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Friday, 6 March 2015

An alternative to medical marijuana for pain?

Medical marijuana is proliferating across the country due to the ability of cannabis ingestion to treat important clinical problems such as chronic pain. However, negative side effects and the development of tolerance limit the widespread therapeutic use of Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (Δ9-THC), the major psychoactive ingredient in cannabis.
THC's side effects are produced via its actions at cannabinoid CB1 receptors in the brain. Thus, scientists theorized that an agent with similar mechanistic actions, but that activate CB2 receptors instead, may eliminate the unwanted side effects while maintaining an equivalent level of efficacy.
Dr. Andrea Hohmann and her colleagues at Indiana University tested this strategy and found that, unlike Δ9-THC, repeated dosing with the cannabinoid CB2 agonist AM1710 suppresses chemotherapy-induced pain in mice without producing tolerance, physical withdrawal, motor dysfunction, or hypothermia. Moreover, the therapeutic effects of AM1710 were preserved in mice lacking CB1 receptors but absent in mice lacking CB2 receptors.
Their findings are reported in the current issue of Biological Psychiatry.
"Our study is important because it demonstrates beyond doubt that activation of cannabinoid CB2 receptors suppresses neuropathic pain without producing signs of physical dependence (i.e., a withdrawal syndrome) or other unwanted side effects associated with activation of CB1 receptors in the brain," said Hohmann.
Their studies used animals that were treated with a chemotherapeutic agent (paclitaxel) to produce pain. When animals were given AM1710, a CB2 agonist, its pain-suppressive effects were fully preserved and its therapeutic effects were maintained even after repeated dosing.
Alternatively, and as expected, when animals were given Δ9-THC, they developed complete tolerance to the pain-suppressing effects of THC and with repeated dosing, THC was no longer effective in suppressing neuropathic pain.
When the THC-treated animals were challenged with a drug that blocks CB1 receptors in the brain, the animals showed a prominent withdrawal syndrome, indicating signs of physical dependence following removal of THC. Strikingly, this was not the case with the CB2 agonist; blocking either CB1 or CB2 receptors produced no signs of withdrawal in animals treated chronically with the CB2 agonist.
Hohmann added, "We think our data suggests that CB2 receptors are an important target for suppressing chronic pain without unwanted side effects (e.g. psychoactivity, addiction)."
"It is important to know whether the benefits of cannabis ingestion for pain could be attributed in large part to the stimulation of CB2 receptors," commented Dr. John Krystal, Editor of Biological Psychiatry. "CB2 agonists, in theory, would present less risk regarding addiction and intoxication than the ingestion of cannabis or THC."
More work will be necessary before CB2 receptor agonists could be prescribed for use in humans, but for now, these data support the therapeutic potential of CB2 agonists for managing pain without the adverse effects associated with cannabis.
Source: Biological Psychiatry.

Sugar Should Make Up Less Than 5 Percent of a Person's Total Daily Energy Intake

The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that sugar should make up Less than 5 percent of a person's total daily energy intake. The UN agency urged a dramatic drop in the consumption of sugar, hidden in everything from sodas and ketchup, as it steps up the fight against obesity.
 Sugar Should Make Up Less Than 5 Percent of a Person's Total Daily Energy Intake

The WHO's previous guidelines suggest that sugars should make up less than 10 percent of a person's total daily energy intake, but following a year of discussions among WHO member states, the UN agency has now urged countries to strive for half that. Setting the bar at 5 percent would mean people should consume no more than 25 grams, or the equivalent of 6 teaspoons of sugar a day, less than the 10 teaspoons in your average can of soda. 

The WHO guidelines do not refer to sugars in fresh fruits, vegetables and milk, since there is no evidence they are harmful. The WHO said, "Much of the so-called free sugars we consume today are hidden in processed foods that are not usually seen as sweet, like ketchup, which contains a full teaspoon of the sugar in each tablespoon. The five-percent recommendation however remains conditional, since too few epidemiological studies have been carried out in populations with such low sugar intake to allow a clear comparison."
 Source:WHO Guidelines

Chronic Paracetamol Use Poses Serious Health Risks

A new study has revealed that chronic paracetamol users, people who typically take large, daily doses over several years, may increase their risk of death, or kidney, intestinal and heart problems; and doctors may be under-estimating the risks to patients from long-term use of paracetamol.
 Chronic Paracetamol Use Poses Serious Health Risks

The research team analyzed data from eight previously-published studies into long-term paracetamol use. The data came only from people who had paracetamol prescribed by a doctor, as opposed to over-the-counter purchases. 

