The Promise and Power of RNA

People whose bodies make an unusually active form of a certain protein tend to have dangerously high levels of cholesterol. Those with an inactive form of the protein have low cholesterol and a low risk of heart attacks.

CLICK & SEE

Needless to say, pharmaceutical companies would love to find a drug that can attach itself to the protein and block its activity. That might be difficult for this protein, which is called PCSK9. But a powerful new approach, called RNA interference, may surmount that obstacle. Instead of mopping up a protein after it has been produced, as a conventional drug would do, RNA interference turns off the faucet, halting production of a protein by silencing the gene that contains its recipe.

CLICK & SEE

In monkeys, a single injection of a drug to induce RNA interference against PCSK9 lowered levels of bad cholesterol by about 60%, an effect that lasted up to three weeks. Alnylam Pharmaceuticals, the biotechnology company that developed the drug, hopes to begin testing it in people next year.

The drug is a practical application of scientific discoveries that are showing that RNA, once considered a mere messenger boy for DNA, actually helps to run the show. The classic, protein-making genes are still there on the double helix, but RNA seems to play a powerful role in how genes function.

“This is potentially the biggest change in our understanding of biology since the discovery of the double helix,” said John Mattick, a professor of molecular biology at the University of Queensland in Australia. And the practical impact may be enormous.

RNA interference, or RNAi, discovered only about 10 years ago, is attracting huge interest for its seeming ability to knock out disease-causing genes. There are already at least six RNAi drugs being tested in people, for illnesses including cancer and an eye disease. And while there are still huge challenges to surmount, that number could easily double in the coming year.

You may click to see more articles for better knowledge…………….(1).…….(2).….…(3)

Sources: The Times Of India

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Lungs ‘Boosted by Breastfeeding’

Breastfeeding an infant
Image via Wikipedia

A new study by UK and US scientists has revealed that the sheer physical effort involved in breastfeeding may leave babies with stronger lungs well into childhood.

CLICK  &  SEE

Previous studies have established that breastfeeding protects babies from respiratory problems early in life, but the relationship with lungpower later in childhood is less clear-cut.

For the study, the researchers followed a total of 1,456 babies from the Isle of Wight all the way through to there 10th year to test this.

A third of them had been breastfed for at least four months, and on average, these children could blow out more air after taking a deep breath, and could blow it out faster.

This happened regardless of whether their mother was asthmatic or suffered from allergies.

Other studies have suggested that immune chemicals in breast-milk may have a protective effect against asthma.

However, the scientists from Southampton University and the College of Veterinary Medicine in Michigan State University, said that the changes in lung volume they found were not completely characteristic of an asthmatic response, suggesting that other factors might be at work.

Dr Syed Arshad, from Southampton and the David Hide Asthma and Allergy Research Centre on the Isle of Wight, said that the physical effort needed to extract milk from the breast might be involved.

On average, babies needed to generate three times the sucking power compared to bottle-feeding, and feeding sessions tended to last much longer.

“What they are doing is very similar to the kind of exercises we suggest for pulmonary rehabilitation in older patients. I’m not aware of anyone suggesting that this might be the reason before,” BBC quoted Arshad, as
saying.

These researchers have now approached a bottle manufacturer with proposals to create a bottle, which mimics the effort needed to breastfeed.

He said that it was now feasible to conduct lung function tests on infants, which meant that a trial to see if it made a difference could be concluded within a year.

Dr Elaine Vickers, from Asthma UK, said that the study added to the evidence that breastfeeding has “long-lasting benefits” for children.

“While the results of the study don’t focus specifically on asthma, the researchers were able to demonstrate that children breast-fed for four months or longer had better lung function than those who weren’t breast-fed at all, or who were breast-fed for less than four months,” she added.

Sources:From The study is published in the journal Thorax.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Corn Syrup’s New Disguise

de: Struktur von beta-D-Fructofuranose (Hawort...
Image via Wikipedia

According to the Corn Refiners Association, high-fructose corn syrup contains the same amount of calories as cane and beet sugar, is metabolized by the body the same way as these sweeteners are, and is an all-natural product.

CLICK  & SEE

Their current ad campaign insists that high-fructose corn syrup is just like honey, which is made by enzymes in a bee’s abdomen — as opposed to the enzymes and acids in centrifuges, ion exchange columns and liquid chromatographers used to make high-fructose corn syrup.

High-fructose corn syrup could be all-natural, if cornstarch happened to fall into a vat of alpha-amylase, soak there for a while, then trickle into another vat of glucoamylase, get strained to remove the Aspergillus fungus likely growing on top, and then find its way into some industrial-grade D-xylose isomerase.

High-fructose corn syrup is indeed similar to cane sugar in that it is about 50 percent fructose and 50 percent glucose. The American Medical Association issued a statement explaining that “high-fructose syrup does not appear to contribute more to obesity than other caloric sweeteners” … but they also said that “consumers [should] limit the amount of all added caloric sweeteners to no more than 32 grams of sugar daily.” Most sodas contain about 40 grams of high-fructose corn syrup.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Gudmar / madhunasini

Botanical Name:Asclapias geminata Roxb/Periploca Sylvastris Retz
Family : Apocynaceae
Subfamily: Asclepiadoideae
Tribe : Marsdenieae
Gender : Gymnema
Species : G. sylvestris
Division :  Magnoliophyta
Class : Magnoliopsida
Subclass:  Asterids
Order :  Gentianales
Synonyms: Periploca sylvestris Willd., Gymnema melicida Edgew.
Common Name:
English :Suger destroyer,Periploca of the wood
Sanskrit:Mesasrngi,Ajaballi, Ajagandini, Ajashringi, Bahalchakshu, Chakshurabahala, Grihadruma, Karnika, Kshinavartta, Madhunasini, Medhasingi, Meshashringi, Meshavishanika, Netaushadhi, Putrashringi, Sarpadanshtrika, Tiktadughdha, Vishani.
Local Indian Names :
Hindi– Gur-mar, merasingi; Bengali- Mera-singi; Marathi– Kavali, kalikardori, vakundi; Gujarati– Dhuleti, mardashingi; Telugu- Podapatri; Tamil- Adigam, cherukurinja; Kannada– Sannager-asehambu; Malyalam– Cakkarakkolli, Madhunashini.

Parts Used: Leaves

Habitat:
Preferentially grows in forests and secondary open scrub and is in heights up to 1000-1200 meters .  It is especially distributed in the monsoon forests and, less frequently, has reached parts of Oceania and America .  It is located in Asia especially in India , in the tropical forests of central and southern Iraq, in Western Ghats is a mountain range that lies west of India and in the territory of Goa .  It also grows in Japan , Sri Lanka , Vietnam , Taiwan and some provinces of China in Fujian , Guangxi , Hainan , Yunnan and Zhejiang .  Less commonly can be found in South Africa .

Description:
Large climbers,rooting at nodes,leaves elliptic,acuminate,base acute to acuminate, glabrous above sparsely or densely tomentose beneath. Flowers small, in axillary and lateral umbel like cymes, pedicels long. Calyz-lobes long, ovate,obtuse,pubescent. Corolla pale yellow campalute,valvate, corona single with 5 fleshy scales. Scales adnate to throat of corolla tube between lobes. Anther connective produced into a membranous tip, pollima2,erect,carpels 2, unilocular; loculus many ovulated. Follicle long,fusiform.

