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Excessive usage of phones up neck and upper back pain

Sun, 04/16/2017 - 06:36

London [UK], April 16 : Dear parents, ask your kids to spend less time on their cell phones as a study finds increase in number of patients with neck, disk hernias and alignment problems mainly due to prolonged use of smartphones.

According to researchers, some patients, particularly youngsters who should not yet have back and neck issues, are reporting disk hernias and alignment problems.

The findings, published in The Spine Journal, indicated that in a neutral position looking forward, the head weighs about 4.5 to 5.4 Kg and at a 15-degree flex, it feels like 12 kgs.

The stress on the spine increases by degree, and at 60 degrees, it is 27 kgs.

"In an X-ray, the neck typically curves backward and what we're seeing is that the curve is being reversed as people look down at their phones for hours each day,' said study co-author Dr. Todd Lanman, a spinal neurosurgeon at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.

Lanman and co-author Dr. Jason Cuellar, an orthopedic spine surgeon at Cedars-Sinai, write that people often look down when using their smartphones, particularly when texting as compared to browsing online or watching videos.

The impact on the spine increases at higher flexed postures, they added, reports Mail online.

The researchers suggested simple lifestyle changes to relieve the stress from the 'text neck' posture. They recommend holding cell phones in front of the face, or near eye level, while texting. They also suggest using two hands and two thumbs to create a more symmetrical and comfortable position for the spine.

Beyond smartphone use, the spinal surgeons recommend that people who work at computers or on tablets use an elevated monitor stand so it sits at a natural horizontal eye level.

While sitting, he recommends aligning the neck and spine by checking that the ears are over the shoulders and the shoulders are over the hips. (ANI)

General: Health

Medication treatment offers hope for pregnant women with opioid use disorder

Sat, 04/15/2017 - 10:05

Washington D.C. [USA], Apr 15 : Medication for addiction treatment (MAT) with buprenorphine or methadone is an appropriate and accepted treatment for pregnant women with opioid use disorder (OUD), according to a new research.

The report, prepared by University of North Carolina's Hendree E. Jones and colleagues, is an important step toward developing evidence-based recommendations for treatment of pregnant and parenting women with OUD and their children.

Jones and coauthors wrote: "Practical recommendations will help providers treat pregnant women with OUD and reduce potentially negative health consequences for mother, fetus, and child."

Following a formal process for evaluating the "appropriateness" of medical treatments, Jones and colleagues identified and analyzed 75 research studies providing evidence on treatment methods for women with OUD who are pregnant and parenting, and for their children. Although withdrawal or 'detox' from opioids is possible during pregnancy, relapse rates are high, posing additional health risks to the mother and infant.

Based on the available evidence, medication for addiction treatment (MAT, also known as "medication-assisted treatment") with buprenorphine or methadone is the "accepted treatment" for OUD during pregnancy. These medications, called opioid agonists, are effective in reducing opioid use, promoting abstinence, and aiding recovery. ("Medication-assisted treatment" is not a preferred term because it stigmatizes the treatment, implying that medication treatment it is not as effective as it is known to be.)

In pregnant women with OUD, the MAT approach is used as part of a comprehensive program of obstetric care and behavioural treatment. Mothers are encouraged to breast-feed their infants while continuing MAT with buprenorphine or methadone--doing so can encourage and promote mother-infant bonding and may help reduce NAS severity.

"NAS is an expected and manageable condition," Jones and coauthors noted. They emphasize that sustained recovery requires a comprehensive care program that is supportive of and responsive to the mother and her baby. The authors also highlight essential areas for future research to improve outcomes for pregnant women with OUD and their infants.

The study appears in the Journal of Addiction Medicine. (ANI)

Region: WashingtonGeneral: Health

Vaccine-chemotherapy combo offers hope for deadly brain cancer patients

Sat, 04/15/2017 - 06:44

Washington D.C. [USA], Apr 15 : A team of researchers may have just hit pay dirt with a new combination therapy for a particularly aggressive form of brain cancer-glioblastoma.

The Duke University study found that a vaccine targeting cytomegalovirus (CMV) antigen pp65, combined with high-dose chemotherapy (temozolomide), improved both progression-free survival and overall survival for a small group of glioblastoma (GBM) patients.

The cohort of 11 patients who received this combination therapy demonstrated a median progression-free survival of 25.3 months and a median overall survival of 41.1 months, and three patients remain progression-free more than seven years after diagnosis, lead author Kristen Batich explained.

"The clinical outcomes in GBM patients who received this combination were very striking," Batich noted.

