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Health Bulletin


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  1. #81
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Skin cells directly turned into brain cells

    US researchers say they have directly converted ordinary skin cells to the type of brain cells destroyed in patients with multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy and other myelin disorders.

    The breakthrough research at Case Western Reserve School of Medicine now enables "on demand" production of myelinating cells, which provide a vital sheath of insulation that protects neurons and enables the delivery of brain impulses to the rest of the body.

    In patients with multiple sclerosis (MS), cerebral palsy (CP), and rare genetic disorders called leukodystrophies, myelinating cells are destroyed and cannot be replaced.

    The new technique involves directly converting fibroblasts - an abundant structural cell present in the skin and most organs - into oligodendrocytes, the type of cell responsible for myelinating the neurons of the brain.

    "Its 'cellular alchemy,'" said Paul Tesar, assistant professor of genetics and genome sciences at Case Western Reserve School of Medicine and senior author of the study.

    "We are taking a readily accessible and abundant cell and completely switching its identity to become a highly valuable cell for therapy," Tesar said.
    In a process termed "cellular reprogramming," researchers manipulated the levels of three naturally occurring proteins to induce fibroblast cells to become precursors to oligodendrocytes (called oligodendrocyte progenitor cells, or OPCs).
    Researchers rapidly generated billions of these induced OPCs (called iOPCs).
    They showed that iOPCs could regenerate new myelin coatings around nerves after being transplanted to mice – a result that offers hope the technique might be used to treat human myelin disorders.
    When oligodendrocytes are damaged or become dysfunctional in myelinating diseases, the insulating myelin coating that normally coats nerves is lost. A cure requires the myelin coating to be regenerated by replacement oligodendrocytes.

    Until now, OPCs and oligodendrocytes could only be obtained from fetal tissue or pluripotent stem cells. These techniques have been valuable, but with limitations.


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  2. #82
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Skin cells directly turned into brain cells

    US researchers say they have directly converted ordinary skin cells to the type of brain cells destroyed in patients with multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy and other myelin disorders.

    The breakthrough research at Case Western Reserve School of Medicine now enables "on demand" production of myelinating cells, which provide a vital sheath of insulation that protects neurons and enables the delivery of brain impulses to the rest of the body.

    In patients with multiple sclerosis (MS), cerebral palsy (CP), and rare genetic disorders called leukodystrophies, myelinating cells are destroyed and cannot be replaced.

    The new technique involves directly converting fibroblasts - an abundant structural cell present in the skin and most organs - into oligodendrocytes, the type of cell responsible for myelinating the neurons of the brain.

    "Its 'cellular alchemy,'" said Paul Tesar, assistant professor of genetics and genome sciences at Case Western Reserve School of Medicine and senior author of the study.

    "We are taking a readily accessible and abundant cell and completely switching its identity to become a highly valuable cell for therapy," Tesar said.
    In a process termed "cellular reprogramming," researchers manipulated the levels of three naturally occurring proteins to induce fibroblast cells to become precursors to oligodendrocytes (called oligodendrocyte progenitor cells, or OPCs).
    Researchers rapidly generated billions of these induced OPCs (called iOPCs).
    They showed that iOPCs could regenerate new myelin coatings around nerves after being transplanted to mice a result that offers hope the technique might be used to treat human myelin disorders.
    When oligodendrocytes are damaged or become dysfunctional in myelinating diseases, the insulating myelin coating that normally coats nerves is lost. A cure requires the myelin coating to be regenerated by replacement oligodendrocytes.

    Until now, OPCs and oligodendrocytes could only be obtained from fetal tissue or pluripotent stem cells. These techniques have been valuable, but with limitations.


  3. #83
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Drinking beetroot juice daily may help lower blood pressure

    A glass of beetroot juice daily may help reduce your blood pressure, according to a new study led by an Indian-origin researcher.

    The study, published in the American Heart Association journal Hypertension found that people with high blood pressure who drank about 227 gram of beetroot juice experienced a decrease in blood pressure of about 10 mm Hg. But the preliminary findings don't yet suggest that supplementing your diet with beetroot juice benefits your health, researchers said.

    "Our hope is that increasing one's intake of vegetables with a high dietary nitrate content, such as green leafy vegetables or beetroot, might be a lifestyle approach that one could easily employ to improve cardiovascular health," said

    Amrita Ahluwalia, lead author of the study and a professor of vascular pharmacology at The Barts and The London Medical School The beetroot juice contained about 0.2g of dietary nitrate, levels one might find in a large bowl of lettuce or perhaps two beetroots.

