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Saturday, 26 May 2012

Japanese Firm Develops Helmet to Reduce Signs of Aging from the Face

A Japanese company has announced that it has developed a new helmet which reduces sagging and improves the complexion of the face. 
The Pin Up! Face Supporter Mask is in fact the latest innovative beauty product from The Japanese Trend shop. 
A description says users must bind the accessory taut around their head before relaxing for a peaceful night's sleep. 
"Keep your skin tight, young and fresh while you sleep, courtesy of this Pin Up! Face Supporter, a special red tape designed to fight the signs of ageing," the Daily Mail quoted the website. 
For the waking hours there is also an exercise mask that aims to tighten cheeks. 
According to the site, ten minutes a day of exercising by opening and closing the mouth will work wonders. 
Before and after shots show how the Pin Up! Face Supporter Mask can help your complexion 
An instruction reads: "The Houreisen Face Exercise Mask is a clever way to tighten up those sagging cheeks without shelling out on expensive surgery." 
"Simply fasten the straps behind your ears and give your face a work out! Don't worry, this isn't going to tire you out. Just open and close your mouth for ten minutes each day and you will notice the results," the instruction reads. 
Some have noted that the headgear looks uncannily like the protection used by rugby players or Peter Cech, the hero Chelsea keeper who saves a series of penalties to help win the Champions League. 
Other amusing plastic surgery alternatives offered by the company include the Hana Tsun nose straightener, which has two silicone prongs that are inserted into the nostrils and the Beauty Lift High Nose, which applies vibrations to help push the nose higher and make it firmer.


Omega-3 and Omega-6 Fatty Acids Provide Health Benefits Throughout Life

With the meeting of the 10th Congress of the International Society for the Study of Fatty Acids & Lipids beginning from May 26, 2012, in Vancouver, Canada, where scientists from academia and government, and health professionals would interact, we will get to learn more about the cutting edge science related to biology of fatty acids. So, what are fatty acids basically? Chemically, they are carboxylic acid with long hydrocarbon chains. Literally, they are fats that are important source of fuel to the cells as they break down into ATP providing energy to the heart and skeletal muscle. 
Fatty acids can either be saturated (SFA) or unsaturated. Omega-3 fatty acids [that includes EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid), DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), and ALA (alpha-linolenic acid)] and omega-6 fatty acids are considered essential polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) because they are required by our body to synthesize prostaglandins and other physiological regulators. Health benefits of these fatty acids, especially omega-3, include reducing inflammation as well as lowering the risk of chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease (CVD), coronary heart disease (CHD), cancer, diabetes, high cholesterol, and arthritis. They are also important for cognitive and behavioral functions. Studies have found low levels of omega-3 may cause disorders such as attention-deficit hyperkinetic disorder (ADHD), bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and depression. 
A recent review study published in the journal Advances in Nutrition, summed up the health benefits of omega-3 as ‘The omega-3 PUFA EPA and DHA are important throughout life and are a dietary necessity found predominantly in fish and fish-oil supplements. The omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA are essential for proper fetal development, and supplementation during pregnancy has also been linked to decreased immune responses in infants including decreased incidence of allergies in infants. Omega-3 fatty acid consumption has been associated with improved cardiovascular function in terms of anti-inflammatory properties, and reduced major coronary events’. 
Along with omega-3, omega-6 fatty acids help with brain functions. They also look after the bone health, regulate metabolism, and stimulate hair and skin growth. Linoleic acid (LA), an omega-6, is amongst the most important essential fatty acids. LA gets converted to gamma-linoleic acid (GLA) and then to arachidonic acid (AA) in the body. GLA is thought to actually reduce inflammation. Omega-6 fatty acids, especially GLA, is useful for health conditions such as ADHD, allergies, high blood pressure, diabetic neuropathy, rheumatoid arthritis, osteoporosis, menopausal symptoms, and premenstrual syndrome (PMS). 
In short, essential fatty acids such as omega-3 and omega-6 are indispensable for normal growth and development and they provide health benefits throughout life. Incidentally, the body cannot make these essential fatty acids. So, these must come from dietary sources
Omega-3 fatty acids can be obtained from foods such as soybean oil, canola oil, olive oil, sunflower oil, walnut, flaxseed, and fish such as trout, herring and salmonOmega-6 can be obtained from vegetable oils such as soybean oil, corn oil, safflower oil and other oils mentioned above

Normally, omega-6 is plentiful in an average diet. Rather, modern diets have more of omega-6 than omega-3 and this imbalance may promote diseases such as asthma, CVD, autoimmune and neurodegenerative diseases. According to a US study published in the journal Biomedicine and Pharmacotherapy, ‘human beings evolved on a diet with a ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 essential fatty acids (EFA) of approximately 1 (that is, equal proportion) whereas in Western diets the ratio is 15/1-16.7/1’. The researchers further stated ‘A ratio of 2.5/1 reduced rectal cell proliferation in patients with colorectal cancer, whereas a ratio of 4/1 with the same amount of omega-3 PUFA had no effect. The lower omega-6/omega-3 ratio in women with breast cancer was associated with decreased risk. A ratio of 2-3/1 suppressed inflammation in patients with rheumatoid arthritis, and a ratio of 5/1 had a beneficial effect on patients with asthma, whereas a ratio of 10/1 had adverse consequences. These studies indicate that the optimal ratio may vary with the disease under consideration’. Thus, a lower omega-6 / omega-3 ratio is more desirable in order to reduce the risk of chronic diseases. 
There is another type of unsaturated fatty acid that is currently a hot topic for discussion – trans-fats. Natural sources of dietary trans-fats are fatty parts of meat and dairy products. Artificial trans-fats are found in foods that contain hydrogenated oil. Artificial trans-fats are found in margarines and vegetable shortenings, frozen pizzas, baked goods such as cake, cookies, pie, and also in coffee creamers, fast food, and other processed foods. According to the CDC, ‘Consuming trans-fat increases low-density lipoprotein (LDL, or "bad") cholesterol contributing to the leading cause of death in the U.S. – coronary heart disease (CHD). Trans-fat may also have other adverse health effects like decreasing high-density lipoprotein (HDL, or "good") cholesterol’. 
Considering these facts, the FDA required mandatory trans-fat labeling on all packaged food and a few years later some states in America have issued a trans-fat ban and a rule requiring fast food restaurants to post calorie info on menus. More recently, legislations have been passed banning trans-fats in schools as well. 
The American Heart Association's Nutrition Committee recommends restricting intake of total fat to less than 25–35 percent of total calories required per day, with saturated fat intake to less than 7 percent and trans-fat intake to less than 1 percent of total daily calories. The Committee suggests that ‘remaining fat should come from sources of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats such as nuts, seeds, fish and vegetable oils’. 
Significant research studies are still being carried out to know more about the health benefits of fatty acids. In view of this, we await the results of the advances made in fatty acid and lipid research. 

