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Health Bulletin


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  1. #511
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Soon, spring-like fibres to mend broken hearts

    Researchers have fabricated spring-like fibers to help repair damaged heart tissue.

    Doctoral students Sharon Fleischer and Ron Feiner - under the supervision of Dr. Tal Dvir of Tel Aviv University's Department of Molecular Microbiology and Biotechnology and the Center for Nanoscience and Nanotechnology - have fabricated fibers shaped like springs that allow engineered cardiac tissue to pump more like the real thing.

    Dvir said that until now, when scientists have tried to engineer cardiac tissue, they've used straight fibers to support the contracting cells.
    He said that but these fibers prevent the contraction of the engineered tissue and what they did was mimic the spring-like fibers that promote contraction and relaxation of the heart muscle.

    Dvir asserted that they found that by growing tissues on these fibers, they got more functional tissues.

    The researchers identified spiral-shaped collagen fibers in the extracellular matrix of rat hearts and seeing the potential for an advance, they set out to recreate them for the first time.

    After fabricating the spring-like fibers using advanced techniques, they subjected them to a variety of tests.

    As the researchers predicted, the spring-like fibers showed better mechanical properties than straight fibers, with especially improved elasticity.

    And compared to tissue engineered with straight fibers, the tissue engineered with spring -like fibers contracted with greater force and less mechanical resistance.

    They study has been published in the journal Biomaterials in August.


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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Cheaper, faster leukaemia test

    An inexpensive method of detecting a genetic mutation could soon help diagnose and treat chronic myeloid leukaemia (CML) faster.

    Developed by a team of Kolkata researchers, it uses a flow cytometry machine - a laser-based technology - to do a DNA analysis of lymphocytes to look for mutation that is a telltale sign of CML. Tried successfully on more than 200 patients, it costs just a fifth of the standard diagnosis methods. It has recently been approved by the International Journal of Advanced Scientific and Technical Research.

    CML, the most common form of adult leukaemia, affects people in the age group of 30-60 years. It is triggered by the switching of places by a section of chromosomes. "The standard tests cost Rs 5000-6000 and a patient needs one every three months once CML strikes. Also, it takes four days to prepare the test report. Using a flow cytometry, we can observe mutation of chromosomes for less than Rs 1,500 and in just four hours," said Soma Mukhopadhyay, one of the researchers.

    The researchers have carried out the diagnostic experiment on 230 patients over the last three years. This includes 38 women who successfully delivered children after undergoing the new diagnosis. More than 98% of the results have been accurate.

    It is equally sensitive to genetic mutations and accurate, said Swati Dasgupta, another researcher. "Since it provides the results quicker, treatment is hastened. This is a big advantage for we have a fairly large number of CML patients in the city and the state," she said. While Bengal has an estimated 8,000 CML patients, 5000 seek treatment in Kolkata.

    Flow cytometry is a laser-based bio-physical technology which is used in cell counting, sorting, biomarker detection and protein engineering. It suspends cells in a stream of fluid and passes them with an electronic detection apparatus. It allows multi-parametric and chemical analysis of thousands of particles in a second.

    "Our method has not only been endorsed by the International Journal of Technical Research, even the Tata Memorial Centre has been using it. This is a major step for medical research in Kolkata," said Mukhopadhyay.

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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Treatment for cancer lies in our genes

    It's a warning that should be heeded. Even as experts say that the US will face a crisis in cancer care as an aging population reaches its tumor-prone years, scientists have developed revolutionary genomic therapies to tackle this looming crisis. So revolutionary, in fact, that the treatment for cancer now lies in our genes itself.

    Most cancers have variations which can be decoded by their DNA. Specific tests now zero in on these DNA, leading to targeted treatment. "Previously, cancers were treated with a crude approach using multiple chemotherapy drugs with many side-effects," says Dr S V S Deo, associate professor, department of surgical oncology, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Delhi. "Targeted therapy is like a 'smart bomb' which specifically attacks cancer cells without harming normal tissues and has minimal side effects." It is being used successfully for breast, lung, gastrointestinal and blood cancer.

    The success of these biological therapies depends on identifying the defect in a cancer cell, says Dr Radheshyam, consultant, medical oncologist, HCG Cancer Centre, Bangalore. "In some tumors, precision medicine is going to be a significant part of overall treatment. While there are hundreds of chemotherapy drugs, in advanced cancers, both chemo and targeted therapy are given."

