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Health Bulletin


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  1. #1751
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    This natural antidepressant protein can help sustain sound mind, strong heart

    A protein, called BDNF (brain-derived neurotrophic factor), already known to act as a natural antidepressant, can help sustain sound mind and strong heart.

    The team's experiments, conducted in mice and lab-grown heart cells, show this multi-tasking protein, which can enhance learning and memory, power nerve cell growth, and nourish blood vessels also helps sustaining the ability of heart muscle cells to contract and relax properly.

    The results revealed that either BDNF deficiency or cell insensitivity to BDNF's presence can precipitate heart muscle dysfunction, particularly under conditions of chronic or repeated physical stress on the heart, such as endurance training or high blood pressure.

    Specifically, the researchers tracked BDNF's role in a cascade of molecular signaling events in heart cells, the disruption of which led to heart muscle failure.

    If confirmed in humans, the research team said, the findings could pave the way to new treatments for certain forms of heart failure, a disorder that affects nearly 6 million Americans and more than 23 million people worldwide.

    In addition, because of BDNF's well-known antidepressant effects and its role as a booster of nerve cell health, the research teams says the results suggested that a possible biochemical link between depression and heart disease, two disorders that tend to occur in concert but whose relationship remains poorly understood.

    The findings also can help clarify the biological means behind recent, and unexplained observations, that heart failure patients whose cardiac function worsens during physical exertion have low levels of BDNF in the blood.

    The researchers point out that low level of BDNF by themselves may not be enough to cause immediate heart disease, but chronic BDNF deficiency or insensitivity, compounded by additional physiologic or pathologic stressors, was a main culprit in fueling the disease.

    The research is published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.


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  2. #1752
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Red wine compound may help prevent memory loss: Study

    A compound found in common foods such as red grapes and peanuts may help prevent age-related decline in memory, according to an Indian-origin researcher.

    Ashok K Shetty, a faculty member in the Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Medicine, has been studying the potential benefit of resveratrol, an antioxidant that is found in the skin of red grapes, as well as in red wine, peanuts and some berries.

    Resveratrol has been widely touted for its potential to prevent heart disease, and Shetty and his team believe it also has positive effects on the hippocampus, an area of the brain that is critical to functions such as memory, learning and mood.

    Because both humans and animals show a decline in cognitive capacity after middle age, the findings may have implications for treating memory loss in the elderly, researchers said.

    Resveratrol may even be able to help people afflicted with severe neurodegenerative conditions such as Alzheimer's disease, they said.

    In a study published in the journal Scientific Reports, Shetty and his team reported that treatment with resveratrol had apparent benefits in terms of learning, memory and mood function in aged rats.

    "The results of the study were striking. They indicated that for the control rats who did not receive resveratrol, spatial learning ability was largely maintained but ability to make new spatial memories significantly declined between 22 and 25 months," Shetty said.

    "By contrast, both spatial learning and memory improved in the resveratrol-treated rats," Shetty added.

    Shetty said neurogenesis (the growth and development of neurons) approximately doubled in the rats given resveratrol compared to the control rats.

    The resveratrol-treated rats also had significantly improved microvasculature, indicating improved blood flow, and had a lower level of chronic inflammation in the hippocampus.

    "The study provides novel evidence that resveratrol treatment in late middle age can help improve memory and mood function in old age," Shetty said.


  3. #1753
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    'Cancer awareness remains low, cases are rising in city'

    Several awareness programmes may have been organised on February 4 on the occasion of World Cancer Day, but awareness remains low and the incidence is gradually increasing, say experts.

    To understand the incidence of cancer in the city, Metropolis Healthcare, a clinical laboratory, analyzed data of samples processed over a year and found that the number of cancer cases was rising. Of the 4,297 samples tested, 249 were found positive for cancer. Shockingly, stomach and colorectal cancers accounted for a bulk of the samples (40.96%).

    Surgical gastroenterologist Dr Prasanna Kumar Reddy of Apollo Hospitals attributed this trend to lifestyle changes and unhealthy eating habits. "We see numerous cases of abdominal pain and discomfort. Eating a lot of oily, salted food cooked in reused oil and excess consumption of junk food is one of the main causes for gastric cancer," he said. People should watch what they eat and stay away from tobacco, especially chewable tobacco products, and alcohol, he added.

    The World Health Organisation said regular physical activity, avoiding tobacco use, good nutrition practices and limited alcohol consumption can help prevent cancer and maintain general good health.

    Dr Reddy said, "Many patients who come to us either self-medicate or assume that it might just be another case of ulcer or gastritis which is not always the case. That acute pain might be an early indication of cancer which can be cured if diagnosed early."