References: 1. 
2. Swanson D, Block R, Mousa SA. Omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA: health benefits throughout life. Adv Nutr. 2012 Jan;3(1):1-7. 


Feeling strong emotions makes peoples’ brains ‘tick together’

Research team at Aalto University and Turku PET Centre has revealed how experiencing strong emotions synchronizes brain activity across individuals.

Human emotions are highly contagious. Seeing others’ emotional expressions such as smiles triggers often the corresponding emotional response in the observer. Such synchronization of emotional states across individuals may support social interaction: When all group members share a common emotional state, their brains and bodies process the environment in a similar fashion.Researchers at Aalto University and Turku PET Centre have now found that feeling strong emotions makes different individuals’ brain activity literally synchronous.The results revealed that especially feeling strong unpleasant emotions synchronized brain’s emotion processing networks in the frontal and midline regions. On the contrary, experiencing highly arousing events synchronized activity in the networks supporting vision, attention and sense of touch.– Sharing others’ emotional states provides the observers a somatosensory and neural framework that facilitates understanding others’ intentions and actions and allows to ‘tune in’ or ‘sync’ with them. Such automatic tuning facilitates social interaction and group processes, says Adjunct Professor Lauri Nummenmaa from the Aalto University.– The results have major implications for current neural models of human emotions and group behaviour, but also deepen our understanding of mental disorders involving abnormal socioemotional processing, Nummenmaa says.Participants’ brain activity was measured with functional magnetic resonance imaging while they were viewing short pleasant, neutral and unpleasant movies.. The project was supported by the Academy of Finland and Aalto University (aivoAALTO-project).The results were published on May 24th 2012 in scientific journal Proceedings of The National Academy of Sciences of The United States of America (PNAS).
Source:Aalto University School of Science and  Turku PET Centre

Drug allergy discovery

A research team led by the University of Melbourne and Monash University has discovered why people can develop life-threatening allergies after receiving treatment for conditions such as epilepsy and AIDS.

The finding could lead to the development of a diagnostic test to determine drug hypersensitivity.
The study published today in the journal Nature, revealed how some drugs inadvertently target the immune system to alter how the body’s immune system perceives it’s own tissues, making them look foreign.
The immune system then attacks the foreign nature of the tissues as if they were incompatible transplants.
The study showed the biological mechanisms by which a person's exact tissue type determined whether they would develop the drug allergy or not.
Professor James McCluskey of the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at the University of Melbourne said this was a significant discovery uncovering the molecular basis of a group of drug hypersensitivities.
“A whole class of drug allergy is likely to be explained by this discovery,” said Professor McCluskey who led the study with Professor Tony Purcell from the University of Melbourne’s Bio21 Institute and Professor Jamie Rossjohn from Monash University.
“There are several drugs that can cause life threatening skin rashes and other symptoms such as fever, diarrhea, muscle aches and pains.
“A simple blood test may help to predict adverse reactions in the treatment of a broad range of conditions like AIDS, epilepsy, gout and infections.”
The study was conducted by PhD student Patricia Illing of the University of Melbourne’s Department of Microbiology and Immunology, who used a combination of cellular immunology, mass spectrometry and structural biology at the Australian Synchrotron to define the changes in how the immune system recognised the body's own tissue, in human samples.
Researchers said the next step was to prove this mechanism in other drug allergies linked to an individual's tissue type and to establish testing of patients prior to receiving drugs to avoid the drug reactions.
The study was done in collaboration with the Queensland Institute for Medical Research, Australia and was supported by the Australian Research Council and the National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia.

Source:The Melbourne News Room

Like curry? New biological role identified for compound used in ancient medicine

 Scientists have just identified a new reason why some curry dishes, made with spices humans have used for thousands of years, might be good for you.
New research at Oregon State University has discovered that curcumin, a compound found in the cooking spice turmeric, can cause a modest but measurable increase in levels of a protein that's known to be important in the "innate" immune system, helping to prevent infection in humans and other animals.
This cathelicidin antimicrobial peptide, or CAMP, is part of what helps our immune system fight off various bacteria, viruses or fungi even though they hadn't been encountered before.
Prior to this, it was known that CAMP levels were increased by vitamin D. Discovery of an alternative mechanism to influence or raise CAMP levels is of scientific interest and could open new research avenues in nutrition and pharmacology, scientists said.
Turmeric is a flavorful, orange-yellow spice and an important ingredient in many curries, commonly found in Indian, South Asian and Middle Eastern cuisine. It has also been used for 2,500 years as a medicinal compound in the Ayurvedic system of medicine in India – not to mention being part of some religious and wedding ceremonies. In India, turmeric is treated with reverence.
The newest findings were made by researchers in the Linus Pauling Institute at OSU and published today in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry, in collaboration with scientists from the University of Copenhagen in Denmark. The work was supported by the National Institutes of Health.
"This research points to a new avenue for regulating CAMP gene expression," said Adrian Gombart, an associate professor of biochemistry and biophysics in the Linus Pauling Institute. "It's interesting and somewhat surprising that curcumin can do that, and could provide another tool to develop medical therapies."
The impact of curcumin in this role is not nearly as potent as that of vitamin D, Gombart said, but could nonetheless have physiologic value. Curcumin has also been studied for its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.
"Curcumin, as part of turmeric, is generally consumed in the diet at fairly low levels," Gombart said. "However, it's possible that sustained consumption over time may be healthy and help protect against infection, especially in the stomach and intestinal tract."
In this study, Chunxiao Guo, a graduate student, and Gombart looked at the potential of both curcumin and omega-3 fatty acids to increase expression of the CAMP gene. They found no particular value with the omega-3 fatty acids for this purpose, but curcumin did have a clear effect. It caused levels of CAMP to almost triple.
There has been intense scientific interest in the vitamin D receptor in recent years because of potential therapeutic benefits in treating infection, cancer, psoriasis and other diseases, the researchers noted in their report. An alternative way to elicit a related biological response could be significant and merits additional research, they said.
The CAMP peptide is the only known antimicrobial peptide of its type in humans, researchers said. It appears to have the ability to kill a broad range of bacteria, including those that cause tuberculosis and protect against the development of sepsis.

