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  1. #831
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    New method promises longevity for cervical cancer sufferers

    Researchers have found that women with advanced cervical cancer live about four months longer with the combined use of bevacizumab and chemotherapy compared to chemotherapy alone.

    Women who combined bevacizumab with chemotherapy lived an average of 17 months after diagnosis, while those who received chemotherapy alone lived 13.3 months.

    Dr. Bradley J Monk, nationally recognized for his expertise in cervical cancer and chairs the Gynecologic Oncology Cervical Cancer Committee for the National Cancer Institute funded Gynecologic Oncology Group, and the project's senior author said that this research proves that there are new options for patients with metastatic cervical cancer.

    The research was conducted between April 2009 and January 2012. A total of 452 women participated in the trial and were enrolled from 164 institutions in the United States and Spain. St. Joseph's Hospital and Medical Center was the only site enrolling in Arizona.

    The study has been published in the New England Journal of Medicine.


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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Bacteria from baby poop used to make probiotic sausages

    Scientists have found a bizarre way of making sausages healthier — by using baby poop. Researchers say bacteria from baby poop can help make sausages, which could transform savoury meats into health foods much like probiotic yogurts.

    Several types of sausages are made using bacterial fermentation. Scientists in Spain reasoned that probiotic bacteria could be used in fermented sausages. "Probiotic fermented sausages will give an opportunity to consumers who don't take dairy products the possibility to include probiotic foods to their diet," said study co-author Anna Jofre from Catalonia's Institute of Food and Agricultural Research's (IRTA) food safety programme in Girona, Spain. The researchers focused on microbes found alive in human faeces.

    They concentrated on 43 faecal samples of healthy infants up to 6 months old. The samples were taken from diapers, mostly provided by midwives in support groups for new parents.

    The two kinds of bacteria used most often in probiotics, Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium, are far more abundant in infant poop than in adult excrement.

    "Infant faeces are natural samples, easy to obtain," Jofre said. Scientists tried fermenting six batches of sausages using three strains of bacteria found in baby poop as well as three other commercial probiotic strains of bacteria.


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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Stress hormone linked to frailty

    If older people feel frail, blame it on their stress levels. Their limp grip and unsteady walking speed and gait could be due to fluctuating levels of stress hormone called cortisol in their bodies, says a new study.

    The study in published in the Endocrine Society's Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism shows that lower morning and higher evening cortisol levels contribute to frailty in older individuals.

    Researchers at Helmholtz Zentrum Munchen in Neuherberg, Germany, point out that frailty increases the risk of hospitalization among the elderly. It is characterized by unintentional weight loss, feelings of exhaustion and fatigue, physical inactivity, slow gait speed and low grip strength.

    ""Cortisol typically follows a distinct daily pattern with the highest level in the morning and the lowest basal level at night,"" said the study's author Karl-Heinz Ladwig. His study showed that this dysregulated cortisol secretion was significantly associated with the risk of the person being frail.

    His team measured cortisol levels of 745 participants between the ages of 65 and 90 years at three different times of the day -- as soon as the person woke up, 30minutes after edjing up and in the evening.

    "Our results suggest a link between disrupted cortisol regulation and the loss of muscle mass and strength, as the underlying pathophysiology of frailty," said one of the team members, Hamimatunnisa Johar. The research can help scientists work towards reducing cortisol levels in the elderly.


  4. #834
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    PIO develops cheap paper test to detect cancer

    An Indian-American scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has developed a cheap, simple, paper test that can detect cancer, circumventing expensive approaches such as mammograms and colonoscopy.

    The diagnostic, which works much like a pregnancy test, could reveal within minutes, based on a urine sample, whether a person has cancer, MIT said in a statement announcing the amazing breakthrough, adding that while this approach has helped detect infectious diseases, the new technology will do allow non-communicable diseases to be detected using the same strategy.

    The star at the center of this breakthrough us technology is MIT professor and Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator Sangeeta Bhatia, already a star in the US scientific firmament. The US born Bhatia explained that the paper test essentially relies on nanoparticles that interact with tumor proteins called proteases, each of which can trigger release of hundreds of biomarkers that are then easily detectable in a patient's urine.

