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Saturday, 14 July 2012

Secret to Long Life is Looking at Bright Side of Life, Scientists Say

Scientists say people who maintain a positive outlook, boost feelings of optimism and life satisfaction have a greater chance of living longer.
Once people reach a certain age, their "will to live" is a strong predictor for survival irrespective of their age, gender or whether they suffer from two or more chronic, life-affecting illnesses.
Scientists from Helsinki University looked at 400 people aged between 75 and 90 who lived independently in the city.
They wanted to assess the people's will to live which - although it is highly subjective - can be defined as a psychological expression of the striving for life.
"Put simply, our study showed that those who wanted to live longer also survived longer," the Daily Express quoted Researcher Helena Karppinen as saying.
The study is published in the journal Age and Ageing, the scientific journal of the British Geriatrics Society.
Source-ANI


 

Cranberry Juice Reduces Risk of Urinary Infections

The risk of urinary tract infection is lower among those who regularly take cranberry capsules or drink cranberry juice, a new study conducted by National Taiwan University Hospital researchers reveals. 
Researchers led by Dr Chih-Hung Wang analyzed data from 13 different studies involving more than 1,600 people and found that people who regularly consume cranberry were 38 percent less likely to suffer from UTI compared to those who did not use such products. 
“Cranberry-containing products tend to be more effective in women with recurrent UTIs, [women], children, cranberry juice drinkers, and people using cranberry-containing products more than twice daily”, the researchers wrote in their report, published in the Archives of Internal Medicine. 
Source:Medindia
 

Study Dispels Myth Linking Obesity To Poor Academic Performance

Researchers have dispelled the false notion that being overweight could hamper educational performance. Combining statistical methods with genetic information researchers have concluded that obesity does not affect educational performance.
Previous studies have shown that children who are heavier are less likely to do well at school. However, Dr Stephanie von Hinke Kessler Scholder from University of York argues it's vital to understand what drives this association. "We sought to test whether obesity 'directly' hinders performance due to bullying or health problems, or whether kids who are obese do less well because of other factors that are associated with both obesity and lower exam results, such as coming from a disadvantaged family," Dr Scholder explains.
Researchers examined data on almost 4,000 members of the Children of the 90s Birth Cohort Study. These data include the children's DNA. It is well known that genes are randomly allocated within a population, irrespective of factors such as socio-economic position. The researchers combined the latest developments from genetic epidemiology with statistical methodologies in economic and econometric research. Using two carefully chosen 'genetic markers', the research team was able to identify children with a slightly higher genetic pre-disposition to obesity.
"Based on a simple correlation between children's obesity as measured by their fat mass and their exam results, we found that heavier children did do slightly worse in school," Dr Scholder points out. "But, when we used children's genetic markers to account for potentially other factors, we found no evidence that obesity causally affects exam results. So, we conclude that obesity is not a major factor affecting children's educational outcomes."
These findings suggest that the previously found negative relationship between weight and educational performance is driven by factors that affect both weight and educational attainment. Future research should focus on other determinants of poor educational outcomes, such as social class or a family's socio-economic circumstances, Dr Scholder points out.
The finding that obesity is not a cause of poorer educational performance is, the researchers suggest, a positive thing. "Clearly there are reasons why there are differences in educational outcomes, but our research shows that obesity is not one of them," Dr Scholder argues.
Source-Eurekalert
 

Cleveland Clinic researchers discover molecule that may prevent atherosclerosis


Molecule known as Akt3 regulates lipid accumulation in cells, prevents plaque buildup in arteries

 Cleveland Clinic researchers have discovered that a naturally occurring molecule may play a role in preventing plaque buildup inside arteries, possibly leading to new plaque-fighting drugs and improved screening of patients at risk of developing atherosclerosis.
Sometimes called hardening or clogging of the arteries, atherosclerosis is the buildup of cholesterol, fatty cells, and inflammatory deposits on the inner walls of the arteries, restricting blood flow to the heart. The disease can affect the arteries in the heart, legs, brain, kidneys, and other organs, and is the most common cause heart attacks, strokes, and peripheral vascular disease.
At the cellular level, plaque buildup is the result of macrophages in the vessel wall absorbing, processing, and storing cholesterol (lipids) and then accumulating in large amounts, eventually leading to the development of arterial lesions. The researchers, led by Eugene Podrez, M.D., Ph.D., of the Department of Molecular Cardiology at Cleveland Clinic's Lerner Research Institute, have discovered that the naturally occurring molecule Akt3 regulates lipid entry into macrophages and prevents the cells from storing excessive amounts of cholesterol and collecting in the artery.
Podrez says the discovery could lead to new drugs designed to prevent atherosclerosis. It could also help doctors develop screening tests to determine patient risk level for developing the disease. Podrez and his colleagues are now looking into the particular mechanisms behind Akt3's role in regulating lipid processing and will attempt to replicate their results in humans.
Source:
Cleveland Clinic 

