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Health Bulletin


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  1. #1961
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Over 50% liver donors have fatty organ


    Liver transplants in India are facing a strange hurdle — fatty liver. Top surgeons say nearly 50% of livers from live donors and 80% of those from cadavers are rejected because there is excess accumulation of fat in the organ.

    With increasing obesity, diabetes and metabolic syndrome, doctors fear the rate of rejection may go up further.

    "A liver that's up to 20% fatty is accepted for donation. When a donor is diagnosed with 20-30% fat in the liver, we try to put him or her on special diet and strict exercise regimen to reduce the fat. But those with higher percentage of fat are outrightly rejected," said Dr Subhash Gupta, chief liver surgeon at Apollo hospital in New Delhi.

    He said unlike donors in the western world, Indians who are lean may also have fatty liver. Though no one knows the exact cause of it, scientists blame our genetic predisposition for the condition.



    "The liver resides in close proximity to intestines. It is thought that non-Caucasians (including Indians) have a different bacterial population that interacts with the immune system and sends signals to the liver which makes us accumulate more fat," said Abhijit Chowdhury, a Kolkata-based hepatologist who is researching on lean people with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.

    How does fatty liver affect a transplant? According to Dr A S Soin, who heads the Medanta Liver Institute, retrieving a portion of the liver from a person suffering from the condition could put both the donor and the recipient's life at risk.

    "In a liver transplant, we take out a portion of the liver from the donor and place it in the diseased patient. But if the liver fatty, the donor may suffer from organ failure due to reduced capacity of the remaining organ to process food. The recipient is also at risk for developing toxicity which is fatal," Soin said.

    To counter the problem, most transplant centres ask family members to reduce liver fat. "If one can reduce 10% of the body weight in one and a half months, he or she can be considered a donor. Clinical experience shows 10% weight reduction leads to significant reduction in liver fat. For that, we suggest rigorous exercise, diet modification including limiting the intake of food items containing complex sugar such as carbonated drinks and medications such as vitamin E," said Dr S K Sarin, director of the Institute of Liver and Biliary Sciences (ILBS).

    At Apollo hospital, officials said, a 48-year-old woman suffering from liver failure due to an auto-immune disorder underwent transplant recently. Her husband, who weighed 85kg, lost 5kg in a few weeks and was able to donate his organ to his wife. "I wanted to save her at any cost," he said.

    Every year, more than 60,000 people die in India due to liver failure. At most, 1,500 lives are saved with liver transplant — the only treatment option available to such patients — due to lack of donors. "The irony of the situation is that more people are suffering from liver failure due to fatty liver disease. But the number of people who can donate is also reducing due to the same condition," said Sarin.


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  2. #1962
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Vaccines against dengue in the offing

    In a finding that could lead to the first effective therapies and vaccines against dengue, scientists have determined the structure of a human antibody which can fight the deadly virus.

    Researchers at Vanderbilt University and the National University of Singapore determined the structure of the human monoclonal antibody which, in an animal model, strongly neutralises a type of the potentially lethal dengue virus. The finding could lead to the first effective therapies and vaccines against dengue, a complex of four distinct but related mosquito-borne viruses. that infect about 390 million people a year and which are a leading cause of illness and death in the tropics, researchers said.

    "Scientists in the antibody discovery group of the Vanderbilt Vaccine Centre continue to make great strides in developing novel antiviral drugs, such as this human antibody that not only kills dengue virus but also prevents enhanced dengue disease," said co-corresponding author James Crowe Jr.

    The four "serotypes" of dengue are distinguished by different antigens, or proteins on the viral envelope that elicit immune responses.

    What makes dengue so challenging, and so dangerous, is that antibodies generated against one serotype do not protect against the others.

    In fact, they actually can enhance infection by a second serotype, a process known as antibody-dependent enhancement (ADE) of infection.

    Sequential infections increase the risk for dengue hemorrhagic fever and dengue shock syndrome, characterised by fever, vomiting, internal bleeding and potentially fatal circulatory collapse.

