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

Search Engine

Saturday, 2 February 2013

Genetically modified tobacco plants produce antibodies to treat rabies

New research in The FASEB Journal shows that transgenic tobacco plants can be used to produce safe, protective antibodies against rabies and to benefit patients in developing countries

Smoking tobacco might be bad for your health, but a genetically altered version of the plant might provide a relatively inexpensive cure for the deadly rabies virus. In a new research report appearing in The FASEB Journal, scientists produced a monoclonal antibody in transgenic tobacco plants that was shown to neutralize the rabies virus. This new antibody works by preventing the virus from attaching to nerve endings around the bite site and keeps the virus from traveling to the brain.
"Rabies continues to kill many thousands of people throughout the developing world every year and can also affect international travelers," said Leonard Both, M.Sc., a researcher involved in the work from the Hotung Molecular Immunology Unit at St. George's, University of London, in the United Kingdom. "An untreated rabies infection is nearly 100 percent fatal and is usually seen as a death sentence. Producing an inexpensive antibody in transgenic plants opens the prospect of adequate rabies prevention for low-income families in developing countries."
To make this advance, Both and colleagues "humanized" the sequences for the antibody so people could tolerate it. Then, the antibody was produced using transgenic tobacco plants as an inexpensive production platform. The antibody was purified from the plant leaves and characterized with regards to its protein and sugar composition. The antibody was also shown to be active in neutralizing a broad panel of rabies viruses, and the exact antibody docking site on the viral envelope was identified using certain chimeric rabies viruses.
"Although treatable by antibodies if caught in time, rabies is bad news," said Gerald Weissmann, M.D., Editor-in-Chief of The FASEB Journal. "This is especially true for people in the developing world where manufacturing costs lead to treatment shortages. Being able to grow safe, humanized antibodies in genetically modified tobacco should reduce costs to make treatments more accessible, and save more lives."
Source: FASEB Journal

Can plants be altruistic? You bet, says new CU-Boulder-led study

A new study led by CU-Boulder involving graduate student Chi-Chih Wu, shown here, indicates corn plants may have an altruistic side. Photo courtesy of CU-Boulder.

We've all heard examples of animal altruism: Dogs caring for orphaned kittens, chimps sharing food or dolphins nudging injured mates to the surface. Now, a study led by the University of Colorado Boulder suggests some plants are altruistic too.
The researchers looked at corn, in which each fertilized seed contained two "siblings" -- an embryo and a corresponding bit of tissue known as endosperm that feeds the embryo as the seed grows, said CU-Boulder Professor Pamela Diggle. They compared the growth and behavior of the embryos and endosperm in seeds sharing the same mother and father with the growth and behavior of embryos and endosperm that had genetically different parents.
"The results indicated embryos with the same mother and father as the endosperm in their seed weighed significantly more than embryos with the same mother but a different father," said Diggle, a faculty member in CU-Boulder's ecology and evolutionary biology department. "We found that endosperm that does not share the same father as the embryo does not hand over as much food -- it appears to be acting less cooperatively."
A paper on the subject was published during the week of Jan. 21 in theProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Co-authors on the study included Chi-Chih Wu, a CU-Boulder doctoral student in the ecology and evolutionary biology department and Professor William "Ned" Friedman, a professor at Harvard University who helped conduct research on the project while a faculty member at CU-Boulder.
Diggle said it is fairly clear from previous research that plants can preferentially withhold nutrients from inferior offspring when resources are limited. "Our study is the first to specifically test the idea of cooperation among siblings in plants."
"One of the most fundamental laws of nature is that if you are going to be an altruist, give it up to your closest relatives," said Friedman. "Altruism only evolves if the benefactor is a close relative of the beneficiary. When the endosperm gives all of its food to the embryo and then dies, it doesn't get more altruistic than that."
In corn reproduction, male flowers at the top of the plants distribute pollen grains two at a time through individual tubes to tiny cobs on the stalks covered by strands known as silks in a process known as double fertilization. When the two pollen grains come in contact with an individual silk, they produce a seed containing an embryo and endosperm. Each embryo results in just a single kernel of corn, said Diggle.
The team took advantage of an extremely rare phenomenon in plants called "hetero-fertilization," in which two different fathers sire individual corn kernels, said Diggle, currently a visiting professor at Harvard. The manipulation of corn plant genes that has been going on for millennia -- resulting in the production of multicolored "Indian corn" cobs of various colors like red, purple, blue and yellow -- helped the researchers in assessing the parentage of the kernels, she said.
Wu, who cultivated the corn and harvested more than 100 ears over a three-year period, removed, mapped and weighed every individual kernel out of each cob from the harvests. While the majority of kernels had an endosperm and embryo of the same color -- an indication they shared the same mother and father -- some had different colors for each, such as a purple outer kernel with yellow embryo.
Wu was searching for such rare kernels -- far less than one in 100 -- that had two different fathers as a way to assess cooperation between the embryo and endosperm. "It was very challenging and time-consuming research," said Friedman. "It was like looking for a needle in a haystack, or in this case, a kernel in a silo."
Endosperm -- in the form of corn, rice, wheat and other crops -- is critical to humans, providing about 70 percent of calories we consume annually worldwide. "The tissue in the seeds of flowering plants is what feeds the world," said Friedman, who also directs the Arnold Arboretum at Harvard. "If flowering plants weren't here, humans wouldn't be here."
Source:Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