Transforming cancer treatment


A Harvard researcher studying the evolution of drug resistance in cancer says that, in a few decades, “many, many cancers could be manageable.”“Many people are dying needlessly of cancer, and this research may offer a new strategy in that battle,” said Martin Nowak, a professor of mathematics and of biology and director of the Program for Evolutionary Dynamics. “One hundred years ago, many people died of bacterial infections. Now, we have treatment for such infections — those people don’t have to die. I believe we are approaching a similar point with cancer.”Nowak is one of several co-authors of a paper, published in Nature on June 28, that details how resistance to targeted drug therapy emerges in colorectal cancers and describes a multidrug approach to treatment that could make many cancers manageable, if not curable.The key, Nowak’s research suggests, is to change the way clinicians battle the disease.Physicians and researchers in recent years have increasingly turned to “targeted therapies” — drugs that combat cancer by interrupting its ability to grow and spread — rather than traditional chemotherapy, but such treatment is far from perfect. Most targeted therapies are effective for only a few months before the cancer evolves resistance to the drugs.The culprit in the colon cancer treatment examined in the Nature paper is the KRAS gene, which is responsible for producing a protein to regulate cell division. When activated, the gene helps cancer cells develop resistance to targeted-therapy drugs, effectively making the treatment useless.To better understand what role the KRAS gene plays in drug resistance, a team of researchers led by Bert Vogelstein, the Clayton Professor of Oncology and Pathology at the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center, launched a study that began by testing patients to determine if the KRAS gene was activated in their tumors. Patients without an activated KRAS gene underwent a normal round of targeted therapy treatment, and the initial results — as expected — were successful. Tests performed after the treatment broke down, however, showed a surprising result: The KRAS gene had been activated.As part of the research, Vogelstein’s team analyzed a handful of mutations that can lead to the activation of the KRAS gene. To help interpret those results, they turned to Nowak’s team, including mathematicians Benjamin Allen, a postdoctoral fellow in mathematical biology, and Ivana Bozic, a postdoctoral fellow in mathematics.Analyzing the clinical results, Allen and Bozic were able to mathematically describe the exponential growth of the cancer and determine whether the mutation that led to drug resistance was pre-existing, or whether it occurred after treatment began. Their model was able to predict, with surprising accuracy, the window of time from when the drug is first administered to when resistance arises and the drug begins to fail.“By looking at their results mathematically, we were able to determine conclusively that the resistance was already there, so the therapy was doomed from the start,” Allen said. “That had been an unresolved question before this study. Clinicians were finding that these kinds of therapies typically don’t work for longer than six months, and our finding provides an explanation for why that failure occurs.”Put simply, Nowak said, the findings suggest that, of the billions of cancer cells that exist in a patient, only a tiny percentage — about one in a million — are resistant to drugs used in targeted therapy. When treatment starts, the nonresistant cells are wiped out. The few resistant cells, however, quickly repopulate the cancer, causing the treatment to fail.“Whether you have resistance prior to the start of treatment was one of the large, outstanding questions associated with this type of treatment,” Bozic said. “Our study offers a quantitative understanding of how resistance evolves, and shows that, because resistance is there at the start, the single-drug therapy won’t work.”The answer, Nowak said, is simple: Rather than the one drug used in targeted therapy, treatments must involve at least two drugs.Nowak isn’t new to such strategies. In 1995 he participated in a study, also published in Nature, that focused on the rapid evolution of drug resistance in HIV. The result of that study, he said, was the development of the drug “cocktail” many HIV-positive patients use to help manage the disease.Such a plan, however, isn’t without challenges.The treatment must be tailored to the patient, and must be based on the genetic makeup of the patient’s cancer. Perhaps even more importantly, Nowak said, the two drugs used simultaneously must not overlap: If a single mutation allows the cancer to become resistant to both drugs, the treatment will fail just as the single-drug therapy does.Nowak estimated that hundreds of drugs might be needed to address all the possible treatment variations. The challenge in the near term, he said, is to develop those drugs.“This will be the main avenue for research into cancer treatment, I think, for the next decade and beyond,” Nowak said. “As more and more drugs are developed for targeted therapy, I think we will see a revolution in the treatment of cancer.”
Source:Harvard Science

Platelet-rich plasma therapy a safe option for cartilage damage, new study finds


When it comes to treating cartilage tears in athletes, Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) therapy is a safe and effective method of treatment, according to research presented today at the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine's (AOSSM) Annual Meeting in Baltimore.
"Using PRP therapy to repair cartilage is still relatively experimental, but studies like this show it's not only safe but also offers a significant improvement in function and quality of life for patients," said Elizaveta Kon, MD, lead author for the study and Director of Nano-Biotecnology Laboratory at the Rizzoli Orthopaedic Institute in Bologna, Italy. "None of the patients treated experienced complications like infection, deep vein thrombosis or fever."
During the study, 180 patients were treated for chronic pain or swelling of the knee with either PRP therapy or viscosupplementation, a more common hyaluronic acid-based treatment for cartilage damage. A total of 109 patients, with an average age of 56, reached a final evaluation. Both treatment groups demonstrated significant improvement based on higher post-treatment IKDC scores, which measure pain and basic function in follow-up interviews.
"As athletic participation has grown," Kon noted, "new problems like cartilage lesions, or tears, continue to emerge. Finding the right approach to treatment is difficult, but PRP has emerged as a viable option according to our research."
Kon also noted that long-term follow-ups for PRP treatments are needed to further evaluate the overall effectiveness of the therapy for future patients.
Source:American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine 

AYUSH doctors to soon prescribe allopathic drugs in Maharastra

The state government on Friday said that ayurvedahomeopathy and unani practitioners would soon be able to legally prescribe allopathic medicines in Maharashtra provided they completed a one-year course in pharmacology. 
Dr Vijay Kumar Gavit, minister for medical education, told the assembly that the course material was ready and by August the state would issue an ordinance for these doctors to do the course and clear an exam. If they pass, they can prescribe allopathic medicines. 
The minister said in a written reply that the decision to introduce the one-year pharmacology course was made on the advice of the attorney general, who suggested that it could be done by amending the Maharashtra Medical Practitioners Act, 1961. But when it was referred to the state law and judiciary department, it pointed out that a mere amendment to the Act will be of no use as under the Indian Medical Council Act, 1956, the assent of the Medical Council of India (MCI) is mandatory. 
But a senior official told  that the government does not need an approval from the Medical Council of India to start a "certificate course" as the state has the requisite powers under the concurrent list. "Only a degree or a diploma course needs a mandatory approval from the MCI," the official said. 
The matter came up before the House during a calling attention motion on police harassment faced by doctors who provide alternative treatment, particularly in rural Maharashtra. It was raised by Vijay Wadettiwar, who said that in the absence of allopathic doctors, people had to go to doctors from other streams but they were not allowed to prescribe allopathic medicines. "When the state has the power to allow these doctors to prescribe allopathic medicines, why does it hesitate to do so?" 
Gavit said it was true that there was a paucity of allopathic doctors in rural areas and the association of homeopathy doctors had requested that homeopaths should be allowed to prescribe allopathy medicines. 
"The government has set up a committee to consider this issue and is awaiting the report," he said, adding that an earlier committee had recommended that if the government were to include pharmacology as a subject for the doctors from other streams, then they could prescribe allopathic medicines.

Source:TNN

Friday, 13 July 2012

Dead Sea Salt As An Alternative Medicine

The Dead Sea salts are well-known for their therapeutic benefits due to the high content of important minerals such as  magnesium, calcium, zinc, iodine, bromide, sulphur and potassium. Interestingly, these minerals are similar to the ones found inside our skin cells.
For these reasons the dead sea salts have been sought after by dermatologists and beauty experts, who employ them in their beauty treatments and products.
Now it appears that sea salts may be used differently. Rebecca Hensberry, a patient, who had been experiencing sinusitis – related problems and head ache for over six months, was being treated with antibiotics. Having failed to find relief despite being treated with them, she approached Dr. Robert Graham of Lenox Hill hospital in the city of New York and requested him for an alternative treatment.
Graham decided to flush out the sinuses with Dead Sea salt to control the mucus production and inflammation. The solutions prepared from Dead Sea salts are natural, non-addictive, and have no harmful side effects.
 “Most people use hypertonic saline, which is basically just table salt that they put in warm water, and they bathe their sinuses,” Dr. Graham said. “This study looked at the concentration of the Dead Sea salt as a substitute and it showed that it was better in terms of quality of life and symptoms. ”Often times these simple, non-invasive, natural ways of dealing with things can actually be a first line agent,” he added.
After undergoing the Dead Sea salt treatment, Hensberry said that she felt better. “I could tell that it was working, and within about a week, I was cured. I’m feeling great,” she said.
Dead sea is famous for its therapeutic effects and is a reputed tourist destination. What makes it unique is that its waters contain 29% salt in comparison to other oceans
where the salt content is 4%. This increases the density of the dead sea and allows anyone to float on it with ease. The mineral content of the dead sea is very high in comparison to other oceans, while the percentage of sodium chloride is far below that of others.
Dead sea salts have been sought after right from the times of ancient Egyptians. Even today these salts are used as scrubs, and find a place in the various beauty treatments carried out in spas. The therapeutic value of the dead sea salts has also been put to good use in treating skin ailments, such as acne and psoriasis. 

