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Friday, 5 October 2012

207 Ayush colleges permitted to give admission in UG/PG courses during 2012-13

The central government has given permission to 207 colleges and institutes  for giving admission in under graduate and post graduate courses of Ayush during 2012-13. The government's approval comes Under Section 13C/A of the IMCC Act.
Of these, 169 colleges are Ayurvedic colleges, 31 colleges are Unani colleges and 7 colleges are Siddha colleges. Out of 169 Ayurvedic colleges, 39 colleges are Govt. colleges, 130 colleges are private colleges. Of the 31 Unani colleges, eight are Govt. colleges and 23 are private Unani colleges. Of the seven Siddha colleges, three colleges are Govt. colleges, four colleges are private colleges.
While the Government has allowed 8785 seats in under graduate courses in Ayurveda, 1523 seats have been allowed in post graduate courses. Of the 8785 seats in under graduate courses, 1765 seats are in the Govt. Ayurvedic colleges, 7020 seats are in private Ayurvedic colleges. Of the 1523 post graduate seats, 404 seats are in Govt. Ayurvedic colleges and institutes, 1119 seats are in private Ayurvedic colleges.
1154 seats have been permitted for admission in under graduate course in Unani during 2012-13. Of these, 276 seats are in eight Govt. colleges, 880 seats are in private colleges. Of the 86 seats in post graduate course, 63 seats are in Govt. colleges, 23 seats are in private colleges.
330 seats have been permitted in Under Graduate course in Siddha. Of these, 150 seats are in 3 Govt. colleges, 180 seats are in private colleges. Only three Govt. Siddha colleges have been permitted to admit 138 students in Post Graduate course.
Maharashtra tops the list with 48 Ayurvedic colleges. In addition to this, there are four Unani colleges in the state. Karnataka has 34 Ayurvedic colleges, five Unani colleges in the state.
Altogether 22 states are having Ayush colleges/institutes in the country. These states are – Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, Chhattishgarh, Delhi, Goa, Gujrat, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Orissa, Punjab, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand and West Bengal.

Study Sheds Light on the Workings of the Inner Ear

Stereocilia - the tiny hairs present in the sensory cells of the inner ear not only move sideways but also change in length, finds recent study. 
The discovery, which was made in collaboration with scientists at Baylor College of Medicine in Texas, USA provides new fundamental knowledge about the mechanisms of hearing. It is presented in the online scientific journal Nature Communications.
 Before we can perceive speech, music and other sounds, the sound waves must be converted into electric impulses in the auditory nerve, a process mediated by the sensory cells of the inner ear. Previous studies revealed that sound causes a lateral movement of the tiny hairs that project from these cells that opens and closes mechanically sensitive ion channels to create the sensation of hearing. 

It is impossible the study the movement of the human cilia because the sensory cells are deeply embedded in thick bone, but in guinea pigs and gerbils the inner ear is surrounded by thin bone. Using a special in-house designed microscope, the scientists have been able to observe the sound-induced ciliary motion. 
"This revealed something surprising – that the hairs not only bend sideways but also change in length," says Dr Anders Fridberger, docent and physician at the Centre for Hearing and Communication Research at Karolinska Institutet's Department of Clinical Science, Intervention and Technology. "These longitudinal changes have an important effect on the process of converting sound waves into electrical signals, which is necessary for hearing." 
The scientists show that the stereocilia's ability to change length was greater when the electric potential around the sensory cells was low, which is known to happen in connection with noise damage and age-related hearing loss. The voltage drop causes the hairs to become overly soft, thus impairing ear function. 
"Our findings might possibly help us understand why the ear doesn't work as well in such cases," says Dr Fridberger. "And maybe one day they can be put to use in the development of a new treatment for impaired hearing. If we can use a drug to restore the cilia's normal stiffness we could make the ear work better, but this is something for the distant future, if it is even possible. What we must do now is to discover the exact mechanism that controls ciliary stiffness." 


How ayurvedic & allopathic medicine business is adding Rs 300 crore to Karnal's economy

 Known for farm innovations, Karnal is now growing into an industrial hub for pharmaceuticalmanufacturing units, both allopathic and ayurvedic. The industry is creating both direct and indirect job opportunities for around 5,000-5,500 people with an annual turnover of near Rs 250 to Rs 300 crore. 
Though, the industry has been in existence here for more than fifty years, its growth has started to accelerate in the past few years, clocking around 15 percent annual growth. RL Sharma, president, Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association (PMA) of Karnal informed that in the past ten years, compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of the industry in the region has been around 15 percent. 
"Net annual turnover of units has been oscillating between Rs 250 and Rs 300 crore, in which ayurveda contributes around Rs 50 crore." He said that Karnal-based pharmaceutical manufacturers are in export also. 
"Around 20 percent of our net turnover (Rs 50 crore - Rs 60 crore) comes from the global merchandise," said Sharma. There are around 55-60 pharmaceutical units operating in Karnal out of which allopathic units are around 35 and ayurvedic units are near 20-25. 
Elaborating on the annual turnover of the pharma industry in the region, Sharma said, "There are around 35 units dealing in allopathic drugs. On an average, one unit is having an annual turnover of around Rs 7 crore to Rs 7.5 crore. So, net annual turnover of the allopathic drug manufacturing units in the region would be around Rs 250 crore." 
Sharma of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association of Karnal said that pharma industry is labour intensive and one unit creates direct job opportunity for around 35-40 people. Apart from this, it creates indirect jobs in the region, which would be around 1.5 to 2 times of the direct job creation. "On an average, one pharma unit is creating around 100 direct and indirect job opportunities in Karnal," said Sharma. 
AYURVEDA BIZ Dr Gulshan Gulati, a major player in ayurvedic manufacturing in Karnal said, "Ayurvedic units in Karnal produces all kinds of drugs available in the market but like any other market it also has its own some USP (Unique Sales Proposition)." He said that the majority of business in this segment comes from drugs for chronic diseases and the oils made for arthritis patients. He informed that ayurvedic and chronic disease medicines manufactured in Karnal are in huge demand both in the domestic and in the global market. 
Karnal exports ayurvedic medicines to Russia and West Asian countries and it generates around 10 percent (Rs 5 crore to Rs 6 crore) of its net turnover through export. Elaborating about the supply chain of the ayurvedic products in domestic market, Dr Gulati said, "Karnal has been a traditional hub for ayurvedic medicines since ancient times but recently it has started taking shape of an industry and has been logging consistent percent growth in last ten years."

Source:The Economic Times

Managing Obesity - Different Age Groups Require Different Methods

New study has revealed that eating habits of overweight children aged between 9 and 17 years are different from overweight children below the age of nine. 
Pediatrics researchers have discovered that younger overweight children consume more calories per day in comparison to their healthy weight peers, while older overweight children showed the reverse trend
 Fat children become fat adults, hence, obesity begins very early in most children. Once they get older, they become conscious of their body and tend to eat less; nevertheless, they continue to be obese. 

