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Health Bulletin


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  1. #461
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    ‘Human brain perceives numbers by mapping’

    For the first time, scientists have found that the human brain has a 'map' for perceiving numbers.

    Topographical maps of the human brain are known to exist for the primary senses, such as sight, hearing and touch, but this is the first time such a map has been found for numerosity, or number sense.

    The map's layout allows for the most efficient communication among neurons doing similar tasks, scientists said. Studies in monkeys have shown that certain neurons in the parietal cortex, located at the back of the brain beneath the crown of the hair, became active when the animals viewed a number of items.

    These studies did not find a map for numerosity, though scientists have long suspected one exists. Researcher Ben Harvey, a neuroscientist at Utrecht University in the Netherlands, and his colleagues placed participants in a MRI scanner and showed them patterns of dots that varied in number over time.


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  2. #462
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    ‘Human brain perceives numbers by mapping’

    For the first time, scientists have found that the human brain has a 'map' for perceiving numbers.

    Topographical maps of the human brain are known to exist for the primary senses, such as sight, hearing and touch, but this is the first time such a map has been found for numerosity, or number sense.

    The map's layout allows for the most efficient communication among neurons doing similar tasks, scientists said. Studies in monkeys have shown that certain neurons in the parietal cortex, located at the back of the brain beneath the crown of the hair, became active when the animals viewed a number of items.

    These studies did not find a map for numerosity, though scientists have long suspected one exists. Researcher Ben Harvey, a neuroscientist at Utrecht University in the Netherlands, and his colleagues placed participants in a MRI scanner and showed them patterns of dots that varied in number over time.

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  3. #463
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    How men can avoid zip injuries


    When it comes to certain injuries, in certain areas, none are more feared among men than those caused by a jammed trouser zipper. And inevitably, when metal teeth meet soft flesh, there will only be one winner.

    But now, 100 years after the modern zip was invented by a Swedish-American engineer, a technique devised by doctors at St Mary's Hospital in London offers hope to legions of men who find themselves rushing to A&E in excruciating pain, and embarrassment, each year.
    Instead of using saws or resorting to circumcision, the new method of freeing the blocked zip involves 'liberal lubrication' and a device that pulls the zip apart. Tools traditionally used to break the zip and free its captive have included bone cutters and mini-hacksaws . Penis injuries caused by zips can trigger 'swelling and intense pain' and can also result in blood loss and tissue damage, doctors said.

    In the new procedure, a needleholder, said to resemble a pair of scissors and normally used by doctors to hold the needle during suturing, is used to slowly pull the zipper apart. "This... is quick, non-traumatic and (uses) readily available equipment," say the St Mary's researchers in a report published in the European Journal of Emergency Medicine.

    "Zipper injuries are highly distressing to patients and are often difficult to manage," they add. "Many techniques (require) sophisticated instruments in skilled hands, or even a formal operation." The technique has so far been used on two patients 'ineligible for circumcision' . Only one study, in the US, has attempted to count zip-related penile injuries. University of California researchers found that over a nine-year period some 18,000 men and boys were treated at emergency units for 'penile entrapment' . "Owing to their location, trouser zips account for a significant proportion of penile injuries," the researchers said. --

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  4. #464
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Why mornings are deadliest for heart attack deaths

    An Indian scientist has claimed that evidence from people suffering from heart disease supports the existence of the molecular link first discovered in laboratory mice between the body’s natural circadian rhythms and cardiac arrest or sudden cardiac death.

    Mukesh Jain, M.D., said that it pinpoints a previously unrecognized factor in the electrical storm that makes the heart’s main pumping chambers suddenly begin to beat erratically in a way that stops the flow of blood to the brain and body.

    Termed ventricular fibrillation, the condition causes sudden cardiac death (SCD), in which the victim instantly becomes unconscious and dies unless CPR or a defibrillator is available to shock the heart back into its steady beat.

