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

Search Engine

Saturday, 2 November 2013

New Software That Helps Blind Do Yoga Developed

 New Software That Helps Blind Do Yoga Developed 
A new software program developed by a team of computer scientists watches a user's movements and gives spoken feedback on what to change to accurately complete a yoga pose.The program, called Eyes-Free Yoga, uses Microsoft Kinect software to track body movements and offer auditory feedback in real time for six yoga poses, including Warrior I and II, Tree and Chair poses. 
Project lead Kyle Rector, a UW doctoral student in computer science and engineering wrote programming code that instructs the Kinect to read a user's body angles, then gives verbal feedback on how to adjust his or her arms, legs, neck or back to complete the pose. 
The result is an accessible yoga "exergame" - a video game used for exercise - that allows people without sight to interact verbally with a simulated yoga instructor. 
Rector and collaborators Julie Kientz, a University of Washington assistant professor in Human Centered Design and Engineering, and Cynthia Bennett, a research assistant in computer science and engineering, believe this can transform a typically visual activity into something that blind people can also enjoy. 
Each of the six poses has about 30 different commands for improvement based on a dozen rules deemed essential for each yoga position. Rector worked with a number of yoga instructors to put together the criteria for reaching the correct alignment in each pose. 
The Kinect first checks a person's core and suggests alignment changes, then moves to the head and neck area, and finally the arms and legs. It also gives positive feedback when a person is holding a pose correctly. 
The technology uses simple geometry and the law of cosines to calculate angles created during yoga.


Germany Allows Babies to be Categorised Under 'Neither Male Nor Female'

 Germany Allows Babies to be Categorised Under 'Neither Male Nor Female'Germany has become the first country in the world to allow babies born with the characteristics of both sexes to be registered as neither male nor female.Under the new legislation, the entry for gender can be left blank on birth certificates, effectively creating a category for indeterminate sex in the public register. 
But activists promoting the rights of so-called 'intersex' people said they hoped the creation of a third gender option would open the door to broader changes limiting genital surgery on newborns with both male and female characteristics.
"It's a first, important step in the right direction," Lucie Veith, an intersex person from the northern German city of Hamburg, told AFP.
But Veith said leaving the gender undefined on birth certificates was never the main lobbying point for her group, the German chapter of the Association of Intersexed People, or others in the intersex community.
"That we forbid cosmetic genital surgeries for newborns, that is our first demand," Veith said.
The German law is intended to remove pressure on parents to quickly make a decision about controversial sex assignment surgeries for newborns, but many advocates say it does not go far enough.
"The surgeries are likely to continue in Germany," said Silvan Agius, policy director at ILGA Europe, a lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex rights group.
"Parents can already refuse these surgeries," Agius added.
"You can already say, 'No, thank you very much, I don't want any surgery until my child can choose his or her gender.'"
Operations on intersex babies and infants in many European countries take place without adequate informed consent by the patients, according to a 2012 European Commission report on the topic.
The report also found that many adults born intersex are angry these surgeries were performed without their consent.
Experts estimate one in 1,500 to 2,000 births result in a baby of indeterminate gender or both male and female gender features.
The Council of Europe for the first time last month addressed the issue, in a Parliamentary Assembly resolution calling on member states to study the prevalence of "non-medically justified operations" that may harm children and take steps to "ensure that no-one is subjected to unnecessary medical or surgical treatment that is cosmetic rather than vital for health during infancy or childhood".
Agius and other advocates worry that the new German law creates a de facto third gender category legally, but does nothing to change a society that operates largely on a gender binary with facilities such as separate male and female public toilets.
"There could be many other laws that could follow it and make it implementable and good," Agius said.
"My point is that if it remains as is... then it's greatly deficient."



Wish You a Happy Deepawali: "Celebrate a Happy, Low Cholesterol and Pollution Free Diwali 2013"

India is a land of traditions, fun, fairs and festivals. Despite all the madness, poverty, hunger, corruption and violence currently prevailing in some parts of the country one can still find that ever elusive peace, tranquility and devotion in the innocent smiles of the ordinary people going about with their lives in every small town and village of this giant fabric woven together, that is India.Diwali is an occasion which brings India together, and is celebrated with great gusto across all strata of society - from the humble hut of the laborer to the opulent "Antillas" of industrialists.The sound of patakas or firecrackers announces the onset of this bright colorful festival. People tend to forget all their worries and pains and revel in cleaning and decorating their houses with flowers and beautiful lamps, catching up with family and old buddies, and preparing yummy, scrumptious, ghee infused snacks and desserts for near and dear ones and celebrate this high-spirited and "high-cholesterol" festival of lights. Children and grown-ups alike wait eagerly for this colorful and vibrant festival as it brings in a lot of fun and togetherness. To keep up with the excitement of joy and merriment on the onset of Diwali people tend to binge on a variety of delicacies that send calorie intake skyrocketing. In today's fast-paced generation with little or no time for exercise, this indulgence could send your basic health parameters closer or even into the irretrievable zone. However, with a little planning in consumption of food and some basic precautions, this festival of lights can be enjoyed to the hilt without compromising your health. 

