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Health Bulletin


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  1. #2361
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    A virtual ‘heroin cave’ may help addicts kick habit

    Addicts in a new study at the University of Houston will strap on virtual reality headsets and navigate a "heroin cave" to help them try and kick their addictions. Researchers are looking to see if making their way through a simulated house party crammed with stimuli aimed at evoking cravings for the drug will help better equip those who suffer from addiction to do so in the real world.

    The heroin environments, a house party where the drug is snorted and one where it is injected, took nearly a year to complete to ensure realism, its creators said. The study from the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work uses an eight-camera infrared system that projects lifesized 3D avatars and environments with which participants can interact in a virtual reality chamber known as the "heroin cave".

    Details from an open pizza box on the back patio to cash tossed on a table next to a cigarette lighter are meant to augment sensations and trigger a heroin craving.


    "In traditional therapy we role-play with the patient but the context is all wrong," said Patrick Bordnick, an associate dean of research and one of the study heads.


    "They know they're in a therapist's office and the drug isn't there. We need to put patients in realistic virtual reality environments and make them feel they are there with the drug, and the temptation, to get a clearer picture and improve interventions," Bordnick said.


    Data from Bordnick's past virtual reality studies on other types of addiction such as cigarettes have shown that participants report a higher level of confidence to resist temptation in the real world after learning coping skills in virtual environments.


    "We want to know if decreasing craving in a lab modifies heroin use in the real world," Bordnick said.


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    Re: Health Bulletin

    In US, waste in cancer drugs costs $3 billion/year

    The federal Medicare programme and private health insurers waste nearly $3 billion every year buying cancer medicines that are thrown out because many drug makers distribute the drugs only in vials that hold too much for most patients, researchers have found.

    The expensive drugs are injected by nurses who measure the amount needed for a particular patient and then, because of safety concerns, discard the rest.

    If drug makers distributed vials containing smaller quantities, nurses could pick the right volume for a patient and minimise waste. Instead, many drug makers exclusively sell one-size-fits-all vials, ensuring that many smaller patients pay thousands of dollars for medicine they are never given, according to researchers at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, who published a study on Tuesday in BMJ, formerly known as the British Medical Journal.

    "Drug companies are quietly making billions forcing little old ladies to buy enough medicine to treat football players, and regulators have completely missed it," said Dr. Peter B Bach, director of the Center for Health Policy and Outcomes at Memorial Sloan Kettering and a co-author of the study.


    The researchers analysed the waste generated by the top 20 selling cancer medicines and concluded that insurers paid drug makers $1.8 billion annually on discarded quantities and then spent about $1 billion on markups to doctors and hospitals.


    In one example, the study said that in the US, Takeda Pharmaceuticals sells Velcade, a drug for the treatment of multiple myeloma and lymphoma, only in 3.5-milligram vials that sell for $1,034 and hold enough medicine to treat a person who is 6 feet 6 inches tall and weighs 250 pounds. Lena Haddad, 53, of Germantown, Md., who has been living with multiple myeloma for four years, now gets a weekly dose of 1.8 milligrams of Velcade. Her nurse takes a vial of Velcade, injects a syringeful of saline into it, withdraws half the contents and throws out the rest.


    Takeda stands to earn $309 million this year on supplies of Velcade that are discarded, which is 30% of the drug's overall sales in the US. If Takeda provided a vial size of 0.25 milligram, waste would be cut by 84%, reducing Velcade's sales in the US by $261 million annually, the researchers said.


    Christopher Kelly, a spokesman for the FDA, said the agency objected to vial sizes only if it believed that an excessively large volume "could lead to medication errors or safety issues."


  3. #2363
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Lack of sleep makes you eat more & more

    Sleep deprivation may boost levels of a chemical that makes eating more pleasurable, leading to overeating and poor food choices, a new study says. Sleep-deprived participants were unable to resist "highly palatable, rewarding snacks," such as cookies, candy and chips, even when they had consumed a meal that supplied 90% of their daily caloric needs two hours before, researchers said. The effects of sleep loss on appetite were most powerful in the late afternoon and early evening, times when snacking has been linked to weight gain, researchers said.


