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Thursday, 3 May 2012

Early Prevention In Childhood Leads to Better Health In Adulthood

According to a research, preventing chronic diseases and disorders that begin in infancy, will improve the health of children and adults. The session, "Life-course Research: State of the Art and Science," will cover how proper nutrition and healthy habits in infancy, along with diminishing cumulative risks over time, will help prevent disease burden later in life. Speakers will discuss the health implications of preterm birth and the likelihood of disabilities later in life, including obesity, cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Additional research on diet during pregnancy and the interaction between genetics and the environment will also be presented. "New research documents the importance of early life experiences on long-term heart and lung disease, obesity, and mental health," said James M. Perrin, MD, professor of pediatrics at Harvard Medical School, associate chair for research, MassGeneral Hospital for Children, and symposium co-chair. "Preventing adverse early experiences can substantially improve the health and well-being of adults." Source-Eurekalert

'Toxic Ingredients' in Traditional Chinese Medicines Exposed

A DNA analysis of samples of traditional Chinese medicines has revealed that many contain potentially toxic and illegal ingredients. Researchers at Murdoch University have used new DNA sequencing technology to reveal the animal and plant composition of traditional Chinese medicines (TCMs). Some of the TCM samples tested contained potentially toxic plant ingredients, allergens, and traces of endangered animals. "TCMs have a long cultural history, but today consumers need to be aware of the legal and health safety issues before adopting them as a treatment option," Bunce, the lead researcher of the study, said. The 15 TCM samples, seized by Australian border officials, in the form of powders, tablets, capsules, flakes, and herbal teas were audited using the DNA preserved in the samples. "In total we found 68 different plant families in the medicines - they are complex mixtures of species. "Some of the TCMs contained plants of the genus Ephedra and Asarum. These plants contain chemicals that can be toxic if the wrong dosage is taken, but none of them actually listed concentrations on the packaging. "We also found traces from trade restricted animals that are classified as vulnerable, endangered, or critically endangered, including the Asiatic black bear and Saiga antelope," Bunce said. The study has been published in the journal PLoS Genetics. Source-ANI

Pleasure Eating Triggers Body's Reward System and May Stimulate Overeating: Study

According to a recent study accepted for publication in The Endocrine Society's Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism (JCEM) endogenous rewarding chemical signals are activated, when eating is motivated by pleasure rather than hunger, which can lead to overeating-Chevy Chase, MD-. 'Hedonic hunger' refers to the desire to eat for pleasure, and to enjoy the taste, rather than to restore the body''s energy needs,"says Palmiero Monteleone, MD, of the University of Naples SUN in Italy and lead author of this study. "For example, desiring and eating a piece of cake even after a satiating meal is consumption driven by pleasure and not by energy deprivation. The physiological process underlying hedonic eating is not fully understood, but it is likely that endogenous substances regulating reward mechanisms like the hormone ghrelin and chemical compounds such as 2-arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG) are involved." In this study, researchers assessed eight satiated healthy adults, aged 21-33 years, feeding them each their personal favorite food and, later, a less-palatable food of equal caloric and nutrient value. Researchers periodically measured 2-AG and ghrelin levels. The plasma levels of ghrelin and 2-AG increased during hedonic eating, with the favorite foods, but not with non-hedonic eating. This increase suggests an activation of the chemical reward system, which overrides the body''s signal that enough has been eaten to restore energy. "Hedonic hunger may powerfully stimulate overeating in an environment where highly palatable foods are omnipresent, and contribute to the surge in obesity,"says Monteleone. "Understanding the physiological mechanisms underlying this eating behaviour may shed some light on the obesity epidemic. Further research should confirm and extend our results to patients with obesity or with other eating disorders in order to better understand the phenomenon of hedonic eating." Source-Newswise

