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Health Bulletin


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  1. #721
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Lab-made bone marrow may lead to leukaemia cure

    Researchers in Germany have created a prototype of human-like bone marrow that could be used to produce blood-producing stem cells to facilitate leukaemia therapy. The breakthrough , by scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems in Stuttgart , could pave the way for producing artificial stem cells and treatment of leukaemia in 10 to 15 years.

    The lab-made bone marrow shows all major properties of natural marrow and could facilitate study of interaction between artificial materials and stem cells. This will help ascertain how the behaviour of stem cells is influenced by the artificial materials.

    Using synthetic polymers , the scientists fashioned a porous structure simulating the sponge-like make-up of bone. They added proteinbuilding blocks similar to those found in the bone marrow matrix to anchor cells.

    Hematopoietic (or bloodproducing ) stem cells, which had been isolated from cord blood, were introduced into the artificial bone marrow. After a few days, the cells were found to reproduce in the artificial bone marrow. Compared to standard cell cultivation methods, more stem cells were found to retain their properties in the lab-made marrow.

    Blood cells, such as red or white blood cells, are continuously replaced by new ones created by the blood-producing stem cells found in a specialized niche of the marrow . This makes the stem cells ideal for treatment of blood diseases such as leukaemia . The affected cells of the patient are replaced by healthy hematopoietic stem cells from a donor.


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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Doctors at Chennai GH perform minimally invasive procedures on heart patients

    There was a time when patients who walked into Government General Hospital with heart problems returned home with long and not so good looking scars that were reminders of the second chance they got in life. But not anymore.

    The cardiothoracic team at the GH recently performed two minimally invasive procedures, on different patients with complicated heart conditions, using stents and balloons. The stents and balloons are expensive medical equipment used mostly in private hospitals, that too on those who could afford them.

    The two patients were spared of the open heart surgeries and were sent home, hale and hearty, within three days after admission.

    Kumar (name changed), 67, from Tiruthani, had suffered a heart attack which resulted in the rupture of the wall separating the right and left side of the heart. "Generally, an open heart surgery would be performed to treat the defect along with an associated bypass. Keeping his age and his dangerously low blood pressure in mind, we decided against it and successfully closed the tear by using a septal occluder device that was inserted through a small incision in his groin," said cardiologist Dr M S Ravi. In a one-hour procedure that followed, doctors placed a stent across the blocked artery that had caused the heart attack and removed the clot.

    In the second case, Ashok (name changed), a 22-year-old patient from Villupuram, who approached the hospital with a congenital heart condition in which blood flow to his lower part of his body was obstructed, was treated successfully using the balloon angioplasty and stenting.

    "Since there was no blood flow to his lower body, it affected his aorta and as a result, his lower body was underdeveloped and the patient suffered from high blood pressure, kidney and heart failure," said Dr Ravi. The surgical team used a balloon mounted on a catheter and inserted it into his body through a small incision in his groin and dilated his blocked blood vessel. Subsequently, they placed a stent to prevent a reocclusion and other complications associated with the procedure and treated his condition.

    GH dean Dr V Kanagasabai said that open heart surgeries had several complications, including prolonged hospital stay, blood loss and a scar. "But these minimally interventional procedures eliminate all that completely and reduce pain. Both these procedures would have cost several lakhs in private hospitals as each stent is priced at a lakh. But these patients were treated free of cost under the CM's health insurance scheme," he said.


  3. #723
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Drink coffee, boost your memory

    A double espresso after revision might be the best way of preparing for an exam, new research suggests.

    Scientists have found the first clear evidence of caffeine's memory-boosting effect, and shown that it lasts for at least 24 hours.

    Volunteers took part in a double-blind trial in which they were either given a 200mg caffeine pill or a placebo five minutes after studying a series of images. Tests a day later proved that the memory of those who took caffeine had been enhanced at a deep level. The amount of caffeine used was roughly equivalent to a double shot of strong espresso coffee.