    In the body the nitrate is converted to a chemical called nitrite and then to nitric oxide in the blood. Nitric oxide is a gas that widens blood vessels and aids blood flow. "We were surprised by how little nitrate was needed to see such a large effect," Ahluwalia said. "This study shows that compared to individuals with healthy blood pressure much less nitrate is needed to produce the kinds of decreases in blood pressure that might provide clinical benefits in people who need to lower their blood pressure.

    "However, we are still uncertain as to whether this effect is maintained in the long term," she said in a statement. The study involved eight women and seven men who had a systolic blood pressure between 140 to 159 millimetres of mercury (mm Hg), did not have other medical complications and were not taking blood pressure medication.

    The study participants drank 250 ml of beetroot juice or water containing a low amount of nitrate, and had their blood pressure monitored over the next 24 hours. Compared with the placebo group, participants drinking beetroot juice had reduced systolic and diastolic blood pressure - even after nitrite circulating in the blood had returned to their previous levels prior to drinking beetroot.

    The effect was most pronounced three to six hours after drinking the juice but still present even 24 hours later.


  4. #84
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Brain stimulation curbs cigarette craving


    Stimulating a portion of the brain with magnetic fields temporarily reduces the craving for cigarettes felt by smokers, researchers say.

    A new study found that a single 15-minute session of high frequency trans-cranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) over the prefrontal cortex temporarily reduced cue-induced smoking craving in nicotine-dependent individuals.

    Nicotine activates the dopamine system and reward-related regions in the brain. Nicotine withdrawal naturally results in decreased activity of these regions, which has been closely associated with craving, relapse, and continued nicotine consumption.

    One of the critical reward-related regions is the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, which can be targeted using a brain stimulation technology called trans-cranial magnetic stimulation, according to the study published in journal Biological Psychiatry. Trans-cranial magnetic stimulation is a non-invasive procedure that uses magnetic fields to stimulate nerve cells.

    It does not require sedation or anaesthesia and so patients remain awake, reclined in a chair, while treatment is administered through coils placed near the forehead.

    Dr Xingbao Li and colleagues at Medical University of South Carolina examined cravings triggered by smoking cues in 6 nicotine-dependent volunteers who received one session each of high frequency or sham repetitive trans-cranial magnetic stimulation applied over the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex.

    They found that craving induced by smoking cues was reduced after participants received real stimulation. They also reported that the reduction in cue-induced craving was positively correlated with level of nicotine dependence, in other words, the TMS-induced craving reductions were greater in those with higher levels of nicotine use.

    "While this was only a temporary effect, it raises the possibility that repeated TMS sessions might ultimately be used to help smokers quit smoking," said Li. Cigarette smoking is the leading cause of preventable deaths globally. Smoking cessation is difficult, with more than 90 per cent of attempts to quit resulting in relapse.


  5. #85
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Key link between obesity and type 2 diabetes discovered

    New research published in the journal 'Cell Metabolism' has identified a key mechanism in the immune system involved in the development of obesity-linked type 2 diabetes. The findings open up new possibilities for the treatment and prevention of this condition, which is becoming increasingly prevalent worldwide. The study is by Dr Jane Howard and Professor Graham Lord, King's College London, and colleagues, and is funded by the UK medical research council.

    There are an estimated 371 million people with diabetes in the world and around 90 per cent of these cases are type 2 diabetes. By 2030, there will be some 550 million with the condition based on current trends. Cases of diabetes have more than doubled since 1980, with 70 per cent of the trend due to ageing populations worldwide and the other 30 per cent estimated to be due to the increasing prevalence of risk factors including obesity.

    "In 2011, India had 62.4 million people with type 2 diabetes, compared with 50.8 million the previous year. By 2030, the International Diabetes Federation predicts that India will have 100 million people with diabetes."

    The association between obesity and diabetes has long been recognized but the molecules responsible for this association are unclear. Dr Jane Howard, lead author in this research and colleagues from King's, studied genetically engineered mice that lack T-bet, a protein which regulates the differentiation and function of immune cells. They found that the mice had improved insulin sensitivity despite being obese.

    "When T-bet was absent, this altered the relationship between fat and insulin resistance; the mice had more intra-abdominal fat but were actually more sensitive to the glucose lowering effects of insulin,' said Dr Howard. 'As fat accumulation in the abdomen is typically associated with worsening insulin resistance and other features of the metabolic syndrome, the findings seen were both unusual and unexpected."

