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Thursday, 13 November 2014

An Indian Approach to Improve the Lives of Individuals With Down Syndrome

Across the world, individuals living with Down Syndrome are denied their natural rights because a large section in the society has very poor awareness of the condition and considers Down syndrome persons 'less than human'.

The school of Down Syndrome Federation of India at Mylapore, a cultural hub of South India, is dedicated to help people affected by this social stigma, providing them with support and care. 
Here, children are happy and can dance, write poems and stories, succeed in intellectual as well as sports competition, and lead independent lives, dispelling all stereotyped views about the genetic disorder. 

The school keeps itself away from outside negative influences and maintains a disciplined learning environment. 

As you walk into the tranquility of the school, a short message will greet you at the entrance. "This is a temple. Make sure that you are pure in thoughts and action before entering." 

At 10 am, a day at the special school begins with prayer and meditation. 

Soon after the short session, all therapy divisions of the school get into busy training schedules under the supervision of healthcare and academic professionals. 

Physiotherapy area on the ground floor of the three-storey building is attention grabbing. Banumathi, a physiotherapist, has just helped a nine-month-old baby to sit properly with two simple leg-stretching techniques. 

The therapist, who has more than 35 years experience in the training field, says, "Low muscle strength and low cardiovascular fitness is common in children with Down syndrome. As a result, they are slow to reach the early motor milestones such as grasping, rolling, sitting, standing and walking. Physiotherapy is used as an effective tool to strengthen muscles and bones of the children." 

After correcting the sitting posture of the baby, she gets into the interaction with the parents. 

She says, "Parents are the physiotherapy trainers for children at home, so we make them familiar with the training techniques. Exercises are recommended based on overall health condition of the child as around 50 percent of babies with the chromosome disorder have heart defects." 

The parents with the child leave the school for the day as Banumathi gets into the movement issue of another child. 

Upstairs is the Vocational Therapy Area. Weaving traditional looms, baking, catering, candle making are taught here to make the children financially independent. 

At the weaving section, children interlace two distinct sets of yarns to fabricate colorful floor mats, towels and napkins. Contrary to the widely held belief, this therapy area proves individuals with the genetic disorder have memory power and can concentrate well. 
"We gave them training and they are doing more than 60 percent of work in this section. We pay them a fixed amount for their effort," says Mohan, trainer of the weaving section. 

At the Academic Department, children are taught basic concepts in subjects such as sciences and mathematics and then money concepts, time concepts, and other relevant academics. 
Here, Vidhya Sree is proud of her beautiful handwriting, Vellu and Vignesh happily show off mathematical skills and Lavanya spells each word correctly; she has just learnt from her favorite teacher. 

Again, they flaunt an ability that defies a preconceived medical notion associated with Down syndrome. 

At 1.30pm, it is sports and games time for children after a nutritious lunch. 

The counseling centre is still busy. Dr. Rekha Ramachandran, chairperson of the Federation, talks to persons affected with Down Syndrome as she tries to find out their difficulties and address their concerns. 
Dr. Rekha holds a doctoral degree in 'Cognitive Deficit and Depression' in Down syndrome and has traveled all over the world to acquire knowledge on the subject. She organizes World Down Syndrome Congress every year, which aims to display the key role of India in creating a world of respect for all those people with Down syndrome. 

"We help individuals with Down syndrome to cope better with life challenges eradicating their physical and cognitive illness with our own therapeutic approach." Dr. Rekha says. 


Connection Between Cold and Pain

Few people experience cold not only as feeling cold, but actually as a painful sensation.


This applies even to fairly mild temperatures - anything below 20°C. A group of researchers from Lund University in Sweden have now identified the mechanism in the body that creates this connection between cold and pain. 

It turns out that it is the same receptor that reacts to the pungent substances in mustard and garlic.Professor of Pharmacology Peter Zygmunt and Professor of Clinical Pharmacology Edward Högestätt have long conducted research on pain and the connection between pain and irritant substances in mustard, garlic and chilli. In large quantities, these strong spices can cause burning or irritant sensations in the mouth and throat, and can also cause rashes and swelling. 

When the eyes are exposed, these spices produce strong pain and lacrimation, a property that has been exploited in pepper spray and tear gas. The reason is that the substances affect nerves that are part of the pain system and that are activated by inflammation.Ten years ago, the Lund research group identified the receptor for mustard and garlic, i.e. the way in which the pungent substances in the spices irritate the nerve cells. 

Since then, the question of whether this receptor also responds to cold has been a matter of debate. However, the researchers have now demonstrated that this is the case."We have worked with Professors of Biochemistry Urban Johanson and Per Kjellbom here in Lund to extract the human receptor protein and insert it into an artificial cell membrane. There we could see that it reacted to cold", explained Peter Zygmunt. 

