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Friday, 18 May 2012

'Good' cholesterol doctrine may be flawed: study

Researchers on Thursday challenged a tenet of modern medicine that higher levels of "good" cholesterol automatically boost cardiovascular health. In a study published in The Lancet, investigators said they found no evidence to back the belief that higher levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol routinely reduce the risk of a heart attack. High concentrations of HDL are one of the big markers for blood tests. They are monitored as much as low levels of "bad" cholesterol (low-density lipoprotein, or LDL) as a yardstick of dangerously clogged arteries. The paper used a method called mendelian randomisation to compare heart-attack risk among people who inherited known genetic variants that gave them higher HDL levels. According to conventional wisdom, these individuals would have a lower risk of a coronary. But the study, which looked at nearly 12,500 people with a history of a heart attack and over 41,000 otherwise healthy counterparts, found this was not always the case. The results are important because of the use of drugs, sometimes inflicting side effects, which are administered to boost HDL cholesterol levels. "These results show that some ways of raising HDL cholesterol might not reduce risk of myocardial infarction [heart attack] in human beings," said Sekar Kathiresan of Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School. "Therefore, if an intervention such as a drug raises HDL cholesterol, we cannot automatically assume that risk of myocardial infarction will be reduced." In contrast, the study said "bad" cholesterol remained an accurate marker of cardiac risk. Separately, a study, also carried in Thursday's Lancet, confirmed the benefits of LDL-lowering statins for protecting people with no previous history of cardiovascular disease.

Doctors Advise People to Eat Healthy Food to Stay Cool This Summer

Apart from drinking lots of water, a special summer diet consisting of light and healthy food would ensure a cool mind and body, doctors have said. Ritika Samadar, chief dietician at Max Hospital, said fluids with electrolytes like coconut water and lemonade should be consumed and oily foods have to be avoided. "In summer, light food should be preferred which can be digested easily. So, oily and junk food like pizzas, burgers must be avoided," Samadar said. Vijai K.S. Shukla, chairperson, Omega 3 Council of India, says that vegetables with high water content like onions, tomatoes and cucumbers should be regularly eaten as they will not only cool down the body but provide the daily quota of nutrition as well. "For the meat lovers, there is a delicious alternative to fried chicken and red meat -- roasted or grilled fish which have high amounts of fatty acids helping in regulating blood pressure, immune responses and liver function," said Shukla. Omega 3 Council of India is a non-profit trade and marketing association promoting intake of Omega 3 fatty acids for better all round health. Some of the most beneficial food items during summer, according to doctors, are: Gooseberry (Amla): A great refresher and reverses the ageing effects caused by strong sun rays while providing extra stamina for gym sessions. It specially benefits heart and hair. Apricot: They can be of great help for people who develop acne in summers as they provide the body with iron, vitamin C, potassium and fibre. They can be a great pre- or post-workout snack. Cardamom: A cup of cardamom tea can do wonders for those who have been in the hot sun for long because of its detoxifying properties. Corn: A good source of pantothenic acid, which provides vitamin B to lower stress levels, corn in any form whether it is roasted or boiled is a healthy snack as it lowers cholesterol levels. Mango: Unripe mangoes can be steamed, pealed and mixed with cumin seeds and salt to make an effective remedy for heat strokes and exhaustion in summers. Butter milk: A glass everyday to avoid dehydration and indigestion. Curd and Yoghurt: They are a great and healthy alternative to ice-cream as they are packed with nutrients, vitamins and calcium which help to soothe ulcers, allergies and heat boils during the season. Juices: Fresh fruit juices, including lemonade, help replenish the body of its lost fluids. Source-IANS

Self-Control Gets Better With Belief in Religion

Prime purpose of religious belief is to boost the basic cognitive process of self-control, which in turn encourages any number of valuable social behaviours, aver psychologist. There are many theories about why religion exists, but most of them are unproven. However, the new idea proposed by Kevin Rounding of Queen's University, Ontario, has evidence to back it up. Rounding ran four experiments in which he primed volunteers to think about religious matters. Those volunteers showed more discipline than controls, and more ability to delay gratification. His research has been described in an article published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science. Source-ANI

US Study Finds Common Antibiotic Boosts Death Risk

A US study said Wednesday that a popular antibiotic used for treating bronchitis, pneumonia, ear infections and sexually transmitted diseases may boost the risk of death. Azithromycin has been on the worldwide market since the 1980s, but the study in the New England Journal of Medicine is the first to document serious heart risks -- up to a 2.5-fold higher chance of cardiovascular fatalities -- in the first five days of treatment compared to another or no antibiotic. The comparison was based on an examination of patient records in the southern US state of Tennessee from 1992 to 2006. Researchers at Vanderbilt University compared about 348,000 prescriptions of azithromycin to millions of records from people who were not treated with any antibiotics or who received amoxicillin, a similar medication that is considered heart safe. The analysis found there were 47 more deaths per million in those taking azithromycin compared to those on amoxicillin. When researchers examined patients already at high risk for heart problems, the chance increased to 245 additional cardiovascular deaths per million in the azithromycin group compared to the amoxicillin takers. While the relative number of fatalities was low, researchers said the findings offer new information about possible dangers that doctors and patients should consider. "We believe this study adds important information on the risk profile for azithromycin," said lead author Wayne Ray, professor of preventive medicine at Vanderbilt University. "For patients with elevated cardiovascular risk and infections for which there are alternative antibiotics, the cardiovascular effects of azithromycin may be an important clinical consideration." The Croatian pharmaceutical company Pliva first patented azithromycin in 1981, and later struck a worldwide deal with Pfizer to sell the antibiotic worldwide. Pfizer branded the treatment Zithromax and Zmax. Azithromycin is a macrolide antibiotic that works by stopping the growth of bacteria. Side effects may include skin rashes, itching, swelling, difficulty breathing or swallowing and rapid, pounding or irregular heartbeats, according to the American Hospital Formulary Service. Source-AFP

