World's first medical networking and resource portal

News & Highlights
Please make use of the search function to browse preferred content
Medical News & Updates
Nov 30
Prevent hypertension, diabetes in mid-life to lower heart failure risk
Preventing the development of hypertension, obesity and diabetes in mid-life -- between the age of 45 and 55 years -- can result in an 86 per cent lower risk of heart failure throughout the remainder of life, says a research.

Millions of people worldwide currently suffer from heart failure as well as face a significantly reduced quality of life and higher mortality rate.

The study found that hypertension, obesity and diabetes -- major risk factors as well as highly prevalent in individuals -- are preventable risk factors for heart failure, the researchers said.

Further, people with diabetes were found to have a particularly strong association with shorter heart failure-free survival, as those without diabetes lived on average between 8.6 and 10.6 years longer without heart failure.

Men at age 45 years without any of the three risk factors lived an average of 10.6 years longer free of heart failure, while women at age 45 without any of the three risk factors lived an average of 14.9 years longer without heart failure.

"The study adds to the understanding of how individual and aggregate risk factor levels, specifically in middle age, affect incident heart failure risk over the remaining lifespan," said John T. Wilkins from the Northwestern University at Evanston, in Illinois, in the US.

Prevention of hypertension, obesity and diabetes by ages 45 and 55 years may substantially prolong heart failure-free survival, decrease heart failure-related morbidity and reduce the public health impact of heart failure, the researchers noted.

The study was published in the journal JACC Heart Failure.

Nov 24
This new colour-coding tool may help track blood stem cells causing cancer
A new colour-coding tool has been developed by scientists that can help them track live blood stem cells clones that plays a role in blood disorders and cancers like leukemia.

People are born with a certain number of blood stem cells and rely on them for life. Various blood disorders and cancers rises when a mutant clone of an original blood stem cell starts to dominate.

But what actually happens with blood stem cells over time has been hard to pin down.

Leonard Zon, Director of the Stem Cell Research Programme said, "There's significant interest in determining how a stem cell clone expands, what makes one clone dominant, and why that predisposes you to cancer and blood disorders".

For the study, the researchers have used the new tool on a specially bred zebrafish called Zebrabow that has multiple copies of genes for red-blue-gene fluorescent protein scattered through its genome.

This technique yields, in theory, about 80 different colours based on the cell's overall proportions of each fluorescent protein -- each colour representing a different clone or variety of blood stem cell, the researchers said.

Thus, with the new technique, the researchers could isolate the cells by colour, and then look at what genetic factors are involved in their expansion.

Until now, this has been hard to analyse, since no one knew how many blood stem cells we start out with.

Based on the zebrafish data, the researchers estimate that blood stem cells make up about 20 per cent of all blood cell progenitors at the time they are formed.

The study provides a starting point for exploring, for example, why and how a particular blood stem cell clone may begin to expand as people age, posing a risk for leukemia, or how cancer chemotherapy can sometimes transform tumour cells as well as help improve bone marrow transplant for a variety of childhood and adult disorders.

The study appears in the journal Nature Cell Biology.

Nov 21
Sleep disorder may affect kidney function
According to new study, improper sleep may worsen the kidney function and may lead to kidney failure.

The findings that will be presented at ASN Kidney Week 2016 at McCormick Place in Chicago suggested that not getting enough sleep was linked with worsening kidney function in patients with chronic kidney disease.

Although there is increasing evidence that sleep disorders are common in individuals with CKD, its link with CKD progression is unknown. To investigate, Ana C. Ricardo, MD (University of Illinois at Chicago) and her colleagues examined the sleep patterns of 432 adults with CKD.

The participants wore a wrist monitor for five to seven days to measure sleep duration and quality, and their health was followed for a median of five years.

The participants slept an average of 6.5 hours/night, and during follow-up, 70 individuals developed kidney failure and 48 individuals died.

After adjusting for socio-demographic factors, body mass index, blood pressure, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and baseline kidney function, each additional hour of nighttime sleep was linked with a 19 percent lower risk of developing kidney failure.