The findings increase our knowledge of the human body's temperature senses. However, they could also help all those who suffer from cold allodynia, i.e. who are over-sensitive to cold and experience pain when exposed to cold. "These problems are very common in patients with chronic pain or diseases that affect the nervous system, such as diabetic neropathy. Patients undergoing chemotherapy can also become over-sensitive to cold as a side-effect of their medication. The discomfort and pain experienced by patients can start at relatively mild temperatures, within the temperature span to which the mustard and garlic receptor reacts", said Edward Högestätt.Receptors for mustard and garlic are found in many locations in the body, including in the skin, bladder and gut. 

A number of pharmaceutical companies are now attempting to develop drugs to block the receptors in order to reduce problems such as itching, incontinence and pain. The Lund researchers believe that blocking the receptors ought also to relieve pain caused by cold.Moreover, it is known that the mustard and garlic receptor reacts to chemical substances that irritate the airways. Possible new drugs for people who are affected by perfume, solvents, cigarette smoke, car exhausts and suchlike should therefore also benefit those who are over-sensitive to cold in the airways. 

The discovery of the link between the mustard and garlic receptor and cold means that a further part of human temperature sensing has been charted."We already know that the chilli receptor not only reacts to chilli, but also to temperatures over 42°C, such as when you burn yourself on a fire. The menthol receptor reacts to temperatures under 28°C, which are perceived as pleasantly cooling. And now we know that the mustard and garlic receptor reacts to temperatures under 20°C", said Peter Zygmunt. 

 Source:Lund University

Symbiotic plants are more diverse, finds new study

Some plants form into new species with a little help from their friends, according to Cornell University research published Oct. 27 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
The study finds that when plants develop mutually beneficial relationships with animals, mainly insects, those plant families become more diverse by evolving into more species over time.
The researchers conducted a global analysis of all vascular plant families, more than 100 of which have evolved sugary nectar-secreting glands that attract and feed protective animals, such as ants. The study reports that plant groups with nectar glands contain greater numbers of species over time than groups without the glands.
"Why some groups of species evolve to be more diverse than others is one of the great mysteries in biology," said Anurag Agrawal, professor of ecology and evolutionary biology and co-author of the paper. Marjorie Weber, formerly of Agrawal's lab and now a postdoctoral fellow at the University of California, Davis, is lead author.
"By attracting bodyguards to plants, these glands can increase plant success in a variety of habitats by protecting them from local pests," Weber said. "This in turn may increase plant survival in remote places, decrease risk of local extinction or both."
Also, when ants, for example, defend plants against pests, the plants may apply the energy and resources that would otherwise have been apportioned to defense to the development of new traits.
These benefits may make these plants more successful at migrating to new places, where they can diversify into new species over time.
Nectar glands have evolved independently more than 100 times over Earth's history, which gave the researchers many opportunities for analyses of these mechanisms in different plant families.
The analysis "was possible because of the DNA sequence data available for many plant species," Agrawal said. The researchers used the data for computer modeling of phylogenies (branching diagrams that depict the evolutionary relatedness among groups of organisms), and to calculate numbers of new species that occur per million years.
Biologists have long speculated which traits may have been "key innovations" that have led to highly diverse groups of species, Agrawal said. In animals it has been suspected that flight played a similar key role in the diversification of birds, bats and insects. For plant species, defense against insect pests and the formation of mutually beneficial relationships with predators was a critical evolutionary leap, he said.
Source: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

