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Health Bulletin


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  1. #391
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Don't ignore cold, warn doctors

    Do not ignore a common cold or persistent ear discharge, as it could be chronic suppurativeotitis media (CSOM) which may lead to hearing loss, warned senior ENT specialists on Friday. They had gathered at "The Magic Of Ear Surgery", a three-day training seminar organized by KKR ENT Hospital and Research Institute.

    Health secretary Dr J Radhakrishnan said too much focus on non-communicable diseases had resulted in treatable ailments like CSOM, in which there is inflammation of the middle ear, getting less attention. "Equal focus should be given to treatable ailments before it is too late," he said.

    ENT surgeon Dr Ravi Ramalingam said CSOM was prevalent more in rural areas as people there were not well informed and did not attend to cold and cough immediately.

    "It is mostly caused by untreated upper respiratory infection and can be treated effectively by ENT specialists when diagnosed on time," he said.

    More than 400 specialists from across the world are taking part in the seminar where the latest surgical techniques will be shared through live demonstrations by Prof Ramalingam of KKR ENT Hospital, Dr A Mahadevaiah of Basavangudi ENT Care Centre and Dr P G Vishwanathan of Vikram ENT Hospital. "We will perform 35 live surgeries of which two would be cochlear implants done under the chief minister's insurance scheme," said Dr Ramalingam.

    The hospital has done 190 cochlear implant surgeries so far. The aim of the seminar is that it would be a knowledge-sharing exercise which would help achieve 99% success in most ENT surgeries, said the doctor. The fourth edition of 'A short practice of otorhinolaryngology', a text book by Prof Ramalingam was released by Kilpauk Medical College dean Dr P Ramakrishnan.


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  2. #392
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    New machines to detect drug-resistant TB within hours

    In the next fortnight, Mumbai's three teaching hospitals will get the high-tech GeneXpert machine that identifies drug-resistant tuberculosis within a couple of hours.

    "Besides KEM, Sion and Nair hospitals, the state will give two GeneXperts to other medical colleges in Maharashtra," said state TB officer Dr H H Chavan. With this, the battle against TB, which started in February 2012, will get bigger. Mumbai is set to become self-reliant in diagnosis of the most severe TB cases, said officials.

    At present, samples collected from highly drug resistant TB patients (those who are resistant to second-line of TB treatment) are sent to Bangalore for diagnosis. But last week, the state government announced that within the next two months, Maharashtra will have four laboratories that can detect second-line drug resistance among patients. "We have three laboratories in the state-at Mahim's Hinduja Hospital and at State TB Training and Demonstration Centres in Pune and Nagpur-that can start doing second-line testing as soon as the Centre gives them accreditation," said Dr Chavan.

    Another laboratory at Byculla's JJ Hospital needs a special machine to conduct the second-line testing. "The government has decided to grant Rs 40 lakh to the hospital for the machine," said the seniormost TB official in the state.

    With these acquisitions, experts say that the state's TB diagnostic facility will be best in the country. Maharashtra will have eight of the 40 GeneXperts machines in the country. It already has six laboratories to diagnose first-line drug resistance among patients.

    "If the accreditations come soon, our four second-line drug-testing laboratories should be functional in two months," he said.

    The BMC last week signed a memorandum of collaboration with Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to ensure that private doctors too notify TB cases and treat their patients as per the standard government protocols.


  3. #393
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Aus scientists discover genes, mutation causing epilepsy

    Using advanced gene technology, Australian scientists along with a US team have claimed to have found new genes and genetic mutation that causes severe childhood epilepsies.

    Lead researcher Sam Berkovic, director of the Epilepsy Research Centre at the University of Melbourne and Melbourne's Austin Hospital, said, as well as providing a pathway to treating epilepsy the research provides answers to patients and families who previously had little or no idea where epilepsy had come from, the AAP news agency reported.

    "Parents often have a belief that they've done something wrong that caused this disease," Berkovic said.

    "Not knowing why has been one of the most frustrating things. We've never really had the answer. Now we do. This also stops the need for further searching and refines the treatments," he said.

    A key aspect of the research has been the ability to sequence the entire human genome, Berkovic said adding "Until now we've had these complex patients and we didn't know what was going on. Now all the genes are known and the jigsaw can be completed," he said.