    After gastric and colorectal cancers, breast cancer contributed to over 21.67% of positive cases and 7% were lip and oral cavity cancers. Dr Anita Suryanarayan of Metropolis Healthcare said, "Some types of cancer can be detected before the symptoms show, especially cancers of head and neck, breast and cervix. Every individual needs to be fully aware of their health status and go for regular check-ups."


  4. #1754
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    ‘Genetically male’ woman gives birth to twins

    In what is being billed as a one in a million case, doctors helped a woman, who was termed 'genetically male' with a rare chance of conceiving, deliver two healthy babies. The babies, a boy and a girl, whose birth doctors said was nothing short of a medical miracle, were born on Saturday after Maya Sharma (name changed) went through a series of treatment procedures spread over three years to realize her dream of becoming a mother. "This is something similar to a male delivering twins", said Dr Sunil Jindal, the infertility specialist who administered the treatment.

    Maya's condition is medically referred to as XY gonadal dysgenesis, in which the person has external female characteristics but non-functional gonads or ovaries, the ovum-producing reproductive organs, which are necessary for natural reproduction. She never menstruated, or experienced puberty, leading doctors who conducted a karotyping (chromosomal study) on her to diagnose her as having XY(male pattern) chromosomes. The only saving grace, though, was that she had an infantile uterus, which could be developed by hormonal and endocrinal treatment. Doctors decided to give this a shot to fulfill her aspiration of having children. "The challenge before us was to develop the uterus to a level that it could carry a pregnancy," recalled Dr Jindal.



    Embryos were developed with donor eggs and implanted in the uterus. Once she became pregnant, doctors had to counter another problem. "Our biggest challenge was how to administer this pregnancy for nine months in a body not designed for it," said Dr Anshu Jindal, medical director at Jindal Hospital, where the babies were delivered.

    The success of the procedure has prompted the treating doctors to present the case at the annual conference of the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology which is to be held in Portugal in June. Meanwhile, infertility experts, too, are quite upbeat at this rare development. "There have only been 4-5 cases recorded throughout the world where females with this condition have been able to give birth to babies. So this is indeed a tremendous achievement," said Dr KD Nayyar of the Indian Fertility Society.

    Agreed Dr Neena Malhotra, professor at the department of gynecology and obstetrics at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), "It is indeed a rare development. Even in normal females, assisted reproduction has a success rate of only 35-40 per cent while this case pertained to a woman with no history of a menstrual cycle, making a successful pregnancy all the more challenging."


  5. #1755
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Woman's rare disease cured by lucky DNA mutation

    In a "medical miracle", a fluke DNA mutation cured a woman in her thirties of a rare disease that caused her to develop infections and uncontrolled warts, scientists say.

    The woman, now in her 50s, who is not being named, was plagued by warts and infections as part of "WHIM syndrome" — caused by a defective immune system.

    Doctors said a fluke DNA mutation effectively cured her in her thirties, adding that the odds of it happening were "astronomically low".

    Patients with WHIM syndrome have a defect in a single section of their DNA. The patients are left incredibly vulnerable to infection, particularly the human papillomavirus that leads to warts and an increased risk of cancer.

    The woman was the first identified case of WHIM syndrome more than 50 years ago. At the age of 58, she sought out a team of researchers at the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases to get her daughters tested.



    She had passed the condition down to two of her daughters but said her warts had disappeared 20 years ago, BBC reported.

    The cure was traced back to a mutation in a single cell in her bone marrow.



    An event called "chromosomal shattering" in which a part of the DNA is rearranged led to 164 genes being lopped out of her DNA, according to a report in the journal Cell.

    This included the mutated one that was causing the problem.

    "It is really kind of remarkable, she started out as this very unlucky girl and ended up winning the lottery by having this incredibly rare event," said Dr Philip Murphy.


    "She no longer has warts, is no longer [more] susceptible to infections and no longer has blood abnormalities. The odds are astronomically low," Murphy said.


  6. #1756
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Low birth weight increases risk of depression

    People born as extremely low birth weight babies are twice as likely to have psychiatric problems such as depression, an anxiety disorder or attentive-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) as adults than others, researchers have warned.

    However, they are less likely than others to have alcohol or substance use disorders as adults, the findings showed.

    "Importantly, we have identified psychiatric risks that may develop for extremely low birth weight survivors as they become adults, and this understanding will help us better predict, detect and treat mental disorders in this population," said lead author Ryan Van Lieshout, professor at McMaster University in Ontario, Canada.

