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How to Build a better brain

August 26th, 2016

growing a brain image www.newcures.info

Experts — Posted 04/02/16

Brain expert Dr Jenny Brockis explains why we should do Sudoku and learn languages – and why the best thinking comes from a calm, rested brain.

We’ve been talking about the need for greater physical health for decades. We know how important healthy eating and exercise are – but until recently, better brain health hasn’t been included in the equation. The primary reason is that our understanding of the human brain is still very much in its infancy.

Fortunately we now have a wealth of neuroscientific information available to us at this critical time when the burden of multiple chronic medical conditions in a rapidly ageing population, along with spiralling levels of stress, anxiety and depression, desperately need sorting out.

There are a number of lifestyle elements that contribute to brain fitness: good food, exercise, enough sleep, mental challenge and stress management. If you have a healthy brain, you start to think better. It’s easier to stay focused, keep things in perspective, stay positive and be more mindful.

Brain fitness is crucial to health and wellbeing across the trajectory of our lifespan. That means if we teach our kids how to build healthier brains they will grow into brain healthy adults.

Rustic desktop with work accessories. Objects in and out of frame layout with mostly silver color items.

“Brain fitness is about continuing to learn new things that with practice we can get better at. Learning a new language, picking up a musical instrument or signing up for a photography class are all great ways to stretch your mental muscle.”

How to keep your brain strong

Healthy food is important for nourishing your brain, and regular exercise keeps your brain fit as well as your body. Along with these healthy habits, there are some strategies you can use to reduce the effects of stress and brain overload, and to keep your neural connections strong.

Here are some things to try:

1. Reduce stress

Look for ways to manage stress levels by practising relaxation and taking time out. Tai chi, yoga, pilates and meditation are perfect ways to de-stress your day.

2. Create some breathing space

We need time to think, to pause and reflect. So switch off from all that technology regularly and give your brain a break. A 15 minute session to still your mind is all it takes – turn off your phone, close the door and just be.

3. Stretch your mental muscle

Practise being a five-year-old. Be curious about the world, ask questions, explore and try out new activities, especially those you don’t think you will necessarily be any good at. The more effort we apply to our learning the stronger those new neural connections will be. Many of us carry limiting self-beliefs: “I’m no good at (insert here – art, maths, dancing, etc)”. But if you feel drawn to trying something, give it a go anyway – you might surprise yourself.

Brain fitness is about continuing to learn new things that with practice we can get better at. Learning a new language, picking up a musical instrument or signing up for a photography class are all great ways to stretch your mental muscle. And the best thing is, the more we use that muscle the stronger it gets.

4. Connect with people

Staying connected and engaged with our world has been shown to be vital to our health and wellbeing on both a physical and mental level. Joining a club or volunteering are two ways we can widen our group of contacts.

A young man is sitting on a sofa with a cat and is reading a big book

A young man is sitting on a sofa with a cat and is reading a big book

“Break up your work session into blocks of 25 to 90 minutes, and take regular brain breaks of 15 to 20 minutes in between.”

The brain in focus

Much of my work is centred around the “science of high performance thinking.” A high performance brain is a brain that is operating to its true capacity. It’s not about being the best – just your best. It’s about the idea that if we look after our brain, and use it in the way it was designed to operate, we get more done, at a higher level and with fewer mistakes. This leads us to feel less stressed and enjoy a greater sense of achievement and happiness.

Here are three things about brain performance that might surprise you:

1. Multitasking is the one brain function that gets worse with practice

We multitask because we think we can, we think we’re good at it and we think it will save us time and energy. Sadly, this is wrong on all levels.

The brain is designed to be able to focus on only one thing at a time. While we can divide our attention and undertake lots of activities simultaneously, only one can really have our full focus. Trying to multi task exhausts our brain, causes us to make more mistakes, reduces memory, and causes us to take longer to finish our work.

2. We’re not designed for long periods of focus

When we’re working, studying, or focusing on a big task, it’s tempting to think we should switch our brain into overdrive and keep going all day long. But like everything else, our brain needs regular breaks to allow our subconscious to consolidate our thoughts, prioritise what needs to be kept for long-term memory and reboot our mental energy levels.

So what should we do instead? Break up your work session into blocks of 25 to 90 minutes, and take regular brain breaks of 15 to 20 minutes in between.

3. Our best thinking comes from a rested brain

Getting enough good quality, uninterrupted sleep each night is essential for better brain health and function. Our brain is very active at night – doing important tasks like laying down long term memory, deepening our understanding of what we have learnt, as well as loosening up those synaptic connections no longer required. Understandably, it needs some solid quiet time to get this done.

We also need sleep for better mood and emotional regulation. We only have to deal with a cranky, sleep deprived two-year-old to know how true that is!

Plus, sleeping is the time we take out the brain’s trash. Our brain is highly metabolically active and builds up a considerable amount of waste each day. Sleep allows our brain to give itself a good flush each night, so we’re good to go next morning.