'Tis the season to indulge in walnuts

Researchers at UC Davis and other institutions have found that diets rich in whole walnuts or walnut oil slowed prostate cancer growth in mice. In addition, both walnuts and walnut oil reduced cholesterol and increased insulin sensitivity. The walnut diet also reduced levels of the hormone IGF-1, which had been previously implicated in both prostate and breast cancer. The study was published online in the Journal of Medicinal Food.
Paul Davis Paul Davis
“For years, the United States government has been on a crusade against fat, and I think it’s been to our detriment,” said lead scientist and research nutritionist Paul Davis. “Walnuts are a perfect example. While they are high in fat, their fat does not drive prostate cancer growth. In fact, walnuts do just the opposite when fed to mice.”
Davis and colleagues have been investigating the impact of walnuts on health for some time. A previous study found that walnuts reduced prostate tumor size in mice; however, there were questions about which parts of the nuts generated these benefits. Was it the meat, the oil or the omega-3 fatty acids? If it was the omega-3 fats, the benefit might not be unique to walnuts. Since the fatty acid profile for the soybean oil used as a control was similar, but not identical, to walnuts, more work had to be done.
In the current study, researchers used a mixture of fats with virtually the same fatty acid content as walnuts as their control diet. The mice were fed whole walnuts, walnut oil or the walnut-like fat for 18 weeks. The results replicated those from the previous study. While the walnuts and walnut oil reduced cholesterol and slowed prostate cancer growth, in contrast, the walnut-like fat did not have these effects, confirming that other nut components caused the improvements – not the omega-3s.
“We showed that it’s not the omega-3s by themselves, though, it could be a combination of the omega-3s with whatever else is in the walnut oil,” Davis said. “It’s becoming increasingly clear in nutrition that it’s never going to be just one thing; it’s always a combination.”
While the study does not pinpoint which combination of compounds in walnuts slows cancer growth, it did rule out fiber, zinc, magnesium and selenium. In addition, the research demonstrated that walnuts modulate several mechanisms associated with cancer growth.
“The energy effects from decreasing IGF-1 seem to muck up the works so the cancer can’t grow as fast as it normally would,” Davis said. “Also, reducing cholesterol means cancer cells may not get enough of it to allow these cells to grow quickly.”
In addition, the research showed increases in both adiponectin and the tumor suppressor PSP94, as well as reduced levels of COX-2, all markers for reduced prostate cancer risk.
Although results in mice don’t always translate to humans, Davis said his results suggest the benefits of incorporating walnuts into a healthy diet. Other research, such as the PREDIMED human study, which assessed the Mediterranean diet, also found that eating walnuts reduced cancer mortality.
Still, Davis recommends caution in diet modification.
“In our study the mice were eating the equivalent of 2.6 ounces of walnuts,” he said. “You need to realize that 2.6 ounces of walnuts is about 482 calories. That’s not insignificant, but it’s better than eating a serving of supersized fries, which has 610 calories. In addition to the cancer benefit, we think you also get cardiovascular benefits that other walnut research has demonstrated.
“It’s the holiday season, and walnuts are part of any number of holiday dishes. Feel free to consume them in moderation.”
Other researchers included Hyunsook Kim, Department of Physiology, College of Veterinary Medicine, Konkuk University, and Wallace Yokoyama, Processed Foods Research, Western Regional Research Center.
This study was funded by American Institute for Cancer Research (award MG10A001), the California Walnut Board and the KU-Research Professor Program of Konkuk University.
UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center
UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center is the only National Cancer Institute-designated center serving the Central Valley and inland Northern California, a region of more than 6 million people. Its specialists provide compassionate, comprehensive care for more than 10,000 adults and children every year, and access to more than 150 clinical trials at any given time. Its innovative research program engages more than 280 scientists at UC Davis, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and Jackson Laboratory (JAX West), whose scientific partnerships advance discovery of new tools to diagnose and treat cancer. Through the Cancer Care Network, UC Davis collaborates with a number of hospitals and clinical centers throughout the Central Valley and Northern California regions to offer the latest cancer care. Its community-based outreach and education programs address disparities in cancer outcomes across diverse populations. For more information, visit
Source:Journal of Medicinal Food
Watch the Medicinal Value of Walnut through Video

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Milk Does Not Do A Body Good – Massive New Study Says

Milk seems to be making its way through various stages of truth, especially within the past couple of years. Like many other examples, what we once thought to be healthy for us to consume is turning out to be the exact opposite.
A large study coming from researchers at the Uppsala University in Sweden found that drinking milk led to an increased mortality rate and actually made bones more prone to fracturing, not less.(1)
The study was recently published in the peer reviewed British Medical Journal, and was specifically conducted to examine whether high milk consumption is associated with mortality and fractures in both men and women.
The study took place across three different counties in Sweden, and used data from two large Swedish cohorts, one with 61,433 women aged approximately 39-74 years old and one with 45, 339 men aged approximately 45-79 years old. They were all administered food frequency questionnaires. The study used “multivariable survival models” that were “applied to determine the association between milk consumption and time to mortality and fracture.
The results were as follows:
“During a mean follow-up of 20.1 years, 15 541 women died and 17 252 had a fracture, of whom 4259 had a hip fracture. In the male cohort with a mean follow-up of 11.2 years, 10 112 men died and 5066 had a fracture, with 1166 hip fracture cases. In women the adjusted mortality hazard ratio for three or more glasses of milk a day compared with less than one glass a day was 1.93 (95% confidence interval 1.80 to 2.06). For every glass of milk, the adjusted hazard ratio of all cause mortality was 1.15 (1.13 to 1.17) in women and 1.03 (1.01 to 1.04) in men. For every glass of milk in women no reduction was observed in fracture risk with higher milk consumption for any fracture (1.02, 1.00 to 1.04) or for hip fracture (1.09, 1.05 to 1.13). The corresponding adjusted hazard ratios in men were 1.01 (0.99 to 1.03) and 1.03 (0.99 to 1.07). In subsamples of two additional cohorts, one in males and one in females, a positive association was seen between milk intake and both urine 8-iso-PGF2α (a biomarker of oxidative stress) and serum interleukin 6 (a main inflammatory biomarker).” 
The study concluded  that high milk intake was associated with higher mortality in one cohort of women and in another cohort of men, and with higher fracture incidence in women. It also concluded:
“Given the observational study designs with the inherent possibility of residual confounding and reverse causation phenomena, a cautious interpretation of the results is recommended.”(1)

