Think Forward.


How Nature's Deadliest Creatures Influence Medicines?

When we think about the most dangerous animals in the world, we often imagine deadly snakes, venomous spiders, or stinging scorpions. These creatures are feared for their powerful venoms, but what if I told you that their venoms could save lives? It may sound surprising, but many scientists are now using these dangerous venoms to create new medicines. Here are some of my thoughts on this fascinating topic. Spider venom might give you chills, but it is also giving hope to people who suffer from strokes. The Australian funnel-web spider (Atrax robustus) produces a venom that contains a peptide called Hi1a. This peptide has been found to protect brain cells from damage caused by a stroke. Researchers are studying Hi1a to create treatments that could save the lives of stroke victims and help them recover more quickly. Snakes are some of the most feared animals on the planet, but their venom is helping to treat serious illnesses. For example, the Brazilian pit viper (Bothrops jararaca) produces a venom that contains a molecule called bradykinin-potentiating peptide (BPP). This molecule has been used to develop a class of drugs known as ACE inhibitors, which are commonly prescribed to treat high blood pressure and heart failure. These drugs work by relaxing blood vessels and reducing blood pressure, turning a deadly venom into a lifesaving medication. Scorpion venom is another powerful substance that is being turned into medicine. Researchers have found that a protein in scorpion venom, chlorotoxin, can bind specifically to cancer cells without affecting healthy cells. This discovery has led to the development of a drug called Tumor Paint, which helps surgeons see cancer cells more clearly during surgery. The venom of the deathstalker scorpion (Leiurus quinquestriatus) is being harnessed to ensure that cancerous tissue is removed more precisely, reducing the risk of recurrence. The ocean is home to many venomous creatures, like cone snails and jellyfish. The venom of the cone snail (Conus magus) contains a compound called ziconotide, which has been developed into a drug for severe chronic pain. Ziconotide works by blocking calcium channels in nerve cells, preventing pain signals from reaching the brain. This non-opioid painkiller offers a powerful alternative to traditional pain medications and has been a significant breakthrough in pain management. Bees and wasps are often seen as pests, but their venoms are being used to help treat autoimmune diseases. Melittin, a peptide found in bee venom, has shown potential in treating conditions like multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis. Melittin can modulate the immune response and reduce inflammation. Scientists are working to isolate and modify melittin to enhance its therapeutic effects while minimizing side effects, offering new hope to patients with these challenging conditions. The Gila monster is a venomous lizard whose saliva contains a hormone called exendin-4. This hormone has been turned into a drug called exenatide, which helps people with type 2 diabetes manage their blood sugar levels. Exenatide mimics the action of a natural hormone that stimulates insulin release and inhibits glucagon production, effectively controlling blood glucose levels. It's amazing to think that a substance from a lizard's mouth can help millions of people control their diabetes. Centipedes might seem like creepy crawlies, but their venom is showing promise as a pain reliever. The venom of the Chinese red-headed centipede (Scolopendra subspinipes mutilans) contains a peptide called SsTx. SsTx can block pain signals by inhibiting sodium channels in nerve cells, offering a new approach to pain management. Researchers are synthesizing SsTx in the lab and conducting trials to evaluate its effectiveness and safety, potentially leading to new, non-addictive painkillers. It is truly fascinating how scientists can transform deadly venoms into life-saving medicines. Studying these natural toxins, researchers are finding new ways to treat some of the most challenging diseases and conditions. This innovation shows the incredible diversity of nature and emphasizes the importance of preserving these species and their habitats. The transformation from venom to cure is a remarkable testament to human ingenuity and the power of nature. Attached, please find our open-source scientific article explaining everything in detail.

How Writing on Bluwr Improved My Memory and Mental Health

Six months ago, I began a daily writing habit on Bluwr, a platform that greatly simplifies the publication process while promoting direct interaction between its users. This commitment to sharing my AI and venom research in understandable terms has sharpened my thinking and significantly alleviated the mental pressures of my academic pursuits. Bluwr’s design for quick and direct feedback from a global audience enriches the experience, providing rapid and meaningful exchanges that enhance the interactive aspect of writing. Writing every day on Bluwr has leveraged SEO to enhance the visibility of my work. By optimizing content for search engines, Bluwr ensures that my articles reach not just the academic community but also enthusiasts and professionals interested in AI and venom studies. This wider exposure increases the impact of my research and invites a broader spectrum of feedback, enriching my work and personal growth. Bluwr's commitment to fostering a high-quality readership has been incredibly beneficial. As I noted in a recent post, "The engagement from knowledgeable readers around the world who understand and expand on my research is profoundly gratifying." This sentiment was echoed in a conversation I had with the founder of Bluwr, who stated, “Our mission is to break down barriers to knowledge sharing and connect individuals across diverse backgrounds. We aim to catalyze innovation by making it easy for experts and novices alike to exchange ideas freely and without delay.” This philosophy aligns with my experiences on the platform. The variety of perspectives I encounter has bolstered my professional growth and has also become an integral part of my mental health care strategy. Each article I publish leads to interactions that reinforce my connection to a global community of curious minds. This engagement is crucial for feeling supported and motivated, especially when dealing with the solitary nature of PhD research. Reflecting on the past six months, my daily writing on Bluwr has been more than just a personal or professional exercise. It has improved my mental clarity, expanded my network, and opened up opportunities for collaborations that I had never anticipated. The platform has allowed me to share my research with a wider audience and has provided a space where I could grow as a scientist and communicator. Daily writing fosters a disciplined approach to research and idea generation, improves memory retention, enhances problem-solving skills, and increases the ability to articulate complex information clearly. As I continue to write and share my work, I am reminded of the powerful role that writing can play in enhancing understanding, both for myself and for my readers. Writing on Bluwr could turn your passion for writing into a recognized skill that might even become a profitable endeavor in the future. Always remember to 'THINK FORWARD.' Start writing on Bluwr today, and see where your words can take you!