Jenny’s latest book, Future Brain, is available now. Learn more about brain health at drjennybrockis.com

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Henry Sapiecha

Ginger-derived nanoparticles attack the roots of inflammatory bowel disease

August 22nd, 2016

ginger-root image www.newcures.info

Ginger-derived nanoparticles have exhibited impressive therapeutic effects in mice

ginger-cancer-cure-treatment-team image www.newcures.info

Ginger has a long and rich history when it comes to improving our wellbeing. Its medical use can be traced back thousands of years as a natural remedy for things like diarrhea and upset stomachs, but still today the thick, knotted root continues to reveal some hidden talents. Researchers have taken fresh ginger and converted it into a nanoparticle that exhibits real potential to treat these kinds of symptoms in one of their more chronic forms, inflammatory bowel disease, and might even help fight cancer, too.

The discovery was the result of a collaboration between researchers at the Atlanta Veterans Affairs Medical Center and Georgia State University. Based on previous research highlighting the anti-inflammatory properties of the plant, the team set out to further explore the potential for ginger to treat conditions relating to the digestive tract.

The research began with a fresh ginger root purchased at a farmer’s market, which the team ground up in a typical kitchen blender. But the process was a little more complicated from that point, with the team using super-high-speed centrifugation and ultrasonic dispersion to break the ginger apart into tiny particles, each measuring around 230 nanometers across.

These particles were administered orally to lab mice, where they were drawn to the colon and soaked up by cells in the lining of the intestines. This is the region where inflammatory bowel disease occurs, and the researchers observed that the particles reduced both short-term and long-term inflammation, and even prevented cancer that arises as a result.

Furthermore, the researchers found that the ginger-derived nanoparticles, or GDNPs, improved intestinal repair by increasing the survival and spread of cells making up the colon lining. At the same time, they hampered the production of proteins that give rise to inflammation and boosted those that fight it.

The team believes that these therapeutic effects come from the high amounts of fatty molecules, or lipids, in the particles, which are a consequence of the natural lipids found in the ginger plant. One of these lipids is phosphatidic acid, which plays an important role in the construction of cell membranes, but the researchers say that their particles also retain other important ginger compounds called 6-gingerol and 6-shogaol, which have been shown to fight oxidation, inflammation, and cancer.

The particles appeared to be non-toxic in the mice and the researchers say that in humans they may provide a more targeted treatment of the colon than simply delivering ginger as a herb or supplement. This more precise approach means it could be delivered in lower doses and therefore avoid unnecessary or unwanted side effects.

Among the challenges in turning these GDNPs into a drug, Didier Merlin, leader of the research team explains, is the need to pinpoint the precise mechanisms by which they produce these effects.

“To find the natural components that are responsible for the anti-inflammatory effects of GDNPs, this will be an important step to develop GDNPs into a drug,” he tells New Atlas.

The research was published in the journal Biomaterials.

Source: Atlanta Veterans Affairs Medical Center

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Henry Sapiecha

Tiny “Neural Dust” Sensors Could One Day Control Prostheses or Treat Disease

August 19th, 2016
These devices could last inside the human body indefinitely, monitoring and controlling nerve and muscle impulses

neural-dust-uc-berkeley-sensor-on-fingertip image www.newcures.info

They’re tiny, wireless, battery-less sensors no larger than a piece of sand. But in the future, these “neural dust” sensors could be used to power prosthetics, monitor organ health and track the progression of tumors.

A team of engineers and neuroscientists at the University of California, Berkeley have been working on the technology for half a decade. They’ve now managed to implant the sensors inside rats, where they monitor nerve and muscle impulses via ultrasound. Their research appears in the journal Neuron.

“There’s a lot of exciting things that this opens the door to,” says Michel Maharbiz, a professor of engineering and one of the study’s two main authors.

The neural dust sensors developed by Maharbiz and his co-author, neuroscientist Jose Carmena, consist of a piezoelectric crystal (that produces a voltage in response to physical pressure) connected to a simple electronic circuit, all mounted on a tiny polymer board. A change in the nerve or muscle fiber surrounding the sensor changes the vibrations of the crystal. These fluctuations, which can be captured by ultrasound, give researchers a sense of what might be going on deep within the body.

diagram-uc-berkeley-sensor-nerves image www.newcures.info

Building interfaces to record or stimulate the nervous system that will also last inside the body for decades has been a long-standing puzzle, Maharbiz says. Many implants degrade after a year or two. Some require wires that protrude from the skin. Others simply don’t work efficiently. Historically, scientists have used radio frequency to communicate with medical implants. This is fine for larger implants, says Maharbiz. But for tiny implants like the neural dust, radio waves are too large to work efficiently. So the team instead tried ultrasound, which turns out to work much better.

Moving forward, the team is experimenting with building neural dust sensors out of a variety of different materials safe for use in the human body. They’re also trying to make the sensors much smaller, small enough to actually fit inside nerves. So far, the sensors have been used in the peripheral nervous system and in muscles, but, if shrunken, they could potentially be implanted directly into the central nervous system or the brain.

rat-diagram-uc-berkeley sensor image www.newcures.info

Neural dust implanted in a rat (UC Berkeley)

Minor surgery was needed to get the sensors inside the rats. The team is currently working with microsurgeons to see what kinds of laparoscopic or endoscopic technologies might be best for implanting the devices in a minimally invasive way.

