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Good news! 2 drugs approved for treatment of bowel cancer

Health News - Sun, 03/05/2017 - 05:58

Washington D.C.[USA], Mar. 5 : A health watchdog has recommended two drugs could improve care for patients with bowel cancer.

Bowel cancer is diagnosed every 15 minutes in the UK and the deadly disease claims the lives of more than 40 people each day - partly because the symptoms are so hard to spot.

It is the country's second biggest cancer killer.

Treatment for bowel cancer will usually depend on which part of your bowel is affected and how far the cancer has spread.

Surgery is usually the main treatment for bowel cancer, and may be combined with chemotherapy, radiotherapy or biological treatments, depending on your particular case.

Two bowel cancer drugs available on the Cancer Drugs Fund should move into routine NHS use, NICE has said in new guidance.

The guidance recommends cetuximab (Erbitux, Merck Serono) and panitumumab (Vectibix, Amgen) as first-line treatments for certain types of bowel cancer.

Health watchdog NICE reviewed its original guidance on cetuximab and panitumumab after a change to their licenses altered the group of patients they could be used by.

The Cancer Drugs Fund National Health Service (NHS) was set up to help patients in England get cancer drugs that are not routinely available on the NHS.

NICE has been asked to review drugs, approved and still available only through the old Cancer Drugs Fund (CDF), and has now reached the half way point.

A price drop has meant more cancer drugs will be routinely available to patients.

In all cases so far NICE has been able to make recommendations for routine NHS use, companies have reviewed and reduced their prices, and in some cases provided clearer evidence as to why they will benefit patients and the NHS.

NICE is appraising 24 drugs, across 33 cancer indications that have been supplied to patients who applied for conditional funding through the CDF.

The remaining drugs are in the process of being appraised and no drugs have received a final negative decision.

Sir Andrew Dillon, chief executive of NICE, said: "The system is working well.

"Companies are cooperating well with our reviews and the good news for patients is that more cancer drugs than ever are being recommended for routine use.

"As drugs move off the CDF, we free up funding for new drugs coming down the pipeline, so patients will have faster access to promising cancer drugs and the NHS makes the most of its resources."

Patients will also learn the fate of three best new breast cancer drugs in the coming weeks.

Baroness Delyth Morgan, Chief Executive at Breast Cancer Now, said: "Women with incurable secondary breast cancer have unfortunately been subjected to a heart-breaking few months as a result of two provisional drug rejections, with key final decisions now looming.

"While we need companies to play their part in ensuring patients get the drugs they need through more responsible pricing, we believe there are major flaws in the NICE process which may block new and more novel drugs coming through.

"We desperately hope to be proven wrong, but all indicators to date suggest this system is not fit for purpose in assessing modern cancer drugs.

"We need the Government to initiate wholescale reform to this process, otherwise revolutionary new breast cancer treatments being made available in other countries will pass NHS patients by." (ANI)

Region: WashingtonGeneral: Health

The more you exercise, the stronger your bones get

Health News - Sat, 03/04/2017 - 07:24

Washington D.C. [USA], Mar. 4 : You may want to start hitting the gym as a recent study suggests that exercise-induced hormone irisin may have a therapeutic potential in strengthening bone.

The Tufts University School of Dental Medicine (TUSDM) study, published in Bone Research, found that two weeks of voluntary wheel running induces higher expression of irisin.

In addition, systemic administration of irisin increased bone formation and thickness, mimicking the effects of exercise on the mouse skeletal system. The findings demonstrate a potential new mechanism for the regulation of bone metabolism.

"Our results provide insight into the complex regulatory interplay of muscle, bone and fat tissues. Increased irisin levels in circulation upon systemic administration can recapitulate part of the beneficial effects of exercise in the skeletal system," said senior author Jake Chen. "Further experimentation will be needed to evaluate the involvement of irisin and other factors increased by exercise and expressed by bone, muscle and fat tissue."

The team's findings demonstrate that irisin produced by bone could have a role in bone metabolism through both direct mechanisms and indirect mechanisms, as the transition from white fat to brown fat has been shown to lead to increased bone formation by previous studies. In addition, recombinant irisin has also been shown to suppress sclerostin, a protein that is involved in bone loss during prolonged lack of mechanical load, such as in bed-ridden patients.

"Exercise-induced irisin may not only act as an endocrine factor capable of promoting the browning of white adipose tissue, but could also regulate bone metabolism by autocrine mechanisms," said Chen. "Our results suggest that irisin may have a therapeutic potential in strengthening bone in bone-loss-associated diseases, and additional studies are needed to evaluate the underlying mechanisms by which irisin functions." (ANI)

Region: WashingtonGeneral: Health

Alas! There's room to smoke, but no room to breastfeed

Health News - Sat, 03/04/2017 - 05:43

New Delhi [India], Mar. 4 : Breastfeeding in public places is a problematic issue women face on a regular basis.