"The dose-intensified temozolomide induces a strong state of lymphopenia," continued Batich. "With that comes an opportune moment to introduce an antigen-specific vaccine, which redirects the immune system to put all hands on deck and fight that target."

One of the noteworthy results from the study was the excellent response rate despite the high proportion of regulatory T cells, which dampen the immune response and rebounded sharply following TMZ administration. This finding may actually be cause for optimism, Batich noted.

"If we could preclude this regulatory T-cell rebound, it could have additionally enhancing effects on the pp65 vaccine response," said Batich.

Though the survival results are quite encouraging, the authors caution that this was a single-arm study without a control group. In addition, the cohort was quite small. Though the outcomes far outpaced historical controls, a more robust trial will be needed to confirm these results.

In addition, the team wants to better understand the mechanisms that underlie the strong response rate and refine this combination therapy to produce even better results. "We want to understand why some patients do better than others," said Batich.

The study is published in Clinical Cancer Research, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research. (ANI)

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Restriction in trans fats leads to healthier communities: Study

Sat, 04/15/2017 - 05:59

Washington D.C. [U.S.A.], Apr. 15 : According to a new study, areas that restrict trans fats in foods see a lot fewer hospitilisations for heart attack and stroke compared to residents in areas without restrictions.

The study was published in journal 'JAMA Cardiology'.

Senior author Tamar S. Polonsky, MD, MSCI, a general cardiologist and assistant professor of medicine at the University of Chicago said, "The results are impressive, given that the study focused on trans fatty acid bans in restaurants, as opposed to complete bans that included food bought in stores. If we enact a more complete restriction on trans fatty acids, it could mean even more widespread benefits for people in the long term."

Trans fatty acids, or trans fats, are commonly found in fried foods, chips, crackers and baked goods. Eating even minimal amounts are linked to greater risk of cardiovascular disease, the leading cause of death worldwide.

Some communities -- most notably New York City -- have eliminated the use of trans fats in restaurants and eateries in recent years.

To study the impact, the scientists compared outcomes for people living in New York counties with and without the restrictions.

Using data from the state department of health and census estimates between 2002 and 2013, the researchers focussed on hospital admissions for heart attack and stroke.

The researchers found that three or more years after the restrictions were implemented people living in areas with the bans had significantly fewer hospitalisations for heart attack and stroke when compared to similar urban areas where no limits existed.

The decline for the combined conditions was 6.2 percent.

"It is a pretty substantial decline. Our study highlights the power of public policy to impact the cardiovascular health of a population," said lead author Eric Brandt, MD, a clinical fellow in cardiovascular medicine at Yale School of Medicine.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved a nationwide ban on partially hydrogenated oil in foods, which effectively will eliminate dietary trans fat when it goes into effect in 2018.

Current FDA labelling guidelines allow up to 0.49 grams of trans fat per serving to be labelled as zero grams.

According to lead author Brandt, this leaves consumers with the burden to scour labels for hidden trans fats.

"With the upcoming FDA regulation, people need not be so vigilant," he said.(ANI)

Region: WashingtonGeneral: Health

What is Aplastic Anaemia?

Fri, 04/14/2017 - 06:16

New Delhi [India], Apr. 14 : Ever wonder what would happen, if vital blood components like white blood cells (WBCs), red blood cells (RBCs) andplatelets are deficient in your body?

Not only would you would be prone to severe infections due to the low WBC (the infection fighting cells in the body), severe bleeding due to a low platelet count (type of cells that help blood clot and protects from bleeding), you could also be prone to chronic fatigue and complications related to progressive anemia (low RBC count / hemoglobin). Any of the three could be fatal!

Dr. Punit L Jain MD, DM (Hematology - CMC Vellore), Fellow (Leukemia) MD Anderson Cancer Center, USA and Consultant- Hematology and Stem cell Transplant at Global Hospitals, Mumbai, says, "Aplastic anemia is a condition with all of these dysfunctions combined in just one disease and presents with pancytopenia (reduction of three cell lines) on a health checkup. It can occur at any age, though more common when young."

Patients symptoms may vary based on the severity of the disease. The low platelets can manifest with just persistent gum or nasal bleeding, easy bruising, or an uncontrolled bleeding in stools or urine or even heavy bleeding during menstrual periods.

The low WBC count may cause severe infections, which may cause high grade fever. Extreme tiredness or just plain long term fatigue, dizziness, breathlessness on exertion or even at rest may be some other symptoms of the low hemoglobin.

It is this heterogeneity in this disease that makes it imperative to understand and identify such rare disorders as early as possible, to be able to give it an optimum chance of cure.

