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Saturday, 23 May 2015

Chinese Herbal Soup Curbs Fatigue in Cancer Patients Within 2-3 Weeks

Fatigue is one of the most common and major challenges in cancer care. A traditional Chinese medicine, Ren Shen Yangrong Tang (RSYRT), a soup containing 12 herbs has been found to significantly reduce this fatigue suffered by cancer patients within two-three weeks of the treatment, revealed a new study.

According to traditional Chinese medicine, fatigue is characterized by deficiency in Qi, a physical life force related to the energy flow of the body; and RSYRT is intended to improve Qi deficiency. 

Yichen Xu and colleagues from Peking University School of Oncology in Beijing, China, along with Xin Shelley Wang from the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, US, tested the safety and efficacy of the herbal mixture Ren Shen Yangrong Tang (RSYRT). They assessed the level of fatigue in cancer patients before and after RSYRT therapy. 

For the study, the patients took RSYRT twice a day for six weeks. The researchers found that RSYRT was both effective and safe, with no evidence of toxicity in any of the cancer patients. 

Source:The study is published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine


New Device can Easily Test If a Cancerous Tumor is Aggressive or Not

In a significant breakthrough that may one day even prevent the spread of cancer, engineers have created a new instrument that can easily detect if a cancerous tumor is aggressive or not.

The backpack-sized instrument can gently crush a wide range of materials, accurately quantifying the "squishiness." The squishiness in a tumor has recently been tied to its aggressiveness. In general, more aggressive tumors are stiffer, but the complex relationship will require more research. 

"The device leaves the sample completely undamaged, which allows researchers to still perform other tests on it," said lead author Mark Harrison at University of Southern California.

Previous squishiness detectors required time-consuming alignment and were highly sensitive to environmental vibration. The new device uses fiber optics, taking a cue from the telecommunications industry.

The system squishes a sample on top of the optical fiber, changing the polarization of the laser inside in a predictable way that allows researchers to calculate the Young's modulus.

"Instruments able to measure a material's Young's modulus already existed, but they're large and require calibration each time they're moved," said Andrea Armani, an associate professor at University of Southern California and corresponding author of the study.

"Our device could be carried from hospital room to hospital room and doesn't need an engineer to operate it," Armani noted.

"Physical oncology represents a completely fresh approach to tackling the problem of cancer. It has the potential to provide huge insights as scientists throughout the world try to understand, treat and ultimately prevent cancer in humans," said Peter Kuhn, professor at the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences.

The study was published in Applied Physics Letters.

Source: IANS


India's Large-Scale Screening for Diabetes Has Been Predicted to be Ineffective

Diabetes screening tests are becoming more commonly used in India. This large-scale screening for diabetes has been predicted to be ineffective, as per current available survey conducted by Sanjay Basu of Stanford University and colleagues. The predictions of this simulation suggest that large numbers of false positive results would waste financial resources, and that focusing on symptom-based screening and on improvements to diabetes treatment might better serve India's population.

Researchers developed a microsimulation model (a computer model that operates at the level of individuals) to investigate the implications of using alternative screening instruments for identifying people with undetected diabetes across India. Depending on the screening approach, between 158 million and 306 million of the 567 million Indians eligible for screening would be referred for confirmatory testing. However, it was seen that between 126 million and 273 million of these high-risk individuals would be false positives; only between 26 million and 37 million would meet the international diagnostic criteria for diabetes. 

The researchers estimate that the cost per case found would vary from $5.28 (for random glucose screening) to $17.06 (for a survey-based screening instrument). Finally, they estimate that the total cost for screening the eligible population would be between 169-567 million dollars. 

The authors said, "Improving instruments to reduce false positive screens, preparing the health system for very substantial confirmatory testing demands, and identifying how to deliver efficacious treatment, are three priority areas that require urgent attention before rapidly-developing countries implement large-scale community-based diabetes screening programs." 

Source:The study appears in PLOS Medicine.

More Research Needed in the Areas of Nano-Technology: Ministry of AYUSH in India

Experts from various fields of medicine spoke on the need for more research in areas of nano-technology and integration between the various systems of medicine.
 More Research Needed in the Areas of Nano-Technology: Ministry of AYUSH in India
The experts were speaking at a seminar at the Arogya Expo 2015, the largest fair in complementary and alternative health care organized by the World Ayurveda Foundation in association with the ministry of AYUSH and the Rajiv Gandhi Centre for Biotechnology. 