Do we still have the luxury of not using artificial intelligence?

AI is a rapidly expanding research field that not only advances itself but also supports other scientific domains. It opens up new perspectives and accelerates knowledge and mastery of new technologies, allowing for previously unimaginable time-saving shortcuts. The future of AI is promising, but it requires mastery of the tool and adherence to certain standards. It is also important to minimize the gap between human understanding and intentions, and the increasingly autonomous machinery. This requires humans with a high level of knowledge and expertise to ensure that the work is done efficiently and with precision, for the benefit of humanity. It is also important to fully understand cultural, genetic, geographic, historical, and other differences and disparities. This should lead us to consider multiple perspectives rather than just one, especially in complex medical fields where details are crucial. Do Senegalese, Canadians, Moroccans, and Finns react similarly to the therapies currently available? Do they suffer from the same diseases and react in the same way if exposed to the same virus or bacteria? The applications of AI that concern humans allow and will allow in the near future for an improvement in the quality of care. Operations will be assisted and medications will be designed on a case-by-case basis. However, reliable data is essential, as it is imperative to proceed in the most appropriate manner, which machines cannot do without enlightened humans who carry out their training. Humans must have sufficient and adequate knowledge to develop the necessary approaches and techniques while also adhering to an unwavering ethical standard. In the link below, Dr Tariq Daouda explains this and more in a very pedagogical manner, as a guest of the "Linvité de la Rédaction" (editorial team guest) of Médi TV. Click on the link to learn more. The video is a french speaking one.

Mistakes People Make When Bitten by Snakes & Correct Actions to Take

When bitten by a snake, people often react instinctively, which can lead to actions that are more harmful than helpful. Here are some common mistakes to avoid: - Trying to Suck Out the Venom: This method is ineffective and can introduce bacteria to the wound or further harm the victim. - Applying a Tourniquet: This can restrict blood flow entirely, potentially leading to tissue damage or necrosis. - Using Ice or Cold Compresses: Applying ice can cause tissue damage and doesn't prevent venom spread. - Cutting the Bite Area: Cutting into the bite site can increase the risk of infection and cause more damage. - Attempting to Capture or Kill the Snake: This could lead to additional bites or delay medical treatment. A description or photo from a safe distance is sufficient for identification. - Drinking Alcohol or Caffeine: These substances can accelerate the heart rate, spreading the venom more quickly through the body. - Eating or Drinking: If there's a risk of swelling in the throat or shock, consuming food or beverages could complicate the situation. If bitten by a snake, the best immediate actions are to remain as calm as possible to keep your heart rate down, which slows the spread of venom. Ensure that the affected area is kept still and positioned lower than the heart to reduce venom movement through the bloodstream. Remove any jewelry or tight clothing around the bite area before swelling starts. Call for emergency medical help right away or have someone else do so. While waiting for help, stay as immobile and calm as possible to minimize venom spread. Do not attempt to capture the snake but try to remember its color and shape to help medical professionals provide the appropriate treatment. Importantly, do not apply ice, cut the wound, try to suck out the venom, or use a tourniquet, as these actions can cause more harm.

What is the most expensive liquid on Earth?