Source:Medindia 

Narayana Hrudayalaya moves out of ISRO satellite for telemedicine, switches to Skype

Narayana Hrudayalaya which pioneered the concept of telemedicine project in the country using Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) satellite has now switched over to video conferencing through the Skype. The move comes in to keep pace with the significant changes in the telemedicine transmission protocols.
The cardiac care major started telemedicine using ISRO satellite in 2002-2003 and  since then has treated over 53,000 patients in the remote locations.
“Today by far, we have the largest experience in tele-cardiology. We have extended our services with the trans-telephonic ECGs to general practitioners in remote locations and today we get hundreds of ECGs everyday for interpretation from remote locations. But now we are not dependent on ISRO satellite any more. Five years ago, ISRO connected us to 54 cities in Africa through its Pan-African Satellite network. We are using this connectivity to educate healthcare professionals in Africa and also treat patients,” Dr Devi Prasad Shetty, chairman, Narayana Hrudayalaya told Pharmabiz in an email interaction.
“However, now we have switched over to video conference mode through the Skype which is very inexpensive and easily available tool which can be done through laptops and mobile phones. Now we have regular tele-consultation with Skype at Dhaka other than several locations in India,” he added.
Cost of telemedicine has gone down significantly once the internet became ubiquitous and Skype became virtually free. “We are connected to over 100 locations and several hundred ECG installations. However all consultations and treatment for patients via telemedicine is offered entirely free for the patients so there is no business model around telemedicine services. We believe that large hospitals are in a position to offer these services free of cost to reach out the patients and telemedicine should not be projected as a means of business to earn money to make it financially viable,” he said.
Karnataka kicked off its first telemedicine project at the Narayana Hrudayalaya,  to link Chamarajanagar district hospital and the Vivekananda Memorial Hospital, an non-government organisation (NGO) health unit at Saragur in HD Kote Taluk. The Karnataka Health and Family Welfare department financially supported the  project. It was coordinated by the Karnataka State Remote Sensing Applications Centre (KSRSAC).
Pharmabiz had earlier reported that, telemedicine consists of customized medical software integrated with computer hardware along with the diagnostics instruments connected to the VSAT (very small aperture terminal) at each location. The medical record is sent to the specialist doctors who in turn study and provide diagnosis and treatment during video conferencing to the patient. The technology helped patients in far-flung areas to avail timely consultations of specialist doctors without going through the ordeal of travelling long distances. The facility enables transmission of patient's medical records including images, besides providing live two-way audio and video link. With the help of these a specialist doctor or a paramedic at the patient's end can advise on the course of treatment to be followed.
Source:Pharmabiz

Iron supplements can reduce fatigue in nonanemic women


Clinical trial shows 50 percent reduction in fatigue from baseline in participants

Iron supplementation reduced fatigue by almost 50% in women who are low in iron but not anemic, according to the results of a clinical trial published July 9 in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal).
"We found that iron supplementation for 12 weeks decreased fatigue by almost 50% from baseline, a significant difference of 19% compared with placebo, in menstruating iron-deficient nonanemic women with unexplained fatigue and ferritin levels below 50 μg/L," writes Dr. Bernard Favrat, Department of Ambulatory Care and Community Medicine, University of Lausanne, Switzerland, with coauthors.
The study, a randomized controlled trial involving 198 menstruating women between the ages of 18 and 50 years, included daily oral supplements of 80 mg of prolonged-release ferrous sulfate as well as placebo. The trial was double-blinded, meaning neither the participants nor the health care providers knew which group was receiving the supplement versus placebo.
Fatigue is common in patients in primary care practices, with 14% to 27% suffering from fatigue and 1% to 2% of visits specifically for fatigue. Women are three times more likely than men to report fatigue. Positive effects on hemoglobin, ferritin and other blood levels were evident as early as six weeks after iron supplementation.
The authors note that iron did not affect anxiety or depression scores or quality-of-life indicators such as physical and psychological performance.
"Iron deficiency may be an under-recognized cause of fatigue in women of child-bearing age," write the authors. "If fatigue is not due to secondary causes, the identification of iron deficiency as a potential cause may prevent inappropriate attribution of symptoms to putative emotional causes or life stressors, thereby reducing the unnecessary use of health care resources, including inappropriate pharmacologic treatments," conclude the authors.
Source:Canadian Medical Association Journal 

Nutrient mixture improves memory in patients with early Alzheimer’s

A clinical trial of an Alzheimer’s disease treatment developed at MIT has found that the nutrient cocktail can improve memory in patients with early Alzheimer’s. The results confirm and expand the findings of an earlier trial of the nutritional supplement, which is designed to promote new connections between brain cells.
Alzheimer’s patients gradually lose those connections, known as synapses, leading to memory loss and other cognitive impairments. The supplement mixture, known as Souvenaid, appears to stimulate growth of new synapses, says Richard Wurtman, the Cecil H. Green Distinguished Professor Emeritus at MIT, who invented the nutrient mixture. 
“You want to improve the numbers of synapses, not by slowing their degradation — though of course you’d love to do that too — but rather by increasing the formation of the synapses,” Wurtman says.
To do that, Wurtman came up with a mixture of three naturally occurring dietary compounds: choline, uridine and the omega-3 fatty acid DHA. Choline can be found in meats, nuts and eggs, and omega-3 fatty acids are found in a variety of sources, including fish, eggs, flaxseed and meat from grass-fed animals. Uridine is produced by the liver and kidney, and is present in some foods as a component of RNA.
These nutrients are precursors to the lipid molecules that, along with specific proteins, make up brain-cell membranes, which form synapses. To be effective, all three precursors must be administered together.
Results of the clinical trial, conducted in Europe, appear in the July 10 online edition of the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease. The new findings are encouraging because very few clinical trials have produced consistent improvement in Alzheimer’s patients, says Jeffrey Cummings, director of the Cleveland Clinic’s Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health. 
“Memory loss is the central characteristic of Alzheimer’s, so something that improves memory would be of great interest,” says Cummings, who was not part of the research team.
Plans for commercial release of the supplement are not finalized, according to Nutricia, the company testing and marketing Souvenaid, but it will likely be available in Europe first. Nutricia is the specialized health care division of the food company Danone, known as Dannon in the United States.