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Woman, 93, is named the world's oldest yoga teacher

A 93 year old woman from Pondicherry has been named the world’s oldest yoga teacher by the Guinness World Records. Tao Porchon-Lych teaches classes at a dance studio in Harstdale, New York.
At 93, Tao Porchon-Lynch is named the oldest yoga teacher by Guinness World Records. She's 93 years old, but that isn't keeping Tao Porchon-Lynch from striking a perfect pose. The yoga instructor and dance competitor is vibrant as ever and proves that age really is just a number. She has lived a full life that includes marriage, acting, modeling, performing burlesque and even marching with Gandhi - twice. Now, she has another feather in her cap: Guinness World Records has declared her the world's oldest yoga teacher. And she has no plans to stop anytime soon. "I'm going to teach yoga until I can't breathe anymore then I'll just fly away to the next planet ... I just, I love yoga, it brightens my day and makes everybody smile," Porchon-Lynch said. On Mondays, Tao teaches classes to a dedicated group of students at a dance studio in Harstdale, a suburb 25 miles outside of New York City. She pushes her students to find their deepest range in asanas and said she holds herself to the same standards. "My doctor when he did the hip replacement said you won't be able to do this, you won't be able to do that. I said I don't want to know what I won't be able to do because I don't believe it. "So I sent him a photograph in lotus lifting off the ground and he called me the miracle woman. I said it's no miracle, a miracle means only to see that which is inside of you. If it's inside, I can do it." Tao became interested in yoga when she was eight years old. She observed a group of young boys practicing yoga on the beach in her hometown of Pondicherry in southern India. She said she decided then that she could do anything a boy could do. She has been teaching professionally for 61 years, although it was only at age 73 that she decided to focus solely on being an instructor.

Kerala's Ayurveda industry in jeopardy

The Rs 600 crore Ayurveda industry in Kerala is facing its biggest challenge. The state government is clamping down on what it considers dubious claims by three companies that promise magical remedies. Products worth almost Rs 2 crore have been seized and the three major companies may lose their licences. The Drugs Controller of Kerala is set to cancel the licenses of the Ayurvedic giants for violating provisions of the Drugs and Cosmetics Act & Magic Remedies Act. The manufacturing companies found to be violating the provisions are - Dhathri Ayurveda Pvt Ltd and Sreedhareeyam Ayurvedic Medicines Pvt Ltd. Show cause notices have been issued against them for false or misleading claims under section 33 E of the Drugs and Cosmetics act & section 4 of the Drugs and Magic Remedies Act, 1954 for objectionable ads. This can result in the maximum punishment of 3 years with fine. Drugs Controller official CS Satheesh Kumar says, "These companies are putting many claims on the labels to attract consumers. For example, when the oil is only to treat skin diseases, they claim it is for whitening and stretch mark removal. It's misleading. So under D&C Act we can proceed against them and cancel the licences of the products.” The department also warns celebrities not to endorse such products. There would be legal provisions to prosecute them as well. But the companies in the dock deny any wrong doing, defending their ads. The Kerala Drugs Control Department has decided to act tough after receiving complaints including from committees of the state assembly. The department found the companies did not submit any documented evidence to prove their claims. Prosecuting them could be a crucial step in regulating the manufacture and sale of Ayurvedic products. Source:IBN Kerala

Ayurveda doctor told to pay Rs 7L for 2004 death

The National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission has upheld a state commission order that found an ayurvedic doctor guilty of negligence after the allopathic medicine he administered to a man in 2004 led to his death. The commission said the Maharashtra State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission's order directing Dr R R Singh to pay the man's widow, Pratibha Gamre, Rs 7 lakh was just. The National Commission said the doctor should not have admitted Pandurang Gamre as his condition was alarming and should have advised him to approach a good hospital. "It is difficult to fathom as to how and why drugs like Betnesol, Decadron & Neurobion were prescribed without consulting any allopathic doctor. It is difficult to understand how the petitioner (Dr Singh) switched over to allopathy without any knowledge of the same. A doctor is not supposed to play with the lives of people for his personal gain," the commission said. On August 20, 2004, Pandurang, a BMC deputy superintendent, had severe pain in his lower body. Gamre took him to Singh's clinic at Kandivli (E), where he said that Pandurang had a serious illness and could even suffer a paralytic stroke. Gamre paid the doctor Rs 2,700 and said since her husband could avail of free treatment at the BMC hospital, she wanted him discharged. But Singh convinced her against moving him. Gamre alleged that at night, Singh left her husband in the care of his compounder. The compounder gave him medicines prescribed by Singh. He died soon after. Gamre filed a consumer complaint in the forum on June 18, 2007, which was rejected. Gamre filed an appeal in the state commission. Singh contended that though Pandurang had been to this clinic, he neither treated him nor accepted any fees. He said Pandurang died of a heart attack. Source:TNN

