Organ transplants: ‘Supercooling’ keeps organs fresh

‘Supercooling’ keeps organs fresh

A new technique can preserve organs for days before transplanting them, US researchers claim. “Supercooling” combines chilling the organ and pumping nutrients and oxygen through its blood vessels.

Tests on animals, reported in the journal Nature Medicine, showed supercooled livers remained viable for three days, compared with less than 24 hours using current technology.

If it works on human organs, it has the potential to transform organ donation. As soon as an organ is removed from the body, the individual cells it is made from begin to die.

Cooling helps slow the process as it reduces the metabolic rate of the cells. Meanwhile, surgeons in the UK carried out the first “warm liver” transplant in March 2013 which used an organ kept at body temperature in a machine.

The technique being reported first hooks the organ up to a machine which perfuses the organ with nutrients. It is then cooled to minus 6C.


In experiments on rat livers, the organs could be preserved for three days. One of the researchers, Dr Korkut Uygun, from the Harvard Medical School, told the BBC the technique could lead to donated organs being shared around the world.

“That would lead to better donor matching, which would reduce-long term organ rejection and complications, which is one of the major issues in organ transplant,” he said.

He also argued that organs which are normally rejected, as they would not survive to the transplant table, might be suitable if they were preserved by supercooling.

“That could basically eliminate waiting for a organ, but that is hugely optimistic,” Dr Uygun said. Further experiments are now needed to see if the technology can be scaled up from preserving a 10g (0.35oz) rat liver to a 1.5kg (3.3lb) human liver.

The researchers believe the technology could work on other organs as well.

Dr Rosemarie Hunziker, from the US National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering, said: “It is exciting to see such an achievement in small animals by recombining and optimizing existing technology.

“The longer we are able to store donated organs, the better the chance the patient will find the best match possible, with both doctors and patients fully prepared for surgery.

“This is a critically important step in advancing the practice of organ storage for transplantation.”

Source: updated news

Older sperm donors ‘just as good’

Older sperm donors 'just as good'

Women should not worry about using sperm from older donors as the success rate is the same as using a younger man’s sperm, researchers say.

The average age of donors has risen in the UK since the right to anonymity was removed in 2005. Doctors said there was concern about the impact on the odds of a pregnancy.

Experts said only older men with the best sperm could donate, so men as a whole should not see the results as an excuse to delay fatherhood.

A presentation at the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology annual conference showed the average age of donors was 26 before the law change and 34 afterwards.

“It is a huge difference,” said Dr Meenakshi Choudhary from the Newcastle Fertility Centre.

“It may concern women, who are already older, who know their chances are lower, that if they go for an older sperm then their chance of a live birth will be further reduced and compromised.”

She analysed data from 39,282 cycles of IVF between 1991 and 2012, concluding that older men had the same success rates as younger men.

Dr Meenakshi Choudhary told : “It doesn’t matter up to the age of 45 years, there was no decline observed in this study.

“Sperm donors are a select group of the population, they are healthy fertile donors who go through a stringent recruitment criteria.

“Based on this we can say that age does not matter as long as the sperm quality is good.”

‘Men not invincible’
Dr Allan Pacey, a lecturer in sperm at the University of Sheffield, said men should not be tempted by complacency.

He told “I think there is a perception out there that men are invincible from reproductive ageing – we just need to look at Charlie Chaplin who was 73 when he had his eleventh child.

“We know that as men go above the age of 40 and go into their fifties, their chances of getting a woman pregnant does reduce as a consequence of age.

“I don’t think you can take this data and apply it uncritically to the general population, the advice would still be you should be trying to have a child before the age of 40 or 45.”

Source: bbc news

Delhi hospital to train Kenya doctors

Delhi hospital to train Kenya doctors

BLK Super Speciality Hospital (BLK SSH), New Delhi and Kenya’s Kisii Teaching & Referral Hospital (KTRH) and Kisii University have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) under which BLK SSH will provide quality healthcare and training for Kisii University through an observership programme in areas of urosurgery, orthopaedics surgery, plastic surgery and neurology. The hospital will hold class at the university and referral hospital to help in the capacity building of the medical staff.

LK SSH will organize OPDs at Kisii University for providing diagnosis and treatment of renal conditions, laparoscopic surgery, general surgery, gynaecology surgery, cardiothoracic surgery, cardiac surgery, endocrinology, pulmonary, IVF, organ transplant, joint replacement, oncology, critical care medicine and telemedicine.

Naresh Kapoor, Director – Finance and Strategy, BLK Super Speciality Hospital, said, “This initiative will not only help in providing quality health training under the observership programme, but will also enhance relations between the two countries. It will also give a boost to healthcare tourism between the two nations.”