It may be years before the technology is ready for human testing, Maharbiz says. But down the road, the neural dust has potential to be used to power prosthetics via nerve impulses. A paralyzed person could theoretically control a computer or an amputee could power a robot hand using the sensors. The neural dust could also be used to track health data, such as oxygen levels, pH or the presence of certain chemical compounds, or to monitor organ function. In cancer patients, sensors implanted near tumors could monitor their growth on an ongoing basis.

“It’s a new frontier,” Maharbiz says. “There’s just an amazing amount you can do.”

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Henry Sapiecha

‘If you don’t vaccinate your kids you’re an absolute fool’

July 27th, 2016

Baby Elijah suffering from chickenpox image www.newcures.info

Baby Elijah suffering from chickenpox. Photo: Facebook

The photos are heartbreaking and almost too difficult to look at, but Kayley Burke is begging other parents to take notice.

“Vaccinate your kids people. The pictures below show you exactly why,” the upset Queensland mother posted on Facebook alongside horrifying photos of 11-month-old son Elijah covered in sores from chickenpox.

“Our poor baby boy who is too young to be immunised has caught the chickenpox. It has almost been a week since they showed up. Today he was admitted to Ipswich Hospital with a secondary infection.”

Ms Burke and her three-year-old daughter Kaliah have also contracted chickenpox. But thankfully, as the little girl has been vaccinated, she only has a few spots and is otherwise well.

The mother described adult chickenpox as “horrible and painful”.

“I’d rather give birth with no pain relief,” she wrote.

Elijah before he fell ill.image www.newcures.info

Elijah before he fell ill. Photo: Facebook

“Bottom line if you don’t vaccinate your kids you’re a bloody idiot. Think about the risk you are putting on other helpless kids that are too young or who actually can’t be vaccinated!”

The plight of baby Elijah has touched hearts everywhere. More than 36,000 people have shared the photos since they were posted on Thursday. Others have sent the family messages of support.

“Oh my gosh, poor bub! Can’t stand hearing about stupid selfish people not vaccinating their children,” one commenter wrote

“If even one more person vaccinates because of this post it’d be a win. But you and you family shouldn’t have to go through this. Man it makes me angry,” said another.

Ms Burke told The Sunshine Coast Daily her son had been crying and trying to itch the sores that now cover his entire head. When the baby boy refused to drink his bottle, she realised the sores must have spread inside his mouth and throat.

“It’s horrible I can’t think of anything worse (than watching him go through this),” she said.

“I’m very annoyed that he’s sick. I’m a strong believer in vaccinations and I’m sure if he was old enough to have the shot he wouldn’t be so sick.”

Chickenpox is caused by the varicella-zoster virus (VZV) and it is a highly infectious disease. It causes an itchy red rash with blisters and while most people recover, it can cause serious complications.

Immunisation against chickenpox is included in the combination measles, mumps, rubella and varicella (MMRV) vaccine for children at 18 months.

Children who are vaccinated against chicken pox may still get the virus, however their symptoms will be mild and it is unlikely any complications will result.

KIDS STUFF

Henry Sapiecha

 

Killer Blood Clots — Why They Form and How to Prevent This #1 Killer from Taking Your Life

July 25th, 2016

fibrin-micro-image www.newcures.info

Heart disease is the No. 1 killer of men and women in the United States, yet, when you think about this condition you may not automatically equate it with blood clots.

However, most heart attacks (myocardial infarctions) are caused by blood clots that limit or block blood flow to your heart.

If you make it to the emergency room, clot-busting medications may be administered because the faster you can break up the clot, the faster you can restore normal blood flow (i.e, oxygen!) to your body.

Preventing blood clots, then, including “breaking up” any potential clots before they develop, is a key strategy to heart health no matter what your age. One way to do this is to attack clots at their root source: fibrin.

What Are Blood Clots Made of and How Do They Form?

Blood clots are made up primarily of fibrin, an insoluble protein that also makes up scar tissue. Your body produces fibrin in response to bleeding. Specifically, the soluble protein fibrinogen is converted into fibrin at the site of a wound via clotting enzymes called thrombin.[i]

It’s an amazing process that’s absolutely crucial to your health and healing, but it must be properly balanced by the action of plasmin, an enzyme known as your body’s natural blood thinner. Plasmin helps to remove excess or unnecessary accumulated proteins so your blood can flow freely.

If this balance is upset, serious consequences including blood clots and heart attack can result. One study published in the Italian Heart Journal noted:[ii]

When fibrin deposition and removal are properly balanced, the organism is protected from both a catastrophic loss of blood at the site of injury and the inappropriate loss of fluidity within the vascular system.

When these activities are not properly balanced, however, severe bleeding or thromboses [blood clots] can occur. Myocardial infarction [heart attack] is a common and morbid consequence of the latter.”

Atherothrombosis: A Blood Clot Within Your Artery

You’re probably familiar with the term atherosclerosis, which is the buildup of plaque in your arteries. Less widely known, yet the leading cause of death in the Western world,[iii] is atherothrombosis — a blood clot that forms within your artery as a result of atherosclerosis.[iv]

Fibrinogen is one of the most studied risk factors in the development of atherothrombosis.[v] Like atherosclerosis, this condition can progress for years with no symptoms until it finally manifests as a heart attack or sudden death.

