Clinical Research Organisation Chennai
A team of scientists from the University of Arkansas have successfully tested a laser that can track down cancer cells and kill them – all from outside the skin.
While being completely non-invasive, “this technology has the potential to significantly inhibit metastasis progression,” Vladimir Zharov, author of the paper that was published today in Science Translational Medicine, tells IEEE Spectrum.
The idea is to kill of cancer cells before they are able to metastasize, or spread, through the body – the primary cause of cancer-related deaths.
By shining a laser at these circulating tumor cells, they end up absorbing far more heat energy than regular cells. The heat causes them to expand and collapse.
“The use of lasers has revolutionized disease diagnosis and treatment. However, the large size of lasers has prevented their use in many medical applications at the cellular level,” said Zharo in a 2017 statement.
And the results are promising: “In one patient, we destroyed 96 percent of the tumor cells,” said Zharov. And that’s before they cranked the laser to max power.
It’s not the first device of its kind, but Zharov claims it’s the first to be demonstrated in humans.
But the new device has another big advantage: it can scan a litre of blood in an hour – far quicker than competing devices.
Saveetha Medical College & Hospital in Chennai to introduce Fellowship Programme in Medical Clowning
The Chennai-based Saveetha Medical College and Hospital, in association with MeDiClown Academy is offering an accredited and certified ‘Fellowship in the Art and Science of Medical Clowning’ (FASMC), sources from the medical college informed.
According to sources, this programme will integrate the therapeutic art and science of happiness, humour and healing through laughter, joy, play and love. The programme is designed for aspirants in health and wellness, education, social sector and corporate organizations, to facilitate a happy and healthy India for everybody.
Clowning in healthcare as a profession has been practiced in the western world for over 30 years, and is now a global discipline and career. Medical Clowns are highly specialized, trained and qualified professionals. International Scientific Research (ISR) has shown that Medical Clowning has a significant positive impact in improving mental, emotional and physical health. Stress, anxiety and depression decrease along with a number of conditions and illnesses including high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes and infertility, they said.
The FASMC programme will include workplace protocols, research, sustainable health and well-being techniques, theatre and theatrical practices, core academics and fieldwork such as shadowing International Medical Clowns, amongst other training modules. The duration of this full-time course is 6-months/600 hours. Criteria for application includes a bachelor or post-graduate degree in any discipline from a recognized university. The course will open up avenues for graduates to venture into new career lines.
Founded in 2013, MeDiClown Academy is a registered activity of the Auroville Foundation, incubated as a social startup by Fif Fernandes and Hamish Boyd. The Academy aims to transform health and social well-being through Medical Clowning in rural and urban India. The winner of “YES! – I am the CHANGE 2018 Grant and Accelerator Award by the YES Foundation, MeDiClown Academy is utilizing the grant to scale up operations and introduce this course for the first time in India.
According to Fif Fernandes, co-founder of MeDiClown Academy, “We are extremely elated to collaborate with an esteemed university such as Saveetha University to introduce this unique fellowship program. This will help us to achieve our vision of ‘Healing through Love, Laughter and Humour – A Healthy Happy India for All’. It will also develop job opportunities with a large pool of professionally trained MeDi Clowns”.
Hamish Boyd, co-founder of MeDiClown Academy added, “Our course curriculum has been designed after thorough research and selection of the right teaching methodologies. We are confident that our students will deliver the desired impact of MeDi Clowning on health and wellbeing outcomes in healthcare, educational, corporate and community settings.”
Dr. Saveetha, director of Saveetha Medical College and Hospital said, “As a renowned medical institution in India, we are happy to be the first to introduce this course along with MeDiClown Academy. With well documented research and studies, therapeutic clowning is now a global practice and career. Medical clowns add value in several work areas including private/government hospitals, schools, women self-help groups, traumatic and stressful environments such as in the Airforce, Army and Navy, amongst others.”
Saveetha Medical College, Chennai is ranked 25th by National Institutional Ranking Framework (NIRF).
The hardening of our ageing arteries has been a tricky process to pin down, but new research might finally have the answer. It might even take us closer to treatments that limit this blood vessel condition, which can increase the risk of heart attack, dementia and stroke.
While it’s already known that calcium deposits are the reason why arteries stiffen with age, it doesn’t tell us why that build-up accumulates. According to this latest study, the process could be triggered by a molecule called poly(ADP-Ribose) or PAR.
PAR is a repair protein that gets produced when cells or cell DNA gets damaged; as it binds very strongly with calcium, it starts mopping up calcium into larger droplets. Those droplets then solidify, sticking to artery walls and reducing their elasticity, the study reveals.
“This hardening, or biomineralisation, is essential for the production of bone, but in arteries it underlies a lot of cardiovascular disease and other diseases associated with ageing like dementia,” says cell biologist Cathy Shanahan from King’s College London in the UK.
“We wanted to find out what triggers the formation of calcium phosphate crystals, and why it seems to be concentrated around the collagen and elastin which makes up much of the artery wall.”
