Monday, 28 September 2015

Healthier Lifestyles could Cut Cancer Cases by One Third


Cancer Prevented – Adopting Changes in Lifestyle

One third of cancer cases in the UK can be prevented if people tend to have healthy intake, exercise regularly and reduce on alcohol. Data from the World Cancer Research fund indicate that 20,000 cases of breast cancers and around 19,000 cases of bowel cancer could be prevented annually with few changes in the overall lifestyle.

More than 351,000 new cases of cancer have been reported in the UK in 2013 and WCRF had mentioned that 84,000 could have been prevented from these diseases. Dr Rachel Thompson, head of the research had stated that simple changes in diet and the lifestyle could make tremendous difference could combat against this dreaded disease.

She added that even minor adjustments like 10 to 15 minutes of physical activity every day, reducing the intake of alcohol or restricting the consumption of high calorie foods as well as sugary drinks could be beneficial in reducing the risk of cancer.

She also mentioned that on cutting out smoking, having a healthy body weight seemed to be the most important factor which a person could do to prevent the risk of cancer. There seems to be strong evidence that being overweight or obese could increase the risk of 10 cancers.

Connection between Healthy Lifestyle/Risk of Developing Cancer

The connection between a healthy lifestyle and the risk of developing cancer is a known fact and the new data seeks in preventing cases in 13 of the UK’s common cancer cases.For instance in the case of men, around 9% of them suffer from advanced prostate cancer which could be prevented every year if men were not overweight or obese.

Cases of lung cancer could be reduced by 15,000 by accomplishing people to quit smoking and around 38% cases of breast cancer could have been stopped especially in postmenopausal women by way of increasing physical exercises as well as by reducing body fat.

According to WCRF, 2,200 cases of kidney cancer and 1,400 cases of pancreatic cancer could have been prevented if the people had implemented a healthier lifestyle. The director of health and well-being at Public Health England, Prof Kevin Fenton had said that the UK was presently behind cancer survival rates when compared with the other European countries.

Cancer is thought as Lottery

He further added that the connection between tobacco and cancer is generally known and accepted willingly by the public though several are not completely convinced that on eating healthy food, exercising regularly and avoiding the consumption of alcohol could lower the risk of cancer.

 He stated on major factor was that cancer prevention was not in the public consciousness. Amanda McLean, Fund director adds his comments that `prevention should be part of the solution to the epidemic and we are fooling ourselves if we tend to think that we can treat our way out of the problem. Professor Kevin Fenton of Public Health England has recently informed, `the harsh reality is thatwe are behind on survival rates when compared to their European counterparts’.

According to Richard Roope, of Royal College of GPs added that `GPs do not want to be killjoys though we need to work together to support patients over lifestyle choices. Cancer is thought as being a lottery but we have more control over our health than we think.

Thursday, 24 September 2015

3D Cancer Model Shows How Tumours Mutate


3D Exhibiting Technique – Cancerous Tumours

Cancer is considered as a terrible disease and is often looked as a dreaded disease with less chances of being free of this disease. However a good representation of it could help the health care experts to deal with the disease more effectively.

An international group of researchers have developed tumour stimulation, an updated 3D exhibiting technique showing how cancerous cells tend to grow and change over a period of time. Each colour seen in a given model represents a different mutation and the more successful one of these deviations is at migrating and reproducing, the more its colour dominates the tumour.

The stimulation is also an improvement than the previous models in representing the overall shapes of tumours showing the bulges which come as cancer speedily outgrow any healthy cells nearby. But this is not the perfect imitation of a tumour and tends to ignore or streamline some factors so that one does not utilise the code in predicting how the illness tends to develop in the body.

However a leap in accuracy could be helpful. Scientists could measure the effectiveness of the treatment prior to going ahead with the clinical trials or studying the resistance which could lead to a tumour coming back after a remission.

High Resolution Stimulation

The medical world need to spend more time in refining cancer-fighting procedures and reduce the time by checking the efficiency of these techniques.

Tumours are particularly not easy to control and spreads randomly in the most unexpected manner. Unlike the healthy cells, which change fairly regularly with each division, the tumour cells could be nearly the same within large tumours and change only on certain rare instances.

A team of researchers from University of Edinburgh, Harvard University and John Hopkins University created a high resolution simulation on how a tumour grows from a single cell into a complicated mass of variously changed groups of cells.