The ministry of Ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy is abbreviated as AYUSH. 

Shantikumar Nair, professor of Amrita Institute of Medical Sciences, said the nano-cloth for wound healing and formulations for external application are in various stages of research. 

"Nano-formulations can be absorbed into cells and react with cells to get the best results. Nano-engineered 'bhasmas', which are also in the research phase if prepared in nano-scale can even destroy cancer cells," said Nair. 

He suggested that ayurvedic intervention and integration with bio-medicines to bridge the gap between ancient and modern medicines is needed. 

"There is a need to combine tradition and innovative approaches in research. Tools using new technology have to be introduced for formulation, delivery and engineering of ayurvedic medicines," added Nair. 

P. Ram Manohar, of Coimbatore-based AVP Research Foundation, said a complex system of combinations and pharmaceutical processes are used to develop formulations from animal, plant and mineral sources. 

The end product has immense possibilities for drug discovery in ayurveda. 

Changes in lifestyles and cooking methods have led to increased cases of cancer, Manohar said. 

"Replacing pepper with chilli has been a big factor for this. Research in Germany has shown that turmeric combined with 'ghee' (clarified butter) is anti-carcinogenic," he said. 

According to Gopa Kumar, an associate professor at the Government Ayurveda College here, there is a need for new strategy and new methods of research in ayurveda. 

Source: IANS


Breastfeeding protects against environmental pollution

IMAGEAitana Lertxundi has conducted her research work within the framework of the INma (Childhood and Environment) programme led by Jesús Ibarluzea of the Department of Health of the Government of the Basque Autonomous Community (region). The aim is to assess how exposure to environmental pollution during pregnancy affects health and also to examine the role of diet in physical and neurobehavioural development in infancy. Lertxundi's study focusses on the repercussions on motor and mental development during the first years of life caused by exposure to the PM2.5 and NO2 atmospheric pollutants.
Never before has such a recent, significant evaluation been made of the effect of pollution particle matter (PM2.5) on the development of motor capacity and that of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) on mental development between the prenatal phase and until the baby is 15 months old. What is more, it has been sustained over time since it was started in 2006. "In the foetal phase the central nervous system is being formed and lacks sufficient detoxification mechanisms to eliminate the toxins that build up," pointed out Aitana Lertxundi.
The PM2.5 particles measure less than 2.5 micra, in other words, they are four times thinner that a single hair and are suspended in the air. As they are so small they can easily penetrate the body and as they weigh so little they can spread without any difficulty through the air and can move far away from the initial emission source. The composition of these neurotoxic particles depends on the emission sources in the area. The INMA Gipuzkoa area under study has a high presence of neurotoxic particle matter made up of lead, arsenic and manganese from industrial activity and traffic. In comparison with urban averages where the main source of pollution is traffic, the concentration is lower.
One result of the study is that the existence of an inverse relationship has been detected between exposure to pollution particle matter and the motor development of babies. In this respect, the researcher highlights the fact that "these indices display an alteration with respect to the average and, even if they are not worrying, they are significant in that they reveal the relationship existing between air quality and motor development." The analysis of the data also shows that neither the PM2.5 particle matter nor the NO2 exert a harmful effect on babies breastfed on mother's milk for at least four months.
The monitoring study started in 2006 when the mothers were pregnant and is continuing today now that the children have reached the age of 8. So far, samples taken from 638 pregnant women and their babies when they were 15 months old have been analysed. They are inhabitants of the Goierri-Alto and Medio Urola valleys, a part of the province of Gipuzkoa where industrial activity (11 steel works), rural activity, and residential areas are interwoven with each other and through which a major highway passes.

Thunder god vine used in traditional Chinese medicine is a potential obesity treatment

