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Health Bulletin


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  1. #1021
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Bangalore-based Strand Life Science creates affordable cancer-detection kit

    Indian Institute of Science-founded Strand Life Sciences, in partnership with the Mazumdar-Shaw Medical Foundation, has developed a cancer diagnostic kit that can assess the likely occurrence of the chronic disease at one-fourth of the current diagnostic costs.

    Bangalore-based Strand, a technology company in the field of genomics, has patented intellectual property to help early detection of breast and ovarian cancer among Indian patients by analyzing DNA sequences.

    Heredity is a major factor in the recurrence of cancer through generations. Brca I, Brca II, and TP53 are the three genes that can mutate and cause breast or ovarian cancer.

    Breast cancer is the most prevalent cancer among Indian women with approximately 1.5 lakh new patients being diagnosed every year. Nearly 7 lakh Indians die of some form of cancer every year, while over 10 lakh are newly diagnozed with the disease.

    Strand's cancer detection tests will be carried out at the Mazumdar-Shaw Centre for Translational Research located in Electronics City, at a cost of Rs 15,000 per screening. The results of the test would be delivered in two to three weeks. Dr Vijay Chandru, chairman and CEO of Strand Life Sciences, said the company was able to re-engineer costs using its core strength of bioinformatics (applying computer science, statistics, mathematics and engineering to process biological data) and lowering the cost of chemical reagents used in the test by 30% to 40%.

    Cancer detection tests using traditional technology cost between Rs 50,000 and Rs 80,000 in India and about $2,000 to $3,000 abroad, said Dr Chandru. "This test would only be carried out on a doctor's prescription, typically a family doctor who knows the history of the patient," he said, adding that many citizens were being led astray by fly-by-night operators who advertise similar tests but do others.

    The role of genomics in detecting the occurrence of cancer and the awareness among women about the benefits of early detection came into prominence last year after Hollywood star Angelina Jolie underwent a breast removal surgery. It was then reported that Jolie undertook the surgery as family hereditary could have potentially placed her at a high risk of getting breast cancer.

    The extreme form of prevention would be the removal of one's breasts and ovaries. However, if there is a risk, Chandru said one could also change lifestyle patterns to reduce the risk of the genes mutating. "Regular check-ups like mammography would also have to be undertaken on a routine basis," he added.

    Will encourage research

    "We believe this collaboration will help us foster innovation and encourage in-depth research in the genomics space, thereby providing better care for patients with cancer and other genetic diseases," said Kiran Mazumdar Shaw, CMD, biocon and founder, Mazumdar Shaw Medical Foundation.


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  2. #1022
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Birds may help us fight heart attacks, strokes

    A new study into how the world's highest flying bird, bar-headed geese, is able to survive at extreme altitudes may have future implications for low-oxygen medical conditions in humans. An international team of scientists recently tracked bar-headed geese while they migrated across the Himalayas. They found that these birds are able to tolerate running at top speed while breathing only 7% oxygen.

    Lucy Hawkes of the University of Exeter, along with colleagues Charles Bishop (Bangor University) and Pat Butler (University of Birmingham) tested how the geese were at coping with exercise in reduced oxygen environments by simulating the conditions of Mt Everest in a clear box and then getting the birds to run as fast as possible on a treadmill inside the box. The air on the highest mountains is made up of 7% oxygen compared with 21% at sea level.

    Hawkes said, "It all seems to come down to how much oxygen bar-headed geese can supply to their heart muscles. The more they supply, the faster their heart beats and keeps the supply of oxygen to the rest of the body going." He added, "The wider implications of these findings are for low-oxygen medical conditions in humans, such as heart attack and stroke — suggesting what adaptations might help prevent problems in the first place and learning how animals have managed to cope with really extreme environments."


  3. #1023
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    No direct evidence of link between cellphone radiation and cancer: Oncologist

    The preponderance of evidence shows that there is no link between cellphone radiation and cancer, said oncologist and renowned author Siddhartha Mukherjee.

    "I would have suggested to WHO to downgrade cellphones in the list of carcinogens but there is a process to that," Mukherjee said in a media interaction at the India International Centre here on Monday.

    "There are large studies which are pending, but we have to be scientifically accurate. There is no direct evidence but that does not mean that we stop investigating," he added.

    Carcinogens are cancer causing substances.

    The author further said that the landscape of cancer treatment has transformed over the years, and that there would be a transformation in all cancers and their treatments.


  4. #1024
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Why you look like hell on some mornings

    A new study has revealed that it all comes down to water retention when people end up with swollen and red eyes and droopier eyelids, basically looking like hell, after a bad night's sleep.