National handwashing campaign improved hygiene and reduced infection

An evaluation of the national cleanyourhands campaign shows for the first time that an effective hand-hygiene campaign, undertaken in the context of a high profile political drive, can successfully reduce some healthcare associated infections, according to a new study published in tomorrow's BMJ. The national cleanyourhands campaign was rolled out to all 187 NHS Trusts from January 2005 with instructions to provide bed-side alcohol handrub (AHR), posters encouraging healthcare workers to clean their hands and a range of patient-empowering materials. It was one of a series of national initiatives intended to reduce levels of meticillin resistant/sensitive Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA/MSSA) bacteraemia and Clostridium difficile (C. difficile) infection in hospitals in England & Wales. The evaluation of the campaign was conducted by researchers at UCL's Medical School and the Health Protection Agency. They measured hospitals' quarterly procurement of AHR and soap between July 2004 and 2008. After adjusting for a number of factors, including the effect of bed occupancy, hospital type and the timing of other national interventions, they found a significant link between procurement levels and infection rates. The research shows that during over the four-year period the combined procurement of soap and AHR almost tripled from 21.8mls per-patient-per-bed to 59.8mls. MRSA bacteraemia rates fell from 1.88 to 0.91 cases per 10,000 bed-days and C. difficile infection fell from 16.75 to 9.49 per 10,000 bed-days. Levels of MSSA bacteraemia did not fall. The research also shows that the increased procurement of soap was independently associated with reduced C. difficile infection throughout the study, while increased procurement of alcohol hand rub was independently associated with reduced MRSA infection, but only in the last year of the study. These strong and independent associations remained after taking account of all other interventions. "Until now we haven't been able to say whether national campaigns of this kind deliver tangible benefits for patients," says principal investigator Dr Sheldon Stone of the UCL Medical School. "What this study shows is that the cleanyourhands campaign, a centrally co-ordinated and funded strategy, produced sustained increases in the amounts of alcohol hand-rub and soap bought by hospitals, and that this in turn helped to reduce infection and improve health outcomes." "The cleanyourhands campiagn has been a real British success story. It has really changed the culture amongst NHS staff," continues Dr Stone. "Now the campaign has stopped, many in the infection control community would like to see the progress maintained and built upon with a new national hand hygiene strategy or an updated campaign." Professor Barry Cookson, Director of the Laboratory of Healthcare Associated Infection, at the HPA says: "This research paper shows that relatively simple measures such as handwashing and alcohol handrub can be exceptionally effective in combating the spread of harmful bacteria in healthcare establishments. Independent of all other measures we saw that the more soap and alcohol handrub were purchased the more levels of MRSA and C. difficile went down. Going forward it is these types of measures which will be at the forefront of the battle against the spread of bacteria." Source:Eurekalert

THE MODERN AYURVEDA: MILESTONES BEYOND THE CLASSICAL AGE Released by Dr S.S. Handa, Chairman Pharmacopoeia Commission of Indian Medicines

Prof. S. S. Handa, Chairman, Pharmacopoeia Commission of Indian Medicines, while releasing "The Modern Ayurveda: Milestone Beyond the Classical Age," on 28 April, 2012, said: "The concept of Modern Ayurveda by the think-tank of the Society for New Age Herbals is actually that of Ayurveda of New Generation which will prove an inspiration for the exponents of Ayurveda to think beyond the 16th century of classical period and move with the times. The enlightened Ayurvedic professionals will welcome this move as it provides a much-needed modern scientific temper to Ayurvedic medicines. Without a deep insight into the classical period and an in-depth study of developments during the modern period, this type of pathbreaking, monumental work was not possible" "The Modern Ayurveda: Milestone Beyond the Classical Age," conceived by C.P. Khare, edited by Chandra Kant Katiyar, V.K. Agarwal and Arun Gupta has been published by Taylor & Francis Group, USA. The book assumes global importance in today's context when approximately 100 medical schools and Universities outside India are imparting Ayurvedic education and there is paucity of authentic reference books on the modern period of Ayurveda. Before writing this book, the syllabi of universities in India as well as outside India were consulted. The chapters were planned for not only covering curriculum, but also other relevant topics like methodologies related to quality, safety & efficacy etc. There was a long felt need of such a comprehensive publication. The subtitle of the book "Milestone Beyond the Classical Age" has been carefully crafted since the list of plants covered in the book has been taken from the 16th century book "Bhavprakash Nighantu" after which no major original compilation has been published. This book covers modern research conducted on these plants beyond the classical age. The book is a one-point source for the modern explorer attempting to appreciate the transformation of Ayurveda from an empirical to a rationalist understanding, the book enumerates more than 400 Ayurvedic herbs with compiled information including their botanical name, common Ayurvedic name and family, their attributes, chemical constituents, phytochemicals markers, pharmacological actions, and their interactions and toxicity. It explores current research methodologies for the evaluation of efficacy and safety of herbal medicine and discusses the contemporary international regulatory status of herbal drugs. Society for New Age Herbals is a non-profit society established to promote evidence-based herbal medicine in India and bridge the gap between the ancient wisdom and scientific advancements. One of the major objectives of the Society is to highlight India's contribution to modern herbal medicine among the scientific community at global level. The Society was founded by Mr C.P. Khare, a herbal drug research consultant and renowned international author of reference works on Indian herbal medicine and Indian medicinal plants. His works find a prominent place in prestigious universities, teaching institutions and libraries across the world. Currently society has eminent members from various specialties including Pharmacology, Ayurveda, Unani medicine, Botany, Integrated medicines, Agronomy, Bio-chemistry, Phyto-chemistry and Medicinal Chemistry.

