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AIDS life cycle drawing

Scientists discover antiretroviral therapy can stop transmission of HIV virus

Scientists finally may have been successful in finding a treatment which can help in preventing the transmission of the HIV virus sexually. A study found a way to end the AIDS epidemic by suppressing men with antiretroviral drugs who are infected by HIV and this suppression helps their partners stay safe from the infection. If the medicines would be successful then whoever is suffering from AIDS would be fully free from this disease and there would be no infections in the future.

There was a test held in Europe where near about 1000 male couples participated and among those 1000 couples where one partner of those couples was affected by HIV and was undergoing some treatment to suppress the HIV virus. After the test was completed it was seen that no partner having HIV negative have been infected by HIV through their partners even after having sex without a condom.

Though 15 men were found to be affected by the HIV virus during the study conducted through 8 years, after conducting the DNA test it was seen that those men had sex with someone other than their partners who were not undergoing the treatment. Alison Rodger, professor from University College London and the co-leader of the paper which is published in Lancet medical journal said that this treatment has completely solved this issue and it’s brilliant and a fantastic thing and this treatment has also proved that this can also solve the problem of straight couples where one of the partners have AIDS. The professor also added that this treatment is 100% proven for the gay men who were affected by HIV and treated with the suppressive ART had no chance of transmitting it to their partners and this message can help people having AIDS from being discriminated.

This message has to spread more and more so that people having positive in HIV have access to this treatment and help them to maintain the undetectable viral load. Myron S Cohen of the UNC Institute for Global Health and Infectious Diseases at Chapel Hill in North Carolina said that men who have sex with other men should be benefitted more since they usually face difficulty in getting the treatment and he also added that it’s not always easy for people to test HIV and find access to the care centres.

Since the start of this study about more than 77million people have been infected by HIV and half of them have died. So here we can conclude that due to this study many people have been cured and are living happy lives.

Heart attacks clotting

Scientists discover how human arteries are attacked by “bad cholesterol”

Researchers from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Centre say that the formation of narrow blood vessels can lead to heart attack and strokes too. SR-B1 is a kind of protein which carries LDL particles over the endothelial cells which line the arteries. The study of how it carries the particles was published in the Nature journal.

In that study, it was also detected that a second protein known as dedicator of cytokinesis 4 or also called as DOCK4 are also associated with SR-B1 and also essential for the process. Dr. Philip Shaul, a senior author of the study said that the low-density lipoprotein which is commonly known as LDL cholesterol when enters into the artery wall leads to the growth of atherosclerosis or thickening of arteries. As a result of which, it turns into heart attacks and strokes. He also added that if treated in the future, to prevent the formation of these processes, it may help in reducing the occurrence of life-threatening state.

In the early stages of atherosclerosis what happens is that the LDL which enters in the artery wall attracts and is submerged by the vital immune system cells commonly known as macrophages which ingest or eats the LDL particles. These LDL laden macrophages become the foam cells which leads to swelling and the development of atherosclerotic plaques. These plaques narrow the arteries and become very unstable and the plaques which burst can trigger in the clotting of blood and can block the flow of blood towards the brain or heart. This can result in a stroke or heart attack.

In a recent study of mice with elevated cholesterol, the researchers said that the removal of SR-B1 from the cell resulted in the lessening of LDL entering the artery wall. This leads to the formation of lesser foam cells and smaller plaques. Dr. Shaul also mentioned that before working in this research the entry of LDL was unknown and thus the paper finding also solved the doubt of scientists LDL doesn’t enter through the damaged sites.

Scientists said that in their research they found out that atherosclerotic lesions are common due to the presence of more SR-B1 and DOCK4. To check if the same theory applies to human bodies the researchers viewed data on atherosclerotic and normal arteries from humans in three independent databases maintained by NIH. As a result, it was seen that SR-B1 and DOCK4 were huge in atherosclerotic arteries than normal ones. 

boy treated with gene therapy

Scientists cure “bubble boy” disease with help of an improved gene therapy

Researchers declared that ten newborn children with a rare genetic disorder, the “bubble boy disease” were cured with the help of gene therapy.

With the help of this treatment, the babies have been cured of the disorder without any side effects or post-treatment complications. Scientists carrying out research hoped for this result for decades but had always received setbacks until now.

