CURRENT ISSUE
Watch Online the Live Sessions of ISWWTA 2015 Rishikesh on Youtube.Visit:https://www.youtube.com/user/ayushdarpan/
Previous issues of AYUSH DARPAN in Hindi is now available online visit:http://ayushdarpan.org

Search Engine

Friday, 12 April 2013

Exercise can Help Prevent Blood Sugar Problems

Growth of white muscle due to exercise can help keep blood sugar level in check, say scientists of the Life Sciences Institute at the University of Michigan. 
Researchers have challenged a long-held belief that whitening of skeletal muscle in diabetes is harmful.In fact, the white muscle that increases with resistance training, age and diabetes helps keep blood sugar in check. 
"We wanted to figure out the relationship between muscle types and body metabolism, how the muscles were made, and also what kind of influence they have on diseases like Type 2 diabetes," said Jiandie Lin, Life Sciences Institute faculty member and associate professor at the UM Medical School. 
Lin's findings were published online April 7 in Nature Medicine. 
People with diabetes see whitening of muscles. 
"For a long time, the red-to-white shift was thought to make muscle less responsive to insulin, a hormone that lowers blood sugar," Lin said. "But this idea is far from proven. You lose red muscle when you age or develop diabetes, but is that really the culprit?" Lin said. 
White muscle dominates in the bodies of weight-lifters and sprinters - people who require short, intense bursts of energy. 
"Most people have a mix of red and white muscles," Lin said.
Source-IANS
 

 

Modest Population-wide Weight Loss Could Result in Reductions in Type 2 Diabetes and Cardio Disease: Research

 Modest Population-wide Weight Loss Could Result in Reductions in Type 2 Diabetes and Cardio Disease: ResearchA strong association between population-wide weight change and risk of death from type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease suggested by a new paper.Variation in the prevalence of type 2 diabetes across populations can be largely explained by obesity. However, it is unclear as to what extent weight loss would lower cardiovascular disease prevalence. Whole population trends in food consumption and transportation policies linked to physical activity could reduce the burden of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease at the population level. 
Following the Cuban economic crisis of the early 1990s, food and fuel shortages resulted in a decline in dietary energy intake and large increases in physical activity. This resulted in an average population-wide weight loss of 4-5kg (8-11lbs). Rapid declines in death rates from diabetes and coronary heart disease were subsequently observed. 
Comparing disease rates over time can demonstrate the power of prevention and help identify key risk factors. 
An international team of researchers from Spain, Cuba and the US (led by Dr Franco, associate professor at University of Alcalá) therefore examined the association between population-wide body changes and diabetes incidence (the number of new individuals who contract a disease), prevalence (the total number of cases in a particular period of time) and death rates from type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease, cancer and all-causes in Cuba between 1980 and 2010. Cuba is a country with a long tradition of public health and cardiovascular research which provided the necessary data from national health surveys, cardiovascular studies, primary care chronic disease registries and vital statistics over three decades. The Cuban population is relatively homogeneous and has undergone large social and economic changes directly related to food consumption and physical activity from 1980 through 2010. 
Four population-based cross-sectional surveys were used and data were available on height, weight, energy intake, smoking and physical activity. All participants were aged between 15 and 74. 
Population-wide changes in energy intake and physical activity were accompanied by large changes in body weight: between 1991 and 1995 there was an average 5kg reduction, whereas between 1995 and 2010 a population-wide weight rebound of 9kg was observed. 
Smoking prevalence slowly decreased during the 1980s and 1990s and declined more rapidly in the 2000s. The number of cigarettes consumed per capita decreased during and shortly after the crisis. 
Diabetes prevalence surged from 1997 onwards as the population began to gain weight. Diabetes incidence (new cases) decreased during the weight loss period but then increased until it peaked in the weight regain years. 
In 1996, five years after the start of the weight loss period, there was an abrupt downward trend in death from diabetes. This lasted six years during which energy intake status gradually recovered and physical activity levels were reduced. In 2002, death rates returned to pre-crisis trends and a dramatic increase in diabetes death was observed. 
Regarding CHD and stroke death trends we can see a slow decline from 1980 to 1996 followed by a dramatic decline after the weight loss phase. These descending trends have halted during the weight regain phase. 
The researchers conclude that the "Cuban experience in 1980-2010" demonstrates that within a relatively short period, modest weight loss in the whole population can have a profound effect on the overall burden of diabetes and deaths from cardiovascular disease. They say that although findings show that a 5kg population-wide weight loss "would reduce diabetes mortality by half and CHD mortality by a third", these findings are an extrapolation from this one experience - nonetheless they provide a "notable illustration of the potential health benefits of reversing the global obesity epidemic". 
In an accompanying editorial, Professor Willett from the Harvard School of Public Health says that Franco and colleagues "add powerful evidence that a reduction in overweight and obesity would have major population-wide benefits". He also says that authors are appropriately cautious in their conclusions and avoid "attributing all the changes in disease rates to changes in weight". He adds that physicians can help promote healthy behaviour by "visibly engaging in healthy behaviour". 
Dr Franco summarises the findings in a video. Dr Franco explains how population science can give us the tools to combat diseases such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes and how tackling unhealthy diet and physical inactivity can reduce the disease burden. He also stresses the importance of promoting physical activity, including cycling and walking, as a means of transportation.

Source:University of Alcalá
 


 

Ayurveda E-books Launched

 Ayurveda E-books Launched
Kerala Tourism has launched two e-books on the Indian healing system.The e-books on Ayurveda are the award-winning coffee table books, "Panchakarma: Ayurveda's Mantra of Rejuvenation", explaining 'panchakarma' as a holistic rejuvenation therapy combining five therapeutic actions to detoxify the body and revitalise the body system, and "Ayurveda: The Mantra of Niramaya", an introduction to the medicine system using texts from ancient scripts to modern research papers. 
"The e-books on Ayurveda are aimed at people around the world, to help them learn about the age-old system of medicine so that they can come to Kerala and experience its health benefits," said State Tourism Minister A.P. Anil Kumar, releasing the two e-books at a function here. 
The mantra of Niramaya had won the National Tourism Award in 2003-04 for the best publication in English. 
Kumar also rleased two other e-books -- one on the socio-cultural history of Kerala and another on yoga and healthy living. 
Published by IT solutions provider Invis Multimedia, the four e-books will be available at online stores for purchase for easy reading on e-book readers, mobile phones or computer screens. The digitisation of the four coffee table books was sponsored by Kerala Tourism. 
Those buying the Ayurveda e-books will get a free e-brochure on Kerala Tourism.
Source-IANS


 

 

