26th Oct 2015, 12:51 PM #2201
Re: Health Bulletin
Pain threshold rises with altered brain chemistry
The number of opiate receptors in the brain, critical in the modulation of pain behaviour, increase to combat severe pain in arthritis sufferers, according to a study.
It has been known for a long time that we have receptors in our brains that respond to natural pain killing opiates such as endorphins, but the researchers at the University of Manchester have now shown that these receptors increase in number to help cope with long-term, severe pain.
The study also explains as to why some people seem to cope better than others with pain.
By applying heat to the skin using a laser stimulator, Christopher Brown and his team showed that more the opiate receptors there are in the brain, the higher the ability to withstand the pain.
The study used Positron Emission Tomography (PET) imaging on 17 patients with arthritis and nine healthy controls to show the spread of the opioid receptors.
"This is the first time these changes have been associated with increased resilience to pain and shown to be adaptive," Brown said.
"Although the mechanisms of these adaptive changes are unknown, if we understand how we can enhance them, we may find ways of naturally increasing resilience to pain without the side effects associated with many pain killing drugs," he added.
Professor Anthony Jones, director of the Manchester Pain Consortium which focuses on improving the understanding and treatment of chronic pain, said, "This is very exciting because it changes the way we think about chronic pain."
"It may be that some simple interventions can further enhance this natural process, and designing smart molecules or simple non-drug interventions to do a similar thing is potentially attractive."
"Anything that can reduce reliance on strong medication must be worth pursuing," said Val Derbyshire, a patient with arthritis.
The paper, 'Striatal opioid receptor availability is related to acute and chronic pain perception in arthritis: Does opioid adaptation increase resilience to chronic pain?', was published in the journal Pain.
27th Oct 2015, 11:19 AM #2202
Re: Health Bulletin
Found: Protein that could lead to dengue jab
Researchers have identified a protein that could be targeted to prevent transmission of the dengue virus, an advance that could lead to the development of a vaccine against the deadly in action. An estimated 2 billion people are at risk for being bitten by Aedes mosquitoes and infected with the dengue virus (DENV).
Researchers have found a candidate target for a transmission-blocking vaccine that interferes with virus in ection of the mosquito after t feeds on the blood of infected hosts. Researchers from the University of South Caro ina and Central Michigan University, studied mosquito genes up-regulated during DENV infection as some of them are likely required for virus survival or infection.
Having previously identified a number of such genes, they here focused on one of them -which they termed CRVP379 -that codes or a putative cysteine-rich venom protein. The researchers found that CRVP379 is required during DENV in ection in mosquito cells and in live mosquitoes, and that there is a direct correlation between the amount of CRVP379 expressed in the mosquito gut (where infection initiates) and the level of DENV infection in the gut and in whole mosquitoes.
They went on to show that CRVP379 interacts with a protein called prohibitin that is a putative DENV receptor in mosquitoes. When the researchers fed Aedes mosquitoes antibodies able to recognise CRVP379, potentially blocking the interaction of the protein with either DENV or prohibition, they found that this inhibits DENV infection of the mosquitoes. "These results further our understanding of DENV pathogenesis in the mosquito vector and highlight a potential target protein for the creation of a DENV transmission-blocking vaccine to break the host vector transmission cycle," the researchers said.
27th Oct 2015, 11:22 AM #2203
Re: Health Bulletin
Birthmarks on the back may hint at spinal disorders, warn doctors
Riya, 3, was born with a tuft of hair over her back, which her parents thought was a birthmark. However, little did they realize that the child's spine would gradually deviate to one side and leave her almost deformed. During a check-up, an MRI revealed Ria's spinal cord was split into two and tied down by an abnormal bony growth.
If you notice a patch of hair, discoloured skin or a swelling on the lower back of your newborn, don' t ignore them as mere birthmarks. For all you know, they could be indicators of Tethered Spinal Cord Syndrome (TCS), a neurological disorder caused by tissue attachments that limits movement of the spinal cord within the spinal column, leading to physical deformities.
Anushka, all of nine months, was born with a skin patch over her lower back. An MRI of the spine revealed a lipoma (abnormal deposition of fat) in the spinal canal and cord that was holding the cord from moving upwards. If not operated upon early, Anushka risked developing weakness in legs, and bowel and bladder disturbances later.
Says Dr Shibu Pillai, senior consultant and neurosurgery specialist at Mazumdar-Shaw Medical Centre, who treats about 30 TCS patients every year: "TCS is a developmental anomaly occurring early in foetal life. Usually, the development of the embryonic spinal cord begins around the 3rd week of gestation and ends by the 8th week. Simultaneously, the vertebral column grows at a disproportionate rate to the spinal cord, resulting in the ascension of the lower end of the spinal cord (the conus) and elongation of the filum, the fibrous structure that holds the spinal cord in position."
"Conus reaches adult level by the time the foetus is approximately 3 months old. In case of a problem, it doesn't mature, resulting in TCS. As the child grows, there's mechanical traction on the spinal cord leading to progressive neurological deterioration," he adds.