…click to see the pictures.…..(01).…(1)..…….(2)……...(3)...…………………….

Extensive, much-branched, twining shrubs. Leaves 3-6 x 2-3 cm, ovate or elliptic-oblong, apiculate, rounded at base, sub-coriaceous. Flowers minute, greenish-yellow, spirally arranged in lateral pedunculate or nearly sessile cymes. Corolla lobes imbricate. Follicles solitary, upto 8 x 0.7 cm, terete, lanceolate, straight or slightly curved, glabrous. Seeds ovate-oblong, glabrous, winged, brown. Flowering: August-March; Fruiting: Winter.

Madhunashini is an evergreen climber and the best season for planting is June-July. After the ploughing and leveling of the land, 45 cm3 sized pits are made at a distance of 2.5 m between the rows and 1.75 m between plants (within the row). The pits are dug open 15 days earlier to planting, they are filled with green leaves and top soil and 2 kgs of well rotten manure per pit is added. The pits are to be irrigated and left for one week, then the rooted cuttings are planted in the pits.

HARVESTING AND YIELD
The crop is ready for harvest two years after planting. Leaves are the economic part and the harvesting of the leaves begins when plants start flowering i.e., during end of June or first week of July. Leaves can be harvested along with flowers either by hand or can be cut with sickle/knife. The harvest leaves are dried under shade by allowing sufficient air to circulate by spreading thinly on clear ground for about7-8 days. Direct sunlight should be avoided to maintain the quality of the leaves.

The crop is harvested only once in a year during flowering and on an average 5-6 kg dried leaves per plant can be obtained from a 4 years old plant yielding about 10,000 – 15,000 kgs of dried leaves per hectare. The crop can be cultivated for 10-15 years under good management.

Chemical Composition:
The leaves contain hentriacontane, pentatriacontane, a-and ß-chlorophylls, phytin, resins, tartaric acid, formic acid, butyric acid, anthraqui-none derivatives, inositol, d -quercitol and “gymnemic acid”. The leaves give positive tests for alkaloids. Flavonol glycosides, kaempferol and quercetin have been isolated from the aerial parts of the plant (Liu et al., 2004). Three new oleanane-type triterpene glycosides were isolated from the leaves of the plant. Six oleanane-type saponins (Ye et al., 2000, 2001). Few new tritepenoid saponins, gymnemasins A, B, C and D were also isolated from the leaves of Gymnema sylvestre (Suttisri et al., 1995, Sahu et al., 1996).

Medicinal Property & Uses:  The plant is stomachic, stimulant, laxative and diuretic. It is good in cough, biliousness and sore eyes. If the leaves of the plant are chewed, the sense of taste for sweet and bitter substances is suppressed (Gent, 1999, Persaud et al., 1999, Intelegen, 2004). The leaves are said to be used as a remedy for diabetes (Prakash et al., 1986; Shanmugasundaram et al., 1990; Grover et al., 2002; Gholap & Kar, 2003}. It has been included among the most important herbs for all doshas (Mhasker & Caius, 1930; Holistic, 2004). It has shown effective activity against Bacillus pumilis, B. subtilis, Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Staphylococcus aureus (Satdive et al., 2003). Tribals in Chhindi rub the leaves on infected body parts to cure infections.

The leaf powder is tasteless with a faint pleasant aromatic odour. It stimulates the heart and the circulatory system, increases the secretion of urine, and activates the uterus. Tribals of Central India prepare decoctions of Methi/ fenugreek (Trigonella foenum-graecum), Gudmar (Gymnema sylvestre), Arjuna (Terminalia arjuna), Ajwan (Trachyspermum ammi), gokshura (Tribulus terrestris), vayu-vidanga (Embelia ribes), Guduchi (Tinospora cordifolia), Harra (Terminalia chebula), and chitrak (Plumbago zeylanica) to cure diabetes and stress related disorders.

Traditional healers from various states of India use this plant in various ailments. Leaf is given in gastric troubles in Rajasthan. Traditional healers of Maharastra prescribe it in urinary problems and stomachache whereas in Madhya Pradesh, tribals and local healers apply the leaf extract in cornea opacity and other eye diseases. In Andhra Pradesh it is used in glycosuria.

In Indian Ayurveda it is mainly used in the treatment of Diabetes, hydrocil & Asthama.

Few important companies in Product Manufacturing:

Active Ingredients Group., Inc., China

Amitco International Botanical & Nutritional Division, USA

Camden-Grey Essential Oils, Miami, USA.

Christina’s Body & Fitness, USA

Dabur, India

Himalaya Herbals, India

Natural Remedies Pvt. Ltd. India

Philly Pharmacy, USA

S&D Chemicals (Canada) Ltd. Canada

Concluding Remarks:

It is the need of the hour to save this highly important medicinal plant of Patalkot valley. If proper initiatives would not be taken in time, there would not be single Gymnema plant in the valley. It is urged to the scientists, conservationists, researchers, NGO’s and other bodies to come forward and take moves to protect this important herb. Local farmers should be encouraged to cultivate this herb. Government and policy makers are having lots of plans/ ideas but they find problems in proper implementations. It is the youth and people from literate world who should come forward to take this task in their hands.

 Other uses: Alcoholic extract has a dry leaves showing antibacterial activity against Bacillus pumilus , Bacillus subtilis , Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Staphylococcus aureus .

Caution:    If the indicated amounts are used, ie no more than 400mg per day is generally safe, well tolerated and no side effects.  During pregnancy and lactation has not been determined whether or not there may be side effects.  Still, it is recommended to consult a medical practitioner before taking Gymnema extract diabetic children and elderly.  Contraindicated if used in combination with oral hypoglycemic drugs.  Be careful when taking gymnema with glipizide, glyburide and insulin.

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.allianceingredients.com/pdfdocs/GYMNEMA.pdf
http://horticulture.kar.nic.in/APMAC_website_files/madhunasini.htm
http://www.disabled-world.com/artman/publish/gymnema.shtml
http://www.sacredearth.com/ethnobotany/plantprofiles/Gymnea.php
http://www.orissafdc.com/products_medicinal_plants.php

Enhanced by Zemanta

Hamartomas

Definition:-
A benign (noncancerous) tumor-like growth consisting of a disorganized mixture of cells and tissues normally found in the area of the body where the growth occurs. It is focal malformation that resembles a neoplasm in the tissue of its origin. This is not a malignant tumor, and it grows at the same rate as the surrounding tissues. It is composed of tissue elements normally found at that site, but which are growing in a disorganized mass. They occur in many different parts of the body and are most often asymptomatic and undetected unless seen on an image taken for another reason.

CLICK & SEE THE PICTURES

Hamartomas result from an abnormal formation of normal tissue, although the underlying reasons for the abnormality are not fully understood. They grow along with, and at the same rate as, the organ from whose tissue they are made, and, unlike cancerous tumors, only rarely invade or compress surrounding structures significantly. The International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems (commonly known by the abbreviation ICD) is a detailed description of known diseases and injuries. … The following codes are used with International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems. … The International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems (commonly known by the abbreviation ICD) is a detailed description of known diseases and injuries. … The following is a list of codes for International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems. … Tumor (American English) or tumour (British English) originally means swelling, and is sometimes still used with that meaning.