An extract from the thunder god vine, which has a long history of use in traditional Chinese medicine, reduces food intake and causes up to a 45% decrease in body weight in obese mice. The weight-loss compound, called Celastrol, produces its potent effects by enhancing the action of an appetite-suppressing hormone called leptin. The findings, published May 21 in Cell, are an early indicator that Celastrol could be developed into a drug for the treatment of obesity.
IMAGE"During the last two decades, there has been an enormous amount of effort to treat obesity by breaking down leptin resistance, but these efforts have failed," says senior study author Umut Ozcan, an endocrinologist atBoston Children's Hospital and Harvard Medical School. "The message from this study is that there is still hope for making leptin work, and there is still hope for treating obesity. If Celastrol works in humans as it does in mice, it could be a powerful way to treat obesity and improve the health of many patients suffering from obesity and associated complications, such as heart disease, fatty liver, and type 2 diabetes."
Leptin is a fat-cell-derived hormone that signals to the brain when the body has enough fuel and energy. Humans and mice that lack leptin signaling eat voraciously and become morbidly obese, suggesting that leptin-enhancing drugs may be effective for treating obesity. But leptin does not reduce hunger or food intake in obese individuals despite high levels of the hormone in the bloodstream, leading many researchers to speculate that leptin insensitivity is the root cause of obesity. Despite longstanding research efforts, drugs that can effectively alleviate leptin resistance have not yet been found. However, one potential clue to this problem came several years ago when Ozcan and his team discovered that leptin resistance is associated with a stress response in a cell structure called the endoplasmic reticulum (ER).
In the new study, Ozcan and his team screened an existing database containing whole-genome gene expression profiles from human cells that were treated with more than one thousand small molecules. They found that Celastrol was the most effective at producing an expression profile that could be associated with improved ER function and leptin sensitivity in human cells. Within only one week of Celastrol treatment, obese mice reduced their food intake by about 80% compared to untreated obese mice. By the end of the third week, treated mice lost 45% of their initial body weight almost entirely by burning fat stores.
This dramatic weight loss is greater than that produced by bariatric surgery -- an operation on the stomach and/or intestines that helps patients with extreme obesity to lose weight. Moreover, Celastrol decreased cholesterol levels and improved liver function and glucose metabolism, which collectively may translate into a lower risk of heart disease, fatty liver, and type 2 diabetes.
Even though Celastrol did not produce toxic effects in mice, Ozcan strongly urges caution for now because in-depth toxicology studies and controlled clinical trials are needed to demonstrate the compound's safety in humans. "Celastrol is found in the roots of the thunder god vine in small amounts, but the plant's roots and flowers have many other compounds," he says. "As a result, it could be dangerous for humans to consume thunder god vine extracts to lose weight."
In future studies, Ozcan and his team will investigate the molecular mechanisms by which Celastrol improves leptin sensitivity and produces weight loss. "We have been heavily focusing on this line of research in my laboratory and hope that this approach will help us to understand the mechanisms in nature that are leading to the development of obesity," Ozcan says. "In the end, my main goal is to see this research leading to a novel and powerful treatment for obesity in humans."

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

ICMR issues guidelines for diagnosis and management of rickettsial diseases in India

The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has issued guidelines for diagnosis and management of rickettsial diseases in India. These guidelines will comprehensively address the various concerns regarding the clinical assessment, treatment, and laboratory diagnosis of rickettsial diseases in India and the world. 

The new document will benefit the physicians, healthcare workers, scientific community, regulatory agencies, public healthcare professionals and the public at large.  These guidelines have been developed for scientific purpose with the aim to provide physicians and healthcare workers with practical information to assist with the diagnosis and care of patients with rickettsial infections and also stimulate thinking among scientists interested in developing this area in the country at the various levels of healthcare and thus help the people to lead a normal and healthy life.  

Rickettsial diseases are considered some of the most covert emerging and re-emerging diseases and are being increasingly recognized in India.  Rickettsial infections are caused by a variety of obligate intracellular, gram-negative bacteria from the genera Rickettsia, Orientia, Ehrlichia, Neorickettsia, Neoehrlichia, and Anaplasma, belonging to the Alphaproteobacteria. 

Rickettsial diseases continue to be the source of severe illness and death in healthy adults and children, in spite of the availability of low cost, effective antimicrobial therapy. The greatest challenge is the difficult diagnostic dilemma posed by these infections early in their clinical course, when antibiotic therapy is most effective. Early signs and symptoms of these illnesses are notoriously nonspecific or mimic benign viral illnesses, making diagnosis difficult.  The care and management of people with rickettsial diseases is done primarily by the general practitioners and physicians. 

However, there are no clear directions or Guidelines for its management. A need for availability of a set of Guidelines which can be used by doctors, scientists and public health workers all over the country was strongly felt. With this in view, Department of Health Research (DHR) and ICMR took the initiative to formulate the guidelines.
A Task Force was constituted to examine various management guidelines available and deliberate on the relevant issues keeping in view the local conditions. The guidelines formulated and presented in this document define a framework for recognizing manifestations, identifying appropriate diagnostic tests and initiating prompt and effective treatment. 