Most of these children are born normal, with marks on their lower back but as they age, they manifest neurological deterioration, including gait deterioration, leg weakness, sensory loss, orthopaedic deformities such as scoliosis, foot deformities, bowel and bladder dysfunction.
29th Oct 2015, 12:11 PM #2204
Re: Health Bulletin
Common heartburn drugs may damage your kidney
Increased use of certain medications commonly used to treat heartburn and acid reflux may have damaging effects on the kidneys, say researchers, including one of Indian-origin.
The researchers looked at the effects of the drugs called proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) on chronic kidney disease (CKD).
In one study, Pradeep Arora from State University of New York and his team found that among 24,149 patients who developed CKD between 2001 and 2008 (out of a total of 71,516 patients), 25.7 per cent were treated with PPIs.
PPI use was linked with a 10 per cent increased risk of CKD and a 76 per cent increased risk of dying prematurely.
"As a large number of patients are being treated with PPIs, health care providers need to be better educated about the potential side effects of these drugs, such as CKD," Arora pointed out.
In another study, Benjamin Lazarus from Johns Hopkins University and his colleagues followed 10,482 adults with normal kidney function from 1996 to 2011.
They found that PPI users were between 20 per cent and 50 per cent more likely to develop CKD than non-PPI users, even after accounting for baseline differences between users and non-users.
This discovery was replicated in a second study, in which over 240,000 patients were followed from 1997 to 2014.
"In both studies, people who used a different class of medications to suppress stomach acid, known as H2-blockers, did not have a higher risk of developing kidney disease," Lazarus pointed out.
"If we know the potential adverse effects of PPI medications we can design better interventions to reduce overuse," Lazarus noted.
The findings will be presented at ASN (American Society of Nephrology) Kidney Week 2015 to be held at San Diego Convention Centre from November 3-8.
29th Oct 2015, 12:21 PM #2205
Re: Health Bulletin
What happens just before you die? Chemists explain
Slasher films are a lot of fun to watch. But what exactly would it feel like to get stuck in one?
Scientists have explored many of the things that happen to the body and the mind as it approaches death — and while much of it still remains mysterious, the experience can be understood through the various chemical reactions and events that are happening in the brain.
Just in time for Halloween, a new video from the American Chemical Society explores exactly what would be happening inside someone's body as they are being chased by a murderer in a slasher film.
The creators of the video point out that the experience of watching people get chased through a slasher film is actually similar to being there — though the actual thing is presumably a little more intense. The same sense of adrenaline and fear is activated in the same way in both cases.
The function of fear is to get people ready to react, or run away. It is a way of alerting the mind and body about trouble, but it is also a chemical process that allows the body to try and be safe.
The sensory information is sent through a person's central nervous system, and into the thalamus, which works a little like a switchboard. That's then transmitted to other important parts of the brain.
That information initially makes a person startled — moving towards getting them ready to react. And then the fight or flight response is triggered, which begins a process that began in our very early ancestors as a way of deciding whether to take on an attacker or try and escape.
That process pumps out adrenaline through the body, and pushes out glucose through the blood stream. Other chemicals keep those processes working.
You might not get away from the axe murderer or whoever else is chasing you down. In which case, you're likely to start screaming.
The video points out that process originates in a different part of the brain from language, and serves a different function.
Screams come out almost by instinct. And when they are heard, they trigger a similar response — encouraging other people to become fearful and react, and so presumably helping them run.
If the screaming doesn't help, and your axe murderer catches up with you, you're going to be in a lot of pain.
When you're injured, special neurons called nociceptors send messages up to the brain. Those are collected by the thalamus — which in turn tries to instruct the brain to do whatever it can to stop the injury happening again.
Even after clinical death, your brain probably keeps ticking on for a while. According to recent studies, the brain appears to undergo a final surge — in a way that would normally be associated with consciousness.
It may be that the surge might be responsible for near death experiences. Studies have supported that hypothesis — though scientists are still entirely unsure why the surge happens, or what it signifies.
Then comes biological death. And it's not clear what happens then...
There's little way of knowing what happens after all that is over, because people tend not to come back.
But some have. In an Ask Me Anything session earlier this year, people described their experiences of having briefly passed away.
""Pure, perfect, uninterrupted sleep, no dreams," wrote one.
But others described more vivid experiences that apparently hinted at an afterlife.
"I was standing in front of a giant wall of light," wrote another. "It stretched up, down, left and right as far as I could see. Kind of like putting your eyes 6" from a fluorescent lightbulb.
"The next memory I have is waking up in the hospital."
30th Oct 2015, 01:29 PM #2206
Re: Health Bulletin
Pocket-sized device to warn of asthma attacks
Researchers have developed a pocket-sized device that plugs into a smartphone and can detect early warning signs of asthma attacks.
The device, Wing, is a sensor that works with a companion app to accurately measure two important lung functions: FEV1 (how much air you can exhale in one second) and Peak Flow (how fast you can exhale).
Using Wing consistently over time can help users visualise lung function, detect environmental and medication triggers that can cause symptoms, and know when to take action before asthma or related attacks occur, according to scientists at US-based Sparo Labs.
