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Saturday, 7 September 2013

Pornography reinforces sexist attitudes among a subgroup of heterosexuals

Pornography has long held a controversial place in society, and its relationship with a number of behaviors and attitudes has been highly debated. But the concern remains: How does viewing pornography affect our attitudes towards women? A recent paper published in the Journal of Communication found that exposure to pornography was related to and increased sexist attitudes, but only among a subgroup of users.
Gert Martin Hald, Theis Lange, University of Copenhagen, and Neil Malamuth, University of California, Los Angeles, asked 200 Danish adults aged 18-30 about their past pornography consumption; assessed a central part of their personality (the trait of agreeableness i.e., individual low in agreeableness typically holder higher levels of antagonism, coldness, hostility, suspiciousness, disagreeability, unfriendliness, and self-interest); and exposed them to hardcore pornography in the laboratory. They then evaluated how participants' personality and the exposure to pornography affected a variety of sexist attitudes.
Among women increased past pornography consumption was not found to be associated with any of the sexist attitudes investigated. Among men increased past pornography consumption was initially found to be associated with more negative attitudes toward women including more hostility, negative prejudices, and stereotypes.
However, when the researchers actually exposed participants to pornography, personality (agreeableness) was found to influence the relationship between pornography and sexist attitudes so that it was only among participants low in agreeableness that pornography was found to increase sexist attitudes. Among this group it was found that laboratory exposure to pornography modestly increased hostile sexist attitudes. Further this increase was found to be brought about by increases in sexual arousal to the pornographic exposure material. For all other participants, pornography exposure was found not to influence sexist attitudes.
"The study is important because it may help nuance the view of effects of porn and enable us to better understand for whom adverse effects of porn are most likely and the mechanisms by which such effects occur. This could be used in prevention, education, or clinical interventions," said Hald, the lead author. "The study shows the importance of individual differences in research on pornography and underscores that effects of pornography on attitudes may not be the same for everyone".
Source: Journal of Communication

Babies learn words before birth

Parents-to-be better watch their language. Babies can hear specific words in the womb and remember them in the days after birth, a new study reports. The results add to the understanding of how the early acoustical environment shapes the developing brain.
Earlier studies have found that fetuses can hear and learn certain sounds. Nursery rhymes, vowel sounds and mothers’ voices can all influence a developing baby. But the new study, published August 26 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, shows that a fetus can detect and remember discrete words, says study coauthor Eino Partanen of the University of Helsinki. “The fetal learning capabilities are much more specific than we thought,” he says.
Partanen and colleagues used a fake word, tatata, to test whether a particular word can worm its way into the fetal brain. Five to seven times a week during their third trimester, 17 pregnant Finnish women were instructed to blast a recording of a woman saying the word in two bursts of four minutes. The pregnant women were instructed to turn the volume up so loud that a conversation would be difficult, but not so loud that it hurt. Most of the recording was the same delivery of tatata, but every so often, there was a curveball. The pitch in the middle syllable would change, something that rarely happens in spoken Finnish.
Five days after their birth, babies once again heard the recordings. Electrodes attached to the babies’ heads allowed Partanen and his colleagues to look for a specific sign of recognition: An outsized neural jolt, called a mismatch response, tells the brain to pay attention because something is different. This response indicates a level of familiarity, Partanen says. Adults acquire similar neural reactions as they learn a new language, for instance.
When the recording reached the altered version of tatata, babies who had been exposed to the recordings in utero showed this mismatch response, while the 16 babies who hadn’t heard the recordings didn’t, the team found. These results suggest that babies could learn and remember the normal version of tatata.
It’s not clear how long these word memories last. In the study, the fetuses last heard the recording five days before birth, but the memory could be older than that.
The study goes beyond earlier work, much of which relied on indirect behavioral changes such as sucking on a pacifier or turning the head, and instead reveals effects in the brain, says psychologist Christine Moon of Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, Wash. “We’ve had quite a bit of research on behavior and not so much on the brain,” she says.
The finding has implications for early intervention in kids who might be at risk of language problems, which can accompany certain kinds of dyslexia, says Partanen. Carefully designed words or features of speech played during pregnancy might prove beneficial, he says. 
Source: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

Ignoring Stomach Pain Could Prove Fatal, Says Expert

 Ignoring Stomach Pain Could Prove Fatal, Says ExpertA senior cardiologist in Kolkata has warned that stomach pain should not be ignored as it could be a sign of a more critical ailment which could lead to death though it goes unnoticed in nearly three quarters of cases."Abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) is largely asymptomatic. But abdominal pain and back pain in people who are above 60 years of age, with a history of hypertension, should not be taken lightly. It could be a sign for AAA," said S.B.Roy, director and head of the department of interventional cardiology of the Belle Vue Clinic here. The aneurysm occurs when the region of the aorta (the largest artery in the human body) that supplies oxygen-rich blood to the abdomen, pelvis and legs becomes abnormally large or balloons outwards. Such a condition becomes fatal when the expanded blood vessel ruptures, causing a large quantity of blood to spill out in the abdominal cavity. Although AAA has a very low incidence rate in India (500 to 700 cases reported every year), factors like hypertension and age itself predispose one to the ailment. "Aneurysm kills people mostly in the age group of 65 to 75 years especially smokers. So age itself is one of the factors," Roy said. Roy had detected the aneurysm in a 71-year-old patient who underwent a revolutionary surgery at the private hospital, with a new technique called endovascular aneurysm repair or EVAR. To prevent fatalities, Roy advised routine abdominal ultrasounds in senior citizens.



