5th Jun 2014, 02:45 PM #1161
Re: Health Bulletin
Night owls less likely to exercise
Having a hard time maintaining an exercise schedule? Try sleeping early. Night owls are more sedentary and feel less motivated to exercise, a new study has found. Researchers have found that later sleep timing is associated with greater sedentary minutes and perceived barriers to exercise.
In the study, later sleep times were associated with more self-reported minutes sitting, and sleep timing remained a significant predictor of sedentary minutes after controlling for age and sleep duration.
People who characterized themselves as night owls reported more sitting time and more perceived barriers to exercise, including not having enough time for exercise and being unable to stick to an exercise schedule regardless of what time they actually went to bed or woke up.
5th Jun 2014, 02:48 PM #1162
Re: Health Bulletin
New biochip to detect blood sugar via saliva
Researchers at Brown University in the US have developed a new biochip sensor that can selectively measure glucose concentrations in a complex fluid like saliva. The advance is an important step towards a device that would enable people with diabetes to test their glucose levels without drawing blood.
The new chip makes use of a series of specific chemical reactions combined with plasmonic interferometry, a means of detecting chemical signature of compounds using light. The device is sensitive enough to detect differences in glucose concentrations that amount to just a few thousand molecules in the sampled volume. The biochip is made from a one-inch-square piece of quartz coated with a thin layer of silver. Etched in the silver are thousands of nanoscale interferometers — tiny slits with a groove on each side. The grooves measure 200 nanometers wide, and the slit is 100 nanometers wide — about 1,000 times thinner than a human hair.
"We have demonstrated the sensitivity needed to measure glucose concentrations typical in saliva, which are typically 100 times lower than in blood," said Domenico Pacifici from Brown. "Now we are able to do this with extremely high specificity, which means that we can differentiate glucose from the background components of saliva."
6th Jun 2014, 12:15 PM #1163
Re: Health Bulletin
Scientists transplant, grow human stem cells in pigs
Researchers have developed a new line of genetically modified pigs that do not reject transplants, an advance that allows for future research on stem cell therapies.
One of the biggest challenges for medical researchers studying the effectiveness of stem cell therapies is that transplants or grafts of cells are often rejected by the hosts.
This rejection can render experiments useless, making research into potentially life-saving treatments a long and difficult process.
Now, researchers at the University of Missouri have shown that a new line of genetically modified pigs will host transplanted cells without the risk of rejection.
"The rejection of transplants and grafts by host bodies is a huge hurdle for medical researchers," said R Michael Roberts, Curators Professor of Animal Science and Biochemistry and a researcher in the Bond Life Sciences Center.
"By establishing that these pigs will support transplants without the fear of rejection, we can move stem cell therapy research forward at a quicker pace," Roberts said.
Researchers implanted human pluripotent stem cells in a special line of pigs developed by Randall Prather, an MU Curators Professor of reproductive physiology.
Prather specifically created the pigs with immune systems that allow the pigs to accept all transplants or grafts without rejection.
Once the scientists implanted the cells, the pigs did not reject the stem cells and the cells thrived.
Prather said achieving this success with pigs is notable because pigs are much closer to humans than many other test animals.
"Many medical researchers prefer conducting studies with pigs because they are more anatomically similar to humans than other animals, such as mice and rats," Prather said.
"Now that we know that human stem cells can thrive in these pigs, a door has been opened for new and exciting research by scientists around the world," Roberts added.
"Hopefully this means that we are one step closer to therapies and treatments for a number of debilitating human diseases," Roberts said.
The study was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
6th Jun 2014, 12:16 PM #1164
Re: Health Bulletin
In a first, DNA test find root of illness
Joshua Osborn, 14, lay in a coma at American Family Children's Hospital in Madison, Wisconsin. For weeks his brain had been swelling with fluid, and a battery of tests had failed to reveal the cause. The doctors told his parents, Clark and Julie, that they wanted to run one more test with an experimental new technology. Scientists would search Joshua's cerebrospinal fluid for pieces of DNA. Some of them might belong to the pathogen causing his encephalitis.
The Osborns agreed, although they were skeptical. But in the first procedure of its kind, researchers at the University of California, San Francisco, managed to pinpoint the cause of Joshua's problem — within 48 hours. He had been infected with an obscure species of bacteria. Once identified, it was eradicated within days.
The case, reported on Wednesday in The New England Journal of Medicine, signals an important advance in the science of diagnosis. For years, scientists have been sequencing DNA to identify pathogens. But until now, the process has been too cumbersome to yield useful information about an individual patient in a life-threatening emergency. "This is an absolutely great story — it's a tremendous tour de force," said Tom Slezak, the leader of the pathogen informatics team at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, who was not involved in the study.
Slezak and other experts noted that it would take years of further research before such a test might become approved for regular use. But it could be immensely useful: Not only might it provide speedy diagnoses to critically ill patients, they said, it could lead to more effective treatments for maladies that can be hard to identifyn.
