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

Thursday, 29 January 2015

“The Devil’s Breath” – World’s Scariest Drug Can Block Free Will, Wipe Your Memory, & Even Kill

n the crime ridden streets of Colombia, urban myths tell of the horrors surrounding a local drug nicknamed “the devil’s breath.”
The drug’s real name is scopolamine, an anticholinergic drug derived from a number of trees native to South America. Hailed in a 2013 Vice documentary as ‘the world’s scariest drug,’ scopolamine is known to turn its user (or victim rather) into a docile zombie ready to do exactly what its perpetrator wants.
In an attempt to learn more about the mysterious underground drug, Vice’s Ryan Duffy flew down to South America to interview those who deal the drug as well those who’ve fallen victim to it.
One drug dealer out of the capital Bogota claims the most frightening part about the drug is its simple method of administration, which can see the colourless, odourless drug blown in the faces of its victims, taking effect almost instantaneously.
Scopolamine has a remarkable ability to wipe its victims memory clean, so that the next day there is no recollection of what transpired while under its influence. Stories run rampant throughout Colombia of people being raped, having their bank accounts emptied, or even willingly giving up an organ.
This makes scopolamine an effective weapon for drug dealers, thieves and even prostitutes, as shown in Vice’s documentary short.
“They go out to party and then wake up two or three days later on a park bench,” said Maria Fernanda Villota, a nurse at San Jose University Hospital in Bogota, which receives several scopolamine victims every week. “They arrive here without their belongings or their money.”
Last year, Colombian police reported nearly 1,200 cases of people victimized by criminals using scopolamine and other so-called zombie drugs. The victims range from high-profile politicians to U.S. Embassy employees to average Colombians. Perhaps the number of cases are related to the drug’s availability, whose metabolites can be found in a number of plants, including jimson weed, angel’s trumpets and corkwood.
Scopolamine is a muscarinic antagonist which works by blocking the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, resulting in depression of the central nervous system. The few medical uses include treatment of motion sickness as well as treatment of symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.
Even the CIA has been called out for using scopolamine in behavioural-engineering programs from the 1960s, according to John D. Marks’ book, The Search for the ‘Manchurian Candidate.’
The Vice documentary makes for a fascinating watch, I highly recommend it to anyone fascinated with the underground world of the drug trade. Here’s what Ryan Duffy had to say about his experience while filming the piece:
When VBS initially asked me to go down to Colombia to dig into this Scopolamine story, I was pretty excited. I had only a vague understanding of the drug, but the idea of a substance that renders a person incapable of exercising free-will seemed liked a recipe for hilarity and the YouTube hall of fame. I even spent a little time brainstorming the various ways I could transport some of it back to the states and had a pretty good list going of different ways to utilize it on my buddies.
The original plan was for me to sample the drug myself to really get an idea of the effect it had on folks. The producer and camera man had flew down to Bogota ahead of me to confirm some meetings and start laying down the groundwork. By the time I arrived a few days later, things had changed dramatically. Their first few days in the country had apparently been such a harrowing montage of freaked-out dealers and unimaginable horror stories about Scopolamine that we decided I was absolutely not going to be doing the drug.
All elements of humor and novelty were rapidly stripped away during my first few days in town. After meeting only a couple people with firsthand experience, the story took a far darker turn than we ever could have imagined, and the Scopolamine pranks I had originally imagined pulling on my friends seemed beyond naive and absurd.
By the time we were wrapping things up and preparing to leave the country, I couldn’t wait to get as far away from Colombia and that drug as possible. Apologies for a fleeting moment of sincerity, but looking back, I’m pretty proud of the work we did down there. This story, and the people who tell it, truly deserve to be heard.”
Watch This Video

Probiotic helps treat diabetes in rats, could lead to human remedy

Science may be one step closer to treating diabetes with a human probiotic pill, according to new Cornell University research.
In the study, published Jan. 27 in the journalDiabetes, the researchers engineered a strain of lactobacillus, a human probiotic common in the gut, to secrete a Glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1). They then administered it orally to diabetic rats for 90 days and found the rats receiving the engineered probiotic had up to 30 percent lower high blood glucose, a hallmark of diabetes.
The study was a proof of principle, and future work will test higher doses to see if a complete treatment can be achieved, said John March, professor of biological and environmental engineering at Cornell University and the paper's senior author.
The researchers found that upper intestinal epithelial cells in diabetic rats were converted into cells that acted very much like pancreatic beta cells, which monitor blood glucose levels and secrete insulin as needed to balance glucose levels in healthy individuals.
"The amount of time to reduce glucose levels following a meal is the same as in a normal rat, ... and it is matched to the amount of glucose in the blood," just as it would be with a normal-functioning pancreas, March said. "It's moving the center of glucose control from the pancreas to the upper intestine."
Also, though it replaces the insulin capacity in diabetic rats, the researchers found no change in blood glucose levels when administered to healthy rats. "If the rat is managing its glucose, it doesn't need more insulin," March said.
This technology was licensed by the BioPancreate, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Cortendo AB, a biopharmaceutical company incorporated in Sweden and based in Radnor, Penn., which is working to get the therapy into production for human use.