    "When we invented this new class of synthetic biomarker, we used a highly specialized instrument to do the analysis," said Bhatia, who is also the John and Dorothy Wilson Professor of Health Sciences and Technology and Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. "For the developing world, we thought it would be exciting to adapt it instead to a paper test that could be performed on unprocessed samples in a rural setting, without the need for any specialized equipment. The simple readout could even be transmitted to a remote caregiver by a picture on a mobile phone."

    Cancer rates in developing nations have climbed sharply in recent years, and now account for 70 percent of cancer mortality worldwide. Early detection has been proven to improve outcomes, but screening approaches such as mammograms and colonoscopy, used in the developed world, are too costly to be implemented in settings with little medical infrastructure.

    Bhatia, who is also a member of MIT's Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research and Institute for Medical Engineering and Science, is the senior author of a paper describing the particles in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences scheduled this week. The paper's lead authors are graduate student Andrew Warren, postdoc Gabriel Kwong, and former postdoc David Wood.

    (MIT said that in 2012, Bhatia and colleagues introduced the concept of a synthetic biomarker technology to amplify signals from tumor proteins that would be hard to detect on their own. These proteins, known as matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs), help cancer cells escape their original locations by cutting through proteins of the extracellular matrix, which normally holds cells in place.

    The MIT nanoparticles are coated with peptides (short protein fragments) targeted by different MMPs. These particles congregate at tumor sites, where MMPs cleave hundreds of peptides, which accumulate in the kidneys and are excreted in the urine.

    In the original version of the technology, these peptides were detected using an instrument called a mass spectrometer, which analyzes the molecular makeup of a sample. However, these instruments are not readily available in the developing world, so the researchers adapted the particles so they could be analyzed on paper, using an approach known as a lateral flow assay — the same technology used in pregnancy tests.

    To create the test strips, the researchers first coated nitrocellulose paper with antibodies that can capture the peptides. Once the peptides are captured, they flow along the strip and are exposed to several invisible test lines made of other antibodies specific to different tags attached to the peptides. If one of these lines becomes visible, it means the target peptide is present in the sample. The technology can also easily be modified to detect multiple types of peptides released by different types or stages of disease.

    In tests in mice, the researchers were able to accurately identify colon tumors, as well as blood clots. Bhatia says these tests represent the first step toward a diagnostic device that could someday be useful in human patients. "This is a new idea — to create an excreted biomarker instead of relying on what the body gives you," she says. "To prove this approach is really going to be a useful diagnostic, the next step is to test it in patient populations."

    Bhatia and her team's research have other Indian inputs: They won a grant from MIT's Deshpande Center for Technological Innovation (funded by Indian-American tech entrepreneur Desh Deshpande) to develop a business plan for a startup that could work on commercializing the technology and performing clinical trials. The research was also funded by, among others, by a Mazumdar-Shaw International Oncology Fellowship, backed by Indian bio-tech entrepreneur Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw.


  5. #835
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Heart grown in lab to beat in body

    Watching tiny cells grow into a human organ in a lab is no longer in the realm of science fiction. Scientists across the globe have managed to grow tissues and organs, and regenerative medicine is now one of the most promising fields in medical science. India is catching up and closer home, researchers at Indian Institute of Technology, Madras (IIT-M ) have announced that a group of rats will soon receive heart or liver cells grown in their labs.

    Patches of these cells will be surgically placed in rats at the Central Drug Research Laboratory, Lucknow. "It will open new avenues of treatment for humans," said Rama S Verma, professor, department of biotechnology, IIT-M. "It may delay or replace organ transplant."

    IIT-M programmed stem cells derived from cord blood and bone marrow to grow into liver cells. Its scientists grew these cells in a special polymer gel. "They matched the qualities of liver cells. In theory, these cells can reverse or delay organ damage in people with early stages of liver failure. If animal trials succeed, we will start trial in humans," Verma said. Simultaneously, they would do animal research using heart cells.

