The heart cannot regenerate tissues and heal itself, says new study
WASHINGTON DC, June 6: Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women. One of the reasons for that is the nature of the muscle. According to a new study, a group of researchers have found that the heart muscle is one of the least renewable tissues in the body. The team has studied pathways known to be involved in heart cell functions and discovered a previously unknown connection between processes that keep the heart from repairing itself. The study was published in the journal Nature.
“We are investigating the question of why the heart muscle doesn’t renew. In this study, we focused on two pathways of cardiomyocytes or heart cells; the Hippo pathway, which is involved in stopping renewal of adult cardiomyocytes, and the dystrophin glycoprotein complex (DGC) pathway, essential for cardiomyocyte normal functions,” shared senior author Dr James Martin, professor and Vivian L Smith Chair in Regenerative Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine.
Previous work had hinted that components of the DGC pathway may somehow interact with members of the Hippo pathway. In this research, Martin and colleagues studied the consequences of this interaction in animal models. The researchers genetically engineered mice to lack genes involved in one or both pathways, and then determined the ability of the heart to repair an injury.
These studies showed for the first time that dystroglycan 1, a component of the DGC pathway, directly binds to Yap, a part of the Hippo pathway, and that this interaction inhibited cardiomyocyte proliferation. Martin shared, “The discovery that the Hippo and the DGC pathways connect in the cardiomyocyte, and that together they act as ‘brakes’ or stop signals to cell proliferation opens the possibility that by disrupting this interaction, one day it might be possible to help adult cardiomyocytes proliferate and heal injuries caused by a heart attack, for example.”
Another long-term application of this discovery could be to improve cardiac function in children with muscular dystrophy. “Patients with muscular dystrophy can have severe reduction in cardiac function. Our findings may help to design medicines to slow down cardiac decline in muscular dystrophy by stimulating cardiomyocyte proliferation. In order to do that, we need more research to understand cardiomyocyte growth control pathways in greater detail,” explained Martin.
Stunning 70-year-old granny is going viral for her ageless beauty and fitness
JUNE 4: From the fabled fountain of youth centuries ago to an array of anti-aging cosmetics curing a miracle cure in modern times, the human race has always been seeking a way to stay young with passing years. But some people have time and again set a benchmark for preserving their youth as they defeated age with strict fitness and beauty regimes.
A 70-year-old woman from Australia is giving fitness goals to an entire generation with her ageless features and a stunning bikini body that she has maintained. But while people may try to figure out an elaborate diet plan for achieving such a body at an old age, Carolyn Hartz says only excluding white refined sugar from her diet is the secret.
The grandmother of four believes in being active and keeping diet in check as she has also taken up lawn tennis while getting closer to the age of 70. The reason she quit refined sugar was being diagnosed with diabetes 30 years back, and her blood sugar level normalised in a year.
Hartz then went on to start an artificial sweetener firm and added a lot of walking, eight hours of sleep, meditation and sports to her routine. She does confess to having gone through minor plastic surgery which has led to people calling her fake, but Carolyn is undeterred.
She advises young people to be happy, see the glass as half full and not worry too much about age.
Zika virus detected in India, first three cases confirmed in Gujarat
NEW DELHI, May 27: India has detected its first cases of the mosquito-borne Zika virus, with three people, including a pregnant woman, reporting the infection in Ahmedabad, the World Health organisation (WHO) said on Saturday.
The cases were reported from the Bapunagar area of Gujarat’s largest city. The first infection was detected in February last year, the second in November and the latest one this January.
No new cases of the non-fatal disease have since been found.
The WHO termed the findings “low-level transmission” but warned that new cases of the disease linked to babies born with underdeveloped brains could occur in the future.
The UN agency said the cases were picked up during random monitoring and surveillance at the BJ Medical College in Ahmedabad. The patients were a 64-year-old man, a 34-year-old new mother and a 22-year-old pregnant woman.
“We were concerned about the babies. Luckily, both mothers and the babies are fine,” Dr Soumya Swaminathan, director-general, Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), told Hindustan Times.
“The third case was of a man with fever, who tested negative for both dengue and chikungunya but positive for Zika.”
The virus is transmitted by aedes aegypti mosquito, the same mosquito that transmits dengue and chikungunya.
In pregnant women, Zika can cause birth defects such as microcephaly -- unusually small heads -- and other brain abnormalities in babies in the womb. The infection can also cause Guillain-Barre syndrome, a rare neurological disorder that causes paralysis.
