Tuesday, 22 December 2015

5 Amazing and Alarming Things That May Be Done With Your DNA


Utilisation of Digital Technology – Analyse Humans

Venter’s team at Human Longevity is leading in efforts in the utilisation of digital technology in order to analyse humans in ways which we have never had before and the outcome of it will have a great consequence on society. The latest observations described by him are presently being written for scientific publication.

Venter did not want to assume the publication and hence did not plunge into wide details on how his team had make the breakthrough but shared a concerning and exciting overview of what lay ahead for the human race. To begin considering, there are social, legal as well as ethical implications. Some of the examples of how digitizing DNA could alter human experience are:

1. Solving Crime

Venter defines the forensic implication of DNA as being `massive’ and state that there is a likelihood of developing related product due to the opportunity. His team at Human Longevity had also been capable of predicting the faces of individuals from only their DNA. Should a suspect tend to leave their DNA at the scene of the crime, they could as well be leaving a picture of their face.

This is possible since Venter had built a big database of genetic information together with related body measurements. From the 3D photographs taken in his lab, the human face is cut down to 30,000 distinctive measurements and the computers running sophisticated programs then tends to head the information, recognizing patterns which a human may never see.

 As the database tends to grow bigger, the machines have more examples to learn from and their predictions growmuch better. Presently Venter has 20,000 genomes though speaks of over a million by 2020. However, the facial predictions seem to be blurry presently and Venter hopes on some improvement. Venter explained taking the facial images produced from DNA and also double-checking them against each photo on the internet could hasten the pace of tracking down a suspect. While recommending probable advantage for law enforcement and national security, he cautioned of privacy implications as well as the negative implications for closed dictatorship wherein these services could be utilised for good or bad.

2. Predicating your child’s look

Venter had informed that there had been discussion on screening foetal cells from maternal bloodstream in order to predict the look of the child at the age of 18. However, he stated that the team is concerned on unmasking non-paternity which the biological father may not be who it is believed to be. He informed that he would not desire to be the one conveying the news to the couple.

3. Find Missing persons 

Should a person tend to be missing as a child and the search seems to continue for years with no present image being available, it could hinder the search. However, with the images projected from DNA, improved images could be generated.

4. Age and Height can be predicted from voice recording

Someone could only need to have brief recordings of your speech in order to identify traits in the future and this ability could be of great interest to college sports recruiters or singles on dating sites. This is because individuals tend to have reasons in describing their attributes in the most positive light. Venter has commented that his group could predict a person’s gender, age as well as height from voice recording and also saw a connection with voice and the shape of the face. This was done by enabling 1,000 persons speak for some minutes and also took extensive body measurements like throat and jaw size with MRI machines. Thereafter the team sequenced the persons’ genomes.

With this information the machines were provided with the opportunity of learning and making predictions. Venter informed that the ability of predicting height was a wonder. What is effective here is turning the biological data into digital information in order that the innovative software is applied to it and interpret more than what could done on their own by a human. At Human Longevity, the machine learning team is led by Franz Och who had earlier built the Translate software of Google. The genome is viewed as the software of life which tends to code us all and attempt to predict as much as possible from the genome.

5. Reveal secrets that may be Private

Venter with his sequenced genome on the Internet had commented that he could rethink that decision if he intends redoing the process, considering the rapid growth in what can be already predicted.The task has now been shifted on how he sees a classic argument in psychology – nature against nurture and is our environment or heredity more dominant.Venter who had shifted toward nature since then had commented that he had started out in the 50-50 camp when he did not know anything. The DNA software encodes for who you are though it also tends to decode for the variability as well as the plasticity. A main part of human development is how adaptable it is and those are the strictures which are built in the genetic codes.

Friday, 18 December 2015

Online Brain Training Helps Older Adults With Everyday Tasks


Older People Benefit from Playing Online Games

According to a wide scale study, playing online games which tends to exercise reasoning and memory skills seems to have great benefits for older people. It has been discovered by researchers at King’s College London that brain training or mental exercises could improve the everyday lives of people helping with tasks such as shopping, cooking, managing personal finances and using public transport.

 Around 7,000 people in the age group of over 50 had been engaged from the public through BBC Alzheimer’s Society and the Medical Research Council in order to participate in the six month experiment. Some of them were encouraged to play a brain training package of 10 minutes as often as they desired. The package consisted of three reasoning task like balancing weights on a see-saw and three problem solving task like putting numbered tiles in numerical order.

Prior to the study and again after six weeks, three months and six months, cognitive tests were completed by volunteers that comprised of assessments of grammatical reasoning and memory. People over 60 too carried out test of daily living skills like utilising the telephone or shopping.

Arouse Brain with Activities – Puzzles/Crosswords/Learn New Skills

Thereafter a period of six months, those over 60 who participated in the brain training were found to have substantial improvement in performing the daily task while those over the age of 50 proved to have better reasoning as well as verbal learning. The improvement seemed to be very effective when they played brain training games for at least five times in a week.

Earlier study by the same researcher indicated that such types of exercises provided no benefits for those below the age of 50. Scientists from California and Berlin had spoken against brain training industry, last month, stating that `there is little evidence that playing brain games tends to improve underlying cognitive abilities or it enables one to navigate a complex realm of daily life better’.

However there is other research which has shown some promise for brain training for the improved memory but these small scale studies have been unconvincing. It is also portrayed by the scientist that people tend to have complex occupations or arouse their brains with activities like puzzles, crosswords and learn new skills all through their life which can have lower rates of dementia.

Reduce Risk of Decline of Cognitive Function in Later Stage

The research team were of the belief that the new study would be important in preserving mental activities in older people, helping them in reducing the risk of decline of cognitive function in their later stage of life. According to Dr Anne Corbett, from the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience at Kings’ College London, commented that `the impact of a brain training package like this one can be extremely significant for older adults looking for a way to proactively maintain their cognitive health as they age.

The online package can be accessible to large number of people which also has considerable benefits for public health across the UK’. From Alzheimer’s Society, Dr Doug Brown comments that online brain training has been growing rapidly into a multimillion pound industry and studies such as this are important in helping to understand what these games can/cannot do.

He further adds that while this study was not enough to test if the brain training package could prevent cognitive decline or dementia, they are eager to see that it could have a positive impact on how well the older people tend to perform the essential daily chores.

The Water Wars Are Coming: Civilization Will Never Survive Climate Calamity


Delegations Assemble – 21stConference of the Parties – COP-21

Delegations from around 200 countries assembled in Paris, towards the end of November for what seemed as the most important climate meeting that had ever been held. It is known officially as the 21st Conference of the Parties – COP-21, of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, the Paris summit have their aim on the adoption of measures which would limit the issue of global warming to less than disastrous levels.

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change is a 1992 treaty which designated the phenomenon as a threat to the planetary health as well as survival of humans. There is a possibility that if it tends to fail, the world temperature in the forthcoming decades would exceed 2 degrees Celsius, which is the maximum amount most of the scientist believe the Earth could endure without experiencing irreversible climate shocks, inclusive of soaring temperatures as well as substantial increase in global sea levels.

Failure to plug carbon emissions warranties another result though one that is less discussed. Eventually it will not only bring about climate shocks but also worldwide instability, insurgency together with warfare.

Latest Scientific Findings – Impacts of Global warming

In this regard, the COP-21 needs to be considered not just as a climate summit but a peace conference, probably peace convocation in history. It needs to comprehend the latest scientific findings on the probable impacts of global warming particularly the 2014 report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change – IPCC.

When the report was first published it drew worldwide media coverage in predicting that unchecked climate change would cause severe drought, oppressive heat waves, intense storms, recurring crop failures together with coastal flooding which would result in widespread death and scarcity. The recent event comprising the drought in California and crippling heat waves in Asia and Europe have drawn more attention on these impacts.