Researchers Claim They've Solved How Mercury Gets Into Open-ocean Fish

Researchers Claim They've Solved How Mercury Gets Into Open-ocean Fish 
The long-standing mystery of how mercury gets into open-ocean fish has been solved, claim University of Michigan researchers and their University of Hawaii colleagues. Their findings suggest that levels of the toxin in Pacific Ocean fish will likely rise in coming decades.Using isotopic measurement techniques developed at U-M, the researchers determined that up to 80 percent of the toxic form of mercury, called methylmercury, found in the tissues of deep-feeding North Pacific Ocean fish is produced deep in the ocean, most likely by bacteria clinging to sinking bits of organic matter. The study also confirmed that the mercury found in Pacific fish near Hawaii likely traveled through the air for thousands of miles before being deposited on the ocean surface in rainfall, said U-M environmental scientist Joel Blum. The North Pacific fisheries are downwind from rapidly industrializing nations such as China and India that are increasingly reliant on coal-burning power plants, a major source of mercury pollution. "This study reinforces the links between mercury emitted from Asian countries and the fish that we catch off Hawaii and consume in this country," said Blum, the lead author of a paper scheduled for online publication Aug. 25 in Nature Geoscience. "The implications are that if we're going to effectively reduce the mercury concentrations in open-ocean fish, we're going to have to reduce global emissions of mercury, including emissions from places like China and India," Blum said. "Cleaning up our own shorelines is not going to be enough. This is a global atmospheric problem." The main pathway for human exposure to methylmercury is the consumption of large predatory marine fish such as swordfish and tuna. Effects of methylmercury on humans can include damage to the central nervous system, the heart and the immune system. The developing brains of fetuses and young children are especially vulnerable. In December 2011, the Environmental Protection Agency released new standards sharply limiting future emissions of mercury and other toxic pollutants from coal- and oil-burning power plants in the United States. Earlier this year, the United Nations Environment Programme negotiated the Minamata Convention on Mercury, an international treaty aimed at curbing future mercury emissions; it is still unclear what level of mercury-emission reductions will result. It has been known for some time that large predatory marine fish contain high levels of methylmercury in part because they eat lots of smaller, mercury-containing fish. The toxin builds up in the tissues of the top-of-the-food-chain predators through a process called bioaccumulation. In 2009, researchers at the University of Hawaii determined that the depth at which a species of fish feeds is nearly as important as its position in the food chain in determining how much methylmercury it contains. "We found that predatory fish that feed at deeper depths in the open ocean, like opah and swordfish, have higher mercury concentrations than those that feed in waters near the surface, like mahi-mahi and yellowfin tuna," said Brian Popp, a professor of geology and geophysics at the University of Hawaii at Manoa and co-author of both the 2009 paper and the new Nature Geoscience paper. "We knew this was true, but we didn't know why." That observation was difficult to explain because researchers had presumed that if methylmercury production occurs in the open ocean, it most likely takes place in the biologically active surface layer, carried out by microbes that convert inorganic mercury into the toxic organic form through a process called methylation. But in the latest study, the Michigan and Hawaii researchers showed that perhaps as much as 80 percent of the methylmercury found at depth in the central North Pacific is produced below what is known as the surface mixed layer, a region extending down to about 165 feet. They found that methylation continues down to a depth of about 2,000 feet, most likely the work of oxygen-shunning bacteria attached to sinking particles of dead plant and animal matter containing inorganic mercury. That finding is important in part because scientists expect mercury levels at intermediate depths (660 to 3,300 feet) in the North Pacific to rise in coming decades; one estimate calls for a doubling by mid-century. At the same time, oxygen-depleted regions called oxygen minimum zones, which typically occur at depths greater than 1,300 feet, are expanding in oceans worldwide, and human-caused climate change is expected to accelerate that process. The work by Blum and his colleagues suggests that if these two trends unfold as expected, conditions will favor increased production of methylmercury by microbes known as anaerobic bacteria, which will increase the threat to the North Pacific fisheries, the world's most important source of seafood. "The implication is that predictions for increased mercury in deeper water will result in higher levels in fish," said Blum, a professor in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences. In their study, the researchers analyzed tissue samples from nine species of marine fish that feed at different depths in a region near Hawaii called the North Pacific Subtropical Gyre. The work combined biogeochemistry with direct marine ecology observations. Blum led the effort to very precisely measure the ratios of the stable isotopes of mercury, relying on techniques his lab has developed to take advantage of a natural phenomenon called isotopic fractionation. Popp led the Hawaii group that sampled fish at various depths, measured the total amount of mercury in their muscle tissues, and determined their position in the marine food web. Together, the researchers showed how and where methylation occurs in the open ocean and explained the previously observed increases in the mercury concentration of predatory fish with depth. They found that while methylation occurs in well-lit near-surface waters, sunlight destroys up to 80 percent of the methylmercury formed there, through a process called photochemical degradation. "The crystal-clear waters surrounding Hawaii and the unique information that we had about the depths at which our local fish feed allowed us to clearly identify both the photochemical degradation of methylmercury at surface levels and the microbial production of methylmercury from inorganic mercury in deeper waters," said Popp, a University of Michigan graduate. In addition, the isotopic composition of the mercury found in the fish tissues was "a nearly perfect match" with the chemical signature of mercury in the atmosphere known to travel long distances, far from pollution sources such as coal-burning power plants, Blum said. That finding confirms an idea that was long-suspected but previously unsupported by hard evidence: "These results strongly support the hypothesis that long-range transport of mercury deposited to the ocean surface is ultimately what's ending up in these fish," Blum said. The nine species of fish used in the study, listed from shallowest- to deepest-feeding, are flying fish, mahi-mahi, yellowfin tuna, skipjack tuna, moonfish (opah), bigeye tuna, swordfish, and two species of lantern fish. 
Source:Nature Geoscience



High Salt Content Found in "Healthy" Butter Spreads

 High Salt Content Found in Some of the most popular 'healthy' butter spreads contain as much salt levels as in water from Atlantic Ocean, a new study reveals.The study was conducted by researchers at Consensus Action on Salt and Health (CASH) who analyzed over 314 spreads and found that over 60 percent of the spreads contained salt levels higher than the official recommended target set by the Food Standards Agency (FSA) in 2012. WeightWatchers Dairy Spread, marketed as a healthy choice, contained over 2.5g salt per 100g, which is equal to the salt level from Atlantic Ocean while Marks & Spencer Softer Butter, which describes itself as 'slightly salted', in fact contains more salt than Salted Farmhouse Butter. "It is a scandal there is still so much unnecessary salt in food - for every one gram reduction in intake, we can prevent 12,000 heart attacks, strokes and heart failures, half of which would have been fatal", CASH chairman Professor Graham MacGregor said. 


Friday, 6 September 2013

News Video:Brain-eating parasite: Are you at risk?

Body weight influences both the physical and mental quality of life

Body weight influences both the physical and mental quality of lifeBody weight has a great influence on our quality of life. While physical health deteriorates when weight is gained, mental well-being seems to improve, especially in women. This has been reported by scientists from the Helmholtz Zentrum München in the ‘International Journal of Public Health’. These results offer valuable information for preventive strategies in the fight against obesity.Scientists from the Institute of Health Economics and Health Care Management (IGM) and from the Institute of Epidemiology II (EPI II) discovered that weight gain leads to deterioration in physical health. Female study participants, however, experienced improved mental quality of life as their weight increased, a result that was observed even in women who were already overweight when the study began. For this study, Professor Dr. Rolf Holle, Michael Laxy and their team evaluated data from the population-based longitudinal KORA study on the association between body weight and health-related quality of life. Over a period of seven years, the weight of more than 3000 people was measured, the body-mass index (BMI) was calculated and the health-related quality of life was assessed on the basis of a standardized questionnaire."The results show that the influence of body weight on physical and mental health is complex", Holle explains. "However, the understanding of these associations is crucial for developing medically effective and cost-effective strategies to prevent and manage obesity. The challenge is to prevent weight gain and its harmful health consequences, such as diabetes, while simultaneously structuring the programmes in such a way that they counteract impairments in mental well-being. In this context, also gender-specific approaches should be considered", the head of the Economic Evaluation workgroup at IGM concludes.Around sixty percent of the adult population in Germany is affected by overweight and obesity. The objective of the Helmholtz Zentrum München is to develop new approaches to diagnose, treat and prevent major widespread diseases.