Irony is, at workplaces, malls, hospitals, airports you will see a special place is allocated for smoking, but to breastfeed the kid, a woman just has the option of washroom.

A recent Breastfeeding Report - 'Choices and Spaces' by SHEROES supported by Medela and powered by Babygogo, aimed to understand the comfort levels of mothers, breastfeeding in public and at work in India.

It also focuses on the problems that prevent women to breastfeed and what could be offered to create that support eco-system.

It highlights that women are changing their normal behaviour, post delivery, to accommodate breastfeeding- some limit going out in public and many quit job to raise their babies.

Only 20 percent of the respondents indicated their workplaces had safe and comfortable places to breastfeed.

Over 3500 women participated in the breastfeeding survey from across sectors. 66.7 percent new moms stated they were uncomfortable with breastfeeding their babies in public spaces, while 49 percent women felt uncomfortable while feeding babies at workplaces. Most were from India, with a few respondents from the UAE and Singapore.

Out of these respondents, a majority of them were working women from the corporate sector and the rest were staying at home moms.

Annually, about 26 million babies take birth in India. According to National Family Health Survey -3 (NFHS-3) data, 20 million are not able to receive exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months and about 13 million do not get good timely and appropriate complementary feeding after six months, along with continued breastfeeding.

• Home: Most comfortable space

More than 67 percent of women responded that they felt comfortable breastfeeding in front of family members. However, a significant number of almost 30 percent women do not feel comfortable even in the familiarity of family members.

•Breastfeeding in public

Most women are comfortable breastfeeding in front of family members and have no issues being supported in this way, although a few did mention that family helps to perpetuate myths about bottle feeding being better and scaring them that they are not producing enough milk.

One respondent stated, "I really face so many problems outside the home because I don't find any place to feed him and my in laws said it's good to give bottle feed to your child because may be he doesn't get the enough feed from me."

• Public attitude towards breastfeeding

Most respondents felt uncomfortable breastfeeding in public. They mainly cited staring and rude comments as the primary reasons to avoid breastfeeding in public. (ANI)

Region: IndiaGeneral: Health

Pre- pregnancy stress level may lead to eczema future child

Health News - Sat, 03/04/2017 - 05:22

Washington D.C. [USA], Mar. 4 : Every woman, planning to take a step forward in life to embrace motherhood, do not stress yourself!

A Southampton research show, infants, whose mothers felt stressed before they fell pregnant, had a higher risk of eczema the age of 12 months.

The study from the Medical Research Council Lifecourse Epidemiology Unit, University of Southampton, is the first to link preconception maternal stress to the risk of atopic eczema in the child.

The researchers believe the findings support the concept that eczema partly originates as a baby develops in the womb and could reveal ways of reducing the risk of the skin condition.

The research, published in Clinical and Experimental Allergy, assessed the stress levels of women recruited to the Southampton Women's Survey before they were pregnant. They were asked to report how stressed they were in their daily lives. A sub-group was asked about their psychological wellbeing.

Around 3,000 babies, born into the Survey, were then assessed for eczema at ages six and 12 months.

Dr Sarah El-Heis, the study's lead researcher from the University of Southampton, comments, "We know that maternal stress can release certain hormones that can have an effect on the baby's immune response, leading to an increased risk in conditions like eczema."

"More than one in six women of the mothers in the Southampton Women's Survey reported that stress affected their health 'quite a lot' or 'extremely' - our analyses showed that their infants had a 20 percent higher likelihood of developing atopic eczema at age 12 months when compared with the remainder of the study cohort. The findings also showed that stress and low mood experienced closer to the time of conception may have a greater impact on the risk offspring atopic eczema."

The research showed similar findings of an increased risk of infant eczema for the women who reported psychological distress before they became pregnant. The associations were robust to adjustment for other influences, including a history of eczema in the mother, smoking during pregnancy and infant gestational age, sex and breastfeeding duration.

Professor Keith Godfrey, director of the NIHR Southampton Biomedical Research Centre in Nutrition, added, "Previous research has linked low maternal mood after delivery with an increased risk of eczema in the infant, but the new research showed no association between postnatal mood and eczema after taking account of preconception stress. More research is needed to investigate this interesting association, but the findings are further evidence of the influence preconception maternal health and wellbeing has on infants."(ANI)

Region: WashingtonGeneral: Health

Researchers find Painkillers without dangerous side effects

Health News - Sat, 03/04/2017 - 04:59

Berlin [Germany], Mar. 3 : People, we have some good news for you. Researchers from Charite - Universitatsmedizin Berlin have discovered a new way of developing painkillers.

This research has been published the journal Science.

The team of researchers used computational simulation to analyze interactions at opioid receptors - the cell's docking sites for painkillers. When used in an animal model, their prototype of a morphine-like molecule was able to produce substantial pain relief in inflamed tissues.

