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Health Bulletin


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  1. #1871
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    B’luru scientists find drug which could cure malaria with one dose

    Three scientists from Bengaluru, who led a team of global researchers looking for an antimalarial drug, have found a fast-killing solution. After completing some tests, it'll go in for clinical trials on humans. That this drug has the potential to cure the dreaded disease in one dose makes it more attractive to healthcare providers. The Bengaluru solution -- Triaminopyrimidine (TAP) -- comes with many advantages over existing drugs. Vasan Sambandamurthy, one of the senior authors of the research paper, said: "It's a fast-killing and long-acting antimalarial clinical candidate. TAP acts exclusively on the blood stage of Plasmodium falciparum (the stage responsible for clinical symptoms) in a relevant mouse model.

    This candidate is equally active against causative agent Plasmodium vivax." He added, "The compound has shown good safety margins in guinea pigs and rats. With a predicted half-life of 36 hours in humans, TAP offers potential for a single dose combination." The rapid spread of Plasmodium falciparum, the parasite which causes malaria in humans, has left nations battling it with a weakened arsenal and coping with thousands of deaths every year. This parasite has gradually become resistant to available medication. The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that 3.2 billion people in 97 countries, including India, are at risk of being infected with malaria. In 2013, WHO reported an estimated 198 million cases and the disease was responsible for an estimated 5.84 lakh deaths, including 4.53 lakh children less than five years old. Every person infected with malaria has to deal with millions of parasites and existing drugs have a limited effect in humans. "The half-life, which isn't more than 2 hours, means it allows parasites to bounce back. Existing drugs are not fast-killing, which means that not only does a human need more doses but each dose is capable of only killing a few parasites," he said.

    Besides, a potential side-effect of existing drugs is liver damage. "This doesn't happen all the time, but the possibility does exist. Also, the parasites have become resistant to these drugs. With TAP, there are now known side-effects and the parasites are unable to develop resistance at the same pace as they do for existing drugs," he said. TAP was discovered by a team at pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca. "The main research happened in its R&D centre in Bengaluru between 2011 and 2014), which has since been shut down. It took us three years of rigorous work by teams across the globe. Today, we confidently nominate TAPs as a clinical candidate to treat drug-resistant malaria," Vasan said. Shahul Hameed and Suresh Solapure were the two other team leaders.

    Active against drug-resistant malaria TAP has a novel mechanism of action that specifically inhibits targets a protein involved in maintaining specific and localised agents that serve as the major route to disturb the proton gradient inside the parasite hydrogen ion levels. Vasan Sambandamurthy | researcher

    Global work, delivered in Bengaluru The project was partnered and partially funded by Medicines for Malaria Venture (MMV) based in Switzerland. This work showcases collaboration among big pharma companies (AstraZeneca, Glaxo Smith Kline) and several labs worldwide (Columbia University, Harvard Medical School) for a disease highly prevalent in the developing world. The research was primarily conducted at AstraZeneca's R&D center, Bengaluru, while safety and toxicology studies supported from its other sites. While Glaxo Smithkline, Spain conducted some of the proof of concept studies, Columbia University, New York and Harvard School of Public Health did the target identification studies.


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  2. #1872
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Growing facial hair is doctor’s play now

    Until recently, most people wanted a hair transplant on the head but now demand for bushy beards, sleek eyebrows, and well-sculpted sideburns has taken over with a vengeance. Cosmetic surgeons now find a number of patients opting for hair transplants on their face, something that was unheard of a few years ago.

    "It is a huge trend in India now, especially with men and women between 20 and 30 years. It's something that went from being rare to something that's become increasingly common," said Dr Vinod Vij, consultant cosmetic surgeon, Fortis Vashi.

    Men and women who suffer from a lack of facial hair growth often opt for moustache or eyebrow hair transplant procedures.

    These procedures help to restore natural hair on the face which has thinned out or is simply missing in some cases, said doctors.

    While a generous moustache is most in demand, requests for beards, eyebrows and sideburns transplants are also on the rise.

