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Saturday, 29 June 2013

FDA to detain import of firm's pomegranate seeds

The Food and Drug Administration plans to detain shipments of pomegranate seeds from a Turkish company when they are offered for import into the U.S. because of a multistate outbreak of hepatitis A illnesses associated with a frozen-food blend containing pomegranate seed mix. Products linked to the illnesses have already been recalled. The FDA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have determined that the most likely vehicle for the hepatitis A virus appears to be a common shipment of pomegranate seeds from the Turkish company, Goknur Foodstuffs Import Export Trading, the FDA said in a statement Saturday. The food company Townsend Farms of Fairview, Ore., used those pomegranate seeds to make the Townsend Farms and Harris Teeter Organic Antioxidant Blends that were recalled in June, the FDA said. Those seeds were also used by Scenic Fruit Co. of Gresham, Ore., to make their recently recalled Woodstock Frozen Organic Pomegranate Kernels, according to the federal agency. As of Thursday, 127 people in eight states — Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, and Wisconsin — were reported to have been exposed to Townsend Farms Organic Antioxidant Blend, the FDA said. Those reported ill in Wisconsin were exposed to the product in California. The illnesses date back to mid-March, the CDC has reported. In early June, Townsend Farms recalled its frozen Organic Antioxidant Blend, packaged under the Townsend Farms label at Costco and under the Harris Teeter brand at those stores. The outbreak strain of hepatitis A virus, belonging to genotype 1B, was found in clinical specimens of 56 people in seven states, according to a CDC report. That strain is rarely seen in the Americas but circulates in North Africa and the Middle East. "This outbreak highlights the food safety challenge posed by today's global food system," said Michael R. Taylor, deputy commissioner for foods and veterinary medicine. "The presence in a single product of multiple ingredients from multiple countries compounds the difficulty of finding the cause of an illness outbreak. The Hepatitis A outbreak shows how we have improved our ability to investigate and respond to outbreaks, but also why we are working to build a food safety system that more effectively prevents them," Taylor said. Source:AP

DHR to set up multi-disciplinary research units in 80 govt medical colleges at Rs.503-cr

The Department of Health Research (DHR) will establish multi-disciplinary research units (MDRUs) in the 80 government medical colleges across the country at an estimated cost of about Rs.503.85 crore, during the 12th Plan period. A total of 35 such units will be established in 2013-14 and 45 units in 2014-15. The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) has already cleared the proposal of the DHR in this regard. One time financial assistance upto Rs.5.25 crore will be provided to each government medical college or the institution for setting up of modern biological lab or multidisciplinary research unit. This will include Rs.5.00 crore towards equipment and Rs.25 lakhs for minor civil works for modifications or renovation in the space to be provided by the state medical college. In addition, financial assistance of Rs.19.23 lakhs per annum for meeting the recurring expenditure towards staff and Rs.15 lakhs per annum towards consumables, training or contingencies will also be provided for a period of five year to each medical college or institution. As per the proposal, the state government will be required to provide requisite space (free of cost) for establishment of MDRUs in the medical colleges and will also be required to take over the recurring expenditure liability of the above labs after project period of five years. The measure will encourage and strengthen an environment of research in the government medical colleges; bridge the gap in the infrastructure which is inhibiting health research in the medical colleges, with a view to improve the health status of the population by creating evidence based application of diagnostic procedure, processes and methods. The government's initiative in this regard is significant because of the fact that while research should have been the integral activity of the medical colleges, majority of medical colleges have confined themselves to routine patient care and are not pursuing newer methods of investigation for understanding the pathological diagnosis, treatment and management practise. This is attributed both to the lack of appropriate facilities for conducting research and lack of motivation on the part of faculty and students in medical colleges for conducting research. Government has therefore been feeling an urgent need to provide assistance to the medical colleges to set up appropriate research facilities to promote and encourage quality medical research in the country. Source:Pharmabiz

Bed rest after IVF doesn't help

 Bed rest immediately after an in vitro fertilization (IVF) procedure, despite being common practice, did not help women ultimately have a baby in a new study."The old wives' tale of bed rest should be debunked once and for all, that you don't need bed rest in any way, shape or form," said Dr. Jani Jensen, a fertility expert at the Mayo Clinic, who was not part of the study.The researchers found that women who continued to lie down for 10 minutes after embryos were transferred to their uterus were actually less likely to have a baby than women who got up and walked around right away."It demonstrates that there is no need to keep patients at bed rest after a transfer. They can immediately get up and leave," said Dr. Richard Reindollar, the chair of the department of obstetrics and gynecology at Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth.IVF involves inserting fertilized embryos into a woman's uterus using a thin catheter.Women lie down and prop their feet in footrests, and the procedure takes about five to 10 minutes, said Jensen.Following the procedure, women are sometimes wheeled on a gurney to a recovery room, where they rest for several minutes up to several hours. Other times, women are asked to stand and walk out of the room on their own."In the past there were a number of people who felt strongly that patients have bed rest. Some had patients go to bed for five days," said Reindollar, who did not participate in the study.Some previous research has suggested that bed rest actually does no good, and could harm women's chances for getting pregnant.In the latest study, researchers in Spain, led by Dr. José Remohi at the Instituto Valenciano de Infertilidad, Valencia, and the Universidad de Valencia, randomly assigned patients to bed rest or to get up immediately following the procedure.Half of the women in the study, 120 of them, stayed on the bed for 10 minutes after the embryos were transferred, while the other 120 women got up and walked out of the room.Fifty women in the bed rest group went on to have babies, while 68 women in the other group delivered a baby."It's not clear why," said Jensen.The pregnancy rates were similar in both groups, but miscarriage rates in the bed rest group were 27.5 percent compared to 18 percent in the other group. Statistically, though, that difference could have been due to chance, the researchers noted.The authors point out that when a woman is standing, her uterus is in a horizontal position and speculate that may be better for successful embryo transfer.They also propose that stress reduction from walking around after the procedure might play a role in the differing birth rates."We believe that encouraging patients to follow their daily routine immediately after (embryo transfer) may help them to cope with anxiety during treatment and thereafter to increase their skills in maintaining relaxation throughout the treatment, and this may be one possible reason behind our obtained results," they write in the journal Fertility and Sterility.Jensen agreed that stress reduction is important for would-be mothers."But I think that the intervention is too small to say that the 10 minutes of bed rest was detrimental," said Jensen. "The better message is probably that you really don't need any bed rest at all to still have good outcomes."Reindollar, who is also the president-elect of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, said the study is important in developing a cache of evidence about the benefits and harms of bed restHe said that with enough data the Society might consider issuing practice guidelines that recommend physicians discourage bed rest."This paper showed that it certainly does not hurt patients to get up and walk away, and it suggests that it might hurt to keep them there," Reindollar told Reuters Health.
SOURCE: http://bit.ly/17kpqLI Fertility and Sterility, online June 10, 2013.