Imagine a liquid so precious that just a small droplet could be worth more than a diamond. This isn’t a scene from a science fiction story; it’s reality, and the liquid is scorpion venom. Scorpion venom is potentially the most expensive liquid on Earth, with prices soaring to millions of dollars for just one gallon. But what makes it so incredibly valuable? Scorpions, those small, often feared creatures, carry in their tails a venom used for defense and hunting. Extracting this venom is a meticulous and often hazardous task. Specialists must carefully ‘milk’ the scorpions, a process that involves stimulating the scorpions to release their venom, which is then collected drop by drop. This labor-intensive method, combined with the venom’s scarcity, drives its high cost. But the price tag is not just due to the danger and difficulty of extraction. The real treasure of scorpion venom lies in its composition and potential to revolutionize medicine. Scorpion venom is a cocktail of numerous compounds, including peptides and proteins, each with specific effects. For instance, chlorotoxin, found in the venom of the deathstalker scorpion (Leiurus quinquestriatus), shows promise in targeting cancer cells, making it a beacon of hope for new cancer treatments. Another component, called scorpine, has been studied for its antimicrobial properties and its potential to combat malaria. Researchers are intrigued by how these compounds can lead to breakthroughs in drug development. Imagine a new kind of painkiller derived from scorpion venom that could offer relief without the side effects of current medications, or innovative treatments capable of combating autoimmune diseases and even halting the spread of cancer. These are not just hopeful speculations but real possibilities being explored in labs around the world. The process of transforming venom into medicine is complex and involves identifying and isolating the active components, understanding their mechanisms of action, and then synthesizing them in forms suitable for medical use. Despite the challenges, the potential health benefits drive scientists and pharmaceutical companies to invest in this research. This intricate dance of danger, rarity, and medical promise makes scorpion venom more than just an expensive liquid; it’s a symbol of the incredible potential hidden in nature, awaiting discovery. In a world where answers to some of our biggest health challenges might be found in the most unexpected places, scorpion venom stands as a testament to the wonders of the natural world and human ingenuity’s boundless curiosity.

The Coolest Team-Up: AI and Venom Research

Picture this: you’re at a barbecue, and instead of the usual chat about sports or the weather, someone drops into the conversation that they work with snake venom and AI. It might sound like they’re pulling your leg, but actually, they’re on to something groundbreaking. Welcome to the Future: Where AI Meets Venom Toxinology and venomics aren’t just cool words to impress your friends; they’re fields where scientists study toxins and venoms from creatures like snakes and spiders. Now, mix in some AI, and you’ve got a dynamic duo that’s changing the game. With AI’s smart algorithms, researchers can sift through massive amounts of data to uncover secrets about venom that could lead to medical breakthroughs. It’s like having a detective with a magnifying glass, except this one’s scouring genetic codes instead of crime scenes. Why We Should Care Venoms are nature’s way of saying, “Don’t mess with me.” But beyond their bite or sting, they’re packed with potential for new medicines. Understanding venom better can help us find new ways to treat diseases, from blood disorders to chronic pain. And AI is the super-efficient helper making these discoveries at lightning speed. The Nitty-Gritty: How AI Works Its Magic Imagine AI as the Sherlock Holmes of science, able to analyze venom components, predict their effects, and uncover new ones that could be game-changers in medicine. For instance, if there’s a venom that can thin blood without harmful side effects, AI can help pinpoint how to use it for people at risk of blood clots. Or if another venom targets pain receptors in a unique way, AI could help in crafting painkillers that don’t come with the baggage of current drugs. From the Lab to Real Life There are some standout AI tools like TOXIFY and Deep-STP that are making waves in venom research. These tools can figure out which parts of venom are worth a closer look for drug development. It’s like having a filter that only lets through the most promising candidates for new medicines. Looking Ahead With AI’s touch, the potential for venom in medicine is just starting to unfold. We’re talking about new treatments for everything from heart disease to chronic pain, and as AI tech advances, who knows what else we’ll find? The Fine Print As exciting as this all sounds, there are hurdles. Getting the right data is crucial because AI is only as good as the information it’s given. Plus, we need to consider the ethical side of things, ensuring our curiosity doesn’t harm the creatures we study or the environments they live in. In Summary: It’s a Big Deal The combo of AI and venom research is turning heads for a reason. It’s not just about finding the next big thing in medicine; it’s about opening doors to treatments we’ve hardly imagined. And it’s a reminder that even the most feared creatures can offer something invaluable to humanity. So, the next time someone mentions using snake venom in research, you’ll know it’s not just fascinating — it could very well be the future of medicine, with AI leading the way. And that’s something worth talking about, whether you’re at a barbecue or anywhere else. Reference: Bedraoui A, Suntravat M, El Mejjad S, Enezari S, Oukkache N, Sanchez EE, et al. Therapeutic Potential of Snake Venom: Toxin Distribution and Opportunities in Deep Learning for Novel Drug Discovery. Medicine in Drug Discovery. 2023 Dec 27;100175.