However, healthy tissues remained unaffected, suggesting that the severe side effects currently associated with these types of painkillers might be avoided.

Opioids are a class of strong pain killers. They are mainly used to treat pain associated with tissue damage and inflammation, such as that caused by surgery, nerve damage, arthritis or cancer. Common side effects associated with their use include drowsiness, nausea, constipation and dependency and, in some cases, respiratory arrest.

By analyzing drug-opioid receptor interactions in damaged tissues, as opposed to healthy tissues, we were hoping to provide useful information for the design of new painkillers without harmful side effects," explains Prof. Dr. Christoph Stein, Head of the Department of Anesthesiology and Surgical Critical Care Medicine on Campus Benjamin Franklin.

In cooperation with PD Dr. Marcus Weber from the Zuse Institute Berlin, and with the help of innovative computational simulations, the researchers were able to analyze morphine-like molecules and their interactions with opioid receptors. They were able to successfully identify a new mechanism of action, which is capable of producing pain relief only in the desired target tissues - those affected by inflammation.

Treating postoperative and chronic inflammatory pain should now be possible without causing side effects. Doing so would substantially improve patient quality of life.

"In contrast to conventional opioids, our NFEPP-prototype appears to only bind to, and activate, opioid receptors in an acidic environment. This means it produces pain relief only in injured tissues, and without causing respiratory depression, drowsiness, the risk of dependency, or constipation," explained the study's first authors, Dr. Viola Spahn and Dr. Giovanna Del Vecchio.

After designing and synthesizing the drug prototype, the researchers subjected it to experimental testing.

"We were able to show that the protonation of drugs is a key requirement for the activation of opioid receptors," conclude the authors.

Their findings, which may also apply to other types of pain, may even find application in other areas of receptor research. Thereby, the benefits of improved drug efficacy and tolerability are not limited to painkillers, but may include other drugs as well.(ANI)

Region: GermanyGeneral: Health

Will Trump's sexual, reproductive health policy changes risk women?

Health News - Fri, 03/03/2017 - 08:30

Washington D.C. [USA], Mar. 3 : According to an expert, The US President Donald Trump's sexual and reproductive health policy changes threaten women worldwide.

"Much progress has been made in the use of more effective contraception and in the reduction of unintended pregnancies," explained University of California's Daniel Grossman, noting "Trump's policies could roll back progress on women's health."

A concerning development is Trump's re-imposition of the Mexico City Policy, also known as the Global Gag Rule, which prevents US-funded organisations from providing, informing about, or advocating for abortion care in their countries.

"If reducing abortion were the aim of this policy," Grossman said, "it is not at all clear that this is effective," as data suggests the policy was associated with an increase in abortion in sub-Saharan African countries. This is possibly because affected organisations lost funding for contraceptive supplies.

Furthermore, Trump has made statements in support of reversing the Roe v. Wade 1973 landmark ruling that made abortion legal. While it is unclear that this ruling could be overturned, it is worrying because "state legislatures and the US Congress will certainly feel emboldened under the new administration to pass more restrictive legislation," explained Grossman.

Several policy proposals have the potential to severely limit access to contraception, continued Grossman.

This includes prohibiting clinics affiliated with Planned Parenthood from receiving federal funding from sources such as Medicaid, and Title X, which help low income individuals. Evidence has shown after clinics in Texas were excluded, contraceptive usage declined significantly and unintended pregnancy increased.

Furthermore, if the Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as Obamacare, is repealed, as Trump has promised, this may lead to more restrictions.

"It remains to be seen how many of these proposed policies will really go into effect," he explained. "But regardless, it is clear that the US political war on women has reached an all-time apex. Women's health physicians have a critical role to play: we must be a loud voice in support of evidence-based health care that is unencumbered by political interference."

This study is published in the Journal of Family Planning and Reproductive Health Care. (ANI)

Region: WashingtonGeneral: Health

Air pollution alters effectiveness of antibiotics

Health News - Fri, 03/03/2017 - 04:43

Washington D.C.[USA], Mar. 3 : Researchers from the University of Leicester have, for the first time, discovered that bacteria that cause respiratory infections are directly affected by air pollution - increasing the potential for infection and changing the effectiveness of antibiotic treatment.

The interdisciplinary study, which has been published in the journal Environmental Microbiology, has important implications for the treatment of infectious diseases, which are known to be increased in areas with high levels of air pollution.

The study looked into how air pollution affects the bacteria living in our bodies, specifically the respiratory tract - the nose, throat and lungs.

A major component of air pollution is black carbon, which is produced through the burning of fossil fuels such as diesel, biofuels, and biomass.

The research shows that this pollutant changes the way in which bacteria grow and form communities, which could affect how they survive on the lining of our respiratory tracts and how well they are able to hide from, and combat, our immune systems.