Asheley Cockrell Skinner of the University of North Carolina School of Medicine, said the reason for this could be due to the fact that overweight kids are not as active as healthy weight children. Besides, obesity is just not about eating more but it is about the complexity of the body, its activity level and how it reacts to food eaten. 
The study results suggest that different strategies may be required to carry out weight management in children of different age groups, for example, the focus on young children must be on calorie intake while in older children it must be on increasing physical activity. 
This study has been recently published online in the journal Pediatrics. 


Aspirin may Temper Brain Power Decline in Elderly Women at Risk of Heart Disease: Research

Observational research indicates that a daily low dose aspirin could slow the decline in brain power among elderly women at high risk of heart disease. The research is published in the online journal BMJ Open.
The researchers base their findings on 681 women between the ages of 70 and 92, 601 of whom were at high risk of heart disease and stroke, defined as a 10% or greater risk on a validated risk scale (Framingham).
All the women were subjected to a battery of tests to measure their physical health and intellectual capacity, including verbal fluency and memory speed, and dementia (mini mental state exam, or MMSE for short) in 2000-1. 

Their health was tracked over a period of five years, at the end of which the intellectual capacity of 489 women was assessed again. 
Some 129 women were taking low dose aspirin (75 to 160 mg) every day to ward off a heart attack or stroke when the monitoring period started. A further 94 were taking various other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). 
The MMSE score fell, on average, across the whole group at the end of the five years, but this decline was considerably less in the 66 women who had taken aspirin every day over the entire period. 
This held true, even after taking account of age, genetic factors, the use of other NSAIDs, and the cardiovascular risk score. 
The researchers then divided up the group into those who had taken aspirin for the entire five years (66); those who had stopped taking it by 2005-6 (18); those who were taking it by 2005-6 (67); and those who hadn't taken the drug at any point (338). 
Compared with women who had not taken aspirin at all, those who had done so for all five years, increased their MMSE score, while those who had taken aspirin at some point, registered only insignificant falls in MMSE score. 
The test results for verbal fluency and memory speed indicated similar patterns, although the findings weren't statistically significant. 
There were no differences, however, in the rate at which the women developed dementia. 
The researchers then looked only at the women with a Framingham risk score of more than 10%. Again, similar patterns were evident. 
The fall in MMSE score was less among those taking aspirin than those who weren't, and there was no difference between those taking other NSAIDs and those who weren't. The same was true of the verbal and memory tests, although the differences were not statistically significant. 
The authors caution that theirs was an observational study, and that the MMSE can't detect subtle changes in cognitive ability. But they suggest their findings indicate that aspirin may protect the brain—at least in women at high risk of a heart attack or stroke. 

Thursday, 4 October 2012

'Quality-by-design' Can Ensure Safety and High-quality of Herbal Dietary Supplements

'Quality by design' (QbD) — a mindset that helped revolutionize the manufacture of cars and hundreds of other products — if applied to the $5-billion-per-year dietary supplement industry, can ease concerns about the safety and integrity of the herbal products used by 80 percent of the world's population. That's the conclusion of an article in ACS' Journal of Natural Products.
Ikhlas Khan and Troy Smillie explain that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates dietary supplements as a category of foods, rather than drugs. Manufacturers are responsible for the safety of their products. However, they need not obtain FDA approval to market supplements that contain ingredients generally regarded as safe. While manufacturers, packagers and distributors are required to follow good manufacturing practices, variations in growing, processing and even naming the plants used to make supplements opens the door to problems and introduces challenges with reproducibility. As a result, "the consumer must take it on faith that the supplement they are ingesting is an accurate representation of what is listed on the label, and that it contains the purportedly 'active' constituents they seek," Khan and Smillie note. The authors looked for solutions in a review of more than 100 studies on the topic. 

They concluded that a QbD approach — ensuring the quality of a product from its very inception — is the best strategy. One key step in applying QbD to dietary supplements, for instance, would involve verifying the identities of the raw materials — the plants — used to make supplements. "It is clear that only a systematic designed approach can provide the required solution for complete botanical characterization, authentication and safety evaluation," they say. 
Source:Science Newsline

New Study Sheds Light on Cancer Preventive Effect of Milk

Milk consumption has been linked to improved health, with decreased risks of diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and colon cancer. A recent study sheds light on the cancer preventive properties of milk. A group of scientists in Sweden found that lactoferricin4-14 (Lfcin4-14), a milk protein with known health effects, significantly reduces the growth rate of colon cancer cells over time by prolonging the period of the cell cycle before chromosomes are replicated. In a new study, investigators report that treatment with Lfcin4-14 reduced DNA damage in colon cancer cells exposed to ultraviolet (UV) light. Their results are published in the October issue of the Journal of Dairy Science.
"We previously hypothesized that the prolongation of the cell cycle in colon cancer cells as a result of Lfcin4-14 treatment may give the cells extra time for DNA repair," says one of the lead investigators, Professor Stina Oredsson, of the Department of Biology at the University of Lund, Sweden. "Indeed, UV light-induced damage was decreased in colon cancer cells treated with Lfcin4-14 compared with controls. The differences were small but significant." 

Investigators exposed colon cancer cells to UV light that caused DNA damage and then grew the cells in the absence or presence of Lfcin4-14. They evaluated DNA damage using a sensitive technique known as comet assay. After the cells are processed, the cells with DNA damage resemble a comet with a tail, and the intensity of the tail compared to the comet head indicates the number of DNA breaks. UV light exposure resulted in an increase in the number of comets while treatment with Lfcin4-14 reduced the number of comets in UV light-exposed cells. 
To understand the mechanism by which Lfcin4-14 reduced DNA damage, investigators evaluated the levels of several proteins involved in cell cycle progression, DNA repair, and cell death. They found an increase in flap endonuclease-1, a protein associated with DNA synthesis; a decrease in b-cell lymphoma 2-associated X protein, which is involved with cell death; and a decrease in the level of -H2AX, indicating more efficient DNA repair. "These changes in expression support our hypothesis that Lfcin4-14 treatment resulted in increased DNA repair," says Dr. Oredsson. 
Dr. Oredsson notes that cancer cells, in general, have defects in the DNA repair mechanisms. Thus, Lfcin4-14 may have a greater effect on normal cells than on cancer cells. "Our data suggest that the effects of Lfcin4-14 in prolonging the cell cycle may contribute to the cancer preventive effect of milk. This must be further investigated in different systems," she concludes. 
Source:Science Daily