There is no treatment or vaccine for the Zika infection.
The virus can show symptoms such as mild fever, skin rash, conjunctivitis, muscle and joint pain, malaise or headache. But only about 20% of patients show symptoms that usually last up to a week.
As standard protocol, the Indian health ministry informed the WHO about the cases on May 15.
The Gujarat government said all three patients had recovered.
“The situation is under control. All the necessary steps have been taken and since then no fresh cases have been reported,” minister of state for health Shankar Chaudhary told HT.
The central government has shared with states an action plan to prevent an outbreak of Zika. A team of officials has been put together to monitor the situation. The ICMR has so far tested 34,233 samples for Zika.
“We had also expanded the mosquito testing network after the cases were reported but luckily none of the mosquito pools tested positive for the virus. We will continue the surveillance,” said Dr Swaminathan.
80 % Cancer is Curable: AIIMS Cancer Chief G.K. Rath
By Deepak Arora
NEW DELHI, April 15: Prominent socio- political- cultural NGO, Delhi Study Group led by Ex. Delhi MLA and President Vijay Jolly felicitated and honored Prof. G.K. Rath, Cancer Chief AIIMS (All India Institute of Medical Sciences) for pioneer research in curing cancer in India.
Prof. G.K. Rath was honored with a shawl, citation and trophy by Delhi Study Group. The Convener of the program Prof. Ashok Sharma is a Research Scholar at AIIMS & Secretary Delhi Study Group.
Currently Head National Cancer Institute, AIIMS, Jhajjar Haryana & Professor Radiation Oncology, AIIMS, New Delhi delivered the keynote address as Chief Speaker on "Cancer is Curable" at a overcrowded public program at Constitution Club.
Prof. G.K. Rath gave a video and audio presentation on Cancer attended by eminent doctors, lawyers, student leaders, diplomats, ex-army men, scientists, educationists and medical research scholars.
Pollution and tobacco are the main source of lethal disease of cancer stated Prof. Rath.
80% Cancer is curable against the general perception that cancer is a sure death trap stated Prof. Rath. Early detection of cancer enables the medical fraternity to snatch and save the patients from the clutches of cancer disease. Good living and healthy living habits can prevent cancer among human beings. Prostate cancer, breast cancer, thyroid cancer and testy cancer is 100% curable stated Prof. G.K. Rath in his presentation.
Delhi Study Group President Vijay Jolly in his welcome address specially stated that people of Sikh religion do not have oral cancer since they do not chew paan, gutka or tobacco in their daily lives. We all need to emulate Sikh discipline and way of leading life to avoid cancer stated Jolly. The program was compared by Bhupendra Kansil.
UN warns 300 million people suffer from depression
By Deepak Arora
UNITED NATIONS, March 31: More than 300 million people are now living with depression, which is the leading cause of ill health and disability worldwide, according to the latest estimates from the World Health Organization (WHO) released ahead of World Health Day.
“These new figures are a wake-up call for all countries to re-think their approaches to mental health and to treat it with the urgency that it deserves,” WHO Director-General Margaret Chan said in a news release.
With the number of people with depression increasing more than 18 per cent from 2005 to 2015, WHO is carrying out a year-long campaign, Depression: let’s talk, with the aim of encouraging more people with depression to get help. This is also the theme of the 2017 edition of World Health Day, marked on 7 April.
Lack of support for people with mental disorders, coupled with a fear of stigma, prevent many from accessing the treatment they need to live healthy, productive lives. Depression is an important risk factor for suicide, which claims hundreds of thousands of lives each year.
One of the first steps is to address issues around prejudice and discrimination. “The continuing stigma associated with mental illness was the reason why we decided to name our campaign Depression: let’s talk,” said Shekhar Saxena, Director of the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse at WHO. “For someone living with depression, talking to a person they trust is often the first step towards treatment and recovery.”
Increased investment is also needed. In many countries, there is no, or very little, support available for people with mental health disorders. Even in high-income countries, nearly 50 per cent of people with depression do not get treatment. On average, just three per cent of government health budgets is invested in mental health, varying from less than one per cent in low-income countries to five per cent in high-income countries.
Every $1 invested in scaling up treatment for depression and anxiety leads to a return of $4 in better health and ability to work.
