Gene to Spot Early Heart Risk

A US research team led by an Indian-origin doctor has pinpointed a gene that may help identify people who are at risk of suffering a heart attack before they turn 40.

Cardiologist Svati Shah at the Duke University School of Medicine and her colleagues have shown that a variant of the gene called NPY makes people susceptible to early coronary artery disease.

. NPY Gene->….

Scientists have known for years that some people are at risk of developing coronary artery disease even in their 30s and that this condition is inherited. But no one had succeeded in identifying the genes involved.

The Duke researchers examined genetic sequences from individuals across 920 families and found that the earliest age of onset of coronary artery disease was associated with a specific variant of the NPY gene.

The researchers are hoping their discovery leads to genetic tests that will allow them to find young people at risk of early heart disease and get them to change their diet or lifestyle to reduce the risk of heart attacks.

“These young patients are a vulnerable population, but they are particularly hard to identify,” said Shah, the lead author of a research paper on the discovery published yesterday in the journal Public Library of Science Genetics. “Such genetic findings may help us in future to identify these patients prior to the development or coronary artery disease or their first heart attack.”

The connection between the gene and early heart disease was even stronger in patients with heart disease before the age of 37. “If a person has the NPY gene variants in one of two copies from the mother and father, then he/she may develop coronary disease earlier,” said Elizabeth Hauser, associate professor of medical genetics at the Duke University.

Studies on mice have confirmed that the NPY gene and its protein are involved in promoting atherosclerosis — the buildup of deposits along walls of the arteries that can choke blood flow to the heart and raise risk of a heart attack.

The Duke team’s work has shown that variants of the NPY gene can be transmitted from generation to generation across a population of patients susceptible to early onset coronary artery disease.

This gene makes an important protein in the body that regulates appetite and feeding behaviour, in addition to other functions. “If you had one or two copies of this version of the gene, there could be a change in NPY level,” Shah said.

Sources: The Telegraph (Kolkata, India)

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Lumbar Puncture (or Spinal Tap)

Definition:
A lumbar puncture, also known as a spinal tap, uses a needle to remove a sample of fluid from the space surrounding the spinal cord. This fluid is known as cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). The test is used to diagnose meningitis infections and some neurological conditions.

.click to see the pictures..>.…....(1)..………..(2).…………...(3).……
It is a procedure to collect cerebrospinal fluid to check for the presence of disease or injury. A spinal needle is inserted, usually between the 3rd and 4th lumbar vertebrae in the lower spine. Once the needle is properly positioned in the subarachnoid space (the space between the spinal cord and its covering, the meninges), pressures can be measured and fluid can be collected for testing.

Cerebral spinal fluid (CSF) is a clear fluid that circulates in the space surrounding the spinal cord and brain. CSF protects the brain and spinal cord from injury by acting like a liquid cushion. CSF is usually obtained through a lumbar puncture (spinal tap).

Preparation for the Test:

You will need to sign a consent form, which is generally required when the procedure is done outside of an emergency situation. Tell your doctor ahead of time if you have ever had an allergic reaction to lidocaine or the numbing medicine used at the dentist’s office.
Doctors routinely do a physical examination and in some cases order a brain scan before recommending a lumbar puncture, to make sure you do not have a medical condition that could put you at risk for movement of the brain during the procedure, a very rare but serious complication.

What happens when the test is performed?
Most patients wear a hospital gown. Typically, you lie on your side with your knees curled up against your chest. In some cases, the doctor asks you to sit on the bed or a table instead, leaning forward against some pillows.

The doctor feels your back to locate your lower vertebrae and feels the bones in the back of your pelvis. An area on your lower back is cleaned with soap. Medicine is injected through a small needle to numb the skin and the tissue underneath the skin in the area from which the sample is to be removed. This causes some very brief stinging.

A different needle is then placed in the same area and moved forward until fluid can be obtained through it from the spinal canal. Because the needle must be placed through a small opening between two bones, the doctor must sometimes move the needle in and out several times to locate the opening. Because of the numbing medicine used in this area, most patients experience only a sense of pressure from this movement. Occasionally some patients do get a sharp feeling in the back or (rarely) in the leg. Let your doctor know if you feel any pain.

Sometimes the doctor measures the pressure of the fluid before taking a sample. The pressure is measured with a tube that looks like a large thermometer held against the needle. The fluid sample collected is usually less than three tablespoons. You will not feel any discomfort when it is removed. After this, the needle is taken out. Usually a Band-Aid is the only dressing necessary.

The whole lumbar puncture, including set-up time, takes 30–45 minutes. The needle is in place for close to one minute.

Risk Factors:
The most common risk of a lumbar puncture is that it can cause a temporary headache. Lying down for a few hours after the test can make a headache less likely to occur. Other problems are rare and include infection or bleeding. Because the volume of fluid is small, a lumbar puncture almost never causes movement of the brain or spinal cord, a serious complication.

