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Health Bulletin


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  1. #191
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Grapefruit nanoparticles to deliver anti-cancer drug

    Scientists have engineered nanoparticles derived from grapefruit lipids that could be used to deliver anti-cancer and other drugs to tumour cells, says a study.

    Grapefruit has long been known for its health benefits, and the subtropical fruit may revolutionise how medical therapies like anti-cancer drugs are delivered to specific tumour cells, say researchers.

    The University of Louisville researchers have uncovered how to create nanoparticles using natural lipids derived from grapefruit, and have discovered how to use them as drug delivery vehicles, reports Science Daily.

    A team led by researchers Huang-Ge Zhang and Qilong Wang published their findings in Nature Communications Wednesday.

    "These nanoparticles, which we've named grapefruit-derived nanovectors (GNVs), are derived from an edible plant, and we believe they are less toxic for patients, result in less biohazardous waste for the environment, and are much cheaper to produce at large scale than nanoparticles made from synthetic materials," Zhang said.


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  2. #192
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Largest gene sequencing of diseases raises hopes

    Researchers from Queen Mary, University of London have carried out the largest sequencing study of human disease to date, investigating the genetic basis of six autoimmune diseases.

    The exact cause of these diseases - autoimmune thyroid disease, coeliac disease, Crohn's disease, psoriasis, multiple sclerosis and type 1 diabetes - is unknown, but is believed to be a complex combination of genetic and environmental factors.

    The scientists, who published their findings in the journal 'Nature' on Thursday, estimate rare variants in risk genes account for only around 3% of the heritability of these conditions that can be explained by common variants.

    They say the genetic risk of these diseases more likely involves a complex combination of hundreds of weak-effect variants that are each common in the population.


  3. #193
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Little-known radiation therapy gives breast cancer patients hope

    A concentrated form of radiation therapy - less expensive and less harmful than traditional radiation treatments is proving to be a boon for breast cancer patients. The new radiation treatment has worked wonders for as many as 52 breast cancer patients at a city-based hospital in less than two years. With the help of Intra-Operative Radiation Treatment (IORT), only the cancerous growth is removed through concentrated radiation, and complete removal of the breast is avoided.

    IORT, a relatively new concept in India, has been helping breast cancer patients recover faster and reduces the risk of relapse. The cost and time spent on IORT is less than that required for conventional radiation methods. The IORT treatment can be completed in three days and costs a humble sum of

    Rs 30,000, compared to the usual six-week-long traditional radiation treatments that cost about Rs 2 lakh. Several breast cancer patients who come to Mumbai for their treatment usually end up getting a mastectomy, as they cannot afford to be away from home for a full-fledged six-week radiation treatment session. Also, the high costs associated with the same often make it unaffordable for patients.

    Over the last year-and-a-half, Dr Sanjay Sharma, consulting surgeon and oncologist at Fortis S L Raheja hospital, Mahim has performed over 52 IORTs that have shown good results. The entire procedure takes less than an hour and the patient is fit to go home in three days. However, the only catch is that it can only be used on patients with stage I and stage II breast cancer.

    Experts claim that IORT is a relatively new concept in India, though many countries have been using it for the last two decades. Expert oncologists from across the nation admit that there is sufficient medical literature available to prove that IORT is a safe procedure.

    TARGIT trial is the largest and most comprehensive of all clinical trials on the effectiveness and safety of IORT. The early results of the TARGIT trial were published in June 2010 and showed that the IORT was equally effective as standard breast radiotherapy in terms of reducing the risk of recurrence.

    Fortis S L Raheja hospital's Dr Sharma said, "In the entire state, the treatment is currently being performed only at our facility. It is necessary that more doctors come forward and opt for this procedure. The government should also initiate policies for purchasing the machine and providing IORT at hospitals in rural areas."

    IORT provides a concentrated dose of radiation to a tumour site immediately after the tumour is removed, destroying the microscopic tumour cells that may be left behind. During breast cancer IORT, a precise radiation dose is applied while shielding healthy tissues or structures, such as the skin. Critical organs within the radiation field, such as the lungs and heart, can also be protected.


  4. #194
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    1-shot immunity against flu strains

    In a breakthrough, scientists claim to have developed a new type of influenza vaccine that may provide long-term immunity against various flu strains with a single jab.

    A new approach for immunizing against influenza elicited a more potent immune response and broader protection than the currently licenced seasonal influenza vaccines when tested in mice and ferrets. The vaccine concept, which was developed by scientists at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases ( NIAID), represents an important step forward in the quest to develop a universal influenza vaccine - one that would protect against most or all influenza strains without the need for an annual vaccination.