Decoding Performance: The Brain of Professional Soccer Players and Stress

In a hypothetical narrative, considering two soccer players, each playing for a different team. Player A is part of a team with an average performance, having lost 18 games, tied 6, and won 4. Player B, on the other hand, plays for a team with a lower performance record, having lost 19 games, tied 8, and won just 1. Both players had to play 4 more games, and both teams need to win all four or risk being relegated to a lower level. The coaches of both teams have prepared overview and analysis slideshows for the players to study, enabling each player to grasp the tactics and individual performance of their opponents. These opponents exhibit high performance both tactically and physically. The characteristics of the three top teams are high speed, accurate indirect play, and individual techniques. Furthermore, the news certainly portrays these three teams as heroes that can conquer any challenge. The game statistics reveal that the three top teams have won 22 games, and the standings difference is only 1 point at the top of the list. Now, Players A and B must think, perhaps even overthink, about how to enhance their performance to counter these formidable opponents. Picture these two players in a different game location standing in line, waiting for the referee to lead them onto the pitch. In this moment, Players A and B, each in a different location and game, experience their body’s primal response, orchestrated by a fascinating interplay between three key brain regions: the amygdala, hypothalamus, and cortex. The amygdala acts like a fire alarm, but for challenges, not just threats. It constantly scans situations based on past experiences. When it detects a tough opponent, like a highly skilled soccer team, it triggers a response to prepare you for the challenge. It receives sensory information from the eyes, ears, and other senses. In response to detecting a high-pressure situation, like playing against the top three opponents, the amygdala triggers a rapid response based on past experiences. This initial response is quick and prioritizes preparing the player for action, without the deep analysis that the cortex can provide. Over time, the amygdala has established a rapid response system that plays a vital role in survival. This system helps players react instinctively in complex situations like facing top competitors. The amygdala then transmits the data to the hypothalamus, the brain's control center. Acting like a dispatcher, the hypothalamus mobilizes various bodily systems for action. It triggers a cascade of physiological changes, including increased heart rate, sweating, or heightened muscle tension, all designed to enhance performance in the face of a challenge. Additionally, the hypothalamus can also stimulate the release of hormones from other glands that can influence mental state, such as increased alertness and focus, further preparing the player for the high-pressure situation. A key hormone involved is adrenaline (epinephrine), released by the adrenal glands in response to signals from the hypothalamus. Adrenaline prepares the body for action by increasing heart rate, sweating, and muscle tension. Beyond Adrenaline and Cortisol: The presence of adrenaline in the bloodstream triggers a cascade of hormonal responses: Cortisol: As mentioned earlier, adrenaline stimulates the hypothalamus to release cortisol from the adrenal cortex. Cortisol plays a vital role in managing stress by increasing blood sugar for energy, suppressing non-essential functions like digestion, and contributing to heightened alertness. Sex Hormones: In males, short-term stress might lead to a temporary increase in testosterone levels, providing a burst of energy mobilization. However, chronic stress can have the opposite effect, causing a decrease in testosterone levels. Females might experience changes in estrogen and progesterone levels as well, depending on the situation. Antidiuretic Hormone (ADH): This hormone, released from the pituitary gland in response to signals from the hypothalamus, helps conserve water by reducing urine production during stressful situations. Overall Impact: This complex interplay of hormones, initiated by the amygdala and orchestrated by the hypothalamus, prepares the player both physically and mentally to face the challenge. But here's where things get interesting. The amygdala's initial alarm might be loud, but it doesn't have the final say. The player's prefrontal cortex (PFC), the brain's reasoning center, steps in to analyze the information it receives from the amygdala. This analysis considers past experiences and memories, the context of the situation (such as assessing the opponent's potential to outperform them) and evaluates potential solutions to maintain composure and prevent self-esteem from taking a hit. Here's where individual differences become crucial. Player A, with their well-developed emotional intelligence, might interpret these thoughts and manage their behavior differently from Player B, who might struggle to express their true emotional state. Based on this analysis, the PFC can now interpret the information received from the amygdala, considering the player's knowledge and experience (intelligence can be a broad term). If the PFC judges the competition as manageable pressure, it can signal the hypothalamus to downregulate the fight-or-flight response, effectively calming the amygdala's initial alarm. This communication process can trigger self-talk that might translate into an affirmation like: Give it my all and avoid mistakes. However, if the cortex recognizes a high-pressure situation (such as facing one of the top three teams, known for their excellent performance and currently in top form), it may not be able to completely suppress the amygdala’s alarm response. This could lead to players experiencing intense pressure, resulting in a decrease in innovation and organization during the game. They might even feel an overwhelming need to surmount these challenges, which could further intensify their reactions. The good news is that this system is adaptable. By repeatedly encountering situations that were initially perceived as high-pressure but ultimately safe (like playing against opponents similar to the top three teams who they were able to defend against), the amygdala and cortex can learn and adapt. These experiences weaken the initial fear response, making players less likely to react impulsively in similar situations in the future. These experiences weaken the initial fear response, making players feel less random to react in similar situations in the future. This is why exposure therapy (training sessions) can be effective in managing high performance, especially at elite or professional levels. Simo Idrissi

