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3 US scientists awarded Nobel Prize in Medicine for decoding body clock

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Jeffrey C. Hall, Michael Rosbash, Michael W. Young

Copenhagen, Oct 3: United States scientists Jeffrey C. Hall, Michael Rosbash and Michael W. Young have been awarded the 2017 Nobel Prize in Medicine for their discoveries relating to the biological clock, the Nobel Assembly at Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm said Monday.

Their award-winning scientific discovery explains how plants, animals and humans adapt their biological rhythm so that it is synchronized with the Earth’s revolutions, a phenomenon also known as the circadian rhythm.

“For many years we have known that living organisms, including humans, have an internal, biological clock that helps them anticipate and adapt to the regular rhythm of the day,” the Nobel assembly said in a statement. “But how does this clock actually work? Jeffrey C. Hall, Michael Rosbash and Michael W. Young were able to peek inside our biological clock and elucidate its inner workings,” it added.

The expression _circadian rhythm_ originates from the Latin words _circa_ meaning “around” and _dies_ meaning “day”.

But just how our internal circadian biological clock worked remained a mystery.

The Nobel Assembly said their decision was based on the scientific trio’s breakthrough that showed “using fruit flies as a model organism, they had isolated a gene that controls the normal daily biological rhythm” and added that “they showed that this gene encodes a protein that accumulates in the cell during the night, and is then degraded during the day.

The “clock” regulates critical functions such as behaviour, hormone levels, sleep, body temperature and metabolism,” the statement said.

Subsequently, the three Nobel winners identified additional protein components of this machinery, exposing the mechanism governing the self-sustaining clockwork inside the cell.

Hall was born in New York in 1945 and works at the University of Maine; Rosbash was born in Kansas in 1944 and works at Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts, while Young, was born in Miami in 1949 and works at the Rockefeller University in New York.

The award includes 9 million Kronen, to be shared among the three winners and reflects a Nobel prize increase for the first time in five years.

The next Nobels to be announced will be the Physics and Chemistry awards on Tuesday and Wednesday while the Literature award will be known on Thursday.

The Peace prize will be revealed on Friday and then the Economy award will be announced on Monday.

All awards are announced in Stockholm except the Peace Prize that is selected and awarded in Oslo, by express request of the Award’s founder, the Swedish industrialist Alfred Nobel (1833-1896), as during his lifetime Norway belonged to the Swedish Crown.

The awards ceremony is due to take place on December 10, coinciding with the anniversary of Nobel’s death during a traditional joint ceremony at Stockholm’s Konserthus and Oslo’s Town Hall.

IANS

Health

Ebola death toll rises to 200 in Congo

The DRC authorities declared the outbreak in North Kivu province on August 1. It was also reported in the northern province of Ituri.

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Ebola Infection

Kinshasa, Oct 21 : The death toll in the Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has risen to 200, the Health Ministry has said.

According to statistics released by the Ministry on Saturday, of the 200 cases confirmed in Beni and surrounding areas, 117 have died of the virus while 61 others recovered after treatment, Xinhua news agency reported.

The DRC authorities declared the outbreak in North Kivu province on August 1. It was also reported in the northern province of Ituri.

The World Health Organization said the 10th Ebola outbreak in DRC does not currently constitute a public health emergency of international concern.

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Cycling, walking in nature may improve your mental health

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walk-walking

London, Oct 20: People who commute — walking or cycling — through natural environments are more likely to develop better mental health than those who commute less, according to a new study.

Natural environments included all public and private outdoor spaces that contain ‘green’ and/or ‘blue’ natural elements such as street trees, forests, city parks and natural parks/reserves and all types of water bodies.

“Mental health and physical inactivity are two of the main public health problems associated with the life in urban environments. Urban design could be a powerful tool to confront these challenges and create healthier cities. One way of doing so would be investing in natural commuting routes for cycling and walking,” said Mark Nieuwenhuijsen from the University of Barcelona.

For the study, published in the journal, Environment International, the research team examined nearly 3,600 participants who answered a questionnaire about their commuting habits and their mental health.

The findings showed that respondents commuting through natural environments on a daily basis had on average a 2.74 point higher mental health score compared to those who commuted through natural environments less frequently.

This association was even stronger among people who reported active commuting, the team said.

“From previous experimental studies we knew that physical activity in natural environments can reduce stress, improve mood and mental restoration when compared to the equivalent activity in urban environments,” said first author Wilma Zijlema from the varsity.

“Although this study is the first of its kind to our knowledge and, therefore, more research will be needed, our data show that commuting through these natural spaces alone may also have a positive effect on mental health.”

IANS

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Number of Zika virus cases reaches 100 in Jaipur

A total of 1,11,825 houses have been screened. Special precautions are being taken in the Zika-affected areas.

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Zika virus

Jaipur, Oct 18 : The number of people infected with the Zika virus has gone up to 100 in Jaipur, officials said on Thursday.

State Chief Secretary D.B. Gupta held a review meeting and directed the officials to carry out anti-larvae activities in educational institutions and administrative buildings in Jaipur.

Veenu Gupta, Chief Secretary (Medicine and Health) said, “Medical teams in Jaipur are carrying out screening and fogging activities. A total of 1,11,825 houses have been screened. Special precautions are being taken in the Zika-affected areas.”

She said that there was no shortage of medicines at health centres. She also directed district officials to monitor the regular availability of medicines and testing equipment in hospitals.

Gupta directed officials to take measures to prevent breeding of mosquitoes in the Rajasthan Police Academy, Police Line and the RAC Battalion.

She asked the Army officials to check the spread of mosquitoes and larvae in their area.

Gupta instructed officials to pay special attention to tourist places such as Hawa Mahal, Jantar Mantar and Albert Hall.

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