Tracking the evolution of antibiotic resistance

With the discovery of antibiotics, medicine acquired power on a scale never before possible to protect health, save lives, and reduce suffering caused by certain bacteria. But the power of antibiotics is now under siege because some virulent infections no longer respond to antibiotic drugs.
This antibiotic resistance is an urgent public health threat that a team of researchers from Sabanci University in Istanbul, Turkey, and Harvard Medical School and Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass., aim to stop. Their approach is based on an automated device they created that yields a new understanding of how antibiotic resistance evolves at the genetic level. The team will present its work at the 57th Annual Meeting of the Biophysical Society (BPS), held Feb. 2-6, 2013, in Philadelphia, Pa.
Called the "morbidostat," the device grows bacteria in various concentrations of antibiotic. This enabled researchers to identify the concentrations at which the antibiotics stopped working and the bacteria became resistant to therapy. Next, they targeted key genes involved in creating the drug-resistant states. Their approach documented real-time changes in genes that gave bacteria an advantage in evolving to "outwit" antibiotics.
Knowledge at the gene level can be applied to the molecular design of the next generation of bacteria-killing antibiotics.
"Morbidostat is designed to evolve bacteria in conditions comparable with clinical settings," explains Erdal Toprak of Sabanci University. "Combined with next generation genome sequencing technologies, it is possible to follow the evolution of resistance in real time and identify resistance-conferring genetic changes that accumulate in the bacterial genome."
Data show an unusual survival profile of the common bacteria they used, Escherichia coli. "We identified striking features in the evolution of resistance to the antibiotic trimethoprim," Toprak says. It was these unusual features that helped them isolate the gene involved in conferring antibiotic resistance through multiple mutations.
The team's next steps will involve determining how this genetic information might one day be applied to drug design to develop new antibiotic therapies.
Source:American Institute of Physics 

Caught in the act: Researchers capture key moments in cell death

Scientists at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute have for the first time visualised the molecular changes in a critical cell death protein that force cells to die.
The finding provides important insights into how cell death occurs, and could lead to new classes of medicines that control whether diseased cells live or die.
Cell death, called apoptosis, is important for controlling the number of cells in the body. Defects in cell death have been linked to the development of diseases such as cancer and neurodegenerative conditions. Insufficient cell death can cause cancer by allowing cells to become immortal while excessive cell death of neurons may be a cause of neurodegenerative conditions.
Dr Peter Czabotar, Professor Peter Colman and colleagues in the institute's Structural Biology division, together with Dr Dana Westphal from the institute's Molecular Genetics of Cancer division, made the discovery which is published in the latest edition of the journal Cell.
Dr Czabotar said activation of the protein Bax had long been known to be an important event leading to apoptosis, but until now it was not known how this activation occurred. "One of the key steps in cell death is that holes are punched into a membrane in the cell, the mitochondrial membrane," Dr Czabotar said. "Once this happens the cell is going to go on and die. Bax is responsible for punching the holes in the mitochondrial membrane and visualising its activation brings us a step closer to understanding the mechanics of cell death."
Using the Australian Synchrotron, Dr Czabotar and colleagues were able to obtain detailed three-dimensional images of Bax changing shape as it moved from its inactive to active form. The active form ruptures mitochondrial membranes, removing the cell's energy supply and causing cell death.
  Dr. Peter Czabotar (left) and Dr. Dana Westphal for the first time visualized the molecular changes in a critical cell death protein that force cells to die.
Click here for more information.
"By using the powerful X-ray beams created by the synchrotron, we obtained structures of Bax that were really exciting," Dr Czabotar said. "Bax is activated when small protein fragments called BH3-peptides bind to it. We saw that these peptides open up the Bax molecule like a key unlocking a padlock. This unlocked form of Bax can bind to another Bax molecule, which can then form larger Bax complexes that can go on to break up membranes in the cell.
"As well as explaining the detail of how cell death occurs, our research could provide clues about how to design potential new therapeutic agents that target Bax," Dr Czabotar said. "Now that we can see how Bax changes its shape to move from the inactive to the active form, it may be possible to block Bax activation, to prevent cell death in conditions such as neurodegenerative disorders, where illness is caused by excessive cell death. Similarly, agents that drive Bax into its active form could force immortal cells such as cancer cells to die, providing the basis for a potential new class of anti-cancer agents."
Source:Walter and Eliza Hall Institute 


Thursday, 31 January 2013

Physicians' brain scans indicate doctors can feel their patients' pain -- and their relief

