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Health Bulletin


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  1. #1191
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    'Cigarette substitutes too could be cancerous'

    Nicotine patches may have helped many smokers kick the butt, but new research led by an Indian-origin scientist suggests that they may actually do more harm than good.

    Nicotine is proving to be a formidable carcinogen, say researchers who warn that nicotine-infused smoking cessation products may not be the safest way to help smokers quit. Nicotine is one of 4,000 chemicals found in cigarette smoke. While many of these chemicals are recognized as carcinogens, nicotine has up until now only been considered addictive rather than carcinogenic.

    It is heavily used in smoking cessation products in patches, gum, and now in the increasingly popular electronic cigarette, or e-cigarette. Researchers at the Virginia Bioinformatics Institute found that nicotine excessively mutates a cell's DNA.

    Geneticist Jasmin Bavarva and Harold Garner a professor of biological science, computer science, and basic science affiliated with the College of Scie8nce, the College of Engineering, and the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine, found that nicotine causes thousands of mutations called single nucleotide polymorphisms in exposed cells, compared with control cells that were not exposed.

    These patterns are similar to those identified in cells experiencing oxidative stress, which is a known precursor to cancer, according to the study published in Oncotarget. ptiA previous study in journal PLOS One by the researchers looked at gene expression patterns caused by nicotine.

    "We now have a broad picture of genomic effects in nicotine," said Bavarva, lead author of both studies.

    "These results are important because for the first time they directly measure large numbers of genetic variations caused only by nicotine, showing that nicotine alone can mutate the genome and initiate a cancer state," said Garner, director of the institute's Medical Informatics and Systems Division.

    "This is particularly timely since nicotine is used as a smoking cessation therapeutic," Garner added.


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  2. #1192
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Fasting can ward off diabetes: Study

    Fasting can reduce cholesterol levels in prediabetic people over extended period of time, according to a new research.

    The research on periodic fasting has identified a biological process in the body that converts bad cholesterol in fat cells to energy, thus combating diabetes risk factors.

    Researchers at the Intermountain Heart Institute at Intermountain Medical Center in Murray, Utah, noticed that after 10 to 12 hours of fasting, the body starts scavenging for other sources of energy throughout the body to sustain itself. The body pulls LDL (bad) cholesterol from the fat cells and uses it as energy. "Fasting has the potential to become an important diabetes intervention," said Benjamin Horne, director of cardiovascular and genetic epidemiology at the Intermountain Medical Center Heart Institute and lead researcher on the study.

    "Though we've studied fasting and it's health benefits for years, we didn't know why it could provide benefits we observed related to the risk of diabetes."

    Prediabetes means the amount of glucose, also called sugar, in the blood is higher than normal but not high enough to be called diabetes.

    Research by Horne and his team in 2011 focused on he8althy people during one day of fasting and showed th8at routine, water-only fasting was associated with lower gl8u8cose levels and weight loss. pti "When we studied the effects of fasting in apparently healthy people, cholesterol levels increased during the one-time 24-hour fast," said Horne."The changes that were most interesting or unexpected were all related to metabolic health and diabetes risk.

    "Together with our prior studies that showed decades of routine fasting was associated with a lower risk of diabetes and coronary artery disease, this led us to think that fasting is most impactful for reducing the risk of diabetes and related metabolic problems," Horne said.

    Horne launched the new study to look at the effects of fasting in prediabetics over an extended period of time. The study participants were prediabetics, including men and women between the ages of 30 and 69 with a least three metabolic risk factors.

    These risk factors include a large waistline, a high triglyceride level, a low HDL or "good" cholesterol level, high blood pressure and high fasting blood sugar.

    "During actual fasting days, cholesterol went up slightly in this study, as it did in our prior study of healthy people, but we did notice that over a six-week period cholesterol levels decreased by about 12 per cent in addition to the weight loss," said Horne.

    "Because we expect that the cholesterol was used for energy during the fasting episodes and likely came from fat cells, this leads us to believe fasting may be an effective diabetes intervention," Horne said.