Dr Julie Morrissey, Associate Professor in Microbial Genetics in the University of Leicester's Department of Genetics and lead author on the paper, said: "This work increases our understanding of how air pollution affects human health. It shows that the bacteria which cause respiratory infections are affected by air pollution, possibly increasing the risk of infection and the effectiveness of antibiotic treatment of these illnesses.

"Our research could initiate an entirely new understanding of how air pollution affects human health. It will lead to enhancement of research to understand how air pollution leads to severe respiratory problems and perturbs the environmental cycles essential for life."

Dr Shane Hussey and Dr Jo Purves, the research associates working on the project said: "Everybody worldwide is exposed to air pollution every time they breathe. It is something we cannot limit our exposure to as individuals, but we know that it can make us ill. So we need to understand what it is doing to us, how it is making us unhealthy, and how we might be able to stop these effects." (ANI)

Region: WashingtonGeneral: Health

Obesity stops 'guardian immune cells' from doing their job: Study

Health News - Fri, 03/03/2017 - 04:17

Washington D.C.[USA], Mar. 3 : Scientists have uncovered the physiological mechanics underlying inflammation and obesity by tracking the actions of 'guardian immune cells' in response to changes in diet.

The study has been published in the Journal Immunity.

They believe their work may herald a new era of research now that they have new therapeutic targets to prevent and control obesity-related inflammation and metabolic disease.

The scientists, led by Professor Lydia Lynch of Trinity College Dublin and Harvard Medical School, discovered that special guardian immune cells are unable to function properly once obesity is established, which results in severe inflammation and metabolic dysfunction.

These guardian immune cells, called Adipose Type One Innate Lymphoid Cells, or ILCs, were only recently discovered by Professor Lynch and her team. They live in our fat, and are charged with maintaining a delicate balance of our immune systems.

Professor Lynch said: "All people have fat, even if they are not obese. Fat is found around almost all tissues in our body, and all fat has its own immune system, which we are only recently learning about.

"We have revealed that ILCs keep other immune cells called macrophages in check, by killing them based on certain physiological conditions in the body - they essentially guard against inflammation when macrophages are too numerous in fat. This function is unique as immune cells are not generally supposed to kill other healthy immune cells in non-pathological conditions."

In other cases, 'natural killer' cells-which are part of the ILC family-recognise specific proteins on the surfaces of healthy immune cells that act a little like passwords; if a cell possesses the password, the natural killer cells let it go about its normal business.

Natural killer cells typically kill cancer cells, which lack the required password, whereas the healthy immune cells don't.

However, uniquely in fat, the ILCs do not recognise these passwords and instead attack the healthy macrophages.

Professor Lynch said: "We know that macrophages enter fat at the onset of obesity and that they likely do a protective job cleaning up as much excess fat as they can. However, as obesity progresses, these macrophages get overwhelmed by the workload and turn inflammatory, which leads to more severe obesity and further complications like diabetes."

"Importantly, in healthy states, our ILCs protect against this inflammation and metabolic disease by killing the troublesome macrophages in our fat. But when obesity is established these ILCs are depleted and lose their regulatory killing function, which results in a dangerous accumulation of macrophages and all the bad things that come with that."

Professor Lynch's work was recently published in the international journal Immunity. The findings confirmed that ILCs are very responsive to diet, which underlines the role that healthy eating plays in affecting our immune systems. For example, after eating a fatty diet for just five days, ILCs home in on fat cells; likewise, their numbers in blood and fat go the other way when weight is lost. (ANI)

Region: WashingtonGeneral: Health

Here's a new treatment for TB patients

Health News - Thu, 03/02/2017 - 05:01

Washington D.C.[USA], Mar. 2 : Antibacterial compounds found in soil could spell the beginnings of a new treatment for tuberculosis, new research led by the University of Sydney has found.

Believed by many to be a relic of past centuries, tuberculosis (TB) causes more deaths than any other infectious disease including HIV/AIDs. In 2015 there were an estimated 10.4 million new cases of TB and 1.4 million deaths from the disease.

The bacterium causing TB (Mycobacterium tuberculosis) is becoming increasingly resistant to current therapies, meaning there is an urgent need to develop new TB drugs. In 2015 an estimated 480,000 cases were unresponsive to the two major drugs used to treat TB. It is estimated more than 250,000 TB deaths were from drug-resistant infections.

An international collaboration led by University Professors Richard Payne, from the School of Chemistry, and Warwick Britton, from the Sydney Medical School and the Centenary Institute, has discovered a new compound which could translate into a new drug lead for TB. Its findings were published in Nature Communications today.

The group was drawn to soil bacteria compounds known to effectively prevent other bacteria growing around them. Using synthetic chemistry the researchers were able to recreate these compounds with structural variations, turning them into more potent compounds called analogues. When tested in a containment laboratory these analogues proved to be effective killers of Mycobacterium tuberculosis.

