Zika Virus Weakens The Immune System Of Pregnant Women To Harm Babies

A new study by researchers at Keck School of Medicine of USC finds that Zika virus is linked to high risk of miscarriages, congenital birth defects and suppressing the immune system of a pregnant woman, thus allowing the virus to spread further and increase the chances of birth defect or harm to an unborn baby.

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Zika Virus Weakens The Immune System Of Pregnant Women To Harm Babies

According to reports, the researchers discovered that the disease stifles the weakened immune system of a pregnant woman and then cause harm to the baby. It is reported by Science Daily that the lead author of the research Suan-Sin Foo said the findings of the new study is an active step towards improving the condition of pregnant women that are infected with Zika virus and their unborn babies.

The report added that senior author of the study, professor and chair of the Department of Molecular Microbiology and Immunology at the Keck School of Medicine, Jae Jung said the research is the first to discover that the virus targets certain white blood cells in the body of Zika-infected pregnant women, thereby suppressing the immune system in a way that is similar to that of HIV.

“Pregnant women are more susceptible to Zika virus because pregnancy naturally suppresses a woman’s immune system so her body doesn’t reject the fetus – essentially it’s a foreign object. Our study shows pregnant women are more prone to immune suppression. Zika exploits that weakness to infect and replicate,” Jung said.

Previous studies conducted by the researchers on the topic identified two specific Zika proteins that are associated with microcephaly. It is reported by Medical Express that it was the first step towards preventing the birth of babies with abnormally small heads to Zika-infected mothers. The Pan American Health Organization noted that up to 3,000 cases microcephaly has been reported in women that were infected with the virus when pregnant.

While conducting the previous study, the authors tested the African and Asian Zika virus strains in blood samples of pregnant women, non-pregnant women, and healthy men who were between the age of 18 and 39. Interestingly, the researchers found that the Asian Zika virus is far more pernicious during the first and second trimester of pregnancy. They stated that this is when the disease suppresses the immune system.

However, the blood of both pregnant women and non-pregnant women that are infected with Zika virus is almost the same. Meanwhile, in the new study, the authors analyzed the blood samples of 30 Asian Zika-infected pregnant women – 10 from each of the three trimesters. They compared it with that of 15 pregnant women – 5 from each trimester that were not infected with the virus.

They found an abnormally high expression of the ADAMTS9 and FN1 genes generally linked to pregnancy complications. While ADAMTS9 is said to be associated with the birth of underweight newborns and complicated delivery, FN1 is associated with womb abnormalities that lead to small babies and pre-eclampsia. The researchers published their findings on August 14, in Nature Microbiology.

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Study Finds That Long-term Testosterone Therapy Could Boost Urinary Health And Sexual Function

Long-term testosterone therapy may improve urinary, sexual function and the overall quality of life, a new study finds. According to reports, the new study finds a significant improvement in urinary and sexual function as well as the quality of life in hypogonadal men that undergo long-term testosterone replacement therapy.

Meanwhile, it is reported by Eurekalert that other men may experience an array of immediate signs and symptoms as a result of a medical condition known as male hypogonadism or Testosterone Deficiency (TD). The condition is linked to low levels of testosterone and symptoms may range from low energy, erectile dysfunction, depression, fatigue, to an increased risk of diabetes.

The study which was conducted by researchers at the Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) and Public Health (BUSPH) in collaboration with a group of urologists in Germany, investigated the effects of long-term testosterone replacement therapy on sexual function, urinary health and the overall quality of life in men that has been diagnosed with symptomatic testosterone deficiency.

It is reported that the new study involved 650 men who were in their 50s and 60s. While some of the participants had unexplained testosterone deficiency, the hypogonadism of others was as a result of known genetic and autoimmune causes. “It is thought that testosterone treatment in men may increase the prostate size and worsen lower urinary tract symptoms,” professor of urology at BUSM, Abdulmaged Traish, Ph.D., said.