    These therapies are especially beneficial for hereditary cancer and selectively kill cancer cells by interacting with the receptors. "Some targeted therapies even have the advantage that they lead to minimal hair loss," says Dr Sunil Kumar Gupta, senior consultant, Rajiv Gandhi Cancer Institute and Research Centre, Delhi.

    For these biological therapies, first tissue is taken from the tumour and a DNA test done. This will show up genetic abnormalities and mutations. Sometimes a drug that works on a mutated lung cancer cell can also work for some other cancer. So scientists have to find which treatment works for which mutation in which organ.

    There are different DNA tests for different cancers depending on their mutations. For example, BRCA testing helps in identifying women at risk for developing breast cancer with a family history. "Gene profiling tests like Oncotype Dx and mamma print help in knowing the risk of cancer recurring and the treatment can be tailored to the patient's needs. They also provide information on the need for chemotherapy," says Deo. Oncotype Dx is, however, done by labs in the US.

    Oncotype Dx, says Gupta, analyzes 21 genes in a tumor to determine whether the patient should be given only hormonal therapy (for low risk patients) or chemotherapy (high risk). For lung cancer, EGFR, AIK and Her-2 gene tests are done and for colorectal cancer, K-ras gene mutation analysis.

    These revolutionary treatments are a mind-boggling field and expensive with the costs varying between Rs 3 lakh to Rs 10 lakh, says Deo. While some 25% of cancer patients at AIIMS receive some form of targeted therapy, at HCG hospital more than 100 patients have been treated with this procedure. And at Rajiv Gandhi Cancer Institute, plans are afoot to start a Hereditary Genetic Cancer Clinic.


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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Protein diet to help civic doctors fight TB

    Resident doctors at the civic-run KEM and Nair hospitals will be provided breakfast high on protein to fight infections, especially TB. The civic authorities woke up to the nutritional needs of the junior doctors after a medical intern and nursing student died of multidrug-resistant tuberculosis in June this year.

    The high-protein breakfast was first offered to doctors at Sion Hospital from August 15. Its success has prompted the BMC to extend the nutritious menu to the other two tertiary hospitals. TB remains one of the commonest occupational hazards in public hospitals and 54 healthcare providers are being treated for TB. Only seven of those taking TB treatment are doctors, while the rest are nursing students and staffers.

    Additional municipal commissioner Manisha Mhaiskar said improvement in Sion Hospital's breakfast menu brought a huge change in eating habits of doctors. "Earlier, barely 20% doctors ate breakfast regularly. With better food, the number increased four-fold," she said. Around 1,800 resident doctors work in the three civic tertiary care hospitals.

    The high-protein breakfast menu in Nair and KEM hospitals will come into effect from October. Mhaiskar said under the new system, the menu in each hospital will be decided together by a dietician, a representative of resident doctors, the mess contractor and a hospital authority.

    But nursing students have to wait longer as the current scheme is only for doctors.

    President of central Maharashtra Association of Resident Doctors Dr Santosh Wakchaure said, "The BMC has kept its promise and doctors now start their day with proper nutrition. Earlier, many would skip breakfast. In the long run, we also need to sort out the issue of overcrowding of resident doctors' quarters.

    The BMC also plans to team up with NGOs and has started providing nutritional meals to patients under treatment for multidrug-resistant tuberculosis at DOTS centres in Kurla.


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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Finger sweat can reveal depressed person's suicidal tendencies

    : A simple measurement of the sweat gland activity of a depressed person can nearly accurately determine if they have suicidal propensity, a new research has claimed.


    Lars-Hakan Thorell, associate professor in experimental psychiatry at Linkoping University, one of the researchers behind the study, said that blood pressure, blood circulation and activity in the sweat glands of the fingers can reveal if a person is suicidal.

    In the German-Swedish study, 783 depressed in-patients in Germany were tested for hyporeactivity - reduced ability to react to various stimuli.

    A depressed person with suicidal tendencies reacts differently to environmental changes, compared to a healthy person.

    The test found that hyporeactivity was present in up to 97 per cent of depressed patients who later committed suicide, compared to just 2 per cent of the depressed patients who were not hyporeactive.

    But the study also shows there is no relation between the severity of depression and hyporeactivity.

    Hyporeactivity can be measured by the test person listening to a pattern of tones, while the body's reactions are measured via sensors on the fingers. The first time they hear a tone, virtually all people react.

    This is a general orientation reaction which occurs automatically.