Friday, 25 May 2012

70 percent of women use contraceptives during their first sexual encounter

Contraceptive use in Spain during the first sexual encounter is similar to other European countries. However, there are some geographical differences between Spanish regions: women in Murcia use contraceptives less (55.8%) whereas women in the Basque Country use them more (76.7%).
Spanish researchers have analysed the prevalence of contraceptive use during the first sexual encounter over the last month in 5,141 sexually active women between the ages of 15 and 49 years through Spain's 17 autonomous communities.
"Bearing in mind the individual factors amongst women that determine contraceptive use, living in one autonomous community or another also has an influence," as explained to SINC by Dolores Ruiz Muñoz, researcher at the Public Health Agency of Barcelona and lead author of the study.
Published in the Health & Place journal, the results reveal that the prevalence of contraceptive use during the first sexual encounter is 70.4%. It varies in the different regions from 55.8% in Murcia to 76.7% in the Basque Country.
In this case, contraceptive use shows positive correlation in women with a university education and negative correlation amongst women from poor backgrounds.
Ruiz Muñoz points out that "contraceptive use during the first sexual encounter was more common amongst non-religious women in developed countries who had high educational attainment and their first sexual experience was between the ages of 18 and 19 years."
Furthermore, the prevalence of contraceptive use during the four weeks prior to the interview stood at 77.2%. Percentages varied from 70.9% in Navarra to 86.7% in Asturias, which suggested less difference between the different regions that in the case of the first sexual encounter.
The use of contraceptives during sexual relations in the month before the study was more common amongst younger women, those who live alone, those with higher educational attainment, those with children and those that had used contraceptives during their first sexual encounter.


Kerala State Medicinal Supply Corp finds 11 drugs of KSDP Not of Standard Quality

The Kerala State Medicinal Supply Corporation Ltd has declared 11 drugs as Not of Standard Quality out of a total of 39 supplied by Kerala State Drugs & Pharmaceuticals Ltd this year and blacklisted all the batches.
The Corporation has recalled the batches form the user institutions and transferred them to quarantine area. It has also issued stop notices to the public sector company in this regard, said Biju Prabhakar, managing director of KSMSCL.
This year the Corporation has not given any order of supplies to KSDP as it had not honoured its commitment last year. The company had agreed to supply 53 categories of drugs in 2011, but it supplied only 39 items and that too with no regularity. So, to avoid shortage of drugs in the hospitals, government was forced to buy medicines from outside agencies. This year KSDP was asked to go by tender process, but it did not participate in the tender, the MD told Pharmabiz.
When asked about the huge stocks of drugs lying unsold in KSDP, he said they could have approached through tender process. Government cannot pay a price 15 per cent more than the market rate. The corporation had earlier given assurance to the company that a price preference of 15 per cent, but it is now asking for 90 per cent.
“How can the government purchase drugs at 90 per cent higher than the market prices? Last year the Corporation gave an order of Rs.32 crore, but received drugs worth only Rs.12.9 crore. In 2010 the Corporation gave an order for Rs.11.5 crore worth of medicines. All the products purchased from the company were at rates higher than the market prices. The state government is spending this much amount to a company where only 125 employees are working. He said the drugs produced by the company are also failing in quality standards. The company is not operating to its full capacity and GMP is complied with. If the company agrees to reduce their prices then only we will consider purchasing the drugs from them”, he told this reporter.
The drugs found not of standard quality are norfloxacin tab 400 mg (S30047 and S30033), omeprazol cap 20 mg (AC1004 , AC 1009, AC 10027, Ac 1020 and Ac1019), amoxycilin dry syrup 5ml (X21003, X21004 and X21005) and amoxycilin cap 500 mg (AB1326).
When contacted, K B Jayakumar, the managing director of KSDP, said that last year the company had a turnover of Rs.32 crore and it has been making profit for the last four years. Since the company got a state government directive stating that it need not go by tender process until March 31, 2013 it is expecting orders from the government..
K Rajendran, the employees’ Union secretary of KSDP said that huge stocks of antibiotics, ORS, liquid items and bulks of paracetamol are lying unsold with the company due to the apathy of the Corporation. He said the company used to sell the unsold items to other states before expiry, but its outside sales are restricted now. The company got a grant of Rs.20 crore in 2009 from the state government and with that it upgraded the facilities including GMP.

Calcium Supplements May Be Bad for Your Heart: Study

Many older Americans take calcium supplements to prevent bone loss, but they may be significantly increasing their risk for a heart attack, a new study suggests.These supplements do not help prevent heart attacks or stroke as some previous research has suggested, the study authors say. But dietary calcium might reduce the risk, they noted."While a moderately high intake of calcium from diet may go along with a lower risk of heart attack, this is not true for supplementary calcium intake," said lead researcher Sabine Rohrmann, from the division of cancer epidemiology and prevention at the Institute of Social and Preventive Medicine at the University of Zurich in Switzerland."Instead of taking calcium supplements, men and women who want to increase their calcium intake should rely on foods, such as low-fat dairy products or mineral water, [that are] rich in calcium," she said.The report was published online May 23 in the journal Heart.For the study, Rohrmann's group collected data on nearly 24,000 people from Heidelberg, Germany, who took part in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition study.All of the participants were between the ages of 35 and 64 when they joined the study between 1994 and 1998.Researchers asked them about their diet and whether they took vitamin and/or mineral supplements.Over an average 11 years of follow-up, there were 354 heart attacks, 260 strokes and 267 deaths from cardiovascular causes among all participants, the researchers noted.Participants whose calcium intake from all sources was moderate -- 820 milligrams (mg) a day -- had a lower risk of heart attack than those whose intake was less, the investigators found.However, those whose intake was more than 1,100 mg did not have a substantially lower risk. In addition, there was no amount at which calcium was tied to a decreased risk of stroke.When Rohrmann's team looked specifically at calcium supplements, they found an 86 percent increase in heart attacks among people who took them regularly compared to those who didn't take any supplements.However, Dr. Robert Recker, director of the Osteoporosis Research Center at Creighton University and president of the National Osteoporosis Foundation, disagreed with the results."I am doubtful of these findings," he said. "It's hard to understand why calcium in the diet can reduce the risk of heart attack, but supplements increase the risk."Recker said he thinks the findings could reflect a bias where those already at risk for heart attacks took supplements in hopes of reducing the risk, but some had heart attacks nonetheless.Because the mechanism can't be described, the findings may be flawed, he noted.Recker added that calcium supplements do prevent a significant number of fractures. "In the United States, the incidence of fractures from osteoporosis is greater than the combined incidence of heart disease, heart attack and stroke," he said.He recommended taking a calcium supplement only if you aren't getting enough calcium from your diet. If you don't eat a lot of dairy products, Recker advised taking two separate doses of 500 mg of calcium a day.But Dr. Ian Reid, a professor of medicine and endocrinology at the University of Auckland in New Zealand and author of an accompanying journal editorial, said the findings are similar to his own study."This study provides confirmatory evidence that calcium taken as supplements appears to increase the risk of heart attacks; whereas having a diet that has some calcium-rich foods doesn't seem to confer the same risk," he said.Reid suggested that high doses of calcium might damage the walls of blood vessels, which leads toheart attacks."Most people should not be taking calcium supplements," he said. "You should get the calcium you need from your diet rather than taking supplements."In terms of reducing fractures, Reid said that based on his study, which appeared online in the journalBMJ in July 2010, calcium supplements may reduce fractures 10 percent, but can increase the risk of heart attacks 25 percent.He said his study showed that if 1,000 people are given calcium for five years, there will be 26 fractures prevented but there will also be 14 heart attacks, 10 strokes and 13 deaths.Commenting on the new study, Dr. Gregg Fonarow, a professor of cardiology at the University of California, Los Angeles, added that "it has been hypothesized that abrupt changes in concentrations of calcium in the blood with calcium supplementation might be contributing to adverse cardiovascular effects."So, he stated, "while further studies are needed, calcium supplements should be used only in those where the potential benefits outweigh the potential risks."While the study found an association between calcium intake and heart attacks, it did not prove a cause-and-effect relationship.