Making connections

Wurtman first came up with the idea of targeting synapse loss to combat Alzheimer’s about 10 years ago. In animal studies, he showed that his dietary cocktail boosted the number of dendritic spines, or small outcroppings of neural membranes, found in brain cells. These spines are necessary to form new synapses between neurons. 
Following the successful animal studies, Philip Scheltens, director of the Alzheimer Center at VU University Medical Center in Amsterdam, led a clinical trial in Europe involving 225 patients with mild Alzheimer’s. The patients drank Souvenaid or a control beverage daily for three months. 
That study, first reported in 2008, found that 40 percent of patients who consumed the drink improved in a test of verbal memory, while 24 percent of patients who received the control drink improved their performance. 
The new study, performed in several European countries and overseen by Scheltens as principal investigator, followed 259 patients for six months. Patients, whether taking Souvenaid or a placebo, improved their verbal-memory performance for the first three months, but the placebo patients deteriorated during the following three months, while the Souvenaid patients continued to improve. For this trial, the researchers used more comprehensive memory tests taken from the neuropsychological test battery, often used to assess Alzheimer’s patients in clinical research.
Patients showed a very high compliance rate: About 97 percent of the patients followed the regimen throughout the study, and no serious side effects were seen.
Both clinical trials were sponsored by Nutricia. MIT has patented the mixture of nutrients used in the study, and Nutricia holds the exclusive license on the patent.

Brain patterns

In the new study, the researchers used electroencephalography (EEG) to measure how patients’ brain-activity patterns changed throughout the study. They found that as the trial went on, the brains of patients receiving the supplements started to shift from patterns typical of dementia to more normal patterns. Because EEG patterns reflect synaptic activity, this suggests that synaptic function increased following treatment, the researchers say.
Patients entering this study were in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease, averaging around 25 on a scale of dementia that ranges from 1 to 30, with 30 being normal. A previous trial found that the supplement cocktail does not work in patients with Alzheimer’s at a more advanced stage. This makes sense, Wurtman says, because patients with more advanced dementia have probably already lost many neurons, so they can’t form new synapses.
A two-year trial involving patients who don’t have Alzheimer’s, but who are starting to show mild cognitive impairment, is now underway. If the drink seems to help, it could be used in people who test positive for very early signs of Alzheimer’s, before symptoms appear, Wurtman says. Such tests, which include PET scanning of the hippocampus, are now rarely done because there are no good Alzheimer’s treatments available.
Source:MIT News

Mutation in gene IDH a possible target for AML treatment


Many patients with acute myeloid leukemia (AML) share a mutation in a gene called IDH. A University of Colorado Cancer Center study published this week in the journal Leukemia & Lymphoma shows that this IDH mutation may be the first domino in a chain that leads to a more aggressive form of the disease.“In fact, it’s not IDH itself that causes the problem,” says Dan Pollyea, MD, MS, investigator at the CU Cancer Center and assistant professor of hematologic oncology at the University of Colorado School of Medicine. Rather, the mutation in IDH leads to exponentially higher blood levels of a protein called 2-hydroxyglutarate. This protein “mucks up,” as Pollyea says, other genes that in turn promote cancer or fail to inhibit its growth.The recent study shows that AML patients in remission who retain high levels of 2-hydroxyglutarate – due universally to IDH mutation – are much more likely to relapse than patients without similarly elevated levels.The chain of causation includes another couple links.“2-hydroxyglutarate reduces genes’ ability to regulate themselves,” says Pollyea. Over time genes accumulate gunk in the form of methylation – these methyl groups attach to silence parts of gene promoters, helping to decide which genes are and are not turned into proteins. Too much methylation is associated with many cancers, including AML. And 2-hydroxyglutarate turns off one of the body’s methylation-regulating genes.So an IDH mutation leads to high 2-hydroxyglutarate, leads to bad gene regulation, leads to hypermethylation, leads to AML.Pollyea hopes to stop the first domino from falling by targeting IDH mutations. “Imagine screening for patients prospectively and then if they have the mutation, we could use something like an IDH inhibitor,” Pollyea says. Turn off this mutation and doctors may be able to turn of the disease, or at least its most aggressive characteristics.But the genetic testing for IDH mutation is currently costly and time consuming. And so Pollyea hopes to identify patients with the IDH mutation by looking downstream – tests for blood-levels of 2-hydroxyglutarate being developed at the CU Cancer Center could determine the patients most likely to benefit from an IDH inhibitor.Finally, Pollyea and colleagues including molecular biologist James DeGregori, PhD, are exploring novel ways to target the IDH mutation. “I think that even beyond the very real promise of IDH inhibitor drugs, this is a potential weak spot for AML that can be targeted in a number of ways,” Pollyea says.Pollyea also points out that IDH mutations were first discovered in brain tumors and have also been found in other cancers. A technique targeting IDH mutation in AML may have wide-ranging implications for a variety of cancers.
Source:Colorado Cancer Blogs

Thursday, 12 July 2012

Frankincense as an Alternative Medicine

The resin from the trunk of Boswellia trees contains anti-inflammatory substances, say scientists. The chair of Pharmaceutical and Medical Chemistry is convinced that these substances can be very beneficial in therapies against diseases like asthma, rheumatoid arthritis or atopic dermatitis.
However, so far the active substances in frankincense cannot at present be found in drugs in German pharmacies, as the pharmacological impact of frankincense hasn't been thoroughly investigated. "Although Boswellia resin has been used for thousands of years in the Ayurvedic medicine for instance, the clinical studies we have so far are not suffice for a license in Germany and Europe," Professor Werz explains.
But that could change. As part of a mutual project with partners of the University Saarbrücken and a start-up company, Professor Werz and his team examined the curative effect of frankincense. In this project the researchers were able to show where exactly the boswellic acids – which are responsible for the impact of the ingredients of the Boswellia resin – actually interfere in the process of inflammation. "Boswellic acids interact with several different proteins that are part of inflammatory reactions, but most of all with an enzyme which is responsible for the synthesis of prostaglandin E2," Oliver Werz points out. Prostaglandin E2 is one of the mediators of the immune response and plays a decisive role in the process of inflammation, in the development of fever and of pain. "Boswellic acids block this enzyme efficiently and thereby reduce the inflammatory reaction," the Jena pharmacist explains. With this, not only a targeted use in the therapy of inflammatory diseases is conceivable. It can also be expected that boswellic acids have less side effects than today's prevalent anti-inflammatory treatments like diclofenac or indometacin. Their impact is less specific, they can increase the risk of stomach ulcers and can negatively affect renal function.
In their latest study the researchers around Professor Werz additionally compared the resin of different kinds of frankincense in its anti-inflammatory impact. There are more than ten Boswellia species in the world. The most well-known and widely-used one is the Boswellia serrata from Northern and central India. "We were able to show that the resin of the Boswellia papyrifera is ten times more potent," Professor Werz explains a further result of his research. This species mostly occurs in the Northeast of Africa (Ethiopia, Somalia) and on the Arabian Peninsula (Yemen, Oman).
Whether frankincense will become accepted, is indeed not only due to the outcome of the clinical examination which is yet to come. "Boswellic acids exclusively occur in the resin of Boswellia trees and are very difficult to produce synthetically," Werz points out. Therefore these trees are the only source of these promising active ingredients. However Boswellia trees are already an endangered tree species. In many places they are just being used as heating fuel. "Thereby without sustained protection not only plant species are endangered but at the same time medicine loses promising active ingredients," Professor Werz warns.
Source-Eurekalert

