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Health Bulletin


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  1. #1491
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Can India block Ebola invasion?

    A second Ebola case on US soil has raised the alarm in India's health establishment and many experts believe the country is ill-prepared to tackle a possible outbreak.

    As in other countries, India has been screening passengers arriving from West Africa, checking for fever and other signs of illness at Delhi's international airport and others. It is unclear how effective this screenings drive is proving.

    The country's state of public health is reason for concern. If the killer virus breaks through the barriers, Ebola could well become a pandemic with the combined problems of an overstretched health system and inadequate monitoring and tracking mechanisms.



    India has one nurse per 1,000 people, according to the 2010 World Bank data compared to 10 nurses for every 1,000 in the US. Health experts say doctors and nurses seldom wear protective gloves as a mandatory practice which could lead to immediate infection and spread of the virus. The prevalence of malaria, dengue and other fever-inducing diseases makes it tough to isolate people displaying symptoms of early onset of Ebola.



    In a densely-populated country the task of monitoring and tracking cases can be difficult. So far the country has only two laboratories — the National Institute for Communicable Diseases in Delhi and the National Institute of Virology in Pune — to test the virus.




    Conceding that controlling and containing a possible outbreak would be an enormous task, Union health minister Harsh Vardhan said there was no room for complacency. "We should be prepared for the worst.We are aggressively monitoring all entry points and passengers from affected countries. Our surveillance begins from the embassies of the infected countries right up to the destination.



    Guidelines have been issued to states and hospitals and we are holding daily reviews," he said. The ministry said all suspected cases had tested negative so far.

    The rising concern comes a day after WHO said the Ebola outbreak could grow to 10,000 new cases a week within two months. Death toll from the virus has reached 4,447, nearly all of them in West Africa. Dr Bruce Aylward, WHO assistant director-general, said the number of new cases was likely to be between 5,000 and 10,000 a week by early December.


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  2. #1492
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Now, less invasive brain surgery through cheek

    A new research has revealed that the brain surgery through the cheek can make the treatment of severe epilepsy less invasive and dangerous.

    Currently neuroscientists treat epilepsy by drilling through the skull deep into the brain to destroy the small area where the seizures originate, which has a long recovery period.

    A team of Vanderbilt engineers, five years ago, decided to address epileptic seizures in a less invasive way and because the area of the brain involved is the hippocampus, which is located at the bottom of the brain, they could develop a robotic device that pokes through the cheek and enters the brain from underneath which avoids having to drill through the skull and is much closer to the target area.

    To do so, however, meant developing a shape-memory alloy needle that can be precisely steered along a curving path and a robotic platform that can operate inside the powerful magnetic field created by an MRI scanner.

    The researchers have developed a working prototype and the business end of the device is a 1.14 mm nickel-titanium needle that operates like a mechanical pencil, with concentric tubes, some of which are curved, that allow the tip to follow a curved path into the brain (unlike many common metals, nickel-titanium is compatible with MRIs) and using compressed air, a robotic platform controllably steers and advances the needle segments a millimeter at a time.

    Researcher Joseph Neimat said that to have a system with a curved needle and unlimited access would make surgeries minimally invasive and they could do a dramatic surgery with nothing more than a needle stick to the cheek.

    The engineers have designed the system so that much of it can be made using 3-D printing in order to keep the price low.


  3. #1493
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Stress ups Alzheimer's risk in shy women

    Women who are shy and more sensitive to stress are more likely to develop Alzheimer's disease, found a research.

    Women who worry, cope poorly with stress and experience mood swings in middle age run a higher risk of developing Alzheimer's disease later in life, it showed.

    "Some studies have shown that long periods of stress can increase the risk of Alzheimer's disease and our main hypothesis is that it is the stress itself that is harmful," said Lena Johansson, scientist at the University of Gothenburg' Sahlgrenska Academy in Sweden.

    Shy women who, at the same time became easily worried, turned out to have the highest risk in the study.

    People who have neuroticism are more readily worried, distressed and experience mood swings. They often have difficulty in managing stress.

    "A person with neurotic tendencies is more sensitive to stress than other people," Johansson added.

    The study carried out at the Sahlgrenska Academy followed 800 women for nearly 40 years.

    The women stated whether they had experienced long periods of high stress and underwent memory tests.

    At the follow-up in 2006, nearly 40 years later, around one fifth of these women had developed conditions associated with dementia.

    "We could see that the women who developed Alzheimer's disease had been identified in the personality test 40 years earlier as having neurotic tendencies," Johansson pointed out.

    The study is forthcoming in the journal Neurology.


  4. #1494
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Stem cell treatment may harbor blindness cure

    A new study has revealed that stem cell treatment may be helpful in treating blindness.

