Watch Online the Live Sessions of ISWWTA 2015 Rishikesh on Youtube.Visit:
Previous issues of AYUSH DARPAN in Hindi is now available online visit:

Search Engine

Saturday, 8 September 2012

Gene Defect Responsible for Cancer Syndrome Discovered

Researchers have identified germline BAP1 mutations linked to a novel cancer syndrome. Germline mutations are hereditary gene defects that are present in every cell. 
The study investigated two unrelated families with BAP1 defects and found an increase in the occurrence of mole-like melanocytic tumors that are non-cancerous flat or slightly elevated and pigmented skin lesions. These benign skin lesions were found to carry the BAP1 mutation and it was concluded that people with this specific type of melanocytic lesion are at higher risk of developing melanoma and mesothelioma.
This discovery provides physicians with a visual marker in identifying individuals that may carry germline BAP1 mutations. People having this syndrome should reduce their exposure to environmental risk factors such as UV radiation for melanoma and avoid erionite and asbestos exposure for mesothelioma. It will also help identify individuals who are at higher risk for melanomas which is usually cured with timely detection and to assist in the early detection of mesothelioma which typically leads to better prognosis. 

"Identifying this gene as a cause of several cancers can tell us who is at risk in a family before the cancer develops," said Michele Carbone, MD, PhD, director of the UH Cancer Center and professor of pathology, John A. Burns School of Medicine. "We can advise patients to undergo routine exams and genetic testing for early diagnoses and treatment." Carbone is the leading author of the paper included in the August 30, 2012 issue of the Journal of Translational Medicine, published by BioMed Central. 
This novel gene-testing has been patented by Carbone and colleagues and is performed exclusively at The Queen's Medical Center in Honolulu, Hawaii where they receive genetic samples from across the entire United States. Carbone previously discovered that individuals who carry BAP1 mutations are susceptible to developing mesothelioma and melanoma of the eye. This latest discovery builds on this and other research on the BAP1 mutation. 

Link Between Prenatal Pesticide Exposure and Childhood Cough Explored

Prenatal exposure to the widely used pesticide additive piperonyl butoxide (PBO) is associated with increased risk of noninfectious cough at ages 5 and 6, reveals study. 
The findings, which appear in the August 31 online edition of the journal Environment International, support the premise that the children's respiratory system is susceptible to damage from toxic exposures during the prenatal period. A common symptom, childhood cough can disrupt normal daytime activities and interrupt sleep for both child and parent.
Piperonyl butoxide (PBO) is an organic compound used to bolster the effects of pyrethroid pesticides. Pyrethroids are the most commonly used pesticides for both professional pest control and non-professional residential use, according to a 2011 study by Mailman School researchers. Exposure to one pyrethroid, a variation of permethrin, was linked with increased risk for cough by age 5 in a 2009 study by Rachel Miller, MD. In the current study, Dr. Miller and colleagues sought to build on these findings by exploring the effects of subsequent exposure during childhood, looking specifically at the effects of PBO exposure. 

Researchers looked at 224 mother-child pairs enrolled in the CCCEH birth cohort study of environmental exposures, examining measures of PBO and pyrethroid in personal air monitors worn by the mothers during pregnancy. Air samples also were collected from the home over the course of two weeks when children were between 5 and 6 years old. Questionnaires were used to evaluate respiratory outcomes. 
Researchers found that children exposed to PBO during pregnancy had increased odds of reporting cough unrelated to cold or flu. Exposures to PBO during childhood were not a factor. There was no observed association between prenatal or childhood permethrin exposure and cough, something the researchers say may be explained by the fact that PBO is much easier to measure in air samples than permethrin. There was also no association with PBO or permethrin exposure and other respiratory outcomes like wheeze or asthma. While it is unclear whether the effect is due mainly to PBO itself or residential pyrethroids of which PBO is an indicator, it is important to remember, says Dr. Miller, that "these exposures may be a factor in a very common problem for children—cough." 


Childhood sexual abuse linked to later heart attacks in men

Men who experienced childhood sexual abuse are three times more likely to have a heart attack than men who were not sexually abused as children, according to a new study from researchers at the University of Toronto. The researchers found no association between childhood sexual abuse and heart attacks among women.In a paper published online this week in the journal Child Abuse & Neglect, investigators examined gender-specific differences in a representative sample of 5095 men and 7768 women aged 18 and over, drawn from the Center for Disease Control’s 2010 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance Survey. A total of 57 men and 154 women reported being sexually abused by someone close to them before they turned 18 and 377 men and 285 women said that a doctor, nurse or other health professional had diagnosed them with a heart attack or myocardial infarction. The study was co-authored by four graduate students at the University of Toronto, Raluca Bejan, John Hunter, Tamara Grundland and Sarah Brennenstuhl.“Men who reported they were sexually abused during childhood were particularly vulnerable to having a heart attack later in life,” says lead author Esme Fuller-Thomson, Professor and Sandra Rotman Chair at University of Toronto’s Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work. “We had expected that the abuse-heart attack link would be due to unhealthy behaviors in sexual abuse survivors, such as higher rates of alcohol use or smoking, or increased levels of general stress and poverty in adulthood when compared to non-abused males. However, we adjusted statistically for 15 potential risk factors for heart attack, including age, race, obesity, smoking, physical inactivity, diabetes mellitus, education level and household income, and still found a three-fold risk of heart attack.”Co-author and PhD candidate Sarah Brennenstuhl notes that, “It is unclear why sexually abused men, but not women, experienced higher odds of heart attack; however, the results suggest that the pathways linking childhood sexual abuse to physical health outcomes in later life may be gender-specific. For example, it is possible that females adopt different coping strategies than males as women are more likely to get the support and counselling needed to deal with their sexual abuse.”“These findings need to be replicated in future scientific studies before we can say anything definitive about this link,” cautions Fuller-Thomson. “But if other researchers find a similar association, one possible explanation is that adverse child experiences become biologically embedded in the way individuals react to stress throughout their life, particularly with respect to the production of cortisol, the hormone associated with the “fight-or-flight” response. Cortisol is also implicated in the development of cardiovascular diseases.
Source:University of Toranto

In M.P. Ayush docs stir enters second day

 The statewide indefinite strike of Ayush doctors comprising ayurveda, yoga, unani, sidda and homoeopathy practitioners entered the second day on Thursday. Protesting against the alleged indifferent attitude of the state government, Ayush doctors are demanding better pay scale and filling of vacant posts. However, refuting the impact of the strike health officials said that services in Ayurveda and Homeopathic hospitals functioned as normal.
"The Ayush department has failed to utilise a budget of Rs 18 crore and vacant posts have not been filled despite assurances from the government," said AYUSH doctors association state president Dr Ajay Awasthi. "We have received support from some 24,000 Ayush doctors in the state," he added.

