Clinical Trial

New Stem Cell Therapy Could Help Treat Osteoporosis and Restore Bones

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For every month in space, astronauts can lose 2.5 percent of their bone density. This is quite troublesome, as it will likely compound with the natural process of aging that also reduces bone density. However, a new therapy could be a fantastic solution to this issue, along with many other bone-weakening conditions.

Researchers from University College London have discovered that stem cells found in human amniotic fluid could be used in a treatment to strengthen brittle bones. The research, published in Scientific Reports, shows the treatment resulted in 79 percent fewer fractures in mice with brittle bone disease. Out of a total 324 mice, 168 were treated, while 156 served as the control group. Eight weeks after the mice were treated both the test group and the control group were evaluated for fractures.

Every control mouse exhibited fractures. Conversely, fractures in the experimental group decreased between 69 and 89 percent, leading to the 79 percent decrease in the fracture rate across all tested bones. Pascale Guillot, the study leader, found that the treatment was not resulting in new bone formation, but instead helping to fortify existing bone tissue.

Previous treatments using stem cells extracted from umbilical cords also reduced fractures, but only by increasing the plasticity of the bone. The treatment using the amniotic stem cells was shown to increase strength, plasticity, and structure of bones. According to Guillot, “The stem cells we’ve used are excellent at protecting bones. The bones become much stronger and the way the bone is organized internally is of much higher quality.”

Image credit: Stocktrek/Alamy
Image credit: Stocktrek/Alamy

Anti-Aging Serum

The team is hoping to start clinical trials within the next two years to see if the results can be replicated in humans. The aim of the treatment is quite versatile. Should it prove viable in humans, the treatment could be used in babies suffering from the genetic brittle bone disease, the elderly living with osteoporosis, and help astronauts regain bone density after long missions in space.

According to the National Center for Health Statistics, four percent of all men over the age of fifty, and sixteen percent of women of the same age, suffer from osteoporosis in the United States. Brittle bone disease affects an estimated 25,000 to 50,000 people in the US and has a profound impact on bone formation, strength, and structure of other tissue, according to the Osteogenesis Imperfecta Foundation.

We may have a while to wait, as the treatment is confirmed effective and jumps through the necessary hoops of FDA approval, but the findings do instill a lot of hope for those affected by these bone weakening circumstances. As Dr. Guillot said, “We are already used to putting cream on our face to slow down the aging of skin, this will be the same for the skeleton.”

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Love Your Bones: October 20th is World Osteoporosis Day

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By the time of menopause — often around age 50 — many women discover they have reduced bone density due to a condition called osteoporosis, causing bones to become weak and brittle and more prone to fractures. Ahead of World Osteoporosis Day, Friday, October 20, here’s a roundup of some recommendations on how to reduce the risk and keep bones healthy.

Get moving during childhood

Increased exercise — at least three and a half hours per week — for young children, during growth but before puberty, can help boost bone density according to recent research. Sports with a high osteogenic (bone-building) effect include soccer, basketball and handball, when practiced young. Playing these team sports at an early age guarantees greater accumulation of bone mass in comparison with low osteogenic-effect sports such as swimming.
Moreover, low bone strength appears to be less of a problem for children who get moving or start walking early, according to a British study published in May 2016.

An anti-inflammatory diet

According to research published in January 2017 in the Journal of Bone and Mineral Research, women who scored highly on the dietary inflammatory index (DII), a measure of the inflammatory potential of diet, had twice the risk of hip fracture than those eating diets with lower inflammatory potential. A Mediterranean diet — rich in fruit, vegetables, fish, omega-3 and wholegrain cereals — may therefore be of interest. Plus, vitamin D (sardines, mackerel, calf’s liver, eggs, cod liver oil) is essential for building and regenerating bone.

Calcium, vitamin D and exercise after menopause

Whether a preventative measure or after a fracture, it’s important to ensure sufficient calcium intake after menopause by eating foods such as yogurt and cheese, as well as fruit and vegetables like broccoli, spinach, and dried fruit and nuts (walnuts, almonds, dried figs). It’s also important to keep an eye on sun exposure to help maintain vitamin D levels. Beware of drinking too much coffee or alcohol too. While up to two glasses of red wine can be beneficial for osteoporosis, three can make the condition worse.

When it comes to exercise for preventing the loss of bone mass, walking is a very good compromise for women needing to avoid impact sports but still seeking a cardiovascular workout. Head out for a longer, hour-long walk at the weekend and keep the pace brisk. Or try hiking with nordic walking sticks, for example, to get the upper body and arms moving too. What’s more, hopping carefully for two minutes a day could strengthen the hip bones in older people, helping to reduce the risk of fracture in the event of a fall, according to research from the National Center for Sport and Exercise Medicine (NCSEM) at Loughborough University in the UK

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Schizophrenia Fries More of The Brain’s Wiring Than We Thought, Study Shows

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Schizophrenia can disrupt the entire communication system running through the brain, a new study has found, affecting more regions of the mind than scientists previously thought and shedding new light on how the condition takes hold.