AI+Health: An Undelivered Promise

AI is everywhere, or so would it seems, but the promises made for Drug Discovery and Medicine are still yet to be fulfilled. AI seems to always spring from a Promethean impulse. The goal of creating a life beyond life, doing the work of gods by creating a new life form as Prometheus created humanity. From Techne to independent life, a life that looks life us. Something most people refer to as AGI today. This is the biggest blind spot of AI development. The big successes of AI are in a certain way always in the same domains: - Image Processing - Natural Language Processing The reason is simple, we are above all visual, talking animals. Our Umwelt, the world we inhabit is mostly a world of images and language, every human is an expert in these two fields. Interestingly, most humans are not as sound aware as they are visually aware. Very few people can separate the different tracks in a music piece, let alone identify certain frequencies or hear delicate compressions and distortions. We are not so good with sound, and it shows in the relatively less ground breaking AI tools available for sound processing. The same phenomenon explains why AI struggles to achieve in very complex domains such as Biology and Chemistry. At it's core, modern AI is nothing more than a powerful general way to automatically guess relevant mathematical functions describing a phenomenon from collected data. What statisticians call a *Model*. From this great power derives the domain chief illusion: because the tool is general, therefore the wielder of that tool can apply it to any domain. Experience shows that this thinking is flawed. Every AI model is framed between two thing: its dataset (input) and its desired output as represented by the loss function. What is important, what is good, what is bad, how should the dataset be curated, how should the model be adjusted. For all these questions and more, you need a deep knowledge of the domain, of the assumptions of the domain, of the technicalities of the domain, of the limitations that are inherent to data collection in that domain. Domain knowledge is paramount, because AI algorithms are always guided by the researchers and engineers. This I know from experience, having spent about 17 years closely working with biologists. Pairing AI specialists with domain specialist with little knowledge of AI also rarely delivers. A strategy that has been tested time and time again in the last 10 years. Communication is hard and slow, most is lost in translation. The best solution is to have AI experts that are also experts in the applied domain, or domain experts that are also AI experts. Therefore the current discrepancies we see in AI performances across domains, could be layed at the feet of universities, and there siloed structures. Universities are organized in independent departments that teach independently. AI is taught at the Computer Science department, biology at the Biochemistry department. These two rarely meet in any substantial manner. It was true went I was a student, it is still true today. This is one of the things we are changing at the Faculty of Medical Science of the University Mohammed VI Polytechnic. Students in Medicine and Pharmacy have to go through a serious AI and Data science class over a few years. They learn to code, they learn the mathematical concepts of AI, they learn to gather their own datasets, to derive their hypothesizes, and build, train and evaluate their own models using pyTorch. The goal being to produce a new generation of scientists that are intimate with their domain as well as with modern AI. One that can consistently deliver the promises of AI for Medicine and Drug Discovery.

What Happens If You Swallow Snake Venom?

Imagine you're hanging out with friends, and someone randomly asks, "Would swallowing snake venom kill you?" It sounds like the start of a dare or a myth you'd want to debunk right away. Snake venom is nature's own brew of toxic substances designed for defense and catching dinner. It's filled with proteins and enzymes that can cause serious trouble if they get directly into your blood, affecting everything from your nerves to your circulatory system. But here's where it gets interesting: the method of venom entering your body makes a huge difference. And when it comes to swallowing venom, the story takes an unexpected turn. Swallowing snake venom? It might not be as deadly as you think. Our digestive system is pretty robust, breaking down proteins and peptides, which are the main components of venom. Essentially, if venom ends up in your stomach, your body starts to digest it like any other protein-rich food. However, it's not an open invitation to start a venom-tasting club. The real risk comes if there are any cuts or sores in your mouth or throat that could give venom a fast pass into your bloodstream. That's when the situation could turn dangerous. Venom's power is unleashed when it bypasses the digestive system, entering directly through a bite. This direct route to your bloodstream means venom can quickly get to work, potentially leading to severe, even life-threatening, reactions. Interestingly, the medical world sees snake venom not just as a danger but as a source of potential breakthroughs. Scientists study venom's components to develop treatments for conditions that are currently hard to manage. It's a classic example of how something potentially deadly can be turned into a lifesaver. Back to the original question: swallowing snake venom isn't something to put on your bucket list, but it's unlikely to be lethal due to the protective role of your digestive system. The real concern is venom entering directly into your bloodstream, whether through an existing wound in your mouth or a snake bite.