A hamartoma, while generally benign, can cause problems due to their location. When located on the skin, especially the face or neck, they can be extremely disfiguring, as in the case of a man with a hamartoma the size of a small orange on his eyelid. They may obstruct practically any organ in the body, such as the eye, the colon, etc. They are particularly likely to cause major health issues when located in the hypothalamus, spleen or kidneys.

.Cowden syndrome
Cowden Syndrome or Cowden Disease is a serious genetic disorder characterized by multiple hamartomas. Usually skin hamartomas exist, and commonly (about 66% of cases) hamartoma of the thyroid gland exists. Additional growths can form in many parts of the body, especially in mucosa, the GI tract, bones, CNS, the eyes, and the genourinary tract. The hamartomas themselves may cause symptoms or even death, but morbidity is more often associated with increased occurrence of malignancies, usually in the breast or thyroid. Cowden syndrome is an inherited disorder characterized by multiple tumor-like growths called hamartomas, and an increased risk of certain cancers. …

Types:-

Lung
The most common hamartomas occur in the lungs. (Click to see different pictures of hamartomas in the lungs) About 5-8% of all solitary lung tumors, about 75% of all benign lung tumors, are hamartomas. They almost always arise from connective tissue and are generally formed of cartilage, fat, and connective tissue cells, although they may include many other types of cells. The great majority of them form in the connective tissue on the outside of the lungs, although about 10% form deep in the linings of the bronchii. They can be worrisome, especially if situated deep in the lung, as it is important and sometimes difficult to distinguish them from malignancies. An X-ray will often not provide definitive diagnosis, and even a CT scan may be insufficient if the hamartoma atypically lacks cartilage and fat cells. Lung hamartomas are more common in men than in women, and may present additional difficulties in smokers.

Some lung hamartomas can compress surrounding lung tissue to a degree, but this is generally not debilitative or even noticed by the patient, especially for the more common peripheral growths. They are treated, if at all, by surgical resection, with an excellent prognosis: generally, the only real danger is the inherent possibility of surgical complications.

Heart.
Cardiac rhabdomyomas are hamartomas comprised of altered cardiac myocytes that contain large vacuoles and glycogen. They are the most common tumor of the heart in children and infants. There is a strong association between cardiac rhabdomyomas and tuberous sclerosis (characterized by hamartomas of the central nervous system, kidneys and skin, as well as pancreatic cysts; 25-50% of patients with cardiac rhabdomyomas will have tuberous sclerosis, and up to 100% of patients with tuberous sclerosis will have cardiac masses by echocardiography. Symptoms depend on the size of the tumor, its location relative to the conduction system, and whether it obstructs blood flow. Symptoms are usually from congestive heart failure; in utero heart failure may occur. If patients survive infancy, their tumors may regress spontaneously; resection in symptomatic patients has good results.

Hypothalamus
One of the most troublesome hamartomas occurs on the hypothalamus. Unlike most such growths, a hypothalamic hamartoma is symptomatic; it most often causes gelastic seizures, and can cause visual problems, other seizures, rage disorders associated with hypothalamic diseases, and early onset of puberty. The symptoms typically begin in early infancy and are progressive, often into general cognitive and/or functional disability. Moreover, resection is usually difficult, as the growths are generally adjacent to, or even intertwined with, the optic nerve; however, the symptoms are resistant to medical control. Luckily, surgical techniques are improving and can result in immense improvement of prognosis.

...Click for Hypothalamic Hamartoma Treatment

Kidneys, spleen, and other vascular organs
One general danger of hamartoma is that they may impinge into blood vessels,(click to see different pictures of Kidneys, spleen, and other vascular organs Hamartoma). resulting in a risk of serious bleeding. Because hamartoma typically lacks elastic tissue, it may lead to the formation of aneurysms and thus possible hemorrhage. Where a hamartoma impinges into a major blood vessel, such as the renal artery, hemorrhage must be considered life-threatening.

Hamartomas of the spleen are uncommon, but can be dangerous. About 50% of such cases manifest abdominal pain and they are often associated with hematologic abnormalities and spontaneous rupture.

Angiomyolipoma of the kidney was previously considered to be a hamartoma or choristoma, but is now known to be neoplastic.

General danger of hamartoma is that they may impinge into blood vessels, resulting in a risk of serious bleeding. Because hamartoma typically lacks elastic tissue, it may lead to the formation of aneurysms and thus possible hemorrhage. Where a hamartoma impinges into a major blood vessel, such as the renal artery, hemorrhage must be considered life-threatening. Image File history File links Spleen. …

Hamartoma of the kidney is also called angiomyolipoma and can be associated with tuberous sclerosis. It is one of the more frequently seen hamartomas. The condition is more prevalent in women than men, and generally occurs in the right kidney. Hamartomas of the spleen are uncommon, but can be dangerous. About 50% of such cases manifest abdominal pain and they are often associated with hematologic abnormalities and spontaneous rupture. Angiomyolipoma is a benign renal lesion. … Tuberous sclerosis, (meaning hard potatoes), is a rare genetic disorder primarily characterized by a triad of seizures, mental retardation, and skin lesions (called adenoma sebaceum). …

Angiomyolipoma is not a hamartoma by definition, because fat and smooth muscles are not normal constituents of renal parenchyma. It is a Choristoma (microscopically normal cells or tissues in abnormal locations).

Cowden syndrome
Cowden syndrome is a serious genetic disorder characterized by multiple hamartomas. Usually skin hamartomas exist, and commonly (about 66% of cases) hamartoma of the thyroid gland exists. Additional growths can form in many parts of the body, especially in mucosa, the GI tract, bones, CNS, the eyes, and the genitourinary tract. The hamartomas themselves may cause symptoms or even death, but morbidity is more often associated with increased occurrence of malignancies, usually in the breast or thyroid.

Causes
Hamartomas result from an abnormal formation of normal tissue, although the underlying reasons for the abnormality are not fully understood. They grow along with, and at the same rate as, the organ from whose tissue they are made, and, unlike cancerous tumors, only rarely invade or compress surrounding structures significantly.

Prognosis
Hamartomas, while generally benign, can cause problems due to their location. When located on the skin, especially the face or neck, they can be extremely disfiguring, as in the case of a man with a hamartoma the size of a small orange on his eyelid. They may obstruct practically any organ in the body, such as the eye, the colon, etc. They are particularly likely to cause major health issues when located in the hypothalamus, spleen or kidneys.

Disclaimer: This information is not meant to be a substitute for professional medical advise or help. It is always best to consult with a Physician about serious health concerns. This information is in no way intended to diagnose or prescribe remedies.This is purely for educational purpose.


Resources:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hamartomas
http://www.nationmaster.com/encyclopedia/Hamartoma

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Web Addiction a ‘Clinical Disorder’

China could become the first country to classify internet addiction as a clinical disorder amid growing concern over compulsive web use by millions of Chinese, state media said 

CLICK & SEE

The health ministry is likely to adopt a new manual on Internet addiction next year drawn up by Chinese psychologists that recognises it as a condition similar to compulsive gambling or alcohol addiction, the China Daily reported.

It cited psychologists involved in drafting the diagnostic manual.

China has the world’s largest online population at 253 million people, according to official figures, and is growing rapidly as computer use rises along with income levels.

But that has also fed growing concerns over compulsive internet use.