    Researchers from the University of Chicago recruited 14 healthy men and women in their 20s as volunteers. They monitored the subjects' hunger and eating habits in two situations — one four-day period during which they spent 8.5 hours in bed each night (averaging 7.5 hours of sleep), and another four-day period when they spent only 4.5 hours in bed (4.2 hours asleep).


    The participants ate identical meals three times a day, at 9am, 2pm and 7pm. "We found that sleep restriction boosts a signal that may increase the hedonic aspect of food intake, the pleasure and satisfaction gained from eating," said Erin Hanlon from University


  4. #2364
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Going grey is genetic, scientists say

    hey are various shades of grey, but George Clooney, Richard Gere and Gary Lineker share one thing in common, a scientific study suggests - a genetic predisposition for a silver fox.

    Scientists have discovered the first gene for turning hair grey and in the process revealed that some men, and women, are probably born with an inherited tendency to go grey before their time.

    Hair colour is determined by what kind of melanin pigment is deposited in each hair shaft as it grows, but this hair-colouring process breaks down with age which is why grey hair is associated with advanced years.

    However, not everyone goes grey as the same age and scientists believe that some people inherit a predisposition for turning grey as early as in their 20s or 30s. A study has now found the first gene likely to be involved in premature greyness.

    "We have found the first genetic association to hair greying, which could provide a good model to understand aspects of the biology of human ageing," said Professor Andreas Ruiz-Linares of University College London, who led the study published in Nature Communications.

    The researchers found the gene, known as IRF4, by analysing the genomes of 6,357 people from a cohort of genetically-diverse volunteers who live across five countries in Latin America - Brazil, Colombia, Chile, Mexico and Peru. They included people with European, African and native American ancestry.

    The IRF4 gene was already known to be involved in hair colour because it regulates the production and storage of melanin. But this was the first time that scientists had shown it to be directly involved in conferring a tendency to go grey in both men and women.

    Given the amount of effort both sexes put in to covering up grey hairs, Professor Ruiz-Linares said that the identification of the first "grey gene" may help to develop more permanent ways of ridding the head of stray greys.

    "Understanding the mechanism of the IRF-4 greying association could also be relevant for developing ways to delay hair greying," he said.

    The study also looked at other aspects of human hair, such as hair shape, balding, beards, eyebrow thickness and "monobrow" - when the two eyebrows fuse together into a single line.

    But it was the investigation of hair colour that led to the first grey gene, said Kaustubh Adhikari of UCL, the study's lead author.


    "We already know several genes involved in balding and hair colour but this is the first time a gene for greying has been identified in humans, as well as other genes influencing hair shape and density," Dr Adhikari said.


    "It was only possible because we analysed a diverse melting pot of people, which hasn't been down been done before on this scale. These findings have potential forensic and cosmetic applications as we increase our knowledge of how genes influence the way we look," he said.


    It may in future be possible, for instance, to build up an ID picture of a crime suspect by analysing a drop of blood left at the scene of a crime.


  5. #2365
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    ‘Female viagra results are rather modest’

    Half of one satisfying sexual encounter a month. That is the average benefit a woman gets when she takes the new female libido drug, sometimes called the "female Viagra," researchers said Monday.



    Last year the Food and Drug Administration approved the drug, flibanserin, making it the first drug available to treat low sexual desire in women. It was promoted by a group of women's rights activists who argued it was unfair that men had numerous drugs to boost sexual function while women had nothing.


    But public health groups and some other women's groups contended that the science did not justify its approval. The drug's effects were modest, they said, and not worth side effects such as sleepiness, dizziness, fatigue and nausea. And the risk of some side effects increased with alcohol consumption.


    In the new study, published in JAMA Internal Medicine, researchers found benefits that were slightly more modest than those submitted to the F.D.A. during the approval process. The researchers analysed eight studies of about 5,900 women, using a method that involved pooling the data. They concluded that treatment with flibanserin, now marketed as Addyi, resulted in "onehalf of an additional sexually satisfying encounter per month." (The study did not define what "one-half" of a sexually satisfying encounter was.)