    The researchers previously generated human monoclonal antibodies in the lab against a complex epitope, or antigenic portion of the viral envelope. In the current study, researchers they used cryo-electron microscopy to freeze samples at very low temperatures so they could visualise antibody-antigen binding almost down to the atomic level. In this way they were able to identify a human monoclonal antibody against dengue virus type 2 (DENV2) that "locked" across an array of envelope proteins. In a mouse model, this prevented the virus from fusing to its target cell, thus it prevents infection.

    The antibody also was remarkable in that it has a second major function - it blocks the binding of the other class of antibodies that otherwise would enhance infection.

    This specific "epitope," or portion of the envelope proteins elicits a specific immune response, thus it is a potential target for the development of dengue vaccines and therapeutics, researchers said.

    The research was published in the journal Science.

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  3. #1963
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Depression shrinks people's brain


    Chronic and repeated episodes of depression can shrink the hippocampus, an area of the brain responsible for memory and emotion, an international study has revealed.

    The results highlight the urgent need to treat depression in teenagers, the authors emphasised.

    But with the treatment, the damage is reversible, the study said.

    "The more episodes of depression a person had, the greater the reduction in hippocampus size," said Hickie, fromdepression's brain and mind research institute and member of the large study.

    The participants experienced their first depressive episode when they had a normal hippocampus size. The shrinking began afterward.

    For the study, 15 research institutes from across the world collaborated and examined the data of 8,927 people, 1,728 of whom had major depression and the rest of whom were healthy, the Guardian reported.

    The researchers found that 65 percent of the depressed participants had recurrent depression and it was these people who had a smaller hippocampus.

    "Persistent depression does more harm to the hippocampus the more you leave it untreated. The damage to the brain comes from recurrent illness," Hickie said.

    "Treating depression effectively does not just mean medicines. Social interventions are just as important," the author said.

    Antidepressants can have a protective effect but these are not the only treatment.

    In young people, "psychotherapy should be explored as the first line of treatment," the study emphasised.

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  4. #1964
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Diabetes drug may help obese people lose fat


    : A drug originally meant for diabetics may help obese individuals without diabetes shed weight and also keep it off, suggests a research.

    A little more than one year of treatment with the drug named Liraglutide was found to reduce at least five percent of body weight in over 60 percent of study participants.

    "It is a very effective drug. It seems to be as good as any of the others on the market, so it adds another possibility for doctors to treat patients who are having trouble either losing weight or maintaining weight loss once they get the weight off," Xavier Pi-Sunyer, professor of medicine at the Columbia University Medical Center in New York City was quoted as saying by Live Science.

    The researchers conducted a 56-week trial involving 3,731 patients who did not have Type-2 diabetes and who had a body-mass index (BMI) of 30 or a BMI of at least 27 if they if they also had high cholesterol or high blood pressure.

    They randomly assigned patients in a 2:1 ratio to receive once-daily shot of of Liraglutide at a dose of 3.0 mg (2,487 patients) or placebo (1,244 patients).

    The researchers found that a total of 63.2 percent of the patients in the liraglutide group as compared with 27.1 percent in the placebo group lost at least five percent of their body weight.

    Among the patients on liraglutide, 33 percent lost at least 10 percent of their body weight.

    Only 11 percent of the placebo group lost that much weight.

    The study was published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

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  5. #1965
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Brisk workouts can keep heart patients going


    All of us know that exercising can help delay the onset of heart diseases, but how useful can it be to improve quality of life in patients suffering from such diseases?

    Doctors at AIIMS recently conducted a study to assess this. They found that heart failure patients, when put through simple home-based exercises for 35 minutes daily, have a better quality of life and their ability to walk without exacerbation of symptoms improves.

    The study involved 30 patients. And the exercise included simple movements of hand and foot, deep breathing, movements of upper and lower extremities, walk and relaxation.

