and might be picked up by Hollywood: A incredible story of crime, bribe and corruption is revealed from Italy. Where else, you might think. It involves the avian influenza viruses in different strains, scientists who sold
the viruses to an interested company, vaccines from these strains which were illegally sold to farmers, state officials who did not interrupt the illegal trafficking. 40 people involved so far. It is a biothriller if all the allegations can be substantiated.

Science this week reports an investigation taking place in Italy in the last 10 years. It claims that the Merial company has bought avian virus strains from two virologists,
Ilaria Capua and Stefano Merangon, and developed a vaccine. Against European law this vaccine was sold to Italian farmers. This is forbidden for the following reason: Infected
and vaccinated animals can not be distinguished and would be culled anyhow. Thus, the animals when tested would be killed independently whether they were vaccinated or not since the appear infected. It might be that they will not be tested when they show no sign of the illness. Furthermore the report raises the possibility that the researchers have deliberately spread the virus which endangered not only the animals, but some farmers got ill.

The person in the center of the investigation, Capua,  is now a member of Parliament and enjoys immunity. One person, Romano Mirabelli, former general secretary of the Ministry of Health stepped down from his post. All the others refute the allegations, on the contrary, they sue an Italian journal, L’Espresso, which has leaked the story. Meraial declines any
illegal action.

Do you believe this? Science has to report more.

90 Years of Renal Dialysis

Correct are the dates for 90 years of renal dialysis. A German doctor used a precursor of todays technique in 1924 for filtration of blood to get rid of deleterious low molecular weight (mass)  substances. The semipermeable membrane he used – and which is in principle still used today while the material itself has changed – is permeable only to low molecular weight substances which will cross the membrane and which will be diluted in the process. High molecular weight substances do not cross the membrane. If you pass blood along through such a filter which has on the outside a liquid (e.g. isotonic salt solution) , then the unwanted products cross the membrane due to the concentration difference. You pump this liquid permanently away , then the salts will stay in blood since there is no concentration difference between the blood and the outer liquid, the unwanted products like urea e.g., however, will diluted into the outer liquid and reduced in the blood.

The method applies to toxins and is used during renal failure for whatever reason.

Georg Haas was the first who applied this method to a patient in 1924. While he treated up to 11 patients the method was dismissed by collegues because it did not heal the patient, “only” approved the symptoms. Haas was very much engaged as the clinic head that he could not spent any further time for dialysis.

The breakthrough came with Willem Kolff (NL) 20 years later who used the easily available cellophane tubes which were originally produced to make sausages.

LPS tolerance, aryl hydrocarbon receptor and dioxygenases

Yesterday I saw a fascinating Nature article (Nature doi:10.1038/nature13323): Low doses of LPS in mice induce LPS tolerance. The underlying mechanism involve – according to the authors – the AhR and two different dioxigenases, tryptophan 2,3-dioxygenase and  indoleamine 2,3-dioxygenase. This is related to endotoxic shock a still devasting condition.


Today  I re-set up this site from scratch. It had been compromised and hacked. Since I am fairly fluent in wordpress I decided to use the last wordpress version. It took half a day. Still missing is the legal disclaimer, but it will soon be ready.

To Start With:

I have started this blog to discuss my collection of actual papers in Endocrinology, Immunology, and other aspects of science and of clinical research. This surely is biased from the beginning. Some papers you will eventually find cited in an edition of “Hormones and the encrine system” to be published in 2015 by Springer or in a new German edition of “Hormone und Hormonsystem” to be prepared. For the major part of papers they just fetched my attention.

If you like it feel free to comment on these. There is also the possibilty to keep up-to-date with RSS.

Enjoy reading!