In 2003, researchers tried to use gene therapy for treating Severe Combined Immunodeficiency Disease, but they stopped midway as it was detected that the therapy gave them cancer. The present treatment does not come with any such dangerous side effects and scientists hope that it can be used for other rare diseases too such as sickle cell disease.

Children born with SCID did not have a properly working immune system and without receiving any treatment they did not even make it past their first birthday. Even simple illnesses such as common cold were fatal for these children. These children were kept in very protected environments and it gave rise to the name “bubble boy“. However, a boost in the mortality rate has been observed recently owing to the advanced detection tests and treatments such as bone marrow transplants. Unfortunately, even these treatments have complications and they make the patients dependent on regular dosages of immunoglobulin.

The latest gene therapy has been developed by St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital based in San Francisco. The therapy rectifies the genetic defects which are there in the DNA of the babies just after they are born, which helps the body to develop the parts of the immune system that are missing.

After the extraction of blood stem cells from the bone marrow of the infants, researchers used a virus as a means of transport to send the corrected version of the defective gene to the stem cells of the patients. The rectified cells were reinfused into the body of the patients where the proliferation of the cells took place to grow healthy immune cells.

Scientists took special care in not enabling the genes which cause cancer, so they added “insulators” with the virus such that surrounding genes would not get affected when the virus is inserted into DNA. Apart from this, the patients were also given chemotherapy to a small extent for clearing the existing cells from the bone marrow so that proliferation of the corrected cells can occur in a better way.

It was an emotional day for the announcement at the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, as the team leader Brian Sorrentino had spent his last days fighting against his cancer to finish the work on the treatment.

soft total artifical heart

For the first time scientists successfully create a complete heart by 3D printing

A team of researchers at the Tel Aviv University has managed to successfully 3D print a small heart by using human tissues which includes blood vessels, biological molecules and collagens. This is considered to be a remarkable achievement as the scientists hope that with the help of this, they can make organ donation to be a thing of the past.

This achievement was reported by head researchers from TAU’s Faculty of Life Sciences, Professor Tal Dvir, Dr. Assaf Shapira and his doctoral student Nadav Noor in the Advanced Science journal.

The 3D printed heart is the size of a rabbit’s and it is not fully functional yet. However, the team has pointed out that the technology involved in 3D printing the heart for a human body is essentially the same. There are several steps of improvement left in the heart as the cells need to possess the pumping ability, a crucial working of the heart. Currently, the group of cells can contract but they need to work together. The scientists believe that they can succeed in increasing the efficiency of the method.

So the next step in the line is to make the printed heart grow and mature in the laboratory and make it learn how to function like an actual heart. Only after then can scientists take the decision to use it for transplant in animals for testing their functionality. This is a very time-consuming process and it may take years before this technology can create actual functioning organs that are ready to transplant. Nevertheless, this is a significant progress, as three-dimensional printing has managed to print tissues but not the blood vessels, which is very important for its working.

Dr. Dvir said that this is the first time, a team has successfully managed to engineer and print an entire heart with all the components inside it, the cells, blood vessels, chambers.

Scientists have previously printed cartilage and aortal tissues, but the main challenge was not accomplished, which is to create tissues with complete vascularization, blood vessels, capillaries. In the absence of these, the organs would not survive.

The scientists began the process with fatty tissues extracted from the human body and then they separated the cellular components from the non-cellular components. After that, they programmed these cells to undifferentiated stem cells which can be nudged to form cardiac cells or endothelial cells. The non-cellular materials such as the proteins galore were processed to form a personalized hydrogel which served as printing ink.

Organ printing basically involves three stages. The first stage is called the pre-print stage, which involves scanning the organ. The second stage is printing the organ and the third stage is maturing the organ in a proper environment.

Cancer cells death

Researchers find mini organs inside cancer cells resisting treatment

All over the world, scientists are constantly trying to develop more effective ways to fight cancer. But as the search for a fast and painless cure continues, new diseases and their problems come up. Scientists have identified that some of the cancer cells have been developing their own set of mini stomach, small intestine and duodenum. This is an indication of the plasticity of the cells which leads to the possibility of tumors being resistant to the drugs used to treat them. The study has been published in the Developmental Cell journal.