More grandparents fill caregiver role

Grandparents, an increasingly important source of child care in the United States, vary greatly in the kind of care they provide, depending on their age, resources, and the needs of their children, research at the University of Chicago shows.
A new UChicago study, based on a National Institute on Aging survey, shows that 60 percent of grandparents provided some care for their grandchildren during a 10-year period, and 70 percent of those who did provided care for two years or more.
The results mirror recent U.S. Census data showing the importance of grandparents in child care. The 2010 Census reported that 8 percent of grandparents live with their grandchildren, and 2.7 million grandparents are responsible for most of their grandchildren's needs. In 2006, 2.4 million grandparents had that responsibility.
Additionally, grandparents are the primary source of child care for 30 percent of mothers who work and have children under the age of five, a Census survey showed. The UChicago study explores the diversity in the kinds of care provided by grandparents.
"Our findings show that different groups of grandparents are likely to provide different types of care. Importantly grandparents with less income and less education, or who are from minority groups, are more likely to take on care for their grandchildren," said Linda Waite, the Lucy Flower Professor in Sociology at UChicago and an expert on aging.
The study found that while minority, low-income grandparents were more likely to head households with grandchildren, most grandparents provided some kind of care for their grandchildren.
The research is based on one of the most comprehensive surveys done on grandparenting, the 1998-2008 Health and Retirement Study supported by the National Institute on Aging. The longitudinal study interviewed 13,614 grandparents, aged 50 and older, at two-year intervals over the period to determine their level of care-giving.
The results are published in the paper, "Grandparents Providing Care to Grandchildren: A Population-Based Study of Continuity and Change," published in the September issue of the Journal of Family Issues. Waite is an author of the paper.
The paper looks at a variety of forms of grandparent care — multi-generational households, in which a grandparent lives with a child and grandchildren; and skipped generation households, in which a grandparent heads the household caring for grandchildren without their parents being present.
Among the paper's findings are:
  • African American and Hispanic grandparents are more likely than whites to begin and continue a multi-generation household or start a skipped generation household.
  • African American grandparents are more likely to start a skipped generation household. Hispanic grandparents are more likely to start a multi-generational household.
  • Grandparents with more education and better incomes were more likely to provide babysitting, Waite said.
  • Grandmothers are more likely than grandfathers to provide babysitting. Grandparents who are married are more likely to begin and continue babysitting, however.
  • Grandparents are less likely to provide care if they have minor children of their own at home.
  • Grandparents least likely to provide care are older, unmarried and less likely to be working.
The findings have implications for public policy, Waite pointed out, as child welfare agencies are increasingly depending on family members, particularly grandparents, to provide care to children when parents cannot. The Census figures show that 60 percent of the grandparents caring for their grandchildren also are in the labor force.
"Day care assistance may be particularly needed by middle-aged grandparents who are juggling multiple role obligations — as parent, a grandparent and a paid employee," Waite wrote.
Source:University of Chicago 

Health-care costs at end of life exceed total assets for 25 percent of Medicare population

As many as a quarter of Medicare recipients spend more than the total value of their assets on out-of-pocket health care expenses during the last five years of their lives, according to researchers at Mount Sinai School of Medicine. They found that 43 percent of Medicare recipients spend more than their total assets minus the value of their primary residences. The findings appear online in the current issue of the Journal of General Internal Medicine.
The amount of spending varied with the patient's illness. Those with dementia or Alzheimer's disease spent the most for health care, averaging $66,155, or more than twice that of patients with gastrointestinal disease or cancer, who spent an average of $31,069. Dementia patients often require special living arrangements, which accounts for the sizeable difference in cost.
"Medicare provides a significant amount of health care coverage to people over 65, but it does not cover co-payments, deductibles, homecare services, or non-rehabilitative nursing home care," said the study's lead author, Amy S. Kelley, MD, Assistant Professor of Geriatrics and Palliative Medicine at Mount Sinai School of Medicine. "I think a lot of people will be surprised by how high these out-of-pocket costs are in the last years of life."
The researchers based their findings on 2002-2008 data that was collected from the Health and Retirement Study, a biennial survey of 26,000 Americans over the age of 50, which is supported by the National Institute on Aging, and the Social Security Administration. They examined 3,209 Medicare recipients during their last five years of life, and compared their out-of-pocket health care expenditures with their total household assets. The study found that the average spending for all participants was $38,688, with more than 75 percent of households spending at least $10,000. The top quarter of participants spent an average of $101,791.
"There are a number of schools of thought on how to rein in Medicare costs, including requiring larger financial contributions from the elderly," said Dr. Kelley. "Prior to this study there was not a lot of data on the extent of out-of-pocket spending. This information can serve as an important tool to help individuals set realistic expectations for end-of-life health care costs, and for government officials to use in discussing Medicare policies."
Source:The Mount Sinai Hospital / Mount Sinai School of Medicine 

Friday, 7 September 2012

Half of women may have sleep apnea: study

Fully half of the 400 women given overnight sleep tests in a new Swedish study turned out to have mild-to-severe sleep apnea.In the random population sample of adult women who answered a questionnaire and were monitored while sleeping, half experienced at least five episodes an hour when they stopped breathing for longer than 10 seconds, the minimum definition of sleep apnea.Among women with hypertension or who were obese - two risk factors for sleep apnea - the numbers were even higher, reaching 80 to 84 percent of women.Many of the women in the study represent mild cases of sleep apnea."How important is the mild sleep apnea, we don't know," said Dr. Karl Franklin, the lead author of the study and a professor at Umea University in Sweden.Terry Young, a professor in the School of Medicine and Public Health at the University of Wisconsin, said mild sleep apnea is important to pay attention to."We see that it doesn't go away and it gets worse," she said.Sleep apnea is tied to a higher risk of stroke, heart attack and early death.One recent study also found that women who have sleep apnea are more likely to develop memory problems and dementia (see Reuters Health story of August 9, 2011).Franklin said his group wanted to get updated evidence of how common the condition is.The researchers selected 400 women between the ages of 20 and 70 from a larger population sample of 10,000, and asked them to sleep overnight at home with sensors attached to their bodies.The sensors measured heart rate, eye and leg movements, blood oxygen levels, air flow and brain waves.Each apnea event was defined by at a least a 10-second pause in breathing accompanied by a drop in blood oxygen levels.Women who had an average of five or more of these events during each hour of sleep were considered to have sleep apnea.The study, which was funded by the Swedish Heart Lung Foundation, found that apnea became more common in the older age groups.Among women aged 20-44, one quarter had sleep apnea, compared to 56 percent of women aged 45-54 and 75 percent of women aged 55-70.Young said these numbers are higher than her own estimate, but that's likely because she used a more strict definition of sleep apnea than Franklin's group.Franklin also said his equipment, being newer, is more sensitive in detecting interruptions in breathing.Severe sleep apnea, which involves more than 30 breathing disruptions per hour, was far less common.Just 4.6 percent of women 45-54 and 14 percent of women 55-70 had severe cases.Among women of all ages with hypertension, 14 percent had severe sleep apnea, and among women who were obese, 19 percent had severe apnea.Franklin said that if physicians are looking for sleep apnea among women, examining those who are obese, over 55 or have hypertension is a good place to start.Young said sleep apnea is often thought of as a condition of men, but identifying women with it is especially beneficial, because her research has shown that women are good at sticking with treatment."The prejudice of excluding women (as potentially having sleep apnea) has been rampant for a long time. It's gotten better, however, and the (public health) gain in identifying women with sleep apnea is great," she said.
Source:Reutre's Health

