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New antibody delivery method may help treat Ebola infection



Ebola Infection

Toronto, March 7: Scientists have developed an innovative antibody delivery method that could offer an effective way to prevent and treat Ebola infection.

More than 11,000 people died during the Ebola outbreak in West Africa from 2013-16, demonstrating both the deadly nature of the virus and the limitations of the medication used to fight it.

The researchers demonstrated that delivering a monoclonal antibody gene to a cell using through a viral vector callled adeno-associated virus (AAV) — a process that bypasses the need for the host to generate a natural immune response — provided up to 100 per cent protection against infection in mice.

The mice expressed the antibody for more than 300 days, revealed the study appearing in the Journal of Infectious Diseases.

“If you use an AAV gene therapy vector to deliver the DNA blueprint to a cell, that cell will produce a protective antibody against Ebola virus, which is then secreted into the bloodstream and protects mice from infection,” said Sarah Wootton, Professor at the University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada.

Once the antibody gene is delivered, antibodies will be continually produced in the bloodstream.

“We are hoping to use this technology in a post-exposure scenario. Let’s say someone has been exposed to Ebola. The idea would be to give them this AAV vector to start producing the antibodies that prevent death,” Wootton noted.

Other researchers have used AAV extensively to treat a variety of genetic disorders.

The US Food and Drug Administration has recently approved an AAV gene therapy to treat a rare retinal disorder.



Anxiety, depression can trigger smartphone addiction




London, March 22: People who are less emotionally stable and suffer from anxiety and depression are more likely to be addicted to their smartphones, according to a research.

Emotional stability is characterised by being emotionally resilient. The study found that being less emotionally stable was associated with problematic smartphone behaviour.

People who struggle with their mental health are more likely to intensively use their smartphone as a form of therapy and that the less conscientious individuals are, the more likely they are to be addicted to their phones.

As levels of anxiety increase, problematic smartphone use also increases, the findings showed.

“Problematic smartphone use is more complex than previously thought and our research has highlighted the interplay of various psychological factors in the study of smartphone use,” Zaheer Hussain, Lecturer in Psychology at the University of Derby in Britain, said in a statement.

“This is because people may be experiencing problems in their lives such as stress, anxiety, depression, family problems, so in that state they are emotionally unstable, meaning they may seek respite in very excessive smartphone use. This is worrying,” Hussain said.

For the study, a team of psychologists conducted an online study with 640 smartphone users, aged between 13-69 years, to find out the association between smartphone use and personality traits.

The results showed that people who are “closed off” or less open with their emotions are more likely to have problems with smartphone use.

“They may be engaging in passive social network use, where you spend a lot of time on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, browsing other peoples’ comments, pictures, and posts, and not posting anything of your own and not engaging in discussion with others, so there is no real positive social interaction while social networking,” Hussain noted.


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High meat intake may up liver disease risk




New York, March 21: Meat lovers please take note. Increased consumption of red or processed meat may increase the risk of developing the non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), researchers have found.

“NAFLD is considered as the hepatic component of the metabolic syndrome, with insulin resistance and inflammation as key factors in its pathophysiology,” said lead author Shira Zelber-Sagi, Professor at the University of Haifa in Israel.

Researchers noted that high meat eaters were slightly younger, mainly male, had a higher body mass index (BMI), caloric intake and a worse metabolic profile.

In addition, individuals who consumed large quantities of meat cooked using unhealthy methods including, frying or grilling, had increased levels of high heterocyclic amines (HCAs) — pro-inflammatory compounds found in burned meat — and therefore developed insulin resistance.

People who are already diagnosed with NAFLD had similar consequences, along with an increased chance of cancer, Type 2 diabetes, and chronic heart diseases, researchers mentioned in the study, published in the Journal of Hepatology.

“Unhealthy Western lifestyle plays a major role in the development and progression of NAFLD, namely, lack of physical activity and high consumption of fructose and saturated fat,” Zelber-Sagi said.

“Our study looked at other common foods in the Western diet, namely red and processed meats, to determine whether they increase the risk for NAFLD,” she added.

In order to test the association of type of meat and cooking method with NAFLD and insulin resistance, the team included 357 participants, between 40 and 70 years of age.

NAFLD and insulin resistance were evaluated by ultrasonography and homeostasis model assessment (HOMA). Meat-type and cooking method were measured by food frequency and detailed meat consumption questionnaires.

Results showed that NAFLD was diagnosed in 38.7 per cent of participants and insulin resistance in 30.5 per cent.


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Lap-band surgery may lower chronic knee pain



chronic knee pain

New York, March 20: Obese people who have a band surgically strapped around their stomach to restrict food intake not only lose weight but will also suffer less from arthritic knee pain, a new study suggests.

According to researchers, the pain proceeds from the deterioration and related inflammation in knee joints caused in part by the extra weight they bear.

While the pain relief seen with lap-band surgery applied to all patients with osteoarthritic knees, researchers found that it was most helpful in the young men and women who lost the most weight.

“Our study shows that extremely obese people seeking relief from their knee pain should consider lap-band surgery earlier because the benefits from it being successful — although significant for all ages — decrease with age,” said co-author Jonathan Samuels, Associate Professor at NYU School of Medicine.

For the study, published in the journal Seminars in Arthritis and Rheumatism, researchers examined 120 patients who underwent lap-band surgery between 2002 and 2015.

All were surveyed for what they remembered about their knee pain immediately before surgery, a year after their procedure, and for as long as 14 years later.

The main purpose of the survey was to find out why some extremely obese people showed more knee pain relief from lap-band surgery than others.

According to the survey results, men and women in their 40s experienced post-surgical knee pain reductions after one year of between 50 and 60 percent; while those in their 50s, one year later, had pain reductions between 30 and 40 percent; and those in their 60s, had reductions between 20 percent and 30 percent.

Pain relief persisted for a decade in all patients monitored.

People with BMIs in the upper 40s were just as likely to report decreased knee pain as people with BMIs in the lower 40s if they lost proportionally the same amount of total body weight.


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