Study: Free birth control leads to fewer abortions

 Free birth control led to dramatically lower rates of abortions and teen births, a large study concluded Thursday. The findings were eagerly anticipated and come as a bitterly contested Obama administration policy is poised to offer similar coverage.The project tracked more than 9,000 women in St. Louis, many of them poor or uninsured. They were given their choice of a range of contraceptive methods at no cost — from birth control pills to goof-proof options like the IUD or a matchstick-sized implant.When price wasn't an issue, women flocked to the most effectivecontraceptives — the implanted options, which typically cost hundreds of dollars up-front to insert. These women experienced far fewer unintended pregnancies as a result, reported Dr. Jeffrey Peipert of Washington University in St. Louis in a study published Thursday.The effect on teen pregnancy was striking: There were 6.3 births per 1,000 teenagers in the study. Compare that to a national rate of 34 births per 1,000 teens in 2010.There also were substantially lower rates of abortion, when compared with women in the metro area and nationally: 4.4 to 7.5 abortions per 1,000 women in the study, compared with 13.4 to 17 abortions per 1,000 women overall in the St. Louis region, Peipert calculated. That's lower than the national rate, too, which is almost 20 abortions per 1,000 women.In fact, if the program were expanded, one abortion could be prevented for every 79 to 137 women given a free contraceptive choice, Peipert's team reported in the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology.The findings of the study, which ran from 2008 to 2010, come as millions of U.S. women are beginning to get access to contraception without copays under President Barack Obama's health care law. Women's health specialists said the research foreshadows that policy's potential impact."As a society, we want to reduce unintended pregnancies and abortion rates. This study has demonstrated that having access to no-cost contraception helps us get to that goal," said Alina Salganicoff, director of women's health policy at the Kaiser Family Foundation."It's just an amazing improvement," Dr. James T. Breeden, president of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, said of the results. "I would think if you were against abortions, you would be 100 percent for contraception access.The law requires that Food and Drug Administration-approved contraceptives be available for free for women enrolled in most workplace insurance plans, a change that many will see as new plan years begin on Jan. 1.The policy is among the law's most contentious provisions because it exempts churches that oppose contraception but requires religious-affiliated organizations, such as colleges or hospitals, to provide the coverage for their workers. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and many conservative groups say that violates religious freedom, and Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney has voiced similar criticism.This week, a federal judge in St. Louis dismissed a lawsuit challenging the contraception mandate; nearly three dozen similar suits have been filed around the country.Thursday's data didn't sway the critics.Jeanne Monahan of the conservative Family Research Council suggested contraceptive use can encourage riskier sexual behavior."Additionally, one might conclude that the Obama administration's contraception mandate may ultimately cause more unplanned pregnancies since it mandates that all health plans cover contraceptives, including those that the study's authors claim are less effective," Monahan said.Here's why this is a public health issue: Nearly half of the nation's 6 million-plus pregnancies each year are unintended. An estimated 43 percent of them end in abortion. Low-income women are far more likely to have an unplanned pregnancy than their wealthier counterparts."We shouldn't have, in my view, a tiered system where the women with money can get family planning and the women without cannot," said Peipert, noting that 39 percent of the women in his study had trouble paying basic expenses.About half of unplanned pregnancies occur in women who use no contraception. As for the other half, condoms can fail and so can birth control pills or other shorter-acting methods if the woman forgets to use them or can't afford a refill.In contrast, you can forget about pregnancy for three years with Implanon, the implant inserted under the skin of the arm. An IUD, a tiny T-shaped device inserted into the uterus, can last for five to 10 years, depending on the brand. Change your mind, and the doctor removes either device before it wears out.Only about 5 percent of U.S. women use long-acting contraceptives, far fewer than in other developed countries. Peipert said insurance hasn't always covered the higher upfront cost to insert them, even though years of birth control pills can add up to the same price.Yet three-quarters of his study participants chose an IUD or Implanon, and a year later 85 percent were sticking that choice — compared to about half who had initially chosen the pill, patch or other shorter-acting method.Cost isn't the only barrier. Doctors don't always mention long-acting methods, maybe because of a long-outdated belief that IUDs aren't for young women or just because they assume women want the most commonly prescribed pill.That was the case for Ashley England, 26, of Nashville, Tenn., who enrolled in the study while in graduate school in St. Louis. She had taken birth control pills for years but struggled with a $50 monthly copay. She switched to a five-year IUD, and loves that she and her husband don't have to think about contraception."No one had ever presented all the options equally," England said. "It's not telling you what to do. It's giving you a choice unhindered by money."

India embarks on universal health coverage during 12th plan: Azad

Union Minister of Health & Family Welfare Ghulam Nabi Azad said that India is embarking on an ambitious target of achieving Universal Health Coverage for all during 12 th Plan period. Everybody will be entitled for comprehensive health security in the country. It will be obligatory on the part of the state to provide adequate food, appropriate medical care, safe drinking water, proper sanitation, education and health-related information for good health. The State will be responsible for ensuring and guaranteeing UHC for its citizens.
Addressing the afternoon session of the Conference on “Responsible Use of Medicine” at Amsterdam, Netherlands, Azad said as per WHO's World Health Statistics 2012, almost 60 per cent of total health expenditure in India was paid by the common man from his own pocket in 2009. The Report states that 39 million Indians are pushed to poverty because of ill health every year. Around 30 per cent in rural India did not go for any treatment for financial constraints. About 47 per cent and 31 per cent of hospital admissions in rural and urban India were financed by loans and sale of assets.
He said India has already enacted the Clinical Establishment Act. The Standard Treatment Guideline is part of the Clinical Establishment Act. The Act will ensure that unnecessary drugs are not prescribed. During nationwide polio vaccination campaign, India vaccinated 172 million children through 2.3 million vaccinators in 202 million households in each campaign. The polio vaccination campaigns had a strategy of booth vaccination in earlier years but later the programme added the component of house to house search and vaccination to reduce missed children.
Transit teams were deployed at all railway stations, bus stands, markets and highways to vaccinate populations in movement. Special teams were set up to administer OPV drops to the most vulnerable mobile and migrant populations. The introduction of bivalent oral polio vaccine (BOPV) in January 2010 was India’s innovation based on research conducted in the country. The bivalent polio vaccine helped India to achieve its goal of polio eradication.
The minister further said the recommendations of the Consultative Expert Working Group set up by the WHO on research and coordination highlights the fact that very little research is happening in neglected diseases. Intellectual Property Rights have become a barrier to access to medicines. We need to consider the recommendations of the CEWG and ensure that adequate financing is made available to these diseases so that the poor and the vulnerable do not suffer from lack of proper medicines.
The goal of the afternoon session was to identify potential directions for the future.