Source: International Journal of Public Health

Bone growth factor may increase benign tumors but not malignant cancer

 Patients undergoing spinal fusion surgery with bone morphogenetic protein (BMP) appear to be at increased risk of benign tumors—but not cancers, reports a study in the September issue of Neurosurgery, official journal of theCongress of Neurological Surgeons. The journal is published by Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, a part of Wolters Kluwer Health.
Other papers in the September Neurosurgery report on a stent-assisted approach for difficult-to-treat brain aneurysms and a new software program to help in identifying and protecting critical areas during brain tumor surgery.
BMP Linked to Increased Risk of Benign Tumors
Dr. Nandan Lad of Duke University Medical Center and colleagues analyzed the risk of cancers and benign tumors in nearly 4,700 patients receiving BMP as part of spinal fusion surgery. Bone morphogenetic protein is a growth factor that can promote new bone formation. It is FDA-approved for one specific type of spinal fusion surgery, but has become widely used "off-label" for other fusion procedures.
Contrary to previous smaller studies, patients receiving BMP as commonly used today, had no increase in systemic or malignant cancer risk, compared to a matched group undergoing spinal fusion without BMP. However, spinal fusion with BMP was associated with a higher risk of benign tumors: about 30% higher, after adjustment for other factors.
Although absolute risks were small, patients receiving BMP had a higher rate of benign tumors of the nervous system—especially of the tissues lining the spinal cord and brain (meninges). The increase in these soft tissue tumors may be related to the "large local dose" of BMP around the spine, the researchers suspect. The results of this large, independent, propensity-matched study suggest that the use of BMP in lumbar fusions is associated with a significantly higher rate of benign neoplasms, but not malignancies.
'Y" Stents Effective for Difficult-to-Treat Brain Aneurysms
Dr. Kyle M. Fargen of University of Florida and colleagues evaluated the use of "Y-stent coiling" to block off (occlude) aneurysms in 45 patients at seven U.S. hospitals. The stent-assisted technique was used for difficult-to-treat aneurysms located at the bifurcation (branching) of two blood vessels.
Y-stent coiling produced "excellent" initial aneurysm occlusion in 84 percent of patients. On angiograms performed at ten months' follow-up, the occlusion rate had increased to 92 percent. Three patients required repeat treatment.
The Y-stent approach provides neurosurgeons with a valuable alternative treatment for aneurysms that would be difficult or impossible to treat with surgery. Based on their findings, Y-stent coiling offers "low complication rates and excellent clinical and angiographic outcomes," Dr. Fargen and coauthors conclude.
New Approach Helps Neurosurgeons Protect 'Eloquent Cortex'
Dr. Vinodh A. Kumar of University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center and colleagues evaluated new software that helps locate and protect the "eloquent cortex"—critical areas involved in speech or movement—during brain tumor surgery. The program, called "deformable anatomic templates" (DAT), can be overlaid on the patient's brain MRI and displayed in two- and three-dimensions to assess the normal position of eloquent structures relative to the patient's brain tumor. The software is ideally suited for infiltrative brain gliomas.
DAT alerted the surgeon when the glioma was located in or very close to areas of eloquent cortex. In many cases, it provided information that could not be obtained from standard brain-mapping techniques. The study provides "proof of concept that DAT supplements preoperative, intraoperative, and postoperative analysis of eloquent cortex in areas in close proximity to or within gliomas," the researchers write.

Static killers?

Scheme of the inhibition of NK cells by phosphorylation of STAT1-Serin 727 mediated by CDK8.Mammals contain cells whose primary function is to kill other cells in the body. The so-called Natural Killer (NK) cells are highly important in defending our bodies against viruses or even cancer. Scientists at the University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna (Vetmeduni Vienna) provide evidence that NK cell activity can be influenced byphosphorylating a protein (STAT1) in NK cells. The results, which could be of immediate therapeutic relevance, are published in the journal Cell Reports.Since its discovery in the early 1990s, the protein STAT1 (Signal Transducer and Activator of Transcription 1) has been found to be central in passing signals across immune cells, ensuring that our bodies react quickly and appropriately to threats from viruses or other pathogens. Animals without STAT1 are also prone to develop cancer, suggesting that STAT1 is somehow involved in protection against malignant cells. The STAT1 protein is known to be phosphorylated on at least two positions: phosphorylation of a particular tyrosine (tyr-701) is required for the protein to enter the cell nucleus (where it exerts its effects), while subsequent phosphorylation of a serine residue alters the way it interacts with other proteins, thereby affecting its function.Natural Killer (NK) cells are among the first cells to respond to infections by viruses or to attack malignant cells when tumours develop. When they detect cells to be targeted, they produce a number of proteins, such as granzyme B and perforin, that enter infected cells and destroy them from within. Clearly, the lethal activity must be tightly controlled to prevent NK cells from running wild and destroying healthy cells or tissues. How is this done?Eva Maria Putz and colleagues at the Institute of Pharmacology and Toxicology of the University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna (Vetmeduni) have now investigated the importance of STAT1 phosphorylation in NK cells. The researchers found that when a particular serine residue (ser-727) in the STAT1 protein is mutated, NK cells produce far higher amounts of granzyme B and perforin and are far more effective at killing a wide range of tumour cells. Mice with the correspondingly mutated Stat1gene are far less likely to develop melanoma, leukaemia or metastasizing breast cancer. On the other hand, when the same serine residue is phosphorylated, the NK cells are less able to kill infected or cancerous cells.The Vetmeduni researchers have accumulated a body of evidence to suggest that the cyclin-dependent kinase CDK8 phosphorylates STAT1 on serine 727. Surprisingly, this phosphorylation does not require prior phosphorylation of the activating tyrosine residue, at least in NK cells. Instead, it seems to represent a way in which the lethal activity of the NK cells is kept in check. Putz is keen to note the potential significance of the finding. As she says, “If we can stop CDK8 from inactivating STAT1 in NK cells, we could stimulate tumour surveillance and thus possibly have a new handle on treating cancer, harnessing the body’s own weapons against malignant cells.”
 Source:Cell Reports

Stem Cells Can be Isolated from Umbilical Cord Blood By New Recombinant Antibody

 Stem Cells Can be Isolated from Umbilical Cord Blood By New Recombinant AntibodyA new recombinant antibody can detect and isolate mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs). MSCs are a nonembryonic source of stem cells with promising applications in tissue engineering, blood stem cell transplantation, and treatments for immune-mediated disorders. The antibody recognizes an i blood group antigen present on MSCs in umbilical cord blood, as described in a study published in BioResearch Open Access, a peer-reviewed journal from Mary Ann Liebert, Inc. The article is available free on the BioResearch Open Access website
Tia Hirvonen and coauthors from the Finnish Red Cross Blood Service, Glykos Finland Ltd., and Biova Ltd. (Helsinki), and VTT Technical Research Center of Finland (Espoo), identified a blood donor with high levels of antibody to the i blood group antigen. No antibodies recognizing this antigen are commercially available at present. 