Interestingly the researchers found that even with an increased prostate size, there were fewer urinary symptoms like incomplete bladder emptying, frequent urination, weak urinary stream and waking up at night to urinate in the group of participants who received testosterone therapy.

Furthermore, the authors also discovered in an objective test that this group of participants emptied their bladders more fully compared to those that did not receive testosterone treatment. The therapy also lead to an increase in sexual health and the overall quality of life. The researchers published their findings in the Journal of Urology.

Study Finds That High Sugar Consumption Leads To Increased Cost Of Dental Treatment

Sugar consumption is rapidly increasing all over the world, notwithstanding the negative impact on both the dental and general health. Another point of consideration is the huge amount of money being spent to maintain a good dental health across the globe.

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Study Finds That High Sugar Consumption Leads To Increased Cost Of Dental Treatment

A recent joint study conducted by the Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg (MLU) and the Biotechnology Research and Information Network AG (BRAIN AG) finds that a swelling amount of money is currently being spent on dental treatment worldwide. The research was conducted within the strategic alliance NatLifE 2020 and was partly funded by German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF).

It is reported by Science Daily that the new study finds that the cost of dental treatment globally is running up to 172 billion US dollars, which is equivalent to 128 billion euros. The report added that around 23 billion US dollars (17.2 billion euros) is spent on dental treatment every year in Germany alone.

While conducting the study, the authors analyzed representative data on gum inflammation (parodontitis), the prevalence of caries, tooth loss, costs of treatment, burden of disease and also data on sugar consumption in 168 countries across the world for the year 2010. They went ahead to calculated the share of total costs that can be attributed to the excessive consumption of sugar.

Meanwhile, it is reported by Medical Express that the researchers did not only focus on white household sugar but also on the hidden sugar contained in the processed foods like ice cream, bread, soft drinks, pastries, ketchup, cakes and frozen foods.

“The data shows a clear correlation between the consumption of sugar and the incidence of caries, parodontitis and, as a result, tooth loss. For every additional 25 grams of sugar consumed per person and day – which amounts to roughly eight sugar-cubes or a glass of sweetened lemonade – the costs of dental treatment in high-income countries increase on average by 100 US dollars (75 euros) per person and year,” lead author of the study, Dr Toni Meier from the Institute of Agricultural and Nutritional Sciences at the MLU said.

Furthermore, the study authors found that the average daily sugar consumption in Germany is between 90 and 110 grams per person, thus making the costs of dental treatment 281 US dollars (210 euros) per person every year. They stated that other countries with similar consumption levels are Denmark (238 US dollars, 178 euros), Switzerland (402 US dollars, 300 euros), and the United States (185 US dollars, 138 euros).

The researchers believe that following the recommendation of the World Health Organization that a person should only consume 50 grams of sugar per day would go a long way in reducing the cost of dental treatment across the world. They found the highest levels of sugar-related dental illness in Guatemala, Mauretania, and Mexico. The study authors published their findings in the International Journal of Dental Research.

New Male Contraceptive Option May Effectively Prevent Pregnancy

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New Male Contraceptive Option May Effectively Prevent Pregnancy

Male contraceptive methods which include condoms, withdrawal and vasectomy have been the trend over the years. Although most people have hoped for a comfortable, more reliable option, it seems the end of the traditional options is not in sight. However, last year, it was reported that a research found new male contraceptive shots that are effective in preventing pregnancy.

It is reported by Science Daily that the traditional methods are mostly associated with high rates of pregnancy. Others are especially not comfortable with vasectomy because of its permanent nature. The report added that there are currently no long lasting and reversible contraceptives options available for men.

The constantly growing demand for new methods of a male contraceptive has been met with increasing numbers of medical research to the effect. A new survey reportedly finds that while the majority of men would love to have a new contraceptive option, only 20 percent already rely on the existing methods.

Meanwhile, it is reported by Eurekalert that research on the topic has discovered various targets for male contraception but, none of the new products have successfully made it to the market. The report added that a new study was conducted in groups of rhesus monkey on the use of Vasalgel to confirm the findings of a previous preclinical trial in rabbits. The rabbit study was conducted to check the efficacy of the new technique.