Maharashtra govt asks ayurveda doctors to move Centre over ultrasonography tests

The state had advised these ayurvedic doctors to approach the Union government to amend the existing Pre-conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (PCPNDT) Act so that they are allowed to conduct sonography tests. At present, ayurvedic doctors are not allowed to conduct USG test as they are not registered with the Medical Council of India (MCI)."Ayurvedic doctors want permission to conduct sonography tests. According to the PCPNDT Act, only doctors registered with the MCI can perform a sonography test. If these doctors want the permission, then one has to make changes in the PCPNDT Act," Suresh Shetty, public health minister said. As the PCPNDT Act is a central government Act, the state cannot make any changes in it. "Hence, the public health department has advised these doctors to approach union government," he added.

Clues to Looking Young from Marine Animals

Researchers observe that the key to maintaining a youthful appearance could emerge from sea cucumbers and sea urchins that are able to change the elasticity of collagen within their bodies. For the study, researchers at Queen Mary, University of London, investigated the genes of marine creatures such as sea urchins and sea cucumbers, known as echinoderms.
They found the genes for "messenger molecules" known as peptides, which are released by cells and tell other cells in their bodies what to do. 
"Probably the most exciting discovery from our research was finding genes encoding peptides that cause rapid stiffening or softening of collagen in the body wall of sea cucumbers," project leader Professor Maurice Elphick said. 
"Although sea urchins and sea cucumbers may not look much like us, we are actually quite closely related to them. As we get older, changes in collagen cause wrinkling of our skin, so if we can find out how peptides cause the body wall of a sea cucumber to quickly become stiff or soft then our research might lead to new ways to keeping skin looking young and healthy," Elphick said. 
The scientists analysed the DNA sequences of thousands of genes in the purple sea urchin Strongylocentrotus purpuratus and the edible sea cucumber Apostichopus japonicus and specifically searched for genes encoding peptide messenger molecules. 
Rapid advances in technology used to sequence genes made the research possible. 
"When the human genome was sequenced over a decade ago it cost millions of pounds - now all of the genes in an animal can be sequenced for just a few thousand pounds," Professor Elphick said. 
"We also found that sea urchins have a peptide that is very similar to calcitonin, a hormone that regulates our bones to make sure that they remain strong. 
"So it will be fascinating to find out if calcitonin-type peptides have a similar sort of role in spiny-skinned creatures like sea urchins. 
"These types of advances in basic science are fascinating in their own right but they are also important because they underpin the medical breakthroughs that lead to improvement in the quality of people's lives," Professor Elphick added. 
The study has been published online in PLOS One and General and Comparative Endocrinology.

New Study Sheds Light On Bone Marrow Stem Cell Therapy for Pancreatic Recovery

Researchers at Cedars-Sinai's Maxine Dunitz Neurosurgical Institute have found that a blood vessel-building gene boosts the ability of human bone marrow stem cells to sustain pancreatic recovery in a laboratory mouse model of insulin-dependent diabetesThe findings, published in a PLoS ONE article of the Public Library of Science, offer new insights on mechanisms involved in regeneration of insulin-producing cells and provide new evidence that a diabetic's own bone marrow one day may be a source of treatment.Scientists began studying bone marrow-derived stem cells for pancreatic regeneration a decade ago. Recent studies involving several pancreas-related genes and delivery methods -- transplantation into the organ or injection into the blood -- have shown that bone marrow stem cell therapy could reverse or improve diabetes in some laboratory mice. But little has been known about how stem cells affect beta cells -- pancreas cells that produce insulin -- or how scientists could promote sustained beta cell renewal and insulin production.When the Cedars-Sinai researchers modified bone marrow stem cells to express a certain gene (vascular endothelial growth factor, or VEGF), pancreatic recovery was sustained as mouse pancreases were able to generate new beta cells. The VEGF-modified stem cells promoted growth of needed blood vessels and supported activation of genes involved in insulin production. Bone marrow stem cells modified with a different gene, PDX1, which is important in the development and maintenance of beta cells, resulted in temporary but not sustained beta cell recovery."Our study is the first to show that VEGF contributes to revascularization and recovery after pancreatic injury. It demonstrates the possible clinical benefits of using bone marrow-derived stem cells, modified to express that gene, for the treatment of insulin-dependent diabetes," said John S. Yu, MD, professor and vice chair of the Department of Neurosurgery at Cedars-Sinai, senior author of the journal article.Diabetes was reversed in five of nine mice treated with the injection of VEGF-modified cells, and near-normal blood sugar levels were maintained through the remainder of the six-week study period. The other four mice survived and gained weight, suggesting treatment was beneficial even when it did not prompt complete reversal. Lab studies later confirmed that genetically-modified cells survived and grew in the pancreas and supported the repopulation of blood vessels and beta cells.Anna Milanesi, MD, PhD, working in Yu's lab as an endocrinology fellow, is the article's first author. The researchers cautioned that although this and other related studies help scientists gain a better understanding of the processes and pathways involved in pancreatic regeneration, more research is needed before human clinical trials can begin.Insulin-dependent diabetes occurs when beta cells of the pancreas fail to produce insulin, a hormone that regulates sugar in the blood. Patients must take insulin injections or consider transplantation of a whole pancreas or parts of the pancreas that make insulin, but transplantation carries the risk of cell rejection.
Source:Science Daily

New gene test detects early mouth cancer risk

Researchers from Queen Mary, University of London have developed a new gene test that can detect pre-cancerous cells in patients with benign-looking mouth lesions. The test could potentially allow at-risk patients to receive earlier treatment, significantly improving their chance of survival.
The study, published online in the International Journal of Cancer, showed that the quantitative Malignancy Index Diagnostic System (qMIDS) test had a cancer detection rate of 91-94 per cent when used on more than 350 head and neck tissue specimens from 299 patients in the UK and Norway. Mouth cancer affects more than 6,200 people in the UK each year and more than half a million people worldwide, with global figures estimated to rise above one million a year by 2030*. The majority of cases are caused by either smoking or chewing tobacco and drinking alcohol.
Mouth lesions are very common and only five to 30 per cent may turn into cancers. If detected in the early stages treatment can be curative, but until now no test has been able to accurately detect which lesions will become cancerous.
The current diagnostic gold standard is histopathology – where biopsy tissue taken during an operation is examined under a microscope by a pathologist . This is a relatively invasive procedure and many mouth cancers are being diagnosed at later stages when the chances of survival are significantly reduced. For patients presenting with advanced disease, survival rates are poor (10-30 per cent at five years).
Lead investigator and inventor of the test Dr Muy-Teck Teh, from the Institute of Dentistry at Queen Mary, University of London, said: "A sensitive test capable of quantifying a patient's cancer risk is needed to avoid the adoption of a 'wait-and-see' intervention. Detecting cancer early, coupled with appropriate treatment can significantly improve patient outcomes, reduce mortality and alleviate long-term public healthcare costs."
The qMIDS test measures the levels of 16 genes which are converted, via a diagnostic algorithm, into a "malignancy index" which quantifies the risk of the lesion becoming cancerous. It is less invasive than the standard histopathology methods as it requires only a 1-2 mm piece of tissue (less than half a grain of rice), and it takes less than three hours to get the results, compared to up to a week for standard histopathology.
Consultant oral and maxillofacial surgeon, Professor Iain Hutchison, founder of Saving Faces and co-author on the study, said: "We are excited about this new test as it will allow us to release patients with harmless lesions from regular follow-up and unnecessary anxiety, whilst identifying high-risk patients at an early stage and giving them appropriate treatment. Mouth cancer, if detected early when the disease is most receptive to surgical treatment, has a very high cure rate."
Dr Catherine Harwood, a consultant dermatologist and a co-author on the study, said: "Our preliminary studies have shown promising results indicating that the test can potentially also be used for identifying patients with suspicious skin or vulva lesions, offering the opportunity of earlier and less invasive treatments."
Whilst this proof-of-concept study validates qMIDS as a diagnostic test for early cancer detection, further clinical trials are required to evaluate the long-term clinical benefits of the test for mouth cancers.
With further development it could potentially be applied to other cancer types as the test is based on a cancer gene – FOXM1 – which is highly expressed in many cancer types. In this study the researchers used the qMIDS test to detect early cancer cells in vulva and skin specimens with promising results.
Dr Teh's earlier research on FOXM1 – which showed that when FOXM1 is overexpressed the protein loses its control over cell growth, allowing cells to proliferate abnormally –was awarded 'Molecule of the Year 2010' by the International Society for Molecular and Cell Biology and Biotechnology Protocols and Research.
Source:Queen Mary, University of London