Prevention and Treatment of Cancer Linked to Healthy Diet

 Prevention and Treatment of Cancer Linked to Healthy DietExperts say eating right can help you prevent cancer and even support your treatment if you have already been diagnosed with the condition.Ethan Bergman, registered dietitian nutritionist and Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics President, said that whether you, a parent, friend or a child has been diagnosed, chances are, your life has been touched by cancer. 
Bergman said that while cancer can leave us feeling helpless, the good news is that there are measures you can take to prevent the disease. 
Your diet is one of the most important factors under your control. 
According to Bergman, a healthful eating plan can lower your risk for developing cancer and if you have been diagnosed, eating well can positively support treatment and help you live well after treatment. 
He said that diet could affect disease prevention for not only cancer, but also heart attacks, Type 2 diabetes and strokes and deaths from cardiovascular disease. 
While more research is needed on the precise mechanisms, Bergman noted that one could help reduce cancer risk through eating right. 
Maintaining a healthy weight is key to reducing your risk of cancer and other diseases, he said. 
He suggests eating fewer foods that are high in calories and fat and low in nutrients. 
Foods with added sugars and fats can cause weight gain and leave little room for more healthy, cancer-preventing foods, he noted. 
Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, which are linked with a lower risk of certain cancers, he said. 
He advised to limit alcohol because evidence suggests all types of alcoholic drinks may increase risk of a number of cancers, including mouth, throat (pharynx), voice box (larynx), esophageal, liver, breast, colon and rectal. 
It's unclear exactly how alcohol affects cancer risk. It is considered more harmful when combined with smoking. If you drink at all, limit alcoholic drinks to no more than one drink daily for women and two for men, he added.
Source-ANI
 



 

Cancer Fighting Substance in Fruits and Vegetables

 Cancer Fighting Substance in Fruits and VegetablesGossypin, a naturally occurring substance present in fruits and vegetables is now thought to be an effective treatment for melanoma, which causes majority of deaths due to skin cancer."We identified gossypin as a novel agent with dual inhibitory activity towards two common mutations that are the ideal targets for melanoma treatment," said Texas Biomed's Hareesh Nair, Ph.D.At the moment, there is no single therapeutic agent or combination regimen available to treat all melanomas, of which about 76,000 new cases are diagnosed annually, according to the American Cancer Society. 
"Our results indicate that gossypin may have great therapeutic potential as a dual inhibitor of mutations called BRAFV600E kinase and CDK4, which occur in the vast majority of melanoma patients. They open a new avenue for the generation of a novel class of compounds for the treatment of melanoma," Nair added.His report, appearing in the March 29, 2013 issue of the journal Molecular Cancer Therapeutics, was funded by the Texas Biomedical Forum and the Robert J. Kleberg, Jr. and Helen C. Kleberg Foundation. 
Nair and his colleagues found that gossypin inhibited human melanoma cell proliferation, in vitro, in melanoma cell lines that harbor the two mutations. Gossypin stunted activities of the mutated genes, possibly through direct binding with them. It also inhibited the growth of various human melanoma cells. In addition, gossypin treatment for 10 days of human melanoma cell tumors with the mutations transplanted into mice reduced tumor volume and increased survival rate. 
Further studies are planned by Nair's team to understand how the body absorbs gossypin and how it is metabolized. This idea has been discussed with the Cancer Therapy & Research Center at the UT Health Science Center San Antonio's Deva Mahalingam, M.D, Ph.D., who is interested in testing gossypin in melanoma patients.

Source:Molecular Cancer Therapeutics

 

Meditation Touted by Filmmaker David Lynch for PTSD

 Meditation Touted by Filmmaker David Lynch for PTSDUS authorities should use more transcendental meditation to help soldiers returning from Afghanistan with post-traumatic stress disorder, filmmaker David Lynch has said.Hosting a Beverly Hills screening of "Meditation, Creativity, Peace," his new 70-minute documentary about the technique, Lynch also touted its positive impact on troubled schoolchildren, jail inmates and female abuse victims. 
"Some people say it's a Mickey Mouse form of meditation, or it's for beginners. That is total baloney. It's an ancient form of meditation, so profoundly beautiful for the human being," Lynch said. 
"It's a stress-buster, and many many many other glorious things. And these days we really need this stress-buster," he told an audience after the invite-only screening at a Beverly Hills gallery cum movie theater. 
The Oscar-nominated director, famous for films like 1980's "The Elephant Man," "Blue Velvet" (1986) and 2001's "Mulholland Drive," is a well-known proponent of transcendental meditation, developed in the 1960s by Indian guru Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. 
His movie follows Lynch on a tour around Europe appearing at talks with film students, explaining the benefits of TM mental techniques to largely adoring audiences. 
Clips of the 67-year-old expounding about TM are interspersed with philosophical sayings and aphorisms from religious texts, including the Hindu scripture Bhagavad Gita, against a sitar-lacked soundtrack. 
British comedian and actor Russell Brand, himself a TM devotee who has practiced the technique for more than three years, hosted a question-and-answer session after the screening. 
Lynch was indulgent when Brand started the session off by jokingly comparing the attractions of meditation and masturbation. 
"For Russell, we know what his desires are. And each of us has different desires," he said, adding that TM's main advantage was "that you can grow and find this fulfillment and the key is... that treasury within." 
Bob Roth, head of the David Lynch Foundation, said the Department of Defense was exploring the possible benefits for waves of US military veterans returning from Iraq and now Afghanistan. 
"Twenty-two veterans commit suicide every day in America. So they're looking desperately. A handful of pills isn't doing it, a cocktail of drugs that make these young men and women crazier," he said. 
Lynch added: "I had no idea how powerful and profound this technique could be until I saw firsthand how it was being practiced by young children in inner-city schools, veterans who suffer the living hell of PTSD, and women and girls who are victims of terrible violence." 
TM helps to reduce flashbacks and bad memories, ease insomnia and reduce drug and alcohol abuse, according to a Journal of Counseling & Development study cited by the filmmaker. 
The foundation is working to teach TM to 10,000 veterans, active duty personnel, cadets in training and their family, in a bid to get more support from US authorities. 
Struggling schools could also benefit. "It's amazing... what happens when you get TM in schools that have been some of the worst... turns around in one year to a school you would love you kids to go to," said Lynch. 
"It is so beautiful." 
Other entertainment industry figures on the Lynch Foundation advisory board include Clint Eastwood, Martin Scorsese, Oprah Winfrey, Ellen DeGeneres and Emmy-award winning US television doctor Mehmet Oz.
Source-AFP


 

Thursday, 11 April 2013

A new treatment option for alcohol dependence: Reduced consumption rather than abstinence