    That result was not very different from findings of three clinical trials submitted to the FDA. Those trials found that once women started taking the drug, they had an average of about one additional satisfying sexual encounter a month, on top of the two to three they were having already.


  6. #2366
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    New immune mechanism to protect from cancer identified

    For the first time, researchers have identified a new innate immunity pathway that protects mammals from viral oncogenesis, the process by which viruses cause normal cells to become cancerous.

    The discovery is significant and could eventually contribute to development of new cancer therapies, researchers said.

    "More than 20 per cent of human cancers as well as a number of other diseases are linked to chronic viral infections," said Xiaonan Dong from University of Texas Southwestern Medical Centre (UTSW).

    The study found that the autophagy-related protein beclin 2 - also discovered by researchers can help break down the key oncogenic viral protein associated with Kaposi's sarcoma, a type of cancer most commonly found in people with HIV infection or transplant-related suppression of their immune systems.

    Autophagy is a cellular "housekeeping" process in which the body's cells destroy damaged proteins and organelles. Researchers studied the genes involved in this cellular recycling process and their roles in cancer, ageing, infections, and neurodegenerative diseases.

    The findings showed that in addition to mediating autophagy, beclin 2 is also involved in a novel immune pathway that suppresses viral infection and virus-caused cancer.

    "We found that beclin 2 can promote the degradation of Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus G protein-coupled receptor (GPCR), and thereby suppress its cancer-causing signalling," said Dong.

    "Transgenic mice deficient in beclin 2 are more prone to viral GPCR-driven oncogenesis that resembles human Kaposi's sarcoma," he said.

    Researchers found that increased beclin 2 expression accelerated degradation of viral GPCR and decreased pro-tumorigenic signalling, whereas decreased beclin 2 expression led to sustained levels of viral GPCR and enhanced pro-tumorigenic signalling.

    This response is part of an endolysolomal trafficking process in which microbes and their constituent proteins are delivered to enzyme-filled cellular components called lysosomes.


    Kaposi's sarcoma can affect the skin and internal organs. It is most often seen in people infected with HIV, but also has an incidence of about 1 in 200 transplant patients, researchers said.


    "These findings deepen understanding of the mechanisms that our immune system uses to protect against cancer and potentially against other serious diseases caused by pathogenic viral proteins," said Beth Levine from UTSW.


    "They may contribute to the identification and development of novel therapeutic targets and antiviral therapies," said Levine.


    The findings were published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Science


  7. #2367
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Fertile young couples too seek lab babies

    Husband's got the sperm, wife's got the eggs, what they haven't got is the time to make a baby. Not when his job overseas — or on the high seas — takes him out of home most of the year, year after year. Or both work irreconcilable shifts. This is what's pushing fertile young couples to fertility clinics where they conceive through assisted reproductive technologies (ART).

    Intra-uterine insemination (IUI) is a popular choice with such couples. In this the sperm is placed inside the uterus to facilitate fertilization. The number of couples seeking this process is on the rise, says Dr Kavitha Gautham, director at Chennai's Bloom Fertility Clinic.

    Timing is everything for these assisted pregnancies. "If the husband works abroad, we have to get the wife pregnant within the first couple of months of him leaving. Otherwise questions will be raised as to how she got pregnant when her husband was not around," says Dr Krithika Devi of Nova IVI Fertility Centre. "If she does not get pregnant through the first cycle, we wait till he is in town again, before we begin the next cycle of treatment."

    This procedure is less expensive than the in-vitro fertilization (IVF) method used on couples with fertility issues. In IVF, an egg and sperm are fertilized outside the body and then the embryo transferred to the uterus, explains Dr Priya Selvaraj, fertility specialist at GG Hospital in Chennai. While IUI costs around Rs 8,000, an IVF cycle can cost Rs 2 lakh.