    US lead researcher Dr Michael Yassa, assistant professor of psychological and brain sciences at Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, said: "We've always known that caffeine has cognitive-enhancing effects, but its particular effects on strengthening memories and making them resistant to forgetting has never been examined in detail in humans. We report for the first time a specific effect of caffeine on reducing forgetting over 24 hours."

    More than 100 participants took part in the study, none of whom were regular users of caffeinated products. Before being given the caffeine or placebo, they were asked to identify a series of pictured objects as either outdoor or indoor items.

    The next day, both groups were tested on their ability to recognize the images they had been shown earlier. Some of the images were the same as the ones they had seen, some were new, and some similar but not identical.

    Although all the volunteers correctly identified "new" and "old" pictures, those who had taken the caffeine pill were better able to spot "similar" images.

    Participants not dosed with caffeine were more likely to be fooled into thinking the similar pictures were the ones viewed the previous day. Recognizing the difference between two similar but not identical items reflects a deep level of memory retention, the researchers reported in the journal Nature Neuroscience.

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  4. #724
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Vegetable juice lowers health risks in diabetics

    Consuming a cup of raw vegetable juice or mashed steamed vegetables before a starch meal can greatly help cut down risks of health complications in diabetics.

    A recent study, published in the journal of bio-chemistry and pharmacology by scientists of city-based Indian Institute of Chemical Technology (IICT), describes the inhibitory effect vegetables have on glucose mechanisms which cause oxidative stress. Oxidative stress is known to be linked with cataract, neuropathy, retinopathy and cardiovascular diseases in diabetics.

    The four-year study found that vegetables have an inhibitory effect on the polyol pathway of glucose, an important bio-chemical process that leads to production of antioxidants and increases free radical concentration in the body, which over a period of time, leads to damage of retina, kidney and nerves.

    In non-diabetics, most of the blood sugar is converted to energy and very little enters the polyol pathway but in diabetics, much of the glucose consumed takes pathways other than the energy pathway. The polyol pathway is among many other pathways but is considered a very important one as its role in post-diabetic complications is well-established.

    "Besides satisfying energy requirements, vegetables are rich in antioxidants. A cup of raw juice or steamed vegetable before breakfast or a starchy meal will go a long way in keep chronic conditions induced by lifestyle in check," said Ashok K Tiwari, one of the scientists associated with the study.

    The study also found that vegetables, especially ivy gourd and ridge gourd, have better anti-oxidative properties to combat stress caused by the polyol pathway. "Different vegetables have different levels of inhibiting effect on the pathway. Our study evaluated ten commonly consumed vegetables including radish, bottle gourd, green amaranth, ivy gourd and ridge gourd," Tiwari added.

    Earlier, IICT had also published a study which established that consumption of vegetable juice on a daily basis can mitigate insulin resistance in diabetics and reduce the overall glucose load after a meal.


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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Even microbes have a Dalal Street

    Ever heard of a biological market where microbes set up shops, bid and fight for a better trading partner?

    Sounds crazy but according to a new study, microbes in our body set up their own markets, compare bids for commodities, hoard to obtain a better price and generally behave in ways share traders do at Dalal Street.

    "We have long been aware that trades among a wide range of organisms are not blind exchanges but instead ones shaped by 'market conditions' such as price, quality and competition," said Joan Strassmann, professor at Washington University in Missouri, US.

    "Single-celled organisms had been shown to avoid bad trading partners, build local business ties, diversify or specialize in a particular commodity, save for a rainy day, eliminate the competition and otherwise behave in ways that seem to follow market-based principles," he added.

    They even foresee practical applications of the work. It might be possible, for example, to manipulate 'market conditions' in crop fields to drive nitrogen-fixing bacteria to trade more of their commodity - a biologically available form of nitrogen - with crop plants, said the study that appeared in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

    "The microscopic nature of microbial systems means it is easy to misunderstand their interactions. An economic framework helps us focus on what is important," said David Queller from Washington University.

    "For biological markets to evolve, you actually only need that individuals can detect co-operators and respond by rewarding them with more resources," said Gijsbert Werner, a doctoral candidate at Vrijie Universiteit in Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

    The researchers found that the fungi compare the resources on offer by different plants, and adjust their resource allocations accordingly.