    The scientists designed an experimental vaccine featuring the protein ferritin, which can self-assemble into microscopic pieces called nanoparticles, as a key component.

    Ferritin was fused genetically with hemagglutinin (HA), the protein found on the surface of the influenza virus, resulting in a nanoparticle with eight protruding viral spikes. Using this as the basis for the vaccine antigen, the researchers created an experimental vaccine using HA from a 1999 strain of H1N1 influenza virus and evaluated its ability to stimulate an immune response in mice.


  5. #195
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Cinnamon may prevent Alzheimer's: study

    The common baking spice cinnamon may hold the key to delaying the onset of - or warding off - the effects of Alzheimer's disease, scientists, including one of Indian-origin, have found.

    Roshni George and Donald Graves, scientists at University of California - Santa Barbara, found that two compounds in cinnamon - cinnamaldehyde and epicatechin - show some promise in the effort to fight the disease.

    According to George and Graves, the compounds have been shown to prevent the development of the filamentous "tangles" found in the brain cells that characterise Alzheimer's.

    Responsible for the assembly of microtubules in a cell, a protein called tau plays a large role in the structure of the neurons, as well as their function.

    "The problem with tau in Alzheimer's is that it starts aggregating," said George, a graduate student researcher.

    When for the protein does not bind properly to the microtubules that form the cell's structure, it has a tendency to clump together, she explained, forming insoluble fibres in the neuron.

    The older we get the more susceptible we are to these twists and tangles, Alzheimer's patients develop them more often and in larger amounts.

    The use of cinnamaldehyde, the compound responsible for the bright, sweet smell of cinnamon, has proven effective in preventing the tau knots.

    By protecting tau from oxidative stress, the compound, an oil, could inhibit the protein's aggregation. To do this, cinnamaldehyde binds to two residues of an amino acid called cysteine on the tau protein.

    The cysteine residues are vulnerable to modifications, a factor that contributes to the development of Alzheimer's.

    Previous research indicates that there is a high correlation between Type 2 diabetes and the incidence of Alzheimer's disease.

    The elevated glucose levels typical of diabetes lead to the overproduction of reactive oxygen species, resulting in oxidative stress, which is a common factor in both diabetes and Alzheimer's disease.

    Other research has shown cinnamon's beneficial effects in managing blood glucose and other problems associated with diabetes.

    "Since tau is vulnerable to oxidative stress, this study then asks whether Alzheimer's disease could benefit from cinnamon, especially looking at the potential of small compounds," said George.

    Although this research shows promise, Graves said, they are "still a long way from knowing whether this will work in human beings."

    The researchers caution against ingesting more than the typical amounts of cinnamon already used in cooking.

    The study was published in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease.


  6. #196
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    An oxygen chamber that mends wounds

    Open wounds and sores are often a diabetic's Achilles' heel as they take a long time to heal and often lead to complications.

    A city hospital seems to have found a way to circumvent this by placing patients in a specialised chamber that pumps oxygen under increased atmospheric pressure. The pure oxygen, doctors say, will catalyse the process of healing areas where blood supply is limited.

    The Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT) was launched at M V Hospital for Diabetes in Royapuram on Friday.

    "Certain diabetic wounds take long to heal when oxygen supply to the wound is poor and blood supply is limited. By making patients breathe 100% oxygen, the chamber stimulates growth of new blood vessels and blood flow to the wound improves. The blood carries large amounts of oxygen to organs, tissues and wounds. This heals wounds easily," said Dr Vijay Viswanathan, chief diabetologist, M V hospital for diabetes.

    Patients with non-healing wounds like acute thermal burns, traumatic brain injury, radiation damage to tissues, crush injury and sudden hearing loss will benefit, said the doctor. It can also be used to treat various forms of gangrene and carbon monoxide poisoning.

    The treatment, dating to the 1660s, was popular across Europe in the 19th century but saw a downslide after medicine became more evidence-based. In the late 20th century, it gained popularity and was used to treat divers and tunnel workers.

    "Its use declined due to high cost. In the last decade or two, there has been a renewed interest in this procedure. In India, it was primarily used by the Navy for divers, but hospitals are now using it for other issues," said Dr Viswanathan.

    Patients will require a one-hour session for 14 days. "We have a controlled mechanism which regulates the oxygen supplied according to medical protocol," said Dr Viswanathan.

    Patients will experience a feeling akin to what one feels when a flight takes off. Each session will cost 1,500, while one government hospital patient a day will be treated for free.