Wing plugs in via the headphone jack and draws its power from the smartphone, so there is no charging or batteries necessary, 'Gizmag' reported.
The accompanying app allows users to both monitor and collect readings, while also being able to share them securely with a physician through its cloud-based, HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) compliant system.
Sparo Labs said Wing can help monitor and manage a variety of lung conditions other than asthma, including COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), CF (cyctic fibrosis) chronic bronchitis, emphysema, and pulmonary fibrosis.
The device is currently being reviewed by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
31st Oct 2015, 01:51 PM #2207
Re: Health Bulletin
‘Low-fat diet futile for weight loss’
Low-fat diets do not lead to greater weight loss in the long term compared to low-carbohydrate or Mediterranean diets of similar intensity, according to a new study.
Researchers in US did a systematic review and meta-analysis of all randomised trials comparing the effectiveness of lowfat diets to other diets, including no diet, at improving long-term weight loss (at least 1 year) in non-pregnant adults.
They took into account the intensity of the diets which ranged from just pamphlets or instructions at the beginning of the programme to intensive multi-component programmes including counselling sessions, meetings with dieticians, food diaries, and cooking lessons.
Analysis of 53 studies involving 68,128 adults showed no difference in the average weight loss between reduced-fat diets and higher-fat diets.
31st Oct 2015, 01:51 PM #2208
Re: Health Bulletin
Need your protein? Go for nuts, drumsticks
Nutritionists in the city say vegetarians can switch to horse gram to ensure that they get their dose of proteins since dal prices are hitting the roof. Other substitutes include drumsticks, a variety of beans and soya.
"Kudure gram or horse gram has been a traditional source of protein for our state. Our grandmothers used to say that the strongest man in the state lives on kudure gram. It is much cheaper and has higher protein content than tur dal," said nutritionist K C Raghu.
Lacto-vegetarians can consume dairy products such as milk, curd, paneer, cheese and khoya as a substitute protein source, said nutritionists. "Other than dairy products, sesame seeds and black-eyed peas or lobia, locally known as alasande, can be consumed in stead of dal to have a protein rich but dal free diet," said nutri tionist Sheela Krishnamurthy. "Peanuts, almonds and other nuts are also protein-rich," she said.
"If one is looking at biological value protein then soya chunks, whole milk and egg white are great alternatives to tur dal as they are `complete proteins'. Complete proteins have all the 20 amino acids, which even tur dal does not have," said Dr Swarnalatha Chandran, nutritionist with Hairline International. Nutritionist Deepak P Kulkarni said: "Vegetarians can substitute tur dal with rajma.Other alternatives are black gram, Bengal gram and horse gram but many do not like the taste. Black gram and Bengal gram atta can be mixed in regular atta. It will provide protein and fiber. Soya chunks are also a good alternative but those with thyroid conditions may have problems with soya."
2nd Nov 2015, 01:43 PM #2209
Re: Health Bulletin
This enzyme can help fight autoimmune diseases
A team of researchers has identified an enzyme as a major culprit of autoimmune diseases.
Activating an enzyme that sounds an alarm for the body's innate immune system causes two lethal autoimmune diseases in mice, while inhibiting the same enzyme rescues them, UT Southwestern Medical Center researchers report.
These results suggest that inhibition of the enzyme cGAS may be an effective therapy for autoimmune diseases such as Aicardi-Goutieres Syndrome (AGS) and systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), which are linked to the same inflammatory pathway, said senior author Dr. Zhijian "James" Chen.
In autoimmune diseases, the immune system turns against the body instead of protecting it. AGS is a rare genetic disorder that mainly affects the brain, while SLE can affect the skin, joints, kidneys, brain and other organs. Neither disease has a cure, only treatments to control symptoms.
Chen said cGAS is likely amenable to inhibition by small-molecule drugs and that the recent determination of the high-resolution structures of cGAS should facilitate development of such inhibitors.
The researchers also studied mice genetically engineered to lack a DNA-digesting enzyme called DNase-II. While the resulting inability to degrade lysosomal DNA led to lethal autoimmunity, once again cGAS inhibition rescued the mice, the researchers report.
The study is published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).
2nd Nov 2015, 01:43 PM #2210
Re: Health Bulletin
Interrupted sleep affects us more than lack of sleep
Being interrupted during sleep is likely to affect your mood more than not getting enough sleep, a study suggests.
Researchers in USA studied 62 men and women and split them into three experimental conditions.
One group were subject to "forced awakenings" during sleep, others went to bed late and the last group went to sleep uninterrupted. They were analysed over 3 days.
The group who were regularly woken displayed a "low positive mood" after the first night, however after the second, they had a reduction of 31% in positive mood.
Those who went to bed later reported a 12% drop in positive mood after the second night. The group also had shorter periods of deep, slow-wave sleep which researchers found to have a significant association with the reduction in positive mood.
Patrick Finan, professor of psychiatry, said: "When your sleep is disrupted throughout the night, you don't have the opportunity to progress through the sleep stages to get the amount of slow-wave sleep that is key to the feeling of restoration."