Artificial cornea gives the gift of vision

Blindness is often caused by corneal diseases. The established treatment is a corneal transplant, but in many cases this is not possible and donor corneas are often hard to come by. In the future, an artificial cornea could make up for this deficiency and save the vision of those affected.Our eyes are our window to the world.  Thousands of people have lost their eyesight due to damages to the cornea, such as trauma, absent limbal stem cells or diseases.  Transplantation of a donor cornea is the therapy of choice for a great number of those patients. Let alone the issue of scarce donor material, a sub-group of patients do not tolerate transplanted corneas, necessitating the employment of an alternative means of restoring eye sight. In Germany alone, around 7,000 patients are waiting to be treated. In close cooperation with the Aachen Centre of Technology Transfer, Dr. Storsberg and his team from the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer research IAP in Potsdam, are attempting to improve the situation by developing an artificial cornea. Scientific partners in the “ART CORNEA” project include the Martin Luther University of Halle-Wittenberg, ACTO e. V. and the Ophthalmic Clinic Cologne-Merheim.“We are in the process of developing two different types of artificial corneas. One of them can be used as an alternative to a donor cornea in cases where the patient would not tolerate a donor cornea, let alone the issue of donor material shortage,” says IAP project manager Dr. Joachim Storsberg. The scientist has considerable expertise in developing and testing of next-generation biomaterials. Between 2005 and 2009 he collaborated with interdisciplinary teams and private companies to successfully develop an artificial cornea specifically for patients whose cornea had become clouded – a condition that is extremely difficult to treat. Such patients are unable to accept a donor cornea either due to their illness or because they have already been through several unsuccessful transplantation attempts. Dr. Storsberg was awarded the Josef-von-Fraunhofer Prize 2010 for this achievement. “A great many patients suffering from a range of conditions will be able to benefit from our new implant, which we’ve named ArtCornea®. We have already registered ArtCornea® as a trademark,” reports Storsberg.
Ultima ratio patients regain vision
ArtCornea® is based on a polymer with high water-absorbent properties. Dr. Storsberg and his team have added a new surface coating to ensure anchorage in host tissue and functionality of the optic. The haptic edge was chemically altered to encourage local cell growth. These cells graft to the surrounding human tissue, which is essential for anchorage of the device in the host tissue. The researchers aimed to enlarge the optical surface area of the implant in order to improve light penetration beyond what had previously been possible – a tall order. “Once ArtCornea® is in place, it is hardly visible, except perhaps for a few stitches. It’s also easy to implant and doesn’t provoke any immune response,” says Storsberg, highlighting the merits of this new development.
The specialists have also managed to make a chemically and biologically inert base material biologically compatible for the second artificial cornea, ACTO-TexKpro. Dr. Storsberg achieved this by selectively altering the base material, polyvinylidene difluoride, by coating the fluoride synthetic tissue with a reactive molecule. This allows the patient’s cornea to bond together naturally with the edge of the implant, while the implant’s inner optics, made of silicon, remain free of cells and clear. The ACTO-TexKpro is par-
ticularly suitable as a preliminary treatment, for instance if the cornea has been destroyed as a consequence of chronic inflammation, a serious accident, corrosion or burns.
The experiments were carried out in collaboration with Dr. Norbert Nass and Dr. Saadettin Sel, Senior consultant ophthalmologist at Martin-Luther-University Halle-Wittenberg. How well TexKpro and ArtCornea® are accepted by clinicians as an additional tool at their disposal was first tested by the doctors in the laboratory thereafter in vivo in several rabbits. After a six month healing process, the implanted prostheses were accepted by the rabbits without irritation, clearly and securely anchored within the eye. Tests carried out following the operation showed that the animals tolerated the artificial cornea well. Prof. Dr. Norbert Schrage will take charge of clinical trials that will soon commence at the Eye Clinic Cologne-Merheim. It is likely that the positive results of tests carried out thus far will be confirmed, and the co-operation partners rate the chances of success very highly. Their optimism is well founded: As early as 2009, several Ultima-Ratio patients received implants of a Kerato prosthesis specially developed for them because they had previously rejected human corneas. These patients have not suffered any complications and are still wearing their artificial corneas today.
Source:Fraunhofer Research News