In the article "Production of a Recombinant Antibody Specific for i Blood Group Antigen, a Mesenchymal Stem Cell Marker," the authors explain that the i antigen can serve as a marker to detect and isolate MSCs in umbilical cord blood (UCB). They describe the use of antibody phage display technology to produce a recombinant anti-i antibody that recognizes i antigen on the surface of UCB-MSCs as well as on red blood cells. "The authors have used antibody phage display technology to generate an anti-i antibody," says BioResearch Open Access Editor Jane Taylor, PhD, MRC Centre for Regenerative Medicine, University of Edinburgh, Scotland. "The advantage of this technique is that antibodies against poorly immunogenic molecules can be generated, as an immunization strategy is not required. The availability of an anti-i antibody has the potential to improve the isolation efficiency of MSCs from umbilical cord blood samples.
Source:BioResearch Open Access


Thursday, 5 September 2013

Programmed cell death activates latent herpesviruses

Researchers have found that apoptosis, a natural process of programmed cell death, can reactivate latent herpesviruses in the dying cell. The results of their research, which could have broad clinical significance since many cancer chemotherapies cause apoptosis, was published ahead of print in the Journal of Virology.
Human herpesviruses (HHV) are linked to a range of childhood and adult diseases, including chickenpox, mononucleosis, cold sores, and genital sores, and are of a particular concern for patients who are immunosuppressed due cancer or AIDS. Some HHV types are so common they are nearly universal in humans. A key feature of these viruses is their ability to remain latent for long periods of time, and then reactivate after the latent phase. Previously, reactivation was thought to be primarily due to waning immunity, immunosuppression, or exposure to certain inducing agents.
This study began when principal investigator Steven Zeichner of Children's National Medical Center and George Washington University in Washington, DC, followed up earlier findings that high concentrations of the antibiotic doxycycline can induce apoptosis, and can also activate replication by the Kaposi's Sarcoma-associated Herpesvirus (KSHV), and a study by his former mentor, Bernard Roizman of the University of Chicago, which showed that apoptosis also triggers replication of herpes simplex virus-1, which causes cold sores in the mouth.
"We decided to test… several additional human herpesviruses that cause notable diseases and which have good latent infection cell line models, including human herpesviruses (HHV)-6A, =6B, and -7, and Epstein-Bar virus (EBV)," says Zeichner. That all of these herpesviruses were activated by apoptosis suggested that this mechanism might apply to all herpesviruses.
The clinical implications could be staggering. Some important cytotoxic cancer chemotherapeutic drugs, including doxorubicin, vincristine, and prednisone act in part by inducing apoptosis, according to the study. Additionally, treatment with glucocorticoids has been known to worsen Kaposi's Sarcoma. The investigators also note that herpesvirus activation has been associated with poor outcomes following bone marrow transplantation.
"Activation of herpesviruses in these states and disorders has previously been variably attributed to general immune suppression, suppression of specific arms of the immune system, and increased concentrations of inflammatory and activating cytokines," write the researchers in the article. "If this activation occurs in potentially damaging ways, then perhaps patients at risk for herpesvirus activation should be treated with antiviral medications in addition to antineoplastic cytotoxic chemotherapy.
Almost all humans are infected with HHV-6, and many are infected with the other aforementioned herpesviruses, as well as cytomegalovirus, oral and genital herpes, and Varicella zoster, the virus that causes chicken pox and shingles.

News video:Social Media in Medicine

Indian Food Standards Turning More Healthy With Less Oil and Better Presentation

Indian food served in five star and fine dining restaurants is getting modern in line with the times without compromising on its taste or composition compared to the practices eight to ten years ago, a senior chef here says.
"The gravies are now smooth and food is light on the stomach. People want flavour but not oil-rich, heavily spiced food. 
There is also more attention being paid on the dish presentation, which was not so earlier," Hushmoin K Patel, executive chef at The Raintree Hotels, Anna Salai told IANS. He added Indian dishes are no longer 'coarse', as he offered the tasty lemongrass rasam, a new addition in the revamped menu card of the hotel's South Indian cuisine restaurant Madras. 
Seemingly a simple dish - made with a mixture of tamarind water, steamed lentils, tomatoes, chilli and pepper powders, coriander and curry leaves, getting the rasam right in South India is the one test that everybody -from the newly -wed girls to wedding caterers and hotel chefs - in Tamil Nadu have to pass to be accepted as one having culinary skills. 
While it is termed as soup, normally at South Indian homes rasam rice (steamed rice mixed with rasam) figuring in the middle, occupies an important part in the three course meal of sambar rice, rasam rice and curd rice. 
Normally at homes the coriander roots are cut and thrown out. The roots can be used after cleaning in the making of making rasam or other items. The flavour from the coriander root is far greater than its leaves," Patel said. 
Speaking of the new menu card he said that nearly 50 percent of the dishes listed in it are different under various cuisines. 
"While including the new dishes we do look at competition menu card so that ours should stand out differently. However some dishes are common and cannot be omitted. An item is taken out based on customer feedback and its sales performance," Patel said. 
According to him the new dishes are first tested for their taste amongst the staff, then included in the buffet and then they find their place in the restaurant. 
"Once a dish goes out of the menu card it is not brought back without an innovation," Patel remarked. 
By this time the vegetarian starters from `Mami's Special Plate' comprising of masala kuzhi paniyaram and banana dosa started arriving on the table. 
It was interesting to note that Patel and junior sous chef J.Prabhakaran, both young bachelors, entered the profession by choice and not through default. 
"I liked cooking at home and wanted to become a chef. My father agreed with me but asked me to work for three months in a hotel kitchen so that I know what it actually means being a chef," recalled Patel. 
On the other hand Prabhakaran hailing from the small temple town Kachipuram, wanted to go abroad and saw the kitchen route as the easiest one after his education. 
"I did not have the money to join a private catering technology institute immediately after my plus two course. In order to enter the government catering institute here I had to improve upon my plus two marks by giving the exams all over again. 
Finally I entered my dream college," Prabhakaran told IANS. 
After passing out and working in a star hotel here Prabhakaran went to Malaysia to work in a restaurant. 
"The pay there was not great, I came back rich with enough experience to run a restaurant independently," he added. 
Digging into the items on the plate while digging out information about them, is always a `fulfilling' experience. 
As if adding spice to the chat, the taster's portions of Raintree Royallu Vepudu (masala prawns) Nandu Puttu (crab meat tossed with coconut and spices) and Telangana Kodi Roast (deep fired chicken with masala) started arriving on the table. 
The spicy prawns and chicken slipped down the throat leaving a hot trail on the tongue and mouth, craving for more. 
On the other hand the Nandu Puttu while soothing the hyper-active taste buds with its gentle meat and coconut taste activated a different set of taste buds. 
It was time for the main course and Patel offered appam (pancake), pesarattu (similar to dosa but made with green gram batter) and malabari parotta. 
The appam, pesarattu and malabari parotta tasted great with Raintree Pomfret Curry (pomfret darnes cooked in spices and masala) and Saagu (mixed vegetables cooked in coconut gravy flavoured with green chilli and cinnamon). 
One can also go for the spicy Andhra chicken pulao and vegetable brinji rice. 
For those having sweet tooth, the badam halwa and elaneer payasam (tender coconut cooked with coconut water and coconut milk) should not be missed. 
According to restaurant manager R.Prithviraj, a meal for two would cost around Rs.1,500 - Rs.2,000. The Madras restaurant is open for lunch (12.30 p.m to 3.p.m) and dinner (7.30 p.m. - 11.30 p.m). 