Burn Calories and not Crackers this Diwali 
As the adage goes "A moment on the lips is a lifetime on the hips". Remember, the more we eat high calorie food the more the accumulation of resistant fat in our body. Sweets are too inviting to resist but just spare a thought before gorging on those calorie laden delicacies. Nibble at those sweets, let the taste linger in your mouth very much like a sommelier tasting wine rather than gulping down mouthfuls of laddoos and mysorepaks. You will realize that not only do you eat less but you also enjoy the taste more. The traditional Buddhist way of eating is to keep the first bite in your mouth for about ten seconds before chewing it slowly and steadily. This is supposed to satiate the taste buds which in turn douse the hunger pangs faster. 
Reveling in this celebratory mood is good but it also calls for wise eating. So by evolving a special "Diwali lifestyle" for the duration of the festivities you can have the cake and the icing too!!! Walk that extra mile or run on the treadmill for those extra ten minutes on the morning of a Diwali that anticipates a festive spread. Eat salads and fresh fruits in the morning hours on the day of Diwali, and succumb free of guilt to all those irresistible aromas coming out of your kitchen towards the evening hours. 
Try baking or roasting rather than frying food. The taste is almost similar but the benefits are manifold. Cut down on your sugar intake by switching over to natural sweeteners like honey or dates and skimmed low fat milk to make sweets. Children just cannot make out the difference in taste and you can let them indulge too without restricting their temptations. Detoxify yourselves by avoiding all those aerated frizzy drinks and by sipping natural home-made fruit juices, buttermilk or coconut water. Keep sipping in a lot of water so that you feel full and hence eat less. Try and buy eatables that are sugar free and serve them to your guests too. When visiting friends, take assorted dry fruits which are healthy and lower on calories, rather than ghee filled sweets to show that you really care for them. 

It's a Festival of Lights - Not Sounds and Harmful Chemicals 
As an educated society with an increased awareness of global warming, pollution and the involvement of young children in the making of crackers, people must give a second thought to bursting these non-biodegradable fireworks. Firecrackers contain harmful chemicals which lead to fireworks respiratory problems and skin infections. The decibel level in most Indian cities during Diwali could beat many warzones hands down!!! If you have to fire crackers, switch to noiseless crackers that give out less smoke. 
Use sparklers and fireworks which give out more light than sound. Remember the good people of Ayodhya did not have ear-splitting 'Laxmi bombs' to welcome Lord Rama!!! They illuminated their houses with Diyas or handmade festive lamps. Lighting up houses with scented candles, decorative diyas and eco-friendly earthen lamps can be a good and smart idea especially during these times of economic recession. If you are indeed keen on sending your money up in smoke, visit an orphanage instead, with your kids and gift them something special this Diwali!!!! The joy of giving and spreading light will fill you and your family with an inner peace that is more powerful than the sound of the "10000 Ladi". 

Enjoy a Safe Diwali 
No doubt Diwali adds more sparkle and radiance to people's lives but a little bit of carelessness and negligence can lead to serious consequences. That one "momentary lapse of reason" could end up messing this happy festival by causing grievous harm to self and those around. 
The custom of bursting crackers has become a significant part of Diwali celebrations. Fireworks can be fun if you use them properly. It is sad that during Diwali there is invariably an increase in the number of accidents. As a wise man once lamented "If only common sense were so common"!!!! By practicing simple rules one can have a safe and injury-free Diwali. 

Safety Tips While Using Firecrackers
 Take extra care while lighting your candles and diyas by placing them firmly on a table so that they don't topple and catch fire

 Don't wear loose, cumbersome and "highly inflammable" designer-wear clothes. Change into something more practical prior to the fireworks session. 

 Going barefoot while firing crackers is a bad idea. Wear comfortable footwear so you don't trip while running back and forth. 

 Always keep a fire extinguisher at home to avoid any unfortunate mishap. 

 Always accompany a child while bursting crackers

 In case of burn one should keep in mind to put the burnt area under running, cold water so that all the toxins get washed away. 

 Do not apply turmeric or ointments in case of burns. Visit the nearest doctor for treatment of burns, however mild. 

 Do clean-up after the fireworks session. Metallic wires, toxic chemicals and litter could injure kids and pets in the vicinity. 

As you light the Diyas and pray to Goddess Lakshmi this Diwali, may the light and warmth of those prayers fill your lives with peace and prosperity in these troubled times!!! Wish you a happy, low-cholesterol and pollution free Diwali!!! 


Scientists Explore Link Between Painkillers and Depression

 Scientists Explore Link Between Painkillers and Depression 
Long-term use of pain-reliving medications like opioid analgesics can lead to depression, find researchers. 
The study analyzed medical record data of about 50,000 veterans, who had no history of opioid use or depression, and were subsequently prescribed opioid pain killers.According to the findings, patients who started and remained on opioids for 180 days or longer were at a 53 percent increased risk of developing a new episode of depression, and those using opioids for 90-180 days were at a 25 percent increased risk compared to patients who never took opioids for longer than 1-89 days. 

Jeffrey Scherrer, associate professor at Saint Louis University and principle investigator of the study, said that the findings suggest that the longer one is exposed to opioid analgesics, the greater is their risk of developing depression. 
The study also suggests that the higher the dose of opioid analgesics, the greater the risk of depression. 
The study is published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine.


New Alternative to Liver Biopsy may Help Detect Cirrhosis

A new non-invasive alternative to liver biopsy has proved to be very reliable for the diagnosis of liver cirrhosis, according to a new study.The results of the study are good news for chronic hepatitis B and C sufferers who now often undergo repeated and potentially painful liver biopsies as part of their disease management.The focus of the research was the French-made FibroScan, which was being used in more than 70 countries worldwide when it received approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in April.
The study is being presented at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases being held in Washington, DC, Nov. 1-5.In liver biopsy, a sample of tissue is most often collected using a needle inserted through the skin and underlying tissue and into the liver. It is widely regarded as safe, but because it's invasive, carries risks ranging from pain and bleeding, to rare instances of death.
FibroScan replaces liver biopsies with a quick and painless procedure similar to the familiar ultrasound tests long used to diagnose and track pregnancy, as well as internal disease.It's based on a technology called transient elastography, which measures liver "stiffness" to assess the degree of fibrosis - scarring - and guide ongoing treatment. The scan is performed as an outpatient procedure, taking only about 15 minutes, and providing immediate results on the degree of liver fibrosis. 
To confirm the accuracy of FibroScan - already established by research studies in Europe and Asia - the new U.S. research focused on 814 patients with chronic type B and C viral hepatitis.Each was examined using FibroScan followed by liver biopsy, and the results were compared according to several criteria.
"What we found," said Stuart C. Gordon, M.D., director of the Hepatology section at Henry Ford, who participated in the study, "confirms that FibroScan very accurately assesses for the presence of cirrhosis in patients with both types of chronic viral hepatitis."The study also noted that the device "exhibits excellent reproducibility," which makes it a "reasonable alternative" to liver biopsy. 