Physicians have trouble stopping PSA tests, despite questionable benefits
Recent recommendations from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) advising elimination of routine prostate-specific antigen (PSA) screening for prostate cancer in healthy men are likely to encounter serious pushback from primary care physicians, according to results of a survey by Johns Hopkins investigators.
In a survey of 125 primary care doctors, the researchers found that while doctors agreed with older recommendations to curtail routine screening in men over age 75 and among those not expected to live 10 or more years, a large number said they faced significant barriers to stopping PSA testing in men who had been receiving it regularly. The most frequently cited reason by 74.4 percent of physicians was, “My patients expect me to continue getting yearly PSA tests,” followed by 66 percent of them who said, “It takes more time to explain why I’m not screening than to just continue screening.” More than half of those surveyed in the new study believed that, “By not ordering a PSA, it puts me at risk for malpractice.”
The survey was conducted in November 2011, right after draft recommendations were made to end routine screening of all men, but before last week, when the draft recommendations were officially approved.
“It can be very difficult for doctors to break down the belief that all cancer screening tests are invariably good for all people all the time,” says Craig E. Pollack, M.D., M.H.S., an assistant professor in the Division of General Internal Medicine at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, and leader of the study published online in the journal Cancer. “Everyone agrees that PSA screening isn’t as good as we want it to be. If we had a test that was a slam dunk, it would be different. But now we know that for many men, the benefits may be small and the harms significant.”
Each year, more than 33,000 American men die of prostate cancer, and 20 million get the PSA test to detect the disease early.
According to the USPSTF, evidence suggests the potential harms caused by PSA screening of healthy men as a means of identifying prostate cancer outweigh its potential to save lives and that routine annual screening should be eliminated in the healthy. Elevated PSA readings are not necessarily evidence of prostate cancer, and can lead to unnecessary prostate biopsy. In addition, even when biopsies reveal signs of prostate cancer cells, evidence shows that a large proportion will never cause harm, even if left untreated. The disease in older men often progresses slowly so that those who have it frequently die of other causes.
Treatments for prostate cancer can include the removal of the prostate, radiation or other therapies, each of which has the potential to cause serious problems like erectile dysfunction, complete impotence, urinary incontinence or bowel damage. And men who choose to “watch and wait” after elevated PSA readings must live with the anxiety of knowing they have an untreated cancer that could start to progress.
In the new study, Pollack and his colleagues found that while most physicians said they took age and life expectancy into account when deciding to order PSA screening, many also said they had a hard time estimating life expectancy in their patients and could use a better tool. H. Ballentine Carter, M.D., a professor of urology at Johns Hopkins and the senior investigator on the study, is planning to investigate the potential of individualized prostate cancer screening recommendations. Specifically, he and colleagues plan to create a decision-making tool that incorporates age, life expectancy, family history and prior PSA results in order to help doctors and their patients make better choices for prostate cancer screening.
In another report derived from results of Pollack’s and Carter’s survey, published in April in the Archives of Internal Medicine, the researchers say nearly half of the providers agreed with the new USPSTF recommendations to eliminate routine screening for healthy men. Still, less than two percent said they would no longer order routine PSA screening in response to the draft recommendations; 21.9 percent said they would be much less likely to do so; 38.6 percent said they would be somewhat less likely to do so; and 37.7 percent said they would not change their screening practices.
“Men often expect PSA screening to be part of their annual physical,” Pollack says. “To change their minds, we need to address their perceptions about screening, allow time for screening discussions and reduce concerns regarding malpractice litigation.”
The studies were supported in part by a Maryland Cigarette Restitution Fund Research Grant to Johns Hopkins.
Other Johns Hopkins researchers involved with the studies included Elizabeth A. Platz, Sc.D., M.P.H.; Nrupen A. Bhavsar, Ph.D., M.P.H.; Gary Noronha, M.D.; Gene E. Green, M.D.; and Sean Chen, B.A.

Tongue Analysis Software Developed at MU Uses Ancient Chinese Medicine to Warn of Disease

For 5,000 years, the Chinese have used a system of medicine based on the flow and balance of positive and negative energies in the body. In this system, the appearance of the tongue is one of the measures used to classify the overall physical status of the body, or zheng. Now, University of Missouri researchers have developed computer software that combines the ancient practices and modern medicine by providing an automated system for analyzing images of the tongue.“Knowing your zheng classification can serve as a pre-screening tool and help with preventive medicine,” said Dong Xu, chair of MU’scomputer science department in the College of Engineering and study co-author. “Our software helps bridge Eastern and Western medicine, since an imbalance in zheng could serve as a warning to go see a doctor. Within a year, our ultimate goal is to create an application for smartphones that will allow anyone to take a photo of their tongue and learn the status of their zheng.”The software analyzes images based on the tongue’s color and coating to distinguish between tongues showing signs of “hot” or “cold” zheng. Shades of red and yellow are associated with hot zheng, whereas a white coating on the tongue is a sign of cold zheng.“Hot and cold zheng doesn’t refer directly to body temperature,” said Xu, who is also on the faculty of theBond Life Sciences Center. “Rather, it refers to a suite of symptoms associated with the state of the body as a whole.”For example, a person with cold zheng may feel chills and coolness in the limbs and show a pale flushing of face. Their voice may have a high pitch. Other symptoms of cold sheng are clear urine and loose stool. They also may prefer hot foods and drinks and desire warm environments.In Chinese traditional medicine both hot and cold zheng can be symptoms of gastritis, an inflammation of the stomach lining frequently caused by bacterial infection.For the study, 263 gastritis patients and 48 healthy volunteers had their tongues analyzed. The gastritis patients were classified by whether they showed infection by a certain bacteria, known as Helicobacter pylori, as well as the intensity of their gastritis symptoms. In addition, most of the gastritis patients had been previously classified with either hot or cold zheng. This allowed the researchers to verify the accuracy of the software’s analysis.“Our software was able to classify people based on their zheng status,” said study co-author Ye Duan, associate professor of computer science at MU.“As we continue to work on the software we hope to improve its ability,” Duan said. “Eventually everyone will be able to use this tool at home using webcams or smartphone applications. That will allow them to monitor their zheng and get an early warning about possible ailments.”The study “Automated Tongue Feature Extraction for ZHENG Classification in Traditional Chinese Medicine” was accepted for publication in the journal Evidence Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. The study’s first author was doctoral student Ratchadaporn Kanawong and the second author was post-doctoral researcher Tayo Obafemi-Ajayi.