'Fitness and fatness': Not all obese people have the same prognosis

Second study sheds light on the 'obesity paradox'

People can be obese but metabolically healthy and fit, with no greater risk of developing or dying from cardiovascular disease or cancer than normal weight people, according to the largest study ever to have investigated this, which is published online today (Wednesday) in the European Heart Journal [1].
The findings show there is a subset of obese people who are metabolically healthy – they don't suffer from conditions such as insulin resistance, diabetes and high cholesterol or blood pressure – and who have a higher level of fitness, as measured by how well the heart and lungs perform, than other obese people. Being obese does not seem to have a detrimental effect on their health, and doctors should bear this in mind when considering what, if any, interventions are required, say the researchers.
"It is well known that obesity is linked to a large number of chronic disease such as cardiovascular problems and cancer. However, there appears to be a sub-set of obese people who seem to be protected from obesity-related metabolic complications," said the first author of the study, Dr Francisco Ortega (PhD). "They may have greater cardio-respiratory fitness than other obese individuals, but, until now, it was not known the extent to which these metabolically healthy but obese people are at lower risk of diseases or premature death."
Dr Ortega is currently a research associate affiliated to the Department of Physical Activity and Sport, University of Granada (Spain), and at the Department of Biosciences and Nutrition, Karolinska Institutet (Stockholm, Sweden); but the project and investigation took place at the University of South Carolina (Columbia, USA) under the direction of Professor Steven Blair, who is responsible for the long-running "Aerobics Center Longitudinal Study" (ACLS) which provided the 43,265 participants for this current analysis.
The participants were recruited to the ACLS between 1979 and 2003. They completed a detailed questionnaire, including information on their medical and lifestyle history, and they had a physical examination that included a treadmill test to assess cardio-respiratory fitness and measurements of height, weight, waist circumference, and their percentage of body fat. Body fat percentage (BF%) was measured either by calculating the amount of water displaced when the person was completely submerged (the method that is considered the most accurate), or by taking the sum of seven skin fold measures (when folds of skin are pinched between measurement callipers). Blood pressure, cholesterol and fasting glucose levels were also measured. The study participants were followed until they died or until the end of 2003.
Dr Ortega and his colleagues found that 46% of the obese participants were metabolically healthy. After adjusting for several confounding factors, including fitness, the metabolically healthy but obese people had a 38% lower risk of death from any cause than their metabolically unhealthy obese peers, while no significant difference was seen between the metabolically healthy but obese and the metabolically healthy, normal weight participants. The risk of developing or dying from cardiovascular disease or cancer was reduced by between 30-50% for the metabolically healthy but obese people, and there were no significant differences observed between them and the metabolically healthy, normal weight participants.
"Our study suggests that metabolically healthy but obese people have a better fitness level than the rest of obese individuals. Based on the data that our group and others have collected over years, we believe that getting more exercise broadly and positively influences major body systems and organs and consequently contributes to make someone metabolically healthier, including obese people. In our study, we measure fitness, which is largely influenced by exercise," said Dr Ortega.
"There are two major findings derived from our study. Firstly, a better cardio-respiratory fitness level should be considered from now on as a characteristic of this subset of metabolically healthy obese people. Secondly, once fitness is accounted for, our study shows for the first time that metabolically healthy but obese individuals have similar prognosis as metabolically healthy normal-weight individuals, and a better prognosis than their obese peers with an abnormal metabolic profile."
The researchers say their findings have important clinical implications. "Our data suggest that accurate BF% and fitness assessment can contribute to properly define a subset of obese individuals who do not have an elevated risk of CVD [cardiovascular disease] or cancer," they write.
Dr Ortega added: "Physician should take into consideration that not all obese people have the same prognosis. Physician could assess fitness, fatness and metabolic markers to do a better estimation of the risk of cardiovascular disease and cancer of obese patients. Our data support the idea that interventions might be more urgently needed in metabolically unhealthy and unfit obese people, since they are at a higher risk. This research highlights once again the important role of physical fitness as a health marker."
A second study [2], which analysed data from over 64,000 patients on the Swedish Coronary Angiography and Angioplasty registry, has provided further evidence for a phenomenon known as the "obesity paradox", whereby once someone has developed heart disease, they have a reduced risk of dying if they are overweight or obese, while underweight and normal weight patients have an increased risk.
The researchers looked at 64,436 patients who had developed acute coronary syndromes (ACS) such as unstable angina and myocardial infarction (heart attacks) and who underwent coronary angiography (a specialised x-ray test to discover detailed information about the condition of a patient's coronary arteries) between May 2005 and December 2008.
Dr Oskar Angerås, consultant cardiologist and PhD student at the Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg (Gothenburg, Sweden) who led the research, explained: "We found that patients who were underweight with a body mass index (BMI) of less than 18.5 kg/m2 had the greatest risk of dying. Their risk was double that of normal weight patients, who had a BMI of between 21 and 23.5 kg/m2. Compared to the group with lowest risk – those with a BMI of 26.5 to 28 kg/m2, they had three times the risk of death."
The researchers found that the relation between BMI and mortality was U-shaped. "Those with the lowest risk of death were overweight and obese patients with BMIs ranging from 26.5 to about 35 kg/m2. The highest risk was found among underweight and morbidly obese patients, that is those with a BMI above 40 kg/m2," said Dr Angerås.
It is well known that maintaining a healthy weight is one of the ways to avoid developing heart problems. However, the researchers say that advice to lose weight has been extended to overweight and obese patients who have already developed heart problems, despite limited scientific evidence that this helps. As a result of their findings, the authors write: "We believe that no evidence exists that proves weight reduction in itself has a positive prognostic value after ACSs. Actually some evidence suggests that weight loss after ACSs might in fact have a negative effect. We believe that given the current state of our knowledge, obesity paradox requires much more attention and deserves to be recognized in the guidelines."
In an accompanying editorial on both papers [3], Stephan von Haehling, Oliver Hartmann and Stefan Anker conclude: "The available studies, together with previously published study data, permit the conclusion that weight loss in patients with chronic illness and a BMI <40 span="span" style="background-color: white;">kg/m2 is always bad, and in fact not a single study exists to suggest that weight loss in chronic illness makes patients live longer. In this context, fat tissue has several beneficial effects, for example in its action as an endocrine organ, but also, nevertheless, as an aid in protecting against hip fracture. Obesity may carry benefit up to a certain degree, and it should be recognized that obesity is not necessarily associated with abnormal metabolic function."
 Source:European Society of Cardiology 