Two of the eight studies had found a 63 percent increased risk of mortality among long-term paracetamol users, compared to those who had not been prescribed the drug during the study period. Four studies found a heightened risk, ranging from 19 to 68 percent, of cardiovascular problems. The risk of gastrointestinal bleeding and other intestinal side-effects was up to 49 percent as high. Three studies found chronic paracetamol use had an adverse effect on kidneys. Researchers found that in all cases, the risk was dose-dependent, in other words, the higher the dose, the greater the risk.

"Even though the risk in absolute terms was small, doctors should think carefully when prescribing the drug. Doctors need to be aware of patients' individual responses to paracetamol and the observed increased toxicity with regular and higher dosing," said the report. 

Source:The analysis was published in the British journal Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases.

High-Intensity Workouts are Better in Reducing Blood Sugar Levels

 High-Intensity Workouts are Better in Reducing Blood Sugar Levels
As per a new study, both low and high intensity workouts are effective for weight loss, but high intensity workouts may do a better job of reducing blood sugar levels.

The study by American College Of Physicians revealed that patients at risk for diabetes or heart disease may want to choose their workout intensity based on health goals. 

Exercise has been shown to reduce obesity and related glucose tolerance, but whether increasing exercise intensity improves outcomes has not been determined. 

Researchers studied 300 abdominally obese adults to determine the separate effects of exercise amount and intensity on abdominal obesity and glucose tolerance. 

Participants were randomly assigned to perform either short, high intensity workouts or long, lower intensity workouts five times a week. All participants were instructed to eat a healthy diet during the study but did not reduce their caloric intake. 

After 24 weeks, all participants experienced similar reductions in waist circumference, but only participants in the high intensity exercise group experienced reduction in two-hour glucose levels. 

According to lead author Robert Ross, the results show a clear benefit to higher intensity workouts for those who wish to reduce glucose levels. Higher intensity can be achieved simply by increasing the incline while walking on a treadmill or walking at a brisker pace. Participants were surprised by how easy it was for them to attain a high intensity exercise level. 

Source:The study is published in Annals of Internal Medicine.



Sitting for too Long can Cause Coronary Artery Calcification

 Sitting for too Long can Cause Coronary Artery CalcificationSitting for longer durations can cause coronary artery calcification, it is an early indicator of heart problems.The study found no association between coronary artery calcification and the amount of exercise a person gets, suggesting that too much sitting might have a greater impact than exercise on this particular measure of heart health. The results suggest that exercise may not entirely counteract the negative effects of a mostly sedentary lifestyle on coronary artery calcium. 

Jacquelyn Kulinski, M.D., study's lead author, said that the study suggests that reducing how much you sit every day may represent a more novel, companion strategy (in addition to exercise) to help reduce your cardiovascular risk. 

The research comes on the heels of recent studies linking excess sitting with an increased risk for cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer and early death. The phenomenon has been dubbed "sitting disease," though it is a lifestyle risk factor and not a true medical condition. 

This study offers a unique perspective on the effects of sedentary behavior because it links sitting with an early marker for heart disease risk, laying the foundation for future studies that could investigate whether changing your habits could potentially reverse the damage before you develop full-blown heart disease. 

Analyzing heart scans and physical activity records of more than 2,000 adults living in Dallas, the researchers found each hour of sedentary time per day on average was associated with a 14 percent increase in coronary artery calcification burden. The association was independent of exercise activity and other traditional heart disease risk factors. 

The study offers a promising message, and reducing the amount of time a person sat by even an hour or two a day could have a significant and positive impact on your future cardiovascular health, Kulinski said. 

Source:The study is due to be presented at the American College of Cardiology's 64th Annual Scientific Session.

Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Minimally invasive migraine treatment 'reduced painkiller use in 88% of patients'

A new intranasal treatment for migraine has been found to lower use of pain-relief medication among 88% of patients in a retrospective analysis.
woman with migraine
Migraine headaches are one of the most common, debilitating diseases in the US.
At the Society of Interventional Radiology's Annual Scientific Meeting, clinicians from Albany Medical Center and the State University New York Empire State College in Saratoga Springs, NY, explained how the new treatment - image-guided, intranasal sphenopalatine ganglion (SPG) blocks - provided ongoing relief tomigraine patients.
"Migraine headaches are one of the most common, debilitating diseases in the United States, and the cost and side effects of medicine to address migraines can be overwhelming," says Dr. Kenneth Mandato, the study's lead researcher and an interventional radiologist at Albany Medical Center.
"Intranasal sphenopalatine ganglion blocks are image-guided, targeted, breakthrough treatments," he elaborates. "They offer a patient-centered therapy that has the potential to break the migraine cycle and quickly improve patients' quality of life."
The retrospective analysis involved 112 participants with migraine or cluster headaches, who scored the severity of their symptoms on a visual analog scale (VAS) between 1 and 10. Prior to receiving the new treatment, participants reported an average VAS score of 8.25. Scores greater than 4 occurred at least 15 days per month on average.

Treatment is administered nasally to a nerve bundle associated with migraines

The treatment is minimally invasive and involves 4% lidocaine being administered to the patient via a "spaghetti-sized catheter" inserted through the patient's nasal passage. Through this route, the lidocaine is delivered to the patient's sphenopalatine ganglion - a bundle of nerves just behind the nose that are associated with migraines.
According to the researchers, the day after the SPG block, the VAS scores of the patients were halved to an average of 4.10. Thirty days after the procedure, the average VAS score was 5.25 - a 36% decrease from the baseline levels. Overall, 88% of patients said they were using less or no migraine medication for relief following the procedure.
Dr. Mandato explains how the SPG block works:
"Administration of lidocaine to the sphenopalatine ganglion acts as a 'reset button' for the brain's migraine circuitry. When the initial numbing of the lidocaine wears off, the migraine trigger seems to no longer have the maximum effect that it once did. Some patients have reported immediate relief and are making fewer trips to the hospital for emergency headache medicine."
However, Dr. Mandato emphasizes that SPG blocks are not a cure for migraines. Rather, the treatment is a temporary solution, much like other existing treatment options for chronic headaches. Despite this, Dr. Mandato believes that the treatment is safe enough for patients to have the SPG block on multiple occasions if necessary.
The researchers will continue to track the 112 participants to gauge their responses 6 months after treatment. A double-blind, prospective study is also being planned that will "more rigorously evaluate" the effectiveness of SPG blocks.
Previously  a study published in the journal Neurology that found people who are neglected or abused in childhood are more likely to experience migraines in adulthood.
"Childhood maltreatment can have long-lasting effects like associated medical and psychological conditions, including migraine, in adulthood," the authors of that study concluded. "When managing patients with migraine, neurologists should take childhood maltreatment into consideration."
Source:journal Neurology/Society of Interventional Radiology's Annual Scientific Meeting, 

