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Health Bulletin


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  1. #161
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Possible cause of congenital heart disease identified -disease

    Researchers conducting the first large-scale sequencing analysis of congenital heart disease have taken an important step in unlocking the cause of the most common type of birth defect.

    The analysis found that spontaneous, or de novo, mutations affect a specific biological pathway that is critical to aspects of human development, including the brain and heart.

    Congenital heart disease can cause infants to be born with structural heart problems, which can be serious or even life-threatening. The findings will inform future research into the causes of congenital heart disease.
    This research was conducted through the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute- (NHLBI) supported Pediatric Cardiac Genomics Consortium, an international, multi-center collaborative research effort. The NHLBI is part of the National Institutes of Health .

    The researchers looked at 362 parent-offspring trios, each of which included a child with congenital heart disease and his or her healthy parents, as well as 264 healthy parent-offspring trios, which served as the control group.
    The team conducted an analysis using state-of-the-art sequencing and genome mapping techniques and found that the children with congenital heart disease had a greatly increased rate of spontaneous mutations among genes that are highly expressed, or active, in the developing heart.

    Specifically, the analysis found that about 10 percent of the participant cases were associated with spontaneous mutations that arise during fetal development. Many of these genes were involved in a specific pathway that controls and regulates gene expression, which provides some insight into how the defects arise. The Pediatric Cardiac Genomics Consortium provided resources to recruit thousands of patients in a small amount of time and used advanced sequencing techniques to identify genes that are implicated in congenital heart disease.

    Future research aims to better understand how congenital heart disease develops in order to improve treatment and perhaps eventually prevent congenital heart disease in the early stages ofheart formation. The findings were published online in the journal Nature.


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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Human brain wired to spot grammatical errors: Study

    A study by the University of Oregon has found evidence that people indeed detect and process grammatical errors with no awareness of doing so.

    The study, published in the latest issue of the Journal of Neuroscience, says the human brain processes syntactic information implicitly, in the absence of awareness. "While other aspects of language, such as semantics and phonology, can also be processed implicitly, the present data represent the first direct evidence that implicit mechanisms also play a role in the processing of syntax, the core computational component of language," the study said.

    Children often pick up the rules of grammar implicitly through routine daily interactions with parents or peers, simply by hearing and processing new words and their usage before any formal instruction, the reseacrhers said. "Even when you don't pick up on a syntactic error, your brain is still picking up on it," the team added. "There is a brain mechanism recognizing it and reacting to it, processing it unconsciously so you understand the sentence properly."

    The researchers used a group of native-English speaking people, aged between 18 to 30 for their study.


  3. #163
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Upbeat music can lift mood

    Listening to upbeat, cheery music can indeed make people happier, scientists say. Researchers from the University of Missouri discovered that an individual can successfully try to be happier, especially when cheery music aids the process.


    "Our work provides support for what many people already do — listen to music to improve their moods," said lead author Yuna Ferguson, who performed the study while she was an MU doctoral student in psychological science.

    "Although pursuing personal happiness may be thought of as a self-centred venture, research suggests that happiness relates to a higher probability of socially beneficial behaviour, better physical health, higher income and greater relationship satisfaction," she said.

    In two studies, participants successfully improved their moods in the short term and boosted their overall happiness over a two-week period. During the first study, participants improved their mood after being instructed to attempt to do so, but only if they listened to the upbeat music of Copland, as opposed to the more somber Stravinsky. Other participants , who simply listened to the music without attempting to change their mood, also didn't report a change in happiness. In the second study, participants reported higher levels of happiness after two weeks of lab sessions in which they listened to positive music while trying to feel happier.

    However, Ferguson noted that for people to put her research into practice, they must be wary of too much introspection into their mood or constantly asking, "Am I happy yet?"


  4. #164
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    LED lights can damage your eyes, says study

    The so-called ecofriendly LED lights may cause permanent damage to your eyes, a new research has claimed. The study found that exposure to light-emitting diode (LED) lights can cause irreparable harm to the retina of the human eye.


    Once the retina cells are destroyed by prolonged and continuous exposure to LED rays, they cannot be replaced and will not regrow, Think-Spain .com reported.

    Researchers said this is caused by the high levels of radiation in the 'blue band', and is likely to become a global epidemic in the medium term given that computer, mobiles and TV screens, and even traffic and street lights, have been gradually replaced with LED.

    Experts are calling for the lights to have built-in filters to cut out the blue glare.

    Dr Celia Sanchez Ramos, investigator at Madrid's Complutense University, said the retinanever regenerates itself once it has become damaged. Ramos said LED lights are made up of rainbow longitude waves, and it is the blue part which causes the problem.


  5. #165
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Scientists a step closer to customized medicines

    The scientists at the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB) have reported definite evidence that the boundary elements in the genome have specific functions. The study has appeared in the May 14 issue of the scientific journal 'Nature Communications'.