Thursday, 24 May 2012

Humans Could Live Longer by Manipulating the Genes into Slowing Down Aging Process

A team of Spanish researchers have found that humans could lead a longer and healthier life by manipulating the genes and slowing down the aging process. 
In a pioneering experiment, researchers slowed down the ageing process using a novel gene therapy treatment, the Daily Express reported. 
Now they expect that the laboratory breakthrough will one day lead to the creation of a pill that could extend life by decades and prevent or reverse diseases like cancer, osteoporosis and heart disease. 
Researchers based at the Spanish National Cancer Research Centre, who conducted the work, asserted that the technique could be used in human trials. 
"I am very excited about this. It is the first time we have shown a way to increase longevity and health span with gene therapy without side-effects," Dr Maria Blasco, the biologist who led the research, said. 
"The ageing of our cells is the main cause of disease. This breakthrough could extend or reduce the incidence of conditions such as cancer and heart disease, while increasing lifespan." 
The team examined a natural enzyme called telomerase. The enzyme is found in human foetuses and it is thought that it has the ability to keep the body young and rejuvenate cells. It is no longer active or "expressed" in adults. 
By compelling it to become active again by genetic manipulation, the scientists slowed down the ageing process in mice by 24 per cent. 
The research relies on the principle that ageing cells accumulate damage in their DNA. Telomerase has been found to mend or delay this damage. 
Previous tests that showed it is possible to lengthen the life of species, including mammals, by manipulating specific genes were too dangerous to be conducted in humans.owever, it is hoped that this new process will be safe for humans. 
In the experiments, the lifespan of the mice augmented and their health improved. 
The onset of age-related diseases like osteoporosis and diabetes was delayed and they indicated improvements on ageing indicators such as muscle coordination. 
The study has been published in the journal EMBO Molecular Medicine.


Antibodies That Help to Stop HIV Virus Found in Breast Milk

Researchers have discovered antibodies in breast milk that can help to stop the HIV virus. 
Researchers at Duke University Medical Center isolated the antibodies from immune cells called B cells in the breast milk of infected mothers in Malawi, and showed that the B cells in breast milk can generate neutralizing antibodies that may inhibit the virus that causes AIDS. 
HIV-1 can be transmitted from mother to child via breastfeeding, posing a challenge for safe infant feeding practices in areas of high HIV-1 prevalence. But only one in 10 HIV-infected nursing mothers is known to pass the virus to their infants. 
"That is remarkable, because nursing children are exposed multiple times each day during their first year of life," said senior author Sallie Permar, M.D., Ph.D., an assistant professor of pediatrics and infectious diseases at Duke. "We are asking if there is an immune response that protects 90 percent of infants, and could we harness that response to develop immune system prophylaxis (protection) during breastfeeding for mothers infected with HIV-1. 
"Our work helped establish that these B cells in breast milk can produce HIV-neutralizing antibodies, so enhancing the response or getting more mucosal B-cells to produce those helpful antibodies would be useful, and this is a possible route to explore for HIV-1 vaccine development," Permar said. 
The study was published on May 18 in PLoS One, an open-access journal published by the Public Library of Science. 
"This is important work that seeks to understand what a vaccine must do to protect babies from mucosal transmission during breastfeeding," said Barton Haynes, M.D., co-author and a national leader in AIDS/HIV research, director of the Center for HIV/AIDS Vaccine Immunology (CHAVI), as well as director of the Duke Human Vaccine Institute (DHVI). "The antibodies isolated are the first HIV antibodies isolated from breast milk that react with the HIV-1 envelope, and it important to understand how they work to attack HIV-1." 
The findings of two different antibodies with HIV-neutralizing properties isolated from breast milk also may help researchers with new investigations into adult-to-adult transmission, in addition to mother-to-child transmission. 
Permar said that most HIV-1 transmission occurs at a mucosal site in the body – surfaces lined with epithelial cells, such as the gastrointestinal tract or vaginal tissue. The mucosal compartments all have their own immune system cells. 
"We're excited about this finding because the immune cells in mucosal compartments can cross-talk and traffic between compartments," Permar said. "So the antibodies we found in breast milk indicate that these same antibodies are able to be elicited in other tissues." 
Interestingly, the Centers for Disease Control in the U.S. recommend against breastfeeding if a mother has HIV-1, because baby formula is a safe alternative for U.S.-born infants. The World Health Organization, however, encourages HIV-infected nursing mothers in resource-poor regions to breastfeed while the mother and/or infant take antiretroviral drugs to prevent the infection in the infant, because without the nutrients and immune factors in mothers' milk, many more infants would die from severe diarrhea and respiratory and other diseases. 
At the DHVI and CHAVI, there are many projects aimed at designing neutralizing responses in vaccinated individuals, and for improved vaccines that display specific targets to the immune system before it gets infected, with the idea of eliciting protective responses that fight against HIV transmission. "Our work will be important in eliminating mother-to-child transmission and getting the types of responses needed for protecting all infants," Permar said. 
The study itself wasn't easy to perform, she noted. The samples came from a group of women in Malawi who were recruited by CHAVI for this study. 
"Successfully characterizing antibodies from such a fragile medium required global coordination and expertise across multiple fields and is a hopeful testament to the incredible amounts of work and leadership currently under way to fight this devastating disease," said first author James Friedman, a third-year medical student at Duke University School of Medicine. "To be a part of, and to contribute to such a large-scale and important effort is incredibly exciting." 
Because of limited availability of the laboratory instrument needed to isolate single, viable immune cells in the region, the samples were not analyzed there. Instead, samples were frozen and transported for analysis. Keeping the breast milk under the right conditions for later thawing and testing of B cells and for isolating antibodies was a challenge, Permar said.