The release of PAR was spotted in various cell cultures, including human blood vessel samples, using a technique called Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) spectroscopy, which is able to analyse samples down to the molecular level.
The implication of a protein produced by cell damage makes a lot of sense, given that ageing, high blood pressure and smoking are all known to increase the risk of stiffening arteries. And what they have in common is the DNA damage they are known to cause; so if the researchers are right, the damage ends up calling on PAR to fix it, in turn hardening the arteries as a byproduct.
“Up until now we haven’t known what controls this process and therefore how to treat it,” says biochemist Melinda Duer from the University of Cambridge in the UK.
“We never would have predicted that it was caused by PAR. It was initially an accidental discovery, but we followed it up – and it’s led to a potential therapy.”
That potential therapy could centre around an existing antibiotic called minocycline. It’s already used to treat acne, and because it’s been through the necessary safety testing, the whole process of adapting it for preventing arterial stiffening could be sped up.
Through some short-term initial tests on rats, the team was able to demonstrate the effectiveness of minocycline in inhibiting the production of PAR. Clinical trials could happen within the next 18 months, according to the researchers.
It’s worthwhile to note that this part of the research was provided for and funded by Cycle Pharmceuticals, a company whose work explicitly includes finding ways to repurpose drugs that already exist on the market.
While we might not be able to stop artery stiffening completely as a natural consequence of ageing – and healthy lifestyle habits still play an important role – minocycline or a similar drug does appear to have the potential to lower the risk of health problems associated with these calcium deposits.
That said, antibiotic therapy doesn’t come without its own host of side-effects and costs, so time will tell whether this approach will truly lead to a practical solution. Still, the more we learn about the intricacies of our cardiovascular health, the better we can help our ageing population.
The research has been published in Cell Reports.
The Union Cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has recently approved the draft Homoeopathy Central Council (Amendment) Bill, 2019. The Bill seeks to extend the period for reconstitution of the Central Council from existing period of one year to two years so that the tenure of the Board of Governors may be extended for a further period of one year with effect from 17th May, 2019. This will help the Central Council of Homoeopathy in exercising the powers and performing the functions of the Council.
The Bill will replace the Homoeopathy Central council (Amendment) Ordinance, 2019 and extend the tenure of Government for another one year.
Earlier, the Homoeopathy Central Council (Amendment) Ordinance, 2019 was promulgated by the Cetral government on March 2, 2019. It amended the Homoeopathy Central Council Act, 1973 which sets up the Central Council of Homoeopathy. The Central Council regulates homoeopathic education and practice.
The 1973 Act was amended in 2018 to provide for the supersession of the Central Council. The Central Council was required to be reconstituted within one year from the date of its supersession. In the interim period, the central government constituted a Board of Governors, to exercise the powers of the Central Council. The Ordinance amends the Act to increase the time period for supersession of the Central Council from one year to two years.
The affairs of the Central Homoeopathy Council have been entrusted to a Board of Governors consisting of eminent and qualified Homoeopathy doctors and eminent administrators. Till such time the council is reconstituted. The tenure has been extended since the council could not be reconstituted within one year due to the non-updation of state registers of Homoeopathy and coincidence of general election.
In July last year, the American Red Cross declared an emergency blood shortage – it simply wasn’t receiving enough donations to help all the patients that needed blood.
Now, researchers from the University of British Columbia may have found a way to address the problem, even if people aren’t donating more: convert a less-usable blood type into one that anyone can receive.
Blood types are different because of the sugars on the surface of the red blood cells the body creates. Type A has one type of sugar and Type B has another; Type AB has both sugars. Type O doesn’t have any sugars.
If a person receives a blood transfusion of a blood type that’s not their own, their immune system will attack and kill the donated blood cells.
For example, a person with Type A blood could never receive a Type B donation because their system would simply reject the new blood because the sugars aren’t quite right.
Because Type O blood doesn’t carry any sugars, anyone can receive it – it’s the universally accepted blood type and, therefore, highly desirable.
In the past, researchers figured out that certain enzymes (molecules that cause chemical reactions) could remove the sugars from A, B, and AB blood cells, converting them into the more useful Type O.
However, as researcher Stephen Withers noted in a press release, they hadn’t yet discovered an enzyme that was efficient, safe, and economical. Their search for that enzyme took them into the human gut.
Withers and his team already knew that the lining of the digestive tract contained the same sugars found on blood cells, and that bacterial enzymes within human feces stripped those sugars from the lining to power digestion.
Using this knowledge, the researchers were able to isolate an enzyme that strips the sugars from A and B blood types, transforming them into Type O 30 times more efficiently than any previously discovered enzyme.
For now the researchers are double-checking their findings. The next step would then be to test the enzyme in a clinical setting, which will help determine if the conversion process produces any unintended consequences.
All that extra testing could still take some time. But Withers is optimistic that his team’s enzyme could be just the breakthrough we need to ensure anyone who needs a blood donation in the future will be able to receive one.
A version of this article was originally published in August 2018.