22nd May 2014, 05:56 PM #1121
Re: Health Bulletin
Nasal spray may deliver drugs to brain
Researchers have said that when it comes to brain diseases pills are actually an extremely ineffecient way to deliver drugs to the brain.
Massimiliano Di Cagno, assistant professor at the Department of Physics, Chemistry and Pharmacy, University of Southern Denmark, said people with brain diseases are often given huge amounts of unnecessary drugs. During a long life, or if you have a chronic disease, this may become problematic for your health.
He and his colleagues at University of Southern Denmark and Aalborg University have turned their attention to the nose - specifically the nasal wall and the slimy mucosa that covers it.
As we know from e.g. cocaine addicts, substances can be assimilated extremely quickly and directly through the nose. But many medical substances, however, need help to be transported through the nasal wall and further on to the relevant places in the brain.
The vehicles for drug delivery through the nose are typically made of so called polymers. A polymer is a large molecule composed of a large number of repeats of one or more types of atoms or groups of atoms bound to each other. Polymers can be natural or synthetic, simple or complex.
The study has been published in the International Journal of Pharmaceutics.
22nd May 2014, 05:56 PM #1122
Re: Health Bulletin
You are not old until you are 80!
A new poll suggests that old age does not now start until the age of 80.
The research among people over 40 found that the vast majority of them will not consider themselves to be old until they reach the landmark birthday, the Daily Express reported.
In contrast, previous generations thought of themselves as old at least 20 years earlier.
Healthier and more active lifestyles, staying in work longer and seeing more older people in the spotlight are among reasons for the change in attitude.
A spokesman for PayingTooMuch.com, which commissioned the research, said that perceptions of old age have changed a lot over the last few years.
He said that there was a time when you were considered old or past it as soon as you retired, but we are now leading healthier and more active lives well into our 70s.
In the study of 2,000 Britons, just 17 per cent believed anything younger than 70 counted as old.
More than one in five said people can even stay young until they reach 90.
Most people admitted that 30 years ago they would have considered 63 as over the hill.
Ninety-two per cent insisted old age no longer begins when you start drawing a pension, it is just the start of a whole new life.
Eight in 10 of over-40s claimed they felt younger than their actual age, by an average of 11 y
23rd May 2014, 12:05 PM #1123
Re: Health Bulletin
A mini kidney-dialysis machine for infants
In the world's first such breakthrough, scientists have developed a miniature kidney dialysis machine capable of treating the smallest babies and have also for the first time used it to safely treat a newborn baby with multiple organ failure.
To be announced on Friday by medical journal 'The Lancet', the new continuous renal replacement therapy (CRRT) machine — named CARPEDIEM (Cardio-Renal Pediatric Dialysis Emergency Machine) — was created to overcome the problems of existing dialysis machines that are only designed for adults and have to be adapted for use in newborns.
"Such modifications make adult devices inaccurate when used in infants who weigh less than 15 kg and can result in complications with fluid management and treatment delivery," said lead author professor Claudio Ronco from San Bortolo Hospital in Vicenza, Italy. "A major problem is the potential for errors in ultrafiltration volumes — adult dialysis equipment has a tendency to either withdraw too much fluid from a child, leading to dehydration and loss of blood pressure, or too little fluid, leading to high blood pressure and edema."
It is estimated that 18% of low-birth weight infants are affected by acute kidney injury and it is increasingly common in children admitted to hospital with an incidence of almost 20% in children admitted to intensive care.
Ronco therefore developed a miniature device for kidney support in newborns and infants weighing between 2 kg and 10 kg. It has the capacity to accurately handle very low blood and ultrafiltration flows compared with existing machines, allowing the use of a much smaller sized catheter than is typically used in children, which could prevent damage to blood vessels.
23rd May 2014, 12:06 PM #1124
Re: Health Bulletin
Genes can help predict alcoholism risk
Researchers have found that a group of 11 genes can help predict if an individual is at increased risk of alcoholism.
A research team from the United States and Germany has discovered this panel of genes which it says is highly accurate in its differentiation of alcoholics from controls at a population level.
"This powerful panel of just 11 genes successfully identified who has problems with alcohol abuse and who does not in tests in three patient populations on two continents, in two ethnicities and in both genders," said Alexander B Niculescu, professor of psychiatry at the Indiana University School of Medicine. "We believe this is the strongest result to date in the field of alcoholism and offers a comprehensive window to the genetics and biology of alcoholism," Niculescu said.