    Elaborating on the advanced techniques that are making these procedures more cost-effective, Dr Vij, said, "For men, it is now easier to sport a moustache or French beard, thanks to hair transplant procedures."

    He added that the techniques are the same as those used in hair transplants on the scalp — a surgeon takes grafts of donor hair from a healthy location, typically back of the scalp and transplants them to the face in the desired locations. These hair transplants are also used to cover facial scars, if any.

    "The need to look good has resulted in many people opting for this kind of surgery. People have become more conscious of their looks, more so if they have any facial scars that they wish to cover up," said cosmetic surgeon Dr Manpreet Juneja.

    She added that the surgery is safe with no after effects and it is important to use healthy hair.

    "The texture might be different but using good quality hair is important for a good transplant," she said.



    This trend is also popular among women, who use it mostly to replace or increase the thickness of their eyebrows. "Having fuller brows can bring an entire look together and help the woman feel more comfortable and confident about her appearance. We are doing more eyebrows, moustaches and beards because the techniques have improved so much," explained Dr Vij.

    He said that in recent years, patients have wanted to have additional facial hair to cover a scar from a physical injury or some other facial deformity, but now more young men and women are requesting the procedure in order to get a certain look.

    Most of the doctors said that they get around two inquires about the procedure in a week, since the past two years. This procedure is becoming increasingly common among the younger generation.


  3. #1873
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    New test can predict cancer up to 13 years before it hits

    Scientists have developed a new test that can predict with 100 per cent accuracy whether someone will develop cancer up to 13 years in the future.

    The discovery of tiny but significant changes taking place in the body more than a decade before cancer was diagnosed helped researchers at Harvard and Northwestern University make the breakthrough.

    Their research, published in the online journal Ebiomedicine, found protective caps on the ends of chromosomes, which prevent DNA damage were more worn down those who went on to develop cancer.

    Known as telomeres, these were much shorter than they should have been and continued to get shorter until around four years before the cancer developed, when they suddenly stopped shrinking.

    "Because we saw a strong relationship in the pattern across a wide variety of cancers, with the right testing these procedures could be used eventually to diagnose a wide variety of cancers," said Dr Lifang Hou, the lead study author, told The Telegraph.

    "Understanding this pattern of telomere growth may mean it can be a predictive biomarker for cancer....We found cancer has hijacked the telomere shortening in order to flourish in the body."


  4. #1874
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Cholesterol-lowering drug may curb lung cancer death risk

    Prolonged use of statins, a cholesterol-lowering drug, may lower risk of death from lung cancer, new research has found.

    The researchers found that lung cancer patients who used statins in the year prior to a lung cancer diagnosis or after a lung cancer diagnosis had a reduction in the risk of death from the disease.

    "Our study provides some evidence that lung cancer patients who used statins had a reduction in the risk of death from lung cancer," said study author Chris Cardwell, senior lecturer at the Queen's University Belfast in Northern Ireland.

    Recently there has been much interest in the potential for exploring new therapeutic uses for existing drugs, in part, because existing medications are relatively inexpensive and have known side effect profiles, Cardwell noted.

    The researchers used data from nearly 14,000 patients newly diagnosed with lung cancer between 1998 and 2009 from English cancer registry data.

    Among patients who survived at least six months after a diagnosis, those who used statins after a lung cancer diagnosis had a statistically insignificant 11 per cent reduction in lung cancer-specific deaths.

    Among those who used at least 12 prescriptions of statins there was a statistically significant 19 per cent reduction in lung cancer-specific deaths.

    Among all patients in the study, those who used statins in the year before a lung cancer diagnosis had a statistically significant 12 per cent reduction in lung cancer-specific deaths.

    The study appeared in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention.


  5. #1875
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Genetic link between child prodigies and autism found

    Researchers have found the first evidence of a genetic link between prodigy and autism.

    The finding may help explain why the two groups share certain characteristics, such as exceptionally good memories.

    Researchers looked at DNA from 12 children with extraordinary abilities in music, mathematics or other fields.