Human genome far more active than thought

The GENCODE Consortium expects the human genome has twice as many genes than previously thought, many of which might have a role in cellular control and could be important in human disease. This remarkable discovery comes from the GENCODE Consortium, which has done a painstaking and skilled review of available data on gene activity.
Among their discoveries, the team describe more than 10,000 novel genes, identify genes that have 'died' and others that are being resurrected. The GENCODE Consortium reference gene catalogue has been one of the underpinnings of the larger ENCODE Project and will be essential for the full understanding of the role of our genes in disease.
The GENCODE Consortium is part of the ENCODE Project that, today, publishes 30 research papers describing findings from their nearly decade-long effort to describe comprehensively all the active regions of our human genome. ENCODE was launched in 2003 after the completion of the Human Genome Project, and brought together an international group of scientists tasked with identifying and describing all functional regions of the human genome sequence.
"We have uncovered a staggering array of genes in our genome, simply because we can examine many genomes in a detail that was not possible a decade ago," says Dr Jennifer Harrow, GENCODE principle investigator from the Wellcome Sanger Institute. "As sequencing technology improves, so we have much more data to explore.
"But our work remains a skilled effort to annotate correctly our human genome – or, more precisely, our human genomes, for each of us differ. These vast texts of genetic information will not give up their secrets easily. GENCODE has made amazing strides to enable immediate access of its reference gene set by other researchers."
The team more accurately described the genes that contain the genetic code to make proteins: they found 20,687 such protein-coding genes, a value that has not changed greatly from previous work. The new set captures far more of the alternative forms of these genes found in different cell types.
More significant are their findings on genes that do not contain genetic code to make proteins – non-coding genes – and the graveyard of supposedly 'dead' genes from which some are emerging, resurrected from the catalogue of pseudogenes.
They mapped and described 9,277 long non-coding genes, a relatively new type that acts, not through producing a protein, but directly through its RNA messenger. Long non-coding RNAs derived from these genes can play a significant part in human biology and disease, but they remain only poorly understood.
The new map of such genetic components gives researchers more avenues to explore in their quest to understand human biology and human disease. Remarkably, the team think their job is not complete and believe that there may be another 10,000 of these genes yet to be uncovered.
"Our initial work from the Human Genome Project suggested there were around 20,000 protein-coding genes and that value has not changed greatly," says Professor Roderic Guigo, GENCODE principle investigator from Centre for Genomic Regulation, Barcelona. "However GENCODE has shown that long non-coding RNAs are far more numerous and important than previously thought"
"The limited knowledge we have of the class of long non-coding RNAs suggests they might play a major role in regulating the activity of other genes. If this is generally true of this group, we have much more to explore than we imagined."
As dramatic, GENCODE has catalogued for the first time a set of more than 11,000 pseudogenes by examining the entire human genome. There is some emerging evidence that many of these genes, too, might have some biological activity.
The GENCODE team predict that at least 9% of pseudogenes may be active with some controlling the activity of other genes. Pseudogenes have been implicated in many biological activities, such as the prevention of certain elements known to be involved in the development of cancer.
"At the announcement of the Human Genome Project draft sequence, we emphasized this was the end of the beginning, that 'at present most genes - probably tens of thousands - remain a mystery'", says Dr Tim Hubbard, lead principle investigator of GENCODE from the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute. "Today, we describe many thousands of genes for the first time."
"If the Human Genome Project was the baseline for genetics, ENCODE is the baseline for biology, and GENCODE are the parts that make the human biological machine work. Our list is essential to all those who would fix the human machine."
The GENCODE human reference set will be updated every three months to ensure that models are continually refined and assessed based on new experimental data deposited in the public databases.
Source:Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute 

British health chief dubbed "minister for magic''

He supports homeopathy, a practice that many experts liken to snake oil. He opposes late-term abortion, falling afoul of this mostly pro-choice nation. During the London Olympics, he offended many Britons with a jab at the cherished National Health Service.This is Jeremy Hunt — Britain's new health minister. He's only been in his job since Tuesday, but already some experts fret that his controversial views and general knack for inviting scandal could sow confusion in an already fragile health system.Hunt's personal beliefs shouldn't influence policy because his job will mostly be to implement reforms that have already been agreed. Still, British media slammed Hunt's appointment, mainly basing their criticism on his support of homeopathy. The Telegraph newspaper headline read: "Jeremy Hunt as Health Secretary: Are you kidding?" The magazine New Scientist labeled him "the new minister for magic."And medical views aside, the 45-year-old Conservative ally of Prime Minister David Cameron has already developed an image as a magnet for controversy — notably during his just-completed stint as minister for media, culture and sport.In that job, he was criticized for maintaining close ties to Rupert Murdoch even as a phone hacking scandal engulfed the media tycoon. Opposition lawmakers said Hunt, whose office had jurisdiction over Murdoch's ambitions to take over a TV station, should face a government inquiry. Hunt's adviser Adam Smith resigned after the contacts between Murdoch's News Corp. and the minister's office were disclosed.Some had expected Hunt to be demoted after the scandal. But in his first major Cabinet shakeup, Cameron gave Hunt another high-profile job instead.In announcing the Cabinet changes, Cameron said ministers would be expected to focus on implementing policies that have already been approved in Parliament, meaning that Hunt will likely be on a short leash.Hunt allies defended the selection."Jeremy Hunt is perfectly well-qualified to do the job," said Stephen Dorrell, a Conservative Party member of Parliament and chair of Parliament's Health Select Committee. "He understands the concerns people have, he's an excellent communicator and he will focus on making sure the government delivers on its objectives."Dorrell, who was health secretary between 1995 and 1997, said it was unfair to criticize Hunt for signing a Parliamentary motion five years ago in support of homeopathy. "I think if you dig far back enough into everybody's history, you can always find something like that," he said, rejecting fears that government policy on homeopathy would change.Hunt joined Parliament in 2005 after setting up an educational publishing company and a charity helping AIDS orphans in Africa. He inherits the health portfolio at a time of radical restructuring in the National Health Service. His predecessor introduced a new health bill opposed by every major medical group but was ultimately approved by Parliament. The changes will axe about 20,000 jobs while transferring greater powers to clinics.Hunt's most recent gaffe was questioning whether the country's health service, the NHS, deserved to get a tribute in the opening ceremonies of the Olympics. Cameron reportedly overruled him.In 2005, Hunt co-authored a book that concluded that the NHS was no longer relevant and it should no longer be run by the government.Scientists are more worried about his backing for homeopathy."This is a jump back into the last century," said Edzard Ernst, an emeritus professor at Exeter University. "We need someone who believes in science and evidence for a health secretary, and that is not compatible with believing in homeopathy."This is a bad omen for things to come."Many scientists view homeopathy as modern day quack medicine. It relies on highly diluted drugs made from natural ingredients. The U.S. government has stopped paying for studies of homeopathic treatments, saying there's little evidence any of them work. A government website notes homeopathy is based on concepts that are inconsistent with the fundamentals of chemistry and physics.In 2007, Hunt signed a motion welcoming the "positive contribution made to the health of the nation" by homeopathy and called for the government to actively support it. In response to a constituent who pointed out that homeopathy doesn't work, Hunt replied it should be available because thousands of people use it and the government insists health care should be "patient-led."Sir Paul Nurse, president of the Royal Society, Britain's leading independent scientific academy, said he was hopeful Hunt might change his mind about homeopathy. "It could be that in his new position he will read more thoroughly," he said. "If we are to make the case for evidence-based medicine, then there shouldn't be any homeopathy."A 2010 report from a House of Commons science committee recommended the government stop paying for homeopathy. But the department of health leaves decisions on treatments to hospitals, meaning the government continues to pay for some homeopathic remedies. Homeopathic treatments account for less than one percent of Britain's drug costs.Experts say that homeopathic remedies are mostly prescribed for people with chronic problems like pain or fatigue, where the treatments may seem to work because of the placebo effect. Practitioners who use alternative remedies often spend more time listening to patients, which can help them feel better.The questionable treatments are backed by celebrities including Paul McCartney, David Beckham and Jude Law. In 2005, Prince Charles commissioned a report on homeopathy which said treating patients with homeopathy could cut the nation's drugs bill in half. Experts said that would put patients' lives in danger.Women's groups are concerned about Hunt's track record on abortion. In 2008, Hunt voted for the limit to be halved to 12 weeks from the current 24. The motion was thrown out, but experts say Hunt's position was troubling."About 80 percent of the country is pro-choice but unfortunately Jeremy Hunt is not one of those people," Kate Smurthwaite, vice-chair of Abortion Rights, an advocacy group. "We hold out hope he's going to take the job seriously and put his personal views aside to get on with the job, but to have him as health minister is incredibly worrying.