 

Want To Know How You Would Look Like After 10 Years Of Downing Alcohol? Check Out A Mobile Application

Giving users an insight into how they will look after ten years of binge drinking is a chilling new phone application.
'The Drinking Machine' has been designed by forensic artist Auriole Price as a warning of the shocking effects of alcohol on the body.
By taking a photo and inputting your daily alcohol intake, the application shows how heavy drinking speeds up the process of ageing.
The unflattering pictures reveal the full effects of alcohol with the pictures showing bloated flushed cheeks and bloodshot eyes.
Initially designed for a Scottish Government health drive, the application is now available on iTunes for 69p.
"The main aim is to shock people into drinking just a little bit less. 'We are appealing to people's vanity as the effects of alcohol can include red, broken veins on the cheeks, bloodshot eyes, a bloated face and deeper wrinkles," the Daily Mail quoted Price as saying.
The app, which has been used on photographs of well-known celebrities, right from Angelina Jolie and Madonna to Tulisa showed them with bloated faces, haggard complexions and deep lines etched on the face acting to warn against over-indulgence of booze.
Source-ANI

 

Taking a Break for Lunch is Good for You

A recent poll of 1000 employees has found that nearly 60% do not take a break for lunch and eat at their desks everyday.
Grabbing a bite quickly at lunch on your desk and getting back to work might not be so good for you in the long run. One, it adversely affects health and two, you are working an additional 128 hours which is 16 days of work annually.  
The fear of losing ones job appears to be the overriding reason for this habit. Some others feel extremely guilty taking an hours break for lunch. 
Researchers advice people to actually enjoy that one hour break as it can bring health benefits as well as enhance productivity at the workplace.  
Source:Medindia




 

Obese kids as bright as thinner peers


Obesity is not to blame for poor educational performance, according to early findings from research funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC). In a study that combines statistical methods with genetic information, researchers dispel the false idea that being overweight has damaging educational consequences.
Previous studies have shown that children who are heavier are less likely to do well at school. However, Dr Stephanie von Hinke Kessler Scholder from University of York argues it's vital to understand what drives this association. "We sought to test whether obesity 'directly' hinders performance due to bullying or health problems, or whether kids who are obese do less well because of other factors that are associated with both obesity and lower exam results, such as coming from a disadvantaged family," Dr Scholder explains.
Researchers examined data on almost 4,000 members of the Children of the 90s Birth Cohort Study. These data include the children's DNA. It is well known that genes are randomly allocated within a population, irrespective of factors such as socio-economic position. The researchers combined the latest developments from genetic epidemiology with statistical methodologies in economic and econometric research. Using two carefully chosen 'genetic markers', the research team was able to identify children with a slightly higher genetic pre-disposition to obesity.
"Based on a simple correlation between children's obesity as measured by their fat mass and their exam results, we found that heavier children did do slightly worse in school," Dr Scholder points out. "But, when we used children's genetic markers to account for potentially other factors, we found no evidence that obesity causally affects exam results. So, we conclude that obesity is not a major factor affecting children's educational outcomes."
These findings suggest that the previously found negative relationship between weight and educational performance is driven by factors that affect both weight and educational attainment. Future research should focus on other determinants of poor educational outcomes, such as social class or a family's socio-economic circumstances, Dr Scholder points out.
The finding that obesity is not a cause of poorer educational performance is, the researchers suggest, a positive thing. "Clearly there are reasons why there are differences in educational outcomes, but our research shows that obesity is not one of them," Dr Scholder argues.Source:Economic & Social Research Council 

Is acetazolamide effective and safe for preventing acute mountain sickness?


Although acetazolamide is widely prescribed to prevent and treat acute mountain sickness (AMS), the appropriate dose at which it is effective and safe has not been clearly defined. A comprehensive review and meta-analysis of 24 studies comparing the efficacy and risks associated with increasing doses of acetazolamide is published in High Altitude Medicine & Biology, a peer-reviewed journal from Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., publishers (http://www.liebertpub.com). The article is available free online at the High Altitude Medicine & Biology(http://www.liebertpub.com/ham) website.
Bengt Kayser and colleagues, University of Geneva, Switzerland, reviewed the data compiled on more than 1,000 subjects and describe the relationship between efficacy in preventing and treating AMS, risk of side effects, and increasing drug dosages. They discuss their findings in the article "Reappraisal of Acetazolamide for the Prevention of Acute Mountain Sickness: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis (http://online.liebertpub.com/doi/full/10.1089/ham.2011.1084)."
Unless the baseline risk of AMS is high, as with rapid transport to high altitude (as opposed to a slow ascent), acetazolamide has limited effectiveness. Some side effects occur with even the lowest doses of the drug, whereas others appear to be dose-dependent. The authors suggest that treatment be tailored for the individual depending on AMS risk and acceptability of the most common side effects such as increased urination, numbness and tingling, and taste disturbance.
"This is a valuable contribution on the pros and cons of using the most important medication for preventing and treating acute mountain sickness," says John B. West, MD, PhD, Editor-in-Chief of High Altitude Medicine & Biology and Professor of Medicine at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine.
Source:Mary Ann Liebert, Inc./Genetic Engineering News 

Why did Steve Job's death affect people who never knew him?


The profound sense of loss and public mourning that followed the death of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs was a reflection of how great an impact he had on society and on the lives of individuals through the technology he helped to create. The magnitude and reasons for the outpouring of emotion upon his death by people who did not know him personally are explored in an article inCyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, a peer-reviewed journal published by Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., publishers (http://www.liebertpub.com). The article is available free online at theCyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking(http://www.liebertpub.com/cyber) website.
"Steve Jobs touched so many people because he dared to be different, he was unconventional, he was brilliant, and that, combined with his uncompromising nature, resulted in a company whose products had no peer," says Mary Ann Liebert, CEO and Publisher. "Very few of us know anyone like that personally, and when he died, a hero and a magician was gone."
"We'll Miss You Steve: How the Death of a Technology Innovator Emotionally Impacts Those Who Use and Love his Digital Devices (http://online.liebertpub.com/doi/full/10.1089/cyber.2011.0623)," reviews three studies that explore people's emotional connections to technology and even to a particular device and how that relationship may extend beyond the technology to feelings of personal connectedness and loss when the relationship ends.
Andrew Przybylski, University of Essex, Colchester, U.K., compares and discusses the findings of studies conducted during the weeks following Steve Jobs' death in October 2011. The studies evaluated the types of people most likely to be emotionally impacted and how their psychological link to Apple devices relates to their sadness and overall response to Jobs' passing.
Source:Mary Ann Liebert, Inc./Genetic Engineering News 

Stimulant marketed as 'natural' in sports supplement actually of synthetic origin