    Some fungi even hoard resources until they get a better deal, the study added.


  6. #726
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Cell division discovery could offer fresh insight into cancer

    New findings on how the cells in our bodies are able to renew themselves could aid our understanding of health disorders, including cancer.

    Scientists have explained a key part of the process of cell division, by which cells are able to keep our organs functioning properly.

    They discovered a set of proteins that stabilise the sequence of events in which cells duplicate their DNA and then separate into two new cells, each identical to the original. Flaws in this delicate, complex operation can lead to cancer.

    The findings help explain a fundamental process in all living things, in which cells must continually divide to keep the organism alive and well.

    Researchers at the University of Edinburgh found that a set of proteins, known as the Ska complex, help anchor DNA, the form of chromosomes, by interacting with strands of cell material. Chromosomes remain attached to these strands as they are separated, in a process that helps distribute DNA correctly to the newly formed cells.

    Scientists determined the structure of the relevant part of the protein complex by analysing crystals of it with lab tools and cell-based experiments. This showed how the Ska complex attaches to the strands, helping to bind the DNA material.

    The study, published in Nature Communications, was carried out in collaboration with the University of Basel, Technische Universitat Berlin and the National Institute of Immunology in New Delhi, and funded by the Wellcome Trust.

    Dr J PArulanandam, of the University of Edinburgh's School of Biological Sciences, who led the work, said: "Our findings represent a milestone in resolving the mystery of how these key proteins enable new cells to separate properly and equally, in this essential process for life. The findings of our work have the potential to create new avenues in drug discovery towards fighting cancer."


  7. #727
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Fish oil helps reduce diabetes risk

    Researchers have said that high concentrations of serum long-chain omega-3 fatty acids, derived from fish and fish oils, may help reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes.

    Ongoing at the University of Eastern Finland, the Kuopio Ischaemic Heart Disease Risk Factor Study (KIHD) determined the serum omega-3 fatty acid concentrations of 2,212 men between 42 and 60 years of age at the onset of the study, in 1984-1989.

    During a follow-up of 19.3 years, 422 men were diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.

    Serum long-chain omega-3 fatty acid concentrations were used to divide the subjects into four categories.

    The risk of men in the highest serum omega-3 fatty acid concentration quarter to develop type 2 diabetes was 33 per cent lower than the risk of men in the lowest quarter.

    The study sheds new light on the association between fish consumption and the risk of type 2 diabetes. A well-balanced diet should include at least two fish meals per week, preferably fatty fish.

    The study has been published in journal Diabetes Care.


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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Scientists rule out existence of 'sixth sense'

    Sixth sense dismissed! The common belief that a sixth sense - also known as extrasensory perception - exists, may be false, a new study has claimed.

    The study found that people could reliably sense when a change had occurred, even when they could not see exactly what had changed.

    For example, a person might notice a general change in someone's appearance but not be able to identify that the person had had a haircut.

    Lead researcher Dr Piers Howe from the Melbourne School of Psychological Sciences said the research is the first to show in a scientific study that people can reliably sense changes that they cannot visually identify.

    "There is a common belief that observers can experience changes directly with their mind, without needing to rely on the traditional physical senses such as vision, hearing, taste, smell and touch to identify it. This alleged ability is sometimes referred to as a sixth sense or ESP.

    "We were able to show that while observers could reliably sense changes that they could not visually identify, this ability was not due to extrasensory perception or a sixth sense," he said.

    In the study, observers were presented with pairs of colour photographs, both of the same female. In some cases, her appearance would be different in the two photographs. For example, the individual might have a different hairstyle.

    Each photograph was presented for 1.5 seconds with a 1 second break between them. After the last photograph, the observer was asked whether a change had occurred and, if so, identify the change from a list of nine possible changes.

    Results showed study participants could generally detect when a change had occurred even when they could not identify exactly what had changed.

    For example, they might notice that the two photographs had different amounts of red or green but not be able to use this information to determine that the person had changed the colour of their hat.