 They discovered that an individual cell which mutates from the rest of the tumour tends to quickly take over as the main tumour cell type and this mechanism makes the tumours resistant to chemotherapy.

These results could support the researchers in focusing their attention on those cell which tend to change and take over, by eliminating them at their initial stage and preventing from further diversity of the tumour

Comprehend Complex Progress of Disease

It is expected that the new insight would be helpful to researchers in understanding better on how the diseases tends to evolve. The research supporting the imitation, had been published in `Nature’ and carried out by a team of researchers from the University of Edinburgh, Harvard University and John Hopkins University.

 With the use of mathematical algorithms, the research investigated how the tumours grew over space and time. Though the 3D mapping does not seem to be flawless visualisation of a tumour, it provided headway in allowing experts to chart and comprehend the complex progress of the disease.

 It is expected that the technique would allow scientists in studying the effectiveness of new drugs or analyse how some of the tumours return even after treatment.

Thursday, 17 September 2015

Botanical Illustrations


Botanical Illustrations – An Age Long Tradition

Botanical illustration is an age long tradition in arts and science and is presently enjoying recovery in popularity among collectors as well as artists. Botanical drawings, centuries ago, was helpful to people in keeping records of plants with healing properties.

The earliest practical use of botanical illustrations was in identifying plants having medicinal properties where drawings were collected in books known as herbals and utilised by physicians in plant based medicine. The first known herbal – De Materia Medica had been written by Pedanius Dioscorides, a Greek military physician during the 1st century and continued to be in use for almost two thousand years.

 Detailed illustrations of herbs as well as other plants had been designed to help doctors and botanist in recognizing the species and used for medical purposes. Botanical illustrations is an ingrained tradition of portraying plants for the purpose of scientific purpose, in keeping accounts on vanishing species for historical record or representing the beauty we tend to experience the flora world that we are surrounded with.

The Codex Vindebonensis, the oldest example of botanical art surviving, in the Byzantine style dates back to 512 AD where the illustrations are more detailed and accurate as the centuries unfold and have now taken on an artistic turn, instead of the medical use.

Art of Depicting Details of Plant Species

Botanical illustration seems to be the art of depicting the colour, form as well as details of the plant species often in watercolour paintings which tend to be printed with botanical description in magazines, books or any other media. Creation of these needs comprehension of plant morphology as well as access to the specimens and the references, which are composed in consultation with scientific author.The earliest botanic illustrations date back thousands of years.

The temple walls of Thutmos II at Karnak, Egypt, comprises of 275 drawings of plants that have been found on a campaign to Syria dating from 1500 BC. The Romans and Greeks interested in natural science also maintained botanical records. The chief aim of botanical illustrations is scientific accuracy and not art. It needs to portray a plant with its precision and details, in order to be recognized and be notable from the other species.

Illustrations Beyond Scientific Needs

The need for precision differentiates botanical illustration from the general flower painting and several great artists of the seventeenth century Dutch masters to the French Impressionists like the Monet and Renoir, to the modernists such as Georgia O’Keeffe, depicted flowers.

 Accuracy did not seem to be necessary always, since their aim was appealing. The illustrations tend to go beyond scientific needs, in the hands of a brilliant botanical artist. Though photographs and probably microscopic photography could be helpful in forming botanical work, there could be requirements for botanical illustrations since it could represent what may not be seen clearly in photograph.

For instance, the outline drawings can make distinction in origins which may not be noticed on using reflected light. Moreover, the composition of the image could be influenced fully in illustrations wherein the features exhibited together may not be easily shown at the same time in nature.

Wednesday, 16 September 2015

Paper Microchip' Can Diagnose HIV Anywhere


Diagnostic Tools – Detecting Bio-agents in Blood

Biomedical engineers from Florida Atlantic University have incorporated cellulose paper together with flexible polyester films that could be utilised as diagnostic tools in detecting bio-agents in blood – a bio sensing platform which combines a smartphone and a paper microchip that could transform the diagnosis of a number of diseases inclusive of HIV in remote areas.

All that is needed in performing the diagnosis using the platform is a drop of blood from the fingertip of a patient. Earlier attempts in creating paper diagnostic material had been restricted due to the fact that they needed complex labelling to amplify the signal which was not easy to create and organize.