    According to the study, a pioneering treatment for progressive blindness has been proved safe three years after patients were injected with stem cells derived from human embryos.

    The researchers said that more than half of the patients with macular degeneration - where the eye's light-sensitive cells are progressively destroyed - experienced a significant improvement in their eyesight, but none showed any adverse effects due directly to the transplant of the embryonic cells.

    Doctors injected the stem cells into the eyes of 18 patients - nine with Stargardt's macular dystrophy and nine with dry, age-related macular degeneration - with the ultimate aim of repairing damaged photoreceptors in the retina at the back of the eye.

    It was found that about half of the patients had an improvement in visual acuity of three lines or more, which corresponds to a doubling of the visual angle, and is generally accepted as clinically significant.

    Follow-up testing found that 10 out of the 18 patients experienced substantial improvements in how well they could see.

    The study was published in the journal The Lancet.


  5. #1495
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    New protein with 'anti-tumor factor' for breast cancer discovered

    Scientists have discovered a new protein called Erbin, which is believed to be an anti-tumour factor in aggressive breast cancer.

    One of the first-known oncogenes has a protein partner that helps breast cancer proliferate and when it's blocked, so is the cancer. The gene ErbB2, commonly called HER2, is highly expressed in about 25 percent of breast cancers. Scientists have now found the protein, which is highly expressed in these cancers and essential to ErbB2's support of breast cancer.

    When scientists interfered with the interaction between the two in mice, it inhibited tumor development and the usual spread to the lungs. The team documented the over expression of both in 171 cases of mostly aggressive human breast cancer as well.

    The findings pointed towards a new therapeutic target for aggressive breast cancer and potentially an adjunct for women who become resistant to Herceptin, or trastuzumab, the drug commonly given to ErbB2-positive patients, said corresponding author Dr. Lin Mei. Additionally, Erbin could be a diagnostic biomarker that physicians look for in breast tissue biopsies.

    Mei said that Erbin itself could be a novel target: disrupt the interaction and it would be therapeutic. Secondly, when a patient became Herceptin-resistant because the extracellular domain of ErbB2 was lost, this approach should still be effective because of the critical interaction of the two.

    The Food and Drug Administration approved Herceptin for women with metastatic breast cancer who overexpress ErbB2, or HER2, in 1998 and, in 2006, as an adjuvant treatment in early stage HER2- positive breast cancer.

    The study is published in the journal PNAS.


  6. #1496
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Omega-6 fatty acids help you get rid of 'bad' cholesterol

    A new research has revealed that "bad" LDL cholesterol can be lowered by supplementing the diet with omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids.

    The research at the Innsbruck Medical University based on the genetic information from over 100,000 individuals of European ancestry has uncovered a gene that affects blood cholesterol levels through the generation of a compound from omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids, called lipoxins.

    The study also provides additional evidence that aspirin assists in preventing heart attacks by promoting lipoxin production.

    Senior author Ivan Tancevski said that their findings could help pave the way for novel therapeutic approaches to prevent cardiovascular disease and its associated clinical sequelae, including heart attacks and stroke.

    Tancevski and his colleagues identified one gene, called Alox5, that codes for an enzyme that generates lipoxins, which have anti-inflammatory properties, from omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids to help the body get rid of bad cholesterol. Lipoxins.

    Tancevski added that they now identified a third mechanism by which aspirin, which is known to prevent cardiovascular disease due to its antithrombotic and anti-inflammatory effects, may confer protection.

    The study is published online in the Cell Press journal Cell Metabolism.


  7. #1497
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Bill to regulate surrogacy, IVR soon in India; foreigners to be barred

    The Australian couple's move to abandon one of their twins born via a surrogate mother in India has raised new controversy for Indian surrogacy while exposing the dark side of the booming industry in the country.

    The case dates back to 2012 although it came to light recently after a report by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. The report said the couple returned home with the baby girl while her brother was left behind.

    In view of the new development in the surrogacy market, the Health Ministry has proposed new moves to regulate surrogacy and in-vitro fertilization (IVF) in India.

    The new rules will make couples mandatory to take custody of their child born through surrogacy. The bill also seeks to address issues like how many pregnancies can be allowed for a surrogate mother, the age of the mother and due compensation to be paid to her.

    However, the new rules may bar foreigners from having surrogate babies in India. The Bill will also allow single parents to have children through surrogates. The Bill states that health insurance and regular tests will be make mandatory for surrogates.

    The proposed Assisted Reproductive Technology (Regulation) Bill is likely to be introduced in the Winter Session of Parliament.

    In India, surrogacy has become a booming business, but there is no law to regulate the same. The surrogacy industry has been criticised for operating without a legal framework.