Fibrinogen levels may give some insight into your risk of this condition, however, as research shows a significant association between high fibrinogen levels and risk of heart disease, stroke, peripheral arterial disease and cardiovascular death.[vi]

The association is so strong that the risk of cardiovascular events in people with the highest fibrinogen levels was twice that of people with lower levels — and this was true in both healthy people and those already at high risk of heart disease and stroke.[vii] Even slight increases in fibrinogen levels may increase your risk of future heart disease.[viii]

Risks of Hypercoagulation

Hypercoagulation is another condition related to increased fibrin in your blood and, as a result, an increased risk of blood clots and related conditions such as deep vein thrombosis (DVT), pulmonary embolisms (PE), heart attack and stroke. Even kidney failure can occur if a blood clot forms in your kidneys.

Even in cases when excess fibrin does not lead to a blood clot, problems may still occur. Research suggests fibrin deposited in your blood vessels may lead to nutrient deficiencies, lack of oxygen and even chronic fatigue syndrome.[ix][x]

There are many causes of hypercoagulation, including genetic and lifestyle factors. In the latter case, being overweight or obese, smoking, using birth control pills or hormone replacement therapy, long plane or car trips, extended bed rest and pregnancy may all increase your risk.

How to Remove Excess Fibrin From Your Blood

It’s possible to remove excess fibrin in your body. The key is activating your body’s natural fibrin cleanup crew, which is made of proteolytic enzymes, a group of systemic enzymes responsible for breaking down protein molecules. They hit masses of excess fibrin and eat them away — literally!

For instance, after 2 months of taking proteolytic enzymes, healthy study participants had decreases in fibrinogen, factor VII, and factor VIII (other proteins involved in blood clotting) by 9 percent, 14 percent, and 17 percent, respectively.[xi] Those at high risk of heart disease had similar reductions (7 percent, 13 percent, and 19 percent, respectively) after taking the enzymes. Decreases in red blood cell aggregation and blood viscosity have also been demonstrated via proteolytic enzymes.[xii]

Systemic enzymes are naturally produced in your pancreas, but your natural production declines with age; these fibrin busters become largely depleted by age 50, with significant declines beginning as early as your late 20s.

Fortunately, improvement is easy… simply supplement your body’s supply of these vital enzymes for heart health. And, as an added bonus, proteolytic enzymes help fight pain-causing inflammation, cleanse toxins from your blood, fight viruses and fortify your immune system.

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Henry Sapiecha

British researchers get the go ahead to genetically modify human embryos

July 11th, 2016

IS THIS THE START OF WORLD BABY FACTORIES MANUFACTURING BABIES TO ORDER??

Scientists investigating miscarriage will not be able to implant embryos or study them for more than two weeks, says HFEA

Dr Kathy Niakan wants to look at the first few days of fertilisation-image www.newcures.info

Dr Kathy Niakan wants to look at the first few days of fertilisation.

Photograph: Francis Crick Institute

Britain’s first genetically modified human embryos could be created within months, after scientists were granted permission by the fertility regulator to carry out the procedure.

The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) regulator approved a licence application by Kathy Niakan, a stem cell scientist at the Francis Crick Institute in London, to perform so-called genome editing – also called gene editing – on human embryos.

The decision permits Niakan to study the embryos for 14 days for research purposes only. It does not permit them to be implanted into women. Niakan’s research is aimed at finding the genes at play in the early days of human fertilisation.

The decision was greeted positively by the Francis Crick Institute and British scientists but was met with anger and dismay by those concerned that rapid advances in the field of genome editing is precluding proper consideration of the ethical implications.

Paul Nurse, director of the institute, said: “I am delighted that the HFEA has approved Dr Niakan’s application. Dr Niakan’s proposed research is important for understanding how a healthy human embryo develops and will enhance our understanding of IVF success rates, by looking at the very earliest stage of human development – one to seven days.”

The work, using embryos donated by couples with a surplus after IVF treatment, will look at the fertilised egg’s development from a single cell to about 250 cells. The basic research could help scientists understand why some women lose their babies before term and provide better clinical treatments for infertility, using conventional medical methods.

Niakan will use a powerful genome editing procedure called Crispr-Cas9 to switch genes on and off in early stage human embryos. She will then look for the effects the modifications have on the development of the cells that go on to form the placenta.

Crispr-Cas9 has revolutionised biomedical research since its invention three years ago. It allows scientists to make precise changes to DNA, and has the potential to transform the treatment of genetic disorders by correcting faulty genes.

Prof Robin Lovell-Badge, group leader at the Francis Crick Institute, said: “

The approval of her [Niakan’s] licence gives the exciting prospect that we will at last begin to understand how the different cell types are specified at these pre-implantation stages in the human embryo.”

Lovell-Badge said it would also provide invaluable information about the accuracy and efficiency of the technique, helping to inform the debate about whether genome editing could be used in future to correct faulty genes that cause devastating diseases.

That prospect remains a long way off but is already a subject of concern.

Dr David King, director of Human Genetics Alert, said: “This is the first step in a well mapped-out process leading to GM babies, and a future of consumer eugenics.” He claimed the government’s scientific advisers had already decided they were comfortable with the prospect of so-called “designer babies”.