Failure to act is costly. According to a WHO-led study, which calculated treatment costs and health outcomes in 36 low-, middle- and high-income countries for the 15 years from 2016-2030, low levels of recognition and access to care for depression and another common mental disorder, anxiety, result in a global economic loss of $1 trillion every year.
Households lose out financially when people cannot work. Employers suffer when employees become less productive and are unable to work. Governments have to pay higher health and welfare expenditures.
Care centres for cancer-hit children opens
MUMBAI, March 30: Three dilapidated buildings of Mumbai Port Trust on a 1.2 acre plot, transformed into a cheerful haven within a year for children undergoing cancer treatment and were inaugurated by Union Shipping Minister Nitin Gadkari.
"This is the happiest moment for me to inaugurate the child care centres. Within a year, these three neglected buildings and the property are converted into a safe, clean and cheerful haven for children who are under treatment for diseases like cancer," Gadkari remarked.
The project, Child Care Centre of Tata Memorial Cancer Hospital, was thrown open as a CSR project of MbPT, which was implemented by NGO St. Jude India ChildCare Centres, at Cotton Green in south Mumbai. In 2015, MbPT had signed an agreement with TMCH and provided its three disused buildings for housing the children, who were forced to find alternate accommodation that were not suitable for economical and security reasons.
They invited St. Jude ChildCare Centres, an NGO which operates similar homes for such children since 2006, to implement the CSR project. The now-transformed three buildings house 14 centres to accommodate 165 families, besides a residential floor for doctors.
"This will be a boon to families that travel from the remotest corners of India for cancer treatment for their children, but face major problems of safe and economical accommodation in Mumbai. As a result the children, aged mostly between six months to 15 years, succumb to infections or parents abandon their treatment," said St. Jude India's CEO Usha Banerji. The NGO provides its accommodation to such families and their cancer-afflicted kids free of cost, along with local transportation, water, nutrition, educational, recreation and psycho-social support.
Veteran Bollywood actor Nana Patekar, who was present and supported the initiative, went around with Gadkari to tour the new facilities and interacted with the child-patients who welcomed them with a song specially composed for the occasion.
Banerji said that the project became a reality with support from philanthropists, trusts and corporates and this would help St. Jude to cater to around 40 per cent of the accommodation needs of children currently undergoing cancer treatment in Mumbai.
"These children hail from Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand, Bihar, Odisha, West Bengal and Assam and their parents are farmers, labourers, shopkeepers, etc. earning barely Rs 600 to Rs 3,000 per month," she said.
With this St. Jude India now runs 33 centres with 414 family units in Mumbai, New Delhi, Kolkata, Hyderabad and Jaipur. It aims to create around 1,000 family units across India to ensure that no cancer-afflicted child suffers due to lack of support, Banerji added.
India's National Health Policy is futuristic: Modi
NEW DELHI, March 17: Prime Minister Narendra Modi has described National Health Policy as a "futuristic" document which places the interests of the citizens foremost.
"National Health Policy marks a historic moment in our endeavour to create a healthy India where everyone has access to quality healthcare," he tweeted.
"#NationalHealthPolicy2017 is comprehensive & futuristic, placing the interests of the citizens first & foremost," he added.
The policy, which was cleared by the Cabinet yesterday, was unveiled today in Parliament by Health Minister J P Nadda.
It sets ambitious targets like raising of public expenditure on health care to 2.5 per cent of GDP from the current level of about 1.5 per cent.
It also entails introducing yoga much more widely in schools and work places. The policy also envisions increasing life expectancy to 70 years from 67.5 years and proposes free diagnostics and drugs at all public hospitals.
The National Health policy will provide free medicines and "assured" health services to all and aims to reduce out of pocket health expenditure, Nadda said.
He said the newly unveiled policy unlike the earlier one stresses on "preventive and promotive" healthcare and also has a "target-oriented" commitment for elimination of diseases for which an implementation framework has also been envisaged.
The policy envisages the creation of National Health Care Standards Organisation which will formulate guidelines and protocols for healthcare while there is a provision of establishing a separate empowered tribunal for speedy resolution of disputes and complaints, the minister said.
"In order to provide access and financial protection at secondary and tertiary care levels, NHP 2017 proposes free drugs, free diagnostics and free emergency care services in all public hospitals," he said.
"Every one in the country will be given assured health services. Every section of the society belonging to any financial status, whosoever comes to our public health facility, will get assured services. This policy is patient centric and the patient has been empowered," Nadda told reporters.