"These analogues inhibit the action of a key protein needed to build a protective cell wall around the bacterium," said Professor Payne. "Without a cell wall, the bacterium dies. This wall-building protein is not targeted by currently available drugs.

"The analogues also effectively killed TB-causing bacteria inside macrophages, the cells in which the bacteria live in human lungs."

Professor Payne said the findings are the starting point for a new TB drug. Planning for further testing and safety studies is underway.

The research was done in collaboration with Colorado State University in the USA, Simon Fraser University in Canada, Warwick University in the UK, Monash University and the University of Queensland. It was funded by Australia's National Health and Medical Research Centre (NHMRC).

Professors Payne and Britton also belong to the University's Marie Bashir Institute for Infectious Diseases and Biosecurity. Professor Payne won the Malcolm McIntosh Prize for Physical Scientist of the Year at the 2016 Prime Minister's Science Prizes. (ANI)

Region: WashingtonGeneral: Health

Gender divide in heart health check-up?

Health News - Thu, 03/02/2017 - 05:00

Washington D.C. [USA], Mar. 2 : A new report has highlighted a gender divide in the screening of patients for cardiovascular disease - Australia's number one killer.

Research from The George Institute for Global Health and The University of Sydney found men were significantly more likely to have their heart disease risk factors measured by their GP.

The study published in the journal Heart also found the odds of being treated with the appropriate preventative medicines were 37 per cent lower for younger women at high risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) than their male counterparts.

Associate Professor Julie Redfern, from The George Institute for Global Health, said the results were especially concerning because more women than men die each year from cardiovascular disease.

Associate Professor Redfern said: "Unfortunately there is still the perception that heart disease is a man's disease. This is not the case here in Australia, the UK or the US and we fear that one of the reasons more women are dying from heart disease is because they are not being treated correctly, including not even being asked basic questions about their health. "

Risk factors for CVD include raised cholesterol and blood pressure levels and smoking. Female smokers have a 25 per cent greater risk of CVD than male smokers.

The study of more than 53,000 patients across 60 sites in Australia found the odds of women being appropriately screened was 12% lower than men.

It also found major discrepancies in the treatment of women at high risk of CVD. Younger women (aged 35-54) were 37% less likely than younger men to have appropriate medications, such as blood pressure drugs, statins and antiplatelets prescribed. By contrast, older women (aged 65 plus years) were 34% more likely than older men to have appropriate medications prescribed.

Karice Hyun, who undertook the research for her PhD at the University of Sydney, said: "It is simply unacceptable that more than half of young women in this study did not receive appropriate heart health medications.

"These medications can greatly reduce the likelihood of having a heart attack or stroke. If these findings are representative, many women could be missing out on life saving treatment right now - just because of their age and gender.

"This fundamentally needs to change. We need a system wide solution to addressing these very worrying gaps in heart disease-related healthcare to ensure women are treated equally across the health system."

Whilst the report highlighted gender disparity, it also revealed that just 43.3 per cent of all patients had all their necessary risk factors recorded, whilst only 47.5 per cent of patients at high risk of CVD were prescribed preventative medicines.

Associate Professor Redfern added: "These findings really show that we need to do a better job of preventing and tackling CVD for all Australians if we have any hope to reducing the death toll."

Every year more than 45,000 people die from CVD in Australia.(ANI)

Region: WashingtonGeneral: Health

Despite negative influence, people can't stop using social media: Study

Health News - Wed, 03/01/2017 - 04:22

Washington D.C. [USA], Mar.1 : We know it isn't good for our health but being glued to our smartphone is something we all just can't resist.

A study reports that nearly half of millennials fear their addiction to social media is having a negative effect on their mental and physical health.

A new survey by the American Psychological Association (APA) found about 90 percent of people aged 18-29 were using social media, up from just 12 percent in 2005.

The APA report said: "Technology has improved life for many Americans and nearly half of this country's adults say they can't imagine life without their smartphones.

"The survey showed, nearly all adults (99 percent) own at least one electronic device (including a television). Almost nine in 10 (86 per cent) own a computer, 74 percent own an internet-connected smartphone and 55 percent own a tablet.

"At the same time, numerous studies have described consequences of technology use, including negative impacts on physical and mental health."

Of the social media platforms, Facebook was the most frequently visited with 79 percent on adults using it last year.

In second place was Instagram with 32 percent, then Pinterest and LinkedIn, both on 29 per cent, and Twitter with 24 per cent.

Many millennials, defined as those aged between 18 and 37, were concerned about how much time they were spending on social media.

"Almost half (48 percent) worry about the negative effects of social media on their physical and mental health," the report said.

The researchers also identified a group of people so attached to their gadgets that they were constantly or often checking their emails, texts or social media accounts.