Body's 'serial killers' captured on film destroying cancer cells

A dramatic video has captured the behaviour of cytotoxic T cells - the body's 'serial killers' - as they hunt down and eliminate cancer cells before moving on to their next target.
In a study published today in the journal Immunity, a collaboration of researchers from the UK and the USA, led by Professor Gillian Griffiths at the University of Cambridge, describe how specialised members of our white blood cells known as cytotoxic T cells destroy tumour cells and virally-infected cells. Using state-of-the-art imaging techniques, the research team, with funding from the Wellcome Trust, has captured the process on film.
"Inside all of us lurks an army of serial killers whose primary function is to kill again and again," explains Professor Griffiths, Director of the Cambridge Institute for Medical Research. "These cells patrol our bodies, identifying and destroying virally infected and cancer cells and they do so with remarkable precision and efficiency."
There are billions of T cells within our blood - one teaspoon full of blood alone is believed to have around 5 million T cells, each measuring around 10 micrometres in length, about a tenth the width of a human hair. Each cell is engaged in the ferocious and unrelenting battle to keep us healthy. The cells, seen in the video as orange or green amorphous 'blobs' move around rapidly, investigating their environment as they travel.
When a cytotoxic T cell finds an infected cell or, in the case of the film, a cancer cell (blue), membrane protrusions rapidly explore the surface of the cell, checking for tell-tale signs that this is an uninvited guest. The T cell binds to the cancer cell and injects poisonous proteins known as cytotoxins (red) down special pathways called microtubules to the interface between the T cell and the cancer cell, before puncturing the surface of the cancer cell and delivering its deadly cargo.
"In our bodies, where cells are packed together, it's essential that the T cell focuses the lethal hit on its target, otherwise it will cause collateral damage to neighbouring, healthy cells," says Professor Griffiths. "Once the cytotoxins are injected into the cancer cells, its fate is sealed and we can watch as it withers and dies. The T cell then moves on, hungry to find another victim."
The researchers captured the footage through high-resolution 3D time-lapse multi-colour imaging, making use of both spinning disk confocal microscopy and lattice light sheet microscopy. These techniques involves capturing slices through an object and 'stitching' them together to provide the final 3D images across the whole cell. Using these approaches the researchers have managed to elucidate the order the events leading to delivery of the lethal hit from these serial killers
Watch the Video:.

'Natural' sounds improve mood and productivity, study finds

 Playing natural sounds such as flowing water in offices could boosts worker moods and improve cognitive abilities in addition to providing speech privacy, according to a new study from researchers at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. They will present the results of their experiment at the 169th Meeting of the Acoustical Society of America, held May 18-22, 2015 in Pittsburgh.
An increasing number of modern open-plan offices employ sound masking systems that raise the background sound of a room so that speech is rendered unintelligible beyond a certain distance and distractions are less annoying.
"If you're close to someone, you can understand them. But once you move farther away, their speech is obscured by the masking signal," said Jonas Braasch, an acoustician and musicologist at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in New York.
Sound masking systems are custom designed for each office space by consultants and are typically installed as speaker arrays discretely tucked away in the ceiling. For the past 40 years, the standard masking signal employed is random, steady-state electronic noise -- also known as "white noise."
Braasch and his team are currently testing whether masking signals inspired by natural sounds might work just as well, or better, than the conventional signal. The idea was inspired by previous work by Braasch and his graduate student Mikhail Volf, which showed that people's ability to regain focus improved when they were exposed to natural sounds versus silence or machine-based sounds.
Recently, Braasch and his graduate student Alana DeLoach built upon those results to start a new experiment. In this ongoing work, they expose 12 human participants to three different sound stimuli while performing a task that requires them to pay close attention: typical office noises with the conventional random electronic signal; an office soundscape with a "natural" masker; and an office soundscape with no masker. The test subjects only encounter one of the three stimuli per visit.
The natural sound used in the experiment was designed to mimic the sound of flowing water in a mountain stream. "The mountain stream sound possessed enough randomness that it did not become a distraction," DeLoach said. "This is a key attribute of a successful masking signal."
At large, they want to find out if workers who are listening to natural sounds are more productive and overall in better moods than the workers exposed to traditional masking signals.
Braasch said using natural sounds as a masking signal could have benefits beyond the office environment. "You could use it to improve the moods of hospital patients who are stuck in their rooms for days or weeks on end," Braasch said.
For those who might be wary of employers using sounds to influence their moods, Braasch argued that using natural masking sounds is no different from a company that wants to construct a new building near the coast so that its workers can be exposed to the soothing influence of ocean surf.
"Everyone would say that's a great employer," Braasch said. "We're just using sonic means to achieve that same effect."