Immune cell death safeguards against autoimmune disease

Researchers at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute have discovered that a pair of molecules work together to kill so-called 'self-reactive' immune cells that are programmed to attack the body's own organs. The finding is helping to explain how autoimmune diseases develop.
Dr Daniel Gray and colleagues from the institute's Molecular Genetics of Cancer division and the University of Ballarat discovered that the absence of two related proteins, called Puma and Bim, led to self-reactive immune cells accumulating and attacking many different body organs, causing illness. The research is published online today in the journal Immunity.
Autoimmune diseases, such as type 1 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease and multiple sclerosis, develop when immune cells launch an attack on the body's own cells, destroying important body organs or structures. Around one in 20 Australians is affected by autoimmune conditions, most of which are chronic illnesses with no cure.
Puma and Bim are so-called 'BH3-only' proteins that make cells die by a process called apoptosis. Defects in apoptosis proteins have been linked to many human diseases, including cancer and neurodegenerative disorders.
Dr Gray said one way the body protects against autoimmune disease is by forcing most self-reactive immune cells to die during their development. "If any self-reactive cells manage to reach maturity, the body normally has a second safeguard of switching these potentially dangerous cells into an inactive state, preventing them from causing autoimmune disease," he said.
"Until now, there has been debate about how important the death of self-reactive cells is as a protection against autoimmune diseases. Our research has identified two molecules that are needed for this process. We were able to use this discovery to show that the death of self-reactive immune cells is indeed an important protection against autoimmune disease development."
Dr Gray is now collaborating with researchers who have identified human gene defects linked to the development of autoimmune conditions. "We now know that self-reactive cell death is an important protection against autoimmunity," Dr Gray said. "The next stage of our work is to discover whether defects in the cell death process cooperate with other factors to cause human autoimmune disease."
Source:Walter and Eliza Hall Institute 

Report: Strategies to prevent noise-induced hearing loss, tinnitus in soldiers

Antioxidants, dietary supplements and high-tech brain imaging are among some of the novel strategies that may help detect, treat and even prevent noise-induced hearing loss and tinnitus among American troops, according to researchers at Henry Ford Hospital.
A culmination of nearly 25 years of research on noise-induced hearing loss – a growing medical issue that affects more than 12 percent of American troops returning from conflicts around the globe – will be presented Sept. 9 at the American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery annual meeting in Washington, D.C.
Led by Michael Seidman, M.D., the research team is the first to identify how acoustic trauma from machinery and explosive devices damages the inner ear cells and breaks down cell growth, much like age-related hearing loss.
"Improvised explosive devices, aircraft and other weaponry being used by the military are frankly deafening our troops," says Dr. Seidman, director of the Division of Otologic/Neurotologic Surgery in the Department of Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery at Henry Ford Hospital.
"Noise-induced hearing loss doesn't just impact a person's ability to hear; it can cause balance issues, make it difficult to sleep and communicate, and even raise the risk for heart disease by increasing a person's blood pressure, lipids and blood sugar."
As part of his presentation, Dr. Seidman will explain how noise-induced hearing loss, as well as tinnitus-related traumatic brain injury, occurs based on research from Wayne State University's Jinsheng Zhang, Ph.D.
Dr. Zhang has developed a model of blast-induced tinnitus and hearing loss using a shock tube that generates a 194 decibel shock wave similar to many of the explosive devices being deployed against troops.
Further, Dr. Seidman will discuss the use of nutraceuticals, such as acetyl-l-carnitine, alpha lipoic acid and resveratrol – a substance found in red wine and red grapes – to mitigate hearing-related issues.
Based on initial results, Dr. Seidman says a nutraceutical with a resveratrol-based component may possibly hold the potential to not only prevent, but reverse hearing loss in certain circumstances for soldiers. This research is based on animal models, but will soon be tested with humans, to see if a pill could soon be developed to prevent acoustic trauma in troops.
In addition, Dr. Seidman will highlight new research on tinnitus, a chronic ringing of the head or ears that affects more than 50 million patients.
A study co-authored by Susan Bowyer, Ph.D., senior bioscientific researcher at Henry Ford Hospital, found that an imaging technique called magnetoencephalography (MEG) can determine the site of perception of tinnitus in the brain, which could in turn allow physicians to target the area with electrical or chemical therapies to lessen symptoms.
Although is no cure for tinnitus, several interventions are available, including dietary modification, the use of specific herbs and supplements, sound therapies, centrally acting medications and electrical stimulation of the cochlea and brain using implantable electrodes and an implantable pulse generator.
To date, Dr. Seidman has treated six patients with direct electrical stimulation to the brain, reducing the tinnitus in four of those patients.
In all, the team's work on noise-induced hearing loss and tinnitus has led to more than 50 peer-reviewed publications and several patents.
According to Dr. Seidman, more research and funding are needed in order to generate critical data to facilitate an understanding of the damage caused by acoustic trauma and develop strategies to mitigate that damage.
Source:Henry Ford Health System 

