Clinical trials for Ayurvedic formulations against covid to be initiated in India, US

News Network
July 9,2020

Washington, Jul 9: Ayurvedic practitioners and researchers in India and the US are planning to initiate joint clinical trials for Ayurveda formulations against the novel coronavirus, the Indian envoy here has said.

In a virtual interaction with a group of eminent Indian-American scientists, academicians, and doctors on Wednesday, Indian Ambassador to the US Taranjit Singh Sandhu said the vast network of institutional engagements have brought scientific communities between the two countries together in the fight against Covid-19.

 “Our Institutions have also been collaborating to promote Ayurveda through joint research, teaching and training programs. Ayurvedic practitioners and researchers in both the countries are planning to initiate joint clinical trials of Ayurvedic formulations against Covid-19,” Sandhu said.

“Our scientists have been exchanging knowledge and research resources on this front,” he said.

The Indo-US Science Technology Forum (IUSSTF) has always been instrumental in promoting excellence in science, technology, and innovation through collaborative activities.

To address Covid-19-related challenges, the IUSSTF had given a call to support joint research and start-up engagements. A large number of proposals are being reviewed on fast track mode by the experts on both the sides, he said.

“Indian pharmaceutical companies are global leaders in producing affordable low-cost medicines and vaccines and will play an important role in the fight against this pandemic,” Sandhu said.

According to the ambassador, there are at least three ongoing collaborations between Indian vaccine companies with US-based institutions.

These collaborations would be beneficial not just to India and the US, but also for the billions who would need to be vaccinated against Covid-19 across the world, he noted.

Asserting that innovation will be the key driver in pandemic response and recovery, he said tech-companies and start-ups have already begun to take the lead in this direction.

"Telemedicine and telehealth will evolve as will other digital platforms across sectors," he said.

Noting that there has been a longstanding collaboration between India and the US in the health sector, he said scientists have been working together in several programs to understand important diseases at the basic and clinical level.

Many such programs have been focused on translational research to develop new therapeutics and diagnostics.

There are over 200 ongoing NIH funded projects in India involving 20 institutions from NIH network and several eminent institutions in India engaged in a wide spectrum of research areas to create health care solutions, the senior diplomat said.

The collaboration under Vaccine Action Program (VAP) resulted in the development of ROTAVAC vaccine against rotavirus which causes severe diarrhea in children.

The vaccine was developed by an Indian company (Bharat Biotech) at an affordable cost. It has been commercialised and introduced in the Expanded Program on Immunisation.

Development of many other vaccines such as TB, Influenza, Chikungunya are also in progress under the VAP, he said.

 “As I speak, the VAP meeting is in progress where experts from both countries are deeply engaged in technical discussions to expedite development of Covid-19 vaccine,” Sandhu said in his remarks.

During the interaction, the eminent experts appreciated India's handling of the Covid-19 pandemic and offered their valuable suggestions and best practices in this regard.

They shared their ideas on deepening the knowledge partnership between India and the US.

The experts who took part in the interaction, were drawn from wide-ranging fields including artificial intelligence, quantum information science, biomedical engineering, robotics, mechanical engineering, earth and ocean science, virology, physics, astrophysics, and health sciences.

Prominent among those who attended the virtual interaction were Subhash Kak Regents Professor at Oklahoma State University, Dr Vijay Kuchroo, Samuel L Wasserstrom Professor of Neurology at Harvard Medical School, Dr Ashish M Kamat, Professor of Urology at MD Anderson Cancer Center, Ashutosh Chilkoti, Alan L Kaganov Professor of Biomedical Engineering and Chair of the Department of Biomedical Engineering at Duke University; and Prof Manu Prakash, a professor in Department of Bioengineering at Sandford University, among others.

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Physical stress on the job linked with brain, memory decline in older age: Study

Agencies
July 24,2020

Colorado, Jul 24: A new study has found that physical stress in one's job may be associated with faster brain ageing and poorer memory.

Aga Burzynska, an assistant professor in the Department of Human Development and Family Studies, and her research team connected occupational survey responses with brain-imaging data from 99 cognitively normal older adults, age 60 to 79. They found that those who reported high levels of physical stress in their most recent job had smaller volumes in the hippocampus and performed poorer on memory tasks. The hippocampus is the part of the brain that is critical for memory and is affected in both normal ageing and in dementia.

Their findings were published this summer in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience under the research topic 'Work and Brain Health Across the Lifespan.'

"We know that stress can accelerate physical ageing and is the risk factor for many chronic illnesses," Burzynska said. "But this is the first evidence that occupational stress can accelerate brain and cognitive ageing."

She added that it is important to understand how occupational exposures affect the ageing of our brains.

"An average American worker spends more than eight hours at work per weekday, and most people remain in the workforce for over 40 years," Burzynska said. "By pure volume, occupational exposures outweigh the time we spend on leisure social, cognitive and physical activities, which protect our ageing minds and brains."