UK based Cranfield University offering MSc in healthcare through ICRI

Cranfield University which has a leading research and management division is of the view that Indian healthcare sector needs to work efficiently and more effectively. The sector needs to reduce costs and wastage. According to the UK-based University, the only way to move forward is to make medical practitioners ready for strategic management of hospitals covering exit points in management consultancy, operations management, business management. Peter Lee, course director, Cranfield UK who was in here recently told Pharmabiz that if India wants to grow as an economic superpower it needs to find ways to improve healthcare services. The need of the hour is to facilitate trained professionals to meet the demand in the healthcare segment and match up to the global standards. Together with patient care in hospitals, there is also a huge business from clinical trials coming into India. Global majors are targeting healthcare providers from large, medium to small sector to conduct human studies. The expertise require massive coordination. Indian medical practitioners need to armed with healthcare know how, he added. Cranfield is now offering M.Sc in healthcare through Institute of Clinical Research of India (ICRI) offer this course in India. The course which is a two year post graduate programme offers innovative teaching methods. It will help prepare clinicians, hospital managers, among others who want to make a career change and enter the healthcare system. Candidates qualifying from the course will be able to be suitably employed with no requirement of a separate industry training, stated Lee. Indian healthcare has been offering lucrative salaries which has touched a whopping 19 per cent average rate of growth across profiles and cities. Interestingly, attrition hit a three-year low in 2011. “As this segment is creating huge opportunities for student and trained professionals in India we have taken on the onus to be in India to offer the course,” he said. With the sector being recession resistant, there is huge scope for growth. India has also been recognized for its medical tourism driven by the positive factors of specialist pool. The share of average household spend on Healthcare in India is expected to increase from 7 per cent to 10 per cent by 2020. The healthcare sector is currently estimated US$ 60 billion and growing at 15 per cent per annum. Market is primarily dominated by private service providers with only 10 per cent of the delivery happens through large hospitals. The post graduate course in health operations management was born out of a need to transform the way healthcare is viewed itself. Now with increasing population in India and the lack of appropriate healthcare facilities more quality healthcare facilities accessible by all income groups are required, stated Lee. Source:Pharmabiz

Separate species, shared genomes

International consortium sequences butterfly genome and finds promiscuous sharing of large regions of DNA code among species A landmark effort to sequence the genome of a South American butterfly has revealed the key behind its unusual ability to mimic other butterflies. A first for science, the genome sequencing work is the product of an international group of researchers, dubbed the Heliconius Genome Consortium, who examined the genome of the Postman butterfly (Heliconius melpomene), a well-known species that lives in the Peruvian Amazon. Using that data as a guide, they then examined the genetic make-up of two other closely-related butterfly species – Heliconius timareta and Heliconius elevatus. All three species were selected for the study because they each share similar color patterns on their wings as a way to ward off predators. The Consortium’s surprising finding, as described in a paper published May 16 in Nature, is that the various species all look similar because they share the parts of their DNA that deal with color patterns. “Heliconius butterflies, exhibit an extraordinary amount of color-pattern mimicry between the species, and with species in other groups,” Mallet said. “We have found that species share the parts of the genome that code for color pattern loci, with a major impact on the survival of these butterflies in the wild.” The genetic sharing between species, researchers believe, is the result of hybridization. Considered extremely rare, particularly in animals, hybridization occurs when insects of two different species interbreed in the wild. The resulting hybrid offspring share traits with both mother and father. Though often considered evolutionary dead-end, hybrids occasionally interbreed with a parent species, in the process introducing new genes that can help populations adapt to new or changing environments. “What we show is that one butterfly species can gain its protective colour pattern genes ready-made from a different species by hybridizing (or interbreeding) with it – a much faster process than having to evolve one's colour patterns from scratch,” said Kanchon Dasmahapatra, a postdoctoral researcher at the University College of London’s Department of Genetics, Evolution, and Environment, and a co-author of the paper. “This project really changes how we think about adaptation in general,” said Marcus Kronforst, a Bauer Fellow at Harvard, who participated in the sequencing. “Evolutionary biologists often wonder whether different species use the same genes to generate similar traits, like the mimetic wing patterns of Heliconius butterflies. This study shows us that sometimes different species not only use the same genes, but the exact same stretches of DNA, which they pass around by hybridization.” A total of 80 researchers in 32 research universities and institutions from eight countries worked on this genome project, while a subset of nine laboratories funded the sequencing of the 290 million DNA bases using new high-throughput technologies, allowing the work to proceed without major dedicated grant funding. The nine laboratories that funded the sequencing work of the Heliconius Genome Consortium include: University College London, UK, and Harvard University, USA: James Mallet University of Exeter, UK: Richard French-Constant Harvard University, USA: Marcus Kronforst Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle, Paris, France: Mathieu Joron Boston University, USA: Sean Mullen University of California at Irvine, USA: Robert Reed, Adriana Briscoe University of Edinburgh, UK: Mark Blaxter Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, Panama: W. Owen McMillan Cambridge University, UK: Chris Jiggins Sequencing work for the Consortium was carried out at the Baylor College of Medicine, who performed the main reference sequence, and at the University of Edinburgh, GenePool, where the resequencing was performed. Source:Eurekalert