Scientists view 'protein origami' to help understand, prevent certain diseases

Scientists using sophisticated imaging techniques have observed a molecular protein folding process that may help medical researchers understand and treat diseases such as Alzheimer's, Lou Gehrig's and cancer.
The study, reported this month in the journal Cell, verifies a process that scientists knew existed but with a mechanism they had never been able to observe, according to Dr. Hays Rye, Texas A&M AgriLife Research biochemist.
"This is a step in the direction of understanding how to modulate systems to prevent diseases like Alzheimer's. We needed to understand the cell's folding machines and how they interact with each other in a complicated network," said Rye, who also is associate professor of biochemistry and biophysics at Texas A&M.
Rye explained that individual amino acids get linked together like beads on a string as a protein is made in the cell.
"But that linear sequence of amino acids is not functional," he explained. "It's like an origami structure that has to fold up into a three-dimensional shape to do what it has to do."
Rye said researchers have been trying to understand this process for more than 50 years, but in a living cell the process is complicated by the presence of many proteins in a concentrated environment.
"The constraints on getting that protein to fold up into a good 'origami' structure are a lot more demanding," he said. "So, there are special protein machines, known as molecular chaperones, in the cell that help proteins fold."
But how the molecular chaperones help protein fold when it isn't folding well by itself has been the nagging question for researchers.
"Molecular chaperones are like little machines, because they have levers and gears and power sources. They go through turning over cycles and just sort of buzz along inside a cell, driving a protein folding reaction every few seconds," Rye said.
The many chemical reactions that are essential to life rely on the exact three-dimensional shape of folded proteins, he said. In the cell, enzymes, for example, are specialized proteins that help speed biological processes along by binding molecules and bringing them together in just the right way.
"They are bound together like a three-dimensional jigsaw puzzle," Rye explained. "And the proteins -- those little beads on the string that are designed to fold up like origami -- are folded to position all these beads in three-dimensional space to perfectly wrap around those molecules and do those chemical reactions.
"If that doesn't happen -- if the protein doesn't get folded up right -- the chemical reaction can't be done. And if it's essential, the cell dies because it can't convert food into power needed to build the other structures in the cell that are needed. Chemical reactions are the structural underpinning of how cells are put together, and all of that depends on the proteins being folded in the right way."
When a protein doesn't fold or folds incorrectly it turns into an "aggregate," which Rye described as "white goo that looks kind of like a mayonnaise, like crud in the test tube.
"You're dead; the cell dies," he said.
Over the past 20 years, he said, researchers have linked that aggregation process "pretty convincingly" to the development of diseases -- Alzheimer's disease, Lou Gehrig's disease, Huntington's disease, to name a few. There's evidence that diabetes and cancer also are linked to protein folding disorders.
"One of the main roles for the molecular chaperones is preventing those protein misfolding events that lead to aggregation and not letting a cell get poisoned by badly folded or aggregated proteins," he said.
Rye's team focused on a key molecular chaperone -- the HSP60.
"They're called HSP for 'heat shock protein' because when the cell is stressed with heat, the proteins get unstable and start to fall apart and unfold," Rye said. "The cell is built to respond by making more of the chaperones to try and fix the problem.
"This particular chaperone takes unfolded protein and goes through a chemical reaction to bind the unfolded protein and literally puts it inside a little 'box,'" Rye said.
He added that the mystery had long been how the folding worked because, while researchers could see evidence of that happening, no one had ever seen precisely how it happened.
Rye and the team zeroed in on a chemically modified mutant that in other experiments had seemed to stall at an important step in the process that the "machine" goes through to start the folding action. This clued the researchers that this stalling might make it easier to watch.
They then used cryo-electron microscopy to capture hundreds of thousands of images of the process at very high resolutions which allowed them to reconstruct from two-dimensional flat images a three-dimensional model. A highly sophisticated computer algorithm aligns the images and classifies them in subcategories.
"If you have enough of them you can actually reconstruct and view a structure as a three-dimensional model," Rye said.
What the team saw was this: The HSP60 chaperone is designed to recognize proteins that are not folded from the ones that are. It binds them and then has a separate co-chaperone that puts a "lid" on top of the box to keep the folding intermediate in the box. They could see the box move, and parts of the molecule moved to peel the chaperone box away from the bound protein — or "gift" in the box. But the bound protein was kept inside the package where it could then initiate a folding reaction. They saw tiny tentacles, "like a little octopus in the bottom of the box rising up and grabbing hold of the substrate protein and helping hold it inside the cavity."
"The first thing we saw was a large amount of an unfolded protein inside of this cavity," he said. "Even though we knew from lots and lots of other studies that it had to go in there, nobody had ever seen it like this before. We can also see the non-native protein interacting with parts of the box that no one had ever seen before. It was exciting to see all of this for the first time. I think we got a glimpse of a protein in the process of folding, which we actually can compare to other structures."
"By understanding the mechanism of these machines, the hope is that one of the things we can learn to do is turn them up or turn them off when we need to, like for a patient who has one of the protein folding diseases," he said.
Rye collaborated on the research with Dong-Hua Chen and Wah Chiu at the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Damian Madan and Zohn Lin at Princeton University, Jeremy Weaver at Texas A&M and Gunnar Schröder at the Institute of Complex Systems in Germany.
Source:Texas A&M AgriLife Communications 
 

Healthy Lifestyle Helps Reduce Risk of Aggressive Prostate Tumors

 Healthy Lifestyle Helps Reduce Risk of Aggressive Prostate TumorsThe first study on adherence to eight World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF) lifestyle recommendations and aggressive prostate cancer has been published. Study results show a significantly reduced risk of highly aggressive prostate cancer associated with closer adherence to the recommendations. The recommendations provided desirable ranges of body mass index, physical activity, foods of low caloric density (under 125 kilocalories per 100 grams of food), fruits and non-starchy vegetables, salt, legumes and unrefined grains, and red meat consumption.Led by Lenore Arab, PhD, JCCC member and professor in the departments of medicine and biological chemistry, the researchers examined associations between adherence to WCRF recommendations and risk of highly aggressive prostate cancer among subjects enrolled in the North Carolina-Louisiana Prostate Cancer Project. Study subjects were 2212 African American or Caucasian American men 40 to 70 years old with newly diagnosed prostate cancer. WCRF recommendations are intended to decrease overall risk of cancer, and are recommended for cancer survivors. The study was published online ahead of print in the journal Nutrition and Cancer
Adherence to fewer than four of the eight WCRF recommendations predicted a 38% increased risk of aggressive tumors compared with adherence to four or more recommendations. That finding was statistically significant and similar among black and white men, despite a baseline higher risk of highly aggressive tumors among black men. In particular, eating less than 500 grams of red meat per week or less than 125 total kilocalories per 100 grams of food per day were statistically significantly protective against highly aggressive tumors for all subjects in the study. 
Each point in a patient''s total adherence score corresponded to a 13% reduction in risk of aggressive cancer. A total adherence score of less than 4 predicted an increased risk of aggressive tumors in African American and Caucasian patients.
"Most men are at risk of prostate cancer, but it is the level of aggressiveness of disease that is most clinically relevant," Arab says, "These findings suggest that even men with prostate cancer can take control of their disease and moderate its aggressiveness through diet and lifestyle choices." 
Measurement of prostate cancer aggressiveness was based on Gleason grading system scores, blood levels of prostate-specific antigen, and TNM malignant tumor classification. 
Adherence to WCRF recommendations was based on point scores and odds ratios estimated. 
These findings assume that patients'' reports reflect their long-term dietary habits, which is supported by research that indicates that diet is relatively stable in adulthood.
This research was supported by Department of Defense through the Prostate Cancer Project.
UCLA''s Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center has more than 240 researchers and clinicians engaged in disease research, prevention, detection, control, treatment and education. One of the nation''s largest comprehensive cancer centers, the Jonsson center is dedicated to promoting research and translating basic science into leading-edge clinical studies. In July 2012, the Jonsson Cancer Center was once again named among the nation''s top 10 cancer centers by U.S. News & World Report, a ranking it has held for 12 of the last 13 years.