Anne Scanlan, from the anti-abortion organisation Life, said: “The HFEA now has the reputation of being the first regulator in the world to approve this uncertain and dangerous technology. It has ignored the warnings of over 100 scientists worldwide and given permission for a procedure that could have damaging far-reaching implications for human beings.”

There are fears that changes to an embryo’s DNA could have unknown harmful consequences throughout a person’s body and be passed on down the generations.

Last year, leading UK funders called for a national debate on whether editing human embryos could ever be justified in the clinic. Some fear that a public backlash could derail less controversial uses of genome editing, which could lead to radical new treatments for conditions such as muscular dystrophy and sickle cell disease.

The US National Institutes of Health will not fund any genome editing research on human embryos at present.

But supporters of the HFEA’s decision said it had arrived at the right conclusion, balancing the benefits to research and ethical considerations.

“The ruling by the HFEA is a triumph for common sense,” said Darren Griffin, a professor of genetics at the University of Kent.While it is certain that the prospect of gene editing in human embryos raised a series of ethical issues and challenges, the problem has been dealt with in a balanced manner. It is clear that the potential benefits of the work proposed far outweigh the foreseen risks.”

Sarah Norcross, director of Progress Educational Trust, called it a victory for level-headed regulation over moral panic”.

Dr Sarah Chan, chancellor’s fellow at Usher Institute for Population Health Sciences and Informatics, University of Edinburgh, said: “We should feel confident that our regulatory system in this area is functioning well to keep science aligned with social interests.”

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Henry Sapiecha

Children with deadly genetic condition HT-1 get fully subsidised treatment

July 10th, 2016

Twelve-year-old Charbel Torbey, with his dad David, has the extremely rare genetic condition tyrosinaemia type 1 (HT-1)image www.newcures.info

Twelve-year-old Charbel Torbey, with his dad David, has the extremely rare genetic condition tyrosinaemia type 1 (HT-1). Photo: Wolter Peeters

As Charbel’s parents dressed their four-month-old for his christening they noticed his nappy wouldn’t fit over his engorged tummy.

“He was really bloated, and his body was covered in these different coloured patches and he was squirming in pain,” Charbel’s father David Torbey said.

“We didn’t know that his organs had started shutting down.”

The new parents rushed their baby to hospital. Two days later he was diagnosed with the rare genetic condition Tyrosinaemia​ type 1 (HT-1) and treated with the orphan drug nitisinone (Orfadin).

“The doctors told us another day or two and he would have been dead. We were very lucky,” Mr Torbey said.

Just one in 100,000 babies are born with HT-1, amounting to fewer than 20 cases in Australia.

Without access to nitisinone most babies with the metabolic condition don’t live past their fifth birthday. The only treatment is a liver transplantation.

The oral capsules, distributed in Australia by Menarini, can cost between $2000 and $8000 a month and increases as the patient grows.

Those children are now assured fully subsidised access to the oral pill after the federal government added nitisinone on the Life-Saving Drugs Program (LSDP), committing $12.3 million to cover the cost over the next five years.

HT-1 patients don’t have the enzyme needed to break down tyrosine, an amino acid in protein foods, which builds up in the liver causing serious damage to the organ as well as the kidneys and brain.

The metabolic condition is easily missed at birth and the first few months of life with only ague symptoms including fever and failure to gain weight. Eventually the child develops jaundice – a yellow tinge to the skin and eyes – and a distinctive cabbage-like odour to the skin and urine.

A handful for paediatric services in public hospitals have been footing the bill for the drug since it was approved by the Therapeutic Goods Administration in October 2010.

But families of children with HT-1 had been looking to the future with uncertainty, knowing most hospitals don’t provide the drug, and adding the costly treatment to their drug store was an undesirable prospect for stretched health budgets.

Director of pharmacy at the Children’s Hospital Westmead Peter Barclay said he is worried his patients would struggle to access the drug when they aged into the adult healthcare system before the LSDP listing.

“There’s a lot of uncertainty about what happens to these children when they leave our care,” Mr Barclay said.

“It’s a barrier to finding another doctor and another hospital that will agree to supply the medicine, which would cost them tens of thousands of dollars a year for that single patient.

“The listing is great news for families who now know their children will have access anywhere in Australia. This is truly a life-saving drug.”

Mr Torbey said the concern was the hospitals losing funding for the drugs.

“Our biggest fear was the hospitals would say ‘We’ve had your funding cut, so you’ll have to find somewhere else to get [nitisinone]’,” he said.

“[The LSDP listing] means we don’t have to worry about Charbel later in life. That he won’t be constantly thinking about where he’s going to get [his medication].”

The father from Belfield in Sydney’s south-west knows how dire access to HT-1 can be outside of Australia.

Charbel had become ill during a family holiday in Lebanon when he was six months old and taken to a local hospital where another baby had just been diagnosed with HT-1.

“[The doctors] begged us to donate some of Charbel’s medicine to them,” Mr Torbey said.

“But we just didn’t have enough to give away and get Charbel back home. I’m still torn up about that. I don’t know what happened to that kid.”

Almost 12 years on Charbel has grown into a tall, lean boy.