However, the IPCC report recommended that the global warming could result in devastating impacts of political as well as social nature, inclusive of state collapse, civil strife, economic decline, mass migrations and probably resource wars. These predictions have not been taken into consideration and the possibility of such a future can be apparent since human institutions such as natural systems seem to be susceptible to climate change. Economies could be affected when vital commodities like crops, fish, timber and livestock would tend to become scarce, are destroyed or fail.

Climate Changes – Damage/Destroy Natural Systems

Societies will be gripped under the strain of economic decline and huge refugee flows. IPCC notes that armed conflicts would not be the immediate consequence of these changes but with the combination of the effects of climate change with the prevailing poverty, resource scarcity, hunger, incompetent as well as corrupt governance, together with ethnic, religious or national resentments, one would probably end up with intense conflict with regards to access to food, water and the other essentials of life. Climate changes would damage or destroy several natural systems those under that are under stress which the human depend for their survival.

Under the burden of rising temperature as well as gradually severe droughts, the southern border of the Sahara desert for instance is now being converted into an empty wasteland from grasslands capable of sustaining nomadic herders, compelling local nomads away from their ancestral lands. Several of the prevailing farmlands in Asia, Africa and the Middle East would be suffering the same fate. Rivers which once provided water all through the year would run only occasionally or dry up, leaving the populations with unpleasant options.

Saturday, 12 December 2015

Seasonal Affective Disorder

Seasonal Affective Disorder

Seasonal Affective Disorder – SAD – Type of Depression

Seasonal Affective disorder – SAD, is also known as seasonal adjustment disorder, a kind of depression which can take place at a certain time of a year. It was first described by Dr Norman Rosenthal from the US in 1984. A UK organization – Mind, tends to provide advice and support to individuals with mental health issues, noting that the majority of the people with SAD tend to experience the condition in winter climate. Some of them may get affected in reverse and face depression during the summer months though it seems very rare. As per the head of information at Mind, Beth Murphy, the condition is generally undiagnosed which makes it difficult to distinguish how many could be suffering from this disorder.

Those with symptoms of SAD usually experience two or three years of the conditions prior to their diagnosis. Murphy however states that estimates indicate that about 10% of the population in Northern Europe tend to experience slighter symptoms of the condition and 2% experience much severe symptoms.

As per the Cleveland Clinic, almost 500,000 people in the US experience SAD and about 10-20% of the population of the US suffer from milder forms of this ailment.

Doctors Lack Awareness of the Condition

Irrespective of the number of people who tend to suffer from SAD worldwide, experts are of the opinion that doctors seems to lack the awareness of the condition. Chair of the Seasonal Affective Disorder Association – SADA, Helen Hanson, in the UK as well as a victim of SAD, informed Medical News Today that `she would say that they are still searching that the medical profession does not seem to have sufficient awareness of the illness and particularly of its complexity.

A pattern of presentation with depression should be noticed prior to diagnosis and general practitioners who do not have SAD on their agenda could still miss it completely’.

What could be the signs we should look for SAD?Murphy states that SAD could start at any age but it is more likely to progress before the age of 21 and could be twice likely to progress in women rather than in men.

Symptoms of the Ailment

Several of the symptoms of SAD seem similar to those connected with ordinary depression like anxiety, panic attacks and mood swings. Some of the symptom comprise of –
  • Irritability
  • Weakened immune system
  • Overeating and weight gain
  • Sleep problems
  • Lack of concentration
  • Alcohol or drug abuse
  • Reduced libido
  • Feeling of guilt and worry
  • Social and relationship problems

Impairment in Brain System – Releases/Absorbs Serotonin

The precise cause of SAD is not known but earlier research had indicated that since the ailment tends to take place during the change in seasons, changes in light could cause the disorder.

Murphy clarifies that when the light seems to hit the retina towards the back of the eye, messages are sent to the hypothalamus, the area of the brain which is responsible for sleep, appetite, temperature, mood and activity. She adds that if there is insufficient light, these functions tends to slow down and gradually tend to stop. It is also presumed that levels of serotonin, which is a neurotransmitter in the brain, could also be responsible for the cause of SAD.

People who may suffer from depression tend to have low serotonin levels especially during winter months. This indicates that people with SAD could have impairment in the brain system which releases as well as absorbs serotonin.

Wednesday, 9 December 2015

In Search of the Perfect Sweetener

Miracle Berry – Synsepalum Dulcificum

Michael Mosley writes that too much of refined sugar is the cause of obesity and ill-health and hence the search is on for the right sweetener, though it is not an easy task. Mosley was fascinated when the team making a new series for BBC One, Tomorrow’s Food, had invited him to try the extract of an African fruit named the miracle berry.

The same had been derived from a plant called Synsepalum dulcificum and is unlike any artificial sugar tried before because it works not by making foods sweeter but make them taste sweeter.The miracle berries comprise of a molecule known as miraculin that binds to receptors on the tongue changing their shape which makes sour food taste sweeter.

One benefit of temporarily changing the taste buds instead of the food itself could be the effect this could have on the gut bacteria. Strong debates whether the utilisation of sugars would help to lose weight or not, have been going on for several years.

Several Conflicting Studies

Recent meta-analysis that viewed the results of over 100 various human studies concluded that when artificial sweeteners had replaced sugar in the diet, could have led to weight loss. However, the Harvard School of Public Health points out that there seems to be plenty of conflicting studies inclusive of those which indicate that drinking artificially sweetened drinks could increase the risk, not only of weight gain but of type 2 diabetes as well.

It is unknown how artificial sugars could do this though a study conducted by a group in Israel recommends that it could be through the impact of artificial sugar on the gut bacteria. The Israeli researchers, in a study published last year in the science journal Nature, had asked a group of lean and healthy volunteers who did not generally use artificial sweeteners to consume maximum amount of acceptable dose for a week.

Towards the end of the week, half of those who had participated showed indications of glucose intolerance, which is the initial step in type 2 diabetes. The researchers presumed that this could be due to the bacteria in their guts reacting to the artificial sugars by secreting substance causing inflammation. This was what they had observed in animals.

Miraculin Molecule - Genetically Engineering Tomato Plants

When they had collected the faeces samples from the volunteers, they observed changes in the gut bacteria of those who had responded badly to the sweeteners with no change in those who had not. One of the researchers Dr Eran Elinav had mentioned that `relationship with our own individual mix of gut bacteria is a huge factor in determining how the foods we eat affects us’.

Not a fan of artificial sweeteners, he adds that there should be a reassessment of today’s massive, unsupervised consumption of these substances. Consumers are cautious of whatever the health effects or otherwise of artificial sweeteners which is where those who have been promoting the joys of natural miracle berries brings some hope.

The issue is that the berries tend to be expensive to grow and does not last long. Hence the scientists in Japan, where the berry seems to be popular, are now making attempts to produce the important miraculin molecule by genetically engineering tomato plants. Presently the cheapest and the simplest option to get a dose of miraculin is to get tablets containing the dehydrated pulp of the fresh berries.

Things to Know About Cetyl Myristoleate

As happens often and unexpectedly, research on one particular point of interest can lead to the discovery of something else just as fascinating. That's how a scientist working in the 1970s discovered the importance of cetyl myristoleate. The cetyl myristoleate supplement and topical cream appear to have benefits for people with arthritis.


In the 1970s, the National Institutes of Health was testing anti-inflammatory drugs on animals by first inducing arthritis in them with an injected antigen solution. Swiss albino mice turned out to have immunity against arthritis because of a substance in their bodies known as cetyl myristoleate. The NIH learned that injecting other animals with this material gave them protection against arthritis as well.


This natural component found in certain animals and plants is a beneficial fatty acid ester. Chemically, it consists of cetyl alcohol and myristoleic acid.

Cetyl myristoleate is not an essential fatty acid, as are the more familiar omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil. Nevertheless, many people find it to be a beneficial addition to their health regimen. The substance has anti-inflammatory properties and it appears to help lubricate joints and increase flexibility.