Source: American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases 



Wednesday, 30 October 2013

HIV-like virus suppressed in monkey experiment

Doctors may one day be able to control a patient's HIV infection in a new way: injecting swarms of germ-fighting antibodies, two new studies suggest.In monkeys, that strategy sharply reduced blood levels of a cousin of HIV. The results also gave tantalizing hints that someday the tactic might help destroy the AIDS virus in its hiding places in the body, something current drugs cannot do.The study results "could revolutionize efforts to cure HIV" if the approach is found to work in people, said a commentary published Wednesday by the journal Nature along with the monkey studies.Antibodies are proteins in the blood that grab onto specific germs and mark them for elimination. People infected with HIV naturally make antibodies to fight the AIDS virus, but they are generally ineffective. The two new studies used lab-made versions of rare antibodies with unusual potency against HIV.One study of rhesus monkeys showed a profound effect from a single injection of antibodies, said lead author Dr. Dan Barouch of Harvard and the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston.The 18 animals had been infected with SHIV, a monkey version of HIV. In 13 animals, blood levels of SHIV became undetectable by standard tests within a week of the treatment. After the antibodies petered out, the virus came back. That happened one to three months after treatment.
The two other monkeys started with the highest blood levels of SHIV. Treatment lowered those levels but not to the point where they were undetectable.The second study in Nature, from the National Institutes of Health, showed encouraging results in a smaller group of monkeys.In people, standard drugs routinely tamp down HIV to undetectable levels in the blood. But the antibody approach may someday help doctors attack virus that's hiding in infected cells, beyond the reach of today's drugs, said the Nature commentary by Dr. Steven Deeks of the University of California, San Francisco, and Dr. Louis Picker of the Oregon Health & Science University in Beaverton.In theory, antibodies might activate the body's immune system to kill those infected cells, they wrote. Barouch's results hinted at such an effect, they noted. Virus levels dropped faster in the monkeys than they do when people get standard HIV drugs, and when the monkey virus returned, it generally didn't reach its pre-treatment levels. Barouch also found virus levels reduced in cells and tissues after treatment.The findings of the two studies are "provocative" about prospects for attacking HIV's hiding places, Deeks said in a telephone interview."These studies raised more questions than they answered," he said. "But that's how science advances."

Centre to establish Biological Research Institute to set standards for analytical tools

Government is seriously considering setting up of a Biological Research Institute (BRI) to develop methodologies and set standards for optimal and efficient use of sophisticated equipments deployed by various research and medical organisations, said Dr B Suresh, President, Pharmacy Council of India.
Setting standards for analytical tools and methodologies to assess quality of drugs is one of the challenges in producing quality medicines. The establishment of the BRI will solve this kind of issues, he added.
The PCI president was inaugurating the Indo-US Flow Cytometry Workshop at Sri Ramachandra University in Chennai.
Dr Suresh said the Indian Pharmacopoeia Commission is looking at the latest technologies, equipments and tools available and in use to ensure quality of medicines.  Among tools, flow cytometry will be of great use in studying cell particles.
According to Dr Avatar Krishan of Miami University, USA, who was one of the speakers, said flow cytometry is increasingly being deployed worldwide in clinical diagnosis resulting in improved patient care.  With the help of flow cytometry tumour cells in cavity fluids in lung, breast, ovarian and other cancer cases can be detected and confirmed in fifteen minutes.
Dr H Krishnamurthy, senior officer at the National Centre for Biological Sciences opined that there was need to train personnel in the use of latest models of cytometry equipments used in India. At present flow cytometry based experiments are widely used in a spectrum of research activities including basic cell biology, cell cycle analysis, drug discovery, interrogation of mechanism of cell death, stem cell enumeration and isolation, side population etc. Flow Cytometry is also in vogue for diagnosis of leukemia, he added.
Vice Chancellor of Sri Ramachandra University, Dr JSN Murthy, Dean of Faculties Dr KV Somasundaram, and Dr Ganesh Venkatraman, Organising Secretary of the workshop and over 70 participants from India and abroad participated in the programme.

Having Sex Just as Effective as Gyming: Study

 Having Sex Just as Effective as Gyming: StudyHaving sex is similar to exercising, as it burns an average of 4.2 calories a minute in men and 3.1 calories a minute in women, finds 

For the study, sex researchers William Masters and Virginia Johnson observed 21 young heterosexual couples having sex and discovered that heart rates reached as high as 180 beats per minute, Live Science reported.
Participants in the study were asked to don an armband, called SenseWear, that would help researchers keep an eye on their energy expenditures while they had sex.
Before being sent home to have sex at least four times in a month, each person was required to do a 30-minute moderate-intensity workout on the treadmill to provide a baseline measure of their calorie expenditure during exertion.
The findings showed that men, on average, spent 101 calories while having sex, as compared to 276 calories on the treadmill.
Also, women spent an average of 69 calories during a sex session, compared to an average of 213 calories on the treadmill.
According to researchers, the results of the study suggest that sexual activity may potentially be considered, at times, as a significant exercise.
The study was published online in the journal PLOS ONE.