A top Chinese legislator said in August that about 10% of China’s web users under the age of 18, or four million people, were addicted to the internet, mainly to “unhealthy” online games, state media said at the time.

Recent research by internet media company InterActiveCorp showed that 42% of Chinese youngsters polled felt “addicted” to the web, compared to 18% in the US. China has tried various measures to regulate the booming online gaming market and curb Web use by teens.

In 2006, it ordered all Chinese internet game manufacturers to install technology in their games that demands players reveal their real name and identification number.

Sources: The Times Of India

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Rumex Acetosella

Sheep's Sorrel
Image via Wikipedia

Botanical Name:Rumex acetosella L. [Fam. Polygonaceae]
Family: Polygonaceae
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta
Class: Magnoliopsida
Order: Caryophyllales
Genus: Rumex
Species
: R. acetosella
Common Names: sheep’s sorrel, red sorrel, sour weed, and field sorrel.
Forms: Aqueous extract of whole or cut dried herb

Habitat:The plant is native to Eurasia but has been introduced to most of the rest of the northern hemisphere. In North America it is a common weed in fields, grasslands, and woodlands. It favors moist soil, so it thrives in floodplains and near marshes. It is often one of the first species to take hold in disturbed areas, such as abandoned mining sites, especially if the soil is acidic. Livestock will graze on the plant, but it is not very nutritious and contains oxalates which make the plant toxic if grazed in large amounts.

Rumex acetosella is a host plant for Lycaena phlaeas, also known as the American Copper or Small Copper butterfly.

Description:
Perennial weed commonly found in meadows, disturbed areas, waste places and in dry gravely places in most of the globe except for the tropics, grows ½ – 3’ high with small reddish flowers, leaves are usually tinged with a deep red hue..
It has green arrowhead-shaped leaves and red-tinted deeply ridged stems, and it sprouts from an aggressive rhizome. The flowers emerge from a tall, upright stem. Female flowers are maroon in color.

CLICK & SEE THE PICTURES

Sheep’s sorrel is widely considered to be a noxious weed, and one that is hard to control due to its spreading rhizome. Blueberry farmers are familiar with the weed, due to its ability to thrive in the same conditions under which blueberries are cultivated. It is commonly considered by farmers as an Indicator plant of the need for liming.

Culinary Uses:-
There are several uses of sheep sorrel in the preparation of food including a garnish, a tart favoring agent and a curdling agent for cheese. The leaves have a lemony, tangy or nicely tart flavor.

Active Ingredients:
Sheep sorrel dried aerial parts contain: rutin (0.53%), flavone glycosides (i.e. hyperoside or quercitin-3d-galactoside) 0.05%, and hyperin (12mg/100g). Sheep sorrel also contains vitamins: C, A, B complex, D, E, K, P and U. Total vitamin C of the leaves varies from 750-1200mg/100g based on dry weight. The ash (8.1%) contains, in the oxide form, 20.0% calcium; 13.9% phosphorus; 13.4% magnesium; 28.3% potassium, and 11.5% silicon, along with iron, sulphur, copper, iodine, manganese, and zinc. The leaves and stems contain beneficial carotenoids, chlorophyll, organic acids (i.e., malic, oxalic, tannic, tartaric and citric) and phytoestrogens. The plant also contains anthraquinones including emodin, aloe emodin, chrysophanol, rhein, and physcion.

Sheep Sorrel contains constituents including beta carotene, tartaric acid, oxalates (oxalic acid), anthraquinones (chrysophanol, emodin, Rhein), Glycosides (Hyperoside, quercitin-3d-galactoside).

Medicinal Uses:

Traditional Usage:
– Anti-diarrhea
– Anti-inflammatory
– Antioxidant
– Cellular Regeneration
– Cleansing
– Detoxifying
– Diuretic
– Laxative
– Scurvy
– Vascular Disorders


At least ten Native tribes of Canada and the United States have used this plant, also known as sour grass or sour weed, as a food and medicine. Sheep sorrel is a popular ingredient of many folk remedies and the tea was used traditionally as a diuretic and to treat fevers, inflammation and scurvy. Sheep sorrel was considered the most active herb in Essiac for stimulating cellular regeneration, detoxification and cleansing, based on reports by Rene Caisse and her doctor colleague who did studies with mice bearing abnormal growths on the original eight herb formula. Interestingly, even though it is not a legume, sheep sorrel contains significant levels of phytoestrogens with notable estrogen receptor binding activity, similar to the isoflavone phytoestrogens common to red clover, licorice and soy, all legumes known for their strong health restorative properties. The herb also contains several anthraquinones that are effective antioxidants and radical scavengers. Although research is limited on sheep sorrel, closely related species contain a powerful antibacterial compound called rumicin, which is effective against Escherichia, Salmonella, and Staphylococcus. The high tannin content of the tea can also provide astringent action, which is useful for treating diarrhea and excessive menstrual bleeding. At low doses, most Rumex species are useful for treating diarrhea; however, at higher doses, they are laxatives due to the presence of anthraquinones that directly effect the neuromuscular tissue, stimulate peristalsis, increase the mucous production of colonic mucosa cells and stimulate secretion of water into the intestinal lumen, thereby exerting a laxative effect. A comparison of the distribution of anthraquinones in 19 representative species of Rumex showed an identical profile between Rumex acetosella and Rumex acetosa and good similarity to R. crispus. Rumex crispus has been used traditionally to treat anemia, anthrax, diarrhea, eczema, fever, itch, leprosy, malaria, rheumatism, ringworm and tuberculosis.

It has a number of purported uses and folk remedies that include treatment for inflammation, cancer treatment, diarrhea, scurvy and fever. A tea made from the stem and leaves can be made to act as a diuretic. It also has certain astringent properties and uses. Other historical uses include that of a vermifuge, as the plant allegedly contains compounds toxic to intestinal parasites (worms).

Its alleged use as a cancer treatment, generally considered a folk remedy, is as a primary ingredient in a preparation commonly referred to by the name Essiac.

Rumex acetosella Traditionally used to cool fevers, stomach ache and inflammation. Very Nutritious, aids in digestion. Used to help treat cancer as it aids in breakdown of tumors as well as ulcers. Contains chlorophyll helping bring oxygen to the tissues, aiding in healing, as well as benefiting skin, urinary and kidney diseases. Also used as a cooling drink in all female disorders. Relieves ulcers of the bowels, gravel and stone in kidneys.

Contradictions: High in oxalic acid, large amounts can cause poisoning and kidney irritation.

Instructions: Use whole plant in infusion to bring fever down, fresh leaves used as a cooling diuretic. A salve or poultice of leaf and flower may be used externally for skin problems and tumors. Use one or two cups a day for no longer than 5 days at a time.

Properties: Good source of vitamin C, chlorophyll, and carotenoids. Contains oxalic acid which is where its bitter taste comes from, quite safe for consumption in small quantities. Anti-tumor, diuretic, refrigerant, astringent, laxative, diaphoretic, anti-inflammatory.

Suggested Amount:
Sheep sorrel can be taken as a tea with the recommended dosage of one to three cups per day, using one teaspoonful of dried aboveground herb per cup of boiling water. Culpeper recommends that the leaves be used for their diuretic property and taken as an infusion with a dosage of 1oz (28g) to 1pt (568ml) of boiling water – in doses of 2fl oz (56ml). He recommends the leaf juice as a tonic for the kidneys and urinary tract taken in doses of half to one teaspoonful.