Researchers have explained how they have overcome these challenges in a recent research with the development of a bio-sensing platform. Three individual materials had been developed in sensing bio-agents and the use of lensless shadow imaging technology which means no signal amplification was necessary. The research had been published in Nature Scientific Reports.

The platform would also provide an explanation for remote healthcare providers for both the developed as well as developing world, since the lightweight, thin as well as the flexible substance can be fabricated and operated without much costly infrastructure or skilled workers.

Microchips – Safely & Easily Discarded

Moreover the microchips can also be safely and easily discarded by burning. The accompanying smartphone app enables diseases to be diagnosed by using images of the microchips from any location in the world. Co-author of the study, Waseem Asghar has stated that `there is a dire need for robust, portable, disposable and inexpensive bio-sensing platforms for clinical care, especially in developing countries having limited resources’.

Hadi Shafiee another co-first author had also commented saying that `their paper microchip technologies can potentially have significant impact on infectious diseases management in low as well as middle-income countries where there is limited laboratory infrastructure’.

Treatment monitoring at the point-of-care (POC) settings is of great interest in clinical application for disease diagnosis. Accurate and rapid POC diagnostic evaluates tend to play an import role in the developing countries with limited trained personnel together with financial support, besides limited laboratory infrastructure.

Technical Challenges in Different Detection Modalities

However, present diagnostic test generally need long test time together with sophisticated setup and expensive reagents which are not compatible with resource strained settings. Though paper and flexible material based platform technologies tend to offer a choice on approaches in the development of POC diagnostic test for comprehensive application in medicine, they do have technical challenges incorporating in different detection modalities.

By incorporating these different detection modalities, selective and accurate captureas well as detection of various bio-targets are presented, which include viruses, bacteria, and cells from finger-prick volume which is equivalent of multiple biological specimens like whole blood, plasma and peritoneal dialysis effluent together with clinically relevant detection and sensitivity.

Though researchers have limited the initial trials of the platform to testing of HIV, E. Coli and Staphylococcus aureus, which could cause food poisoning, they are assertive that it could be adjusted and personalised for the purpose of detecting other pathogens and bio-targets. Besides this, the platform also has the capabilities of being used as more than a diagnosis tool but alternative applications like drug development, food safety, veterinary medicine and environmental monitoring,

App Could Help Track Diseases Before They Spread


Vecmap – In-depth Information on Outbreak of Diseases

Disease route like mosquitoes and bugs are on the rise causing great concern worldwide and yet very little is known about the distribution as well as the spread of route or the disease they tend to transmit. Gaining high quality field information tends to be costly as well as time consuming.

Vecmap resolves this issue, by providing a system and service which tends to integrate the entire process of producing risk maps in a single package which can be used by physicians. A new online database and smartphone app could be helpful in fighting diseases which tend to spread through insects and other pest before they result in epidemic.

Experts in Belgium have developed a new app and the system known as Vecmap combines satellite data together with field research in order to provide in-depth information on the outbreak of diseases.

Vecmap was developed in partnership with ERGO – Oxford, UK and MEDES – Toulouse, France and co-funded by the European Space Agency – ESTEC, The Netherlands. Vecmap provides a broad range of techniques which can be used in nature conservation commitments, pest management decision as pesticides validations.

It can be used by wide range of physicians, individually as well as supported by a group of acknowledged leaders in the field. Supported by the European Space Agency Vecmap is the work of a consortium led by Belgium based health data analysis firm Avia-GIS.

Trace Diseases & Bugs

The data collected could later on be utilised in mapping high risk areas and prevent the spread of infections before they turn into an epidemic. With the combination of a smartphone app and a large as well as powerful centralised database it tends to trace diseases and the bugs which spread them much better than before.

Presently individual authorities in public health tend to utilise various systems thus making the widespread analysis tough. The new smartphone app organizes time as well as location data from field work together with database with huge amount of information in providing researchers with new perceptions.

 The app also comprises of various data parameters, like vegetation type, soil moisture and land temperature in order to help researcher identify habitats for disease spreading bugs. Traps could then be laid in order to hook and analyse new samples.

Vecmap Approved for Broader Use

The system could be helpful to researchers in picking the best sites in conducting further test thus saving time and money. Vecmap could also utilise the data to help map high risk areas and track the diseases and the bugs which may spread with great ease. An early version of Vecmap was used in 2012, to track a disease spreading mosquito in Belgium and the technology provided help in predicting where the mosquitoes would move to next and the data was used in locating as well as eliminating them before the spread of the disease.

