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Health Bulletin


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  1. #951
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Tweaked gene in enzyme increases risk of obesity

    British scientists have found that people with a tweaked gene in their carb digesting enzyme may be at a higher risk of obesity.

    This confirms that dietary advice may need to be more tailored to an individual's digestive system based on whether they have the genetic predisposition and necessary enzymes to digest different foods.

    Researchers at King's College London and Imperial College suggest that salivary amylase plays a significant role in breaking down carbohydrates in the mouth at the start of the digestion process. People with fewer copies of the AMY1 gene have lower levels of this enzyme and therefore will have more difficulty breaking down carbohydrates than those with more copies.

    A lower estimated AMY1 number showed a significantly increased risk of obesity in all samples and this translated to an approximate eight-fold difference in the risk of obesity between those subjects with the highest number of copies of the gene and those with the lowest.

    Tim Spector from King's said the team discovered how the digestive tools in metabolism vary between people and the genes coding for these can have a large influence on our weight.

    He said, "In the future, a simple blood or saliva test might be used to measure levels of key enzymes such as amylase in the body and therefore shape dietary advice for both overweight and underweight people. Treatments are a long way away but this is an important step in realizing that all of us digest and metabolize food differently - and we can move away from 'one-size fits all diets' to more personalized approaches."


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    Re: Health Bulletin

    New smartphone app helps you get rid of acne?

    Got acne? There's an app for that!

    Scientists have developed a new smartphone app that helps acne sufferers make better dietary choices by telling them how certain foods affect their skin.

    The app called "diet & acne" created at Northwestern University uses data from a systematic analysis of peer-reviewed research studies to show people if there is or is not scientific evidence linking acne to foods such as chocolate, fat, sugar and whey protein.

    "Users may be surprised to learn that there is no conclusive evidence from large randomised controlled trials that have linked chocolate and acne," said Diana Cohen, creator of the app.

    "Although one small study found that eating 100 per cent cocoa could worsen acne symptoms," said Cohen, who designed the app when she was a student at the Segal Design Institute at Northwestern.

    Research displayed in the app shows that dairy (especially skim milk), whey protein, omega-6 fatty acids and foods high in sugar have been associated with the presence of acne.

    It also explains that foods rich in antioxidants and fibre have been associated with a decreased presence of acne in some studies.

    Just over 100 people responded to a survey embedded in the app, and 87 per cent of respondents reported having acne for a duration of more than one year, with 37 per cent reporting they had not seen a physician for their acne.
    These results show that well-constructed apps, based upon peer-reviewed literature, can be a highly effective method to widely disseminate medical information to a large and diverse population.

    "People all over the world are turning to mobile apps as a source of information regarding health issues, but most of the apps out there are not evidence-based, and some exist to just sell a product," Cohen said.

    "This app is different because it uses evidence from a systematic review of peer-reviewed literature and puts it at a patient's fingertips," she said.

    Details about the use of the app were published in the journal JAMA Dermatology.


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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Depression suffering men likelier to become couch potatoes than women

    Researchers have said that young men, who have suffered from early depression, are more vulnerable than women to spending many hours in front of a screen later on.

    A study of 761 adults in Montreal who were identified at the age of 20 as suffering from the symptoms of depression (in 2007-08) were asked by researchers to keep track of how much leisure time they spent in front of a TV or a computer screen (playing games or using the internet) four years later on (in 2011-12) when they were 24. What the researchers discovered were some striking differences between young men and young women.

    The researchers found that young men on average spent about four hours more online or watching TV each week than young women did.

    But also that the total number of hours spent in front of a screen, whether it was the computer or the TV, was over 21 hours per week or over three hours a day. This is more than twice the level of screen-time recommended by the Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology for children and adolescents.

    The researchers found this information particularly disturbing for two reasons: sedentary behavior is on the rise among the young and influences later behavior; also, because young people weren’t asked about their use of cell/smart-phones and tablets or the time that they spent reading, the researchers believe that they may be spending even more time being sedentary than these figures suggest.

