Wednesday, 4 May 2016

Why Red Wine is Good for Your Microbiome


Flemish Gut Flora Project

Variety is good for health and red wine could be of great help. In a couple of studies published recently in Science, researchers from Belgium and the Netherlands have presented the most comprehensive work on the human microbiome to date. After studying the poop of thousands of citizen volunteers, they have mapped out the species of bacteria which tend to live within their guts and have connected some of those bacteria to related lifestyle factors.

Some scientists expect to use the microbes which tend to live in our guts in diagnosing and treating the diseases which seem to be related to them. It is not known what the `best’ microbiome is or if there is one normal microbiome and it will take some time longer for the perfect poop transplant therapies.

However, with the data presented in the latest studies scientist have taken a big step in comprehending how the microbiome tend to make big changes in our lives. The first study led by Joroen Raes of the Flanders Institute for Biotechnology, focuses on the so-called Flemish Gut Flora Project that collected stool samples from 3,500 volunteers.

Dutch Health Monitoring Program – Lifeline

Raes informed The Post that `itis a lot since Flanders only has a population of about 6 million and none of these people were paid and they had only been interested in the science. So far around 1,100 samples had been analysed and cross-checked their findings with a Dutch health monitoring program known as LifeLines which is the main data source for study No.2, led by the University of Groningen’s Cisca Wijmenga.

Raes doubts that the microbiomes that are heavily influenced by diet could be quite different in countries beyond the Western world but thinks that the results of the two studies would be fairly valid to other populations in Europe and probably also in America. Raes together with his team were capable of using the Dutch data to confirm 92% of the 69 influential factors identified in Belgium that promises well for the accuracy of the testing. He said that `in Belgium they found association with beer and chocolate while in the Dutch population they saw associations with dairy products.

No Diet that Fits All

Both the studies found small dietary changes to big effect. In the study of Wijmenga, though some dairy products like yogurt and buttermilk seemed to increase the diversity of species in the gut, full-fat products seemed to decrease that diversity. Red wine and coffee seemed to increase the biodiversity of the gut also. High calorie, carb-heavy diets tend to have the opposite effect and amazingly babies do not seem to be influenced by breast feeding at least in their gut.

According to the first author of the Science article, Alexandra Zhernakova of the University Medical Centre mentioned in a statement that in total they found 60 dietary factors which influenced the diversity and what it means is hard to say. However there is a good connection between diversity and health and greater diversity seems to be better. It is clear that we do not tend to have any idea on what diet works best for us. Rate of obesity has tripled in every country and there is no diet which tends to fit all.

How to Keep Your Small Business Germ Free

Running a small business is one of the hardest things anybody has to do. If you’re that size business that has between 10 and 50 employees, you’ve got one of the most difficult tasks that you’ll find in the business world ahead of you each day.

With so much to do each and every day, it’s easy for a lot of things to fall through the cracks if you aren’t careful. What you don’t want to fall through the cracks is the safety of yourself and your employees.

While on the job training and teaching programs can ensure safety among workers doing physical labor, you also need to worry about things like germs, bacteria and potential outbreaks in your office. If you’ve got people traveling all over the world in your office, this is an even bigger concern.

Keep reading to learn more about what you can do to keep your office space germ free and your employees healthy. If you don’t, you could face some serious problems down the line.

Hire Cleaning Staff 

As a small business owner, it’s tempting to just have employees clean up after themselves. After all, you’re not dealing with 2,500 employees, a lunch room and several floors of office space.
The problem is that employees don’t have the ability to do the deep cleaning that a reputable service can. A cleaning service should be in your office at least a few times per week taking care of things like the carpet, draperies and main lobby area.

These are places likely to collect bacteria.

Get Outside Inspections 

As a small business owner, you can’t do everything yourself. That’s especially true when it comes to safeguarding your office and keeping your entire space germ free and healthy for yourself and your employees.

That’s why you need to hire outside inspectors to come into your place of business. Ideally, you should be doing this at least once per year to make sure there are no issues or outbreaks.

Click here to learn more about inspectors that can test for things like legionella and other serious bacteria that could pose a problem in your office. Exposure to these germs might seem unlikely, but when you’re running a business, it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Get an inspection ASAP and enjoy the peace of mind that comes with it.

