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Health Bulletin


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  1. #341
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Telescope Technology can help diagnose most common form of vision loss

    Technology which is usually used in telescopes to find distant stars is set to help diagnose world's most common form of sight loss in adults. It is currently put on trial in Cardiff University's School of Optometry and Vision Sciences' scientists.

    Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) leads to central vision loss when looking at something directly ahead. Engineers at the UK Astronomy Technology Centre (UK ATC), which is a part of the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC), normally design and make instruments for detection of faint light from distant stars and galaxies.

    However, the specialist cameras, light technology and software have now been adapted to create a unique 'retinal densitometer,' which picks up the earliest stages of AMD by measuring how the eye responds to light, a news channel reported.


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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Chew your food well to get more energy, say experts

    Chewing is an extremely important, yet oftentimes overlooked, part of healthy digestion. A new study suggests that it is not about how much you bite off, but how much you chew, to retain more energy from the food that we consume.

    "Particle size has bioaccessibility of the energy of the food that is being consumed. So the more you chew, the more is retained in the body," Dr. Richard Mattes (CQ), professor of foods and nutrition at Purdue University, Indiana, said.

    Each individual has their own chewing habits and although those are often difficult to change they should be considered when making energy food choices.

    The study found with fewer chews, the larger particles were eliminated by the body. With more chews, the smaller particles were more readily absorbed into the system, and hence create more energy in the body.


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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Aspirin may reduce risk of colon cancer in women

    Women who take the common painkiller aspirin every other day for a long duration may lower their risk of developing colon cancer by as much as 20 percent, a new study has claimed.

    According to the study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, women who took low dose aspirin on alternate days for 18 years saw a 20 percent drop in their risk of developing colon cancer.

    Researchers looked at 39,876 women 45 and older who were enrolled in the Women's Health Study. Participants all took a low dose pill of aspirin (100 mg) or a placebo every other day from when they were enrolled in the study until 2004.

    After the study, researchers followed 33,682 participants through March 2012. They were not given additional aspirin or placebos in this time frame. They found that women who continued to take aspirin on their own after the end of the trial had the lowest risk for colon cancer. There were no other differences between the placebo and aspirin groups for other cancer types, overall cancer risk or death.

    However, women who took aspirin were more likely to have gastrointestinal bleeding (8.3 percent versus 7.3 percent) and peptic ulcers (7.3 percent versus 6.2 percent).

    The researchers, led by the department of medicine at Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School, pointed out that not all women enrolled in the Women's Health Study were followed up with, and that cases of gastrointestinal bleeding were only self-reported. However, they felt confident in saying that long-term use of aspirin every other day may reduce the risk for colorectal cancer in healthy women.

    Dr Andrew Chan, program director of the gastroenterology training program at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, told that this study was especially important because it was a randomized clinical trial with very many subjects.
    "It shows even more substantial evidence that there is a chemo preventative benefit for colon cancer," he said.

    Chan, who was not involved in the study, emphasized however that observed side effects of gastrointestinal bleeding and peptic ulcers are widely known, and this may play a role in a patient's decision on whether or not they want to take the medication


  4. #344
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Smart knife detects cancer in 3 seconds

    Surgeons removing cancerous tissue face a dilemma — how to cut out as little healthy tissue as possible while making sure all of the cancer is removed and knowing which is which. The world's first intelligent knife, which uses an electrical current to vapourize the tissue while cutting through, may now tell them that in less than three seconds.

    In a major breakthrough, British scientists have tested the 'iKnife', which diagnosed tissue samples from 91 patients with 100% accuracy, instantly providing information that normally takes up to half an hour to reveal using laboratory tests. The findings by researchers at Imperial College London have published the breakthrough in the journal Science Translational Medicine.

    "The iKnife provides a result almost instantly, allowing surgeons to carry out procedures with a level of accuracy that hasn't been possible before. We believe it has the potential to reduce tumour recurrence rates and enable more patients to survive," said its inventor, Dr Zoltan Takats of Imperial College London.

    The researchers first used the iKnife to analyse tissue samples collected from 302 surgery patients, recording the characteristics of thousands of cancerous and non-cancerous tissues, including brain, lung, breast, stomach, colon and liver tumours to create a reference library. The iKnife works by matching its readings during surgery to the reference library to determine what type of tissue is being cut, giving a result in less than three seconds.


