Biomedical Laboratory Science

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Wondering why your belly fat won't disappear?

You work hard to lose weight, but the pooch won't budge. Our friends at Shape share some reasons as to why this is happening.

You can work out like a champ, eat virtuously, and get sound sleep but still stay thick around the middle. Blame some newly discovered triggers that undermine your slim-down efforts by making you pack on the belly flab. Take note, and trim down.

Living on a Busy Street
Regular exposure to traffic noise makes you 29 percent more likely to have a bigger waistline, according to findings in Occupational & Environmental Medicine. Other research found that such noise may spike your cortisol, a hormone associated with ab fat. Three suggestions for you: Drown out the noise by playing soothing music (studies revealed that such tunes lower cortisol levels), muffle the clamor with a background- noise machine, or pop in noise-canceling earbuds when you need to focus.

Your Fizzy Drink Habit
Ironically, people who sip the no-cal stuff in an effort to cut calories are actually more likely to gain belly fat. Diet soda drinkers who averaged about a can and a half a day packed 3.2 inches onto their waistlines over the course of nine and a half years, while those drinking fizzy drinks gained less than an inch, a recent study at the University of Texas Health Science Center found. One reason is that artificial sweeteners prevent the brain from registering satiety, thus increasing cravings for sweets, so you end up eating more, says study author Helen Hazuda.

Reasons You Might Not Be Able to Lose Belly Fat
Source: Shutterstock 

Genetic variants influencing kidney disease progression

A new study suggests that patients with focal segmental glomerulosclerosis - a type of kidney disease - may have a more advanced form of the condition at diagnosis if they possess certain genetic variants, with this association being strongest among African Americans.

The researchers, including Dr. Jeffery Kopp of the National Institutes of Health, publish their findings in the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology.

Focal segmental glomerulosclerosis (FSGS) is scarring in kidney tissue that affects more than 5,000 people in the US every year. Symptoms of the condition include foamy urine (caused by excess protein), weight gain, swelling (caused by excess body fluids) and poor appetite.

According to the researchers, FSGS is known to be more common among African Americans; compared with European Americans, African Americans are four times more likely to develop the condition.

Previous research has indicated that African Americans are at higher risk of chronic kidney disease (CKD) due to variants in apolipoprotein L1 (APOL1) - a gene that makes a protein that forms a part of high-density lipoprotein (HDL), referred to as "good" cholesterol. Around 5 million African Americans possess such variants.

The researchers found that 72% of African American participants with FSGS - a form of kidney disease
- had variants in the APOL1 gene.

Unlocking the secret to healthy aging!

A new study may bring us closer to unlocking the secret to healthy aging, after uncovering an array of genetic variants among healthy, elderly individuals that may protect against Alzheimer's and heart disease.

The findings come from the ongoing "Wellderly" study, in which researchers have so far applied whole genome sequencing to the DNA of more than 1,400 healthy individuals from the US aged 80-105 years.

Launched in 2007, the study aims to pinpoint certain genetic variants that may contribute to lifelong health.

"This study is exciting because it is the first large one using genetic sequencing to focus on health," says Michael Snyder, PhD, chairman of the Department of Genetics at Stanford University in California, who was not involved with the research.

"Most of the world's scientists are studying disease, but what we really want to understand is what keeps us healthy. That is what the Wellderly study is all about."

Researchers have uncovered some of the secrets of healthy aging with their new gene study.

Hubble Sees a Star 'Inflating' a Giant Bubble

For the 26th birthday of NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope, astronomers are highlighting a Hubble image of an enormous bubble being blown into space by a super-hot, massive star. The Hubble image of the Bubble Nebula, or NGC 7635, was chosen to mark the 26th anniversary of the launch of Hubble into Earth orbit by the STS-31 space shuttle crew on April 24, 1990 “As Hubble makes its 26th revolution around our home star, the sun, we celebrate the event with a spectacular image of a dynamic and exciting interaction of a young star with its environment.

The view of the Bubble Nebula, crafted from WFC-3 images, reminds us that Hubble gives us a front row seat to the awe inspiring universe we live in,” said John Grunsfeld, Hubble astronaut and associate administrator of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters, in Washington, D.C.

The Bubble Nebula is seven light-years across—about one-and-a-half times the distance from our sun to its nearest stellar neighbor, Alpha Centauri, and resides 7,100 light-years from Earth in the constellation Cassiopeia. The seething star forming this nebula is 45 times more massive than our sun. Gas on the star gets so hot that it escapes away into space as a “stellar wind” moving at over four million miles per hour. This outflow sweeps up the cold, interstellar gas in front of it, forming the outer edge of the bubble much like a snowplow piles up snow in front of it as it moves forward.