There was also a significant association between sleep quality and kidney failure risk: each one percent increase in sleep fragmentation was linked with a four percent increase in the risk of developing kidney failure.

Also, the patients who experienced daytime sleepiness were 10 percent more likely to die during follow-up than those who were not sleepy during the day.

"Short sleep and fragmented sleep are significant, yet unappreciated risk factors for CKD progression," said Dr Ricardo."Our research adds to the accumulating knowledge regarding the importance of sleep on kidney function, and underscores the need to design and test clinical interventions to improve sleep habits inindividuals with CKD," he added.

Nov 16
New superparamagnetic crystals to manage future drug delivery
Researchers have developed new superparamagnetic crystals that could zip down drugs around your body, revolutionising drug delivery to tumours and other sites in the body that need to be targeted precisely.

In the past, this was thought to be impossible - the crystals, which have special magnetic properties, were so small that scientists could not control their movement.

However, in the new study, a team of Chinese researchers developed a method of producing superparamagnetic crystals that are much larger than any that have been made before -- a discovery which has opened new applications that could use these crystals to improve and perhaps even save many lives.

"These larger crystals are easier to control using external magnetic fields, and they will not aggregate when those fields are removed, which will make them much more useful in practical applications, including drug delivery," Kezheng Chen from Quingdou University of Science and Technology in Quingdou, China.

Further, Chen's crystals might, be useful in the many engineering projects that need "smart fluids" who change their properties when a magnetic field is applied.

They can also be used to build more comfortable and realistic prosthetic limbs, the researchers said, in the paper published in the journal Physics Letters A.

Nov 15
Protein drives inflammation in rheumatoid arthritis patients
A recent research has found that a certain protein in the body causes inflammation in rheumatoid arthritis patients which in turn will help avoid trial and error when prescribing medications.

It comes down to proteins: specifically, a protein in the body that drives inflammation in the disease, the research found.

The discovery is an important step toward better personalizing rheumatoid arthritis treatment, helping to avoid trial and error when prescribing medications.Researchers found that patients with a higher amount or higher proportion of an inflammatory protein called type 1 interferon beta compared with another inflammatory protein, type 1 interferon alpha, do not respond as well to tumor necrosis factor inhibitors as others.

They looked at white blood cells called monocytes, a major cell type involved in rheumatoid arthritis, and found that those cells behaved differently in one group than in the other.

The discovery paves the way for a more personalized approach to treatment in rheumatoid arthritis based on the biology of a particular patient`s disease.

"Investigating these pathways may identify other targets for therapy or other markers that predict treatment response," says first author Theresa Wampler Muskardin, M.D., a rheumatologist at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. "It will help rheumatologists find the right drug for each patient and spare patients medications that won`t work for them."The Rheumatology Research Foundation funded the study.

Mayo rheumatologist Timothy Niewold, M.D., was the study`s senior author.In other studies presented at the meeting, Mayo Clinic researchers found: Sarcoidosis, the growth of tiny clusters of inflammatory cells called granulomas, carries a higher risk of heart disease and venous thromboembolism.

Researchers also found there is seasonal variation in the incidence of sarcoidosis: Rates are consistently lower in autumn. Physicians believe that sarcoidosis may be triggered by the body`s immune response to environmental factors, such as something inhaled from the air.

The risk of coronary artery disease among patients with polymyalgia rheumatica is 70 percent higher than it is among others.Heart and circulatory abnormalities are common in Takayasu`s arteritis, a form of vasculitis in which large blood vessels become inflamed.

Mayo rheumatologists and cardiologists formed the Mayo Clinic Cardio-Rheumatology Clinic to research and pioneer better prevention, detection and treatment of heart disease and other cardiovascular problems in patients with rheumatic diseases.

The study has been presented at the American College of Rheumatology annual meeting by Mayo Clinic.

Nov 09
E-cigarettes linked to high risk of teen smoking
Teenagers who use e-cigarettes regularly are more likely to become frequent and heavy cigarette smokers, a US study has suggested.