  8. #1498
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    High-fat meal more dangerous for males than females

    A new study has revealed that male and female brains respond in remarkably different ways to high-fat meals and the differences in male brains brain lead to greater inflammation and increased health risks in males that indulge on fatty foods in comparison to females.

    According to the study in mice, it is probably 'ok' for females to occasionally have a high-fat meal, where it is not recommended for males.

    Researcher Deborah Clegg of the Cedar-Sinai Diabetes And Obesity Research Institute in Los Angeles said that the way patients are treated and provided with dietary and nutritional advice should be altered.

    She said that an occasional hamburger for women is of less concern, but for men, avoidance should be strongly encouraged, especially if they have pre-existing diseases such as heart disease or type 2 diabetes.

    The findings suggested that inflammation in the brain is tied to overeating, blood sugar imbalances, and increased inflammation in other parts of the body, including fat tissue. Those effects can be triggered, in males in particular, by short-term exposure to a high-fat diet.

    The researchers say they were initially shocked to discover that male and female brains differ in their fatty acid composition. When they manipulated male mouse brains to have the fatty acid profile of females, they found that those animals were protected from the ill effects of a diet high in fat.

    When males with average male brains entered an inflammatory state after eating diets high in fat, they also suffered from reduced cardiac function in a way that female animals in the study did not. Those sex differences in the brain's response to fat are related to differences between females and males in estrogen and estrogen receptor status.

    The study was published in the Cell Press journal Cell Reports.


  9. #1499
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Jet lag can make globetrotters fat

    Frequent flyers, take note! Jet lag can make you obese and cause other metabolic problems by disrupting the daily rhythms of your gut microbes, a new study has warned.

    Organisms ranging from bacteria to humans have circadian clocks to help them synchronize their biological activities to the time of day. A new research has now shown that gut microbes in mice and humans have circadian rhythms that are controlled by the biological clock of the host in which they reside.

    Disruption of the circadian clock in the host alters the rhythms and composition of the microbial community, leading to obesity and metabolic problems.

    "These findings provide an explanation for a long-standing and mysterious observation, namely that people with chronically disturbed day-night cycles due to repetitive jet lag or shift work have a tendency to develop obesity and other metabolic complications," said senior study author Eran Elinav of the Weizmann Institute of Science. "These surprising findings may enable us to devise preventive treatments for these people to lower their risk for these complications," said Elinav. Disruption of the circadian clock in humans is a hallmark of relatively recent lifestyle changes involving chronic shift work or frequent flights across time zones.


  10. #1500
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Sleep test goes from lab to bedroom

    Getting a sleep test done at a hospital can give one a sleepless night. Called the polysomnography (PSG) test, it involves a night stay at a hospital, with your head wired to a machine that monitors breathing, heart rate and brain waves. But now you can take this test in the comfort of your bedroom.

    Most sleep specialists rent out sleep test kits at anything between Rs 2,000-4,000 per night. On the other hand, PSG test, which can only be done at a hospital or a sleep clinic, can cost up to Rs 15,000.

    Mohammed Azeem, 38, is among those who benefitted from a home kit. A driver in Delhi, Azeem used to snore through the night and wake up tired most mornings. "A couple of times I dozed at the wheel and barely escaped collisions," he says. Azeem took a home test and was diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).

    ResMed is one such home kit available in India and it has recorded 5,000 home studies all over the country in the past year.The device - about the size of an iPhone - is attached to a broad belt tied around the waist. A tube connected to the device is then inserted into the nose, and a finger pulse sensor is clipped to the index finger. The device records the number of pauses in your breath and their duration as you doze.These readings help the doctor l make a diagnosis. Philips home . sleep test kits are also commonly used by Indian doctors.

    But home test kits have limitations. "They are most effective in diagnosing OSA but fail to corrrectly detect other disorders such as insomnia and narcolepsy," says Dr PP Bose, a Delhi-based sleep expert. Home tests are not. recommended for children and r patients who are obese or have a heartlung condition.

    OSA is characterized by pauses in breathing during sleep and according to a 2009 Philips Sleep Survey , 14% of Indians exhibit it. "It is hugely under-diagnosed because people don't know much about it or how harmful it can be," says Dr Bose. Studies indicate that OSA puts extra stress on the heart and hence ups the risk of cardiac diseases. Untreated OSA has also been linked to diabetes, high blood pressure and stroke.

    Another drawback of the machine is that it can accidently switch off when the user turns in sleep. If not properly set up, it can lose data or yield inaccurate data.Dr Manvir Bhatia, head of sleep medicine at Saket City Hospital, says that sleep medicine is still a growing discipline in India, and it is important to be meticulous with the diagnosis. "I routinely get patients who have taken home tests but the doctor has diagnosed them only with mild OSA, missing out the bigger, more serious sleep issues," says Dr Bhatia.


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