A New Hope; The Dawn of Computational Pathology

April 12, 2017, marked a revolutionary turning point day in medicine. The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) granted de novo 510(k) clearance of the first whole slide imaging (WSI) system for primary diagnosis in surgical pathology. A product abides an FDA regulation as a medical device if it fulfills in labels, promotion, and/or consumption the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act standards (Title 21 Code of Federal Regulations part 201, [h]), yielding adherence to pre- and post-marketing regulatory purview. The intended usage will decide on the governing pathway yet protect public health. In stark contrast to digitizing radiology initiated in 1980, digital pathology has been lethargic, with many perceiving the late regulatory field as the main barrier to its deployment. Now, such a milestone is a testament to the tenacity of The Digital Pathology Association, the strong evidence of safety, effectiveness, and noninferiority to the discordance rate of glass slides from Philips IntelliSite Pathology Solution - the first WSI solution - and, of course, an open-mindedness and forward-thinking of FDA for its implications for pathologists and patients. The first «system enables pathologists to read tissue slides digitally to make diagnoses, rather than looking directly at a tissue sample mounted on a glass slide under a conventional light microscope. » «Because the system digitizes slides that would otherwise be stored in physical files, it also provides a streamlined slide storage and retrieval system that may help make critical health information available to pathologists, other health care professionals, and patients faster. » (Alberto Gutierrez, Ph.D., 2017). Under those conditions, the least inevitable scenarios, such as an expert second opinion and on-site pathologists' hurdles, and the essential to dispatch samples—a process that might prolong for days or weeks contingent on variables like distance, sensitive item, and transportation mode—are eased. Once again, pathology is among the complex subjects encountering global health issues, a chronic shortage of pathologists, stress/burnout, and substantial workloads, e.g., 0.1 pathologists/100k habitats in Africa. Even beyond a century, it has retained a vital function in diagnosing cancer -the 21st-century pandemic. But while pathology governs treatment decisions, patient care avenues, and oncology research, it is paradoxically the most vulnerable to inter- and intra-observer agreement matters. In short, digital pathology, virtual microscopy, or so-called “whole-slide scanning (imaging)”, is to cope with today's pathology pressure by streamlining workflow, widening collaboration and telepathology, boosting diagnostic confidence, and educational purposes, yet unsurprisingly, new horizons have emerged! «Not only will it promote increased efficiencies and collaboration between pathologists, but it also opens a completely new dimension toward computational pathology, which aims to increase accuracies and ultimately enhance patient care. » (Russell Granzow, 2017).

Got venom? Snakes do, and they're not afraid to share!

Snake venom is basically the snake's own zesty hot sauce, but instead of spicing up tacos, it's designed to knock out dinner—or an unlucky human. Imagine this: a snake, a legless danger noodle, whips up this venom, a mix that says, "Back off, buddy, or you'll feel funny!" But here's the kicker: scientists get a kick out of this venom, milking snakes like tiny, scaly cows to make medicine. Yep, the stuff that can make you see double is also being used to fix your health troubles. Talk about a snake with a side hustle!

Angioedema: "From localized swelling attacks to potentially fatal asphyxia"

