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Friday, 14 September 2012

IHMA to approach dept of Ayush to include holistic medicine in the curriculum of universities

Indian Holistic Medical Academy (IHMA) is working hard to get an approval for adoption of different systems of holistic medicine in the curriculum of universities. The Academy is  putting forth a proposal in this regard to the department of Ayush. It will also initiate a dialogue with the state departments of medical education to look at the proposal.
At the three-day Holicon 2012 being held in Bengaluru between September 14 and 16, 2012, the organizers said that there is need to provide holistic health through Ayurveda, Yoga, Naturopathy, Siddha, Unani, homoeopathy and therapies like acupuncture, magnetic healing, reiki, pranic healing and  aroma therapy. There is a need to include all systems of medicine in the medical curriculum of MBBS and other related branches of medicine. This is an age of complementary medicine to treat disorders from lifestyle to chronic conditions. There is also need to focus on preventive healthcare and this is where inclusion of systems of holistic medicine in the curriculum of universities will help, said the organizers.
The key objective is to highlight the importance of the complimentary systems of care and merge it with the  mainstream healthcare space, they stated.
The three day event is providing a bird’s eye view of the holistic medicine. The theme of the event being ‘Changing lifestyle and impact on health’ indicates a clear change in the mindset of both the medical practitioners and patients.
The Indian Holistic Medical Academy has now teamed up with the Open International University for Complementary Medicine. Colombo for the Holicon 2012 which has a extensive global participation.
“We are giving an opportunity to everyone to promote holistic health through the wide range of Indian systems of medicine. All practitioners and educationalists are attending the event to give suggestions and exchange experience in holistic medicine,” said the organizers.
The main aim of the academy is to impart diploma education in holistic medicine, covering all branches. To this end, the academy, teams up with those who are interested in holistic medicine extending an opportunity to become a part of the group to offer advice and teach in this field by arranging lectures, seminars, meetings etc., The focus is to promote the know-how of natural healing through many therapies. In addition, the academy conducts various recognized courses for students. After successful completion of the courses, The academy also guides the candidates to go in for post-graduate diploma in holistic medicine, according to the members.

Some of the Benefits Attributed to Acupuncture may be Due to Placebo Effect

Researchers at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York have found that while acupuncture may effective in relieving chronic back, joint and shoulder pain, some of the benefits may be due to the “placebo effect”. 
Researchers led by Andrew Vickers analyzed around 29 studies involving more than 18,000 adults. All patients had pain due to recurring headaches, arthritis or back, neck and shoulder pain. The study found that acupuncture worked slightly better than fake acupuncture and other alternate pain remedies.
The researchers suggested that the results "provide the most robust evidence to date that acupuncture is a reasonable referral option.” The researchers also reported that 50 percent of patients had their symptoms reduced with acupuncture, compared to almost 43 percent of those treated with sham acupuncture and 30 percent with no needle therapy. 

The study details appear in the latest issue of the journal Archives of Internal Medicine. 


‘Meatless Mondays Good for Health, Good for Animals’, Says Humane Society International

In an attempt to reduce amount of meat consumption, animal advocacy group Human Society International (HSI) has urged people to adopt a “Meatless Monday” campaign that could see people do away with meat consumption for at least one day in a week. 
'Meatless Monday' began in the US during World War I and was revived in 2003 with backing from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.
"For a world of reasons, Meatless Mondays makes good sense - good for animals, good for the environment, good for the long-range problems of food security, and good for our health," said HSI Farm Animal Welfare director Chetana Mirle. 

Mirle was part of "Hunger for Action" - the second global conference on agriculture, food security and climate change that took place in Vietnam last week and was attended by other influential institutions such as the World Bank, the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization and governments from around the world. 
"There should be consideration towards animal welfare issues related to intensive animal agricultural practices in formulating policy solutions to the challenges of agriculture, food security and climate change," said a statement issued by HSI. 
The conference adopted as part of its outcomes the promotion of sustainable consumption as a way to reduce waste in the food chain.


Lack of oxygen in cancer cells leads to growth and metastasis

It seems as if a tumor deprived of oxygen would shrink. However, numerous studies have shown that tumor hypoxia, in which portions of the tumor have significantly low oxygen concentrations, is in fact linked with more aggressive tumor behavior and poorer prognosis. It’s as if rather than succumbing to gently hypoxic conditions, the lack of oxygen commonly created as a tumor outgrows its blood supply signals a tumor to grow and metastasize in search of new oxygen sources – for example, hypoxic bladder cancers are likely to metastasize to the lungs, which is frequently deadly.A University of Colorado Cancer Center study recently published in the journal Cancer Research details a mechanism by which these hypoxic conditions create aggressive cancer, with possible treatment implications for cancers including breast, ovarian, colorectal, pancreatic, prostate, bladder and other cancers.“We’ve known that the protein HIF-1a is overexpressed in hypoxic tumors. And we’ve known that the cancer stem cell marker CD24 is overexpressed in many tumors. This study shows a link between the two – the HIF-1a of hypoxia creates the overexpression of CD24. And it’s this CD24 that creates a tumor’s aggressive characteristics of growth and metastasis,” says Dan Theodorescu, MD, PhD, director of the University of Colorado Cancer Center and the paper’s senior author.Outgrowing the blood supply leads to tumor hypoxia, which leads to overexpression of HIF-1a, which signals the production of CD24, which makes tumors grow and metastasize. In addition to aggression, CD24 has also been shown to confer resistance to chemotherapy, allowing this small population of cells to regrow the tumor once chemotherapy ends, leading to relapse and disease progression.“Now imagine we target CD24,” Theodorescu says. “Either by removing a cell’s ability to make CD24 or by killing cells marked by this protein, it’s likely we could disarm this most dangerous population of cells.”Theodorescu and colleagues showed this by adjusting levels of HIF-1a and CD24 in cancer cell samples and animal models. With HIF-1a low and yet CD24 artificially high, cells retained the ability to grow and metastasize. With CD24 low and yet HIF-1a artificially high, cell survival and proliferation decreased.“It seems CD24 overexpression in hypoxic cells drives growth and metastasis in these hypoxic tumors,” Theodorescu says. “Now we have a rational target: CD24 for these hypoxic tumors.”
Source:University of Colorado cancer center 

New insights on cell competition

A research project led by CNIO scientists clarifies how tissues and organs select the 'best' cells for themselves, at the expense of 'losers' who might cause disease