Monday, 2 May 2016

Scientists Reveal How to Wash Your Hands


Lathering Hands with Soap/Rubbing/Rinsing – Not Effective Way of Cleaning

Lathering the hands with soap and rubbing them strongly for 20 seconds and then rinsing does not seem to be the most effective way of cleaning them. Experts now state that the six-step hand-hygiene technique suggested by the World Health Organization tends to be more superior to a challenging three step process. In a recent study, this practice seems to reduce the median bacterial count from 3.28 to 2.58, when compared to the three step system which only touched 2.88.

Researchers from Glasgow Caledonian University in Scotland witnessed 42 physicians together with 78 nurses wash their hands with alcohol based hand rub after they had treated their patients. The six-step method was considered to be microbiologically much more effective in decreasing the median bacterial count, in comparison to the three step method. But utilising the six-step method needs 25% more time to complete.

According to Jacqui Reilly, PhD, lead author of the study as well as professor of infection prevention and control at Glasgow Caledonian University in Scotland, stated that `one of the remarkable related results was that submission with the six-step technique was missing.

Alcohol-Based Hand Rub

Just 65% of the providers seemed to complete the hand hygiene process in spite of the participants having instructions on the technique before them and then having the technique observed. This permits further investigation for this precise technique and how the submission rates could be improved. Experts state that one should use soap only when the hands seem to be visibly dirty but should use alcohol-based hand rub when one does not know on looking at them.

To wash the hand well utilising the six-step method, one should start by wetting the hands with water and take either a dollop of soap or hand rub. Start by rubbing the palms together with the fingers closed and then together with the fingers interlaced. Moving your right palm over left dorsum with interlaced finger and vice versa, ensuring in actually rubbing in between the fingers. Thereafter interlock the fingers and rub the back of them by rubbing the back of them by turning the wrist in a half circle motion.

Lack Surveillance Systems in Monitoring

Then clasp the left thumb in the right palm and rub it in a rotational motion from the tip of the fingers towards the end of the thumb and then switch hands. Lastly scrub the inside of the right hand with the left fingers closed and then the other hand. Reilly has commented that hand hygiene has been regarded as the most important intervention in reducing the healthcare-associated infection thought there is restricted evidence on which of the technique seems to be more effective. He further added that the study has provided a foundation for effective best practices to implement on the frontlines of healthcare.

As per World Health Organization, health care-related infections attained in health-care location seem to be the most frequent adverse incident in health-care delivery all over the world and most of the countries tend to lack surveillance systems in monitoring the problem. Though there has been substantial development in fighting this issue, there still seems to be one in 25 hospitals with atleast one healthcare-related infection.

Friday, 29 April 2016

Implant Lets Paralysed Man 'Play Guitar'


Technology Helpful to People Suffering from Paralysis Stroke/Brain Damage

Ian Burkhart, a quadriplegic from Ohio in the US can once again move his fingers after a chip had been implanted in his brain. He can now move individual fingers to play a guitar based computer game. The chip is said to read brain signals that are precisely interpreted by the computer which then tends to stimulate the muscles with electricity in restoring movements.

The researchers expect that the technology would eventually be helpful to millions of people suffering from paralysis stroke or brain damage. Ian, 24 had been seriously injured in a diving accident almost six years back and had incurred damage to his spinal cord which resulted in the left messages from his brain incapable of reaching the rest of his body.

He was paralysed below the elbows and was unable to walk. However, he is now celebrating the `big shock’ of being capable of moving his hand after going through a procedure at Ohio State University. A sensor had been implanted in his brain to read the activity of hundreds of neurons in his motor cortex which took hours of practice of teaching a sophisticated computer program on how to comprehend the myriad signals in his brain.

A Significant Moment in Utilising Computers to Avoid Spinal Cord Injuries

He also wore a stimulating sleeve with 130 electrodes with it in order to stimulate and contract different muscles in his right arm. The results had been published in the journal which showed that he could grasp and move large objects, pour the contents of a glass as well as swipe a credit card.

 Ian described the earlier session as a seven hour exam which had left him ‘completely and mentally tired and exhausted’ and had to break down each part of that motion and think about it in a more concentrated manner. For the first 19 years of his life, it had been something which he had taken it for granted. But with practice he had been learning new movements much quickly.

Ian now dreams of regaining the full function of both his hands since that enables you to be a lot independent and will not have to rely on people for the simple daily tasks. The research has marked a significant moment in the field of utilising computers to avoid spinal cord injuries.

Hope for Patients with Disabilities

The neurosurgeon, Dr Ali Rezai who had implanted the brain chip had stated that they are exhilarated that Ian had progressed considerably with this technology. He adds that this really provides hope for several patients in the future since this technology evolves and matures to help people who tend to have disabilities from spinal cord injury or traumatic brain injury or stroke to permit them to be more functional and more independent.