APA said: "More than a decade after the emergence of smartphones, Facebook and Twitter, a profile is emerging of the 'constant checker'. Such avid technology and social media use has paved the way for the 'constant checker', those who constantly check their emails, texts or social media accounts."

These 'constant checkers' reported higher stress levels than their less-connected peers.

On a 10-point scale, with one being little or no stress and 10 being a great deal of stress, this group reported overall stress levels of 5.3 compared to an average of 4.4.

The report said: "For some, constant checking itself can be a stressful act. Constant checkers are more likely to say that constantly checking devices is a stressful aspect of technology, compared to non-constant checkers (29 per cent vs. 24 per cent, respectively)."

Some 65 per cent of Americans agreed that periodically "unplugging" or taking a "digital detox" was important.

Despite the majority wanting to switch-off, the report added: "Only 28 per cent of those agree about the important of a detox actually report doing so." (ANI)

Region: WashingtonGeneral: Health

Solar Plus Probe to Launch by July 2018: NASA

New Zealand News - Tue, 02/28/2017 - 15:21

The U.S. Space agency NASA has announced a solar probe that will gather interesting information for scientists to help them predict any major solar events and its impact on our planet. Solar flares and mass ejections can have an impact on telecommunication networks on Earth. Solar Probe Plus will remain nearly four million miles from the solar surface. NASA team plans to launch the probe during 20-day window starting July, 31, 2018.

It will be a challenging mission for NASA as no space mission has gone so close to the solar surface and NASA engineers will have to develop technology that can withstand weather conditions at distance of four million miles from the Solar surface. The heat and intense radiation at that distance would require special technology for NASA’s probe to withstand those conditions.

NASA will work in collaboration with Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory for the project to make sure that the Solar Plus Probe survives in those conditions. NASA release informed, "Solar Probe Plus will be a historic mission, flying into the Sun's atmosphere (or corona), for the first time. In order to unlock the mysteries of the corona, but also to protect a society that is increasingly dependent on technology from the threats of space weather, we will send Solar Probe Plus to touch the Sun.”

"Without advance warning a huge solar event could cause two trillion dollars in damage in the US alone, and the eastern seaboard of the US could be without power for a year," the Solar Probe Mission team informed.

NASA release about the project further informed…

Coming closer to the Sun than any previous spacecraft, Solar Probe Plus will employ a combination of in situ measurements and imaging to achieve the mission's primary scientific goal: to understand how the Sun's corona is heated and how the solar wind is accelerated. Solar Probe Plus will revolutionize our knowledge of the physics of the origin and evolution of the solar wind.

Although the Solar Probe Plus science objectives remain the same as those established for Solar Probe 2005, the new mission design differs dramatically from the 2005 design (as well as from all previous Solar Probe mission designs since the 1970s). The 2005 and earlier missions involved one or two flybys of the Sun at a perihelion distance of 4 RS by a spacecraft placed into a solar polar orbit by means of a Jupiter gravity assist. In contrast, Solar Probe Plus remains nearly in the ecliptic plane and makes many near-Sun passes at increasingly lower perihelia.

The baseline mission provides for 24 perihelion passes inside 0.16 AU (35 RS), with 19 passes occurring within 20 RS of the Sun. The first near-Sun pass occurs 3 months after launch, at a
heliocentric distance of 35 RS. Over the next several years successive Venus gravity assist (VGA) maneuvers gradually lower the perihelia to ~9.5 RS, by far the closest any spacecraft has ever come to the Sun.

Companies: NASAGeneral: ScienceRegion: United States

Amazon reportedly developing voice-recognition for Alexa

UAE News - Tue, 02/28/2017 - 09:47

Seattle-based tech giant Amazon is reportedly developing a new feature to allow the voice assistant that powers its Echo line of speakers to distinguish between individual users based on their voices.

The Alexa voice assistant, just like Apple Inc.'s Siri, is capable of interpreting and responding to voice commands such as "What movies are playing tonight?" or "How's the weather?" However, voice-enabled smart speakers lack voice-recognition and thus can't distinguish who is asking for something.

read more

Categories: UAE News

Fruit flies can build resistance to toxins, found in deadly mushrooms: Study

Health News - Tue, 02/28/2017 - 08:57

Washington D.C. [USA], Feb. 28 : A new study says fruit flies can build resistance to the toxins found in deadly mushrooms - Death Cap and Destroying Angel that may help them live longer.

According to researchers from Michigan Technological University in the U.S, fruit fly species have adapted many niche preferences, such as a tolerance for alpha-amanitin, a toxin found in the Amanita genus of poisonous mushrooms.

Their results were published by PLOS ONE.

The main finding is the genetic mechanism that control the toxin resistance correspond to the mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) pathway that regulates cell physiology and metabolism in humans and other mammals.