New, inexpensive paper-based diabetes test ideal for developing countries

With epidemics of Type 2 diabetes looming in rural India, China and other areas of the world where poverty limits the availability of health care, scientists are reporting development of an inexpensive and easy-to-use urine test ideally suited for such areas. The report describing the paper-based device, which also could be adapted for the diagnosis and monitoring of other conditions and the environment, appears in ACS' journal Analytical Chemistry. Jan Lankelma and colleagues point out that monitoring glucose levels is important. Although diabetes test strips seem inexpensive, the cost can be prohibitive in areas where people must choose between that and the essentials of life, such as food and shelter. In addition, current handheld diabetes monitoring devices measure glucose levels in blood, which requires a pin-prick to a finger — something that could deter patients from taking the measurements. To address these challenges, the researchers built a new type of glucose monitor — one that detects glucose levels in urine (which is easy to obtain) and is made from inexpensive materials, such as paper. The device consists of three electrodes, a buffer solution, a piece of paper (or nitrocellulose) and a plastic dish. The sample is injected onto the paper with a slightly modified medical syringe, and the solution moves along the paper by gravity and capillary action. An enzyme called glucose oxidase is already on the paper, and it reacts with glucose in the sample to produce hydrogen peroxide, which is detected by the electrodes. The system can be built quickly, is inexpensive and produces results similar to those from a more expensive, commercially available clinical instrument. The authors state that the device could be used not only in a clinical lab, but it could also be further developed for applications as diverse as analyzing food quality and environmental monitoring. Source:Eurekalert

Girl child marriages decline in south Asia, but only among youngest

Each year, more than 10 million girls under the age of 18 marry, usually under force of local tradition and social custom. Almost half of these compulsory marriages occur in South Asia. A new study suggests that more than two decades of effort to eliminate the practice has produced mixed results. Writing in the May 16, 2012 issue of Journal of the American Medical Association, Anita Raj, PhD, professor of medicine in the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine, and colleagues, report that marriage rates for girls under the age of 14 in India, Nepal, Pakistan and Bangladesh – the South Asian countries with the highest historical rates – have significantly declined since 1991. Conversely, the rate among girls aged 16 and 17 continues largely unchanged or, in the case of Bangladesh, has increased 36 percent.Childhood marriage, which mostly involves girls, is widely condemned as a violation of individual human rights. Numerous studies have found that child brides are more likely to die young, suffer from serious health problems, live in poverty and remain illiterate. "There is a global effort to eliminate girl child marriage," said Raj. "Our findings are heartening in terms of eliminating the practice among very young girls, but not among older girls. There needs to be a greater focus on prevention of marriage among later adolescents. If we cannot impact reduction of marriage in this age group, we'll continue to see inadequate change on reduction of girl child marriage as a whole.Raj and colleagues examined randomized cluster samples from multiple demographic, health and nutrition surveys taken between 1991 and 2007 in India, Nepal, Pakistan and Bangladesh, where the prevalence of girl child marriages has historically reached or exceeded 20 percent. They found that the marriage prevalence rate for girls under age 14 decreased across the board during the time span studied: 45 percent in Bangladesh, 35 percent in India, 57 percent in Nepal and 61 percent in Pakistan. Reductions in other age groups, however, were less promising. Marriage of 16- and 17-year-old girls showed no decline over the past 20 years for any of the South Asian countries assessed; Bangladesh actually demonstrated a 36 percent increase in marriage of girls within this age group. Raj said Bangladesh's significant increase in marriages among 16- and 17-year-old girls probably reflected a shift from younger aged groups. The factors influencing reduction in childhood marriage rates remain imperfectly understood. For example, Raj noted that the laws governing legal marriage age are not the same for the four countries studied. "Pakistan has a legal age of 16 for marriage while in India, it is 18," she said, "but the percentage of females married as minors is greater for India than Pakistan, so we do not feel law has as much impact as social norms." More influential, perhaps, is the role of education, which Raj and colleagues are now studying. "There have been rigorous evaluations of interventions in Ethiopia and Malawi aimed at retaining girls in schools, with the result of delayed age at marriage. We need better understanding of the degree to which girl education can reduce risk for early marriage among girls in South Asia." Source:Eurekalert

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Opinion of British experts about Chiropractic treatment

A leading expert says that alternative medicines are potentially unsafe. Edzard Ernst, professor of complementary medicine at Peninsula Medical School in Exeter, UK, says trials into treatments such as chiropractic manipulation, acupuncture and herbal remedies too often fail to record incidents when patients suffer adverse effects. According to Ernst, the main chiropractic treatment technique involves manual therapy, including manipulation of the spine, other joints, and soft tissues; treatment also includes exercises and health and lifestyle counselling. While Ernst's research indicated there were conditions for which alternative medicine could be useful, he believed in most cases people should avoid going in for it. Chiropractic manipulation could even be "lethal", said Ernst, the Telegraph reports. "Most people believe that alternative treatments are safe. But how sure are we that this is true," he asked. "My team conducted several investigations which revealed that, in clinical trials of alternative medicine, adverse effects tend not to be mentioned. "Alternative medicine researchers are often enthusiastic amateurs who think that research is for the purpose of promoting their treatment, rather than testing hypotheses," said Ernst. He and a colleague have just concluded a study, looking at reporting of adverse effects in trials of chiropractic treatment. This involves manipulation of the spine to alleviate a range of problems, according to the Journal of the New Zealand Medical Association. Of the 60 randomised controlled trials published between 2000 and 2011, "29 failed to mention adverse effects," he said. "Previous research had demonstrated that 50 percent of patients experience adverse effects after chiropractic treatment and some can be severe, even fatal," he claimed. Ernst has carried out similar reviews of trials into acupuncture and herbal remedies and found the degree of lack of reporting of adverse effects to be "fairly consistent." This omission had "important consequences," he said. "Not only does it violate basic rules of publication ethics, it also means that, due to under-reporting, our knowledge of adverse effects of alternative medicine is incomplete and not reliable. If investigators fail to report, we will not know," Ernst concluded. Source-IANS