Human patients would likely take a pill each morning to help control their diabetes, March said.

Alcohol and Liver Disease: Daily Drinking Ups Cirrhosis Risk, Says Study

Alcohol and Liver Disease: Daily Drinking Ups Cirrhosis Risk, Says StudyResearchers have now established that alcohol drinking pattern has a significant influence on the risk of cirrhosis of the liver and that daily drinking increases that risk compared with drinking less frequently.

"Our study points to a risk difference between drinking daily and drinking five or six days a week in the general male population.
Since the details of alcohol induced liver injury are unknown, we can only speculate that the reason may be that daily alcohol exposure worsens liver damage or inhibits liver regeneration," said lead investigator Gro Askgaard, from the University of Southern Denmark, Copenhagen.

Scientists in Denmark investigated the risk of alcoholic cirrhosis among nearly 56,000 participants aged between 50 and 64 in the Danish Cancer, Diet, and Health study (1993-2011). 

Amount of alcohol intake was reported as the average amount per week of specific types of alcohol: beer, wine, and liquor.

Of the 55,917 participants, 257 men and 85 women developed alcoholic cirrhosis, corresponding to an incidence rate of 66 in men and 19 in women per 100,000 person-years. There were no cases of alcoholic cirrhosis among lifetime abstainers.
Source:University of Southern Denmark, Copenhagen.


Green Tea Helps Kill Oral Cancer Cells

Green tea consists of a polyphenol, epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG), which may help kill oral cancer cells, without touching the healthy cells, according to researchers at Penn State. researchers found that EGCG may trigger a process in the mitochondria that leads to cell death.

Researchers studied normal human oral cells along with human oral cancer cells to determine how EGCG was affecting cancer cells differently than normal cells. They grew the normal and cancer cells on petri dishes and then exposed them to EGCG at concentrations typically found in the saliva after chewing green-tea chewing gum. Researchers collected the cells and checked for oxidative stress and signs of antioxidant response. 

They found that a protein called sirtuin 3 (SIRT3) was critical to the process, so the idea that EGCG might selectively affect the activity of SIRT3 in cancer cells, to turn it off, and in normal cells, to turn it on, was probably applicable in multiple kinds of cancers. 

Associate professor Joshua Lambert said, "The next step would be to study the mechanism in animals." If those tests and human trials turn out to be successful, the researchers then hope to create anti-cancer treatments that are as effective as current treatments without the harmful side effects. 

Source:The study appears online in the issue of Molecular Nutrition and Food Research.


Tuesday, 27 January 2015

A spoonful of sugar in silver nanoparticles to regulate their toxicity

The use of colloidal silver to treat illnesses has become more popular in recent years, but its ingestion, prohibited in countries like the US, can be harmful to health. Scientists from the Max Planck Institute in Germany have now confirmed that silver nanoparticles are significantly toxic when they penetrate cells, although the number of toxic radicals they generate can vary by coating them with carbohydrates.
Silver salts have been used externally for centuries for their antiseptic properties in the treatment of pains and as a surface disinfectant for materials. There are currently people who use silver nanoparticles to make homemade potions to combat infections and illnesses such as cancer and AIDS, although in some cases the only thing they achieve is argyria or blue-tinged skin.
IMAGEHealth authorities warn that there is no scientific evidence that supports the therapeutic efficiency of colloidal silver and in fact, in some countries like the US, its ingestion is prohibited. On the contrary, there are numerous studies which demonstrate the toxicity of silver nanoparticles on cells.
One of these studies has just been published in the 'Journal of Nanobiotechnology' by an international team of researchers coordinated from the Max Planck Institute of Colloids and Interfaces (Germany). "We have observed that it is only when silver nanoparticles enter inside the cells that they produce serious harm, and that their toxicity is basically due to the oxidative stress they create," explains the Spanish chemist Guillermo Orts-Gil, project co-ordinator, to SINC.
To carry out the study, the team has analysed how different carbohydrates act on the surface of silver nanoparticles (Ag-NP) of around 50 nanometres, which have been introduced into cultures of liver cells and tumour cells from the nervous system of mice. The results reveal that, for example, the toxic effects of the Ag-NP are much greater if they are covered with glucose instead of galactose or mannose.
Source: 'Journal of Nanobiotechnology