What Must you do special after the test is over?
You may be told to lie flat for a while after the test, sometimes for a few hours.

Time for the result of the test is known?
Depending on the tests being done on the fluid sample, results take anywhere from a few hours to a few days.
For more knowledge you may click to see:-…………………...(1).…….(2).…….(3)
Resources:
http://www.health.harvard.edu/diagnostic-tests/lumbar-puncture.htm

http://www.clarian.org/ADAM/doc/CancerCenter/10/000303.htm

http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/imagepages/9587.htm

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Hasna hana (Cestrum nocturnum)

Night-blooming jasmine Cestrum nocturnum
Image via Wikipedia

Botanical name: Cestrum nocturnum
Family: Solanaceae (potato family)
Common name: Night-blooming cestrum, Night blooming jasmine, Rat ki rani (Hindi), Thabal lei (Manipuri), Hasna hana (Bengali), Raatrani (Marathi, Konkani)
Habitat:Native to Mexico, Central America, India and Cuba, Bangladesh.

Description:This sprawling shrub has glossy, smooth, simple leaves 4″-8″ long. Vine-like stems reach up to 12′ in its native habitat, but it seldom reaches more than a 4′ mound in a single season. It blooms in cycles throughout warm weather. Greenish-creamy white tubular flowers rise from above leaves along the stem, followed by shiny white, fleshy berries. Although the flowers are not showy to the eye, their sweet scent can overpower. The perfume is distinctly powerful at night – this feature has had its influence on its common name in all languages. The Hindi name translates to queen of the night, while the Manipuri name means moon flower. No fragrant garden should be without this nocturnal beauty. While night blooming jasmine is a gorgeous plant with charming blooms, the scent also produces severe allergic reactions in some individuals.

click for photos...>…..(01)...(1).……...(2).………....(3)...……….

Cultivation and uses:
Cestrum nocturnum also known as Night Blooming Jasmine, is grown in subtropical regions as an ornamental plant for its strongly-scented flowers. It grows best in average to moist soil that is light and sandy, with a neutral pH of 6.6 to 7.5, and is hardy to hardiness zone 8. Feed bi-weekly with a weak dilution of seaweed and fish emulsion fertilizer.

All parts of the plant are highly poisonous.

Adverse factors
Common pests Poisonous parts Poisonous indications Internal poison no Dermatologic poison no Livestock poison no Mechanical injury no Hay fever pollen Hay fever season Adverse qualities

Herbal medicine
Medicinal properties Medicinal parts Has medicinal uses no Do not self-administer no Do no use if pregnant no Legally restricted no Toxicity precautions Medicinal notes

Traditional uses
Parts used Traditional uses Contemporary uses Fragrance intensely sweet musk and Heliotrope scent at night. Fragrance parts Flowers Fragrance intensity Mild Fragrance category Perfume Dye parts Dye color

Nutrition
Is edible no Culinary uses Nutritional value Edible parts Description of edible parts Flavor / texture

Invasive potential:
It has become widely naturalised in tropical and subtropical regions throughout the world, including Australia, southern China and the southernmost United States, and is difficult to eradicate. It is classed as a weed in some countries.

Disclaimer:
The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.
Resources:

http://www.flowersofindia.net/catalog/slides/Night%20Blooming%20Jasmine.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cestrum_nocturnum

http://www.crescentbloom.com/plants/specimen/ce/Cestrum%20nocturnum.htm

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A Big Bottom Can Cut Diabetes Risk

Here’s some good news for women who find it hard to squeeze into their skinny jeans, courtesy their big bottoms: a generously proportioned derriere could be good for health, say scientists.
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Accord to research, the fat in buttocks and hips may protect against type 2 diabetes.

Scientists at Harvard Medical School in America reckon that the type of fat that accumulates around the hips and bottom may offer some protection against developing the condition.

Fat found commonly around the lower areas, known as subcutaneous fat, or fat that collects under the skin, helps to improve the sensitivity of the hormone insulin. Insulin is responsible for regulating blood sugar and therefore a big bottom might offer some protection against diabetes.

The boffins said that fat which collects around the stomach can raise a person’s risk of diabetes and heart disease. But, people with pear-shaped bodies, with fat deposits in the buttocks and hips, are less prone to these disorders.

Lead researcher Dr Ronald Kahn said that the research on mice had shown that not all fat was bad and could help to prevent the onset of Type 2 diabetes.

The team is trying to find the substances produced in subcutaneous fat that provide the benefit because they could lead to the development of drugs, reports the Daily Express.

The study was published in the journal Cell Metabolism.