A new study published in the journal Drug Testing and Analysis found that DMAA, a stimulant often found in many nutritional and sports supplements, does not originate from natural substances and is actually comprised of synthetic compounds.
The substance DMAA (1,3-dimethylamylamine) is a stimulant existing in various pre-workout supplements and often labeled as part of geranium plants. The safety and origin of DMAA in these supplements is often the subject of intense debate and has been recently linked to the death of two U.S. soldiers, causing the Army to pull the supplement from its commissaries.
Researchers led by Daniel W. Armstrong, Ph.D., of the University of Texas at Arlington, set out to determine the unique isomeric ratios of synthetic substances (DMAA) and natural substances which are distinctly different and therefore can be used to distinguish between the two. Eight different geranium extracts of different geographical origins were examined for the presence of DMAA. No DMAA was found in any of the geranium extracts.
Results showed that the DMAA actually consists of 4 different compounds called stereoisomers and that the unique isomeric ratios in synthetic DMAA were the same as those found for the DMAA in all supplements. Thus, the DMAA in supplements could not have originated from the geranium plant.
"The FDA should regulate and/or ban products in which significant amounts of synthetic pharmacological compounds are added," Armstrong opined. "Also, this information should be clearly labeled – including their effects and possible side effects – so that consumers can make an informed choice.
Source:sciencenewsroom@wiley.com
Wiley 

Tannins in sorghum and benefits focus of university, USDA study


Genetic research a step forward in improved health, pharmaceuticals and nutritional values of plants

They might be called a blessing or a curse -- tannins, which are present in certain sorghums, contain health-promoting antioxidant properties, but also provide a bitter taste and decreased protein digestibility. To better understand tannins, their role in sorghum and how they can be altered to improve sorghum's use as food and feed, a team of scientists led by Kansas State University and U.S. Department of Agriculture researchers, has cloned the tannin gene in sorghum.
Tannins' high antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and UV-protective functions promote human health, plus recent studies show they can be a tool in fighting obesity because they reduce digestibility, said Jianming Yu, associate professor of agronomy at Kansas State University. Tannins in sorghum also provide a natural chemical defense against bird predation and bacterial and fungal attack in the field.
On the other hand, tannins provide a bitter taste to some foods and decrease protein digestibility and feed efficiency in humans and livestock.
The team was led by Yu, along with Tesfaye Tesso, Kansas State University sorghum breeder and associate professor of agronomy and Scott Bean, scientist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture-Agricultural Research Service (USDA-ARS) and adjunct faculty in the university's Department of Agronomy.
The researchers' study, "Presence of tannins in sorghum grains is conditioned by different natural alleles of Tannin1" was published in the June 26 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS).
Sorghum is an old-world cereal grass that serves as a dietary staple for more than 500 million people in more than 30 countries, Yu said. In 2011, the United States was the No. 1 exporter of sorghum on the world market and the No. 2 producer (behind Nigeria), according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. In 2011, Kansas produced 110.0 million bushels – 51 percent of the total U.S. crop. Sorghum production in the U.S., primarily for the feed industry, uses non-tannin sorghum hybrids.
Unlike many plants which employ C3 photosynthesis that uses water, carbon dioxide and solar energy to synthesize sugars, sorghum, which performs a modified form called C4 photosynthesis, has adapted to hot environments.
"One key reason to study tannins is to untangle their relationship with cold tolerance, a key agronomic trait to improve sorghum. The work is ongoing," said sorghum breeder Tesso. An earlier screening work found that a high proportion of cold tolerant sorghum lines contain tannins.
"Several other factors make tannins an important research subject," said Bean, noting their antioxidant capacity and relevant health benefits, their natural occurrence in some cereal crops, and their role in sorghum production. "Knowledge of tannins in biosynthesis pathways can be used to generate lines that produce high-content tannins in sorghum and other cereals to promote health through their unique nutritional properties."
This study, like many studies in recent years, benefits from work done several years ago on Arabidopsis, which are small flowering plants related to cabbage and mustard, said Yuye Wu, the first author and Kansas State University research associate of agronomy. "Many genes have been identified in Arabidopsis, through the mutational approach, but there is still much to be learned about the genetic control of tannins in cereal crops."
"This kind of genetic research in crops, coupled with nutritional and medical research, could open the possibility of producing different levels and combinations of phenolic compounds to promote human health," Yu said. What the researchers learn about tannins in sorghum will be beneficial to the future study of tannins in other plants, including some fruits, vegetables and a few other grains such as finger millets and barley.
Source:Kansas State University 

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Study Says Dogs may Protect Babies from Some Infections

Pet dogs may protect babies from ear infections and respiratory aliments, says study.
The study, published in the US journal Pediatrics, did not say why but suggested that being around a dog that spends at least part of its day outdoors may boost a child's immune system in the first year of life.
Cats, too, seemed to convey some protection to babies, though the effect observed was weaker than with dogs.
The research was based on 397 children in Finland whose parents made diary entries each week recording the state of their child's health during the infant's first year, from nine weeks to 52 weeks of age.
Overall, babies in homes with cats or dogs were about 30 percent less likely to have respiratory infectious symptoms -- which included cough, wheezing, rhinitis (stuffy or runny nose) and fever -- and about half as likely to get ear infections.
"If children had dog or cat contacts at home, they were significantly healthier during the study period," said the study led by experts at Kuopio University Hospital in Finland.
The most protective association was seen in children who had a dog inside at home for up to six hours a day, compared to children who did not have any dogs or who had dogs that were always outside.
"We offer preliminary evidence that dog ownership may be protective against respiratory tract infections during the first year of life," said the study.
"We speculate that animal contacts could help to mature the immunologic system, leading to more composed immunologic response and shorter duration of infections."
The improvement was significant, even after researchers ruled out other factors that could boost infection risk, such as not having been breastfed, attending daycare, being raised by smokers or parents with asthma, or having older siblings in the household.
In addition to having less frequent ear infections and respiratory infections, babies near dogs tended to need fewer courses of antibiotics compared to those who were reared in pet-free households, it said.
Previous research has shown conflicting results, with some studies finding no benefit for young children being around furry pets and others finding that animal contact appears to offer some protection against colds and stomach ailments.
The study authors said their research differs from previous analyses because it focuses solely on the first postnatal year and does not include older children.
Source-AFP


 