Scientists from the Spanish National Cancer Research Centre (CNIO) describe how natural selection also occurs at the cellular level, and how our body's tissues and organs strive to retain the best cells in their ranks in order to fend off disease processes. These results appear this week in the new issue of Cell Reports. The research, carried out in the CNIO, is led by Eduardo Moreno, who is currently working at the University of Bern in Switzerland.
Recent studies suggest that natural selection described by Charles Darwin also occurs at the cellular level, as our body's tissues and organs strive to retain the best cells in their ranks in order to fend off disease processes.
Pancreatic cells perform very different functions from skin cells – insulin secretion and barrier protection respectively – even though their genetic material is exactly identical; and this is true of the 200 different cell types that form a human being.
Despite burgeoning interest in the mechanisms of cell competition, which keep all such functions running smoothly in each body compartment, the exact cellular and molecular mechanisms responsible for maintaining this homeostasis have yet to be established.
Through their studies on fruit flies (Drosophila melanogaster), among the most widely used animal models in research, the authors of the paper have been able to show that cell competition proceeds in various stages.
First, the cells picked as winners for their superior ability to perform cell functions eliminate the loser cells via programmed cell death or apoptosis. Then the dead cells' remains are ingested by the haemocytes, the fly equivalent of our macrophages.
"The paper's main contribution is that we provide first-time evidence of the role of the haemocytes, cells circulating in the fly haemolymph, in eliminating cell residues during competition", explains first author Fidel Lolo.
Co-author Sergio Casas-Tintó adds that the study's results indicate that the genes necessary for the haemocytes to eliminate these residues – in a process known as phagocytosis – are not required for the apoptosis of loser cells.
"We suggest that phagocytosis is not a cause but a consequence of cell death", affirms Eduardo Moreno, "and more work will need doing to determine the forces governing the selection and subsequent destruction of losers".
Cell competition is closely linked to pathogenic processes such as cancer. "There is growing evidence for the importance of these processes at tumour borders, where biological markers suggest an accumulation of dead cells, as if we were contemplating a line of battle", Lolo continues.
Understanding the mechanisms of cell competition may provide crucial insights into the earliest stages of a tumour's formation, favouring early detection, even without macroscopic evidence, and the design of new drugs able to block tumour growth from the very first development stages.
Source:Centro Nacional de Investigaciones Oncologicas (CNIO) 

Mild increases in thyroid-stimulating hormone not harmful in the elderly

Study shows treating elderly patients with elevated TSH levels may be unnecessary

 There is no evidence to link mildly elevated thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) levels to an increase in mortality among the elderly, according to a recent study accepted for publication in The Endocrine Society's Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism (JCEM). The findings suggest that reflexively treating mild elevations of TSH in those of advanced age is unnecessary.
TSH is a sensitive, commonly measured test to check thyroid function. TSH levels are inversely related to thyroid hormone levels – thyroid hormone levels below a set-point trigger an increase in TSH. Levels of TSH gradually increase during the aging process, which means that elderly patients are likely to be outside of standard reference ranges and could be labeled with the diagnosis of subclinical hypothyroidism.
"As increasing numbers of people live into their 80s and 90s, it is important to know how to manage their health, including thyroid function," said Anne R. Cappola, MD, ScM of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, and lead author of the study. "Our study shows that a gradual increase in TSH occurs during healthy aging and that mild increases in TSH are not harmful in the oldest old."
The study began in 1989-1992 and examined 5,888 men and women aged 65 and older. In 2005, 843 surviving participants who had thyroid function testing were examined for changes in physical and cognitive functions. Between 1992 and 2005, participants who were not taking thyroid medication at either visit had a 13 percent increase in TSH. Older participants (mean age 85 years) with increased TSH and subclinical hypothyroidism did not have a higher mortality rate; on the contrary, data suggested that having subclinical hypothyroidism could be protective. In addition, higher levels of thyroid hormone itself were associated with a higher risk of death.
"Our research presents the first data demonstrating longitudinal changes in thyroid function in a cohort of the oldest old," said Cappola. "Our findings suggest that treating mild elevations in TSH in the elderly is unnecessary. Further studies are needed to determine the threshold levels of thyroid function that would benefit from intervention."
Source:The Endocrine Society 

Study finds Gingko biloba does not improve cognition in MS patients

Results come after 2005 pilot study offered hope that supplement may have offered benefits
Many people with multiple sclerosis for years have taken the natural supplement Gingko biloba, believing it helps them with cognitive problems associated with the disease.But the science now says otherwise. A new study published in the journal Neurology says Gingko biloba does not improve cognitive performance in people with multiple sclerosis. The research was published in the Sept. 5, 2012, issue of Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.The current study was a more extensive look at the question after a smaller 2005 pilot study suggested there might have been some cognitive benefits in MS patients using the supplement. That study found that Gingko seemed to improve attention in MS patients with cognitive impairment.But the larger follow-up study, conducted with patients at the Portland and Seattle Veterans Affairs medical centers, found no cognitive benefits to using Gingko.“It’s important for scientists to continue to analyze what might help people with cognitive issues relating to their MS," said Jesus Lovera, M.D., the study's lead author, a former fellow at the Portland VA Medical Center and former instructor in Oregon Health & Science University's Department of Neurology, where he did much of the work on the study. Lovera is now with the Department of Neurology at the Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center."We wanted to follow up on the earlier findings that suggested there may be some benefit. But we believe this larger study settles the question: Gingko simply doesn't improve cognitive performance with MS patients," said Lovera.About one-half of people with MS will develop cognitive problems, and those cognitive problems can be debilitating in some people, saidDennis Bourdette, M.D., a co-author of the study, co-director of the VA MS Center of Excellence-West at the Portland VA Medical Center and chairman of the OHSU Department of Neurology. The most common problems relate to memory, attention and concentration, and information processing.There is no known treatment that can improve cognition with MS patients — which is partly why MS patients and researchers had hoped that Gingko biloba could help.Lovera was also the lead author in the 2005 study, conducted at OHSU. That study included 39 participants who were given Gingko biloba or a placebo. The new study included 120 participants given Gingko or a placebo.The study was supported by a grant from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Rehabilitation Research and Development Service.
Source:Oregon Health and Science University