Source:Newswise  
 
 

Friday, 28 June 2013

Mimicking living cells: Synthesizing ribosomes

Synthetic biology technology could lead to new antibiotics, modified protein-generators

Synthetic biology researchers at Northwestern University, working with partners at Harvard Medical School, have for the first time synthesized ribosomes -- cell structures responsible for generating all proteins and enzymes in our bodies -- from scratch in a test tube.
Others have previously tried to synthesize ribosomes from their constituent parts, but the efforts have yielded poorly functional ribosomes under conditions that do not replicate the environment of a living cell. In addition, attempts to combine ribosome synthesis and assembly in a single process have failed for decades.
Michael C. Jewett, a synthetic biologist at Northwestern, George M. Church, a geneticist at Harvard Medical School, and colleagues recently took another approach: they mimicked the natural synthesis of a ribosome, allowing natural enzymes of a cell to help facilitate the man-made construction.
The technology could lead to the discovery of new antibiotics targeting ribosome assembly; an advanced understanding of how ribosomes form and function; and the creation of tailor-made ribosomes to produce new proteins with exotic functions that would be difficult, if not impossible, to make in living organisms.
"We can mimic nature and create ribosomes the way nature has evolved to do it, where all the processes are co-activated at the same time," said Jewett, who led the research along with Church. "Our approach is a one-pot synthesis scheme in which we toss genes encoding ribosomal RNA, natural ribosomal proteins, and additional enzymes of an E. coli cell together in a test tube, and this leads to the construction of a ribosome."
Jewett is an assistant professor of chemical and biological engineering at Northwestern's McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science.
The in vitro construction of ribosomes, as demonstrated in this study, is of great interest to the synthetic biology field, which seeks to transform the ability to engineer new or novel life forms and biocatalytic ensembles for useful purposes.
The findings of the four-year research project were published June 25 in the journal Molecular Systems Biology.
Comprising 57 parts -- three strands of ribonucleic acid (RNA) and 54 proteins -- ribosomes carry out the translation of messenger RNA into proteins, a core process of the cell. The thousands of proteins per cell, in turn, carry out a vast array of functions, from digestion to the creation of antibodies. Cells require ribosomes to live.
Jewett likens a ribosome to a chef. The ribosome takes the recipe, encoded in DNA, and makes the meal, or a protein. "We want to make brand new chefs, or ribosomes," Jewett said. "Then we can alter ribosomes to do new things for us."
"The ability to make ribosomes in vitro in a process that mimics the way biology does it opens new avenues for the study of ribosome synthesis and assembly, enabling us to better understand and possibly control the translation process," he said. "Our technology also may enable us in the future to rapidly engineer modified ribosomes with new behaviors and functions, a potentially significant advance for the synthetic biology field."
The synthesis process developed by Jewett and Church -- termed "integrated synthesis, assembly and translation" (iSAT) technology -- mimics nature by enabling ribosome synthesis, assembly and function in a single reaction and in the same compartment.
Working with E. coli cells, the researchers combined natural ribosomal proteins with synthetically made ribosomal RNA, which self-assembled in vitro to create semi-synthetic, functional ribosomes.
They confirmed the ribosomes were active by assessing their ability to carry out translation of luciferase, the protein responsible for allowing a firefly to glow. The researchers then showed the ability of iSAT to make a modified ribosome with a point mutation that mediates resistance to the antibiotic clindamycin.
The researchers next want to synthesize all 57 ribosome parts, including the 54 proteins.
"I'm really excited about where we are," Jewett said. "This study is an important step along the way to synthesizing a complete ribosome. We will continue to push this work forward."
Jewett and Church, a professor of genetics at Harvard Medical School, are authors of the paper, titled "In Vitro Integration of Ribosomal RNA Synthesis, Ribosome Assembly, and Translation." Other authors are Brian R. Fritz and Laura E. Timmerman, graduate students in chemical and biological engineering at Northwestern.
The work was carried out at both Northwestern University and Harvard Medical School.
Source: Molecular Systems Biology

Simple Eye Exam Reveals Pleasure Response

Brain's response to tasting food can now be measured through the eyes using a common, low-cost tool, say scientists. If validated, this method could be useful for research and clinical applications in food addiction and obesity prevention.Dr. Jennifer Nasser, an associate professor in the department of Nutrition Sciences in Drexel University's College of Nursing and Health Professions, led the study testing the use of electroretinography (ERG) to indicate increases in the neurotransmitter dopamine in the retina. 
Dopamine is associated with a variety of pleasure-related effects in the brain, including the expectation of reward. 
In the eye's retina, dopamine is released when the optical nerve activates in response to light exposure. 
Nasser and her colleagues found that electrical signals in the retina spiked high in response to a flash of light when a food stimulus (a small piece of chocolate brownie) was placed in participants' mouths. 
The increase was as great as that seen when participants had received the stimulant drug methylphenidate to induce a strong dopamine response. These responses in the presence of food and drug stimuli were each significantly greater than the response to light when participants ingested a control substance, water. 
The study is published in the journal Obesity.
Source-ANI

 

 

Study Highlights the Use of Flaxseed Supplementation in High Cholesterol Management

 Study Highlights the Use of Flaxseed Supplementation in High Cholesterol ManagementUse of dietary flaxseed supplementation has no effect on total cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels or total caloric intake, say researchers.The randomized clinical trial included 32 participants ages 8 to 18 years with low-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels ranging from 135 mg/dL to less than 193 mg/dL. Participants were randomly assigned to either the intervention group or control group. The intervention group ate 2 muffins and 1 slice of bread daily containing flaxseed (30 grams flaxseed total). The control group ate muffins and bread substituted with whole-wheat flour. 
The change in total and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels failed to exclude a potential benefit of flaxseed supplementation based on a prespecified minimum clinically important reduction of 10 percent. 
"Until its relevance is clearly understood, flaxseed supplementation remains an unverified strategy for the clinical management of cardiovascular risk factors in youth with hyperlipidemia," the study concludes. 
Editor's Note: This study was supported by a grant from the Labatt Family Innovation Fund. Please see the articles for additional information, including other authors, author contributions and affiliations, financial disclosures, funding and support, etc. 
Source-Newswise

 
 