Drug Interactions:

In large dosages, the anthraquinones-type laxative compounds may increase the action of other laxatives and so should not be taken at the same time.

Contraindications:
Sheep sorrel and other plants of the Polygonaceae family contain oxalates in their fresh and cooked leaves and are contraindicated in cases of kidney stones. These plants with a characteristic tart taste, including rhubarb, should not be eaten in quantity (just as a flavouring or spice in small amounts) because the oxalates may interfere with calcium metabolism in the body, especially in a calcium-poor diet. Sorrel and rhubarb leaves contain enough oxalates and anthraquinones-type laxative compounds to cause poisoning and possibly even death if eaten in excessive amounts. One death has been reported for a man consuming a soup made with 500g of French sorrel (Rumex acetosa). Teas containing sheep sorrel (hot aqueous extracts of sorrel that do not contain any raw herb material) contain only trace amounts of oxalates, however manufactures of such teas should do routine testing to assure customers of safe levels. Large doses of sheep sorrel tea and/or concentrated extracts may also cause gastric disturbance, nausea and diarrhea due to anthraquinones-type laxative compounds.

Side Effects:
Large doses of sheep sorrel tea may cause gastric disturbance, nausea, and diarrhea due to anthraquinones-type laxative compounds. Large doses of the raw herb may even cause poisoning due to high oxalic acid and tannin content. One death has been reported for a man consuming a soup made with 500g of French sorrel (Rumex acetosa). Teas containing sheep sorrel (hot aqueous extracts of sorrel that do not contain any raw herb material) contain only trace amounts of oxalates, however manufactures of such teas should do routine testing to assure customers of safe levels.

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://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rumex_acetosella
http://www.florahealth.com/flora/home/Canada/HealthInformation/Encyclopedias/SheepSorrel.htm
http://lyraesherbpages.homestead.com/medicinalherbsq-z.html

Is Red Meat’s Bad Name Justified?


The news for red meat seems to be getting worse and worse.

CLICK & SEE

In December, a survey of more than 494,000 people by the National Institutes of Health found that men who ate more than 5 ounces of red meat each day and women who ate more than 3 ounces had a 51% greater risk of esophageal cancer, 61% of liver cancer and 24% of colorectal cancer than those who ate less than an ounce of red meat daily

In October 2007, the World Cancer Research Fund and the American Institute for Cancer Research, two charities that fund research on the effects of diet and activity on cancer risk, declared that the evidence linking red meat consumption and colorectal cancer was “convincing.”

And though previous reports for breast cancer have been contradictory overall, findings published in July from a Harvard study of more than 39,000 young nurses suggested that the risk of getting breast cancer before menopause goes up for every extra daily serving of red meat a woman ate as a teenager, a time period that had not been studied before.

Add the numerous studies linking red meat to other cancers, cardiovascular disease, Type 2 diabetes and even Alzheimer’s disease, and it sounds like the hamburger you had for lunch might as well have been laced with rat poison.

In fact, there is a place for red meat in a healthful diet, scientists say, but they recommend choosing smaller portions of lean cuts and cooking them well but not at high temperatures.

The question is which meat components are responsible for the observed health risks. Scientists have several theories, though none seems to tell the whole story.

Red meat can contain a lot of saturated fats and cholesterol, known contributors to cardiovascular disease. “We know that dementia is strongly related to vascular disease, so it’s likely we’ll find a relationship there as well,” says Dr. Walter Willett, chair of the department of nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health.

Contributing factors
Meat from commercially raised livestock also contains a high amount of omega-6 fats, which have been associated with poor cardiovascular health, but a low amount of omega-3 fats, which may be protective.

Another potential culprit is the iron in meat. Iron is essential for health, but iron from meat comes in a different form than that from vegetables and legumes, one that is absorbed whether the body needs it or not. “This type of iron can cause oxidative damage to all the components of the cell — the protein, lipid, DNA, RNA,” says Al Tappel, professor emeritus of food science at UC Davis.

Many of the studies that found an association between meat consumption and health risks did not differentiate between unprocessed meat, such as a steak, and processed or cured meats such as salami, bacon, pepperoni, bologna and hot dogs. Chemicals in processed meats may account for some of the cancer risk.

Finally, high-temperature cooking methods, such as grilling over charcoal, can cause the formation of known carcinogens such as heterocyclic amines, or HCAs, and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, or PAHs.

Mary Young, a registered dietitian from the Centennial, Colo.-based National Cattlemen’s Beef Assn., says that a study it commissioned on the science of red meat reached a very different conclusion (the study has not yet been published). “Red meat does not cause cancer,” she says. “Beef is really one of the most underappreciated nutrient-rich foods out there” — rich in protein and eight other nutrients, including B vitamins and zinc.

Some scientists, too, think that the risk of red meat has been overplayed. “The proof is not as strong as some people would like to think,” says Iowa State University animal science professor Don Beitz. “Cancer is such a multifactorial [problem]. I don’t see how one can just pin it on certain pollutants or nutrients.”

Rock-hard conclusions require carefully controlled, long-term, well-defined studies of many people. Each one of these requirements can be difficult to meet, so scientists rely heavily on epidemiological studies in which the normal habits of large numbers of people are tracked, often pooling the results of multiple studies.

But unlike lab rats, humans don’t live in a perfectly controlled environment, which makes it difficult to determine if it’s meat or something else in the diet or environment that leads to an observed cancer risk. Also, some studies ask people to recall what they ate years ago, and many studies don’t even define red meat the same way.

Even when a correlation between meat consumption and illness is found, the effect can be significant but small. In the December 2007 study, for example, high meat consumption resulted in only a 50% increased risk of developing esophageal cancer — by way of comparison, smoking can increase a person’s risk of developing lung cancer by 1,000% or more.

But to dismiss all risks because of inconsistencies in the research is unreasonable, Willett says. “That’s exactly the same argument used by cigarette manufacturers to say that smoking is not harmful. . . . The perfect study will never be done. The next best thing will be epidemiology.”

Scientists generally agree that lean red meat has a place in a healthful diet — in moderation. Studies showing increased cancer risks have mostly focused on high meat intake; the greatest risk increases are for those eating far more than the USDA-recommended limit of 18 ounces per week.

“One approach is to treat red and processed meat as a treat and not a regular staple,” said Dr. Michael J. Thun, vice president of epidemiology and surveillance research at the American Cancer Society

Moderation, it appears, is not the American way. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, in 2006 the average American consumed 95 pounds of beef and 64 pounds of pork — about 7 ounces of red meat a day.

To sidestep some health concerns without giving up steak, some consumers have turned to grass-fed beef, which studies have shown to contain a heart-healthier ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids.

Meanwhile, scientists are looking to make beef more healthful via selective breeding.

The amount of specific nutrients in steaks from two animals of the same breed can vary by a factor of two or three, Beitz says. He and others in a group of researchers known as the National Beef Cattle Evaluation Consortium hope to find genetic markers for a host of nutrients, including omega-3 and other beneficial fats, zinc and vitamins B6 and B12. The research, sponsored by Pfizer Animal Science, would help animal breeders look at animals’ genetic profiles to select ones with the best nutritional composition.

“In a way, we’re trying to allow people to indulge themselves to a greater extent than to moderate,” said James Reecy, an Iowa State geneticist also involved in the project.