Thursday, 13 September 2012

Gut Microbes Enable the Body to Extract More Calories from Food

If you think you have your food all to yourself, you are mistaken. You're actually sharing the food with a large community of microbes waiting within your digestive tract. According to a new study from the University of North Carolina School of Medicine some gut microbes increase the absorption of dietary fats, allowing the host organism to extract more calories from the same amount of food. 
"This study is the first to demonstrate that microbes can promote the absorption of dietary fats in the intestine and their subsequent metabolism in the body," said senior study author John Rawls, PhD, associate professor in the Department of Cell and Molecular Physiology at UNC. "The results underscore the complex relationship between microbes, diet and host physiology."
Previous studies showed gut microbes aid in the breakdown of complex carbohydrates, but their role in dietary fat metabolism remained a mystery, until now. The research was published in the Sept 13, 2012 issue of the journal Cell Host & Microbe
The study was carried out in zebrafish, which are optically transparent when young. By feeding the fish fatty acids tagged with fluorescent dye, the researchers were able to directly observe the absorption and transport of fats in the presence or absence of gut microbes. 
The researchers pinpointed one group of bacteria — Firmicutes — as instrumental in increasing fat absorption. They also found the abundance of Firmicutes in the gut was influenced by diet: fish fed normally had more Firmicutes bacteria compared to fish that were denied food for several days. Other studies have linked a higher relative abundance of Firmicutes in the gut with obesity in humans. 
"Our findings indicate that the gut microbiota can increase the host's ability to harvest calories from the diet by stimulating fat absorption," said the study's lead researcher, Ivana Semova, PhD, who was a graduate student at UNC at the time the study was conducted. "Another implication is that diet history could impact fat absorption by changing the abundance of certain microbes, such as Firmicutes, that promote fat absorption." 
Although the study involved only fish, not humans, the researchers say it offers insights that could help inform new approaches to treating obesity and other disorders. For example, said Rawls, "If we can understand how specific gut bacteria are able to stimulate absorption of dietary fat, we may be able to use that information to develop new ways to reduce fat absorption in the context of obesity and associated metabolic diseases, and to enhance fat absorption in the context of malnutrition."



Think Twice Before Eating Bacon

Just a stroke of bad luck for bacon lovers, for a recent study found that just two slices of this favorite food contained more than 50% of an adult’s daily salt limit. 
Some products were found to have 6.8g of salt for every 100g.
With the increase in consumption of pork, and the news of its unhealthy salt content, consumption of bacon regularly can elevate the risk of killer diseases like stroke and heart attack. 

Studies have shown the benefits of reducing adults’ daily salt intake even by one gram, which can help avoid many thousands of strokes, heart attacks and heart failure every year. 

Binge Drinking can Lead to Stroke

Heavy drinking may lead to stroke almost a decade and a half earlier in life, states study published in Neurology. "Heavy drinking has been consistently identified as a risk factor for this type of stroke, which is caused by bleeding in the brain rather than a blood clot," said study author Charlotte Cordonnier, MD, PhD, with the University of Lille Nord de France in Lille, France. "Our study focuses on the effects of heavy alcohol use on the timeline of stroke and the long-term outcome for those people." 
For the study, 540 people with an average age of 71 who had a type of stroke called intracerebral hemorrhage were interviewed about their drinking habits. Doctors also interviewed the participants or the caregivers or relatives about the participants'' drinking habits. A total of 137 people, or 25 percent, were heavy drinkers, which was defined as having three or more drinks per day, or about 1.6 ounces per day of "pure" alcohol.
Participants also underwent CT brain scans and their medical records were reviewed. 

The study found that heavy drinkers experienced a stroke at an average age of 60, 14 years before the average age of their non-heavy drinking counterparts. Among people younger than 60 who had a stroke that occurred in the deep part of the brain, heavy drinkers were more likely to die within two years of the study follow-up than non-heavy drinkers. 
"It''s important to keep in mind that drinking large amounts of alcohol contributes to a more severe form of stroke at a younger age in people who had no significant past medical history," said Cordonnier. 
The study was supported by the University of Lille Nord de France and the Association for the Development of Research and Innovation the North Pas de Calais (ADRINORD). 

Brain Cells Age Like Other Cells

Scientists have discovered how the brain ages. Ageing in neurons follows the same rules as in senescing fibroblasts, the cells which divide in the skin to repair wounds, say researchers. 
Newcastle University's Professor Thomas von Zglinicki who led the research said: "We want to continue our work looking at the pathways in human brains as this study provides us with a new concept as to how damage can spread from the first affected area to the whole brain."
 DNA damage responses essentially re-program senescent fibroblasts to produce and secrete a host of dangerous substances including oxygen free radicals or reactive oxygen species (ROS) and pro-inflammatory signalling molecules. This makes senescent cells the 'rotten apple in a basket' that can damage and spoil the intact cells in their neighbourhood. However, so far it was always thought that ageing in cells that can't divide - post-mitotic, non-proliferating cells - like neurons would follow a completely different pathway. 

Now, this research explains that in fact ageing in neurons follows exactly the same rules as in senescing fibroblasts. 
Professor von Zglinicki, professor of Cellular Gerontology at Newcastle University said: "We will now need to find out whether the same mechanisms we detected in mouse brains are also associated with brain ageing and cognitive loss in humans. We might have opened up a short-cut towards understanding brain ageing, should that be the case." 
Dr Diana Jurk, who did most of this work during her PhD in the von Zglinicki group, said: "It was absolutely fascinating to see how ageing processes that we always thought of as completely separate turned out to be identical. Suddenly so much disparate knowledge came together and made sense." 

Your Career Could Be Adversely Affected By Bad Grammar

It has been revealed that poor spelling and grammar can affect your career, business and how you're perceived as a professional. 
The lack of basic literacy skills among some younger employees and recent graduates has become such a problem for businesses that some are introducing language and grammar lessons.
Anna Underhill, a consultant at HR firm Maxumise, said that poor spelling and grammar use by employees has become a serious issue for employers. 

According to Underhill, organisations spend large sums of money on corporate branding in logos and marketing only to have the good work undone by sloppy correspondence from employees. 
"If that message isn't coming across in all correspondence then that's wasted," the Daily Telegraph quoted her as saying. 
"A lot of the abbreviated wording is done in social media but you can't assume the person receiving it in a business sense knows what you're talking about," she said. 
According to experts, grammar gaffes and poor spelling reflect badly not just on employers but also on employees. 
Public Relations Institute of Australia head of marketing Kate Johns said many university graduates had a fundamental lack of understanding of basic grammar principles. 
"It's not their fault but that fundamental foundation is missing," she said. 
"I think it has become one of these things; it's considered attention to detail where it should be part of the fundamental process," Johns said. 
Underhill said that email correspondence was particularly a problem for many employers because it sets the tone for the culture of the company. 
But while employees were often given extensive inductions into company processes, basic grammar and spelling were ignored. 
Marcus Ludriks, a manager at Essential Energy, recently organised language, spelling and grammar courses for 25 of the company's engineers. 
Ludriks said that the main issue was that his employees assumed readers would understand complicated statements. 
Spelling and grammar coach Mary Morel said people understood grammar intuitively from listening and reading, but often didn't know the "nuts and bolts". 
Some of the most common errors made by employees are mixing up "it's" and "its", missing up "effects" and "affects", misuse of "which" and "that", putting apostrophes in the plurals of acronyms, for example "KPI's" instead of "KPIs" and switching between singular and plural when referring to company names, for example "Westpac are" instead of "Westpac is".