A potential new treatment for alcoholism called nalmefene is effective and safe for reducing alcohol consumption in alcohol dependent individuals, says a new study published this week in Biological Psychiatry.
Traditionally, abstinence has been regarded as the primary treatment goal for alcohol dependence, and current pharmacological treatments for alcoholism are approved only for relapse prevention. However, relapse rates remain high and a goal of abstinence is unacceptable to many patients. To address these concerns and provide opportunities for improved patient outcomes, new evidence-based treatments are necessary.
"Our new findings may mark a true paradigm shift in the treatment of men and women who suffer from alcohol related disorders. While abstinence should be the best bet, a reduction in consumption may be a valuable alternative for the many patients who cannot attain abstinence or are not (yet) capable of doing so," said Dr. Karl Mann at Central Institute of Mental Health in Germany, who led the research.
Mann and his colleagues conducted a clinical trial to investigate the effectiveness of nalmefene in reducing alcohol consumption. They recruited 604 alcohol-dependent patients, half of whom were randomized to receive nalmefene, while the other half received visually-identical placebo pills. Neither patients nor their doctors knew which treatment they were receiving. Patients were instructed to take one tablet on each day they perceived a risk of drinking alcohol, and were followed by the study investigators for 24 weeks.
What they found is promising. Nalmefene was significantly better than placebo in reducing alcohol consumption and it improved patients' clinical status and liver enzymes. It was also generally well-tolerated, with most side effects characterized as mild or moderate and quickly resolved.
"With nalmefene, we seem to be able to 'block the buzz' which makes people continue to drink larger amounts. With such a harm reduction approach, a new chapter in treating alcoholism could be opened," said Mann.
These findings provide evidence that "as-needed" prescription of nalmefene is an effective treatment for alcohol dependence. Unlike medications that must be taken every day, the as-needed approach targets medication administration to periods where alcohol use is more likely.
"It is encouraging to see the efficacy of nalmefene in this clinical trial. There is a need for more treatment options for the pharmacotherapy of alcoholism," said Dr. John Krystal, Editor of Biological Psychiatry. "This study also provides support for 'as-needed' treatment, an approach that may be attractive to many patients. However, it flies in the face of the notion that daily treatment may protect people who are either ambivalent about treatment or unaware when they are particularly at risk for relapse."
The first medication developed for the treatment of alcohol dependence was naltrexone, an opioid receptor blocker. At therapeutic doses, it blocks most of the mu subtype of opioid receptors in the brain but it has lesser effects at the delta and kappa subtype of opioid receptors. Nalmefene is a newer opioid receptor modulator that has a subtly different profile at opioid receptor subtypes, with increased relative potency for kappa opiate receptors compared to its potency at mu opiate receptors. It was studied here because it has been shown to have potential for reducing alcohol consumption.
"It remains to be seen whether the differences between nalmefene and naltrexone at opioid receptors yield meaningful differences in their effectiveness," cautioned Krystal.
As with most studies, additional research is necessary, but this study provides strong evidence that nalmefene can provide an important clinical benefit for alcohol-dependent patients.
Source:Biological Psychiatry.

 

Soy-based compound may reduce tumor cell proliferation in colorectal cancer


Mount Sinai researchers present targets, treatments for prostate, colon, and ovarian cancer at the American Association for Cancer Research Annual Meeting

Research on a soy-based treatment for colorectal cancer, a promising agent in ovarian cancer, and a new drug target for advanced prostate cancer was presented at the American Association for Cancer Research 2013 Annual Meeting. The meeting took place April 6-10, 2013 in Washington, DC.

  • Natural Product From Soy May Be Effective in Combination with Chemotherapy

The development of colorectal cancer (CRC) is largely driven by cellular signaling in the Wnt pathway, a network of proteins critical to cellular growth. Hyperactivity of the Wnt signaling pathway occurs in more than 85 percent of colon and rectal cancers. Previous research has shown that genistein, a natural supplement containing soy, modulates Wnt signaling through epigenetic mechanisms.
Led by Randall Holcombe, MD, and Sofya Pintova, MD, both from Mount Sinai, the research team treated colon cancer cell lines with genistein and found that it inhibited cell growth and blocked Wnt signaling hyperactivity. The findings are counter to some other tumor types, such as breast, for which soy, because it has estrogen-like properties, increases the risk of developing tumors. Drs. Holcombe and Pintova are launching a clinical trial later this year for patients with metastatic colorectal cancer, which utilizes genistein in combination with chemotherapy based on this research.
"Genistein is a natural product with low toxicity and few side effects and our research shows that it may be beneficial in treating colorectal cancer," said Randall Holcombe, MD, Professor of Medicine in the Division if Hematology and Oncology at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. "This is an exciting area of research and we look forward to studying the benefits of this compound as an adjunctive treatment in colorectal cancer in humans."

  • Mount Sinai Researchers Identify Promising Therapy for Treatment-Resistant Ovarian Cancer

Platinum-based therapies are the standard of care in treating ovarian cancer, however 60 percent of patients relapse requiring additional treatment. During cancer development, certain proteins that might otherwise block tumor growth are inappropriately shuttled out of the cell's nucleus, and rendered unable to attack a tumor's mutated genome. Researchers led by John A. Martignetti, MD, PhD, Associate Professor of Genetics and Genomic Sciences and Oncological Sciences at Mount Sinai, in collaboration with investigators at Karyopharm Therapeutics, inhibited a nuclear shuttle protein called exportin 1 (XPO1, also called CRM1) using a novel class of drugs called a selective inhibitor of nuclear export (SINE) that can be taken by mouth.
Ying Chen, PhD, a post-doctoral student in Dr. Martignetti's laboratory, injected tumor cells removed from ovarian cancer patients treated at Mount Sinai into mice, and then treated them with a SINE XPO1 inhibitor, KPT-330. All mice treated with KPT-330 had no visible evidence of tumor and survived six times longer than control mice.
Similarly, in another mouse model of chemotherapy-resistant ovarian cancer, KPT-330 significantly reduced the tumor burden and improved overall survival when compared against the current gold-standard platinum treatment. Moreover, mice treated with a combination of KPT-330 and platinum survived even longer. Human trials of KPT-330 are currently ongoing, and will include patients with ovarian cancer later this year.
In part, these experiments arose from a unique scientific resource established by Dr. Martignetti and Dr. Peter Dottino, MD, Associate Clinical Professor, Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Science. The Ovarian Cancer Translational Research Program preserves cancerous and normal tissues removed in the operating room from all consenting patients for genetic, genomic and therapeutic discoveries. Studies presented at AACR used patient-derived tumor tissues to create mouse tumor avatars to directly test KPT-330 provided by Karyopharm Therapeutics.
"This is truly a translational research initiative where our own Mount Sinai patients are simultaneously contributing to a potential next generation therapy for incurable ovarian cancer and gaining insight into personalized treatment of their own cancers," said Dr. Martignetti. "These results show that new oral XPO1 inhibitors may be quite promising in treating patients who do not respond to, or relapse after, treatment with platinum-based therapy. We look forward to evaluating oral KPT-330 in our patients."
These studies were in part funded through a gift from Sally and Michael Gordon, a gift from Varadi Ovarian Cancer Research Program at Mount Sinai, and a research grant from Karyopharm Therapeutics.