About one-third of teens in the US use e-cigarettes as a smoking cessation aid. But in recent years, scientists have debated whether e-cigarettes help smokers quit or act as a gateway to tobacco smoking, Xinhua news agency reported.

The new study, published in the US journal JAMA, surveyed more than 3,000 15-year-old students in Los Angeles County twice, during the fall 2014 and spring 2015 semesters, asking how often they had vaped or smoked in the previous 30 days.

Overall, the prevalence of vaping and smoking was low.

But of those who were frequent vapers at the beginning of the study -- defined by as having vaped three or more days in the past month -- 11.6 per cent smoked at least one day a month while 19.9 per cent became frequent smokers six months later.

In contrast, of those who never vaped at the beginning of the study, only 0.9 per cent were occasional smokers while 0.7 per cent became frequent smokers six months later.

"In this study of adolescents, vaping more frequently was associated with a higher risk of more frequent and heavy smoking six months later," Adam Leventhal from the University of Southern California and colleagues wrote in their paper.

"The transition from vaping to smoking may warrant particular attention in tobacco control policy," the paper said.

Other experts, however, said the study cannot prove there is a causal link between vaping and smoking.

"This study is investigating the gateway hypothesis. In practice, it is almost impossible to properly test this hypothesis," Paul Aveyard of the University of Oxford said in a statement.

Nov 07
Skipping the last meal of your day could help shed your body weight!
Fast-paced lives and lack of physical activity has made us sluggish and we don't really have time for much else, which is making us pile-on the kilos. Because of this, we resort to all sorts of diets or we end up skipping meals.

For years now, nutrition experts have been encouraging the world to have early dinners, because of its benefits. Heavy dinners, especially if consumed after 7:00 pm, can make you feel bloated and also become instrumental in you putting on weight.

Therefore, a new study, which supports what experts say about eating late dinners, has suggested that eating a very early dinner, or even skipping it, may help you lose weight, a new study has found.

The first human test of early time-restricted (eTRF) feeding found that meal-timing strategy reduced swings in hunger and altered fat and carbohydrate burning patterns, which may help with losing weight.

In eTRF, people eat their last meal by the mid-afternoon and do not eat again until breakfast the next morning.

"Eating only during a much smaller window of time than people are typically used to may help with weight loss," said Courtney Peterson, researcher at Pennington Biomedical Research Centre in the US.

"We found that eating between 8:00 am and 2:00 pm followed by an 18-hour daily fast kept appetite levels more even throughout the day, in comparison to eating between 8:00 am and 8:00 pm, which is what the median American does," said Peterson.

This new research suggests that eating a very early dinner, or even skipping dinner, may have some benefits for losing weight.

The body has a internal clock, and many aspects of metabolism are at their optimal functioning in the morning.

Therefore, eating in alignment with the body's circadian clock by eating earlier in the day can positively influence health, and this new study of eTRF shows that this also applies to metabolism.

They found that although eTRF did not affect how many calories participants burned, it reduced daily hunger swings and increased fat burning during several hours at night.

It also improved metabolic flexibility, which is the body's ability to switch between burning carbs and fats. Whether eTRF helps with weight loss or improves other aspects of health is still unknown.

Nov 05
Smoking one pack daily can cause 150 mutations in lung cells, claims study
Individuals who smoke one packet of cigarettes a day develop an average of 150 extra mutations in their lungs every year, researchers have warned.

These alterations in the DNA represent individual potential start points for a cascade of genetic damage that can eventually lead to cancer, the study said.

The study provides a direct link between the number of cigarettes smoked in a lifetime and the number of mutations in the tumour DNA.

"With this study, we have found that people who smoke a pack a day develop an average of 150 extra mutations in their lungs every year, which explains why smokers have such a higher risk of developing lung cancer," said lead author Ludmil Alexandrov from Los Alamos National Laboratory, in the US.

Tobacco smoke -- which contains more than 7,000 chemicals including over 70 known to cause cancer -- has claimed the lives of at least six million people every year and, if current trends continue, more than one billion tobacco-related deaths in this century are predicted by the World Health Organisation, the researchers said.

