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Health Bulletin


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  1. #521
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Mucus prevents inflammatory reactions in gut

    Researchers have discovered that mucus actually helps your body maintain equilibrium, prevent inflammation, and reduce food allergy problems.
    Researchers from the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai's Immunology Institute foresee a day when mucus could be manufactured and given to sick people to help them fight inflammation and increase immunity.

    For the first time ever, they report that mucus in the large intestine provides a valuable anti-inflammatory and self-regulating immune function. In fact, they propose that mucus may one day prove valuable in treating gut diseases, such as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), Crohn's disease, as well as cancer.

    Andrea Cerutti, MD, PhD, the study's senior author and Professor in the Department of Medicine at the Immunology Institute at the Icahn School of Medicine said that they found that whenever mucus was present, it was stimulating the production of anti-inflammatory cytokines (regulatory proteins released by the cells of the immune system that act to regulate an immune response).

    In this research, mucus was isolated and analyzed from the intestine of healthy mice, from pigs, and from a human intestinal cell line.
    A number of techniques involving cellular immunology and molecular biology were used to demonstrate the anti-inflammatory properties of mucus. In addition, genetically engineered mice lacking intestinal mucus and mice with colitis were given mucus from healthy mice.

    Dr. Cerutti said that several aggressive tumors, such as colon, ovarian, and breast cancers produce mucous, including MUC2. Mucus produced by malignant cells may prevent protective immune responses against the malignant cells.

    The research has been published online in the journal Science.


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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Music is key to mental health

    A new study has revealed that the risk of mental decline through age or illness, is less in people, who play one or more musical instruments.

    Researchers at St Andrews University found that musicians have sharper minds and they are able to pick up and rectify mistakes quicker than their non-musician counterparts, News.com.au reported.

    For the research, led by psychologist Ines Jentzsch , scientists compared the behavioural and brain responses of amateur musicians with non-musicians when performing simple mental tasks.

    The results showed that playing a musical instrument, even at moderate levels, improves a person's ability to detect errors and adjust responses more successfully.

    Jentzsch said that the study shows that even moderate levels of musical activity can benefit brain functioning.

    She asserted that the findings could have important implications as the processes involved are amongst the first to be affected by ageing, as well as a number of mental illnesses such as depression.

    She added that the research suggests that musical activity could be used as an effective intervention to slow, stop or even reverse age or illness-related decline in mental functioning.

    The study was published in the journal Neuropsychologia.


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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Vitamin D-based treatment key to halting multiple sclerosis

    Researchers have discovered a vitamin D-based treatment that can halt - and even reverse - the course of the disease in a mouse model of Multiple Sclerosis (MS).


    The treatment involves giving mice that exhibit MS symptoms a single dose of calcitriol, the active hormone form of vitamin D, followed by ongoing vitamin D supplements through the diet.

    Lead scientist biochemistry professor Colleen Hayes said that all of the animals just got better and better, and the longer we watched them, the more neurological function they regained.

    While scientists don't fully understand what triggers MS, some studies have linked low levels of vitamin D with a higher risk of developing the disease. Hayes has been studying this "vitamin D hypothesis" for the past 25 years with the long-term goal of uncovering novel preventive measures and treatments.

    Over the years, she and her researchers have revealed some of the molecular mechanisms involved in vitamin D's protective actions, and also explained how vitamin D interactions with estrogen may influence MS disease risk and progression in women.

    First, Hayes' team compared the effectiveness of a single dose of calcitriol to that of a comparable dose of a glucocorticoid, a drug now administered to MS patients who experience a bad neurological episode. Calcitriol came out ahead, inducing a nine-day remission in 92 percent of mice on average, versus a six-day remission in 58 percent for mice that received glucocorticoid.

    Next, Hayes' team tried a weekly dose of calcitriol. They found that a weekly dose reversed the disease and sustained remission indefinitely.

    But calcitriol can carry some strong side effects - it's a "biological sledgehammer" that can raise blood calcium levels in people, Hayes says - so she tried a third regimen: a single dose of calcitriol, followed by ongoing vitamin D supplements in the diet.