23rd May 2014, 12:07 PM #1125
Re: Health Bulletin
Roadside drinks unhealthy
Health experts have sounded an alarm at the increase in cases of food and water-borne diseases due to consumption of locally available drinks, like fruit juices and nimbu paani, whose sales have shot up with the soaring temperature. Doctors say this summer an unusually high number of diarrhoea, typhoid and gastroenteritis cases are being reported across city hospitals and intake of food and beverages sold by roadside hawkers is a major cause.
"More than 40% patients visiting OPDs in the last one week have diarrhoea, gastroenteritis, typhoid or jaundice. In some cases, where there is severe dehydration or health complication on account of pre-existing illness like heart disease or diabetes, admission is also required," said Dr Romel Tickoo, senior consultant, internal medicine at Max hospital, Saket. He said if typhoid is diagnosed after one week, it is difficult to treat with oral antibiotics and medicines have to be administered intravenously.
Delhi has seen a rise in temperature over the last few days. On Thursday, the mercury touched 40.6 degrees Celsius. Health experts say many people tend to drink cold water or juices being sold by hawkers. "These drinks are prepared in an unhygienic manner and ice used is mostly made with unclean water. It is a serious health hazard and the main cause behind increasing number of typhoid and jaundice cases," said Dr M P Sharma, head of the medicine and gastroenterology division, Rockland hospital.
Those suffering from hypertension, heart disease and diabetes need to be extra careful, say doctors. "Hot weather leads to decrease in blood pressure and change of medication is required in such patients. Heat leads to sweating and decrease in body sodium, which can affect people with hypertension and diabetes as they are on diuretic drugs," said Dr Anoop Misra, chairman, Fortis-C-DOC. He added that vomiting and nausea caused due to food and water-borne diseases leads to fluctuating blood pressure and sugar levels.
Doctors said people who live in air-conditioned offices and homes most of the time should avoid sudden change in temperature by exposing themselves to direct sunlight. Despite the heat, cases of mosquito-borne diseases are also on the rise.
Municipal corporation officials say the number of dengue cases have gone up to four this season, with the central zone reporting yet another case this week. Three cases of Malaria have also been reported this season.
23rd May 2014, 12:18 PM #1126
Re: Health Bulletin
Brains of simple sea animals could help cure neural disorders
A Florida scientist studying simple sea animals called comb jellies has found the road map to a new form of brain development that could lead to treatments for Parkinson's, Alzheimer's and other neurodegenerative diseases.
"There is more than one way to make a brain," University of Florida researcher Leonid Moroz, who led an international research team, told Reuters.
Moroz said his research, published on Wednesday in a report in the magazine Nature, also places comb jelly-like creatures on the first branch of the animal kingdom's "tree of life," replacing and bumping up sponge-like species from the bottom rung of evolutionary progression.
Moroz said that finding should lead to a reclassification of the animal kingdom's "tree of life" and reshape two centuries of zoological thought.
Comb jellies are different from common jellyfish.
Moroz said his team found that comb jellies' molecular makeup and the way they developed was radically different - although still complex - from all other animals, involving different genes and neural transmitters.
Traditional scientific reasoning has held that simple nerve nets evolved all the way up to a human level of complexity along a single path. But it now appears that comb jellies took a different route, using neurochemical language that does not exist in other animals.
"All other animals have the same chemical language and these guys have completely different language. It's not only different grammar. It's a different alphabet," Moroz said.
Comb jellies, for example, don't use dopamine, implicated in Parkinson's disease, to control brain activity. They also can regenerate their brains in less than four days. In one experiment, a comb jelly regenerated its brain four times.
"Now we know we can construct neural systems differently," Moroz said.
Moroz said degenerative brain diseases typically can be treated to stall progression but not reversed.
Discovering the key to regeneration, or appropriating the comb jellies' different chemical languages, could lead to advancements in synthetic and regenerative medicine, he said.
23rd May 2014, 12:22 PM #1127
Re: Health Bulletin
Compound that blocks insulin breakdown boon for diabetics
In a ray of hope for millions of people suffering from type 2 diabetes worldwide, researchers have discovered a molecule that inhibits the breakdown of insulin in mice.
The compound blocked a protein called insulin-degrading enzyme (IDE) in mice.
"If you inhibit the enzyme that breaks down insulin, insulin levels in your body should be higher and your blood glucose should be lower," said David Liu, a chemical biologist at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Since people with type 2 diabetes tend to have low insulin levels, it could lead to new ways of treating the disease, he noted.
IDE has proved difficult to inhibit.