The exact incidence of this disease in India is not known, but a recent report from AIIMS institute in Delhi suggested that almost 20% - 40% of the referred patients with pancytopeniahave were later diagnosed with aplastic anemia.

Aplastic anemia is not cancer and if rightly identified and diagnosed, has a much higher rate of success than many cancers. (ANI)

Region: IndiaGeneral: Health

A protein discovered to treat Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Fri, 04/14/2017 - 05:54

Washington D.C. [USA], April 14 : A new study discovers a protein - Cd14 gene - to offer protection against Inflammatory Bowel Disease - characterised by chronic relapsing inflammation of all or part of the digestive tract - by enhancing the intestinal barrier function.

The study appeared in journal of Pathology.

Researchers identified Cd14 in a genetic screen in a mouse-model system for IBD and showed that the Cd14 molecule plays a protective role in their model system of intestinal function in mice.

The Cd14 protein is found among different cell types, including epithelia, blood, and dendritic cells.

Mice with Cd14 deficiency developed more severe inflammation of the gut with de-stabilisation of the intestinal barrier compared to controls, whereas stimulation of Cd14 expression strengthened the barrier's integrity.

"Our understanding of the microbiome and its interaction with host genetic factors is increasing dramatically, especially in the pathogenesis of IBD. Cd14 is involved in the detection of bacterial factors and has been identified as a candidate gene in genetic screens," said explained lead investigator Andre Bleich from Hannover Medical School, Germany.

"Our study helps to understand the link between genetic susceptibility and microbial alterations in the gut in IBD," Bleich explained.

As a part of the innate immune system, Cd14 helps the body respond to bacterial infections by producing a protein that binds to lipopolysaccharides within the outer membranes of some bacteria.

The protein can be found attached to cell surfaces or secreted in soluble form.

Investigators examined the effects of Cd14 deficiency on intestinal function and studied both an acute and chronic model of colitis.

"Epithelial barrier function is predominantly dependent on tight junction proteins, which regulate transport into and between cells. Loss of gut barrier integrity, initiated by bacteria or by treatment with a chemical, can result in bacterial invasion and inflammation," the researchers explained. (ANI)

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Are stinky inflatable pool toys putting your kids at risk?

Thu, 04/13/2017 - 06:10

Washington D.C. [USA], Apr 13 : Turns out, there are many dangerous chemicals lurking in your swimming pool that can risk your children's health.

Inflatable toys and swimming aids, like bathing rings and arm bands, often have a distinctive smell which could indicate that they contain a range of potentially hazardous substances.

Some of these compounds, which include carbonyl compounds, cyclohexanone, phenol and isophorone, might be critical when present in higher concentrations in children's toys, said authors Christoph Wiedmer and Andrea Buettner.

Lead author Wiedmer from Fraunhofer Institute for Process Engineering and Packaging IVV in Germany and his team conducted tests using an inflatable beach ball, a pair of swimming armbands and two bathing rings they bought off the shelf from local stores and online suppliers in Germany.

A small piece of material from each sample was analysed using a variety of material analysis techniques, including one that takes infrared measurements, and it was concluded that the inflatable objects were all made from polyvinyl chloride (PVC).

The researchers then investigated the molecular make-up of the distinctive smells arising from the pool toys. They extracted detectable odours from each sample using solvent extraction and high vacuum distillation methods, and then identified the main odorants using a combination of sensory and common analytical approaches.

Between 32 and 46 odours were detected in each sample, of which up to thirteen were quite intense. The majority of these odorants were identified and among these were several fatty smelling mono- or di-unsaturated carbonyl compounds and their epoxidised derivatives, but also odouractive organic solvents such as cyclohexanone, isophorone, and phenol.

As part of the study, a panel of trained volunteers sniffed each product, and ascribed common odour attributes to these. They also rated the intensity of each odour, and had to guess whether these could be hazardous. Three of the products reminded the panellists of almonds, plastic and rubber, while the fourth more pungent one reminded them of glue and nail polish.

Wiedmer expressed his concern that some of the products contain potentially hazardous chemicals that could pose a risk to children's health, depending on the degree of exposure and concentration levels in the products. Cyclohexanone can be harmful if inhaled, phenol is known to be acutely toxic and to presumably have mutagenic potential and isophorone is a category 2 carcinogen, which means that this is a suspect substance in the development of cancer in humans.

"A range of these substances are not yet resolved in their chemical structures. Likewise, potential negative effects on humans, such as irritation, smell nuisance, or other physiological or psychosomatic effects still need to be resolved," said Wiedmer.