Conversion of High-Fat Meal into Fatty Tissue is Very Rapid

A new study conducted by researchers at Oxford University has found that the accumulation of fat in the body starts far sooner than previously imagined and the conversion of fat from a meal into fatty tissue takes less than three hours. The researchers found that it is possible to store up to three teaspoons of fat around in the midriff region just three hours after a meal and if you had a big breakfast, then the fat content in that region would continue to grow if you have another meal within a few hours. “We found that, after eating a meal, the first fat from it enters the blood about an hour later. By the time three to four hours have passed, most of it has been incorporated into our adipose tissue, mostly in the shorter term fat stores around our waists”, lead researcher Fredrik Karpe told The Daily Telegraph. Source:Daily Telegraph

Research Says Water Could Change the Way We Eat

Water helps you make healthy choices, reveals research conducted by T. Bettina Cornwell of the University of Oregon and Anna R. McAlister of Michigan State University. The paper featured separate studies. One involved a survey of 60 young U.S. adults (ages 19-23) about the role of food-and-drink pairings. The second involved experiments with 75 U.S. children (ages 3-5) to determine the role of drinks and vegetable consumption. The same preschoolers were tested on different days under differing scenarios involving drinks served with vegetables. Older participants favored the combination of soda served with salty, calorie-dense foods rather than soda and vegetables. Preschoolers ate more raw vegetables, either carrots or red peppers, when accompanied with water rather than when accompanied by a sweetened beverage. "Our taste preferences are heavily influenced by repeated exposure to particular foods and drinks," said Cornwell, the Edwin E. & June Woldt Cone Professor of Marketing in the
Lundquist College of Business at the UO. "This begins early through exposure to meals served at home and by meal combinations offered by many restaurants. Our simple recommendation is to serve water with all meals. Restaurants easily could use water as their default drink in kids' meal combos and charge extra for other drink alternatives." Serving water, McAlister said, could be a simple and effective dietary change to help address the nation's growing obesity problem, which has seen increasing number of diabetes cases in young adults and a rise in health-care costs in general. Drinking water with meals, Cornwell said, also would reduce dehydration. While estimates of dehydration vary by sources, many estimates suggest that 75 percent of adult Americans are chronically dehydrated. From an early age, Cornwell said, children learn to associate sweet, high-calorie drinks such as colas with salty and fatty high-calorie-containing foods like French fries. "While this combining seems as normal as rainfall in Northwest winters, when we look cross-culturally we can see that food-and-drink combinations are developed preferences," she said. "If the drink on the table sets the odds against both adults and children eating their vegetables, then perhaps it is time to change that drink, and replace it with water." In January 2011, Cornwell and McAlister reported in the same journal that a child's taste preferences for salt, sugar and fat are related to their knowledge of fast food and soda brands. These studies suggest that early palate development may influence choices later in life, McAlister said. "From a policy perspective, this means that we need focus on early preference formation." "This important research has broad ramifications for how foods are marketed and served," said Kimberly Andrews Espy, vice president for research and innovation at the UO. "Addressing the early contributors of unhealthy eating that contribute to obesity is important for our general well-being as a nation and, especially, for improving the nutritional choices our children will make over their lifetimes." Source-Eurekalert

Scientist Grows Bone from Human Embryonic Stem Cells

Scientist on a recent study showed that human embryonic stem cells can be used to grow bone tissue grafts. The study is the first example of using bone cell progenitors derived from human embryonic stem cells to grow compact bone tissue in quantities large enough to repair centimeter-sized defects. When implanted in mice and studied over time, the implanted bone tissue supported blood vessel ingrowth, and continued development of normal bone structure, without demonstrating any incidence of tumor growth. Dr. Marolt's work is a significant step forward in using pluripotent stem cells to repair and replace bone tissue in patients. Bone replacement therapies are relevant in treating patients with a variety of conditions, including wounded military personnel, patients with birth defects, or patients who have suffered other traumatic injury. Since conducting this work as proof of principle at Columbia University, Dr. Marolt has continued to build upon this research as an Investigator in the NYSCF Laboratory, developing bone grafts from induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells. iPS cells are similar to embryonic stem cells in that they can also give rise to nearly any type of cell in the body, but iPS cells are produced from adult cells and as such are individualized to each patient. By using iPS cells rather than embryonic stem cells to engineer tissue, Dr. Marolt hopes to develop personalized bone grafts that will avoid immune rejection and other implant complications. Source-Eurekalert

Acupuncture appears linked with improvement in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease

According to a small clinical trial reported by investigators from Japan, acupuncture appears to be associated with improvement of dyspnea (labored breathing) on exertion, in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), according to a study published Online First by Archives of Internal Medicine, a JAMA Network publication. The management of dyspnea is an important target in the treatment of COPD, a common respiratory disease characterized by irreversible airflow limitation. COPD is predicted to be the third leading cause of death worldwide by 2020, according to the study background. Masao Suzuki, L.Ac., Ph.D., of Kyoto University and Meiji University of Integrative Medicine, Kyoto, Japan, and colleagues conducted a randomized controlled trial from July 2006 through March 2009. A total of 68 patients diagnosed with COPD participated, and 34 were assigned to a real acupuncture group for 12 weeks, plus daily medication. The other 34 were assigned to a placebo acupuncture group in which the needles were blunt (and appeared to, but did not enter the skin). The primary measure was the evaluation of a six-minute walk test on a Borg scale where 0 meant "breathing very well, barely breathless" and 10 signified "severely breathless." "We demonstrated clinically relevant improvements in DOE [dyspnea on exertion] (Borg scale), nutrition status (including BMI), airflow obstruction, exercise capacity and health-related quality of life after three months of acupuncture treatment," the authors note. After 12 weeks of treatment, the Borg scale score after the six-minute walk test improved from 5.5 to 1.9 in the real acupuncture group. No improvement was seen in the Borg scale score in the placebo acupuncture group before and after treatment (4.2 and 4.6, respectively), according to the study results. "Randomized trials with larger sample sizes and longer-term interventions with follow-up evaluations are necessary to confirm the usefulness of acupuncture in COPD treatment," the authors conclude. Source:Eurekalert

Sunday, 13 May 2012 Supports Study Showing Music Therapy to Be an Effective Therapy for Brain Function

The Doctors Health Press, a publisher of various natural health newsletters, books and reports, including the popular online Doctors Health Press e-Bulletin, is supporting a clinical trial to investigate the benefits of singing in patients who had suffered brain damage. The Doctors Health Press, a publisher of various natural health newsletters, books and reports, including the popular online Doctors Health Press e-Bulletin, is supporting a clinical trial to investigate the benefits of singing in patients who had suffered brain damage. As reported in Doctors Health Press e-Bulletin on Thursday, May 10, 2012 ( ), researchers at the Institute for Music and Neurologic Function in the Bronx, New York found that, by getting brain damage patients to engage in singing, a number of measurable benefits could be seen. The Doctors Health Press e-Bulletin article reports that one of the primary benefits was that breathing improved in the patients. By taking in deeper breaths, more oxygen was supplied to the brain, aiding in the healing process. Next, the researchers found that singing increased verbal and nonverbal communicative behaviors, again boosting brain healing by giving the brain more exercise. Singing also, not surprisingly, improved articulation and speech patterns. Singing helped to exercise the vocal chords and attune the brain to changes in rhythm, pitch and volume — all important aspects of verbal speech. All of these beneficial effects were enhanced or diminished by the choice of music and the way it was interactively delivered. The Doctors Health Press e-Bulletin article further reports that the researchers concluded that there are definite benefits from music therapy that could help heal brain damage in patients suffering from head trauma.

FDA reviews first rapid, take-home test for HIV

The Food and Drug Administration is considering approval of the first over-the-counter HIV test that would allow consumers to quickly test themselves for the virus at home, without medical supervision. FDA reviewers said Friday the OraQuick In-Home HIV test could play a significant role in slowing the spread of HIV, according to briefing documents posted online. But they also raised concerns about the accuracy of the test, a mouth swab that returns results in about 20 minutes. The review comes one day after an FDA advisory panel endorsed the HIV pill Truvada for preventive use. If FDA follows the group's advice, the daily medication would become the first drug approved to prevent healthy people from becoming infected with the virus that causes AIDS. Public health experts estimate one-fifth, or about 240,000 people, of the 1.2 million HIV carriers in the U.S. are not aware they are infected. Testing is one of the chief means of slowing new infections, which have held steady at about 50,000 per year for two decades. In a trial conducted by the company OraSure Technologies Inc., the test correctly detected HIV in those carrying the virus 93 percent of the time. That rate is below the FDA-recommended 95 percent threshold for accuracy. The FDA estimates the test would miss about 3,800 HIV-positive people per year, if approved for U.S. consumers. The test was more accurate at correctly clearing patients who do not have the disease. In company studies, OraQuick correctly identified HIV-negative users 99 percent of the time. In their briefing documents, FDA scientists noted both the benefits and risks of expanding HIV testing with the take-home diagnostic kit. "There is considerable personal and public health value in informing infected, but otherwise untested, persons of their true positive HIV status," the reviewers state. "However, this benefit is offset in some measure by HIV-positive individuals who receive an incorrect message that they are not infected." The lukewarm endorsement apparently spooked investors. OraSure's stock tumbled $1.32, or 11.8 percent, to close at $9.85 in trading Friday. On Tuesday, the FDA will ask a panel of outside experts whether the test should be approved for over-the-counter sales in U.S. The agency is not required to follow the group's advice, though it usually does. Based in Bethlehem, Pa., OraSure has marketed a version of OraQuick to doctors, nurses and other health care practitioners since 2004. The test sells for $17.50, though OraSure declined to discuss how it would price the consumer version. When used by professionals, the test is shown to accurately identify both carriers and non-carriers 99 percent of the time. While it's not clear why the test was less accurate in consumer trials, CEO Doug Michels said company researchers anticipated that its "performance in the hands of a consumer would be different from that observed in hands of a professional." OraSure tried the new version of the test in a study of 5,800 people of various sexual orientation, race and income levels. The trial identified about 100 HIV carriers who were previously undiagnosed. The FDA has already approved HIV test kits that people take home. However, those kits, which require a blood sample, must be sent to a laboratory for development. But OraSure argues that a test that can be done at home will appeal to a much broader group of people. According to the company's study, 41 percent of people who discovered they were HIV-positive using OraQuick had never been tested previously. In its own briefing documents, the company estimates that 9,000 new HIV carriers would be identified for every 1 million people who use the test. Source:AP