Supplements containing this natural ingredient are available from suppliers such as EHP Products. In addition, cetyl myristoleate is provided in a topical cream that can be applied directly over sore joints.

Research with this material has focused on osteoarthritis, but people report good results for reducing symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis as well. Products are also available specifically designed for dogs, cats and horses.

Cetyl myristoleate is generally not associated with any side effects. However, some individuals don't tolerate oil supplements well and may experience some digestive upset with the oil softgels. For those consumers, capsules containing powder offer a suitable alternative.

Concluding Thoughts

People who want to avoid taking prescription drugs or over-the-counter pain relief medication for arthritis may want to try these supplements. They may not be able to stop taking medication entirely, but they may be able to substantially reduce the dosage and the frequency. Supplements that are safe for canine, feline and equine companions also are important since these animals are not supposed to take many of the medications designed for humans.

Saturday, 5 December 2015

Why Do We Yawn


Why Do We Yawn – A Mystery

Scientists have been puzzled about yawning for over two millennia. However a new theory has provided some insight regarding the same. David Robson explores and while he was in mid conversation with Robert Provine, he had a compelling urge from deep within his body and the more he tried to suppress it, the more it seemed to spread till it ultimately consumed his entire body.

Ultimately it led him to wonder on how he could stop himself from yawning. He was informed by Provine that this seems to occur often when people talk to him, during presentation. Probably the first person to study yawn was the Greek physician, Hippocrates almost 2,500 years ago who believed that yawning was helpful in releasing noxious air, especially during fever.

He wrote that `just like the large quantities of steam which escape from cauldrons when water boils, the accumulated air in the body is violently expelled through the mouth when the body temperature rises. Various examples of the idea prevailed till the 19th century when scientist projected that yawning supported respiration, activating a rush of oxygen in the blood supply while flushing out carbon dioxide. If this seems to be true, we would expect people to yawn more or less regularly based on the oxygen and carbon dioxide absorption in the atmosphere.

Several Theories Focussed on Contagious/Strange Nature of Yawning

However, when Provine requested some of the volunteers to breathe various combinations of gases, he did not come across any change. Several theories have focussed on the contagious, strange nature of yawning. He commented that around 50% who tend to observe a yawn would yawn in response. It seems so contagious that anything connected with it would trigger one, seeing or hearing another person or even reading about yawning.

It is for this reason that some of the researchers have been speculating if yawning could be a primitive type of communication and if so, what kind of information could it be transmitting? According to Christian Hess, at the University of Bern in Switzerland, the most likely signalling role of yawning is to assist in synchronizing the behaviour of social group. With the same routine, a group could work efficiently together all through the day.With several contradictory and competing concepts an emerging theory of yawning could seem to be vague.

Yawning – Chilling Brain/Stop Overheating

However, for the last few years, a fundamental mechanism has developed which could probably settle all the superficial contradictions. Andrew Gallup, presently at the State University of New York at Oneonta, had been motivated first with the idea during his undergraduate degree when he recognised that yawning could probably help in chilling the brain and stop it from overheating.

 He claimed that the forceful movement of the jaws moved the blood flow around the skull and helped to carry away the excess heat. At the time of deep inhalation, it brought cool air in the sinus cavities and around the carotid artery leading it back into the brain. Moreover, the active movement also flexed the membranes of sinuses, blowing a soft breeze through the cavities which could cause the mucus to evaporate, causing a chilling effect like air-conditioning.

The obvious test was to observe if people were more or less likely to yawn in different temperatures. Gallup observed that in normal conditions, around 48% felt the urge to yawn though when he asked them to hold a cold compress to their foreheads, only 9% succumbed to it.

Take Care of Your Teeth the Right Way

You need to have good oral hygiene if your teeth are going to last you for your entire life. Unfortunately, many people do not do the things they need to in order to keep their gums healthy and their teeth looking great. The sad things is that taking care of your teeth is not a difficult thing to do. It does not require much time and effort on your part. Therefore, there is no reason to neglect your teeth. One of the biggest problems is that many people were not instructed about how to properly care for their teeth when they were young. This leads to them having serious problems with their teeth and gums in adulthood. Here are a few tips to take care of your teeth the right way.

1. Use the right motion

One of the most common mistakes that people make when it comes to brushing their teeth is the motion they use. You need to brush your teeth in a circular motion. Do not simply go straight back and forth. This could cause grooves to form in your gums. It is also important that you avoid using too much force when you are brushing your teeth. You do not need to press overly hard on your toothbrush in order to do a good job brushing your teeth. Allow the toothbrush to do most of the work.

2. Brush your gums

People often neglect their gums because they are so concerned about taking care of their teeth. However, your gums are equally important. You could develop very serious gum diseases if you fail to give your gums the amount of attention they deserve. Gently brush your gums in an upward and downward motion. Avoid pressing too hard because you might cause bleeding if you do this. You can visit periclean.com for info on receding gum treatment.

3. Floss regularly

Flossing is another important dental hygiene task that gets neglected by far too many people. The bristles of a toothbrush can't adequately clean the areas between your teeth the same way that dental floss can. Food particles that remain stuck between your teeth will eventually begin to decompose. This will allow bacteria to form. This bacteria could eventually cause a huge problem if is gets into an open wound in your gums. It could also help to contribute to tooth decay. Flossing daily is a good habit to get into.

Tuesday, 1 December 2015

Mutant Mosquitoes Resist Malaria


Genetically Modified - Resist Malaria Infection

US Scientist have informed that they have bred a genetically modified – GM mosquito which can resist malaria infection. It could provide a new way of stopping the biting insects from spreading malaria to humans if the lab technique tends to work in the field.

The scientists have put a new resistance gene in the DNA of the mosquito utilising a gene editing method known as Crispr. According to the PNAS journal it was reported that when the GM mosquitoes reproduces, their offspring inherit the same resistance. In theory, when these mosquitoes tend to bite people, they should not be capable of passing on the parasite which causes malaria.

Almost half of the world’s population is at risk of being affected by malaria. Precautions like bed nets, insecticides as well as repellents could help in stopping the insect bites and drugs could be given to those affected by the infection.

 The disease still tends to kill around 580,000 people a year. Scientist has been probing for new means of fighting malaria. The team at the University of California are of the belief that their GM mosquito could play an essential role, breeding resistant offspring to substitute the endemic, malaria carrying parasites.

Anopheles Stephensi

For the experiment, they took a kind of mosquito that is found in India, an Anopheles stephensi. Dr Anthony James together with his team showed that they could give a new DNA code to the insect, in order to make it a poor host for the malaria parasite.

The DNA that codes for antibodies which fight the parasite had been inherited by around 100% of the mosquito offspring and through three generations. According to the researchers, the findings provide hope that the same system could work also in the other mosquito species. They state that though it would not be the only solution to this malaria issue, it would be a useful additional weapon.

UK expert from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, Prof David Conway, said that it was not the finished product yet though it certainly looks promising and it does look like the genetic editing, works. At the University of California-Irvine, molecular biologist Anthony James is developing what he calls "sustainable technologies" -rather than killing mosquitoes, rendering them unable to infect people.

Sustainable Technologies

However some other experts have the apprehension that eliminating them entirely could have unexpected as well as unsolicited significances. Substituting disease carrying mosquitoes with inoffensive breeds could be a possible alternative.

At the University of California-Irvine, Anthony James, molecular biologist is working on what he calls `sustainable technologies’ instead of killing mosquitoes rather than making them unable to infect people. He engineered immune system genes which could spur a mosquito’s body to cultivate antibiotics to attack parasite so that it would be unable to transmit the infection.

This new genes tends to work as intended when it is injected into the eggs of a certain malaria spreading mosquito species. Gene driven experiments could be controversial and one concern could be the possibility of altered organisms escaping the laboratory prior to the scientist knowing how to utilise them.

The California team took precautions in special lab security and used mosquito species which could not survive in the climate of California.