Device may inject a variety of drugs without using needles

Jet-injected drugs could improve patient compliance, reduce accidental needle sticks.
Getting a shot at the doctor’s office may become less painful in the not-too-distant future.
MIT researchers have engineered a device that delivers a tiny, high-pressure jet of medicine through the skin without the use of a hypodermic needle. The device can be programmed to deliver a range of doses to various depths — an improvement over similar jet-injection systems that are now commercially available.  
The researchers say that among other benefits, the technology may help reduce the potential for needle-stick injuries; the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that hospital-based health care workers accidentally prick themselves with needles 385,000 times each year. A needleless device may also help improve compliance among patients who might otherwise avoid the discomfort of regularly injecting themselves with drugs such as insulin. 
“If you are afraid of needles and have to frequently self-inject, compliance can be an issue,” says Catherine Hogan, a research scientist in MIT’s Department of Mechanical Engineering and a member of the research team. “We think this kind of technology … gets around some of the phobias that people may have about needles.”
The team reports on the development of this technology in the journal Medical Engineering & Physics


'Personality genes' may help account for longevity

 "It's in their genes" is a common refrain from scientists when asked about factors that allow centenarians to reach age 100 and beyond. Up until now, research has focused on genetic variations that offer a physiological advantage such as high levels of HDL ("good") cholesterol. But researchers at Albert Einstein College of Medicine andFerkauf Graduate School of Psychology of Yeshiva University have found that personality traits like being outgoing, optimistic, easygoing, and enjoying laughter as well as staying engaged in activities may also be part of the longevity genes mix.
The findings, published online May 21 in the journal Aging, come from Einstein's Longevity Genes Project, which includes over 500 Ashkenazi Jews over the age of 95 and 700 of their offspring. Ashkenazi (Eastern European) Jews were selected because they are genetically homogeneous, making it easier to spot genetic differences within the study population.
Previous studies have indicated that personality arises from underlying genetic mechanisms that may directly affect health. The present study of 243 of the centenarians (average age 97.6 years, 75 percent women) was aimed at detecting genetically-based personality characteristics by developing a brief measure (the Personality Outlook Profile Scale, or POPS) of personality in centenarians.
"When I started working with centenarians, I thought we'd find that they survived so long in part because they were mean and ornery," said Nir Barzilai, M.D., the Ingeborg and Ira Leon Rennert Chair of Aging Research, director of Einstein's Institute for Aging Research and co-corresponding author of the study. "But when we assessed the personalities of these 243 centenarians, we found qualities that clearly reflect a positive attitude towards life. Most were outgoing, optimistic and easygoing. They considered laughter an important part of life and had a large social network. They expressed emotions openly rather than bottling them up." In addition, the centenarians had lower scores for displaying neurotic personality and higher scores for being conscientious compared with a representative sample of the U.S. population.
"Some evidence indicates that personality can change between the ages of 70 and 100, so we don't know whether our centenarians have maintained their personality traits across their entire lifespans," continued Dr. Barzilai. "Nevertheless, our findings suggest that centenarians share particular personality traits and that genetically-based aspects of personality may play an important role in achieving both good health and exceptional longevity."
The study is titled "Positive attitude towards life and emotional expression as personality phenotypes for centenarians." The POPS was developed by lead author Kaori Kato, Psy.D., now at Weill Cornell Medical College, who validated it through comparisons with two previously established measures of personality traits. Other authors of the study were Richard Zweig, Ph.D., assistant clinical professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Einstein and director of the Older Adult Program at Ferkauf, and Gil Atzmon, Ph.D., assistant professor of medicine and of genetics at Einstein.

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Study finds danger in standard treatment for serious lung disease

A combination of three drugs used worldwide as the standard of care for a serious lung disease puts patients in danger of death or hospitalization, and should not be used together to treat the disease, called idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, according to the surprising results of a rigorous independent study.
The study, which appeared in the New England Journal of Medicine to coincide with a presentation at the annual meeting of the American Thoracic Society, was conducted by IPF Clinical Research Network, funded by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
“The findings show the importance of testing even those treatments that doctors give routinely for any type of condition -- to see if they truly help, and don't harm, patients,” says University of Michigan Health System lung specialist Fernando Martinez, MD, who will present the results.
Martinez and his colleagues report that patients in the mild to moderate stages of the progressive lung-scarring disease had a far higher chance of dying or being hospitalized if they were taking a three-drug combination used worldwide, compared with those taking a placebo.
What's more, the three-drug combo yielded no improvement in lung function, or even slowing of loss of lung function, compared with placebo. Results from a group taking the single drug, N-acetylcysteine (NAC), are still being gathered and analyzed.
This evidence is from a randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind, federally funded trial that included patients with a definitive diagnosis of IPF who were treated at 25 centers taking part in the IPF Clinical Research Network or IPFNet. The study was stopped early when an interim analysis showed signs of harm from the three-drug combination of prednisone, azathioprine and NAC.
The findings should cause physicians worldwide to stop using this combination to treat IPF patients similar to those in the trial, say the authors.
And, the dramatic finding of harm from a standard treatment should cause physicians to apply rigorous testing methods to other types of treatment, and highlights the importance of independent federal funding for such studies, says Martinez.
The authors salute the volunteer IPF patients who agreed to be randomly assigned to a treatment or placebo for 60 weeks.
Martinez, an internationally known IPF researcher and clinician in the U-M Medical School's Division of Pulmonary Medicine, remarks that results will soon be known for the group taking NAC alone, compared with those taking placebo. The current paper and presentation do not include results from this group.
In the results presented this week, the authors report that eight patients in the group of 77 assigned to the three-drug combination died, compared with one in the placebo group. A total of 23 of the three-drug patients were hospitalized during the trial, compared with 7 in the placebo group. There was no sign that the three-drug combination slowed the progression of IPF or improved lung function, as measured by forced vital capacity.
The study is called PANTHER-IPF, for Prednisone, Azathioprine, and N-Acetylcysteine: a study that evaluates response in idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. Except for a donation of NAC and a matched placebo by the company that makes the drug, there was no industry support for the work.
IPF, which affects nearly 100,000 Americans, slowly steals the ability to breathe freely. Its cause or causes are not clear, which is why it is called "idiopathic." Over time it leads to the buildup of scar tissue in the lungs that accumulates in a distinctive honeycomb pattern that can be seen on biopsy or CT scan. It is known as an interstitial lung disease because it affects the tissue around the air sacs in the lungs.
IPF patients live an average of five years after diagnosis, though a lung transplant at a center such as U-M's Transplant Centre can extend life for years beyond. Most patients are over the age of 65 when diagnosed, but IPF can strike younger people as well.
Because lung transplants are such a dramatic and rarely available therapy, researchers at U-M and other centers are working to find new treatments while also studying the underlying biological factors in the disease. The PANTHER-IPF trial was designed to test a standard therapy in a rigorous way.