"Modern products such as toys and children's products are sourced from a wide variety of chemical and physical manufacturing processes, and this complexity often makes it difficult for us to identify those containing contaminants and unwanted substances, and to determine their causes," noted Wiedmer. "However, we found that in a number of cases our noses can guide us to 'sniff out' problematic products."

The study appears in the journal Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry (ABC). (ANI)

Region: WashingtonGeneral: Health

How marriage between first cousins gives heart protection

Thu, 04/13/2017 - 05:58

Washington D.C. [USA], Apr 13 : The genetics of first-cousin marriage families has revealed how some people are protected from several heart diseases.

More than 1,800 individuals carrying loss-of-function mutations in both copies of their genes, so-called "human knockouts," are described in the first major study by an international collaboration led by the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania and colleagues.

The program, which has so far sequenced the protein-coding regions of over 10,500 adults living in Pakistan, is illuminating the basic biology and possible therapeutics for several different disorders.

The team has identified more than 1,300 genes completely knocked out in at least one individual. They first turned their attention for deeper analysis to genes involved in cardiovascular and metabolic diseases.

One gene in particular, APOC3, which regulates the metabolism of triglyceride-rich lipoproteins in the blood, was missing in several dozen individuals in a small fishing village on the coast of Pakistan where first-cousin marriages are culturally prevalent. These APOC3-knockout individuals had very low triglyceride levels.

The researchers challenged their system with a high-fat meal. Compared with family members who were not APOC3 knockouts, the APOC3 knockout family members did not have the usual post-meal rise in plasma triglycerides.

"These are the world's first APOC3 human knockouts that have been identified," said co-first author Danish Saleheen. "Their genetic makeup has provided unique insights about the biology of APOC3, which may further help in validating APOC3 inhibition as a therapeutic target for cardiometabolic diseases - the leading cause of death globally."

"The Human Genome Project gave us a 'parts' list of 18,000 genes. We are now trying to understand gene function by studying people who naturally lack a 'part,'" said co-senior author Sekar Kathiresan. "We think that over the next ten to twenty years, with a concerted, systematic effort, it's possible to find humans who naturally lack any one of several thousand genes in the genome and understand what the phenotypic consequences are."

"The project highlights the value of looking at diverse populations, particularly for genetic analyses, you'll find variants in one ethnicity and not another," said co-first author Pradeep Natarajan.

The study is published in Nature. (ANI)

Region: WashingtonGeneral: Health

Dear men, eating spinach, pumpkin seeds, yogurt can prevent hip fractures

Thu, 04/13/2017 - 05:47

Washington D.C. [USA], April 13 : Eat spinach, pumpkin seeds, yogurt and almonds in middle to elder age, as a study finds that people, especially men, who lack food rich in magnesium in their diet, are at an increased risk of fractures, particularly fractures of the hip.

According to researchers, magnesium could hold the key to preventing one of the most preventable causes of disability in middle-aged to elderly people.

"The findings do suggest that avoiding low serum concentrations of magnesium may be a promising though unproven strategy for risk prevention of fractures," said lead researcher Dr Setor Kunutsor from the University of Bristol.

Bone fractures are one of the leading causes of disability and ill health, especially among the ageing population, increases the burden on the health care system.

Researchers at the Universities of Bristol and Eastern Finland followed 2,245 middle-aged men over a 20-year period.

The results indicated that men with lower blood levels of magnesium had an increased risk of fractures, particularly fractures of the hip.

The risk of having a fracture was reduced by 44 percent in men with higher blood levels of magnesium.

For such people, increasing the intake of foods rich in magnesium may not necessarily increase blood magnesium levels. Treating the underlying conditions and magnesium supplementation may be another way of avoiding low blood levels of magnesium.

These new findings may have public health implications as low blood levels of magnesium are very common in the population.

These findings could help trigger initiatives to include blood magnesium screening in routine blood panels, especially for the elderly.

"The overall evidence suggests that increasing serum magnesium concentrations may protect against the future risk of fractures; however, well-designed magnesium supplementation trials are needed to investigate these potential therapeutic implications," said principal investigator Jari Laukkanen from the University of Eastern Finland. (ANI)

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Beware! Mild painkilling may not help patients with peripheral vascular disease

Thu, 04/13/2017 - 05:21

Washington D.C. [USA], April 13 : Beware! That mild painkilling drug may not provide cardiovascular benefits for patients who have progressive circulation disorder caused by narrowing, blockage or spasms in a blood vessel.

According to researchers from University of Florida, aspirin therapy has been a staple of cardiology care for people who have peripheral vascular disease, which causes narrowed arteries and reduced blood flow to the limbs.