Vecmap has now been tested in eleven other European countries and has been approved for broader use. The manufacturers of Vecmap are hoping that it would now be picked up by health organisations and the governments in helping to track the spread of diseases in a quicker way and prevent the spread of the diseases.

Tuesday, 15 September 2015

Hybrid Thinking


Hybrid Thinking Incorporates Design Thinking

The concept of hybrid thinking incorporates design thinking with other ways of thinking in order to produce successful results to wicked problems by creating more meaningful human centred experiences. The core of hybrid thinking is the discipline of design thinking.

 Hybrid thinking adds the popular business concept of design thinking with other ways of thinking to take on the wicked problems in business changes, innovation as well as strategy. Fundamental emphasis of design thinking, on creating meaningful human experience tends to provide the core for hybrid thinking. This is an emerging `discipline of discipline’ and hybrid thinking tends to go beyond design thing by incorporating other forms of creative thinking to take on the most uncertaincontradictory as well as complex issues.

Ray Kurzweil, an author, a computer scientist and an inventor and presently serving as Director of Engineering at Google suggested in his March 20, 2014, TED talk that in a couple of decades they would be able to increase the neocortex’s power fold instantly by accessing the processing power of the cloud.

He recommended that this it would be possible due to injection of nano-robots in the brain which would act as interfaces between neo-cortex brain cells and digital brain cells with the capabilities of scaling like a cloud application which was an intriguing idea.

New Brain Feature – Neo-Cortex

Around two hundred million years back, mammal ancestors had developed a new brain feature known as neo-cortex wherein this stamp sized piece of tissue which was wrapped round a brain the size of a walnut, is the key what the human are. Kurzweil recommend that we should now be ready for the next big leap in brain power as we tend to tap in the computing power in the cloud.

His main assumption is that the medium is not important with regards to thinking and biological brain cells are alike to digital brain cells or brain cells made of water pipes provided the functions remain the same. Kurzweil seems to agree with the functional perspective of intelligence and sees no reason why one cannot have an artificial brain cell.

However, having a digital corresponding to the basic unit of information processing in brain does not tend to solve the problem of global information processing of brain besides the problem of the brain being aware of itself.

Hybrid Thinking – Synonym for Digital Schizophrenia

Process of global information is the outcome of highly complex structure together with multi-level positive feedback loops and our brains are not collection of brain cells. It is complex cybernetic systems where the fundamental circuitry though evolved over millennia, tends to undergo changes every second.

This plasticity of the brain together with its self-corrective mechanism indicates a fundamental technological issue with regards to devising smart algorithms for intelligence. Two main problem needs to be solved to gain access to a `cloud of neo-cortex’ and bestow oneself with hybrid thinking, the first being that we solve how developmental human biology converts with the complexity of the brain and we can then decode this to produce artificial intelligence.

The second is that we solve the ability to scale artificial intelligence at will, which could not be possible since it involves contradiction. Hybrid thinking seems to be problematic; the reason being that sharing someone’s consciousness would lead to psychosis. Hybrid thinking seems to be like synonym for digital schizophrenia.

Monday, 14 September 2015

Nanotube-Packed Pills Could Target Cancer Directly


Nanotechnology – Targeting Cancerous Cells

New studies into nanotechnology is being explored to find ways in tackling problems of targeting cancerous cells and chemotherapy could one day be replaced by high tech pills to treat cancer. Nanotechnologies could be defined as the characterisation, design, production as well as application of structures, systems and devices in controlling the shape and size at a nanometre scale wherein the benefits of nanomaterial are recognized in literature.

Some commentators are of the opinion that nanotechnology tends to exceed the impact of the Industrial Revolution heading towards a $1 trillion market in 2015. In medicine, the interest lies in the use of nanoparticles to improve drug delivery with interest too in, `in vitro diagnostics, novel biomaterial design, bio-imaging, therapies as well as active implants.

According to American society for Testing and Materials – ASTM, the standard definition of nanoparticles are particles with length which may range from 1 to 100 nm in 2 or 3 dimensions. Nanoparticle which is studied the most is carbon nanotubes, gold nanoparticles – GNPs and cadmium selenide quantum dots.

