Gene editing: a threat to humanity???
The gene editing summit in Washington organised to discuss new techniques which enable researchers to alter human DNA shared an ethical concern about gene editing. The summit raised the doubt that it would be "irresponsible" to allow the creation of genetically altered humans. But they said basic research involving embryo gene editing should continue in order to improve understanding of human biology. As scientific knowledge advances and societal views evolve, they added, the clinical use of genetically modified embryos should be revisited on a "regular basis".
Three years ago scientists invented a new simple cut-and-paste system, called CRISPR-Cas9, for editing DNA. Scientists across the world immediately adopted this rapid, cheap and accessible tool in order to speed up their research. For patients with blood, immune, muscle or skin disorders it offers the hope that their faulty cells could be removed, tweaked in the lab and then re-implanted. But even if patients carrying a genetic disease were successfully treated, they would still be at risk of passing on that faulty DNA to their children. That's where gene editing in embryos comes in. Fix the error in a newly fertilised embryo and - in theory - it would provide a permanent genetic fix that would pass down the generations.
Earlier this year, in a world-first, scientists in China announced that they had carried out gene editing in human embryos. They were attempting to correct a gene that causes an inherited blood disorder, beta thalassemia. The laboratory experiments had very mixed results, showing this technology is still in its infancy. It was a key reason why leading science bodies decided to organise the first global summit on gene editing. None of the scientists at the Washington summit is remotely ready to take embryo gene editing into the clinic.
Heavy drinking ups stroke risk more than BP, diabetes
More than two drinks a day in middle-age may raise your stroke risk more than traditional factors such as high blood pressure
warns a study.
Regular heavy drinking of any kind of alcohol can raise blood pressure and cause heart failure or irregular heartbeats over time with repeated drinking, in addition to stroke and other risks.“For mid-aged adults, avoiding more than two drinks a day could be a way to prevent stroke in later age,” said Pavla Kadlecova, statistician at St Anne's University Hospital's International Clinical Research Center in the Czech Republic. In a study of 11,644 middle-aged Swedish twins who were followed for 43 years, researchers compared the effects of an average of more than two drinks daily (heavy drinking) to less than half a drink daily (light drinking).
They found that heavy drinkers had about a 34 percent higher risk of stroke compared to light drinkers. Mid-life heavy drinkers (in their 50s and 60s) were likely to have a stroke five years earlier in life irrespective of genetic and early-life factors.
Heavy drinkers had increased stroke risk in their mid-life compared to well-known risk factors like high blood pressure and diabetes.
At around age 75, blood pressure and diabetes appeared to take over as one of the main influences on having a stroke, the authors noted.
Swine flu claims 38 more lives, death toll now 812
Swine flu claimed 38 more lives in India taking the death toll to 812 with Rajasthan and Gujarat among the worst hit states with 212 and 207 fatalities respectively, as the total number of affected crossed 13,000.
According to Health Ministry figures released today, the total number of deaths due to the disease has now reached 812 while 13,688 people have been affected with the H1N1 virus across the country.
Health Ministry officials had yesterday said that the number of people affected by swine flu was 12,963 while deaths caused by the infection was 774 as per figures available till February 20. A senior health official said that in comparison to yesterday, there has been a dip in the number of fresh positive cases.
Seven more persons succumbed to swine flu in Rajasthan. Out of 4,318 patients who tested positive for the HINI virus, 212 have died since January 1, an official of Medical and Health Directorate (MHD) said in Jaipur. In Gujarat, 10 more people died of the disease taking the death toll to 207, according to an official release.
In Maharashtra, 99 people have lost their lives with seven more deaths being reported in the state, according to Public Health Minister Dr Deepak Sawant. SIn Jammu and Kashmir, one more patient died of swine flu, taking the toll to five, while 119 have tested positive for the disease so far, officials said.
Black rice’s black magic
The forbidden rice gains all its magical power as the health benefits of it getting unwrapped. It is the only rice to contain the antioxidant known as anthocyanins, which is found in dark-hued fruits and vegetables like blueberries, blackberries, dark grapes, dark cherries, purple brinjals, purple cabbage and purple corn amongst others. Black rice contains high amounts of antioxidants, dietary fibre, minerals and other anti-inflammatory nutrients. It is the richest source of the antioxidant, anthocyanin, which is known to be cancer fighting, beneficial for heart health and inflammatory conditions.
The texture of black rice is a bit heavier as compared to other varieties of rice but its natural flavour is rich and sweet. It has a pleasant, nutty flavour, best enjoyed with coconut milk and in sweetened desserts, particularly rice puddings. Black in colour when harvested, once cooked it turns deep purple. Popular in cuisines in Kerala and North Bengal, it is also a good option to make European salads or Italian dishes like risotto. Currently available at high-end restaurants, it seems to be steadily gathering support.
Slightly tricky to grow in terms of yield, it is harvested only in India and China. In India, it is mainly grown and consumed in Manipur where it is known as Chakhao. It has cultural and traditional significance to the people of Manipur and other parts of Northeast India where no celebration is complete without a delicious serving of black rice. On the occasion of the World Food Day in October, the Indian government also put an action plan in place to promote unique varieties of rice with a prominent status for black rice. As people discover the numerous health benefits that whole grain black rice has to offer and with it being touted as the new cancer fighting super food, which can also prevent heart disease, black rice has a good market potential, especially in the overseas markets, as the demand for the same is growing in the USA, Australia and Europe.
How Exercise Keeps Depression at Bay
It is shown and proved by researchers that physical exercise has many advantages and beneficial effects. They have also come to a conclusion that exercise helps shield your brain from stress induced depression.
Practicing or following a daily course of exercising has ability to induce changes in skeletal muscles that can clear the blood of a substance that gets accumulated during stress and is harmful to the brain health. A follow-up to the study found that the effect of exercising lasted longer than those of antidepressants.
It was also found that people who did daily work outs and regardless of undergoing any treatment were originally less likely to fall into depression.
A study which was published in 2005, has shown that walking fast (brisk walking) for about 35 minutes a day five times a week can have a significant effect and influence on mild to moderate depression signs. "Skeletal muscle appears to have a detoxification effect that, when activated, can protect the brain from insults and related mental illness," said principal investigator Jorge Ruas from Karolinska Institute in Sweden.
Besides helping you cop-up with depression, regular exercising offers you other health benefits too namely lowering blood pressure, protecting you from heart diseases and other forms of cancer.
How often you need exercise to keep away depression is not very evident but half an hour of work outs such a brisk walking, and other exercise forms proves to be beneficial.