Investment in New Therapies to Cure Hepatitis C may Help Yield Economic Benefits

hepatitis C
 Investing in new therapies to cure hepatitis C could generate savings estimated at more than $3.2 billion annually in the US and five European countries, shows a new economic model.

The higher cure rate and lessened side-effects of treating patients with an all-oral combination of ledipasvir and sofosbuvir (LDV/SOF) results in greatly reduced absenteeism and improved workplace productivity that can translate into enormous benefit. 

"Chronic hepatitis C is more than just a problem for the patient -- it has a ripple effect that impacts society at large. While previous reports have found the cost of these drugs as certainly significant, the long term benefits of curing patients with hepatitis C makes this a worthwhile investment," said lead researcher Zobair Younossi, chairman of the department of medicine at Inova Fairfax Medical Campus, US.

"We were interested in looking at the impact of new treatments on patients' ability to work, and in a broader sense, how this affects employers and overall economies," Younossi noted.

Researchers used data collected from more than 1,900 chronic hepatitis C patients treated with LDV/SOF, which has a cure rate of between 94 and 99% with minimal side effects.

The retrospective study tabulated reported absenteeism, as well as what researchers called "presenteeism," a measure of how productive an individual actually is while at work.

The researchers then built an economic model to estimate work productivity gains associated with curing genotype-1 chronic hepatitis C patients using LDV/SOF.

The results indicated that reduced absenteeism and increased productivity would total approximately $2.67 billion for the U.S. and $556 million for the EU-5.

"We must begin to look at chronic diseases, such as hepatitis C, from every angle, which should inspire progress in developing more tolerable and effective cures," Younossi concluded.

The findings were presented at the gastroenterology conference Digestive Disease Wee (DDW) 2015 at Washington, DC.

Source: IANS


Bronchitis If Not Treated Properly can Lead to Serious Conditions Like Pneumonia

Bronchitis is an inflammation of the lining of the bronchial tubes, the airways that carry air to the lungs. It is a serious condition of the lower respiratory tract that causes fever, chills, chest congestion and productive cough that lasts longer than 5 days. A new study led by Loyola University has revealed that if not taken care of then bronchitis may lead to more serious conditions such as pneumonia which requires medical treatment.

Khalilah Babino, immediate care physician at Loyola University said, "The cough can last 2-3 weeks and could be an indicator of a more serious condition and if symptoms persist for more than 7-10 days or get worse one should see a doctor. When cold gets worse one feels like wheezing or shortness of breath and still they assume to manage it with antibiotics, although antibiotics are not helpful for bronchitis causing virus." 

The researchers advised to treat long-time and bothersome cold with rest, fluids, a humidifier, fever and pain relievers and over-the-counter cough medication. However, in the worse cases patient should follow tips like practicing good hand hygiene, covering mouth while sneezing or coughing, maintaining a healthy lifestyle with a balanced diet, adequate sleep, consistent exercise and do regular preventive care such as the annual flu shot.


Indian Universities Asked to Hold Yoga Demos, Exhibitions on International Yoga Day

 Indian Universities Asked to Hold Yoga Demos, Exhibitions on International Yoga DayThe United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution in 2014 to observe International Yoga Day on June 21 every year. The University Grants Commission has directed all universities in India to organize a demonstration by yoga practitioners, an exhibition on yoga postures and an online competition on the occasion of International Day of Yoga, 2015.

The University Grants Commission (UGC) secretary, Jaspal S. Sandhu, in a letter to the vice chancellors of all state/deemed/private universities has directed them to observe the International Day of Yoga in a befitting manner and listed activities to be held during the celebration. 