    But when the tone is heard again, the reaction decreases amongst some people: the hyporeactive.

    The study has been published in the Journal of Psychiatric Research.


  6. #516
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Check prostate cancer: Eat more fish, vegetables, avoid meats

    Simple modifications in food habits, including adopting a diet rich in cereals, fish and green leafy vegetables, can drastically reduce chances of prostate cancer, considered to be one of the most common cancers among men.

    The sixth leading cause of cancer deaths among males, prostate cancer is linked to family history of the disease and age. Doctors said research also indicates that a diet rich in red meat and high-fat dairy products predisposes men to the risk of this cancer.

    "High fatty diet and red meat are the main causes of prostate cancer," P K Julka, Head of the Department Oncology All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), told IANS.

    As September has been dedicated to create awareness on prostate cancer, experts said early symptoms vary from man to man. One should look for frequent, difficult or painful urination, not being able to urinate, blood in the urine, painful ejaculation or frequent pain or stiffness in the lower back, hips or upper thighs.

    Doctors said, if one notices one or more of these symptoms for more than two weeks, the best was to see a doctor.

    Julka said men with higher consumption of fatty products have been found to be more prone to getting prostate cancer. He suggests low-fat diet that restricts red meat, oils and dairy products such as milk and cheese.

    Studies of men who drink green tea or take green tea extract as a supplement have also found reduced risk of prostate cancer that occurs in the male reproductive system.

    Roughly the size of a walnut, it is through the prostate that the urethra - the tube carrying urine and semen out of the body - goes through. Besides producing a fluid that forms part of the semen and protects the sperm, the prostate gland also plays a role in urine control.

    Considered to be one of the most common types of cancer in men, it usually grows slowly and initially remains confined to the prostate gland, where it may not cause serious harm. But some types of prostate cancer grow slowly and may need minimal or no treatment, other types are aggressive and can spread quickly.

    Vineet Talwar, consultant oncologist, Rajeev Gandhi Cancer Hospital, said: "While age is a factor that nobody can control, certain dietary modifications throughout your life can certainly help you cut the risk of getting afflicted with the disease."

    Choosing a healthy diet is imperative in reducing the risk of this global killer, he added.

    However, Talwar said, consumption of fats from plants is generally preferable to that from animals. For instance, cook with olive oil rather than butter or sprinkle nuts and seeds rather than cheese.

    "An increased amount of fruits and vegetables that are full of vitamins and minerals can add several benefits to your diets. So will a diet that includes tofu - a product made from soy beans - which again has been linked to reduced prostate cancer risks," Talwar told IANS.

    Sugary candy and soda as well as starchy foods such as white bread and white rice are all high-glycemic carbs, which spark inflammation.

    One recent study found that men who ate the most sweet, starchy food were 64 per cent more likely to develop advanced prostate cancer.

    According to Sudhir Khanna, consultant urologist, Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, eating a big bowl of cereal, substituting cow's milk with soy, including fish in the diet and eating several servings of spinach and other leafy greens per week may cut the risk of prostate cancer."


  7. #517
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Antifungal foot cream may help eradicate HIV

    In a breakthrough, scientists have discovered that a common drug used to treat nail fungus in feet may permanently eradicate the deadly HIV from the body. The topical anti-fungal drug Ciclopirox causes HIV infected cells to commit suicide by jamming up the cells' powerhouse — the mitochondria, researchers said.

    Unlike current anti-HIV drugs, Ciclopirox completely eradicates infectious HIV from cell cultures, with no rebound of virus when the drug is stopped, according to researchers at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School. The treatment of patients with HIV has been revolutionized by the advent of combination anti-retroviral drugs.

    However, although these drugs are highly effective at keeping HIV at bay, they must be taken for the life of the patient and never eliminate the infection completely . This is illustrated by the often rapid resurgence of virus in patients who stop taking these medications.

    The persistence of HIV is partially due to the ability of the virus to disable the cell's altruistic suicide pathway, which is normally activated when a cell becomes infected or damaged.

    A team of researchers led by Michael Mathews and Hartmut Hanauske-Abel, previously showed that Ciclopirox, commonly used by dermatologists and gynaecologists to treat fungal infections, inhibits the expression of HIV genes in culture. The drug works inhibits the expression of HIV genes and also blocks the essential function of the mitochondria, thereby reactivating the cell's suicide pathway.

    Healthy, uninfected cells examined during this study were spared. And remarkably, the virus did not bounce back when Ciclopirox was removed, researchers said.