NYU researchers find electricity in biological clock

Biologists from New York University have uncovered new ways our biological clock's neurons use electrical activity to help keep behavioral rhythms in order. The findings, which appear in the journal Current Biology, also point to fresh directions for exploring sleep disorders and related afflictions.
"This process helps explain how our biological clocks keep such amazingly good time," said Justin Blau, an associate professor of biology at NYU and one of the study's authors.
Blau added that the findings may offer new pathways for exploring treatments to sleep disorders because the research highlights the parts of our biological clock that "may be particularly responsive to treatment or changes at different times of the day."
The study's other co-authors were: Dogukan Mizrak and Marc Ruben, doctoral students in NYU's Department of Biology; Gabrielle Myers, an undergraduate in the Biology Department; Kahn Rhrissorrakrai, a post-doctoral researcher; and Kristin Gunsalus, an associate professor at NYU's Center for Genomics and Systems Biology and NYU Abu Dhabi.
In a previous study, Blau and his colleagues found that rhythms in expression of a potassium channel (Ir) helps link the biological clock to the activity of pacemaker neurons. But Ir does not function as a simple output of the clock—it also feeds back to regulate the core clock. In the Current Biologyresearch, the scientists sought to understand the nature of this feedback.
In exploring this mechanism, the researchers examined the biological, or circadian, clocks of Drosophila fruit flies, which are commonly used for research in this area. Earlier studies of "clock genes" in fruit flies allowed the identification of similarly functioning genes in humans.
By manipulating the neuronal activity of pacemaker neurons, the researchers showed that changes in the electrical activity of clock neurons produce major changes in the expression of circadian genes. With increased electrical activity in the evening, when clock neurons are normally fairly inactive, the researchers found that clock neurons have a circadian gene-expression profile more typically found in morning hours. In contrast, by diminishing electrical activity in the morning, gene expression was shifted to look more like it does in the evening. In other words, the electrical state of a clock neuron can dramatically affect circadian gene expression in clock neurons.
"What was striking about these results was the coordination between the firing of neurons and gene expression," observed Blau. "This is one of the remarkable processes that helps keep clock neurons stay synchronized and run so accurately."
To find the mechanism, Blau's lab brought in the computational expertise of Gunsalus' lab at NYU to identify regulatory DNA motifs in genes that respond to neuronal activity in clock neurons. One of these motifs binds the well-known set of factors that regulate gene expression in neurons involved in learning and memory.
"These data really make us focus on 'the clock' as a neuronal system rather than a set of genes," noted Blau.
Source:New York University 

Are inhaled medications effective and safe in critically ill patients on mechanical ventilation?

Essential medications can be delivered as inhaled drugs to critically ill patients in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) who require mechanical ventilation to breathe. Aerosol drug delivery is highly complex, however, and if not done properly the medication will not reach the lungs and therapy will be ineffective. The efficacy and safety of aerosol delivery of drugs commonly used in the ICU such as antibiotics, diuretics, and anticoagulants is explored in depth in a review article published in Journal of Aerosol Medicine and Pulmonary Drug Delivery, a peer-reviewed journal fromMary Ann Liebert, Inc., publishers. The article is available free online on theJournal of Aerosol Medicine and Pulmonary Drug Delivery website.
Arzu Ari, PhD, RRT and James Fink, PhD, RRT, Georgia State University (Atlanta) and Rajiv Dhand, MD, University of Tennessee Graduate School of Medicine (Knoxville) state that the successful use of bronchodilator therapy in ventilator-dependent patients has led to growing interest in the delivery of other aerosolized forms of medication to improve outcomes for patients in the ICU that require mechanical ventilation. In the article "Inhalation Therapy in Patients Receiving Mechanical Ventilation: An Update," the authors explore the complexities of aerosol therapy in this patient population and the advances in drug delivery devices that are contributing to its increasing use and success."Newer drugs, such as antibiotics, will require better control of dose and delivery if they are to be successful in treating the intubated patient." says Editor-in-Chief Gerald C. Smaldone, MD, PhD, Professor and Chief, Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine at SUNY-Stony Brook.
Source:Mary Ann Liebert, Inc./Genetic Engineering News 

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Univ of Pune working on natural products for accelerating drug discovery

University of Pune is working on natural products drug discovery to accelerate the clinical candidate development. The University has now adopted the reverse pharmacology approach to develop efficient platforms for herbal formulations.

Pharmaceutical industry is now making a significant shift from single to multi targeted drugs. Strategic options based on natural product drug discovery and traditional medicines are re-emerging as an attractive discovery engine. In fact, relevant case studies from India and other countries indicate that the natural product drug discovery and development has helped to reduce time and economize investments with better safety. “We are also engaged in looking at many of these,” said Prof. Bhushan Patwardhan, vice chancellor, Symbiosis International University, Pune.

Saturation of the blockbuster drug pipeline is a major challenge for  pharma industry as the discovery process is extremely expensive, riskier and critically inefficient. This is where many active compounds from traditional medicine sources could serve as good scaffolds for rational drug design, he added.

Old molecules are finding new applications through traditional knowledge and clinical observations. For instance, forskolin an alkaloid isolated by Hoechst and coleonol by Central Drug research Institute (CDRI), CSIR, Lucknow from Coleus forskohlii  and phyto-chemicals from Stephania glabra, which were shelved for a considerable time are now being rediscovered as adenylate cylase and nitric oxide activators, which may help in obesity and atherosclerosis. Antimicrobial berberine alkaloids are now being rediscovered as novel cholesterol-lowering drugs working through different mechanism than statins. Potent anti microbial antirheumatic and cyclooxygenase inhibitory activities of phenolics, catechols and flavonoids  are from an important Ayurvedic plant, said Prof. Patwardhan.
Combinatorial chemistry developed using natural product scaffolds are being used to create screening libraries that closely resemble drug-like compounds. Most of these compounds are part of routinely used traditional medicines and hence their tolerance and safety are better known than any other chemical entities that are new for human use, pointed out Prof. Patwardhan.
Promising lead molecules have come out of Ayurvedic experiential base including Rauwolfia alkaloids for hypertension, Psoralens in Vitiligo, Holarrhena alkaloids in Amoebiasis, Guggulsterons as hypolipidemic agents, Mucuna pruriens for Parkinson’s disease, piperidines as bioavailability enhancers, baccosides in mental retention, picrosides in hepatic protection, phyllanthins as antivirals, curcumines in inflammation, withanolides, and other steroidal lactones and glycosides as immunomodulators, he said.
In a report on natural products drug discovery: Accelerating the clinical candidate development using reverse pharmacology approaches published in the Indian Journal of Experimental Biology, Prof. Patwardhan and Dr  Ashok D B Vaidya , research director, Kasturba Health Society Medical Research Center, Mumbai said that the pharmaceutical industry needs successes like artemisinin and reserpine. Many leads like curcumins and withanoloides are available but such R&D cannot ensue in isolation. Best of public and private sector partners comprising academia and industry should come together to reap benefits from research based on traditional knowledge.

WHO confirms no official study conducted on spurious drugs in India for many years

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has categorically stated that it had not conducted any study on the fake drugs in India as quoted by some agencies and media, and endorsed by the official line of the Union Government, after Health Ministry took exception to the often quoted 'WHO reports' about the quantum of spurious drugs in the markets.
Contradicting the repeated reports in the media quoting the WHO study, the office of the WHO representative to India has written to the Union Health Ministry to clarify that the global agency had not conducted any such studies 'in the past several years'.
This also puts stop to debates for the time being about the exact range of the spurious drugs. While Indian authorities, based on the official studies, maintained that spurious drugs were minimal, the media especially those outside the country, quoted often studies by WHO or international agencies to project India as the haven for fake drugs.
The clarification was issued by WHO after the Union Health Ministry took up the matter following some media reports some time back that said 'a WHO study found that 20 per cent of medicines sold in India are fake'. In the reply, the WHO also backed up the official stand by the Government, sources said.
“The figures quoted by media range from 10 per cent to 25 per cent of drugs in the country being spurious drugs. These are totally unsubstantiated reports. For example, on the basis of an alleged WHO report, the media frequently reports that 35 per cent of fake drugs produced in the world come from India. However, when enquired, WHO has neither confirmed its authenticity nor did hint about the source of such figures. The WHO representative in India has clarified that there was no study produced in India. He has regretted that occasionally some individuals in the media and the organizations use WHO reference incorrectly and even irresponsibly,” sources said.WHO confirms to Health Ministry about non-existence any official study on Indian spurious drugs.

