The Science behind “Car Sickness”

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Recent research has found that car sickness could be the result of your brain responding to what it thinks is a sudden bout of poisoning.

Experts think that car sickness (or any kind of similar motion sickness) is brought on because humans have only recently started travelling in things like cars, buses, and boats, and our brains haven’t fully adapted yet.

Despite the fact that we’re travelling in a moving car, bus, or boat, the majority of our senses are still telling us that our bodies are stationery – and of course, your body is technically stationary when you’re sitting in the back seat of a car.

At the same time, your brain also knows you’re moving forward at a certain speed because of the balance sensors – little tubes of fluid – in your inner ear.

The liquid in these tubes is sloshing around, indicating that you’re moving, but in reality you’re sitting still. Your brain’s getting some seriously mixed messages.

It’s the job of the thalamus to piece together this info and figure out what’s truly going on, but it often comes to the conclusion that poisons are to blame, which is why you’ll sometimes have to stop at the side of the road to puke.

“As soon as the brain gets confused by anything like that, it says, oh, I don’t know what to do, so just be sick, just in case,” neuroscientist Dean Burnett from Cardiff University in the UK explains to Melissa Dahl at Science of Us. “And as a result, we get motion sickness because the brain’s constantly worried about being poisoned.”

Staring out of the window can actually help, because it reassures the brain that you are in fact moving and all is well. Reading a book or a map often makes matters worse, because it convinces the brain that you really are stationary and not speeding through space.

Being the driver helps too, because there’s much more visual evidence available to the brain that you are genuinely on the move, and as an added bonus, you’re the one in control of the movement. You’re probably not being poisoned, in other words.

What scientists aren’t certain about is why it affects some of us and not others, or why some people ‘grow out’ of car sickness. It’s possibly just the luck of the evolutionary draw.

A 2013 study found that those with more ‘body sway’ – people whose bodies naturally move more often, even when stationary – were more likely to get sea sick. It might be that susceptible people just move differently in general, the study concluded.

Meanwhile, researchers continue to look for a cure to the ailment that’s spoiled the start of many a family holiday. Based on what we know so far, listening to your favourite music can help some of the time, as can eating a light meal high in protein before the trip (it apparently helps to calm your stomach).

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CDSCO to give ONLINE NOC for Clinical Trials soon

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The Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO) may launch online  grant of NOCs for conducting clinical trials soon, under SUGAM, an online solution for submission, application and grant of permission, in compliance with Union health ministry’s initiative of e-governance. The application can be submitted and monitored online which will reduce the time of clearance.

In this regard, the CDSCO will also be organising a hands-on workshop on ‘Online process for Grant of NOC for Clinical Trials’ on August 24, 2016 at CDAC Noida and after receiving the feedback, the date of launch will be decided, said an official from CDSCO.

He further said the process and document required are the same and it will reduce the time required in submitting the hard copy to the office. The applicant can submit all the required documents and monitor the status of the application.

The CDSCO in pursuance of implementation of e governance has launched various services for import of drugs, medical devices, drugs for personal use, drugs for test & analysis and import of cosmetics in first and second phases. Now in third phase, the online service for grant of NOCs for conducting clinical trials will be launched.

The organisation has launched an online portal for licensing the import of medical device from March, under SUGAM for the import of drugs. The portal only provided benefit for the grant of registration certificates for import of drugs or import license of drugs and the medical device industry. Now the grant of NOC for conducting clinical trails can also be availed.

Online application system provides an opportunity for user to apply for the grant through online system. It also provides an option to track the status of application online through an application reference number provided by the system at the time of submitting the application.

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USFDA approves computerised congnitive tests for head injury

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The U.S. Food and Drug Administration  permitted marketing of two new devices to assess a patient’s cognitive function immediately after a suspected brain injury or concussion. The Immediate Post-Concussion Assessment and Cognitive Testing (ImPACT) and ImPACT Pediatric are the first medical devices permitted for marketing that are intended to assess cognitive function following a possible concussion. They are intended as part of the medical evaluation that doctors perform to assess signs and symptoms of a head injury.

ImPACT and ImPACT Pediatric are not intended to diagnose concussions or determine appropriate treatments. Instead the devices are meant to test cognitive skills such as word memory, reaction time and word recognition, all of which could be affected by a head injury. The results are compared to an age-matched control database or to a patient’s pre-injury baseline scores, if available.

“These devices provide a useful new tool to aid in the evaluation of patients experiencing possible signs of a concussion, but clinicians should not rely on these tests alone to rule out a concussion or determine whether an injured player should return to a game,” said Carlos Peña, Ph.D., M.S., director of the division of neurological and physical medicine devices at the FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health.

ImPACT software runs on a desktop or laptop and is intended for those ages 12 to 59, while the ImPACT Pediatric runs on an iPad and is designed for children ages 5 to 11. Only licensed health care professionals should perform the test analysis and interpret the results.

Traumatic brain injuries account for more than 2 million emergency room visits in the United States each year, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and contribute to the deaths of more than 50,000 Americans. A significant percentage of these injuries are considered to be mild. A concussion is considered to be a mild traumatic brain injury.

The manufacturer submitted over 250 peer-reviewed articles, of which half were independently conducted clinical research studies. The research publications analyzed the scientific value of the ImPACT devices including the devices’ validity, reliability and ability to detect evidence of cognitive dysfunction that might be associated with a concussive head injury. The FDA concluded that these studies provide valid scientific evidence to support the safety and effectiveness of the ImPACT and ImPACT Pediatric devices.