    They also looked at 39 other people who were all members of the children's families, including 10 family members who had autism, and four prodigies who also had autism, Live Science reported.

    There were genetic markers on chromosome 1 that were shared between the prodigies and their relatives with autism, but the specific mutations involved could not be found.

    For the study, the researchers defined a prodigy as a child who achieved national or international recognition for a specific skill by adolescence.

    "Prodigies clearly share traits with children who have autism, such as exceptional memories and attention to detail," study co-author Joanne Ruthsatz, an assistant professor of psychology at The Ohio State University was quoted as telling Live Science.

    However, one weak point in the study is that it is very small and statistically not convincing.

    "We are now looking for the moderator that's shutting down the genes responsible for dysfunction in autism. Finding such a gene could lead to new autism treatments," Ruthsatz concluded.

    The study was published in the journal Human Heredity.


  6. #1876
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Rising pollution triggering asthma in healthy people

    Rameshwar Tyagi developed severe breathing problems one night. Rushed to the emergency ward of a leading hospital, he was diagnosed with asthma and put on oxygen. For Tyagi, 55, it was the first asthma attack as he had never suffered from the disease earlier and was otherwise perfectly healthy.

    Experts term this to be late onset of asthma, which is otherwise a chronic disease, due to the increasing levels of air pollution in Indian cities.

    "More and more patients who have never got asthma before are coming to us with this disease. This can be only attributed to the rising levels of pollution in the air," Ujjwal Parikh, consultant chest medicine, Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, told IANS.

    "Incidents of asthma overall are also increasing. Air pollution is one of the triggering factors. People who are exposed to vehicular pollution and dust are most prone," he added.

    Rajesh Chawla, senior consultant with the Indraprastha Apollo Hospital, told IANS: "Pollution definitely aggravates asthma. It is one of the major triggers. Incidents of asthma have in fact increased over the years."

    Echoing this, Vivek Chhattopadhyay of the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) said that several research studies also indicate that pollution triggers asthma as well as low lung function, especially in children.

    "Air pollution is a rising concern. It definitely aggravates asthma. Studies indicate that there is a variety of health impacts of air pollution," he said.

    A study conducted in Delhi by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) and Kolkata-based Chittaranjan National Cancer Research Centre found that every third child in Delhi had reduced lung function due to air pollution.

    Chhattopadhyay said children in the national capital, where CPCB found "critical" particulate levels, are the most vulnerable.

    "Poor air quality affects kids' capacity to breath leading to increase in respiratory problems. It affects their growth," Chhattopadhyay told IANS.

    Citing a scientific judgement, Chhattopadhyay said children's breathing depends on per kg of body weight.

    "Kids breath more for each kilogram that they gain during the growing age. While they breath more, they inhale more pollutants. And they also play outdoors. Keeping all these factors together, children are the most vulnerable group along with older people," Chhattopadhyay said.

    Vivek Singh, consultant at the pulmonology department at Gurgaon's Columbia Asia Hospital, told IANS: "Even the normal population these days gets affected due to air pollution."

    Asthma is a chronic disorder of the lungs, where inflammation and narrowing of the airways happen. And when the air is polluted the allergens present like smoke, dust, toxic gases like carbon monoxide and nitro-oxide affect asthma patients with aggravated levels of asthma.

    "Air quality these days is pretty bad due to the ongoing construction work in and around Delhi NCR, vehicular pollution and industrial pollution," Vivek Singh said.

    "Burning of crops has also led to increased smoke in the air making it difficult for people suffering from asthma and worsening their condition and losing control of their asthma," he added.

    According to the World Health Organization, Indian cities, including Delhi, are among the most polluted.

    Taking note of the rising levels of air pollution, the National Green Tribunal has taken steps like banning diesel vehicles older than 10 years from entering the capital and making burning of waste a punishable offence.

    Although the fundamental causes of asthma are not completely understood, the strongest risk factors for developing asthma are inhaled asthma triggers, which include indoor allergens (house dust mites in bedding, carpets and stuffed furniture and pollution), outdoor allergens (such as pollens and moulds), tobacco smoke and chemical irritants in the workplace.