Physical demands at work

Burzynska explained that the association between "physical stress" and brain/memory were driven by physical demands at work. These included excessive reaching, or lifting boxes onto shelves, not necessarily aerobic activity. This is important because earlier work by Burzynska and her colleagues showed that leisure aerobic exercise is beneficial for brain health and cognition, from children to very old adults. Therefore, the researchers controlled for the effects of leisure physical activity and exercise.

As expected, leisure physical activity was associated with greater hippocampal volume, but the negative association with physical demands at work persisted.

"This finding suggests that physical demands at work may have parallel yet opposing associations with brain health," Burzynska explained. "Most interventions for postponing cognitive decline focus on leisure, not on your job. It's kind of unknown territory, but maybe future research can help us make some tweaks to our work environment for long-term cognitive health."

She added that the results could have important implications for society.

"Caring for people with cognitive impairment is so costly, on economic, emotional and societal levels," Burzynska said. "If we can support brain health earlier, in middle-aged workers, it could have an enormous impact."

The researchers considered and corrected for several other factors that could be related to work environment, memory and hippocampus, such as age, gender, brain size, educational level, job title, years in the occupation and general psychological stress.

One piece of the puzzle

"The research on this topic is so fragmented," Burzynska said. "One previous study linked mid-life managerial experience with greater hippocampus volume in older age. Another showed that taxi drivers had larger hippocampi than a city's bus drivers, presumably due to the need to navigate. In our study, job complexity and psychological stress at work were not related to hippocampal volume and cognition. Clearly, our study is just one piece of the puzzle, and further research is needed."

The magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) data used for the study was collected at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign between 2011 and 2014.

CSU researchers now can collect MRI data with the new 3T scanner at the University's Translational Medicine Institute.

With this new capability, Burzynska, along with Michael Thomas and Lorann Stallones of CSU's Department of Psychology, is launching a new project, "Impact of Occupational Exposures and Hazards on Brain and Cognitive Health Among Aging Agricultural Workers," which will involve collecting MRI brain scans and identifying risk and protective factors that could help the agricultural community age successfully. The project recently obtained funding as an Emerging Issues Short-Term Project from the High Plains Intermountain Center for Agricultural Health and Safety.

The Department of Human Development and Family Studies is part of CSU's College of Health and Human Sciences.

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National Bone and Joint Day | Bone and joint problems in obese

Dr G K Sudhakar Reddy
August 4,2020

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Being overweight or obese is now recognised as a serious cause of ill health and disability. There is a significant positive association between orthopaedic disorders and the level of obesity causing pain, deformity and difficulty in walking.

Excess body weight accumulation increases pressure on joints, particularly the hips, knees and ankles.

Here are a few type of  arthritis:

Osteoarthritis

It is a condition of damage/ wear and tear of the joint lining or cartilage. Obesity triggers this by loading excessive weight on the weight bearing joints like the knee and the hip. 

Knee Osteoarthritis

This is the most common arthritis especially in the Indian subcontinent.

While walking, an individual exerts 3 to 6 times pressure that of the body weight on the weight-bearing knee joint, which means in an obese with excess body weight, larger forces are exerted, which lead to higher risk of deterioration of cartilage.

In addition, there are excessive fat tissues that produce hormones and other factors that affect the joint cartilage metabolism and cause inflammation of the joints giving rise to joint pathology.  Leptin is one of the hormones causing knee osteoarthritis. 

Hip osteoarthritis

The force exerted across the hip is 3 times that of body weight. Hip osteoarthritis is caused by factors such as joint injury, increasing age and being overweight.    

Hand osteoarthritis

The observation that obese individual has a higher risk in having hand osteoarthritis has led to a hypothesis that the metabolic effect produced by fat tissue is the underlying factor. 

Osteoporosis

It is a progressive bone condition of decrease in bone mass and density (Bone Mineral Density or BMD) which can lead to an increased risk of fracture. Recent research suggests that obesity may accelerate bone loss. It is the amount of muscle mass which is seen in an active person, which accounts for bone strengthening effects and not due to the fat seen in a heavy person.

Low back pain

Low back pain from degenerative disc disease of the lumbar spine is one of the most disabling conditions in the community and overweight and obesity have the strongest association with seeking care for low back pain.

Managing Hip and Knee Osteoarthritis

Life style changes

If one is overweight, try to lose weight by doing more physical activity and eating a healthier diet. Regular exercise keeps you active and mobile and builds up muscle, thereby strengthening the joints and can improve symptoms. 

Pain Killers

Painkillers help with pain and stiffness for short term. They don’t affect the arthritis itself and won’t repair the damage to your joint. Creams and gels can be applied directly onto painful joints.

Nutritional Supplements

Glucosamine and chondroitin are nutritional supplements. Animal studies have found that glucosamine can both delay the breakdown of and repair damaged cartilage. However, there is insufficient evidence to support the use of glucosamine in humans and one can expect only a mild-to-moderate reduction in pain

Joint injections

If pain from osteoarthritis is severe joint steroid injections are injected into the joints that can reduces swelling and pain. The injections can start working within a day or so and may improve pain for several weeks or months. 