The findings were published today in the journal PLOS One.

The team analysed 6,560 peripheral vascular disease patients and found that the drug has no significant effect on death rates and on incidents of stroke, heart attack or major cardiac events.

The mean age of patients included in the analysis was 62. Six percent of the patients were women, 32 percent were people with diabetes and 67 percent were current or ex-smokers.

"Among patients with peripheral vascular disease, many of them may not be deriving the benefits from aspirin that they expect to be getting," said Anthony A. Bavry.

Aspirin prevents blood clots from forming, which can reduce the risk of a stroke or heart attack.

The results suggest that after six years, 7.7 percent of PVD patients who took aspirin had died, compared with 8.5 percent in a control group.

The incidence of stroke was 3.2 percent among aspirin users and 4 percent among non-users.

Heart attacks were recorded in 3.5 percent of aspirin users and 5.5 percent of non-users.

Patients who are on a daily aspirin regimen for cardiovascular issues should not stop taking the medicine on their own but can consult their physician about whether the current findings may be relevant, Bavry said.

For cardiologists and researchers, another author said the analysis underscores the need for further study. (ANI)

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Acne vaccine comes closer to reality

Wed, 04/12/2017 - 09:14

London [UK], Apr 12 : A cure for acne may have been found in the form of a vaccine, according to a team of scientists.

Acne is one of the most common skin conditions. According to the NHS around 80 percent of people aged 11 to 30 are affected by the disorder.

Lead researcher Eric C. Huange said, "Acne is caused, in part, by P. acnes bacteria that are with you your whole life and we couldn't create a vaccine for the bacteria because, in some ways, P. acnes are good for you," the Daily Star reported.

He added, "But we found an antibody to a toxic protein that P. acnes bacteria secrete on skin - the protein is associated with the inflammation that leads to acne."

Eric's team at the University of California San Diego have developed a vaccine that will block the acne-causing effects of the bacteria without harming the benefits of bacteria.

So far the vaccine has been tested on skin biopsies from acne patients which have produced good results.

The next steps will be clinical trials and will hopefully make the vaccine public within the next couple of years. (ANI)

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Soon, a treatment for aggressive brain cancer in kids

Wed, 04/12/2017 - 06:20

Washington D.C. [USA], Apr 12 : A team of researchers has discovered a promising target to treat atypical teratoid/rhabdoid tumour (AT/RT), a highly aggressive and therapy resistant brain tumour that mostly occurs in infants.

Using state-of-the-art gene editing technology, the scientists from Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago found that these tumours' growth and tendency to metastasize are regulated by a protein kinase called Polo-like kinase 4 (PLK4), which is increased in AT/RT.

They also have demonstrated that an experimental drug, a PLK4 inhibitor, stopped tumour growth.

"This is the first time that PLK4 has been described as a therapeutic target for brain tumours or in paediatric cancer," said lead author Simone T. Sredni.

Sredni and team were able to identify PLK4 as a potential target for treatment by using a novel gene editing technology called CRISPR/Cas9. It allowed them to mutate individual kinase genes - key regulators of cell function - in order to reveal the kinase that most significantly affected tumor cell growth. Then they targeted that kinase with an available kinase inhibitor, currently being tested for breast cancer.

Sredni and colleagues also found that the PLK4 inhibitor (CFI-400945) was safe for normal tissue, while attacking the cancer cells. "The drug we used to inhibit PLK4 significantly impaired tumour proliferation, survival, invasion and migration, while sparing normal cells," said Sredni. "This may be a paradigm shift for the treatment of AT/RT and possibly other paediatric brain tumours".

The scientists tested the safety of the drug by exposing zebrafish larvae to extremely high doses of the drug for extended periods of time. They observed that the drug did not affect the fish development, implying that it may be safe to be used in the paediatric population.

"This could also be an opportunity for a precision medicine approach as we can stratify patients who are eligible for treatment with the drug by investigating the level of PLK4 expressed in their tumours," said Sredni.

The group is currently testing the drug in animal models of AT/RT, as well as other types of brain tumours. Sredni envisions a Phase I clinical trial soon.

The findings are published in the journal Paediatric Blood & Cancer. (ANI)

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Sewer workers could be at Ebola risk with current guidelines

Wed, 04/12/2017 - 06:00

Washington D.C. [USA], Apr 12 : Turns out, the guidelines from the U.S. Centres for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization might not go far enough to protect sewer workers from Ebola virus.

Research from Drexel University and the University of Pittsburgh suggests that the sewer workers downstream of hospitals and treatment centres could contract Ebola via inhalation.