Penile Enlargement Injection Turns Fatal

A New Jersey woman pleaded not guilty Tuesday to causing a man’s death with an injection of silicone he hoped would enlarge his penis — a procedure experts cautioned doesn’t work.Kasia Rivera, 35, could face up to ten years in prison if convicted of reckless manslaughter in the death of 22-year-old Justin Street.Street, a father of two, had gone to Rivera on May 5 seeking a penile enlargement procedure, which prosecutors say Rivera advertised for in fliers posted at local businesses. Rivera, who performed the procedures in her apartment, allegedly with no medical license or training, administered a silicone shot to Street’s penis, according to prosecutors.Street died the next day. His death was ruled a homicide following an investigation and a medical examiner’s determination that he died of a silicone embolism. Rivera was indicted by a grand jury last month.Investigators believe Rivera may have conducted similar unauthorized procedures out of her East Orange apartment, but prosecutors said a search for witnesses, and a public plea for people to step forward, had not yielded any other clients to date.Rivera, who remains free on $75,000 bail, declined to comment through her court-appointed attorney Tuesday. Both Rivera and Street were from East Orange, and the case is being heard in Superior Court in neighboring Newark.Dr. Daniel S. Elliott, an associate professor of urology at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., said it was the first case he’d heard of involving a silicone injection to the penis, but he’s dealt with similar cases where patients had attempted to enlarge their penises with injections of fat or other substances.None of it works, Elliott emphasized, adding that there is no medical justification for the procedure.“If there were a legitimate method for penile lengthening, Johnson & Johnson or Pfizer would have bought it up and made billions and billions of dollars worldwide,” Elliott said. “The fact that they don’t means it does not exist.”Enhancement procedures performed by unlicensed practitioners or people with no medical training are more commonly seen among women, Elliott said.Liquid silicone is sought on the black market by women seeking to enhance their figures, even though it is not approved for cosmetic injections. Besides liquid silicone, injections of substances including paraffin, petroleum jelly and hydrogel have been illegally used to enlarge women’s breasts, hips and buttocks.In February 2011, a woman from London died after receiving cosmetic injections to enlarge her buttocks at a hotel near Philadelphia International Airport. Philadelphia police said 20-year-old Claudia Aderotimi died after she and a friend arranged online to receive injections. Aderotimi died after complaining of chest pain and difficulty breathing following the procedure.Although Elliott emphasized that he wasn’t familiar with the details of the New Jersey case, he said someone believing the substances used to enlarge lips or buttocks might have the same effect on the penis would be making a serious mistake. The penis is an extremely vascular organ, Elliott said, and anything injected into it goes directly into the blood stream and can result in a painful death.“It’s a tragic, preventable mistake of vanity,” he said.
 Source:Washington Post 

‘India needs more geriatricians’

The concept of nuclear family setup is widening the gap between the younger generation and older generation, opined Karnataka chapter of Indian Academy of Geriatrics Secretary Dr Venkatesh Rangaswamy. 
He was addressing the gathering at the inaugural function of third annual conference of Karnataka chapter of Indian Academy of Geriatrics at TMA Pai Convention Centre in City on Saturday.
“A complete demarcated partition has been formed between the two generations. The problem of people above 60 years should be addressed in a proper way. The government should introduce special schemes to cover the old age citizens. Germany is leading in this regard, where about 85 per cent of the citizens come under the insurance scheme, provided by the federal government,” he said.
He said that in order to build a healthy relation with old age people and also to address their issues effectively, good communication skills are required. “Medical colleges, nursing colleges and other paramedical institutions are the best places where one can learn these skills,” he said. 
He said that India requires more Geriatricians as India will soon have a population boom, with above 60 years aged people would outnumber the below five age of the population, in few years.
KCIAG Vice President Dr Parasuramulu said that it is the duty of society to ensure equality in life for the old age. “Money or lack of access should not be a hinderance in rendering services to the old age. They are the asset to the society and need to be respected,” he said.Manipal University Pro-Vice Chancellor Dr V Surendra Shetty was the chief guest on the occasion. Manipal University Registrar Dr G K Prabhu, Vishwas Trust Head Dr Olinda Pereira, Kasturba Medical College Dean Dr M V Prabhu, Community Medicine HoD Dr B Unnikrishnan, Medicine HoD Dr R V Bhat, Organising Secretary Dr Prabha Adhikari were also present during the function.
Source:Deccan Herald

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Oxford Univ study shows increased DHA intake improves reading progress in children

University of Oxford UK, lead researchers of the new clinical study have  indicated that DHA supplementation appears to be an effective way to improve reading in healthy but underperforming children from mainstream schools.
Increased dietary intake of algal DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) in school-aged children with low reading levels demonstrated significant improvements in reading performance and behaviour.
“Poor reading skills as a child impact all learning and can lead to a host of problems in adulthood,” said Dr Alex Richardson, senior research fellow at the University of Oxford, director of Food and Behaviour (FAB) Research and  lead investigator.
“The DHA Oxford Learning and Behaviour (DOLAB) trial showed that taking daily algal DHA supplements improved reading performance for the worst readers, and helped these children catch up with their peer group,” he added.
The study results were published in the peer-reviewed PLoS ONE journal on September 6, 2012. The DOLAB trial, an independent study initiated at the University of Oxford, was funded by a grant from DSM Nutritional Products, and DSM’s algal DHA omega-3 oil was used as the active treatment for the intervention.
The DOLAB Trial was a parallel group, fixed-dose, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial designed to assess whether an increased dietary intake of DHA omega-3 had benefits on reading performance, working memory and behaviour in healthy school-aged children. The study population included 362 healthy children aged seven to nine years recruited from mainstream state schools in Oxfordshire, UK underperforming in literacy skills (<33rd abilities="abilities" adhd.="adhd." but="but" for="for" medications="medications" normal="normal" not="not" on="on" other="other" percentile="percentile" population="population" range.="range." reading="reading" span="span" standardized="standardized" study="study" taking="taking" test="test" the="the" was="was" with="with" within="within">
The active treatment intervention was a fixed dose of 600 mg DHA (from algal oil), delivered in 3 x 500 mg capsules/day, each providing 200 mg DHA. The placebo treatment was 3 x 500 mg capsules/day containing corn/soybean oil placebo, matched with active treatment for taste and colour. Duration of treatment was 16 weeks with delivery of capsules via schools and parents at other times.
The study results come at a time when many school-aged children lack sufficient reading skills. According to the most recent report card by the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), students in the United States continue to struggle with reading, the most fundamental educational skill. More than a third of all fourth-grade public school students cannot read at even the most basic level and another third only reach the level of proficient.
Royal DSM is a global science-based company active in health, nutrition and materials. DSM Nutritional Products provided the funding for the study but had no role in the study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.