  5. #345
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Found: Way to fix Down's syndrome

    Scientists have for the first time 'switched off' the extra chromosome responsible for Down's syndrome that affects between 23,000 and 29,000 children born in India every year - the highest in the world.


    Scientists at UMass Medical School have successfully shown that a naturally occurring X chromosome "off switch" can be rerouted to neutralize the extra chromosome responsible for trisomy 21 or Down syndrome, a genetic disorder characterized by cognitive impairment.

    This is the first such evidence that the cells causing the genetic defect can be suppressed. This paves the way for researchers to study the cell pathologies and identify genome-wide pathways implicated in the disorder.

    Chromosomes are thread-like structures composed of DNA and other proteins. They are present in every cell of the body and carry the genetic information needed for that cell to develop. Human cells normally have 46 chromosomes that can be arranged in 23 pairs.

    Of these 23, 22 are alike in males and females; these are called the "autosomes". The 23rd pair is the sex chromosome. Human cells divide in two ways.

    The first is ordinary cell division by which the body grows. In this method, one cell becomes two cells that have the exact same number and type of chromosomes as the parent cell.

    The second method of cell division occurs in the ovaries and testicles and consists of one cell splitting into two, with the resulting cells having half the number of chromosomes of the parent cell. So, normal eggs and sperm cells only have 23 chromosomes instead of 46.

    People with Down syndrome are born with three (rather than two) copies of chromosome 21, and this "trisomy 21" causes cognitive disability, early-onset Alzheimer's disease; and a greater risk of childhood leukemia, heart defects and immune and endocrine system dysfunction.


  6. #346
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    How curd could help treat upset tummies

    A probiotic bacterium which is used to treat irritable bowel syndrome has been found to soothe gut bacterial infections caused by salmonella, paving the way for potential relief from foodborne illnesses that affect millions of people annually, a new study has revealed.

    Manuela Raffatellu, assistant professor of microbiology and molecular genetics, and colleagues at UC Irvine and the University of Washington identified how a probiotic strain of E. coli reduces salmonella colonization by competing with this pathogen for iron, an essential nutrient that salmonella acquires in the gut in order to replicate at high levels.

    In fact, the researchers discovered that the E. coli strain called Nissle 1917 acquires iron more efficiently than does salmonella.

    As a result, salmonella counts in the gut decrease when Nissle is administered during infection.

    "Although we focused on salmonella, our findings suggest that this approach can be effective against other gut bacterial pathogens that need iron to grow," Raffatellu, who's also a member of UC Irvine's Institute for Immunology, said.

    "By understanding how these 'bad bugs' get nutrients, we can further study methods to eradicate them," the researcher said.

    The study is published in the journal Cell Host and Microbe.


  7. #347
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Gold may be heart's best friend

    Scientists in Israel have integrated cardiac cells with gold nanofibers to form functional engineered tissues.

    Dr. Tal Dvir and his PhD student Michal Shevach of Tel Aviv University's Department of Molecular Microbiology and Biotechnology and the Center for Nanoscience and Nanotechnology, together with their colleagues were the people behind this endeavour.

    The team's goal is to optimize electrical signalling between cells.

    Dvir said that gold has been found to increase the connectivity of biomaterials.

    He explained that with the addition of the gold particles, cardiac tissues contract much faster and stronger as a whole, he reported, making them more viable for transplants.

    Dvir said that on the surface, heart cells have proteins responsible for transferring electrical signals, however, the process of tissue engineering leads to the loss of these proteins.

    He asserted that while the cells will start to produce them again naturally they take time to develop - time which a patient may not have.

    Dvir said that gold nanofibers can fill the role of electrical connectors until the cells are able to produce their own connectors once more.

    New tissues are created by placing cells taken from patients or animals onto a three-dimensional scaffolding made of biomaterials - any matter or surface that interacts with biological systems - which organize the cells into the proper formation as they grow.

    Dvir and his team used various chemical and physical processes to integrate gold nanoparticles into their scaffolds. The cells then interacted with each other through these gold nanoparticles.

    The research has been published in the Journal of Materials Chemistry B.