The research was supported by NIH grants U10HL080413, to the data coordinating center at the Duke Clinical Research Institute; NHLBI grants U10HL080274, U10HL080370, U10HL080371, U10HL080383, U10HL080411, U10HL080509, U10HL080510, U10HL080513, U10HL080543, U10HL080571, and U10HL080685, to the clinical centres; and the Cowlin Family Fund at the Chicago Community Trust. NAC and matching placebo were donated by Zambon.

Kids Of Smoking Parents Prone to Cardiovascular Risks

Children who are exposed to passive smoking from their parents are more likely to develop serious cardiovascular health problems later in life, finds a study. 
The Menzies Research Institute in Tasmania collected data from a Finnish and Australian study following children first examined 20 years ago who are now aged in their mid-30s. 
It found that those exposed to passive smoke as youngsters have less elasticity in their arteries, an indicator of poor cardiovascular health. 
Study author and Menzies Research fellow Seana Gall said while it has been previously known that passive smoke was harmful, this was the world's first examination on the long-term effects on blood vessel health. 
"We looked at blood vessel elasticity by measuring the ability of an artery in the arm to expand and contract," she said. 
"We found that people who had been exposed to parental smoking when they were children had less elastic arteries, an early indicator of poor cardiovascular health." 
Gall added that it was not explained by the participants' own smoking habits. 
"The effect was seen up to 27 years later, suggesting a long-term and irreversible effect of passive smoking in childhood on the health of arteries," she said. 
"The chemicals in cigarette smoke interact with the lining of the blood vessels and that seems to be causing an inability of them to expand and contract properly." 
The World Health Organization estimates that about 40 percent of the world's children are regularly exposed to second-hand smoke at home, with 600,000 deaths annually caused by passive smoking. 
"The highest prevalence of smoking is still seen in those age groups that correspond with people first becoming parents, so that's still a concern and we'd want to get the prevalence down in those groups particularly," said Gall.


Prevalence of kidney stones doubles in wake of obesity epidemic

The number of Americans suffering from kidney stones between 2007 and 2010 nearly doubled since 1994, according to a study by researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and RAND.
"While we expected the prevalence of kidney stones to increase, the size of the increase was surprising," says Charles D. Scales, Jr., MD, a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation/U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Clinical Scholar in the departments of urology and medicine at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. "Our findings also suggested that the increase is due, in large part, to the increase in obesity and diabetes among Americans."
The study entitled, "The Prevalence of Kidney Stones" in the United States is being presented today at the 2012 American Urological Meeting in Atlanta, Georgia and will appear in the July print edition of the journalEuropean Urology.
This is one of the first studies to examine the new data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) that was collected from 2007 to 2010. NHANES is a program of studies within the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to assess the health and nutritional status of adults and children in the United States.
Scales and his colleagues reviewed responses from 12,110 people and found that between 2007 and 2010, 8.8 percent of the U.S. population had a kidney stone, or one out of every 11 people. In 1994 the rate was one in 20. No data about the national prevalence of kidney stones in the United States were collected between 1994 and 2007.
Because the survey also asks about other health conditions, and includes measurement of height and weight, the researchers were able to identify associations between kidney stones and other health conditions. The results suggest that obesity, diabetes, and gout all increase the risk of kidney stones.
The authors assert that these findings have important implications for the public as well as health care providers. "People should consider the increased risk of kidney stones as another reason to maintain a healthy lifestyle and body weight," says Christopher S. Saigal, MD, MPH, senior author, principal investigator within RAND Health for the Urologic Diseases in America project and associate professor of urology, David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. "But physicians need to rethink how to treat, and more importantly, prevent kidney stones."
Currently, the primary approach to treating patients with kidney stones is to focus on the stones. Yet helping patients maintain a healthy diet and body weight can reduce the number of patients with kidney stones.
"Imagine that we only treated people with heart disease when they had chest pain or heart attacks, and did not help manage risk factors like smoking, high cholesterol, or high blood pressure," says Scales. "This is how we currently treat people with kidney stones. We know the risk factors for kidney stones, but treatment is directed towards patients with stones that cause pain, infection, or blockage of a kidney rather than helping patients to prevent kidney stones in the first place."
In an accompanying editorial that will also appear in the journal, Brian Matlaga, MD, MPH, associate professor of urology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, writes that the cost of care for this disease is enormous, and there is no indication that the coming years will see any improvement in this trend. He also warns that, since approximately 10 percent of the population has the disease, a greater emphasis on prevention is imperative.

Well-connected brains make you smarter in older age

Brains that maintain healthy nerve connections as we age help keep us sharp in later life, new research funded by the charity Age UK has found

Brains that maintain healthy nerve connections as we age help keep us sharp in later life, new research funded by the charity Age UK has found.
Older people with robust brain 'wiring' – that is, the nerve fibres that connect different, distant brain areas – can process information quickly and that this makes them generally smarter, the study suggests.
According to the findings, joining distant parts of the brain together with better wiring improves mental performance, suggesting that intelligence is not found in a single part of the brain.
However a loss of condition of this wiring or 'white matter' – the billions of nerve fibres that transmit signals around the brain – can negatively affect our intelligence by altering these networks and slowing down our processing speed.
The research by the University of Edinburgh shows for the first time that the deterioration of white matter with age is likely to be a significant cause of age-related cognitive decline.
The research team used three different brain imaging techniques in compiling the results, including two that have never been used before in the study of intelligence.
These techniques measure the amount of water in brain tissue, indicate structural loss in the brain, and show how well the nerve fibres are insulated.
The researchers examined scans and results of thinking and reaction time tests from 420 people in the Lothian Birth Cohort of 1936, a group of nearly 1100 people whose intelligence & general health have been tracked since they were 11
The research was part of the Disconnected Mind Project, a large study of the causes of people's differences in cognitive ageing, led by Professor Ian Deary.
Study author Doctor Lars Penke said "Our results suggest a first plausible way how brain structure differences lead to higher intelligence. The results are exciting for our understanding of human intelligence differences at all ages."
"They also suggest a clear target for seeking treatment for mental difficulties, be they pathological or age-related. That the brain's nerve connections tend to stay the same throughout the brain means we can now look at factors that affect the overall condition of the brain, like its bloody supply."
Professor Deary said that uncovering the secrets of good thinking skills in old age is a high priority. "The research team is now looking at what keeps the brain's connections healthy. We value our thinking skills, and research should address how we might retain them or slow their decline with age."
Doctor Mark Bastin, who co-authored the study, said "These findings are exciting as they show how quantitative brain imaging can provide novel insights into the links between brain structure and cognitive ability. This is a key research area given the importance of identifying strategies for retaining good mental ability into older age."
Professor James Goodwin, Head of Research at Age UK, said: "This research is very exciting as it could have a real impact on tackling mental decline in later life, including dementia. With new understanding on how the brain functions we can work out why mental faculties decline with age in some people and not others and look at what can be done to improve our minds' chances of ageing better."