    The study also found that extremely low birth weight babies whose mothers received a full course of steroids prior to giving birth were at even greater risk for psychiatric disorders.

    They were nearly four and a half times more likely to have the psychiatric issues, and not protected against alcohol or substance use disorders, the researchers determined.

    The study involved 84 adults who were born weighing less than 1,000 grams, and 90 normal birth weight babies. All were born in Ontario between 1977 and 1982.

    The research found that in their early 30s, those low birth weight babies were nearly three times less likely to develop an alcohol or substance use disorder.

    But, they were two and a half times more likely than adults born with normal birth weight to develop other psychiatric problem such as depression.

    The study was published in the journal Pediatrics.


  7. #1757
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    How to stop common cold, HIV virus in their tracks found

    Scientists have cracked the code used by a major group of viruses to spread infections such as the common cold, HIV, hepatitis C and polio in the human body, a finding that could lead to new drugs to combat the diseases.

    Until now, scientists had not noticed the code, which had been hidden in plain sight in the sequence of the ribonucleic acid (RNA) that makes up this type of viral genome.

    Researchers from the University of Leeds and University of York unlocked its meaning and demonstrated that jamming the code can disrupt virus assembly. Stopping a virus assembling can stop it functioning and therefore prevent disease.

    "If you think of this as molecular warfare, these are the encrypted signals that allow a virus to deploy itself effectively," said Peter Stockley, Professor of Biological Chemistry in the Leeds' Faculty of Biological Sciences.

    "Now, for this whole class of viruses, we have found the 'Enigma machine' - the coding system that was hiding these signals from us. We have shown that not only can we read these messages but we can jam them and stop the virus' deployment," said Stockley, who led the study.

    Single-stranded RNA viruses are the simplest type of virus and were probably one of the earliest to evolve. However, they are still among the most potent and damaging of infectious pathogens, researchers said.

    Rhinovirus (which causes the common cold) accounts for more infections every year than all other infectious agents put together (about 1 billion cases), while emergent infections such as chikungunya and tick-borne encephalitis are from the same ancient family.

    Other single-stranded RNA viruses include the hepatitis C virus, HIV and the winter vomiting bug norovirus.

    The group used single-molecule fluorescence spectroscopy to watch the codes being used by the satellite tobacco necrosis virus, a single stranded RNA plant virus.

    "We have understood for decades that the RNA carries the genetic messages that create viral proteins, but we didn't know that, hidden within the stream of letters we use to denote the genetic information, is a second code governing virus assembly," said Dr Roman Tuma, Reader in Biophysics at Leeds.

    The research was published in the journal PNAS.


  8. #1758
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Smart insulin’ jab to help fight diabetes

    An experimental "smart insulin" that acts for 14 hours has shown promise in mice and could be tested in people with type 1 diabetes in two years, researchers said on Monday. The product, known as Ins-PBA-F and developed by biochemists at the University of Utah, self-activates when blood sugar soars, according to the research published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

    Instead of repeated blood tests and injections throughout the day to keep blood sugar in check, a single dose of smart insulin would keep circulating in the body and turn on when needed. Tests on mice with a form of type 1 diabetes showed that one injection could "repeatedly and automatically lower blood sugar levels after mice are given amounts of sugar comparable to what they would consume at mealtime," said the study. The drug closely mimicked the way the bodies of normal mice would return their blood sugar levels to normal after eating.

    "This is an important advance in insulin therapy," said co-author Danny Chou, assistant professor of biochemistry at the University of Utah. "Our insulin derivative appears to control blood sugar better than anything that is available to diabetes patients right now."

    People with type 1 diabetes must constantly monitor their blood sugar and manually inject themselves with insulin when needed. Any mistake or lapse can lead to complications, including heart disease, blindness or even death.

    Ins-PBA-F is a chemically modified version of a naturally occurring hormone. It has an extra set of molecules stuck on the end that binds it to proteins that circulate in the bloodstream. While it is attached to these, the smart insulin is in its switched off mode. When blood sugar rises, the smart insulin switches on and glucose locks on to the smart insulin and tells it to get to work. It differs from other "smart insulin" products in development that use a protein-based barrier that inhibits insulin when blood sugar is low.


  9. #1759
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Coconut oil can fight hypertension: Study

    The humble coconut oil has now been found to be the giant slayer of hypertension.New study in rats shows potential for combining coconut oil and exercise to successfully reduce hypertension.

    Coconut oil is one of the few foods that can be classified as a "superfood".