According to Kapoor, specialist doctors from various departments of BLK SSH will visit Kisii University to provide campus training to medical staff at the university. BLK SSH will also help KTRH and Kisii University to start the facilities of telemedicine centres for offering medical services through tele-connectivity in the field of high-end territory and quaternary cases.

James E O Ongwae, Governor of Kisii Country, said, “I am very happy to extend all support from our government which BLK Super Speciality Hospital will require at the time of imparting training to the medical staff at the Kisii University and running the observership programme. This is a great initiative between both the countries to help in the exchange of knowledge know-how and cultural diversity.”

Source: India Medical Times

Low-dose aspirin may reduce pancreatic cancer risk

Low-dose aspirin may reduce pancreatic cancer risk

The heart healthy benefits of low-dose aspirin are widely known, but that’s not all this humble little pill could do to save your life. A growing body of research indicates aspirin may also help lower the risk of one of the deadliest forms of cancer.

A new study published Thursday by researchers at the Yale School of Public Health finds aspirin taken daily in small doses could lower incidences of pancreatic cancer by as much as 48 percent.

Pancreatic cancer kills close to 40,000 Americans each year and has a 5-year survival rate of only 5 percent.

“The thought that there’s something that could lower the risk of someone getting pancreatic cancer is remarkable and exciting to me as a physician who has patients who have gotten — and died from — pancreatic cancer,” said. “There’s very little we can do for most people that get pancreatic cancer.”

For the study, published in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, researchers recorded information on aspirin use and medical histories of 362 pancreatic cancer patients and 690 patients who did not have the disease, between 2005 and 2009.

The researchers found that patients who took low-dose aspirin (75 to 325 milligrams) for six years or less had a 39 percent reduced risk for pancreatic cancer, while people who took it for more than 10 years reduced the risk for the disease by 60 percent.

The authors suggested that people with a strong family history of pancreatic cancer or other risk factors for the disease may want to consider a daily aspirin regimen to reduce their risk.

This new paper is one of several indicating that aspirin may safeguard patients from cancer. Other studies have shown aspirin can lower risk for ovarian, colorectal, stomach, esophageal, prostate, breast, lung and skin cancer.

So how exactly could this little over-the-counter painkiller be such an effective cancer-buster?

“Aspirin interrupts the inflammatory pathway in the body,” explained LaPook. “It turns out those same pathways look like they’re part of the pathways that can lead to cancer. If you interrupt those pathways, theoretically that might be the reason why you lower the risk for cancer. We don’t know that for sure, but that’s one thought.”

This promising research could also offer a new route for cancer treatments. “There’s also a suggestion that not only is there a role for aspirin in preventing cancer but possibly in treating a cancer like colorectal cancer,” he said.

However, taking aspirin long-term poses a number of serious health risks. “Aspirin can cause gastrointestinal ulceration and bleeding, it can cause bleeding in the brain. These are potentially very serious complications,” said LaPook. “So yet again we say you have to talk to your doctor, you have to weigh the benefits. This is personalized medicine.”

Source: cbs news

Mediterranean diet may control weight among kids

Mediterranean diet may control weight among kids

Children taking a Mediterranean diet are at least 15 percent less likely to be overweight or obese than those children who do not, claims a new study.

Weight, height, waist circumference and percent body fat mass were measured in children from eight countries – Sweden, Germany, Spain, Italy, Cyprus, Belgium, Estonia and Hungary.

“The adherence to a Mediterranean-like diet was assessed by a score calculating by giving one point for high intakes of each food group which was considered typical of the Mediterranean diet such as vegetables, fruit and nuts, fish and cereal grains,” explained study author Gianluca Tognon from University of Gothenburg, Sweden.

“One point was given for low intakes of foods untypical of the Mediterranean diet such as dairy and meat products,” he said. High scoring children were then considered high-adherent and compared to the others.

The team found that children with a high adherence to a Mediterranean-like diet were 15 percent less likely to be overweight or obese than low-adherent children.

The findings were independent of age, sex, socio-economic status or country of residence. “The promotion of a Mediterranean dietary pattern is no longer a feature of Mediterranean countries.

“Considering its potential beneficial effects on obesity prevention, this dietary pattern should be part of EU obesity prevention strategies,” said Tognon.

Source: Times of India

Gum disease treatment linked to improvements in other conditions

Gum disease treatment linked to improvements in other conditions

People who were treated for periodontal disease had lower healthcare costs and fewer hospitalizations for other medical conditions compared to those whose gum disease went untreated, a new study has found.

