20th Jul 2015, 01:41 PM #2011
Re: Health Bulletin
New laser device spells end for diabetic finger pricking
A new technology developed by an Indian-origin scientist, which uses a laser device may be able to non-invasively monitor blood glucose levels and eliminate the need for daily finger pricking for diabetics.
Currently, many people with diabetes need to measure their blood glucose levels by pricking their fingers, squeezing drops of blood onto test strips, and processing the results with portable glucometers.
The new technology, developed by Professor Gin Jose and a team in the Faculty of Engineering at the University of Leeds, uses a small device with low-powered lasers to measure blood glucose levels without penetrating the skin.
It could give people a simpler, pain-free alternative to finger pricking.
The technology has continuous monitoring capabilities making it ideal for development as a wearable device. This could help improve the lives of millions of people by enabling them to constantly monitor their glucose levels without the need for an implant.
"Unlike the traditional method, this new non-invasive technology can constantly monitor blood glucose levels," Jose said.
"As well as being a replacement for finger-prick testing, this technology opens up the potential for people with diabetes to receive continuous readings, meaning they are instantly alerted when intervention is needed.
"This will allow people to self-regulate and minimise emergency hospital treatment," Jose said.
At the heart of the new technology is a piece of nano-engineered silica glass with ions that fluoresce in infrared light when a low power laser light hits them.
When the glass is in contact with the users' skin, the extent of fluorescence signal varies in relation to the concentration of glucose in their blood.
The device measures the length of time the fluorescence lasts for and uses that to calculate the glucose level in a person's bloodstream without the need for a needle. This process takes less than 30 seconds.
"The glass used in our sensors is hardwearing, acting in a similar way as that used in smartphones. Because of this, our device is more affordable, with lower running costs than the existing self-monitoring systems," Jose said.
"Currently, we are piloting a bench top version in our clinical investigations but aim to develop two types of devices for the market. One will be a finger-touch device similar to a computer mouse. The other will be a wearable version for continuous monitoring," Jose said.
The results of a pilot clinical study, carried out at the Leeds Institute of Cardiovascular and Metabolic Medicine under the supervision of Professor Peter Grant, suggest that the new monitor has the potential to perform as well as conventional technologies.
21st Jul 2015, 12:38 PM #2012
Re: Health Bulletin
Music training sharpens teenagers' brains
High school music training can improve the teenage brain's responses to sound and sharpen hearing and language skills, a study says.
Music classes help enhance skills that are critical for academic success, the authors said.
The results highlight music's place in the high school curriculum.
"While music programmes are often the first to be cut when the school budget is tight, these results highlight music's place in the high school curriculum," said Nina Kraus, senior study author and director of Illinois-based Northwestern University's school of communication.
The gains were seen during group music classes included in the schools' curriculum, suggesting in-school training accelerates neuro-development.
For the study, Kraus and colleagues recruited 40 Chicago-area high school students. Nearly half the students had enrolled in band classes, which involved two to three hours a week of instrumental group music instruction in school.
The rest had enrolled in fitness exercises during a comparable period. Electrode recordings revealed that the music group showed more rapid maturation in the brain's response to sound.
Moreover, they demonstrated prolonged heightened brain sensitivity to sound details. According to the authors, high school music training -- increasingly disfavoured due to funding shortfalls -- might hone brain development and improve language skills.
"Although learning to play music does not teach skills that seem directly relevant to most careers, the results suggest that music may engender what educators refer to as 'learning to learn," said Kraus in a study forthcoming in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).
"Our results support the notion that the adolescent brain remains receptive to training, underscoring the importance of enrichment during the teenage years," the authors said.
21st Jul 2015, 01:04 PM #2013
Re: Health Bulletin
Prolonged standing as bad as sitting
While health detriments associated with sitting for long stretches of time at the office are well documented, it has been found that jobs that require people to stand for long may be equally harmful for health, shows research.
Nearly half of all employees worldwide are required to stand for more than 75 percent of their workdays.
Prolonged standing is associated with short-term adverse health issues, including reports of fatigue, leg cramps, and backaches, which can affect job performance and cause significant discomfort.
The new study published in the journal Human Factors suggests that, over time, this type of sustained muscle fatigue can result in serious health consequences -- musculoskeletal disorders and back pain.
"The work-related musculoskeletal implications that can be caused by prolonged standing are a burden not only for workers but also for companies and society," said Maria Gabriela Garcia, doctoral candidate at ETH Zurich.
For the study, the researchers asked participants of two age groups to simulate standing work for five-hour periods. Participants could take brief seated rest breaks and a 30-minute lunch.
The authors found evidence of significant long-term fatigue following the five-hour workday, even when it included regular breaks, and that adverse symptoms persisted for at least 30 minutes following a seated recovery period.