The Health Minister said that under the policy, family health card will be made which will be connected to Public Health care facility so that a patients history can be digitally accessed.
"There will be a periodic measurement of all the health institutions, both public and private which has been envisaged in the policy. What is their (institutions) grading, facilities provided and their quality levels will be checked," Nadda said.
As a crucial component, the policy proposes raising public health expenditure to 2.5 per cent of the GDP in a time-bound manner, Nadda said while asserting that the health budget has increased in the last two years, nearly 27 per cent this time. The real problem is that we are not able to spend the entire amount, he said.
"Resources are never a problem. Its governments wish that health be given priority. Initially, budget estimates were always a larger number and later slashed leading to the revised estimates being less.
"It is for last two years, the revised estimates have increased and expenditure too has been more than 95 per cent. There is no dearth of money. Problem was of intention. Money was not a problem," he said, adding that the the target of 2.5 per cent will be reached by 2025 in a phased manner.
He said that the earlier policy focused on Communicable Diseases but over the last 15 years the focus has shifted to Non Communicable Diseases (NCDs) which cause 60 per cent deaths presently and leads to increase in out of pocket expenditure of people on health which is why the new policy was required.
He said that while the earlier policy was a "sick" care policy, this policy talks about preventive and promotive health care and stress has been given an early screening at primary and secondary health centres which includes NCDs and chronic illness, adding that primary health care has to be comprehensive and universal.
"In Primary and Secondary Health Centres, our effort will be to provide facilities ourselves but at places where we cannot provide it, we will engage the private sector. This is one of the processes through which we want to take forward the idea of decreasing out of pocket expenditure.
UN rights experts urge action to curb 'invisible threat' of toxic air
By Deepak Arora
GENEVA, Feb 24: United Nations human rights experts are calling for strong, urgent action by States to ensure that people around the world can enjoy the human right to live in environments free from contamination.
“Air pollution is a major threat to human rights worldwide and toxic air pollutants are associated with an increased risk of disease from stroke, heart disease, cancer and respiratory diseases, including asthma,” the UN Special Rapporteur on human rights and hazardous substances and wastes, Baskut Tuncak, said in a news release issued on Friday by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).
Three million deaths each year are linked to exposure to outdoor air pollution, according to estimates from the World Health Organization (WHO). There is also growing research evidence indicating that air pollution has become the leading environmental cause of death in the world.
Joining Mr. Tuncak in the appeal are Dainius Puras, the Special Rapporteur on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health, and John H. Knox, the Special Rapporteur on the issue of human rights obligations relating to the enjoyment of a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment.
“Children and people in vulnerable situations, including women of reproductive age, the elderly, those in poor health and those living in less wealthy communities remain the most vulnerable,” the experts warned.
According to the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF), 300 million children – almost one in seven of the world's total, live in areas with the most toxic levels of outdoor air pollution, a situation paediatricians describe as a 'silent pandemic.'
“A threat like this can no longer be ignored,” they said. “States have a duty to prevent and control exposure to toxic air pollution and to protect against its adverse effects on human rights.”
The experts said that impunity for those responsible for air pollution is rampant today, with recent reports of environmental ministers even denying its effects, in spite of overwhelming evidence to the contrary.
They stressed the need for cross-border cooperation to promote the adoption of preventive and control measures in the energy, industrial and transportation sectors, as well as the need for investment in infrastructures and long-term incentives.
“Improving the regulation of toxic emissions from industrial sources and vehicles, strengthening waste management and recycling practices, and promoting renewable energies are crucial steps to effectively address air quality issues and public health,” the experts concluded.
Special Rapporteurs and independent experts are appointed by the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council to examine and report back on a specific human rights theme or a country situation. The positions are honorary and the experts are not UN staff, nor are they paid for their work.
WHO reports depression now ‘leading cause of disability worldwide’
By Deepak Arora
GENEVA, Feb 23: Depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide, the United Nations health agency today reported, estimating that it affects more than 300 million people worldwide – the majority of them women, young people and the elderly.
An estimated 4.4 per cent of the global population suffers from depression, according to a report released today by the UN World Health Organization (WHO), which shows an 18 per cent increase in the number of people living with depression between 2005 and 2015.
“Depression is different from usual mood fluctuations and short-lived emotional responses to challenges in everyday life,” the WHO said.
According to the report, which was released today ahead of April’s World Health Day, prevalence rates seem to peak in adults at around 60 years of age, but are also seen in teenagers.