A patient's relationship with his or her doctor has long been considered an important component of healing. Now, in a novel investigation in which physicians underwent brain scans while they believed they were actually treating patients, researchers have provided the first scientific evidence indicating that doctors truly can feel their patients' pain – and can also experience their relief following treatment.
Led by researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) and the Program in Placebo Studies and Therapeutic Encounter (PiPS) at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center/Harvard Medical School, the new findings, which appear on-line today in Molecular Psychiatry, help to illuminate one of the more intangible aspects of health care – the doctor/patient relationship.
"Our findings showed that the same brain regions that have previously been shown to be activated when patients receive placebo therapies are similarly activated in the brains of doctors when they administer what they think are effective treatments," explains first author Karin Jensen, PhD, an investigator in the Department of Psychiatry and Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging at MGH and member of the PiPS. Notably, she adds, the findings also showed that the physicians who reported greater ability to take things from the patients' perspective, that is, to empathize with patients' feelings, experienced higher satisfaction during patients' treatments, as reflected in the brain scans.
"By demonstrating that caring for patients involves a complex set of brain events, including deep understanding of the patient's facial and body expressions, possibly in combination with the physician's own expectations of relief and feelings of reward, we have been able to elucidate the neurobiology underlying caregiving," adds senior author Ted Kaptchuk, director of the PiPS and Associate Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School. "Our findings provide early evidence of the importance of interacting brain networks between patients and caregivers and acknowledge the doctor/patient relationship as a valued component of health care, alongside medications and procedures."
Previous investigations have demonstrated that a brain region associated with pain relief (right ventrolateral prefrontal cortex, VLPFC) and a region associated with reward (rostral anterior cingulate cortex, rACC) are activated when patients experience the placebo effect, which occurs when patients show improvement from treatments that contain no active ingredients. The placebo effect accounts for significant portions of clinical outcomes in many illnesses -- including pain, depression and anxiety.
Although behavioral research has suggested that physicians' expectations influence patients' clinical outcomes and help determine patients' placebo responses, until now little effort has been directed to understanding the biology underlying the physician component of the clinical relationship. Jensen and her colleagues hypothesized that the same brain regions that are activated during patients' placebo responses – the VLPFC and rACC -- would similarly be activated in the brains of physicians as they treated patients. They also hypothesized that a physician's perspective-taking skills would influence the outcomes.
To test these hypotheses, the scientists developed a unique equipment arrangement that would enable them to conduct functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) of the physicians' brains while the doctors had face-to-face interactions with patients, including observing patients as they underwent pain treatments.
The experiment included 18 physicians (all of whom had received their medical degree within the last 10 years and represented nine separate medical specialties). Two 25-year-old females played the role of "patients" and followed a rehearsed script. The experiment called for the participating physicians to administer pain relief with what they thought was a pain-relieving electronic device, but which was actually a non-active "sham" device.
To ensure that the physicians believed that the sham device really worked, the investigators first administered a dose of "heat pain" to the physicians' forearms to gauge pain threshold and then "treated" them with the fake machine. During the treatments, the investigators reduced the heat stimulation, to demonstrate to the participants that the therapy worked. The physicians underwent fMRI scans while they experienced the painful heat stimulation so that investigators could see exactly which brain regions were activated during first-person perception of pain.
In the second portion of the experiment,each physician was introduced to a patient and asked to perform a standardized clinical examination, which was conducted in a typical exam room for approximately 20 minutes. (The clinical exam was performed in order to establish a realistic rapport between the physician and patient before fMRI scanning took place, and was comparable to a standard U.S. doctor's appointment.) At this point the physician also answered a questionnaire, the Interpersonal Reactivity Index, used to measure the participant's self-reported perspective-taking skills.
During the third step, says Jensen, the physician and patient were led into the scanner room. "The physician went inside the scanner and was equipped with a remote control that could activate the 'analgesic device' when prompted," she explains. Mirrors inside the scanner enabled physicians to maintain eye contact with the patient, who was seated on a chair next to the scanner's bed and hooked up to both the thermal pain stimulator and the pain-relieving device.
Then, in a randomized order, physicians were instructed to either treat a patient's pain or to press a control button that provided no relief. When physicians were told not to activate pain relief, the "patient" exhibited a painful facial expression while the physicians watched. When the physicians were instructed to treat the patients' pain, they could see that the subjects' faces were neutral and relaxed, the result of pain relief. During these doctor-patient interactions, fMRI scans measured the doctors' brain activations.
Following the scanning session, the physicians were removed from the scanner and told exactly how the experiment had been performed, says Jensen. "If the physician did not agree with the deceptive component of the study, they were given the opportunity to withdraw their data. No one did this."
As predicted, the authors found that while treating patients, the physicians activated the right VLPFC region of the brain, a region previously implicated in the placebo response. Furthermore, Jensen adds, the physicians' ability to take the patients' viewpoints correlated to brain activations and subjective ratings; physicians who reported high perspective-taking skills were more likely to show activation in the rACC brain region, which is associated with reward.
"We already know that the physician-patient relationship provides solace and can even relieve many symptoms," adds Kaptchuk. "Now, for the first time, we've shown that caring for patients encompasses a unique neurobiology in physicians. Our ultimate goal is to transform the 'art of medicine' into the 'science of care,' and this research is an important first step in this process as we continue investigations to find out how patient-clinician interactions can lead to measurable clinical outcomes in patients."
Source:Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center 

Nanomaterials key to developing stronger artificial hearts

On January 30, 2013 ACS Nano published a study by Ali Khademhosseini, PhD, MASc, a researcher in the division of biomedical engineering at Brigham and Women's Hospital, detailing the creation of innovative cardiac patches that utilize nanotechnology to enhance the conductivity of materials to induce cardiac tissue formation. Creation of these ultra-thin cardiac patches put medicine a step closer to durable, high-functioning artificial tissues that could be used to repair damaged hearts and other organs.
The cardiac tissue patches utilize a hydrogel scaffolding reinforced by nanomaterials called carbon nanotubes. To create the patches, the researchers seeded neonatal rat heart muscle tissue onto carbon nanotube-infused hydrogels. These novel patches showed excellent mechanical integrity and advanced electrophysiological functions. Moreover, they demonstrated a protective effect against chemicals toxic to heart tissue.