    "American Heart Association has set exercise guidelines for heart failure patients, but those in India cannot afford high-cost machines and instruments of western standard. Therefore, we chose to devise the simplest of exercises," said Dr Sandeep Seth, professor of cardiology at AIIMS.

    While one group was put through the exercise regimen apart from medications, the other received only medications. After a three-month follow-up, the result showed significant improvement in the quality of life, mean walking distance on the six-minute walk tests, and maximal oxygen consumption in the group that followed exercise regimen as compared to those who didn't. Also, the doctor's report, two hospitalizations and one death were reported in the non-exercise group, while none was reported in the exercise group.

    The result of the study has been published in the latest issue of the "Journal of the Practice of Cardiovascular Sciences". "We plan to write to the ministry of AYUSH to help improvise the exercise regimen," said Dr Seth.

    In another related study, the AIIMS doctors have reported that nearly one-third of patients coming to the institute with heart failure die during treatment and another one-third develop complications within six months of being discharged, leading to death.



    The heart failure patients reporting to AIIMS are also much younger than in the west with a mean age of 53 years against 65-73 years in Europe and the US.


  6. #1966
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    'Rambo' protein limits development of heart failure


    A protein named after the famous Hollywood movie Rambo which was earlier thought to be causing death can in fact protect against heart failure, says new research.

    The research done at King's College London may help scientists to develop new therapies to improve the outlook for people suffering with heart failure, a condition for which there is currently no cure.

    "The research has shed light on the misunderstood Rambo protein which may, in fact, protect heart cells from death in heart failure, revealing a possible target for therapy. Further research is now needed to develop methods to control the activity of the protein in heart cells," said Jeremy Pearson, associate medical director at the British Heart Foundation.

    The Bcl-Rambo protein (also known as Bcl2-L-13) was named by a Japanese scientist because it was thought to be involved in activating cell death.

    'Rambo' also means violence in Japanese. The Rambo protein is involved in safely clearing damaged mitochondria from cells. Damaged mitochondria are removed by a process called mitophagy — killer vesicles are activated to engulf and degrade the damaged mitochondria.

    The Bcl-Rambo protein is involved in the process of mitophagy in mammalian cells. If researchers can find ways of regulating this protein, they may be able to control the process of mitophagy and develop new treatments to limit the development of heart failure.

    "The discovery of the Rambo protein's importance in protecting cells represents a significant step forward in the understanding of disease processes at the cellular level," Pearson said.

    "Mitophagy is linked to a number of diseases and is of growing interest to scientists. As well as heart failure, neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease have all been linked to problems related to mitophagy," said lead author Kinya Otsu from King's College London.

    The study was published in the journal Nature Communications.


  7. #1967
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Stronger hearts make women outlive men


    Men have shorter lives than women because they are more prone to heart disease, claims a new study that found significant differences in life expectancies between the sexes first emerged as recently as the turn of the 20th century.

    Across the entire world, women can expect to live lo8nger than men. Researchers wondered why does this occur and was this always the case. According to the study, led by researchers at the University of Southern California Davis School of Gerontology, significant differences in life expectancies between the sexes first emerged as recently as the turn of the 20th century.

    As infectious disease prevention, improved diets and other positive health behaviours were adopted by people born during the 1800s and early 1900s, death rates plummeted, but women began reaping the longevity benefits at a much faster rate.

    In the wake of this massive but uneven decrease in mortality, a review of global data points to heart disease as the culprit behind most of the excess deaths documented in adult men, said USC University professor Eileen Crimmins. "We were surprised at how the divergence in mortality between men and women, which originated as early as 1870, was concentrated in the 50-to-70 age range and faded out sharply after age 80." pti The study examined the life spans of people born between 1800 and 1935 in 13 developed nations.

    Focusing on mortality in adults over the age of 40, the team found that in individuals born after 1880, female death rates decreased 70 per cent faster than those of males.