The study takes the first steps toward understanding the risk that this untreated waste poses to the people in the water treatment process who work in close proximity to it.

"During the 2014-16 Ebola outbreaks we had our first case of Ebola treated in the U.S. and by the end 11 individuals had been treated here, so this is certainly an area of risk assessment that we need to examine more closely," author Charles Haas said.

Initial guidelines issued by the WHO during the outbreak suggested that liquid waste generated by individuals being treated for Ebola could be disposed of via sanitary sewer or pit latrine without additional treatment. Months later it issued more conservative guidelines that suggested containing the waste in a holding tank before releasing it into the water treatment system. But according to the researchers, neither of these advisories accounted for risk to the sewer workers.

"While current WHO and CDC guidance for disposal of liquid waste from patients undergoing treatment for Ebola virus disease at hospitals in the U.S. is to manage patient excreta as ordinary wastewater without pre-treatment. The potential for Ebola virus transmission via liquid waste discharged into the wastewater environment is currently unknown," the authors wrote. "Possible worker inhalation exposure to Ebola virus-contaminated aerosols in the sewer continues to be a concern within the wastewater treatment community."

The team arrived at its conclusions by first talking to workers at urban wastewater treatment facilities to understand where and under what conditions they might come in contact with untreated sewage aerosols. The researchers then looked at previous Ebola data to create a model of its behaviour under similar conditions from which they conducted a standardized microbial risk assessment analysis that was developed by Haas.

It took into account variables such as the amount of waste produced during a treatment period, the degree to which it is diluted, the length of time between its disposal at the hospital and when sewer workers would encounter it and the concentration of viable viruses that could be in the air at treatment facilities.

A worker's risk of exposure varies with the time spent in the contaminated area and whether or not they're wearing properly fitting protective gear, so the team looked at what the exposure risk would be given a range of protection and viral particle concentration scenarios.

"Under the least-favorable scenario, the potential risk of developing Ebola virus disease from inhalation exposure is a value higher than many risk managers may be willing to accept," they reported.

The team added, "Although further data gathering efforts are necessary to improve the prevision of the risk projections, the results suggest that the potential risk that sewer workers face when operating in a wastewater collection system downstream from a hospital receiving Ebola patients warrants further attention and current authoritative guidance for Ebolavirus liquid waste disposal may be insufficiently protective of sewer worker safety."

While this study suggests that new guidelines from the leading public health authorities are likely in order, the researchers acknowledge that their work is part of the iterative process of understanding how to safely contain and treat the virus.

The study is published in the journal Water Environment Research. (ANI)

Region: WashingtonGeneral: Health

Toward more effective treatment for leukemia

Wed, 04/12/2017 - 05:00

Washington D.C. [USA], Apr 12 : The discovery of a protein signature that is highly predictive of leukemia could make way for new and more effective therapeutics, according to a new study.

The University of Vermont study revealed that the activation of a protein known as STAT5 causes competition among other proteins that leads to acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). If a drug could be developed to prevent the initial activation of STAT5 and restore the natural balance of proteins, ALL could potentially be treated more effectively.

The team found that by forcing the activation of STAT5 in mice (constitutively activated alleles forced by the researchers) always produced Leukemia.

"The major outcome of this story is that a signature emerged from looking at the level of activated proteins compared to other proteins that's very predictive of how a patient will respond to therapy," said researcher Seth Frietze. "That's a novel finding. If we could find drugs to target that activation that could be an incredibly effective way to treat Leukemia."

Corresponding author Michael Farrar led a team of 10 researchers that employed an innovative methodology that combines unique mouse models and patient samples in combination with high-throughput DNA sequencing, epigenetic and proteomic analysis. The result was that patients with a high ratio of imbalanced proteins (STAT5 to IKAROS or NF-kB) had far worse prognosis.

Frietze put the finding in perspective by explaining that "tumour sequencing is currently being used to both risk stratify patients and provide novel therapeutic targets. However, the ways in we are able to use that sequencing information is still limited. This study provides a new way to risk stratify patients, identifying those who are at higher risk or relapse and may therefore need more intense therapy to cure their disease."

The study is published in the journal Nature Immunology. (ANI)

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Breaking up? Here's the best way to carry out the emotionally difficult task

Tue, 04/11/2017 - 04:44

You might know it is the right decision for both of you, but still, breaking up is never easy.

A calm well-intended conversation can turn into an argument as emotions run high or someone can feel hurt, rejected or that the trust has been broken after sharing their life with someone.

Often people who have made peace with their decision still do not know the best way to break off the relationship and wish for some kind of blueprint in how to approach such a difficult situation.