IDMA & ACRO to hold panel discussion on 'Clinical Research in India: Where are we heading?' on Sept 12 in Mumbai

Indian Drugs Manufacturers’ Association (IDMA), in collaboration with Association of Contract Research Organizations (ACRO) India and Indian Society for Clinical Research (ISCR), is organizing a panel discussion on 'Clinical Research in India: Where are we heading?' on September 12, 2012 at Royal Orchid, Mumbai.
Dr Rashmi Barbhaiya, CEO, Advinus Therapeutics will be the keynote speaker in the event. Medical directors/advisors, regulatory personnel, CRO CEOs/directors/personnel, investigators/practising clinicians, pharmacologists, medical/pharmacy students, clinical researchers and clinical research students will benefit from this day-long event.
The event is of significance as the Clinical Trials Registry of India (CTRI) reported dramatic increase in multi-centre, multinational clinical trials in India around two years ago. This was on account of the trend of off-shore outsourcing of clinical trials from North America to Eastern Europe, India and China.
However, since the year 2011 Indian clinical industry is facing a significant lag phase. It might be due to various possible reasons. India is in the transition state per se. Regulatory approvals in India are taking around 6-9 months now a days and that do being really unpredictable.
Is all the negative hue and cry associated with clinical research really factual? In order to get to the bottom of the matter IDMA’s Medical Subcommittee, ACRO (India) & ISCR have decided to call for debate on the matter since the fate of the clinical research is now hanging on sword’s edge. Without progress in clinical research not only will the industry and personnel associated with it suffer but even the consumer in due course be deprived of newer drugs and combinations to manage their ailments more effectively.

Future Classrooms Would Require No Teachers

Teacherless classrooms are the way of the advanced future. 
US futurologist Dr Thomas Frey told News Ltd that technology would play a greater role in the teaching arena.
 "The sheer volume of experimentation that is happening right now, just that volume and calibre of the technologies of improving education and the frequency with which it is coming out is creating this crescendo effect that will break down castle walls," Courier Mail quoted Dr as saying. 

He said that within the next decade there would be a fundamental shift away from a "sage on stage" model with a teacher at the front of a class imparting knowledge, to a model where teachers were more like coaches. 
Dr Frey said this was a logical transition but that there would still be areas where teachers were necessary, but maybe not quite as many as already exist today. 
At the rate education technology is advancing, most developed countries were not equipping teachers with the skills they needed to survive the changes to education syllabuses over the next decade, Dr Frey said. 
"The fact that people are going to have to shift careers more than ever before in all history indicates we're going to have get used to being in this constant changing mode," he said. 
New kinds of "rapid learning" programs are being developed all over the world that are designed to cut in half the time students need to spend at school. 
US engineer and entrepreneur, Nolan Bushnell, is one of thousands of educators developing "speed learning" courses designed to cut in half the amount of time children spend at school. 
Benghali-American educator Salmon Kahn founded his own online academy that provides more than 3000 free online mini-courses on topics ranging from physics to art history, computer science to medicine. The micro-lectures are designed to teach students everything they would learn at school in half the time. 
Dr Frey is also developing his own education competition that will run around most colleges where people from all disciplines from video game developers to film makers are challenged to create engaging educational programs that take less time than existing syllabuses. 
"If we can create this competition and run it successfully for 10 years in a row, by the end of 10 years what comes out of this competition will be so staggering and mind-boggling than anything we have in the world today and everybody can say 'I wish I had gone to school with that training,'" Dr Frey said. 
"It will consist of 15 minutes sessions instead of days of classes," he added. 
Doctor Frey will be presenting his ideas at the Creative Innovation conference in Melbourne in November. 


Eating Oily Fish and Exercising Regularly Could Slow Down Muscle Degradation Caused by Aging

Muscle degradation caused by aging could be slowed down by eating oily fish meal three times a week in tandem with regular exercise, a new study has revealed. 
As a person ages, his muscle deteriorates by 0.5 percent to 2 percent in a year due to a condition known as sarcopenia. Researchers at Aberdeen University said that fish oil was rich in two types of Omega-3 fatty acid, DHA and EPA, which exhibit anti-inflammatory properties. The researchers added that a combination of regular intake of fish oil could double the benefits of muscle strength gained through exercise.
The researchers conducted the study on a group of women over a period of 12 weeks and found that those who exercised regularly and also consumed fish oil improved their muscle strength by 20 percent compared to those who only exercised during the study period. 

“We believe the benefits of fish oil are due to a number of factors. Older people tend to have low-level inflammation in the body which interferes with the muscles' ability to increase strength and mass. The anti-inflammatory qualities found in fish oil may reduce this inflammation and therefore inhibit this interference”, lead researcher Dr Stuart Gray said.


DNA Database ENCODE Sheds Light on Genetic Diseases

The Encyclopedia of DNA Elements - or ENCODE reveals complexities of DNA and genes and opens the door to revolutionary treatments for a host of deadly genetic diseases, say researchers. 
"This is a major step toward understanding the wiring diagram of a human being," said lead researcher Michael Snyder of Stanford University.
 ENCODE has enabled scientists to assign specific biological functions for 80 percent of the human genome and has helped explain how genetic variants affect a person's susceptibility to disease. 

It also exposed previously hidden connections between seemingly unrelated diseases such as asthma, lupus and multiple sclerosis which were found to be linked to specific genetic regulatory codes for proteins that regulate the immune system. 
A key insight revealed in a host of papers published in the journals Nature, Science and Cell is that many diseases result from changes in when, where and how a gene switches on or off rather than a change to the gene itself. 
"Genes occupy only a tiny fraction of the genome, and most efforts to map the genetic causes of disease were frustrated by signals that pointed away from genes," said co-author John Stamatoyannoupoulos, a researcher at the University of Washington. 
"Now we know that these efforts were not in vain, and that the signals were in fact pointing to the genome's 'operating system.'" 
Another significant finding is that this blueprint of genetic switches can be used to pinpoint cell types that play a role in specific diseases without needing to understand how the disease actually works. 
For instance, it took researchers decades to link a set of immune cells with the inflammatory bowel disease Crohn's. The ENCODE data was able to swiftly identify that the genetic variants associated with Crohn's were concentrated in that subset of cells. 
This in-depth map of the human genetic code has also altered scientific understanding of how DNA works. 
The first sketch of the human genome described DNA as a string which contained genes in isolated sections that make up just two percent of its length. 
The space in between was dubbed "junk DNA" and many researchers did not believe it served a function. Attention was focused on the 'coding' genes which carried instructions for making the proteins that carried out basic biological functions. 
ENCODE confirmed more recent theories that the bulk of this 'junk' is actually littered with switches that determine how the genes work and act as a massive control panel. 
"Our genome is simply alive with switches: millions of places that determine whether a gene is switched on or off," said lead analysis coordinator Ewan Birney of the EMBL-European Bioinformatics Institute. 
"We found a much bigger part of the genome -- a surprising amount, in fact -- is involved in controlling when and where proteins are produced, than in simply manufacturing the building blocks." 
Perhaps most importantly, the database has been made available to the scientific community -- and the general public -- as an open resource in order to facilitate research. 
"ENCODE gives us a set of very valuable leads to follow to discover key mechanisms at play in health and disease," said Ian Dunham of the EMBL-European Bioinformatics Institute, who played a key role in coordinating the analysis. 
"Those can be exploited to create entirely new medicines, or to repurpose existing treatments." 
The project combined the efforts of 442 scientists in 32 labs in the United States, Britain, Spain, Switzerland, Singapore and Japan. 
The researchers used about 300 years worth of computer time to study 147 tissue types and identified over four million different regulatory regions where proteins interact with the DNA.