Stay Healthier This Year By Adding 5 Foods to Your Daily Diet

 Stay Healthier This Year By Adding 5 Foods to Your Daily DietAdd these five foods - Bulgur, Chickpeas, Kale, Spaghetti squash and Sunflower seeds to your grocery cart to make 2013 healthier suggests a dietitian from the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB).
According to Lindsey Lee, R.D., clinical dietitian with EatRight by UAB Weight Management Services, there are numerous often-ignored foods that fit the bill for healthier eating. 
"There are many foods that, while unfamiliar to some, are readily accessible in most grocery stores and can really expand a person's daily diet without expanding their waistlines," Lee explained. 
Bulgur: This whole-wheat product is a good substitution for rice or potatoes that has a mild, nutty flavor and chewy texture. It is packed with eight grams of fiber and six grams of protein per cup, and it clocks in at only about 150 calories. It is also a good source of vitamins and minerals; particularly B vitamins and manganese. It can typically be found in the same aisle as rice and beans. 
"The fiber and protein in whole-wheat products like bulgur help keep us feeling full throughout the day. Bulgur has a fairly low glycemic index, so it does not dramatically raise blood sugar like refined flour products like white potatoes or white rice," Lee said. 
Chickpeas (garbanzo beans): Chickpeas, also called garbanzo beans, are healthy, versatile and inexpensive legumes that are very easy to prepare. They can even be consumed right out of the can. 
One cup of chickpeas has 13 grams of fiber, 15 grams of protein and three grams of healthy fat. They also have antioxidant properties and are loaded with vitamins and minerals. They can be found in the canned foods section or with the dried beans. Lee suggested eating legumes like these three to four times per week. 
"Most of the fiber in chickpeas is insoluble fiber, which is great for digestive health. Individuals who eat them typically have better blood sugar regulation since chickpeas are so high in fiber and protein," Lee explained. 
Kale: Kale is a leafy green vegetable that is loaded with antioxidant vitamins A, C and K, and it is a good source of essential minerals like copper, potassium, iron, manganese and phosphorus. A cup of this vegetable, which can be found in the produce department, is only about 40 calories. 
"The vitamins in kale are associated with anti-cancer health benefits, and the fiber in kale helps bind cholesterol in the body, which improves heart health. Individuals should include cruciferous vegetables like kale in their diet at least four to five times per week," Lee said. 
Spaghetti squash: Spaghetti squash is the low-carbohydrate alternative to spaghetti pasta; the inner flesh of this squash pulls into strands, resembling the popular pasta. A one-cup serving of spaghetti squash has 10 grams of carbohydrates as compared to about 45 grams in one cup of pasta or rice. One cup has only 42 calories and offers important health benefits. 
"Like all vegetables, spaghetti squash provides the body with essential vitamins and minerals like vitamin A, B-vitamins and manganese. And it's very versatile; you can bake or steam your spaghetti squash before adding it to recipes, or eat it as a side dish with your favorite lean meat," Lee said. 
Sunflower seeds: Sunflower seeds are generally less expensive than other nuts, and they offer many of the same health benefits as popular choices like almonds and walnuts. 
A quarter cup of sunflower seeds has three grams of fiber and six grams of protein. Unsalted sunflower seeds contain healthy fats, but they are high in calories at about 280 per quarter cup. Lee recommends keeping to one portion. 
Sunflower seeds are a good source of copper, vitamin E, selenium and manganese. Shelled, unsalted sunflower seeds can be found in the nut section, and they can be added to salads or yogurt, or eaten plain. 
"The vitamin E in sunflower seeds offers significant anti-inflammatory effects; and it is an antioxidant, so it also plays an important role in the prevention of cardiovascular disease," Lee said.



Taking a Vacation is Good for Your Health

Taking a vacation does a whole lot of good for your health, it cuts stress levels, enhances emotional well-being, improves sleep and the effect lasts for months, according to recent research.This news is meant for all those who do not take their full holiday entitlement each year in the name of productivity. 
Going on a holiday is like preventive medicine, researchers said. It brings down blood pressure, improves sleep and reduces stress, research revealed. The benefits can go on up to a fortnight or can even be felt for months, study claims. 
Research revealed that the average blood pressure of those on holiday reduced by six per cent and sleep quality improved by 17 percent. Further, those on holiday portrayed better ability to recover from stress. Tests showed reduction in blood glucose levels, and improved energy levels. Vacations also improved mood. 
‘It’s apparent from our results that the majority of people feel happier, more rested and much less stressed because of their vacations. But, even more importantly, I have discovered that these benefits continue well past the vacation - in fact, for months afterwards. These results clearly demonstrate that on holiday our ability to physically cope with stress improves’, researchers said. 