Low oxygen levels could drive cancer growth

Athens, Ga. – Low oxygen levels in cells may be a primary cause of uncontrollable tumor growth in some cancers, according to a new University of Georgia study. The authors' findings run counter to widely accepted beliefs that genetic mutations are responsible for cancer growth. If hypoxia, or low oxygen levels in cells, is proven to be a key driver of certain types of cancer, treatment plans for curing the malignant growth could change in significant ways, said Ying Xu, Regents-Georgia Research Alliance Eminent Scholar and professor of bioinformatics and computational biology in the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences. The research team analyzed samples of messenger RNA data—also called transcriptomic data—from seven different cancer types in a publicly available database. They found that long-term lack of oxygen in cells may be a key driver of cancer growth. The study was published in the early online edition of the Journal of Molecular Cell Biology. Previous studies have linked low oxygen levels in cells as a contributing factor in cancer development, but not as the driving force for cancer growth. High incidence rates of cancer around the world cannot be explained by chance genetic mutations alone, Xu said. He added that bioinformatics, which melds biology and computational science, has allowed researchers to see cancer in a new light. Gene-level mutations may give cancer cells a competitive edge over healthy cells, but the proposed new cancer growth model does not require the presence of common malfunctions such as a sudden proliferation of oncogenes, precursors to cancer cells. "Cancer drugs try to get to the root—at the molecular level—of a particular mutation, but the cancer often bypasses it," Xu said. "So we think that possibly genetic mutations may not be the main driver of cancer." Much of cancer research so far has focused on designing drug treatments that counteract genetic mutations associated with a particular type of cancer. In their study, the researchers analyzed data downloaded from the Stanford Microarray Database via a software program to detect abnormal gene expression patterns in seven cancers: breast, kidney, liver, lung, ovary, pancreatic and stomach. The online database allows scientists to examine information from microarray chips, which are small glass slides containing large amounts of gene material. Xu relied on the gene HIF1A as a biomarker of the amount of molecular oxygen in a cell. All seven cancers showed increasing amounts of HIF1A, indicating decreasing oxygen levels in the cancer cells. Low oxygen levels in a cell interrupt the activity of oxidative phosphorylation, a term for the highly efficient way that cells normally use to convert food to energy. As oxygen decreases, the cells switch to glycolysis to produce their energy units, called ATP. Glycolysis is a drastically less efficient way to obtain energy, and so the cancer cells must work even harder to obtain even more food, specifically glucose, to survive. When oxygen levels dip dangerously low, angiogenesis, or the process of creating new blood vessels, begins. The new blood vessels provide fresh oxygen, thus improving oxygen levels in the cell and tumor and slowing the cancer growth—but only temporarily. "When a cancer cell gets more food, it grows; this makes the tumor biomass bigger and even more hypoxic. In turn, the energy-conversion efficiency goes further down, making the cells even more hungry and triggering the cells to get more food from blood circulation, creating a vicious cycle. This could be a key driver of cancer," Xu said. Xu explained that this new cancer-growth model could help explain why many cancers become drug resistant so quickly—often within three to six months. He stressed the importance of testing the new model through future experimental cancer research. If the model holds, researchers will need to search for methods to prevent hypoxia in cells in the first place, which could result in a sea change in cancer treatment. Source:Eurekalert

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