Saturday, 28 November 2015

Why do we get Pins and Needles?


Pins & Needles – Tingling Sensation in the Hands/Feet

We all tend to experience at some point of time tingling sensation in the hands or feet and we call it pins and needles since we get the sensation of hundreds of tinypointed object passing over the skin again and again. One would feel a bit of numbness on the skin besides the sensations of those pins and needles.

It could be little uncomfortable to place the weight of the body on your foot when it tends to fall asleep and though not painful it is also not pleasant either. However after a few minutes when one shakes the affected limb, the sharp piercing sensation tends to disappear. The sensation is referred as `paresthesia’ and the harmless sensation is known as temporary paresthesia.

What really happens beneath the tingling skin is that there are nerves throughout the body, biological superhighways which relay information between the brain and the entire body. If too much pressure is placed on one of the limbs, you could be momentarily pinching the nerve which tends to run through them. Besides that, you could also be putting a little more pressure on the blood vessels supplying those nerves just the way a hampering garden hose tends to prevent the flow of water.

Brain Deprived of Information from Nerves

The outcome is that the brain is deprived of the information expected from this bundle of nerves since the nerves themselves are refrained from receiving the oxygenated blood needed from the heart. When the pressure tends to get relieved, blood floods back in the limbs with the nerves firing information to and from the brain.Some experiments conducted in 1930s and 1940s provided the understanding to the researchers on the progression of the sensation.

 It is easy to put a limb to sleep by using a blood pressure cuff which tends to squeeze the person’s limb to a higher pressure that their systolic blood pressure which was what the Oxford University researcher had done in 1946. Beginning a minute or two after applying the pressure and lasting for three to four minutes, they felt a sensation called `compression tingling’ The participants described it as faint comfortable soda water sensation or buzzing or a fine light tingle while others felt as if they had some ants running up and down within their skin.

Velvety Numbness/Release Pricking

The second stage that tends to begin 10 minutes later is known as velvety numbness which lasts as long as the pressure on the nerve of the limb and blood supply remains. The pressure when released is the third state which is known as `release pricking’. This part is generally referred to as `pins and needles’. Release pricking usually tends to be more painful than the first two stages though the emotional aspect of the experience seems to be described often as curiosity or interest.

 The sensation ultimately disappears though people are unable to identify at what point the sensation on their skin returns to normal. However, not all pins and needles seem to be of the temporary range. Chronic paresthesia could take place as part of various neurological disorders or after a certain traumatic damage of nerve such as a bad burn. Paresthesia could also take place after the administration of local anaesthetic medications during dental process. Though these are rare incidences, it is not known why this tend to occur.

Thursday, 26 November 2015

Antibiotic Resistance: World on Cusp of 'Post-Antibiotic Era'


Antibiotic Resistance - Antibiotic Apocalypse

Scientists on observing that bacteria resistant to drugs used, when all the other treatments have failed, havelearned that the world is on the point of a `post-antibiotic era’. It has been identified that the bacteria is capable of shrugging off the drug in patients and livestock in China and is said that the resistance could extend all over the world giving rise to untreatable infections.

It is a likely resistance that has come up after colistin was overused in farm animals. Bacteria that tend to be totally resistant to treatment is also known as the antibiotic apocalypse which would result in the treatment of medicine being unsuccessful. Cancer therapies and surgery which tend to depend on antibiotics could face problems.

Chinese scientists have identified a new change known as the MCR-1 gene which tends to prevent colistin from eliminating the bacteria. According to the report in the Lancet Infectious Diseases, it portrayed resistance in a fifth of animals that were tested, in 15% of raw meat samples and in 16 patients. The resistance is said to spread between the range of bacterial strains and species which include E. coli, Klebsiella pneumoniae and Pseudomonas aeruginosa.

Transfer Rate of Resistance Gene Incredibly High

There is also indication that it has extended to Laos and Malaysia. Prof Timothy Walsh from the University of Cardiff, who worked on the study, informed BBC News website that all the key players were in place now, making the post-antibiotic world a reality.

He added that if MCR-1 tends to become global, and the gene aligns itself with the other antibiotics resistance gene which is unavoidable, then there is a possibility of reaching the start of the post-antibiotic era. At that point, if the patient is seriously ill for instance with E. coli, there will be almost nothing that can be done. Resistance to colistin had come up earlier but the vital difference is the mutation has risen in a way which is shared easily between bacteria.

According to Prof Mark Wilcox from Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, he states that the transfer rate of this resistance gene is incredibly high, that does not look good. His hospital is now dealing with various cases and attempting to find an antibiotic.

Wake-up Call for the World

The apprehension is that the new resistance gene tend to catch up with others affecting hospitals, resulting in bacteria resistant to all treatment known as pan-resistance. Prof Wilcox has informed BBC News website not to worry and that they will get to an untreatable organism situation.

Early signs suggest that the Chinese government is moving in the direction of addressing the issue. Prof Walsh would be meeting the agricultural as well as the health ministries to discuss if colistin should be banned for agricultural use. From the campaign group Antibiotic Action, Prof Laura Piddock has informed that the same antibiotics should not be utilised in veterinary and human medicine.

She also informed the BBC News website that they are hoping that the post-antibiotic era is not on them yet, but this could be a wake-up call for the world. She debates that the dawning of the post-antibiotic era tends to depend on the infection, the patient and if there are alternative treatment choices available, since combination of antibiotics could still be effective.

Monday, 23 November 2015

Frontal Brain Wrinkle Linked To Hallucinations


Frontal Brain Wrinkle – Distinguishing Real Perception

Research of 153 brain scans has led to certain understanding near the front of each hemisphere to hallucinations in schizophrenia. The folds seem to be shorter in patients who tend to hallucinate when compared to those who do not. It is said to be an area of the brain which seems to play a part in distinguishing real perceptions from the imaginary ones.

Findings published by researchers in Nature Communications indicate that it could ultimately assist with early diagnosis. Paracingulate sulcus or PCS, the brain wrinkle tends to differ considerably in shape among individuals and is one of the last folds to develop in the brain only just before birth.

According to a neuroscientist at the University of Cambridge, UK, Jon Simons states that the brain tends to develop all throughout the life, however characteristics such as the PCS is going to be a mainly noticeable fold or not could be apparent in the brain at an initial stage. It could also be that a reduction in this brain fold tends to give somebody a predisposition in developing something like hallucination at their later stage of life.

Schizophrenia – A Complex Phenomenon

If additional work, for instance, indicates that the difference could be detected prior to the onset of the symptoms, Dr Simons informs that there could be a possibility of providing extra help to people who may face that risk. However, he focused that schizophrenia seems to be a complex phenomenon.

Hallucinations seems to be one of the foremost symptoms though some of the individuals are diagnosed based on other unbalanced thought procedures. Dr Simons together with his colleagues utilised data from the Australian Schizophrenia Research Bank and structural MRI scan illuminating the detailed physical dimensions of 153 individual brains with 113 people having schizophrenia and 40 healthy controls. The team were able to choose its samples prudently since the database comprised of other important information regarding the subjects.

 Dr Simons informed BBC that they selected patients putting them into each groups and those two groups are directly comparable as possible. The schizophrenia patients were split into those with a history of hallucinations around 79 and those without about 34; however these two groups were closed matched in other ways.

PCS Involved in Brain Networks

Aspects like the individual’s age, medication, sex and whether they were left or right handed were taken in consideration. The only difference between the two groups was that one groups experienced hallucination while the other did not, was as close as they could get it. The team looked for differences in the PCS, during the brain scans since they knew from earlier study that the length of this fold indicated a correlation with people’s certainty monitoring ability.

This was reflected in the patients facing hallucination and on an average they had a PCS which was around 2cm shorter than the patient who did not suffer hallucination and 3cm shorter than the healthy controls. Jane Carrison, the study’s first author said that though other factors seemed to be certainly responsible when a brain tends to generate hallucination, this was an important observation She explained that the PCS was involved in brain networks which helps in recognising information which have been generated by the individual. People with shorter PCS are less capable of distinguishing the origin of such information and appear more likely to experience it like having been generated externally.