Stress during pregnancy can affect fetal development

Stress hormones in the mother can affect foetal development, according to a study published today in The Journal of Physiology.
To test whether high stress levels in pregnant mice had an impact on their offspring, pregnant mice received the natural glucocorticoid corticosterone at different times during pregnancy, either from day 11 to 16 (20 females), from day 14-19 (31 females), or not at all (74 control females).
Researchers found that increased levels of glucocorticoid stress hormones in pregnant mice caused the mother to eat more but reduced the ability of the placenta to transport glucose to her foetus.
Dr Owen Vaughan, lead author of the study explained: "Together with previous work, the findings show that maternal glucocorticoids regulate foetal nutrition. Higher glucocorticoid hormone levels in the mother (as seen in stressful conditions), can reduce glucose transport across the placenta and lead to a decrease in foetal weight.
"Glucocorticoid levels in pregnant women may determine the specific combination of nutrients received by the foetus and influence the long-term metabolic health of their children as a result. This could have implications for women stressed during pregnancy or treated clinically with glucocorticoids, if the mechanisms are similar in humans.
"Our research showed that under stress, certain genes in the placenta were modified. One of the genes shown to be altered in the placenta by maternal stress hormones was Redd1. This gene is believed to signal availability of other substances, like oxygen, and to interact with intracellular pathways regulating growth and nutrient uptake in other tissues of the body. Future studies may prove this molecule is important in the placenta, in linking environmental cues to the nutrition of the foetus."
Source:The Journal of Physiology.

Subfornical Organ in Hypothalamus is a Dedicated Brain System for Thirst

Neuroscientists from Columbia University Medical Center have identified the 'switch' or neurons in brain, that are responsible for switching thirst on or off.
Researchers hypothesized that there are at least two types of neurons in the subfornical organ (SFO), in the hypothalamus including ones that drive thirst and others that suppress it. Lead author Dr. Yuki Oka, said, "Those electrostimulation experiments were probably activating both types of neurons at once, so they were bound to get conflicting results." 

To test their hypothesis, researchers turned to optogenetics, a more precise technique for controlling brain activity. Optogenetics helps researchers control specific sets of neurons in the brain after inserting light-activated molecules into them. Shining light onto these molecules turns on the neurons without affecting other types of neurons in the vicinity. These 'mind-control' experiments revealed two types of neurons in the SFO that control thirst- CAMKII neurons, which turn thirst on, and VGAT neurons, which turn it off. 

When researchers turned on CAMK11 neurons, mice immediately began to seek water and to drink intensively. This behavior was equally strong in well-hydrated mice and in dehydrated mice. Once the neurons were shut off, by turning off the light, the mice immediately stopped drinking. They also found that light-stimulation of the CAMKII neurons did not induce feeding behavior, and the light-induced thirst was specific for water and did not increase the animals' consumption of other fluids, including glycerol and honey. 

Similar experiments with VGAT neurons showed that these neurons turn off thirst. When the researchers turned on these neurons with light, dehydrated mice immediately stopped drinking water, even if they were drinking water. Dr. Oka said, "Together, these findings show that the SFO is a dedicated brain system for thirst." 

Source:The paper has been published in the online edition of Nature.


Novel Target Identified for Epilepsy Treatment

 Novel Target Identified for Epilepsy Treatment
According to the research a single gene that coordinates a network of about 400 genes involved in epilepsy could be a target for new treatments.

Identifying how these genes are co-ordinated in the brain was important in the search for new anti-epilepsy medications. This requires approaches that can analyze how multiple genes work in concert to cause disease. 

Instead of studying individual genes, which has been the usual approach in epilepsy to date, researchers from Imperial College London developed novel computational and genetics techniques to systematically analyse the activity of genes in epilepsy. The study was the first to apply this "systems genetics" approach to epilepsy. 

The researchers studied samples of brain tissue removed from patients during neurosurgery for their epilepsy. Starting from these samples, they identified a gene network that was highly active in the brain of these patients, and then discovered that an unconnected gene, Sestrin 3 (SESN3), acts as a major regulator of this epileptic gene network. 

This was the first time SESN3 has been implicated in epilepsy and its co-ordinating role was confirmed in studies with mice and zebrafish. 

Using surgical samples of brain tissue provides a unique opportunity to study how genes are coordinated in the brains of people with epilepsy. Patients with severe temporal lobe epilepsy who do not respond to medication can undergo surgery to remove part of the brain to relieve their seizures. 

They found that existing medications don't work in about one-third of people with epilepsy. Here they have taken a new approach, and identified a network of genes underlying the epilepsy itself in these patients and mapped its control to a single gene, SESN3. This offers hope that new disease-modifying therapies can be developed for the treatment of epilepsy itself. 

Source:The study is published in Nature Communications.


Facebook Badge