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Health Bulletin


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  1. #821
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Gene behind kids' love for violent TV shows?

    Ever wondered why certain kids like violent TV and video games more than others? Scientists now say they were just born that way.

    A specific variation of the serotonin-transporter gene is linked to children who engage in increased viewing of violent TV and playing of violent video games, a new study has found. Researchers analyzed survey data of 1,612 Dutch parents of children aged 5-9.

    The parents noted how much violent TV programming their children viewed, as well as how often they played violent video games.

    DNA samples collected at the children's birth were then analyzed to determine a certain gene variant.

    The researchers found that children that had the specific variant of the serotonin-transporter gene on average consumed more violent media and displayed more behavioural patterns related to attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

    However, these links are subtle and more factors can influence these behaviours in children.


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  2. #822
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Found: 'Switch' in brain that lulls us to sleep

    Researchers at Oxford University's Centre for Neural Circuits and Behaviour have discovered the 'switch' in the brain that sends us off to sleep.

    The research, carried out in fruit flies, is likely to be relevant to humans as well, the scientists say. The switch - a device in the brain that keeps track of our waking hours and puts us to sleep when we need to reset - works by regulating the activity of a handful of sleep-promoting nerve cells, or neurons, in the brain. The neurons fire when we are tired and need sleep, and dampen down when we are fully rested.

    The researchers say pinpointing the sleep switch might help identify new targets for novel drugs that can improve sleep disorder treatment. The work in fruit flies allowed the critical part of the sleep switch to be discovered."We discovered mutant flies that couldn't catch up on their lost sleep after they had been kept awake all night," says Jeffrey Donlea, one of the lead authors of the study.

    Flies stop moving when they go to sleep and require comparatively more disturbance to get them up. Sleep-deprived flies are prone to nodding off and are cognitively impaired - they have severe learning and memory deficits - like humans leads to problems. "When you're tired, these neurons in the brain shout loud and they send you to sleep," says Gero Miesenbock of Oxford University. "There is a similar group of neurons in a region of the human brain. These neurons are also electrically active during sleep and, like the flies' cells, are the targets of general anaesthetics that put us to sleep. So, it is likely that a molecular mechanism similar to the one we have found in flies also operates in human."

    Professor Miesenbock said the sleep homeostat is similar to the thermostat in homes. "A thermostat measures temperature and switches on the heating if it's too cold," he said. "The sleep homeostat measures how long a fly has been awake and switches on a group of specialized brain cells in the brain if necessary. It's the electrical output of these nerve cells that puts the fly to sleep," he said.


  3. #823
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    AIIMS doctors find new method to operate on spine

    In a major breakthrough, doctors at AIIMS have devised a new technique for spine surgery in patients suffering from congenital anomaly of the vertebral column. The condition affects young individuals in the age group of 20-30 years, and is precipitated by lifestyle issues such as prolonged sitting and lack of exercise.

    Traditionally, such patients require undergoing consecutive surgeries: to drill out the piece of bone compressing the spine through the mount and to stabilize the head and neck using rod and screws from the back of the neck. The new technique not only removes compression on the spinal cord but also reduces deformity through a single surgery performed from the back of the neck, said Dr P Sarat Chandra, professor of neurosurgery at AIIMS.

    "The traditional technique does not correct the deformity. It just removes compression from the front and fixes it from back using screws. The new technique uses two small cages to reduce the deformity and certain intra-operative corrective manoeuvres are used to fix it," said Dr Chandra. Over 100 have undergone surgery using the new method at AIIMS in the last three years.

    Dr B S Sharma, head of the neurosurgery department, added, "The new technique does not require any special instrument; it is cost-effective. The duration of surgery is reduced by half-from 10 to five hours-plus there is reduced blood loss." The condition is medically known as atlanto-axial dislocation and basilar invagination. It results in the uppermost portion of the neck slipping from its articulation with the base of the head causing compression of the spinal cord. If left untreated, the patient develops weakness in all limbs, becomes incontinent and finally succumbs to the disorder.

    .The early signs of the disease may include weakness in all four limbs or stiffness," said Dr Sharma. He, however, added that few hospitals across the country have the expertise available to perform the complex procedure.


  4. #824
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Cyborgs step closer to reality

    Scientists have created a new coating that makes nanoelectronics much more stable in conditions mimicking those in the human body, bringing the development of cyborgs closer to reality. Cyborg is short for "cybernetic organism", a being with both organic and mechanical parts. In science fiction and popular culture, cyborgs are depicted as half-man, half-machine beings with robotic or bionic implants.

    The development of the new coating could also aid in creating very small implanted medical devices for monitoring health and disease, researchers said.