The same technique could be used to limit the unhealthy components of meat as well, such as specific saturated fats. Cattle breeders have already begun doing this, Reecy says.

Willett isn’t convinced that these efforts will eradicate the health risks that come from consuming red meat. “You may make it healthier in one way, but you’re unlikely to fix all the problems at the same time,” he says.

Click to see:->Red Meat Does and Doesnot

Sources:Los Angles Times

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Down Syndrome

Boy assembling a book case
Image via Wikipedia

Definition
Down syndrome is the most common cause of mental retardation and malformation in a newborn. It occurs because of the presence of an extra chromosome.

.CLICK & SEE

Chromosomes are the units of genetic information that exist within every cell of the body. Twenty-three distinctive pairs, or 46 total chromosomes, are located within the nucleus (central structure) of each cell. When a baby is conceived by the combining of one sperm cell with one egg cell, the baby receives 23 chromosomes from each parent, for a total of 46 chromosomes. Sometimes, an accident in the production of a sperm or egg cell causes that cell to contain 24 chromosomes. This event is referred to as nondisjunction. When this defective cell is involved in the conception of a baby, that baby will have a total of 47 chromosomes. The extra chromosome in Down syndrome is labeled number 21. For this reason, the existence of three such chromosomes is sometimes referred to as Trisomy 21.

In a very rare number of Down syndrome cases (about 1–2%), the original egg and sperm cells are completely normal. The problem occurs sometime shortly after fertilization; during the phase where cells are dividing rapidly. One cell divides abnormally, creating a line of cells with an extra chromosome 21. This form of genetic disorder is called a mosaic. The individual with this type of Down syndrome has two types of cells: those with 46 chromosomes (the normal number), and those with 47 chromosomes (as occurs in Down syndrome). Some researchers have suggested that individuals with this type of mosaic form of Down syndrome have less severe signs and symptoms of the disorder.

Another relatively rare genetic accident which can cause Down syndrome is called translocation. During cell division, the number 21 chromosome somehow breaks. A piece of the 21 chromosome then becomes attached to another chromosome. Each cell still has 46 chromosomes, but the extra piece of chromosome 21 results in the signs and symptoms of Down syndrome. Translocations occur in about 3–4% of cases of Down syndrome.

Down syndrome occurs in about one in every 800–1,000 births. It affects an equal number of boys and girls. Less than 25% of Down syndrome cases occur due to an extra chromosome in the sperm cell. The majority of cases of Down syndrome occur due to an extra chromosome 21 within the egg cell supplied by the mother (nondisjunction). As a woman’s age (maternal age) increases, the risk of having a Down syndrome baby increases significantly. For example, at younger ages, the risk is about one in 4,000. By the time the woman is age 35, the risk increases to one in 400; by age 40 the risk increases to one in 110; and by age 45 the risk becomes one in 35. There is no increased risk of either mosaicism or translocation with increased maternal age.

Causes and Symptoms:-
While Down syndrome is a chromosomal disorder, a baby is usually identified at birth through observation of a set of common physical characteristics. Babies with Down syndrome tend to be overly quiet, less responsive, with weak, floppy muscles. Furthermore, a number of physical signs may be present. These include:

*flat appearing face
*small head
*flat bridge of the nose
*smaller than normal, low-set nose
*small mouth, which causes the tongue to stick out and to appear overly large
*upward slanting eyes
*extra folds of skin located at the inside corner of each eye, near the nose (called epicanthal folds)
*rounded cheeks
*small, misshapen ears
*small, wide hands
*an unusual, deep crease across the center of the palm (called a simian crease)
*a malformed fifth finger
*a wide space between the big and the second toes
*unusual creases on the soles of the feet
*overly-flexible joints (sometimes referred to as being double-jointed)
*ahorter than normal height

Other types of defects often accompany Down syndrome. About 30–50% of all children with Down syndrome are found to have heart defects. A number of different heart defects are common in Down syndrome, including abnormal openings (holes) in the walls that separate the heart’s chambers (atrial septal defect, ventricular septal defect). These result in abnormal patterns of blood flow within the heart. The abnormal blood flow often means that less oxygen is sent into circulation throughout the body. Another heart defect that occurs in Down syndrome is called Tetralogy of Fallot. Tetralogy of Fallot consists of a hole in the heart, along with three other major heart defects.

Malformations of the gastrointestinal tract are present in about 5–7% of children with Down syndrome. The most common malformation is a narrowed, obstructed duodenum (the part of the intestine into which the stomach empties). This disorder, called duodenal atresia, interferes with the baby’s milk or formula leaving the stomach and entering the intestine for digestion. The baby often vomits forcibly after feeding, and cannot gain weight appropriately until the defect is repaired.

Other medical conditions that occur in patients with Down syndrome include an increased chance of developing infections, especially ear infections and pneumonia; certain kidney disorders; thyroid disease (especially low or hypothyroid); hearing loss; vision impairment requiring glasses (corrective lenses); and a 20-times greater chance of developing leukemia (a blood disorder).

Development in a baby and child with Down syndrome occurs at a much slower than normal rate. Because of weak, floppy muscles (hypotonia), babies learn to sit up, crawl, and walk much later than their normal peers. Talking is also quite delayed. The level of mental retardation is considered to be mild-to-moderate in Down syndrome. The actual IQ range of Down syndrome children is quite varied, but the majority of such children are in what is sometimes known as the trainable range. This means that most people with Down syndrome can be trained to do regular self-care tasks, function in a socially appropriate manner in a normal home environment, and even hold simple jobs.

As people with Down syndrome age, they face an increased chance of developing the brain disease called Alzheimer’s (sometimes referred to as dementia or senility). Most people have a six in 100 risk of developing Alzheimer’s, but people with Down syndrome have a 25 in 100 chance of the disease. Alzheimer’s disease causes the brain to shrink and to break down. The number of brain cells decreases, and abnormal deposits and structural arrangements occur. This process results in a loss of brain functioning. People with Alzheimer’s have strikingly faulty memories. Over time, people with Alzheimer’s disease will lapse into an increasingly unresponsive state. Some researchers have shown that even Down syndrome patients who do not appear to have Alzheimer’s disease have the same changes occurring to the structures and cells of their brains.

As people with Down syndrome age, they also have an increased chance of developing a number of other illnesses, including cataracts, thyroid problems, diabetes, and seizure disorders.

Diagnosises:-
Diagnosis is usually suspected at birth, when the characteristic physical signs of Down syndrome are noted. Once this suspicion has been raised, genetic testing (chromosome analysis) can be undertaken in order to verify the presence of the disorder. This testing is usually done on a blood sample, although chromosome analysis can also be done on other types of tissue, including skin. The cells to be studied are prepared in a laboratory. Chemical stain is added to make the characteristics of the cells and the chromosomes stand out. Chemicals are added to prompt the cells to go through normal development, up to the point where the chromosomes are most visible, prior to cell division. At this point, they are examined under a microscope and photographed. The photograph is used to sort the different sizes and shapes of chromosomes into pairs. In most cases of Down syndrome, one extra chromosome 21 will be revealed. The final result of such testing, with the photographed chromosomes paired and organized by shape and size, is called the individual’s karyotype.