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Researchers Identify New Strategy to Fight Cancer With Minimum Side Effects

Penn State University researchers have come up with a promising cancer-fighting strategy for 'reactivating' genes that cause cancer tumors to shrink and die. 
The discovery may aid in the development of an innovative anti-cancer drug that effectively targets unhealthy, cancerous tissue without damaging healthy, non-cancerous tissue and vital organs. 
The researchers hope that their discovery will aid in the development of an innovative anti-cancer drug that effectively targets unhealthy, cancerous tissue without damaging healthy, non-cancerous tissue and vital organs. 
The team, led by Yanming Wang, a Penn State University associate professor of biochemistry and molecular biology, and Gong Chen, a Penn State assistant professor of chemistry, developed the new strategy after years of earlier research on a gene called PAD4 (peptidylarginine deiminase 4), which produces the PAD4 enzyme. 
Previous research by Wang and other scientists revealed that the PAD4 enzyme plays an important role in protecting the body from infection. 
The scientists compared normal mice with a functioning PAD4 gene to other mice that had a defective a PAD4 gene. When infected with bacteria, cells from the normal mice attacked and killed about 30 percent of the harmful bacteria, while cells from the defective mice battled a mere 10 percent. 
The researchers discovered that cells with a functioning PAD4 enzyme are able to build around themselves a protective, bacteria-killing web that Wang and his colleagues dubbed a NET (neutrophil extracellular trap). This NET is especially effective at fighting off flesh-eating bacteria. 
Now, in their new study, Wang and his collaborators have focused on the less-desirable effects of the same PAD4 gene. While PAD4 is clearly a critical part of the body's defense strategy, the gene's over-expression may be linked to autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis. 
One situation in which the PAD4 enzyme is markedly increased is in patients with certain cancers, such as breast, lung, and bone cancers. 
"We know that the PAD4 gene acts to silence tumor-suppressor genes," said Wang. 
"So we theorized that by inhibiting the enzyme that this gene produces, the 'good guys' the tumor-suppressor genes, would do a better job at destroying cancerous tissue and allowing the body to heal." 
To test their theory, Wang and his colleagues treated mice that had cancerous tumors with a molecule to inhibit the PAD4 enzyme. They found that, especially when combined with additional enzyme inhibitors, the treatment worked as effectively as the most-commonly-used chemotherapy drug, doxorubicin, which shrinks tumors by about 70 percent. 
Most striking, however, was that the PAD4 enzyme-inhibition strategy caused significantly less damage to healthy tissues. 
"Current chemotherapy drugs such as doxorubicin don't attack just tumors; unfortunately, they also attack healthy areas of the body," Wang explained. 
"That's why chemotherapy patients experience such terrible side effects such as weight loss, nausea, and hair loss. Because the PAD4 treatment appears to be less toxic, it could be an excellent alternative to current chemotherapy treatments." 
Wang also explained that the PAD4 gene's dual personality, on one hand a helpful defense against bacteria, while on the other, a harmful silencer of cancer-suppressor genes can be understood from the perspectives of evolution and longer life spans. 
"Our ancestors didn't have antibiotics, so a bacterial infection could easily result in death, especially in young children," Wang explained. 
"So, back then, an overactive PAD4 gene was advantageous because the NET bacteria-trapping mechanism was the body's major defense against infection." 
Wang also explained that on the other hand, because people today have access to antibiotics, we live much longer than our ancestors did. 
"PAD4's bad effects-cancer and autoimmune diseases - tend to be illnesses that appear later in life," Wang said. 
"So nowadays, an overactive PAD4 gene, while still protective against bacteria, can be detrimental later in life," Wang added. 
The research will be published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry.

Success Drive Riveted In Our Genes, Probably

Inclination towards determination, sociability and self-control and sense of purpose is in our genes justify scientists who claim that’s how some people are born a success. 
In fact, our DNA plays a bigger role in influencing these traits than our upbringing and the company we keep. 
Taken together, these facets of personality can make the difference between success and failure, said the Edinburgh University researchers. 
For the study, they questioned more than 800 pairs of twins about their attitudes to life to tease apart the influences of nature and nurture. 
Comparing identical twins, who share all their DNA and their upbringing, with non-identical twins, who have a shared background but are no more genetically alike than other siblings, is a technique often used by researchers to quantify the influence of genetics. 
The results, published in the Journal of Personality, revealed genes to play a much bigger role than lifestyle, with self-control particularly etched into our DNA. 
Our genes also largely determine how determined and persistent we are. This is important in terms of success, as someone who refuses to give up is more likely to achieve their dreams than someone who throws in the towel at the first hiccough. 
"Ever since the ancient Greeks, people have debated the nature of a good life and the nature of a virtuous life," the Daily Mail quoted researcher Professor Timothy Bates as saying. 
"Why do some people seem to manage their lives, have good relationships and cooperate to achieve their goals while others do not? 
"Previously, the role of family and the environment around the home often dominated people's ideas about what affected psychological well-being. However, this work highlights a much more powerful influence from genetics," he stated.


Bee pollen supplements can cause anaphylactic reactions

Although many people take bee pollen as a health supplement, it can cause severe anaphylactic reactions. However, most people are unaware of the risks, states an article published in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal).
A case study in the journal illuminates the possible hazards of ingesting bee pollen. A 30-year-old woman with seasonal allergies but no history of allergies to food, drugs, insects or latex had an anaphylactic reaction after taking bee pollen. She had swelling of the eyelids, lips and throat, difficulty swallowing, hives and other life-threatening symptoms. After emergency treatment and discontinuation of the bee pollen supplements, there were no further reactions.
"Anaphylaxis associated with the consumption of bee pollen has been reported in the literature, but many people remain unaware of this potential hazard," write Dr. Amanda Jagdis, University of British Columbia, and Dr. Gordon Sussman, St. Michael's Hospital and the University of Toronto.
Anaphylactic reactions after ingesting bee pollen have been reported in people with no history of allergies or only seasonal allergies. In a Greek study in which atopic participants underwent skin tests for reactions to bee pollen, 73% (of 145 patients) had positive skin test reactions to one or more types of bee pollen extracts.
"Health care providers should be aware of the potential for reaction, and patients with pollen allergy should be advised of the potential risk when consuming these products — it is not known who will have an allergic reaction upon ingesting bee pollen," conclude the authors.

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