“We were very surprised at the magnitude of the results,” Dr. Marjorie Jeffcoat told Reuters Health. She led the study at the University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine in Philadelphia.

Periodontal disease is a chronic inflammatory condition caused by bacteria that coat the surface of the roots of the teeth. If not treated, it can lead to bone loss around the teeth, infection and tooth loss.

Treatment consists of cleaning the teeth above and below the gum line. In advanced cases, surgery is required.

Jeffcoat said a number of previous small studies hinted that treating periodontal disease may help improve other medical conditions as well and reduce the risk of premature birth among pregnant women.

To learn more, she and her colleagues analyzed claims from two Pennsylvania insurance companies to determine if costs were lower over time for patients who had their gum disease treated.

“We wanted to see if it pays from a financial point of view, to treat the disease,” Jeffcoat said.

For their records to be included in the study, patients had to have been enrolled in both the dental and medical plans for at least one year and have been seen at least once for periodontal disease. They also had to have a diagnosis of type 2 diabetes, coronary artery disease, stroke or rheumatoid arthritis, or have been pregnant.

Treated patients were counted as those who had several follow-up appointments for gum disease coded in their records.

Records for 338,891 patients were included.

The study team found significant reductions in both healthcare costs and hospital stays over a period of five years among treated patients with each of the conditions except rheumatoid arthritis.

On average, non-dental healthcare costs for people with diabetes or stroke were about 40 percent lower if their gum disease was treated. For those with coronary artery disease, costs were about 11 percent lower with treatment.

Women who were pregnant and treated for gum disease had medical costs that were 74 percent lower than those with untreated gum disease, according to findings published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

When gum disease was treated, hospital admissions were also 39 percent lower among people with diabetes, 21 percent lower for stroke patients and 29 percent lower for those with coronary artery disease.

Ryan Demmer, who has studied periodontal disease at the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health in New York, said it’s plausible that microbes in the mouth can cause problems elsewhere in the body, but more research is needed because studies have shown mixed results.

Demmer, who was not involved with the new study, said it was a creative and innovative way to address the question using existing data from insurance records.

“But what they’re really getting at here is did treating the oral infections reduce these types of outcomes or adverse events among people with particular (other diseases),” he said, “and I think we need more data from clinical trials that can fundamentally answer that question.”

The authors agree that their study doesn’t prove treating gum disease improved other conditions. For instance, it’s possible that people who elected to have their gum disease treated also took better care of themselves in general.

But Jeffcoat believes the findings are strong enough to recommend that doctors have their patients checked for periodontal disease.

“Absolutely people should be checked – that’s why we published this paper in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine,” she said. “We didn’t publish in a dental journal because we wanted physicians to see it so they could give good advice to their patients.”

Screening for periodontal disease is an easy procedure, Jeffcoat added.

“Checking someone for periodontal disease can take as little as three to five minutes,” she said.

Source: reuters

Having twins? 11 tips for a healthy pregnancy

Having twins 11 tips for a healthy pregnancy

If you are expecting twins and don’t know what to expect, you are not alone. Many women pregnant with twins have no idea what to expect, but that doesn’t mean they — and you — can’t learn. So here is some information to help you understand what’s happening when you’re expecting twins.

A twin pregnancy is a double blessing, but it can also carry greater risks than singleton pregnancies.

In the U.S, about three in every 100 pregnant women give birth to twins or triplets, according to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. And by many accounts, twin pregnancies are on the rise.

Be prepared. Familiarize yourself with the top 11 things you didn’t know about your twin pregnancy from conception through delivery.

No. 1: You are more likely to become pregnant with twins naturally when you are in your 30s and 40s.

We all hear that the older we get, the harder it is to conceive, but advancing age may actually increase the likelihood of a twin pregnancy, says Abdulla Al-Khan, MD, the director and chief of maternal and fetal medicine and surgery at Hackensack University Medical Center in New Jersey. “Once you are 25 or into your 30s and 40s, ovulatory cycles are not regular anymore. If you are not regular and do ovulate, you could be ovulating two follicles at the same time.” Voila! A twin pregnancy — without assisted reproductive technologies.

No. 2: If you have two buns in the oven, you may need extra folic acid.

Women pregnant with twins may need more folic acid to help stave off birth defects, says Manju Monga, MD, the Berel Held Professor and the division director of maternal-fetal medicine at the University of Texas Health Sciences Center in Houston.

“We recommend 1 milligram of folic acid per day for twin pregnancies and 0.4 milligrams for singleton pregnancies,” says Monga, who has twins. Folic acid is known to reduce risk of neural tube birth defects such as spina bifida.

No.3: Women pregnant with twins clock in more time at the obstetrician.