Angioedemas are characterized by an accumulation of fluid in the mucous membranes and skin resulting in swelling of the face, limbs or genitals.They may carry a risk of asphyxiation when the throat is affected. ANGIOEDEMA OF ALLERGIC ORIGIN In the vast majority of cases, it is an angioedema of allergic origin, about 20% of the population are affected at some point in their life. Often associated with an urticaria, it can be caused by food, insect bite or drug. The treatment of this histamine angioedema is based on corticosteroids and antihistamine drugs. In the most severe cases (quincke's oedema), adrenaline is essential to avoid anaphylactic shock (spread of allergy throughout the body). THE HEREDITARY ANGIOEDEMA Angioedema may have another cause, often unknown : it is the hereditary bradykinic angioedema. This rarer form occurs most often during childhood or adolescence, edema develops gradually and recidivally in a few hours and persists for an average of 2 to 5 days and disappears without sequelae. The frequency and severity of seizures vary according to the patients and for the same patient according to the periods of life. Certain events such as dental procedures, infections, stress, pregnancy ... are the triggering factors of the crisis. The swelling may affect the abdomen, causing severe pain, nausea and vomiting as well as diarrhea. Laryngeal edema is life-threatening with a 25% risk of death in the absence of appropriate treatment. Even more rarely, bradykinetic angioedema exists in an acquired non-hereditary form, usually occurring in adults over 50 years of age and subsequent to another disease (autoimmune or cancerous) or to certain drugs such as antihypertensive drugs of the family of angiotensin converting enzyme inhibitors or antidiabetic agents.. The treatment of bradykin angioedema attacks is based on the use of drugs that are not yet available in Morocco (subcutaneous injections of icatibant or intravenous C1Inh concentrate). Tranexamic acid or danazol are basic treatments for the disease. THE MOROCCAN ASSOCIATION OF ANGIOEDEMA The Moroccan Association of Angioedema Patients (AMMAO), chaired by Mr. Imad Elaouni, was created in February 2018 by civil society people and members of the medical and paramedical profession with the aim providing information and awareness to the population about these pathologies as well as the unification of the efforts and the assistance to lend to the people suffering from them. Professor Laurence Bouillet, Professor of Internal Medicine and coordinator of the national reference center on angioedema in France, is the honorary president. AMMAO is also a member of the global network of angioedema -HAEI. -Dr Moussayer Khadija, medical doctor in internal medecine, chairwoman of the alliance of rare diseases in Morocco, vice-president of the Moroccan Association of Angioedema Patients (AMMAO), BIBLIOGRAPHIE - Isabelle Boccon-Gibod , Laurence Bouillet, MD , Clement Olivier, Clinical Characteristics of Hereditary Angioedema (HAE) Type III Patients Compared with Those with HAE Type I/II , JOURNAL OF ALLERGY AND CLINICAL IMMUNOLOGY 26/01/13, Doi : 10.1016/j.jaci.2012.12.791 - Laurence Bouillet, Diagnostic des angioedèmes héréditaires, La Presse Médicale, Volume 44, Issue 1, 2015, Pages 52-56, ISSN 0755-4982, - Khadija Moussayer, Les angioedèmes en débat à Casablanca le 19 janvier 2019, Mescursus 29 Décembre 2018. - Khadija Moussayer, On estime que 2.000 personnes sont touchées par les angioedèmes bradykiniques au Maroc, Le Matin ma, 4 janvier 2024 EL ANGIOEDEMA : "Desde los ataques de hinchazón localizados hasta la asfixia potencialmente mortal" El Angioedema se caracteriza por una acumulación de líquido en las mucosas y en la piel, lo que produce unhinchazón e inflamación de la cara, de las extremidades o de los genitales. Puede poner en peligro la vida del paciente, cuando afecta a la vía aérea. En la gran mayoría de los casos, es un angioedema de origen alérgico. Afecta a aproximadamente el 20% de la población en algún momento de su vida, y esta a menudo asociado a la presencia de una urticaria. Puede ser causado por un alimento, una picadura de insecto o un medicamento. El angioedema histamínicose trata concorticosteroides y antihistamínicos. En los casos más graves (edema de Quincke), la adrenalina constituye el tratamiento de elección para evitar el shock anafiláctico. Otra causa del angioedema, a menudo desconocida en Marruecos es : el angioedema bradiquínico hereditario. Se trata de una forma rara que ocurre con mayor frecuencia durante la infancia o la adolescencia. Los pacientes presentan edemas recurrentes que duran de 2 a 5 días y que desaparecen sin secuelas. Los episodios o ataques de la enfermedad se producen de forma impredecible y varían de un paciente a otro. Se conocen una serie de factores que pueden desencadenar los ataques como los procedimientos dentales, las infecciones de la esfera ORL, el estrés, el embarazo ... El hinchazón puede incluso afectar al abdomen, provocando dolores intensos, náuseas y vómitos, así como diarrea. El edema laríngeo es potencialmente mortal, con un riesgo de muerte del 25% en ausencia de un tratamiento adecuado. Una forma aún más rara es el angioedema bradiquínico adquirido no hereditario, cual ocurre generalmente en adultos mayores de 50 años, y es consecuencia de otra enfermedad (autoinmune o cancerosa) o de ciertos medicamentos como los antihipertensivos de la familia de losinhibidores de la enzima convertidora de angiotensina (IECA) o los antidiabéticos. El tratamiento de los ataques de angioedema bradiquínico consiste en el uso de medicamentos que aún no están disponibles en Marruecos (inyecciones subcutáneas de icatibant o administración intravenosa de concentrados de INH-C1). El ácido tranexámico o el danazol constituyen tratamientos de fondode la enfermedad.