Lucid Dreamers Help Scientists Locate the Seat of Meta-Consciousness in the Brain

Over the years, lucid dreaming concepts were limited to paranormal researchers and those involved in the study of metaphysics and mysticism. However, extensive research carried out over the years has finally established the truthful existence of lucid dreaming.
Simply put, lucid dreams are those dreams, where the individual is fully aware of the fact that he/she is dreaming. These dreams can be vivid and almost life-like, where the individual is capable of controlling and modifying the aspects or situations in the dream to his/her own will. This ability has helped millions of people suffering from nightmares, to get better accustomed to their daily life and beat insomnia and fear. 
A recent study carried out on a group of lucid dreamers has helped scientists gain a wonderful insight on some of the unsolved mysteries of neuroscience. 
While science has truly progressed beyond leaps and bounds, there are still some aspects of the human mind which we cannot yet grasp completely. Self-perception and self consciousness are among a few of them. Neuroscientists have tried hard to find out the particular areas of the brain that are responsible for self-consciousness and self perception without much success. 
A recent study, carried out by the scientists from the Max Planck Institutes of Psychiatry in Munich and for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences in Leipzig and from Charité in Berlin have now used lucid dreaming as a catalyst to determine the areas of human responsible for self consciousness and perception. This experiment took into account the MRT (magnetic resonance tomography) scans of lucid dreamers and compared them with those of non-lucid dreamers. Considering the fact that lucid dreamers were completely aware of their dreams and their ability to modify the dreams, they activated those zones of the brain that were involved with self perception even in their dreams, unlike those of the non-lucid dreamers. 
When the scans were compared, they revealed that the zones that were activated in the lucid dreamers included the right dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, the frontopolar regions and the precuneus. This study only further clarifies the involvement of the areas of cerebral cortex and the precuneus in the self assessment and evaluation of one’s thoughts and feelings. 
Institutes of Psychiatry ,Munich/ Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences,Leipzig 

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

IRCM Researchers: Artificial Pancreas Holds Promise for Treating Diabetes

 researchers have found that artificial pancreas improved glucose levels and significantly reduced the risk of hypoglycemia as compared with diabetes treatment using an insulin pump.Their results can have a great impact on the treatment of type 1 diabetes by accelerating the development of the external artificial pancreas. 
The artificial pancreas is an automated system that simulates the normal pancreas by continuously adapting insulin delivery based on changes in glucose levels. The dual-hormone artificial pancreas tested at the IRCM controls glucose levels by automatically delivering insulin and glucagon, if necessary, based on continuous glucose monitor (CGM) readings and guided by an advanced algorithm. 
Endocrinologist Dr. Remi Rabasa-Lhoret led the researchers. 
"We found that the artificial pancreas improved glucose control by 15 per cent and significantly reduced the risk of hypoglycemia as compared with conventional insulin pump therapy," explained engineer Ahmad Haidar, first author of the study and doctoral student in Dr. Rabasa-Lhoret's research unit at the IRCM and at the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at McGill University. 
"The artificial pancreas also resulted in an 8-fold reduction of the overall risk of hypoglycemia, and a 20-fold reduction of the risk of nocturnal hypoglycemia," he added. 
People living with type 1 diabetes must carefully manage their blood glucose levels to ensure they remain within a target range. Blood glucose control is the key to preventing serious long-term complications related to high glucose levels (such as blindness or kidney failure) and reduces the risk of hypoglycemia (dangerously low blood glucose that can lead to confusion, disorientation and, if severe, loss of consciousness). 
"Approximately two-thirds of patients don't achieve their target range with current treatments," said Dr. Rabasa-Lhoret, Director of the Obesity, Metabolism and Diabetes research clinic at the IRCM. 
"The artificial pancreas could help them reach these targets and reduce the risk of hypoglycemia, which is feared by most patients and remains the most common adverse effect of insulin therapy. In fact, nocturnal hypoglycemia is the main barrier to reaching glycemic targets," she noted. 
Dr. Rabasa-Lhoret concluded that the artificial pancreas has the potential to substantially improve the management of diabetes and reduce daily frustrations for patients. 
"We are pursuing our clinical trials to test the system for longer periods and with different age groups. It will then probably be introduced gradually to clinical practice, using insulin alone, with early generations focusing on overnight glucose controls," she added. 
Their results have been published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ).




Link Between Low Vitamin D Levels and Premenopausal Breast Cancer Risk Identified