    During an asthma attack, the lining of the bronchial tubes swell, causing the airways to narrow and reduce the flow of air into and out of the lungs.

    Doctors say that though there are no particular ways of preventing the disease, it can be effectively managed by taking certain precautions.

    According to Parikh, unnecessary travel should be avoided during peak traffic hours and care must be taken to drive with the car window up.

    "While travelling in a car, the air conditioner should be put on the re-circulate mode so that the outside air does not come in," he said.

    The majority of the first time patients, according to Parikh, are youngsters.

    Vivek Singh said: "There are some ways with which people can keep asthma under control."

    "Once in a while, go to places with clean air quality like hill stations where clean air is available. I have personally seen some patients coming back from places with clean air and no episodes of asthma.

    "Educative efforts of awareness need to be done on both individual and organizational levels. People need to avoid maximum exposure to such polluted conditions; or wear an N90 mask for protection or wear a wet handkerchief to filter dust particles," Vivek Singh added.


  7. #1877
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Why being lonely makes you eat more

    Putting on weight could be a hidden side-effect of loneliness, research suggests.

    Women who feel chronically isolated are hungrier and find a big meal less satisfying, a study found.

    The US researchers says this could be the body’s way of telling them to seek out company as eating has been a sociable activity throughout human evolution.

    The Ohio State University psychologists asked 42 women to fast overnight, then gave them a large breakfast.

    The women rated their hunger before and after their meal and blood samples revealed their levels of ghrelin, the ‘hunger hormone’.

    They had also answered a loneliness questionnaire, which included questions on how often they felt lonely when alone and whether other people thought of them as lonely.

    As expected, levels of ghrelin fell after eating and then started to rise.

    However, the rise was much quicker in the lonely women and they made much more of the hormone.

    They also said they felt hungrier. Writing in the journal Hormones and Behavior, the researchers said being extra-hungry could be nature’s way of making us seek out company.

    They said: ‘The need for social connection is fundamental to human nature. Consequently, people may feel hungrier when they feel socially disconnected.

    Interestingly, loneliness only made thin women hungrier. It had no effect on the appetite of those who were overweight.


  8. #1878
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Small towns appear on IVF clinic map

    People going for assisted reproduction have always flocked to big cities, but now a considerable number are getting treated in small towns as well. A set of statistics released by the Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR) shows that in many states like Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh, the technology is spreading to smaller towns even while the metros remain the big magnets of assistive reproduction technology (ART).

    In Tamil Nadu, 16 of the 33 clinics are in tier III towns like Rajapalayam, Karur, Nagercoil and Ramanathapuram according to the National Registry of ART Clinics and Banks in India. Similar is the situation in several other states. In Maharashtra, 25 of the 77 clinics are located outside Mumbai while in Andhra Pradesh 12 of the 25 clinics are outside Hyderabad, in towns like Rajahmundry, Anantapur, Guntur and Ongole in Andhra Pradesh. "This has been happening for the past seven to eight years," says member of the draft committee for ART Bill and executive director of Nova IVI Fertility Dr Manish Banker. "Demand for infertility treatment has been increasing in small towns, so the supply chain is automatically created," he said.

    ART experts say there is a flipside to the trend. A large number of infertility clinics that have mushroomed in smaller towns resort to performing in-vitro fertilization in batches of 10 or 15 patients, they say. "The patients are put on continuous treatment so that their IVF cycle is brought under control. Then an embryologist and fertility specialist is brought in for four days to extract the embryos, do the in-vitro fertilization and inject it back into the batch of patients," said Banker.

    The service offered in these fertility clinics are also not on a par with those in bigger cities, they allege.

    "ICMR, which runs the registry, has no legal right to inspect the facility and cross check the facilities and staff with the details submitted," said head of Bangalore based Milann Fertility Centre Dr Kamini RaoKamini Rao. Infertility specialist Dr Priya Selvaraj says most of the clinics use the enrolment in the national registry for heavy marketing.