    The peak risk hours when SCD strikes range from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m., with a smaller peak in the late afternoon. Scientists long suspected a link between SCD and the 24-hour body clock, located in the brain.

    It governs 24-hour cycles of sleep and wakefulness called circadian rhythms that coordinate a range of body functions with the outside environment.
    Jain’s group discovered a protein called KLF15 that helps regulate the heart’s electrical activity, and occurs in the body in levels that change like clockwork throughout the day. KLF15 helps form channels that allow substances to enter and exit heart cells in ways critical to maintaining a normal, steady heartbeat.

    They first discovered that patients with heart failure have lower levels of KLF15. Then, they established in laboratory mice that KLF15 is the molecular link between SCD and the circadian rhythm. And mice with low levels of the protein have the same heart problems as people with SCD. (ANI)

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  5. #465
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    New method could help in early detection of colon cancer
    Scientists have found a new method to detect genetic variations that initiate colon cancer could be readily used for noninvasive colon cancer screening.

    Bettina Scholtka, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Department of Nutritional Toxicology at the University of Potsdam in Nuthetal, Germany, said that tumour cells are released into stool from the surface of precancers and early-stage colon cancers, but detecting a cancer-initiating genetic mutation among a large quantity of normal DNA from a patient's stool is like looking for a needle in a haystack.

    Scholtka said that by combining for the first time locked nucleic acid-based, wild-type blocking polymerase chain reaction and high-resolution melting, we were able to achieve the desired sensitivity.

    Scholtka and colleagues used 80 human colon tissue samples representing cancers and precancers to detect genetic variations using a combination of two techniques: The first technique -- locked nucleic acid (LNA)-based, wild-type blocking (WTB) polymerase chain reaction -- suppressed normal DNA present in large quantities in the sample; and the second technique -- high-resolution melting (HRM) -- enhanced the detection of genetic variations.

    The researchers were able to detect APC variations in 41 of the 80 samples. They were also able to detect previously unknown variations in APC. In contrast, the routinely used technique called direct sequencing could detect variations only in 28 samples.

    They then analyzed 22 stool samples from patients whose colon tissues had APC variations, and nine stool samples from patients whose colon tissues did not have APC variations, as controls. They were able to detect APC variations in 21 out of 22 samples.

    The study has been published in Cancer Prevention Research.

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  6. #466
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Secrets of pineapple nutrition decoded

    Scientists have conducted the world's first large-scale gene expression study of the humble pineapple - and have identified many genes involved in the ripening and nutritional benefits of the tropical fruit.

    The pineapple is a tropical fruit crop of significant commercial value, yet surprisingly there has been little research undertaken world-wide, researchers said.

    "This is the first large-scale gene expression study that has identified numerous genes involved in pineapple ripening and other important processes such as redox activity and organic acid metabolis," Dr Jonni Koia from the University of Queensland said.

    "In addition, my research also identified genes conferring nutritional and health benefits, such as those involved in anti-oxidant, glutathione and vitamin C production," said Koia.

    "The results generated from my study have wide-ranging use across agriculture and food science, and could be incorporated in the future development of other important food and plant crops," she said.

    Koia also characterised two genomic regions (called promoters) that control gene activity within the cell and have important biotechnological applications.

    "The demand for new plant-based gene promoters without patent protection is of particular interest among the research and Agbiotech community," she said.

    The two promoters discovered by Koia's research are derived from pineapple can be freely used for basic research and the plant improvement.

    Her research also has potential health outcomes, which may lead to improved nutritional and dietary intake of food crops to relieve chronic diseases such as obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancer.

    The study was published in the journals BMC Plant Biology and Plant Molecular Biology.

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  7. #467
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    First vaccine against MERS virus developed

    Scientists have taken a big leap towards making the world's first vaccine against the new SARSlike virus that WHO fears is capable of causing a global pandemic.

    A strain of the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV ) has been created by scientists that could be used as a vaccine against the disease.