  3. #1193
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Now, smart glasses for the nearly blind

    People with severe sight loss may soon be able to see again. Scientists at Oxford University have made a breakthrough in developing smart glasses that enhance images of nearby people and objects on to the lenses, providing a much clearer sense of surroundings.

    The glasses are being tested at Oxford and allowed some people to see their guide dogs for the first time.

    Oxford University researchers are testing the glasses in public areas to measure how they can help people with limited vision navigate and avoid walking into obstacles.

    "The idea of the smart glasses is to give people with poor vision an aid that boosts their awareness of what's around them - allowing greater freedom, independence and confidence to get about, and a much improved quality of life," said Stephen Hicks from the University of Oxford who is leading the project.

    The smart glasses consist of a video camera mounted on the frame of the glasses; a computer processing unit that is small enough to fit in a pocket; and software that provides images of objects close-by to the see-through displays in the eyepieces of the glasses.

    The transparent electronic displays where the glass' lens would be give a simple image of nearby people and obstacles. The camera with specially designed software interprets the nearby surroundings allowing people to see important things much more distinctly than before.

    The glasses don't replace lost vision but assist with spatial awareness. Anyone using the glasses looks through them to make the most of their existing sight with additional images appearing in their line of sight to give extra information about who or what is in front of them.

    The research and development of the glasses is funded by the National Institute for Health Research. The trials are being carried out with the support of the Royal National Institute of Blind People.

    "We eventually want to have a product that will look like a regular pair of glasses and cost no more than a few hundred pounds — about the same as a smartphone," Hicks said.


  4. #1194
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Japan to start clinical tests to regenerate spinal cord

    Japanese researchers are to begin conducting a series of clinical tests to try to regenerate the spinal cord of people who have suffered from injuries.

    The research team led by Masaya Nakamura, a professor in the Keio University in Tokyo, will try to repair lesions in the spinal cord specifically in the neck, public broadcaster NHK reported on Tuesday.

    The patients will be administered the hepatocyte growth factor (HGF) five times within 78 hours of having received the injury.

    HGF is a type of protein that helps in the regeneration of the nerve tissue.

    The team explained that they carried out tests on monkeys who received the identical treatment and that they recovered the ability to grasp objects eight weeks after the protein was injected.

    The researchers will review the patients six months after the administration of the protein to determine if there is an improvement in the movement of their limbs.

    The tests were expected to be conducted on 48 patients in the next two years.

    Professor Nakamura indicated that if the tests were successful, persons doomed to be bedridden for life could start walking independently.

    In Japan alone some 5,000 people suffer from spinal cord injuries every year, most of them received in traffic accidents.

    However, till now, there is no remedy to repair these injuries, which would make these tests, if successful, a landmark in regenerative medicine.


  5. #1195
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Scientists develop sensor that can embedded in the eye

    Your eyes could soon become a high-tech information centre that tracks changes and tells you when it's time to see an eye doctor.

    Scientists from the University of Washington have designed a low-power sensor that could be placed permanently in a person's eye to track hard-to-measure changes in eye pressure.

    The sensor would be embedded with an artificial lens during cataract surgery and would detect pressure changes instantaneously and then transmit the data wirelessly using radio frequency waves.

    "No one has ever put electronics inside the lens of the eye, so this is a little more radical," said Karl Bohringer, a UW professor of electrical engineering and of bioengineering. "We have shown this is possible in principle. If you can fit this sensor device into an intraocular lens implant during cataract surgery, it won't require any further surgery for patients."

    Scientists were looking to keep a close watch over eye pressure for management of glaucoma, one of the major reasons for blindness across the globe. It is a group of diseases that damage the eye's optic nerve and can cause blindness. Right now there are two ways to check eye pressure, but both require a visit to the ophthalmologist. But if ophthalmologists could insert a pressure monitoring system during cataract surgery - now a common procedure performed on 3 million to 4 million people each year to remove blurry vision or glare caused by a hazy lens - that could save patients from a second surgery and essentially make their replacement lens "smarter" and more functional.