Scientist Discovers Elusive Anti-cholesterol Formula

 Scientist Discovers Elusive Anti-cholesterol FormulaA new way that could lead to dramatic reductions in human cholesterol levels has been discovered by Brandeis University scientist. 
Senior Brandeis research scientist Daniel Perlman was issued a U.S. patent (number 8,460,738) on the new process.Phytosterols in plants and cholesterol molecules in animals are highly similar and when both are dispersed together they are attracted to one another. 
When they mix in the gut of an animal, the cholesterol molecules are competitively inhibited from passing into the blood stream and instead are excreted. 
The ability of phytosterols to reduce cholesterol levels in animals has been recognized since the 1950s, but practical application of this knowledge was difficult because phytosterols are not naturally water-soluble, and they are only poorly soluble in fatty substances. 
Perlman and K.C. Hayes, professor emeritus of biology and former director of the Foster Biomedical Research Laboratories, invented and patented a way to increase the bioavailability of phytosterols in fats more than 10 years ago. 
Their separate discoveries relating to fat metabolism and oxidative stability led to development of the Smart Balance blend of oils and a number of other food products. 
However, improving dispersal of phytosterols in water has remained problematic, and was an obstacle to their general use in foods and beverages. 
Phytosterols placed in water-based substances will not disperse, and this has thwarted their cholesterol-reducing potential. 
Perlman has found a way to change the behavior of phytosterols in liquids by forming a new complex in which glycerin molecules attach to phytosterol molecules. 
Phytosterols and glycerin are heated together to a temperature at which the water molecule that usually attaches to each phytosterol molecule boils off and is replaced by a glycerin molecule. 
Because glycerin molecules have multiple places at which water molecules can be attached and because glycerin also inhibits crystal growth that complicates dispersal, the phytosterol-glycerin complex together with an emulsifier becomes dispersible in water-based foods.
Source-ANI


 

 

Inadequate Sleep can Cause Poor Dietary Choices

Scientists discover that well-slept teenagers make healthy food choices as compared to those who have not slept properly. Someone has rightly said, "Sleep is the best meditation."Lauren Hale, PhD, Associate Professor of Preventive Medicine at Stony Brook University School of Medicine conducted a study to analyze this difference of food choices in well-rested teenagers and their non-resting peers. 
Prof. Hale said, "Not only do sleepy teens on average eat more food that's bad for them, they also eat less food that is good for them," 
Hale added, "While we already know that sleep duration is associated with a range of health consequences, this study speaks to some of the mechanisms, i.e., nutrition and decision making, through which health outcomes are affected." 
Prof. Hale's study was financially aided by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. 
The experts examined the relationship between food choices and sleep duration in a sample of 13,284 teenagers. The data was gathered in 1996 and the mean age of the teenagers was 16 years. 
The researchers observed that 18 percent of the teenage volunteers having inadequate sleep were more involved in consuming fast food about twice or thrice a week. These teenagers ate less of healthy foods such as fruits and vegetables. 
During the study, factors such as age, ethnicity, socioeconomic status family structure and physical activity were taken into account, but the scientist noticed that short sleep duration was an important factor while making healthy and unhealthy food preferences. 
The volunteers were categorized in three groups-short sleepers who slept for less than seven hours, mid-range sleepers sleeping for seven to eight hours of sleep and recommended sleepers who slept longer than eight hours per night. 
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics the recommended sleep for a teenager is between nine and 10 hours per night. 
Allison Kruger, MPH, a community health worker at Stony Brook University Hospital stated, "We are interested in the association between sleep duration and food choices in teenagers because adolescence is a critical developmental period between childhood and adulthood." 
He added, "Teenagers have a fair amount of control over their food and sleep, and the habits they form in adolescence can strongly impact their habits as adults." 
The research team comprising of Eric N. Reither, PhD, Utah State University; Patrick Krueger, PhD, University of Colorado at Denver; and Paul E. Peppard, PhD, University of Wisconsin-Madison, concluded, improper and inadequate sleep was an important cause for teenagers binging on fast food. 
By improving sleep, teenage obesity can also be prevented and good health can be promoted. 
Dr. Hale suggested that research is also required to find out the relation between sleep duration and food preferences. 
She strongly advocated, "If we determine that there is a causal link between chronic sleep and poor dietary choices, then we need to start thinking about how to more actively incorporate sleep hygiene education into obesity prevention and health promotion interventions." 
Source:Stony Brook University School of Medicine 

 


 

Cancer Cells Adapt to Travel: Study

A new study has found that cancer cells move around by adapting their behaviour to whatever environment they are in.According to the research, the cells have a tendency to "crawl" on flat surfaces, while in a web-like meshwork, they become rounder to help them wring through gaps, News.com.au reported. 
The findings, which were derived by observing tumour cells in different conditions, could aid the growth of new treatments to restrain the spread of cancer. 
Dr Melda Tozluoglu, from the Cancer Research UK London Research Institute, a member of the team which conducted the study, said that for cancer to spread, cancer cells actually need to move inside the body, from one point to another, stop, and start a new tumour. 
Tozluoglu asserted that their work focuses on understanding how the cancer cells move in the body, so that they can lock them into place so that other treatments can destroy them. 
The work is published in the journal Nature Cell Biology.
Source-ANI
 
 

ICMR to set up National Centre for Research on Allergies to provide research and training on allergic diseases

The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) is planning to set up a National Centre for Research on Allergies as an apex centre to carry out world class fundamental and translational research in the area.
The ICMR, which has been sanctioned Rs.1450 crore for the current Five Year Plan period for setting up new centres and institutes, will be earmarking an initial sum to work on this proposal and finalise details including the place of the Centre, sources said.
“Allergic diseases are a cause of morbidity and mortality globally, rising to epidemic proportions with a profound increase in their complex nature, especially in the youth. India is presently in a stage of transition in which there is a growing burden of allergic diseases on top of the ongoing problems of communicable diseases. To combat this growing burden, it is important to put allergic diseases as a health priority and make concerted efforts towards research, education and training on allergic diseases in India. Currently, there is a major gap in research and education/training on allergic diseases in India and there are very limited and fragmented efforts by individual investigators and institutions on very specific areas and/or particular disease conditions,” according to the proposal.
The proposed centre of excellence will deal with the various allergic diseases gaining insight into the genetics, epigenetics, early influences, molecular mechanisms and various underlying factors responsible for these complex allergies in a holistic manner as well as basic education and training on allergic diseases.
It will provide education and training in this specialized field. The proposed centre will be an apex/core centre of excellence with a vision to conduct high quality fundamental and clinically relevant translational research and education/training dedicated to allergic diseases contributing to novel, affordable and innovative treatment and preventive strategies for allergies, building expertise and bridging the knowledge gap.
The centre will also be a nucleus centre to provide support to other institutes and centres, and work in collaboration towards a more integrated, holistic and affordable approach to treatment thereby benefiting the community at large.
“Since this field of expertise is still very new in India, such a centre of excellence will require the expertise and dedicated efforts of an expert of international repute in the field of allergic diseases who will have the motivation and dedication to help set up and lead this centre. This initiative will be a major step towards reducing the burden of allergic diseases in India,” the proposal said.