Weight loss resulting from a low-fat diet may help eliminate menopausal symptoms


Weight loss that occurs in conjunction with a low-fat, high fruit and vegetable diet may help to reduce or eliminate hot flashes and night sweats associated with menopause, according to a Kaiser Permanente Division of Research study that appears in the current issue ofMenopause.
This Women's Health Initiative study of 17,473 women found that women on a diet low in fat and high in whole grains, fruit and vegetables, who had menopausal symptoms, who were not taking hormone replacement therapy, and who lost weight (10 or more pounds or 10 or more percent of their baseline body weight) were more likely to reduce or eliminate hot flashes and night sweats after one year, compared to those in a control group who maintained their weight.
Many women experience hot flashes at some point before or after menopause, when their estrogen levels are declining, explain the researchers.
"While the mechanism is not completely understood, hot flashes and night sweats are thought to be caused by a complex interaction that involves fluctuating hormone levels, the hypothalamus region of the brain that regulates body temperature, brain chemicals and receptors, and the body's blood vessels and sweat glands," said Candyce Kroenke, ScD, MPH,a research scientist with the Kaiser Permanente Northern California Division of Research and lead author of the study.
Although previous research has shown that high body weight and weight gain are associated with hot flashes and night sweats associated with menopause, this study is the among the first -- and the largest-to-date -- to analyze whether weight loss on a diet designed to reduce fat and increase whole grains, fruit, and vegetable intake might ameliorate symptoms. It is also among the first to examine the influence of a dietary change on symptoms that include hot flashes and night sweats, said Kroenke.
"Since most women tend to gain weight with age, weight loss or weight gain prevention may offer a viable strategy to help eliminate hot flashes and night sweats associated with menopause," said Bette Caan, DrPH, a research scientist with the Kaiser Permanente Northern California Division of Research and the senior author of the study.
She explained that greater body fat provides insulation that may hinder heat loss, and hot flashes and night sweats provide a way to dissipate that heat.
"Weight loss, especially loss of fat mass but not lean mass, might also help alleviate hot flashes and night sweats," added Kroenke.
The investigators emphasize that further research is needed to better understand the relationship between diet, weight and hot flash/night sweat symptoms. They explain that the beneficial impact of a healthy diet alone (regardless of weight change) may also help ameliorate symptoms.
This study follows a related study published in March in the Journal of Clinical Oncology in which Kaiser Permanente researchers found that preventing weight gain after a breast cancer diagnosis may offer a viable intervention for relief of hot flashes. The researchers noted that intentional weight loss in breast cancer survivors requires further study.
The Women's Health Initiative Dietary Modification trial enrolled a diverse group of 48,835 post-menopausal women between 1993 and 1998 at 40 United States clinical centers to evaluate the effects of a low-fat dietary pattern on heart disease, breast and colorectal cancer, and fracture in postmenopausal women. The dietary intervention was aimed at reducing fat intake and increasing fruit, vegetable, and whole grain intake. Although weight loss was not a goal, participants assigned to the intervention group lost on average 4.5 pounds between baseline and year one, compared to the control group.
Source:Eurekalert

Identifying risky behaviors: The key to HIV prevention


HIV prevention must be better targeted, according to David Holtgrave from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in the US, and colleagues. Health care professionals need a more detailed analysis and understanding of the interplay between HIV risk behavior, access to treatment and treatment success among those living with HIV. The authors discuss their proposed framework in a study¹ in a special issue of Springer's journal AIDS and Behavior. The special issue, "Turning the Tide Together: Advances in Behavioral Interventions Research"² is freely available online and will be published in July to coincide with the XIX International AIDS Conference in Washington, DC, from 22 – 27 July 2012.
The National Institutes of Health recently reported a major breakthrough in the fight against HIV. Research showed that treating individuals with HIV with anti-retroviral therapy—so called 'treatment as prevention'—could reduce the risk of transmission of the virus to healthy heterosexual partners by up to 96 percent. Although these results have been heralded as "the beginning of the end of AIDS," the research finds that this treatment needs to take a wider perspective and consider the full range of HIV-risk behaviors.
Holtgrave and colleagues' paper identifies the critical role that HIV-related risk behavior plays in determining the ultimate impact of treatment as prevention. The authors describe the size of the population at risk for HIV and identify three subgroups of people living with the disease. These subgroups include: those who are unaware of their serostatus; those who are aware of their status and do not engage in risky behavior; and those who are aware of their serostatus and are engaging in risky behavior. While all of the subgroups may transmit the virus, they vary considerably in terms of awareness of their serostatus and risk behaviors, as well as the rate at which they could transmit HIV.
For each of these subgroups the researchers identified the most relevant approach: 'testing and linkage to care'; 'treatment as prevention'; and/or 'treatment as clinical care'. They note that the impact 'treatment as prevention' might have on the spread of HIV will depend heavily on which subgroup is targeted for this approach.
The authors conclude, "The framework we describe helps us to move more toward 'complementary prevention' in which the best interventions from all domains are chosen to address clients' specific clinical needs and to address public health needs of averting new infections. HIV prevention needs an approach that is truly synergistic, resulting in an effect that is more than the sum of the intervention's parts.
Source:Springer Science+Business Media 

Researchers determine structure of 'batteries' of the biological clock

Howard Hughes Medical Institute scientists have determined the three-dimensional structure of two proteins that help keep the body's clocks in sync. The proteins, CLOCK and BMAL1, bind to each other to regulate the activity of thousands of genes whose expression fluctuates throughout the course of a day. Knowing the structure of the CLOCK:BMAL1 complex will help researchers understand the intricacies of how this regulation is carried out and how mutations in each protein lead the biological clock to go awry.
Every 24 hours, millions of 'clocks' inside of our cells reset, helping to tune sleep patterns, blood pressure, and metabolism. When CLOCK and BMAL1 bind to one another inside cells, they initiate the first genetic events that coordinate this 24-hour cycle. "CLOCK and BMAL1 are really the batteries of the biological clock," says HHMI investigator Joseph S. Takahashi of the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, whose findings on the CLOCK:BMAL1 structure are published in the May 31, 2012, online version of the journal Science. "They are the key activators of the whole genomic regulation system."
The Clock gene was the first mammalian gene found to contribute to the body's circadian rhythms. Takahashi's team published the initial data on the Clock gene in a series of papers spanning 1994 to 1997. Since then, they've uncovered hundreds to thousands of genes under the control of CLOCK that fluctuate in sync with the biological clock in mammals.
"What's amazing is that we've now found out that almost every cell in your body has a clock," says Takahashi. "Over the past five years, the role of those clocks in peripheral tissues has really come to the forefront."
Researchers studying circadian rhythms have used biochemistry and genetics to piece together rough outlines of how each circadian protein interacts with CLOCK. But until now, they'd never been able to visualize the detailed molecular structure of the CLOCK protein. Seeing such a structure would allow them to visualize how different proteins can bind to CLOCK at the same time, or compete for binding spots, and how mutations known to alter circadian rhythms affect this binding.
Takahashi notes that CLOCK and BMAL1 are part of a large family of proteins, known as bHLH-PAS proteins (a name that refers to both to the shape of the protein and some better known members of the family), involved in functions ranging from responding to environmental contaminants and low-oxygen levels to the creation of new nerve cells. "It's not just CLOCK for which we didn't have a structure," says Takahashi. "This class of protein had never been solved at the crystallographic level before."
Takahashi explained that researchers had struggled to generate circadian proteins in the crystalline form necessary to determine structure using x-ray crystallography, but by experimenting with different conditions, his team was able to purify CLOCK bound to BMAL1. Rather than use the full-length version of each protein, they created a version consisting of only the pieces known to interact with each other. Having shorter proteins made the process easier.
The scientists discovered that CLOCK and BMAL1, when together, are closely intertwined. CLOCK has a groove in the center of its interface that's key to binding. A single amino acid of BMAL1 fits perfectly into the groove. Other proteins that bind to CLOCK likely take advantage of the same spot. Future research will look into the exact positions in which other circadian rhythm proteins bind to the complex, and how mutations to each protein affect the structure.
"Since these are truncated versions of the proteins, what we'd really like to do is to go on to get full-length structures," says Takahashi. They also want to understand how the Cryptochrome and Period proteins that turn off the activity of CLOCK bind to the CLOCK:BMAL1 complex. But that will take time.
Source:Howard Hughes Medical Institute 

