Archive for the ‘Research’ Category

How long does Hepatitis C last outside the body?

untitled-1238929-mHepatitis C: appropriate to its intimidating name, it comes with dangerous health consequences, causing an attack on the liver an inflammatory infection.  It’s one of several hepatitis viruses, and is considered one of the most serious.

Compared to other viruses, the hepatitis C is the most serious of the hepatitis viruses. As for surviving outside the body, HCV can live “for days in dried blood on surfaces, or for months in a liquid medium under favorable conditions.”

The  U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) stated, ” HCV can survive on environmental surfaces at room temperature for at least 16 hours but no longer than four days. The more fragile HIV virus, in contrast, only lives on surfaces for a few hours, while influenza viruses may survive for several hours up to about a day.”

Depending on the conditions, viruses are able to survive longer on surfaces such as stainless steel. They survive for a shorter time on surfaces that are softer, such as fabric. Also, “HCV can live longer at cooler temperatures and prefers humidity to dry conditions.”

Kris Krawczynski and colleagues, presenters at the 2003 American Society for the Study of Liver Diseases (AASLD) meeting  give this advice-“The potential for HCV to survive in the environment re-emphasizes the importance of cleaning and disinfection procedures, safe therapeutic injection practices, and harm reduction counseling and services for injection drug users.”

Sources: HCV Research and News, The Mayo Clinic

One Minute of Video Based CPR Training could Save Lives

Hands-Only CPRA new report has verified something we’ve been saying for years.  Video based CPR training works.  And researchers have just revealed findings from a controlled study that took place in a shopping mall.  The researchers used a one minute video with the goal of improving responsiveness and to teach compression only CPR to people with no CPR experience.

The near-100 adult participants were divided into two groups.  A group of 48 adults watched the minute long training video together.  The other group of 47 simply sat idle for a minute.  In a private area, there was a mannequin simulating a sudden collapse.  Both groups were then asked to do “what they thought best.”

Response time was measured as the time it took to call 911 as well as the time it took to start chest compressions.  CPR quality was reflected by chest compression depth, rate and hands-off interval time.

The results:

The adults who saw the CPR video called 911 more frequently, initiated chest compressions sooner, had an increased compression rate, and decreased hands-off interval time.

“Given the short length of training, these findings suggest that ultra-brief video training may have potential as a universal intervention for public venues to help bystander reaction and improve CPR skills,” said Ashish Panchal, M.D., Ph.D. lead researcher of the study.

How long should you continue CPR? Longer than 30 Minutes

CPR for How Long?A new study has found that keeping resuscitation efforts going for longer could improve brain function in survivors.  The sooner that CPR is started after someone’s heart stops, the better.  That we can all agree on.  Now, Japanese researchers report that continuing CPR for a half-hour or more may help victims survive with good brain function – even after a full 38 minutes – according to a study presented at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions 2013.

But how did the researchers come to these conclusions?

They reviewed data on more than 280,000 people who had experienced cardiac arrest outside a hospital. When the patients’ hearts stopped, there had been at least one other person nearby.  Next, they narrowed that large group down to those whose hearts started beating on their own after resuscitation. Doctors call this “return of spontaneous circulation.” This group included almost 32,000 people.

When the researchers examined those patients 30 days after their cardiac arrest, they found that just more than 27 percent had good brain function.  Those who had good brain function averaged 13 minutes from the moment their heart stopped until their heart started beating again on its own. Those with less favorable outcomes averaged almost 22 minutes of resuscitation efforts before their hearts started beating again.  Some people even had favorable outcomes after as long as 38 minutes of resuscitation efforts. (via)

After adjusting for other factors that can affect neurological outcomes, researchers found that the odds of surviving an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest without severe brain damage dropped 5 percent for every 60 seconds that passed before spontaneous circulation was restored.

Based on the relationship between favorable brain outcomes and the time from collapse to a return of spontaneous circulation, the researchers calculated that CPR lasting 38 minutes or more was advisable.

“It may be appropriate to continue CPR if the return of spontaneous circulation occurs for any period of time,” said Ken Nagao, M.D., Ph.D., professor and director-in-chief of the Department of Cardiology, CPR and Emergency Cardiovascular Care at Surugadai Nihon University Hospital in Tokyo.

This research hasn’t been officially published in a peer-reviewed journal yet, but the findings are encouraging.

Is that Fear I smell?

dogCan certain smells help you tackle your fears? US researchers suggest that it’s a possibility, if you’re sleeping that is.