Source:Pharmabiz

GAAMA urges Gujarat govt to draft set of standards for plant raw materials to ensure quality

To address the issue of severe shortage of quality plant raw materials in the state, the Gujarat Ayurvedic Aushadh Manufacturers Association (GAAMA) has urged the state government to urgently draft a set of standards for checking percentage of active ingredients in these plant raw materials to ensure quality. The association also wanted the government to appoint a third party company through private public partnership (PPP) for issuing a certification of analysis (CoA), which should be made mandatory, before supplying or procuring plant raw materials.
In this regard, GAAMA wanted the government to enter into a PPP with suitable certification and testing companies to ensure that there is accountability and transparency in the whole process.
These demands come in the wake of absence of any form of guidelines for the standardisation of the raw materials that are used in making ASU drugs. Prabodh Shah, president, GAMMA pointed out that it is high time the government takes some concrete steps towards addressing this issue as the ISM industry is going through a rough phase with respect to accessing standard materials.
“It is a question of existence of our whole industry, as the efficaciousness and effectiveness of the end product depends on the quality of raw materials procured while making these products. Today, we are facing a huge availability crunch of high end raw materials within the country, forcing us to immensely depend on the imported raw materials, the quality of which is again not tested as there is no such mechanism in our country,” Shah said.
At present Indian ASU manufacturers due to lack of cultivation and shortage of plant raw materials procure selected plant raw materials from countries like Afghanistan, Nepal, Iran etc. While some plant raw materials are procured from all across the country, none of these materials is either tested or certified for quality parameters. Shah stressed that considering all these factors there is an urgent need to adopt a two pronged approach, one which will deal with setting up of standards for quality assurance and most importantly appointing a standard setting body or issuing quality certificates of this plant raw materials.
At present there are only two states in the country, namely Kerala through its Care Keralam initiative and Punjab through its Herbal Hill project, test and supply certified plant raw materials throughout the country. GAAMA hopes that the Gujarat government too in the interest of its stakeholders through its Kotler’s incubator for ayurvedic medicines (KIAM) based at Gujarat Technological University will take a proactive step towards regulating this sector for the good of the industry.

Source:Pharmabiz

Thursday, 27 June 2013

Two rare Nepali manuscripts on Ayurveda is now in UNESCO list

Nisvasattatvasamhita, the earliest surviving tantric manuscript, and Susrutasamhita, the oldest document in the field of Ayurveda — from Nepal have been added to the prestigious list recognising documentary heritage of outstanding value of the UNESCO’s Memory of the World Register.
These are the maiden manuscripts from Nepal in the world-renowned register of UNESCO, UNESCO Kathmandu Office said. Axel Plathe, UNESCO representative to Nepal, in a press release today congratulated Nepal for the feat.
“I am confident that their inclusion in the register contributes to creating greater awareness of the need to preserve Nepal’s memory held in the country’s archives and libraries,” he said. The two manuscripts are among 54 new additions to the Memory of the World Register, approved yesterday by UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova.
The Nisvasattatvasamhita, which is deposited at the National Archives, is said to be the earliest surviving tantric manuscript and as such it is an important source for the early history of tantrism. It has had a great influence in shaping other tantric texts. Tantrism has had impact on many major Asian religions and even influenced Islam practised in India. The Western World has been influenced by tantras through the practice of yoga, which has its roots in tantrism as well as through the New Age groups in America.
The 1,134-year-old palm leaf manuscript of the Susrutasamhita, held by the Keshar Library in Kathmandu, is considered the oldest document in the field of Ayurveda medicine, a systematic and formal tradition of healing that became South Asia’s principal medical system and has profoundly influenced all cultures surrounding South Asia, including Tibet, Central Asia, China, South-East Asia and the Middle East. The manuscript focuses especially on surgery and discusses diseases related to heart, skin and gynecology, among others. It also describes methods and use of herbs in curing diseases.
The Memory of the World Register now includes a total of 299 documents and document collections from the five continents, safeguarded on various supports from stone to celluloid and parchment to sound recordings. UNESCO established the Memory of the World Programme in 1992. The impetus came from a growing awareness of the parlous state of preservation of, and access to, documentary heritage in many parts of the world.

Source:The Himalayan Times

Modified Immune Cells Seek and Destroy Melanoma: Researchers

Researchers led by Scott Pruitt at Duke University and Merck Research Laboratories report on a human clinical trial in which modified dendritic cells, a component of the immune system, were tested in patients with melanoma. The report can be found in this issue of the Journal of Clinical Investigation. All cells express a complex known as the proteasome, which acts as the garbage disposal for the cell. There are two types of proteasomes: constitutive proteasomes (cPs), which are found in normal tissues, and immunoproteasomes (iPs), which are found in stressed or damaged cells.In a damaged cell, the iP generates protein fragments that are displayed on the surface of the distressed cells, triggering recognition by dendritic cells and subsequent destruction by the immune system. Most cancers, including melanoma, exclusively express cPs, making it impossible for them to express the protein fragments that are recognized by the immune system. To make it easier for the immune system to find cancer cells, Pruitt and colleagues engineered a specific type of immune cell, known as a dendritic cell, that recognizes protein fragments of cancer specific antigens made by cPs. The engineered dendritic cells were then injected into patients that were in remission from melanoma. 
The trial consisted of 4 patients that were vaccinated with regular dendritic cells, 3 patients that received cells that underwent a control treatment, and 5 patients that received dendritic cells that recognized cancer-made protein fragments. Vaccination with all three types of dendritic cells elicited an immune response, which peaked after 3-4 vaccinations with dendritic cells. Patients that received the specially modified dendritic cells had a longer lasting immune response and fewer circulating melanoma cells. Of the two patients that had active disease, treatment with modified dendritic cells resulted in a partial clinical response in one and a complete clinical response in the other. These results suggest that modification of dendritic cells so that they recognize cP-produced tumor antigens enhances immune recognition of melanoma cells. 
Source:Clinical Investigations
 

 

Scientists Reveal Mystery Behind Wrinkles

 Scientists Reveal Mystery Behind WrinklesAn explanation as to how our skin constantly regrows has been identified by University of Sheffield scientists.
The research-conducted in collaboration with The Procter and Gamble Company (P and G), makers of Olay-has implications for combating the effects of aging and perhaps even skin cancer. 
The Sheffield/P and G team developed an "in silico" (computer) model of human skin biology, capturing how the outer layers of the skin are developed and maintained over time. 
This model simulation or "virtual" skin was then used to test the three most popular theories of how skin cells function to regenerate our skin, the largest human organ, over a three-year period. 
When the simulation was run according to two of the theories, the virtual skin failed to fully regenerate. 
Only one theory enabled the virtual skin to still be in good shape after three years, as Dr. Xinshan Li (University of Sheffield Faculty of Engineering) and Dr. Arun Upadhyay (P and G), the lead co-authors explained in their research. 
"The theory which seems to fit best says that skin has a population of 'sleeping' stem cells, which sit in the lowest layer of the skin but don't constantly divide to make new cells," Dr. Li said. 
"However, these sleeping cells can be called into action if the skin is damaged, or if the numbers of other types of more mature skin cells decrease, ensuring that the skin can be constantly regenerated under all conditions," the researcher said. 
The model showed that we gradually lose these sleeping stem cells over time-which would explain why our ability to regenerate our skin reduces as we age. "Each time we wake up these cells, to heal a wound or replenish stocks of other cells, a few of them don't go back into sleep mode, so the population slowly reduces," Dr. Li said. 
"This explains why older skin is slower to heal and in part why our skin changes as we age. By understanding this mechanism better, it might be possible to find ways to combat the effects of aging on our skin," Dr. Li added. 
Computer modelling of skin biology is the latest step in the evolution of skin science. 
It allows scientists to project the activity of tissues like skin that are difficult to follow in live systems for extended periods. 
Currently, 3-dimensional cultures of engineered human skin are viable for only a few weeks and clinical studies in humans are only practical for a few months. 
With the development of in silico models scientists can predict for the first time what happens in skin as it ages year by year even as it ages decade by decade. 
The research is published in Nature Scientific Reports.
Source-ANI
 