The role of dopamine in sleep regulation


A group of Spanish researchers has discovered a new function of the neurotransmitter dopamine in controlling sleep regulation. Dopamine acts in the pineal gland, which is central to dictating the 'circadian rhythm' in humans—the series of biological processes that enables brain activity to adapt to the time of the day (that is, light and dark cycles). The researchers, from the CIBERNED (Centro de Investigación Biomédica en Red de Enfermedades Neurodegenerativas), dependant on the Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness through the Carlos III Health Institute, and from the Faculty of Biology of the University of Barcelona, publish their findings 19 June in the open-access journal PLoS Biology.
All animals respond to cycles of light and dark with various patterns in sleeping, feeding, body temperature alterations, and other biological functions. The pineal gland translates the light signals received by the retina into a language understandable to the rest of the body, for example through the synthesis of the hormone melatonin, which is produced and released at night and which helps to regulate the body's metabolic activity during sleep.
Another hormone, norepinephrine, is involved in regulating this synthesis and release of melatonin in the pineal gland. The functions of norepinephrine are carried out via binding to its receptors in the membranes of cells. It was long believed that these norepinephrine receptors all acted independently of other proteins, but in the new study, researchers have discovered that this is not the case. In fact, the receptors collaborate with other dopamine receptors forming 'heteromers'.
When dopamine then interacts with its receptors, it inhibits the effects of norepinephrine—which means a decrease in the production and release of melatonin. Interestingly, the researchers found that these dopamine receptors only appear in the pineal gland towards the end of the night, as the dark period closes. Therefore, the researchers conclude, the formation of these heteromers is an effective mechanism to stop melatonin production when the day begins and to 'wake up' the brain.
"These results are interesting as they demonstrate a mechanism in which dopamine, normally increased at times of stimulation, can directly inhibit production and release of a molecule, melatonin, that induces drowsiness and prepares the body for sleep," explained Dr McCormick.
The discovery of this new function of dopamine could be extremely useful when designing new treatments to help mitigate circadian rhythm disturbances, such as those related to jet lag, those found among people who work at night, and in cases of sleep disorders in general which, according to the World Health Organisation, affect 40% of the world's population. Circadian rhythm disturbances can also produce alterations in body mass index, and can lead to behavioural disorders that affect 1 in 4 people at least once in their lifetime, in which melatonin levels are related.
Source:Public Library of Science,By:Bryan Ghosh 

Include Ayurveda plea seeks Antony intervention

The Ayurvedic sector and doctors fraternity have launched a mass online campaign to petition Defence Minister AK Antony to protest the decision of the armed  forces against reimbursing  treatment cost incurred by  jawans under Ayurvedic and other systems of medicines.The Ayurvedic sector took the unprecedented decision after the Director General of Armed Forces Medical Services (DG-AFMS) told the Delhi High Court recently that, except allopathic system, other systems of medicine could not be recognised for reimbursement.The DGAFMS, representing all the three forces — Army, Navy and Air Force — was responding to a directive of the Delhi HC to “positively” consider re-imbursement of Ayurvedic treatment expenses of PV Manesh, the NSG Commando who was wounded in the 26/11 Mumbai terror attack.Manesh, who suffered right side-paralysis after discharge from different Army hospitals, is now recovering and has started walking, thanks to 15-month-long Ayurvedic treatment, which costs him `4,000 per month.“The ‘Include Ayurveda’ petition demands the intervention of the Defence Minister  and the chiefs of Staff of the Army, Navy, and Air Force to constitute a special committee/ task-force made up of relevant stakeholders from within the armed forces as well as from the Ayurveda medical services sector to formulate clear guidelines by December 31, 2012 for inclusion of Ayurveda under authorised medical reimbursement for (serving and retired) members of the Indian armed forces and implement the same by March 31, 2013,” said the online petition launched by Ayurvedic fraternity.The Pioneer in its July 20, 2011 edition first reported the plight of the NSG commando Manesh, who was in comma for six months, after three shrapnel from the grenade thrown by terrorists pierced his head.Manesh, who got Shaurya Chakra for his courageous role in rescuing 40 inmates from   Hotel Oberoi on the late night of November 27, 2008, was wheelchair-bound when he was discharged after allopathic treatments at Delhi and Mumbai army hospitals.For the past two years, he underwent Ayurveda treatment, which has brought him back on his legs and he could now walk slowly. Every month twice he had to travel 300 kilometres to a well-known private Ayruveda Hospital in Palakad district. His monthly Ayurvedic medicine expenses come about `4,000. But the ‘blind’ laws of the Army came in the way of re-imbursement of treatment, which he needed for life.After The Pioneer report, a public interest litigation was filed by Advocate Arjun Harkauli at Delhi High Court. Hearing the fate of the brave commando, last year in August  then Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justice Sanjiv Khanna directed the Health Ministry, Defence Ministry, Army, Navy and Air Force to take “positive”  approach in the matter .The Bench also reminded the Government and forces about the Central Government’s National Policy on Indian System of Medicines and Homoeopathy-2002 and observed that all Central Government employees are eligible for re-imbursement under other systems of medicines.Ignoring the court’s three months time limit, DG-AFMS replied to the court after eight months that except allopathic system, no other medical stream is agreeable to them.“The issue of introduction of Indian systems of medicine in the Armed Forces has repeatedly been considered and not agreed to due to valid scientific reasons. …The process in the AFMS is monitored very closely by allopathic qualified doctors, which form the hierarchy. The Indian systems of medicine are completely different and the monitoring progress of patients is outside the purview of allopathic system. Any deficiency or resultant complications would lead to legal problems,” said Lt Gen Mandeep Singh, DG-AFMS.Countering the “negative stand” of the three forces, the online petition launched by Ayurvedic fraternity said:  “Rather than consider the Delhi High Court’s directive as a welcome opportunity to seriously consider how Ayurveda can be co-opted in the overall scheme of medical care provision for the armed forces of India, the DG-AFMS has blatantly ignored Ayurveda medical science and its time tested therapeutic capabilities as well as potential health benefits to the primary stakeholder — the Indian armed forces personnel and their families.”
Source:the pioneer 

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