Preventable diseases still ravage children: study

Preventable diseases like pneumonia, diarrhoea and malaria claimed the lives of nearly five million children younger than five in 2010, a paper in The Lancet medical journal said Friday. A total 7.6 million children died in the first five years of their life that year, the authors said, and warned the world was not on track to meet the Millennium Development Goal of reducing child mortality by two-thirds by 2015. Two in every five deaths ocurred within the first 28 days of life. "Preterm birth is now the second leading cause of child death after pneumonia, and is likely to become the top cause of death by 2015 unless rapid scale-up of available interventions occurs," said the report. Five countries -- India, Nigeria, Democratic Republic of Congo, Pakistan, and China -- contributed to almost half the deaths of children younger than five. While child deaths have declined by about two million or 26 percent since 2000, when the goal was set, this was not enough, the authors said. The attainment of the goal "is possible only if life-saving maternal, newborn, and child health interventions are rapidly scaled up in high-burden regions and countries and across major causes in the next few years." Source:AFP

Study Reveals Why Astronauts' Immune Systems Dysfunction in Space

Previous research has shown that astronauts suffer from several types of stress while adapting to weightlessness in space. For years, scientists have known that our immune system works less well in space, and trying to find the reason is a driving force for space research. Researchers at the University of Teramo, the European Centre for Brain Research and the Santa Lucia Foundation have discovered that a particular enzyme, called 5-LOX, becomes more active in weightlessness. The 5-LOX enzyme in part regulates the life expectancy of human cells. Most human cells divide and regenerate but the number of times they replicate is limited. To find out if a change in 5-LOX enzyme activity could affect astronauts' health in space, the researchers needed to test their theory in the only laboratory that can 'switch off' gravity: the International Space Station. Blood samples from two healthy donors were sent to the orbital outpost. One set was exposed to weightlessness for two days, while the other was held in a small centrifuge to simulate Earth-like gravity. The samples were then frozen and sent back to Earth for analysis. As predicted, the weightless samples showed more 5-LOX activity than the centrifuged samples and a set that had remained on the ground. In fact, the centrifuged samples remained identical to the ground samples. "We now have a target enzyme that could play a real role in causing weakened immune systems," Professor Mauro Maccarrone from the University of Teramo explained. "The 5-LOX enzyme can be blocked with existing drugs, so using these findings to improve human health could be a close reality," Maccarrone added. Research will continue on the 5-LOX enzyme and related compounds. A follow-up experiment returned to Earth in a Soyuz capsule with the Expedition 30 crew last week. Scientists will look for other changes in the cells to understand the underlying mechanisms fully. Limiting biological activity of cell signals such as those controlled by 5-LOX might even slow parts of the ageing process. These findings are being shared with the scientific community, especially researchers studying people with reduced immune response. The chances are that elderly people could benefit from this field of investigation. Source-ANI

Japanese researchers show that acupuncture can improve skeletal muscle atrophy

Team hopes findings will bolster practice’s reputation as a nonpharmacolgical treatment A team of Japanese researchers will reveal study results Monday at the Experimental Biology 2012 meeting that show how acupuncture therapy mitigates skeletal muscle loss and holds promise for those seeking improved mobility through muscle rejuvenation. "It is my hope that this study will demonstrate acupuncture's feasibility with regard to improving health among the elderly and medical patients. Our findings could identify acupuncture as the primary nonpharmacological treatment to prevent skeletal muscle atrophy in the future," says Akiko Onda, an acupuncturist and graduate student at the Waseda University School of Sport Sciences, who has been conducting a series of studies on skeletal muscle atrophy for the past four years. Her presentation will be at 12:25 p.m. Monday, April 23, at the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology annual meeting, which is part of EB2012. Loss of skeletal muscle mass has a profound effect on the ability of the elderly and the sick to engage in physical activity. Because skeletal muscle has high plasticity, interventions such as exercise training, improved nutrition and mechanical stimulation are often recommended to prevent atrophy. Unfortunately, these can be challenging goals for those who are already frail or who have severe medical conditions. Onda insists an alternative nonpharmacological intervention is urgently required, and so she and her collaborators in two labs at Waseda University decided to explore how acupuncture affects skeletal muscle at the molecular level. "The main focus of this study is changes in the mRNA expression levels of muscle-specific atrophic genes such as atrogin-1," Onda says. "Muscle mass and structure are determined by the balance between protein degradation and synthesis." The team showed that decreases in muscle mass in mice and in the mRNA expression level of the E3 ubiquitin ligase atrogin-1 can be significantly reversed by acupuncture. In spite of the World Health Organization's endorsement of acupuncture and the widespread use of acupuncture as a treatment for various diseases, acupuncture is still regarded by many as obscure and suspicious, and its underlying molecular mechanisms are almost completely unknown. "Our results have uncovered one molecular mechanism responsible for the efficacy of acupuncture treatment and clarified its usefulness in preventing skeletal muscle atrophy in mice," Onda said. "We hope to introduce acupuncture as a new strategy for preventing skeletal muscle atrophy in the future. Further investigations into its molecular mechanisms will help to decrease the medical community's suspicion of acupuncture and provide us with a better understanding of how acupuncture treatment prevents skeletal muscle atrophy." Source:Eurekalert