Eating nuts linked to 20% cut in death rates

Even the epidemiologists doing the research found the pun irresistible: good health costs peanuts. For what they describe as a relatively affordable benefit, their study has found that a diet high in nuts is linked to lower mortality - associated with death rates cut by as much as a fifth.
The results, published among the latest online papers from JAMA Internal Medicine, comes from three large prospective cohort studies.
[peanuts]These involved 71,764 people living in the southern US with mostly low incomes - black and white people, men and women - and 134,265 Chinese people - one a cohort of men, the other of women - living in Shanghai, China.
Consistent across all three separate cohorts, the study showed that nut intake was linked to a lower risk of total mortality (death from any cause), and death from cardiovascular disease.
Numerous previous studies, say the authors - including Dr. Xiao-Ou Shu from the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, Nashville, TN - have found benefit from eating peanuts, but with the limitation that the people studied represented higher income groups - and the nuts were more expensive, too.
This study therefore looked at the diets of people from low-income groups, and diets that included predominantly peanuts - the least expensive nuts.
"Nuts," that is, in the common sense - since peanuts are in fact legumes, as are peas and beans, but have similar nutrients to true tree nuts, and are counted as nuts in epidemiological studies as well as by most ordinary people.
The combined analysis of the cohort studies cannot conclude a cause-and-effect relationship between eating nuts and a lower death risk because, for example, other factors can be responsible for observations, and in this study, there was no "dose-response" effect - no trend towards additional benefit from eating more and more nuts, just a benefit of eating nuts versus not eating them.
There is nonetheless strength in the prospectively observed link, as Dr. Michael Katz points out in an editor's note to the study:
"The consistency of the results between the cohorts, and with prior studies that have been performed in higher-income populations, increases our confidence that the beneficial effects of nuts are not due to other characteristics of nut eaters."
Key results of the study included:
  • In the US cohort of people, there was a 21% lower risk of death from any cause for individuals who ate the most peanuts
  • In the Chinese groups, high nut intake gave a 17% lower risk of death overall
  • For all the ethnic groups, there was a link to a reduced risk of ischemic heart disease (coronary heart disease, which leads to heart attack and heart failure).
The authors conclude:
"The findings highlight a substantive public health impact of nut/peanut consumption in lowering CVD [cardiovascular disease] mortality given the affordability of peanuts to individuals from all socioeconomic status backgrounds."
They add: "We found consistent evidence that high nut/peanut consumption was associated with a reduced risk of total mortality and CVD mortality.
"This inverse association was observed among both men and women and across each racial/ethnic group, and was independent of metabolic conditions, smoking, alcohol consumption and BMI [body-mass index]."
The studies in both the American and Chinese populations asked detailed questions about participants' diets, including food types and frequencies, and taking a measure of nut, peanut and peanut butter intake.
The American groups were in 12 southern US states, with more than 85,000 participants enrolled between the years 2002 and 2009, aged from 40 to 79 years and mostly from low-income communities.
The Chinese cohorts were between 40 and 74 years of age in 8 communities of urban Shanghai, taking part in the study from 1996 to 2006 and totalling over 136,000 people.
Including the Chinese groups gives "important" new evidence on the benefits of nuts, says Dr. Katz, because there was very little tree nut consumption in the groups and "peanuts are cheap and ubiquitous (and can be ground into delicious peanut butter!)."
For the Americans, peanuts made up about half of the total nut consumption.
"Who cares" if peanuts are not really nuts, asks Dr. Katz - director of health services at the Fielding School of Public Health, University of California, Los Angeles - "if they help us to live longer at an affordable price?"
While "multiple studies" have shown the beneficial effects of eating nuts, media coverage about peanuts is usually concerned with allergy. This area of research took a major new direction last week, though, when study results found that eating peanuts during infancy may protect against allergy.
Source:JAMA Internal Medicine
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Newly discovered hormone mimics the effects of exercise

Scientists at the USC Leonard Davis School of Gerontology have discovered a new hormone that fights the weight gain caused by a high-fat Western diet and normalizes the metabolism - effects commonly associated with exercising.
Hormones are molecules that act as the body's signals, triggering various physiological responses. The newly discovered hormone, dubbed "MOTS-c," primarily targets muscle tissue, where it restores insulin sensitivity, counteracting diet-induced and age-dependent insulin resistance.
"This represents a major advance in the identification of new treatments for age-related diseases such as diabetes," said Pinchas Cohen, dean of the USC Davis school and senior author of a study on the research, which will appear in Cell Metabolism on March 3.
To test the effects of MOTS-c, the team injected the hormone into mice fed a high-fat diet, which typically causes them to grow obese and develop a resistance to insulin. The injections not only suppressed both effects in mice, they also reversed age-dependent insulin-resistance, a condition that precedes diabetes.
"This discovery sheds new light on mitochondria and positions them as active regulators of metabolism," said Changhan Lee, assistant professor at USC Davis and lead author of the study.
MOTS-c is unique among hormones in that it is encoded in the DNA of mitochondria -- the "powerhouses" of cells that convert food into energy. Other hormones are encoded in DNA in the nucleus.
Lee and Cohen collaborated with colleagues from the USC school as well as the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and the National Institutes of Health.
While all of the experiments on MOTS-c to date have been performed on lab mice, the molecular mechanisms that make it function in mice exist in all mammals, including humans. The MOTS-c intellectual property has been licensed to a biotechnology company, and clinical trials in humans could begin within the next three years, Cohen said.