Sources:The Times Of India

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Osteoporosis Drugs May Lead to Cancer

Merck’s popular osteoporosis drug Fosamax and other similar drugs may carry a risk for esophageal cancer, a Food and Drug Administration official said .

Diane Wysowski of the FDA’s division of drug risk asessment said researchers should check into potential links between so called bisphosphonate drugs and cancer. In a letter in Thursday’s New England Journal of Medicine, Wysowski said since the initial marketing of Fosamax, known generically as alendronate, in 1995, the FDA has received 23 reports in which patients developed esophageal tumors.

Typically, two years lapsed between the start of the drug and the development of esophageal cancer. Eight patients died, she reported. In Europe and Japan, 21 cases involving Fosamax have been logged, with another six instances where Procter & Gamble’s Actonel or risedronate and Didronel or etidronate. Six of those people died.

Esophagitis, which is an inflammation of the lining of the tube carrying food to the stomach, is already known to be a side effect of the drugs.

Sources: The Times Of India

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Bio-Sensor to Make Our Food Safer

A microscopic bio-sensor that detects Salmonella bacteria in lab tests has been developed by an agricultural scientist.
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This large bacterial colony of Salmonella enteritidis grew rapidly (62 millimeters in diameter in 16 hours) and readily contaminated eggs when given to chickens by injection but not when given by mouth.
People who eat Salmonella-infected food products can get salmonellosis, a disease characterised by nausea, vomiting, severe diarrhoea, and sometimes death.

The sensor could be adapted to detect other food-borne pathogens as well. It is part of an evolving science known as nanotechnology— the study and manipulation of materials on a molecular or even atomic level, measured in billionths of a metre.

There are examples of biosensors in nature. Insects detect tiny amounts of sex pheromones in the air and use them to find mates. And fish use natural bio-sensors to detect barely perceptible vibrations in the surrounding water.

Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientist Bosoon Park at the Quality and Safety Assessment Research Unit in Athens, Georgia, and cooperators at the University of Georgia (U-G) used nanotechnology to develop the biosensor.

The detection method may have great potential for food safety and security, according to Park, said an U-G release.

The biosensors include fluorescent organic dye particles attached to Salmonella antibodies. The antibodies hook on to Salmonella bacteria and the dye lights up like a beacon, making the bacteria easier to see.

Sources: The Times Of India

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Quality Vs. Quantity


We live in an age of quantity. The media shapes us with the notion that larger, faster, and more are often synonymous with better. We are told that we need to find more time, more possessions, and more love to be truly happy. A smaller quantity of anything that is high in quality will almost always be more satisfying. A single piece of our favorite chocolate or a thin spread of freshly made preserves can satisfy us more than a full bucket of a product that we aren’t very fond of. Similarly, one fulfilling experience can eclipse many empty moments strung together. It is not the quantity of time that matters, but the quality that you experience during each moment. Every minute is an opportunity to love yourself and others, develop confidence and self-respect, and exhibit courage.

Ultimately, quality can make life sweeter. When you focus on quality, all your life experiences can be meaningful. A modest portion of good, healthy food can nourish and satisfy you on multiple levels and, when organically grown, nourish the earth as well. Likewise, a few hours of deep, restful slumber will leave you feeling more refreshed than a night’s worth of frequently interrupted sleep. A few minutes spent with a loved one catching up on the important details about family, work, or community can carry more meaning than two hours spent watching television together.

Often, in the pursuit of quantity we cheat ourselves of quality. Then again, quantity also plays a significant role in our lives. Certain elements, such as hugs, kisses, abundance, and love, are best had in copious amounts that are high in quality. But faced with the choice between a single, heartfelt grin and a lifetime of empty smiles, most would, no doubt, choose the former. Ultimately, it is not how much you live or have or do but what you make of each moment that counts.

Sources: Daily Om

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Bacteria, Man’s New Ally Against Mosquito

The research, described in Friday’s issue of Science, illustrates a new strategy of biological warfare against this species of mosquitoes that transmits viruses that cause dengue fever and chikungunya, among other infections.

…….Biological War->

The scientists at the University of Queensland, Brisbane, have shown that mosquitoes infected with Wolbachia live an average of only 27 days in contrast to the average longevity of 61 days for those not infected with the bacteria.

Female mosquitoes infected with the bacteria transmit it to their offspring. “This may allow a small seed population of infected mosquitoes to grow into large numbers over time,” Scott ’Neill, the research team leader, told The Telegraph.

The shortened lives of the infected mosquitoes reduce their opportunity to spread disease-causing viruses. Most viruses transmitted by mosquitoes require about two weeks to incubate inside the insects before they are ready to be spread through bites. Mosquitoes whose life spans have been slashed by half won’t have enough time to spread the infection.

