9th Mar 2014, 05:43 PM #871
Re: Health Bulletin
LSD can help ease fear of death
Scientists have carried out the first controlled medical experiment in 40 years with the hallucinogenic drug LSD which they used as part of a psychotherapy course to treat severe depression in terminally ill cancer patients.
Volunteers given high doses of LSD - which came to prominence in the hippy culture of the 1960s - showed a 20 per cent decline in their symptoms associated with the extreme anxiety of their medical condition, the researchers found.
The small pilot trial, which involved just 12 men and women, also showed that there were no severe side-effects of lysergic acid diethylamide, the psychoactive chemical commonly known as "acid". However, their depressive symptoms did get worse when given only low doses of LSD, the scientists said.
"These results indicate that when administered safely in a methodologically rigorous medically supervised psychotherapeutic setting, LSD can reduce anxiety, suggesting that larger controlled studies are warranted," concluded the study published in the Journal of Nervous and Medical Disease.
Peter Gasser, a psychiatrist based at a private practice in Solothurn, Switzerland, said that all but one of the 12 volunteers enrolled to take part in the trial had never taken LSD before but all of them said that they would take it again and would recommend it to other patients in a similar position.
"All of them said after 12 months of taking the drug that it was worth taking part in the trial and they would come again if asked. They also said they would recommend it for other people in the same position as themselves," Dr Gasser said.
"We showed that all the treatments were safe and any adverse effects were only mild and temporary - they did not last for more than a day or so. It can be a safe treatment with good efficacy, and it justifies further research with a larger number of people," he said.
Eight of the 12 patients were given the full dose of LSD, while four were give an "active placebo", which was a low-enough dose not to cause an effect. The anxiety symptoms associated with depressive illness increased in the low-dose group, who were subsequently offered the high-dose treatment, Dr Gasser said.
A 50-year-old Austrian social worker called Peter, who was one of the volunteers, told the New York Times: "I'd never taken the drug before, so I was feeling - well I think the proper word for it in English is dread. There was this fear that it could all go wrong, that it could turn into a bad trip," Each volunteer had two sessions with LSD which they took in a safe, quiet and pleasant room in a private clinic with a doctor in attendance.
9th Mar 2014, 05:46 PM #872
Re: Health Bulletin
Misplaced protein causes heart failure: Study
A protein called junctophilin-2 (JP2) plays a key role heart failure, suggests a study done by University of Iowa.
The finding may pave the way for development of new drugs to treat heart failure, which is a leading cause of death.
The study published in journal Circulation said that it is known that JP2 protein is important for normal functioning of the heart muscle membrane network called Transverse-tubules or T-tubules. "T-tubules help transmit electrical and chemical signals that make a heart-beat,'' said a university press release.
The university team studied microtubules, a network of fibers inside heart cells, in mouse models and found any high density of microtubules is always accompanied by abnormal localization of JP2 away from the T-tubule sites. There is instead a heavy concentration of JP2 to the periphery of the heart cell. "This abnormal distribution pattern is also seen in animal models of heart failure and in failing human heart muscle,'' it added.
The researchers also found that the drug colchicines decreases microtubule density and thus prevents the abnormal redistribution of JP2. The mouse is thus protected from heart failure.
"The findings suggest that colchicine could be considered as a treatment for patients with heart failure," said Long-Sheng Song, associate professor of internal medicine at the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine. "The study also suggests that future approaches targeting junctophilin-2 directly might be a potential strategy for treating heart failure."
9th Mar 2014, 05:48 PM #873
Re: Health Bulletin
Stress causes cancer, expert says
"I don't drink, smoke and eat non-vegetarian food. In fact my family has no history of any chronic illness. Then how can I have cancer?" - These were the very first thoughts that crossed Seetha's mind when she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer 17 years ago.
Despite doctors giving her a lease of three years to live, Seetha fought against the disease that sends a chill down everyone's spine and today she is a part of Apollo's cancer support group.
Apollo Hospitals in Chennai conducted a breast cancer awareness programme on Saturday on the occasion of the International Women's Day. Oncologists and cancer survivors interacted with several women and shared tips for early detection of the disease.
Dr Selvi Radhakrishnan, oncoplastic breast surgeon, said in almost 70% of the patients she diagnosed with breast cancer, the stress factor always preceded diagnosis. "I always ask my patients if there was a life-changing event in the recent past and they invariably end up telling me that they underwent a rough patch," she said.