    It turned out that the intra-abdominal fat of these mice contained fewer immune cells and was less inflamed than that of normal mice. The researchers then went on to discover that by transferring immune cells lacking T-bet to young, lean mice they were able to improve insulin sensitivity. "It appears that T-bet expression in the adaptive immune system is able to influence metabolic physiology," added professor Lord.

    Although human obesity is often associated with insulin resistance and diabetes, this is not always the case. "Our data suggests that obesity can be uncoupled from insulin resistance, through the absence of T-bet," said Dr Howard.

    Several of the main drugs currently used to treat type 2 diabetes work by improving insulin sensitivity. Further studies are needed to identify other molecules in the pathway of action of T-bet which could pave the way for future drug development in the treatment of Type 2 diabetes. The administration of specific immune cells as immunotherapy to improve insulin resistance may also one day become a therapeutic possibility. "This is just the start," said Dr Howard, "The idea that the immune system can impact on metabolism is very exciting, but more research needs to be done before we can bring this work from the bench to the bedside for the benefit of patients."


  6. #86
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Only 1 antibiotic discovered in last three years

    : Even as bugs become resistant to existing drugs, progress in antibiotic development has been found to be "alarmingly elusive".


    Since 2010, only one new antibiotic has been launched since the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA) launched its 10x20 initiative.

    What's worse, as against the desperate need for new antibiotics to combat increasingly deadly resistant bacteria, IDSA has only identified seven new drugs in development for the treatment of infections caused by multidrug-resistant gram-negative bacilli (GNB) bacteria.

    GNB, which include the "nightmare bacteria" to which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) alerted the public in its March 2013 Vital Signs report, represent the most pressing medical need.

    Importantly, there is no guarantee that any of the drugs currently in development to treat GNB will make it across the finish line to FDA approval and none of them will work against the most resistant bugs we're worried about today.

    While a new infectious disease has been discovered nearly every year over the past 30 years, there have been no new antibiotics since 1987, leaving our armoury nearly empty as diseases become resistant to existing drugs.

    "The barriers to approval of nine additional antibiotics by 2020 seem insurmountable," said Henry Chambers, chair of IDSA's Antimicrobial Resistance Committee (ARC).

    "We're losing ground because we are not developing new drugs in pace with superbugs' ability to develop resistance to them. We're on the precipice of returning to the dark days before antibiotics enabled safer surgery, chemotherapy and the care of premature infants. We're all at risk," said Helen Boucher, from IDSA.

    In the past year, the heads of CDC and the World Health Organization, along with the United Kingdom's chief medical officer, have all sounded the alarm about rising rates of antibiotic resistance.

    Resistance to antibiotics is all set to get listed alongside catastrophic terrorist attack, severe gas-rich volcanic eruptions, coastal flooding and pandemic influenza in UK's National Risk of Civil Emergencies. England's chief medical officer Professor Dame Sally Davies recently called antibiotic resistance a "ticking time bomb" with the world facing an "apocalyptic scenario" where 7% of all hospital admissions are taking place due to drug resistant infections.

    She also warned that the global health system could slip back by 200 years unless the catastrophic threat of antibiotic resistance is successfully tackled.

    A recent study by the Centre for Disease Dynamics, Economics and Policy, Washington DC, said there has been a six-fold increase in the number of antibiotics being popped by Indians.

    This includes the retail sale of Carbapenems - a powerful class IV antibiotic, typically used as a "last resort" to treat serious infections caused by multi-drug resistant, gramnegative pathogens. The CDDEP study said that retail sale of carbapenems increased six times - from 0.21 units per million in 2005 to 1.23 in 2010 - raising serious fears of resistance to these drugs.


  7. #87
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    New tech may help diagnose cancer early

    Scientists have developed a new technique of weighing microscopic particles such as single atoms or protons, as well as cancer DNA, which may lead to early diagnosis of the disease.

    Researchers led by Zhu Kadi from the Shanghai Jiaotong University, proposed the optical mass sensing technique to measure the masses of tiny objects, a method several times more sensitive than previous techniques.
    The technology may be used for early detection of cancer cells. "The mass of cancer DNA molecules should be different from that of normal ones. So the technology could be used to find these cells," Zhu predicted. "The technique is still theoretical. We are looking for partners to carry out experiments," said Zhu.