Twin pregnancies require more monitoring than single pregnancies, Monga says. “We tend to do more frequent ultrasounds for growth in twin pregnancies, compared with one anatomy scan and one growth scan in a singleton pregnancy.”

But along with additional testing comes risk. For example, the chance of miscarriage after amniocentesis is higher in twin pregnancies, Al-Khan says. “You are sticking the mother twice, so if the risk of miscarriage is one of 1,000 in singleton pregnancies, it would increase it to one in 500 for twins.”

No. 4: Morning sickness may be worse with twin pregnancies.

“One of the things that is postulated as causing morning sickness is high levels of human chorionic gonadotropin, and we know that levels of this hormone are higher in twin pregnancies, so women carrying twins have a higher incidence of nausea and vomiting in the first trimester,” says Al-Khan. The good news? Most morning sickness abates within 12 to 14 weeks of pregnancy — even in twin pregnancies.

That’s not all, Monga says. Moms pregnant with twins complain of more back pain, sleeping difficulties, and heartburn than moms who are carrying one child. Moms pregnant with twins also have a higher rate of maternal anemia and a higher rate of postpartum hemorrhage (bleeding) after delivery.
No. 5: Spotting may be more common during twin pregnancies.

“When you spot in the first trimester, you could be undergoing a miscarriage, and miscarriages are more common in mothers of twins, triplets, and quadruplets — so we see more spotting in first trimester with multiples,” Al-Khan says.

But a little spotting is no reason to hit the panic button even in twin pregnancies. “A little spotting in the absence of cramps is reassuring, but when you are cramping, passing clots, and actively bleeding, that is a sign that’s something is happening and you should seek medical advice.”

No. 6: You don’t feel the babies kicking any earlier with twin pregnancies.

“Generally when you are pregnant with twins, fetal movements become more noticeable at weeks 18 through 20 of pregnancy, and the same is true in singleton pregnancies,” Al-Khan says. When a woman begins to feel fetal movements actually depends on whether she has been pregnant before. “If you have been pregnant before, you know what fetal movement is, but if you are pregnant for the first time, you really can’t distinguish the movement from gastrointestinal activity.”

No. 7: Moms pregnant with twins may gain more weight than moms carrying one child.

“With twins, mothers gain more weight as there are two babies, two placentas, and more amniotic fluid,” says Al-Khan. “You also need more calories for twin pregnancies.”

Still, there is not a well-established formula for weight gain during twin pregnancies, says Monga. “The average weight gain is 25 pounds for singleton pregnancy and 30-35 pounds for twins. We don’t want moms pregnant with twins to gain more than 40 [pounds] or less than 15 pounds.”
The Institute of Medicine’s provisional guidelines for weight gain in women expecting twins say:

Women of normal weight should aim to gain 37-54 pounds
Overweight women should aim to gain 31-50 pounds
Obese women should aim to gain 25-42 pounds
Exactly how much weight should you gain? The IOM recommends that you talk to your health care provider about that, because every pregnancy is unique.

No. 8: Risk of developing gestational diabetes is higher in twin pregnancies.

“The gestational diabetes risk is higher in twin pregnancy,” says Monga. That said, the biggest risk of gestational diabetes is having larger babies and requiring a C-section delivery, she says.

“While gestational diabetes is more common, the morbidity associated with it is less common because twin babies are not big babies.”

Still, moms who develop gestational diabetes during pregnancy are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes later in life, she says.

No. 9: Risk of preeclampsia during pregnancy is higher in twin pregnancies.

“People really don’t know what causes preeclampsia to start, but we know it occurs more frequently in twin pregnancies,” Monga says. Preeclampsia is marked by high blood pressure, protein in the urine, and sometimes swelling in the feet, legs, and hands. It is the precursor to the more serious, potentially fatal eclampsia.

No. 10: Labor (and delivery) may come early with twin pregnancies.

Most moms carrying twins go into labor at 36 to 37 weeks, as opposed to 40 in a single pregnancy, Al-Khan says, and some may go even earlier. “Generally, if the twins are born after 34 weeks, there should not be a major concern, but a premature baby is still a premature baby,” he says. “Twins are at higher risk of preterm labor and delivery and have higher degree of respiratory issues.” As a result of being born too early, twins may be born at low birth weights, and such babies tend to have more health problems than babies born weighing more than 5.5 pounds.

Unfortunately, there is no evidence that bed rest alone prevents preterm labor or delivery in twin pregnancies, and the use of agents to stop preterm labor have not been proven to be effective either, he says. “Stopping premature labor is challenging in multiple gestations.”