According to reports, Vasalgel is a high molecular weight polymer that includes SMA (styrene-alt-maleic acid) that has been dissolved in dimethyl sulfoxide. It is believed that this could be the first long-lasting, reversible and non-hormonal male contraceptive option to hit store shelves.

The new technique works by forming a hydrogel and blocking the passage of sperm when injected into the vas deferens. It is been reported that the gel allows fluids to pass slowly through it, thereby reducing back-pressure on the epididymis. In addition, the researchers who conducted the study stated that the effect of Vasalgel has been successfully reversed in a rabbit model.

Reversal is done by flushing out the materials with a sodium bicarbonate solution. The resumption of quick flow of sperm was recorded afterward. Interestingly the study authors found that the new method was effective in preventing pregnancy, which was the ultimate goal of the study. While conducting the study, the researchers compared the efficacy of the new technique to that of vasectomy.

“While vasectomy is a quick and relatively simple procedure in humans, in monkeys there can be additional complications, as it is inherently more complex. We were impressed that this alternative worked in every single monkey, even though this was our first time trying it,” lead veterinarian on the study, Angela Colagross-Schouten said.

Yoga May Be Effectively Used To Manage The Symptoms Of Depression, Study Finds

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Yoga May Effectively Manage The Symptoms Of Depression, Study Finds

A recent study presented at the 125th Annual Convention of the American Psychological Association finds that yoga could be an effective remedy for the symptoms of depression. According to reports, the researchers who conducted the study discovered that yoga can be used as a complement to the traditional therapies by individuals who are suffering from depression. It is reported that this is because the practice is effective in reducing the symptoms of depression.

“Yoga has become increasingly popular in the West, and many new yoga practitioners cite stress-reduction and other mental health concerns as their primary reason for practicing. But the empirical research on yoga lags behind its popularity as a first-line approach to mental health,” chairman of a session highlighting research on yoga and depression, Lindsey Hopkins, Ph.D., of the San Francisco Veterans Affairs Medical Center said.

It is reported by Science Daily that the new study that was conducted on 23 male veterans who participated in yoga classes twice-weekly for eight weeks, focused on the acceptability and antidepressant effects of hatha yoga – a type of yoga that involves physical exercises. It also has to do with meditative and breathing exercises for a better well-being.

According to Eurekalert, the researchers found that on a scale of 1-10, one being the lowest, the average enjoyment rating in the yoga classes for the study participants was 9.4. In addition, all the participants involved in the study reported that they would recommend the program to friends and family.

Furthermore, the researchers noted that there was a significant reduction in the depression symptoms of participants who had elevated depression scores prior to the yoga program. The results were evaluated after eight weeks of the program.
It is reported that Sarah Shallit, MA, of Alliant University in San Francisco also investigated into another type of hatha yoga known as Bikram yoga. The study involved 52 women, who were between the age of 25 and 45. The study authors divided the participant’s into two groups one of which was assigned to participate in yoga classes twice-weekly for eight weeks.

The second group was informed that they were wait-listed. After that, the researchers tested the depression levels of all the study participants at the beginning of the study, and also at weeks three, six and nine.

Maren Nyer, Ph.D., and Maya Nauphal, BA, of Massachusetts General Hospital also presented data in the same session from a study conducted on 29 adults who participated in a Bikram yoga program at least twice-weekly for eight weeks. The researchers discovered a significant reduction in the symptoms of depression and also an improvement in other measures including quality of life, optimism, and cognitive and physical functioning.

Study Finds Fennel Can Be Used In The Effective Management Of Postmenopause Symptoms

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Study Finds Fennel Can Be Used In The Effective Management Of Postmenopause Symptoms

A recent study conducted by a team of researchers finds that Fennel, an anise-flavored herb commonly used for cooking could also be effectively used in the management of post menopause symptoms including but not limited to sleeplessness, hot flashes, vaginal dryness, and anxiety.