    Researcher Charles Lieber, from the department of chemistry and chemical biology at Harvard University, noted that nanoelectronic devices with nanowire components have unique abilities to probe and interact with living cells.

    They are much smaller than most implanted medical devices used today. Lab versions made of silicon nanowires can detect disease biomarkers and even single virus cells, or record heart cells as they beat. Lieber's team has also integrated nanoelectronics into living tissues in three dimensions - creating a " cyborg tissue".

    One hurdle to the practical, long-term use of these devices is that they fall apart within days of being implanted. The researchers set out to make them much more stable. They found that coating silicon nanowires with a metal oxide shell allowed nanowire devices to last for several months.


  5. #825
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Cord blood offers new cure for thalassemia

    For the thousands of thalassaemia patients who cannot find a matching donor to undergo bone marrow transplant, there is new hope. City doctors claim that cord blood transplant, which uses stem cells derived from umbilical cord of a matching donor, can help cure this disorder.

    Thalassemia is an inherited disorder in which affected children are unable to maintain hemoglobin in normal range. In a cord blood transplant, the doctors infuse healthy cells derived from the umbilical cord with matching HLA to replace the diseased one.

    Doctors at Sir Ganga Ram Hospital performed a life-saving procedure on an eight-year-old child recently. They claim that the patient, Mahi Mishra (8), is among the oldest to undergo the transplant.

    "The number of cells required to form the marrow - which produces red blood - is proportionate to the weight of the child. One cord is just enough for a child weighing 10-15kg and the older ones may require more. This fear had kept us away from conducting the transplant on older children. We did the transplant

    on Mahi as there was no option left and were successful in curing the disease," said Dr Anupam Sachdeva, director, pediatric hematology, oncology and bone marrow transplant unit at the hospital, adding that Mahi will not require blood transfusion anymore.

    The transplant was conducted on November 4 2013, and Mahi stayed in the hospital for 40 days after that, said her mother, Amita. "The chances of infection were high after the transplant. ButMahi is healthy now. Doctors say she is cured of the disease and will be able to live a near normal life," Amita added.

    Mahi's father, a police officer in UP, would donate blood at PGI Lucknow so that Mahi could get blood for transfusion. "There are over 1 lakh thalassaemic patients in India. Only a few are able to have transplant because it's a costly procedure and not always successful. The results of this case offer encouragement and hope that something can be done to help them survive," said Dr Sachdeva.

    The Indian Red Cross Society (IRCS), he added, provides blood to majority of thalassemic patients. "In my view, there is need for the government to take steps to provide financial support for transplants wherever possible," he added.


  6. #826
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Dusky Indians are safe from skin cancer: Doctor

    Dr Sangeeta P Punjabi from United Kingdom, senior faculty member of the Imperial College of London, who talked about allergies of the skin at the Apicon conference, tried to bust the myths associated with skin problems.

    "People think food habits are responsible for acne and other skin allergies. They change their diet to get rid of acne and this leads to nutritional imbalance and health problems," she said. She also warned people against giving up certain food groups in the quest for clear skin. "While changing their diet, people get rid of things that are important for health, like milk and cheese instead of getting rid of junk food," she said.

    Elaborating on the difference between skin patients in India and European countries, Dr Sangeeta said the brown skin of Indians protects them from skin cancer. She said the increased melanin, which is a hallmark of brown skin, protects people from carcinogens in ultraviolet rays.

    In India, the percentage of skin cancer patients is below 5% to 10%. "Indians should not run after lightening creams. It's a boon for them, especially in view of the changing climatic conditions, which spell danger for skin," she said. As for skin allergies, she said food is rarely responsible for them. According to her, the major factors for such conditions are psychological problems, auto immune factors and heredity.

    "First get your skin analysed, then use cosmetics. Moreover, bleach, which is banned in the UK, should be used with caution. They are cancerous," she warned.

    The only side-effect of brown skin is, it does not make optimum use of vitamin D from sunlight, giving rise to other health problems, she said.


  7. #827
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Orthopaedicians share new surgery techniques at meet

    Bone and joint replacement experts from across the country gathered in city on Friday to perform complex surgeries and share their work experiences with participants at Arthoplasty Update 2014.

    More than 150 orthopaedic and joint replacement surgeons, including well-known surgeon from Germany Dr Heiko Graichen performed surgeries.

    Four surgeries were performed on first day of conference at Synergy Hospital. Three of them were joint knee replacement and one was total hip replacement. Surgeries were being broadcast live to all 150 delegates at a city hotel.

    Organizer Dr Sunil Rajan said, "Conference aimed at providing information on latest technology and new methods of treatment to the orthropedicians. Live surgeries, lectures and case presentations were a part of the conference."