    The lab-engineered MERS virus has a mutation in its envelope protein that makes it capable of infecting a cell and replicating its genetic material, but deprives it of the ability to spread to other tissues and cause disease . The authors say once additional safe guards are engineered into the deadly virus it will be used to create a safe and effective live-attenuated vaccine against MERS. The fatality rate for this infection at present remains as high as 60%.

    Luis Enjuanes from the Autonomous University of Madrid says the breakthrough was a result of a combination of synthetic biology and genetic engineering . "The injected vaccine will only replicate in a reduced number of cells and produce enough antigen to immunize the host. It therefore cannot infect other people , even those in close contact with a vaccinated person," Enjuanes said.

    MERS was first identified in June 2012 and since then, the WHO has been notified of 108 cases of infection, including 50 deaths.

    Although the total number of cases is still relatively small, the case fatality rate and the spread of the virus to countries beyond the Middle East is alarming to public health officials.

    If the virus evolves the ability to transmit easily from person to person, a much more widespread epidemic is possible. Globally, there is no reliable vaccine available against the virus at present. Vaccinating children and elders is of vital importance as in case a pandemic breaks out.

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  8. #468
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Stroke-causing mutant gene identified by scientists

    A genetic mutation that can lead to haemorrhagic stroke has been identified by scientists - along with a drug to potentially treat it.

    Research published in the journal Human Molecular Genetics highlights a mutation in the gene COL4a2 that causes bleeding in the brain.

    COL4a2 is a protein that is expressed by the gene of the same name, which forms a structure outside the cell called a basement membrane. This membrane is present in many tissues including blood vessels. Mutations in this protein have been expected to cause disease due to structural defects in those membranes.

    However, scientists have now identified for the first time that accumulation of the mutant protein inside the cell can influence the development of haemorrhagic stroke.

    Importantly, however, the scientists were able to treat the disease in cells grown in a culture dish by using a drug which has been approved for human patients. These results highlight its potential future therapeutic use for stroke.

    Dr Tom Van Agtmel of the Institute of Cardiovascular and Medical Sciences at the University of Glasgow who led the study, said: "Haemorrhagic stroke accounts for half of all stroke cases in children and currently there is no treatment.

    "Although it is expected that only a small number of patients will have defects in this membrane, this research gives us a better understanding of how this type of stroke develops. Importantly, it has identified how we might treat it in some cases. However, this is just one genetic mutation we've identified and analysed so there is still a long way to go, but it's a start."

    The researchers obtained their results by analyzing skin biopsies from a father a son with a family history of porencephaly - a cavity in the brain caused by perinatal haemorrhagic bleeding which can result in seizures and paralysis.

    Both father and son carried the genetic mutation but only the son displayed the accumulation of the mutant protein inside the cell.

    Dr Van Agtmael added: "The next stage will be to see if the drug treatment works in an animal model. If it does then this is a first step towards investigating its potential in human patients with this type of stroke using the pre-existing, approved drug."

    The study was funded by the Medical Research Council, Wellcome Trust and a Research Councils UK fellowship.

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  9. #469
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Now, you can bank that extracted tooth!

    It comes as a ray of hope for all those who missed the bus when cord blood banking — preservation of stem cells from the umbilical cord for future use -- became popular. Dental stem cell banking, a concept that took roots in the country a couple of years ago, has been moving to tier-2 and 3 cities in the past few months.

    Also, unlike in the umbilical cord or bone marrow stem cells, dental pulp is present in all healthy teeth and these cells can be used for regeneration of tissues in any part of the body if ideally taken before the age of 30.

    "It's the most sterile part of the body as it is found below the enamel and the dentine (hard calcareous tissue forming the main part of a tooth), which is supposed to be the strongest part in human body. The dental pulp of teeth extracted from adolescents who come for clipping, milk teeth that fall off and wisdom teeth are ideal for preservation," says Dr Eldo Koshy, whose proposed dental implant clinic in Kochi is expected to be the first to implement the idea in the state.