    By using the latest genetic techniques to sequence and analyse DNA of 4,000 epilepsy patients and their relatives, the study known called Epi4Ks shared DNA sequences and patient information among dozens of research institutions.

    The researchers compared the exomes, or the complete sets of genes, of 264 children with the sequences of their parents who do not have epilepsy.

    Differences in the sequences of parents and children were analysed to identify potential disease-causing mutations.

    The study's other joint leader Dr David Goldstein, the director of the Human Genome Variation Centre at Duke University Medical Centre in the US, said his team's work identified an unusually large number of disease-causing mutations and provided a wealth of new information.

    "We are now headed toward a future where we can find out why people have this disease and tailor the treatment of it. It establishes a clear path to the genetic explanation of epilepsy," Dr Goldstein said.


  4. #394
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Wearing naturally dyed clothes may boost health: Study

    Wearing particular colours may not only improve your mental health but also boost the body as it absorbs natural dyes, a new study suggests.

    A researcher from University of Derby in UK is investigating whether garments dyed using traditional, natural colourings can directly improve physical wellbeing, as minute amounts are absorbed through the skin of the wearer.

    Using different colours to stimulate positive mood, or colour therapy, is a known practice in complementary medicine.

    The study by Dr Kate Wells, Senior Lecturer in Textiles at the university pointed out that many of the plant extracts once commonly used to dye clothing — such as indigo and woad (blue), turmeric (yellow) and henna (red) — would also have been used in traditional medicines.

    She is looking at the possibility that, by wearing naturally dyed cloth next to the skin, people might directly absorb health-improving extracts.

    "It's an area that's not really been studied before which is surprising given that a dye like indigo appears in many different countries and across cultures," Wells said.

    "It is extracted from different plants through a process that is steeped in myths, superstitions and religious rituals, and which evolved over centuries.

    "Around the world indigo was extracted from a variety of plants. In Europe it was the flowering plant isatis tinctoria (woad), in India indigofera tinctoria (indigo), in China and Japan it was polygonum tinctorium (Japanese indigo, a type of knotweed), and in West Africa the vine Ionchocarpus cyanescens.

    "With people's interest now in handmade and sustainably made clothing, there is renewed interest in natural dyes. Woad is again being commercially farmed in England and to a greater extent in France, alongside other natural dyes. These are also being used in some cosmetics," Wells added.

    The study was published in the Journal of the International Colour Association.


  5. #395
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Universal dengue vaccine closer to reality

    A new strategy has been developed that cripples the ability of the dengue virus to escape the host immune system.


    STAR's Singapore Immunology Network (SIgN) made the breakthrough, which has opened the door of hope to what may become the world's first universal dengue vaccine candidate that can give full protection from all four serotypes of the dreadful virus.

    This research done in collaboration with Singapore's Novartis Institute of Tropical Diseases (NITD) and Beijing Institute of Microbiology and is also supported by Singapore STOP Dengue Translational and Clinical Research (TCR) Programme grant.

    Early studies have shown that a sufficiently weakened virus that is still strong enough to generate protective immune response offers the best hope for an effective vaccine.

    However, over the years of vaccine development, scientists have learnt that the path to finding a virus of appropriate strength is fraught with challenges. This hurdle is compounded by the complexity of the dengue virus.

    Even though there are only four different serotypes, the fairly high rates of mutation means the virus evolve constantly, and this contributes to the great diversity of the dengue viruses circulating globally.

    Furthermore, in some cases, the immune response developed following infection by one of the four dengue viruses appears to increase the risk of severe dengue when the same individual is infected with any of the remaining three viruses.

    The new strategy uncovered in this study overcomes the prevailing challenges of vaccine development by tackling the virus' ability to 'hide' from the host immune system. Dengue virus requires the enzyme called MTase (also known as 2'-O-methyltransferase) to chemically modify its genetic material to escape detection.

    In this study, the researchers discovered that by introducing a genetic mutation to deactivate the MTase enzyme of the virus, initial cells infected by the weakened MTase mutant virus is immediately recognised as foreign.

    As a result, the desired outcome of a strong protective immune response is triggered yet at the same time the mutant virus hardly has a chance to spread in the host.