The highest mutation rates were seen in the lung cancers but tumours in other parts of the body also contained these smoking-associated mutations, explaining how smoking causes many types of human cancer -- caused by mutations in the DNA of a cell.

"Our analysis demonstrates that tobacco smoking causes mutations that lead to cancer by multiple distinct mechanisms. Tobacco smoking damages DNA in organs directly exposed to smoke as well as speeds up a mutational cellular clock in organs that are both directly and indirectly exposed to smoke," Alexandrov added.

Other organs were also affected, with the study showing that a pack a day led to an estimated average 97 mutations in each cell in the larynx, 39 mutations for the pharynx, 23 mutations for mouth, 18 mutations for bladder, and six mutations in every cell of the liver each year.

In the first comprehensive analysis of the DNA of cancers linked to smoking, researchers studied over 5,000 tumours, comparing cancers from smokers with cancers from people who had never smoked.

They found particular molecular fingerprints of DNA damage -- called mutational signatures -- in the smokers' DNA, and counted how many of these particular mutations were found in the different tumours, the researchers reported in the paper appearing in the journal Science.

Nov 04
Protein rich diet can reduce fatty liver disease
Consuming foods rich in proteins such as lean meat, fish, legumes and almonds can significantly reduce fat accumulated in the liver within six weeks, researchers say.

The findings showed that liver fat levels dropped by up to 48 per cent after eating high-protein diet regardless of whether it came from a plant or animal source, and also prevented the occurrence of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease -- a very common disorder where excess fat accumulates in the liver -- especially in people with diabetes.

"When left untreated, fatty liver is an important step progress to Type 2 diabetes and can develop into liver cirrhosis, which can have life-threatening effects," said lead author Andreas F.H. Pfeiffer, Endocrinologist at the German Institute of Human Nutrition Potsdam-Rehbruecke (DifE), in Germany.

Further, the study showed that high-protein diet caused favourable changes in the liver and lipid metabolism, improved insulin sensitivity and led to a significant reduction in the hormone fibroblast growth factor 21 in the blood.

For the study, the researchers investigated the effects of two high-protein diets -- plant- or animal-based -- on the metabolism of 37 female and male subjects between the ages of 49 and 78 years suffering from Type 2 diabetes and, in most cases, from fatty liver.

The main source for the plant protein group were foods such as noodles or bread that were enriched with pea protein. The animal protein group consumed lean milk products as well as white meat and fish as protein sources.

The results showed that no negative effect was observed on renal function or glucose metabolism and all study participants benefited from the high-protein diet.

The liver fat content decreased significantly, in half of the study participants by more than 50 per cent.

The study was published in the journal Gastroenterology.

Nov 03
Vigorous exercise may expose city kids to pollution
Children from urban areas who engage in vigorous exercises both indoors and outdoors may be at a greater exposure to black carbon -- a traffic-related pollutant -- than children who are less active, researchers said.

Black carbon - a pollutant that is also an indicator of diesel exhaust exposure -- is known to have an adverse impact on health.

The study revealed that the children who exercised were exposed to 25 per cent greater concentration of black carbon compared to non-active children.

There are numerous health benefits associated with regular physical activity, including reduced airway inflammation compared to less active children, but, exposure to high levels of black carbon may lessen this effect, the researchers said.

Daily physical activity was associated with reduced airway inflammation, but that effect primarily occurred among the children who were exposed to lower concentrations of black carbon, said lead author Stephanie Lovinsky-Desir, Assistant Professor at the Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC) in New York City, US.

Exercise had no effect on airway inflammation among children exposed to the highest concentrations of black carbon, Lovinsky-Desir added.

For the study, the team included 129 children aged nine to 14 years. They wore wrist motion detectors to measure their physical activity over a period of six days.

Personal exposure to black carbon was monitored during two 24-hour periods with a wearable vest containing a miniature black carbon-detection device.

The researchers measured each child's level of fractional exhaled nitric oxide, a marker of airway inflammation. They also measured each child's specific sensitivity to indoor and outdoor allergens.