    Traditional measurement method can only weigh a bunch of atoms, and then estimate the mass of a single atom, state-run Xinhua news agency reported.

    "We propose a system consisting of a nanoscale vibrating bar containing an embedded quantum dot and a metal nanoparticle sphere.

    "When a tiny object, such as an atom or a strand of DNA, is placed onto the bar, the extra mass of the tiny object will change the bar's vibration frequency, which could be measured with lasers," Zhu said."There is no new physical theory being applied. But nobody has thought about the measurement in this way. Using lasers, rather than wires, is the key of the new technique," he said.

    In recent years, many researchers have been exploring nanotechnologies to create more sensitive measuring instruments, but they have all relied on electrical circuitry to communicate with the sample.

    "Those techniques cannot be used to measure uncharged particles. For example, the DNA molecules will be destroyed if they are charged," Zhu said. The study was published in journal Physics Reports.


  8. #88
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Depression too can be contagious

    A particular style of thinking that makes people vulnerable to depression can actually "rub off" on others, a new study has claimed. The study, by psychological scientists Gerald Haeffel and Jennifer Hames of the University of Notre Dame shows that people who respond negatively to stressful life events are more vulnerable to depression.

    This "cognitive vulnerability" is such a potent risk factor for depression that it can be used to predict which individuals are likely to experience a depressive episode in the future, even if they have never had a depression before. They hypothesised that cognitive vulnerability might be "contagious" during major life transitions, when our social environments are in flux.

    They tested their hypothesis using data from 103 randomly assigned roommate pairs. The results revealed that freshmen who were randomly assigned to a roommate with high levels of cognitive vulnerability were likely to "catch" their roommate's cognitive style and develop higher levels of vulnerability.


  9. #89
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Broccoli eases symptoms of PMT

    Women can now ease symptoms of PMT with this vegetable.

    Women have long battled the symptoms of Premenstrual Tension (PMT), and now, there seems to be a solution in sight. New research has established that women who tend to eat food rich in non-heme iron, found in Broccoli, are less likelier to suffer from the dreaded premenstrual tension. This is because iron helps aid the production of brain chemical serotonin, which is known to regulate mood.

    The study took into account the health of 3,000 nurses over 10 years.At the start of the study, all participants admitted that they suffered from PMT, but at the end of a decade, only a third were diagnosed with it while two-thirds were not. What researchers discovered was a link between high consumption of non-heme iron and a lower chance of developing PMT.
    Women who had more than 20mg of broccoli a day were 30 to 40% less likely to suffer from PMT than women who didn't have broccoli.


  10. #90
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Mediterranean diet good for older adults

    Mediterranean diet lowers the risk of a condition associated with hypertension, type 2 diabetes mellitus, arthritis, and cardiovascular diseases, a new research has claimed.

    The study found that a baseline adherence to a Mediterranean diet (MeDiet) is associated with a lower risk of hyperuricemia, defined as a serum uric acid (SUA) concentration higher than 7mg/dl in men and higher than 6mg/dl in women.

    Researchers said hyperuricemia has been associated with metabolic syndrome, hypertension, type 2 diabetes mellitus, chronic kidney disease, gout, and cardiovascular morbidity and mortality.

    The MeDiet is characterised by a high consumption of fruits, vegetables, legumes, olive oil, nuts, and whole grain; a moderate consumption of wine, dairy products, and poultry, and a low consumption of red meat, sweet beverages, creams, and pastries.

    Due to its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, the MeDiet might play a role in decreasing SUA concentrations. Conducted by Marta Guasch-Ferre and 11 others, the study published in the Journals of Gerontology Series A: Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences, is the first to analyse the relationship between adherence to a MeDiet in older adults and the risk of hyperuricemia.

    The five-year study looks at 7,447 participants assigned to one of three intervention diets - two MeDiets enriched with extra virgin olive oil or mixed nuts, or a control low-fat diet.

    Participants were men aged 55 to 80 years and women aged 60 to 80 years who were free of cardiovascular disease but who had either type 2 diabetes mellitus or were at risk of coronary heart disease.

    The findings demonstrate the positive health effects of a MeDiet in older adults: Rates of reversion were higher among hyperuricemic participants at baseline who had greater adherence to the MeDiet.
    Reversion of hyperuricemia was achieved by adherence to the MeDiet alone, without weight loss or changes to physical activity, researchers said.


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