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Apr 30
People living in wealthy countries more stressed out: Study
A new study claims that people living in wealthy countries experience more stress and anger than those who live in poorer countries.

People living in a well-off country might be more satisfied in their lives but that can make them more stressed out.

"Life in an affluent country is more fast-paced and there are just so many things that you have to do leading to stress," Louis Tay, an assistant professor of psychology at Indiana-based Purdue University, was quoted as saying.

To carry out the study, the researchers examined income data from nearly 840,000 people in 158 nations.

Participants reported how satisfied they were with their lives and whether they experienced various feelings such as "worry," "sadness" and "anger", a LiveScience report said.

There is a link between anxiety and having too many choices because trying to make the best choice fast can stress people out.

Researchers also found that people who lived in wealthier countries expressed higher levels of life satisfaction than those who made a similar amount of money, but lived in poorer countries.

The study has been published in the journal Psychological Science.

Apr 30
Kids' waist circumference can predict metabolic disease risk: Study
Attention parents, the circumference of your child's waist can now predict if he or she is likely to suffer from metabolic diseases.

Now, a multi centre cross-sectional study carried out by the International Diabetes Federation hints that healthy cut off values of waist circumferences can be used as screening for Metabolic Syndrome (MS) in Indian children.

The study was conducted on 10,842 children in five cities - Delhi, Chennai, Kolkata, Pune and Raipur.

"MS in children has been defined as the presence of high triglyceride levels in blood, Low HDL cholesterol (good cholesterol), increased fasting blood glucose levels, high systolic blood pressure and waist circumference > 75th percentile," said Dr Archana Dayal Arya, Paediatric Endocrinologist of Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, New Delhi and co-author of the study.

Metabolic Syndrome results in increased risk for hypertension, type 2 diabetes mellitus, and atherosclerosis cardiovascular disease.

It is shocking to see children as young as 6 yrs old with diseases like hypertension, diabetes mellitus and abnormalities in the lipid profile, she said.

The study found that risk factor for Indian children for developing MS was at 70th WC percentile which is significantly lower than International proposed WC cut off of 90th percentile.

It also found that 3.3 percent or 358 children out of a total sample size of 10,842 were hypertensive.

"We found that primary or essential hypertension, commonly seen in adults, is becoming common in children, who are obese or overweight. Therefore it is very essential for them to change their lifestyle and lose weight," said Dr Anuradha Khadilkar, consultant paediatrician in Jehangir Hospital, Pune and corresponding author of the study.

The study will be published in the forthcoming issue of the Journal of Paediatrics.

Apr 29
Antibodies against deadly emerging disease MERS identified
Scientists have identified natural human antibodies against the virus that causes Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), a step toward developing treatments for the newly emerging and often-fatal disease.

The researchers found that these "neutralizing" antibodies prevented a key part of the virus, known as MERS CoV, from attaching to protein receptors that allow the virus to infect human cells. The research was led by Wayne Marasco , MD, an infectious disease expert at Dana-Farber.

Marasco and colleagues found the MERS antibodies using a "library" of some 27 billion human antibodies they have created and maintain in a freezer at Dana-Farber; it is one of the largest such libraries in the world.

Antibodies are proteins made by the immune system that recognize foreign viruses and bacteria. A neutralizing antibody is one that not only recognizes a specific virus but also prevents it from infecting host cells, so eventually the infection is "cleared" from the individual.

The research team plucked seven MERS-specific neutralizing antibodies from the library after using samples of the virus to screen for them.

MERS CoV (CoV stands for coronavirus) has on its surface an array of spike-shaped proteins that bind to host cells - specifically to receptor proteins called DPP4 on the surface of cells that line human airways. The neutralizing antibodies identified in the study prevented the virus' spikes from binding to the DPP4 receptors.

The researchers selected one of the antibodies, labeled 3B11, as a "lead" candidate for further research. Marasco said the antibody has been produced in sufficient quantities to begin testing in non-human primates and mice to determine if they protect against the virus. However these studies have been delayed because no good animal model for MERS has been developed, added Marasco.

The lab studies have been reported in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

Apr 29
Y chromosome's loss linked to shorter life expectancy and higher cancer risk for men
Researchers have shown a correlation between a loss of the Y chromosome in blood cells and both a shorter life span and higher mortality from cancer in other organs.

Men have a shorter average life span than women and both the incidence and mortality in cancer is higher in men than in women. However, the mechanisms and possible risk factors behind this sex-disparity are largely unknown. Alterations in DNA of normal cells accumulate throughout our lives and have been linked to diseases such as cancer and diabetes.

In a study recently published in the journal Nature Genetics an international team of researchers have analysed the DNA in blood samples from a group of more than 1,600 elderly men. They found that the most common genetic alteration was a loss of the Y chromosome in a proportion of the white blood cells.

The group of men was studied for many years and the researchers could detect a correlation between the loss of the Y chromosome and shorter survival.

Lars Forsberg , researcher at the Department of Immunology, Genetics and Pathology, Uppsala University, who has led the study, said men who had lost the Y chromosome in a large proportion of their blood cells had a lower survival, irrespective of cause of death. We could also detect a correlation between loss of the Y chromosome and risk of cancer mortality.

The Y chromosome is only present in men and the genes contained on the Y chromosome have so far mostly been associated with sex determination and sperm production.

The study has been recently published in the journal Nature Genetics.

Apr 28
Weight-loss tamarind and anti-depressants a deadly mix
Are you taking weight-loss supplements while on anti-depressants? Take caution because the popular weight-loss supplement garcinia cambogia -- famously known as Malabar tamarind -- could lead to toxicity in the body.

Previous studies have shown that garcinia cambogia may, in fact, increase the levels of serotonin -- a neurotransmitter.

