27th Mar 2014, 12:03 PM #931
Re: Health Bulletin
Know the true age of your heart!
Will it be not good if you could learn how long you can live before your get a heart attack or stroke? Scientists have now designed a new tool that can predict that by calculating the true age of your heart.
The study even suggests that you can even lower the age of your heart by making amends in your lifestyle.
It is based on the growing body of evidence showing that there is a long build-up to heart disease, said the researchers from the board of Joint British Societies' consensus recommendations for the prevention of cardiovascular disease.
The 'JBS3' calculator takes into account people's current lifestyle, blood pressure, cholesterol level and medical conditions that may affect their heart.
For the majority of people, the calculator can show the potential gains from an early and sustained change to a healthier lifestyle rather than prescription of drugs, the researchers said.
Quitting smoking, adopting a healthy diet, exercising and reducing sedentary activity are regarded as ways to protect the heart.
The study appeared in the journal Heart.
27th Mar 2014, 12:06 PM #932
Re: Health Bulletin
New maps for navigating human genome unveiled
Scientists have built the clearest picture yet of how our genetic material is regulated in order to make the human body work.
They have mapped how a network of switches, built into our DNA, controls where and when our genes are turned on and off.
Scientists at the University of Edinburgh led the international project — called FANTOM5 — which has been examining how our genome holds the code for creating the fantastic diversity of cell types that make up a human.
The three year project, steered by the RIKEN Centre for Life Science Technologies in Japan, has involved more than 250 scientists in more than 20 countries and regions.
The study is a step change in our understanding of the human genome, which contains the genetic instructions needed to build and maintain all the many different cell types in the body, researchers said.
All of our cells contain the same instructions, but genes are turned on and off at different times in different cells.
This process is controlled by switches — called promoters and enhancers — found within the genome.
It is the flicking of these switches that makes a muscle cell different to a liver or skin cell.
The team studied the largest ever set of cell types and tissues from human and mouse in order to identify the location of these switches within the genome.
They also mapped where and when the switches are active in different cell types and how they interact with each other.
In a separate study, researchers used information from the atlas to investigate the regulation of an important set of genes that are required to build muscle and bone.
Another study has used the atlas to investigate the regulation of genes in cells of the immune system.
"The FANTOM5 project is a tremendous achievement. To use the analogy of an aeroplane, we have made a leap in understanding the function of all of the parts," Professor David Hume, Director of The Roslin Institute and a lead researcher on the project, said.
"And we have gone well beyond that, to understanding how they are connected and control the structures that enable flight," said Hume.
"The FANTOM5 project has identified new elements in the genome that are the targets of functional genetic variations in human populations, and also have obvious applications to other species," Hume said.
"The research gives us an insight as to why humans are different from other animals, even though we share many genes in common," Dr Martin Taylor, from the MRC Institute of Genetics and Molecular Medicine at the university, said.
"Comparing the mouse and human atlases reveals extensive rewiring of gene switches that has occurred over time, helping us to understand more about how we have evolved," said Taylor.
The findings were reported in a series of papers published in the journal Nature.
27th Mar 2014, 12:07 PM #933
Re: Health Bulletin
Doctors record higher level of blood pressure than nurses: Study
If your blood pressure is measured by a doctor, chances are it would be higher than levels recorded by nurses, says a study published in the British Journal of General Practice.
A review done by the University of Exeter Medical School found that recordings taken by doctors are significantly higher (by 7/4mmHg) than when the same patients are tested by nurses.
Dr Christopher Clark, of the University of Exeter Medical School, said the findings, should lead to changes in clinical practice. "Doctors should continue to measure blood pressure as part of the assessment of an ill patient or a routine check-up, but not where clinical decisions on blood pressure treatment depend on the outcome,'' he said.
White Coat Effect — the phenomenon of doctors recording higher blood pressure — is a well-known one, but it was often thought to be the result of a patient's anxiety at being in a doctor's clinic.
The Exeter University team examined the blood pressure levels of 1,019 individuals whose measurements had been taken by both doctors and nurses at the same visit. "Our results were pooled from different settings across ten countries so we can be confident that they can be generalised to any healthcare environment where blood pressure is being measured,'' said Dr Clark.
27th Mar 2014, 12:07 PM #934
Re: Health Bulletin
Brain differences in occasional drug users
The brain of youngsters who have taken stimulant drugs — even if it is only occasionally — shows a difference in its functioning, says a new study from the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine.
The researchers discovered impaired neuronal activity in the parts of the brain associated with anticipatory functioning among occasional 18- to 24-year-old users of stimulant drugs such as cocaine, amphetamines and prescription drugs such as Adderall, said a press release put out by the University.
The study, published in the March 26 issue of the Journal of Neuroscience, implies that brain activity patterns can be used as a means of identifying at-risk youth long before they have any obvious outward signs of addictive behaviors. "If you show me 100 college students and tell me which ones have taken stimulants a dozen times, I can tell you those students' brains are different," said the study's co-author Martin Paulus. "Our study is telling us, it's not 'this is your brain on drugs,' it's 'this is the brain that does drugs.'"