According to reports, the new study found that fennel which is famous for its numerous health benefits could be used to manage the symptoms that accompany the period of menopause without any serious side effect.

It is reported by Science Daily that fennel can also be used to manage an array of other health conditions including premenstrual symptoms and indigestion. The report also states that although the use of alternative medicine for the effective management of post menopause symptoms has been the trend in recent years, most women just seem to prefer it over hormone therapy.

Notwithstanding the fact hormone therapy (HT) is considered the most effective treatment solution used in managing symptoms that accompany menopause, most women experiencing the condition still prefer alternative medicine because of the said negative side effects linked to hormone therapy.

Meanwhile, Fennel, on the other hand, is a herb that contains essential oils, and phytoestrogen properties according to Eurekalert. The report added that Phytoestrogens are chemicals that are more like estrogen in plants and have been used over the years to effectively manage postmenopause symptoms.

While conducting the new study, the researchers administered soft capsules containing 100 mg of fennel twice daily for eight weeks to the study participants that included 79 Iranian women who were between the age of 45 to 60 years. The authors then compared the improvement levels between the intervention participants and the placebo group at four, eight, and 10 weeks.

Interestingly, they found a significant statistical difference between the two groups of participants. This made the researchers conclude that fennel is a safe and effective treatment solution for postmenopause symptoms. They also noted that it has no serious side effect.

“This small pilot study found that, on the basis of a menopause-rating scale, twice-daily consumption of fennel as a phytoestrogen improved menopause symptoms compared with an unusual minimal effect of placebo. A larger, longer, randomized study is still needed to help determine its long-term benefits and side effect profile,” executive director of NAMS, Dr. JoAnn Pinkerton said.

The researchers published the findings of the study titled “Effect of Foeniculum vulgare Mill. (fennel) on menopausal symptoms in postmenopausal women: a randomized, triple-blind, placebo-controlled trial” online in Menopause, the journal of The North American Menopause Society (NAMS).

New Study Finds That Hormone Replacement Therapies May Encourage The Spread Of Breast Cancer

A new study conducted by researchers at the University of Missouri finds that hormone replacement therapies could worsen and help breast cancer spread. According to reports, the findings of the new study suggest that natural and synthetic progestins are associated with the increased production of certain breast cancer cells, which act like stem cells in the human body.

According to a recent report by Science Daily, the new study finds that women who take hormone replacement therapies are likely to have a higher risk or worsen symptoms of breast cancer. Hormone replacement therapies including medications that contain female hormones are usually used as a substitute for the hormones the body is no longer able to produce.

They are also often prescribed to reduce the symptoms of menopause in women. The new study has now found a link between these natural and synthetic progestins and the production of a particular type of cancer cells that imitates stem cells in the human body.

The researchers believe that the findings of the new study could further assist scientists in their struggle towards targeting these cells that cause breast cancer to grow, spread and metastasize in other areas. It may also help medical practitioners to identify immunotherapies to inhibit the growth of breast cancer, as reported by Eurekalert.

“In previous studies, we have shown that both natural and synthetic progestins accelerate the development of breast cancer and increase their metastasis to lymph nodes. Our laboratory is committed to identifying these cancer stem mechanisms that bring about increased breast cancer risks.

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New Study Finds That Hormone Replacement Therapies May Encourage The Spread Of Breast Cancer

“Recently, our research focused on special cells – which are called ‘cancer stem cell-like cells’ – that induce aggressive tumor growth, metastasis, and cancer recurrence,” a Professor in Tumor Angiogenesis and professor of biomedical sciences in the College of Veterinary Medicine and the Dalton Cardiovascular Research Center, Salman Hyder said.

While conducting the study, the researchers ran a series of tests in which they utilized human breast cancer cells that are hormone-responsive to examine the effects of progestin on the cell markers that are commonly found in persons with breast cancers. The researchers found that the natural and synthetic progestins increased the protein expression of CD44 significantly.