    CCMB director Ch Mohan Rao told the media on Wednesday that the findings have great significance. "If taken forward, boundary elements may also be helpful in designing efficient gene therapy applications," he said. Mohan Rao said the findings of the study would also help in providing customized medicine.

    "Some medicines for a particular disease may work for a set of persons and may not work for some others. The findings of the study will provide knowledge on how to go forward in designing customized medicine," he said.

    CCMB senior scientist Rakesh K Mishra, who headed the study, explained that of the non-coding DNA, which is 98% of the genome, more than 50% is repetitive. Simple Sequence Repeats (SSRs) or microsatellites as they are called, account for about three per cent of the human genome, which is almost twice the size of the entire protein coding part. SSRs, very common in complex genomes, are short sequences of nucleotides that are repeated in tandem.

    CCMB scientists have investigated the function of this part of the genome, which was hitherto unknown and have provided definite evidence for the functional significance of one of the SSRs - the GATA repeat. "Taking the initial clue from the genomic context of these repeats and experiments in transgenic Drosophila and human cell culture, we have been able to show that this repeat DNA functions as boundary elements that separate functional domains of genome," Rakesh Mishra said.

    There are often instances where one gene expresses in one particular tissue, while the adjacent gene expresses in another one. In such situations, the boundary element is predicted to be present between the two genes to maintain this tissue-specific expression. The absence of this can only be disastrous for the cell.

    Having found the function of the boundary elements, the team which also consisted of research students, created a 'designer' fly by interchanging the boundary elements or removing them. The body of one such 'designer' fly, shown to the media, was quite different from the original one.


  6. #166
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Marijuana can help prevent diabetes?

    Smoking cannabis may prevent the development of diabetes, one of the most rapidly rising chronic disorders in the world. If the link is proved, it could lead to the development of treatments based on the active ingredient of cannabis, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), without its intoxicating effects.


    Researchers have found that regular users of the drug had lower levels of the hormone insulin after fasting — a signal that they are protected against diabetes. They also had reduced insulin resistance . Cannabis is widely smoked in the US with over 17 million current users of whom more than four million smoke it on a daily basis.

    In the UK latest figures show 2.3 million people used cannabis in the last year, but the numbers have declined in the last decade.

    Two US states have recently legalized its recreational use and 19 others have legalised it for medical purposes by patients with one of several conditions including multiple sclerosis and cancer.

    THC has already been approved to treat the side effects of chemotherapy, nausea in cancer patients, anorexia associated with AIDS and other conditions.

    The study involved almost 5,000 patients who answered a questionnaire about their drug use and were part of the National Health and Nutrition Survey between 2005 and 2010. The results showed almost 2,000 had used cannabis at some point in their lives and more than one in 10 (579) were current users. Only those who had used cannabis within the past month showed evidence of protection against diabetes , suggesting that the effects wear off in time.

    Current users of the drug had 16% lower fasting insulin than those who had never used the drug.

    Murray Mittleman, of the cardiovascular epidemiology research unit at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Centre in Boston, and lead author of the study published in The American Journal of Medicine , said previous studies had shown lower rates of obesity and diabetes in marijuana users.

    Two previous surveys had also shown that although cannabis users consume more calories they have a lower body mass index.

    The mechanisms underlying this paradox are unknown , the authors say. Joseph Alpert, professor of medicine at the University of Arizona College of Medicine, Tucson, and editor in chief of the journal, said: "These are remarkable observations that are supported by basic science experiments that came to similar conclusions. We need a great deal more basic and clinical research into the short and long term effects of marijuana in a variety of clinical settings such as cancer diabetes and frailty of the elderly."

    - The Independent


  7. #167
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Simple blood test to find if you're allergic to hip, knee implants

    A simple blood test will now reveal whether you are allergic to metals before you undergo an implant surgery.

    A Mysore Medical College alumni Vijaya Knight is part of a team that has discovered blood tests to access whether you are allergic to nickel. Researchers are also working on developing blood tests to other allergens, like cobalt and bone cement that make up most of the implants.

    Many people are allergic to the metals used for hip replacements and also to the surgical cement often used to hold joints in place. The number of Indians undergoing a knee or a hip replacement is rocketing in India.

    By 2030, more than 11,000 people a day are expected to have implant surgeries in US alone, an increase of 174% for hip replacements and nearly 700% for knees.

    Karin Pacheco, an allergist at National Jewish Health in Denver said "serious allergies due to implants is a problem that is sure to get worse in the coming years. We are an aging society, and the number of people who need new joints is going to increase and, for some of these people, they won't know that they're allergic until after the implant is put in."

    "Nine out of 10 people who get implants do great," said Pacheco. "But 10% don't, and they're miserable."

    The best way to tell if someone is allergic is to do a skin patch test.