This Is Not The Only Study That Suggests Milk Is Not Good For Our Body

In a paper published in the Journal of the American Medical Association Pediatrics, Harvard pediatrician David Ludwig emphasizes that bone fracture rates tend to be lower in countries that do not consume milk. compared to those that do, also noting that there are many other sources of calcium.  
Another study published in the American Journal of Public Health showed that dairy consumption might actually increase the risk of fractures by 50 percent. 
Studies have also shown that calcium isn’t as bone protective as we thought. Multiple studies on calcium supplementation have shown no benefit in reducing bone fracture risk. In fact, vitamin D appears to be more effective when it comes to reducing bone fracture risk.  
Studies have also shown that dairy products might increase a males risk of developing prostate cancer by 30 -50 percent.  
The list literally goes on and on.
It’s also interesting to note that approximately 65 to 75 percent of the total human population on our planet have a reduced ability to digest lactose after infancy. (5)(6)  In some countries, over 90 percent of the adult population is lactose intolerant, think about that for a moment.
Lactose intolerance is an impaired ability to digest lactose, a sugar found in milk and other dairy products. Lactose is normally broken down by an enzyme called lactase, which is produced by cells in the lining of the small intestine.
 Keep in mind that the milk we have so much trouble digesting after infancy is cows milk, not our mother’s natural breast milk.  In fact, we are the only species on Earth that consumes the milk of another animal.
Since lactase’s only function is the digestion of lactose in milk, most mammal species experience a dramatic reduction in the activity of the enzyme after weaning. Lactase persistence in humans has evolved as an adaptation to the consumption of non-human milk and dairy products consumed beyond infancy. Our diet has changed a lot, and as a result some of our genes have adapted, but it’s not an easy process. This is why most humans are lactose intolerant.
Every other species weans and then never drinks milk again for the rest of their lives, and because of that they don’t have an enzyme to break down the sugar in milk. But during human evolution, some humans experienced a mutation in the LTC gene, the lactase gene, these mutations allow us to process lactose as adults. With approximately 65- 75 percent percent of humans on the planet unable to properly process it, it is evidence enough that we are not doing what is natural and in accordance with our bodies.
Below is a video of Katherine S. Pollard, a PhD at the University of California, San Francisco going into more detail from the above paragraph.

Milk/Dairy Is Not The Only Source of Calcium

This list is extremely long, here is a very small list of non dairy/vegan sources of calcium, many of them out there provide a healthier source and even more of it. It’s important to do your research, there are so many foods out there that contain a healthy and abundant source of calcium.
  • Kale: One cup of raw kale is loaded with calcium, approximately 90 mg to be exact. This means that a 3.5 cup of kale salad provides more calcium than a one cup class of milk
  • Oranges: One Naval Orange contains approximately 60 mg of calcium
  • Beans
  • Green Peas
  • Chickpeas
  • Quinoa
  • Seeds
  • Hemp
(2)  Feskanich D, Willett WC, Stampfer MJ, Colditz GA. Milk, dietary calcium, and bone fractures in women: a 12-year prospective study. Am J Public Health. 1997 Jun;87(6):992-7.
(3) Feskanich D, Willett WC, Colditz GA. Calcium, vitamin D, milk consumption, and hip fractures: a prospective study among postmenopausal women. Am J Clin Nutr. 2003 Feb;77(2):504-11.
(4) Tseng M, Breslow RA, Graubard BI, Ziegler RG. Dairy, calcium, and vitamin D intakes and prostate cancer risk in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Epidemiologic Follow-up Study cohort. Am J Clin Nutr. 2005 May;81(5):1147-54.

Language Areas in The Brain

The expressive and comprehensive language areas of the brain are connected through a bundle of nerves. The language areas are believed to lie in the dominant hemisphere of an individual.

Language is the communication of thoughts, ideas and feelings, using arbitrary symbols or signals like vocal sounds, body language or written symbols. These symbols are bound by rules for combining its components, like rules of joining words into a sentence. Such a system is used by a set of people in a community or nation in common. Language processing is the manner in which human beings use words and string them together to communicate and also how this system is processed and understood by the listener. Most recent theories suggest that such processing is done by specific areas in the human brain.

Brain injuries, stroke, tumor and other damages to the brain that are focused in the speech and language areas can give rise to deficits in expressive or comprehensive language and thus hinder communication. About 25% to 40% of stroke survivors get aphasia or inability to speak, as reported by National Aphasia Association. Besides a direct effect on the language are of the brain, the aphasia could also be due to paralysis of the fascial muscles in aphasia patients. Other causes of damage to the speech and language areas of the brain are brain tumor, seizures, brain infection and dementia.
Source:National Aphasia Association

Regular Walks keep off Brain Degeneration: Study

Regular walks are good not only to keep fit but also to keep off brain degeneration in older adults, claims a new study.

The study by the University of Kansas said that the neighbourhood area also leaves a positive effect on our mental health.

"Features of a neighbourhood that encourage walking for transportation require having someplace worth walking to, like neighbours' houses, stores and parks," said Amber Watts, assistant professor of clinical psychology, University of Kansas.