    The study has been published online in the Journal of Neuroimmunology.


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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Ultrasound technology records tongues in action

    Researchers from five Scottish universities are using ultrasound and MRI technology to build a three dimensional visualisation of tongues in action during speech.

    The 'Seeing Speech' website, launched today (20 September 2013), is the first resource of its kind to make publicly available the inner workings of the human vocal tract when speaking. The work gives us the best understanding yet of the processes that take place when we speak and will aid academics, teachers, health care professionals and actors.

    Ultrasound Tongue Imaging is a comparatively new technique that uses medical ultrasound machines to record an image of the surface of the tongue during speech. Coupled with Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) technology, which images the entire vocal tract including the action of the larynx and the soft palate, academics have built a database of online recordings showing speakers' tongues moving inside their mouths during normal speech.

    Also included in the resource is a video database showing accent differences in speech production across varieties of English, which will aid the study of accents and accent change. The team, led by researchers at the University of Glasgow, were funded by the Carnegie Trust to create a unique online visual resource that will be an invaluable aid for researchers and teachers working in linguistics and phonetics as well as speech therapists, learners of English as a foreign language, and students of acting wanting to learn an accent.

    Currently, there are no such comprehensive resources that visualise what is happening inside the mouth when we speak. This means that students of linguistics only have access to snapshots of what is a dynamic process. 'Seeing Speech' provides access to ultrasound and MRI videos, presenting the tongue's movement at full speed and half speed to allow for detailed study.

    Jane Stuart-Smith, Professor of Phonetics and Sociolinguistics at the University of Glasgow and Principal Investigator on the project, said: "I am delighted to be able to launch this is unique collaboration between five Scottish universities that will really help advance a wide range of studies of speech production and accents.

    "One problem encountered by phonetics teachers and students is that there is nothing out there that shows how speech sounds are actually formed. The only resources that we had to work with up to this point were static diagrams and models that break the vocal tract up into sections and provide a fragmented view of what are really synchronised, dynamic actions of the vocal organs."

    Eleanor Lawson, lecturer in Phonetics and Sociolinguistics at the University of Glasgow, said: "We hope that Seeing Speech will provide the starting point for developing into a much more substantial teaching and learning resource for the future."


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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Feeling stressed makes the world smell worse

    Stress can make the world around us smell unpleasant, the results of a new study are suggesting. Researchers from the University of Wisconsin-Madison used powerful brain imaging technologies to examine how stress and anxiety "re-wire" the brain.

    A team of psychologists led by Professor Wen Li discovered that when a person experiences stress, emotion systems and olfactory processing in the brain become linked, making inoffensive smells become unpleasant.

    Although the emotion and olfactory systems within the brain are usually found next to each other, there is rarely "crosstalk" between the two. Writing in the Journal of Neuroscience, Prof Li said results from their research will now help to uncover the biological mechanisms at work when a person feels stressed.

    Using functional MRI scans, the team analysed the brain activity of 12 participants after showing them images designed to induce anxiety as they smelled familiar, neutral odours.

    The subjects were then asked to rate the different smells before being shown the disturbing image and afterwards. The majority showed a more negative response to odours that they had previously considered neutral.

    This fuels a "feedback loop" that heightens distress, and can even lead to clinical issues such as depression. Prof Li explained: "After anxiety induction, neutral smells become clearly negative."

    "In typical odour processing, it is usually just the olfactory system that gets activated," says Li. "But when a person becomes anxious, the emotional system becomes part of the olfactory processing stream."

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  6. #526
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    UK universities develop tissue diagnostic tool to look inside patients' bones

    A hip fracture after the age of 65 could lead to death for one out of four people, but UK scientists are working on a method that will help diagnose weakened bones before they break and provide more effective treatment should a break happen.

    Scientists at four universities across the UK are developing a framework that helps determine the quality and strength of an individual patient's bone tissue. The research will gather clinical data using advanced imaging techniques that look inside bone on a microscopic level, compared with conventional radiography that simply measures bone mineral density (BMD).