Women who have low serum vitamin D levels during the three-month period just before diagnosis are at a higher risk of premenopausal breast cancer, say researchers.The study of blood levels of 1,200 healthy women by researchers from the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine, found that women whose serum vitamin D level was low during the three-month period just before diagnosis had approximately three times the risk of breast cancer as women in the highest vitamin D group. 
Several previous studies have shown that low serum levels of vitamin D are associated with a higher risk of premenopausal breast cancer. 
"While the mechanisms by which vitamin D could prevent breast cancer are not fully understood, this study suggests that the association with low vitamin D in the blood is strongest late in the development of the cancer," principal investigator Cedric Garland said. 
Analyses of vitamin D levels measured more than 90 days before diagnosis have not conclusively established a relationship between serum levels and risk of premenopausal breast cancer in the present cohort. 
However, this new study points to the possibility of a relevant window of time for cancer prevention in the last three months preceding tumour diagnosis -a time physiologically critical to the growth of the tumour. 
According to Garland, this is likely to be the point at which the tumour may be most actively recruiting blood vessels required for tumour growth. 
"Based on these data, further investigation of the role of vitamin D in reducing incidence of premenopausal breast cancer, particularly during the late phases of its development, is warranted," he said. 
The new study drew upon 9 million blood serum specimens frozen by the Department of Defense Serum Repository for routine disease surveillance. 
The researchers thawed and analyzed pre-diagnostic samples of serum from 1,200 women whose blood was drawn in the same time frame - samples from 600 women who later developed breast cancer, and from 600 women who remained healthy. 
A 2011 meta-analysis by Garland and colleagues estimated that a serum level of 50 ng/ml is associated with 50 percent lower risk of breast cancer. 
While there are some variations in absorption, those who consume 4000 IU per day of vitamin D from food or a supplement normally would reach a serum level of 50 ng/ml. 
Garland added that a consensus of all available data has shown no known risk associated with this concentration of vitamin D, which is measured as serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D, but urges patients to ask their health care provider to measure their serum 25(OH)D before substantially increasing vitamin D intake. 
"Reliance should not be placed on different forms of vitamin D, such as vitamin D2, and megadoses should be avoided except those ordered by a doctor for short-term use," Garland added. 
The study has been published online in the journal Cancer Causes and Control.



New Way to Deal With Cancer Identified

 New Way to Deal With Cancer IdentifiedA disabled form of the HIV virus which leads to AIDS could help destroy cancer, say researchers. Disabled HIV virus carries genes into white blood cells called T-cells, these T-cells are then reprogrammed to attack cancer - with startling results, the Mirror reported.An American child of six was suffering from a deadly form of leukaemia that was resistant to all forms of treatment and her doctors had run out of options. 
Her parents sought an untried, experimental treatment at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, US. 
It had never been tried in a child or anyone with the same kind of leukaemia. 
The treatment nearly killed her but, now at the age of seven, she's cancer free. 
She's one of just 12 patients who have had the same treatment. 
Researchers are hoping it will eventually go on to replace bone marrow transplantation, which is a risky, time-consuming and expensive procedure that is often the only hope when all other treatments have failed. 
In the small number of patients treated so far, some have had complete remissions, while two of them are still well after more than two years. 
To give the treatment, doctors first remove millions of the patient's T-cells, then insert new genes into them that enables the T-cells to kill cancer cells. 
The carrier for the genes is a disabled form of the HIV virus, which is very good at carrying genetic material into T-cells. 
The altered T-cells are then dripped back into the patient's body through a vein and, hopefully, multiply and start destroying the cancer. 
A sign the treatment is working is when the patient becomes very ill with a raging fever and chills. 
This is due to the outpouring of natural chemicals, cytokines, from the cells of the immune system as they're being activated. When the altered T-cells persist, patients go into long remission of their disease. 
However, the treatment is costly as a new batch of T-cells has to be created for each patient. 
In the US, producing the engineered T-cells costs about 12,500 pounds - far less than a bone marrow transplant. 
If the treatment could be scaled up, it would be even cheaper to perform. Many more patients must be treated and studied before the procedure will be accepted properly.


Pomegranate Cuts Hunger Pangs

 Pomegranate Cuts Hunger PangsRegular consumption of pomegranate can help reduce your hunger pangs, says study. Volunteers who took a pomegranate supplement daily for three weeks reported feeling significantly less hungry during the experiment than those who had a placebo instead.When given a plate of food as part of the trial, those who had been taking the extract ate an average of 22 percent less than those in the control group, but reported greater enjoyment of the food. 
A total of 29 volunteers took part in the study carried out by Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh. 
Half the group took a pomegranate extract, containing the skin, pith and seeds of the fruit, every day for three weeks and the rest took a placebo tablet. 
After three weeks, each volunteer drank a glass of pomegranate juice before sitting down to a meal of pasta with tomato sauce. 
Before eating and at 15-minute intervals for up to two hours afterwards, the participants recorded their feelings of hunger, desire to eat, fullness and satisfaction in a questionnaire widely used in scientific studies to measure feelings and attitudes. 
The pomegranate extract group felt less hungry (by an average of 12 percent), had less desire to eat (21 percent), felt fuller (16 percent) and more satisfied (15 percent). 
They also ate an average of 447 grammes of the pasta meal compared with 574 grammes for the control group, or 22 percent less, and rated their food as more tasty than the other group.



Men Leave DNA in Women's Saliva While Kissing

 Men Leave DNA in Women's Saliva While KissingMen can pass some of their genetic code to women while kissing, reveals study. 
The DNA will hang around in their mouth for at least an hour even after a brief encounter.This suggests that women's saliva could reveal evidence of unwanted attention in cases of assault, or even telltale signs of infidelity, according to the New Scientist. 
Natalia Kamodyova and her colleagues at Comenius University in Bratislava, Slovakia, asked 12 couples to kiss each other passionately for at least 2 minutes. Saliva samples were then collected from the women at 5, 10, 30 and 60-minute intervals. 
Kamodyova's method can only be used to identify a man's DNA in a woman's saliva as it relies on detection of the Y chromosome. 
The results show that the man's DNA was still present and could be detected through amplification after at leastan hour, and possibly longer. 
This study have shown that it's possible to get a full profile of the kisser, which could be useful in crime investigation to pinpoint the possible perpetrator among suspects or exclude those innocent, said Kamodyova. 
Her team is now investigating whether the DNA survives longer than an hour and whether it's obtainable from the mouths of women who have died