The 'gold' standard: A rapid, cheap method of detecting dengue virus

The development of an easy to use, low cost method of detecting dengue virus in mosquitoes based on gold nanoparticles is reported in BioMed Central's open access journal Virology Journal. The assay is able to detect lower levels of the virus than current tests, and is easy to transport and use in remote regions.
Half the world's population is at risk of Dengue virus infection – it infects 50-100 million people per year, approximately half a million of these require hospitalization and 2.5% (most of which are children) will die. It is one of the most dangerous viruses in the world with no vaccine, and it does not respond to antiviral therapy. The main method of controlling infection remains destruction of the standing water where the mosquitoes, which transmit the virus to people, breed.
It is consequently vitally important to have a way of determining if mosquitoes are carrying Dengue virus, which can be used on site and that does not require specialist equipment.
Researchers from the University of Notre Dame, USA, used a DNAzyme linked to gold nanoparticles which recognises a short sequence of the viral RNA genome common to all four types of Dengue. Once bound, adding magnesium and heating to 37C causes the DNAZyme to cut the RNA leaving the gold nanoparticles free to clump together. This aggregation can be easily seen as a red to clear/colourless colour change.
The components of this test are stable at temperatures above 30C which means that they are easy to store and transport and the assay is able to detect as little as 10 viruses in each sample containing 10-20 mosquitoes.
The ultimate goal is to detect virus infection in just a single infected mosquito or cell. Dr James Carter, the lead author of this study explained, "Full development of our novel DDZ-AuNP detection method will provide a practical, rapid, and low cost alternative for the detection of DENV in mosquito cells and tissues, and possibly infected patient serum, in a matter of minutes with little to no specialized training required."
Source: journal Virology Journal

Insulin differs between ethnicities, study finds

People have differing abilities to release and react to insulin depending on ethnicity, according to a new study from researchers at Lund University in Sweden, Stanford University and Kitasato University.
The results show that healthy subjects of all ethnicities were able to maintain a normal glucose level, but did so in different ways.
"Africans tend to have lower insulin sensitivity. However, they appear to compensate for this by releasing larger quantities of insulin. Among those of East Asian origin, the reverse appears to be the case. They have very good insulin sensitivity, but appear to have a poorer ability to release more insulin if it is needed. Caucasians fall somewhere between the two extremes. Both insulin release and insulin sensitivity are affected", says Damon Tojjar, a doctoral student at the Lund University Diabetes Centre (LUDC).
When the researchers looked more closely at the research subjects who were at risk of developing diabetes and the subjects who had already been diagnosed, the same pattern was observed. Their results were generally worse, however, as their insulin production or insulin sensitivity had begun to fail as part of the disease.
"The findings are consistent with what we see in clinical settings – East Asians are more sensitive to developing diabetes and they do so at a lower BMI. Because a lack of insulin is a condition for developing diabetes, it is not surprising that East Asians show lower insulin release and generally need to start insulin treatment at an earlier stage. The situation in Africa is still so complicated and heterogeneous that new studies are needed", says Professor Leif Groop from LUDC.
The researchers are not sure of the reasons for the physiological background to the changes, but suggest some possible explanations.
"Our findings and the fantastic developments in genetic research make us optimistic that we can continue to map the important differences that cause a failure in the production of insulin and reduced insulin sensitivity, so that we can emphasise personalised treatment in the future", concludes Damon Tojjar.
Source: Diabetes Care

Could a Diet High in Fish and Flax Help Prevent Broken Hips?

Higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids in the blood may reduce the risk for hip fractures in postmenopausal women, recent research suggests.
Scientists analyzed red blood cell samples from women with and without a history of having a broken hip. The study showed that higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids from both plant and fish sources in those blood cells were associated with a lower likelihood of having fractured a hip.
In addition to omega-3s, the researchers looked at omega-6 fatty acids, which are generally plentiful in a Western diet. The study also showed that as the ratio of omega-6 fatty acids to omega-3s increased, so did the risk for hip fracture.
Though the study did not define the mechanisms for these relationships, the researchers hypothesized that inflammation may contribute to bone resorption, the breaking down of bone caused by the release of cells called osteoclasts.
“Inflammation is associated with an increased risk of bone loss and fractures, and omega-3 fatty acids are believed to reduce inflammation. So we asked if we would see fractures decrease in response to omega-3 intake,” said Rebecca Jackson, the study’s senior author and a professor of endocrinology, diabetes and metabolism at The Ohio State University.
 This work was supported by the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences. The WHI was funded by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute.
Co-authors include Steven Ing of the Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism; Bo Lu of the Division of Biostatistics; and Martha Belury of the Department of Human Nutrition, all at Ohio State; as well as Karen Johnson of the University of Tennessee Health Science Center and Jean Wactawski-Wende of the State University of New York, Buffalo.
Source:Journal of Bone & Mineral Research

UT study: Chemical in antibacterial soaps may harm nursing babies

A mother's prolonged use of antibacterial soaps containing the chemical triclocarban may harm nursing babies, according to a recent study from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.
The study, which was conducted on rats, showed that exposure to the compound may reduce the survival rates of babies.
Rebekah Kennedy, a UT graduate student pursuing a dual master's degree in public health and nutrition, and Jiangang Chen, an assistant professor in the UT Department of Public Health, presented the results this month at the Endocrine Society's 95th Annual Meeting and Expo in San Francisco. Kennedy was the study's lead author.
Triclocarban, a bactericide, is found primarily in antibacterial bar soaps.
The researchers noted that they were not condemning the use of antibacterial soaps.
"People have to weigh their own risks and decide what would be the best route," Kennedy said. "There's always a time and place for antibacterial bar soaps, such as in health care settings where the chance of infection and transmission is high. For the average person, antibacterial soap is no more effective than regular soap."
Chen conducted an earlier study that examined how prolonged exposure to triclocarban affected growth of sex organs in adult male rats. Kennedy decided to go a step further and look into how it would affect baby rats in the womb and during nursing.
Humans are exposed to triclocarban through skin absorption. Research shows that based on how the compound is biotransformed, oral exposure in rats is similar to dermal exposure for humans, Kennedy said.
During Kennedy's research, pregnant rats fed with triclocarban through food had similar blood concentrations compared to human blood concentrations after a 15-minute shower using antibacterial soap.
The study found that triclocarban did not affect the post-birth survival rate of baby rats exposed to the compound in the womb. But baby rats nursed by mothers that were exposed to the compound did not survive beyond the sixth day after birth.
The results showed that a mother's long-term use and exposure to triclocarban could affect her baby's early development, according to the animal model, Kennedy said.
Humans may be exposed to triclocarban through other ways besides skin absorption, including produce consumption, Chen said. Triclocarban is washed down the drain, where about 95 percent of it is removed when wastewater is treated. The remainder may still be a problem, particularly since treated wastewater is used for agricultural purposes.
"There are potential exposure routes in daily life we are not aware of," Chen said. "The goal is to try to minimize those if at all possible."
Source:ENDO 2013

Indian Institute of Integrative Medicine ties up with Innoveda to develop 5 botanical drugs