In the study, people were trained to associate two different images that were linked to smells, with fear. They were then exposed to one of those smells while they slept, and upon awakening, were less frightened of the image that was linked to that smell. The Nature Neuroscience study was acclaimed by an expert from the United Kingdom, and said, ” it could help treat phobias and perhaps even post-traumatic stress disorders.”

“People with phobias are already commonly treated with “gradual exposure” therapy while they are awake, where they are exposed to the thing they are frightened of in incremental degrees.” It is a possibility that therapy to achieve the same goal could be used while we are in “slow-wave, or deep sleep.” Deep sleep is the period of sleep where memories, specifically those that are linked to emotions are supposed to be processed.

During the study, researchers showed 15 different healthy people pictures of two different faces, and were given a mild electric shock simultaneously.” Also, they were exposed to different smells, including lemon, mint, clove, wood, or new trainers.  They were then taken into a sleep lab. While they were in slow-wave sleep they were exposed to a smell linked to one of the faces they had been shown. Later, when they were awake, they were shown both faces – without the scents or shocks.”

“They showed less fear when shown the face linked to the scent they had smelt while asleep than when shown the other face. Their response was measured through the amount of sweat on the skin and fMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging) brain scans. These showed changes in the areas linked to memory, such as the hippocampus, and in patterns of brain activity in regions associated with emotion, such as the amygdala. People were in slow-wave sleep for between five and 40 minutes, and the effect was strongest for those who slept for longest.”

mexican-siesta-1385302-mDr Katherina Hauner, of the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, Chicago, who led the study, said: “It’s a novel finding. We showed a small but significant decrease in fear. “If it can be extended to pre-existing fear, the bigger picture is that, perhaps, the treatment of phobias can be enhanced during sleep. phobias would be the most obvious area to pursue, as cues tended to be relatively simple, compared with the more complex post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). And she said much more research was needed to fully understand the effects this therapy could have. This was just one day. We really need to see if it can last weeks, months or years.

Jennifer Wild, consultant clinical psychologist at the King’s College London Institute of Psychiatry, said: “The sleep study is excellent and has implications for treating phobias and stress disorders, such as post-traumatic stress, where there are a whole range of cues. “Many people who have survived traumatic events, such as fires or road traffic accidents, have a physiological fear response to triggers of their memories. Triggers often include smells, such as smoke, petrol, antiseptic smells and alcohol. Infusing these smells during periods of slow-wave sleep could help to extinguish the fear response.” Dr Wild added, “that the theory could perhaps be extended by exposing people to subtle sounds linked to phobias or traumatic memories during their sleep.”


Happiness Under the Microscope: Part I

1413992_smile_more_worry_lessOur body recognizes that at a molecular level, happiness is not created equal. It responds in different ways that help or harm our health, according to a new study led by Barbara L. Fredrickson, Kenan Distinguished Professor of psychology in the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

“A functional genomic perspective on human well-being” was published July 29 in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.  Researchers found that a sense of well-being derived from “a noble purpose” may actually provide cellular health benefits. “Simple self-gratification” on the other hand, could possibly have negative effects, despite an “overall perceived sense of happiness.”

“Philosophers have long distinguished two basic forms of well-being: a ‘hedonic’ [hee-DON-ic] form representing an individual’s pleasurable experiences, and a deeper ‘eudaimonic,’ [u-DY-moh-nick] form that results from striving toward meaning and a noble purpose beyond simple self-gratification,” wrote Fredrickson and her colleagues.

“It’s the difference, for example, between enjoying a good meal and feeling connected to a larger community through a service project,” she said. “Both give us a sense of happiness, but each is experienced very differently in the body’s cells. “We know from many studies that both forms of well-being are associated with improved physical and mental health, beyond the effects of reduced stress and depression, but we have had less information on the biological bases for these relationships.”

Fredrickson and her colleagues are collaborating with a team from the University of California led by Steven W. Cole, the professor of medicine, psychiatry, and behavioral sciences. They’ve looked at the biological influence of hedonic and eudaimonic well-being through the human genome,  interested in the pattern of gene expression within people’s immune cells.

“Past work by Cole and colleagues had discovered a systematic shift in gene expression associated with chronic stress, a shift characterized by increased expression of genes involved in inflammation” that are implicated in a wide variety of human ills, including arthritis and heart disease, and “decreased expression of genes involved in … antiviral responses,” the study noted. Cole and colleagues coined the phrase “conserved transcriptional response to adversity” or CTRA to describe this shift. In short, the functional genomic fingerprint of chronic stress sets us up for illness, Fredrickson said.