As the surface of the bubble's shell expands outward, it slams into dense regions of cold gas on one side of the bubble. This asymmetry makes the star appear dramatically off-center from the bubble, with its location in the 10 o’clock position in the Hubble view. Dense pillars of cool hydrogen gas laced with dust appear at the upper left of the picture, and more “fingers” can be seen nearly face-on, behind the translucent bubble. The gases heated to varying temperatures emit different colors: oxygen is hot enough to emit blue light in the bubble near the star, while the cooler pillars are yellow from the combined light of hydrogen and nitrogen.

The pillars are similar to the iconic columns in the “Pillars of Creation” Eagle Nebula. As seen with the structures in the Eagle Nebula, the Bubble Nebula pillars are being illuminated by the strong ultraviolet radiation from the brilliant star inside the bubble. The Bubble Nebula was discovered in 1787 by William Herschel, a prominent British astronomer. It is being formed by an O star, BD +60ยบ2522, an extremely bright, massive, and short-lived star that has lost most of its outer hydrogen and is now fusing helium into heavier elements. The star is about four million years old, and in 10 million to 20 million years, it will likely detonate as a supernova.

Hubble’s Wide Field Camera-3 imaged the nebula in visible light with unprecedented clarity in February 2016. The colors correspond to blue for oxygen, green for hydrogen, and red for nitrogen. This information will help astronomers understand the geometry and dynamics of this complex system. The Bubble Nebula is one of only a handful of astronomical objects that have been observed with several different instruments onboard Hubble. Hubble also imaged it with the Wide Field Planetary Camera (WFPC) in September 1992, and with Wide Field Planetary Camera-2 (WFPC2) in April 1999.

The Hubble Space Telescope is a project of international cooperation between NASA and the European Space Agency. NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, manages the telescope. The Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) in Baltimore, Maryland, conducts Hubble science operations. STScI is operated for NASA by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy in Washington, D.C. Credit: NASA, ESA, and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA) 

Video link: A really cool video

Source: the Bubble Nebula and the Hubble telescope

Friday, April 22, 2016

Discovery of new state of water molecule!

Neutron scattering and computational modeling have revealed unique and unexpected behavior of water molecules under extreme confinement that is unmatched by any known gas, liquid or solid states.

In a paper published in Physical Review Letters, researchers at the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory describe a new tunneling state of water molecules confined in hexagonal ultra-small channels - 5 angstrom across - of the mineral beryl. An angstrom is 1/10-billionth of a meter, and individual atoms are typically about 1 angstrom in diameter.

The discovery, made possible with experiments at ORNL's Spallation Neutron Source and the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory in the United Kingdom, demonstrates features of water under ultra confinement in rocks, soil and cell walls, which scientists predict will be of interest across many disciplines.

ORNL researchers discovered that water in beryl displays some unique and unexpected characteristics.
Source: Jeff Scovil

Reasons Why Your Body Needs Water Every Day

We all know that water is essential for life, but have you ever wondered why your body needs so much replenishing? 

As explained in the TedEd video link below, water is crucial for the body's everyday, biological functions. The majority of the human body is made up of water: We rely on it to lubricate our joints, regulate temperature and to care for the brain and spinal cord. Without enough water, we'd be dry, unfocused, unenergized and creaky.

On average, we lose two to three liters of water a day, through sweat, breath, urine and bowel movements. To compensate, we've got to rehydrate. While past guidance has suggested we drink approximately eight glasses a day, new recommendations say we should drink anywhere from 2 to 3.7 liters (8.4 to 15.6 cups) daily, depending on a person's sex, weight, health and environment.

Close-up of a woman drinking water from a bottle

Why Do Celebrity Deaths Feel So Personal?

Prince's untimely death Thursday at the age of 57 left fans shocked and in mourning. While many express their grief, others are surprised to experience a strong personal reaction: I didn’t know him, some have thought, so why am I this upset?

The truth is, there’s no rulebook when it comes to grief, explains psychologist David Kaplan, chief professional officer of the American Counseling Association. The emotion is so swallowing and vast that it’s hard to pinpoint why it manifests in the ways that it does. But just because we can’t explain grief doesn’t mean it’s invalidated, Kaplan says — and that especially goes for grieving a celebrity.

“We grow up with these people,” Kaplan told The Huffington Post. “We see their movies, we hear their music on a regular basis and we really get to know them. In a sense, they become a member of our family — especially the ones we really like — so when they die, it’s like an extended member of our family dies. It’s somebody we feel like we know.”