Thursday, 6 September 2012

Radiation may up breast cancer risk in some women

 Mammograms aimed at finding breast cancer might actually raise the chances of developing it in young women whose genes put them at higher risk for the disease, a study by leading European cancer agencies suggests.The added radiation from mammograms and other types of tests with chest radiation might be especially harmful to them and an MRI is probably a safer method of screening women under 30 who are at high risk because of gene mutations, the authors conclude.The study can't prove a link between the radiation and breast cancer, but is one of the biggest ever to look at the issue. The research was published Thursday in the journal BMJ."This will raise questions and caution flags about how we treat women with (gene) mutations," said Dr. Len Lichtenfeld, deputy chief medical officer of the American Cancer Society. He and the society had no role in the research.Mammograms are most often used in women over 40, unless they are at high risk, like carrying a mutation of the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene. Having such a mutation increases the risk of developing cancer five-fold. About one in 400 women has the gene abnormalities, which are more common in Eastern European Jewish populations. Unlike mammograms, an MRI, or magnetic resonance imaging scan, does not involve radiation.The breast cancer screening tests have been proven to save lives and are clearly beneficial for women aged 50 and over who have an average risk of breast cancer. Experts are divided about their value in women younger than 50.Some studies have suggested women with the genetic mutations could be more sensitive to radiation because the genes are involved in fixing DNA problems. If those genes are damaged by radiation, they may not be able to repair DNA properly, raising the cancer risk.In several European countries including Britain, the Netherlands and Spain, doctors already advise women with BRCA mutations to get MRIs instead of mammograms before age 30. In the U.S., there is no specific advice from a leading task force of government advisers, but the American Cancer Society recommends yearly mammograms and MRIs from age 30 for women with BRCA gene mutations.In the BMJ study, European researchers followed nearly 2,000 women over 18 with one of the gene mutations in Britain, France and the Netherlands. Participants reported their previous chest X-rays and mammograms, including the age of their first screening and the number of procedures. About 850 women were later diagnosed with breast cancer. Roughly half of them had X-rays while one third had at least one mammogram, at an average age of 29.The researchers did not have a breakdown of how many women were exposed to chest radiation before age 30 but estimated that for every 100 women aged 30 with a gene mutation, nine will develop breast cancer by age 40. They projected the number of cases would increase by five if all of them had one mammogram before age 30. But they cautioned their results should be interpreted with caution because most women didn't have a mammogram before 30.Researchers found women with a history of chest radiation in their 20s had a 43 percent increased relative risk of breast cancer compared to women who had no chest radiation at that age. Any exposure before age 20 seemed to raise the risk by 62 percent. Radiation after age 30 did not seem to affect breast cancer risk."We believe countries who use mammograms in women under 30 should reconsider their guidelines," said Anouk Pijpe of the Netherlands Cancer Institute, one of the study authors. "It may be possible to reduce the risk of breast cancer in (high-risk) women by using MRIs, so we believe physicians and patients should consider that."The study was paid for by European cancer groups.Lichtenfeld said the study wouldn't immediately change advice from the American Cancer Society but said concerned women should talk to their doctor about their options. "It's not possible today to make a blanket statement about what women (with the gene mutations) should do, but physicians and patients need to weigh the risks and benefits carefully," he said.He also warned that women who need scans involving radiation shouldn't avoid them because of breast cancer fears."No one should think that they should never get an X-ray because they have the BRCA1 or 2 gene mutations," he said. "Just be careful that the X-rays you get are really the ones that you need."

NYU School of Medicine researchers identify potential new approach for improving quality of life for ALS patients