    The study has been published in the journal Preventive Medicine.


  4. #954
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Self-healing engineered muscle grown in lab

    In a world's first, muscle grown in the lab has been found to heal itself following an injury.

    Biomedical engineers have grown living skeletal muscle that looks a lot like the real thing.

    It contracts powerfully and rapidly, integrates into mice quickly and for the first time, demonstrates the ability to heal itself both inside the laboratory and inside an animal.

    The study conducted at Duke University tested the bio-engineered muscle by literally watching it through a window on the back of living mouse.

    The novel technique allowed for real-time monitoring of the muscle's integration and maturation inside a living, walking animal.

    To put their muscle to the test, the engineers ran it through several trials in the laboratory.

    By stimulating it with electric pulses, they measured its contractile strength, showing that it was more than 10 times stronger than any previous engineered muscles.

    They damaged it with a toxin found in snake venom to prove that the satellite cells could activate, multiply and successfully heal the injured muscle fibres.

    Then they moved it out of a dish and into a mouse.

    Every muscle has satellite cells on reserve, ready to activate upon injury and begin the regeneration process.

    The engineers are now beginning work to see if their biomimetic muscle can be used to repair actual muscle injuries and disease.

    Biomedical engineer Nenad Bursac from Duke said, "It's the first time engineered muscle has been created that contracts as strongly as native neonatal skeletal muscle. Simply implanting satellite cells or less-developed muscle doesn't work as well. The well-developed muscle we made provides niches for satellite cells to live in and when needed to restore the robust musculature and its function."

    Through years of perfecting their techniques, the team discovered that preparing better muscle requires two things — well-developed contractile muscle fibres and a pool of muscle stem cells, known as satellite cells.

    The team then inserted their lab-grown muscle into a small chamber placed on the backs of live mice. The chamber was then covered by a glass panel. Every two days for two weeks, the team imaged the implanted muscles through the window to check on their progress.

    By genetically modifying the muscle fibres to produce fluorescent flashes during calcium spikes — which cause muscle to contract — the researchers, could watch the flashes become brighter as the muscle grew stronger.

    "We could see and measure in real time how blood vessels grew into the implanted muscle fibres, maturing toward equalling the strength of its native counterpart," said the scientists.


  5. #955
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    It's time we tested our labs

    If you check your blood sugar or urea creatinin levels in three different laboratories in the city, chances are you will get three different results. While street corner labs offering simple tests for as little as 30 may be a cheap option for diabetics, experts say unmonitored proliferation of laboratories could be counter-productive.

    Health officials say they are aware of thousands of laboratories functioning across the state, many without proper equipment or technicians, but they can do little in the absence of strict norms. All one needs to open such a lab is a trade licence from Chennai Corporation. Many such labs don't have proper ventilation, quality water supply, cold storage facility or waste disposal facility. Neither the state health department nor the civic body conducts inspection at these places.

    Certification by agencies like National Accreditation Board for Testing and Calibration Laboratories (NABL) or National Accreditation Board for Hospitals and Healthcare Providers (NABH) provide a formal recognition to the quality and technical competence of a lab. But these certificates are yet to be made mandatory for laboratories and less than 100 have applied for NABL accreditation in the country so far.

    P Kalidasan, president of Paramedical Lab Education and Welfare Association, said the absence of a monitoring body poses a risk to patients. "Anybody can start a lab without following standards. There are no checks on chemicals or equipment used or qualifications of lab technicians. Despite several representations to the government to form a regulatory body to restrict illegal labs, nothing has been done so far," he said. He added that the process of getting NABL certificate is cumbersome and costly.

    Many laboratories employ under-qualified people as lab technicians to save money. "It's difficult to get a lab assistant for anything less than 7,000 a month. It is tough to compete with modern labs. How do you expect us to employ a postgraduate diploma or degree holder in the lab?" said a lab owner in north Chennai.