The talented rugby player will need to take nitisinone for the rest of his life and follow a strict protein-free diet. He will never be able to eat meat, eggs, milk, cheese, nuts or lentils.

“In a way he’s lucky he doesn’t know what he’s missing out on,” Mr Torbey said.

“But he loves the smell of meat on the barbecue.”

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Henry Sapiecha

Artificial pancreas for diabetes sufferers could be available within 12 months

July 10th, 2016

artificial pancreas could replace insulin injections for type 1 diabetes patients image www.newcures.info

An artificial pancreas could replace insulin injections for type 1 diabetes patients. Photo: Matthew Bouwmeester

People living with type 1 diabetes could soon be free of regular insulin injections, after researchers said an artificial pancreas could become available within a year.

Those diagnosed with the autoimmune condition need regular insulin injections, sometimes up to six times a day, to compensate for a pancreas that produces little or no insulin. The body needs insulin in order to convert glucose into energy.

The artificial pancreas is able to monitor the wearer’s blood glucose levels and automatically adjust the level of insulin entering the body. Current devices allow insulin pumps to deliver insulin after a reading from a glucose meter.

Some of the components that make up the artificial pancreas image www,newcures.info

Some of the components that make up the artificial pancreas. Photo: Diabetologia

Cambridge University researchers behind the artificial pancreas say the device would “close the loop” and combine both tasks.

Roman Hovorka and Hood Thabit reported a positive response from patients who participated in trials, particularly because the device gave them “time off” or a “holiday” from their diabetes management.

“The system is managing their blood sugar effectively without the need for constant monitoring by the user,” they wrote in Diabetologia, the journal of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes.

The artificial pancreas monitors blood glucose in type 1 diabetes patients and automatically adjusts levels of insulin ...

The artificial pancreas monitors blood glucose in type 1 diabetes patients and automatically adjusts levels of insulin entering the body. Photo: Diabetologia

The system works by attaching a smartphone-sized device to the belly of a patient to monitor blood sugar levels. Readings are transmitted to a control gadget attached to clothing, which is linked to an insulin pump to administer the correct dose through the skin.

Insulin requirements vary dramatically between and even within individuals. On one day a person could use a third of their normal requirements and on another, three times what they would normally use.

Developers say the artificial pancreas could also be used by people diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.

A illustration showing the location of the pancreas.

An illustration showing the location of the pancreas. Photo: Malgorzata Tatarynowicz

“Closed-loop technologies are … destined to provide a viable alternative for existing insulin pump therapy and multiple daily insulin injections,” Dr Hovorka and Dr Thabit concluded.

The US Food and Drug Administration is reviewing one of the proposed artificial pancreas models, with approval possible as early as 2017. The UK equivalent authority, the National Institute of Health Research, has said the device could appear on the market by 2018.

However, some challenges still need to be resolved in the artificial pancreas, including addressing the time it takes for the insulin to take effect. Some fast-acting insulin took up to two hours after injection to reach peak levels in the bloodstream, which is not ideal for people participating in vigorous exercise.

The number of adults with diabetes has quadrupled worldwide in under four decades to 422 million, according to the World Health Organisation.

More than 100,000 Australians have developed diabetes in the past year, according to Diabetes Australia, which estimates 1.7 million Australians are living with diabetes.

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Henry Sapiecha

Prostate Cancer in pics & information.See what it is & how it can be treated here.

July 10th, 2016

What Is Prostate Cancer?

Prostate cancer develops in a man’s prostate, the walnut-sized gland just below the bladder that produces some of the fluid in semen. It’s the most common cancer in men after skin cancer. Prostate cancer often grows very slowly and may not cause significant harm. But some types are more aggressive and can spread quickly without treatment.

prostate_diagram image www.newcures.info

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Symptoms of Prostate Cancer

In the early stages, men may have no symptoms. Later, symptoms can include:

  • Frequent urination, especially at night
  • Difficulty starting or stopping urination
  • Weak or interrupted urinary stream
  • Painful or burning sensation during urination or ejaculation
  • Blood in urine or semen

Advanced cancer can cause deep pain in the lower back, hips, or upper thighs.

man_in_hallway image www.newcures.info

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Enlarged Prostate or Prostate Cancer?

The prostate can grow larger as men age, sometimes pressing on the bladder or urethra and causing symptoms similar to prostate cancer. This is called benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). It’s not cancer and can be treated if symptoms become bothersome. A third problem that can cause urinary symptoms is prostatitis. This inflammation or infection may also cause a fever and in many cases is treated with medication.

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Risk Factors You Can’t Control

Growing older is the greatest risk factor for prostate cancer, particularly after age 50. After 70, studies suggest that most men have some form of prostate cancer, though there may be no outward symptoms. Family history increases a man’s risk: having a father or brother with prostate cancer doubles the risk. African-Americans are at high risk and have the highest rate of prostate cancer in the world.

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Risk Factors You Can Control

Diet seems to play a role in the development of prostate cancer, which is much more common in countries where meat and high-fat dairy are mainstays. The reason for this link is unclear. Dietary fat, particularly animal fat from red meat, may boost male hormone levels. And this may fuel the growth of cancerous prostate cells. A diet too low in fruits and vegetables may also play a role.