    Animal models immunised with the weakened MTase mutant virus were fully protected from a challenge with the normal dengue virus. The researchers went on to demonstrate that the MTase mutant dengue virus cannot infect Aedes mosquitoes.

    This means that the mutated virus is unable to replicate in the mosquito, and will not be able to spread through mosquitoes into our natural environment. Taken together, the results confirmed that MTase mutant dengue virus is potentially a safe vaccine approach for developing a universal dengue vaccine that protects from all four serotypes.

    The team leader, Dr Katja Fink from SIgN said that there is still no clinically approved vaccine or specific treatment available for dengue, so we are very encouraged by the positive results with this novel vaccine strategy.

    The findings have been published in the PlosPathogens journal.


  6. #396
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    These glasses can warn against ‘date rape’ drugs

    Researchers have designed new glasses, cups and straws that can warn if your drink is spiked by changing colour as they come in contact with three common "daterape" drugs. The US researchers created a line of 16-ounce cups and straws that change colours when they come in contact with common " date rape" drugs like ketamine, Rohypnol and GHB.

    In an attempt to reduce drug-facilitated sexual assault, DrinkSavvy founder Mike Abramson teamed up with chemistry professor John Mac-Donald at Worcester Polytechnic institute in Massachusetts to develop the glassware.

    Abramson decided to create the glassware line after he was himself affected by the daterape drugs, New York Daily News reported. "In the past three years, three of my close friends, and myself have been unwitting victims of drug slipped into our drink," Abramson said. " Now our goal is to have as many bars and clubs as possible to simply swap out their current drinkware for DrinkSavvy drinkware, making it the new safety standard," said Abramson.


  7. #397
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    These glasses can warn against ‘date rape’ drugs

    Researchers have designed new glasses, cups and straws that can warn if your drink is spiked by changing colour as they come in contact with three common "daterape" drugs. The US researchers created a line of 16-ounce cups and straws that change colours when they come in contact with common " date rape" drugs like ketamine, Rohypnol and GHB.

    In an attempt to reduce drug-facilitated sexual assault, DrinkSavvy founder Mike Abramson teamed up with chemistry professor John Mac-Donald at Worcester Polytechnic institute in Massachusetts to develop the glassware.

    Abramson decided to create the glassware line after he was himself affected by the daterape drugs, New York Daily News reported. "In the past three years, three of my close friends, and myself have been unwitting victims of drug slipped into our drink," Abramson said. " Now our goal is to have as many bars and clubs as possible to simply swap out their current drinkware for DrinkSavvy drinkware, making it the new safety standard," said Abramson.


  8. #398
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    An ‘Einstein-test’ to detect dementia early

    A simple test that measures the ability to recognize and name world-famous people such as Albert Einstein, Bill Gates or Oprah Winfrey can help doctors identify early dementia in those 40 to 65 years of age.

    "These tests also differentiate between recognizing a face and actually naming it, which can help identify the specific type of cognitive impairment a person has," said study author Tamar Gefen, of Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago.

    For the study, 30 people with primary progressive aphasia, a type of early onset dementia that mainly affects language , and 27 people without dementia, all with an average age of 62 were given a test.

    The test includes 20 famous faces printed in black and white. Participants were given points for each face they could name. If the subject could not name the face, he or she was asked to identify the famous person through description.

    Researchers found that the people who had early onset dementia performed significantly worse on the test.


  9. #399
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    New tool peeks into brain to measure consciousness

    When people have a brain injury so severe that they can't squeeze a loved one's hand or otherwise respond, there are few good ways to tell if they have any lingering awareness or are in a vegetative state. Now researchers have created a tool to peek inside the brain and measure varying levels of consciousness.


    The work reported on Wednesday is highly experimental, not ready for bedside use yet - and if it pans out, a big question is how to use it without raising false hope. No one knows what level of consciousness at a certain point after injury really predicts recovery.

    But it offers the hope that one day doctors might track consciousness nearly as easily as they check blood pressure.

    "Consciousness can grow and shrink," said Dr. Marcello Massimini, a neurophysiologist at Italy's University of Milan who led the research to quantify just how much that is happening under different circumstances.

    It seems obvious - consciousness fades during deep sleep, and doctors can slip us under with anesthesia. Yet scientists don't have a good way to measure consciousness, especially when the very ill appear to be unconscious. It's important to try to distinguish if patients are at least minimally conscious, and not in a vegetative state, because the sooner there's some sign of awareness, the better the chance of recovery.