    Dr S Elango, former director of public health, said the absence of monitoring has led to inaccuracies in lab reports. "Like in the US, Japan and China, India needs a regulatory body on the lines of drugs control administration to monitor labs," he said. Officials in the drugs control administration said they are not monitoring labs, and they have records of only 17 labs which are attached to pharmacies.

    Ideally, an accredited lab should have two pathologists, two microbiologists and two histopathologists, but a majority of small and medium labs has just one pathologist. Accredited labs are bound to give reports within a prescribed time. For instance, reports of haemoglobin and sugar need to be handed over to the patient in an hour, while the other reports must be done in three hours. These norms are seldom followed.


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    Re: Health Bulletin




  7. #957
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    Re: Health Bulletin




  8. #958
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Bacteria an effective tool to counter mosquito larvae: Study

    Spraying larvicide, the tried-and-tested formula to get rid of mosquito larvae, is back-dated. So what's the new prescription for putting a lid on malaria and dengue outbreaks? According to a study conducted by a zoology professor of Burdwan University, a particular bacteria - Bacillus thuringiensis israelensis (Bti) - holds the key.

    Some time back, the New Town Development Authority, in consultation with the fisheries department, had released some larva-eating fish in some of the waterbodies in New Town to control mosquitoes. Following requests from NKDA authorities, fisheries department official and professor Gautam Chandra of the Burdwan University's zoology department, who has been doing research on mosquito control for several years, carried out a thorough field study along with two research students. The report has recommended some short-, medium- and long-term measures.

    "To combat mosquitoes, we have recommended certain fishes like guppy, telapia and nilotica. They are very useful in controlling the larvae. However, we stressed on a certain kind of bacteria called Bacillus thuringiensis israelensis (Bti) that was first detected in Israel. It is very effective in killing mosquito larvae. It is easily available in the market in powder and gel form but has never been used on a large scale to combat mosquito. Moreover, it is a soil bacteria and does not create any pollution," Chandra said. The bacteria strain, which can now be developed locally, remains effective for about a month after being sprayed.

    An extract of the report submitted by Chandra and his team reads: "...spraying mosquito larvaecidal agents like Bti, a kind of naturally occurring bacteria that infects and kill mosquito larvae, is an effective solution. These bacteria are highly selective, killing only mosquitoes, fungus gnats, and blackflies. Formulations of Bti will only kill these types of insects and do not harm other insects, fish, birds, worms or any mammals."

    It is further mentioned in the report that when Bti are eaten by the mosquito larvae, they damage the gut cells and quickly paralyze them, then kill the larvae quickly and efficiently. A moderate to heavy dose has been shown to reduce the mosquito population by one half in 15 minutes and the rest within one hour.

    The report also said that mosquitoes in New Town were of culex type that and can fly up to 5 km. A reduction of mosquito larvae was noticed in the waterbodies where guppy fish were released about 12 days ago. The report also showed that the Bagjola and Kestopur canals were the major sources of mosquito larvae. "We visited the waterbodies in the township and found that big waterbodies were almost larvae-free. It is in the manholes, drains and latrine pipes, apart from Bagjola and Kestopur canal, that mosquito larvae were found," Chandra said.

    NKDA chairman Debashis Sen said that they had already written to the state health department asking for suggestions on this issue. "The most striking fact of the report is that a certain kind of bacteria can be used to curb mosquito menace very effectively," he said.

    Health and family welfare minister of state Chandrima Bhattacharya said the experts could look into the matter and see how it could work effectively. However, a KMC health official said Bti was already in use in Kolkata. "It is used and is quite effective. But we need to use it on a much larger scale to have an impact," he said.


  9. #959
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Indian scientist develops potential non-insulin diabetes drug

    A young Indian scientist has developed a potential non-insulin drug candidate for diabetic patients that can help eliminate the risk of low-blood glucose shock in case of an insulin overdose.

    Arnab De, a PhD in Microbiology and Immunology from Columbia University here, has developed the non-insulin drug candidate in collaboration with Richard DiMarchi of Indiana University.