Pointing out that a lot of stress surrounded in detection and treatment of cancer, Dr Selvi said a recent Canadian study has shown that people who were stressed were more prone to changes that result in cancer. Studies have also shown that patients who had cancer and did not worry too much about it responded to treatment, 40 times better than the others.
A video clip on how to perform a self breast examination was played for the gathering and experts insisted that women should always approach a doctor if there was any abnormality in their breasts. "But mild discolouration and discharge in women who are on medication for other medical problems is normal. There is a thin line between awareness and paranoia," said Dr Selvi.
It is advisable to do the self breast exam every month. The five minutes invested in it would go a long way in early detection, she added.
Cancer survivor Niraja Malik, who has been battling with the disease for 16 years, said that it was important to maintain reports of all the check ups. "The key is to have a positive attitude and face the disease. Diagnosis is just a detour," she said.
10th Mar 2014, 04:12 PM #874
Re: Health Bulletin
Stem cell study sheds new light on disease formation
For the first time, researchers have shown that an essential biological process known as protein synthesis can be studied in adult stem cells.
The ground-breaking findings also demonstrate that the precise amount of protein produced by blood-forming stem cells is crucial to their function.
"This finding not only tells us something new about stem cell regulation but also opens up the ability to study differences in protein synthesis between many kinds of cells in the body," said Sean Morrison, director of the children's medical centre research institute at University of Toronto.
The discovery measures protein production, a process known as translation, and shows that protein synthesis is not only fundamental to how stem cells are regulated, but also is critical to their regenerative potential.
Different types of blood cells produce vastly different amounts of protein per hour, and stem cells in particular synthesise much less protein than any other blood-forming cells.
"This result suggests that blood-forming stem cells require a lower rate of protein synthesis as compared to other blood-forming cells," Morrison added.
Researchers applied the findings to a mouse model with a genetic mutation in a component of the ribosome - the machinery that makes proteins - and the rate of protein production was reduced in stem cells by 30 percent.
The scientists also increased the rate of protein synthesis by deleting the tumour-suppressor gene 'Pten' in blood-forming stem cells.
In both instances, stem cell function was noticeably impaired.
Together, these observations demonstrate that blood-forming stem cells require a highly regulated rate of protein synthesis - such that increases or decreases in that rate impair stem cell function.
"Many people think of protein synthesis as a housekeeping function, in that it happens behind the scenes in all cells. The reality is that a lot of housekeeping functions are highly regulated," explained Robert A J Signer, a post-doctoral research fellow in Morrison's laboratory.
Many diseases, including degenerative diseases and certain types of cancers, are associated with mutations in the machinery that makes proteins.
Discoveries such as this raise the possibility that changes in protein synthesis are necessary for the development of those diseases, said the study published in the journal Nature.
10th Mar 2014, 04:40 PM #875
Re: Health Bulletin
Sniffing out cancer with electronic noses
We may soon be able to obtain easy and early diagnoses of diseases by smell. This week researchers found one odour-sniffing machine was as good as a mammogram at detecting breast cancer - and many other devices capable of spotting other diseases may be on the way.
"I may sound crazy but I'm not," writes Joanie, on an online support forum for people affected by cancer. She relates how, while her husband suffered from prostate cancer, she could smell "an odour similar to decay". It went away with the cancer, but in 2012 she was alarmed to smell the putrid stench once again. Not long afterwards, Joanie herself was diagnosed with lung cancer.
Although many cancer sufferers and their relatives do not notice a nasty smell, Joanie's experience is not unusual. "I've had numerous people writing to me about this," says George Preti from the Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia. "I've had lots of notes from nurses and researchers in the area, but they're mostly anecdotal reports."
Throughout history, doctors have sniffed their patients' breath, urine, stool and other bodily fluids to help with diagnoses. A 2011 review article featured "smelling notes" of dozens of diseases. Yellow fever is said to smell like a butcher's shop, liver failure like raw fish, and typhoid like freshly baked brown bread.