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Myths About Prostate Cancer

Here are some things that will not cause prostate cancer: Too much sex, a vasectomy, and masturbation. If you have an enlarged prostate (BPH), that does not mean you are at greater risk of developing prostate cancer. Researchers are still studying whether alcohol use, STDs, or prostatitis play a role in the development of prostate cancer.

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Can Prostate Cancer Be Found Early?

Screening tests are available to find prostate cancer early, but government guidelines don’t call for routine testing in men at any age. The tests may find cancers that are so slow-growing that medical treatments would offer no benefit. And the treatments themselves can have serious side effects. The American Cancer Society advises men to talk with a doctor about screening tests, beginning at:

  • 50 for average-risk men who expect to live at least 10 more years.
  • 45 for men at high risk. This includes African-Americans and those with a father, brother, or son diagnosed before age 65.
  • 40 for men with more than one first-degree relative diagnosed at an early age.

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Screening: DRE and PSA

Your doctor may initially do a digital rectal exam (DRE) to feel for bumps or hard spots on the prostate. After a discussion with your doctor, a blood test can be used to measure prostate-specific antigen (PSA), a protein produced by prostate cells. An elevated level may indicate a higher chance that you have cancer, but you can have a high level and still be cancer-free. It is also possible to have a normal PSA and have prostate cancer.

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PSA Test Results

A normal PSA level is considered to be under 4 nanograms per milliliter (ng/mL) of blood, while a PSA above 10 suggests a high risk of cancer. But there are many exceptions:

  • Men can have prostate cancer with a PSA less than 4.
  • A prostate that is inflamed (prostatitis) or enlarged (BPH) can boost PSA levels, yet further testing may show no evidence of cancer.
  • Some BPH drugs can lower PSA levels, despite the presence of prostate cancer, called a false negative.

If either a PSA or DRE test are abnormal, your doctor will order other tests.

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Prostate Cancer Biopsy

If a physical exam or PSA test suggests a problem, your doctor may recommend a biopsy. A needle is inserted either through the rectum wall or the skin between the rectum and scrotum. Multiple small tissue samples are removed and examined under a microscope. A biopsy is the best way to detect cancer and predict whether it is slow-growing or aggressive.

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Biopsy and Gleason Score

A pathologist looks for cell abnormalities and “grades” the tissue sample from 1 to 5. The sum of two Gleason grades is the Gleason score. These scores help determine the chances of the cancer spreading. They range from  2, less aggressive, to 10, a very aggressive cancer. Gleason scores helps guide the type of treatment your doctor will recommend.

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Prostate Cancer Imaging

Some men may need additional tests to see if the cancer has spread beyond the prostate. These can include ultrasound, a CT scan, or an MRI scan (seen here). A radionuclide bone scan traces an injection of low-level radioactive material to help detect cancer that has spread to the bone.

In the MRI scan shown here, the tumor is the green, kidney-shaped mass in the center, next to the prostate gland (in pink).

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Prostate Cancer Staging

Staging is used to describe how far prostate cancer has spread (metastasized) and to help determine the best treatment.

  • Stage I: Cancer is small and still within the prostate.
  • Stage II: Cancer is more advanced, but still confined to the prostate.
  • Stage III: Cancer has spread to the outer part of the prostate and nearby seminal vesicles.
  • Stage IV: Cancer has spread to lymph nodes, nearby organs or tissues such as the bladder or rectum, or distant organs such as bones or lungs.

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Prostate Cancer Survival Rates

The good news about prostate cancer is that it usually grows slowly. And 9 out of 10 cases are found in the early stages. Overall, the 5-year relative survival rate is 100% for men with disease confined to the prostate or nearby tissues, and many men live much longer. When the disease has spread to distant areas, that figure drops to 28%. But these numbers are based on men diagnosed at least 5 years ago. The outlook may be better for men diagnosed and treated today.

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Treatment: Watchful Waiting

With low-risk cancer, one option is to watch and wait. This is determined by your biopsy, PSA test, and Gleason scores. Your doctor will order periodic testing. Other treatments — with the risk of sexual or urinary problems — may not be necessary. Some men who are older or have serious health conditions may not need treatment. However, more aggressive treatment is usually recommended for younger men or those with more aggressive disease.

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Treatment: Radiation Therapy

External beam radiation to kill cancer cells can be used as a first treatment or after prostate cancer surgery. It can also help relieve bone pain from the spread of cancer. In brachytherapy, tiny radioactive pellets about the size of a grain of rice are inserted into the prostate. Both methods can impair erectile function. Fatigue, urinary problems, and diarrhea are other possible side effects.

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Treatment: Surgery

Removing the prostate, or radical prostatectomy, is used to eliminate the cancer when it is confined to the prostate. New techniques use smaller incisions and seek to avoid damaging nearby nerves. If lymph nodes are also cancerous, prostatectomy may not be the best option. Surgery may impair urinary and sexual function, but both can improve over time.

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Treatment: Hormone Therapy

Hormone therapy may shrink or slow the growth of cancer, but unless it is used with another therapy it will not eliminate the cancer. Drugs or hormones block or stop the production of testosterone and other male hormones, called androgens. Side effects can include hot flashes, growth of breast tissue, weight gain, and impotence.