Mother-of-two Set to Have Breasts Reconstructed Using 'Pig Skin'

Kelly Cruse with deadly BRCA gene has opted to have both her breasts removed and then reconstructed using pig skin.
Kelly Cruse, who has seen her great grandmother, mother and cousin all suffer the disease, will have a double mastectomy, after which surgeons will immediately reconstruct her breasts by inserting a pig skin graft, reported. 
The 32-year-old has chosen the procedure, called Strattice Tissue Matrix, which means she will have just one operation in her life. 
According to doctors, the results are better as they will not need to take tissue from another part of her body and the graft will also leave her breasts feeling more flexible and robust. 
The graft, which is stripped of all pig cells so the body does not reject it, works like an internal bra, into the bust to hold the implants in place.


Spread of HIV Could Be Stopped By Synthetic Polymer: Study

The researchers created the large molecule with several sugar molecules, known as glycopolymers. By using different sugars attached to the macromolecule in solution, the scientists were able to investigate which sugar molecules were the most effective in inhibiting the potential binding of the virus. 
They then measured how the designed macromolecules compete with the virus to bind to the dendritic cells of the immune system at different concentrations. 
"These are preliminary but encouraging results for potentially preventing the spread of the HIV by sexual contact," said Dr Remzi Becer from Queen Mary's School of Engineering and Materials Science. 
"We've shown that our synthetic molecule binds to the immune cell, which in turn blocks the virus from attaching and entering. The precisely designed macromolecules could be an ingredient of a condom cream or vaginal gel to act as a physical barrier from allowing the virus into the body." 
Dr Becer added: "While this isn't a cure for HIV, it is a novel approach that could dramatically slow down the spread of HIV by sexual contact, and a model that could be replicated to treat other sexually transmitted diseases."

Source:Queen Mary University of London.

ICMR to set up five nodal centres to tackle the challenge of microbial resistance

In order to implement surveillance programme for tackling the challenge of anti-microbial resistance, the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) will soon set up five nodal centres which will become operational by January 2014. The funding would be to the tune of Rs.10 crore initially.
The nodal centres will work on antibiotic resistance and its mechanisation for developing a policy to minimise microbial resistance. The five centres will be set up at All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), New Delhi, Christian Medical College (CMC), Vellore, Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER), Chandigarh (two centres) and Jawaharlal Institute of Postgraduate Medical Education & Research (JIPMER), Puducherry.
According to Dr Arunaloke Chakrabarti, professor and head, Medical Microbiology, Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER), Chandigarh, "The centres would determine the susceptibility of various organisms like gram negative bacteria, gram positive bacteria, fungus etc and send the studies to ICMR for formulating steps towards proper use of antibiotics for better therapeutic outcomes."
High rates of resistance from various micro-organisms is a concern area which needs to be addressed as there are 3500 micro-organisms which pose disease burden globally.
Said Dr Rajeev Soman, senior consultant, P D Hinduja National Hospital, Mumbai, "Antibiotic resistance is a contentious issue in both individual patients and community medicine practice. There is a need for proper treatment to be done with the highest efficacy, least toxicity and least disruption to microbiological ecology. This can be made possible by a focused approach towards treatment through a proper antibiotic regimen."
Echoing similar views, Dr O C Abraham, professor, Department of Medicine and Infectious Diseases, Christian Medical College (CMC), Vellore said, "There is a need for formal training and good basic diagnostic microbiology labs in the country to know bacterial pathogens and their susceptibility to address infectious diseases and curb microbial resistance."
A roadmap to tackle the challenge of anti-microbial resistance - a joint meeting of medical societies in India was organised at Chennai on August 24, 2012. This was the first ever meeting of medical societies in India on issue of tackling anti-biotic resistance and to formulate a road map to tackle the global challenge of anti-microbial resistance from the Indian perspective.
The Chennai Declaration named after the city where the meeting took place was submitted to all stakeholders and to the Indian government. The Indian Ministry of Health has studied the document and is in the process of formulating a national antibiotic policy incorporating the Declaration's recommendations. 