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

Chagas Disease


Chagas Disease - Transmitted – Bite of Insect Triatominae/Kissing Bug

Chagas is considered as the kissing disease since the infection tends to get transmitted from the bite of an insect known as Triatominae, also known as a kissing bug which likes to feed on a warm blooded animal’s face while it sleeps. This disease is generally caused by a sub-tropical protozoan parasite – Trypanosoma Cruzi – T. Cruzi and this parasite enters the blood stream of its host and begins the repetition process ultimately infecting every cell of the body with parasitic protozoa duplicates.

The victim often does not show any signs of infection till around 10 and 30 years thereafter, when the chronic phase of the disease tends to become obvious. This disease has been named after Dr Carlos Chagas who had discovered the blood parasite in 1909. Till mid-1960, the disease was not considered or recognized as a health threat in the United States. Chagas is limited mainly in Mexico and Central and South America and the reports of infection epidemic in the United State as well as Europe are generally treated in the initial stages of development.

Symptoms of Chagas Disease

Symptoms of Chagas tend to change over time when the infection slowly spreads in the entire body. At the initial stage of the infection, the victim generally does not show any signs of at times mild symptoms of fever, headaches, swollen glands, diarrhoea, sluggishness, loss of appetite and redness/swelling at the areas of entry to the body.

If Chagas for instance has been the result of a bite, the area surrounding the bite will show signs of infection and if contracted orally through ingestion, the signs of infection would be in the mouth and throat. Within the period of 2 – 3 months of infection without treatment, the victim with Chagas disease will pass in the chronic phase and the chronic symptoms consist of speech impairment, loss of balance and confusion which generally tends to take place due to the severe brain swelling linked with Chagas disease.

People in the chronic phase without being treated would become either asymptomatic, not showing any further signs of symptoms or they would develop disturbing health problems years after the earlier symptoms show up. These chronic health problems may include severe inflammation in the oesophagus, colon, glands, lungs, kidneys, brain as well as the heart.

Anti-Parasitic Drugs/Immunotherapies Effective Treatment

As the symptoms of this disease as well as the reproduction cycle are alike as that of HIV, its treatment is the same too. Anti-parasitic drugs and immunotherapiesare very effective at the time of acute phase of the disease which brings about 85% cures to those infected.

However, during the chronic phase, anti-parasitic drugs and immunotherapies have shown to slow down the inception of the disease though not totally eliminate it from the infected person. Unfortunately for those who are already in the chronic stages of this disease, there seems to be no cure and the treatment involves dealing all the symptoms as they tend to take place like stem cell therapy, organ transplantation surgery and the utilisation of immunosuppression drugs.

Since no vaccines have been created to stop the spread of Chagas disease, preventive measures need to be taken in consideration to ensure a lower risk of infections which include reducing the number of insect who tend to carry the parasite and early blood screening tests in individuals who live or travel within infected areas.

Saturday, 14 November 2015

Meningitis jab in Africa a stunning success


According to experts, a mass vaccination programme against meningitis A in Africa has been successful and over 220 million people were inoculated across 16 countries in the region’s meningitis belt. The meningitis belt stretches from sub-Saharan Africa to Gambia in the west to Ethiopia in the east. In 2013, across the total region, there were only four cases which had once faced thousands of death every year.

But World Health Organisation had warned that `huge epidemics’ would return if new vaccination programme does not tend to begin. The worst epidemic ever recorded was in 1996-97, where the disease had swept over the belt affecting more than a quarter of a million people leading to 25,000 deaths. The MenAfriVac, unlike other vaccines had been designed especially for Africa and a mass vaccination campaign had been started in 2010.

Dr Marie-Pierre Preziosi from World Health Organisation had stated that the disease had virtually disappeared from that part of the world. This mass immunisation programme was intended for individuals below 30 years but routine vaccination would be essential to make sure that the new-borns are not susceptible to the disease.

Game-Changer in Global Health with New Vaccine

Steve Davis, president and CEO of PATH that is an international non-profit organization which together with partners including the World Health Organization, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and African government officials who have worked to research, develop and deliver a meningitis

A vaccine has commented that they are seeing a game-changer in global health with the new vaccine which has the ability to move toward elimination of the disease. Sub-Saharan African for atleast a century had the world’s highest rate of meningitis A, which is a severe infection of the thin lining of the brain and the spinal cord.

It is an airborne disease which tends to kill around 10% of the patients, usually infants, children and young adults. Among those who tend to survive, around 1 in 5 suffers severe brain damage or deafness. There are five kinds of meningitis where meningitis A is rare in other areas of the world, According to PATH, epidemics have taken place in Africa often about every eight to 12 years but it is not known why though environmental elements like dust drought, humidity tend to play a role.

Meningitis Vaccination Project – In Motion in 2001

In 1996, when an epidemic had spread through the region, around 250,000 people were affected and 25,000 had died. Davis informed that it was one of the things which parents feared the most, more than malaria, since if kids did not die, they would be neurologically damaged. The health ministers together with other African leaders, after the epidemics had approached WHO seeking help.

The Meningitis Vaccination Project had been set in motion in 2001 to create a vaccine suitable to prevent meningitis A which would be affordable for developing nations. Huge pharmaceutical companies in rich countries were not willing to take on what they envisaged as an unprofitable project, the manufacture of vaccine which would be sold below 50 cents a dose.

However, a pharmaceutical company in the developing world, the Serum Institute of India with support from foundations and international aid organizations, linked the effort and could produce a high volume of vaccine for under 50 cents for each inoculation according to Davis.


Thursday, 12 November 2015

Deadly Diesel Pollution has been hiding in Plain Sight


Diesel Pollution – Unobserved/Unreported

A new study from the University of York research has given details on the impact of long chain hydrocarbon found in the emissions from diesel engines, which had been unobserved and unreported. As per the study, `longer chain hydrocarbons that is released from the diesel vehicles does not seem to be clearly as part of air quality plans and there are some direct measurements of their abundant gaseous in the atmosphere.

But the research team have developed a methodology to measure levels of the hydrocarbons that are signs to the formation of ozone and particulate substance which are both considered as pollutants of specific apprehension. The effect of long chain hydrocarbons has been basically overlooked by car manufacturers as well as official air quality measurements which is about to change.

Dr Jacqueline Hamilton, who is the lead author of the study, informed BBC that `there is actually a lot of this unburned material from diesel which we have not seen earlier. That could be having a bigger effect on ozone and particle formation than petrol cars tend to be and historically no one has looked at these emissions at all’.

Particulate Matter – Overwhelming Impact on Health

Particulate matter is said to have a possibly overwhelming impact on the health of those who are exposed to it and the study perceived that presently in the UK, exposure to particulate matter is likely to reduce life expectancy on an average by seven to eight months and with a public cost probably up to £20 billion annually.

It was found in a study carried out in London that around 50% of ozone production in winter was owing to long chain hydrocarbons from diesel which also added to 25% of summer ozone formation. Dr Hamilton stated that it has a large impact on air quality in their cities and the number of death linked with particle pollutions seems much higher than those from nitrogen dioxide.

The attention of the media had been drawn to diesel pollution after the disclosure that Volkswagen had falsely reported its car’s diesel emissions in the USA. It is a known fact that diesel tends to contribute severely to air pollution though following the signing of the Kyoto procedure climate change agreement in 1997, Europe had supported as well as subsidized the sale of diesel cars owing to their lower CO2 releases.

Concerned Deeply in Nitrogen Dioxide/Toxic Particulate Matter

Professor Paul Monks of the University of Leicester, who heads the UK government’s air quality expert group, informed BBC that the new research tends to raise yet another question regarding diesel vehicles. They are concerned deeply in nitrogen dioxide, in toxic particulate matter and this indicates to another deleterious environment effect from diesel’.