The Independent spoke to Relate relationship therapist Gurpreet Singh about the best way to handle a potentially difficult decision.

Sometimes the difficulties start before the breaking up when someone thinks they have made the right decision but can find themselves nervous or doubting their choice.

"Breaking up really is hard to do," Singh says. "There are no hard and fast rules about when a relationship is over - it's usually a feeling that builds over time that things just aren't right, that you and your partner aren't making each other happy anymore, that the bad times are outweighing the good. That 'it doesn't feel like it used to.

"The beginning of a relationship can be intoxicating and it's easy to get swept away in a bubble of happiness. But with time and life changes, the intoxication might wear off. It's also possible that you or your partner might change in different directions. The reasons for the drift in the relationship or the distance that develops between you is not always clear.

"As things deteriorate, both partners could experience a range of emotions like upset, anger, sadness, shock, let down and perhaps even a bit of relief as the reality of the inevitable break-up sets in."

Singh says the most important factor when breaking up with someone is honesty. It is important to be honest with your partner and yourself - explaining all the reasons you have for ending the relationship and listening to them. It is important not to leave any stones unturned, even if you feel it is nicer to hide certain parts of the truth. He adds ("of course, if a relationship is in any way unsafe then removing yourself is the absolute priority").

"Talk to them face-to-face, give your reasons and understand theirs," Singh says. "Don't leave them confused. You might be tempted to be nice and say 'let's just take a break for now', but if you know this is the end then it's kinder to say that rather than drag things out. Don't string someone along by giving them unintentional false hope."

How to act after a break-up can also be difficult to navigate. Some may never want to see each other again while others will rush to be friends - which can also be harder than both partners may originally think. (ANI)

Region: LondonGeneral: Health

Moutai becomes world's most-valuable liquor maker

Mon, 04/10/2017 - 08:46

Beijing [China], Apr. 10 : All you alcohol lovers! Here's a good news for you guys as a Chinese liquor brand, Kweichow Moutai, best known for brewing the fiery grain-based drink baijiu, has now become the world's most-valuable liquor distiller, overtaking Johnnie Walker's owner Diageo Plc.

Moutai's market value has reached $71.5 billion in Shanghai, after the shares of premium grain liquor -- including 106-proof baijiu -- surged 55 percent over the past year, more than twice the gain for London-based Diageo.

Meanwhile, Whisky's value share of the global spirits market has shrank from 37 to 28 percent, reports the

A third of Diageo's revenue was from North America and a quarter from Europe in the fiscal year to June, while 95 percent of Moutai's sales were in the domestic market. (ANI)

Region: ChinaGeneral: Health

High-intensity interval training improves glucose metabolism of diabetics

Mon, 04/10/2017 - 06:09

Washington D.C. [USA], April 10 : New research reveals that high-intensity interval training (HIIT) increases glucose metabolism in muscles as well as insulin sensitivity in type two diabetes.

Already after a two-week training period, the glucose uptake in thigh muscles returned to a normal level.

The discovery was made in a research project led by Senior Research Fellow Kari Kalliokoski and Project Manager Jarna Hannukainen at the University of Turku, Finland.

The project studied the health impacts of high-intensity interval training on healthy people and diabetics.

"The main benefit of high-intensity interval training is mostly that it takes less time," says Doctoral Candidate Tanja Sjoros.

First in the study, healthy men in their forties and fifties did either high-intensity interval training or traditional, moderate intensity training.

Later, a group of people with insulin resistance carried out a similar two-week training routine. Some of them had type 2 diabetes and some prediabetes.

After two weeks of high intensity training, which amounted to six training sessions, the glucose metabolism in the thigh muscles achieved the starting level of the healthy control group.

Glucose metabolism and insulin sensitivity improved after both the high-intensity training and the moderate intensity continuous training, so the study suggests that people can choose the type of training based on their own preferences.

The research results published in the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports, highlight the beneficial effects of exercise on glucose metabolism especially in diabetics and in those who suffer from disturbances in the glucose metabolism.

However, the researchers advise that diabetics should consult their doctor before starting a new exercise routine. (ANI)

Region: WashingtonGeneral: Health

Osteoporosis drug passes clinical trail

Mon, 04/10/2017 - 04:44

Washington D.C. [USA], Apr. 10 : A new study provides reassuring information about the short-term and long-term safety of denosumab, a monoclonal antibody that is used to treat postmenopausal osteoporosis.

Adverse events that had been noted in a pivotal clinical trial in women age 60 to 90 years old treated for three years showed no tendency to increase after a further three years of treatment, the study showed.

