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Brief View of the Latest Healthcare Industry_Issue5

Dec, 2014 - Feb, 2015


Smoking linked to loss of Y chromosome in males

Only men have the Y chromosome, which “may in part explain why men in general have a shorter life span than women, and why smoking is more dangerous for men,” says lead researcher Prof. Jan Dumanski, of Uppsala University in Sweden. Researchers have already shown that male smokers are more likely to develop cancer outside of the respiratory tract than female smokers. In the new study, the discovery of a potential link between smoking and genetic damage that only affects men could account for this difference.


Researchers link vitamin D deficiency to seasonal affective disorder

Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) - a form of depression that usually begins in the fall, continuing throughout the winter months. Symptoms include feeling sad or anxious, fatigue, concentration problems, irritability and feelings of guilt and hopelessness. In this latest study, Stewart and colleagues present the idea that vitamin D deficiency may be behind all of the aforementioned theories related to SAD.


More than salt, sugars may contribute to high blood pressure

Cardiovascular disease is the number one cause of premature mortality in the developed world, and hypertension is its most important risk factor. The researchers indicate “sugar may be much more meaningfully related to blood pressure than sodium, as suggested by a greater magnitude of effect with dietary manipulation.”


Alcohol disrupts body’s sleep regulator

Around 20% of adult Americans use alcohol-known to be a powerful sleep inducer to help them fall asleep. However, new research shows that while alcohol may bring on sleepiness, it can disrupt sleep and, over time, cause insomnia by interfering with the body’s system for regulating sleep.


Endurance training alters skeletal muscle ‘at an epigenic level’

Long-term endurance training alters the epigenetic pattern of the human skeletal muscle, according to new research from the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden, published in the journal Epigenetics. A key finding of the study was that the majority of epigenetic changes occurred in “enhancers,” which are regulatory regions of the genome.


A year in medicine: review of 2014

Looking back on 2014, perhaps two medical stories stick most in the memory-one because of its popularity in social media, the other because of its newsworthiness. Stem cells, dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, Ebola, E-cigarettes, health policy, innovative technology, paralysis, and personal health tracking.



Eat more whole grains to reduce CVD, total mortality risk

Whole grains form a part of many diets deemed to be beneficial for health – such as the Mediterranean diet. But what health benefits do whole grains offer in their own right? According to a new study, eating more of them may reduce mortality, particularly deaths resulting from cardiovascular disease.


Most physicians in Asia ‘withhold life-sustaining treatment for terminally ill patients’

According to the study researchers, including Jason Phua of the National University Hospital in Singapore, more than half of all cases of critical illness, mechanical ventilation and deaths in intensive care units occur in Asia. Over 70% of physicians in Asia would withhold life-sustaining treatments.


First lab-grown contracting human muscle

In a new study, researchers from Duke University in Durham, NC, reveal they have grown the first ever human skeletal muscle that contracts in response to external stimuli, such as electrical impulses and pharmaceuticals, The team says their creation paves the way for testing of new drugs and the study of diseases without having to put a patient’s health at risk.


Video-based treatment may improve autism-related behavior in at-risk infants

A new study published in The Lancet Psychiatry suggests video-based therapy may improve the engagement, attention and social behavior of infants at risk of autism and reduce their risk of developing the condition. Compared with the infants who did not receive the iBASIS-VIPP therapy, those who did showed significant improvements in engagement, attention and social behavior. On the AOSI scale, infants who received the intervention had lower scores for autism-related behavior than those who did not receive the treatment.


Pluripotent stem cells used to generate hair growth

Imagine swallowing a pill with tiny needles instead of getting an injection. Then again, imagine swallowing a pill with tiny needles. It may sound painful, but according to the researchers who developed the novel capsule, which could replace painful injections, there are no harmful side effects. “The large size of these biologic drugs makes them nonabsorbable,” explains lead author MIT graduate student Carl Schoellhammer. “And before they even would be absorbed, they’re degraded in your GI tract by acids and enzymes that just eat up the molecules and make them inactive.” The capsules took more than a week to move through the whole digestive tract, and there were no traces of tissue damage, the researchers say. Additionally, the microneedles effectively injected insulin into the lining of the pigs’ stomachs, small intestines and colons, which resulted in their blood glucose levels dropping.


Organ transplants in the US ‘have saved almost 2.,3 million years of life’

Little more than 50 years ago, the world’s first successful kidney transplant took place. Now, more than 16,000 kidney transplants take place each year in the US alone, indicative of just how far organ transplantation has come. Now, researchers have analyzed 25 years of transplant data to determine how many years of life have been saved by the procedure.



Antibiotic use has more unwanted effects than previously thought

Scientists are beginning to discover that antibiotic use - and overuse especially - is associated with a range of problems that affect, among other things, glucose metabolism, the immune system, food digestion and behavior. They also suspect it is linked to obesity and stress. Disruption in host-microbe dialog can not only disrupt digestion, cause diarrhea and ulcerative colitis, but new research is also linking it to immune function, obesity, food absorption, depression, sepsis, asthma and allergies.The team also found that the antibiotics and bacteria that have developed resistance to them cause significant changes to mitochondria, leading to more cell death.


Designer protein ‘blocks all known strains of HIV’

The results of the study, which are published in the journal Nature, demonstrate how the new drug candidate blocked every strain of HIV-1, HIV-2 and SIV (simian immunodeficiency virus), including the variants that are most difficult to block. Studies like this support the idea that killing bad bacteria with antibiotics is perhaps not a good way to deal with infection - given the increasing list of side-effects and problems they cause. Prof. Morgun suggests boosting the healthy bacteria so they outcompete the unwanted ones might be a better approach.


Daily antiretroviral medication ‘highly protective’ against HIV infection

Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) was found to reduce the risk of infection by 86% for this group during the PROUD study (Pre-exposure Option for reducing HIV in the UK: immediate or Deferred). The effects were so pronounced that a group of participants who had been deferred access to PrEP were offered the treatment ahead of schedule. A total of 22 HIV infections occurred among the participants during the first year of the study. Of these, 3 were in the group receiving PrEP and 19 were in the group whose access to PrEP was deferred. The researchers calculate that this gave the PrEP group an HIV incidence of 1.3 per 100 personyears, compared with 8.9 per 100 person-years in the deferred group.


Could too much sleep increase the risk of stroke?

According to the National Sleep Foundation, adults aged 18-64 should get 7-9 hours of sleep each night. But this latest study, involving more than 9,000 people with an average age of 62, found that getting more than 8 hours sleep each night was associated with a 46% increased risk of stroke. What is more, the researchers found that people who increased their amount of sleep from 6-8 hours each night to more than 8 hours during follow-up were four times more likely to have a stroke, compared with those who consistently slept for 6-8 hours a night.


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