Memory Plays an Important Role in Helping You Stick to Your Diet

A new study suggests that memory could play a vital role in making sure that you stick to your diet after researchers found a number of traits, including a form of memory, among those who stick with their diet even after losing weight. 
Those who fall down on the traits, known collectively as executive function, are more likely to give into temptation.

Executive function is an individual's ability to weigh up options, prioritise, multi-task and plan ahead. It also includes prospective memory - the form of recall that we need to carry out plans. 
People with poor prospective memory forget to do things planned for the near future like locking the door, meeting a friend or posting a letter. 
In the case of dieters, it could simply lead to them forgetting that they are on a diet. 
"Prospective memory keeps you on track. Every time you are offered something to eat, you have to bring to mind that you are on a diet," the Daily Mail quoted researcher Julia Allan, a health psychologist, as saying. 
A series of studies carried out at Aberdeen University showed the importance of executive function to adhering to healthy eating resolutions. 
For instance, when volunteers regularly wrote down what they ate over a three day period, those shown in tests to have poor executive function ate less fruit and vegetables and more sugary snacks than they'd intended. 
And when dieters were given the option to tuck into chocolate, those with poor executive function were more likely to give into temptation. 
"A person with less efficient executive function is less likely to resist temptation and stick with what they had planned on any given day, than someone with excellent executive function," Dr Allan said. 
The findings of the study were presented at the British Science Festival in Aberdeen.


Novel Device to Heal Muscle Pain

New E-sized device developed by researchers helps ease musculoskeletal pain. 
Edith Cowan University (ECU) School of Exercise and Health research student Harry Banyard has been investigating the effectiveness of electromagnetic therapy in treating muscle damage.
 Pulsed electromagnetic field therapy (PEMFT) has already been proven to speed up the healing of bone fracture and osteoarthritis, but no scientific evidence exists on whether it can help in the recovery of muscles, explains Banyard. 
"In testing the PEMFT, using a machine called an e-cell, I wanted to determine whether the device could really have an impact on debilitating conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis and muscle tears and sprains experienced by elite athletes," Banyard said. 
"Current treatments for these conditions include costly trips to physiotherapists and remedial massage therapists. This device could provide an alternative," added Banyard, acording to an ECU statement. 
The e-cell device was tested by Banyard over a period of six months on both male and female volunteers. Muscle damage was induced in their biceps by forcibly lowering their extended arm using a machine while they tried to maximally resist it. 
"The results suggested that the e-cell treatment significantly enhanced the recovery of muscle function including a rapid return of strength and range of motion, greatly reducing swelling and tenderness," Banyard said. 
"The range of conditions that the e-cell could assist in treating is endless. It has the potential to be used in post-operative care for joint replacements, as well as in elite athlete recovery and for the weekend warrior gym goer who goes a bit too hard," he said.


Marijuana Use may Boost Testicular Cancer Risk

Recreational marijuana use may increase the risk of developing subtypes of testicular cancer, states research published in CANCER. 
Testicular cancer is the most common cancer diagnosed in young men ages 15 to 45 years. The malignancy is becoming more common, and researchers suspect this is due to increasing exposure to unrecognized environmental causes.
To see if recreational drug use might play a role, Victoria Cortessis, MSPH, PhD, assistant professor of preventive medicine at the Keck School of Medicine of USC in Los Angeles, and her colleagues looked at the self-reported history of recreational drug use in 163 young men diagnosed with testicular cancer and compared it with that of 292 healthy men of the same age and race/ethnicity. 

The investigators found that men with a history of using marijuana were twice as likely to have subtypes of testicular cancer called non-seminoma and mixed germ cell tumors. These tumors usually occur in younger men and carry a somewhat worse prognosis than the seminoma subtype. The study's findings confirm those from two previous reports in CANCER on a potential link between marijuana use and testicular cancer. 
"We do not know what marijuana triggers in the testis that may lead to carcinogenesis, although we speculate that it may be acting through the endocannabinoid system—the cellular network that responds to the active ingredient in marijuana—since this system has been shown to be important in the formation of sperm," said Cortessis. 
The researchers also discovered that men with a history of using cocaine had a reduced risk of both subtypes of testicular cancer. This finding suggests that men with testicular cancer are not simply more willing to report a history of using recreational drugs. While it is unknown how cocaine may influence testicular cancer risk, the authors suspect that the drug may kill sperm-producing germ cells since it has this effect on experimental animals. 
"If this is correct, then 'prevention' would come at a high price," Cortessis said. "Although germ cells can not develop cancer if they are first destroyed, fertility would also be impaired. Since this is the first study in which an association between cocaine use and lower testis cancer risk is noted, additional epidemiological studies are needed to validate the results." 