Teenage School Fights Retard IQ

Getting a punch or two in adolescence not only lowers one's self esteem but also the mental IQ as claimed by recent researches. IQ or intelligence quotient is derived from several standardization tests formulated to assess intelligence level of an individual.oseph A. Schwartz, a doctoral student carried out the study with Professor Kevin Beaver in Florida State University's College of Criminology and Criminal Justice. 
The scientists said that a single fight among teen girls can retard their IQ equivalent to missing a year at school and in teen boys two fights can cause loss of IQ in a similar way. A decrease in IQ is related to low professional and academic performances and decreased life. 
The researchers from Florida State University noted that the explanation was quite vicious as it compared retarded IQ with poor work performance, behavioral problems, mental disorders and longevity
The researchers assessed the data obtained from 20,000 center and followed students into their adulthood. The boys had high ratio of fight-related injuries as compared to girls. 
Every fight-associated injury caused to a damage of 1.62 IQ in boys and 3.02 IQ points in girls. 
According to experts a decline of 2 to 4 IQ points resulted in damage equivalent to one school year. 
The researchers advocated their commentary for highlighting the importance of stairs to invalidate damage sustained by teenagers by fighting bullying or fighting. The teen years are vital years for growth of mind and body. 
Joseph Schwartz, the co-author and a doctoral tyro in a College of Criminology and Criminal Justice, said in a news release, "We tend to focus on factors that may result in increases in intelligence over time, but examining the factors that result in decreases may be just as important." 
He further added, "The first step in correcting a problem is understanding its underlying causes. By knowing that fighting-related injuries result in a significant decrease in intelligence, we can begin to develop programs and protocols aimed at effective intervention." 
Joseph A. Schwartz stated, "It's no surprise that being severely physically injured results in negative repercussions, but the extent to which such injuries affect intelligence was quite surprising." 
According to Professor Kevin Beaver, the communities and educational institutions should develop strategies and policies to minimize injuries and trauma sustained by teenagers during their crucial developing years through bullying or fighting. 
It can be finally said that teenage injuries should be dealt with poignantly as the entire life of the child can be affected by it.

Source: College of Criminology and Criminal Justice press release


Study Reveals That Women Tend To Be More Clumsy Than Men

 Study Reveals That Women Tend To Be More Clumsy Than MenA new study has revealed that although females are considered to be the gentler sex, a majority of women have admitted that they are clumsier than men.The research conducted by Brighton and Sussex Medical School found that four in ten females described themselves as butterfingers compared with just one in four men, reported. It was found that spilling food or drink was the most common mishap, followed by bumping into someone. 
The study suggested that young people aged 18 to 24 are four times as likely to feel nervous around the opposite sex leading to clumsiness compared with people over 55.



Eating Mushrooms can Increase Vitamin D Level, Says Scientist

Three or four button mushrooms are sufficient to make vitamin D for the average person's estimated daily needs, says Australian scientist.Professor Rebecca Mason, head of physiology at Sydney Medical School and past president of the ANZ Bone and Mineral Society has found that like humans, button mushrooms also need exposure to sunlight for the photochemical manufacturing to kick into action, reported. 
Mason said that button mushrooms need two hours unwrapped on a plate in the midday summer sun and a bit longer in winter to get the vitamin D boost, and placing them a couple of extra hours in the shade will allow time for the full chemical reaction. 
Mason said that eating three or four button mushrooms every day is enough for active people, while people who are housebound could up their dose of button mushrooms to increase their levels of vitamin D. 


Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Central Drug Authority to centralise licensing in 17 critical categories

The proposed Central Drug Authority (CDA), though with diluted powers as compared to the original proposal and recommendations, will centralise the licensing in respect of 17 categories of very critical drugs, as per the Drugs and Cosmetics (amendment) Bill, 2013 recently introduced in Parliament.
The categories of drugs which the central licensing authority is empowered to issue licenses will be sera, solutions serum proteins intended for injection vaccines; and includes DNA vaccines and vaccines containing living genetically engineered organisms, toxins, antigens and anti-toxins, antibiotics (betalactums and cephalosporins), parenteral preparations meant for parenteral administration, and hormones and preparations containing hormones among the 17 categories.
The other drugs included in the list are r-DNA derived drugs, RNA interference based products, monoclonal anti-bodies, cellular products and stem cells, gene therapeutic products, xenografts, cytotoxic substances (anti-Cancer drugs), blood products and modified living organisms, as per the bill.
The powers of the CDA, basically going to be renaming of the Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO), will include specification by regulations, the guidelines, norms, structures and requirements for effective functioning of the Central Licensing Authority and the State Licensing Authorities. It will assess periodically the functioning of the Central Licensing Authority and the State Licensing Authorities.
“The Drugs Controller General of India shall act as the Central Licensing Authority and shall have powers to–– (a) issue, renew, suspend or cancel licenses or certificates or permission, as the case may be, for import, export or manufacture of drugs, cosmetics or medical devices or permission for conducting clinical trials; (b) recall or direct to recall any drug, cosmetic or medical device; (c) collect the fees or charges for issue or renewal of licenses, certificates, approvals and permissions issued by the Central Licensing Authority under this Act,” the bill said.
The CDA will be headed by the Secretary of Health and Family Welfare and will have DCGI as the member secretary. The authority will have Ayush secretary, secretary of the Department of AIDS Control, Commerce Secretary, Secretary of the Health Research Department, Secretary of the DBT, DGHS, Joint Secretary from the Legislative Department, and Additional secretary in charge of drugs quality control division in the Health Ministry as ex officio members. Four experts having such qualifications and experience and four State Licensing Authorities  will also be the members of the CDA.


Study finds fungal infections can trigger and exacerbate asthma

Researchers at Boston Children's Hospital reports that a common fungal infection can trigger asthma and make it much worse by way of a route not targeted by existing asthma drugs. Their findings were published on Nature Medicine which had implications for some patients with severe asthma who may be chronically exposed to fungi and can become highly sensitized.
The findings from this mouse study explain why existing asthma drugs don't work well in fungal-associated asthma. "As we understand the different pathways to asthma, we can develop better therapies," says senior investigator Dale Umetsu, MD, PhD, of Boston Children's Division of Immunology and also a professor at Harvard Medical School. "Most existing therapies are good for allergic asthma, but they're not effective in many patients, whose asthma may involve non-classical pathways."
When Umetsu and colleagues exposed the mice to the fungus Aspergillus fumigatus, a mold common in the indoor and outdoor environment, they developed airway hyperreactivity, the cardinal feature of asthma, within just a few days. Since allergic responses in mice typically take 10 to 14 days to develop, this finding suggested that the fungus triggers an immediate, innate immune response.
Traditional asthma-control drugs, such as inhaled corticosteroids, act on pathways involving Th2 cells, a type of T cell in the adaptive immune system that is important in allergy. However, the new study shows, in mice and in human cell cultures, that Aspergillus directly activates a recently discovered group of T cells, known as natural killer T cells (NKT cells), via a lipid molecule on its surface, asperamide B. In live mice, asperamide B alone was enough to induce airway hyperreactivity.
Umetsu and colleagues first showed in 2006 that NKT cells can trigger asthma in people in the absence of Th2 cells. The cells have been shown to be activated by various bacteria, but this is the first demonstration of their activation by a fungus.
Although Aspergillus and NKT cells initiate asthma through non-allergic means, patients can become sensitized to the fungus and develop chronic allergic reactions that make their respiratory disease more severe. Previous studies indicate that 28 per cent of patients with asthma and 45 per cent of patients with severe asthma become sensitized to Aspergillus.
Umetsu's investigations support the growing idea that asthma is a collection of different disease processes that all cause airways to become twitchy and constricted. In 2011, for example, his lab showed that influenza infection—which often requires asthmatic children to be hospitalized—exacerbates asthma by activating not Th2 cells or NKT cells, but yet another group of immune cells called natural helper cells or innate lymphoid cells.
"We need to understand the specific asthma pathways present in each individual with asthma and when they are triggered, so we can give the right treatment at the right time," Umetsu says.
Some academic research groups are using antifungal agents in asthma, with some success, Umetsu notes. In the future, he would like to target NKT cells in patients with severe asthma if a successful targeting method could be found.
The paper's first author was Lee Albacker, PhD, of the Division of Immunology at Boston Children's Hospital, who worked on the study as a graduate student in the Immunology Programme at Harvard University. Coauthors were Vinod Chaudhary, PhD, and Paul Savage, PhD, of Brigham Young University, and Ya-Jen Chang, PhD, Hye Young Kim, PhD, Ya-Ting Chuang, PhD, Muriel Pichavant, PhD, Rosemarie DeKruyff, PhD, of Boston Children's Hospital.
The study was supported by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, the National Heart Lung Blood Institute (grants RO1AI026322, RC1HL099839 and R21AI083523) and by the Bunning Food Allergy Project.
Boston Children's Hospital is home to the world's largest research enterprise based at a pediatric medical center, where its discoveries have benefited both children and adults. Founded as a 20-bed hospital for children, Boston Children's today is a 395 bed comprehensive center for pediatric and adolescent health care grounded in the values of excellence in patient care and sensitivity to the complex needs and diversity of children and families.