Co-Director of the Oxford Martin Programme on Nanotechnology at Oxford University, Dr Sonia Trigueros states that `Nanotechnology is a new exciting field which has the potential to transform the way that medical and healthcare solutions are being developed’.

Target of Medicine At Nano Level

Trigueros has been working with her colleagues of chemist, physicist as well as engineers in coating nanotubes in drugs, wrap them in protective DNA and utilise them to eliminate cancer. Her work has been motivated by taking on cancer at its own nano scale wherein she explains that `all of the targets for the medicine are at the nano level’.

She further informed the audience at WIRED Health 2015, that the purpose of the project which may happen in 20 years is to take a pill made of these carbon nanotubes every year and as soon as one has one or two cancer cells, these nanotubes tend to target them and kills the cancer before it gets to the tumour level’.

 A lot of work needs to be done initially and one of the biggest is the funds. Trigueros has presently spent 80% of her time attempting to collect funds in continuing with the research and working at such small scale could be faced with great problems. She explains that the nano structures tend to be very unstable and break down after a few days.

Accurately Targeted Drug Delivery

However, on working with the structure of DNA for 20 years, Trigueros has turned out to be quite good at playing around with it and can now handle to wrap carbon nanotubes in DNA, keeping them stable for over two years at temperature up to 42C.

Besides keeping the drug delivering carbon nanotube stable, it also tends to enable them to target specific cells. Since cancer cells are more permeable than the normal cells, Trigueros explains that, this permits the nanotubesto enter the cells, unpack the DNA and then release the cancer-killing drug which is an accurately targeted drug delivery.

 The research could ultimately take the form of a new pill made of these nanotubes. Trigueros has plans for another generation of drug delivery, expecting greater understanding of interdisciplinary studies with the combination of physics, biology and chemistry which can make it happen.

Saturday, 12 September 2015

Your 'Biological Age' Can Now be Read in a Drop of Blood


Biological Age Estimated – Simple Blood Test

Biological age can now be estimated by a simple blood test which unlike chronological age, considers how the body tends to develop or break down, when compared to the average. Getting information on these could be helpful in identifying the risk of age related disease like dementia in a person.

Researchers at King’s College London stated that they could create a story of biological age with a simple test by compiling a profile of the genes needed for `healthy ageing’ in individuals of 65 years old, thereby providing help earlier in cases of dementia and Alzheimer’s.

Professor Jamie Timmons believes that `given the biological complexity of the ageing process, till now there has been no reliable way of measuring how well a person tends to age when compared with their peers’. The test process took seven years to develop, with the use of a process known as RNA- profiling and views 150 genes which are activated in healthy 65 year olds in the blood, muscle and brain. ProfessorTimmons informed BBC that `from the age of 40 onwards one could use this to provide guidance on how well an individual tends to age’.

Test With Great Potentials

The findings however did not show a relationship between biological age and healthy lifestyle options and the biological age seemed to be independent of disorders like the heart diseases and diabetes. Researchers are speculating that the biological age could be utilised in decreasing the risks of diseases connected with ageing for which prevention therapies are being established.

Dr Neha Issar-Brown, Programme Manager for population health sciences at the Medical Research Council, which funded the study published in Genome Biology commented that `while it is natural for our bodies and brains to slow down in the process of ageing, premature ageing and the more severe loss of physical as well as cognitive function could have devastating consequences for the individual and their families and impact more extensively on society and the economy. The new test has great potentials as with further research, it could help in improving the development and evaluation treatment that prolong a good health in older age’.

Evaluate Anti-Ageing Treatments

Blood test which can show diseases like Alzheimer’s, cancer and disease histories are in the development stage. However this test could also be utilised for donor matching in the organ transplant of older person and in evaluating anti-ageing treatments.

Researchers however have been unable in improving or altering an individual’s biological age. Professor Timmons informs that they now need to find out more about why these differences in ageing takes place, hoping that the test could be utilised in reducing the risk of developing diseases linked with age’. Charities have stated that any test which could spot Alzheimer’s early stage was critical to stopping the disease.

Dr Doug Brown, Director of Research at Alzheimer’s Society has commented saying that `given the need for early intervention, several of the prevailing drugs in development for Alzheimer’s are tested in the earliest stages of the disease and at times before the symptoms begin’. With additional progress in this research, it would be helpful to find new treatment for the condition of identifying people who seem to be more likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease and participate in clinical trials.