  • Researchers Identify New Drug Target for Prostate Cancer

During cancer progression, cancer cells constantly interact with and modify their surrounding tumor microenvironment through regulating the expression of a group of enzyme inhibitors called tissue inhibitors of metalloproteinases (TIMPs). Previously, William Oh, MD, Professor and Chief of the Division of Hematology/Oncology in the department of Medicine at Mount Sinai and his colleagues showed that elevated TIMP-1 levels in the blood predicted decreased survival in advanced prostate cancer patients. However, the regulation of TIMP-1 expression in prostate cancer was not fully understood and the source of TIMP-1 overproduction remains unknown.
In the current study led by Yixuan Gong, PhD, in Dr. Oh's lab, the researchers show for the first time that resistance to androgen therapy, the most common treatment for prostate cancer, was associated with TIMP-1 overproduction in both prostate cancer patients and in cell culture models. They found that two signaling pathways called MEK and NF-ĸB were critical for TIMP-1 production in certain prostate cells and the production could be completely blocked by drugs that inhibit the pathways.
"Disrupting TIMP-1 signaling prevented androgen resistance providing a promising drug target for this hard-to-treat tumor type," said Dr. Gong. "We look forward to further investigating drugs that block TIMP-1 in a clinical setting."
Source:The Mount Sinai Hospital / Mount Sinai School of Medicine 

New Guidelines Will Help Authors Summarise Their Research

For writing abstracts, new guidelines will help authors summarise their research.A new extension to the PRISMA guideline on reporting systemic reviews and meta-analyses (types of studies that analyse information from many studies) will help authors to give a more robust summary (abstract) of their study and is detailed by an international group of researchers in this week's PLOS Medicine
These guidelines for abstracts of systemic reviews and meta-analyses are important, as the abstract is the most frequently read part of most papers and these types of studies are particularly important for influencing evidence-based research. 
New guidelines are necessary as despite published guidance on writing the abstract in previous guidelines (the PRISMA Statement); evaluations show that reporting of systematic reviews in journal and conference abstracts is poor. 
An international group of researchers (the PRISMA for Abstracts Group) developed the new consensus-based reporting guidelines to give authors a checklist and framework for summarising their systematic review into the essentials for an abstract that will meet the needs of many readers. 
The authors say: "Abstracts should not replace full articles in informing decision making, but for time-pressed readers and those with limited access to full text reports, the abstract must stand alone in presenting a clear and truthful account of the research." 
They continue: "The PRISMA for Abstracts checklist will guide authors in presenting an abstract that facilitates a quick assessment of review validity, an explicit summary of results, facilitates pre-publication or conference selection peer review, and enables efficient perusal of electronic search results." 

Source:PLOS Medicine


 



 

Prevention and Treatment of Cancer Linked to Healthy Diet

Experts say eating right can help you prevent cancer and even support your treatment if you have already been diagnosed with the condition.Ethan Bergman, registered dietitian nutritionist and Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics President, said that whether you, a parent, friend or a child has been diagnosed, chances are, your life has been touched by cancer. 
Bergman said that while cancer can leave us feeling helpless, the good news is that there are measures you can take to prevent the disease. 
Your diet is one of the most important factors under your control. 
According to Bergman, a healthful eating plan can lower your risk for developing cancer and if you have been diagnosed, eating well can positively support treatment and help you live well after treatment. 
He said that diet could affect disease prevention for not only cancer, but also heart attacks, Type 2 diabetes and strokes and deaths from cardiovascular disease. 
While more research is needed on the precise mechanisms, Bergman noted that one could help reduce cancer risk through eating right. 
Maintaining a healthy weight is key to reducing your risk of cancer and other diseases, he said. 
He suggests eating fewer foods that are high in calories and fat and low in nutrients. 
Foods with added sugars and fats can cause weight gain and leave little room for more healthy, cancer-preventing foods, he noted. 
Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, which are linked with a lower risk of certain cancers, he said. 
He advised to limit alcohol because evidence suggests all types of alcoholic drinks may increase risk of a number of cancers, including mouth, throat (pharynx), voice box (larynx), esophageal, liver, breast, colon and rectal. 
It's unclear exactly how alcohol affects cancer risk. It is considered more harmful when combined with smoking. If you drink at all, limit alcoholic drinks to no more than one drink daily for women and two for men, he added.
Source-ANI
 

 

Different Brains Have Similar Responses to Music: Stanford Study

 Different Brains Have Similar Responses to Music: Stanford StudyDifferent people tend to listen to the same piece of music, but does that mean the brain actually responds to the music in the same way? An imaging study by Stanford University School of Medicine scientists says the answer is yes, which may in part explain why music plays such a big role in our social existence.The investigators used functional magnetic resonance imaging to identify a distributed network of several brain structures whose activity levels waxed and waned in a strikingly similar pattern among study participants as they listened to classical music they'd never heard before. The results will be published online April 11 in the European Journal of Neuroscience
"We spend a lot of time listening to music — often in groups, and often in conjunction with synchronized movement and dance," said Vinod Menon, PhD, a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences and the study's senior author. "Here, we've shown for the first time that despite our individual differences in musical experiences and preferences, classical music elicits a highly consistent pattern of activity across individuals in several brain structures including those involved in movement planning, memory and attention." 
The notion that healthy subjects respond to complex sounds in the same way, Menon said, could provide novel insights into how individuals with language and speech disorders might listen to and track information differently from the rest of us. 
The new study is one in a series of collaborations between Menon and co-author Daniel Levitin, PhD, a psychology professor at McGill University in Montreal, dating back to when Levitin was a visiting scholar at Stanford several years ago. 
To make sure it was music, not language, that study participants' brains would be processing, Menon's group used music that had no lyrics. Also excluded was anything participants had heard before, in order to eliminate the confounding effects of having some participants who had heard the musical selection before while others were hearing it for the first time. Using obscure pieces of music also avoided tripping off memories such as where participants were the first time they heard the selection. 
The researchers settled on complete classical symphonic musical pieces by 18th-century English composer William Boyce, known to musical cognoscenti as "the English Bach" because his late-baroque compositions in some respects resembled those of the famed German composer. Boyce's works fit well into the canon of Western music but are little known to modern Americans. 
Next, Menon's group recruited 17 right-handed participants (nine men and eight women) between the ages of 19 and 27 with little or no musical training and no previous knowledge of Boyce's works. (Conventional maps of brain anatomy are based on studies of right-handed people. Left-handed people's brains tend to deviate from that map.) 
While participants listened to Boyce's music through headphones with their heads maintained in a fixed position inside an fMRI chamber, their brains were imaged for more than nine minutes. During this imaging session, participants also heard two types of "pseudo-musical" stimuli containing one or another attribute of music but lacking in others. In one case, all of the timing information in the music was obliterated, including the rhythm, with an effect akin to a harmonized hissing sound. The other pseudo-musical input involved maintaining the same rhythmic structure as in the Boyce piece but with each tone transformed by a mathematical algorithm to another tone so that the melodic and harmonic aspects were drastically altered. 
The team identified a hierarchal network stretching from low-level auditory relay stations in the midbrain to high-level cortical brain structures related to working memory and attention, and beyond that to movement-planning areas in the cortex. These regions track structural elements of a musical stimulus over time periods lasting up to several seconds, with each region processing information according to its own time scale. 
Activity levels in several different places in the brain responded similarly from one individual to the next to music, but less so or not at all to pseudo-music. While these brain structures have been implicated individually in musical processing, their identifications had been obtained by probing with artificial laboratory stimuli, not real music. Nor had their coordination with one another been previously observed. 
Notably, subcortical auditory structures in the midbrain and thalamus showed significantly greater synchronization in response to musical stimuli. These structures have been thought to passively relay auditory information to higher brain centers, Menon said. "But if they were just passive relay stations, their responses to both types of pseudo-music would have been just as closely synchronized between individuals as to real music." The study demonstrated, for the first time, that those structures' activity levels respond preferentially to music rather than to pseudo-music, suggesting that higher-level centers in the cortex direct these relay stations to closely heed sounds that are specifically musical in nature. 
The fronto-parietal cortex, which anchors high-level cognitive functions including attention and working memory, also manifested intersubject synchronization — but only in response to music and only in the right hemisphere. 
Interestingly, the structures involved included the right-brain counterparts of two important structures in the brain's left hemisphere, Broca's and Geschwind's areas, known to be crucial for speech and language interpretation. 
"These right-hemisphere brain areas track non-linguistic stimuli such as music in the same way that the left hemisphere tracks linguistic sequences," said Menon. 
In any single individual listening to music, each cluster of music-responsive areas appeared to be tracking music on its own time scale. For example, midbrain auditory processing centers worked more or less in real time, while the right-brain analogs of the Broca's and Geschwind's areas appeared to chew on longer stretches of music. These structures may be necessary for holding musical phrases and passages in mind as part of making sense of a piece of music's long-term structure. 
"A novelty of our work is that we identified brain structures that track the temporal evolution of the music over extended periods of time, similar to our everyday experience of music listening," said postdoctoral scholar Daniel Abrams, PhD, the study's first author. 
The preferential activation of motor-planning centers in response to music, compared with pseudo-music, suggests that our brains respond naturally to musical stimulation by foreshadowing movements that typically accompany music listening: clapping, dancing, marching, singing or head-bobbing. The apparently similar activation patterns among normal individuals make it more likely our movements will be socially coordinated. 
"Our method can be extended to a number of research domains that involve interpersonal communication. We are particularly interested in language and social communication in autism," Menon said. "Do children with autism listen to speech the same way as typically developing children? If not, how are they processing information differently? Which brain regions are out of sync?"