New research found that taking the supplement in combination with anti-depressants known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) -- which also cause serotonin levels to rise -- could lead to serotonin toxicity.

"People who are taking SSRIs should not use garcinia cambogia at least until further research is done," said D. Robert Hendrickson, a toxicologist at Oregon Health and Sciences University.

In India, garcinia cambogia is better known as Malabar tamarind.

This fruit originated in Indonesia, but is grown and cultivated along the western ghats of Kerala. Sri Lanka and Malaysia are also well acquainted with the garcinia cambogia.

The hydroxycitric acid (HCA) compound in the fruit is touted as a fat-burning, metabolism-boosting, appetite-suppressing weight-loss product.

"If I had a family member or a patient who was considering starting Garcinia and they were on an SSRI, I would recommend that they do not do it for now," a Live Science report quoted Hendrickson as saying.

The study appeared in the Journal of Medical Toxicology.

Apr 28
China reports new bird flu case in humans
One more case of bird flu in humans has been confirmed in China's Jiangsu province, health authorities said Saturday.

A 35-year-old woman surnamed Lu, who was confirmed to have the infection Saturday, is in critical condition, Xinhua quoted the local health department as saying.

Jiangsu has reported 7 human H7N9 cases so far this month.

China has reported more than 120 human H7N9 cases this year, including at least 39 deaths.

Apr 25
How immune system protects children from malaria revealed
A new study has revealed that children who live in regions of the world where malaria is common can mount an immune response to infection with malaria parasites.

According to the study, that the immune response may enable kids to avoid repeated bouts of high fever and illness and partially control the growth of malaria parasites in their bloodstream.

The researchers have claimed that the findings may help in developing future interventions that prevent or mitigate the disease caused by the malaria parasite.

It was found that immune cells collected before the malaria season responded by producing large amounts of molecules that cause inflammation, fever and other malaria symptoms.

According to the authors, this immune response, which appears to depend on ongoing exposure to malaria parasites, may have evolved to protect young children from potentially life-threatening inflammation and unchecked parasite growth in the face of repeated malaria infections, before they acquire antibodies that reliably protect against the onset of malaria symptoms.

The study was published in PLOS Pathogens.

Apr 25
Meet woman who got lab grown vagina implanted
A woman who was born with Mayer-Rokitansky-Kuster-Hauser (MRKH) syndrome was recently implanted with a lab grown vagina and now leads a normal life.

The Mexican women who participated in the study said that she felt very fortunate because she could have a normal life, the New York Daily News reported.

She said that it is imperative to let other girls that have the same problem to know that there was a treatment and one could have a normal life.

The woman was 18-year-old when she had the procedure said that she was aware that she was the first one who got a vagina implanted.

MRKH is a syndrome where vagina is absent or underdeveloped.

Apr 24
Blame your genes for inflammatory bowel disease
Researchers have linked two genes to inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).

Now, Cincinnati Cancer Center and University of Cincinnati (UC) Cancer Institute researcher Susan Waltz, PhD, and scientists in her lab have done what is believed to be the first direct genetic study to document the important function for the Ron receptor, a cell surface protein often found in certain cancers, and its genetic growth factor, responsible for stimulating cell growth, in the development and progression of IBD.

Waltz, professor in the department of cancer biology at UC, said genome-wide linkage studies have identified the Ron receptor tyrosine kinase and its hepatocyte growth factor-like protein (HGFL) as genes highly associated with IBD, asserting that only scant information exists on the role of Ron or HGFL in IBD. Based on the linkage of Ron to IBD, they examined the biological role of Ron in colitis - swelling of the large intestine (colon).

In the study, Waltz and Rishikesh Kulkarni, PhD, a postdoctoral fellow in UC's department of cancer biology, used animal models with colitis. A genetic knockout group did not have Ron; the other did.

"We found that genetic loss of Ron led to aggressive inflammation and damage to the colon of models with IBD," she says.

Loss of Ron also led to significantly reduced body weight and a dramatic reduction in colon tissue cell growth as well as increased pro-inflammatory cytokine (proteins important in cell signaling) production, which was associated with changes in important signaling pathways known to regulate IBD.

The results have been published online in the American Journal of Physiology-Gastrointestinal and Liver Physiology.

Apr 24
Breakthrough discovery in preventing atherosclerosis
In a significant finding, scientists at Johns Hopkins University have found a way to block abnormal cholesterol production, transport and breakdown, successfully preventing the development of atherosclerosis, the main cause of heart attacks and strokes and the number-one cause of death in humans.

The condition develops when fat builds inside blood vessels over time and renders them stiff, narrowed and hardened, greatly reducing their ability to feed oxygen-rich blood to the heart muscle and the brain.

The Johns Hopkins team published their study in the journal Circulation on April 7. Researchers said that it had identified and halted the fat and sugar molecule called glycosphingolipid (GSL), responsible for a range of biological glitches, from producing abnormal cholesterol.

In the study, the team used an existing man-made compound called D-PDMP to block the GSL molecule and found that the process prevented the development of heart disease in the experimental mice and rabbits who were fed a high-fat and high-cholesterol diet.

The findings reveal that D-PDMP appears to work by interfering with a constellation of genetic pathways that regulate fat metabolism on multiple fronts. From the way cells derive and absorb cholesterol from food, to the way cholesterol is transported to tissues and organs and is then broken down by the liver and excreted from the body.

"Atherosclerosis is a multi-factorial problem that requires hitting the abnormal cholesterol cycle at many points. By inhibiting the synthesis of GSL, we believe we have achieved exactly that," said the study's lead investigator Subroto Chatterjee, Ph.D., in a news release.

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