The 2nd international conference on phenylketonuria (PKU) was held on November 17-19, 2023, in Marrakech. This event was co-organized by 4 associations: The Moroccan Association for Child and Mother’s Health (AMSEM), HMEMSA (Home of Moroccan Educators and Moroccan Students in America), SOS PKU MAROC, American Moroccan Competencies Network, and the support of the Alliance of Rare Diseases in Morocco (AMRM). INFORMATION AND AWARENESS FOR HEALTH PROFESSIONALS AS WELL AS PATIENTS AND FAMILIES This event aimed to promote the health of affected people with this disease through education, awareness, and support for research. PKU is a rare hereditary disease responsible, in the absence of diagnosis and early treatment, for psychomotor and mental retardation with serious consequences. The accumulation of an aminoacid (phenylalanine) becomes toxic and destroys the nerve cells in the brain. The only available treatment is a diet based on dietary products with low amounts of phenylalanine, which are, unfortunately, very expensive. Eminent specialists from Morocco, the United States, Canada, and Europe intervened during the first scientific day. The 2nd day “PKU family camp” was dedicated to families, patients, and medical professionals to exchange the right support for parents with PKU patients and the long-life management of these patients. The day will was also an opportunity for the clinician specialists to offer consultations to patients and psycho-educational support to their families. AN AFFLICTION WITH TOO OFTEN IRREVERSIBLE CONSEQUENCES PKU is caused by a disorder in the metabolism of phenylalanine, an aminoacid (protein fragment) present in food, and typically transformed into another aminoacid, tyrosine. The enzyme responsible for this aminoacid conversion is defective in PKU patients. The PKU babies gradually develop mental and psychomotor retardation with symptoms such as seizures, nausea and vomiting, skin rash, hyperactivity, aggression or self-harm, reduced head circumference (microcephaly), lighter skin, eyes and hair (a result of tyrosine deficiency). Children often have a “mousy” or musty odor due to a phenylalanine by product in their urine and sweat. THE DIET IS “AN ALMOST IMPOSSIBLE MISSION.” The child must follow a very strict low-protein diet, where meat, fish, eggs, dairy products, and starchy foods are eliminated until the age of 12, then, depending on the case, relaxed during adolescence. The precarious availability in Morocco and the high cost of specific dietary products (flour, special pasta, complementary solutions, etc.) often mean that children “literally starve” to respect these rules. A box of specific milk for children costs around 500 Dh and is rarely available in Morocco! In addition, a medication that stimulates the breakdown of phenylalanine and helps reduce the diet in some children exists but is also unavailable! In addition to the enormous constraints generated by the disease, families experience a “real struggle” between the high cost and unavailability of treatment! We must underline the significant assistance the association HEMSA in the US provided for shipping dietary products to SOS PKU in Morocco and their continuous advocacy efforts to have PKU recognized in Morocco. A LIFE-SAVING GESTURE BUT UNFORTUNATELY NOT SYSTEMATIZED IN MOROCCO : NEONATAL SCREENING Depending on the country, the disease affects between 1 in 20,000 and 1 in 4,000 newborns. Morocco most likely has a high prevalence due to the high consanguinity in the society, which increases the frequency of this genetic disease. Typically, this disease must be screened systematically in all newborns; the absence of this screening and the early regime results in several thousand children and adults with mental disabilities. This test, carried out using a few drops of blood taken on the 3rd day of life and placed on a blotting paper, would make it possible to avoid these complications. The test already exists in all European and certain Arab countries. CONSULTATION WITH PUBLIC AUTHORITIES Discussions are underway with the Ministry of Health and the various stakeholders for recognizing PKU as a long-term condition, launching a neonatal screening program, and marketing dietary products in Morocco. The event was an an excellent opportunity to sign partnership agreements between AMSEM and SOS PKU MAROC with the Alliance of Rare Diseases in Morocco. This exciting development will undoubtedly pave the way for fruitful collaboration between these organizations, improve and save lives, reduce PKU patients suffering, and provide substantial spill over benefits for maternal, child, and family health. Dr MOUSSAYER KHADIJA الدكتورة خديجة موسيار Chairwoman of Alliance Rare diseases Morocco RESUME EN FRANÇAIS Les 17 et 18 novembre 2023 s’est tenue à Marrakech la 2ème conférence internationale sur la phénylcétonurie (PCU), coorganisée par 4 entités : Association Marocaine pour la Santé de l’Enfant et de la Mère (AMSEM), HMEMSA (Home of Moroccan Educators and Moroccan Students in America), SOS PKU MAROC, American Moroccan Competencies Network et avec le soutien de l’Alliance des Maladies Rares au Maroc (AMRM). Cet évènement avait pour objectif de promouvoir la santé des personnes atteinte à travers l’éducation, la sensibilisation et le soutien à la recherche. La PCU est une maladie rare héréditaire responsable, en absence de diagnostic et de prise en charge précoce, d’un retard psychomoteur et mental aux conséquences graves, à la suite de la destruction des cellules nerveuses du cerveau par l’accumulation toxique d’un acide aminé (phénylalanine). Le seul traitement est un régime alimentaire se basant sur des produits diététiques faibles en phénylalanine, malheureusement très chers. D’éminents spécialistes du Maroc, des Etats Unis, du Canada et d’Europe sont intervenus lors d’une 1ère journée scientifique. La 2ème journée, le « PKU family camp », a été dédiée aux familles, patients et aussi au corps médical pour échanger et faire connaître les bonnes pratiques au quotidien, notamment pour une meilleure efficience du régime.

From 'Yikes!' to 'Yes, Please!': Snake Venom's Medical Magic

Think of snake venom as nature's spicy sauce – it's not just for biting! Each snake mixes its own special blend, some zapping nerves (neurotoxic) and others messing with blood (hemotoxic). But here's the fun twist: this scary snake juice is stirring up some medical magic. Got high blood pressure? Thank pit vipers for Captopril. Clotty blood? Tip your hat to the tiny pygmy rattlesnake for Eptifibatide. Who knew snake venom could go from 'Yikes!' to 'Yes, please!' in the world of medicine?