Sunday, 27 January 2013

Lose Weight by Cutting Out Fat from Your Diet

It appears that it is possible to reduce weight by eating lower fat alternatives, according to a new study published in the BMJ.
Researchers from the University of East Anglia found out that eating less fatty options could shed pounds without actually going for a weight loss diet. 
Further, reducing fat in one’s diet would reduce cancer risk, coronary heart disease and stroke - conditions that arise from being overweight or obese. 
The study, a systematic review and analysis of 33 randomized controlled trials, included 73,589 men, women and children and was conducted with a view to ‘understand the relation between total fat intake and body weight’. 
During the course of the study, comparisons were made with those consuming lesser amount of fat than their usual quota to those who ate fatty food as usual. It was found that lowering the proportion of energy intake from total fat was reduced body weight by 1.6 kg, as well as BMI and waist circumference in the subjects and this was maintained for at least seven years from then. More precisely, 0.19kg of body weight reduced with each one percent decrease in energy from fats from subjects with 28 to 43 percent of energy from fats. 
Researchers, Dr Lee Hooper and her colleagues, think that although the weight loss was not enormous but it was significant since reducing the intake of fats, especially saturated fats, such as high fat milk, fatty meat, butter, cheese, and snacks such as biscuits, cakes and crisps, helped in cutting down risks for various medical conditions. 
All said, there is no short cut to good health. Avoiding smoking, limiting alcohol consumption, eating healthy and staying physically active are the ingredients for a healthy life. 



Bangle That Cures Acidity, Arthritis Launched in Delhi

 Bangle That Cures Acidity, Arthritis Launched in DelhiA bangle that cure ailments was unveiled in Delhi on Friday. The copper bangle has been claimed to cure acidity, arthritis, purify water and even protect people from harmful cellphone radiation.
The 'tiranga' bangle, designed with Tri-Vortex technology from South Africa, is an initiative of the Flag Foundation of India, an NGO run by parliamentarian Naveen Jindal. It was unveiled by Minister of Human Resource Development Shashi Tharoor. 

Anton Ungerer, co-owner and inventor of the technology, told IANS that the Tri-Vortex uses sounds from nature for health benefits. 
"The bangles are treated in a high energy Tri-Vortex chamber with acoustic sounds like sprouting of seeds or flowing water for over 24 hours, thus imparting it a wide range of health benefits," Ungerer said. 
"Powerful energy fields of the bangle create a flowing molecular structure resulting in much improved energy, vitality, balance and relief from pain," he added. 
Several other products like Tri-Vortex coasters, which purify water when a glass of water is kept over them and pendants that can be attached to a mobile phone to prevent the body from harmful radiation, were also launched. 
The bangle is particularly beneficial for athletes and the elderly. 
Jindal said the bangle would be launched nationwide. It's price is yet to be finalized.

Qigong Improves Quality of Life For Women With Breast Cancer

Qigong Improves Quality of Life For Women With Breast Cancer.

The study, published in the journal Cancer, is the first to examine qigong in patients actively receiving radiation therapy and include a follow-up period to assess benefits over time. Even though individual mind-body practices such as meditation and guided imagery appear to reduce aspects of distress and improve quality of life, questions remain about their effectiveness when conducted in conjunction with radiation therapy. 
"We were also particularly interested to see if qigong would benefit patients experiencing depressive symptoms at the start of treatment," said Lorenzo Cohen, Ph.D., professor in MD Anderson's Departments of General Oncology and Behavioral Science and director of the Integrative Medicine Program. "It is important for cancer patients to manage stress because it can have a profoundly negative effect on biological systems and inflammatory profiles." 
For the trial, Cohen, the corresponding author, and his colleagues enrolled 96 women with stage 1-3 breast cancer from Fudan University Shanghai Cancer Center in Shanghai, China. Forty-nine patients were randomized to a qigong group consisting of five 40-minute classes each week during their five-to-six week course of radiation therapy, while 47 women comprised a waitlist control group receiving the standard of care. 
The program incorporated a modified version of Chinese medical qigong consisting of synchronizing one's breath with various exercises. As a practice, qigong dates back more than 4,000 years when it was used across Asia to support spiritual health and prevent disease. 
Participants in both groups completed assessments at the beginning, middle and end of radiation therapy and then one and three months later. Different aspects of quality of life were measured including depressive symptoms, fatigue, sleep disturbances and overall quality of life. 

Results show benefits emerged over time 
Patients in the qigong group reported a steady decline in depressive symptom scores beginning at the end of radiation therapy with a mean score of 12.3, through the three month post-radiation follow-up with a score of 9.5. No changes were noted in the control group over time. 
The study also found qigong was especially helpful for women reporting high baseline depressive symptoms, Cohen said. 
"We examined women's depressive symptoms at the start of the study to see if women with higher levels would benefit more," Cohen said. "In fact, women with low levels of depressive symptoms at the start of radiotherapy had good quality of life throughout treatment and three months later regardless of whether they were in the qigong or control group. However, women with high depressive symptoms in the control group reported the worst levels of depressive symptoms, fatigue, and overall quality of life that were significantly improved for the women in the qigong group." 
As the benefits of qigong were largely observed after treatment concluded, researchers suggest qigong may prevent a delayed symptom burden, or expedite the recovery process especially for women with elevated depressive symptoms at the start of radiotherapy. 
Cohen notes the delayed effect could be explained by the cumulative nature of these modalities, as the benefits often take time to be realized. 