Moreover, young adults ages 18 to 30 were just as likely to experience long-term fatigue as were workers over the age of 50.
"Current work schedules for standing work may not be adequate for preventing fatigue accumulation and this long-lasting muscle fatigue may contribute to musculoskeletal disorders and back pain," Garcia added.
21st Jul 2015, 01:17 PM #2014
Re: Health Bulletin
Antibiotics may double juvenile arthritis risk
Taking antibiotics may double the risk of a child contracting juvenile arthritis, a form of auto-immune disease that involves chronic inflammation of the joints and eyes that can lead to pain, vision loss and disability, says a study.
"Our research suggests another possible reason to avoid antibiotic overuse for infections that would otherwise get better on their own," said lead study author Daniel Horton from Rutgers University in New Jersey.
The more courses of antibiotics prescribed, the higher the associated risk, showed the findings published in the journal Pediatrics.
Genetics explains only why about one quarter of children develop arthritis, which means environmental triggers may also play an important role in the onset of the disease.
For the study, the researchers used The Health Improvement Network (THIN), a database with information on over 11 million people across Britain.
Of the roughly 450,000 children studied, 152 were diagnosed with juvenile arthritis.
After adjusting for other auto-immune conditions and previous infection, the researchers determined that children who received prescriptions for antibiotics had an increased risk for developing juvenile arthritis.
The risk was strongest within one year of receiving antibiotics.
The researchers added that antiviral and antifungal drugs were not linked to juvenile arthritis, suggesting that risk for arthritis was specific to antibacterial medicines.
"This is an extremely important clue about the etiology of this serious and potentially crippling disease. If confirmed, it also provides a means for preventing it," said study senior author Brian Strom from Rutgers University.
21st Jul 2015, 01:20 PM #2015
Re: Health Bulletin
Scientists discover the taste of fat
Scientists claim to have discovered a sixth flavour — the taste of fat — and say it could hold the key to fighting obesity and heart disease.
According to researchers, fat, which now joins sweet, sour, salty, bitter and umami, has a "unique and unpleasant taste", which they have named oleogustus.
This finding could lead to new ways of fighting obesity and heart disease, and to the creation of improved fat replacements, researchers said.
"Our experiments provide a missing element in the evidence that fat has a taste sensation, and that it is different from other tastes," Professor Richard Mattes, from the Purdue University in US, said.
Researchers investigated the taste sensation of non-esterified fatty acids (NEFA), or free fatty acids, which are fat's basic building blocks.
Results showed that the men and women identified fat as having a taste, different from all the other samples, UK's "Independent" reported.
Identifying the taste of fat has a range of important health implications. At high concentrations, the signal it generates would dissuade the eating of rancid foods, researchers said.
At low levels, it may enhance the appeal of some foods by adding to the overall sensory profile, they said.
The study was published in the journal Chemical Senses.
22nd Jul 2015, 10:23 PM #2016
Re: Health Bulletin
மருத்துவர்கள் அணியும் வெள்ளை அங்கியால் நோய் தொற்று அபாயம்: ஆய்வில் தகவல்!
மருத்துவர்கள் மற்றும் மருத்துவ மாணவர்கள் அணியும் வெள்ளை நிற அங்கியால் (கோட்) அதிகமான நோய் தொற்று பரவுவதாக ஆராய்ச்சியில் தெரிவிக்கப்பட்டுள்ளது.
பெங்களூருவில் உள்ள எனேபோயா மருத்துவக் கல்லூரியில் முதுகலை பயிலும் பெர்னாண்டஸ் செய்த ஆராய்ச்சியில், வெள்ளை நிற அங்கிகள் மூலமாக நோய் தொற்று அதிகமாக பரவுவதாக கண்டுபிடித்துள்ளார்.
இதுகுறித்து அவர் விடுத்துள்ள ஆராய்ச்சி அறிக்கையில், ''19ஆம் நூற்றாண்டில் இருந்து இந்தியாவில் மருத்துவர்கள் வெள்ளை நிற அங்கியை அணிந்து வருகின்றனர். ஆனால், தற்போது இந்த அங்கியால் நோயாளிகளுக்கு தொற்று அதிகமாக பரவுகிறது.
மேலும், மருத்துவ மாணவர்கள் வெள்ளை நிற அங்கியை அணிந்து கொண்டு வெளியில் செல்வதால் மருத்துவமனைக்கு வெளியிலும் நோய் தொற்று பரவும் அபாயம் ஏற்பட்டுள்ளது. இதேபோல், மருத்துவர்கள் மற்றும் மருத்துவ மாணவர்கள் பயன்படுத்தும், நாற்காலிகள் மற்றும் மேஜைகளிலும் நோய் தொற்று கிருமிகள் ஒட்டிக் கொள்கின்றன.