    But some experts feel that it was a welcome trend for clinics to voluntarily enroll in the registry. "It is an indication that they want to be transparent and upgrade their facilities," said Dr Aniruddha Malpani of Mumbai-based Malpani Infertility Clinic. "It also shows that patients are more aware and demand transparency. So more clinics are trying to become transparent to start attracting more patients," he said.


  9. #1879
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Protein intake in India dips 10%; oil, fat consumption up

    The average protein intake of a person through normal diet has dipped 6-10% in the past two decades with almost 80% of rural population and 70% of urban people not getting the government-designated 2,400kcal per day worth of nutrition, latest data shows.

    Comparative estimates drawn by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (Ficci) reveal that in urban areas the gap in nutrition intake is worse. While the richest get over 2,518kcal each per day, the poorest get less than 1,679kcal — a difference of nearly 50%.

    "The situation has very harmful health implications, apart from its sheer inhumanity," says Vaibhav Kulkarni, chairman-nutraceuticals committee (western region), Ficci.

    The data shows daily protein consumption at the national level dipped from 60.2g for a person in 1993-94 to 56.5g in 2011-12 in rural areas and from 57.2g to 55.7g in urban areas.

    Experts say though there are many reasons behind the dip, change in eating habits and decline in quality of natural products are some of the key reasons for the reducing nutrition intake.



    The shares of items like fruits and vegetables, dairy products and egg, meat and fish was about 9% in 1993-94, which has marginally changed to about 9.6% in 2011-12, the data shows.

    However, the daily intake of oil and fat consumption has increased from 31g to nearly 42g in rural areas and from 42g to 52.5g in urban areas during the same period.

    The findings of the survey show a substantial jump in 'other' food items consisting of various hot and cold beverages, processed food like chips, biscuits, snacks etc. In 1993-94 these made up just 2% of a rural person's nutritional intake but rose to over 7% in 2011-12. In urban areas, this was 5.6% earlier and increased to about 9%.

    According to a latest report by the Indian National Science Academy (INSA), micronutrient deficiency has a complex aetiology. "Besides poor diet (due to poverty, ignorance, low agricultural productivity, and cultural factors); inadequate access to safe drinking water, clean disease-free environment, and health- care outreach also contribute," said the report titled 'Micro-nutrient Security for India- Priorities for Research and Action'.

    It added, infections result in loss of appetite, impaired absorption and utilization of nutrients, particularly micronutrients.

    Experts say apart from human suffering due to morbidity and mortality, nutrition deficiencies have a high economic cost. "Productivity losses due to poor nutrition are estimated to be more than 10% of the lifetime earnings for individuals, and 2-3 % of GDP to the nation. Cost of treating malnutrition is 27 times more than the investment required for its prevention," the INSA report said.


  10. #1880
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Bitter taste receptors found on human hearts

    Smell and taste receptors normally found in the nose and mouth can also be present on the human heart, scientists have found.

    University of Queensland researchers found that around 12 taste receptors, particularly those that respond to bitter compounds, were expressed in human hearts.

    "This is quite remarkable, as the human genome only has 25 of these bitter taste receptors, and we wanted to find out why half of them were located in the heart," said Professor Walter Thomas, from The School of Biomedical Sciences.

    "When we activated one of the taste receptors with a specific chemical that we all taste as bitter, the contractile function of the heart was almost completely inhibited.

    "While the underlying physiology behind this phenomenon remains unclear, this is now a major area of ongoing investigation," Thomas said.

    The research team's primary focus is on how the heart grows normally as well as abnormally in disease.

    "After hypertension or a heart attack, the heart frequently undergoes compensatory growth in order to maintain the circulation of blood around the body," Thomas said.

    "During laboratory tests, we were looking at all the genes that are regulated in the heart in this growth phase.

    "We found the rodent heart cells we were working with contained smell and taste receptors, which are normally considered to be only present in the nose and mouth," he said.

    "Using heart tissue from humans undergoing heart surgery, such as valve replacement and coronary arterial bypass, we replicated the rodent laboratory experiments and found taste receptors were also present in the human heart," he said.


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