    Doctors say hyperbaric oxygen can help stimulate cell growth and regeneration. "It can also act as an anti-viral and anti-bacterial agent as most of them can't tolerate oxygen. It can displace toxins and other impurities to assist detoxification of the system," said Dr M Rajkumar, professor at the vascular department, Madras Medical College.

    Others say the machine should be handled carefully as an oxygen overdose can be fatal. "Care should be taken to ensure it is done in a controlled condition or it could lead to complications like seizures," said Dr George M Varghese of CMC, Vellore. He said it does not "heal" wounds but "catalyses the healing."

    "It is expensive and is beneficial to only 5% of patients with these conditions and few can afford it," he said.


  7. #197
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Secret to what makes us itch found

    What makes us itch? Scientists, one of them an Indian, now know the secret.

    In what will be a boon for millions of people with chronic itch conditions, such as eczema and psoriasis, a small molecule released in the spinal cord has now been found to trigger a process that is later experienced in the brain as the sensation of itch.

    The finding made by Santosh Mishra and Mark Hoon of the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research in Bethesda, Maryland — which is part of the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) — has raised hopes this start switch would provide a natural place to look for unique molecules that can be targeted with drugs to turn off the sensation more efficiently in patients of chronic itching.

    The small molecule, called natriuretic polypeptide b (Nppb), streams ahead and selectively plugs into a specific nerve cell in the spinal cord, which sends the signal onward through the central nervous system.

    Researchers made this discovery in mouse models. When Nppb or its nerve cell was removed, mice stopped scratching at a broad array of itch-inducing substances. The signal didn't going through.

    Scientists at the NIH say because the nervous systems of mice and humans are similar, a comparable bio circuit for itch likely is present in people.

    The paper has been published online in the journal Science.

    "Our work shows that itch, once thought to be a low-level form of pain, is a distinct sensation that is uniquely hardwired into the nervous system with the biochemical equivalent of its own dedicated land line to the brain," said Hoon.

    Santosh, who is a researcher in Hoon's lab, said: "We tested Nppb for its possible role in various sensations without success. When we exposed the Nppb-deficient mice to several itch-inducing substances, it was amazing to watch. Nothing happened. The mice wouldn't scratch."

    Hoon said his group's findings began with searching for the signalling components on a class of nerve cells, or neurons, that contain a molecule called TRPV1.

    These neurons — with their long nerve fibres extending into the skin, muscle and other tissues — help to monitor a range of external conditions, from extreme temperature changes to detecting pain. Yet little is known about how these neurons recognize the various sensory inputs and know how to route them correctly to the appropriate pathway to the brain.

    To fill in more of the details, Hoon said his laboratory identified in mice some of the main neurotransmitters that TRPV1 neurons produce. A neurotransmitter is a small molecule that neurons selectively release when stimulated, like a quick pulse of water from a faucet, to communicate sensory signals to other nerve cells. The scientists screened the various neurotransmitters, including Nppb, to see which ones corresponded with transmitting sensation.

    Further experiments established that Nppb was essential to initiate the sensation of itch, known clinically as pruritus.


  8. #198
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    A match-fixer walks into a bar: IPL jokes a rage online

    The spot-fixing controversy has made IPL 6 the target of online jokes and spoofs. With the betting scandal touching several aspects of public life - sports, films, even politics — both ardent fans and casual followers are riveted to the daily developments.

    Many fans cheekily claimed that arrested Rajasthan Royals paceman Sreesanth has successfully fixed himself a spot in the next season of the reality show Bigg Boss. With the former winner of the show Vindu Dara Singh also behind bars, fans are confident about this conjecture. "Vindoo dara singh can give sreesanth advice on how to survive in #bigboss in custody now," one @dr_dangl tweeted recently.

    Twitter accounts like @WhyPL, which parodies the IPL, and @_fakeiplplayer, the real Fake IPL player, also had a field day as CSK team principal M Gurunath got embroiled in the controversy. "Srini's, sonin-law? Or son-out-law?" wondered @WhyPL on the microblogging website.

    It isn't just the internet. You still couldn't have missed the quips, thanks to forwarded SMSs. "Once all arrests are done IPL will be played between Arthur Road Indians & Tihar Dare Devils," reads one such forward.

    And it isn't just oneliners that dominate the current joke-scape. There is much image-fixing as well. Being shared widely and quickly, their sources of origin is difficult to find out.