Trial Finds No Impact of Vitamin D Supplementation on Cold Relief

Although some data have earlier suggested a possible inverse association between serum vitamin D levels and the incidence of upper respiratory tract infections (colds), participants in a randomized controlled trial who received a monthly dose of 100,000 IUs of vitamin D3 had no significant reduction in incidence or severity of colds, according to a study in the October 3 issue of JAMA
The association of vitamin D insufficiency and susceptibility to viral respiratory tract infections has been unclear, according to background information in the article.
 David R. Murdoch, M.D., of the University of Otago, Christchurch, New Zealand, and colleagues conducted a randomized trial to examine the effect of vitamin D supplementation on incidence and severity of upper respiratory tract infections (URTIs) in healthy adults. The study, conducted between February 2010 and November 2011, included 322 healthy adults in New Zealand. Participants were randomly assigned to receive an initial dose of 200,000 IU oral vitamin D3, then 200,000 IU one month later, then 100,000 IU monthly (n = 161), or placebo administered in an identical dosing regimen (n = 161), for a total of 18 months. 

The average 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25-OHD) level of participants at the beginning of the study was 29 ng/mL. Vitamin D supplementation resulted in an increase in serum 25-OHD levels that was maintained at greater than 48 ng/mL throughout the study. There were 593 URTI episodes in the vitamin D group and 611 in the placebo group. 
The researchers found that there was no statistically significant differences in the number of URTIs per participant (average, 3.7 per person in the vitamin D group and 3.8 per person in the placebo group), duration of symptoms per episode (average, 12 days in each group), number of days of missed work as a result of URTIs, or severity of URTI episodes. 
"The main finding from this study is that a monthly dose of 100,000 IU of vitamin D3 in healthy adults did not significantly reduce the incidence or severity of URTIs. This result remained unchanged when the analysis included winter season or baseline 25-OHD levels," the authors write. "Further research is required to clarify whether there is benefit from supplementation in other populations and with other dosing regimens." 

Evidence-Based Guidelines to Help Physicians Manage Patients With Acute Low Back Pain

According to an article in the October issue of the Journal of the American College of Radiology, radiologists at Emory University Hospital, in Atlanta, and Georgia Health Sciences University, in Augusta, Ga., have developed evidence-based guidelines to assist physicians with the process of managing patients with acute low back pain. Low back pain is one of the most common reasons for visits to physicians in the outpatient setting."The approach to the workup and management of low back pain by physicians and other practitioners is inconstant. In fact, there is significant variability in the diagnostic workup of back pain among physicians within and between specialties," said Scott E. Forseen, MD, co-author of the article.
The following process was developed to assist practitioners with the management of patients with low back pain:At the initial visit, patients are categorized into 1 of 3 groups after a thorough history and physical examination: non-specific low back pain, low back pain potentially associated with radiculopathy or spinal stenosis, or low back pain potentially associated with a specific cause. Evidence-based order sets are provided for each category that are intended to guide practitioners through the process of evaluation, management and follow-up of patients.Order set templates for use at the initial follow-up visit (4 weeks) provide evidence-based recommendations for appropriate imaging, laboratory workup, referral for invasive procedures or surgical consultation."We have presented a logical method of choosing, developing and implementing clinical decision support interventions that is based on the best available evidence. These templates may be reasonably expected to improve patient care, decrease inappropriate imaging utilization, reduce the inappropriate use of steroids and narcotics, and potentially decrease the number of inappropriate invasive procedures," said Forseen
Story Source:
The above story is reprinted from materials provided byAmerican College of Radiology (ACR), via Newswise

Poor Sleep may Boost Heart Disease Risk in Adolescents

Poor sleep may increase the risk factors for heart disease in adolescents, states study published in CMAJ. 
"We found an association between sleep disturbance and cardiovascular risk in adolescents, as determined by high cholesterol levels, increased BMI [body mass index] and hypertension," writes lead author Dr. Indra Narang, respirologist and director of sleep medicine at The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids), Toronto, Ontario, with coauthors. "These findings are important, given that sleep disturbance is highly prevalent in adolescence and that cardiovascular disease risk factors track from childhood into adulthood."
 Approximately 20% of adolescents have significant sleep problems, such as sleep disturbances or sleep deprivation. Sleep disturbances include frequent waking up during the night, early wakening, inability to fall asleep within 30 minutes, restlessness and bad dreams. 

The study involved 4104 adolescents in the Healthy Heart Schools' Program in the Niagara region of Ontario that screens and identifies teens at risk of coronary vascular disease. A community partnership between Heart Niagara Inc. and researchers from SickKids looked at the link between poor sleep and indicators of cardiovascular disease risk such as high cholesterol levels, high blood pressure, high BMI and poor diet. 
Participants slept an average of 7.9 hours on weeknights and 9.4 hours on weekends. Almost 20% (19.6%) of students reported poor quality sleep during the week, and 10.0% reported poor quality on weekends. Of the participants, 5.9% reported using medications to help them sleep. 
Students recorded their sleep patterns and quality using the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index questionnaire. Trained staff collected data on BMI, cholesterol levels and blood pressure from participants and determined whether they had close relatives with a history of premature cardiovascular disease. 
Students who consumed more fried foods, soft drinks, sweets and caffeinated drinks exercised less and had more screen time had higher sleep disturbance scores. A higher sleep disturbance score was associated with a higher cholesterol level, higher BMI, larger waist size, higher blood pressure and increased risk of hypertension. Shorter sleep duration was also associated with higher BMI and waist size but not increased cholesterol levels or blood pressure. 
"In addition to these health risks, previous studies have shown that poor sleep also negatively impacts school performance. Parents should monitor caffeine intake, bedtimes and bedrooms overloaded with media," says Dr. Brian McCrindle, senior author and cardiologist at SickKids. 
There is emerging evidence that poor sleep quality or inadequate sleep in adults is associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease. These new findings show that sleep disturbance in adolescents may significantly impact their cardiovascular risk in adulthood. Efforts to improve sleep habits early in life could be important for the prevention of cardiovascular disease. 