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Treatment: Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy kills cancer cells throughout the body, including those outside the prostate, so it is used to treat more advanced cancer and cancer that did not respond to hormone therapy.  Treatment is usually intravenous and is given in cycles lasting 3-6 months. Because the chemotherapy kills other fast-growing cells in the body, you may have hair loss and mouth sores. Other side effects include nausea, vomiting,  and fatigue.

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Treatment: Cryotherapy

Cryotherapy freezes and kills cancerous cells within the prostate (like the highly magnified cells shown here.) It is not as widely used because little is known about its long-term effectiveness. It’s less invasive than surgery, with a shorter recovery time. Because the freezing damages nerves, as many as 80% of men become impotent after cryosurgery. There can be temporary pain and burning sensations in the bladder and bowel.

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Treatment: Prostate Cancer Vaccine

This vaccine is designed to treat, not prevent, prostate cancer by spurring your body’s immune system to attack prostate cancer cells. Immune cells are removed from your blood, activated to fight cancer, and infused back into the blood. Three cycles occur in one month. It’s used for advanced prostate cancer that no longer responds to hormone therapy. Mild side effects can occur such as fatigue, nausea, and fever.

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Hope for Advanced Cancer

Your doctor will continue to monitor your PSA levels and may perform other tests after treatment for prostate cancer. If it recurs or spreads to other parts of the body, additional treatment may be recommended. Lifestyle choices may matter, too. One study found that prostate cancer survivors who exercised regularly had a lower risk of dying, for example.

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Coping With Erectile Dysfunction

Erectile dysfunction (ED) is a common side effect of prostate cancer treatments. Generally, erectile function improves within two years after surgery. Improvement may be better for younger men than for those over 70. You also may benefit from ED medications. Other treatments, such as injection therapy and vacuum devices, may help.

couple_holding_hands image www.newcures.info (2)

www.club-libido.com

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Food for Health

A cancer-conscious diet may be the best choice for survivors who want to bolster their health and those hoping to lower their risk. That means:

  • Five or more fruits and veggies a day
  • Whole grains instead of white flour or white rice
  • Limit high-fat meat
  • Limit or eliminate processed meat (hot dogs, cold cuts, bacon)
  • Limit alcohol to 1-2 drinks per day (if you drink)

Foods high in folate may have some action against prostate cancer (such as spinach, orange juice, lentils). Studies found mixed results on lycopene, an antioxidant found in tomatoes.

www.foodpassions.net

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Supplements: Buyer Beware

Be wary of supplements that are marketed to prevent prostate cancer. Some herbal substances can interfere with PSA levels. A 10-year study showed an increase in the risk of cancer for men who took folic acid supplements. A 5-year study of selenium and vitamin E did not show a decreased risk of prostate cancer. Be sure to tell your doctor if you are taking vitamins or supplements.

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ASD

Henry Sapiecha

 

Enlarged Prostate (BPH)Explained in pics Sketches & information guide

July 10th, 2016

What is an Enlarged Prostate?

An enlarged prostate occurs when a man’s prostate gland slowly grows bigger as he ages. More than half of men over age 60 have this condition, also called benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). Some men have symptoms and others don’t. The exact causes are unknown, but one thing is sure: BPH is not cancer and it does not lead to cancer. The prostate sits below the bladder and produces fluid for semen.

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Symptom: Frequent Need to Urinate

Do you have to pee more often these days? Especially at night, when you’re trying to sleep? That’s a common symptom of BPH. It happens when the growing prostate presses on the urethra, the tube that carries urine out of your body. The bladder has to contract more strongly to get urine out. As a result, the bladder may start to contract even when it only contains a little urine, which makes you get the urge to go more often.

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Symptom: Difficulty Urinating

With an enlarged prostate, it may take you longer to get the flow of urine going, and the flow may be weaker than it used to be. You may dribble urine or feel as if there’s still some inside even though you’re finished urinating. These symptoms happen because the pressure on the urethra makes it narrow, so your bladder must work harder to pass urine.

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Symptom: Inability to Urinate

This can happen when advanced BPH blocks your urethra entirely — or as a result of a bladder infection. Bladder muscles also may become too weak to force urine out of the body. From any cause, it can lead to permanent kidney damage. You can prevent this by seeing your doctor as soon as you notice symptoms. If you suddenly can’t urinate, go to a hospital emergency room immediately.

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Who Gets an Enlarged Prostate?

Most men get an enlarged prostate as they age. The prostate gland grows throughout most of a man’s life, first at puberty and then from about age 25 on. It usually doesn’t cause symptoms before the age of 40. But by age 85, up to 90% of men have symptoms. Only about a third of men with an enlarged prostate are bothered by symptoms.

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What Causes the Prostate to Grow?

No one knows for sure. It is believed that different hormones such as testosterone, dihydrotestosterone (DHT), and estrogen may play a role. It is also unclear why some men with BPH will have symptoms while others do not. Vasectomy and sex do not raise the risk of having BPH.

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Getting Diagnosed Early

BPH symptoms can be similar to those of other conditions. If you have symptoms, it’s important to see your doctor, who can rule out other possible causes, such as an infection or cancer.

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