Category Archives: Health

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Scientists Discover New Genetic Cause of Warburg Micro Syndrome

Medindia Health News
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Scientists Discover New Genetic Cause of Warburg Micro Syndrome

Nov 16th 2013, 09:08

Gene responsible for Warburg Micro syndrome, a rare genetic disease characterized by eye, brain and endocrine abnormalities has been discovered by scientists. Patients with Warburg Micro syndrome are severely physically and mentally challenged, unable to learn how to walk or speak and become blind and paralyzed from an early age.
The findings are published in The American Journal of Human Genetics. Lead co-authors are Ryan Liegel, Ph.D., postdoctoral student in cell biology, neurobiology and anatomy at the Medical College of Wisconsin; and Mark Handley, Ph.D., postdoctoral researcher at the University of Edinburgh. Corresponding author is Duska J. Sidjanin, Ph.D., associate professor of cell biology, neurobiology and anatomy and member of the Human and Molecular Genetics Center at the Medical College of Wisconsin.

In this study, the researchers became interested in a gene called TBC1D20, which is known to cause blindness and sterility in mice, because of that similar phenotype. The research team evaluated a cohort of more than 70 families with Warburg Micro syndrome, and found five distinct loss-of-function mutations in TBC1D20, thus establishing those mutations as a cause of the disease.

“These findings have implications not only for families affected with Warburg Micro syndrome, but also provide novel information about the genes and molecular pathways essential for human development that is relevant for more common developmental disorders such as epilepsy and autism,” said Dr. Sidjanin.

The four genes do not comprise the full causative picture for Warburg Micro syndrome; in about half of the cases, the causing mutation was in none of those genes, which means there are additional novel genes contributing to the disease.

The researchers plan to continue to search for additional genes, and will also model the disease in tissue cultures with a hope of understanding the underlying molecular and cellular events in which TBC1D20 is involved.

Source: Eurekalert

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Gut Bacteria Help Improve Mental Health

Medindia Health News
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Gut Bacteria Help Improve Mental Health

Nov 16th 2013, 08:10

While many of the numerous health-improvement claims have yet to be supported scientifically, it has been claimed that micro-organisms do exert positive effects in intestinal tracts, particularly when used to counteract the effects of antibiotics, which kill both ‘bad’ and ‘good’ bacteria.

Over the past few years, studies have been undertaken to explore the possible impact of probiotics on behaviour. It is within this context that the concept of a psychobiotic has arisen.

Timothy Dinan and his colleagues from University College Cork in Ireland, define a psychobiotic as “a live organism that, when ingested in adequate amounts, produces a health benefit in patients suffering from psychiatric illness.”

The gut microbiota, which contains approximately 1 kg of bacteria, can be modulated by diet and many other factors. It is not static and can change from day to day, starting at birth. Evidence has shown that even the form of delivery (vaginal versus cesarean) alters an individual’s microbiota.

Dinan and his colleagues review one study that assessed the potential benefits of a specific probiotic, B. infantis, in rats displaying depressive behaviour due to maternal separation. The probiotic treatment normalized both their behaviour and their previously-abnormal immune response.

This preclinical study and others like it strongly support the hypothesis that probiotics have the potential to exert behavioural and immunological effects.

The study is published in Biological Psychiatry.

Source: ANI

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Washington’s Health Insurance Succeeds as Federal Programs Fail

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Washington’s Health Insurance Succeeds as Federal Programs Fail

Nov 16th 2013, 08:10

Washington is one of 14 states with its own health insurance marketplace and the sign-up numbers are better here. It ranks 3rd in the number of sign ups, as it has created its own marketplace and does not rely on the federal government.
Some people have a problem signing online but the majority of consumers find it more convenient to sign up online. To date, nearly 660,000 people have visited Washington’s health plan finder’s website and 77,000 have signed up for insurance. Of those people, roughly 9,000 signed up through private health plans and 68,000 with Medicaid. Better Health Together is run by Curt Fackler an in-person assistance group which helps people enroll in health care through the state’s exchange.

“We’ve been able to solve a lot of problems and answer questions and people really do like that touch,” Fackler said. He said roughly 90-percent of those enrolled are single. So how much does the insurance cost? Fackler crunched the numbers and found, for instance, a 30-year-old man living in Spokane and making $25,000 a year could pay $117 a month in one plan. Another plan, with a lower deductible, would cost $167.

You can also shop online without filling out an application.”The process is a lot quicker and a lot easier, once you decide what you want, now you can go in and create an application,” Fackler said. The state’s website has been beset with glitches, by now most of the problems have been resolved. In order to be insured by January 1, you have to sign up and pay by December 23.

If you want to meet someone in person to talk about insurance plans there are a number of places around the area you can go, including some local CHAS clinics and libraries. They’ve trained 250 employees at those sites to enroll people.

References:

Hannah Punitha (IRDA Licence Number: 2710062)

Kylee Cruz, November 2013

Source: Medindia

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Democrats Vote Against the Affordable Care Act in the Matter of Cancellation of Policies

Medindia Health News
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Democrats Vote Against the Affordable Care Act in the Matter of Cancellation of Policies

Nov 16th 2013, 08:10

The Republican bill was passed which would allow companies to continue selling policies not compliant with the Affordable Care Act Standards. The vote taken to allow companies to sell non-compliant plans included 39 democrats. The voting for Keep Your Health Plan Act was sponsored by Rep. Fred Upton.

