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© 2006-2009



Scientists have claimed that chickpeas or, “Choley” as they are known in local parlance here can cure Leukoderma, a chronic skin disease that causes loss of pigmentation, resulting in white patches on the skin.
So far there has been no knowledge of any kind of permanent and certain treatment for curing Leukoderma. Moreover, the allopathic medicines and ointments are not only expensive but also fail to cure the disease permanently.

Scientists have found that application of a poly-herbal ointment with chickpeas as its base can effectively treat Leukoderma.
"We used lot of things to cure Leukoderma, but never been successful in curing this disease. This time we are curing patients by putting chickpea ointment on their affected areas. We also recommend the patients to consume lot of chickpeas in their regular diet too," said S.N. Ojha, one of the doctors.
Amino acids found in chickpeas promote synthesis of melanin (skin pigment) formation cells, regenerate the pigment cells and help treat the chronic skin disorder.
"When we took up this project, we followed the Ayurvedic methodology to prepare an ointment to cure this disease. In Ayurveda, it is mentioned that chickpea can cure the problem of Leukoderma. The ointment made out of chickpea protein is very effective on patients suffering from Leukoderma," said Yamini Bhushan Tripathi, a scientist at the Medicinal Chemistry Department of BHU.
Although Leukoderma is not a contagious disease, it is viewed as leprosy, an object of social stigma. It is an autoimmune disease in which the body starts producing antibodies that destroy cells known as melanocytes giving the skin its normal colour.




Chemists at University of Illinois developed a possible new approach in characterizing neurotoxin structure in Alzheimer's disease.
Researchers believe that Amyloid plaques, clumps of fiber-like misfolded proteins, are the cause behind the devastating neurodegenerative disease.
They also managed to arrest and characterize a key transitional step in the formation of amyloid plaque fibers, or fibrils, showing tiny spheres averaging 20 nanometers in diameter assembling into sheet-like structures comparable to that seen in formation of fibrils.
Fibrils made of small proteins called amyloid-beta are toxic to nerve cells, but intermediate spheres, including those identified by Ishii's group, are more than 10 times as poisonous. That has made the spherical intermediates a new suspect for causing Alzheimer's disease.
"The problem with studying the structure of this intermediate form is that it's so unstable," Nature quoted Yoshitaka Ishii, associate professor of chemistry and the lead researcher of the study, as saying.
He added that his team's approach was to 'freeze-trap' the passing intermediate form, then use solid-state nuclear magnetic resonance to determine its structure and electron microscopes to study its morphology, or shape.

Ishii and his co-workers confirmed that the intermediate spherical stage of amyloid is more toxic than the final-form fibrils. Their findings are the first to identify sheet formation at the toxic intermediate stage in the misfolding of the Alzheimer's amyloid protein and support the notion that the process of forming the layered sheet structure might be what triggers toxicity and kills nerve cells.




Honey has always been known for its immense health benefits, but this one seems to take the cake. A recent trial conducted by researchers from the Pennsylvania State University has established the effectiveness of honey over cough syrup in treating persistent cough.
Honey is a reliable antioxidant and is endowed with ingredients that are capable of destroying microbes, ensuring no damage occurs inside the cells.
The study included 105 children suffering a persistent cough during nights. They were divided into three groups- one group was given a syringe full of honey, another, a cough syrup and the third group was administered an empty syringe. The trial compared the effectiveness of a honey against a key element found in a variety of cough medicines, dextromethorphan.
The study found that honey was more effective than dextromethorphan at alleviating persistent and irritating cough. On the contrary using the cough syrup proved just a wee bit effective as compared to employing nothing at all.
Sheila Kelly, of the Proprietary Association of Great Britain, said: "Having access to safe and effective paediatric cough and cold remedies is essential. Those on the UK market have demonstrated their efficacy through decades of use and their acceptance by the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency means parents can continue to rely on these over- the-counter cough and cold”




Researchers have identified a key gene involved in the disease Lupus.
Lupus, or Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE), is an autoimmune disease, which frequently causes skin rash, joint pains and malaise, but can also lead to inflammation of the kidneys and other internal organs.
The risk of death in SLE is increased fivefold over that of the general population. However, because the symptoms are often non-specific, diagnosing the condition can be difficult.
There is currently no cure for the disease, which can be triggered by viral infections, sunlight, trauma or stress, as well as puberty and childbirth.
The study, led by Professor Tim Vyse a Wellcome Trust Senior Fellow from Imperial College, has identified a new genetic variant, OX40L, which increases the risk of developing Lupus.
OX40L is a gene that is important in several different types of cells in the immune system.
The variant increases the risk of developing the disease by 50 percent per copy.
"Lupus can be a very serious condition, but because its symptoms are often similar to those of other illnesses, it can be difficult and take time to diagnose," Nature quoted Vyse, as saying.

"Although it appears to have a number of environmental triggers, we are now beginning to get a clearer picture of the role that genetics also plays in the disease,” he said.
The study shows that the genetic variants in the OX40L gene that amplify the risk of lupus do so by increasing the amount of OX40L present on the surface of lymphocytes, which are key components of the immune system.

-[October 2007]-



A new study by an international team of researchers has shown that space flight makes bugs more infectious pathogens.
'Space flight alters cellular and physiological responses in astronauts including the immune response. However, relatively little was known about microbial changes to infectious disease risk in response to space flight,' said Nickerson, who led a project aboard NASA’s space shuttle mission STS-115.
The September 2006 mission involved a large, international collaboration between NASA, ASU and 12 other research institutions.
Cheryl Nickerson and lead author James Wilson, both professors in from the Biodesign Institute at Arizona State University’s School of Life Sciences, performed study, the first of its kind, to investigate the effect of space flight on the genetic responses and disease-causing potential, or virulence, of Salmonella typhimurium, the main bacterial culprit of food poisoning.

They sent specially contained tubes of Salmonella in an experimental payload aboard the Space Shuttle Atlantis. The tubes of bacteria were placed in triple containment for safety and posed no threat to the health and safety of the crew during or after the mission.
Upon their return, they were compared to bacteria that remained on earth. The findings published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences revealed a key role for a master regulator, called Hfq, in triggering the genetic changes that showed an increase in the virulence of Salmonella as a result of spaceflight.
Animal virulence studies further showed that the bacteria that were flown in space were almost three times as likely to cause disease when compared with control bacteria grown on the ground.
The researchers say the results of these studies hold potential to greatly advance infectious disease research in space and here on Earth, and might lead to the development of new therapeutics to treat and prevent infectious disease.

-[September 2007]-



Researchers from the University of Warwick and University College London have found that while a lack of sleep doubles a person’s risk of death from cardiovascular diseases, too much of sleep can also have the same mortality effect from predominantly non-cardiovascular diseases. Professor Francesco Cappuccio from the University of Warwick’s Warwick Medical School, who presented the findings to the British Sleep Society on Monday, said the study involved the analysis of data on the mortality rates and sleep patterns on 10,308 civil servants at two points in their life (1985-88 and then in 1992-93).
He said that the effect that changes in sleep patterns over five years had on mortality rates 11-17 years later were isolated by adjusting other possible factors—such as age, sex, marital status, employment grade, smoking status, physical activity, alcohol consumption, self-rated health, body mass index, blood pressure, cholesterol, other physical illness etc.
Seven hours of sleep per night was taken to be the baseline during the study, he added. Professor Cappuccio said that the participants who had cut their sleeping from seven to five hours or less faced a 1.7 fold increased risk in mortality from all causes, and twice ...

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