    "But not everybody knows how to do it, not everybody has access to the right antigens, and it also takes about a week to do," she said. "Not everybody has that kind of time before their surgery."

    So, Pacheco and her team at National Jewish Health have come up with an alternative, developing the first blood test that can detect allergies to nickel.

    Nickel is not only one of the most common metals used in joint implants, but it's also the most common contact allergen. Pacheco says there are many advantages to the concept of using a blood test to check for allergies before surgery.


  8. #168
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Want a long, healthy life? Don’t plan to retire early

    Retirement has a "drastic" impact on mental and physical health, a groundbreaking study has found.

    The study, published by the Institute of Economic Affairs, a London-based think tank, found that retirement results in a "drastic decline in health" in the medium and long term.

    Although initially there may be a small bounce in health, over the medium-longer term, retirement causes a drastic decline in health, the study said.

    Retirement is found to increase the chances of suffering from clinical depression by 40%, while you are 60% more likely to suffer from a physical condition.

    The effect is the same for men and women, while the chances of becoming ill appear to increase with the length of time spent in retirement.

    The study, published in conjunction with the Age Endeavour Fellowship, a charity, compared retired people with those who had continued working past retirement age, and took into account possible confounding factors.


  9. #169
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Want a long, healthy life? Donít plan to retire early

    Retirement has a "drastic" impact on mental and physical health, a groundbreaking study has found.

    The study, published by the Institute of Economic Affairs, a London-based think tank, found that retirement results in a "drastic decline in health" in the medium and long term.

    Although initially there may be a small bounce in health, over the medium-longer term, retirement causes a drastic decline in health, the study said.

    Retirement is found to increase the chances of suffering from clinical depression by 40%, while you are 60% more likely to suffer from a physical condition.

    The effect is the same for men and women, while the chances of becoming ill appear to increase with the length of time spent in retirement.

    The study, published in conjunction with the Age Endeavour Fellowship, a charity, compared retired people with those who had continued working past retirement age, and took into account possible confounding factors.


  10. #170
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    British team hails new embryo selection method for IVF success

    British fertility experts have devised a new IVF technique that takes thousands of snapshots of a developing embryo that they say can help doctors pick those most likely to implant successfully and develop into healthy babies.

    At a briefing in London before publishing their results, the researchers said they are already using the technique to select "low risk" embryos that are the least likely to have chromosomal abnormalities that could hamper their development.

    In their study, published in the journal Reproductive BioMedicine Online, the team's chances of producing a successful live birth after in-vitro fertilisation (IVF) were increased by 56 percent using the new technique compared to the standard method of selecting embryos that look best through a microscope.

    "In the 35 years I have been in this field, this is probably the most exciting and significant development that can be of value to all patients seeking IVF," said Simon Fishel, a leading fertility doctor and director at the IVF clinic operator CARE Fertility where the technique is being developed.

    Independent scientists not involved in the work welcomed it as a significant advance but said full randomised controlled trials - the gold standard in medicine - should be conducted before it is adopted as mainstream practice.

    "This paper is interesting because we really do need to make advances in selecting the best embryos created during IVF," said Allan Pacey of Sheffield University, chair of the British Fertility Society.

    "The idea of monitoring embryo development more closely is being used increasingly in clinics around the world and so it is good to see the science involved submitted to peer review and publication," he added. "All too often, developments in IVF are trumpeted as advances when they remain unproven."

    Experts say that today, as many as 1 to 2 percent of babies in the Western world are conceived through IVF. The standard methods of selecting embryos are based largely on what they look like through a microscope, and many IVF cycles fail because the embryo chosen and transferred to the womb fails to develop.

    The scientists who led this study said that using time-lapse images, they had found that developmental delays in the embryo at crucial stages are good indicators of likely chromosomal abnormalities that could result in a failed pregnancy.

    Viewing far more images

    "In conventional IVF laboratories, embryo development will be checked up to six times over a 5-day period," said Alison Campbell, Care Fertility's embryology director and the lead researcher on the study being published.

    "With time-lapse we have the ability to view more than 5,000 images over the same time period to observe and measure more closely each stage of division and growth."

    Using this new knowledge, the team developed what they call morphokinetic algorithms to predict success (MAPS). By applying these MAPS to the selection of embryos, they predict they could reach a live birth rate for patients undergoing IVF of 78 percent - about three times the national average.

    Fishel, whose CARE Fertility clinics are Britain's largest independent provider of assisted conception cycles, with around 3,500 a year, said he is charging around 750 pounds ($1,100) for IVF using the MAPS technique - compared to several thousand pounds for a standard IVF cycle.

    But Sue Avery, head of the Women's Fertility Centre in Birmingham, said it was too soon for all clinics to adopt it.

    "Until the new technique is compared to current practice we cannot know whether different embryos are being chosen," she said. "The IVF community needs a prospective randomised controlled trial to prove that the new approach delivers better results before it can be recommended to patients."


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