    Today, doctors check if those patients can do things like blink or move a limb on command, or react to touch or pain. If not, scans of the brain's electrical activity may offer clues. Scientists even have put seemingly unconscious patients inside MRI scanners and told them to imagine throwing a ball. How the brain reacts can indicate if they're aware and just can't show it, what's called locked-in syndrome. But all these tests have drawbacks.

    The new work, reported in the journal Science Translational Medicine, aims for an easier, more objective measure. It's based on the theory that consciousness depends on the complexity of activity in the brain, how well different regions connect and process information. For example, when you're deeply asleep, the neighbor's car alarm may not wake you but your brain still processes that you heard it. When you're wide awake, it also processes how annoying the alarm is and how often it goes off.

    Massimini's team combined two well-known medical devices. First, a coil delivers a powerful pulse of magnetism that travels through the skull to stimulate the brain, essentially knocking on it to say "wake up." Then an EEG, which measures brain waves through electrodes attached to the scalp, records the patterns of activity as neurons fire in response.

    The final trick: The researchers created a formula to compare the complexity of those resulting brain patterns by "zipping" them, like digital files are compressed so they can be emailed. They called the resulting numerical measurement the PCI, or pertubational complexity index.

    The team compared tests from 32 healthy people who were awake, asleep, dreaming or anesthetized, and 20 people with a variety of serious brain injuries. The two patients with locked-in syndrome clearly were aware, scoring nearly as high as awake and healthy people, they reported. The patients diagnosed as being in a vegetative state had scores as low as people rendered unconscious by the most powerful anesthesia. The minimally conscious were somewhere in-between.

    The strategy could miss consciousness, so it wouldn't give doctors enough information for end-of-life decisions, researchers caution.

    But it's a pioneering study that offers highly promising leads, said Dr. Nicholas Schiff, a professor of neurology and neuroscience at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York, who wasn't part of the project.

    If it's ultimately proven to work, the bigger impact could be in helping doctors study whether patients improve when given different treatments, added Dr. Lori Shutter, a brain intensive care specialist at the University of Pittsburgh, who also wasn't involved with Wednesday's work.

    But she cautioned that just finding a glimmer of consciousness could mislead families hoping for a miracle long after the possibility for improvement is over.

    "This may provide a lot of insight," Shutter said. "The downside is once you prove there's any consciousness, how will a family react?"


  10. #400
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Bee sting therapy creates buzz in China

    Patients in China are swarming to acupuncture clinics to be given bee stings to treat or ward off life-threatening illness, practitioners say.

    More than 27,000 people have undergone the painful technique — each session can involve dozens of punctures — at Wang Menglin's clinic in Beijing, says the bee acupuncturist who makes his living from believers in the concept.

    But except for trying to prevent allergic reactions to the stings themselves, there is no orthodox medical evidence that bee venom is effective against illness.

    "We hold the bee, put it on a point on the body, hold its head, and pinch it until the sting needle emerges," Wang said at his facility on the outskirts of the capital. The bee — Wang said he uses an imported Italian variety — dies when it stings.

    "We've treated patients with dozens of diseases, from arthritis to cancer, all with positive results," says Wang. Bee stings can be used to treat "most common diseases of the lower limbs," he adds, and claims they also work as a preventative measure. But sciencebasedmedicine.org, a USbased website, says that such claims of panaceas and cure-alls are "always a red flag for quackery" .

    "There is no scientific evidence to support its use," it says of "apitherapy", or treatment with bee products.

    One of Wang's patients said doctors told him he had lung and brain cancer and gave him little over a year to live, but he now believes he has almost doubled his life expectancy and credits bee stings for the change. "From last year up until now, I think I'm getting much stronger," the patient said.

    The American Cancer Society, on its website, makes clear: "There have been no clinical studies in humans showing that bee venom or other honeybee products are effective in preventing or treating cancer. Relying on this type of treatment alone and avoiding or delaying conventional medical care for cancer may have serious health consequences."

    The therapy comes at a time when colonies of the insect around the world are mysteriously collapsing. Environmentalists warn that dwindling numbers of bees, which help pollinate crops, could have a serious effect on agricultural production.


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