Source-Science Daily


Sexually Abused Women Skip Pap Smears

Sexually-abused girls appear more likely to skip cervical cancer screening as adults, according to an exploratory study suggesting that the exam brings back the feeling of victimization for some.Only 49% of British women abused as children or young adults had gotten a recommended Pap smear in the prior 5 years as compared with a general population rate of 79% there, Anne Szarewski, MD, of the Queen Mary University of London, and colleagues found.The surveys completed by women visiting the website of the U.K. National Association for People Abused in Childhood often cited fear, anxiety, and a feeling of powerlessness, the group reported in the October issue of theJournal of Family Planning and Reproductive Health Care."One way of coping with the trauma of sexual abuse is to control or avoid the triggers of trauma responses," they wrote. "Intimate gynecological examinations can be particularly stressful for women who have been abused because of the parallels with the abuse situation, for example, perceived loss of control, the power disparity, and the physical sensation of the examination."However, women who have been sexually abused are at increased risk of cervical lesions, possibly because of early exposure to cancer-related human papillomavirus as well as the risky health behaviors often seen in abused women, such as drug and alcohol abuse.Many such women are aware of the importance of screening, but "we repeatedly hear that some survivors would rather deal with cervical cancer if it develops than face the experience of regular testing," Sarah Kelly, training and development manager at the abuse survivors' support association, explained in an accompanying editorial.But the group has also received tips from women on what has helped them have positive experiences with getting a cervical smear test:
  • Time to talk about the fear and anxiety they are feeling about the test
  • A friend or supporter present with them during the test
  • An understanding smear taker
  • A private and comfortable environment to undress and be tested
  • A prearranged signal they can use to halt the test at any point
Another point for clinicians to consider is that asking a woman to "try to relax" during the test can trigger anxiety or flashbacks, Kelly noted."The word 'relax' is often used by abusers and can be very frightening for survivors; an alternative is to agree a word in advance to use in discussions with the patient," she wrote.Her organization's website featured a short anonymous survey asking about demographics, cervical screening history, and history of abuse, which 135 sexually-abused women completed.Of the women eligible for cervical cancer screening, 78% had ever gotten the test done.Fewer than half had done so within the recommended screening interval, which in England varies from 3 to 5 years depending on a woman's age:
  • 49% at least once in the prior 5 years
  • 42% of women ages 25 to 49 within 3 years
The survey also asked women to explain the main reasons for not ever having had a Pap smear, or sometimes putting it off when invited to do so, as well as for their suggestions to make abused women more likely to get screened.Nearly all of the women (124 of 135) provided open-ended responses.Almost one in four cited self-worth issues as part of the reason they didn't go for screening as regularly as they should, not just because of embarrassment but also because of scars or other signs of abuse that would be apparent to the screener in some cases.Many of the women also pointed to loss of control or feeling vulnerable with the sample collection process (29%) and fear and anxiety about the test or the consequences of not getting tested or both (30%).Almost 40% of the women made a comment about feeling sexually victimized by the screening, 15% saying the experience was just like the abuse they used to suffer.Safety, trust, and difficulty of disclosing the abuse were issues brought up by one in five of the respondents. About the same proportion said they found the cervical smear tests uncomfortable and even painful.Poor communication and lack of sensitivity by the smear taker were mentioned by 17% of the women.Practical suggestions for making abused women more likely to undergo screening ranged from support to disclose the history of abuse to lying on the side instead of on the back during the smear collection.Another possibility is allowing these women to collect their own cervical smear sample, the researchers noted."Self-sampling for HPV has been shown to be acceptable to a number of general populations of women and has comparable specificity and sensitivity to cervical cytology in trials," they pointed out.
Primary source: Journal of Family Planning and Reproductive Health Care
Source reference:Kelly S "The effects of childhood sexual abuse on women's lives and their attitudes to cervical screening" J Fam Plan Reprod Health Care 2012; DOI:10.1136/jfprhc-2012-100418.


A new study has outlined for the first time a biological mechanism by which zinc deficiency can develop with age, leading to a decline of the immune system and increased inflammation associated with many health problems, including cancer, heart disease, autoimmune disease and diabetes.The research was done by scientists in the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University and the OSU College of Public Health and Human Sciences. It suggests that it’s especially important for elderly people to get adequate dietary intake of zinc, since they may need more of it at this life stage when their ability to absorb it is declining.About 40 percent of elderly Americans and as many as two billion people around the world have diets that are deficient in this important, but often underappreciated micronutrient, experts say.The study was published in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry, based on findings with laboratory animals. It found that zinc transporters were significantly dysregulated in old animals. They showed signs of zinc deficiency and had an enhanced inflammatory response even though their diet supposedly contained adequate amounts of zinc.When the animals were given about 10 times their dietary requirement for zinc, the biomarkers of inflammation were restored to those of young animals.“The elderly are the fastest growing population in the U.S. and are highly vulnerable to zinc deficiency,” said Emily Ho, an LPI principal investigator and associate professor in OSU School of Biological and Population Health Sciences. “They don’t consume enough of this nutrient and don’t absorb it very well.”“We’ve previously shown in both animal and human studies that zinc deficiency can cause DNA damage, and this new work shows how it can help lead to systemic inflammation,” Ho said.“Some inflammation is normal, a part of immune defense, wound healing and other functions,” she said. “But in excess, it’s been associated with almost every degenerative disease you can think of, including cancer and heart disease. It appears to be a significant factor in the diseases that most people die from.”As a result of this and what is now know about zinc absorption in the elderly, Ho said that she would recommend all senior citizens take a dietary supplement that includes the full RDA for zinc, which is 11 milligrams a day for men and 8 milligrams for women. Zinc can be obtained in the diet from seafood and meats, but it’s more difficult to absorb from grains and vegetables – a particular concern for vegetarians.“We found that the mechanisms to transport zinc are disrupted by age-related epigenetic changes,” said Carmen Wong, an OSU research associate and co-author of this study. “This can cause an increase in DNA methylation and histone modifications that are related to disease processes, especially cancer. Immune system cells are also particularly vulnerable to zinc deficiency.”Research at OSU and elsewhere has shown that zinc is essential to protect against oxidative stress and help repair DNA damage. In zinc deficiency, the risk of which has been shown to increase with age, the body’s ability to repair genetic damage may be decreasing even as the amount of damage is going up.Medical tests to determine zinc deficiency are rarely done, scientists say, and are not particularly accurate even if they are done. The best approach is to assure adequate intake of the nutrient through diet or supplements, they said, especially in the elderly.Even though elderly people have less success in absorbing zinc, the official RDA for them is the same as in younger adults. That issue should be examined more closely, Ho said.Levels of zinc intake above 40 milligrams per day should be avoided, researchers said, because at very high levels they can interfere with absorption of other necessary nutrients, including iron and copper.These studies were supported by the National Institutes of Health and other agencies.

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