Hyaluronic acid injections, which help to lubricate your knee joint also give short term relief. In early stages. Stem cell treatment or cartilage regeneration procedures are being tried in young people with small defects, however it is still experimental and lacks long term evidence.

Surgery

May be recommended if you have severe pain or mobility problems.

Arthroscopy

If one has frequent painful locking/stiffening episodes especially in the knee joint, an operation to wash out loose fragments of bone and other tissue as joint can be performed by a minimally invasive key hole procedure called Arthroscopy.

Arthrodesis

If hip or knee replacement is not suitable, especially in young people who do heavy manual work, one can consider an operation known as an arthrodesis, which fuses your joint in a permanent position. This means that your joint will be stronger and much less painful, although you will no longer be able to move it.

Osteotomy

In young, active people in whom a knee joint replacement would fail due to excessive use one can consider an operation called an osteotomy. This involves adding or removing a small section of bone either above or below your knee joint.  This helps realign your knee so your weight is no longer focused on the damaged part of your knee. An osteotomy can relieve your symptoms of osteoarthritis, although you may still need knee replacement surgery eventually as you grow old

Joint replacement surgery

Joint replacement therapy is most commonly carried out to replace hip and knee joints. It involves replacing a damaged, worn or diseased joint with an artificial joint made of special plastics and metal.

For most people, a replacement hip or knee will last for at least 20 years, especially if it is cared for properly and not put under too much strain.

Dr G K Sudhakar Reddy is a Sr Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon at Citizens Speciality Hospitals, Hyderabad

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Nutrition, cardiovascular disease experts urge evaluation of diet at routine healthcare check-ups

Agencies
August 11,2020

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Dallas, Aug 11: A group of nutrition and cardiovascular disease experts issued a new scientific statement which states that the time has come for routine healthcare visits to include some form of dietary assessment and counselling.

The statement issued from the American Heart Association was published today in Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes, an American Heart Association journal. The experts recommend the adoption of a rapid diet screening tool that can be integrated into electronic health record platforms across all healthcare settings.

"Dietary patterns and quality are not sufficiently prioritised when addressing modifiable risk factors during regular healthcare office visits. Given the evidence that diet contributes to disease and mortality, it is a risk factor worth screening for continuously," said Maya Vadiveloo, Ph.D., RD, chair of the statement writing group and assistant professor of nutrition and health sciences in the College of Health Science at the University of Rhode Island in Kingston, Rhode Island.

Poor diet quality has surpassed all other risk factors for death, accounting for 11 million deaths and about half of the cardiovascular disease (CVD) deaths globally, according to the 2017 Global Burden of Disease Study, a comprehensive report on the health impact of diet in 195 countries around the world.

The statement authors reviewed 15 existing screening tools, assessing each to provide insight into the feasibility of incorporating an evidence-based dietary screening tool into routine practice.

The authors list numerous reasons why members of a healthcare team may not address diet quality during a routine office visit: lack of training and knowledge; lack of time and reimbursement; competing demands during the often short office visit and that nutrition services aren't integrated into many healthcare settings.

"However, these barriers can be overcome," said Vadiveloo. "We want a valid, reliable way to assess diet that reflects the best science and most of the tools assessed take under 10 minutes to use."

Three of the tools assessed to meet criteria set forth in the statement and may provide a framework to help practices incorporate diet screening into their workflow. The Powell and Greenberg Screening Tool asks two questions about fruit and vegetable consumption and sugary food and juice consumption.

The Rapid Eating Assessment for Participants-Shortened assessment and the Mediterranean Diet Adherence Screener ask more than 10 questions and cover major food groups, as well as processed foods and alcohol consumption.

The keys to an effective diet screening tool include:

-Using an evidence-based approach;
-Assessing the total dietary pattern, not just a single food or nutrient;
-Speed;
-The ability to give actionable next steps and support to patients; and
-The ability to track and monitor dietary change over time.

"There are other tools beyond what was assessed and additional tools could be developed," said Vadiveloo.

While the statement does not endorse a specific screening tool, it encourages critical conversations among clinicians, individuals with diet/lifestyle expertise, and specialists in information technology to adopt rapid diet screening tools for adults in primary care and relevant specialty care and prevention settings.

"An important component in addition to evaluating diet quality is targeting actionable changes - helping patients set achievable dietary goals - and then following up at the next visit," said Alice H. Lichtenstein, D.Sc., vice-chair of the writing group and lead and senior scientist of the Cardiovascular Nutrition Team at the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University in Boston.

Areas for future study include testing and validating screener tools in diverse populations, as well as among special clinical populations (paediatrics, geriatrics), and evaluating the feasibility of implementing these tools in clinical settings.

A healthy diet can improve cardiovascular disease risk and outcomes. What you eat (and how much) can affect other controllable risk factors, such as cholesterol, blood pressure, diabetes, and being overweight. 

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