Delhi-based research firm Innoveda Biological Solutions has tied up with Indian Institute of Integrative Medicine (IIIM), Jammu to develop five botanical drugs for the treatment of diabetes, wound healing, cancer, phosphodiesterase (PDE) inhibition and inflammation.
“We will together work on five candidate drugs for further development based on the leads available now on both the sides.
 Innoveda director Sunil Kalra  says, we are already close to beginning clinical trials on Daibe which we hope will benefit people suffering from diabetes and provide them with a safe way of controlling this disease without side effects,”  
Diabe, the drug for diabetic vascular complications like atherosclerosis and nephropathy, is a botanical drug as per US FDA guidelines and shall be initially registered as a modern medical drug under DCGI following Schedule Y. Another one under the development is a topical application for enhanced wound healing and to reduce inflammation related to traumatic injury or contact with irritant ants including chemicals and insects. Both these candidate drugs were developed by Innoveda.
Both Innoveda and IIIM will share their leads available so far and work for a drug against cancer. Among the two other drugs will be an oral drug for PDE inhibition and an oral drug as anti inflammatory agent. The leads for the last two were developed by the scientists at the IIIM.
Innoveda will pay to IIIM Rs.1.5 crore for joint development of five drugs. Under this agreement the leads obtained can be out licensed to any foreign company and the earnings and Intellectual Property can be shared equally between the two parties.
“Apart from the diabetes drug, other formulations are still in early stages of discovery. We have a significant amount of data available on their efficacy. Our intention is to begin the pre-clinical works immediately and evaluate the potential of these formulations,” Kalra added.
The collaboration is going to harness the synergies on both the sides as Innoveda has long expertise on the application of traditional drugs based on Ayurveda and IIIM which is under the CSIR has expertise on natural product chemistry and general pharmacology.
Terming such collaborations as vital for standardization of Ayurveda drugs and making them available at affordable prices, IIIM director Dr Ram Vishwakarma said the strong experience of the institute would complement the knowledge of the private partner company.

Source:Pharmabiz

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Study Says Vitamin D Improves Health of Female Type-2 Diabetics Three Ways

A Chicago pilot project found that vitamin D improves the health of women with type 2 diabetes in several ways. Researchers who conducted it have received funding to expand the study to follow a larger number of patients.
A team from the Loyola University Chicago Niehoff School of Nursing found that among female type-2 diabetics with symptoms of depression, taking supplements of the vitamin resulted in significant drops in blood pressure, elevation of mood, and modest weight loss, according to ScienceDaily. They presented their findings at the American Diabetes Association 73rd Scientific Sessions.
The pilot study followed 46 women who averaged 55 years old. They had suffered from diabetes on average for eight years and showed insufficient vitamin D levels (18 ng/ml). During the project, they took 50,000 International Units (IUs) weekly for six months. At that point, vitamin D levels in the blood had climbed into the sufficient range, an average of 38 ng/ml, and moods were elevated. Scores on an initial depression survey moved from 26.8 to 12.2 at the half-year mark, indicating a significant drop in symptoms.
Average blood pressure readings fell from 140.4 mm Hg for the higher number to 132.5. Average weight dropped from 226.1 to 223.6 pounds.
The National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse reports that diabetes affects 8.3 percent of the U.S. population, or 25.8 million individuals. Of these individuals, an estimated 7 million remain undiagnosed.
Type 2 diabetes, once known as non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus, typically starts as insulin resistance. Of diagnosed adult diabetics, between 90 and 95 percent have type 2 disease. Diabetics are particularly at risk for a vitamin D deficiency or insufficiency, possibly due to consuming curtailed amounts of foods rich in the vitamin, lack of exposure to the sun, genetic issues, and/or being obese.
Vitamin D has an important role in calcium absorption and maintaining strong bones, says the U.S. Office of Dietary Supplements. It also helps nerves transport messages between various parts of the body and the brain and boosts the immune system's ability to attack bacteria and viruses. The normal sources of the vitamin are certain foods, sunlight, and supplements.
The Chicago researchers acknowledged that they need to conduct larger, randomized trials to figure out exactly how vitamin D supplements impact depression and the major cardiovascular risk factors common to type-2 female diabetics. They have received a $1.49 million grant from the National Institute of Nursing Research at the National Institute of Health for a follow-on study.
They expect to enroll 180 women with type 2 diabetes, evidence of depression, and subpar vitamin D levels in the four-year research project. Subjects will randomly receive either 50,000 IUs of vitamin D each week or a weekly placebo for six months. If vitamin supplementation proves useful, it would be an easy, cost-effective treatment with relatively few side effects.
Source:Vonda J. Sines (She has published thousands of print and online health and medical articles. She specializes in diseases and other conditions that affect the quality of life.)

A circuitous route to therapy resistance

Gliomas are malignant brain tumors that arise from glial cells called astrocytes, found in the central nervous system. "In treating malignant gliomas, we currently combine radiotherapy with the anticancer drug temozolomide. However, in some patients, tumors rapidly become resistant to both treatment methods," says neurooncologist Professor Dr. Michael Platten, who leads a cooperation unit of the German Cancer Research Center (Deutsches Krebsforschungszentrum, DKFZ) and the Department of Neurooncology of Heidelberg University Hospital. "We therefore urgently need new methods of treating these diseases more effectively."
Chemotherapy and radiotherapy damage the DNA of tumor cells. Normally these DNA defects automatically trigger the cellular suicide program known as apoptosis. However, tumor cells possess an efficient DNA repair system that they use to protect themselves from the consequences of therapy, thus evading cell death.
Key repair mechanisms in the cell can only work efficiently if a molecule called NAD+ is present. When DNA repair is running at full throttle, as is the case during radiation therapy, NAD+ supplies are quickly exhausted in a cancer cell, leading to DNA damage that goes unrepaired and ultimately cell death. Cancer researchers are therefore trying to use drugs to deprive cells of NAD+ to prevent resistance to therapies. Substances that inhibit the enzyme which produces NAD+ are already being tested in clinical trials.
However, cells can produce NAD+ in a number of ways. They can synthesize it directly, or use a substance called quinolinic acid, a metabolite of the protein building-block tryptophan, as an alternative source to produce NAD+. Michael Platten and his team had discovered that malignant gliomas contain large amounts of quinolinic acid. "We wanted to know whether gliomas might use this circuitous route in order to produce enough NAD+ and thus escape therapy," says neuropathologist Felix Sahm, first author of the publication.
If direct NAD+ production is blocked, malignant glioma cells, unlike normal astrocytes, increase production of QRPT. This enzyme breaks down quinolinic acid into NAD+. Therapies involving the anticancer drug temozolomide, radiation, or oxidative stress were found to lead to increased levels of QRPT in tumors. The higher the degree of malignancy of the gliomas that were investigated, the more QRPT they contained. Brain tumors that recurred after combined radiotherapy-chemotherapy had a poorer prognosis when the cancer cells produced high levels of quinolinic acid.
The researchers also discovered that the tumor cells are not capable of forming quinolinic acid on their own. Instead, the substance is produced by immune cells called microglia, which migrate in large quantities into gliomas. Microglia cells may constitute up to 50 percent of the total cell content of a glioma.
In these cases, only the tumor cells contain QRPT; healthy astrocytes do not. Hence only the tumor cells are capable of breaking down quinolinic acid into NAD+. "The malignant transformation of astrocytes appears to be linked to their ability to use quinolinic acid as an alternative source of NAD+ and thus develop resistance against radiotherapy and chemotherapy," says Michael Platten. "A link between microglia and the malignancy of gliomas has been known for some time – now we may have found a possible cause. The key enzyme for the alternative NAD+ supply is QRPT. An agent directed against this enzyme might help suppress therapy resistance in brain cancer. This might enable us to achieve better outcomes in treating malignant brain tumors using existing methods."
Source:Cancer Research