    In most Indian households, say the doctors, ART is still looked down upon. In the past, it was mostly middle-income couples who approached Selvaraj for a quick pregnancy solution — the husband was generally a blue collar worker in the Middle East. Of late, the affluent too are consulting with her, not wanting to set aside time for procreation lest it got in the way of promotion. Her most recent case was a young merchant navy captain, who said he was setting sail in a few days and wanted to begin the process of having a baby. "His wife told me she was living with his parents while he was away and since they were married for a few years, she was being questioned about why they hadn't conceived yet," says Selvaraj. The captain was willing to have his sperm frozen so his wife could conceive while he was sailing.


    As in all ART treatments, the couple is counselled through the process, Selvaraj says. "I have women breaking down in my clinic because they feel they're all alone even when they are conceiving a child which a couple is supposed to do together," she says.


    While most doctors don't recommend ART for fertile couples, they find that they are sometimes left with no choice. Gautham, for instance, says that when a couple comes to her for ART, and she finds their fertility test results are normal, she advises them to try and conceive the natural way.


    "But they tell us that they find it difficult to be sexually active even once a month because while they live in the same house, they have different work shifts," says Dr Gautham. Medical studies too state that it takes six months to a year for most couples to get pregnant if they have regular sex without contraception.


    "They refuse to give up or change their jobs or slow down their lifestyle, but are willing to start on ART because they are being pressured by family to produce children," she says.


  8. #2368
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    கருக்கலைப்புக்கு இந்தியர்கள் ஆதரவு

    கருக்கலைப்பு என்பது ஒரு கொலை என்ற விவாதம் நடக்கும் நேரத்தில், 'தங்கள் உடலை பாதுகாக்க, பெண்களுக்கு உரிமை உள்ளது; அதன்படி கருக்கலைப்பு செய்ய பெண்களுக்கு உரிமை உள்ளது' என, ஒரு ஆய்வில், இந்தியர்களில் பெரும்பாலானோர் ஆதரவு தெரிவித்துள்ளனர்.

    பிரான்ஸ் நாட்டைச் சேர்ந்த, 'இப்சாஸ்' என்ற அமைப்பு, 23 நாடுகளில் நடத்திய கருக்கலைப்பு தொடர்பான கருத்துக்கணிப்பின் முடிவுகள் வெளியிடப்பட்டுள்ளன. அதன் முக்கிய அம்சங்கள்:

    *இந்தியாவில் தற்போது, குறிப்பிட்ட சில சூழ்நிலைகளில், 20 வார கர்ப்பம் வரையிலும், கருக்கலைப்பு செய்ய அனுமதி அளிக்கப்படுகிறது

    *இந்தியர்களைப் பொறுத்தவரை, எந்தவித சூழ்நிலையாக இருந்தாலும், கருக்கலைப்பு செய்வதற்கு, 70 சதவீதம் பேர் ஆதரவு தெரிவித்துள்ளனர்

    * பலாத்காரம் போன்ற சில சூழ்நிலைகளில் அனுமதிக்கலாம் என, 30 சதவீதம் பேர் கூறியுள்ளனர்

    * அதே நேரத்தில், தாயின் உயிருக்கு ஆபத்து போன்ற காரணங்களைத் தவிர மற்ற காரணங்களுக்காக அனுமதிக்கக் கூடாது என, 20 சதவீதம் பேர் கூறியுள்ளனர்.

    மூன்று முக்கிய காரணங்கள் :

    மூன்று முக்கிய காரணங்களுக்காக கருக்கலைப்பு செய்யப்படுகிறது. பெண் அல்லது குழந்தையின் மருத்துவக் காரணங்களுக்காக; குடும்பத்தின் பொருளாதார சூழ்நிலை; பலாத்காரம், கருத்தடை முறைகள் பலனளிக்காதது உட்பட எதிர்பாராமல் ஏற்படும் கர்ப்பம் போன்ற காரணங்களுக்காக கருக்கலைப்பு செய்யப்படுகிறது.