Negative Consequences of Noise on Overall Health

 Negative Consequences of Noise on Overall HealthThe combined toll of recreational, environmental and occupational noise exposure poses a serious public health threat going far beyond hearing damage.This is according to an international team of researchers writing in The Lancet. The review team, including a Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania expert, examined the latest research on noise's impact on an array of health indicators -- hearing loss, cardiovascular disease, cognitive performance and mental health, and sleep disturbance -- in order to inform the medical community and lay public about the burden of both auditory and non-auditory effects of noise. 
"In our 24/7 society, noise is pervasive and the availability of quiet places is decreasing. We need to better understand how this constant exposure to noise is impacting our overall health," said Mathias Basner, MD, PhD, MSc, assistant professor of Sleep and Chronobiology, Department of Psychiatry at Penn, and lead author of the new review. "From earbuds blasting music during subway commutes to the constant drone of traffic heard by those who live or work near congested highways to the beeping of monitors that makes up the soundtrack heard by hospital patients and staff, what we hear all day impacts many parts of our bodies." Occupational noise and its negative impact on hearing has been the most frequently studied type of noise exposure. But in recent years, research has broadened to focus on social noise, such as noise heard in bars or through personal music players, and environmental noise from road, rail, and air traffic. "Our understanding of how different types of noise impact aspects of health other than hearing loss, including sleep, cardiovascular function, community annoyance, and even a patient's ability to heal in a hospital environment, is continuously increasing," Basner said. 
With both noise-related hearing issues (auditory) and broader deleterious effects of noise on physical and mental wellbeing (non-auditory) in mind, the research team - consisting of members from the International Commission on Biological Effects of Noise (ICBEN), a global panel of experts in various areas of noise and public health - convened to summarize current findings related to noise exposure and overall health. The team concentrated on studies published during the past five years in the fields of otolaryngology, cardiovascular medicine, sleep medicine, psychology, and hospital medicine to best determine the state of current evidence of noise's impact on health. 
In general, the medical community knows that high noise levels can cause hearing loss, as noise-induced hearing loss is the most common occupational disease in the United States. "Approximately 22 million U.S. workers are exposed to hazardous noise levels at work, and, annually, an estimated $242 million is spent on compensation for hearing loss disability," said Basner. Preventive and therapeutic compounds to treat noise-related hearing loss are being developed and will probably be available within the next 10 years, but the authors stress that additional educational efforts need to be planned in order to prevent the aging population from unnecessary hearing loss. 
Relating to non-auditory effects, the authors conclude that because of the ubiquitous exposure of environmental and social noise, its public health effect is easily underestimated. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), more than one million disability adjusted life years are lost in western European member states alone due to environmental noise exposure, most of these caused by sleep disturbance and community annoyance. 
Accordingly, the authors found evidence that long-term exposure to environmental noise affects the cardiovascular system, with connections to hypertension, ischemic heart diseases, and stroke. In addition, numerous studies pointed to associations between environmental noise exposure and sleep disturbance, children's cognition, and negative effects in hospitals for both patients and staff. 
The authors note that for auditory effects, there is still debate about what noise levels are considered safe, and that prospective studies with adequate control groups could help shed additional light on the discussion. For the non-auditory effects, Basner says large-scale prospective epidemiological studies, dedicated primarily to the health effects of noise, are needed to strengthen the link between acute and long-term environmental and social noise exposure and the various health outcomes, especially cardiovascular disease. 
The authors hope that their review will increase awareness about the manifold negative health consequences of noise, and stimulate educational campaigns for children and adults that will promote both noise-avoiding and noise reducing behaviors, and thus, mitigate negative health consequences. "Efforts to reduce noise exposure will eventually be rewarded by lower amounts of annoyance, improved learning environments for children, improved sleep, lower incidence of cardiovascular disease, and, in the case of noise exposure in hospitals, improved patient outcomes and shorter hospital stays," they conclude. 
Basner and colleagues at Penn have just been awarded federal funding through the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to study the impact of aircraft noise on sleep and work on developing models that predict sleep disruption for different aircraft noise levels and profiles.


Study Suggests Pregnant Women With Hepatitis C may Pass Heartier Viral Strain to Newborn