It’s the largest study so far of how white matter (the brain’s fatty tissue that enables neurons to communicate) relates to a psychiatric disease, and could help us figure out the mechanisms behind schizophrenia and other mental illnesses.

According to the international team of researchers, if we know more about where to look in the brain for the causes and effects of schizophrenia, then we can find more effective treatments – and this study answers that question of where schizophrenia takes root pretty comprehensively.

“We can definitively say for the first time that schizophrenia is a disorder where white matter wiring is frayed throughout the brain,” says one of the team, Sinead Kelly, who was at the University of Southern California (USC) when the study was conducted, and is now at the Harvard Medical School.

The World Health Organisation says 21 million people are affected by schizophrenia worldwide, and up until now it was thought that most of the damage done by the condition was in the prefrontal and temporal lobes.

Those are the parts of the brain responsible for hearing, defining our personality, and making decisions.

But the new study says communications are disrupted all over the brain, like frayed telephone or internet cables – particularly in the corpus callosum, which controls communication between the two hemispheres of the brain.

Another badly affected area was the front part of the corona radiata, one of the brain’s key structures for processing information.

The researchers pulled together a vast set of data, covering 1,963 people with the disorder and 2,359 healthy controls from 29 different international studies.

Data taken via a form of MRI called diffusion tensor imaging was used, which measures how water molecules move in white matter, and shows where the brain’s communication network isn’t as well insulated as it should be.

It’s a pretty bleak picture in terms of the brain damage associated with schizophrenia, but the more we know, the better we can treat the problem.

“Our study will help improve the understanding of the mechanisms behind schizophrenia, a mental illness that – left untreated – often leads to unemployment, homelessness, substance abuse and even suicide,” says Kelly.

“These findings could lead to the identification of biomarkers that enable researchers to test patients’ response to schizophrenia treatment.”

While we know a lot about the symptoms and consequences of schizophrenia, not much is understood about how it’s caused or gets started. Those with the disorder can experience hallucinations and delusions, as well as having trouble thinking and concentrating.

Though the condition can be managed with drugs, those drugs can have some pretty severe side effects, and we’re yet to find any way to cure people completely.

Part of the work researchers will be doing in the future is examining exactly how these communication networks in white matter get damaged in the first place – and now they know to look for genes affecting the brain’s entire infrastructure, rather than one particular section of internal cabling.

“Without this study, future research could have been misdirected,” says one of the researchers, Neda Jahanshad from USC.

“We’re showing that just studying a single brain region to try to find out what causes schizophrenia is not a good approach. The effect is global. Focusing on a certain part of the brain where you think that effect will be is not going to give you the whole story.”

The research has been published in Molecular Psychiatry.

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BDC&DA urges Centre to enhance GST composition scheme, to cut levy on cancer, HIV drugs

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Bangalore District Chemists & Druggists Association (BDC&DA) has urged the Union government to enhance the Goods & Services Tax (GST) composition scheme from Rs. 100 lakh to Rs. 150 lakh. It has also asked for total exemption of GST on insulin, oncology and anti HIV formulations besides all types of vaccines.

In a representation made to finance minister Arun Jaitley, the Association has said that the small and medium pharmacy traders are faced by hardships in filling Tran 1 and Tran 2 forms. Therefore the need of the hour is to ensure that the government increase the composition scheme rate from Rs. 100 lakh to Rs. 150 lakh.

“We chemists face severe difficulties because of a number of medicinal and pharmaceutical preparations. We also exhibit and sell other goods such as baby foods, cosmetics, diapers, surgical goods and other commodities which are related to sale in the pharmacy outlets that come under the fold of all five GST rates of zero percent, 5 per cent, 12 per cent, 18 per cent and 28 per cent. These products are marketed with retail price inclusive of all taxes on the unit pack with minimum margins provided”, informed V Hari Krishnan, president, Bangalore District Chemists & Druggists Association.

“Our traders face hardships in selling due to the rates printed on the packs to be abetted with bifurcation of GST in the form of CGST and SGST. Therefore, we request the Union government to enhance the present limit of composition scheme for a sale to the general public. This move if it comes through could provide huge relief to the small and medium traders who deal with different commodities.

By enhancing the composition scheme limit to Rs. 150 lakh per annum, the Central and state government will be benefitted by the input claims of the dealer who opt for the composition scheme.

Finance minister Jaitley who is also the chairman of the GST Council has considered to slash the rate for certain formulations including insulin by bringing it down to 5 per cent. The medicines which need to be brought down from 5 per cent GST to zero per cent are those for cancer, HIV and diabetes patients. Besides there are also a number of vaccines which are in need to prevent malaria, typhoid, dengue, hepatitis, said Krishnan.

Further, the Association has also asked the government to issue necessary notifications on the composition scheme limit without considering the turnover of the exempted items.

The government should consider our request on top priority as our traders are still unable to file Tran 1 due to the requirements of HSN, batch number, suppliers code, received date, purchase number, closing stock quantity, mention of MRP, indicating the purchase, sale, abetted MRP, MRP inclusive, VAT rate and VAT amount as the chemists and druggists were paying VAT on MRP in Karnataka from April 1, 2005 to June 30, 2017 which defers with other states, said Krishnan.

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