    As bone is not made of completely solid material, the mathematical tool will measure how porous bone tissue is, its connectivity on a microscopic level and therefore, how bone tissue manages daily loads. This will not only measure bone density, but provide essential information to diagnose individual patients' conditions and identify the most efficient treatment plan following a fracture or the general wear and tear on bone throughout life.

    Understanding bone quality on a microscopic level will assist the pharmaceutical industry to target relevant biological processes and develop better drugs, as well as giving doctors more information on patients' specific bone structures, meaning more effective treatment both to prevent a break or following one.

    Dr Yuhang Chen, an expert in computational biomechanics in the School of Engineering and Physical Science at Heriot-Watt University, said: "Currently, around 25% of patients aged 65 to 80 die after a hip fracture. This figure could be reduced by this unique tool."

    "In addition to existing technologies, our research will help doctors assess the quality and strength of a patient's bone tissue leading to more effective and detailed diagnosis of individual conditions, as well as the ability to predict the likelihood of a bone fracture occurring. It will also allow people to live more flexible lifestyles after something like a hip fracture, which can often be quite debilitating and emotionally stressful."

    Dr Chen is working with scientists from the University of Liverpool, who are leading on the project, the University of Edinburgh and Durham University, to create the new diagnostic tool, in a project funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC).

    Professor K Chen, Director of CMIT, in the Department of Mathematical Sciences at Liverpool University, said: "This award is the result of a genuinely collaborative effort by a national team bringing together leading experts in material sciences, computational mechanics and biomedical engineering."


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    Re: Health Bulletin

    New research may help fight motor neurone disease

    Researchers have investigated why the progression of motor neurone disease following onset of symptoms varies in speed, even in the presence of a known genetic cause of the condition.

    MND is an incurable disease destroying the body's cells which control movement causing progressive disability. Present treatment options for those with MND only have a modest effect in improving the patient's quality of life.

    Professor Pamela Shaw, Director of SITraN, and her research team worked in collaboration with a fellow world leading MND scientist Dr Caterina Bendotti and her group at the Mario Negri Institute for Pharmacological Research in Milan, Italy investigated two mouse models of MND caused by an alteration in the SOD1 gene, a known cause of MND in humans. One of the strains had a rapidly progressing disease course and the other a much slower change in the symptoms of MND.

    The teams from Sheffield and Milan looked at the factors which might explain the differences observed in speed and severity in the progression of the disease.

    They used a scientific technique known as gene expression profiling to identify factors within motor neurones that control vulnerability or resistance to MND in order to shed light on the factors important for the speed of motor neurone injury in human patients.

    The study revealed new evidence, at the point of onset of the disease, before muscle weakness was observed, showing key differences in major molecular pathways and the way the protective systems of the body responded, between the profiles of the rapid progressing and slow progressing mouse models.

    The research has been published in the scientific journal Brain.


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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Women more prone to cancer: Experts

    More women are prone to dreaded cancer than their male counterparts in Odisha. Oncologists have claimed that proportion of female cancer patients is more than men in the state. The statistics also substantiate it.

    According to records of Acharya Harihar Regional Cancer Centre (AHRCC) here, in 2009-10, at least 4,170 male cancer patients were admitted to the hospital whereas the number of female patients was 5,289. In 2010-11, as many as 4,036 male patients were admitted while the number of female patients stood at 5,123. In 2011-12, the hospital received at least 1,000 more female patients than males. The number of male patients was 4,876 while there were 5,822 female patients. In 2011-12, the AHRCC had received 1,656 women patients suffering from breast cancer. The number of cervical cancer patients was 1,354.

    "Major reason for rise in cancer cases among women is lack of awareness. There is little information among women about the symptoms and treatment of cancer as a result of which they fall prey to it," said oncologist Dr Krupasindhu Panda.

    Realising the seriousness of the matter, oncologists and gynaecologists in the city came together to create awareness on the issue. On Monday, a Globeathon, a solidarity walk to create awareness on cancer in women, was organised in the city. Over 700 persons, including celebrities, doctors, cancer survivors, prominent members of society, school and college children walked from Barabati fort to the AHRCC to spread awareness on prevention of cancer in women.