Source:European Journal of Neuroscience.
 

 

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Ayush dept embarks on measures for global cooperation in Indian Systems of Medicine

To promote and propagate Indian Systems of Medicine, to facilitate international promotion, development and recognition of AYUSH systems of medicine abroad, the department of AYUSH has initiated several measures including setting up of an AYUSH Information Cell at the ICCR Cultural Centre in Mexico.
Senior officials in the AYUSH department said that in order to promote and propagate Indian Systems of Medicine in other countries, the department of AYUSH has prepared comprehensive dossiers on Ayurveda and Homoeopathy. “Ayurveda - The Science of Life” dossier has been circulated to all Indian Missions abroad for further distribution to concerned authorities in foreign countries. Likewise, “Homoeopathy - The Science of Gentle Healing” dossier is being sent to all Indian Missions abroad for distribution to the concerned authorities.
Officials also said that the department of AYUSH has opened talks with several countries for cooperation in the field of traditional systems of medicine. Apart from setting up an AYUSH Information Cell at the ICCR Cultural Centre in Mexico, a letter of intent has been signed with the government of Mexico to facilitate signing of an memorandum of understanding (MoU) at a future date to strengthen, promote and develop cooperation in the field of traditional systems of medicine.
Besides, the department of AYUSH will soon sign an MoU with the government of Nepal on cooperation in the field of traditional systems of medicine for which the union cabinet has already given its approval. Likewise, efforts are going on with the government of Sri Lanka to have cooperation on traditional medicine and homoeopathy, officials said.
Earlier in February this year, the department of AYUSH had organised an International Conference on Traditional medicine for South East Asian Countries in collaboration with World Health Organisation (WHO-SEARO).  The Conference was attended by Health Ministers of Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Timor-Leste. A declaration on Traditional medicine called ‘Delhi Declaration’ was made at the end of the Conference.

Source:Pharmabiz

HIV self-testing: The key to controlling the global epidemic


A new international study has confirmed that self-testing for HIV is effective and could be the answer to controlling the global epidemic. This major systematic review, led by the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre (RI-MUHC), shows HIV self-testing removes much of the fear and stigma associated with being tested for the disease. This study, which is published in PLoS Medicine is the first of its kind and could pave the way for early detection and treatment around the world, thereby reducing transmission.
“Thirty years into the HIV* epidemic, there is no vaccine in sight. Treatment as a prevention strategy has been known to work, but uptake of HIV screening seems to be limited by a societal problem: HIV stigma and perceived discrimination,” says Dr. Nitika Pant Pai, who is the first and corresponding author of the study, a clinical researcher at the RI-MUHC and assistant professor in the Department of Medicine at McGill University.
According to UNAIDS*, 50 per cent of people living with HIV worldwide are unaware of their HIV status and about 2.5 million people become infected every year. Dr. Pant Pai firmly believes that access to an HIV self-test linked to expedited counselling systems will help expand access to screening and reduce judgement and perceived attitudes around HIV testing. Self-tests are performed in oral fluid samples from the gum lining of the mouth in the privacy of one’s home. They are non-invasive, convenient, ensure confidentiality and can provide results within 20 minutes. The results are self-interpreted however, and require confirmation at a medical clinic if positive.
There is a lot of global momentum in favour of HIV self-testing with several countries and health networks advocating their use. Several studies have been conducted to determine the best methods of making a self-test with linked counselling and referral services available in various African, North American and European settings. Dr. Pant Pai and her colleagues decided to look at the global evidence on self-testing strategies based on acceptability, feasibility and accuracy and success with linkages to care.
They examined 21 worldwide studies and found that two distinct self-testing strategies have been tried: supervised self-testing (self-testing and counselling aided by a health-care professional), and unsupervised self-testing (self-testing performed without any help but with counselling available by phone or internet). Most of the data came from studies carried out in high-income settings including the United States, Canada, Spain and the Netherlands, as well as Kenya, Singapore, Malawi and India.
Across the various studies, researchers observed that acceptability (defined as the number of people who self-tested divided by the number who consented to self-test) was very high for both self-testing strategies. They also found evidence that people preferred self-testing to facility-based testing and oral self-testing to blood-based self-testing. “The preference was largely driven by the fact the oral self-tests are non-invasive, convenient, easy to swab and do not involve a finger stick or blood from your arm for a preliminary screen,” explains Dr. Pant Pai. “A lot of people also wanted to take the oral self-test home to test their partners.”
Dr. Pant Pai’s project is supported by a Stars in Global Health award from Grand Challenges Canada, which is funded by the Government of Canada. “Canada has a deep pool of talent dedicated to pursuing bold ideas that can have big impact in the developing world,” adds Dr. Peter A. Singer, CEO of Grand Challenges Canada. “Grand Challenges Canada is proud to support innovators like Dr. Pant Pai because they will make a difference to many lives.”
Dr. Pant Pai and colleagues urge policy makers everywhere to look at the proven results of supervised and unsupervised self-testing, and think how best to put these strategies into practice in their own countries. “We have, as a society, made great progress with biomedical tools, drugs and strategies, but we haven’t conquered HIV-related stigma and perceived discrimination. The time is now right to tailor strategies to suit the preferences and lifestyles of patients with a view to expand access.”
Source:McGill University Health Centre 