Insurance executives and President Obama were joined by Marilyn Tavernner, administrator for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, and White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough. “I want to welcome the executives who are here from a lot of the insurance companies that are participating in the marketplace,” the president said. “We all share a similar value, which is we want to make sure that Americans have good, solid coverage that gives them the security they need for themselves and their family members if and when they get sick.”

According to Upton this move would fulfill a promise Obama had made to the American people and then broke. “In the last three years,” Upton said during floor debate, “the president personally promised that if people liked their current healthcare plan, they could keep it ‘no matter what.’ But cancellation notices are now arriving in millions of mailboxes across the country. It’s cancellation today, sticker shock tomorrow.”

President Obama said he would veto Upton’s bill if it reached his desk. The proposal is about much more that what Obama agreed to, which would only allow insurers and state insurance commissioners to extend those policies through most of 2014 to current policyholders. It was also necessary to inform customers that the Affordable Care Benefits were not included and they would get better benefits while shopping in the health insurance marketplace.

Many Democrats face tough re-election are trying to remedy the cancellation of policies and make Obama keep his promise. “This bill is not a bill to let people keep their health insurance plans. The president took care of that issue yesterday,” Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., said during floor debate Friday. “What this bill is, another vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act.”

“We knew this was a promise, Obama could not keep, and now it is a promise he has broken,” House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., said. The legislation’s outlook is unclear in the Senate, where Democrats also up for re-election next year are looking for a way to help consumers who face not having insurance because their policies don’t meet requirements of the 2010 law. Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., offered her own plan, which would allow people to keep their current plans indefinitely. However, after the president’s announcement Thursday, many Senate Democrats said they would wait to see if additional legislation was necessary.

References:

Hannah Punitha (IRDA Licence Number: 2710062)

Top News, November 2013

Source: Medindia

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New Technique for Developing Drugs to Treat Serious Illnesses Identified

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New Technique for Developing Drugs to Treat Serious Illnesses Identified

Nov 16th 2013, 07:08

Researchers in the Department of Cardiovascular Sciences and Department of Biochemistry at the University of Leicester, together with colleagues in Cambridge, the USA and Italy, have employed a new technique to create protein-based drugs.

According to Professor Nick Brindle, the lead researcher: “This technique harnesses the power of evolution to engineer specific functions into a protein, such as the ability to neutralise a toxin or to activate healing.

“This involves making a particular cell type generate millions of different variants of our protein, selecting the variants that have improved properties and then repeating the cycle until the protein has been changed to a form with the exact properties we want.”

To show how the method works, the group took a protein normally found in the body and evolved it into a form that can block a molecule involved in blood vessel growth and inflammation.

This new protein, called a ligand-trap, is now being developed as a potential therapeutic for treating heart disease, inflammation and other illnesses.

Said Professor Brindle: “The idea that you can evolve proteins into forms that do what you want is not new, but it has been very difficult to do this for many of the complex proteins that we want to use as drugs or for other applications.

“This new approach promises to make engineering of such proteins not only possible but relatively easy. In addition to medicine, these specifically evolved ‘designer proteins’ have a wide range of applications in the chemical, pharmaceutical, and agricultural industries.

“This is a big step forward. We are hoping that, over the next five years or so, this new protein can be developed into a form that could be used to treat inflammation and other conditions.”

The work, being published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry, was funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), MRC and the Wellcome Trust. The Leicester team collaborated principally with Dr Julian Sale at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge, with additional input from Dr Hiroshi Arakawa in Italy and Dr Jean-Marie Buerstedde at Yale.

Professor Brindle said: “We are really excited about getting this technique to work and are already using it to make other new molecules that we think will be useful to people. It was a real bonus for us to be able to evolve the ligand trap using the technique as this trap targets a molecule that is involved in a whole range of health problems.”

Source: Eurekalert

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Interesting Facts about the Human Heart

Medindia Health News
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Interesting Facts about the Human Heart

Nov 16th 2013, 07:08

Your heart is probably the most important organ of your body; and why not? Considering its remarkable ability to keep the body going, and the various organs and organ systems functioning normally, it does deserve all the extra care and attention.

But do you know all about this ‘most important’ part of your body? Here are some really cool facts about the heart that you probably didn’t know-

Size issues: The size of the heart can be estimated by looking at the fist-for kids, the heart is around the same size as one fist, and for adults it is two.

It beats: In a day, the heart beats for more than 100,000 times; and in a whole lifetime, it can go as high as 2.5 billion beats.

Pump it up: Your heart pumps out a lot of blood in the entire lifetime-by a lot, we mean approximately equal to 3 super tankers.

Time factors: A normal kitchen faucet would need to be running for at least 45 years to flow out the same amount of water as the blood pumps out during an average lifetime.

Electric it is! The heart has a power output ranging from 1-5 watts; calculated for 80 years, it equals around 2.5 gigajoules of power.

Super cell: The human body contains over 75 trillion cells, and all of them have access to the blood pumped by the heart; except for the cornea of the eye.

Lub dub: The heart contains 4 valves, and the lub dub sound of the heart beating is actually made by the closing and opening of the valves of the heart.

Beats 4 you: The heart of a baby begins at around 4 weeks after conception.

Tissue or liquid: As much as it looks like a reddish blue liquid, blood is actually a tissue, just like your skin, kidney and many other parts of the body.

Speed it up: When you are at rest, it takes just six seconds for your blood to get from your heart to your lungs, and back; and about eight seconds for it to travel from the heart to the brain and back; and just sixteen seconds for it to travel from the heart to the toes and back to the heart.

Men-women: A woman’s heart beats much faster than a man’s on an average- it beats for around 78 times a minute, while a man’s heart beats around 70 times per minute.

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