    Attempts to reverse organ failure with a patient's own cells are being made in many countries. Though it is too early to say if regenerative medicine will do away with organ transplant, doctors said some clinical trials had shown positive results. Sankara Nethralaya, Arvind Eye Hospital and LV Prasad Eye Institute have used stem cells to reverse blindness. Opthalmologists use limbus stem cells in patient's eyes to repair the epithelial layer of cornea. "We avoid corneal transplant in at least 50% of the cases," said Dr S Krishnakumar of Vision Research Institute at Sankara Nethralaya.

    Doctors abroad have grown urethras, bladders, ear and bones from stem cells. Scientists are working with doctors to expand their applications to overcome the two disadvantages in organ transplants — use of immunosuppressants and organ rejection. "To prevent patients' immune systems from fighting the donor organ, we put them on drugs that suppress the immune system. Sometimes, despite medicines organs get rejected. When we use the patient's own cells, chances of rejection are minimal. Immunosuppressant drugs can be avoided," said liver transplant surgeon Dr Mohamed Rela, who works with Global Hospitals.

    His hospital plans to set up an animal lab to start a series of experiments on regenerative medicine. "From experience we know that stem cells are more likely to work in patients with acute liver failure because there is no structural damage to the organ. There is no ongoing threat to new cells. But transplant might be the only option for patients with chronic liver failure caused by hepatitis or alcoholism," he said.

    To train doctors, the state medical university has collaborated with Nichi-In Centre for Regenerative Medicine to offer courses in regenerative medicine.

    Senior surgical gastroenterologist Dr R Surendran, who started a stem cell lab at the Government Stanley Medical College, said, "It's the future of medicine. If we don't update ourselves, we will be left behind."


  6. #836
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Heart grown in lab to beat in body

    Watching tiny cells grow into a human organ in a lab is no longer in the realm of science fiction. Scientists across the globe have managed to grow tissues and organs, and regenerative medicine is now one of the most promising fields in medical science. India is catching up and closer home, researchers at Indian Institute of Technology, Madras (IIT-M ) have announced that a group of rats will soon receive heart or liver cells grown in their labs.

    Patches of these cells will be surgically placed in rats at the Central Drug Research Laboratory, Lucknow. "It will open new avenues of treatment for humans," said Rama S Verma, professor, department of biotechnology, IIT-M. "It may delay or replace organ transplant."

    IIT-M programmed stem cells derived from cord blood and bone marrow to grow into liver cells. Its scientists grew these cells in a special polymer gel. "They matched the qualities of liver cells. In theory, these cells can reverse or delay organ damage in people with early stages of liver failure. If animal trials succeed, we will start trial in humans," Verma said. Simultaneously, they would do animal research using heart cells.

    Attempts to reverse organ failure with a patient's own cells are being made in many countries. Though it is too early to say if regenerative medicine will do away with organ transplant, doctors said some clinical trials had shown positive results. Sankara Nethralaya, Arvind Eye Hospital and LV Prasad Eye Institute have used stem cells to reverse blindness. Opthalmologists use limbus stem cells in patient's eyes to repair the epithelial layer of cornea. "We avoid corneal transplant in at least 50% of the cases," said Dr S Krishnakumar of Vision Research Institute at Sankara Nethralaya.

    Doctors abroad have grown urethras, bladders, ear and bones from stem cells. Scientists are working with doctors to expand their applications to overcome the two disadvantages in organ transplants use of immunosuppressants and organ rejection. "To prevent patients' immune systems from fighting the donor organ, we put them on drugs that suppress the immune system. Sometimes, despite medicines organs get rejected. When we use the patient's own cells, chances of rejection are minimal. Immunosuppressant drugs can be avoided," said liver transplant surgeon Dr Mohamed Rela, who works with Global Hospitals.

    His hospital plans to set up an animal lab to start a series of experiments on regenerative medicine. "From experience we know that stem cells are more likely to work in patients with acute liver failure because there is no structural damage to the organ. There is no ongoing threat to new cells. But transplant might be the only option for patients with chronic liver failure caused by hepatitis or alcoholism," he said.

    To train doctors, the state medical university has collaborated with Nichi-In Centre for Regenerative Medicine to offer courses in regenerative medicine.

    Senior surgical gastroenterologist Dr R Surendran, who started a stem cell lab at the Government Stanley Medical College, said, "It's the future of medicine. If we don't update ourselves, we will be left behind."