These deaths also feel so personal because they resonate with us on a deeper, psychological level. We may grieve celebrities because our dream was to emulate their career path or because a celebrity death can also remind us of our mortality, Kaplan notes.

Prince (Prince Rogers Nelson) 'The Artist Formerly Known as Prince', 'TAFKAP' Hop Farm Festival,
Paddock Wood, Kent, England 3rd July 2011 performing live on stage in concert gig singing playing…

HIV Patients Now Living Long Enough to Develop Alzheimer's

Findings upend previous beliefs about brain changes related to the AIDS-causing virus

The first case of Alzheimer's disease diagnosed in a person with HIV highlights the fact that long-time HIV survivors are starting to reach ages where their risk for Alzheimer's increases, researchers report.

The 71-year-old man was diagnosed after a medical scan revealed amyloid protein clumps in his brain. Until now, it was believed that HIV-related inflammation in the brain might prevent the formation of such clumps and thereby protect these people from Alzheimer's.

"This patient may be a sentinel case that disputes what we thought we knew about dementia in HIV-positive individuals," said study author Dr. R. Scott Turner. He is head of the Memory Disorders Program at Georgetown University Medical Center in Washington, D.C.

The case also suggests that some older people with HIV and dementia may be misdiagnosed with HIV-associated brain disorders, but actually have Alzheimer's disease. It's also possible that some older people with HIV have both HIV-associated brain disorders and Alzheimer's, according to Turner.

"Chronic HIV infection and amyloid deposition with aging may represent a 'double-hit' to the brain that results in progressive dementia," he said in a university news release.

Biomarker Predicts Risk of Preterm Birth Earlier

A standard biomarker test offered earlier in pregnancy could potentially help doctors to better identify women at risk of giving birth prematurely, thus enabling health services to focus treatments on women at highest risk.

A number of factors are used to determine if a woman is at risk of giving birth prematurely, including a history of preterm births or late miscarriages. Two further factors which clinicians normally consider are the length of cervix and levels of a biomarker found in vaginal fluid known as fetal fibronectin.

Scientists at King's College London (London, UK) compared measurements of a new fetal fibronectin test in the cervicovaginal fluid of women at 18 to 21 weeks of gestation with measurements made at 22 to 27 weeks of gestation, to see which time period offered the best prediction of spontaneous preterm birth. They also explored whether using a low (10 ng/mL) and high (200 ng/mL) threshold would more accurately classify a women's risk of giving birth prematurely.

Fetal fibronectin is a “glue-like” protein that holds the developing baby in the womb
Source: Hologic Inc.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Fifty Biotech and Biopharma Recruiters in the Lists.

Who They Know Can Help You Land a Job in the Industry

In Deloitte’s “2016 U.S. Life Sciences Industry Outlook” released in January, Greg Reh, the firm’s U.S. and Global Life Sciences sector leader, offered a somewhat encouraging assessment of employment prospects this year: “Despite current economic, political, technological, and social challenges, life sciences companies worldwide should see enough long-term growth opportunities to feel cautiously optimistic about 2016.”

Three such opportunities were identified by recruiting firm Smith Hanley Associates earlier this year: One was candidate movement to smaller biopharmas, which the firm said leads to higher base salaries as companies scramble to offset the loss of long-term incentives given by big pharma. Mergers and acquisitions create jobs for candidates willing to relocate, whereas the growth of big data adds positions for in-house data scientists but also results in project outsourcing to vendors that creates new markets and innovations, Smith Hanley added.

All those trends should mean more work for biopharma recruiters, who match employers with job candidates in significant portions of the industry.

The workload of recruiters should increase this year since biotech and other life sciences employers
worldwide “should see enough long-term growth opportunities to feel cautiously optimistic about
2016,” according to Deloitte Consulting.

Pancreatic cell transplantation: a breakthrough for type 1 diabetes?

The results of a phase 3 clinical trial are being hailed as a "breakthrough" in the treatment of type 1 diabetes, after finding that transplantation of islet cells - clusters of cells in the pancreas that contain insulin-producing cells - prevented potentially life-threatening reductions in blood sugar among patients with the disease.

Study co-author Dr. Xunrong Luo, associate professor of medicine and surgery at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago, IL, says the findings show that islet cell transplantation is a viable treatment option for type 1 diabetes patients who have severely low blood glucose levels, or hypoglycemia.