    Dr AS Prasad from Kanpur, Dr Prathvi Mohandas and Dr Anup Jhurani from Jaipur were also present. After the surgeries, Dr Graichen delivered a lecture on 'Tips for revision surgery.'


  8. #828
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Scientists develop method to predict epidemics

    A risk map using environmental and health data can predict epidemics, scientists say.

    The environment has an impact on our health. Preventing epidemics relies on activating the right counter-measures, and scientists are now trying to find out how better use of forecasting can help.

    The EU's EO2HEAVEN project developed a risk map for correlating environmental and health data in order to identify where a disease may break out next. The concept will be on show at Booth E40 in Hall nine of the CeBIT trade fair in Hannover, Germany.

    Cholera has been all but eradicated in Europe, but this bacterial, primarily waterborne disease still claims thousands of lives in Africa every year. Scientists are examining the effects various environmental factors have on cholera epidemics in Uganda.

    As part of this work, the Fraunhofer Institute of Optronics, System Technologies and Image Exploitation in Karlsruhe, Germany, developed a software architecture for early warning systems that compares environmental and health data and presents the results graphically.

    "This allowed us to visualise the complex relationship between these factors for the first time on risk maps, leading to a better understanding of the processes," project coordinator Kym Watson said.

    The scientists use sensors to measure environmental parameters such as rainfall, exposure to solar radiation and pH value, as well as temperature and concentration of nutrients in water.

    Weather and climate forecasts are also included into the analysis. At the same time, they use mobile applications to collect health data on cholera cases from hospitals and doctors.

    "Decision makers are now in a position to better deploy medical resources in the affected areas, and hospitals and doctors are better prepared and can respond much more effectively," Watson said.


  9. #829
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Scientists make artificial muscles from fishing line and thread

    What do you get when you take fishing line or sewing thread, and coil it up in just the right way?

    No, not a tangle of twine to keep your pet cat entertained.

    Instead, scientists have turned this into amazingly strong, and cheap, artificial muscles that could be used in robots, prosthetic limbs or woven into "smart" fabrics whose pores expand in warm weather to keep a person cool and contract in chilly weather to block out the cold.

    In the past, artificial muscles have been crafted out of materials including metal wires and carbon nanotubes, but they have proven to be costly to make and tricky to control.

    According to research published in the journal Science on Thursday, these scientists instead turned to high-strength polymer fibres made of polyethylene and nylon, materials found in everyday items like fishing line and sewing thread. They twisted the fibres into very tight coils and used changes in temperature to make the artificial muscles contract and relax.

    Scientists from the United States, Canada, Australia, South Korea, Turkey and China performed the research.

    "These polymer muscles can lift 100 times the weight of natural muscles of the same size," Ray Baughman, director of the NanoTech Institute at the University of Texas at Dallas, said in a telephone interview. "They can generate 100 times the mechanical power of the same weight in natural muscle."

    John Madden, an electrical and computer engineering professor at the University of British Columbia in Canada, added in a statement: "It also has a higher power output for its weight than that of an automobile combustion engine."

    The most advanced humanoid robots or prosthetic limbs made today are limited by relatively bulky motors and hydraulic systems that can inhibit dexterity, the generation of force and overall work capability, the scientists noted.

    Applications for the new artificial muscles could include: minimally invasive robotic microsurgery; human prosthetics; devices that open and close windows in response to temperature changes to keep a building comfortable; and better robots.

    "There was a beautiful woman I met in Korea," Baughman said. "The closer I got to this beautiful woman, she didn't look so beautiful. The woman was ... a humanoid robot. She didn't have enough muscles in her face to express natural emotion: smile or get angry. She looked robotic."

    An interesting practical application could be temperature adjusting clothing. The researchers wove textiles using the polymer coils that could "breathe" with pores that opened in response to warmth and closed in cold temperatures.


  10. #830
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Sitting with your legs crossed for long period can affect your heart

    A new study has found that sitting with legs crossed at the knee can bump up blood pressure.

    Leg crossing increased systolic blood pressure nearly 7 percent and diastolic by 2 percent, ABC News reported.

    Stephen T. Sinatra, MD, FACC, a Connecticut-based cardiologist and author of The Great Cholesterol Myth said that frequent crossing of the legs also puts stress on the hip joints and can cause pooling of blood in the legs when the veins are compressed.

    This could predispose you to inflammation of the veins of the lower legs and possibly a blood clot, he said.

    Dr. Sinatra advises to avoid crossing your legs for longer than 10 to 15 minutes, and to get up and walk around every half hour or so.
    The study is published in the journal Blood Pressure Monitoring.


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