Smoking: Quitting is tough for teens, too

Abstinence from smoking seems to affect teens differently than adults in a couple of ways, but a new study provides evidence that most of the psychological difficulties of quitting are as strong for relatively new, young smokers as they are for adults who have been smoking much longer.“Adolescents are showing — even relatively early in the dependence process — significant, strong, negative effects just after acute abstinence from smoking,” said L. Cinnamon Bidwell, assistant professor (research) in psychiatry and human behavior and the Center for Alcohol and Addiction Studies. “Our study shows what those specific effects are. We chose a broad array” of factors to study.In controlled experiments, teens who abstained for nearly a day experienced withdrawal symptoms, smoking urges, exacerbations of negative mood, and higher provoked cravings at levels similar to those previously measured in abstaining adults, according to the study published online Sept. 4 in the journal Nicotine and Tobacco Research. Teens who abstained did differ from adults on two measures however: They didn’t become more irritated by certain test sounds and they didn’t lose the capacity to still feel happy (“positive affect” in the study’s parlance).“In terms of the subjective negative reactions and the urge reactions, their patterns look remarkably similar to adults,” said Suzanne Colby, associate professor (research) in psychiatry and human behavior and at the center. “That is really interesting because they are smoking fewer cigarettes per day and they’ve just been smokers for a shorter period of time.”To conduct the research, lead author Bidwell, senior author Colby, and their team measured a variety of psychological effects on 96 teens aged 13 to 19 in three experimental groups: 22 nonsmokers, 47 smokers whom they asked to abstain for almost a full day, and 27 smokers whom they allowed to continue smoking. On average the teen smokers coming into the study consumed about nine cigarettes a day and had been smoking for about two years.The researchers made the psychological measurements using standardized methods at two sessions with each group. For the abstainers the first session occurred before abstention and the second occurred during it. The researchers measured the smokers’ expired carbon monoxide levels in breath samples at the first session to establish a baseline and again at the second session to confirm whether abstinence, or continued smoking, had indeed occurred.
Confounding cravings
Among the team’s findings was the surprising degree to which abstaining teens felt cravings even when presented with supposedly neutral cues. Their measured craving levels, even when “provoked” with cues as innocuous as a pencil and pad of paper, were about as high as when they were shown overt smoking cues, such as a lit cigarette of their favorite brand.“They came in and their craving and negative affect were already high,” Colby said.What the researchers observed, therefore, was not that abstaining teens have an elevated level of craving when shown smoking cues versus neutral ones, but that their craving level is elevated almost regardless of experimental cues. But when the researchers compared abstainers to peers who either don’t smoke at all, or who didn’t have to stop smoking, the abstainers did exhibit a stronger “peak” reaction from smoking-specific cues than the other teens did.
Teen treatment
Ultimately, Bidwell and Colby hope the research will inform efforts to make smoking cessation and withdrawal treatment more effective for teens. Would it help, they ask, if treatment tried to mitigate these measurable difficulties of abstaining?“Our findings point to withdrawal, urge (both un-cued and peak provoked), and negative affect (both un-cued and peak provoked) as candidate mediators for treatment efficacy in adolescents and suggest that future treatment trials should be designed to test mediation through these mechanisms,” the authors wrote. “It remains unclear whether the lack of efficacy emerges because these treatments do not effectively reduce abstinence effects or, alternatively, because the theoretical approach is incorrect (e.g. these treatments are effective at reducing abstinence effects but reducing the negative effects abstinence does not improve cessation outcomes).”But now researchers have a better understanding of what those negative effects of abstinence are for teens; most of those negative effects are just as intense for young, new smokers as for older, more experienced ones.In addition to Bidwell and Colby, other authors are Jennifer Tidey and Linda Brazil of Brown, Raymond Niaura of Brown and The Schroeder Institute for Tobacco Research and Policy Studies, and Adam Leventhal of the University of Southern California.The National Cancer Institute funded the research.
Source:Brown University

UEA research reveals responses of genes in females to sex

Sex can trigger remarkable female responses including altered fertility, immunity, libido, eating and sleep patterns -- by the activation of diverse sets of genes, according to research from the University of East Anglia
Sex can trigger remarkable female responses including altered fertility, immunity, libido, eating and sleep patterns - by the activation of diverse sets of genes, according to research from the University of East Anglia.
Publishing today in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B, the researchers studied how female Drosophila melanogaster - or fruit flies – respond to mating.
They discovered that a single protein found in semen generates a wide range of responses in many genes in females, which become apparent at different times and in different parts of the female's body following mating.
The findings could in principle be akin to responses in many animals, including humans, where sperm and semen is released inside the female's body during sex.
Lead researcher Prof Tracey Chapman, from UEA's school of Biological Sciences, said: "It's already known that seminal fluid proteins transferred from males during mating cause remarkable effects in females – including altered egg laying, feeding, immunity, sleep patterns, water balance and sexual receptivity.
"We tested here the effects of one enigmatic seminal fluid protein, known as the 'sex peptide', and found it to change the expression of a remarkable array of many genes in females – both across time and in different parts of the body.
"There were significant alterations to genes linked to egg development, early embryogenesis, immunity, nutrient sensing, behavior and, unexpectedly, phototransduction – or the pathways by which they see.
"It showed that the semen protein is a 'master regulator' – which ultimately means that males effectively have a direct and global influence on the behaviour and reproductive system of the female. Such effects may well occur across many species.
"An additional and intriguing twist is that the effects of semen proteins can favour the interests of males whilst generating costs in females, resulting in sexual conflict.
"For example, there can be a tug-of-war, where males employ semen proteins to ensure that females make a large investment in the current brood – even if that doesn't suit the longer term interests of females."
Source:University of East Anglia 

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

What's the main cause of obesity – our genes or the environment?

Head to head: Are the causes of obesity primarily environmental?

The ongoing obesity epidemic is creating an unprecedented challenge for healthcare systems around the world, but what determines who gets fat? Two experts debate the issue on today.
Timothy Frayling, Professor of Human Genetics at the University of Exeter thinks that genetic factors are the main driver for obesity in today's environment. Twin and adoption studies show consistently that variation in body mass index has a strong genetic component, with estimated effects of up to 70%, he says.
Studies also show that people carrying two copies of a gene associated with obesity (the FTO gene) are, on average, heavier than those carrying two copies of the protective version.
A recent study of over 200,000 people showed that the FTO variant had a stronger effect in sedentary people than in those who are physically active, while studies of physical activity in schoolchildren suggest that education may not be as important as we think, he adds.
"Although DNA variations explain only a small percentage of the variation in body mass index, they provide proof of principle that genetic factors influence it over environmental factors," writes Frayling.
In conclusion, he says, genetic factors influence substantially where you are on the body mass index scale in a given population at a given time, and evidence is accumulating that these genetic factors may operate largely through appetite control.
He adds: "If true, plans based on changing our environment, such as banning the sale of supersized sugary drinks, may be more successful than plans to increase awareness through education."
But John Wilding, Professor of Medicine at the University of Liverpool believes that changes in our environment are responsible for increasing obesity.
He acknowledges the role of genetics in the regulation of body weight, but argues that the rapid increase in obesity seen over the past 30 years cannot be due to genetic changes.
In contrast, the evidence that the environment has changed is overwhelming, he says.
He points to the recent fall in the cost of energy dense foods, alongside successful promotion by the food industry, and a decline in physical activity due to changes in transport, technology, and the built environment as key drivers for the obesity epidemic.
It will be important to identify genetic causes for rare cases that may be treated, he says. However, changes to the food and physical environment are going to be essential if we are to have a meaningful impact on the obesity epidemic.
He calls for "a radical approach … backed by strong legislation influencing food production and marketing, and ensuring the built environment and transport systems are designed to encourage active living."
In summary, he says "obesity is a complex disorder with both genetic and environmental causes. The predominant driver is environmental, and changes to the environment will be essential if we are to tackle the current epidemic."
Source:BMJ-British Medical Journal 