The FDA reviewed the ImPACT device through its de novo classification process, a regulatory pathway for novel, low- to-moderate-risk medical devices that are first-of-a-kind, for which special controls can be developed, in addition to general controls, to provide a reasonable assurance of safety and effectiveness of the devices. The device is manufactured by ImPACT Applications, located in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

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NIB offers training to NIPER students on quality control of biologicals

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In order to develop analytical and technical knowledge of pharmacy students in Quality Control of Biologicals, National Institute of Biologicals (NIB) functioning under the Union health ministry organised a two-week long training session for post graduate students of pharmacy from National Institute of Pharmaceutical Education and Research (NIPER), Kolkata.

The training session which is also in line with NIB mandate as laid down in Memorandum of Association will also help create awareness about global scenario of Biologicals testing and Laboratory Quality Management System as per ISO: 17025.

Themed as National Skill Development and Hands-on-Training on Quality Control of Biologicals, the programme designed exclusively for pharmacy post graduate students of National Institute of Pharmaceutical Education and Research (NIPER), Kolkata offered hands-on training in areas of bio-therapeutics, vaccines, diagnostics, blood products and blood group serology in techniques like HPLC, electrophoresis, ELISA, bacterial endotoxin testing, cell culture aseptic handling, sub-culturing and maintenance, cell line based potency assays, animal handling and use of laboratory animals in QC testing of biologicals.

The two weeks session was held between 25 July 2016 and 05 August 2016 at NIB, NOIDA. NIB is currently organizing a three-week training for 26 students of NIPER Guwahati which started from 08 August 2016 and will conclude on 26 August 2016 and 32 students of NIPER Punjab from 22 August 2016 and 10 September 2016. In continuation to this NIB will also organize similar training programmes each for 30 pharmacy post graduate students for all other 04 NIPER Institutes in the country.

As a part of the programme, training is also provided on Haemovigilance Programme of India (HvPI), Haemo-vigil software and planning and carrying out a National Drug Survey for Spurious and NSQ Drugs in the Country.

This initiative which is in accordance with NIB mandate 3.1.4 as laid down in Memorandum of Association will facilitate in building up of a “National Talent Pool of skilled and trained manpower” for the indigenous manufacturing, domestic consumption and export of biologicals.

This will help bridge the gap in Quality Control of Biologicals in government and private sector as there is an acute shortage of skilled and hands-on trained manpower in the field of biologicals.

This training programme further has been initiated keeping in mind the Prime minister Narendra Modi – Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana (PMKVY) which emphasizes on “Skilling is building a better India. If we have to move India towards development then Skill development should be our mission”.

The Hands-on-training training is given in Quality control of biologicals in NABL accredited and CDL notified laboratories of NIB. The training sessions also include lectures and presentations from distinguished and eminent speakers from the institute and academia.

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Parkinson’s could be caught early by a simple eye test

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Scientists have shown that changes in rats’ retinas can predict Parkinson’s disease long before visible symptoms such as muscle tremors and stiffness start to occur.

If the same technique is shown to work in humans, it would offer a cheap and non-invasive way to detect the disease and start treating it before it gets worse.

The strategy requires only instruments that are currently in use by ophthalmologists, which means it could also offer an easier way to monitor how well a treatment is working for a patient. 

“This is potentially a revolutionary breakthrough in the early diagnosis and treatment of one of the world’s most debilitating diseases,” said lead researcher Francesca Cordeiro from the University College London.

“These tests mean we might be able to intervene much earlier and more effectively treat people with this devastating condition.”

Parkinson’s is a progressive neurological condition that affects one in 500 people. Right now, it can only be diagnosed by a neurologist, and there’s no single test or brain scan that can definitively diagnose the disease – doctors need to use a mix of different measures and tests.

The reason is that Parkinson’s usually starts with small symptoms that are easy to overlook, such as slight tremors or a loss of motor control, so many people don’t get diagnosed until the disease is quite advanced – usually once more than 70 percent of the brain’s dopamine-producing cells have already been destroyed.

So a test that could potentially be done alongside a regular eye check-up could make a huge difference for those at risk.

The new technique works by shining light on the back of the eye and looking at how many cells in the retina, known as retinal ganglion cells (RGCs) are going through cell death, as well as detecting signs of swelling in the region.

To figure this out, the team took rats that had been engineered to develop Parkinson’s disease. They detected increased RGC apoptosis and swelling in their eyes days before the animals displayed any physical symptoms. The team reports being able to see signs of the disease in the rats’ eyes by day 20, and traditional symptoms by day 60.

To take things one step further, the researchers also investigated whether treating the condition at this early stage would have any benefits.

They gave the rats a new type of anti-diabetic drug called rosiglitazone, and showed that by treating them early, they were able to effectively reduce the amount of nerve cell damage, compared to animals that didn’t receive early treatment.

As we mentioned before, these results need to be replicated in humans before we can get too excited, but the team says that their results were successful enough that they’ll now be pushing forward to human trials.

“Although the research is in its infancy and is yet to be tested on people with Parkinson’s, a simple non-invasive test – such as an eye test – could be a significant step forward in the search for treatments that can tackle the underlying causes of the condition rather than masking its symptoms,” Arthur Roach, director of the charity Parkinson’s UK, told the BBC.

Their research has been published in Acta Neuropathologica Communications.

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