The study examined 18- to 24-year-old college students by showing them either an X or an O on a screen. They were instructed to press, as quickly as possible, a left button if an X appeared or a right button if an O appeared. If a tone was heard, they were instructed not to press a button. Each participant's reaction times and errors were measured and their brain activity was recorded via a functional-MRI machine.
Occasional users were characterized as having taken stimulants an average of 12 to 15 times. The control group included students who had never taken stimulants. Both groups were screened for factors, such as alcohol dependency and mental health disorders, that might have confounded the study's results.
The outcomes from the trials showed that occasional users have slightly faster reaction times, suggesting a tendency toward impulsivity. The most striking difference, however, occurred during the "stop" trials. Here, the occasional users made more mistakes, and their performance worsened, relative to the control group, as the task became harder (that is, when the tone occurred later in the trial).
"We used to think that drug addicts just did not hold themselves back but this work suggests that the root of this is an impaired ability to anticipate a situation and to detect trends in when they need to stop," said the researchers.
28th Mar 2014, 02:46 AM #935
Re: Health Bulletin
Cooking meat with beer may protect you from cancer
Beer, when used as a marinade, can help reduce the formation of potentially harmful cancer-causing substances in grilled meats, scientists have found.
Previous studies have shown an association between consumption of grilled meats and a high incidence of colorectal cancer.
Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) are substances that can form when meats are cooked at very high temperatures, like on a backyard grill.
High levels of PAHs, which are also in cigarette smoke and car exhaust, are associated with cancers in laboratory animals, although it is uncertain if that is true for people.
Beer, wine or tea marinades can reduce the levels of some potential carcinogens in cooked meat, but little was known about how different beer marinades affect PAH levels, until now.
The researchers, from the University of Vigo in Spain and University of Porto in Portugal, grilled samples of pork marinated for four hours in Pilsner beer, non-alcoholic Pilsner beer or a black beer ale, to well-done on a charcoal grill.
Black beer had the strongest effect, reducing the levels of eight major PAHs by more than half compared with unmarinated pork.
"Thus, the intake of beer marinated meat can be a suitable mitigation strategy," researchers said.
The study appears in American Chemical Society's Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. RCL AKJ RCL
28th Mar 2014, 11:24 AM #936
Re: Health Bulletin
Artificial lab grown baby soon
Scientists are on the verge of creating the world's first artificial human with the four major organs - liver, heart, lung and kidney that could change the way new drugs and toxic agents are screened.
The Advanced Tissue-Engineered Human Ectypal Network Analyzer project or Athena headed by an Indian based in the US is creating surrogate human organs - each of them the size of a smartphone screen that will be connected with tubes carrying artificial blood inside a human torso.
Scientists are all set to announce the successful development and analysis of a human liver organ construct -- that responds to exposure to a toxic chemical much like a real liver.
"By developing this homo minutus, we are stepping beyond the need for animal or petri dish testing. There are huge benefits in developing drug and toxicity analysis systems that can mimic the response of actual human organs," said Rashi Iyer from the Los Alamos National Laboratory, the lead laboratory on the five-year $19 million multi-institutional effort.
At present 40% of pharmaceuticals fail their clinical trials and there are thousands of chemicals whose effects on humans are simply unknown.
Providing a realistic, cost-effective and rapid screening system such as Athena could provide major benefits to the medical field, screening more accurately and offering a greater chance of clinical trial success. The project is supported by the Defence Threat Reduction Agency.
"By creating a dynamic system that more realistically mimics the human physiological environment than static human cells in a dish, we can understand chemical effects on human organs as never before," Rashi said, adding, "the ultimate goal is to build a lung that breathes, a heart that pumps, a liver that metabolizes and a kidney that excretes - all connected by a tubing infrastructure much akin to the way blood vessels connect our organs."
Co-principal investigator John Wikswo said, "We spent a bit of time analyzing the challenges in building miniature human organ constructs, and we believe we've figured out how to capture the key features we need. We're not trying to build an exact replica of a human liver, but an in vitro model that allows us to measure human liver responses to drugs and toxins that cannot be replicated by a layer of cells growing on plastic."
"The original impetus for this research comes from the problems we are having in developing new drugs," he said. "A number of promising new drugs that looked good in conventional cell culture and animal trials have failed when they were tested in humans, many due to toxic effects. That represents more than $1 billion in effort down the drain. Our current process of testing first in cell lines on plastic and then in mice, rats and other animals simply aren't working," he added.
28th Mar 2014, 11:24 AM #937
Re: Health Bulletin
Autism may begin in the womb: Study
Scientists have found clear and direct new evidence that autism begins during pregnancy.
Researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine and the Allen Institute for Brain Science analysed 25 genes in post-mortem brain tissue of children with and without autism.
These included genes that serve as biomarkers for brain cell types in different layers of the cortex, genes implicated in autism and several control genes.
"Building a baby's brain during pregnancy involves creating a cortex that contains six layers," said Eric Courchesne, professor of neurosciences and director of the Autism Center of Excellence at UC San Diego.
"We discovered focal patches of disrupted development of these cortical layers in the majority of children with autism," he said.