Nitrogen dioxide pollution from diesel adds to the formation of photo-chemical smog like that seen across Europe earlier in the year. According to new data, a situation is described as a disgrace by one MEP, it is said that a modern diesel car tends to pump more toxic pollution than a bus or a heavy truck

As per a report from the Norwegian Centre for Transport Research, diesel cars that were tested in Norway, produced quadruple of nitrogen dioxide releases of large buses and lorries in city driving conditions. Another study for Transport for London portrayed that a small car in the super mini class released several time more nitrogen oxides than most of the HGVs and the same amount that of a 40 tonne vehicle.

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Most Skin-Based Viruses are Totally Unknown to Science


Microbes Living On & Within Us – Good Health/Cause of Disease

Researchers together with the public are being aware that microbes living on and within us – `micro-biomes’, could be vital in maintenance of good health or the cause of disease. Skin resident bacteria by no means are an exception and they help to ward off dangerous infection as well as maintain good skin immunity together with wound healing but in certain situations could do the reverse.

A new study has observed that a majority of DNA viruses that have been found on human skin has not been described before. With the use of mapping techniques in isolating virus like particles from the skin swabs of 16 healthy participants, the team from the University of Pennsylvania discovered that about 95% of skin resident viruses seem to be uncharacterised, basically `viral dark matter’ wherein the presence is felt though the character seems to be uncertain.

According to Elizabeth A. Grice, senior author, PhD and an assistant professor of Dermatology at Penn Medicine commented that there is a need for better understanding of these viruses, considering their potential effects on the skin cells and the resident bacteria. Till now, comparatively less work has been done in this area in part due to the technical challenges involved.

Features of Viral Genetic Substance

A skin swab for instance, taken for the purpose of analysis would comprise of generally human and bacterial DNA with only a small amount of viral genetic material. Earlier mapping efforts utilised databases of known viral genes to identify some of the viral genetic material in all the bacteria and human DNA. However such approaches tend to overlook the viruses not classified in databases.

 With enhanced techniques in isolating virus like particles – VLPs, from the skin swabs and analysing very small quantity of genetic material, the research team were capable of aiming their sequence and analysis on viral DNA without totally depending on previously prevailing databases and made a breakthrough on analysing material afresh.

According to senior author, Elizabeth Grice, the team found that the material had features of viral genetic substance though no taxonomic classification.The most common infecting virus which was found by the researchers was the human papilloma virus that was connected to some kind of skin cancer. They also found that the viruses were location based.

Procedure Developed for DNA Sequence Analysis

Samples from forehead, palm, armpit and the other areas collected by the team for instance, revealed that viruses were more varied in areas which were occasionally exposed and covered like the wrinkle of an elbow. Moreover, the research also recognised a standard for investigations in the future studies of the normal, healthy skin virome together with a set of virus analysis tool which would now be made available to scientists for additional research in human viruses.

The University of Pennsylvania team conducting the research are now utilising the method in researching the variability of skin viruses as well as analysing virus response to issues like antibiotic use and ultraviolet radiation exposure.

Grice together with her colleagues also made available along with the paper’s supplemental information, the procedures they had developed for the DNA sequence analysis. She informed that it is freely available so that the people could do their own research or reproduce results.

Saturday, 7 November 2015

Scientists Are Working on a Drug to Mimic Exercise


Scientist Investigating If Pill Could Compensate Effect of Workout

Scientists from the University of Sydney have been researching on what exercises could do to the body while investigating if pill could compensate the effect of a workout and one study looks at how the physical activity tends to affect the molecules in the muscles.Another has checked on chemicals which could be utilised in an exercise pill and how it could compare with regular gym session.

The concept is being cultivated for medical commitments to aid people who would be unable to exercise. If the pill tends to be a reality, it would probably take at least another 10 years. New research published in the journal – Cell Metabolism has reported that around 1,000 molecular changes tend to take place in our muscles when the workout is carried out.

These changes have been recognised and scientists have been successful in having an exercise – blueprint. They would soon be capable of using this blueprint which would provide details of the molecular reactions to exercise and single out the main changes and begin duplicating them with the assistance of the drug. This indicates that we would soon be getting all the benefits of exercise without the need of workout.

Exercise Most Powerful Therapy for Several Diseases

The head of the research group that commenced the study, Professor David James explained that exercise is the most powerful therapy for several human diseases inclusive of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease as well as neurological disorders.

But for several people, exercise does not seem to be a feasible option of treatment. Researchers from the University of Sydney have worked along with the researchers from the University of Copenhagen in Denmark in creating the blueprint. They have collected all the data by analysing human skeletal muscle biopsies from untrained, healthy males after a ten minute of exercising and used the technique known as mass spectrometry in order to study protein phosphorylation.

It was then that they observed that after exercising, more than 1,000 changes had taken place at a molecular level. Until now, there were very few changes which had been linked with exercises. Research co-author, Dr Nolan Hoffman had explained that while scientists had long suspected that exercises tends to cause complicated series of changes to human muscles, this was the first time that they were capable of mapping precisely what happens.

Recent Study a Step in the Right Direction

He added that this was a main breakthrough since it enables scientist to utilise this information in designing a drug which imitates the true beneficial changes related to exercises. Creating the drug would be simple and as per Hoffman, it would take at least a decade, since any kind of medication would be needed to target multiple molecules simultaneously.

But the recent study has certainly been a step in the right direction. Professor James stated that the data clearly indicate the complexity of the response and it is not one thing though rather the drug would have to aim multiple things and that their research has made provision of a roadmap to figure it out. In the meanwhile, a separate study in Trends in Pharmacological Sciences studied the possibility of exercise pills and compared these with the effect of regular exercise.

Ismail Laher, one of the authors informed The Washington Post, that he needed to be clear that there is no way to replace routine exercise with an exercise pill. He stated that exercise needs the heart rate to go up, blood to flow faster and one cannot do that with an exercise pill, but in certain groups, it is the next best thing.

VR Test Could Diagnose Very Early Onset Alzheimer’s


Virtual Reality Test to Monitor Signs of Alzheimer’s

Alzheimer’s disease could be identified several years prior to the onset with virtual reality test which can be utilised in monitoring signs of Alzheimer’s disease in people in the age group of 18 to 30 according to research published in the journal Science.The study led by Lukas Kunz of German Centre for Neurodegenerative Diseases in Bonn revealed that people at risk of Alzheimer’s’ tend to have lower activity in a newly discovered network of navigational brain cells known as grid cells.

Researchers at the University of Bonn researched the interactions between various parts of the brain connected to navigation and memory and matched the results with participants who had varied genetic likelihood of developing the ailment.

In order to test the theory, researchers fabricated a virtual space with blue sky, mountains and a grass floor together with everyday object all about the place. Participants were then asked to walk around the space and collect virtual stuff which comprised of basketballs and aubergines and return them back to the same place later on. The participants were monitored by the researchers with the use of fMRI and it was found that those with a higher genetic likelihood of developing the Alzheimer’s, portrayed various neural activity at the time of the trial.

New Ways of Diagnosing Alzheimer’s

The researchers reported in Science that at-risk group portrayed various brain signals several decades prior to the onset of the disease and they passed through differently in a virtual environment. Scientists are of the belief that the results could lead to new ways of diagnosing the disease which presently tend to affect 500,000 people living in the UK.

They also focused on a network of navigational cells - grid cells which was discovered in 2005 and a Nobel Prize had been awarded in 2014 to John O’Keefe, May-Britt Moser and Edvard I. Moser, which had been utilised in navigation as well as memory. Participants at risk of developing Alzheimer’s and those with the e4 variant of the gene APOE had reduced grid cell activity.

Significantly the participants did not tend to perform poorer in the trial but they only utilised a different part of their brain for navigation. Instead of using grid cells, the at-risk participants more likely used the hippocampus which is a part of the brain connected with memory and emotion.

