Health Scan News First ‘in body’ gene editing gene therapy uncovered Dr. Joseph Muenzer of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and others successfully achieved the first gene editing inside the adult body of a person suffering from Hunter or Hurler Syndrome. This disease is caused due to the missing of a gene that makes an enzyme to break down certain sugar compounds. Due to the lack of that particular enzyme, sugars accumulate and damage organs, often killing people in their teens. Gene editing is a more accurate gene therapy method that helps disable a bad gene or supply a good one that is missing. As this treatment is safe, controllers recently agreed to allow teens with Hunter syndrome to join the study. The ultimate goal is to treat children at a young age, before the disease causes much damage.  Nanoparticles based chemotherapeutic drugs for selective treatment of liver cancer cells Researchers at ETH Zurich recently identified an approach of selective treatment to kill liver cancer cells with chemotherapeutic drugs containing platinum nanoparticles.  Non-oxidised platinum nanoparticles have nontoxic effect on normal cells but inside liver cancer cells, the platinum releases its toxic effect by oxidation. Based on this knowledge, a team led by Helma Wennemers, Professor at the Laboratory of Organic Chemistry, and Michal Shoshan, a postdoc in her group, invented a method to introduce platinum (0) into the target cells, and then only it to be oxidised to platinum releasing its toxic effect.  Single Lead ECG devices to screen positive irregular heartbeat According to Mark Lown at the University of Southampton, irregular heartbeat also known as atrial fibrillation, or AF is rising significantly and it is associated with increased risk of heart failure, heart attack, strokes, and possibly dementia. The main risk in AF screening is, healthy people are wrongly identified as sick which are false positive cases, but single-Lead ECGs (which record the electrical activity of the heart) diagnose positive irregular heartbeat and further reduce the risk of false positives. Lown suggests that single Lead ECG devices are "inexpensive, non-invasive, re-usable, and convenient" and can help to "greatly reduce workload." Wearable respiration monitor developed with children's toy Biomedical engineers at the University of California, have developed a wearable, disposable, inexpensive respiration monitor using Shrinky Dinks, a popular children's toy. The new device will help children with asthma and cystic fibrosis and others with chronic pulmonary conditions. The device is adhered to the patient and the signals from embedded sensors are transmitted via Bluetooth to be displayed on a smartphone app.  Chemical of Plastic containers affect reproductive health According to researchers from Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM), the lining of food cans and plastic containers contain industrial chemical bisphenol A (BPA). When canned foods are taken during pregnancy, it causes the baby exposed to the industrial chemical bisphenol A (BPA), which will affect their reproductive health. BPA disturbs the endocrine system in foetus, children and adults and causes ovarian dysfunction such as infertility, polycystic ovary syndrome and premature ovarian failure.  BPA is also found in surface water and soil sediments.  Children exposed to toxic chemicals of the floors and furniture are at a risk of Multiple Disorders According to Heather Stapleton, environmental chemist from Duke University in the US, semi-volatile organic compounds (SVOCs) are widely used in electronics, furniture and building materials. Children living in homes with vinyl flooring and furniture with flame-retardant chemicals are exposed to higher concentrations of harmful semi-volatile organic compounds (SVOCs). SVOCs, are a subgroup of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and are associated with various diseases in children such as neurodevelopmental delays, obesity, endocrine and thyroid disruption, cancer and other diseases, respiratory disorders, skin irritations, multiple myeloma and reproductive disorders.  Innovative drug treatment to aged people to become active and stronger Researchers from The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, have developed a small molecule drug that that limits the effects of protein of muscle stem cells which is responsible for the age-related muscle degeneration. Through this innovative drug treatment, muscle stem cells are reorganised and muscle tissue will be rejuvenated. This will help the aged ones to become stronger, fitter and lead more active and independent lives as they age.  Menopause symptoms like hot flashes reduced by acupuncture. According to researchers from the University of Copenhagen, Denmark, and the University of Southern Denmark, Odense, some of the most unpleasant symptoms of menopause such as hot flashes can be reduced by short course of acupuncture. The acupuncture not only reduces hot flashes, but other symptoms like severity or frequency of sweating (including night sweats), sleep disturbances, emotional symptoms, and skin and hair problems.  Sleep-modulating hormone hypocretin reduces cardiovascular disease risk Sufficient sleep is essential for good health, and insufficient sleep increases the risk of serious problems, including cardiovascular disease. Researchers from Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) have discovered that sufficient sleep reduces risk of cardiovascular disease. According to them, insufficient sleep increases production of inflammatory white blood cells leading to more inflammation and this causes the build-up of arterial plaques called atherosclerosis.  They identified a Sleep-modulating hormone called hypocretin in the hypothalamus of brain. It plays a role in the regulation of sleep and also controls processes in the bone marrow and thus protects against cardiovascular disease.  Bio chemical of Japanese plant helps extending youth Researchers from the University of Graz in Austria, suggest that certain Bio chemical compounds called flavonoids of a plant called ashitaba extend youth by increasing cellular health. The flavonoid highly present in Angelica keiskei, or ashitaba, (a plant from the carrot family) is 4, 4’-dimethoxychalcone (DMC). This plant is native to Japan and it is an important ingredient in Japanese botanical medicine. The flavonoid of this plant is an autophagy-booster and has antioxidant effect which helps in protecting the cells from age-related damage and help extending the youth. DMC also protects against liver damage caused by ethanol (pure alcohol).   Using sleep disorder to predict Parkinson's disease REM sleep disorder has been closely correlated with Parkinson's disease (PD) and related diseases such as Lewy body dementia and multiple system atrophy according to a large data base research of 1,200 patients by  by Dr. Ron Postuma at The Neuro (Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital) and the Montreal General Hospital of the McGill University Health Centre.  This study was done across multiple centres in North America, Europe and Asia, making the findings more robust.
Health Scan March 2019