Liu, along with his colleague Alan Saghatelian, screened a wide range of molecules that are both stable and specific.
They then tested the effects of the strongest candidate molecule in lean and obese mice given glucose.
As expected, blood sugar levels dropped faster in those that received the inhibitor than in control mice, whether the mice were lean or obese.
The team also found something surprising: the IDE inhibitor had the opposite effect when the mice were injected with glucose rather than ingesting it.
The reason for the different responses could be that IDE also affects two other gut hormones that regulate blood sugar - amylin and glucagon.
For example, mice that received the inhibitor had higher levels of glucagon, a hormone that boosts blood sugar levels following glucose injection.
However, according to Liu, mice that ingest glucose tend to have much higher insulin levels than mice that are injected with it.
"You could probably aim for a short lived IDE inhibitor that is taken before a meal," Liu concluded in the study published in the journal Nature.
24th May 2014, 11:31 AM #1128
Re: Health Bulletin
Women with diabetes at greater heart risk than men: Study
Women with diabetes are at a 44 per cent higher risk of developing heart disease than men with the condition, a new research has found.
A systematic review and meta-analysis of some 850,000 people shows that women with diabetes are 44 per cent more likely to develop coronary heart disease (CHD) than men with diabetes independent of sex differences in the levels of other major cardiovascular risk factors.
The data used in the study stretches back almost 50 years, from 1966 to 2011, and includes 64 studies, 858,507 people and 28,203 incident CHD events.
Women with diabetes were almost 3 times more likely to develop CHD compared with women without diabetes, while men with diabetes were only twice as likely to develop CHD than men without diabetes, researchers found.
Combining the two sets of data showed that women with diabetes were 44 per cent more likely to develop CHD than men with diabetes even after consideration was made for sex differences in other CHD factors.
The authors say that this study, the largest ever of its kind backs up findings from a smaller analysis including fewer studies that showed a 46 per cent increased risk of dying from CHD in women with diabetes compared with men with diabetes.
In the new analysis by Professor Rachel Huxley, School of Population Health, University of Queensland, Australia and colleagues, the sex difference in diabetes-related risk for incident CHD was consistent across subgroups defined by age and region and remained unchanged after excluding non-fatal CHD events.
They note that in another previous study they authored, diabetes in women increased the risk of stroke by 25 per cent compared with diabetes in men.
"Taken together, these data provide convincing evidence that diabetes poses a greater relative risk for cardiovascular diseases in women than in men," researchers said.
Several possible reasons for the difference are discussed by the research authors.
Women have, particularly in the past, been under-treated for risk factors for cardiovascular disease, researchers said.
However, even in more contemporary populations, when diabetes is treated similar to men, women have generally been less likely to achieve treatment targets.
The research authors speculate that women may have to metabolically deteriorate further than men to become diabetic, so they are at a worse starting point even before treatment begins.
Furthermore, in the prediabetic state where glucose tolerance may already be impaired but does not meet all diagnostic criteria of diabetes, risk factor levels are more elevated in women than in men.
The study was published in the journal Diabetologia.
24th May 2014, 11:36 AM #1129
Re: Health Bulletin
Scientists find rare group of children who are naturally immune to malaria
Blood from a rare group of children from Tanzania, found to be naturally immune to malaria has now helped scientists take a giant leap in developing a vaccine against the world's deadliest vector borne disease — malaria.
Researchers from the Brown University School of Medicine have found that these children produce an antibody that attacks the malaria-causing parasite. Antibody is an infection-fighting protein produced by our immune system when it detects harmful substances.
Injecting a form of this antibody into mice protected the animals from the disease. Scientists say these antibodies would ultimately reveal the Achilles heel of malaria and help create the elusive vaccine.
This same principle has been used over the years in the work to create the world's first HIV vaccine. Globally, scientists have been trying to identify volunteers belonging to a rare group of HIV infected patients who stay healthy for years without requiring life-saving antiretroviral treatment (ART). The antibodies in their blood has been found to bar HIV from entering their blood cells and replicating, thereby progressing into AIDS.
Prof Jake Kurtis from the University screened 1,000 children in Tanzania, who had regular blood samples taken in the first years of their lives. Around 6% of these children were found to have developed a naturally acquired immunity to malaria, despite living in an area where the disease was highly active.
Scientists then looked into their blood and found a unique antibody that dealt a deadly blow to the malaria parasite at a key stage in its life-cycle. It trapped the tiny organism in red blood cells, preventing it from bursting out and spreading throughout the body.