Thursday, 10 September 2015

Blood Sugar Monitor Tested on Diabetes Patients


Blood Sugar Testing – Important for Diabetes Care

Blood sugar testing is important for diabetes care and if one tends to have diabetes, self-testing of blood sugar could be helpful in the treatment plan as well as prevent long term complications of diabetes. A blood sugar monitor which can stay in the body for up to five month is being tested on NHS patients and it is expected that the device which constantly tends to monitor the blood and provides information to a smartphone would help in controlling type 1 diabetes.

The prevailing blood sugar sensors need to be replaced weekly. People with type 1 diabetes need to prick their fingers regularly in order to test sugar levels and calculate the amount of sugar in their intakes and use this information and get themselves injected with the right amount of insulin. If the level is too high there could be damage to the body’s organs or if it is too low, it could be dangerous.

Constant Glucose Monitoring Essential

A consultant at King’s College Hospital and a lecturer at King’s College, London, Dr Pratik Choudhary, had informed BBC News website that `living with type 1 diabetes is like a bit of a blind tightrope walker and one is on this tightrope between high and low blood glucose levels and is allowed to open the blindfold four or five times a day.

Constant glucose monitoring enables the person to open the eyes and see where they are going’.The monitor developed by the US Company Senseonics is implanted under the skin in the upper arm. A fluorescent light tends to shine on the blood vessels and the amount of light reflected back is utilised in calculating the blood sugar levels that are sent to the smartphone.

A forty year old classical musician, Gwenllian Davies had been diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when she was 17 and is taking part in the experiment. She has informed that it basically controls her.

Monitor – Complete Loss of Awareness of Hypoglycaemia

When first diagnosed, one gets the rosy message that it can be controlled though it is really hard. When the blood sugar levels tend to drop to dangerous levels, she began feeling a bit shaky, with blurred vision, tingling in the lips, sweating and a feeling of sickness. She participated in the experiment since she had lost her hypo awareness and had to test how often since she did not know when she would be going low, which was the main issue.

 A constantly monitoring of glucose could be very reassuring. New NHS rules from National Institute of Health and Care Excellence states, that continuous monitor need to be offered to people with complete loss of awareness of hypoglycaemia. Dr Choudhary adds that knowing what your blood sugar is, all the time could help to gain better control. This sensor tends to last for three to five months while the other sensors in the market last only a week which needs to be taken out and changed.

Aaron Kowalski from type 1 diabetes charity JDRF who uses a continuous glucose monitor that has to be replaced every weeks states that `one of the things which is important is the proper balance between glucose control, the core of diabetes and the cost of wearing a continuous glucose monitor.

Monday, 7 September 2015

Diabetes Drug may Help in Leukaemia


Diabetes Drug Helpful in Fighting Blood Cancer

According to a research in the journal Nature, a drug used in treating diabetes could be helpful in fighting blood cancer – chronic myeloid leukaemia – CML, which is a rare kind of blood cancer. Those receiving the combination therapy would be probably free from this disease.

Around 600 individuals in the UK had been diagnosed with this condition every year. Although some successful treatments do exist, they are not helpful to every patient while some tend to be resistant to conventional therapy.

In the research, scientist provide a combination of anti-diabetic drug pioglitazone together with standard treatment to around 24 individuals whose CML was active inspite of receiving conventional drugs. Twelve months thereafter, over 50% of the individuals who were given the combination treatment were in reduction.

The first three individuals who had been given the drug showed no reoccurrences of cancer in the five years which followed. Those withuntreated CML made excessive amount of abnormal white blood cells and over a period of time, these tend to crowd over the normal white blood cells, red blood cells and platelets the person has, thus making it difficult for patients to mount a defence against infections, causing some to bleed easily.

Glitazone & Standard CML Drug – Relief for 5 Years

The present standard treatment like imatinib includes therapies. According to Cancer Research UK’s chief clinician, Prof Peter Johnson, he states, that `the outlook for people with chronic myeloid leukaemia has improved dramatically since the introduction of drugs like imatinib. However, in some patient, these drugs are not always effective.

The study is an interesting example of understanding how the biology of cancer stem cells could be helpful in improving treatment for them. But this is an early stage research and only a small number of patients have been studied. It would be interesting to see if this combination is successful in larger clinical trials’.