Grid Cell System/Hippocampus

Nikolai Azmacher, a study author to Science comments that this indicates that one can use either the grid cell system or they can use the hippocampus. The differences in the neural activity thus could reveal insights as to why people suffering from Alzheimer’s tend to struggle in navigating the world around them. According to the study, the consequences provide a new line of study for the researchers attempting to comprehend how they could prevent or reverse the effects of dementia. Laura Pipps, from Alzheimer’s Research told the BBC that, though they didn’t know if young people in this study would go on to develop this disease, distinguishing early brain changes linked with genetic risk factors would be important to assist researcher in understanding better why some people would be more vulnerable to the disease later in life. She further added that the risk factors for Alzheimer’s are diverse which includes age, genetics, lifestyle and research seems to be of great importance to enable them to unravel how each of these factors make their contribution to a person’s risk of the disease.

Urgent Care And Kids

Seeking medical attention might not necessarily be in the event of an emergency. When you think about going to an emergency room, it's usually because there is severe pain in the body or there is something else severely wrong. A 24 hr emergency clinic Houston office can take care of medical emergencies that don't usually warrant a trip to the hospital. Urgent care offices are especially helpful if you have children.

When you go to an urgent care office, you might be pleased to find out that most major insurances are accepted. This is beneficial for parents who might not have a family doctor or who have a family doctor but can't get an appointment when one is needed.

Some offices will offer a discount for patients who pay with cash. Urgent care offices have convenient hours for families who might need to see a doctor after school or in the evening. They are ideal for those who need sports physicals or those who get a minor injury while in school. Most locations are open on weekends, and some are open on holidays for those who need assistance. Offices are normally located in the center of a city so that it's easy to access.

One of the benefits of an urgent care office is that you don't have to make an appointment. You can walk in and see the next available doctor. It's sometimes best to call the office before going to see if there is a long wait time, but there are usually a few doctors in the office working so that you can quickly be seen. Patients are often see on a first come, first serve basis, making it a little easier to get in to see someone if you are there when no one else is waiting.

Some offices have an online option where you can check into the office while at home. This is an easier method to be seen as soon as possible, but you need to make sure you are at the office in a short amount of time or someone else could take your spot if the office isn't busy.

Thursday, 5 November 2015

You Could Help Find the Next Generation of Antibiotics


The Next Generation of Antibiotics

Antibiotics have helped in curing several diseases. However, the present excessive use in particular, the constant prescription of antibiotics in treating viral diseases in promoting quick growth of animals in food production, tends to increase the resistance of pathogenic microbes causing loss of effectiveness of antibiotics.

This could lead to urgent threat to global public health as well as increase the cost of healthcare. A latest biology kit enables the discovery of the next generation of antibiotics. Created by entrepreneur Vidhi Mehta, the Post/Biotics would utilise a combination of citizen science together with crowdsourcing in identifying new materials with antibiotic assets to crack the growing problem of drug resistance.

Mehta, with a degree in industrial design explains the system as a `pop up lab and testing kit, which could be utilised in testing plants, fruits, fungi, vegetables, mushrooms and soil for antibiotic capabilities, which are locally available. Several of the antibiotics presently have been created from natural extracts like plants, soil, insect deep-sea beds and volcanoes, which host useful microbes with antibiotic capabilities. However, Mehta is interested in encouraging others to look more closely with regards to the new breed of antibiotic.

Home Remedies – Ayurveda a Common Practice

It was reported that in December last year, the near future global toll of antibiotic resistance could lead to millions of death each year more than that of cancer and diabetes together. The Review on Antimicrobial Resistance, at that time, specified that the antibiotic resistance accounted for about 50,000 deaths in the US and Europe. The scheme projected the present death toll to 700,000 all over the world. The £10m Longitude Prize, in June this year searched for explanation to the escalating danger of antibiotic resistance. Mehta planned to take up the matters and commented that `in design, she had been taught that problems like drug resistance seem to be wicked problems, problems of systemic magnitude with various stakeholders and no silver bullets.

 These types of problems would need various kinds of intervention, with each driving the cause in positive directions’.She added that `growing up in India, home remedies like Ayurveda had been a common practice. Garlic, honey and turmeric were often utilised as antimicrobials and wondered how many more local medicines and practices, people around the world would use and what would this knowledge mean to scientific researchers, looking for a lead in discovering new antibiotics’.

Post/Biotics Web Database/Imperial College & University of Chicago

She narrates that this was when she coordinated with Josiah Zayner, a bio-physicist at the International Laboratory for Identification of Antibiotic Drugs and spoke about crowdsourcing antimicrobials by providing people with the tools and platform for assistance. Mehta states that besides helping in finding crucial new drugs, Post/Biotics could also be utilised in boosting science skills in schools.

The Post/Biotics web database by associating with Imperial College and University of Chicago would be helping people to enter data and test and validate samples. Post/Biotics tends to distribute initial experimental research to schools through global STEM educational platform which is a vision of open-source drug discovery.

One can image what could happen when its designs supports the tools of scientific invention to reach to the common individuals, supporting their learning and adding to scientific knowledge through the power of crowd. Mehta explains that when people tend to participate in Post/Biotics, they discover an interesting sample which the platform recognises its uniqueness, sending it for verification to university leaders.

Sunday, 1 November 2015

How Effective are Mental Health Apps?


Mental Health Apps – Unverified/Ineffective

According to latest study, it has been reported that several of the app which have been invented for mental health victims, inclusive of those endorsed by the NHS seem to be clinically unverified and possibly ineffective.

Research, published in the journal Evidence Based Mental Health, a team at the University of Liverpool observed that several mental health apps as well as online programmes lacked an underlying evidence base, lack of scientific integrity as well as limited clinical effectiveness. Study indicated that several mental health app led to over reliance and concern with regards to self-diagnosis.

Co-author of the study, Simon Leigh debates that the apps should be well informed, scientifically reliable, peer reviewed and evidence based. He informed Wired that it is a real big problem. Therate, at which apps come out, would be going to outweigh the rate at which they can be evaluated. Evaluation tends to take time and one has to design a pilot study as well as a retrospective observational study, randomise patients and these apps can be knocked up in a matter of days.

Apps Famous – With Increased Demand/Reduced Resources

These mental health apps have become famous when psychological services have come up with increased demand and reduced resources. Appointments to community mental health teams and crisis services had reduced by 15% in spite of a loss of about 200 full time mental health physicians and 3600 nurses. Many have been faced waiting list resulting in turning to alternative sources for support like apps.

George Freeman, Minister for Life Sciences had launched a £650,000 fund for the development of mental health apps and a web based mental health service is scheduled in London. He has stated that if one is on a waiting list and spends money on an app then nothing happens, it can make you feel like `well’, which he had tried and nothing worked.

He further added that if one goes through the process of downloading and using an app and there are no benefits, it could compound your anxiety with regards to the mental health problem. However, apps which tend to be really good could play a great role with regards to waiting list.

Apps Beneficial but Further Research Essential

Moreover they can also act as triage for less serious mental health issues and could be the ideal remedy in some cases. Apps could be beneficial but it is essential to ensure that with wider usage one should also invest in further research to make sure that they are healthy. Jen Hyatt, CEO of Big White Wall, an online community for those facing mental health problems is passionate to what she calls the transformative role of mental health apps.

She informs that they can provide access to services from the comfort of home and several people find it difficult to gain access due to geography due to mental ill health and physical disability. It was also found that in 50% of the cases which did not get a GP, they were unable to guide mental health problems effectively.

The four NHS apps found tobe clinically effective were Big White Wall, Moodscope,, as self-tracking and peer support network, Happyhealthy, a mindfulness app and WorkGuru which is an occupational stress management programme.

Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Bacon Gives You Cancer: Global Health Study Condemns Processed Meat


Processed Meat – Officially Carcinogenic By WHO

Processed meat has been classified as officially carcinogenic by The World Health Organisation after an evaluation of evidence that it could lead to certain kind of cancer. As per the available evidence, WHO had stated that about 50g of processed meat per day, 2 slices of bacon or two small sausages would be adequate to increase the risk of developing colorectal cancer by 18%.

WHO also mentioned that red meat was probably carcinogenic but stated that the evidence was not yet definite. The declarations seems to be among the strongest ever reached by main health body going well beyond recognizing links between meat and cancer as utmost individual research studies are capable of doing.

Dr Kurt Straif, who had joined in the report, had commented that for individual, the risk of developing colorectal/bowel cancer due to their consumption of processed meat tends to be small. However this risk could increase with the amount of meat consumed. A 22-member panel had produced the report who had reviewed the huge research that had already been completed on the link between meat, especially processed and red meats and cancer.

Conclusions Facing Disapproval

The panel had viewed the studies on human diet, together with animal experiments and cell-based studies with a conclusion that there seems to be a link that was important enough to change its authorized guidelines. The conclusions would be facing disapproval with the US beef industry with those said to have prepared a huge lobbying as well as publicity campaign to attack WHOs’ assumption.

The result would be unlikely to end the argument on the safety of consuming processed and red meat. Dr Carrie Ruxton, of the industry funded Meat Advisory Panel had stated that the publication seems to be nothing new and that meat consumption had fallen on an average in the UK.

She commented that WHO had said in their report that they were looking at increased risk – for people consuming 50g and in UK it was only eating 17 when compared with the other European countries which was 24g to 25g each day.She further added that media need to be cautious while reporting bacon and sausages as processed.

Greatest Risk to Health - Smoking

When in UK, curing substances to the sausages is not added and British banger is actually fresh meat and not processed meat.Cancer Research UK stated that it support the decision, however Professor Tim Key, epidemiologist of Cancer Research UK, University of Oxford commented that this decision does not mean one need to stop eating any red and processed meat.

Consuming a bacon roll once in a way would not do much harm and having a healthy diet is all about moderation. Red and processed meat tend to cause less cases of cancer in the UK than the other lifestyles issues The greatest risk to health is smoking which causes over a quarter of cancer death in the UK and around one in five cancer cases.

A list of compounds or activities have been maintained by the International Agency for Research on Cancer with suspected, likely and ultimate links to cancer with the possibility of each item falling in a selected group based on whether it causes cancer or not.

 Processed meat tends to now fall in `group 1 which ranks it as high as tobacco smoking, which is the most dangerous variants of human papillomavirus – HPV and asbestos exposure with regards to causes of cancer. Red meat falls in `group 2A’ with inorganic lead

Thursday, 22 October 2015

How Avi Yaron Invented a Cure for His Own Brain Tumour


Avi Yaron Invented His Way Out For a Cure – Brain Tumour

An Israeli start-up founder and student, Avi, Yaron, in 1993, probably had the luckiest accident of his life that of a motorcycle crash which rushed him to a hospital.

He had been informed by the doctors that they had also discovered a brain tumour close to the area connected to movements and conscious thought. The doctors had told him that inspite of being operated upon; the tumour would change his life, possibly leaving him paralysed down on one side of his body.

However though Yaron would live, his life would be changed forever, mentally as well as physically. Yaron had informed WIRED2O15 at London’s Tobacco Dock that he was in a state of shock but was sure that the doctors were honest and open to him. It was then that he planned to invent his way out for a cure. He decided to fight for his life.

He informs that he went to the medical library and began learning anatomy, biology and every time he thought that he comprehended and took a step forward, he was hit and took two steps backward. The most awful part was that people around him thought that he was insane.

Problem Lied in Scopes Utilised for Brain Tumour Operation

Impulsively, Yaron felt the strainof his previous life, of studying and running two start-ups had be the result of his illness. However he was unable to prove it so he decided to force himself to sleep four hours at least a night, improve on his diet and reduce coffee consumption. On making these changes he was of the belief that the tumour would reduce.

However every four months he had an MRI done and each time it indicated that the tumour had grown. Compelled to go through surgery, he began to recover though the follow-up scans portrayed that the tumour remained. Doctors informed that the technology to eliminate it completely did not seem to exist.

Yaron stated that the problem lied in the scopes utilised for brain tumour operation, the instruments which enabled doctors in viewing in the brain, had to be small. At that point to be too small in order to see in three dimension which would give the doctors the potential of removing the tumour completely.

Creation of Visionsense

Yaron commented explaining how he created Visionsense and spent nine years processing a new scope which was inspired by the structure of insect eyes to view into the brain in 3D. That choice comprises of hundreds of thousands of tiny, micron-sized components which collectively develop live 3D images for the surgeons while they operate.

Studies are now beginning to portray these 3D images could make real difference to success rate of surgery however, other research is in progress. Yaron has said that now the technology tends to work and save thousands of lives worldwide.

After working for 17 years with the company, Yaron is not with Visionsense, but has not completed inventing his way out of medical issues. He is now focusing on turning back to his old lifestyle and his instinctual belief that his strain could have been due to his illness.

He debates that what is needed are new tools which would enable doctors to monitor wellness constantly providing actionable statistics right from happiness to depression.

Monday, 19 October 2015

Digital Skin' Activates Brain Cells


Flexible Sensor to Identify Touch

Flexible sensor that can identify touch, just like skin, producing electrical pulses that can get faster when the pressure tends to increase, have been built by engineers. These pulses have also been utilised to drive neuronal activity in a slice of mouse brain.

 It is said that the system seems to be more a replica of touch sensation for many other designs of artificial skin, making it a hopeful choice for the progress of responsive prosthetics. This has appeared in Science magazine.

According to senior author Zhenan Bao, the foremost benefit is that the bendy plastic based sensor tends to directly create a pattern of pulses which produces sense to the nervous system. She informed BBC that earlier, with plastic material those in the field were able to make sensitive touch sensors but the electrical signal which comes from the sensor does not seem to be the right format for the brain to be capable of interpreting it.

This means that other designs though they have developed some notable results in test with the patients, needed a processor or a computer to translate the touch information. Prof Bao, chemical engineer at Stanford University informed that now the sensor is coupled with a printed simple electronic circuit which enables the sensor to generate electrical pulses which can communicate with the brain.

First Step towards Use of Plastic Material for Artificial Skin

She considers this as the first step towards the use of plastic materials for artificial skin on prosthetic limbs. She adds that the sensors could prove to be useful in wearable technology. They seem to be very thin and flexible as well as stretchy and one could mount a sensor on the skin and use it in identifying vital signs like heartbeat and blood pressure.

The nature of the design is a layer of rubbery, flexible polymer which is laced with carbon nanotubes, shaped into tiny pyramids. The semi conductive layer provides a reading of the pressure,when sensors tend to get squashed Prof Bao clarified that when pressure is applied, the pyramids tend to get deformed and the top becomes more flat. This tends to change the amount of current which can flow though these pyramids.

 Below the layer there is an inkjet printed circuit known as oscillator that turns the variable current into a train of pulses. With added pressure as well as current, the rate of the pulses seems to go up.

Light Based Technique – Optogenetics – Utilised By Neuroscientists

Prof Bao together with his colleagues, to demonstrate that this signal can relate reliablywith the nervous system, passed it to a blue LED and shone the light on a slice of brain of a mouse. The subset of brain cells there had been engineered to react to this stimulation by expressing a light sensitive channel which floods the cell with the charge when it was hit by blue photons.

When the scientists measured the impulses of individual cells in the slice, they envisaged correct details of the pulses that were produced by the touch sensor and flashed by the light, even when they were moving fast out at 200 pulses per second.

This light based technique considered as optogenetics is utilised by neuroscientist for all types of experiments inclusive of manipulating memories by driving activity in certain sets of neurons. This was chosen by Prof Bao’s team since delivering electricity directly to nerve cells often seems to be a problem.