 Study Suggests Pregnant Women With Hepatitis C may Pass Heartier Viral Strain to NewbornA new study has found that infants who get hepatitis C from their mothers during childbirth may inherit a viral strain that replicates more quickly than strains found in non-pregnant hosts. The study was published on Oct. 27 in Nature Medicine. The findings, from a team in The Research Institute at Nationwide Children's Hospital, are the first to describe how a virus that has infected 180 million people worldwide takes advantage of immune changes during pregnancy.About 1 percent of all pregnant women worldwide have hepatitis C, caused by a highly adaptable virus known as HCV that infects liver cells. In 3 to 5 percent of these pregnancies, the virus is passed to the newborns, accounting for the majority of new childhood HCV infections. Between 15 and 45 percent of people infected with HCV are able to mount an immune response sufficient to eradicate the virus. But in most cases, the virus eludes immunity, leading to a chronic infection that increases the risk of liver failure or liver cancer. 
As part of a larger study of HCV in pregnant women and infants, researchers at Nationwide Children's followed two women with hepatitis C over a five-year period. Both women had two children during this time, and researchers were able to track the virus before, during and after pregnancy. Their analysis revealed surprising changes in HCV genomes that not only allowed the virus to thrive, but also ensured that the strain passed on by one of the women during childbirth was particularly good at replication, says Jonathan R. Honegger, MD, an infectious disease specialist and principal investigator in the Center for Vaccines and Immunity at Nationwide Children's. 
"We found that better replicating versions of the virus emerged during pregnancy, and these 'fit' viruses were passed to the babies." Dr. Honegger says. "The findings actually provide unique insight into the impact of pregnancy on the mothers' control of viral infections, and also a striking illustration of this virus' ability to adapt to changing environmental pressures." 
HCV persists in the general population, in part, because the virus outwits the immune system with mutations that can render it undetectable to CD8+ T-cells, important weapons in the body's antiviral immune arsenal. Although these viral variations—called immune escape mutations—protect the virus from attack by T-cells, they sometimes slow the virus replication machinery. 
During pregnancy, T-cells are restrained to prevent the body from attacking the fetus as foreign tissue. Viral levels of HCV have also been known to increase during pregnancy, but whether this was related to changes in T-cell function was unknown. Working closely with Chris Walker, director of the Center for Vaccines and Immunity, and colleagues at Emory University and the University of North Carolina, Dr. Honegger found that during pregnancy, certain T-cell escape mutations were lost, resulting in a virus that could replicate far more quickly. 
"This surprised us because the virus' immune escape mutations are usually stable in a patient," Dr. Honegger says. "The loss of these immune escape mutations from HCV during pregnancy provided strong evidence that the immune changes of pregnancy, intended to protect the fetus, significantly impaired the ability of CD8+ T-cells to exert pressure on the virus." 
Loss of the escape mutations also meant that the babies got a version of the virus that was optimized for viral replication, Dr. Honegger adds. In the children they studied, the virus persisted and did not mutate in a way to suggest that it was under significant attack by their CD8+ T-cells. 
"We don't yet know whether getting the fast-replicating, immune-susceptible version of the virus would be an advantage for the baby or the virus," says Dr. Honegger, who also is an assistant professor of pediatrics at The Ohio State University. "We suspect that if the baby doesn't mount a swift and strong immune response, then fast viral replication may increase the risk of persistent infection in the baby." 
On the other hand, viral loads in the mothers dropped more than 1,000 fold by 12 weeks after delivery and viral genetic analysis showed that immune escape mutations had returned. "We interpreted this to mean that T-cell activity against hepatitis C in the liver increased sharply after delivery," Dr. Honegger says. 
Researchers now are following a larger group of pregnant women with HCV, hoping to learn more about how viral mutations affect the way the body controls hepatitis C in pregnant women and infants. 
"We believe that better understanding of the natural history of the infection in these patients will be critical for designing rational strategies to treat or prevent HCV in these populations."

Source:Nature Medicine


Tuesday, 29 October 2013

News Video:Adult classic literature being rewritten for babies

Watch the Video Link: 

ISCR urges Centre to engage state drug control depts to monitor clinical trials

Indian Society of Clinical Research (ISCR) has urged the central drug control authorities to allow state drugs control departments to monitor the clinical trials conducted its region. While approval for human studies comes under the purview of the Drugs Controller General of India office, the state drugs control department across the country needs to be roped in to keep a close watch on the same.
From clinical trial site inspection to overseeing patient recruitment and proper conduct of these human studies happening in each state need to come under the purview of the local drugs control department and it would be easy to scrutinize every step. However, this call for extensive training of the drug inspectors associated in the supervision of clinical trials. The training imparted should not be just from CDSCO but from global regulatory agencies like the US FDA, EMA and MHRA among others who need to instruct and arm them with the skills in clinical trial inspections, Suneela Thatte, president, ISCR told Pharmabiz in an interaction.
“We see the involvement of the state drugs control departments as a critical component during the clinical trials. Therefore, a coordinated effort from the pharma and biotech industry, academia and regulatory authorities would provide the required dimension in the training of the drug inspectors,” said Thatte who was in Bengaluru in connection with the DIA 8th annual event.
Commenting on the current scene, ISCR president said that there is no need for new regulations to be brought in the area of clinical trials in India. The current norms like the audio visual and the compensation for injury just need to have a bit more clarity but the remaining could be the same. The reality is that as much as clinical research organizations (CROs) are impacted, the academic research at centres including the NIMHANS are now seen to be retarded on the prospect of drug breakthroughs for patients.
“While CROs have breathed a sigh of relief after the Supreme Court permitting five clinical trials this year after proper mechanism and procedures are in place to ensure patient safety with confidential audio visual recording of patient consent, ISCR too views this order as a positive move,” she said.
Stalling of human studies since January end, is seen as a major deterrent of not just growth of the CROs but for patients also as they are not able to access latest therapies. India accounts for 20 per cent of the global disease burden spanning from life style ailments to infectious diseases and gene-related disorders. Patients are keen to participate in clinical trials only to find relief from serious conditions. From a clinician perspective too, it is an opportunity lost to participate in a global study. Therefore the Ministry of Health needs to be confident that much of the recent regulations are a step in the right direction. The Supreme Court permitting the government to clear five global clinical trials and re-examine the 157 global clinical trials including new chemical entities by the Technical and Apex Committee indicates the confidence reposed by the Bench of Justice, noted Thatte.
Now coming to the audio visual recording, the new norms should ensure that only the consent to participating in a clinical trial by a patient should be captured to maintain his privacy and dignity, said Dr Thatte.