    Dr. Sherrif F. Ibrahim, from the University of Rochester Medical Center, told the Huffington Post that since the upper and lower eyelids have the thinnest skin on the body, any changes in hydration are going to reflect in that skin so easily compared to any other skin in the body.

    How sleep in particular affects this water retention is still not completely known, Ibrahim said, but he speculates that it could have something to do with the reason for why a person stayed up late the night before, like if they are drinking or partying or crying.

    Ibrahim added that dark under-eye circles can be caused by many reasons, but it's the dehydrated blood vessels under the skin that are actually responsible for the darkish hue.


  5. #1025
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Experts ‘edit’ DNA to cure genetic disease

    A genetic disease has been cured in living, adult animals for the first time using a revolutionary genome-editing technique that can make the smallest changes to the vast database of the DNA molecule with pinpoint accuracy.

    Scientists have used the genome-editing technology to cure adult laboratory mice of an inherited liver disease by correcting a single "letter" of the genetic alphabet which had been mutated in a vital gene involved in liver metabolism. A similar mutation in the same gene causes the equivalent inherited liver disease in humans — and the successful repair of the genetic defect in laboratory mice raises hopes that the first clinical trials on patients could begin within a few years, scientists said.

    The success is the latest achievement in the field of genome editing. This has been transformed by the discovery of Crispr, a technology that allows scientists to make almost any DNA changes at precisely defined points on the chromosomes of animals or plants.

    Crispr — pronounced "crisper" — was initially discovered in 1987 as an immune defence used by bacteria against invading viruses. Its powerful genome-editing potential in higher animals, including humans, was only fully realised in 2012 and 2013 when scientists showed that it can be combined with a DNAsniping enzyme called Cas9 and used to edit the human genome . Since then there has been an explosion of interest in the technology because it is such a simple method of changing the individual letters of the human genome — the 3 billion "base pairs" of the DNA molecule — with an accuracy equivalent to correcting a single misspelt word in a 23-volume encyclopaedia.

    In the latest study, scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) used Crispr to locate and correct the single mutated DNA base pair in a liver gene known as LAH, which can lead to a fatal build-up of the amino acid tyrosine in humans and has to be treated with drugs and a special diet. The researchers effectively cured mice suffering from the disease by altering the genetic make-up of about a third of their liver cells using the Crispr technique, which was delivered by high-pressure intravenous injections.

    "We basically showed you could use the Crispr system in an animal to cure a genetic disease, and the one we picked was a disease in the liver which is very similar to one found in humans," said professor Daniel Anderson of MIT, who led the study.

    "The disease is caused by a single point mutation and we showed that the Crispr system can be delivered in an adult animal and result in a cure. We think it's an important proof of principle that this technology can be applied to animals to cure disease," Anderson said. "The fundamental advantage is that you are repairing the defect , you are actually correcting the DNA itself," he said. "What is exciting about this approach is that we can actually correct a defective gene in a living adult animal."

    Jennifer Doudna, of the University of California, Berkeley , who was one of the codiscoverers of the Crispr technique , said professor Anderson's study is a "fantastic advance" because it demonstrates that it is possible to cure adult animals living with a genetic disorder.

    "Obviously there would be numerous hurdles before such an approach could be used in people, but the simplicity of the approach, and the fact that it worked, really are very exciting," professor Doudna said. "I think there will be a lot of progress made in the coming one to two years in using this approach for therapeutics and other real-world applications," she added.


  6. #1026
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Now, a smart pill bottle with reminder

    A New York-based company has created a smart pill bottle that comes with a built-in technology, which alerts you to take your medicines on time.

    Josh Stein, CEO and co-founder of AdhereTech, the company behind the bottle, said every time the patient opens the bottle, the bottle sends two pieces of data to our servers. Number one: The timestamp of the opening and the closing of the cap, and second time, a measurement of the amount of medication remaining in the bottle, CBS reported.

    The bottle flashes blue when the user is supposed to take his medication, and if they miss their dose it flashes red and beeps.

    The patient also gets alerted with an automated phone call or text message.


  7. #1027
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Daytime napping may lead to early death

    Those who doze off during the day to catch some 'missed' night sleep, beware!

    According to an alarming research, middle-age and older adults who take daytime naps at office or home may be at increased risk of dying.

    In particular, naps were linked with an increased risk of dying from respiratory diseases.

    Those between ages 40 and 65 were nearly twice as likely to die during the study period if they napped for an hour or more, compared to those who did not nap, the researchers from University of Cambridge said.

    "Excessive daytime napping might be a useful marker of underlying health risks, particularly respiratory problems, especially among those 65 years of age or younger," emphasised Cambridge epidemiologist Yue Leng and lead author of the study.