    Even when the researchers controlled for smoking-related illnesses, cardiovascular disease appeared to still be the cause of the vast majority of excess deaths in adult men over 40 for the same time period.

    Surprisingly, smoking accounted for only 30 per cent of the difference in mortality between the sexes after 1890, Crimmins said.

    The uneven impact of cardiovascular illness-related deaths on men, especially during middle and early older age, raises the question of whether men and women face different heart disease risks due to inherent biological risks and/or protective factors at different points in their lives, said USC University Professor Caleb Finch.

    The study appears in the journal PNAS.

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  8. #1968
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Thanks...Viji...

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  9. #1969
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Mirror image: A battle with mental illness


    He stood for an hour in front of the mirror and saw his reflection morph into another person. At the stroke of midnight a black cat appeared by the window to stare at him and slink away. A deep voice without a face kept him company on long sleepless nights that followed. No one else saw the stranger in the mirror or spotted the cat, or heard the voice: they were games played by the mind of a 19-year-old, who was later diagnosed with schizophrenia.

    More than three decades later and now 55 years old, Ganesh N Rajan explains how he grabbed the voice in his head "by the throat" and fought the stigma associated with mental illness. He decided to open up his world of illusions in a book, 'I, Me And Us'.

    He was speeding on his bike to write an exam in Bengaluru in 1979 when his mind, all of a sudden, flooded with random thoughts.

    "I was just rebounding from a relationship and I was stressed," Rajan says. "My thoughts were racing and I had no control over them. And then I crashed."

    The next few days, while recovering, he discovered a new world — filled with alien voices, forms, symbols and strange emotions. "It was a world my mind created. I struggled to tell between what was real and what was not," he says.

    The voice in his head told Rajan he would be let in on a "great secret" if he stayed awake for three nights.

    "The first night, a cat appeared at the window. The second night, too, the cat appeared. My thoughts became florid and delusional. By the third night, my parents knew something had changed in me," he says.

    His parents took him to a psychiatrist, who diagnosed him with schizophrenia. "I'm lucky my parents sought help early and I was diagnosed correctly," he says. "Not everyone is that lucky."

    Although he received treatment, regaining control of his mind was the hardest thing and, in his second year of college, he clamped up and withdrew from reality.

    "I dropped out of college. My parents and doctors persuaded me to live a productive life with the symptoms. In the process, I learned to make my destiny. I transformed from a victim to a survivor," Rajan says. He rejoined college and became a management consultant. None of his employers knew his history.

    And then love happened. He met his wife Kalpana in Bengaluru. "I told her I had a 'problem'. She shrugged and said it was alright, I had nothing to prove," he says. The couple had a son and a daughter.

    "Most families try to conceal mental ailments. This only adds to the stigma when there's no need to hide. You take medication for mental ailments just like you do for, say, diabetes," Rajan says.

    Rajan says it would help if people try to talk to those suffering from mental illnesses. "Many of them are very lonely," he says. Does he still see glimpses of his "other world"?

    "The hallucinations don't really go away. The voices just became more ppositive and encouraging."


  10. #1970
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    New laser tech to sniff out cancers, diabetes

    Scientists are de veloping a new laser system for fast, non-invasive, on-site breath analysis that may be used to screen people for a range of diseases including diabetes, infections and various cancers. The instrument is being equated to an "optical dog's nose" which uses a special laser to measure the molecular content of a sample of gas.

    "Rather than sniffing out a variety of smells as a dog would, the laser system uses light to `sense' the range of molecules that are present in the sample," said Dr James Anstie from the University of Adelaide's Institute for Photonics and Advanced Sensing.

    "Those molecules are byproducts of metabolic processes in the body and their levels change when things go wrong. There have been good studies undertaken around the world which show that diseases like lung and esophageal cancer, asthma and diabetes can be detected in this way , even before external symptoms are showing," Anstie said.

    The system being developed offers almost-instant results, high sensitivity and the ability to test for a range of molecules at once -making it promising for broad-scale health screening, researchers said.


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