  7. #837
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Depression can cause heart attacks

    A panel of medical experts have said that depression should be declared as an official risk factor for heart attacks.

    The recommendations were made by a 12-member panel of experts including Robert M Carney and Kenneth E Freedland, both professors of psychiatry at Washington University School of Medicine, to the American Heart Association (AHA).

    The risk factors already included are obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure and smoking.

    The group sifted through hundreds of studies looking at the link between depression and heart problems. Most of the studies found that depression made people more likely to have a heart attack or die from heart disease.

    "The findings didn't surprise us," said Carney. "Many studies have reported that depression predicts increased mortality, but it's rare to delve into this kind of research as deeply and as carefully as we have. Although we suspected we would find this link, having gone through all of these studies and conducted such a careful evaluation, we are more confident than ever that depression is a risk factor for mortality in people who have heart disease," he added.

    Carney and Freedland were chosen to be part of the expert panel because they have been studying depression's effects on heart disease for more than 25 years, first reporting in 1988 that depression predicts an increased risk of cardiac problems in patients with existing heart disease. Hundreds of studies have been conducted since then, and most have supported their initial observation.

    Carney noted that when people lose weight, lower their blood pressure or quit smoking, their risk of heart disease is lowered. But so far no studies have shown that treating depression lowers cardiac risk.

    "Unfortunately, very few studies have looked at that question. And only one study has included enough subjects to determine whether treating depression could lower the risk of having a heart attack or dying from heart disease. Treatment did not lower the risk of heart attack or death, but that was the first study of its kind. More clinical trials are needed to identify treatments that may improve heart health along with depression," Carney said.

    "We believe better depression treatments may improve survival." More effective treatments certainly will improve a patient's quality of life. More research will be needed, though, before we can say treating depression can improve heart health or survival in patients with heart disease," he added.


  8. #838
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Now, treat drug resistant TB with vinegar

    Vinegar may soon be used to cure Multi Drug Resistant Tuberculosis (MDR TB).

    The active ingredient in vinegar, acetic acid, can effectively kill mycobacteria even in the most virulent form of MDR TB an international team of researchers from Venezuela, France, and the US have found.

    Exposure to 6% acetic acid, just slightly more concentrated than supermarket vinegar for 30 minutes reduced the numbers of TB mycobacteria from around 100 million to undetectable levels.

    This has made scientists say that acetic acid might be used as an inexpensive and non-toxic disinfectant against drug-resistant tuberculosis (TB) bacteria as well as other stubborn, disinfectant-resistant mycobacteria.

    "Mycobacteria are known to cause TB and leprosy but non-TB mycobacteria are common in the environment even in tap water and are resistant to commonly used disinfectants. When they contaminate the sites of surgery or cosmetic procedures, they cause serious infections. Innately resistant to most antibiotics, they require months of therapy and can leave deforming scars," says Howard Takiff, head of the Laboratory of Molecular Genetics at the Venezuelan Institute of Scientific Investigation (IVIC).

    Takiff added, "Many cosmetic procedures are performed outside of hospital settings in developing countries, where effective disinfectants are not available. These bacteria are emerging pathogens. How do you get rid of them".

    While investigating the ability of non-TB mycobacteria to resist disinfectants and antibiotics, the team stumbled upon vinegar's ability to kill mycobacteria. Testing a drug that needed to be dissolved in acetic acid, the team found that the control, with acetic acid alone, killed the mycobacteria.

    "We tested for the minimal concentrations and exposure times that would kill different mycobacteria. Since the Venezuelan lab does not work with clinical TB, collaborators Catherine Vilcheze and William Jacobs at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York tested TB strains and found that exposure to a 6% solution of acetic acid for 30 minutes effectively kills tuberculosis, even strains resistant to almost all antibiotics," Takiff said.

    At present, less than 5% of the estimated global burden of MDR TB patients are being detected, lack of laboratory capacity and slow technology transfer to resource-limited settings being a crucial barrier. This is beneficial especially for India which is home to 73,000 patients with MDR TB.


  9. #839
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    BP reading in both arms key for healthy heart: Study

    # In a significant news for blood pressure (BP) patients and doctors alike, researchers have suggested to take BP reading in both arms, rather than the present system of measuring BP using one arm, for better cardiovasvular health.