எனவே, மருத்துவர்கள் மற்றும் மருத்துவ மாணவர்கள் வெள்ளை நிற அங்கி அணிய இந்திய சுகாதார அமைச்சகம் தடை விதிக்க வேண்டும்'' எனக் கூறியுள்ளார்.
கடந்த 2007ஆம் ஆண்டு மருத்துவர்கள் வெள்ளை நிற அங்கிகளை அணிய ஐரோப்பிய நாடுகள் தடை விதித்தது. ஆனால், 2009ஆம் ஆண்டு, பாரம்பரியத்தை மாற்ற முடியாத என அமெரிக்கா தடை விதிக்க மறுத்துவிட்டது குறிப்பிடத்தக்கது.
23rd Jul 2015, 12:46 PM #2017
Re: Health Bulletin
Tamil Nadu tops in deaths due to drug overdose
Tamil Nadu seems to be taking the saying 'physician, heal thyself' to an all new level, with an increasing number of people self-medicating - and killing themselves in the process. With 205 deaths in 2014, the state recorded the highest number of deaths related to drug overdose, according to the National Crime Records Bureau. At least 80% of them were caused by popping pills intended to heal.
Police officials said investigation into these cases revealed that most of the victims were oblivious to the danger of overdosing on drugs, and were looking to cure themselves. "They didn't overdose because they wanted to take their lives, but to relieve themselves of pain or other health problems for which they were already on medication," said a senior police official. He said hospitals refer such cases to police, suspecting them to be suicide cases. "But during investigations, we find that these people unwittingly took the drugs, many of which were sold over the counter."
While Tamil Nadu topped the list, Punjab recorded the second highest number of deaths caused by drug overdose at 186, followed by Haryana (76).
Experts say over the last five years the number of deaths involving prescription drugs was almost double the number of deaths caused by illegal and psychotropic substances, with a decline in the latter's usage in the state. Deaths are usually associated with prolonged and frequent use of prescription drugs used to treat conditions like sleeplessness, stress, anxiety and pain. "We have no control over the drugs we take," said surgical gastroenterologist Dr R Surendran. "One, there are pharmacies without qualified pharmacists which generously prescribe pills. And two, people take drugs just based on the effects they have seen on someone else, without realizing the complications". He said while overdose of painkillers and antibiotics can affect the kidney, some drugs take a toll on the liver. "People who already have a compromised kidney or a liver because of diabetes, hypertension or other conditions are the most susceptible," said the doctor.
In some cases, the drugs are mixed with other medication or alcohol, making them even more deadly. "You don't necessarily have to take over a dozen pills to overdose. Some are so potent that even two pills can lead to complications, especially if the person is allergic to it," said Dr Raghunandhan, head of community medicine and works with the toxicology department at Madras Medical College. While allergic reactions can result in immediate death, long-term overdose of prescription drugs can trigger acute problems in people with chronic ailments.
"People expect a pill for almost anything. We need a prescription monitoring system to prevent this doctor shopping, and better patient education about the risks of prescription drugs," said Dr Raghunandhan.
Experts say one of the reasons why Tamil Nadu topped the list of deaths due to drug overdose could be because of better reporting. "It's actually surprising that Tamil Nadu tops the list because the incidence of drug addiction and intake is much higher in Punjab," said Dr Anitha Rao, director, medical services at the de-addiction centre attached to TTK Ranganathan Hospital.
Experts cautioned that people also need to be made aware that some prescription drugs are highly addictive. "Instead, there are non-drug alternatives, such as counselling or physiotherapy, that may work better for patients," said Dr Raghunandhan. "Popping pills is not always the only recourse."
23rd Jul 2015, 12:47 PM #2018
Re: Health Bulletin
Zydus Cadila bets big on oncology
After having established a strong presence in cardiology, respiratory and other segments, pharma major Cadila Healthcare, popularly known as Zydus Cadila, is betting big on oncology and aims to become the number one in the segment by 2020.
Considering the high occurrences of cancer in the country, Zydus has been building a product pipeline to realize its vision of becoming a leading player in the oncology segment. "Looking at what is happening in India, we intend to build a large oncology platform. We have a strong product pipeline and we have been developing products for US and Europe with the largest and newest generation portfolio so far. The next new market for therapy will be oncology for us," said Sharvil Patel, deputy managing director of Cadila Healthcare.
Earlier this year, Cadila Healthcare acquired entire 50% stake in Zydus BSV Pharma Pvt Ltd (Zydus BSV) from its JV partner Bharat Serums and Vaccines Ltd. The acquisition strengthened Cadila's oncology portfolio as Zydus BSV focuses on the niche segment of targeted therapies in oncology .
"We are strong in cardiology, respiratory and many other segments but we are not very strong in oncology . We want to become number one in next five years," Patel, the 36-yearold next generation leader at Zydus Cadila group.