    Later a meeting was also organised at the cancer hospital to make women folk aware of the ways through which cancer can be detected at an early stage. "We advised women to go for a regular health check-up and maintain a healthy lifestyle .The aim of this event was to educate women about symptoms and treatment of cancer and ways to prevent the dreaded disease," said director of AHRCC Sushil Giri.


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    Re: Health Bulletin

    For the first time in India, electrodes put in Australian man's brain to curb depression

    An Australian youngster became the first patient in India to undergo a brain surgery to control depression. On September 25, almost six years after trying different treatments, Sydney resident Benjamin Walt opted for deep brain stimulation surgery (DBS) at Jaslok Hospital on Peddar Road. In other words, two electrodes were planted in his brain to change its "circuitry'' and remove depressive feelings.

    DBS, which costs between Rs 7 and 10 lakh, has been in use for 15 years to control neurological conditions such as Parkinson's disease, dystonia, stroke, etc. Recently, it was approved to treat psycho-neurological problems such as obsessive compulsive disorder and depression. "Apart from Benjamin, there are only 67 patients of depression who have undergone the surgery in the US, Canada and Europe,'' said neurosurgeon Paresh Doshi, who operated on Benjamin.

    In fact, the Walts had to come to India because Australia doesn't offer DBS for depression and the US, Canada and Europe don't offer it to foreign patients. Benjamin told journalists on Tuesday, "I found out about this surgery two years back. It's an amazing gift (that India has) given to me.''

    Local doctors told Benjamin about Dr Doshi who is among the 17 surgeons authorized by the International Society for Psychiatric Surgery for to carry out DBS for depression. Within two months of exchanging mails, the Walts came down to Mumbai last week for the surgery.

    "On a detailed review, we found that Benjamin was suffering from treatment-resistant major depressive disorder. We felt that he was an ideal candidate for area 25 DBS which is presently being done only in a few selected centres all over the world", said Dr Doshi, who performed the six-hour surgery on Benjamin.

    Benjamin's depression started little after his 21st birthday, said his father Colin. "He has tried several medications in various combinations, but it hasn't worked. He tried electroshock therapy, magnetic stimulation but nothing worked,'' he added.

    Benjamin will be discharged on Thursday and undergo sessions to fix the stimulation levels on his DBS over the next two work.

    Colin added that it has been good so far. We are waiting to see how he responds to the treatment over a period of time," he added.

    But experts feel it's too early to conclude that DBS works for depression. Psychiatrist Harish Shetty said, There is a bouquet of treatments available for depression. Something that works for one patient may not for another.'' A senior doctor from a public hospital said, Depression is a bio-psycho-social problem. DBS may take care of the biological part of the problem, what about the psychological and the social aspects?''

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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Wearing tight belts may cause throat cancer

    Wearing a belt which is too tight can increase the risk of developing throat cancer, especially in overweight people, a new study has warned.

    Scottish experts claim that restriction around the waist, especially if someone is overweight, can allow stomach acid to move up into the gullet which can cause damage that increases risk of oesophageal cancer.

    Doctors from Glasgow and Strathclyde universities and Southern General Hospital recruited 24 healthy volunteers with no history of acid reflux.

    Half the volunteers had normal waist sizes while the rest were overweight.

    Each was asked to swallow a specially designed probe, which took a range of measurements both before and after each participant had eaten a meal, 'The Daily Record' reported.

    Measurements were also taken while the volunteers were wearing a tight belt and without a belt.

    Researchers found that even in healthy volunteers, wearing a tight belt and being overweight caused a partial hiatus hernia and acid reflux.

    "Wearing a tight belt, especially if you are overweight, puts strain on the valve between the stomach and the gullet. This causes stomach acid to leak upwards into the gullet," said lead researcher Professor Kenneth McColl, of Glasgow University's institute of cardiovascular and medical sciences.

    "Unlike the stomach, which is designed to withstand this, the gullet is damaged by the acid. This causes heartburn and, in the longer term, possibly oesophageal cancer," McColl told the paper.

    The study was published in the journal Gut.

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