Medicine barometer

Disease, like death, is a great leveller, but the infection or disorder that gets you varies with where and how you live. Countrywide, infections are the undisputed dukes of hazard in the diseases reckoning, with the anti-infective medicines market valued at Rs. 10,394 crore, which is almost one-fifth of the country's total top 15-selling drugs market of Rs. 58,824 crore. Medicines to treat heart disease are a low second, pegged at Rs. 6,601 crore, followed by gastrointestinal problems worth Rs. 6,203, shows data from Secondary Stockist Audit 2011. The pecking order, however, changes depending on whether you live in a metro or a small city or village. Heart-related medicines top the prescription charts for Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Kolkata, along with the more affluent states of Gujarat, Kerala, and Tamil Nadu, replacing the more pedestrian infections that are the number-one afflicter of people countrywide. In rural areas, cardiac problems are pegged at number five. "It's to do with lifestyle, with people living in cities gaining weight rapidly because of inactivity and unhealthy diets. More than one study show that the longer you live in the city, the higher are your chances of having heart problems and diabetes as compared to those who remained in rural areas," says Dr R.R. Kasliwal, chairman, division of clinical and preventive cardiology, Medanta. Booming towns, shrinking villages Body fat, blood pressure and fasting insulin levels - a measure of your diabetes risk - of people in India shoot up within a decade of moving to a city, reported the American Journal of Epidemiology last year. The study compared the health of rural Indians to their siblings who moved to one of four cities in India - Lucknow, Nagpur, Hyderabad and Bangalore. Both blood pressure and insulin kept rising steadily over time among urban residents, found the study. Siblings who lived in a city the longest had the highest average blood pressures. For instance, men who lived in a city for more than 30 years had an average systolic blood pressure of 128, compared to the rural average of 123. The change in body fat was most evident in the first 10 years after moving to a city, but then it levelled off. India's urban population is growing by 1.1% each year, while the proportion of people in rural areas is shrinking by 0.37 %, shows UN data. But India's population is still predominantly rural - currently, 30% of Indians live in urban areas, compared to 82% of people in the US - which explains why the anti-infective medicine sales countrywide far surpass those for heart disease and diabetes. Split wide open The big unifier in disease patterns is that apart from diabetes replacing respiratory infections in metros, the top 10 diseases remained the same countrywide across the urban-rural divide. Anti-diabetes drugs were a low number 7 and 8 among the drugs sold countrywide and in rural areas respectively, which surprised given that India is the diabetes Capital of the world with 50.8 million people living with diabetes. "There are several reasons for this. Under-diagnosis, where people are not getting diagnosed because diabetes creeps up silently, with symptoms showing up years after - if at all - a person develops the disorder. Also, diabetes is often sub-optimally treated, where people try changes in diet, alternative therapies or stop treatment mid-way hoping for a permanent cure, even when international guidelines clearly state people should start medication immediately after diagnosis as the beta-cell function goes down precipitously if left untreated," says Dr Anoop Misra, chairman, Fortis C-DOC centre for Diabetes. Pancreatic beta cells secrete insulin in response to a rising blood glucose levels. Diabetes is caused by the inability of beta cells to produce adequate insulin. The more laidback lifestyles of people living in Class 1-6 towns ensures their disease patterns closely track people living in rural areas than the highly-stressed metropolitan residents. "Ironically, while modern medicines and better infrastructure - clean drinking water, better sanitation etc - have kept infections in check, poor lifestyles have increased lifestyle diseases in large cities. There's just no getting away from eating healthy, controlling weight and getting more active," says Dr Misra. Source:HT Media Limited

Viruses can Result in Acute Attacks of Chronic Lung Diseases

Viral infection of the respiratory tract is linked to acute attacks of respiratory diseases like asthma, COPD and cystic fibrosis. Viruses are found everywhere and are responsible for some of the worst and incurable infections. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is known to be the fourth leading cause of global mortality. Recent researches have revealed that by the year 2020, it will become the third leading cause. Rhinoviruses not only cause common cold but are also responsible for COPD exacerbations. Other organisms responsible for COPD exacerbations are adenovirus, influenza virus, respiratory syncytial virus, parainfluenza virus and metapneumovirus. COPD symptoms may vary from mild to severe depending upon the intensity of the airway disease. Some of the common symptoms of COPD are dypnea, chronic cough, excessive sputum production, fatigue, wheezing or whistling sound during breathing, clubbing of fingers, etc. COPD is an irreversible lung disease. The treatment involves antimicrobial drugs, bronchodilators, corticosteroids, aerosol agents, etc. Besides COPD, other lung conditions like asthma and cystic fibrosis also show exacerbations in the presence of viral infection. Aran Singanayagam and colleagues have published an article in BMC Medicine 2012 on "Viruses exacerbating chronic pulmonary disease: the role of immune modulation." The article mainly reviewed the existing knowledge about the role of viruses and immune modulation in COPD, asthma and cystic fibrosis. The authors concluded that the immune response to viruses is reduced in these chronic lung conditions, either through a similar or different mechanism. Understanding the mechanisms responsible for the decreased immunity can help to reduce the impact of acute exacerbations of these lung diseases following viral infection. Reference: Viruses exacerbating chronic pulmonary disease: the role of immune modulation; Aran Singanayagam et al; BMC Medicine 2012

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