What is more, the team says the findings suggest islet cell transplantation could eliminate the need for lifelong insulin therapy for people with type 1 diabetes.

The researchers recently published their results in Diabetes Care - a journal of the American Diabetes Association.

Type 1 diabetes accounts for around 5% of all diabetes cases in the US. It occurs when beta cells within the islets of the pancreas are unable to produce insulin - the hormone that regulates blood glucose levels by promoting transportation of glucose from the bloodstream to other cells, where it is used for energy.

The study suggests islet transplantation is effective for people with type 1 diabetes who have severely
low blood glucose levels.

Alcohol and processed meat linked to stomach cancer

Drinking alcohol, eating processed meat and being overweight increase the risk of developing stomach cancers, according to a major new scientific report released by the American Institute for Cancer Research and the World Cancer Research Fund.

The Continuous Update Project (CUP) report was led by the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) and the World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF).

Scientists systematically gathered and analyzed data relating to stomach cancer, after which a panel of leading international experts evaluated the results independently.

Worldwide, there were 952,000 cases of stomach cancer in 2012, or 7% of all new cancer cases.

Stomach cancer is the third most common cause of cancer death. It affects men twice as much as women, and it is more common among older people, with the average age of diagnosis in the US being 72 years.

In Europe and the US, the survival rate is 25-28%, rising to 63% if it is diagnosed early. But symptoms may not appear until the later stages, and some 70% of cases worldwide are diagnosed late, leading to a lower survival rate. Eastern Asia and China are particularly affected.

Lifestyle factors are linked to stomach cancer.

MacConkey Agar (MAC): Composition, preparation, application and colony characteristics

MacConkey agar was developed in 20th century by Alfred Theodore MacConkey. It was the first formulated solid differential media. MacConkey Agar is a selective and differential culture media commonly used for the isolation of enteric Gram-negative bacteria. It is based on the bile salt-neutral red-lactose agar of MacConkey. Crystal violet and bile salts in incorporated in MacConkey Agar to prevent the growth of gram-positive bacteria and fastidious gram-negative bacteria, such as Neisseria and Pasteurella. Gram-negative enteric bacteria can tolerate to bile salt because of their bile-resistant outer membrane.

MacConkey Agar is selective for Gram negative organisms, and helps to differentiate lactose fermenting gram negative rods from Non lactose fermenting gram negative rods. It is primarily used for detection and isolation of members of family enterobacteriaceae and Pseudomonas spp.

Composition of MacConeky Agar:
Enzymatic Digest of Gelatin, Casein and Animal tissue: provides nitrogen, vitamins, minerals and amino acids essential for growth.

LF and NLF colonies in MacConkey Agar
Source: microbeonline

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Cardiovascular Disease Diagnostics and Testing

Current and emerging cardiac markers signal improved testing for better patient outcomes

Cardiovascular diseases continue to be the leading cause of death in the United States, responsible for nearly 800,000 deaths annually—or about one in every three deaths. Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women, claiming the lives of about 610,000 Americans each year.1Coronary artery disease is the most common type of heart disease, killing more than 370,000 people annually.

In addition, about 5.1 million people in the United States have heart failure.2About half of the people who develop heart failure die within 5 years of diagnosis. In 2009, one out of every nine deaths included heart failure as a contributing cause. Heart failure costs the nation an estimated $32 billion each year.

In light of such dire statistics, it’s no wonder that achieving speedy diagnosis of acute myocardial infarction (AMI)—heart attack—remains a significant concern in emergency departments throughout the nation. Early triage of patients to rule-in or rule-out AMI is challenging. For many years, testing for the presence of the regulatory proteins troponin I or troponin T—both released into the bloodstream when the heart muscle has been damaged—has been the gold standard for diagnosing AMI. But recent reports have indicated that the latest generation of high-sensitivity troponin tests can increase diagnostic efficiency and improve early diagnosis of myocardial infarction.

Alere’s troponin I test is a cartridge-based high-sensitivity immunoassay.
Source: clpmag

Emerging Blood-Borne Bacteria Detected in Blood Donors

Bartonella species cause chronic and intermittent intra-erythrocytic bacteremia and infect endothelial cells of both incidental and natural reservoir hosts. The establishment of chronic, stealth infection is achieved by evasion of innate immune responses.

In humans, Bartonella species have been detected from sick patients presented with diverse disease manifestations, including cat scratch disease, trench fever, bacillary angiomatosis, endocarditis, polyarthritis, or granulomatous inflammatory disease.