Easy-to-walk communities help in better cognition, along with lowering blood pressure and body mass index.

"People can walk either to get somewhere or for leisure," said Watts. The study followed 25 people with mild Alzheimer's disease and 39 older adults with no signs of cognitive degeneration.

The study was a two-year process carried and it took into consideration certain factors such as age, gender, education and wealth that might affect people's cognitive abilities independently of neighbourhood characteristics. 

The study was presented at the Gerontological Society of America's annual meeting in Washington, DC.

"Complex environments may require more complex mental processes to navigate. Our findings suggest that people with neighbourhoods that require more mental complexity actually experience less decline in their mental functioning over time," Watts said.

He also added that when the environment poses challenges within a person's ability, it keeps the bodies and minds sharp. 
University of Kansas

Understanding Natural Compounds in Pharmaceutical Research

Medicine is drifting towards a major problem. Researchers found that an increasing number of bacteria is no longer sensitive to known antibiotics.

Doctors urgently need to find new ways of fighting these multi-resistant pathogens. To address the problem, pharmaceutical research is turning back to the source of most of our drugs: nature. 

Although hundreds of thousands of known active agents are found in nature, exactly how most of them work is unclear. A team of researchers from ETH Zurich has now developed a computer-based method to predict the mechanism of action of these natural substances. The scientists hope this method will help them to generate new ideas for drug development. "Natural active agents are usually very large molecules that often can be synthesized only through very laborious processes," says Gisbert Schneider, a professor of computer-aided drug design at the Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences at ETH Zurich. An understanding of the exact mechanism of action of a natural substance enables the design of smaller, less complex molecules that are easier to synthesise. Once a substance is chemically synthesised, it can be optimised for medical applications. 

In order to understand the mechanism of action, researchers are studying which parts of a pathogen interact with the natural substance to inhibit its growth for example. In the past, this involved highly complex laboratory tests through which scientists usually identified only the strongest effect of a substance. However, this interaction alone is often unable to explain the entire effect of a natural substance. "Minor interactions with other target structures can contribute to the overall effect as well," explains Schneider. 

Analysis of 210,000 natural substances
Using the computer-based method, the researchers led by Gisbert Schneider were able to predict a variety of potential target structures for 210,000 known natural substances. The software uses a trick to do this: instead of starting with the complete, often complex chemical structure of the substance, it breaks it down into small fragments. This process is based on an algorithm that sifts through chemical databases to find potential interaction partners. 

The algorithm does not select fragments randomly, but according to the principle of retrosynthetic analysis, a concept that originated in organic chemistry. When chemists want to synthesise a substance, they must consider what intermediate molecules are needed to reach the target. "We wanted to break down the molecules into relevant building blocks," explains Schneider. The software in turn calculates which individual fragments can be used to theoretically synthesise the substance. 

"By using the computer to break down the molecules, which can be quite large, into separate building blocks, we discover which parts might be essential for the mechanism of action," says Schneider. Thus, it might be possible to design less complex molecules that chemists could synthesise instead of the laborious process of isolating them from the natural source. 

Similarities discovered
The researchers tested their method in detail on a substance found in myxobacteria. This substance, known as archazolid A, slows the growth of tumour cells and has a known target structure; however, there is evidence that interaction with other cellular factors must play a role in its anti-tumour effect. The researchers were able to use the software to identify the other factors and then confirm some of these in laboratory experiments. They were surprised to find that the mechanism of action of archazolid A resembles a much smaller, less complex molecule, arachidonic acid, an unsaturated fatty acid. "This example illustrates how a desirable effect can often be achieved using simpler substances as well," says Schneider. This case could provide inspiration for the development of new drugs. 

"The analysis is not yet perfect. We were unable to confirm several of the suggested interactions in biochemical experiments," Schneider admits. The goal is therefore to optimise the predictive power of the software even further. However, the algorithm has already helped to narrow down the number of possible candidates that may interact with a substance - and thus reduced the effort required for subsequent lab tests to confirm the interactions experimentally. This should make it easier in future to decipher the mechanisms of action of natural substances. 



Monday, 10 November 2014

Scientists develop Herbal Mouthwash to fight Oral Cancer pain

For the patients of oral cancer, scientists have developed a herbal mouthwash that can help reduce the degree of pain caused due to radiation therapy.

The mouthwash is developed, clinically tested and patented by the Rajiv Gandhi Centre for Biotechnology (RGCB), under the Department of Biotechnology, along with the Regional Cancer Centre in Kerala.

A controlled clinical trial involving 148 oral cancer patients is still in the process. As part of the trial, around half the patients were given the herbal mouthwash four times daily. The other group was given soda saline mouthwash. They were examined weekly by a physician. "By Day 22 of the treatment, when the radiation is most damaging, patients in the group administered the mouthwash had significantly lower pain and reduced use of analgesics and antibiotics compared to the control group," said the report.

Researchers at the Kerala-based RGCB are of the view that the mouthwash will help oral cancer patients get rid of the problems associated with oral mucolitis, a painful side-effect of radiation therapy of the patients.