The findings could open up new possibilities for studying cancer, obesity, type 2 diabetes, depression and neurodegenerative diseases.

The team worked on figuring out, how fruit flies build resistance to the toxins and the resistance's effects on longevity.

"We found that there are multiple mechanisms that make sense," Werner stated, explaining that the mechanisms focused on the genetic regulation of detoxification enzymes.

Adding, "And the more resistant the fruit flies were, the longer they lived."

Then they pulled in 180 lines of fruit flies collected at a Raleigh, North Carolina farmer's market for comparison.

By putting big data techniques to work, they were able to screen genetic traits and nucleotide sequences to better discern candidate genes that control the toxin resistance.

"To do the analysis, we decide on a trait, which we will test in all 180 lines and selected mushroom toxin resistance and found continuous variation in the lines," Werner noted.

A better understanding of the resistance's evolution mechanisms could offer insight into many diseases including cancer, obesity, type 2 diabetes, depression and neurodegenerative diseases. (ANI)

Region: WashingtonGeneral: Health

Alzheimer's drug shouldn't be prescribed for cognitive impairment, without genetic test

Health News - Sun, 02/26/2017 - 06:54

Washington D.C. [US], Feb. 26 : US researchers have warned, Donepezil, a medication that is approved to treat people with Alzheimer's disease, should not be prescribed for people with mild cognitive impairment, without a genetic test.

Researchers from the University Of California discovered that for people who carry a specific genetic variation, the K-variant of butyrylcholinesterase, or BChE-K donezpezil, could accelerate cognitive decline.

The study has been published in Journal of Alzheimer's Disease.

Mild cognitive impairment is a transitional state between normal age-related changes in cognition and dementia.

Because many people with the condition display symptoms similar to those caused by Alzheimer's disease, some physicians prescribe donepezil, which is marketed under the brand name

Donepezil was tested as a possible treatment for mild cognitive impairment in a large, federally funded study published in 2005, but it was not approved by the FDA.

Still, doctors have often prescribed the drug "off-label" -- meaning that it is not approved for that specific disorder -- for their patients with mild cognitive impairment.

The researchers looked at the association between BChE-K and changes in cognitive function. Using two tests that measure cognitive impairment, the Mini-Mental State Examination and the Clinical Dementia Rating Sum of Boxes.

The findings indicated that people with the genetic variation, who were treated with donepezil had greater changes in their scores than those who took placebos.

They also found that those who took donepezil had a faster cognitive decline than those who took the placebo.

The findings reinforce the importance of physicians discussing the possible benefits and risks of this treatment with their patients. (ANI)

Region: WashingtonGeneral: Health

Live in green neighbourhood to cut depression, anxiety

Health News - Sun, 02/26/2017 - 06:39

Washington D.C. [US], Feb. 26 : Your neighbourhood is linked to your mental well-being.

Briton researchers have revealed, living in neighbourhoods with more birds, shrubs and trees are less likely to suffer from depression, anxiety and stress.

The study, involving hundreds of people, found benefits for mental health of being able to see birds, shrubs and trees around the home, whether people lived in urban or more leafy suburban neighbourhoods.

The study surveyed mental health in over 270 people from different ages, incomes and ethnicities and also found that those who spent less time out of doors than usual in the previous week were more likely to report they were anxious or depressed.

After conducting extensive surveys of the number of birds in the morning and afternoon in Milton Keynes, Bedford and Luton,

The findings, published in journal Bioscience, indicated lower levels of depression, anxiety and stress were associated with the number of birds people could see in the afternoon.

The academics studied afternoon bird numbers - which tend to be lower than birds generally seen in the morning - because are more in keeping with the number of birds that people are likely to see in their neighbourhood on a daily basis.

In the study, common types of birds including blackbirds, robins, blue tits and crows were seen.

"This study starts to unpick the role that some key components of nature play for our mental well-being," said lead researcher Dr Daniel Cox, from the University of Exeter in the UK.

"Birds around the home and nature in general, show great promise in preventative health care, making cities healthier, happier places to live," Cox added.

"Watching birds makes people feel relaxed and connected to nature," the researchers concluded. (ANI)

Region: WashingtonGeneral: Health

Google engineer detects big bug leaking info from websites

UAE News - Sat, 02/25/2017 - 08:57

A bug in a code from content distribution firm Cloudflare potentially leaked information from thousands of websites across the globe, a Google engineer recently announced.

The bug in Cloudflare's code, which has already been fixed, meant that whenever it encountered a website based on poorly-constructed HTML with specific errors in it, it allowed data from other sites using Cloudflare programs to leak onto those sites.

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Categories: UAE News

Dietary prebiotics improve sleep: Study

Health News - Sat, 02/25/2017 - 06:25

Washington D.C. [USA], Feb. 25 : Health benefits of probiotics- the "good bacteria" found in fermented foods and dietary supplements- is known to almost all.