An international team of scientists, led by those at the Western University of Health Sciences, Pomona, CA, USA), collected blood from 500 apparently healthy Brazilian voluntary blood donors in a cross sectional study. Bartonella species infection from the bloodstream was detected based on enrichment blood culture in a liquid growth medium (Bartonella alpha-Proteobacteria growth medium-BAPGM), coupled with isolation in solid medium. Bartonella-specific DNA was amplified by polymerase chain reaction (PCR), followed by DNA sequencing to confirm species identification. Of the ten Bartonella species that are believed to produce infection in humans, the most commonly encountered are B. henselae, B. quintana, and B. bacilliformis. The latter causes Oroya fever and Verruga peruana.

Electron micrograph of Bartonella henelae, Gram-negative bacteria that causes cat scratch fever
Source: Prokaryotes

Acid-Fast Stain Identifies Schistosoma Eggs

Schistosomiasis, also known as snail fever, is a disease caused by parasitic flatworms called schistosomes. The urinary tract or the intestines may be infected and signs and symptoms may include abdominal pain, diarrhea, bloody stool, or blood in the urine.

Microscopic identification of eggs in stool or urine is the most practical method for diagnosis. Stool examination is performed when infection with Schistosoma mansoni or S. japonicum is suspected, and urine examination should be performed if S. haematobium is suspected. Eggs can be present in the stool in infections with all Schistosoma species.

Scientists at the University of Lisbon examined whether the Ziehl–Neelsen (ZN) stain, also known as the acid- fast stain, would be helpful in detection and identification of Schistosoma eggs. In histological sections, S. mansoni eggshells appear as ZN positive and S. haematobium shells as ZN negative. The staining target of the responsible ZN component (carbolfuchsin) in the shell is unknown and because carbolfuchsin is supposed to stain mycolic acids in the mycobacterial cell wall, unidentified substances in the eggshell were proposed as target. Fuchsin is a known nucleic acid stain, and it was already shown that mycobacteria with insufficiently retained carbolfuchsin may be invisible in bright-field microscopy; yet, they can be easily detected because of a strong red fluorescence when excited with green light.

Positive staining of Schistosoma mansoni eggs
Source: ganfyd

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Novel Biomarker Predicts Breast Cancer Risk in Asymptomatic Women

A biomarker has been identified that may allow clinicians to predict the risk of an asymptomatic woman eventually developing breast cancer.

To identify this disease indicator, investigators at Harvard Medical School studied the association between breast cancer risk and the frequency of mammary epithelial cells expressing the proteins p27 (Cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitor 1B), estrogen receptor (ER), and Ki67 (Marker of proliferation Ki-67) in normal breast tissue from 302 women (69 breast cancer cases, 233 controls) who had been initially diagnosed with benign breast disease.

Immunofluorescence assays for p27, ER, and Ki67 were performed on tissue microarrays constructed from benign biopsies containing normal mammary epithelium and scored by computational image analysis.

Source: gettyimages

Standardizing Immunoassays: The Benefits of Conformity

Interpreting results of immunoassay-based methods frequently presents a challenge for physicians, especially when caring for patients at multiple institutions that use different assay platforms. For many analytes including tumor markers, endocrine hormones, and cardiac biomarkers, results generated on different platforms are not directly comparable. This is due to the absence of a universally accepted reference material, which manufacturers need to calibrate their assays to a common standard.

Instead, test results must be interpreted using assay-specific reference intervals—a concept that comes naturally to clinical laboratorians but often is foreign to many physicians and patients. This lack of uniform results causes confusion that can adversely affect patient care, particularly when patients are diagnosed at one hospital but pursue follow-up care elsewhere. For example, does an increased CA-125 value at follow-up at a different institution reflect disease progression or simply differences in assay calibration? A lack of standardization also makes it impossible to transfer diagnostic cutoffs from one institution to another unless the assay platforms are identical.

Given the confusion associated with non-standardized assays, why haven’t all immunoassays already been standardized?

Source: alfa

Laboratorians Working with Nurses to Make Lab Systems Safer

Both nurses and laboratorians get frustrated with each other’s behavior. For example, nurses may not understand or follow certain procedures as outlined by the laboratory.

In a recent article published in Clinical Laboratory News, James Hernandez, M.D., Associate Professor of Laboratory Medicine and Pathology, and Medical Director and Chair of the Division of Laboratory Medicine at Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale and Phoenix, Arizona, provides an overview of the working relationship between nurses and laboratory technicians.

Dr. Hernandez identifies fictional scenarios of nurses’ behavior that potentially could confound the laboratory and create conflict. He then analyzes each scenario to determine why nurse acted as he or she did and how to handles the situation effectively and gracefully.