Future research needed 

The authors note several limitations to the study, including the absence of an active control group making it difficult to rule out whether or not the effects of qigong were influenced by a patient's expectations or simply being a light exercise. Additionally, the homogeneity of the group, Chinese women at a single site, limits the ability of applying the results to other populations. 
According to the authors, the findings support other previously reported trials examining qigong benefits, but are too preliminary to offer clinical recommendations. Additional work is needed to understand the possible biological mechanisms involved and further explore the use of qigong in ethnically diverse populations with different forms of disease.
Source:Journal Cancer

 Qigong Improves Quality of Life For Women With Breast Cancer

How to Stay Happy When Depression Crushes You

Every once in a while, you may hit a spell of depression and sadness. It’s time to gear up and be ready each time you’re weighed down with a bunch of blues. Try these super-easy ways to fight away depression the next time it hits you, and bounce back with a smile.
1. Cook: Believe it or not, cooking actually releases stress hormones and lightens up your mood in a matter of minutes. It engages all the senses and brings about an almost miraculous effect in changing your mood. Dr Andrew Weil, practitioner of Integrative medicine, advises his patients to use this method, coupled with yoga and meditation to achieve a relaxed state. Spend a good 20 minutes cooking your favorite dish-right from chopping to stirring. Relish the joy of creating something truly wonderful, and let others consume something you’ve painstakingly made. 

2. Flip through old photos: Old family pictures have their way of reviving good times by activating that part of the brain which stores positive memories. Studies show that viewing family pictures can combat depression upto 11%, as compared to chocolate and alcohol that can achieve a mere 3%. Keep a rotating screensaver of your happy moments with your family on your computer. 

3. Clear the clutter: Vastu (the ancient Indian science of construction and architecture) experts bet on this fact—a clutter filled and disorganized room is bound to attract negative energies. There’s a simple rule; if you de-clutter your desk, it de-clutters your mind. Pending bills and work left strewn on the desk signify your pending works; clearing them up causes your brain to think you are clearing the confusion. 

4. Keep a pet: Alternative medicine practitioners around the world are serious worshippers of pet therapy. Keeping a pet has many benefits. Firstly, there’s unconditional love—you know your pet loves you no matter what. Taking your dog for a walk, playing with a dog or a cat, or just lazing around home with your kitten can boost your spirits, studies say. 

5. Grab those headphones: 
Music seems to be the first line of defense when it comes to beating depression. Listening to some upbeat music for 5-10 minutes can instantly take you tn the happier side and even have you bouncing with joy. 

6. Get into your sanctuary: 
Your sanctuary is that personal space you love getting into; it may be a simple walk at the beach, or a nice hour in the bathtub reading a good book. Whatever it is, go ahead and indulge. 

7. Stay connected: Socializing with like-minded people and friends lifts up your happiness quotient, studies show. Be it Facebook, Twitter, or a simple lunch with your friends, it can help you catch up with some ‘healthy’ gossip. Socializing is thought to remove negative feelings and release the feel-good hormones. 

8. Cue up you-tube:
 You-tube is oozing with videos that can help you combat depression in a matter of minutes. Funny videos, animal acts, affirmational hypnosis videos and law of attraction documentaries—take your pick. A hearty laugh produces a chemical reaction that instantly boosts mood, relieves stress, perks up your immunity and more. Make it a point to remind yourself to giggle the next time you fall into the deep blue recesses of sadness. 

9. Do a good deed:
 When you’re down with sadness, get up and try to bring a smile on someone else’s face. Studies show that people who volunteer tend to be happier than those who don’t. Life isn’t that cruel. Try to spread happiness by starting with small things. Thank the waiter for serving you your lunch at the restaurant, smile at the cleaning lady in your house, or give away some small personal things you really like—such as your favorite tee or your funky shades. 

10. Re-think your retail therapy: Yes, shopping is a great stress buster, but when it empties your pocket, it brings even more stress. So, before you rush to the mall with your credit card, the next blue-spell, think of a wiser way to spend money. Shop only and only for stuff you’ll really use, look for bargains and discounts, or even better, buy movie tickets. Researchers say that people spending money on movies, outings and dinners are more likely to be happy than those who spoil themselves with luxury shopping. 

11. Walk around: It may sound strange, but merely the act of walking around in a public place can lift your mood. Observing the surroundings can take your mind off the negativity and sadness, instantly uplifting your mood. Before you know it, you’ll be smiling to yourself, watching children playing or a romantic couple holding hands. 

12. Munch on nuts: 
Loaded with the ‘good fats’ like omega 3 fatty acids, nuts and fishes are your best ‘diet-way’ to combat depression. Studies show that 106 healthy adults who consumed nuts or fishes on a daily basis scored upto 58% better on psychological tests than those who did not. 

Prevention magazine-December 2012


Facebook Badge