    Patients use insulin to keep their sugar levels in check, an overdose of insulin can lead to low blood-glucose (hypoglycemia), which may cause diabetic-coma and be life-threatening. Insulin treatment has also been reported to cause weight-gain that may exacerbate a diabetic condition, De told PTI.

    "We find that there is a peptide hormone in the gut called GLP1 that increases the secretion of insulin only when the blood glucose is high. This effectively eliminates the risk of hypoglycemic shock. Another advantage is that GLP1 administration has been found to stimulate weight-loss.

    The hormone offers the promise of revolutionising the treatment of Type II diabetes and reduce obesity," he said.

    Regarding the clinical trial of the new drug, De said that GLP-1 has an extremely short half-life of two minutes and this instability has impeded its effective use in patients.

    As per to a study published in the journal Peptide Science, De and DiMarchi "envisioned a prodrug of GLP as a means to extend the duration of action" and their research resulted in several range of options for prolonging peptide action to once-a-day and once-a-week formulations.

    "Needless to say, this will be very helpful for patients as we might have a formulation that needs to be taken only once a week as opposed to after every meal" De said.

    University of Delhi faculty member Subho Mozumdar said the development of a GLP-1 based prodrug represents a patient-friendly, diabetic therapeutic.

    "It is a most remarkable breakthrough which might also help to defend against obesity and perhaps against Alzheimer's disease too. There is a huge market for such a therapeutic in India given the growing number of patients," Mozumdar said.

    As per estimates by The International Diabetes Federation, around one in five individuals suffer from some form of obesity. These individuals are three times more prone to heart attacks or stroke and five times more likely to develop adult-onset of diabetes vis-a-vis individuals without the syndrome.

    Indiana University Research and Technology Corporation (IURTC) has applied for patents internationally on these prodrugs in the world-wide market.

    De has been conferred the prestigious Young Investigator's Award by American Peptide Society.

    "I hope going forward this drug essentially helps people. That is when the years of hard work and research will pay off," he added.


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    Re: Health Bulletin

    One in 10 stroke deaths from India: Oxford University survey

    Over 1 in 10 deaths globally caused by Ischaemic Stroke (IS) due to tobacco was in India. This came out in a study by Oxford University released on Friday.

    Out of 187 countries, the number of people dying of stroke is third highest in India. Only China and Russia recorded higher number of IS deaths than India.

    In 2010 56,670 people died of IS in India or 11% while the numbers in Russia was 62,110 or 12% of the global numbers.

    China was the country with the most IS deaths attributable to tobacco - 29% of the global figure - with 155,332 deaths.

    Deaths from IS due to tobacco use in China, India and Russia together are higher than the total of all the world's other countries combined, according to the study.

    In 1990 China accounted for 26%, Russia for 10%, India for 7%, the US for 5% and Japan for 4% of the IS deaths caused by tobacco.

    Derrick Bennett of Oxford University said, "The estimated IS deaths attributable to tobacco consumption in China, Russia, and India had increased in the 20-year period. Even though the United States and Japan had improved between 1990 and 2010, they were still ranked sixth and fifth in 2010, with 2.6% and 3.4% of all IS deaths attributable to tobacco consumption."

    UK was in 18th position in 2010 with an estimated 5515 deaths while Canada was in 41st position with 1634 deaths and Australia 56th position with 845 deaths.

    Bennett said, "Tobacco control policies that target both smoking initiation and smoking cessation can play an important role in the prevention of IS. In China, Russia, and India, even modest reductions in the number of current smokers could see millions of lives saved due to prevention of IS."

    Bennett underlined the major importance of tobacco smoking as a risk factor for stroke highlighting a recent study showed that the risk for IS was around 50% higher in smokers (men and women) versus non-smokers.

    He also noted that there is reliable large-scale evidence on the benefits of quitting available in both men and women.

    According to the study in 2010 there were approximately 11,569,000 incident IS events (63% in Low and Middle Income Countries) and approximately 2,835,000 deaths from IS (57% in LMIC). From 1990 to 2010, there was a significant increase in global IS burden in terms of absolute number of people with incident IS (37% increase) and deaths from IS (21% increase).


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