The disease starts slow. It begins with minor missteps, small errors typing. But within a matter of only a few years, those small mistakes, falls and fumbles progress to complete paralysis. The muscles that keep you breathing stop doing their job, leading to lethal respiratory failure. And the whole time, cognition remains intact, rendering you keenly aware of what is happening, helpless to improve the condition. 
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig's disease or ALS, is a devastating, rapidly advancing disease of the nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord that control voluntary muscle movement. But researchers at NYU School of Medicine have identified a new target for slowing the deterioration of physical function for which the disease is so well known.
In their new study, published August 30, 2012 online ahead of print in Cell Reports, lead investigator Steven J. Burden, PhD, and colleagues show that, by increasing the signalling activity of a protein called muscle skeletal receptor tyrosine-protein kinase (MuSK), they were able to keep nerve cells attached to muscle longer into the progression of the disease in a mouse model of ALS. 
Approximately one out of every 1,000 people will develop ALS in their lifetime and only two and a half to three years separate diagnosis and death on average. Currently, the only treatments available for ALS are therapies designed to bring a patient some comfort while the body increasingly fails to respond to intent, but there are no therapies available for slowing the progression of the disease. 
The withdrawal, or detachment, of motor nerve terminals from muscle is the first sign of disease in all forms of ALS, followed by the death of nerve cells, or neurons. When the terminals detach, the muscles are denervated, or disconnected from the nerve, leaving the neurons no longer able to send messages to muscles, and the ability of the brain to initiate and control muscle movement is lost. 
Vast research efforts have focused on ways to keep the neurons from dying, but the death of nerve cells occurs after the separation of nerve and muscle and, once separated, motor neurons are no longer able to send messages to muscles telling them to contract, regardless of whether the neurons are dead or alive. Dr. Burden and his co-researchers theorized that strengthening the signals that normally keep nerve terminals and muscle attached might delay denervation and preserve motor function during the early phases of disease progression, improving the quality of life for patient and family.
 By tripling the expression of MuSK in a mouse model of ALS, the researchers were able to keep nerves attached to muscle, preserving motor function, for 30 to 40 days longer than in ALS mice that did not receive the increase in MuSK. 
 “This is a substantial amount of time for the ALS mouse,” Dr. Burden said, explaining that 30 to 40 days is about 20 percent of the total lifespan of these mice. “If we were to extrapolate these results to humans, you might expect a substantial improvement in the quality of life for an ALS patient. This might mean that an ALS patient would be able to eat, go to the bathroom, talk, and breathe without assistance later into the disease. Importantly, therapeutic approaches to enhance this kind of retrograde signaling in a clinical setting can be readily envisaged.”
 The increase in MuSK expression did not prolong survival of ALS mice, Dr. Burden explained. Despite the increased expression, nerve cells will still ultimately die, but the increase in MuSK signaling from the muscle keeps the nerve motor axons connected to muscle for a longer time, and this connection is essential for signals from the brain to be received by the muscle. 
 “The neuromuscular synapse is the only synapse in the body that is required for survival,” said Dr. Burden, a professor of biochemistry and molecular pharmacology and cell biology and a faculty member of the Skirball Institute of Biomolecular Medicine at NYU School of Medicine. “Defects at other synapses alter your perception of the world, but you survive. The neuromuscular synapse is required not only to move, but also to breathe and live.” 
 Dr. Burden’s lab discovered MuSK in 1993 and has been focused on revealing how the protein works and whether its activity can be manipulated to affect disease in the years since. The current study was conducted in mice born with increased MuSK expression and later developed neuromuscular ALS symptoms. Dr. Burden and colleagues will next investigate whether increasing MuSK activity in ALS mice after symptoms arise, to resemble the mid-life onset of symptoms in humans, will likewise be effective at maintaining neuromuscular synapses. In this regard, they will look for molecules that can stimulate MuSK to increase the activity, or function of the kinase, with hopes that drugs may be formulated for this task. Long-term, Dr. Burden and his team hope to utilize such drugs to learn whether they can slow, halt or reverse the disease once it has begun progressing.
 “It is always exciting and gratifying when findings from fundamental, basic science can be applied to treat disease,” Dr. Burden said. “When we started, we discovered MuSK in fish and could only speculate about its function. Then MuSK was found in other vertebrates, including mice and humans, and we learned that it is essential to form and maintain neuromuscular synapses and that myasthenia gravis, an auto-immune disease, can be caused by auto-antibodies to MuSK. It’s very satisfying to study a molecule and a process in detail, to understand how a molecule works, how a synapse forms and then to apply this information in a disease setting. We don’t have all the answers and we don’t know with absolute certainty that our approach will work in humans, but we’re confident that we’re headed in the right direction. Fortunately, we have a mouse model of ALS that replicates the human disease, so we are hopeful that increasing MuSK activity in ALS patients will likewise preserve attachment of nerve terminals and improve motor function.”

GAAMA urges Dept of Ayush to set up collection centre & testing facility for medicinal plants in Gujarat

The Gujarat Ayurvedic Aushadh Manufacturers Association (GAAMA) has urged the department of Ayush to set up an authorised collection centre along with a fully equipped testing facility dedicated for the use of medicinal plants in the state. The association has recently sent a representation to the government in this regard.
This representation was sent with a view to pull medicinal plant cultivators and framers, who are alarmingly dwindling in numbers, to take up farming of high quality raw materials for manufacturing ayurvedic drugs.
In recent years, lack of government incentives and other subsidies had forced a large number of cultivators and farmers to give up cultivation of medicinal plants and other raw materials. This led to a severe crunch in the market for the availability of high quality and authentic medicinal plants and raw materials, creating an alarming gap in the demand and supply chain.
Industry fears that if the situation persists then it will severely impact the growth and development of the Ayurveda industry. However, Probodh Shah, president, GAAMA pointed out that it is not only the growth of the industry that will be affected but also the reputation of this industry as well since lack of high quality raw material is forcing the manufacturers to opt for the raw materials that are not of required standard.
Shah further stressed, “The only way to damage control this situation is by attracting more farmers by offering them subsidy for cultivating raw materials and plants that are needed as per our demand. But most importantly they should set up a government regulated testing and collection centre in the state for keeping up with quality parameters so that there is no compromise on the quality of the end product.”
He feels that if there is a strong requirement for testing it will not only help in prevailing and uplifting the quality of the products manufactured from the country but also will help in standardising the quality of products. Today, individual companies do the testing of the raw materials. However since the law does not state it as mandatory provision many companies are rumoured to skipping that part by not prioritising it.
Jaman Malaviya, vice president, GAAMA added, “Looking at the greater interest of the Ayurveda industry, it is high time the government puts in resources to ensure that its growth is not affected in the least. Today lack of incentives and encouragement from the government had led to a situation wherein we are forced to get our raw materials from other countries to sustain our business as the product available in the country are not of expected standards.”
Today India imports plant raw materials for manufacturing ayurvedic products from Singapore, Sri Lanka, Iran and Afganistan.

Even the very elderly and frail can benefit from exercise

This release is available in French.
A study carried out by Dr. Louis Bherer, PhD (Psychology), Laboratory Director and Researcher at the Institut universitaire de gériatrie de Montréal (IUGM), an institution affiliated with Université de Montréal, has shown that all seniors, even those considered frail, can enjoy the benefits of exercise in terms of their physical and cognitive faculties and quality of life and that these benefits appear after only three months.
This discovery is excellent news, as increased life expectancy has also increased the number of frail seniors in our communities. In geriatrics, frailness is characterized by decreased functional reserves in an individual, which increases vulnerability to stressors and the risk of adverse health effects. Frailty is associated with a higher risk of falls, hospitalizations, cognitive decline and psychological distress. Currently, 7% of seniors aged 65 to 74, 18% of those aged 75 to 84, and 37% of seniors over the age of 85 are considered frail.
"For the first time, frail senior citizens have participated in a study on exercise thanks to the collaboration of medical doctors at IUGM, who provided close medical supervision. My team was able to demonstrate that sedentary and frail senior citizens can benefit from major improvements not only in terms of physical function but also brain function, such as memory, and quality of life," stated Dr. Bherer.
"We hope to adapt the exercise program used in the study and make it available to the public through the seniors' health promotion centre that the IUGM is developing. We believe that by transferring our research findings to the public, we will help both healthy and frail senior citizens stay at home longer," concluded the researcher.
Research summary
In this study, 43 of the 83 participants between the ages of 61 and 89 years, some of whom were considered frail, took part in group exercises (3 times a week for 12 weeks), while the control group of 40 participants did not follow the exercise program. All participants were evaluated one week before the start of the program and at the end of the program for physical capacity, quality of life and cognitive health. Compared to the control group, trained participants showed larger improvement in physical capacity (functional capacities and physical endurance), cognitive performance (executive functions, processing speed and working memory) and quality of life (overall quality of life, recreational activities, social and family relationships and physical health). Most importantly, benefits were equivalent among frail and non-frail participants suggesting that there is't never too late to engage in exercise intervention programs . These findings were published online on the Web site of the Journals of Gerontology. This research received financial support from the IUGM's Comité aviseur de la recherche clinique (CAREC) along with the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR).
Source:University of Montreal 

Facebook Badge