Asthma study could bring big change to daily regimen

For two decades, asthma treatment for millions of people with a milder form of the disease has consisted of daily inhaled steroid medicine to reduce inflammation. Now, a new study has found that asthmatics who take the low-dose medication as a daily routine do no better than those who turn to their inhalers only when they have symptoms.
The findings suggest a different, personalized, and far less expensive approach to treating the common inflammatory condition, according to the researchers.
The report will be published in TheJournal of the American Medical Association on September 12, 2012.
In effect, the study challenges national and international guidelines that have been in place for 20 years. According to those recommendations, if a person's asthma is mild but persistent, he or she should take an inhaled steroid every day to suppress airway inflammation and reduce the risk of exacerbations.
Mild persistent asthma is one of four types of the disease, which affects as many as one in every 12 people in the United States, according to federal statistics.
"Daily treatment with an inhaled corticosteroid has long been believed to be the best treatment for mild persistent asthma, but it is not followed by the majority of patients,'' said senior author Homer A. Boushey, MD, a UCSF professor of medicine in the division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine. A pioneer in the field who has been involved in asthma research for 40 years, Boushey served on the expert committee that developed the current National Institutes of Health's guidelines for managing the disease.
"People don't seem to like taking this type of treatment every day – just a third of the inhaler prescriptions are renewed even once,'' Boushey said. "So we wondered what would happen if people with mild asthma already well controlled by daily treatment with an inhaled corticosteroid instead took a puff only when they used their rescue medication – usually albuterol -- for relief of symptoms.''
The upshot: patients who took inhaled corticosteroid only when they had symptoms wound up using half as much of the medication but did not have more severe symptoms. Nor did they miss more days of work or school, or have more flare-ups.
Called the Best Adjustment Strategy for Asthma in the Longer Term trial (BASALT), the study involved a randomized, double-blinded, placebo-controlled trial conducted by the Asthma Clinical Research Network at 10 academic medical centers across the country including UCSF and the University of Texas Medical Branch.
Altogether, 342 adults with mild to moderate, persistent asthma took part in the study over nine months between 2007 and 2010. All were diagnosed by physicians and all had either reversible airflow limitation or airway hyperresponsiveness. In each case, the participant's asthma was under control due to low-dose inhaled corticosteroids.
The scientists in the study evaluated three different approaches to the use of inhaled corticosteroids:
  • Inhaler assessments and dosage adjustments made every six weeks by a physician;
  • Inhaler adjustments made every six weeks based on measurements of exhaled nitric oxide, a marker of inflammation of the airwaves;
  • Inhaler usage adjusted by participants based on their day-to-day symptoms – this consisted of taking one puff of their inhaled corticosteroid for every puff of an albuterol inhaler taken "as needed'' for relief of symptoms.
    The researchers found that the frequency of flare-ups or exacerbations of asthma, symptom severity, and pulmonary function did not differ among the treatment groups. There was, however, a significant association between the effectiveness of self-administered medicine and race: Hispanic participants did not do as well with day-to-day adjusted treatment. The researchers conjectured that this could reflect linguistic or other social or cultural differences.
    "The goal of our study was to compare different approaches to adjusting inhaled corticosteroid treatment on the frequency and severity of asthma attacks and on quality of life,'' Boushey said. "This is not a treatment breakthrough but it may possibly open the door to a new approach to treatment, and it will certainly be considered by the expert panel for the NIH's guidelines for asthma treatment.
    "This approach allows personalization of treatment and is easy for patients. Also, it could hypothetically result in saving $2 billion a year in medication costs,'' Boushey said.
    UCSF co-authors are John V. Fahy, MD, a professor of pulmonary medicine, and Stephen C. Lazarus, MD, a professor of clinical medicine. The lead authors are William J. Calhoun, MD, and Bill T. Ameredes, PhD, of the University of Texas Medical Branch.
    "This is a step forward in asthma management,'' Calhoun said. "It enables patients to use their steroids only when they have symptoms. It is 'temporal personalization,' adjusting medication on a day to day basis.''
    Asthma has been on the upswing for much of the last century, and is now one of the most common diseases in the world, affecting approximately 300 million people globally including an estimated 24 million people in the U.S., according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Infection.
    More prevalent in western, developed countries, the condition varies in its severity – some people are affected daily, others seasonally or episodically. Asthma is classified into four types based on severity: intermittent, mild persistent, moderate persistent, and severe persistent.
    Source:University of California - San Francisco 
  • Analyzing the 'Facebook Effect' on organ and tissue donation

    Hastings Center Fellows who helped draft federal organ donation act say Facebook and other social media can 'greatly expand the gift of life'

    (Garrison, NY) When Facebook introduced a feature that enables people to register to become organ and tissue donors, thousands did so, dwarfing any previous donation initiative, write Blair L. Sadler and Alfred M. Sadler, Jr., in a commentary in Bioethics Forum, the blog of the Hastings Center Report, which analyzes the "Facebook effect" on donation.
    The Sadlers, Founding Fellows of The Hastings Center, helped draft the Uniform Anatomical Gift Act, established in 1968 to standardize state laws on the donation of organs and tissue after death. Blair Sadler, a lawyer, is a member of The Hastings Center's Board of Directors. Alfred Sadler is a physician.
    Their commentary tracks the response to Facebook's introduction, on May 1, of a feature that lets people state their wishes to become donors in an attempt to reduce the long waiting lists for organs and tissue. "By the end of the day of the announcement, 6,000 people had enrolled through 22 state registries," the Sadlers write. In California alone, 3,900 people signed up, compared with 70 on a typical day.
    After two weeks, the rate of registration returned to previous levels, but the Sadlers suggest several strategies for harnessing the full potential of social media to achieve a sustained increase in registration. "Perhaps missing is the repeated cuing that can help drive individual action," they write. "An annual day to celebrate registered organ donors would be one way to enhance cuing. Asking state donor organizations to provide Facebook with real-time updates on the growing number of registered donors might be another."
    "State registries could include social sharing on their sites, so that once a person joins the registry, he or she has the option to share this information via Facebook, Twitter, and other social networks which should drive awareness among friends and family," they write
    The Sadlers also suggest that social media companies allow donor registries to advertise at no cost. "Facebook has challenged other technology companies to show corporate leadership and has demonstrated the power of social media to encourage altruism."
    Source:The Hastings Center 