    Its unique combination of fatty acids can have profound positive effects on health, including fat loss, better brain function and many other remarkable benefits.
    Researchers working at the Federal University of Paraiba in Brazil set out to test the hypothesis that a combination of daily coconut oil intake and exercise training would restore baroreflex sensitivity and reduce oxidative stress, resulting in reduction in blood pressure.

    Their experiments were performed in spontaneously hypertensive rats. They found that both coconut oil and exercise training were able to reduce weight gain compared to rats that were given saline and were not exposed to the exercise training protocol along the five weeks of study.

    Either coconut oil supplementation or exercise training was shown to reduce blood pressure. However, only combined coconut oil and exercise training were able to bring the pressure back to normotensive values.

    The reduction in blood pressure caused by the combination of coconut oil supplementation and exercise training might be explained by the improvement of the reduced baroreflex sensitivity and by the reduction in oxidative stress in the serum, heart and aorta.

    "This is an important finding as coconut oil is currently being considered a popular superfood and it is being consumed by athletes and the general population who seek a healthy life style," explained Dr Valdir de Andrade Braga, co-author of the study.

    "The possibility of using coconut oil as an adjuvant to treat hypertension adds to the long list of benefits associated with its consumption. Our next step is to start some clinical trials in order to verify whether we can reproduce those findings in hypertensive human patients".

    Nearly 139 million Indians were suffering from high blood pressure (BP) at the end of 2008 — 14% of the global burden of uncontrolled hypertension. From 1980-2008, the number of Indians suffering from high BP rose by 87 million, while the percentage of population suffering from the ailment rose from 21% to 26%.

    The latest data of the Global Burden of Diseases, Injuries and Risk Factors study, published in the British medical journal The Lancet shows that while the average BP of humans declined globally, it actually increased among both men and women in India.

    The average BP went down by 2.7mm mercury among women globally, while increasing by 2.4mm mercury in India. In men, it decreased by 2.3 mm mercury globally in the past three decades whereas in India it went up by 2.2 mm mercury. At present, hypertension is directly responsible for 57% of deaths due to stroke and 24% of deaths caused by heart attack.

    High BP is the leading risk factor for cardiovascular disease mortality, causing more than 7 million deaths every year worldwide. The study says that though prevalence of uncontrolled hypertension dipped from 33% in 1980 to 29% in 2008 in men and from 29% to 25% in women, the actual number of people with uncontrolled hypertension increased from 605 million in 1980 to 978 million in 2008.


  10. #1760
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Plant extract may help fight brain tumour

    Treatment with a plant extract alleviates symptoms of Cushing Disease caused by a tumour in the brain, scientists say.

    Cushing Disease is caused by a tumour in the pituitary gland in the brain.

    The tumour secrets increased amounts of the stress hormone adrenocorticotropin (ACTH) followed by cortisol release from the adrenal glands leading to rapid weight gain, elevated blood pressure and muscular weakness.

    Scientists around Gunter Stalla, endocrinologist at the Max Planck Institute of Psychiatry in Munich, have discovered in cell cultures, animal models and human tumour tissue that a harmless plant extract can be applied to treat Cushing Disease.

    "Silibinin is the major active constituent of milk thistle seeds. It has an outstanding safety profile in humans and is already used for the treatment of liver disease and poisoning," said Marcelo Paez-Pereda, leading scientist of the study.

    After silibinin treatment, tumour cells resumed normal ACTH production, tumour growth slowed down and symptoms of Cushing Disease disappeared in mice.

    In 2013, the Max Planck scientists filed a patent on a broad family of chemical and natural compounds, including silibinin, to treat pituitary tumours.

    Compared to humans, of which only 5.5 in 100,000 people worldwide develop Cushing Disease, this condition is very common in several pets.

    "We knew that Cushing Disease is caused by the release of too much ACTH. So we asked ourselves what causes this over production and how to stop it," said Paez-Pereda.

    In their experiments the researchers found tremendously high amounts of the heat shock protein 90 (HSP90) in tumour tissue from patients with Cushing Disease.

    In normal amounts HSP90 helps to correctly fold another protein, the glucocorticoid receptor which in turn inhibits the production of ACTH.

    "As there are too many HSP90 molecules in the tumour tissue, they stick to the glucocorticoid receptor," said Paez-Pereda.

    "We found that silibinin binds to HSP90 thus allowing glucocorticoid receptor molecules to dissolve from HSP90. With silibinin we might have discovered a non-invasive treatment strategy not only for the rare Cushing Disease but also for other conditions with the involvement of glucocorticoid receptors such as lung tumours, acute lymphoblastic leukemia or multiple myeloma," Paez-Pereda added.

    The study was published in the journal Nature Medicine.


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