No. 11: Cesarean section deliveries may be more common in twin pregnancies.

“The likelihood of having a C-section is absolutely higher in twin pregnancies,” he says. “There is also a higher incidence of the baby being in breech position among twins than singletons.” When the baby is in a breech position, a C-section delivery is usually required.
Source: webmd

Decline of hearing ability: Indian, US experts find gene role


In a path-breaking research which may have implications for those suffering from a decline of their cognitive and hearing abilities, Indian and American experts have established the role of a specific gene in triggering such conditions.

Experts of Sir Ganga Ram Hospital and University of Louisville School of Medicine stated that the MMP-9 gene plays a major role in causing decline of cognitive and hearing functions and removal of the said gene decreases
Hyperhomocysteinemia-induced cognitive and hearing dysfunctions.

Hyperhomocysteinaemia (HHcy) is a medical condition arising due to an abnormally high level of homocysteine in the blood, experts said.

“There is a role of MMP-9 in decline of cognitive and hearing functions. The ablation of MMP-9 decreases Hyperhomocysteinemia-induced cognition and hearing

dysfunction. This research was carried out on mice but has large implication for humans,” said Dr Seema Bhargava, lead author of the research and Senior Consultant, Department of Biochemistry, Sir Ganga Ram Hospital.

MMP-9 gene is a matrix metallopeptidase which helps in wound healing, cell migration, learning, memory and various other functions.

Currently, 45 per cent of adults in India between 45-92 years of age suffer from hearing impairment. Deficiency of Vitamin B-12 and folate (another form of vitamin) and high homocysteine levels have also been associated with impaired
hearing in women.

“It is important to identify individuals at risk for HHcy (e.g. elderly people)… To reduce homocysteine levels, adequate vitamin supplements should be given. However, if HHcy is already present, vitamins will take several months to reduce the concentration of homocysteine.

“Our study has advocated the role of MMP-9 inhibitors by pharmaceutical companies as a therapeutic option,” Bhargava said.
The research was published in the May edition of Journal of Molecular Biology Reports.

Source: Zee news

Brain signal that may help in drug de-addiction


Researchers have discovered a new form of neurotransmission that influences long-lasting memory created by addictive drugs like cocaine and opioids and the craving for them.

Loss of this type of neurotransmission creates changes in brain cells that resemble the changes caused by drug addiction.

The findings suggest that targeting this type of neurotransmission might lead to new therapies for treating drug addiction.

“Molecular therapies for drug addiction are pretty much non-existent,” said Collin Kreple from the University of Iowa in the US.

“I think this finding at least provides the possibility of a new molecular target,” Kreple added.

This neurotransmission involves proteins called acid-sensing ion channels (ASICs), which have previously been shown to promote learning and memory, and which are abundant in a part of the brain involved in drug addiction.
The experiments showed that loss of ASIC signalling increases learned drug-seeking in mice.

When mice learned to associate one side of a chamber with receiving cocaine, animals that lacked the ASIC protein developed an even stronger preference for the “cocaine side” than control mice, suggesting that loss of ASIC had increased addiction behaviour.

The same result was seen for morphine, which has a different mechanism of action than cocaine.

In a second experiment, rats learned to press a lever to self-administer cocaine. Blocking or removing ASIC in the rat brains caused the animals to self-administer more cocaine than control animals.

Conversely, increasing the amount of ASIC by over-expressing the protein seemed to decrease the animals’ craving for cocaine.

The study was published in the journal Nature Neuroscience.

Source: yahoo news

Spine function test for back pain treatment

Spine function test for back pain treatment

With most people suffering from back pain at some point of time in their lives, researchers have now developed a digital test to measure the functioning of the spine.

With a digital spine analysis (DSA), a muscular evaluation of the spine, India’s Qi Spine Clinic generated a spine function graph that led to customised treatment and non-surgical therapy for many spine specialists, Qi claimed.

“It is really simple. The diabetes doctor wants to know your blood sugar levels. The cardiologist wants to know your blood pressure (BP) and your angiogram,” said Nithij Arenja, promoter, Qi Spine Clinic.

“What can be measured, can be managed. We generate a Spine Function Graph which provides a vital link to the treatment of your spine function,” Nithij added.

The spine is the least measured and most miraculous engineering marvel in our body, Nithij noted.

“From bankers to housewives, young college students to sportsmen, Qi has seen every conceivable patient category,” said Garima Anandani, head of spine consultants at Qi.

“The problems are all different, and hence the therapy is different for each person too,” Anandani added.

Traditional scanning methods such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and X-rays fail to identify a clear cause for back pain in 85 percent of the cases, a statement from the clinic added.

Source: Business standard