In addition, women who crossed over from three years of placebo to three years of denosumab experienced no increase in adverse effects compared with women treated for the initial three years.

"All of this is consistent with an excellent safety and tolerability profile for denosumab treatment for osteoporosis," said Dr. Nelson Watts, lead author of the study results published in Journal of Bone and Mineral Research.

The authors noted that, especially in older women on long-term treatment, many if not all adverse events could be called "life events"--things that would have happened whether or not the person was participating in a clinical trial. (ANI)

Region: WashingtonGeneral: Health

Men, take note! Grey hair linked with risk of heart disease

Sat, 04/08/2017 - 08:45

Washington D.C. [USA], Apr. 8 : In a recent study presented at EuroPrevent 2017.1, grey hair has been linked with an increased risk of heart disease in men.

"Ageing is an unavoidable coronary risk factor and is associated with dermatological signs that could signal increased risk," said Dr Irini Samuel, a cardiologist at Cairo University, Egypt.

"More research is needed on cutaneous signs of risk that would enable us to intervene earlier in the cardiovascular disease process."

Atherosclerosis and hair greying share similar mechanisms such as impaired DNA repair, oxidative stress, inflammation, hormonal changes and senescence of functional cells. This study assessed the prevalence of grey hair in patients with coronary artery disease and whether it was an independent risk marker of disease.

This was a prospective, observational study which included 545 adult men who underwent multi-slice computed tomography (CT) coronary angiography for suspected coronary artery disease. Patients were divided into subgroups according to the presence or absence of coronary artery disease, and the amount of grey/white hair.

The amount of grey hair was graded using the hair whitening score: 1 = pure black hair, 2 = black more than white, 3 = black equals white, 4 = white more than black, and 5 = pure white. Each patients' grade was determined by two independent observers.

Data was collected on traditional cardiovascular risk factors including hypertension, diabetes, smoking, dyslipidaemia, and family history of coronary artery disease.

The researchers found that a high hair whitening score (grade 3 or more) was associated with increased risk of coronary artery disease independent of chronological age and established cardiovascular risk factors. Patients with coronary artery disease had a statistically significant higher hair whitening score and higher coronary artery calcification than those without coronary artery disease.

In multivariate regression analysis, age, hair whitening score, hypertension and dyslipidaemia were independent predictors of the presence of atherosclerotic coronary artery disease. Only age was an independent predictor of hair whitening.

"Atherosclerosis and hair greying occur through similar biological pathways and the incidence of both increases with age," said Dr Samuel. "Our findings suggest that, irrespective of chronological age, hair greying indicates biological age and could be a warning sign of increased cardiovascular risk."

Dr Samuel said asymptomatic patients at high risk of coronary artery disease should have regular check-ups to avoid early cardiac events by initiating preventive therapy.

"Further research is needed, in coordination with dermatologists, to learn more about the causative genetic and possible avoidable environmental factors that determine hair whitening," she added. "A larger study including men and wo men is required to confirm the association between hair greying and cardiovascular disease in patients without other known cardiovascular risk factors."

She concluded: "If our findings are confirmed, standardisation of the scoring system for evaluation of hair greying could be used as a predictor for coronary artery disease." (ANI)

Region: WashingtonGeneral: Health

New medication can reduce involuntary movement

Sat, 04/08/2017 - 05:24

Washington D.C. [USA], Apr. 8 : A team of researchers has found that a new medication significantly decreases involuntary movement.

Antipsychotic treatment can cause involuntary movements such as lip smacking, tongue protrusions and excessive eye blinking. These movements typically occur after more than 3 months of treatment and are called tardive dyskinesia.

The study concludes valbenazine administered once daily can significantly reduce tardive dyskinesia in patients with schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder and mood disorder.

Lead author Robert A. Hauser "One approach to managing tardive dyskinesia is to discontinue antipsychotic treatment or reduce the dosage, but these options are not always feasible, because withdrawal can exacerbate tardive dyskinesia symptoms or have a negative impact on psychiatric status. Moreover, tardive dyskinesia symptoms often persist even after discontinuation or dosage reduction."

Valbenazine is a selective vesicular monoamine transporter 2 inhibitor. Two hundred twenty-five people with schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder or a mood disorder participated in the phase 3 randomized double blind, placebo-controlled trial.

Forty-percent of those who received valbenazine 80mg/day improved by at least 50 percent. That's compared to just 8 percent in the placebo group.

Researchers also determined that valbenazine was well tolerated. Drowsiness, restlessness and dry mouth were reported as adverse effects.

The study is published in the American Journal of Psychiatry. (ANI)

Region: WashingtonGeneral: Health


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