Wormwood (Artemisia) Can Cure Cancer Better Than Any Other

As an answer from nature to this paralyzing issue, a rare Chinese herb with incredible healing properties came into the light. According to the studies which were published in Life Sciences, Cancer Letters and Anticancer Drugs, artemisinin is the miracle herb which is known to kill a whopping 12,000 cancer cells for every healthy cell. Artemisinin is a derivative of the wormwood plant which is popularly used in Chinese medicine.This wormwood extract had been in use in China several centuries ago. It was extensively used for its healing properties. But the treatment vanished over time. But because of an ancient manuscript that contains medical remedies, it has come back to the fore.
The finding that artemisinin can kill just one healthy cell for every 12,000 cancer cells supports the possibility of treating and eliminating cancer with minimal or negligible side effects.

How Artemisinin Works In Treating Cancer (A Basic Idea)

Artemisinin is basically a chemical compound that reacts with iron and forms free radicals. These free radicals kill the cancer cells. In order to multiply and spread, cancer cells require a large amount of iron. These cancer cells are more vulnerable to the cytotoxic effect created by artemisinin than the normal healthy cells.

Further Developments

Researchers from the University of Washington have updated artemisinin in order to create a compound that is over 1,200 times more specific in killing cancer cells. The good news is that this miracle herb has the potential to function more effectively than the current available drugs.
A chemical homing device was attached to artemisinin enabling it to target the drug selectively to cancer cells. The researchers tested the artemisinin-based drug on human leukaemia cells. The drug was found to be very selective in destroying the cancer cells.

The Big Limitation Of Chemotherapy

The fact that cancer cells develop from the normal healthy cells makes the entire process of treatment a walk through hell. So in order to kill cancer cells, there is no other choice but to introduce chemotherapy which kills the healthy cells as well. Chemotherapies are highly toxic as they destroy one human cell for every five to ten cancer cells. And hence, the side effects are debilitating.
However deadly the disease has been, mankind has found a way and fought through it. And it emerged victorious always. Let’s believe the same will happen in our fight against cancer.

Sunday, 1 March 2015

Neurons controlling appetite made from skin cells

IMAGEResearchers have for the first time successfully converted adult human skin cells into neurons of the type that regulate appetite, providing a patient-specific model for studying the neurophysiology of weight control and testing new therapies for obesity. The study, led by researchers at Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC) and at the New York Stem Cell Foundation (NYSCF), was published last month in the online issue of the Journal of Clinical Investigation.
In a separate study, which appeared in the February 10 issue of the journal Development, Kevin Eggan, PhD, Florian Merkle, and Alexander Schier of Harvard University have also succeeded in creating hypothalamic neurons from iPS cells. These neurons help to regulate behavioral and basic physiological functions in the human body, including, in addition to appetite, hypertension, sleep, mood, and some social disorders. The investigators at Columbia and Harvard shared ideas during the course of the research, and these studies are co-validating.
"Mice are a good model for studying obesity in humans, but it would better to have human cells for testing. Unfortunately, the cells that regulate appetite are located in an inaccessible part of the brain, the hypothalamus. So, until now, we've had to make do with a mouse model or with human cells harvested at autopsy. This has greatly limited our ability to study fundamental aspects of human obesity," said senior author Rudolph L. Leibel, MD, the Christopher J. Murphy Memorial Professor of Diabetes Research, professor of pediatrics and medicine, and co-director of the Naomi Berrie Diabetes Center at CUMC.
To make the neurons, human skin cells were first genetically reprogrammed to become induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells. Like natural stem cells, iPS cells are capable of developing into any kind of adult cell when given a specific set of molecular signals in a specific order. The iPS cell technology has been used to create a variety of adult human cell types, including insulin-producing beta cells and forebrain and motor neurons. "But until now, no one has been able to figure out how to convert human iPS cells into hypothalamic neurons," said co-author Dieter Egli, PhD, assistant professor of pediatrics (in developmental cell biology), a member of the Naomi Berrie Diabetes Center, and a senior research fellow at NYSCF.
"This is a wonderful example of several institutions coming together to collaborate and advance research in pursuit of new therapeutic interventions. The ability to make this type of neuron brings us one step closer to the development of new treatments for obesity," said Susan L. Solomon, CEO of NYSCF.
The CUMC/NYSCF team determined which signals are needed to transform iPS cells into arcuate hypothalamic neurons, a neuron subtype that regulates appetite. The transformation process took about 30 days. The neurons were found to display key functional properties of mouse arcuate hypothalamic neurons, including the ability to accurately process and secrete specific neuropeptides and to respond to metabolic signals such as insulin and leptin.
"We don't think that these neurons are identical to natural hypothalamic neurons, but they are close and will still be useful for studying the neurophysiology of weight control, as well as molecular abnormalities that lead to obesity," said Dr. Leibel. "In addition, the cells will allow us to evaluate potential obesity drugs in a way never before possible."