  8. #348
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Breaking a sweat can lower stroke risk

    Regular exercise lowers the risk of having a stroke, new research suggests.

    A stroke can occur when a blood vessel in the brain gets blocked. As a result, nearby brain cells will die after not getting enough oxygen and other nutrients.

    A number of risk factors for stroke have been identified, including smoking, high blood pressure, diabetes and being inactive.

    For this study, Michelle N. McDonnell, Ph.D., from the University of South Australia, Adelaide and her colleagues obtained data from the Reasons for Geographic and Racial Differences in Stroke (REGARDS) study.

    REGARDS is a large, long-term study funded by the NIH National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) to look at the reasons behind the higher rates of stroke mortality among African-Americans and other residents living in the Southeastern United States.

    "Epidemiological studies such as REGARDS provide an important opportunity to explore race, genetics, environmental, and lifestyle choices as stroke risk factors," Claudia Moy, Ph.D., program director at NINDS, said.

    Over 30,000 participants supplied their medical history over the phone. The researchers also visited them to obtain health measures such as body mass index and blood pressure.

    At the beginning of the study, the researchers asked participants how many times per week they exercised vigorously enough to work up a sweat.

    The researchers contacted participants every six months to see if they had experienced a stroke or a mini-stroke known as a transient ischemic attack (TIA). To confirm their responses, the researchers reviewed participants' medical records.

    The researchers reported data for over 27,000 participants who were stroke-free at the start of the study and followed for an average of 5.7 years. One-third of participants reported exercising less than once a week.

    Study subjects who were inactive were 20 percent more likely to experience a stroke or TIA than participants who exercised four or more times a week.

    The findings revealed that regular, moderately vigorous exercise, enough to break a sweat, was linked to reduced risk of stroke. Part of the protective effect was due to lower rates of known stroke risk factors such as hypertension, diabetes , obesity and smoking.

    The study is published in the journal Stroke.


  9. #349
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    ‘Misery molecule’ in brain to blame for stress, anxiety

    Scientists have found the brain's most 'miserable' molecule — a protein involved in all our feelings of stress, anxiety and depression, paving way for the development of new drugs to control it.

    Researchers used the Diamond Light Source, a particle accelerator located at Harwell, Oxfordshire, which generates some of the world's most powerful x-ray beams, to study molecules that jut from the outer surfaces of cells in the brain's pituitary gland. It is already known that the pituitary plays a crucial role in anxiety and depression by releasing stress chemicals.

    However, it was not known how the response was triggered, although a protein named CRF1 was a suspect. "Stress-related diseases such as depression and anxiety affect a quarter of adults each year, but what many people don't realise is that these conditions are controlled by proteins in the brain, one of which is CRF1," said Fiona Marshall, chief scientific officer at Heptares Therapeutics, a drug discovery company based in Welwyn Garden City, Hertfordshire.

    "What we have done is to work out its structure, which tells us how it works and, potentially, means we can design drugs to control it," Marshall said.

    CRF1 is embedded in the outer membranes of pituitary cells where it looks out for stress molecules released by the hypothalamus. When it detects one, it activates its parent cell to release hormones that, over long periods , cause anxiety and depression . The powerful accelerator that scientists used illuminated the molecule's entire atomic structure — including a crevice within it that could prove an ideal target for new drugs.

    "Now we know its shape, we can design a molecule that will lock into this crevice and block it so that CRF1 becomes inactive, ending the process that ends in stress," Marshall said.


  10. #350
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    ‘Female’ X chromosome key to sperm production?
    long perceived as the "female" counterpart to the male-associated Y chromosome — have evolved to play a specialized role in sperm production, a new study claims.

    New analysis of the genetic sequence of the X chromosome reveals that despite its reputation as the most stable chromosome of the genome, the X has actually been undergoing relatively swift change.

    "We view this as the double life of the X chromosome ," said Whitehead Institute director David Page, whose laboratory conducted the new study.

    "The X is the most famous , most intensely studied chromosome in all of human genetics. And the story of the X has been the story of X-linked recessive diseases, such as colour blindness, hemophilia , and Duchenne's muscular dystrophy," Page said.

    "But there's another side to the X, a side that is rapidly evolving and seems to be attuned to the reproductive needs of males," he said.

    The study was published in the medical journal Nature Genetics.


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