Others add that the side-effects of pioglitazone would have to be taken into consideration if the treatment is to be provided in routine care. Researchers observed that patients suffering from chronic myeloid leukaemia received glitazone, which is a class of drug for type 2 diabetes together with the standard CML drug imatinib were disease free for at least five years.

Gleevec – Controls Disease& Not Source of Disease

Imatinib which is commercially known as Gleevec, has a remarkable track record in controlling chronic myeloid leukaemia and enabling patients in leading a normal life. However, in spite of its effectiveness, dormant, drug resistant leukemic cells lay in wait in bone marrow and later on transform into highly destructive cells.

Gleevec tends to control the disease though cannot get rid of the source of the disease, as per chief scientific officer for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, who was not involved in the new research. Nonetheless adding in these glitazones, claims that one can eliminate the disease entirely according to Greenberger and these are still early days for the work.

The two well-known glitazones are Actos and Avandia. He adds that it would be ideal to run a randomized controlled trial directly comparing the effectiveness of combination therapy – imatinib and glitazone versus imatinib alone.

Patients could be treated with glitazones for months without any side effects and it would be nice to see over a period of time if the combination therapy could eliminate the disease.

Thursday, 3 September 2015

Flu Jab for Life' on the Horizon


Research Groups – With Stable Injection Solution – H1N1 Stalk Protein

Online magazines reports that two research groups have come up with a stable, injectable solution comprising of H1N1stalk protein known as hemagglutinin. It has two main components, namely the head – the portion of the virus which mutates and changes from strain to strain and the stem which is same across several flu strains. The groups made attempts in removing the variable head region and kept the stem as the base of their vaccines.

However, hemagglutinin seems to be quite feeble. Once it is beheaded, the stem tends to fall apart and the antibodies cannot bind it any longer. The team tried various approaches in order to anchor the headless stem. Researchers in Nature Medicine utilised a two-step method by introducing a combination of mutations to stabilise the core of the hemagglutinin stem.

 Thereafter they bound bacteria-derived nanoparticles to the stem that drew the subunits of the protein together to hold it in the appropriate position. The other team applied a combination of mutations which realigned the subunits of the stem above. This was adequate in sustaining a practical construction for the vaccine.

Operates By Carrying Huge Globular `Decoy’ Proteins

The flu virus operates by carrying huge globular `decoy’, proteins to entice the attention of the human immune system wherein these decoys are put in the flu vaccines to prepare our immune system for any possible attack.

However, as the name suggests, these proteins tend to mutate and shapes-shifts and thus the body fails to recognise them after some years. Nevertheless, waiting below these devious decoy, are `stalk’ proteins which are much more structural stable protein which are responsible in replicating and infecting the body. These stalk proteins have proved to be tricky to engineer in a lab till date. Both the vaccines though have gained mixed results in animal trials.

The first group from the Netherlands based Crucell Vaccine Institute and the Scripps Research Institute in California, immunized mice against lethal doses of the H1N1 flue and H5N1 bird flu. However in the case of monkeys, it only helped in reducing the fever which was due to low doses of H1N1.

Stable/Safe Though Not Strong

The second group from the Maryland based National Institutes of Health activated immune responses from tested ferrets and rats but found that only four of the six ferrets survived and their immune system reactions were presumed to be closer to humans.

The vaccine, in other works though being stable and safe to administer is not strong enough in preventing animals coming down with flu. Inspite of it all, the experts are of the belief that the breakthrough could indicate that a universal flu vaccine is in the pipeline. John Oxford Virologist, from the University of London has commented that `this is a leap forward when compared to anything ever done in recent times. They have good animal data and not only in mice but in ferrets as well as monkeys.

 They have also done it with the bird flu virus H5N1 whichseems to be a good improvement. The experimental designs seemed to be different though the end results seem very similar and highly complementary’, according to co-author on the Science paper and structural and computational biologist at the Scripps Research Institute in San Diego, Ian Wilson. ‘It is a promising first step and very exciting to see the success of this research’. Writers of both the studies state that the next step would be in expanding protection to other strains of influenza, like H3 and H7.