The biggest challenge would be to turn the spectacular feats in the laboratory into something which could be utilised in the daily life. The approach needs surgery and there seems to be plenty of trailing and bulky cables. It also needs a large computer in performing the difficultprocesses to reach the brain.

Moreover, the movements of Ian are not skilful as natural movement even if they would have been unlikely, immediately after his accident. But the motor cortex tends to have millions of neurons with only a few hundreds are read by the chip. Improvement in the technology is anticipated which would be getting closer in restoring the true full function.

Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Spread of Super-Gonorrhoea, Big concern


Spread of Super Gonorrhoea – Big Concern

The spread of super gonorrhoea all across England and to gay men has given rise to great concern among the doctors. Last year, the new superbug provoked a national alert when it emerged in Leeds as one of the foremost treatments became hopeless against it. Public Health England admits the measure of containing the outbreak has been of limited success. Instances of super-gonorrhoea have been identified in the West Midlands, London and southern England.

Around 34 cases have been confirmed officially in laboratory testing though this is probably to be the tip of the iceberg of an infection which could be without any symptoms. The outbreak began with couples but is now seen in gay men as well. There is also a possibility of having gonorrhoea in the throat and further resistance is likely to develop as the antibiotics tend to get to the throat in lower doses and the area gets packed with other bacteria which can share the resistance to drugs.

The bacterium which causes gonorrhoea is said to be very proficient at shrugging off our best antibiotics.Drugs azithromycin and ceftriaxone are used in combination. However, now resistance to azithromycin has been spreading and doctors are apprehensive and it is only a matter of time before ceftriaxone tends to fail too.

Due to Bacterium – Neisseria Gonorrhoeae

The condition is said to be due to the bacterium known as Neisseria gonorrhoeae. Those who have been infected, about one in 10 heterosexual men and more than three quarters of women and gay men have no recognisable symptoms.However, symptoms could include a thick green or yellow discharge form sexual organs, pain while urinating and bleeding between periods.

Infection which is not treated could lead to infertility, pelvic inflammatory disease and could be passed on to a child during pregnancy. Senior doctors in England have already cautioned that gonorrhoea is on the point of being untreatable.

Dr Gwenda Hughes, head of the sexually transmitted infection unit at Public Health England had stated that they cannot afford to be complacent. She further added that if strains of gonorrhoea tend to emerge which are resistant to azithromycin and ceftriaxone, the options of treatment would be limited as there is presently no new antibiotic available in treating the infection.

Antibiotics to Be Prescribed Only When Necessary

She has been motivating people in practicing safe sex to reduce the risk of sexually transmitted infections. There is also an intensive campaign in finding the sexual partners of people having the superbug. But the Public Health England report admits that so far, this has been of limited success.

 From the 50 sexual partners reported, around 22 had been successfully followed up though disturbingly 94% of partners that were tested had the infection. The British Association for Sexual Health and HIV stated that there needs to be a rapid response to the infection and has cautioned its members to be alert. Dr. Elizabeth Carlin, its president had stated that `the spread of high level azithromycin resistant gonorrhoea is a huge concern and it is essential that every effort is made to contain further spread. Failure to respond appropriately will jeopardise the ability to treat gonorrhoea effectively and will lead to poorer health outcomes for individuals as well as society as a whole’.

Jeremy Hunt, Health Secretary had said that he wants to see antibiotics being prescribed only when necessary and hopes this will be a new weapon to help GPs in cutting the number of antibiotics needlessly being given out.

Saturday, 23 April 2016

Head and Neck Cancer Drug 'Game Changer


New Cancer Drug – A Game Changer for Head/Neck Cancer

According to experts, a new kind of cancer drug which arouses the immune system of a patient to fight the tumours could be a game change for dealing with aggressive head and neck cancers. Trials results from a US cancer conference recommend that the treatment seems to work better than the standard chemotherapy. Nivolumab tends to improve the survival chances of patients considerably with these hard-to-treat tumours. The same is already available on the NHS for those with advanced skin cancer.

However, experts are of the opinion that more research needs to be done before offering it regularly to patients with other cancers. One of the most exciting developments in the treatment of cancer for years is immunotherapy. Though it does not cure every cancer, rising evidence proposes that it can buy some very ill patients with some valuable time.

Presented at the American Association Centre Research, the phase-three trial of nivolumab recommends that the drug tends to extend the survival time by months even though the cancer seems to be aggressive and in the advanced stage. In the test, 240 patients suffering from head and neck cancer had been given nivolumab while another 121 were given standard chemotherapy.

