Health & WellnessS

Eye 1

Asthma linked to hybrid immune cell

A recently discovered class of immune cell may hold the key to new treatments for asthma - and explain why existing therapies sometimes fail.

Asthma occurs when immune cells go into overdrive and release inflammatory chemicals called cytokines. These cause excess production of mucus, which plugs up the lungs. The disease is generally associated with immune cells called T-helper 2 (TH2) cells and the cytokines they release, but their response alone is not enough to trigger asthma.

Natural killer T (NKT) cells produce some of the same cytokines as TH2s, but release them faster and in greater quantities (see Diagram). NKT cells are hybrids: they kill invading microbes, like natural killer immune cells, but they also bind to antigens - foreign substances that trigger an immune response - like T-cells do.

Eye 2

Four chemists at former drugmaker admit falsifying data

Four chemists who worked at a New Jersey manufacturer of generic drugs pleaded guilty Thursday to the pharmaceutical industry's version of "cooking the books."

The four men, who were supervisors at Able Laboratories, admitted in federal court in Newark that they falsified and altered data generated in tests of generic drugs required by the Food and Drug Administration. In addition, one of the men, Shashikant Shah, 65, pleaded guilty to one count of securities fraud, having reaped $909,000 in profit from stock sales during the time when the company was falsifying test results.

The Securities and Exchange Commission also filed inside-trading charges against him.


Could Your Stomach Trouble Be 'Celiac Disease?'

There's a disease out there you need to know about. It affects some two million Americans, is often misdiagnosed, and is caused by the food you eat.

Jessica Edwards George has Celiac disease and it can be rough. "For me the main thing was abdominal cramping, abdominal pain, fatigue," says Edwards George.

Celiac disease causes the body's immune system to attack its' own digestive tract. It happens when sufferers eat anything containing gluten, which is found in grains like wheat, barley and rye.

Dr. Ciaran Kelly runs the Celiac Center at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. He says the disease can affect both young and old people, and they usually feel it right in the gut. "Diarrhea, weight loss, abdominal discomfort, bloating," are key symptoms according to Dr. Kelly.


Celiac disease: It's common, and commonly misdiagnosed - 1 in every 133 Americans has it

Lucia Libreri, 16, stopped growing when she was 8. Four years later after a battery of tests and visits with medical experts, her parents, Rosalia and Luciano, finally found a doctor who pinned down her problem: celiac disease, a condition scientists say is much more widespread in the USA than previously believed.

This summer, the National Institutes of Health launched the Celiac Disease Awareness Campaign to educate physicians and the public about the prevalence of the disease, the myriad of symptoms it can cause and the tests that can detect it.


Child medicines Contain Poison

Medicines for babies and young children frequently contain additives banned from foods and drinks aimed at under-threes, research shows.

The Food Magazine examined 41 medicines aimed at the under-threes, and found only one was free of the additives.

Azo dye colourings were found in five products and multiple artificial sweeteners and preservatives in many.

No colours or sweeteners are allowed in foods and drinks for the under-threes and most preservatives are banned.

Only additives strictly necessary from a technological point of view and recognised as being without risk to the health of young children are authorised in such foods.

The survey found four azo dye colourings, eight benzoate and two sulphite preservatives, and six sweeteners contained in the products examined.


Want a better memory? Stop and smell the roses

Washington - People who want to learn things might do better by simply stopping to smell the roses, researchers reported on Thursday.

German researchers found they could use odors to re-activate new memories in the brains of people while they slept -- and the volunteers remembered better later.

Writing in the journal Science, they said their study showed that memories are indeed consolidated during sleep, and show that smells and perhaps other stimuli can reinforce brain learning pathways.

Jan Born of the University of Lubeck in Germany and colleagues had 74 volunteers learn to play games similar to the game of "Concentration" in which they must find matched pairs of objects or cards by turning only one over at a time.


Use of hyperactivity drugs soars

The use of drugs to treat hyperactivity in children has soared worldwide, say US researchers.
Between 1993 and 2003, prescriptions of ADHD medications, such as Ritalin, almost tripled.
Global spending on ADHD drugs increased nine-fold, with 83% occurring in the US, a study in Health Affairs reported.


Japanese researchers unveil medical mini robot

©AFP/Yoshikazu Tsuno
Japan's Ritsumeikan University researchers unveil a prototype model of the micro medical robot, measuring 1cm in diameter, 2cm in length and weighing only 5-grammes, which enables it to stay and move inside a human body to remove or treat the affected part of disease, especially cancer.

Light Saber

How A Specific Fat Type Can Protect Against Weight Gain And Diabetes

A new study from Joslin Diabetes Center may shed light on why some people can eat excessive amounts of food and not gain weight or develop type 2 diabetes, while others are more likely to develop obesity and this most common form of diabetes on any diet. The study, which used two strains of mice with differing tendencies to gain weight and develop diabetes on a high-fat diet, identified genetic and cellular mechanisms that may prevent certain mice on a calorie-dense diet from gaining weight and developing metabolic syndrome.

"Although this study was done with mice, it points out new mechanisms that may underlie the ability of genetically different mice -- and perhaps genetically different people -- to not gain much weight on high caloric diets," said lead investigator C. Ronald Kahn, M.D., an internationally recognized researcher who is Head of Joslin's Section on Obesity and Hormone Action and the Mary K. Iacocca Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School.


Sorry, coffee won't make you more alert

Is coffee really the pick-me-up it's made out to be?

Not according to researchers from Bristol University in the UK.

They have found that having a caffeinated drink does not make you more alert than non-coffee drinkers, reported The Daily Mail.

And if you're a regular drinker, it won't make you more alert than you usually are.

It merely relieves withdrawal symptoms, they said.