    Researchers improve gene therapy technique for children with immune disorder

    By including chemotherapy as a conditioning regimen prior to treatment, researchers have developed a refined gene therapy approach that safely and effectively restores the immune system of children with a form of severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID), according to a study published online today in Blood, the Journal of the American Society of Hematology (ASH).
    SCID is a group of rare and debilitating genetic disorders that affect the normal development of the immune system in newborns. Infants with SCID are prone to serious, life-threatening infections within the first few months of life and require extensive treatment for survival beyond infancy.
    Adenosine deaminase (ADA) deficiency, which accounts for approximately 15 percent of all SCID cases, develops when a gene mutation prohibits the production of ADA, an enzyme that breaks down toxic molecules that can accumulate to harmful levels and kill lymphocytes, the specialized white blood cells that help make up the immune system. In its absence, infants with ADA-deficient SCID lack almost all immune defenses and their condition is almost always fatal within two years if left untreated. Standard treatment for ADA-deficient SCID is a hematopoietic stem cell transplant (HSCT) from a sibling or related donor; however, finding a matched donor can be difficult and transplants can carry significant risks. An alternate treatment method, enzyme replacement therapy (ERT), involves regular injections of the ADA enzyme to maintain the immune system and can help restore immune function; however, the treatments are extremely expensive and painful for the young patients and the effects are often only temporary.
    Given the limitations of HSCT and ERT, in the 1990s researchers began investigating the efficacy of gene therapy for ADA-deficient SCID. They discovered that they could "correct" the function of a mutated gene by adding a healthy copy into the cells of the body that help fight infectious diseases. Since then, there have been significant advances in gene therapy for SCID, yet successful gene therapy in patients with ADA-deficient SCID has been seen in only a small series of children due to the difficulty of introducing a healthy ADA gene into bone marrow stem cells and to engraft these cells back into the patients.
    "Although the basic steps of gene therapy for patients with SCID have been known for a while, technical and clinical challenges still exist and we wanted to find an optimized gene therapy protocol to restore immunity for young children with ADA-deficient SCID," said Fabio Candotti, MD, one of the study's senior authors, senior investigator in the Genetics and Molecular Biology Branch of the National Human Genome Research Institute at the National Institutes of Health, and chair of the ASH Scientific Committee on Immunology and Host Defense.
    To determine whether an enhanced gene therapy approach would improve immunity in children with ADA-deficient SCID, the teams of Dr. Candotti and Donald B. Kohn, MD, director of the Human Gene Medicine Program at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), Professor of Pediatrics and of Microbiology, Immunology, and Molecular Genetics, and a member of the Eli and Edythe Broad Center of Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell Research at UCLA, conducted a clinical trial in 10 patients with the disorder. For the first time, Drs. Candotti and Kohn and their team of investigators compared two different retroviral vectors, MND-ADA and GCsapM-ADA, to transport normal ADA genes into the young patients' bone marrow stem cells as well as two different treatment plans in preparation for receiving gene therapy. Following therapy, investigators found that more bone marrow stem cells were marked with the MND-ADA vector, demonstrating its superiority over the GCsapM-ADA vector.
    The investigators also sought to determine whether providing a low dose of chemotherapy prior to gene therapy, known as a pre-transplant conditioning regimen, would successfully deplete the young patients' bone marrow stem cells and make room for gene-corrected stem cells. In four patients, gene therapy was performed without chemotherapy, and the patients remained on ERT throughout the entire procedure to evaluate the efficiency of ERT combined with gene therapy. While these patients did not experience any adverse effects, they also did not experience a significant increase in their levels of the ADA enzyme. They also maintained low absolute lymphocyte counts (ALC) and minimal immune system function, leading the researchers to believe that ERT may weaken the therapy's effect by diluting the number of gene-corrected lymphocytes.
    The remaining six patients were treated with the chemotherapy drug busulfan prior to gene therapy and ERT was discontinued prior to the gene therapy procedure. A significant increase in ADA was observed in all six patients; half of them remain off of ERT with partial immune reconstitution – findings that support results from prior trials in Italy and the United Kingdom using chemotherapy prior to gene therapy and discontinuting ERT. While the ALC of all six patients declined sharply in the first few months due to combined effects of busulfan administration and ERT withdrawal, their counts increased from six to 24 months, even in the three patients that remained off of ERT. After adjusting the chemotherapy dosage, investigators were able to determine an optimal level for enhancing the efficacy of the gene-therapy-corrected cells with minimal toxicity.
    This study is the first to detail comparisons of ADA-deficient SCID patient outcomes between those treated with gene therapy who have not received pre-transplant conditioning while continuing to receive ERT with those receiving pre-transplant conditioning without the administration of ERT. This study is also the first to compare two different viral vectors to transport normal ADA genes into patient bone marrow.
    "We were very happy that in this trial we were able to see a benefit in the patients after we modified the protocol," said Dr. Kohn. "Doctors treating ADA-deficient SCID have had too few options for too long, and we hope this will provide them with an efficient and effective treatment for this devastating disease."
    Source:American Society of Hematology 

    What Do Saving Money and Losing Weight Have in Common?

     Consumers will pay more when they are given different options to pursue shortterm goals, but will pay more for similar options when pursuing long-term goals, according to a new study in the Journal of Consumer Research.“Many of the benefits of pursuing self-control goals such as being healthy are experienced in the future. Thus, a key component of our success in meeting our goals is the ability to remain motivated. One way for consumers to managemotivation is to strategically choose the options available to them in pursuing 
    their goals,” write authors Jordan Etkin and Rebecca K. Ratner (both University of Maryland).
    Consumers often use multiple products to help them achieve their goals. For example, a health-conscious consumer might go shopping for healthy snacks to consume over the next few days. She might purchase many packages of the same healthy snack or a variety of healthy snacks. Would she be more motivated to behealthy this week if she plans to consume many different snacks instead of the same snack repeatedly? How about over the next year? In one study, consumers were more motivated to save money in the presentwhen they thought about different approaches to saving, but more motivated to savemoney over the next year when thinking of similar approaches to saving. In another study, consumers participated in an auction for a personal training session. When told the session would take place in a week, consumers were
    willing to pay more when the trainer emphasized different exercises. However,when the session would take place in a month, consumers were willing to pay more when the trainer emphasized similar exercises.
    “Companies wanting to encourage consumers to focus on being healthy in the present should highlight differences among product assortments while highlighting similarities when encouraging healthy behavior in the future.Consumers seeking to save money could focus on differences among the ways they are currently saving to keep them motivated in the present, or on similarities between the ways they are saving to keep them motivated as they plan for the future,” the authors conclude.
    Source:” Journal of Consumer Research

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