Drops in Income May Hurt Your Brain along with Wallet, Study Finds

Agencies
October 4, 2019

Oct 4: Young adults, who experienced annual income drops of 25 per cent or more might be more at risk of having thinking problems and reduced brain health in middle age, a study said.

"Our exploratory study followed participants in the US through the recession in the late 2000s when many people experienced economic instability," said the study's lead author Leslie Grasset from the Inserm Research Centre in France.

"Our results provide evidence that higher income volatility and more income drops during peak earning years are linked to unhealthy brain ageing in middle age," Grasset said.

The study published in the journal Neurology, involved 3,287 people who were 23-35 years old at the start of the study and were enrolled in the Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults (CARDIA) study, which includes a racially diverse population.

Participants reported their annual pre-tax household income every three to five years from 1990-2010.

Researchers have examined how often income dropped as well as the percentage of change in income between 1990-2010 for each participant.

Participants were given thinking and memory tests that measured how well they completed tasks and how much time it took to complete them.

The study found that people with two or more income drops had worse performances in completing tasks than people with no income drops.

Participants with more income drops also scored worse on how much time it took to complete some tasks.

The results were the same after researchers adjusted for other factors that could affect thinking skills, such as high blood pressure, education level, physical activity and smoking.

There was no difference between the groups on tests that measured verbal memory.

Of the study group, 707 participants also had brain scans with magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) at the beginning of the study and 20 years later to measure their total brain volume as well as the volumes of various areas of the brain.

Researchers found when compared to people with no income drops, people with two or more income drops had smaller total brain volume.

People with one or more income drops also had reduced connectivity in the brain, meaning there were fewer connections between different areas of the brain.

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News Network
September 19,2020

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New Delhi, Sept 19: Scientists examined the effectiveness of common household fabrics used in homemade masks in blocking droplets generated by coughing and sneezing, and have found that they are considerably protective even as a single layer.

While earlier studies have focussed on the transfer of tiny, nanoscale aerosol particles through masks, the researchers from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in the US said speaking, coughing, and sneezing generates larger droplets -- about one millimeter in diameter -- that can carry virus particles.

They said the larger droplets pose a problem as they can squeeze through the pores of some fabrics if they have sufficient momentum, and break into smaller droplets and become airborne.

In the study, published in the journal Extreme Mechanics Letters, the scientists filled the nozzle of an inhaler with distilled water seeded with easy-to-find ultrasmall fluorescent particles -- which happens to be the size of a novel coronavirus particle.

The inhaler forced the water through the nozzle when puffed, and generated high-momentum droplets that collected on a plastic dish placed in front of the inhaler, the study noted.

The researchers repeated this process with the various materials placed over the collection dishes to test their ability to block the particles.

"We count the number of nanoparticles landing on the dish using a high-resolution confocal microscope. We can then use the ratio of the number collected with and without the fabric to give us a measure of droplet-blocking efficiency," said study co-author Taher Saif.

However, the scientists said for an individual to feel compelled to wear a mask, the material must not only be able to block the droplets, but also be comfortable and breathable.

"A mask made out of a low-breathability fabric is not only uncomfortable, but can also result in leakage as the exhaled air is forced out around contours of a face, defeating the purpose of the mask and providing a false sense of protection," Saif said.

"Our goal is to show that many common fabrics exploit the trade-off between breathability and efficiency of blocking droplets -- large and small," he added.

The scientists tested the breathability and droplet-blocking ability of 11 common household fabrics, including new and used garments, quilted cloths, bedsheets and dishcloth material, using a medical mask as a benchmark.

They then characterised the fabrics in terms of their construction, fiber content, weight, thread count, porosity and water-absorption rate.

Their analyses revealed that droplets leave the inhaler at about 17 metres per second (mps) while those released by speaking, coughing and sneezing have velocities within the range of 10 to 40 (mps).

"We found that all of the fabrics tested are considerably effective at blocking the 100 nanometer particles carried by high-velocity droplets similar to those that may be released by speaking, coughing and sneezing, even as a single layer," Saif said.

"With two or three layers, even the more permeable fabrics, such as T-shirt cloth, achieve droplet-blocking efficiency that is similar to that of a medical mask, while still maintaining comparable or better breathability," he added.

The researchers believe the new experimental platform may offer a way to test fabrics for their blocking efficiency against the small and larger droplets that are released as people breathe, or cough.

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Agencies
September 22,2020

Scientists have developed a new tool that mimics how the novel coronavirus which causes COVID-19 enters and infects cells, an advance that could potentially speed up the search for treatments against the deadly disease.