Two types of prenatal tests are used to detect Down syndrome in a fetus: screening tests and diagnostic tests. Screening tests estimate the risk that a fetus has DS; diagnostic tests can tell whether the fetus actually has the condition.

Screening tests are cost-effective and easy to perform. But because they can’t give a definitive answer as to whether a baby has DS, these tests are used to help parents decide whether to have more diagnostic tests.

Diagnostic tests are about 99% accurate in detecting Down syndrome and other chromosomal abnormalities. However, because they’re performed inside the uterus, they are associated with a risk of miscarriage and other complications.

For this reason, invasive diagnostic testing previously was generally recommended only for women age 35 or older, those with a family history of genetic defects, or those who’ve had an abnormal result on a screening test.

However, the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG) now recommends that all pregnant women be offered screening with the option for invasive diagnostic testing for Down syndrome, regardless of age.

If you’re unsure about which test, if any, is right for you, your doctor or a genetic counselor can help you sort through the pros and cons of each.

Screening tests include:-
*Nuchal translucency testing. This test, performed between 11 and 14 weeks of pregnancy, uses ultrasound to measure the clear space in the folds of tissue behind a developing baby’s neck. (Babies with DS and other chromosomal abnormalities tend to accumulate fluid there, making the space appear larger.) This measurement, taken together with the mother’s age and the baby’s gestational age, can be used to calculate the odds that the baby has DS. Nuchal translucency testing is usually performed along with a maternal blood test.

*The triple screen or quadruple screen (also called the multiple marker test). These tests measure the quantities of normal substances in the mother’s blood. As the names imply, triple screen tests for three markers and quadruple screen includes one additional marker and is more accurate. These tests are typically offered between 15 and 18 weeks of pregnancy.

*Integrated screen. This uses results from first trimester screening tests (with or without nuchal translucency) and blood tests with second trimester quad screen to come up with the most accurate screening results.

*A genetic ultrasound. A detailed ultrasound is often performed at 18 to 20 weeks in conjunction with the blood tests, and it checks the fetus for some of the physical traits abnormalities associated with Down syndrome.

Diagnostic tests include:-
*Chorionic villus sampling (CVS). CVS involves taking a tiny sample of the placenta, either through the cervix or through a needle inserted in the abdomen. The advantage of this test is that it can be performed during the first trimester, between 8 and 12 weeks. The disadvantage is that it carries a slightly greater risk of miscarriage as compared with amniocentesis and has other complications.

*Amniocentesis. This test, performed between 15 and 20 weeks of pregnancy, involves the removal of a small amount of amniotic fluid through a needle inserted in the abdomen. The cells can then be analyzed for the presence of chromosomal abnormalities. Amniocentesis carries a small risk of complications, such as preterm labor and miscarriage.

*Percutaneous umbilical blood sampling (PUBS). Usually performed after 20 weeks, this test uses a needle to retrieve a small sample of blood from the umbilical cord. It carries risks similar to those associated with amniocentesis.
After a baby is born, if the doctor suspects DS based on the infant’s physical characteristics, a karyotype — a blood or tissue sample stained to show chromosomes grouped by size, number, and shape — can be performed to verify the diagnosis.

Treatment:-
No treatment is available to cure Down syndrome. Treatment is directed at addressing the individual concerns of a particular patient. For example, heart defects will many times require surgical repair, as will duodenal atresia. Many Down syndrome patients will need to wear glasses to correct vision. Patients with hearing impairment benefit from hearing aids.

At one time, most children with Down syndrome did not live past childhood. Many would often become sick from infections. Others would die from their heart problems or other problems they had at birth. Today, most of these health problems can be treated and most children who have it will grow into adulthood.

Medicines can help with infections and surgery can correct heart, stomach, and intestinal problems. If the person gets leukaemia, there are medical treatments that can be very successful. Someone with Down syndrome has a good chance of living to be 50 years old or more.

A new drug, referred to as a “smart drug,” has been receiving some attention in the treatment of Down syndrome patients. This drug, piracetam, has not been proven to increase intellectual ability, despite testimonials that have been receiving attention on television and the Internet. Piracetam has not been approved for use in the United States, although it is being sold via the Internet. The National Down Syndrome Society and the National Down Syndrome Congress do not recommend the use of this drug as of 2001.

While some decades ago, all Down syndrome children were quickly placed into institutions for lifelong care. Research shows very clearly that the best outlook for children with Down syndrome is a normal family life in their own home. This requires careful support and education of the parents and the siblings. It is a life-changing event to learn that a new baby has a permanent condition that will effect essentially all aspects of his or her development. Some community groups exist to help families deal with the emotional effects of this new information, and to help plan for the baby’s future. Schools are required to provide services for children with Down syndrome, sometimes in separate special education classrooms, and sometimes in regular classrooms (this is called mainstreaming or inclusion).

Prognosis:-
The prognosis in Down syndrome is quite variable, depending on the types of complications (heart defects, susceptibility to infections, development of leukemia) of each individual baby. The severity of the retardation can also vary significantly. Without the presence of heart defects, about 90% of children with Down syndrome live into their teens. People with Down syndrome appear to go through the normal physical changes of aging more rapidly, however. The average age of death for an individual with Down syndrome is about 50–55 years.

Still, the prognosis for a baby born with Down syndrome is better than ever before. Because of modern medical treatments, including antibiotics to treat infections and surgery to treat heart defects and duodenal atresia, life expectancy has greatly increased. Community and family support allows people with Down syndrome to have rich, meaningful relationships. Because of educational programs, some people with Down syndrome are able to hold jobs.

Men with Down syndrome appear to be uniformly sterile (meaning that they are unable to have offspring). Women with Down syndrome, however, are fully capable of having babies. About 50% of these babies, however, will also be born with Down syndrome.

Prevention:-
Efforts at prevention of Down syndrome are aimed at genetic counseling of couples who are preparing to have babies. A counselor needs to inform a woman that her risk of having a baby with Down syndrome increases with her increasing age. Two types of testing is available during a pregnancy to determine if the baby being carried has Down syndrome.

Screening tests are used to estimate the chance that an individual woman will have a baby with Down syndrome. At 14–17 weeks of pregnancy, measurements of a substance called AFP (alpha-fetoprotein) can be performed. AFP is normally found circulating in the blood of a pregnant woman, but may be unusually high or low with certain disorders. Carrying a baby with Down syndrome often causes AFP to be lower than normal. This information alone, or along with measurements of two other hormones, is considered along with the mother’s age to calculate the risk of the baby being born with Down syndrome. These results are only predictions, and are only correct about 60% of the time.

The only way to definitively establish (with about 98–99% accuracy) the presence or absence of Down syndrome in a developing baby, is to test tissue from the pregnancy itself. This is usually done either by amniocentesis or chorionic villus sampling (CVS). In amniocentesis, a small amount of the fluid in which the baby is floating is withdrawn with a long, thin needle. In chorionic villus sampling, a tiny tube is inserted into the opening of the uterus to retrieve a small sample of the placenta (the organ that attaches the growing baby to the mother via the umbilical cord, and provides oxygen and nutrition). Both amniocentesis and CVS allow the baby’s own karyotype to be determined. A couple must then decide whether to use this information in order to begin to prepare for the arrival of a baby with Down syndrome, or to terminate the pregnancy.