    This resulted in the observer "feeling" or "sensing" that a change had occurred without being able to visually identify the change.

    Thus, the result that observers can reliably feel or sense when a change has occurred without being able to visually identify the change could be explained without invoking an extrasensory mechanism, researchers said.

    The study was published in the journal PLOS ONE.


  9. #729
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Belgian clinic repairs bones with novel technique

    Belgian medical researchers have succeeded in repairing bones using stem cells from fatty tissue, with a new technique they believe could become a benchmark for treating a range of bone disorders.

    The team at the Saint Luc university clinic hospital in Brussels have treated 11 patients, eight of them children, with fractures or bone defects that their bodies could not repair, and a spin-off is seeking investors to commercialize the discovery.

    Doctors have for years harvested stem cells from bone marrow at the top of the pelvis and injected them back into the body to repair bone.
    The ground-breaking technique of Saint Luc's centre for tissue and cellular therapy is to remove a sugar cube sized piece of fatty tissue from the patient, a less invasive process than pushing a needle into the pelvis and with a stem cell concentration they say is some 500 times higher.
    The stem cells are then isolated and used to grow bone in the laboratory. Unlike some technologies, they are also not attached to a solid and separate 'scaffold'.

    "Normally you transplant only cells and you cross your fingers that it functions," the centre's coordinator Denis Dufrane told Reuters television.
    His work has been published in Biomaterials journal and was presented at an annual meeting of the International Federation for Adipose Therapeutics and Science (IFATS) in New York in November.

    BONE FORMATION
    "It is complete bone tissue that we recreate in the bottle and therefore when we do transplants in a bone defect or a bone hole...you have a higher chance of bone formation."

    The new material in a lab dish resembles more plasticine than bone, but can be molded to fill a fracture, rather like a dentist's filling in a tooth, hardening in the body.

    Some of those treated have included people recovering from tumors that had to be removed from bones. One 13-year-old boy, with a fracture and disorder that rendered him unable to repair bone, could resume sports within 14 months of treatment.
    "Our hope is to propose this technology directly in emergency rooms to reconstitute bones when you have a trauma or something like that," Dufrane said.

    A spin-off founded last year called Novadip Biosciences will seek to commercialize the treatment, initially to allow spinal fusion among elderly people with degenerated discs.

    It may also seek to create a bank of bone tissue from donors rather than the patients themselves.

    IFATS president Marco Helder, based at Amsterdam's VU university medical centre, said the novelty was the lack of solid scaffold.
    "It is interesting and it is new, but it will have limitations regarding load-bearing capacity and, as with other implants, it will need to connect to the blood vessels of the body rapidly to avoid dying off," he said, adding:
    "Any foreign object can cause irritation and problems, so the fact that this is just host tissue would be an advantage."


  10. #730
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Sperm robots on way to deliver babies

    Apart from their natural act, sperms are set to be used as biological motors for transporting drugs, genes and other sperms to help treat infertility and other issues.

    Called spermbots - sperms turned into micro-robots - they could be controlled from outside a patient's body to deliver drugs, and even sperm itself, to parts of the body where it is needed, says a path-breaking research.

    Researchers at Dresden Institute for Integrative Nanosciences in Germany are looking for a way to propel micro-robots through bodily fluids safely.

    "We thought of using a powerful biological motor to do the job instead and we came up with the flagella of a sperm cell, which is physiologically less problematic," professor Oliver G Schmidt, director of the institute, was quoted as saying in Gizmag.com that covers new and emerging technologies.

    To create these tiny robots, scientists designed microtubes, which are thin sheets of titanium and iron rolled into conical tubes and having a magnetic property.

    They put the microtubes into a solution in a Petri dish and added bovine sperm cells, which are similar size to human sperm, said the report.

    When a live sperm entered the wider end of the tube, it became trapped near the narrow end.

    The scientists also closed the wider end, so the sperm wouldn't swim out.

    The trapped cell pushed against the tube, moving it forward.

    Then, the scientists used a magnetic field to guide the tube in the direction they wanted it to go, relying on the sperm for the propulsion, the report said.


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