RGCB director M Radhakrishna Pillai said, "The herbal mouthwash, by mitigating the toxicity associated with radiation therapy, could have a significant impact on improving the treatment continuity and cure rates for oral cancer."

He added, "The mouthwash is a simple supernatant liquid obtained by dissolving in water equal quantities of powdered dried leaves and bark of neem (Azadiracta indica); fruits of amla (Emblica officinalis), yellow myrobalan/haritaki (Terminalia chebula) and beleric myrobalan/bibhitaki (Terminalia bellirica); and dried liquorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra) roots."

The plants used to make the herbal mouthwash are mentioned in Ayurvedic texts where their anti-microbial, anti-inflammatory, mucolytic or analgesic properties are mentioned.globe and two-thirds of the cases are found in developing countries.

According to Pillai, the high degree of pain prevents patients from completing the radiotherapy process. But the use of mouthwash can now reduce toxicity, lower treatment and hospitalisation costs and allow patients to complete the treatment.globe and two-thirds of the cases are found in developing countries.

According to WHO, oral cancer is the 11th most common cancer across the globe and two-thirds of the cases are found in developing countries. 

Rajiv Gandhi Centre for Biotechnology 

Mothers' education significant to children's academic success

ANN ARBOR--A mother knows best--and the amount of education she attains can predict her children's success in reading and math. In fact, that success is greater if she had her child later in life, according to a new University of Michigan study.
Sandra Tang, a U-M psychology research fellow and the study's lead author, said children of mothers 19 and older usually enter kindergarten with higher levels of achievement. These kids continue to excel in math and reading at higher levels through eighth grade when compared to children of mothers 18 and younger.
"These results provide compelling evidence that having a child during adolescence has enduring negative consequences for the achievement of the next generation," Tang said.
The negative consequences of teen mothers not only affect the child born when the mother was an adolescent, but they affect the mother's subsequent children as well.
Pamela Davis-Kean, associate professor of psychology and a research associate professor at the Institute for Social Research and Center for Human Growth and Development, said the findings present good news and bad news.
The good news is that the children of teen mothers who continue their education after having children do better academically than children of teen moms who did not continue, she said.
"However, these children--and other children born to the mother when she wasn't an adolescent--never catch up in achievement across time to children whose mothers had them after completing their education," Davis-Kean said. "This group continues to carry a risk for lower achievement."
The study's data was taken from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study-Kindergarten Cohort, a nationally representative sample of children who were first assessed upon entering kindergarten in 1998 and were interviewed through spring 2007.
In 14,279 cases, the children's math and reading scores were collected in third, fifth and eighth grades.
Researchers used this data to compare achievement trajectories (kindergarten through eighth grade) of children born either to teen moms (18 or younger) or to adult mothers (19 and older) at the birth of their first child. The analyses took into account mothers' educational expectations for their children, the home environment and other characteristics, such as household income, that may influence children's achievement.
Trends indicate that mothers who give birth during adolescence have much lower rates of high school completion and college enrollment in comparison to their counterparts who delay pregnancy.
Given that growth in achievement generally stays the same across time for math and reading for all children in the sample, these patterns highlight the importance of investing in early interventions that target adolescent mothers and provide them with the skills needed to promote their children's learning, Tang said.
Source:Journal of Research of Adolescence