    It may not be napping per se that is unhealthy, but rather, that those who tend to nap also have undiagnosed medical conditions that affect their risk of dying, the researchers noted.

    The study involved more than 16,000 people in Britain who answered questions about their napping habits between 1998 and 2000, and were followed for 13 years.

    People aged 40 to 79 who napped daily, for less than an hour, were 14 percent more likely to die over a 13-year period, compared to those who did not nap.

    People whose daily naps lasted an hour or more were 32 percent more likely to die over the study period, the research, published in the American Journal of Epidemiology, added.

    The researchers took into account many factors that could affect people's risk of death, such as their age, gender, body mass index (BMI), smoking, exercise, and whether they had certain pre-existing medical conditions such as diabetes, cancer or asthma.

    "Further studies are needed before any recommendations can be made," the researchers concluded.


  8. #1028
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Breastfeeding may ward off heart disease

    People born with low birth weights and those breastfed for shorter periods are more likely to develop chronic inflammation that contributes to heart disease as adults, a new study has warned.

    Researchers from the Northwestern University study evaluated how levels of C-reactive protein (CRP), a key bio-marker of inflammation, linked back to birth weight and breastfeeding duration for nearly 7,000 24- to 32-year-olds.

    The study not only showed both lower birth weights and shorter duration of breastfeeding predicted higher CRP levels in young adults, and thus higher disease risk.

    The research also found dramatic racial, ethnic and education disparities. More educated mothers were more likely to breastfeed and to give birth to larger babies, as were whites and Hispanics.

    The data points to the importance of promoting better birth outcomes and increased duration of breastfeeding to affect public health among adults.

    Such awareness could make a difference in eroding the intractable social disparities in adult health outcomes associated with inflammation, according to the study.

    "The findings about breastfeeding and birth weight are particularly illuminating," said Thomas McDade, lead author of the study.

    "The rates for many adult diseases completely mirror rates of low birth weight and low breastfeeding uptake and duration," he said.

    Breastfeeding is known to provide nutritional and immunological support to infants following delivery and affects immune development and metabolic processes related to obesity - two potential avenues of influence on adult CRP production.

    "This research helps us understand and appreciate the importance of breast feeding, especially for low-weight infants," said Alan Guttmacher, MD, director of the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.

    "The results suggest that breast feeding may reduce a major risk factor for heart disease, well into adulthood," said Guttmache.

    Each pound of additional birth weight predicted a CRP concentration that was 5 per cent lower. Three to 12 months of breastfeeding predicted CRP levels that were 20 to 30 per cent lower compared with individuals who were not breastfed.

    (The study was published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences.)


  9. #1029
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    The vaccine and its controversy

    The MMR vaccine is an immunization vaccine against measles, mumps, and rubella (German measles). It is a mixture of live attenuated viruses of the three diseases, administered via injection. The three vaccines (for mumps, measles, and rubella) were combined in 1971 to become the MMR vaccine.

    ​The MMR vaccine became the centre of a controversy following claims (which were subsequently established as fraudulent) that the vaccine was responsible for causing Autism-spectrum disorders in children. The controversy was kicked off in 1998 by the publication of a paper by British surgeon Andrew Wakefield in the medical journal The Lancet. Investigations later revealed that Wakefield had multiple undeclared conflicts of interest, had manipulated evidence, and had broken other ethical codes. The Lancet paper was partially retracted in 2004 and fully retracted in 2010, and Wakefield was found guilty by the General Medical Council of serious professional misconduct in May 2010 and was struck off the Medical Register.

    ALARMIST NOTION

    ​Despite overwhelming scientific evidence for the fact that the vaccine's positive effects significantly outweigh any risks it may pose, some anti-vaccine groups in the US and UK have created an alarmist notion that the MMR vaccine is responsible for autism. Many parents have bought into this, so much so that several diseases, including measles, which had previously been controlled to a large degree, have seen serious outbreaks in the recent past. The New England Journal of Medicine has said that anti-vaccine propaganda has resulted in a high cost to society, "including damage to individual and community well-being from outbreaks of previously controlled diseases, withdrawal of vaccine manufacturers from the market, compromising of national security (in the case of anthrax and smallpox vaccines), and lost productivity.


  10. #1030
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Red makes you eat less?

    With obesity rates reaching an all-time high, scientists have now come up with a new solution to help people control weight.

    According to Fox News, a recent study has found that seeing the color red while eating reduced over consumption.

    The study compared consumption of not only food, but also products when sampled from red plates versus other colors like blue or white.

    The results concluded that all items served on a red plate were consumed substantially less than items served on other colors and even those who claimed a specific food item as their favorite ended up eating less from a red plate than those eating from other plates.

    The study is published in the journal Appetite.


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