 

New technique shows promise in restoring near vision without glasses


Wearing OK contact lenses every night can restore age-related loss of near vision

 By middle age, most people have age-related declines in near vision (presbyopia) requiring bifocals or reading glasses. An emerging technique called hyperopic orthokeratology (OK) may provide a new alternative for restoring near vision without the need for glasses, according to a study, "Refractive Changes from Hyperopic Orthokeratology Monovision in Presbyopes", appearing in the April issue of Optometry and Vision Science, official journal of the American Academy of Optometry. The journal is published by Lippincott Williams & Wilkins , a part of Wolters Kluwer Health.
For middle-aged patients with presbyopia, wearing OK contact lenses overnight can restore up-close vision in one eye, according to the study by Paul Gifford, PhD, FAAO, and Helen A Swarbrick, PhD, FAAO, of University of New South Wales, Sydney. "The authors have shown the feasibility of correcting one eye for near vision through OK, in which overnight contact lens wear shapes the cornea of one eye to allow in-focus near vision for reading," comments Anthony Adams, OD, PhD, Editor-in-Chief of Optometry and Vision Science.
Overnight OK Lens Wear Restores Near Vision in One Eye
The study included 16 middle-aged patients (43 to 59 years) with age-related loss of near vision, or presbyopia. Presbyopia is caused by age-related loss of flexibility in the cornea—the transparent front part that lets light into the eye.
Orthokeratology is a clinical technique to correct vision using specially designed rigid contact lenses to manipulate the shape of the cornea. Dr Adams likens OK therapy to orthodontic treatment using braces to change the alignment of the teeth.
Drs Gifford and Swarbick evaluated a "monocular" technique, with patients wearing a custom-made OK lens in one eye overnight for one week. To preserve normal distance vision, the other eye was left untreated.
In all patients, the monocular OK technique was successful in restoring near vision in the treated eye. The improvement was apparent on the first day after overnight OK lens wear, and increased further during the treatment week. Eye examination confirmed that the OK lenses altered the shape of the cornea, as they were designed to do.
Nightly Lens Wear Needed to Retain Correction
Vision in the untreated eye was unaffected, and all patients retained normal distance vision with that eye; essentially this gives the patient the dequivalent of 'monovision' that is usually done with contact lenses or surgery. To retain the correction in near vision, patients had to continue wearing their OK lenses every night. Dr Adams likens this ongoing treatment to the "retainer" that orthodontic patients have to wear nightly. As expected, when patients stopped wearing their OK lens after the treatment week, presbyopia rapidly returned.
By about age 45 to 50, most people need bifocals or some other form of vision correction to restore vision for reading and other up-close tasks. Alternatives for presbyopia have been introduced, including fitting a contact lens for distance vision in one eye and a lens for near vision in the other eye. This is the so called monovision, now the authors show it can be achieved without the need to wear a contact lens during the day. "However, the chief problem with monovision for many people is that their stereoscopic 3D vision is degraded and many find that hard to tolerate," according to Dr Adams.
Although overnight OK is not a new technique, it has been mainly used to reduce nearsightedness (myopia) in younger patients. The new study shows that OK is similarly effective in changing corneal shape, and achieving desired correction in near vision, in older patients with presbyopia.
The new study suggests that overnight OK lenses are a feasible alternative for correction of presbyopia, "sufficient to provide functional near vision correction white retaining good distance visual acuity," Drs Gifford and Swarbick write. The technique is safe, with the cornea returning to its previous shape about a week after the patient stops wearing the lenses.
"This study demonstrates that OK is quite viable as a nonsurgical option for monovision that does not require wearing contact lenses during the day, although it does require 'retainer' orthokeratology contact lenses to be worn overnight," Dr Adams adds. "This possibility will certainly appeal to many people, especially since the changes in the corneal curvature of the treated eye are fully reversible."
Source: Optometry and Vision Science

Exciting breakthrough in search for neurodegenerative disease treatments


A significant breakthrough has been made by scientists at The University of Manchester towards developing an effective treatment for neurodegenerative diseases such as Huntington's, Alzheimer's and Parkinson's.
Researchers at the Manchester Institute of Biotechnology have detailed how an enzyme in the brain interacts with an exciting drug-like lead compound for Huntington's Disease to inhibit its activity. Their findings demonstrate that it can be developed as an effective treatment for neurodegenerative diseases. The research is published in the journalNature.
Working with colleagues at the University of Leicester and the University of Lisbon in Portugal, the researchers identified the molecular structure of the enzyme kynurenine 3-monooxygense (KMO), which is found in the human brain. It took five years for the team to establish the crystal structure of KMO – the first time it's ever been done.
The scientists then studied how the compound UPF 648 binds incredibly tightly to the enzyme to act as an inhibitor. Previous studies with animal models of neurodegenerative disease have showed that switching off the enzyme activity through drug binding should be effective in the treatment of brain disorders.
Professor Nigel Scrutton who led the study said: "UPF 648 works very well as an inhibitor of enzyme activity. However, in its current form it does not pass into the brain from the blood. The search is now on for related compounds that can both inhibit the enzyme and pass into the brain."
He continues: "Our research detailing the molecular structure of the enzyme now enables a search for new KMO inhibitors that are able to cross the blood-brain barrier. This provides real hope for developing drug therapies to target neurodegenerative diseases such as Huntington's, Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases."
Dr Flaviano Giorgini, the team's neurogeneticist from the University of Leicester, said: "This is a big move forward for the development of new KMO inhibiting drugs. It is hoped that such compounds may ultimately be tested in clinical trials and prove beneficial for patients."
The findings from this research will now be used in the search for more effective treatments for Huntington's Disease.
Professor Sarah Tabrizi is the head of the Huntington's disease research team at University College London's Institute for Neurology. Commenting on the research she says: "Unlocking the crystal structure of KMO is a real boost to our efforts to find treatments for this devastating disease. It provides a solid basis for the optimisation of inhibitor drugs like UPF 648 that are being developed by the global Huntington's disease research community. KMO is one of our top drug targets, and the crystal structure is a significant step along our roadmap to clinical trials of KMO inhibitors in patients."
Cath Stanley, Chief Executive of the Huntington's Disease Association also welcomed the findings: "This research is a really exciting piece of the jigsaw that enables us to understand a little more and takes us a step closer to being able to provide an effective treatment for Huntington's Disease."
Source:University of Manchester 