Diagnosis is a crucial step in medicine, but it can also be the most difficult. Doctors usually must guess the most likely causes of a medical problem and then order individual tests to see which is the right diagnosis. The guessing game can waste precious time. The causes of some conditions, like encephalitis, can be so hard to diagnose that doctors often end up with no answer at all.
"About 60% of the time, we never make a diagnosis" in encephalitis, said Dr Michael R Wilson, a neurologist at the University of California, San Francisco, and an author of the new paper. "It's frustrating whenever someone is doing poorly, but it's especially frustrating when we can't even tell the parents what the hell is going on."
The researchers' latest method is called unbiased next-generation sequencing. To identify a pathogen, the experts extract every scrap of DNA in a sample from a patient, which might be blood, cerebrospinal fluid or stool. Then they sift the genetic fragments for those belonging to pathogens. The technique already has proved valuable for investigating mysterious disease outbreaks, and a number of scientists have begun to hope it can be adapted to the diagnosis of individual patients' infections.
6th Jun 2014, 03:11 PM #1165
Re: Health Bulletin
Skipping breakfast does not influence weight loss or weight gain: study
A new research from the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) has found that regularly skipping breakfast did not influence weight loss or weight gain in a group of study participants.
According to Medical News Today, the study followed 309 otherwise-healthy overweight and obese adults over a 16-week time period. During that time, some experimental groups were told to skip breakfast and others were told to eat breakfast.
A separate control group was comprised of both breakfast eaters and breakfast skippers, but they were given health nutrition advice without any mention of breakfast.
Overall, the researchers found no significant weight loss between the breakfast skippers and the breakfast eaters, Fox News reported.
They hope their findings will dispel perpetuated myths surrounding weight loss techniques.
The study is published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
6th Jun 2014, 03:18 PM #1166
Re: Health Bulletin
Sleeping well after studying helps retain memories better, new study finds
For the first time, scientists have found evidence showing that sleeping helps in strengthening new learning. In a study published in Science on Friday, researchers at NYU Langone Medical Center show that deep sleep after learning encourages the growth of connections between brain cells. This helps retain memories.
The findings in mice provide important physical evidence in support of the hypothesis that sleep helps consolidate and strengthen new memories, and show for the first time how learning and sleep cause physical changes in the motor cortex, a brain region responsible for voluntary movements.
"We've known for a long time that sleep plays an important role in learning and memory. If you don't sleep well you won't learn well," senior investigator Wen-Biao Gan, PhD, professor of neuroscience and physiology at NYU Langone Medical Center said. "But what's the underlying physical mechanism responsible for this phenomenon? Here we've shown how sleep helps neurons form very specific connections on dendritic branches that may facilitate long-term memory. We also show how different types of learning form synapses on different branches of the same neurons, suggesting that learning cause very specific structural changes in the brain."
On the cellular level, sleep is anything but restful: Brain cells that spark as we digest new information during waking hours replay during deep sleep, also known as slow-wave sleep, when brain waves slow down and rapid-eye movement, as well as dreaming, stops. Scientists have long believed that this nocturnal replay helps us form and recall new memories, yet the structural changes underpinning this process have remained poorly understood.
To shed light on this process, Dr Gan and colleagues taught mice to balance on a spinning rod and tracked the growth of brain cells before and after learning. Over time mice learned how to balance on the rod as it gradually spun faster. "It's like learning to ride a bike," says Dr Gan. "Once you learn it, you never forget."
After documenting that mice sprout new spines along dendritic branches, within six hours after training on the spinning rod, the researchers set out to understand how sleep would impact this physical growth. They trained two sets of mice: one trained on the spinning rod for an hour and then slept for 7 hours; the second trained for the same period of time on the rod but stayed awake for 7 hours. The scientists found that the sleep-deprived mice experienced significantly less dendritic spine growth than the well-rested mice. Furthermore, they found that the type of task learned determined which dendritic branches spines would grow.
Running forward on the spinning rod, for instance, produced spine growth on different dendritic branches than running backward on the rod, suggesting that learning specific tasks causes specific structural changes in the brain.
"Now we know that when we learn something new, a neuron will grow new connections on a specific branch," Dr. Gan said. "Imagine a tree that grows leaves (spines) on one branch but not another branch. When we learn something new, it's like we're sprouting leaves on a specific branch."
Finally, the scientists showed that brain cells in the motor cortex that activate when mice learn a task reactivate during slow-wave deep sleep. Disrupting this process prevents dendritic spine growth. Their findings offer an important insight into the functional role of neuronal replay — the process by which the sleeping brain rehearses tasks learned during the day — observed in the motor cortex.
"Our data suggest that neuronal reactivation during sleep is quite important for growing specific connections within the motor cortex," Dr Gan added.
7th Jun 2014, 01:17 AM #1167
Re: Health Bulletin
'1 in 10 adults in country has thyroid'
One in 10 adults suffers from some thyroid related disorder, said health minister Dr C Vijaya Bhaskar on Thursday.
Speaking at a national workshop organized at the Tamil Nadu Government Multi-Specialty Hospital on 'advanced management of thyroid disorders,' the minister, quoting recent studies, said thyroid disorders affects 42 million people in India.