Foods to Avoid in Kidney Failure

Too much sodium in the diet can cause fluid retention and raise your blood pressure. Seasonings like soy sauce and teriyaki sauce, canned foods, processed meats, snack foods, pizza, hot dogs, pickles, cheese, and even frozen vegetables with sauce are high in sodium. Avoid them. Keep your daily sodium intake less than 1.5g.
 Reduce salt intake
The best way to cut back on sodium is to avoid excess intake of salt. Fresh food contains only 10 percent of sodium and the rest comes from the salt used in cooking! Do not use salt substitutes since most of them contain high amount potassium, which is again a bad choice for kidney failure patient
Cut back on potassium
Depending on the stage of your kidney failure or the medication you are taking, you may need to change (reduce) the potassium intake in your diet. It is usually not restricted until urine output begins to decrease. Potassium levels of 6.5 or higher can lead to a cardiac arrest. Most foods contain potassium but the following should be avoided
Fruits:Apricot, banana, prunes, kiwi, melon, raisin, orange and orange juice.
VegetablesPotato, tomato, sweet potato, cooked spinach, baked beans, lima bean, kidney bean, pinto bean, and dried peas
 Milk:Milk may not be the right choice
Avoid or limit milk or milky drinks up to half a pint per day if you are suffering from kidney failure. Milk is high in potassium content. In some people it may lead to milk-alkali syndrome wherein there is a shift in the body's acid-base balance towards alkaline because of high levels of calcium. This may permanently damage the kidneys since this condition is not reversible if one suffers from kidney dysfunction.
ReEliminate high phosphorus foods
Potassium is present in almost all foods. Unfortunately, control of phosphorus is very difficult in patients with kidney failure because phosphorus levels increase in the blood as the kidneys cannot remove it in the urine. Elevated phosphorus levels decrease the level of calcium in the blood leading to bone disease. It is, therefore, important to eliminate high phosphorus foods such as milk, beans, black eyed peas, lima beans, chocolate, and milk products viz. yogurt, cheese and desserts made with milk.
Read  he right choice Fast foods and processed foods are a strict no-no
Many studies have found that phosphorus-containing additives are increasingly being added to processed and fast foods. These have deleterious consequences for kidney failure patients. For example, a Cleveland study published in the JAMA found that limiting the intake of phosphorus containing food additives moderately improved hyperphosphatemia (high phosphorus levels) in renal patients. Normally, 800mg to 1g of phosphorus is the daily limit for people with kidney disease
Restrict protein consumption
Although protein is an essential part of a diet, the waste products from the protein breakdown is cleaned from the blood by the kidneys. So, eating more proteins puts extra burden on the kidneys leading to faster decline in kidney function. It is better to avoid high protein animal foods such as ground beef, halibut, salmon, tuna and chicken breast and substitute them with lower protein animal and vegetable alternatives. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) recommends 'limiting meat in your diet to two 3-ounce servings each day' and using thinner slices of meat in the sandwich.
 Stay away from saturated fats and trans-fatty acids
Bad fats can raise your blood cholesterol levels and cause heart disease. Saturated fats are found in red meat, poultry, whole milk, butter and lard. Trans-fatty acids are found commercial baked goods, French fries, doughnuts and all hydrogenated vegetable oils. Use healthier fats, especially, if you need more calories.Limit fluids
To prevent fluid and waste from building up in the body, it is necessary to restrict fluids as one of the main functions of the kidney is to get rid of excess fluid (water). Excess water in the body, termed as fluid overload, causes high blood pressure and may lead to heart disease. Drink only as much water as the amount of urine you make. Dealing with fluid restriction can be difficult, so, sucking an ice cube or chewing gum can keep thirst under control.
Say no to alcohol
Drinking alcohol can damage your kidney cells further. It causes the kidneys to increase urinary output which can lead to dehydration. It also raises the chances of developing high blood pressure and increases diabetes risk. A review study from Florida found that alcohol can disrupt the hormonal control mechanisms that govern kidney function and alter the body's acid-base balance. Even beer and wine are harmful for your kidneys .it milk or milky drinks up to half a pint per day if you are suffering from kidney failure. Milk is high in potassium content. In some people it may lead to milk-alkali syndrome wherein there is a shift in the body'

Human Resistance to AIDS Mapped

Previous research has indicated that the key to future HIV treatment could be hidden right in our own genes.Everyone who becomes infected deploys defense strategies, and some even manage to hold the virus at bay without any therapy at all. This immune system struggle leaves its mark within the pathogen itself - genetic mutations that indicate how the virus reacted to its host's attacks. Scientists from EPFL and the Vaud university hospital center (UNIL-CHUV) retraced the entire chain of events in these battles, from the genome of the virus to the genome of the victim. They have created the first map of human HIV resistance. The goal of their research, which has been published in the journal eLife on the 29th of October, is to find new therapeutic targets and to enable individualized treatment strategies. 
The human immune system is constantly developing strategies to fight HIV. Unfortunately, "the genome of the virus also changes rapidly, at a rate of millions of mutations a day," explains Jacques Fellay, co-author and EPFL researcher. In the majority of cases, the pathogen finds an effective strategy via this natural selection. 
Sometimes the virus is faced with a tougher opponent. It resists, but its ability to replicate is compromised. "The virus survives but replicates more slowly, and thus its capacity for destruction is in some sense neutralized," says the scientist. 
By studying strains of HIV that have been living in human hosts, the researchers can identify specific genetic mutations. These are like scars that each bear witness to a very specific attack launched by the immune system. What are the human genes involved in these defense strategies? And which, among all our genetic variations, predispose us to increased HIV resistance or, on the contrary, increased vulnerability? The scientists developed a method that allowed them to find answers to these questions. 

A supercomputer, 1,071 patients and millions of combinations To draw up the first map of human HIV resistance, the researchers had to analyze an enormous amount of data. They studied various strains of HIV from 1,071 seropositive individuals. They crossed more than 3,000 potential mutations in the viral genome with more than 6 million variations in the patients' genomes. Using supercomputers, they studied all these possible combinations and identified correspondence between patients. 
"We had to study the virus before the patient had undergone treatment, which is far from easy," says Fellay. This meant they had to search in data banks established in the 1980s, before effective therapies were made available. 
This novel, indirect method made it possible to obtain the most complete global overview to date of human genes and their implications in terms of HIV resistance. It allows us to not only better understand how we defend ourselves from attack but also how the virus adapts itself to our defense mechanisms. "We now have a true database that tells us which human genetic variation will induce which kind of mutation in the virus", explains Amalio Telenti, co-author and UNIL-CHUV researcher. 