Heart Drug may Up Cancer Risk

In men, use of amiodarone drug was found to increase the risk of developing cancer, shows study published in CANCER.Amiodarone was approved in 1985 for the treatment of arrhythmias, or irregular heartbeats. Because the drug is fat-soluble and degrades very slowly, large amounts can accumulate in soft tissues after a long-term prescription. Previous studies have shown that amiodarone might increase the risk of certain cancers, but no large-scale study has looked at the issue. 
To investigate, Vincent Yi-Fong Su, MD, of the Taipei Veterans General Hospital in Taiwan, and his colleagues studied 6,418 individuals taking the drug, following them for an average of 2.57 years. A total of 280 participants developed cancer. 
Patients who were male or who received high cumulative daily doses of amiodarone within the first year had an increased risk of developing cancer. Those with both factors were 46 percent more likely to develop cancer than those with neither factor. After taking age, sex, and illnesses into account, individuals taking a high amount of amiodarone had nearly twice the risk of developing cancer as those taking a low amount of the drug. 
"We suggest that cancer events should be routinely reported in future amiodarone trials, and further observational research is necessary," said Dr. Su. "Also, when prescribing amiodarone, doctors need to keep in mind that this medication may increase cancer risk." 

Source:Taipei Veterans General Hospital,Taiwan

 


 

Genetic Link to Laziness Identified

Laziness has been linked to genes, according to an American study. 

New research from the University of Missouri suggests certain genetic traits may predispose people to being more or less motivated to exercise and remain active.Frank Booth, a professor in the MU College of Veterinary Medicine, along with his post-doctoral fellow Michael Roberts, were able to selectively breed rats that exhibited traits of either extreme activity or extreme laziness. 
 Genetic Link to Laziness Identified 

Studies show 97 percent of American adults get less than 30 minutes of exercise a day, which is the minimum recommended amount based on federal guidelines, reports Science Daily. 
They say, in a study published in the American Journal of Physiology: Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology, these rats indicate that genetics could play a role in exercise motivation, even in humans. 
"We have shown that it is possible to be genetically predisposed to being lazy," Booth said. 
"This could be an important step in identifying additional causes for obesity in humans, especially considering dramatic increases in childhood obesity in the United States. It would be very useful to know if a person is genetically predisposed to having a lack of motivation to exercise, because that could potentially make them more likely to grow obese."
Source-IANS

 


 

Bitter Truth About Fast Foods

You're probably tired of hearing how bad fast food is for your health, and how it can be really dangerous, but soon enough, you may have bent down in submission and indulged. It is inevitable and virtually impossible to escape the clever clutches when you have big banners and posters of gooey cheeseburgers and noodles at every street.Though a clever marketing strategy that is, there are actually some things that you probably don't know that your so-called famous fast food brands do. Like manipulating with the ingredients; or even worse, tampering with important stuff that should be labeled before being served on your tables. So here's an eye-opener for all of us- read on for some really shocking ingredients in fast foods that you probably weren't aware of. 

L-cysteine: That's a fancy name for human hair and duck feathers. Cleanliness freaks may have a major problem here, since these two are major components of dough conditioning, which make the dough used for breads and other bakery products better. Though there's no harm whatsoever if you consume any of these, some ethical and religious sentiments may be hurt for people who hold strong cultural beliefs. 

Wood: Disguised as cellulose, processed wood pulp makes way into our systems almost every day-sometimes through salad dressings and cheese, and other times through pancake syrups and muffins. Though major nutritional studies suggest that it increases the fiber content of products and reduces the fat content, think about what it might do to your system once it goes inside. 
Sand: Raised eyebrows anyone? Silicon dioxide, also known as silica, which is also known as sand, is used to make optical fibers, glass, ceramic and cement, not your burgers and sandwiches. But the fast food companies don't really seem to take this seriously, which is why silica makes up for a considerable portion of chili, which you add so liberally to your sandwiches and burgers. It is also used as an anti-caking agent in chicken and meat burgers to prevent clumping of meat. 

Soil fertilizer: A major fertilizer used for alkaline soils, ammonium sulfate is used largely in the bread industry as a meal for the yeast, and also makes up for a major part of many fast food products. 

Silly putty plastic: Dimethylpolysiloxane, a chemical compound which most of us probably can't read out in one go and is used to prevent the oil used for frying your fries, from foaming. Though the FDA has not yet found any potential health hazard due to consumption of this compound, why not stick to just oil, salt and potatoes for your fries rather than adding something you can't name. 

Meat paste goop: The gooey and sticky parts and leftovers from meat, along with bones, is ground together to form a pink paste, which is then passed through a sieve to remove pieces of the bones. 

This is then treated with ammonium hydroxide, which forms a major component of your household cleaners and fertilizers, after which, it is processed with different substances and additives, which make it tasty. Bluntly put, this goop forms a major portion of most of your burgers, and even chicken nuggets. 

Beetle juices: Please don't puke. Smartly disguised under the names carminic acid and confectioner's glaze, these coloring agents and dyes claim to be healthier and 'natural' alternatives to processed dyes and those derived from petroleum and coal tar extracts. You can find these in cookies, toppings, processed poultry products, marinades, jams, gelatin, juices, desert products and more. 

The GRAS commotion-
 GRAS, standing for generally recognized as safe - an initiative to allow small amounts of 'harmful' products and chemicals to be recognized as 'safe'. True, small amounts once in a while may not affect your health to a visible extent, but for someone who lives life on fast food and burgers from the nearby joint, it can be a major disaster and potentially a life-threatening situation. 

Courtesy MedIndia Health Watch
 


 

Sunday, 7 April 2013

Lift weights to lower blood sugar? White muscle helps keep blood glucose levels under control