Nivolumab – New Wave of Immunotherapies

After a period of one year, 36% of the patients treated with novolumab injections seemed to be still alive when compared with the 17% of those with chemotherapy. Prof Kevin Harrington, UK trial leader, from the Institute of Cancer Research and the Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust mentioned the results were a `potential game changer’ for head and neck cancer, and introduced a new drug treatment in our armoury which at last is better than the standard chemotherapy.

Nivolumab is one of a new wave of immunotherapies which are beginning to have an impact across cancer treatment and which will provide greater promise in the future as we tend to understand how best to use them. He further adds that once it has relapsed or spread, head and neck cancer tends to be very difficult to treat with surgery and radiotherapy, often being impossible. So it is good news for patients that these interim results show that we now have a new treatment which works and can significantly extend life.

Needs Approval of NICE

Dr Emma King of Cancer Research UK has stated that `these results could have a significant impact for head and neck cancer patients who no longer respond to treatment. They also reinforce the important shift which is seen towards using immunotherapies for cancer treatment. However, the new trial is the first time it has revealed to work in head and neck cancer.

Before Nivolumab can be utilised regularly in treating head and neck cancer in the UK, it will need the approval by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence –NICE.Its manufacturer, Bristol-Myers Squibb, now intends to submit a licensing application to the European Medicines Agency for use for this cancer type. If approved, UK drugs rationing watchdog NICE would be making a decision whether to fund the £68,000 a year drug for the patients of NHS.

Friday, 15 April 2016

Leap to Mass Produced Platelets


Headway in Mass Producing Platelets

British scientists have made great headway in mass producing platelets which is part of the blood that tends to form clots. The team comprising of NHS organisation responsible for blood transfusions, transformed stem cells in the large bone marrow cells called megakaryocytes that tend to act as platelet factories. Together with the University of Cambridge, the team has found how to grow the body’s platelet factories in the laboratory. Hundreds of thousands of mature megakaryocytes had been produced which naturally began to release functional platelets.

This could give rise to a new source of platelets to stop heavy bleeding for instance after an accident. Before the trials, researchers need to make the process more effective. When the blood is donated, it is separated out into red blood cells, plasma and platelets in order that patients are provided with only the components needed. Platelets are essential after trauma, surgery, leukaemia therapy and in some blood disorders like haemophilia.

Consultant haematologist, Dr Cedric Ghevaert, had said that they are totally dependent on blood donation in order to produce those platelets. His team had been attempting in growing megakaryocytes, the mother cell platelet which tends to live in the bone marrow that tends to manufacture the clotting platelets.

Modify Platelets – Activate Clotting much Better

Reported in the journal Nature Communication, the breakthrough was the discovery of a set of chemical switches which was required in creating megakaryocytes in the lab. Their results was described by Dr Ghevaert as a major step forward who had informed BBC New website that the next big step was to get adequate platelets out of each megakaryocyte. Lab-made cells tend to produce about 10 platelets each though each one that functions normally in the bone marrow would produce up to 2,000. It is expected that recreating the same conditions as in the bone marrow could make the cells more efficient.

If the researchers tend to be successful, then the lab grown platelets would be more useful than the ones collected in a blood donation. Dr Ghevaert added that they can modify the platelets in order that they can activate the clotting much better which would have big benefit for patients with a crash or a bleed or even in soldiers who could have been injured. Moreover, it would also enable doctors to have stockpiles customised to various patients.

ES/iPS Cells – Potential of Transforming any Type of Tissue in the Body

Megakaryocytes, strangely large bone marrow cells seem to be a wonder of biology wherein, its functions has not yet been understood. Each megakaryocyte tends to mix out between 5,000 and 10,000 platelets and each adult human has nearly a trillion platelets circulating in their blood. Platelets tend to come in various forms just as red blood cells come in A, B, O and AB. Some types of platelet especially those common in black and Asian ethnic groups seem to be comparatively unusual.

The megakaryocytes made by the NHS Blood and Transplant and Cambridge University group had been derived from cultured lines of embryonic stem – ES cells and induced pluripotent stem – iPS cells. Both have the potential of transforming into any type of tissue in the body and while ES cells seem to be initially obtained from early stage embryos, iPS cells have been created in the laboratory from modified adult cells like skin cells. Mature cells made by utilising the iPS route could theoretically be generated from the tissue of the patient and thus avoids the risk of immune system rejection.