Therapies inspired by our own natural defense This research has two major implications. New therapies could be developed based on studying humans' natural defenses, particularly those that result in a reduced replication of the virus. In addition, the scientists hope that by profiling the genome of HIV-infected individuals, it will be possible to develop individually targeted treatments that take into account the patients' genetic strengths and weaknesses. 
Source:journal eLife

Experts Highlight The Pros and Cons of Swaddling Your Child

 Experts Highlight The Pros and Cons of Swaddling Your ChildExperts have warned that the ancient practice of "swaddling" a baby in a blanket, arms restrained and legs stretched out, is bad for infant hips even as the practice is making a comeback.While many parents say the technique is soothing and aids their child's sleep, researchers underlined that links have been observed to osteoarthritis and hip replacement in middle age. 
"Traditional swaddling is a risk factor for DDH (developmental dysplasia of the hip)," paediatric orthopaedic surgeon Nicholas Clarke wrote in the Archives of Disease in Childhood, a British journal. 
"In order to allow for healthy hip development, legs should be able to bend up and out at the hips. This position allows for natural development of the hip joints. 
"The babies' legs should not be tightly wrapped in extension and pressed together." 
Clarke cited figures that about 90 percent of infants in North America are nowadays swaddled in the first few months of life, and that demand for swaddling clothes increased by 61 percent over a year in the UK in 2010-11. 
The practice, believed to go as far back as the ancient Greeks and Romans, is said to mimic the baby's experience in the womb by creating a sense of warmth and security with light pressure all over the body. 
It fell out of favour in the Western world decades ago over fears of adverse effects, but remains popular in the Middle East and some tribal communities. 
An education programme in Japan against swaddling saw the prevalence of hip dislocation halve, said Clarke. 
Store-bought swaddling clothes must have a loose pouch or sack for the baby's legs and feet, allowing for plenty of hip movement and flexing, he added. 
Commenting on the article, orthopaedic surgeon Andreas Roposch of the Great Ormond Street children's hospital in London, agreed there was evidence that swaddling could affect the normal development of infant hips. 
"Swaddling should not be employed in my view as there is no health benefit but a risk for adverse consequences of the growing and often immature hips," he said in comments distributed by the Science Media Centre. 
Paediatrician Alastair Sutcliffe of University College London pointed out that in countries like Nigeria where women traditionally carry their babies with the legs splayed around their waist, there was a "virtually unseen" rate of hip dislocation. 
"I would advise that if a baby needs to be wrapped up to get off to sleep that parents do this in a sympathetic and loose manner, and not tight especially around the babies? hips," he said. 

Sunday, 27 October 2013

Could Marijuana Help in Weight Loss?

Could Marijuana Help in Weight Loss?In a stunning look at the medicinal properties of marijuana use, a study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology has found that obesity rates are lowered by roughly one third in those who smoke three times weekly. The research included 52,000 participants, with findings concluding that 22% of those who did not smoke marijuana were obese, compared with just 14% of the regular marijuana smokers.
The “munchies” (increase in appetite after smoking marijuana) are very real. Just ask anyone who smokes marijuana on a regular basis. It’s this “benefit” of increased appetite that makes marijuana an effective treatment for people suffering from the lack of appetite so common with cancer, AIDS, and other diseases. So, how could any study find that marijuana smokers are less likely to be obese?
Two surveys were analyzed for the American Journal of Epidemiology study. Each showed that pot smokers were less likely to be obese. But, before you try and track down marijuana for your next weight loss cure, read on.
There are many potential explanations for the findings. Firstly, as Maia Szalavitz with TIME reports, pot-free people could be substituting food for pot as their “unhealthy” habit. Another potential explanation, that some pot smokers are smoking because they are sick. Diseases like cancer and AIDS often result in a lower-than-normal body weight.
Finally, there’s the explanation that Szalavitz fails to consider: that many marijuana smokers don’t use their recreational drug of choice to gorge themselves at every chance. Perhaps marijuana smokers are cognizant of the fact that smoking causes the munchies and so they act accordingly—maybe allowing some extra indulgence while “high” but reverting to a more healthful lifestyle in between “sessions.”
Maybe, and you can call me crazy, but maybe many marijuana smokers are more concerned about their health and maintaining a healthy weight than non-pot-smokers.
These are just possibilities.
These explanations seem especially relevant when one considers that THC is shown to increase appetite; that it’s accepted by some mainstream medical doctors as a solution for weight gain, and that a now-banned substance in Europe once used the exact opposite effects of THC for a diet aid. (Incidentally, this now-banned substance caused severe depression and suicidal thoughts.)
What is likely true is that someone who is obese or who is at risk for obesity and who is not a regular smoker will not find their diet cure-all in a joint. For a non-smoker, marijuana won’t likely help you drop the pounds. Instead, try utilizing vitamin D or including hot peppers into your meals – just 2 of many natural weight loss tips. However, if you are a smoker, rest assured that your marijuana may have yet another benefit.
 Natural Society
Courtesy:Truth theory By: Elizabeth Renter

Watch this VIDEO:

News Video: Have researchers found cure for baldness?