What diseases smell like Disease What to smell Aroma Source: Alphus D. Wilson, Manuela Baietto, "Advances in Electronic-Nose Technologies Developed for Biomedical Applications", published in Sensors Anaerobic infection Skin, sweat Rotten apples Bladder infection Urine Ammonia (window cleaner) Diabetes Breath Acetone-like (nail polish remover) Liver failure Breath Raw fish Rubella Sweat Freshly plucked feathers Schizophrenia Sweat Mildly acetic (vinegar) Scrofula Body Stale beer Typhoid Skin Freshly baked brown bread Yellow Fever Skin Butcher's shop
11th Mar 2014, 05:55 PM #876
Re: Health Bulletin
Anti-psychotic drugs could help treat brain cancer
In what could be a major medical breakthrough, researchers from the University of California's San Diego School of Medicine have found that anti-psychotic drugs can kill tumour cells in the most aggressive form of brain cancer called glioblastoma.
In the article published in Oncotarget medical journal, lead investigator Clark C Chen has spoken about using a relatively new technology platform called shRNA to test how each gene in the human genome contributed to glioblastoma growth.
"Chen has hailed ShRNAs as invaluable tools in the study of what genes do. They function like molecular erasers," he said. "We can design these 'erasers' against every gene in the human genome. These shRNAs can then be packaged into viruses and introduced into cancer cells. If a gene is required for glioblastoma growth and the shRNA erases the function of that gene, then the cancer cell will either stop growing or die."
The San Diego team found that many genes required for glioblastoma growth are also required for dopamine receptor function. Dopamine is a chemical released by nerve cells. It travels from one nerve cell and binds to the dopamine receptor in surrounding nerve cells, enabling cell communication.
Chen and his team tested the effects of dopamine antagonists against glioblastoma and found that these drugs exert significant anti-tumor effects both in cultured cells and mouse models. "The anti-glioblastoma effects of these drugs are completely unexpected and were only uncovered because we carried out an unbiased genetic screen," said Chen.
The discovery is important because many anti-psychotic drugs are already cleared for medical use by the US Food & Drug Administration in the treatment of other diseases. There is only a need to reposition these drugs for glioblastoma treatment.
11th Mar 2014, 06:00 PM #877
Re: Health Bulletin
Alzheimer’s risk: Blood test can tell
Scientists have developed a blood test that can predict with more than 90% accuracy if a healthy person will develop mild cognitive impairment or Alzheimer's disease within three years.
The blood test can identify 10 lipids, or fats, in the blood that predict Alzheimer's disease onset. It could be ready for use in clinical studies in as few as two years, researchers said.
"Our novel blood test offers the potential to identify people at risk for progressive cognitive decline and can change how patients, their families and treating physicians plan for and manage the disorder," said the study's corresponding author Howard J Federoff , professor of neurology and executive vice president for health sciences at Georgetown University Medical Center.
Federoff said that the efforts to develop drugs to slow or reverse the progression of Alzheimer's disease may have failed because the drugs were evaluated too late in the disease process. "The preclinical state of the disease offers a window of opportunity for timely disease-modifying intervention," Federoff said.
"Biomarkers such as ours that define this asymptomatic period are critical for successful development and application of these therapeutics," he added. The study included 525 healthy participants aged 70 and older who gave blood samples upon enrolling and at various points in the study.
Over the course of the five-year study, 74 participants met the criteria for either mild Alzheimer's disease (AD) or a condition known as amnestic mild cognitive impairment (aMCI), in which memory loss is prominent . Of these, 46 were diagnosed upon enrolment and 28 developed aMCI or mild AD during the study (the latter group called converters).
In the study's third year, the researchers selected 53 participants who developed aMCI/AD (including 18 converters) and 53 cognitively normal matched controls for the lipid biomarker discovery phase of the study.
A panel of 10 lipids was discovered, which appears to reveal the breakdown of neural cell membranes in participants who develop symptoms of cognitive impairment or AD. The panel was validated using the remaining 21 aMCI/AD participants (including 10 converters), and 20 controls. Blinded data were analysed to determine if the subjects could be characterised into the correct diagnostic categories based solely on the 10 lipids identified by researchers.
11th Mar 2014, 06:01 PM #878
Re: Health Bulletin
Nasal filter for checking allergies
Allergies, which affect 500 million people across the globe, could be controlled with a filter as small as an eye contact lens.
Developed by Danish university scientists, the filter can control symptoms relating to allergic rhinitis or hay fever such as itching, sneezing or sniffling. The study has just been published online in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.
The researchers from Aarhus University said that the filter, which can be inserted in both nostrils, blocks specific particles in the air - including pollen from grass. Incidentally, grass allergy is one of the most common reasons for allergic rhinitis.