    The UW engineering team built a prototype that uses radio frequency for wireless power and data transfer. A thin, circular antenna spans the perimeter of the device - roughly tracing a person's iris - and harnesses enough energy from the surrounding field to power a small pressure sensor chip. The chip communicates with a close-by receiver about any shifts in frequency which signifies a change in pressure. Actual pressure is then calculated and those changes are tracked and recorded in real-time.

    The current prototype is larger than it would need to be to fit into an artificial lens, but the research team is confident it can be downscaled through more engineering.


  6. #1196
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Staring at computer screens all day ‘changes your eyes’, scientists say

    People who spend their working hours staring at a computer screen have changes in their tear fluid typical of those who have been diagnosed with the disease dry eye, according to the results of a new study.

    A particular protein called MUC5AC makes up part of the normally occurring mucus layer, or "tear film", which keeps the eye moist.

    However, a study found participants who spent the most time sat in front of a screen had levels of MUC5AC nearing those of people who had been diagnosed with dry eye.

    'Dry eye' is a condition that occurs when the eyes do not make produce enough tears or the tears evaporate too quickly.

    A team tested the tears from both eyes of 96 Japanese office workers and measured how much of the total protein content of the tears was MUC5AC.

    Those who had jobs that involved looking at computer screens filled out questionnaires about their working hours and symptoms of any eye problems.

    Dr Yuichi Uchino, an author of the study, said that people staring at screens generally tend to open their eyelids wider than others while doing other tasks, and the extra exposed surface area in addition to infrequent blinking can accelerate tear evaporation and is associated with dry eye disease.



    "When we stare at computers, our blinking times decreased compared to reading a book at the table," he added.

    The team found participants who worked with computer screens for more than seven hours each day had an average of 5.9 ng/mg of MUC5AC, compared to 9.6 ng/mg for people who spent fewer than five hours daily with screens.

    In comparison, people with definite dry eye disease had an average of 3.5 ng/mg of MUC5AC compared to 8.2 ng/mg for people without the disease.

    Office workers who are worried about dry eye can make some simple changes to decrease their risk, Dr Uchino said.

    "The exposed ocular surface area can be decreased by placing the terminal at a lower height, with the screen tilted upward," Dr Uchino said.

    Doctors also recommend using a humidifier at the office and avoiding being in the direct path of the wind from an air conditioner, he added.

    The study, Alteration of Tear Mucin 5AC in Office Workers Using Visual Display Terminals, has been published in the journal Jama Ophthalmology.


  7. #1197
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    New breathalyzer test could help detect 'deadly' lung cancer

    Researchers have developed a breathalyzer test that could help detect cancer.

    The device developed by Prof. Nir Peled of Tel Aviv University's Sackler Faculty of Medicine, Prof. Hossam Haick (inventor) of the Technion - Israel Institute of Technology, and Prof. Fred Hirsch of the University of Colorado School of Medicine in Denver, is embedded with a "NaNose" nanotech chip to literally "sniff out" cancer tumors.

    The study, presented at a recent American Society of Clinical Oncology conference in Chicago, was conducted on 358 patients who were either diagnosed with or at risk for lung cancer. r Peled said lung cancer is a devastating disease, responsible for almost 2,000 deaths in Israel annually - a third of all cancer-related deaths.

    He said " Our new device combines several novel technologies with a new concept - using exhaled breath as a medium of diagnosing cancer."

    Dr Peled said their NaNose was able to detect lung cancer with 90 percent accuracy even when the lung nodule was tiny and hard to sample. It was even able to discriminate between subtypes of cancer, which was unexpected.

    "Cancer cells not only have a different and unique smell or signature, you can even discriminate between subtypes and advancement of the disease," said Dr. Peled. "The bigger the tumor, the more robust the signature."