Fruits and Vegetable Intake Associated With Irregular Breakfast Habits and Snacking

A study from the Nutrition Journal demonstrated how irregular breakfast and snacks could affect the total intake of fruits and vegetables in youngsters.As we all know, fruits and vegetables should constitute an essential part of our diet. They are the best sources of vitamins and minerals. Their fiber content keeps our digestive system healthy and protects us from illnesses. Growing children and adolescents should especially include these foods in their diet. Unfortunately, with the increasing and easy availability of fast foods and junk foods, these healthy foods are increasingly being avoided. In addition, the young population tends to skip meals and rely on snacks for their food intake. 
A study published in the Nutrition Journal evaluated if there is any associated between the total fruit and vegetable intake and intake of regular breakfast or snack consumption in young adolescents of the Tuscan population. 
Data was obtained based on questionnaires administered to 3291students aged 11, 13 and 15 years. These are often the years when parental influence over the child's dietary habits reduces and the youngsters tend to make their own choices. 
In the study, boys were found to eat less fruit as well as vegetables as compared to girls, though girls tended to skip breakfast more common. The irregular healthy eating habits appeared to increase with age in these youngsters. 
The researchers found that irregular breakfast habits were associated with low fruit and vegetable intake in girls. Snack consumption between meals was associated with a reduction in fruit intake, but did not affect the total vegetable intake. 
A more generalized conclusion from the results of the study would be that children with irregular eating habits would probably end up eating less healthy foods in terms of fruits and vegetables, and this should be watched out for in order to ensure that growth is not hampered in any way. 


Association between fruits and vegetables intake and frequency of breakfast and snacks consumption: a cross-sectional study; Giacomo et al; Nutrition Journal 2013. 


Is Life Without Insulin Possible?

Is Life Without Insulin Possible?Researchers have identified the underlying mechanisms of insulin secretion and diabetes management, proving that life without insulin is possible, and paving the way for new diabetes treatments.Several millions of people around the world suffer from insulin deficiencies. Insulin is a hormone, secreted by the beta cells in the pancreas, which plays a major role in the regulation of energy substrates such as glucose. This insufficiency, primarily caused by diabetes (types 1 and 2), has lethal consequences if it is not treated. As of now, only daily insulin injections allow patients to survive. This approach, however, brings on serious side effects. Thanks to their research which was published in the journal Cell Metabolism, the University of Geneva (UNIGE) scientists identified the underlying mechanisms, proving that life without insulin is possible, and paving the way for new diabetes treatments. 
While life without insulin was inconceivable, a group of researchers, led by Roberto Coppari, professor in the Department of Cell Physiology and Metabolism at UNIGE, has just demonstrated that insulin is not vital for survival. By eliminating this dogma, scientists are now considering alternatives to insulin treatment, which poses many risks to patients. An error in dosage may cause hypoglycemia, i.e., a decrease in the level of glucose in the blood, which can lead to a loss of consciousness. In addition, about 90% of patients over 55 who have been undergoing treatment for several years develop cardiovascular disease due to elevated levels of cholesterol brought on by the lipogenic properties of insulin. 

Leptin leads to an essential discovery 
Researchers from UNIGE's Faculty of Medicine conducted experiments on rodents devoid of insulin, to which they administered leptin, a hormone that regulates the body's fat reserves and appetite. Thanks to the leptin, all the subjects survived their insulin deficiency. Using leptin offers two advantages: it does not provoke hypoglycemia and it has a lipolytic effect. 'Through this discovery, the path to offering an alternative to insulin treatment is emerging. Now we need to understand the mechanisms through which leptin affects glucose level, regardless of insulin level,' explains Professor Coppari. 
The studies were able to verify whether the neurons involved in the mediation of leptin's anti-diabetic action in healthy mammals played a similar role in rodents suffering from an insulin deficiency. The results showed that this was not the case. In fact, to the scientists' surprise, GABAergic neurons located in the hypothalamus were identified as the main mediators of leptin's action on glucose level in the context of insulin deficiency. These neurons' influence on glucose had never been considered substantial before. 
Additionally, the researchers detected the peripheral tissues that are affected by leptin during insulin deficiency. They consist mainly of the liver, the soleus muscle, and brown adipose tissue, which could be directly targeted by future treatments. 
Through this discovery, scientists now know where to look for the answer to an insulin-free diabetes treatment. Understanding the functioning and effect of leptin on the body will enable scientists to identify the areas of the body that are involved, and ultimately the molecules that will form the basis of a new treatment. 