    The utility of Ciclopirox in patients with HIV, for instance after topical application to reduce sexual transmission of the virus, awaits verification in future clinical trials.


  8. #518
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Why some people remain lean and others obese

    Researchers have said that becoming obese or remaining lean can depend on the dynamics of the mitochondria, the body's energy-producing "battery."

    Mitochondria are vital cellular organelles that generate and maintain proper energy levels in complex organisms. Using animal models, the Yale research team studied mitochondria in different populations of brain cells known to be involved in the regulation of appetite.

    The team found that during the transition from a fasting to an over-fed state, mitochondria in neurons that promote hunger show dynamic changes that are the opposite of those found in neurons that control feelings of fullness.

    Lead author Tamas Horvath, the Jean and David W. Wallace Professor of Biomedical Research and chair of comparative medicine at Yale School of Medicine, said that they have found that mitochondrion need to have ongoing dynamic plasticity in order to support neurons, which are necessary for appetite and for the maintenance of life.

    Horvath asserted that if these dynamic events - during which the mitochondria fuse to become more effective in generating energy - are disrupted, mitochondria become static, appetite-stimulating neurons become less active, and animals do not develop obesity when exposed to high-fat, high-calorie diets.

    Yale co-lead author Marcelo O. Dietrich , M.D., said these same cellular events have different consequences in neurons that promote feelings of fullness. These consequences were described in a separate paper in the same issue of Cell, co-authored by Dietrich, Horvath, and a research team in Spain.

    The study showed that similar molecular drivers control mitochondria-endoplasmic reticulum interactions and related stress. If the cellular events are disrupted in these mitochondria, animals become morbidly obese.

    The study has been published in the journal Cell.


  9. #519
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Girls eating peanut butter have lower breast cancer risk

    Girls who eat more peanut butter and nuts substantially reduce their risk of breast cancer later in life, a new study has claimed.

    The study from Washington University School of Medicine in St Louis and Harvard Medical School shows that girls aged 9 to 15 who regularly ate peanut butter or nuts were 39 per cent less likely to develop benign breast disease by age 30.

    Benign breast disease, although noncancerous, increases risk of breast cancer later in life, researchers said.

    "These findings suggest that peanut butter could help reduce the risk of breast cancer in women," said senior author Graham Colditz.

    The findings are based on the health histories of 9,039 US girls enrolled in The Growing Up Today Study from 1996 through 2001.

    Later, from 2005 through 2010, when the study participants were 18 to 30 years old, they reported whether they had been diagnosed with benign breast disease that had been confirmed by breast biopsy.

    The researchers found that participants who ate peanut butter or nuts two times each week were 39 per cent less likely to have developed benign breast disease than those who never ate them.

    The study's findings suggest that beans, lentils, soybeans and corn also may help prevent benign breast disease, but consumption of these foods was much lower in these girls and thus the evidence was weaker.

    Past studies have linked peanut butter, nut and vegetable fat consumption to a lower risk for benign breast disease. However, participants in those studies were asked to recall their high school dietary intakes years later.
    This new study is the first to use reports made during adolescence, with continued follow-up as cases of benign breast disease are diagnosed in young women.

    Because of the obesity epidemic, Colditz recommended that girls replace high-calorie junk foods and sugary beverages with peanut butter or nuts.


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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Why some people hate everything

    Why do some people just seem to hate everything, while others relish the same with gusto? A new study explores what drives those differing personalities. Researchers from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and the University of Pennsylvania say it boils down to what’s called,

    Optimists tend to have generalised beliefs, usually about the future, such as ‘Things are going to turn out well,’” says study author Justin Hepler. He adds, “We were interested in whether people liked or disliked things, in general, and had people report their attitude about different things.”
    The study involved 2,000 subjects, who read a list of 200 items, anything from sea salt to T-shirts, and rated them 1 to 7, with 1 representing “extremely unfavourable” and 7 representing “extremely favourable”. Subjects also completed surveys that tested for potentially overlapping traits, such as optimism/pessimism and extroversion/introversion.
    While the subjects’ dispositional attitudes did often correlate with other traits, they were also statistically different, in that some pessimists like a lot of things while some optimists are more discriminating. Although there isn’t much someone can do to radically alter a personality trait, the results of the study can help people become more aware of their attitudes.

    “If you like something, you are more likely to do it,” Hepler says, adding “When you combine that with the fact that some people have the tendency to like a lot of things, some people might just do more things overal


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