It is reported that this is a molecule associated with cell proliferation, cell communication as well as migration. Furthermore, the authors discovered that the mere presence of progestins made the components to act like cancer stem cells. They added that these cancer stem cell-like cells have the ability to renew themselves and also create identical copies of themselves, thus proliferate exponentially. However, the authors found that the rare subset of breast cancer cells was actually enriched by progestin.

In conclusion, the study found that exposure to natural and synthetic progestins could further lead to the development of these cancer stem cell-like cells. They highly increase the possibility of resistance to therapies and high risk of metastasis.

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New Study Provides Insights Into Cause Of Miscarriage And Possible Treatment Solutions

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New Study Provides Insights Into Cause Of Miscarriage And Possible Treatment Solutions

A recent study conducted by researchers at St. Michael’s Hospital have provided an insight into the causes of miscarriages for some women and treatment solutions. According to reports, the findings of the new study have identified how natural killer cells commonly found in the placenta can inhibit the growth of a fetus in the womb or cause miscarriages. The study was conducted in mice.

It is reported by Science Daily that the researchers involved in the new study were also able to identify a number of possible treatments and preventive solutions. The report also stated that the study was led by a scientist in the Keenan Research Centre for Biomedical Science of St. Michael’s Hospital Dr. Heyu Ni.

This is in collaboration with other basic scientists whose goal is to prevent and minimize the suffering women experience from a disease called Fetal and neonatal alloimmune thrombocytopenia (FNAIT) resulting from miscarriages or giving birth to underdeveloped babies.

It is reported by Medical Express that FNAIT is a condition that affects pregnant women and their unborn babies when the immune system of the mother sees some of her unborn child’s cells as foreign. In this condition, the mother’s immune system sends out antibodies to attack and destroy those cells.

Interestingly, the study authors found that the mother’s FNAIT immune response in mice also cause the activation of antibodies that target cells with the father’s proteins such as trophoblasts, which is responsible for placental growth and development. The researchers stated that the antibody attack by the immune system could lead to the deformation of the placenta.

It could also cause a disruption in the flow of nutrients from the mother to the unborn child. It is reported that this may inhibit the growth of the fetus in the womb as well as increasing the possibility of miscarriage.
“Natural killer cells are normal in pregnancy and necessary for early placental development in humans and other mammals, but their number in placenta should decrease in the late stage of pregnancy. In our study, we found that natural killer cells were not decreased, but prevalent and active in cases of FNAIT,” Dr. Ni said.

The study authors believe that one in every 1,000 live births is affected by FNAIT and up to 3 percent of the population is at risk for the condition. It is reported that about 30 percent of affected pregnancies lead to miscarriage. However, the researchers noted based on their findings that FNAIT-related miscarriages could be prevented by targeting the natural killer cells.

They added that medical practitioners could use intravenous immunoglobulin G (IVIG) to block the sensors of natural killer cells, thereby preventing them from targeting placental cells, as IVIG decreases maternal anti-fetal antibodies. The researchers also recommend other treatment solutions including targeting cell receptors in order to block the activation of the natural killer cells.

They believe that the new treatment solutions decrease the risk of miscarriage and inability of a fetus to grow in mice with FNAIT but they have not been approved for clinical use in human FNAIT. The authors published their findings online in the journal Nature Communications.

New Study Finds That Marijuana Use Is Associated With High Risk Of Death From Hypertension

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New Study Finds That Marijuana Use Is Associated With High Risk Of Death From Hypertension

A new study conducted by a team of scientists finds that marijuana use is associated with a three-fold risk of death from hypertension. According to reports, the researchers involved in the new study found that individuals who use Marijuana have a higher risk of death from hypertension.

“Steps are being taken towards legalization and decriminalization of marijuana in the United States, and rates of recreational marijuana use may increase substantially as a result. However, there is little research on the impact of marijuana use on cardiovascular and cerebrovascular mortality,” lead author and a Ph.D. student in the School of Public Health, Georgia State University, Atlanta, US, Barbara A Yankey said.