Overcoming Significant Discomfort with Online Help

When you live with chronic pain, your quality of life suffers. You are often unproductive, unmotivated, and generally disinterested in carrying out a normal routine. When you want to overcome your pain without having to rely on powerful narcotic pain killers, you may wonder if any online resource can help you learn what providers in your area are ready to help you. You can use the website to learn about your options for resources like Houston pain management specialists who can help you with a variety of medical conditions related to the deterioration of your bones and muscles.

Some of the conditions for which you may find relief include general back aches and pains, headaches, myofacial pain, spinal stenosis, and much more. All of these debilitating conditions can take their toll on your health. When one part of your body hurts continuously, other parts of your body may soon be affected. For example, if your back hurts all the time, it may not be long before you are sick to your stomach because of the pain. Rather than allow your entire health to deteriorate in such a manner, you are invited to use the online links to narrow down your search for a qualified provider.

The site lets you specify what kind of help you need based on your gender, for example. Men and women can suffer from different causes of aches and pains. Women's pain may be the direct result of childbirth, for example. Men's pain may be linked to overexerting themselves at work. When you use the site as it is designed, you can find a provider who is skilled at helping both men and women. This option lets you find a doctor who can begin your treatment immediately and help you find relief from your pain.

You also have the option of choosing a specialist when you use the links on the site. For example, if you believe that your discomfort is a result of a chronic ear infection, you can select an ears, nose, and throat doctor from the website. If you want to take your child in for an examination, you can select the pediatric provider option from the drop down list. Dealing with pain that does not go away can affect your life. You an find relief and reclaim your normal activities by using the website to find medical help.

Tuesday, 1 September 2015

Neuroelectrics Wants To Be Fitbit for the Brain


Neuroelectrics Cap Flexible Easy to Wear Headgear

Neuroelectrics had been awarded the Bupa Startup Stage at WIRED Health 2015 for its cutting edge inventions comprising of cancer-detecting sniffer dogs, a natural birth control app together with a handheld device to track stress levels.

A US and Spain based company presenting its range of telemedicine platforms, has designed to stimulate and treat the brain and claims that the device could help the patients in recovering from various serious health problems like strokes, severe depression and epilepsy.

The company founded in 2012, in Barcelona by Ana Maiques and Giulio Ruffini, has developed a game changer for neuroscience – the Neuroelectrics Cap which is a flexible easy to wear headgear providing stimulations with the use of electroencephalography - EEG and transcranial Direct Current Stimulation – tDCS techniques.

The EEG tends to measure the electrical variances across points on the scalp and these variances are the outcome of electrical activity in the brain, utilised to analyse brain function. Information collected from the analysis could be helpful with new therapies as well as rehabilitation programs for people affected with neurological ailments or strain

Recover From Neurological Symptoms

Neuroelectrics’ vision according to CEO Maiques helps patents to recover from the neurological symptoms of chronic pain or for those going through rehabilitation for strokes. She explains that `they are unique since the headgear can be connected to the cloud as well as used in the home for three sessions a week of brain stimulation, under the doctor’s observation.

She compares Neuroelectrics to the DIY code of health tracking technology like Fitbit together with other wearable. She states that they have an ageing population which deals with chronic illnesses, though people tend to become more self-aware with regards to monitoring their health.

They believe that these self-monitoring technologies would become popular in the home over a period of time. In Barcelona, neuroelectrics are already being utilised for neuropathic treatment with studies presently being carried out in the US for effects of EEG treatment on epilepsy as well as age related intellectual weakening.

Treatment Affordable & Simple to Use

The company has been selling its Enobio – wireless EEG system as well as Starstim – wireless EEG plus stimulation headgear to over 30 countries.Presently the devices are sold directly to clinics and research centres where the patients are charged for the service every month.

However the purpose is to make the treatment affordable and simple to use in the patient’s own home. Maiques also clarifies that the technology has been helpful to children with brain disabilities to attain improved scores in math exams, through studies carried out at the University of Oxford by Roi Cohen Kadosh suggesting on the wider advantage that the headgear could provide.

But there seems to be some probable moral obstacles to Neuroelectrics of being utilised this way. The studies of Kadosh has shown that even a 20 minutes of brain stimulation with EEG could have an effect on the other areas of the brain and hence they have worked with doctors and researchers to ensure that the technology is used in an effective and safe manner.

Moreover, medical regulation would also take some time before the technology is made available, all over the world. Maiques is hoping that the technology would be a well-known tool in patient’s home in the coming five to ten years.