Researchers in the Life Sciences Institute at the University of Michigan have challenged a long-held belief that whitening of skeletal muscle in diabetes is harmful.
In fact, the white muscle that increases with resistance training, age and diabetes helps keep blood sugar in check, the researchers showed.
In addition, the insights from the molecular pathways involved in this phenomenon and identified in the study may point the way to potential drug targets for obesity and metabolic disease.
"We wanted to figure out the relationship between muscle types and body metabolism, how the muscles were made, and also what kind of influence they have on diseases like type 2 diabetes," said Jiandie Lin, Life Sciences Institute faculty member and associate professor at the U-M Medical School.
Lin's findings are scheduled to be published online April 7 in Nature Medicine.
Much like poultry has light and dark meat, mammals have a range of muscles: red, white and those in between. Red muscle, which gets its color in part from mitochondria, prevails in people who engage in endurance training, such as marathon runners. White muscle dominates in the bodies of weightlifters and sprinters—people who require short, intense bursts of energy.
"Most people are in the middle and have a mix of red and white," Lin said.
When you exercise, nerves signal your muscles to contract, and the muscle needs energy. In response to a signal to lift a heavy weight, white muscles use glycogen to generate adenosine triphosphate (ATP)—energy the cells can use to complete the task. While this process, called glycolysis, can produce a lot of power for a short time, the glycogen fuel soon depletes.
However, if the brain tells the muscle to run a slow and steady long-distance race, the mitochondria in red muscles primarily use fat oxidation instead of glycogen breakdown to generate ATP. The supply of energy lasts much longer but doesn't provide the burst of strength that comes from glycolysis.
People with diabetes see whitening of the mix of muscle.
"For a long time, the red-to-white shift was thought to make muscle less responsive to insulin, a hormone that lowers blood sugar," Lin said. "But this idea is far from proven. You lose red muscle when you age or develop diabetes, but is that really the culprit?"
To find out, the team set out to find a protein that drives the formation of white muscle. They sifted through microarray data sets from public databases and identified a list of candidate proteins that were prevalent in white muscle but not in red.
Further studies led the team to focus on a protein called BAF60c, a sort of "zip code" mechanism that tells the cells when and how to express certain genes. The Lin team made a transgenic mouse model to increase BAF60c only in the skeletal muscle. One of the first things they noticed was that mice with more BAF60c had muscles that looked paler.
"That was a good hint that we were going in the white-muscle direction," said lead author Zhuo-xian Meng, a research fellow in Lin's lab.
They used electron microscopy to see the abundance of mitochondria within the muscle, and confirmed that muscle from BAF60c transgenic mice had less mitochondria than the normal controls.
"We saw predicted changes in molecular markers, but the ultimate test would be seeing how the mouse could run," Lin said.
If the BAF60c mice could run powerfully for short distances but tired quickly, the scientists would be able to confirm that the BAF60c pathway was a key part of the creation of white muscle.
Using mouse treadmills, they compared the endurance of BAF60c mice to a control group of normal mice, and found that the BAF60c transgenic mice could only run about 60 percent of the time that the control group could before tiring.
"White muscle uses glycogen, and the transgenic mice depleted their muscles' supplies of glycogen very quickly," Lin said.
After some follow-up experiments to figure out exactly which molecules were controlled by BAF60c, Lin and his team were confident that they had identified major players responsible for promoting white muscle formation. Now that they knew how to make more white muscle in animals, they wanted to determine whether white muscle was a deleterious or an adaptive characteristic of diabetes.
The team induced obesity in mice by feeding them the "Super Size Me" diet, Lin said. On a high-fat diet, a mouse will double its body weight in two to three months. They found that obese mice with BAF60c transgene were much better at controlling blood glucose.
"The results are a bit of a surprise to many people," Lin said. "It really points to the complexity in thinking about muscle metabolism and diabetes."
In humans, resistance training promotes the growth of white muscle and helps in lowering blood glucose. If future studies in humans determine that the BAF60c pathway is indeed the way in which cells form white muscle and in turn optimize metabolic function, the finding could lead to researching the pathway as a drug target.
"We know that this molecular pathway also works in human cells. The real challenge is to find a way to target these factors," Lin said.
Source: Nature Medicine

Final chapter to 60-year-old blood group mystery


Gene underlies Vel blood group and influences red blood cell traits will lead to safer blood transfusion

Researchers have uncovered the gene at the root of a human blood group that has remained a mystery for the past 60 years. They showed that a genetic deletion on this gene is responsible for the lack of this blood group in some people.
With the discovery of the gene behind the Vel blood group, medical scientists can now develop a more reliable DNA test to identify people who lack this group. This will reduce the risk of severe, and sometimes life threatening, destruction of the Vel-positive donor red blood cells in patients with antibodies against Vel.
The genetic basis of nearly all 34 blood group systems has been resolved over the past century, but identification of the underlying gene of the Vel blood group has withstood persistent attempts since it was first identified 60 years ago. It is estimated that one in 5000 people are Vel-negative, and routine blood transfusions for patients with antibodies against Vel can lead to kidney failure and even death.
"This is really exciting as it shows how the power of modern genomics technologies can directly benefit patient care," says Professor Willem Ouwehand , who heads one of the NHS Blood and Transplant research teams at both the University of Cambridge and the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute. "This is also a milestone in blood group genetics and the end of long and astounding journey of discoveries in blood group genetics which started with Landsteiner from Austria and Fisher, Coombs and Morgan from England."
The discovery by the team would not have been possible without the colleagues from the blood transfusion services of Denmark, England and the Netherlands who undertook the Herculean effort of identifying the 65 individuals that lacked the Vel blood group by testing the red blood cells from nearly 350,000 donors with antibodies against Vel.
They then sequenced the coding fraction of the genomes of five donors who lack the Vel group to identify the underlying gene.
The team showed that the gene SMIM1 malfunctions in Vel-negative people. SMIM1 is found on chromosome 1 and specifies a small protein, five times smaller than the average human protein. This provides a direct explanation why a discovery by other routes has proven so challenging.
"It has been a remarkable feat to go from gene discovery to function in less than two months", continues Professor Ouwehand.
Current testing for Vel-negative people can be inaccurate but identifying this new role for the gene will make it easier to identify people who lack Vel. The Sanquin Blood Supply research laboratories in Amsterdam and the NHS Blood and Transplant Centre in Cambridge are currently working together to develop a new and affordable DNA test to efficiently identify people who lack the Vel group.
"We already knew of 75 genomic regions that are associated with the haemoglobin levels and other red blood cell traits, but we quickly realised that the SMIM1 gene identified in our study is the same as one of these associated regions," said Dr Pim van der Harst from Groningen University in the Netherlands who led the GWAS analysis for red cell traits in nearly 100,000 individuals. "We had already assumed that a gene in this region of chromosome 1 played a role in the life of red blood cells, but we now have conclusive evidence that it is SMIM1
"We have shown that this gene controls a protein in the membrane of red blood cells. Switching off the SMIM1 gene in zebrafish showed a remarkable reduction in the number of red cells formed and caused anaemia in the fish".
The team observed that the common variant identified by the red blood cell study has a strong effect on how well the SMIM1 gene functions. This not only explains why the level of the Vel blood group varies so extensively in the population, but is also makes it extremely plausible that the Smim1 protein influences haemoglobin levels of red blood cells.
A low haemoglobin level confers a risk of anaemia, which is one of the most frequent reasons for an individual to visit their doctor. The team are pursuing further research to deduce how Smim1 protein regulates red blood cell formation.
"As the molecular machinery underlying red blood cell formation has been researched for decades in fish, mice and man, our discovery that a gene which was considered hypothetical until recently actually controls a red blood cell membrane protein with an important role in the regulation of haemoglobin levels is astonishing," says Professor Ellen van der Schoot from the Sanquin research laboratories in Amsterdam. "A better understanding of how the SMIM1 gene is regulated is important and this effort will greatly benefit from the Blueprint project which will be releasing its results on the biology of blood cells and their precursors this year."
"We have worked for nearly a decade to identify the donors across England that lack the Vel blood group so that we can provide matched and safe blood to patients with antibodies against Vel" says Mr Malcolm Needs from NHS Blood and Transplant in Tooting, London. "The discovery of the SMIM1 gene was achieved so quickly and it is truly amazing to see how medical genomics is changing the care landscape for NHS patients."
Source:Nature Genetics

Facebook Badge

PAGE COUNTER