According to Science Daily, while conducting the new study, the study authors designed a retrospective follow-up study of National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). The report stated that this was because of the absence of longitudinal data on marijuana use. The participants involved in the study are aged 20 years and above.

Another report by Eurekalert stated that the study participants were asked in 2005 to 2006 if they had ever used marijuana. The researcher considered the participant’s who replied with “yes” as marijuana users. They also required the participants to state the age when they first used marijuana. It is reported that the study authors subtracted this from the reported age of the participant’s to ascertain the duration of marijuana use.

In addition, the researchers merged the information obtained from marijuana use with mortality data from the National Centre for Health Statistics in 2011. They further estimated the relationship between marijuana use, duration of use, and death from hypertension, cerebrovascular disease, and heart disease. The researchers also considered cigarette use, age, sex, and ethnicity.

Interestingly, it was found that death from hypertension resulted from several causes including hypertensive renal disease and primary hypertension. It is reported that among the 1,213 participants involved in the study, 34 percent reported that they neither use marijuana nor cigarettes, 21 percent reported using only marijuana, and 20 percent of participant used marijuana and smoked cigarettes.

While only 16 percent reported that they used marijuana and were past-smokers, 5 percent were past-smokers and only 4 percent smoked cigarettes. The researchers stated that the average duration of marijuana use was 11.5 years. They also found that participant’s who use marijuana had a higher risk of dying from hypertension. It is reported that they have a 3.42 times greater risk of dying from hypertension and a 1.04 higher risk every year of use compared to non-marijuana users.

However, they found no relationship between the use of marijuana and death from cerebrovascular disease or heart disease. But the researcher noted that that the cardiovascular risk associated with the use of marijuana is greater compared to the cardiovascular risk established for cigarette smoking. The findings of the study were published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology.1.

Study Finds That New Injectable Antiretroviral Therapy Is As Effective As Standard Oral Treatment

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Sudy Finds That New Injectable Antiretroviral Therapy Is As Effective As Standard Oral Treatment

A new research conducted by 50 centers around the world finds that new injectable antiretroviral therapy (ART) could be as effective as the standard oral treatment. According to reports, the researchers involved in the new study found that antiretroviral therapy that is intramuscularly administered could be as effective as the current standard oral therapy.

As already mentioned above, the new study is a Phase II clinical trial conducted by 50 medical centers – 9 in Spain – across the globe. It is reported by Science Daily that the researchers involved in the study stated that the findings will further boost the implantation of all-injectable antiretroviral therapies. The report stated that the therapy records a low administration frequency, but the new findings could lead to an improved quality of life for HIV patients.

The study involved 286 patients who have previously suppressed viral loads. While conducting the study, the researchers checked the effectiveness of the combination of rilpivirine – a no nucleoside -injected intramuscularly every 4 or 8 weeks and carbotegravir – a new inegrase inhibitor. This was in comparison to the standard ART therapy of three orally-administered drugs: abacavir – lamivudine and carbotegravir.

“This is the first time that all-injectable ART has been used in a trial; In addition, it consists of only 2 drugs, something that is not new but that supports the paradigm shift of 3 to 2 drugs in some virologically suppressed patients,” Chief of the HIV and STD Unit of the Infectious Diseases Service of Bellvitge University hospital (HUB) and the principal investigator of the Bellvitge Biomedical Research Institute (IDIBELL), Dr. Daniel Podzamczer said.

It is reported by Eurekalert that the researchers found after 96 weeks, that up to 87 percent of the study participants treated every 4 weeks and up to 94 percent of those treated every 8 weeks maintained viral load suppression. The study authors stated that the findings show that the injectable antiretroviral therapy is more effective compared to the standard oral treatment, in which participants recorded 84 percent viral load suppression.

Furthermore, the researchers evaluated the level of satisfaction among study participants and found that up to 90 percent of patients in the group treated with injectable antiretroviral therapy reported that they were very satisfied when asked if they will like to continue with the therapy. The findings of the study were published in the journal The Lancet.

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