    The device and subsequent analysis accurately sorted healthy people from people with early-stage lung cancer 85 percent of the time, and healthy people from those with advanced lung cancer 82 percent of the time. The test also accurately distinguished between early and advanced lung cancer 79 percent of the time.

    The Boston-based company Alpha Szenszor has licensed the technology and hopes to introduce it to the market within the next few years.


  8. #1198
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Music could help recover stroke victims

    Stroke victims could recover earlier if they take up any musical instrument, according to experts of Goldsmiths, University of London.

    Dr Lauren Stewart, from the music, mind and brain team based in Goldsmiths' Department of Psychology, said that despite a good deal of research into rehabilitation approaches, treatment options were limited, News.com.au reported.

    Stewart further said that their research showed that playing a musical instrument could be an effective intervention for neglect patients.


  9. #1199
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Human sweat can reduce bacteria fighting capabilities

    A new research has revealed that human sweat can diminish bacteria-fighting qualities of brass objects like door knobs and taps within an hour of contact.

    While copper found in everyday brass items such as door handles and water taps has an antimicrobial effect on bacteria and is widely used to prevent the spread of disease, Dr John Bond OBE from the University of Leicester's Department of Chemistry has discovered that peoples' sweat can, within an hour of contact with the brass, produce sufficient corrosion to adversely affect its use to kill a range of microorganisms, such as those which might be encountered in a hospital and which can be easily transferred by touch or by a lack of hand hygiene.

    The study also suggested that it is possible for sweat to produce an oxide layer on the metal within an hour of contact.

    Dr Bond said that this is the first study to quantitatively analyse the temporal corrosion of copper alloys such as brass in the first few hours after contact between fingerprint sweat concentrations of salt and the metal.
    He further suggested that for the short term it would be good to keep the brass in public environments free from corrosion through regular and thorough cleaning but for the longer term, using copper alloys with corrosion inhibitors included in the alloy would be a good choice.

    The research 'Electrochemical behaviour of brass in chloride solution concentrations found in eccrine fingerprint sweat', is published in the journal Applied Surface Science.


  10. #1200
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Rare gene flaws can cut heart disease risk by 40%

    Four rare mutations in a single gene may reduce the risk of heart disease by 40%, a new study has found.

    By scouring the DNA of thousands of patients, researchers at the Broad Institute, Massachusetts General Hospital, and their colleagues discovered the gene mutations that not only lower the levels of triglycerides, a type of fat in the blood, but also significantly reduce a person's risk of coronary heart disease.

    The four rare mutations all cripple the same gene, called APOC3, suggesting a powerful strategy in developing new drugs against heart disease, researchers said.

    The work sheds light on the biological role of triglycerides and contributes to a growing body of knowledge that suggests that high triglyceride levels — rather than low HDL — are a major culprit in heart disease.

    Coronary artery disease, the most common form of heart disease, is a major cause of death worldwide.

    Researchers set out to assess the role of rare genetic variants through DNA sequencing. Their goal was to pinpoint specific genes that affect both triglyceride levels and disease risk.

    The researchers sequenced the exomes of nearly 4,000 people, searching for genetic variants associated with blood triglyceride levels. They discovered four distinct mutations, all within the gene APOC3, that are tied to lower blood triglycerides.

    Remarkably, individuals carrying a single APOC3 mutation had almost 40% lower blood triglyceride levels. The APOC3 protein is mainly made in the liver and pours out into the blood stream.

    There, it is thought to prevent the removal of triglyceride-rich lipoproteins from the blood in a few distinct ways, particularly by delaying their clearance following a meal.

    The researchers then analysed over 110,000 patient samples and read out, or "genotyped" the relevant parts of the APOC3 gene, and compared heart attack rates in those carrying mutations to those without them.

    In the carriers, they found a 40% lower risk of coronary heart disease, suggesting inhibition of APOC3 as a new potential strategy for therapeutic development. The study was published in the New England Journal of Medicine.


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