Diabetes Testing on High-Throughput Analyzer Files for FDA Approval

The cobas c513 analyzer has been submitted to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for approval as a dedicated, high-throughput HbA1c testing solution to help laboratories meet increasing testing needs for people with diabetes.

The cobas c513 analyzer from Roche (Basil, Switzerland) is based on the proven, trusted cobas technology developed in cooperation with Hitachi High-Technologies (HHT). The HbA1c test is a longer term measurement of blood sugar levels used to determine if a person has or is at risk of developing diabetes. Set to run on the established Tina-Quant HbA1c A1cDx Gen.3 test, which is also used across the Roche laboratory HbA1c portfolio, the cobas c513 will ensure high-quality results and comply with current guidelines and recommendations for HbA1c testing and measures A1c as defined by the IFCC.

cobas c513 features direct results reporting, thereby minimizing risk of result misinterpretation and eliminating the need to perform time-consuming, manual result interpretation. This feature will help save valuable time and laboratory resources, while ensuring high-quality results. Furthermore, cobas c513 will provide a higher on-board test capacity, enabling laboratories to load the analyzer with more tests at a time, save lab space, minimize resources, and ensure a smooth workflow.

The cobas c513 analyzer provides throughput of up to 400 HbA1c patient results/hour, closed
tube sampling (CTS), and is standardized according to IFCC transferable to DCCT/NGSP
Source: Roche

Monday, April 18, 2016

Rapid Detection of Urinary Biomarkers with Novel Optical Device

A compact optical device has been developed that can rapidly and sensitively detect biomarkers in urine and has promise for developing simple point-of-care diagnostics of cancer and other diseases.

Micro ribonucleic acids (miRNAs) are a newly discovered class of short, about 19 to 24 nucleotides in length, fragments of noncoding RNAs that are useful biomarkers for diagnosing various diseases, including cardiac disease and some cancers. Since they are surprisingly well preserved in fluids such as urine and blood, their detection is well suited to a rapid, point-of-care method.

Bioengineers at the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (Singapore) have devised a silicon photonic biosensor that can detect tiny changes in the phase of a light beam caused by hybridization between an immobilized DNA probe and target miRNAs in a sample. A laser beam travels through a waveguide, which splits into two arms: a sensing arm in which the light interacts with the sample and a reference arm.

Image: Schematic diagram of the MZI biosensor system for miRNA detection.
(a) TEM image of the cross section of a silicon nitride slot wave guide; SEM images of
(b) a strip-slot wave guide mode converter and (c) a silicon nitride grating coupler.
(d) Image of MZI biosensor platform

Colorectal cancer

Colorectal cancer had a low incidence several decades ago. However, it has become a predominant cancer and now accounts for approximately 10% of cancer-related mortality in western countries. The ‘rise’ of colorectal cancer in developed countries can be attributed to the increasingly ageing population, unfavourable modern dietary habits and an increase in risk factors, such as smoking, low physical exercise and obesity. New treatments for primary and metastatic colorectal cancer have emerged, providing additional options for patients; these treatments include laparoscopic surgery for primary disease, more-aggressive resection of metastatic disease (such as liver and pulmonary metastases), radiotherapy for rectal cancer, and neoadjuvant and palliative chemotherapies. However, these new treatment options have had limited impact on cure rates and long-term survival. For these reasons, and the recognition that colorectal cancer is long preceded by a polypoid precursor, screening programmes have gained momentum. This Primer provides an overview of the current state of the art of knowledge on the epidemiology and mechanisms of colorectal cancer, as well as on diagnosis and treatment.

We live in an era with improved worldwide average living standards and increased access to adequate health care that has considerably improved the diagnosis and treatment of diseases. These measures have had an effect on the average life expectancy in most regions of the world. However, although death rates from communicable diseases have improved globally as a result of these medical improvements, cancer-related mortality has increased by almost 40% over the past 40 years. A further 60% increase is expected in the next 15 years, with 13 million people estimated to die of cancer in 2030. The main causes of cancer-related mortality have also changed, attributable to alterations in disease incidence, the introduction of screening programmes and therapeutic improvements. Colorectal cancer was rather rare in 1950, but has become a predominant cancer in western countries, now accounting for approximately 10% of cancer-related mortality. Reasons explaining this increased incidence include an ageing population and the preponderance of poor dietary habits, smoking, low physical activity and obesity in western countries. The change in incidence is not only apparent in the rates of sporadic disease but also in some familial cancer syndromes. Indeed, given that the rates of Helicobacter pyloriinfection (a causative factor of gastric cancer) have fallen dramatically, colorectal cancer is now the predominant presentation of Lynch syndrome (a hereditary non-polyposis type of colorectal cancer), whereas carriers of this syndrome used to be predominantly affected by gastric cancer.