First author of the study Rich Stoner, of the UC San Diego Autism Center of Excellence created the first three-dimensional model visualising brain locations where patches of cortex had failed to develop the normal cell-layering pattern.
During early brain development, each cortical layer develops its own specific types of brain cells, each with specific patterns of brain connectivity that perform unique and important roles in processing information.
As a brain cell develops into a specific type in a specific layer with specific connections, it acquires a distinct genetic signature or "marker" that can be observed.
The study found that in the brains of children with autism, key genetic markers were absent in brain cells in multiple layers.
"This defect indicates that the crucial early developmental step of creating six distinct layers with specific types of brain cells - something that begins in prenatal life - had been disrupted," Courchesne said.
Equally important, said the scientists, these early developmental defects were present in focal patches of cortex, suggesting the defect is not uniform throughout the cortex.
The brain regions most affected by focal patches of absent gene markers were the frontal and the temporal cortex, possibly illuminating why different functional systems are impacted across individuals with the disorder.
The frontal cortex is associated with higher-order brain function, such as complex communication and comprehension of social cues. The temporal cortex is associated with language.
The disruptions of frontal and temporal cortical layers seen in the study may underlie symptoms most often displayed in autistic spectrum disorders, researchers said.
The visual cortex - an area of the brain associated with perception that tends to be spared in autism - displayed no abnormalities.
The study was published in the New England Journal of Medicine.
28th Mar 2014, 11:25 AM #938
Re: Health Bulletin
A ‘thinking cap’ that increases brain’s ability to learn from past mistakes!
Researchers from Vanderbilt University have created a “thinking cap” that electrically stimulates the brain to increase its ability to learn from mistakes.
Two psychologists from Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee — Ph.D. candidate Robert Reinhart and assistant professor of psychology Geoffrey Woodman — designed a cap that administers a low-level current to the brain to simulate the spike of negative voltage in the medial-front cortex.
They hypothesized that the spike plays a role in learning, allowing the brain to learn from mistakes, CNet reported.
Reinhart said that they wanted to test the actual function of these brainwaves and wanted to reach into the brain and causally control the inner critic.
The study is published online in The Journal of Neuroscience.
28th Mar 2014, 04:05 PM #939
Re: Health Bulletin
One in 68 children has autism: CDC
The number of children identified with autism is growing, with the latest estimates from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in Atlanta, US, suggesting that one in 68 children falls into the spectrum. April 2 is observed throughout the world as Autism Awareness Day.
The Autism Spectrum Disorder is the term to used describe children with neuro-developmental disorders that impairs social skills. Autism is called a spectrum disorder because no two children is similar: if one child has high IQ and low social skills, the other may have low IQ and severe sensitivity to touch.
On Thursday, CDC released figures from its surveillance report named, "Prevalence of Autism Spectrum Disorder among Children Aged 8 Years - Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network, 11 Sites, United States, 2010." It found roughly 30 % higher incidence than previous estimates reported in 2012 of 1 in 88 children being identified with an autism spectrum disorder.
The number of children identified with ASD ranged from 1 in 175 children in Alabama to 1 in 45 children in New Jersey.
The CDC study showed that autism is five times more common among boys than girls: 1 in 42 boys versus 1 in 189 girls.
The study found that almost half of children identified with ASD have average or above average intellectual ability (an IQ above 85) compared to a third of children a decade ago.
"Community leaders, health professionals, educators and childcare providers should use these data to ensure children with ASD are identified as early as possible and connected to the services they need," said Coleen Boyle, director of CDC's National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities. Long-term research has shown that children with autism can manage better if they undergo therapies such as behavior or occupational.
28th Mar 2014, 04:06 PM #940
Re: Health Bulletin
Chronic stress in early life causes anxiety, aggression in adulthood: Study
Exposure to chronic stress in early life could bring out anxiety and aggression in later life, believe scientists from the New York-based Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory.
Researchers from Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory have just published a study in the PLoS One journal to show that young mice who were exposed to chronic stress exhibited aggressive behavior on growing up.
The research team led by Dr Grigori Enikolopov assessed the impacts of social stress upon adolescent mice, both at the time they are experienced and during adulthood. A press release sent by Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory showed, The tests began with 1-month-old male mice — the equivalent, in human terms of adolescents — each placed for 2 weeks in a cage shared with an aggressive adult male. The animals were separated by a transparent perforated partition, but the young males were exposed daily to short attacks by the adult males.'' This chronic activity produced social-defeat stress in the young mice.
The young mice with chronic social defeat had high levels of anxiety helplessness, diminished social interaction, and diminished ability to communicate with other young animals.
Another group of young mice was also exposed to social stress, but was then placed for several weeks in an unstressful environment. In this second, now-adult group, most of the behaviors impacted by social defeat returned to normal. "This shows that young mice, exposed to adult aggressors, were largely resilient biologically and behaviorally," said Dr Enikolopov.
However, in these resilient mice, the team measured two latent impacts on behavior. As adults they were abnormally anxious, and were observed to be more aggressive in their social interactions.
"The exposure to a hostile environment during their adolescence had profound consequences in terms of emotional state and the ability to interact with peers," the release quoted Dr Enikolopov as saying.