Purushothama Rao Tata, principal author of the study and an assistant professor at the Duke University School of Medicine commented on the nature of the cancer cells. He said that the cancer cells will be doing whatever needed for their survival. Some of the infected lung cells on being treated with chemotherapy stop some of the important cell regulators and take up the characteristics of the other cells so as to develop resistance.

Professor Tata’s team focused on the study of lung cells which are infected with cancer. Researchers used the information from the Cancer Genome Atlas Research Network and found out that a very large number of the non-small tumors of cell lung cancer do not possess the gene which indicates lung lineage named as NKX2-1. But the cells did show many of the genes which are present in the esophagus and gastrointestinal organs. As NKX2-1 was absent, it allowed the cancer cells to take on the characteristics which are associated with the other cells. Even though they were present in the lungs, the cells produced digestive enzymes.

The gene NKX2-1 is like a master control which actually guides the gene network and sets up a course for the network of lung cells. For their own development and growth, they use the genes from the same set of parent cells which are present in the stomach. Hence as the master control was absent, scientists wondered if they could make the cells form tumors by doing some manipulation. So they did tweak the cells genetically, where besides knocking down NKX2-1, they also activated the oncogenes, SOX2, KRAS.

The research work found out that the mice which had mutations of SOX2 superimposed on them developed the kind of tumors which actually resembled those of the foregut. On the other hand, those with KRAS mutations developed tumors which resembled those of the mid and hindgut.

The research work shows that cancer cells can shift the order so as to develop resistance towards the treatment but the mechanism by which it occurred was not known. More studies are to be conducted which cement these findings and develop a treatment to combat it.

3d depiction of dna string

Studies find that poverty not only affects health but it also alters genes

In our human history, we all know very well about the circumstances of rags to riches story. There are lots of causes behind being rich as well as living in poverty. It affects not only our health but also our internal expressions as per our financial conditions. As per a recent research on poverty, the effect comes to our DNA that nearly ten percent of our genome can be affected due to poverty.

Some researchers from US and Canada have arrived at this remarkable statistic by conducting a genome-wide analysis on just under 500 participants in the Philippine-based Cebu Longitudinal Health and Nutrition Survey.

A new study challenges the current understanding of genes as immutable features of biology which are fixed at conception. Past research works have shown that social-economic status is an important determinant of human health and disease.

In other words, poverty can affect up to 10 percent of the genes in the genome. As per the latest research and study about poverty we can guess about our internal inadequacy in our inside body that results in the recession in our cells and tissues which are responsible for our diseases and overall health.

Researchers have found as evidence that poverty can become embedded across wide swaths of the genome. Lower socioeconomic status has been associated with DNA methylene levels which is a key mark that has the potential to shape gene expression at more than 2500 sites, across more than 1500 genes.

The evidence concludes that poverty is also one of the main causes of our diseases that can’t be stopped very soon and easily. It makes us crippled slowly-slowly and finally diminishes.

Families who reside in a properly built home are less likely to fall prey to such diseases and are better equipped to recover from any illnesses. Mental health of individuals and family as a whole improves greatly when concerns related to physical health are not there.

CT scan brain skull

Researchers demonstrate tampering of medical scans by hackers

Researchers from the Ben-Gurion University and Soroka University Medical Center, Israel have developed a proof-of-concept malware that can use machine learning techniques which are known as the generative adversarial network(GAN) to alter the 3D images obtained during a Computer Tomography Scan.

CT scanners are usually operated through picture archiving and communication system (PACS) which can receive the scans from the scanner, store them and supply them to the radiologists. The information is transferred and stored using a format named DICOM. Well, renowned companies such as Philips, GE Healthcare and Fujifilm provide the PACS products.

But the researchers have identified a major flaw in this. The servers of PACS and DICOM are not secured properly and they are left unprotected from the Internet. The Shodan search engine conducted a scan which detected almost 2500 servers which were connected to the Internet. The data of the medical scanning is transmitted through the network without any kind of encryption and thus it is very susceptible to man-in-the-middle (MitM) attacks and further manipulation from dangerous sources.

The attackers can very easily target the PACS which are connected via the Internet, or they could also get access to a particular organization’s network and initiate the attack from there. Any damage can also occur if any local technician with malicious intent physically connects a MitM device between the scanner’s workstation and the network belonging to the PACS.

After intercepting the traffic from the CT scanner, the attackers can use a framework which is called CT-GAN, to tamper the images before they reach the concerned radiologist who analyses the results.