The novel tool, described in the journal ACS Nano, is a fluorescent nanoparticle probe with the spike protein that is present on the surface of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which it uses to bind to human cells and enter them.

According to the researchers, including those from the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS) in the US, the probe could be used in tests to rapidly gauge the ability of therapeutics to block the actual virus from infecting human cells.

"Our goal is to create a screening system to find compounds that block SARS-CoV-2 from binding to cells and infecting them," explained Kirill Gorshkov, a co-author of the study from the Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) in the US.

Since using the actual virus in such screening studies would be difficult and require special facilities, the scientists said they used nanoparticles to mimic the viral function of binding to and invading the host human cell.

"We at NRL are experts in nanoparticles, and the NCATS researchers are experts in drug screening using cellular systems. So, it was the perfect match," explained Eunkeu Oh, another co-author of the study from NRL.

To create the probe, the scientists built an ultrasmall fluorescent particle called a quantum dot, fashioned from cadmium and selenium.

According to the researchers, these particles are at around 10 nanometers in size, which makes them 3,000 times smaller than the width of a single human hair.

They studded the quantum dots' surfaces with a section of the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein which binds to ACE2 -- a human cell surface protein.

The study noted that the first step in the pathway to novel coronavirus infection is the union of the spike protein with ACE2.

The scientists could track the dots' behaviour under a microscope based on their fluorescent glow.

"Because they're such bright fluorescent objects, the quantum dots give us a powerful system to track viral attachment and effects on the cell in real time," Gorshkov said.

The researchers observed how the nanoparticle probes attach to ACE2 in a lung cell line commonly used in coronavirus assays.

According to the scientists, the probes were not toxic to the test cells at the concentrations and exposure times used in the study.

While the quantum dots followed the SARS-CoV-2 pathway into cells, they said the probes also mimicked the virus in the presence of antibodies, which are proteins made by the immune system that can specifically neutralise invading foreign agents like viruses.

The study noted that the antibodies were potent inhibitors of the quantum dot probes as well, preventing them from binding to ACE2 and entering human cells.

Based on the observation, the researchers said the quantum dot probes could help rapidly test the ability of potential therapeutic agents to block the virus from entering and infecting cells.

They said assays using the probes could also determine the concentrations at which potential treatments may safely and effectively block infection.

"Using the quantum dots, we could create tests to use in drug screening and drug repurposing, using libraries of compounds that have activity but that also are approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration," Gorshkov said.

"Such assays could rapidly identify promising, safe treatments for COVID-19," he added.

The scientists believe the probe's flexible design can allow researchers to swap in spikes that bind to other receptors as well since ACE2 may not be the only protein SARS-CoV-2 targets.

According to the researchers, the probe could also be used to test how mutations in the spike change the way the virus behaves by adding mutated spikes to the quantum dots.

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News Network
September 18,2020

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Ludhiana, Sept 18: DMCH Cancer Care Centre in collaboration with American Oncology Institute recently started a new diagnostic service (PSMA-PET Scan) in treating various prostate cancer.

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men and one of the leading causes of cancer death. Prostate Specific Membrane Antigen (PSMA ) is highly expressed in prostate cancer and its expression increases with tumour aggressiveness, metastatic disease and disease recurrence.

Secretary of DMCH Managing Society, Sh. Prem Kumar Gupta said, “Very few facilities in the region have this state-of-art facility and will be of great benefit for the patients.” He further added, “DMCH Cancer Care Centre is always in the process of acquiring new techniques and facilities for diagnosing and treating various cancer diseases. The availability of this facility will go a long way to help both patients and clinicians in knowing about the proper stage of prostate cancer, thereby helping patients with better outcome.”

Dr. Puneet Bhutani from the Department of Nuclear Medicine, American Oncology Institute stated, “This is a major milestone in diagnosis of prostate cancer. The procedure of diagnosing prostate cancer through PSMA-PET Scan is more accurate method for early detection of recurrent disease. It allows the oncologists to treat patients at an early stage and provide them a better treatment outcome.”

About American Oncology Institute:

American Oncology Institute is the leading cancer care provider across South Asia operating a chain of cancer hospitals in multiple cities across South Asia. AOI today is a wholly owned subsidiary of Varian Medical Systems (NYSE: VAR).

The team of clinical, paraclinical and healthcare operations experts pride themselves with the aim of closing the gap between standards of cancer care in South Asia and the developed cancer hospitals in the West. AOI provides comprehensive cancer management that is powered by clinical excellence, world class technology as well as best in class clinical pathways and protocols for treatment planning and execution, providing best in-class quality in cancer care across South Asia.

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