In the directive Sandhu has suggested, "In the morning a demo by yoga practitioners may be organized on Yoga Day. The willing students and faculties of the universities may practice yoga as shown by the practitioners. The other students/faculties may, however, observe the same. The best participants of the yoga session may be awarded prizes and certificates at a function to be organized on that day. An exhibition on yogic postures may be organized, for which banners may be displayed for awareness on the campus. Online essay competition may be organized and the best students may be awarded with prizes and certificates. Accordingly, you are requested to kindly observe the International Day of Yoga on June 21 by adopting the above mentioned activities in your esteemed university and affiliated colleges and send action taken to UGC by email (" 

Sunday, 17 May 2015

Now, Wake-Up to a 'High' Morning With 'marijuana-Infused' K-Cups, Coffee Pods

Now you'll be able to rise, shine and "get high" in the mornings with cannabis in your morning coffee mug.
 Now, Wake-Up to a 'High' Morning With 'marijuana-Infused' K-Cups, Coffee Pods Coffee businesses are now infusing cannabis in their brews, ready to be bought in K-cups and coffee pods as more and more states legalize marijuana for recreational use, the Verge reported. 

Jennifer Lanzador, sales manager of Uncle Ike's Pot Shop of Seattle, which sells "premium infused" coffee pods for 10 dollars each, said that she likens it to a Red Bull and vodka as she had more energy, but still had the relaxation one gets from cannabis. 

The pods, which reportedly account for 60% of Uncle Ike's coffee sales, are becoming big sellers may be because of their undeniable convenience.

Source: ANI

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PM Modi Attends Yoga-Taichi Event at Temple of Heaven in Beijing

 PM Modi Attends Yoga-Taichi Event at Temple of Heaven in BeijingTai chi is an ancient Chinese tradition which is practiced as a graceful form of exercise; while yoga is a ancient physical, mental, and spiritual practice that has its roots in India. Both the disciplines involves a series of movements performed in a slow, focused manner and accompanied by deep breathing. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi attended a Yoga-Taichi event at the Temple of Heaven in central Beijing accompanied by Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, on Friday.
Prime Minister Modi congratulated Li for the conceptualization of the unique event. He said, "Wonderful to see Indian students doing Taichi and Chinese students doing Yoga. The holistic health care that world needs can be fulfilled by Yoga." 

The Temple of Heaven is a complex of religious buildings that is situated in central Beijing. The complex has been visited by the emperors of the Ming and Qing dynasties.


Live liquid bacteria reduces intestinal inflammation in ulcerative colitis

People with ulcerative colitis ¬may benefit from taking the live, multi-strain probiotic drink, Symprove, to reduce intestinal inflammation, according to the results of a new study presented today at Digestive Disease Week 2015.1
Researchers from King's College Hospital in London and Darent Valley Hospital in Kent in the UK conducted a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of Symprove on patients with clinically-stable inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and found that patients with ulcerative colitis had significant reductions in faecal levels of calprotectin - a protein released by white blood cells in the intestine when it is inflamed. These findings suggest that Symprove may help patients with ulcerative colitis to remain in clinical remission.
What is ulcerative colitis?
Ulcerative colitis is a life-long relapsing-remitting intestinal condition in which the colon and rectum become ulcerated and inflamed. The acute symptoms of ulcerative colitis include abdominal cramping, bloody diarrhoea, and urgency to pass stools. Effective treatments for acute flare-ups include steroids, immune suppressants and biologics, but there remains a need for effective maintenance treatments to prevent clinical relapse of the disease.
Probiotics have been thought to be symptomatically useful in patients with ulcerative colitis, with 51% of sufferers taking them in a bid to help manage their condition2. However, not all probiotics contain multiple strains of live, active bacteria. Symprove, the only liquid probiotic preparation that contains 4 strains of live bacteria, has previously been shown in scientific studies to survive the harsh acidic environment of the stomach in order to flourish in the gut 3 and to improve symptom severity in people with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).4
Symprove in ulcerative colitis: latest data
In the latest study, 80 adults with ulcerative colitis (all in remission at the time of study entry) were randomized to receive either Symprove or a matching placebo drink for 1 month. Faecal calprotectin levels were measured before and after treatment. Reductions in calprotectin levels (intestinal inflammation) were observed in the majority (76%) of patients with ulcerative colitis who took Symprove for 4 weeks and the decrease in intestinal inflammation was significantly greater than in the placebo group.
Professor Ingvar Bjarnason, consultant gastroenterologist and Principal Investigator of the study, noted "This is an interesting result showing that Symprove reduces intestinal inflammation in this group of patients, without any observed side effects. There is now a need to see if these reductions in intestinal inflammation are maintained with long term ingestion and whether this reduces the incidence of symptom flare-ups."