"This shows," said Dr. Eggan, "how improved understanding of stem cell biology is making an impact on our ability to study, understand, and eventually treat disorders of the nervous system. Because there are so few hypothalamic neurons of a given type, they have been notoriously difficult to study. The successful work by both groups shows that this problem has been cracked."

Marine oil supplement has positive effects on post-exercise muscle damage

An Indiana University study has revealed that there may be a greater connection between mussels and muscles than previously thought.
The study, by kinesiology professor Timothy Mickleborough at the IU School of Public Health-Bloomington, found that taking a pre-exercise supplement of the omega-3 PCSO-524, a marine oil lipid derived from the New Zealand green-lipped mussel, has significant positive effects on post-exercise muscle damage.
The pharmaceutical name of the supplement is Lyprinol, or Omega XL in the United States, and it has previously been used to effectively reduce the effects of osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease and exercise-induced asthma. Pharmalink International LTD, which funded the study, develops it.
Mickleborough said his initial study of this particular marine oil supplement led him to further test its healing properties on other parts of the body.
"I've worked with Pharmalink before when they approached me to do a study with this particular oil and its effects on exercise-induced asthma and respiratory inflammation," Mickleborough said. "I thought if it can be used as an anti-inflammatory for lungs, perhaps it could reverse muscle inflammation as well."
For the study, lead author Mickleborough and his colleagues tested 32 "untrained male subjects" -- men who exercise less than three times a week for less than 30 minutes at a time -- who would elicit a greater muscle response than an athlete who is used to regular muscle damage. The subjects were randomly given either the marine oil supplement or a placebo for 26 days before a muscle-damaging exercise session and for 96 hours afterwards.
The exercise session consisted of running at fairly high intensity for 20 minutes downhill on a treadmill. The body's reaction to the muscle-damaging exercise regimen was tested immediately, and at 24, 48, 72 and 96 hours post-workout.
The men who were given the PCSO-524 marine oil supplement exhibited less muscle soreness, less muscle pain, less strength loss, less fatigue and even less inflammatory proteins evident in their bloodstreams. Overall, they experienced less bodily stress after their workout in comparison to the subjects who were given the placebo.
For people who are looking to start exercising again, or even for those who engage in intense workouts regularly, this discovery can have a variety of positive effects on how their bodies react to muscle damage, Mickleborough said.
"It might have positive implications for triathletes if they're doing several different types of exercises, and it could potentially help diminish soreness in multisport, recreational athletes as well," he said. "Essentially, for anyone who is engaging in unaccustomed exercise, it's a nice product."
Mickleborough's study "The effects PCSO-524®, a patented marine oil lipid and omega-3 PUFA blend derived from the New Zealand green lipped mussel (Perna canaliculus), on indirect markers of muscle damage and inflammation after muscle damaging exercise in untrained men: a randomized, placebo controlled trial" is featured in the Feb. 2015 issue of the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition.
Source:Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition.