    The extracted tooth is preserved in a method prescribed by the company and then shipped to Life Cell, India's largest umbilical cord blood bank, where the tooth is cut and the pulp extracted. The cells are then regenerated in laboratory and the company gives you a certificate if they multiply. The cells will be preserved for 21 years, the maximum term permitted in the country.

    "We have been conducting awareness classes for dentists across cities to help them understand the concept. We have got around 1,200 bookings in the metros; and we have just started introducing this in Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh," says Vinod Ramachandran, head (south sales expansion), Stemade Biotech Pvt. Ltd. The company is one of the pioneers in the field in the country.

    "The cost will be Rs 99,000 for 21 years. After that, you can renew it at an annual amount of Rs 4,000 a year," he says. "We will be tying up with top dentists in the state who can meet our pre-conditions and have the infrastructure for collection."

    Dr Thomas Manjooran, dean of dental research, Kerala University of Health and Allied Sciences (Kuhas) says that a healthy tooth is sometimes extracted for alignment or if the decay is not that deep. "Such tooth is otherwise wasted but now you can actually think of getting 1 trillion cells, which will save you during an ailment," he says.

    Though the dental medical fraternity is convinced of preserving the cells for long, some felt much more needs to be known about their utilization value. "Many studies have shown that stem cells will regenerate new cells in the interior parts of the body, but whether you can grow new teeth in exactly the same space and form that they would serve their purpose needs to be studied," says Dr Ajikumar, senior member of the Indian dental association.

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  10. #470
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Now, you can bank that extracted tooth!

    It comes as a ray of hope for all those who missed the bus when cord blood banking — preservation of stem cells from the umbilical cord for future use -- became popular. Dental stem cell banking, a concept that took roots in the country a couple of years ago, has been moving to tier-2 and 3 cities in the past few months.

    Also, unlike in the umbilical cord or bone marrow stem cells, dental pulp is present in all healthy teeth and these cells can be used for regeneration of tissues in any part of the body if ideally taken before the age of 30.

    "It's the most sterile part of the body as it is found below the enamel and the dentine (hard calcareous tissue forming the main part of a tooth), which is supposed to be the strongest part in human body. The dental pulp of teeth extracted from adolescents who come for clipping, milk teeth that fall off and wisdom teeth are ideal for preservation," says Dr Eldo Koshy, whose proposed dental implant clinic in Kochi is expected to be the first to implement the idea in the state.

    The extracted tooth is preserved in a method prescribed by the company and then shipped to Life Cell, India's largest umbilical cord blood bank, where the tooth is cut and the pulp extracted. The cells are then regenerated in laboratory and the company gives you a certificate if they multiply. The cells will be preserved for 21 years, the maximum term permitted in the country.

    "We have been conducting awareness classes for dentists across cities to help them understand the concept. We have got around 1,200 bookings in the metros; and we have just started introducing this in Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh," says Vinod Ramachandran, head (south sales expansion), Stemade Biotech Pvt. Ltd. The company is one of the pioneers in the field in the country.

    "The cost will be Rs 99,000 for 21 years. After that, you can renew it at an annual amount of Rs 4,000 a year," he says. "We will be tying up with top dentists in the state who can meet our pre-conditions and have the infrastructure for collection."

    Dr Thomas Manjooran, dean of dental research, Kerala University of Health and Allied Sciences (Kuhas) says that a healthy tooth is sometimes extracted for alignment or if the decay is not that deep. "Such tooth is otherwise wasted but now you can actually think of getting 1 trillion cells, which will save you during an ailment," he says.

    Though the dental medical fraternity is convinced of preserving the cells for long, some felt much more needs to be known about their utilization value. "Many studies have shown that stem cells will regenerate new cells in the interior parts of the body, but whether you can grow new teeth in exactly the same space and form that they would serve their purpose needs to be studied," says Dr Ajikumar, senior member of the Indian dental association.

    sumitra likes this.

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