The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology: Depression and diabetes series media alert

The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology journal is pleased to announce that the following Series of papers on depression and diabetes will be published on Monday 18 May to coincide with the 2015 Annual Meeting of the American Psychiatric Association (APA).
The Series is accompanied by another Series of papers on Diabetes and psychotic disorders, available in the latest issue of The Lancet Psychiatry.
  • Constructs of depression and distress in diabetes: time for an appraisal [Embargo: 6:30pm [New York time] Sunday 17 May, 2015]
  • The link between depression and diabetes: the search for shared mechanisms [Embargo: 6:30pm [New York time] Sunday 17 May, 2015]
  • Depression and diabetes: treatment and health-care delivery [Embargo: 6:30pm [New York time] Sunday 17 May, 2015]
Constructs of depression and distress in diabetes: time for an appraisal 
by Professor Frank Snoek et al
Depression presents in roughly 20% of people with diabetes worldwide, and adversely affects quality of life and treatment outcomes. The causes of depression in diabetes are poorly understood, but research suggests a bi-directional association, at least for type 2 diabetes. Inconsistent findings regarding prevalence and depression treatment outcomes in patients with diabetes seem partly attributable to inconsistencies in the definition and measurement of depression and in distinguishing it from diabetes-distress, a psychological concept related to depression. We review evidence suggesting that diabetes-distress and depression are correlated and overlapping constructs, but are not interchangeable. Importantly, diabetes-distress seems to mediate the association between depression and glycaemic control. We propose a model to explain the direct and indirect effects of depression and diabetes-distress on glycaemic control. Additionally, using emerging insights from data-driven approaches, we suggest three distinct symptom profiles to define depression in patients with diabetes that could help explain differential associations between depression and metabolic abnormalities, and to tailor interventions for depression. Future research should focus on further refining depression profiles in patients with diabetes, taking into account the natural history of diabetes and depression, clinical characteristics, and diabetes-distress. The assessment of diabetes-distress and depression in research and clinical practice will be essential to identify high-risk patients with different mental health needs.
The link between depression and diabetes: the search for shared mechanisms 
by Dr Calum Moulton, et al
Depression is twice as common in people with type 1 or type 2 diabetes as in the general population, and is associated with poor outcomes. Evidence is growing that depression and type 2 diabetes share biological origins, particularly overactivation of innate immunity leading to a cytokine-mediated inflammatory response, and potentially through dysregulation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis. Throughout the life course, these pathways can lead to insulin resistance, cardiovascular disease, depression, increased risk of type 2 diabetes, and increased mortality. Proinflammatory cytokines might directly affect the brain, causing depressive symptoms. In type 1 diabetes, mediators of depression are not well studied, with research hindered by inconsistent definitions of depression and scarcity of observational, mechanistic, and interventional research along the life course. Despite few studies, evidence suggests that familial relationships and burden of a lifelong disorder with an onset early in personality development might contribute to increased vulnerability to depression. Overall, longitudinal research is needed to identify risk factors and mechanisms for depression in patients with diabetes, particularly early in the life course. Ultimately, improved understanding of shared origins of depression and diabetes could provide the potential to treat and improve outcomes of both disorders simultaneously. These shared origins are targets for primary prevention of type 2 diabetes.
Depression and diabetes: treatment and health-care delivery 
by Professor Frank Petrak, et al
Despite research efforts in the past 20 years, scientific evidence about screening and treatment for depression in diabetes remains incomplete and is mostly focused on North American and European health-care systems. Validated instruments to detect depression in diabetes, although widely available, only become effective and thus recommended if subsequent treatment pathways are accessible, which is often not the case. Because of the well known adverse effects of the interaction between depression and diabetes, treatment goals should focus on the remission or improvement of depression as well as improvement in glycaemic control as a marker for subsequent diabetes outcome. Scientific evidence evaluating treatment for depression in type 1 and type 2 diabetes shows that depression can be treated with moderate success by various psychological and pharmacological interventions, which are often implemented through collaborative care and stepped-care approaches. The evidence for improved glycaemic control in the treatment of depression by use of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors or psychological approaches is conflicting; only some analyses show small to moderate improvements in glycaemic control. More research is needed to evaluate treatment of different depression subtypes in people with diabetes, the cost-effectiveness of treatments, the use of health-care resources, the need to account for cultural differences and different health-care systems, and new treatment and prevention approaches.
Source:The Lancet

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