Source: UNIGE's Faculty of Medicine



Monday, 2 September 2013

Stomach bacteria switch off human immune defences to cause disease

Helicobacter pylori is a bacterium that establishes a life-long stomach infection in humans, which in some cases can lead to duodenal ulcers or stomach cancer. New research, presented at this week's Society for General Microbiology Autumn Conference, gives us a clearer understanding of how these bacteria can manipulate the human immune system to survive in the mucosal lining of the stomach.
Researchers from the University of Nottingham have shown that H. pylori is able to supress the body's normal production of 'human beta defensin 1' (hβD1), an antimicrobial factor present in the stomach lining that helps prevent bacterial infection. By collecting stomach tissue biopsies from 54 patients at the Queens Medical Centre, Nottingham, the team showed that patients infected with H. pylori had ten times less hβD1 than uninfected patients. Those with the lowest amount of hβD1 had the most bacteria present in their stomach lining.
The most damaging strains of H. pylori make a molecular syringe called the cagT4SS, through which bacterial products are injected into cells of the stomach lining. In vitro work using human gastric epithelial cell lines showed that this activates chemical pathways to suppress hβD1 production. These activated pathways are also involved in the stimulation of an inflammatory response, meaning that these H. pylori strains are able to survive and colonise more abundantly, while continuing to cause tissue damage over many decades. Previous research suggests that chronic inflammation of the stomach lining is strongly linked to gastric cancer.
It is estimated that half of the world's population have H. pylori in the mucosal lining of their stomach. For most people the infection is asymptomatic, although 1-2 per cent of those infected will develop gastric cancer. Survival rates for this disease remain low, as diagnosis is often very late, when the cancer is at an advanced stage.
Katie Cook, who is presenting this work says, "To identify people who are likely to suffer from stomach cancer we need to understand how H. pylori interacts with the cells of the stomach lining. Because our research is patient-focused we know that our findings are directly relevant.

"We hope to combine this work with that being carried out by our colleagues in order to develop a diagnostic test to predict the future risk of gastric cancer development."
Source:Society for General Microbiology Autumn Conference 2013

Study Says Pregnant Women Drinking Less

A recent study finds that pregnant women are consuming less alcohol. The study published in the Medical Journal of Australia drew on data from more than 2,700 women living in the most populous state of New South Wales and neighbouring Queensland over a five-year period."This study showed a steady and statistically significant decline in the proportion of women who reported drinking alcohol during pregnancy from 2007 to 2011," the article said. It found that 34.8 percent of pregnant women surveyed reported drinking 
in 2011 compared with 52.8 percent in 2007. 
The proportion of women who drank alcohol after the first trimester also dropped sharply -- from 42.2 percent to 25.8 percent -- while the group which drank in each stage of pregnancy nearly halved -- from 20.9 percent to 11 percent. 
But high-risk drinking (five or more standard drinks on any one occasion) did not change significantly over the five years, the "Griffith Study of Population Health: Environments for Health Living" revealed. 
"Despite the overall decrease in alcohol consumption after the first trimester of pregnancy from 2007 to 2011, no significant decrease was found for women older than 35 years, single parents, those in the lowest household income quintile, those with a trade or apprenticeship education or those who used recreational drugs," it said. 
"Also, there was no significant change in high-risk drinking patterns after the first trimester for any sociodemographic group over the five years." 
It found that low-level alcohol consumption (defined as between half a standard drink and two standard drinks on any occasion) was associated with older, more highly educated women, and those from higher-income households. 
"Low-level alcohol consumption after the first trimester increased with increasing age, education and income, and high-risk consumption after the first trimester was more common in single women and women who did not complete school," it said. 
The researchers said consuming alcohol during pregnancy may contribute to birth defects, growth and developmental abnormalities, and foetal mortality. 
Australia's National Health and Medical Research Council has since 2009 recommended that the safest option for pregnant women was zero alcohol consumption. 
Alcohol abuse is considered a serious problem in Australia, where about one in five people drink alcohol at a level that puts them at risk of harm or injury over their lifetime, according to the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre.

New Combo of Two Drugs may Help Treat HIV

Red Ribbon.svgA new delivery system for a combo of two FDA approved drugs to treat HIV has been successfully developed by a research team.The discovery, which allows for a combination of decitabine and gemcitabine to be delivered in pill form, marks a major step forward in patient feasibility for the drugs, which previously had been available solely via injection or intravenous therapy (IV). Steven Patterson, Ph.D., professor at the Center for Drug Design at the University of Minnesota, said that if a person has a condition that requires them to take a medication everyday, as many patients with HIV do, they wouldn't want to have to take that medication via daily injection. 
University of Minnesota researchers first announced decitabine and gemcitabine could potentially combine to treat HIV in research published in August 2010. 
The drug combination was shown to work by lethal mutagenesis that could obliterate HIV by causing the virus to mutate to a point where it was no longer infectious. For some patients, HIV's ability to quickly mutate and evolve can result in drug resistance. 
For patients who have developed resistance to currently available HIV treatments, the decitabine-gemcitabine drug combination could prove an effective alternative and secondary line of defense. 
In addition to a potentially effective treatment for humans with HIV, the combination also shows potential to treat cats with leukemia. 
Source:The study has been published online in the journal Antiviral Chemistry and Chemotherapy.



Imaging Technology Can Identify Thyroid Nodules That Could Cause Cancer

Illu thyroid parathyroid.jpgThyroid nodules as small as 2mm can be detected by new technologies such as ultrasound, CT and MRI scanning . Many of these small nodules are papillary thyroid cancers.In the US, cases have tripled in the past 30 years - from 3.6 per 100,000 in 1973 to 11.6 per 100,000 in 2009 - making it one of the fastest growing diagnoses. Yet the death rate from papillary thyroid cancer has remained stable. 
This expanding gap between incidence of thyroid cancer and deaths suggests that low risk cancers are being overdiagnosed and overtreated, argue Dr Juan Brito and colleagues at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota. 
This is exposing patients to unnecessary and harmful treatment that is inconsistent with their prognosis, they warn, and they say both the overdiagnosis and overtreatment of this form of cancer need to be fully recognised. 
The article is part of a series looking at the risks and harms of overdiagnosis in a range of common conditions. The series, together with the Preventing Overdiagnosis conference in September, are part of the BMJ's Too Much Medicine campaign to help tackle the threat to health and the waste of money caused by unnecessary care. 
The authors say that unnecessary thyroidectomy (the surgical removal of all or part of the thyroid gland) is costly and carries a risk of complications such as low calcium levels and nerve injury. In the US, the number of thyroidectomies for thyroid cancer has risen by 60% over the past 10 years at an estimated cost of $416m (£270m; €316m). 
Using radioactive iodine in patients with low risk thyroid cancer has also increased from one in 300 patients to two in five patients between 1973 and 2006, despite recommendations against using it, they add. 
They acknowledge that inferring overdiagnosis of thyroid cancer has limitations, but say that uncertainty about the benefits and harms of immediate treatment for low risk papillary thyroid cancer "should spur clinicians to engage patients in shared decision making … to ensure treatment is consistent with the research evidence and patient goals." 
They suggest a term that conveys favorable prognosis for low risk thyroid cancers (microPapillary Lesions of Indolent Course or microPLIC)) and makes it easier to give patients the choice of active surveillance over immediate and often intensive treatment. And they call for research to identify the appropriate care for these patients.


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