Read more: Colorectal cancer

Source: krmc

The 2016 NHRC Summit !!!

Nepal Health Research Council celebrated 25 glorious years of its establishment on 11th April, 2016. The Second National Summit of the Health and Population Scientists in Nepal was held on 11th-12th April, 2016 as a continuum and part of Silver Jubilee celebration with the theme of “Health and Population Research for Achieving Sustainable Development Goals in Nepal”. Health and Population Scientists as a group contributed immensely to promote evidence informed decision making process and it has been instrumental to achieve many of the goals of MDGs. Annual gathering and provision of platform for the scientists were phenomenal in sustaining the MDG achievements and to encourage achieving SDGs as unfinished agendas of the MDGs in the health sector.

Objectives of the Summit were:
  • To bring health and population scientists together to promote evidence informed decision-making process for optimal health and wellbeing of Nepalese people
  • To encourage health and population scientists and practitioners for responsible conduct of research on health and development
  • To discourse and find out the way forward on emerging health and population issues for strengthening national health system of Nepal for achieving SDGs
What’s new this year?

This year there were 27 thematic areas for oral and poster presentation in the Summit in order to have diversity in the scientific sessions and cater a wide group of audience.

Sourse: nhrc
                           2. The 2016 NHRC Summit Presentations

Increase Vitamin Diet to Boost Your Immune System

Get more important vitamins on your plate

Want to fight off that illness that’s spreading around the office or your child’s school? Aside from practicing good hygiene, boosting your immune system is a great way to start.

Your diet plays a part in strengthening your immune system. Sadly, too many of us don’t eat enough of the fresh fruits, vegetables and other foods we need to keep ourselves healthy year-round. You can’t just eat an orange or grapefruit and expect one quick burst of vitamin C to prevent a cold. A truly healthy immune system depends on a balanced mix of vitamins and minerals over time, plus normal sleep patterns and a hefty dose of exercise.

With some exceptions, it’s best to get your vitamins and minerals from your food rather than in pill form. Here are some tips for getting the top vitamins your immune system needs to perform.

1. Vitamin C

You probably know about vitamin C’s connection to the immune system, but did you know you can get it from much more than just citrus fruits? Leafy green vegetables such as spinach and kale, bell peppers, brussels sprouts, strawberries and papaya are also excellent sources. In fact, vitamin C is in so many foods that most people may not need to take supplements unless a doctor advises it.

Read more: Increase Vitamin Diet to Boost Your Immune System

Boosting Immunity With Fresh Vegetables

Change your lifestyle by adding immune­boosting vegetables into your diet. You all know the benefits of vegetables to your health. What’s more, they reduce your risk of diseases, like cancer and heart diseases.

So load your plate up with the following vegetables to help boost your immune system:

1. Mushrooms

Mushrooms has the ability to enhance the activity of natural killer T cells (NKT). NKTs remove and attack cells that are infected by viruses. They slow cancer or tumor growth, prevent DNA damage and tumors from acquiring a blood supply.

2. Asparagus

Asparagus has a natural diuretic ability that helps your body to flush out toxins. It contains glutathione, an antioxidant that can help lower your risk factor for cancer and heart diseases.

Asparagus is both anti­-inflammatory and cleansing to the body. It’s useful for inflammatory conditions like irritable bowel syndrome and arthritis.

3. Carrots

Carrots are useful in preventing seasonal flu and colds. This is because they are rich in betacarotene that helps in boosting your immune system. It it best to eat raw carrots for the best immune­ system results. 4. Garlic Garlic has been used for years to fend off diseases. Studies have shown that people taking garlic supplements experienced few cold symptoms.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Roles for mesenchymal stem cells as medicinal signaling cells

Understanding the in vivo identity and function of mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) is vital to fully exploiting their therapeutic potential. New data are emerging that demonstrate previously undescribed roles of MSCs in vivo. Understanding the behavior of MSCs in vivo is crucial as recent results suggest these additional roles enable MSCs to function as medicinal signaling cells. This medicinal signaling activity is in addition to the contribution of MSCs to the maintenance of the stem cell niche and homeostasis.

There is increasing evidence that not all cells described as MSCs share the same properties. Most MSCs reside in a perivascular location and have some functionalities in common with those of the pericytes and adventitial cells located around the microvasculature and larger vessels, respectively. 