When long-lasting and with moderate or severe intensity, depression may become a serious health condition leading, at its worst, to suicide. According to the report, some 800,000 people kill themselves every year, a significant number of them young adults between the ages of 15 and 29.
“Depression results from a complex interaction of social, psychological and biological factors,” WHO said, adding that depression can lead to more stress and dysfunction and worsen the affected person’s life situation.
To reduce depression, the UN agency recommends effective school-based programmes and exercise regimes.
Different psychological and psychosocial treatments were also noted in the report, which notes that health-care providers may offer behavioural activation, cognitive behavioural therapy [CBT], and interpersonal psychotherapy [IPT], or antidepressant medication (such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors [SSRIs] and tricyclic antidepressants [TCAs]).
Among the findings, however, the authors caution against using antidepressants to treat children or to quickly offer them to adolescents.
Some psychological treatment formats for consideration include individual and/or group face-to-face psychological treatments delivered by professionals and supervised lay therapists.
Green tea may help patients with bone-marrow disorders: study
WASHINGTON, Feb 7: A compound found in green tea may have lifesaving potential for patients with multiple myeloma and amyloidosis, who face often-fatal medical complications associated with bone-marrow disorders, a new study claims.
According to researchers at Washington University in the US and colleagues, the compound epigallocatechine-3-gallate (EGCG), a polyphenol found in green tea leaves, may be of particular benefit to patients struggling with multiple myeloma and amyloidosis.
These patients are susceptible to a frequently fatal condition called light chain amyloidosis, in which parts of the body's own antibodies become misshapen and can accumulate in various organs, including the heart and kidneys.
"The idea here is twofold: We wanted to better understand how light chain amyloidosis works, and how the green tea compound affects this specific protein," said Jan Bieschke, assistant professor at Washington University.
The team first isolated individual light chains from nine patients with bone marrow disorders that caused multiple myeloma or amyloidosis, then ran lab experiments to determine how the green tea compound affected the light chain protein.
Bieschke previously examined EGCG's effect in both Parkinson's and Alzheimer's disease, and found it prevented dangerous buildups of protein present in both diseases.
In the new study the team found that in bone marrow patients, the EGCG transformed light chain amyloid, preventing the misshapen form from replicating and accumulating dangerously.
"In the presence of green tea, the chains have a different internal structure," Bieschke said.
"The ECGC pulled the light chain into a different type of aggregate that was not toxic and did not form fibril structures," as happens to organs affected by amyloidosis, he said.
"My group is looking at the mechanism of the protein in a test tube; we are studying how it works on a foundational level. At the same time, clinical trials at the Amyloidosis Center in Heidelberg, with Alzheimer's in Berlin and with Parkinson's in China examine the process in people. We all want this compound to work in a patient," said Bieschke.
The research was published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry.
Eating nuts may reduce the risk of colon cancer: Study
LONDON, Feb 7: One should include lots of nuts like hazelnuts, walnuts, almonds and pistachios in their daily diet as they not only promote health benefits but also helps in lowering the risk of the deadly disease colon cancer.
Researchers have found that eating nuts helps in slowing down the growth of cancer cells and also reduces the risk of colon cancer.
The study led by researchers from University of Jena in Germany, showed that nuts have a positive effect on health because they are involved in activating the body's own defences for detoxifying reactive oxygen species.
These reactive oxygen species are created by ultraviolet radiation, various chemicals or distinct food metabolites and can cause DNA damage, leading to the development of cancer.
Wiebke Schlormann from the University of Jena said, that nuts and the substances they contain, stimulate a series of protective mechanisms in the human body to render these reactive oxygen species as harmless.
Schlormann added, "For a long time now we have known that nuts are full of substances that are good for the heart and the cardiovascular system, or that protect against becoming overweight or developing diabetes".
Some studies have indicated a protective effect against colon cancer, he maintained, in the paper appearing in the journal Molecular Carcinogenesis.
For the study, the team investigated the effect of five different types of nuts: macadamia nuts, hazelnuts and walnuts, as well as almonds and pistachios.
The nuts were artificially "digested" in test tubes and the effects of the resulting digestion products on cell lines were then analysed.
The researchers established that the activity of the protective enzymes catalase and superoxide dismutase increases in the cells that are treated.
In addition, the digestion products induce what is called programmed cell death in the cancer cells thus treated, the researchers noted.