The company began investing in biologics and vaccines mainly after young Patel joined the company in mid-2000s and took up projects in these areas."Our 2020 vision is to become a research-driven pharmaceutical company. In the last 12 years, we have moved from branded generics to new therapies and new treatment protocols," said Patel.
The company is working on 24 biologics at present, out of which seven have been launched and four more will hit the market in 2016.
"Biologics is the future for India," said Patel, who believes that healthcare for India is about two things-affordability and accessibility.
24th Jul 2015, 01:08 PM #2019
Re: Health Bulletin
Drug companies eye ‘superhuman’ genes
teven Pete can put his hand on a hot stove or step on a piece of glass and not feel a thing, all because of a quirk in his genes. Only a few dozen people in the world share Pete's congenital insensitivity to pain. Drug companies see riches in his rare mutation. They also have their eye on people like Timothy Dreyer, 25, who has bones so dense he could walk away from accidents that would leave others with broken limbs. About 100 people have sclerosteosis, Dreyer's condition.
Both men's apparent superpowers come from exceedingly uncommon deviations in their DNA. They are genetic outliers, coveted by drug companies Amgen, Genentech, and others in search of drugs for some of the industry's biggest, most lucrative markets.
Their genes also have caused the two men enormous suffering. Pete's parents first realized something was wrong when, as a teething baby, their son almost chewed off his tongue. "That was a giant red flag," says Pete, now 34 and living in Kelso, Washington. It took doctors months to figure out he had congenital insensitivity to pain, caused by two different mutations, one inherited from each parent. On their own, the single mutations were benign; combined, they were harmful.
Dreyer, who lives in Johannesburg, was 21 months old when his parents noticed a sudden facial paralysis. Doctors first diagnosed him with palsy. Then X-rays revealed excessive bone formation in his skull, which led to a diagnosis of sclerosteosis. Nobody in Dreyer's family had the disorder; his parents both carried a single mutation, which Dreyer inherited.
Dreyer and Pete are "a gift from nature," says Andreas Grauer, global development lead for the osteoporosis drug Amgen is creating. "It is our obligation to turn it into something useful."
What's good for patients is also good for business. The painkiller market alone is worth $18 billion a year. The industry is pressing ahead with research into genetic irregularities. The US Food and Drug Administration is expected to approve a cholesterol-lowering treatment on July 24 from Sanofi and Regeneron Pharmaceuticals based on the rare gene mutation of an aerobics instructor with astoundingly low cholesterol levels.
Drugmakers are also investing in acquisitions and partnerships to get their hands on genetic information that could lead to more drugs. Amgen bought an Icelandic biotechnology company, DeCode Genetics, for $415 million in 2012, to acquire its massive database on more than half of Iceland's adult population.
25th Jul 2015, 11:55 AM #2020
Re: Health Bulletin
Now, with a simple blood test, find out if you could get diabetes
You may soon be able to run a simple blood test to know if you are predisposed to diabetes. And with the right lifestyle changes you can delay or prevent the disorder. What's more, experts say the research could be a precursor to diabetes-prevention drugs.
Scientists at the A Ramachandran Diabetes Hospital have identified a couple of diabetes 'biomarkers' in people in the pre-diabetic stage. The study, published in the July issue of 'Diabetes Research and Clinical Practice,' was done on 147 Indians aged 35-55 years.
Biomarkers are biochemicals whose altered levels indicate a particular disease. Scientists had identified biomarkers for cancer and heart diseases, but those for diabetes had remained elusive. In this study, researchers studied two biomarkers, adiponectin and interleukin-6 and analysed their role in diabetes.
Adiponectin is a protein which increases insulin sensitivity. And interleukin-6 is an inflammatory marker which induces diabetes. "Low levels of adiponectin and high levels of interleukin-6 are clear indicators of diabetes risk in a person," said Dr A Ramachandran. Adiponectin can predict a 45% chance of diabetes risk, and interleukin-6 can show up to 200% chances of a person developing within two years.
"So far the risk was calculated based on age, family history, stress, BMI and obesity levels. Biomarkers are more powerful indicators of the risk. They may also help us understand the mechanism behind the development of diabetes," the doctors said.
A simple blood test can help analyse the biomarkers in a person and produce more specific results than those based on conventional risk factors. There are 35 to 40 different biomarkers. Testing for each one in a laboratory setup would cost anywhere between Rs600 to Rs1000.
He added that the tests can be done in people of any age group as it involved only a simple blood test.
The expert pointed out that people who test for positive for both biomarkers should be more aggressive in lifestyle modification. "Physical activity and a healthy diet can go a long way in prevention," he said. Biomarkers help in early diagnosis, disease prevention, drug target identification and drug response. "So it is safe to say that this study has opened a new avenue in research. If we can find drugs that can regularize the levels of these biomarkers, there is promise for diabetes prevention," said Dr Ramachandran.