Once a couple has had one baby with Down syndrome, they are often concerned about the likelihood of future offspring also being born with the disorder. Most research indicates that this chance remains the same as for any woman at a similar age. However, when the baby with Down syndrome has the type that results from a translocation, it is possible that one of the two parents is a carrier of that defect. A carrier “carries” the genetic defect, but does not actually have the disorder. When one parent is a carrier of a translocation, the chance of future offspring having Down syndrome is greatly increased. The specific risk will have to be calculated by a genetic counselor.

Research:-
Main article: Research of Down syndrome-related genes
Down syndrome is “a developmental abnormality characterized by trisomy of human chromosome 21″ (Nelson 619). The extra copy of chromosome-21 leads to an over expression of certain genes located on chromosome-21.

Research by Arron et al shows that some of the phenotypes associated with Down Syndrome can be related to the dysregulation of transcription factors (596), and in particular, NFAT. NFAT is controlled in part by two proteins, DSCR1 and DYRK1A; these genes are located on chromosome-21 (Epstein 582). In people with Down Syndrome, these proteins have 1.5 times greater concentration than normal (Arron et al. 597). The elevated levels of DSCR1 and DYRK1A keep NFAT primarily located in the cytoplasm rather than in the nucleus, preventing NFATc from activating the transcription of target genes and thus the production of certain proteins (Epstein 583).

This dysregulation was discovered by testing in transgenic mice that had segments of their chromosomes duplicated to simulate a human chromosome-21 trisomy (Arron et al. 597). A test involving grip strength showed that the genetically modified mice had a significantly weaker grip, much like the characteristically poor muscle tone of an individual with Down Syndrome (Arron et al. 596). The mice squeezed a probe with a paw and displayed a .2 newton weaker grip (Arron et al. 596). Down syndrome is also characterized by increased socialization. When modified and unmodified mice were observed for social interaction, the modified mice showed as much as 25% more interactions as compared to the unmodified mice (Arron et al. 596).

The genes that may be responsible for the phenotypes associated may be located proximal to 21q22.3. Testing by Olson et al. in transgenic mice show the duplicated genes presumed to cause the phenotypes are not enough to cause the exact features. While the mice had sections of multiple genes duplicated to approximate a human chromosome-21 triplication, they only showed slight craniofacial abnormalities (688-690). The transgenic mice were compared to mice that had no gene duplication by measuring distances on various points on their skeletal structure and comparing them to the normal mice (Olson et al. 687). The exact characteristics of Down Syndrome were not observed, so more genes involved for Down Syndrome phenotypes have to be located elsewhere.

Reeves et al, using 250 clones of chromosome-21 and specific gene markers, were able to map the gene in mutated bacteria. The testing had 99.7% coverage of the gene with 99.9995% accuracy due to multiple redundancies in the mapping techniques. In the study 225 genes were identified (311-313).

The search for major genes that may be involved in Down syndrome symptoms is normally in the region 21q21–21q22.3. However, studies by Reeves et al. show that 41% of the genes on chromosome-21 have no functional purpose, and only 54% of functional genes have a known protein sequence. Functionality of genes was determined by a computer using exon prediction analysis (312). Exon sequence was obtained by the same procedures of the chromosome-21 mapping.

Research has led to an understanding that two genes located on chromosome-21, that code for proteins that control gene regulators, DSCR1 and DYRK1A can be responsible for some of the phenotypes associated with Down Syndrome. DSCR1 and DYRK1A cannot be blamed outright for the symptoms; there are a lot of genes that have no known purpose. Much more research would be needed to produce any appropriate or ethically acceptable treatment options.

Recent use of transgenic mice to study specific genes in the Down syndrome critical region has yielded some results. APP is an Amyloid beta A4 precursor protein. It is suspected to have a major role in cognitive difficulties. Another gene, ETS2 is Avian Erythroblastosis Virus E26 Oncogene Homolog 2. Researchers have “demonstrated that over-expression of ETS2 results in apoptosis. Transgenic mice over-expressing ETS2 developed a smaller thymus and lymphocyte abnormalities, similar to features observed in Down syndrome.”

Vitamin supplements, in particular supplemental antioxidants and folinic acid, have been shown to be ineffective in the treatment of Down syndrome.

Sociological and cultural aspects:-
Advocates for people with Down syndrome point to various factors, such as additional educational support and parental support groups to improve parenting knowledge and skills. There are also strides being made in education, housing, and social settings to create environments which are accessible and supportive to people with Down syndrome. In most developed countries, since the early twentieth century many people with Down syndrome were housed in institutions or colonies and excluded from society. However, since the early 1960s parents and their organizations (such as MENCAP), educators and other professionals have generally advocated a policy of inclusion, bringing people with any form of mental or physical disability into general society as much as possible. In many countries, people with Down syndrome are educated in the normal school system; there are increasingly higher-quality opportunities to move from special (segregated) education to regular education settings.

Despite these changes, the additional support needs of people with Down syndrome can still pose a challenge to parents and families. Although living with family is preferable to institutionalization, people with Down syndrome often encounter patronizing attitudes and discrimination in the wider community.

The first World Down Syndrome Day was held on 21 March 2006. The day and month were chosen to correspond with 21 and trisomy respectively. It was proclaimed by European Down Syndrome Association during their European congress in Palma de Mallorca (febr. 2005). In the United States, the National Down Syndrome Society observes Down Syndrome Month every October as “a forum for dispelling stereotypes, providing accurate information, and raising awareness of the potential of individuals with Down syndrome.” In South Africa, Down Syndrome Awareness Day is held every October 20.[49] Organizations such as Special Olympics Hawaii provide year-round sports training for individuals with intellectual disabilities such as down syndrome.

Disclaimer: This information is not meant to be a substitute for professional medical advise or help. It is always best to consult with a Physician about serious health concerns. This information is in no way intended to diagnose or prescribe remedies.This is purely for educational purpose.

Resources:
http://www.answers.com/topic/down-syndrome-diagnosis
http://kidshealth.org/parent/medical/genetic/down_syndrome.html
http://www.charliebrewersworld.com/page4.htm
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Down_syndrome

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

The Real Cause of Influenza Epidemics

flu, influenza, cold, flu shot, vaccination, inoculation, vitamin D, sunshine, sunlightInfluenza does not follow the predicted patterns for infectious diseases. In fact, there are several conundrums associated with influenza epidemics, such as:

1. Why is influenza both seasonal and ubiquitous — and where is the virus between epidemics?

2. Why are influenza epidemics so explosive?

3. Why do epidemics end so abruptly?

4. What explains the frequent coincidental timing of epidemics in countries of similar latitudes?

5. Why did epidemics in previous ages spread so rapidly, despite the lack of modern transport?

A theory gaining weight in the scientific community explains influenza epidemics as a result of a dormant disease, which become active in response to vitamin D deficiency. This theory provides answers for many of the above questions. A disease that remains dormant until vitamin D-producing sunlight exposure is reduced by a winter or rainy season would explain a widespread seasonal disease with a rapid onset and decline.

CLICK & SEE

There is compelling epidemiological evidence that indicates vitamin D deficiency is just such a “seasonal stimulus.”Recent evidence confirms that lower respiratory tract infections are more frequent, sometimes dramatically so, in those with low levels of vitamin D. Researchers have also found that 2,000 IU of vitamin D per day abolished the seasonality of influenza, and dramatically reduced its self-reported incidence.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]