Respiratory Viruses Most Common Cause of Pneumonia in Children

Respiratory viruses, not bacterial infections, are the most commonly detected causes of community-acquired pneumonia in children, revealed a multicenter Etiology of Pneumonia in the Community (EPIC) study.


The EPIC study was a prospective, population-based study of community-acquired pneumonia hospitalizations among children in the United States that sought to address critical gaps in the knowledge about pneumonia. The study showed that the burden of pneumonia-related hospitalization is highest among children younger than 5-years of age.

The study involved children who were admitted with pneumonia, from January 2010 to June 2012, at Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt, LeBonheur Children's Medical Center and University of Utah. A total of 2,638 children younger than 18 years of age were enrolled, with 2,358 of those children having pneumonia confirmed by chest X-ray. Researchers obtained nasal, throat and blood samples on all the children to unravel the cause of pneumonia, whether viral or bacterial. 

The key findings of the study revealed that 81 percent of cases examined were caused by viral infections, while only 8 percent were caused by bacterial infections and 7 percent were both viral and bacterial. It was seen that RSV and human rhinovirus accounted for the leading viral causes of pneumonia among these children, followed by human metapneumovirus (HMPV), adenovirus, parainfluenza virus and coronavirus. These findings could be a catalyst for researchers to further investigate new and better ways to treat or prevent respiratory viruses, such as respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), which can lead to pneumonia. The study authors wrote, "Effective antiviral vaccines or treatments, particularly for RSV infection, could have a mitigating effect on pneumonia in children."

Study co-author Kathryn Edwards said, "What this tells us is that viruses are important causes of pneumonia. But it also tells us that with the routinely administered pneumococcal and haemophilus vaccines given to children, that we have virtually eliminated most bacteria as causes of pneumonia." 

Study lead Derek Williams said, "Pneumonia is a leading cause of hospitalization and is nearly always treated with antibiotics, but results from the EPIC study indicate we could drastically reduce antibiotic use overall, and when we do use antibiotics, we could do a much better job of limiting the use of broad-spectrum antibiotics. Unfortunately, differentiating viral from bacterial causes of pneumonia is not always clear. We are now trying to unravel that mystery to better understand the best way to treat pneumonia, when to use antibiotics, what antibiotics to use, and how to prevent it." 

Source:The research is published in the 'New England Journal of Medicine'.

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome can Now be Identified Through Blood Bio-markers

Chronic fatigue syndrome can now be identified through bio-markers in the blood, revealed scientists at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health. The study offers hope that earlier diagnosis may improve treatment. This is the first robust physical evidence that the syndrome is a biological illness as opposed to a psychological disorder, and also the first evidence that the disease has distinct stages.
 Chronic Fatigue Syndrome can Now be Identified Through Blood Bio-markers
With no known cause or cure, chronic fatigue syndrome, known formally as encephalomyelitis (ME/CFS), can cause extreme tiredness, headaches, difficulty concentrating and muscle pain.

Lead author Mady Hornig said, "We now have evidence confirming what millions of people with this disease already know, that ME/CFS isn't psychological. Our results should accelerate the process of establishing the diagnosis after individuals first fall ill as well as discovery of new treatment strategies focusing on these early blood markers."

Researchers tested levels of 51 immune bio-markers in blood plasma samples from 298 patients and 348 healthy controls. They found higher levels of immune molecules called cytokines in patients who had the disease three years or less. These patterns were not visible in healthy controls or patients who had the syndrome for more than three years. 

Hornig said, "The association was unusually strong with a cytokine called interferon gamma that has been linked to the fatigue that follows many viral infections, including Epstein-Barr virus. However, cytokine levels did not explain symptom severity, which often fluctuates. Patients may have good days and bad days. It appears that ME/CFS patients are flush with cytokines until around the three-year mark, at which point the immune system shows evidence of exhaustion and cytokine levels drop." 

Senior author W. Ian Lipkin said, "This study delivers what has eluded us for so long: unequivocal evidence of immunological dysfunction in ME/CFS and diagnostic bio-markers for disease. The question we are trying to address in a parallel microbiome project is what triggers this dysfunction." 

Source:The report appears in the journal Science Advances. 

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