Efficacy of acupressure to relieve migraine nausea presented at International Headache Congress

Nausea is one of the most debilitating symptoms of migraine and affects 80 percent of migraine suffers in the United States. Leading headache physician, Dr. Zoltan Medgyessy of the Berolina Clinic in Lohne, Germany demonstrated in a trial that pressure to the P6 antiemetic point on the inner wrist with an acupressure wristband is an effective and quick therapy for relieving nausea of migraine sufferers. He will be presenting his findings to the U.S. for the first time at the International Headache Congress in Boston, MA on June 27 – 30, 2013.
Migraine can be a disabling neurological disorder. It affects 36 million Americans, according to the American Migraine Foundation, and is considered by the World Health Organization as the 19th leading cause of all years lived with disability for both males and females.
Dr. Medgyessy's acupressure study with the Department of Headache / Department of Psychosomatic at the Berolina Clinic included 41 patients who experienced an average of 33.1 migraine days during the previous three months with an average nausea intensity of 6.2 out of 10. Patients were given Sea-Band acupressure wristbands instead of antiemetic drugs during a migraine attack and 83 percent of patients noticed reduction of nausea. Reported nausea after therapy was rated a 2.9 out of 10 and relief was reported after an average of 28 minutes. Nearly all participants (98 percent) said they would use Sea-Band again for migraine nausea.
"Acupressure wristbands are drug-free and that is an important advantage in using this therapy for migraine nausea as they have no risks for interaction with migraine drugs or the side effects commonly experienced with antiemetics, such as dizziness or tiredness," commented Dr. Medgyessy. "There are still many unknowns about migraine, making findings such as these an important stride toward improving the quality of life for those who suffer from the condition. I'm grateful that the International Headache Congress has given me a platform to share the results of my team's study and look forward to discussing it with my colleagues."
Source:2013 International Headache Congress

Drug-induced liver injury is on the rise

More people are being affected by drug-induced liver injury (DILI) than ever before, according to a new study in Gastroenterology, the official journal of the American Gastroenterological Association. This type of liver injury results from the use of certain prescription and over-the-counter medications, as well as dietary supplements, and is among the more challenging forms of liver disease due to its difficulty to predict, diagnose and manage.
Investigators conducted a population-based study in Iceland uncovering 19.1 cases of drug-induced liver injury per 100,000 inhabitants, per year. These results are significantly higher than the last population-based study of this kind, conducted in France from 1997-2000, which reported 13.9 cases per 100,000 inhabitants, per year.
The most commonly implicated drugs were amoxicillin-clavulante (penicillin used to fight bacteria), azathioprine (an immunosuppressive drug used in organ transplantation and autoimmune diseases) and infliximab (also used to treat autoimmune disease).
"Drug-induced liver injury is not a single, uncommon disease of the general population, but rather a series of rare diseases that occur only in persons who take specific medications," said Einar S. Björnsson, lead study author from the department of internal medicine, section of gastroenterology and hepatology, National University Hospital, Reykjavik, Iceland, and faculty of medicine at the University of Iceland. "Our study identified which medications put patients most at risk for developing liver diseases. With this information, physicians can better monitor and manage patients who are prescribed potentially liver-injuring drugs."
The study also showed that drug-induced liver injury was caused by a single prescription medication in 75 percent of cases, by dietary supplements in 16 percent and by multiple agents in 9 percent. Further, the incidence was similar in women and men, but increased with age; not surprising since the need for medication also increases with age.
Jaundice and other symptoms highly suggestive of liver injury, such as itching, nausea, abdominal discomfort and lethargy, were present in the majority of patients. Most patients had a favorable outcome after receiving care.
Source:Gastroenterology

Tired and edgy? Sleep deprivation boosts anticipatory anxiety

UC Berkeley researchers have found that a lack of sleep, which is common in anxiety disorders, may play a key role in ramping up the brain regions that contribute to excessive worrying.
Anxious woman

Neuroscientists have found that sleep deprivation amplifies anticipatory anxiety by firing up the brain’s amygdala and insular cortex, regions associated with emotional processing. The resulting pattern mimics the abnormal neural activity seen in anxiety disorders. Furthermore, their research suggests that innate worriers – those who are naturally more anxious and therefore more likely to develop a full-blown anxiety disorder – are acutely vulnerable to the impact of insufficient sleep.“These findings help us realize that those people who are anxious by nature are the same people who will suffer the greatest harm from sleep deprivation,” said Matthew Walker, a professor of psychology and neuroscience at UC Berkeley and senior author of the paper, to be published tomorrow (Wednesday, June 26) in the Journal of Neuroscience.The results suggest that people suffering from such maladies as generalized anxiety disorder, panic attacks and post-traumatic stress disorder, may benefit substantially from sleep therapy. At UC Berkeley, psychologists such as Allison Harvey, a co-author on the Journal of Neuroscience paper, have been garnering encouraging results in studies that use sleep therapy on patients with depression, bipolar disorder and other mental illnesses.“If sleep disruption is a key factor in anxiety disorders, as this study suggests, then it’s a potentially treatable target,” Walker said. “By restoring good quality sleep in people suffering from anxiety, we may be able to help ameliorate their excessive worry and disabling fearful expectations.”While previous research has indicated that sleep disruption and psychiatric disorders often occur together, this latest study is the first to causally demonstrate that sleep loss triggers excessive anticipatory brain activity associated with anxiety, researchers said.“It’s been hard to tease out whether sleep loss is simply a byproduct of anxiety, or whether sleep disruption causes anxiety,” said Andrea Goldstein, a UC Berkeley doctoral student in neuroscience and lead author of the study. “This study helps us understand that causal relationship more clearly.”In their experiments, performed at UC Berkeley’s Sleep and Neuroimaging Laboratory, Walker and his research team scanned the brains of 18 healthy young adults as they viewed dozens of images, first after a good night’s rest, and again after a sleepless night. The images were either neutral, disturbing or alternated between both.Participants in the experiments reported a wide range of baseline anxiety levels, but none fit the criteria for a clinical anxiety disorder. After getting a full night’s rest at the lab, which researchers monitored by measuring neural electrical activity, their brains were scanned via functional MRI as they waited to be shown, and then viewed 90 images during a 45-minute session.To trigger anticipatory anxiety, researchers primed the participants using one of three visual cues prior to each series of images. A large red minus sign signaled to participants that they were about to see a highly unpleasant image, such as a death scene. A yellow circle portended a neutral image, such as a basket on a table. Perhaps most stressful was a white question mark, which indicated that either a grisly image or a bland, innocuous one was coming, and kept participants in a heightened state of suspense.When sleep-deprived and waiting in suspenseful anticipation for a neutral or disturbing image to appear, activity in the emotional brain centers of all the participants soared, especially in the amygdala and the insular cortex. Notably, the amplifying impact of sleep deprivation was most dramatic for those people who were innately anxious to begin with.This discovery illustrates how important sleep is to our mental health,” said Walker. “It also emphasizes the intimate relationship between sleep and psychiatric disorders, both from a cause and a treatment perspective.”Other co-authors of the study are Stephanie Greer and Jared Saletin at UC Berkeley, and Jack Nitschke at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. The research was funded by the National Institute of Mental Health.
Source:Journal of Neuroscience

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