The filter is not yet available in the market, with field tests set to begin later this year. Preliminary tests in our allergy chamber show that the filter can both alleviate typical symptoms, and that you will not experience unacceptable discomfort when using it,"" says Professor Torben Sigsgaard from Aarhus University.
There was apprehension that people using the filter may end up breathing through their mouths, thereby worsening the effects of allergies. However, Initial studies have also showed that throat irritation - which is a common symptom of allergic rhinitis - was reduced by 75% using the nasal filter.
11th Mar 2014, 06:15 PM #879
Re: Health Bulletin
Less than 10% of Indians get exercise
Doctors weren't surprised when the results of a national study on physical activity patterns concluded that Indians needed to walk, swim and spend more time in the gym. But what alarmed them was that they found less than 10% of Indians do any kind of physical activity.
They also found that one in two Indians is inactive, which puts them at risk of lifestyle disorders such as obesity, diabetes, cardiac diseases and cancer. Researchers surveyed 14,227 individuals in three states - Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra and Jharkhand and the Union territory of Chandigarh - which have a combined population of 213 million. They found that 54.4% of the population was physically inactive.
As a rule, men were more active than women, and people in rural areas up and about more than their urban counterparts. The highest recreational activity was reported by Chandigarh where 11.6% of the people said they did some physically intensive recreational activity, followed by Maharashtra (8.8%), Tamil Nadu (6.9%) and Jharkhand (5.2%). Most people said they spent their leisure time watching television. "That is not a pretty picture," said diabetologist Dr R M Anjana, who led the research. The findings were published recently in International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity. The authors said although they knew that many Indians were inactive, this is the first time they are documenting the level and kind of activity.
The paper, a part of Indian Council of Medical Research - India Diabetes (ICMR-INDIAB ) study, estimated that 392 million people in India are inactive. There is an urgent need to promote physical activity to stem the twin epidemics of diabetes and obesity in India, the study concluded.
Even people who exercised did not meet the weekly recommendations for cardiovascular activity, said diabetologist Dr V Mohan, who is national coordinator for the study. Experts recommended at least 150 minutes of moderateintensity physical exercise a week. "This is essentially 30 minutes of brisk walking, swimming, jogging or cycling at least five times a week. In India, people averaged just 19 minutes of exercise a day," he said.
Researchers found that the amount of physical activity has come down in most work places. "Walking to work, taking the stairs or doing household chores on their own don't give you enough exercise. All that should be in addition to your daily game of tennis or morning walk," said Dr Mohan.
12th Mar 2014, 04:46 PM #880
Re: Health Bulletin
Obese teenage girls are lower academic achievers: Study
Obese adolescent girls have lower academic attainment levels throughout their teenage years, according to a new study.
The results of the research conducted by the Universities of Dundee, Strathclyde, Georgia and Bristol showed that girls who were obese, as measured by BMI (body mass index) at age 11 had lower academic attainment at 11, 13, and 16 years when compared to those with healthy weight.
Attainment in the core subjects of English, Maths and Science for obese girls was lower by an amount equivalent to a D instead of a C, which was the average in the sample.
There is a clear pattern which shows that girls who are in the obese range are performing more poorly than their counterparts in the healthy weight range throughout their teenage years, said Dr Josie Booth of the School of Psychology at the University of Dundee.
The research is the most comprehensive study yet carried out into the association between obesity and academic attainment in adolescence.
The results are published in the International Journal of Obesity.
The study took into account possible mediating factors but found that these did not affect the overall results.
The study examined data from almost 6000 children from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC), including academic attainment assessed by national tests at 11, 13 and 16 years and weight status.
71.4 per cent were healthy weight (1935 male, 2325 female), 13.3 per cent overweight (372 male, 420 female) and 15.3 per cent obese (448 male, 466 female).
Associations between obesity and academic attainment were less clear in boys.
Prof John Reilly, University of Strathclyde, the Principal Investigator of the study, said, "further work is needed to understand why obesity is negatively related to academic attainment, but it is clear that teenagers, parents, and policymakers in education and public health should be aware of the lifelong educational and economic impact of obesity."
The researchers took into account potentially distorting factors such as socio-economic deprivation, mental health, IQ and age of menarche (onset of the menstrual cycle) but found these did not change the relationship between obesity and academic attainment.