Zika Virus could help in the treatment of Brain Tumour

The Zika virus is well known for causing devastating brain defects in fetuses. Scientists have come out with a novel idea of using this virus as an ammunition to

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attack a deadly brain tumour Glioblastoma.

Most people with a glioblastoma die within two years of being diagnosed even with aggressive treatment available at present.

In lab and animal experiments, scientists from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis and the University of California, San Diego, showed — that the virus was able to target and destroy stem cells that drive the growth of a deadly and common type of brain tumour, known as a glioblastoma.

Researchers also found that a modified strain of Zika virus slowed tumor growth among mice with aggressive brain tumours, and extending their lives.

The effectiveness of the virus was enhanced when combined with a chemotherapy drug, known as temozolomide, which is being presently used in the treatment of Glioblastoma with poor results.

Such studies are first few steps towards the development of safe and effective strains of Zika virus that could become important tools in neuro-oncology and the treatment of glioblastoma,

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Blood Test to detect Cancer at early stage.

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There is possibility of a new genetic test for early detection of cancer.

Lead researcher Dr. Victor Velculescu at Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center, Baltimore has show promising results in this.

A new genetic blood test might pave the way for detecting early stage cancer. The test scans blood for DNA fragments released by cancerous tumors, explained lead researcher Dr. Victor Velculescu.

By reviewing these DNA fragments for mutations found in 58 “cancer-driver” genes, the blood test detects many early stage cancers without rendering false positives for healthy people, said Velculescu, co-director of cancer biology at the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center, in Baltimore.

The test also proved capable of screening out cancer-free people.

This may be one step further down the path to developing a blood test that might find cancer earlier.

The test specifically spotted early stage colon cancer 71 percent of the time, breast and lung cancer 59 percent of the time, and ovarian cancer 68 percent of the time.

The ability to catch early stage ovarian cancer is particularly important as fewer than one in five ovarian cancers are caught early, when the five-year survival rate is greater than 90 percent. Most are detected after they’ve spread, and by then the odds of five-year survival are 40 percent or less, he said.

To check the blood test’s ability to weed out healthy people, the researchers also analyzed blood from 44 volunteers without cancer. No false positives occurred.

Despite these promising results, researchers need to validate the blood test in larger studies. More work also needs to be done to improve the detection rate.

Protozoa & Bacteria .. first discovered.

In 1676, Antonie Philips van Leeuwenhoek (1632-1723), lay the foundation of knowledge of Protozoa and Bacteria by using home made microscope. He was basically a trader of fabric, a dutch businessman, scientist, and one of the notable representatives of the Golden Age of Dutch science and technology. Anton-van-Leeuwenhoek

In a letter sent to the Royal Society of London for Improving Knowledge in 1676 by Antony van Leeuwenhoek (1632-1723), he wrote:

“These little animals to my eye were more than ten thousand times smaller than…the water flea or water-louse, which you can see and moving in water with the bare eye.”

He described round and spiral shaped bacteria.

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Taking Calcium & Risk of Cardiovascular disease

A new guideline suggests that dietary and supplemental calcium intakes lower than 2500 mg daily don’t affect CV risk.

So elderly persons taking Calcium supplements need not be worried if they are taking Calcium supplements upto 2500mg per day. 

Calcium is important for optimal bone health throughout your life. Although diet is the best way to get calcium, calcium supplements may be an option if your diet falls short.

What could be a problem with too little Calcium !

If you don’t get enough calcium, you could face health problems related to weak bones:

  • Children may not reach their full potential adult height.
  • Adults may have low bone mass, which is a risk factor for osteoporosis.

Nobel Prize in Physiology/Medicine 2016 goes to Yoshinori Ohsumi of Japan for Study of ‘Self-Eating’ Cells

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Yoshinori Ohsumi, a Japanese cell biologist, was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine on Oct 3 2016 for his discoveries on how cells recycle their content, a process known as Autophagy.

Autophagy or Self Eating is a crucial process in cell metabolism. During starvation, cells break down proteins and nonessential components and reuse them for energy. Cells also use autophagy to destroy invading viruses and bacteria, sending them off for recycling. And cells use autophagy to get rid of damaged structures. The process is thought to go awry in cancer, infectious diseases, immunological diseases and neurodegenerative disorders. Disruptions in autophagy are also thought to play a role in aging.

But little was known about how autophagy happens, what genes were involved, or its role in disease and normal development until Dr. Ohsumi began studying the process in baker’s yeast.

The process he studies is critical for cells to survive and to stay healthy. The autophagy genes and the metabolic pathways he discovered in yeast are used by higher organisms, including humans. And mutations in those genes can cause disease. His work led to a new field and inspired hundreds of researchers around the world to study the process.

Dr. Ohsumi’s work opened a field that has now exploded, with implications that are “the stuff of science fiction.”
If the autophagy system is knocked out, he said, the result is premature aging, with ailments like cardiovascular disease, skeletal weakness, glucose intolerance and cognitive decline.
Now drugs that stimulate this system are being studied. If you take a drug and stimulate the system, you will make the organism live longer in a cancer-free way.