Here we focus on the characteristics of MSCs that have been demonstrated to be similar to those of pericytes located around the microvasculature, defined as perivascular MSCs (pMSCs). Although we focus here on pMSCs, it is important to bear in mind that pericytes are found in many types of blood vessels, and that not all pericytes are thought to be MSCs.

Source: NatureReviews

Hepatocellular carcinoma

Liver cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths globally and has an incidence of approximately 850,000 new cases per year. Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) represents approximately 90% of all cases of primary liver cancer. The main risk factors for developing HCC are well known and include hepatitis B and C virus infection, alcohol intake and ingestion of the fungal metabolite aflatoxin B1. 

Additional risk factors such as non-alcoholic steatohepatitis are also emerging. Advances in the understanding of the molecular pathogenesis of HCC have led to identification of critical driver mutations; however, the most prevalent of these are not yet druggable targets. The molecular classification of HCC is not established, and the Barcelona Clinic Liver Cancer staging classification is the main clinical algorithm for the stratification of patients according to prognosis and treatment allocation. Surveillance programmes enable the detection of early-stage tumours that are amenable to curative therapies — resection, liver transplantation or local ablation. At more developed stages, only chemoembolization (for intermediate HCC) and sorafenib (for advanced HCC) have shown survival benefits. There are major unmet needs in HCC management that might be addressed through the discovery of new therapies and their combinations for use in the adjuvant setting and for intermediate- and advanced-stage disease. Moreover, biomarkers for therapy stratification, patient-tailored strategies targeting driver mutations and/or activating signalling cascades, and validated measurements of quality of life are needed. Recent failures in the testing of systemic drugs for intermediate and advanced stages have indicated a need to refine trial designs and to define novel approaches.

Read more: Hepatocellular carcinom

Source: NatureReviews

Autistic people have higher gene mutations but lesser risk to cancer

While people with autism have more cancer-related gene mutations, they are at lower risk for developing the disease. This is the conclusion of a new study by researchers from the University of Iowa.

Autism is a developmental disorder characterized by problems with social interaction, communication and repetitive behaviors.

In the US, it is estimated that 1 in 68 children have autism, most of whom are boys.

Study leader Dr. Benjamin Darbro, of the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine, notes that the finding of a genetic link between autism and cancer is not a new discovery; previous research has established that the conditions share risk genes.

Autism patients have more mutations in cancer-related genes, but they are at lower risk of developing
cancer than those without autism.

Gastritis: Facts, Causes, Diagnosis and Treatment

Gastritis is the inflammation of the stomach lining, which can have a multitude of causes.

The condition can be an acute (sudden onset, short-term) or chronic (persistent, long-term) issue that increases the risk of other conditions such as stomach ulcers, bleeding or cancer.

Facts about gastritis.
  • Gastritis can increase the risk of other gastrointestinal conditions such as stomach ulcers and cancer
  • People with gastritis typically report that their abdominal pain is located in the upper center of the abdomen
  • Gastritis can also cause pain in the upper left portion of the stomach radiating to the back
  • Pain caused by gastritis is often described as sharp, stabbing or burning
  • Treatment of gastritis depends on the factors that caused the illness along with whether the disease is acute or chronic.
Causes of gastritis
Gastritis occurs when the protective mucus lining of the stomach is weakened. When this happens, the digestive juices in the stomach can damage and inflame the walls of the stomach.

Gastritis occurs when the mucus lining of the stomach is weakened, enabling the digestive juices
to damage the stomach wall.
Source: steptohealth

Novel Use of Insulin-Producing Beta Cells

While not having love handles in the first place would probably be an ideal situation, scientists at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) in Zurich have found an exciting new use for the cells that reside in the undesirable flabby tissue—creating pancreatic beta cells. The ETH researchers extracted stem cells from a 50-year-old test subject's fatty tissue and reprogrammed them into mature, insulin-producing beta cells.

The findings from this study were published recently in Nature Communications in an article entitled “A Programmable Synthetic Lineage-Control Network That Differentiates Human IPSCs into Glucose-Sensitive Insulin-Secreting Beta-Like Cells.”

The investigators added a highly complex synthetic network of genes to the stem cells to recreate precisely the key growth factors involved in this maturation process. Central to the process were the growth factors Ngn3, Pdx1, and MafA; the researchers found that concentrations of these factors change during the differentiation process.

The diagram shows the dynamics of the most important growth factors during differentiation of
human induced pluripotent stem cells to beta-like cells.
Source: ETH Zurich

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