The working efficiency of the attack was checked by the experts who asked radiologists to analyse a combination of 30 original CT scans and 70 altered scans. The malware inserted evidence of malign cancer in the scans of the patients who were healthy and removed the symptoms from those of the cancer patients. As a result of this, the researchers managed to fool a well-known lung cancer screening institute in each one of the tests.

Such an attack can have dangerous implications. If performed at a scale it can result in wrong treatments of patients, misuse of insurance funds, medical terrorism and destroying well-renowned research centres. If this attack is used to tamper a political candidate’s CT scan it can make the candidate withdraw from the electoral campaign.

This method can be used in various illnesses such as heart diseases, blood clots, infections, torn ligaments. The complete details have been published in this paper by the researchers.

ohio state university researchers testing for fibromyalgia

Groundbreaking blood test accurately detects fibromyalgia

Whenever we visit a doctor, he often tells us that we need to do a certain blood test and we often wonder why. It is usually because the blood test will let us know whether we have any disease or not.

A recent study done by Kevin Hackshaw, a professor at College of Medicine at the Ohio State University in Columbus and a rheumatologist at the university’s Wexner Medical Center, successfully found biomarkers for a condition called “fibromyalgia” in the patients’ blood samples which can make it easy to differentiate fibromyalgia from other similar diseases.

Fibromyalgia is a chronic condition that affects 2–8 percent of the worldwide population and approximately 4 million adults in the United States. Most of the people living with fibromyalgia are women.

In order to research on this particular topic, Prof. Hackshaw and colleagues studied 50 people with a formal diagnosis of fibromyalgia, 29 people with rheumatoid arthritis, 19 with osteoarthritis, and 23 with lupus.

These conditions often co-occur with fibromyalgia. The researches then analyzed their blood samples using “vibrational spectroscopy“, a technique that measures the chemical bonds and energy levels of molecules.

The analysis found patterns that distinguished the blood samples of people with fibromyalgia from those who had related disorders. Moreover, further spectrometry measurements helped the scientists accurately predict the participants’ conditions based on their molecular pattern.

Dr Hackshaw testing patients with fibromyalgia

Dr Kevin Hackshaw examines fibromyalgia patient Barb Hartong at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. A new blood test may one day guide personalized treatment plans to relieve fibromyalgia pain. Credit: The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center

The researchers liken these molecular signatures with “metabolic fingerprints” and say that these findings will soon help develop more targeted treatments for fibromyalgia.

Prof. Hackshaw aims to have the test ready for use within 5 years. Luis Rodriguez-Saona, a professor of food science and technology at Ohio State and a co-author on the study, says that the researchers want to examine groups of 150–200 people with each condition to see whether they can replicate the findings in a larger population sample. Further analysis could also help identify specific proteins that are responsible for fibromyalgia-specific symptoms. “We can look back into some of these fingerprints and potentially identify some of the chemicals associated with the differences we are seeing,” says Prof. Rodriguez-Saona.

Most physicians nowadays don’t question whether fibromyalgia is real, but there are still skeptics out there,” says Prof. Hackshaw. Furthermore, some doctors prescribe opioids to people with fibromyalgia, which may worsen the condition and lead to addiction.

Finally, the new findings also suggest that the metabolic fingerprints may offer insights into the severity of the illness in each patient also.” This could lead to better, more directed treatment for patients,” says Prof. Hackshaw.

So, let us hope that this technique comes into use as soon as possible so that it can save many lives.

Published Researchhttp://www.jbc.org/content/early/2018/12/06/jbc.RA118.005816.abstract

NASA Astronaut Kevin Ford trains with Ultrasound

Dormant viruses activate in astronauts during spaceflight

In recent years we have been doing a variety of research in space. This is possible only with the help of astronauts going to space and finding out new discoveries. In order to become an astronaut, it is mandatory to go through various tests and also be physically and mentally fit.

Astronauts do possess threat from the viruses already present in their bodies.

In our bodies, there are various viruses which are good or bad for our health. Sometimes even the good viruses in excess can harm our body. The astronauts need to take care of the viruses and they have to see that the virus doesn’t affect their health in the space and also during the spaceflight.

A research published by NASA in the Frontiers in Microbiology states that a virus called the Herpes Virus reactivates in more than half of the crew in the Space Shuttle and International Space Station Mission.