Anxiety can damage brain

Accelerate conversion to Alzheimer's for those with mild cognitive impairment

Toronto, Canada - People with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) are at increased risk of converting to Alzheimer's disease within a few years, but a new study warns the risk increases significantly if they suffer from anxiety.
The findings were reported on Oct. 29 online by The American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, ahead of print publication, scheduled for May 2015.
Led by researchers at Baycrest Health Sciences' Rotman Research Institute, the study has shown clearly for the first time that anxiety symptoms in individuals diagnosed with MCI increase the risk of a speedier decline in cognitive functions - independent of depression (another risk marker). For MCI patients with mild, moderate or severe anxiety, Alzheimer's risk increased by 33%, 78% and 135% respectively.
The research team also found that MCI patients who had reported anxiety symptoms at any time over the follow-up period had greater rates of atrophy in the medial temporal lobe regions of the brain, which are essential for creating memories and which are implicated in Alzheimer's.
Until now, anxiety as a potentially significant risk marker for Alzheimer's in people diagnosed with MCI has never been isolated for a longitudinal study to gain a clearer picture of just how damaging anxiety symptoms can be on cognition and brain structure over a period of time. There is a growing body of literature that has identified late-life depression as a significant risk marker for Alzheimer's. Anxiety has historically tended to be subsumed under the rubric of depression in psychiatry. Depression is routinely screened for in assessment and follow-up of memory clinic patients; anxiety is not routinely assessed.
"Our findings suggest that clinicians should routinely screen for anxiety in people who have memory problems because anxiety signals that these people are at greater risk for developing Alzheimer's," said Dr. Linda Mah, principal investigator on the study, clinician-scientist with Baycrest's Rotman Research Institute, and assistant professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Toronto. Dr. Mah is also a co-investigator in a multi-site study lead by the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, and partially funded by federal dollars (Brain Canada), to prevent Alzheimer's in people with late-life depression or MCI who are at high risk for developing the progressive brain disease.
"While there is no published evidence to demonstrate whether drug treatments used in psychiatry for treating anxiety would be helpful in managing anxiety symptoms in people with mild cognitive impairment or in reducing their risk of conversion to Alzheimer's, we think that at the very least behavioural stress management programs could be recommended. In particular, there has been research on the use of mindfulness-based stress reduction in treating anxiety and other psychiatric symptoms in Alzheimer's --and this is showing promise," said Dr. Mah.
The Baycrest study accessed data from the large population-based Alzheimer's Disease Neuroimaging Initiative to analyze anxiety, depression, cognitive and brain structural changes in 376 adults, aged 55 - 91, over a three-year period. Those changes were monitored every six months. All of the adults had a clinical diagnosis of amnestic MCI and a low score on the depression rating scale, indicating that anxiety symptoms were not part of clinical depression.
MCI is considered a risk marker for converting to Alzheimer's disease within a few years. It is estimated that half-a-million Canadians aged 65-and-older have MCI, although many go undiagnosed. Not all MCI sufferers will convert to Alzheimer's - some will stabilize and others may even improve in their cognitive powers.
The Baycrest study has yielded important evidence that anxiety is a "predictive factor" of whether an individual with MCI will convert to Alzheimer's or not, said Dr. Mah. Studies have shown that anxiety in MCI is associated with abnormal concentrations of plasma amyloid protein levels and T-tau proteins in cerebrospinal fluid, which are biomarkers of Alzheimer's. Depression and chronic stress have also been linked to smaller hippocampal volume and increased risk of dementia.
Source:American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry

The brain's 'inner GPS' gets dismantled

Imagine being able to recognize your car as your own but never being able to remember where you parked it. Researchers at University of California, San Diego School of Medicine have induced this all-too-common human experience - or a close version of it - permanently in rats and from what is observed perhaps derive clues about why strokes and Alzheimer's disease can destroy a person's sense of direction.
The findings are published online in the current issue of Cell Reports.
Grid cells and other specialized nerve cells in the brain, known as "place cells," comprise the brain's inner GPS, the discovery of which earned British-American and Norwegian scientists this year's Nobel Prize for medicine.
In research that builds upon the Nobel Prize-winning science, UC San Diego scientists have developed a micro-surgical procedure that makes it possible to remove the area of the rat's brain that contains grid cells and show what happens to this hard-wired navigational system when these grid cells are wiped out.
One effect, not surprisingly, is that the rats become very poor at tasks requiring internal map-making skills, such as remembering the location of a resting platform in a water maze test.
"Their loss of spatial memory formation was not a surprise," said senior co-author Robert Clark, PhD, a professor of psychiatry. "It's what would be expected based on the physiological characteristics of that area of the brain," which is known as the entorhinal cortex and is the first brain region to break down in Alzheimer's disease.
But the rats retained a host of other memory and navigation-related skills that scientists had previously speculated would be destroyed without grid cells.
"The surprise is the discovery of the type of memory formation that was not disrupted by the removal of the grid cell area," Clark said.
Specifically, UC San Diego scientists were able to show that even without grid cells rats could still mark spatial changes in their environment. They could, for example, notice when an object in a familiar environment was moved a few inches and they could recognize objects, such as a coffee mug or flower vase, and remember later that they had seen these objects before.
Electrical recordings of signals transmitted from the hippocampus suggested that the animals had developed place cells - cells that are believed to convey a sense of location - and that these cells were firing when an animal passed through a familiar place.
"Their place cells were less precise and less stable, but they were present and active," said Clark, who is also a research scientist at Veterans Affairs San Diego Healthcare System. "That was a surprise because we had removed the spatially modulated grid-cell input to these neurons."
The axons of grid cells project into the hippocampus and it has been assumed that without this relay of information from the entorhinal cortex to the hippocampus, place cells would be unable to develop. "This is not the case," he said.
"Our work shows a crisp division of labor within memory circuits of the brain," he said. "Removing the grid-cell network removes memory for places but leaves completely intact a whole host of other important memory abilities like recognition memory and memory of fearful events."
Source:Cell Reports

PM Narendra Modi allocates 'AYUSH' department to Shripad Naik

With an eye on reviving indigenous and traditional medicine, Prime MinisterNarendra Modi on Sunday earmarked a Minister of State (Independent Charge) to look after Department of Ayurveda, Yogaand Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homeopathy (AYUSH).
Shripad Yesso Naik has been made Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Ayush, said a communique issued by Rashtrapati Bhavan in New Delhi on Sunday. Earlier, the Department was under the ambit of the Health Minister, under whose ministry it functioned. The move came after Modi effected a Cabinet reshuffle earlier in the day. 