    The difference in interarm systolic blood pressure - where both arms are used for BP reading - has now been linked to greater risk of future cardiovascular events.

    Measuring interarm blood pressure involves taking two readings, one for each arm.

    Increased interarm systolic blood pressure differences are defined as 10 mmHg or greater.

    "In this large community-based study, an increased interarm systolic blood pressure difference was found to be present in nearly 10 percent of individuals and is associated with increased levels of traditional cardiovascular risk factors," explained lead investigator Ido Weinberg from Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston.

    "An increased interarm systolic blood pressure difference is associated with an increased risk for incident cardiovascular events, independent of traditional cardiovascular risk factors," he cautioned.

    The researchers examined 3,390 participants aged 40 years and older, free of cardiovascular disease at baseline.

    The investigators found that participants with higher interarm systolic blood pressure differences were at a much higher risk for future cardiovascular events than those with less than a 10mm Hg difference between arms.

    The researchers also found that participants with elevated interarm blood pressure difference were older, had a greater prevalence of diabetes mellitus, higher systolic blood pressure and a higher total cholesterol level.

    The investigators suggest doctors should consider including blood pressure readings in both arms in order to get the most accurate readings possible and detect any differences in interarm blood pressure.

    Even modest differences in clinically-measured systolic blood pressures in the upper extremities reflect an increase in cardiovascular risk, said Weinberg in the research published in The American Journal of Medicine.


  10. #840
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Wrong footwear can lead to amputationin diabetics: Docs

    Wrong footwear can lead to debridement (removal of dead tissue) or even amputation if you are a diabetic. The warning comes from doctors at Sanjay Gandhi Post Graduate Institute of Medical Sciences who attend to about 500 diabetic foot cases every year. This happens when more than 75% of the foot related problems among diabetics are preventable.

    To discuss the issue in detail, SGPGI's endocrine surgery department is hosting a national workshop on diabetic foot on March 1 and 2.

    Giving more details, associate professor at SGPGI, Dr Gyan Chand, said nearly 25% patients of diabetes suffer from diabetic foot related complications. "Diabetics can develop many types of foot problems. Even ordinary problems can get worse and lead to serious complications. Foot problems most often happen when there is nerve damage, also called neuropathy, which results in loss of sensation in feet. Poor blood flow or changes in the shape of feet or toes may also cause problems," he said.

    A diabetic foot ulcer is an open sore or wound on the bottom of foot. This is the commonest region for hospitalisation and prolonged hospital-stay among diabetics. People with diabetes are at a heightened risk of lower limb amputation if proper care is not provided in time. Dr Chand said 75% of lower limb amputations occur among diabetics. "Loss of limb is not the only risk faced by diabetics. A study revealed that 50% of people who underwent diabetes-related lower limb amputations died within three years," he warned.

    Out of over 500 diabetic foot cases at PGI every year, more than 10% patients require surgery in form of debridement, minor and major amputation. "The number of diabetic foot patients is increasing every year in our outdoor and indoor but the rates," said Dr Gyan Chand. The numbers are sure to rise further considering the rapidly increasing diabetes population. Figures show that India has an estimated 4.1 crore diabetics. This is predicted to increase to 6.6 crore by 2025.

    Doctors, however, say that with some care almost 75% of diabetic-foot related amputations are preventable. "Wearing the correct footwear is the first step. One needs to be cautious not to wear too tight shoes or sandals to avert boils and rashes. Wearing a closed sandal is also recommended to avoid any injury. Keeping one's footwear clean from inside is also important to get rid of particles or pellets that may cause injury due to friction between the foot and the wall of the footwear," suggested Dr Chand.

    Choose Right Footwear

    - More than a million lower limb amputations are done across the world every year due to diabetic foot

    - Amputations are more common in 30-60 age group.

    - In India, 45,000 lower limb amputations are done every year.

    - A study revealed that 50% of people who underwent diabetes-related lower limb amputations died within 3 years.

    - A little care can help in preventing 75% of diabetic-foot related amputations.

    - Care for a diabetic foot begins by choosing the right kind of footwear.


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