"Studies in eight major cities in the country have shown that one in 2,640 neonates have thyroid dysfunction," he said. Thyroid, the most common endocrine disorder, is common among women and it also puts them at a risk of cancer and cardiac issues, he added.
Pointing out that the state is moving ahead rapidly in terms of healthcare development, the minister said, "Maternal mortality rate has reduced in the state at 68 per every one lakh live births in 2013 from 450 per one lakh live births in 1980. Infant mortality rate, too, has reduced over the years at 21 per every 1000 live births in 2012 from 93 in 1980." The Tamil Nadu Government Multi-Specialty Hospital, since its inauguration three months ago, has treated 20,500 out-patients and over 1800 in-patients.
7th Jun 2014, 11:30 AM #1168
Re: Health Bulletin
Customized gene tests for Indians are available now
A single term seems to provide the answer to many health problems these days. Want to know what will cause you to age? Want to know how you will react to statins? Want to know if you are extra-susceptible to tuberculosis or cancer? Genetic testing or DNA tests, we are told, will tell us all.
Genetic testing is growing fast as a sector in itself in India. Every few months, start-up companies as well as established ones come up with an increasing number of tests - from a person's entire genome data to his/her predisposition to various diseases and his/her genetic compatibility to a to-be spouse. After all, such tests are known to confirm or rule out a suspected genetic condition or help determine a person's chance of developing or passing on a genetic disorder.
This week, Singapore-based Global Gene Corporation began operations in Mumbai promising tests customized for the Indian genotype. "Our tests are unique because the typical tests being offered in India are based on Caucasian populations and their datasets," said chairman Sumit Jamuar. In other words, the results from their laboratories will be based on data compared to facts drawn from genetic mutations among Indians instead of Caucasians or Japanese. "It will hence be more appropriate for Indians," he said.
Another company which has started operations in Mumbai, Finlinea Healthwits from Italy, offers gene tests to determine factors that will cause you to age. Depending on the test results, consumers will be given customized supplements to beat the aging process. "Our USP is customized anti-aging solution as per the predisposition of a person's DNA. It is a new science with the potential to help every person," said Finlinea's CEO.
The new entrants have not only brought variety, but brought about a reduction in prices as well. Sandeep Saxena from Acton, one of the first entrant in the genome market in India in 2011, said prices of tests have fallen by almost a half. "Our sector is on fire. Prices have crashed. What we did for Rs 40,000 a couple of years back is on offer at Rs 25,000," he said, adding that costs will drop further within a few months due to technological advancements.
Saxena says all the tests results are adapted to an Indian database. "Many companies these days offer results based on single nucleotide polymorphisms or genetic mutations. These are not the same as entire genome studies," he said.
But how dependable are these genetic tests?
The New York Times carried an article in December 2013 about a reporter who received three different results from three companies.
Dr Aabha Nagral, who treats many genetically inherited diseases, said that the focus right now seems commercial. "Just because a person carries a genetic mutation it is no guarantee that the person will get cancer. Not all diseases need such screening tests. These tests can only lead to paranoia," said Dr Nagral, adding that only people with a family history of diseases would benefit from such tests.
Dr Aniruddha Malpani, director of HELP Library, said, "These tests and technologies may be highly 'advanced' - but right now, given their limitation, they are just sophisticated and expensive quackery designed to take patients for a ride. The truth is that there is very little we can do to affect the natural history of over 95% of patients with cancer. In spite of the 'War Against Cancer', we have made very few advances in the last 50 years."
7th Jun 2014, 11:31 AM #1169
Re: Health Bulletin
7th Jun 2014, 11:38 AM #1170
Re: Health Bulletin
Virtual reality therapy may help reduce chronic pain
Inducing positive emotions or creating the perception of "swapping" a limb or bodily area affected by chronic pain in a virtual environment can be a powerful therapeutic tool, according to new research.
Chronic pain due to disease or injury is common, and even prescription pain medications cannot provide acceptable pain relief for many individuals, researchers said.
Researchers from the Virtual Reality Medical Institute, Belgium and Virtual Reality Medical Centre, California, created pleasant virtual experiences that patients could navigate through in simulated worlds to distract them from pain.
They reported both the patients' subjective ratings of relief and how those compared to physiological measurements to assess pain responses.
In a separate study, researchers from South Korea evaluated the effectiveness of virtual body swapping therapy in improving pain intensity and "body perception disturbance" in patients with Complex Regional Pain Syndrome, a chronic progressive disease characterized by severe pain and disturbed body perception.
In another study, researchers from Spain reported significant improvement in multiple factors affecting quality of life for patients with fibromyalgia syndrome, a chronic musculoskeletal pain condition.
"Studies have shown that VR can be an effective adjunct for both chronic and acute pain conditions," said Brenda K Wiederhold, editor-in-chief of the journal Cyberpsychology, Behaviour, and Social Networking that published the studies.
"Future possibilities for VR's use in pain conditions may include such diverse groups as military personnel, space exploration teams, and our ever increasing elderly population," said Wiederhold.