  9. #2369
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    இருமல் மருந்துக்கு தடை எதிரொலி ஆயுர்வேத மருந்தை நாடும் மக்கள்

    ஆல்கஹால்' கலந்திருப்பதாகக் கூறி, 'கோரக்ஸ், பெனட்ரில்' போன்ற இருமல் மருந்துகளுக்கு தடை விதிக்கப்பட்டதை தொடர்ந்து, மக்கள் தற்போது, ஆயுர்வேத மருந்துகளை நாடிச் செல்கின்றனர்.பக்கவிளைவுகளை ஏற்படுத்தும், 'ஆல்கஹால்' கலந்துள்ள, 'கோரக்ஸ், பெனட்ரில், விக்ஸ் ஆக் ஷன் - 500' உட்பட, 344 மருந்துப் பொருட்களுக்கு தடை விதித்து, சமீபத்தில் மத்திய அரசு உத்தரவு பிறப்பித்தது.

    இதனால், பெரும்பாலான மருந்தகங்களின், 'ஷோகேஸ்'களில் இந்த மருந்துகள் இடம்பெறவில்லை. 'இனிமேல், இருமல் வந்தால், என்ன மருந்து எடுத்துக் கொள்ள வேண்டும்' என, டாக்டர்களிடம் கேட்க வேண்டியுள்ளது.

    மக்களும், தற்போது, ஆயுர்வேத மருந்துகளை நாடிச் செல்ல துவங்கியுள்ளனர். பக்கவிளைவுகளை தராத, 'ஆல்கஹால்' கலக்காத, டாபர், பதஞ்சலி, ஹிமாலயா போன்ற நிறுவனங்களின் தயாரிப்புகளான மூலிகை மருந்துகள், இப்போது மருந்தகங்களின் பெட்டிகளில் நிரம்பியுள்ளன.


  10. #2370
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    3D technology to help create human nerve cells for transplant in brain

    A group of US researchers has developed a 3D micro-scaffold technology that promotes reprogramming of stem cells into neurons and supports growth of neuronal connections capable of transmitting electrical signals.

    The injection of these networks of functioning human neural cells -- compared to injecting individual cells -- dramatically improved their survival following transplantation into mouse brains.

    This is a promising new platform that could make transplantation of neurons a viable treatment for a broad range of human neurodegenerative disorders like Parkinson's.

    Previously, transplantation of neurons to treat neurodegenerative disorders had very limited success due to poor survival of neurons that were injected as a solution of individual cells.

    The new research is supported by the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB), part of the US National Institutes of Health.

    "Working together, the stem cell biologists and biomaterials experts developed a system capable of shuttling neural cells through the demanding journey of transplantation and engraftment into host brain tissue," explained Rosemarie Hunziker, director of the NIBIB programme in tissue engineering and regenerative medicine.

    The research was performed by researchers from universities like Rutgers, Stanford, the Human Genetics Institute of New Jersey, Piscataway and the New Jersey Center for Biomaterials, Piscataway.

    The researchers experimented in creating scaffolds made of different types of polymer fibres and of varying thickness and density.

    They ultimately created a web of relatively thick fibres using a polymer that stem cells successfully adhered to.

    The stem cells used were human induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) which can be readily generated from adult cell types such as skin cells.

    The iPSCs were induced to differentiate into neural cells by introducing the protein NeuroD1 into the cells.

    The neurons on the scaffolds had dramatically increased cell-survival compared with the individual cell suspensions.

    The scaffolds also promoted improved neuronal outgrowth and electrical activity.


    "A critical finding was that the neurons on the micro-scaffolds expressed proteins that are involved in the growth and maturation of neural synapses - a good indication that the transplanted neurons were capable of functionally integrating into the host brain tissue," noted the authors in a paper appeared in the journal Nature Communications.


    The team is now refining their system for specific use as an eventual transplant therapy for Parkinson's disease.


    The plan is to develop methods to differentiate the stem cells into neurons that produce dopamine, the specific neuron type that degenerates in individuals with Parkinson's disease.


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