The vertical transmission of Wolbachia from female mosquitoes to offspring will be the key to successful spread of the infected mosquitoes, ’Neill said.

Experiments by ’Neill and his colleagues showed that 99 per cent of larvae from a group of infected females carried the infection.

But the experiments were done in closed environments and scientists are yet to develop an effective mechanism to introduce such infected mosquitoes in the wild.

“Modelling studies suggest that if we can infect about 0.4 per cent of mosquitoes, the infected population will establish itself,” ’Neill said.

Sources: The Telegraph (Kolkata, India)

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Unhappy With Your Sex Life?– Try Yoga

A new study claims that sexually unsatisfied women who practised the eastern techniques of mindfulness and yoga reported improvements in levels of arousal and desire, as well as better orgasms. In addition, yoga has been found to effectively treat premature ejaculation in men.

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Eastern practices have been touted as sexually beneficial for years – as the article states, the techniques have “their origin in the Kama Sutra of the fourth to sixth centuries.”

But authors Lori Brotto of the University of British Columbia, Michael Krychman of the Southern California Center for Sexual Health and Survivorship Medicine, and Pamela Jacobson of The Healing Sanctuary in Tustin, California, think that recent research findings warrant increased attention, and respect, from western medicine.

Mindfulness – an awareness of the present moment, also a key component in yoga – proved especially beneficial in a study, cited in the article, that asked women to study pennies in detail. The coins were then collected, and each woman was asked to find her original penny. Every woman was successful. “In our experience, (nearly) all women feel that they have a problem with remaining focused; they are highly distractible,” the article states. “However, after this penny exercise, they accept the notion that they can focus their mind if they so choose.” The study then went on to encourage body-awareness exercises, which eventually had a sexual goal.

Not all eastern-based benefits manifest in the mind. The article cites another study from the Journal of Sexual Medicine, published in September 2007, in which 68 Indian men who suffered from premature ejaculation were given a choice of yoga-based, non-pharmacological treatment or Prozac. The men who practiced yoga for one hour each day “had both subjective and statistically significant improvements in their intra-ejaculatory latencies, similar to participants in the pharmacologic treatment group.”

Another recent study said yoga is being used to help the homeless people in Manhattan beat their winter blues. Instructor Karen Nourizadeh offers yoga lessons to a group of destitutes at an East Side shelter, who come to the centre wearing tattered clothes to center their topsy-turvy lives. “I want to do yoga for people who really need it. I really want them to take all that pressure and stress and throw it out the window,” she said.
You may click to see->Prenatal Yoga- Increases Body Awareness

Sources: The Times Of India

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How Light Sensors in Eye Work

Neuro-scientists have unravelled how newly discovered light sensors in the eye detect light and communicate with the brain.

These light sensors are a small number of nerve cells in the retina that contain melanopsin molecules.

Unlike conventional light-sensing cells in the retina-rods and cones, melanopsin-containing cells are not used for seeing images.

Instead, they monitor light levels to adjust the body’s clock and control constriction of the pupils in the eye, among other functions.

“These melanopsin-containing cells are the only other known photoreceptor besides rods and cones in mammals, and the question is, how do they work,” said Michael Do, a postdoctoral fellow in neuro-science at Johns Hopkins.

“We want to understand some fundamental information, like their sensitivity to light and their communication to the brain,” he informed.

Using mice, the team first tested the light sensitivity of these cells by flashing light at the cells and recording the electrical current generated by one cell.

They found that these cells are very insensitive to light, in contrast to rods, which are very sensitive and therefore enable us to see in dim light at night, for example.

According to Do, the melanopsin-containing cells are less sensitive than cones, which are responsible for our vision in daylight.

“The next question was, what makes them so insensitive to light? Perhaps each photon they capture elicits a tiny electrical signal. Then there would have to be bright light-giving lots of captured photons for a signal large enough to influence the brain. Another possibility is that these cells capture photons poorly,” said Do.

To figure this out, the team flashed dim light at the cells. The light was so dim that, on average, only a single melanopsin molecule in each cell was activated by capturing a photon.

They found that each activated melanopsin molecule triggered a large electrical signal. Moreover, to their surprise, the cell transmits this single-photon signal all the way to the brain, said a Johns Hopkins release.

Yet the large signal generated by these cells seemed incongruous with their need for such bright light. “We thought maybe they need so much light because each cell might also contain very few melanopsin molecules, decreasing their ability to capture photons,” said King-Wai Yau, a professor of neuroscience at Hopkins.

When they did the calculations, the research team found that melanopsin molecules are 5,000 times sparser than other light-capturing molecules used for image-forming vision.

“It appears that these cells capture very little light. However, once captured, the light is very effective in producing a signal large enough to go straight to the brain,” said Yau.

Sources: The Telegraph (Kolkata, India)

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