New study offers hope
Source:Fox News

Measuring blood sugar with light

One of the keys to healthful living with Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes is monitoring blood glucose (sugar) levels to ensure they remain at stable levels. People can easily and reliably do this at home using electronic devices that read sugar levels in a tiny drop of blood.
Now a team of German researchers has devised a novel, non-invasive way to make monitoring easier. Using infrared laser light applied on top of the skin, they measure sugar levels in the fluid in and under skin cells to read blood sugar levels. They describe their method in the current edition of Review of Scientific Instruments, which is produced by AIP Publishing.
"This opens the fantastic possibility that diabetes patients might be able to measure their glucose level without pricking and without test strips," said lead researcher, Werner Mäntele, Ph.D. of Frankfurt's Institut für Biophysik, Johann Wolfgang Goethe-Universität.
"Our goal is to devise an easier, more reliable and in the long-run, cheaper way to monitor blood glucose," he added.
The "Sweet Melody" of Glucose
Their new optical approach uses photoacoustic spectroscopy (PAS) to measure glucose by its mid-infrared absorption of light. A painless pulse of laser light applied externally to the skin is absorbed by glucose molecules and creates a measurable sound signature that Dr. Mäntele's team refers to as "the sweet melody of glucose." This signal enables researchers to detect glucose in skin fluids in seconds.
The data showing the skin cell glucose levels at one-hundredth of a millimeter beneath the skin is related to blood glucose levels, Mäntele said, but previous attempts to use PAS in this manner have been hampered by distortion related to changes of air pressure, temperature and humidity caused by the contact with living skin.
To overcome these constraints, the team devised a design innovation of an open, windowless cell architecture. While it is still experimental and would have to be tested and approved by regulatory agencies before becoming commercially available, the team continues to refine it.
In a close collaboration with an industry partner (Elte Sensoric:, they expect to have a small shoebox-sized device ready in three years, followed by a portable glucometer some years later.
  Source:The journal Review of Scientific Instruments 

New Research Brings Hope for Asthma Sufferers

 New Research Brings Hope for Asthma SufferersNew research brings hope of a novel treatment for asthma patients resistant to corticosteroids.Researchers from the RIKEN Centre for Integrative Medical Sciences and Keio University in Japan report that a type of lymphocytes called natural helper (NH) cells plays a critical role in corticosteroid resistance and demonstrate that the anti-psychotic drug Pimozide can be used to overcome resistance to steroids in severe asthma patients. T lymphocytes and NH cells in the asthmatic lung produce proteins named interleukin (IL)-5 and IL-13 that are responsible for severe airway inflammation. In asthma patients, inhaled steroids function by suppressing both T lymphocytes and NH cells. However, in severe asthma patients, another protein called interleukin-33 (IL-33) produced in the airways strongly activates NH cells to produce IL-5 and IL-13, leading to severe airway inflammation. In the current study, the researchers led by Drs Shigeo Koyasu from RIKEN and Koichiro Asano from Keio University, employed an experimental mouse model for airway inflammation to study the pathway leading to IL-33-mediated NH activation. Their research shows that NH resistance to steroids is induced by the protein thymic stromal lymphopoietin (TSLP), present in the airways of severe asthma patients. The team tested reagents that block the intracellular signals triggered by TSLP in NH cells. They identified one drug, Pimozide, an approved anti-psychotic drug, that restored the effects of steroids on NH cells. The authors concluded saying that administration of Pimozide or related drugs would be an effective treatment in human severe asthmatic patients. The study is published in the journal Nature Communications.Source-ANI

Kiwifruit's DNA Reveals Similarity to Potatoes and Tomatoes, Says Study

Kiwifruit's DNA sequence has many genetic similarities between its 39,040 genes and other plant species, including potatoes and tomatoes, say scientists. The study also has unveiled two major evolutionary events that occurred millions of years ago in the kiwifruit genome.Zhangjun Fei, a scientist from the Boyce Thompson Institute at Cornell University, said that the kiwifruit is an economically and nutritionally important fruit crop. He said that the fruit has long been called 'the king of fruits' because of its remarkably high vitamin C content and balanced nutritional composition of minerals, dietary fiber and other health-benefits. One of the most remarkable findings of the study was uncovered when scientists observed a high percentage of similarities within the kiwifruit DNA. The data revealed two unusual mishaps that occurred in the process of cell division about 27 and 80 million years ago, when an extensive expansion of genes arose from an entire extra copy of the genome, followed by extensive gene loss. Fei said that the kiwifruit genome has undergone two recent whole-genome duplication events. When genes are duplicated, the extra genes can mutate to perform entirely new functions that were not previously present in the organism. This process, called neofunctionalization, can occur with no adverse effects in plants and, in the case of kiwifruit, was quite beneficial. Fei said that the duplication contributed to adding additional members of gene families that are involved in regulating important kiwifruit characteristics, like fruit vitamin C, flavonoid and carotenoid metabolism. The study has been published in Nature Communications.Source-ANI 

Who is Better at Multitasking - Man or Woman?

 Who is Better at Multitasking - Man or Woman?A study points to better multitasking abilities in women as compared to men. This is especially so, when it comes to switching between tasks, a test conducted by psychologists in UK has revealed. It appears that when it came to speed and organizing abilities, women were far superior to men, even though both sexes portrayed difficulty juggling priorities.
Researchers do agree that this is one subject that can do with more study as it can influence the organization of workplaces.
Co-author Dr Gijsbert Stoet, of the University of Glasgow, said, "Multitasking is getting more and more important in the office - but it's very distracting, all these gadgets interrupting our workflow. It could be that men suffer more from this constant switching."
During their study, researchers found that when it came to juggling between jobs, both men and women slowed down but men appeared to be slower than women. Men were markedly slower, and took sometimes 77% longer to respond as against 69% longer on the part of women.
"This difference may seem small, but it adds up over a working day or week", said Dr Stoet.
Psychologist Dr Dongning Ren of the Chinese Academy of Sciences said, "Still, it is possible that for certain tasks, men might be better at multitasking. It may depend on the nature of the tasks - sequential or simultaneous. Of course I don't think we should just assign women to roles where rapid switching is demanded. Studies show that men tend to think they're better at multitasking than they are in reality, and women tend to think they're worse than they really are."
Source: University of Glasgow

Facebook Badge