It is not that herpes virus comes into our body from somewhere, it is already present in our body and because it increases in number it leads to an infection called herpes. It is an infection which affects the mouth region and the external genitalia, anal region, mucosal surfaces and skin in other parts of the body. The symptoms include blisters, ulcers, pain when urinatingcold sores and vaginal discharge. Although there is no cure for herpes, it can be treated using medications and home remedies.

Herpes Infection

Herpes Infection (Credit: BruceBlaus/ Wikipedia)

If this virus increases during the spaceflight it may lead to significant health risk in the mission.

Dr. Satish K. Mehta of KBR Wyle at the Johnson Space Center mentions that the astronauts are weeks and sometimes months away on a research mission and also they are under extreme G forces during take-off and re-entry. Along with this, there are various stresses like an altered sleep cycle and also social separation.

In order to study the various effect on the astronauts’ body, Dr. Mehta and his colleagues studied the saliva, blood and urine samples collected from astronauts before, during and after spaceflight. It was observed that during the spaceflight there is an increase in the stress hormone cortisol and adrenaline which are known to suppress the immune system. It is also found out that the astronauts’ immune system cells particularly those that suppresses and eliminates viruses become less effective during spaceflight and sometimes for up to 60 days after.

Dr. Mehta reports that to date, 47 out of 89 (53%) astronauts on short space shuttle flights, and 14 out of 23 (61%) on longer ISS missions shed herpes viruses in their saliva or urine samples. These frequencies—as well as the quantity—of viral shedding are markedly higher than in samples from before or after a flight, or from matched healthy controls.

Dr. Mehta added that only six astronauts developed any symptoms due to viral reactivation. All were minor.

The magnitude, frequency and duration of viral shedding also increase with the length of spaceflight. As we prepare for various missions beyond the Moon and Mars, there is a risk that the herpes virus could reactivate and their contacts could become more crucial.  The only way in order to control this virus is to provide vaccinations to the astronauts.

Published Researchhttps://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fmicb.2019.00016/full

Pregnant Woman

Pregnancy infection may lead to autism and depression in kids

According to a recent study, there is an elevated risk for autism, depression and suicide in children, whose mothers were hospitalized during pregnancy due to infections.

Earlier research has indicated that infections caused by specific pathogens, such as cytomegalovirus and the herpes virus, can cause serious fetal brain injury, abnormal brain development and an even increased risk for certain psychiatric disorders.

The researchers studied the hospital records of nearly 1.8 million people, born in Sweden (1973 -2014), from birth to age 41. Those people whose mothers had been hospitalized for any infection during pregnancy had a 79% higher risk of being diagnosed with autism while a 24% increased risk of being diagnosed with depression. No increased risk was detected for two other disorders like psychosis, schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder.

The study was performed by researchers at the University of Washington School of Medicine in Seattle, Washington, and the Sahlgrenska Academy in Gothenburg, Sweden, co-led by Kristina Adams Waldorf, a professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the UW School of Medicine, and Verena Sengpiel, an associate professor in obstetrics and gynecology at Sahlgrenska Academy.

“It is unclear how an infection by a microbe that does not directly attack the fetal brain could nevertheless affect its development,” said lead author Benjamin al-Haddad, a pediatric resident at the UW School of Medicine.

“Research has shown that exposure to inflammatory proteins released by the mother’s immune system to fight off infection may affect gene expression in fetal brain cells.
Other research suggests that inflammation may increase the production of serotonin, a neurotransmitter, by the placenta, which may alter fetal brain development”, he added.

“Parts of the fetal brain are exquisitely vulnerable to damage from infection and inflammation, especially areas involving social and emotional function. I think we need to take a broader view of how infection and inflammation can harm the fetal brain, beyond the effects of direct infection of the brain, in the meantime, we should aggressively act to prevent and treat infections during pregnancy when we can”, Kristina Adams Waldorf said.

Waldorf said women should be more concerned about vaccines during pregnancy especially influenza vaccine because women are not only putting themselves at risk for serious and even fatal infections, but they may be putting their infants at risk for neuropsychiatric disorders later in life.

The researchers are hopeful that these findings would be fruitful for them for future research, would also make aware pregnant women to take the influenza vaccine to prevent their child from fatal diseases.

Published Researchhttps://ja.ma/2F3gqCu