Now a first-of-its kind study by University of Colorado Boulder, scientists suggests that lesser-known gut-health promoters called prebiotics, which serve as food for good bacteria inside the gut, can also have an impact, improving sleep and buffering the physiological impacts of stress.

"We found that dietary prebiotics can improve non-REM sleep, as well as REM sleep after a stressful event," said Robert Thompson, a post-doctoral researcher in the Department of Integrative Physiology and first author of the new study.

It was published in the journal Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience.

Prebiotics are dietary fibers found naturally in foods like chicory, artichokes, raw garlic, leeks and onions. When beneficial bacteria digest prebiotic fiber, they not only multiply, improving overall gut health, but they also release metabolic byproducts.

Some research suggests these byproducts can influence brain function, explains lead author Monika Fleshner, a professor in the Department of Integrative Physiology.

For the study, the researchers fed three-week-old male rats a diet of either standard chow or chow that included prebiotics. They then monitored the rats' body temperature, gut bacteria and sleep-wake cycles - using EEG, or brain activity testing -- over time.

They found that the rats on the prebiotic diet spent more time in non-rapid-eye-movement (NREM) sleep, which is restful and restorative, than those on the non-prebiotic diet.

"Given that sufficient NREM sleep and proper nutrition can impact brain development and function and that sleep problems are common in early life, it is possible that a diet rich in prebiotics started in early life could help improve sleep, support the gut microbiota and promote optimal brain/psychological health," the authors wrote.

After being exposed to a stressor, the rats on the prebiotic diet also spent more time in rapid-eye-movement (REM) sleep. REM sleep is believed to be critical for promoting recovery from stress, with research showing that those who get more REM sleep post-trauma are less likely to suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder.

Stress has previously been shown to reduce healthy diversity of gut bacteria and to lead to a temporary flattening of natural fluctuations in body temperature.

But rats on the prebiotic diet were buffered from these impacts, maintaining a healthy and diverse gut microbiota and normal temperature fluctuations even after stress exposure.

Fleshner said it's far too early to recommend prebiotic supplements as a sleep aid. More studies are in the works to examine what role prebiotics can play in promoting sleep, or buffering stress in people.

But she does recommend loading up on healthy prebiotic fiber from food. "It can't hurt and it might help," she said. (ANI)

Region: WashingtonGeneral: Health

Good students are more into booze, smoking pots: Study

Health News - Sat, 02/25/2017 - 06:03

New York [USA], Feb. 25 : It's not only the peer pressure that makes kids try alcohol or smoke pot!

A new study reveals that students with higher marks are more likely to drink alcohol and smoke pot compared with teens with lower scores.

According to a study published Wednesday in the British Medical Journal Open, students with higher marks tend more into pot than cigarettes.

Although some people believe smart students simply have a tendency to experiment, James Williams and Gareth Hagger-Johnson, co-authors of the new study, say these patterns of substance use may continue into adulthood.

"Our research provides evidence against the theory that these teens give up as they grow up," said the authors, both affiliated with University College London.

The researchers surveyed more than 6,000 students from public and private schools across England.

Using questionnaires, they regularly tracked each student's use of tobacco, alcohol and cannabis from age 13 or 14 until age 19 or 20. Williams and Hagger-Johnson used national test scores taken at age 11 to rank students academically, reports CNN.

Some of their results provided no surprises.

During their early teens, high-scoring pupils were less likely to smoke cigarettes and more likely to drink alcohol than their peers with lower test scores. At this time, they were slightly more likely to say they used cannabis.

During their late teens, pupils with the highest scores were more than twice as likely to drink alcohol regularly compared with others, yet they also showed themselves to have less of a tendency to binge-drink. During this same period in their lives, the academically gifted students proved nearly twice as likely to use cannabis persistently and 50 percent more likely to use it occasionally compared with their peers with lower test scores.

One "potential explanation," Williams and Hagger-Johnson said, is that "higher-ability adolescents are more open to try cannabis but are initially cautious of illegal substances in early adolescence as they are more aware of the immediate and long-term repercussions that breaking the law might incur."

"Cognitive ability is also associated with openness to new experiences and higher levels of boredom due to a lack of mental stimulation in school," the co-authors added. (ANI)

Region: New YorkGeneral: Health

Google’s autonomous car unit accuses Uber of using stolen technology

UAE News - Fri, 02/24/2017 - 10:00

Tech giant Google Inc.'s self-driving car unit Waymo has accused Uber Technologies Inc. of using its stolen intellectual property for its own self-driving vehicles.

Waymo, which spun out of the internet giant's parent company, filed a lawsuit in a federal court in San Francisco on Thursday, claiming that the technology being used by UBER was stolen by one of its former project leaders.

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Categories: UAE News


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