Sunday, 9 November 2014

New Research Adds Spice to Curcumin’s Health-Promoting Benefits

Newly created turmeric-based formulation releases anti-inflammatory power throughout body

TurmericCOLUMBUS, Ohio – The health benefits of over-the-counter curcumin supplements might not get past your gut, but new research shows that a modified formulation of the spice releases its anti-inflammatory goodness throughout the body.
Curcumin is a naturally occurring compound found in the spice turmeric that has been used for centuries as an Ayurvedic medicine treatment for such ailments as allergies, diabetes and ulcers.
Anecdotal and scientific evidence suggests curcumin promotes health because it lowers inflammation, but it is not absorbed well by the body. Most curcumin in food or supplements stays in the gastrointestinal tract, and any portion that’s absorbed is metabolized quickly.
Many research groups are testing the compound’s effects on disorders ranging from colon cancer to osteoarthritis. Others, like these Ohio State University scientists, are investigating whether enabling widespread availability of curcumin’s biological effects to the entire body could make it useful both therapeutically and as a daily supplement to combat disease.
“There’s a reason why this compound has been used for hundreds of years in Eastern medicine. And this study suggests that we have identified a better and more effective way to deliver curcumin and know what diseases to use it for so that we can take advantage of its anti-inflammatory power,” said Nicholas Young, a postdoctoral researcher in rheumatology and immunology at Ohio State and lead author of the study.
The research is published in the Nov. 4, 2014, issue of the journal PLOS ONE.
Curcumin powder was mixed with castor oil and polyethylene glycol in a process called nano-emulsion(think vinaigrette salad dressing), creating fluid teeming with microvesicles that contain curcumin. This process allows the compound to dissolve and be more easily absorbed by the gut to enter the bloodstream and tissues.
Feeding mice this curcumin-based drug shut down an acute inflammatory reaction by blocking activation of a key protein that triggers the immune response. The researchers were also the first to show that curcumin stops recruitment of specific immune cells that, when overactive, are linked to such problems as heart disease and obesity.
Young and his colleagues, including co-senior authors Lai-Chu Wu and Wael Jarjour of the Division of Rheumatology and Immunology at Ohio State’s Wexner Medical Center, now want to know if curcumin in this form can counter the chronic inflammation that is linked to sickness and age-related frailty. They have started with animal studies testing nano-emulsified curcumin’s ability to prevent or control inflammation in a lupus model.
“We envision that this nutraceutical could be used one day both as a daily supplement to help prevent certain diseases and as a therapeutic drug to help combat the bad inflammation observed in many diseases,” Young said. “The distinction will then be in the amount given – perhaps a low dose for daily prevention and higher doses for disease suppression.”
The term nutraceutical refers to foods or nutrients that provide medical or health benefits.
The curcumin delivery system was created in Ohio State’s College of Pharmacy, and these researchers previously showed that concentrations of the emulsified curcumin in blood were more than 10 times higher than of curcumin powder suspended in water. From there, the researchers launched experiments in mice and cell cultures, generating artificial inflammation and comparing the effects of the nano-emulsified curcumin with the effects of curcumin powder in water or no treatment at all.
The researchers injected mice with lipopolysaccharide, a bacteria cell wall extract that stimulates an immune reaction in animals. Curcumin can target many molecules, but the research team zeroed in onNF-kB, a protein that is known to play an important role in the immune response.
In a specialized imaging machine, mice receiving plain curcumin lit up with bioluminescent signals indicating that NF-kB was actively triggering an immune response, while mice receiving nano-emulsified curcumin showed minimal signs – a 22-fold reduction – that the protein had been activated at all.
Knowing that curcumin delivered in this way could shut down NF-kB activation throughout the animals’ bodies, researchers looked for further details about the compound’s effects on inflammation. They found that nano-emulsified curcumin halted the recruitment of immune cells called macrophages that “eat” invading pathogens but also contribute to inflammation by secreting pro-inflammatory chemicals. And in cells isolated from human blood samples, macrophages were stopped in their tracks.
“This macrophage-specific effect of curcumin had not been described before,” Young said. “Because of that finding, we propose nano-emulsified curcumin has the best potential against macrophage-associated inflammation.”
Inflammation triggered by overactive macrophages has been linked to cardiovascular disease, disorders that accompany obesity, Crohn’s disease, rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, diabetes and lupus-related nephritis.
This work was supported by The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center and Comprehensive Cancer Center Support (CORE) grant from the National Institutes of Health/National Cancer Instituteand funding for Ohio State’s Center for Clinical and Translational Science provided by the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences.
Additional co-authors are Michael Bruss, Mark Gardner, William Willis and Giancarlo Valiente of the Division of Rheumatology and Immunology; Xiaokui Mo of the Center for Biostatistics; and Yu Cao and Zhongfa Liu of the College of Pharmacy,
 all at Ohio State.
Source:Journal PLOS ONE.   
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