However, if the fact that happiness is created equal, and equally opposite to ill-being is true, then patterns of gene expression should be the same regardless of hedonic or eudaimonic well-being. This is not so, the researchers found.


“Eudaimonic well-being was, indeed, associated with a significant decrease in the stress-related CTRA gene expression profile. In contrast, hedonic well-being was associated with a significant increase in the CTRA profile. Their genomics-based analyses, the authors reported, reveal the hidden costs of purely hedonic well-being. Fredrickson found the results initially surprising, because study participants themselves reported overall feelings of well-being. One possibility, she suggested, is that people who experience more hedonic than eudaimonic well-being consume the emotional equivalent of empty calories.” “Their daily activities provide short-term happiness yet result in negative physical consequences long-term,” she said.

“We can make ourselves happy through simple pleasures, but those ‘empty calories’ don’t help us broaden our awareness or build our capacity in ways that benefit us physically,” she said. “At the cellular level, our bodies appear to respond better to a different kind of well-being, one based on a sense of connectedness and purpose.”

These results agree with Fredrickson’s previous studies on the effects of both positive emotions and a study linking a sense of connectedness with longevity. “Understanding the cascade to gene expression will help inform further work in these areas,” she added.


Great step towards the cure for blindness

1405557_boys_green_eyeAn animal study in the journal Nature Biotechnology showed the part of the eye which “actually detects light can be repaired using stem cells.”

There is a team at Moorfields Eye Hospital and University College in London that say human trials are now, for the first time, a realistic prospect. Also, experts described it as a “significant breakthrough” and “huge leap” forward.

“Photoreceptors are the cells in the retina which react to light and convert it into an electrical signal which can be sent to the brain.However, these cells can die off in some causes of blindness such as Stargardt’s disease and age-related macular degeneration.There are already trials in people to use stem cells to replace the “support” cells in the eye which keep the photoreceptors alive.”

Now, the London-based team have shown that it is indeed possible to replace the light-sensing cells themselves which raises the possibility of reversing blindness.


Toppling TV Causes Child Injuries Numbers to Rise

1087821_tv_addictIf you’re a parent, you’ve probably imagined the dangers your child could potentially face at least once. Amongst these dangers, a tottering TV most likely didn’t make the top of the list. However, a recent study shows parents should pay more attention to television safety. (Besides the fact that most kids are probably watching too much, but that’s a different story.)

An average of 17,000 children come to the hospital with TV-related injuries each year, according to the study, which published Monday in the journal Pediatrics. The researchers looked at emergency room data between 1990 and 2011.

“Although the overall rate of TV-related injuries stayed fairly constant, the rate of injury associated with a falling TV almost doubled during the study period,” the study authors concluded.


Is Chocolate Really a Health Food?

1116559_chocolate_5I’m pretty certain that most of the world would love to believe that chocolate is a health food. I know I would! There have been countless articles that go back and forth on this glorious, sweet, cocoa goodness, and some say that it’s a complete junk food, while others say it has potential benefits.  Eating chocolate may have some perks in the health department, but it also has some considerable drawbacks that should make you think twice before grabbing that King size Hershey bar.

There have been studies of Kuna Indians who live on the islands of the coast of Panama. They  have a low risk of cardiovascular disease or high blood pressure given their weight and salt  intake. Researchers realized that genes weren’t protecting them, because those who moved away from the  Kuna islands developed high blood pressure and heart disease at typical rates.  Something in their island environment must have kept their blood pressure from  rising.


Down’s Syndrome Genetic Advance

1010760_dna_1Scientists in the US say that they have moved closer to being able to treat disorders that are caused by an extra chromosome. They say they have “switched off” the chromosome that causes the symptoms seen in Down’s syndrome in cells in the lab. The research, published in Nature, could possibly lead to new medical treatments for the condition one day.

Humans are born with 23 pairs of chromosomes, including two sex chromosomes, making a total of 46 in each cell.

People with Down’s syndrome have three – rather than two – copies of chromosome 21.


Gang members prone to mental illness

529924_machismoA new UK study says that young men in gangs are significantly more likely to suffer from a mental disorder and need psychiatric help than other young men.

The study surveyed 108 gang members and found that half had an anxiety disorder, more than 85% a personality disorder and 25% screened positive for psychosis.

Experts said opportunities to help young people were often missed and that exposure to violence was the likely cause of their mental health problems.