Prof Kurtis said, "We asked what were the specific antibodies expressed by resistant children that were not expressed by susceptible children. Tests, carried out in small groups of mice, suggest this antibody could act as a potential vaccine. The survival rate was over two-fold longer if the mice were vaccinated compared to unvaccinated - and the parasitemia (the number of parasites in the blood) were up to four-fold lower in the vaccinated mice". Dr Kurtis and Dipak Raj of Brown University and Rhode Island Hospital have named their antibody PfSEA-1.
Dr Kurtis said, "PfSEA-1 was discovered by starting with naturally occurring protective human immune responses. Using molecular gymnastics, we identified parasite proteins that are only recognized by antibodies in children who were resistant to malaria but not by antibodies in susceptible children. We subsequently demonstrated that vaccination with one of these proteins, SEA-1 could protect mice from a lethal malaria infection. More importantly, in our cohort of over 750 children, kids who made antibodies to PfSEA-1 did not develop severe malaria, while children without these antibodies were susceptible to this severe complication".
"PfSEA-1 is essential to allow the parasite to escape from one infected red blood cell and infect additional blood cells. This cycle of expansion in red blood cells is critical for parasite survival and is the key process that leads to morbidity and mortality in humans. Using molecular techniques, we decreased the amount of PfSEA-1 that parasites could produce and demonstrated that these altered parasites had a significant growth defect. More importantly, antibodies to PfSEAs prevent the parasites from escaping from red blood cells, presumably by interfering with the function of PfSEA-1."
According to Dr Kurtis, there are three major areas for further study. "First, we need to understand the role that PfSEA-1 plays in the process of parasite egress from red blood cells. Cellular immunity is critical for long-lived antibody responses, but detailed analysis of cellular responses requires fresh blood samples, thus we are currently planning to enroll new cohorts in east Africa to address this question. We also need to move PfSEA-1-based vaccines into nonhuman primate challenge trials using human-use approved vaccine adjuvants. Following successful nonhuman primate studies, Phase I safety trials in humans can begin," he said.
The most recent figures from the World Health Organization suggest the disease killed more than 600,000 people in 2012, with 90% of these deaths occurring in sub-Saharan Africa.
24th May 2014, 03:59 PM #1130
Re: Health Bulletin
Stem cells are like gold mine if wisely used: Experts
There is relief for those suffering from liver cirrhosis, osteoarthritis, critical limb ischemia or severe blockage of arteries if stem cell researches under way in Bangalore get the Centre's nod.
Currently, the only approved stem cell therapy in India is that of bone marrow, which is used for patients suffering from thalassemia and lymphoma diseases. Usage of stem cells for any other ailment is not deemed therapy as it is not scientifically approved by the government of India.
Stempuetics Research Pvt Ltd in association with Manipal Health Enterprise and Cipla has been working on stem cell research for three years now. On Friday, researchers from the US and India met in Bangalore to discuss the project's progress.
Dr Jeff Karp, principal faculty at the Harvard Stem Cell Institute, said India is pretty close to the US in its research in stem cells. "Many researchers in the US have completed phase 2 while the Indian research at Stempuetics is nearing completion," he said, adding, "We are waiting for the drug controller general of India to consider stem cells as a drug."
B N Manohar, CEO of Stempeutics, said: "Stem cells are like gold mine, when wisely used for medicinal purpose. We are waiting for the amendment to be made in the Drugs and Cosmetic Act to regulate stem cells as drug."
Dr Mahendra Rao, vice president for regenerative medicine, the New York Stem Cell Foundation, has worked in stem cell research for over two decades. "The regulations for usage of stem cells in India and the US are almost the same. But in the US, the laws are imposed effectively unlike India, where the irregular usage of stem cells is still going on," he said.
'Beware of false claims'
Doctors at the meeting warned against usage of unapproved, irregular stem cell practices that have claimed to heal kidney disorders, brain malfunctioning, hair loss and so on. "Patients have not only lost money but lives too. They cannot be termed as therapies, as they are not scientifically proven. Patients must not fall for such unauthentic practices," said Prof Polani B Seshagiri, department of molecular reproduction, development and genetics, IISc.
"In such cases, there is no follow-up. The patient's condition worsens after undergoing stem cell treatment. I have seen a patient, who died after he missed his dialysis pinning hopes on a stem cell treatment he had in China. Another lady, who was suffering from motor neuron disorder, lost over Rs 2 crore two years ago on stem cell treatment," said Dr H Sudarshan Ballal, nephrologist and chairman of Stempuetics board.