    @TweetStreet

    N Srinivasan: Gurunath Meiyappan is not my son-in-law but just an honorary member of our family @mukeshkini
    Most awaited landing since Armstrong landed on moon? Just in: Gurunath Meiyappan's flight lands in Mumbai." @lazytraider
    From owner to error 404. CSK deletes all mentions of Gurunath from its website


  9. #199
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Frequent heartburn may predict cancers of throat, vocal cord


    Frequent heartburn is associated with cancers of the throat and vocal cord among nonsmokers and nondrinkers, a new study has warned. Heartburn is an uncomfortable warm and burning sensation in the chest, usually just behind the sternum (breastbone)that typically comes in waves.

    The condition is medically known as pyrosis or acid indigestion. "Previous studies examining gastric reflux and cancers of the head and neck have generated mixed results," said Scott M Langevin, postdoctoral research fellow at Brown University in US.

    "Most of those studies had either few numbers of cases or they were not adjusted for confounding factors "Ours is a large, population-based study with robust parameters that strongly suggests gastric reflux, which causes frequent heartburn, is an independent risk factor for cancers of the pharynx (throat) and larynx (vocal cord)," Langevin said.

    Langevin and his colleagues identified 631 patients from a large group of individuals enrolled in a population-based, mcase-control study in the greater Boston area. Of the 631 participants, 468 had throat cancer and 163 had cancers of the vocal cord. An additional 1,234 individuals matched for age and gender with no prior history of cancer were recruited using town records to serve as controls for the study.

    All participants completed a questionnaire on their history of heartburn, smoking and drinking habits, family history of cancer and sociodemographic information.

    Because some head and neck cancers are caused by infection with human papillomavirus 16 (HPV 16), the researchers tested for the presence of antigens to HPV 16 viral proteins in the blood of all participants.

    The team found that among participants who were neither heavy smokers nor heavy drinkers, a history of frequent heartburn was linked to a 78 per cent increased risk for cancers of the throat and vocal cord.

    They also found that among those who had frequent heartburn, taking antacids, but not prescription medications or home remedies, had a protective effect, with a 41 per cent reduced risk for cancers of the throat and vocal cord. The protective effect of antacids was consistent, irrespective of the participants' smoking or drinking status, HPV 16 status or tumour site

    "Additional studies are needed to validate the chemopreventive effects of antacids among patients with frequent heartburn," said Langevin. "The identification of gastric reflux as a risk factor for throat and vocal cord cancers, however, may have implications in terms of risk stratification and identification of high-risk patients," Langevin added. The study was published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research.


  10. #200
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Five daily cups of coffee may lead to obesity, chronic diseases

    Drinking five cups of coffee a day, even when decaffeinated, may lead to obesity and chronic disease, a new first-of-its-kind study has warned. The study was first in the world to look at higher doses of coffee, rather than the equivalent of one or two cups, and it found that five coffees doubled the fat around organs in the abdomen - a type of fat that causes deadly conditions.

    A compound in coffee known as Chlorogenic Acid (CGA) was thought to have health benefits, such as preventing diabetes, but the study found too much of it may cause a build up of fat and other health problems.

    Researchers from the Western Australian Institute for Medical Research (WAIMR) and the University of Western Australia were hoping to prove the cardiovascular benefits of coffee, but instead discovered the beverage can worsen obesity and its related diseases.

    The researchers found that mice given an equivalent dose of five cups of coffee for a human developed twice the amount of visceral fat - the most dangerous form of fat that collects around the organs in the abdomen.

    University of WA professor Kevin Croft said that previous studies had only tested small amounts of coffee equivalent to one cup of coffee a day, news.com.au reported. "Studies have shown that coffee consumption lowers the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. With this in mind, we studied the effects of CGAs, which are very rich in coffee but also found in tea and some fruits including plums," Croft said.

    "The CGAs were previously known for their health benefits - increasing insulin sensitivity and reducing blood pressure and body fat accumulation," he said. But the study proved the opposite when dosages given to mice were equivalent to five cups of coffee for a human per day, said WAIMR Assistant Professor Vance Matthews.

    "We found that the equivalent of five cups of coffee a day had a tendency to increase weight gain, particularly in regards to visceral fat," Matthews said. "There was also increasing insulin resistance (which can lead to diabetes) and glucose intolerance in mice having high levels of CGA," Matthews said.

    Matthews also warned people against weight loss products containing green coffee beans, which could have high levels of CGA and thus cause weight gain. "When you have lower doses of CGA there is promotion of beneficial pathways that can break down fat, but with high levels you actually have pathways that are deregulated and you start seeing bad effects," he said. "The real message is that we need to have coffee in moderation," he said

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