Ebola virus: Tanzania failing to provide details, WHO says

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE BBC)

 

Ebola virus: Tanzania failing to provide details, WHO says

Ebola workers in DR CongoImage copyright REUTERS
Image caption Ebola workers in DR Congo, where the latest outbreak has killed more than 2,000

The World Health Organization (WHO) has rebuked Tanzania for failing to provide information about possible Ebola virus infections.

The WHO said it had learned of one suspected fatal case in Dar es Salaam and two others but, despite repeated requests, was given no information.

Tanzania has said it has no suspected or confirmed cases.

The latest outbreak has killed more than 2,000 in eastern DR Congo, with Uganda battling to stop any spread.

An epidemic that ravaged parts of West Africa from 2014 to 2016 killed more than 11,000 people.

What is the WHO complaining about?

A statement on Saturday said that on 10 September the organisation had learned of a suspected infection in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania’s most populous city, in what would be the country’s first Ebola case.

It said the patient had been to Uganda, shown symptoms of Ebola in August, tested positive and died on 8 September. It said that the woman’s contacts had been quarantined.

The WHO said it had unofficial reports of two other possible cases.

It said: “Despite several requests, WHO did not receive further details of any of these cases from Tanzanian authorities.”

It added: “The limited available official information from Tanzanian authorities represents a challenge for assessing the risk posed by this event.”

What has Tanzania said in response?

On 14 September, Tanzania said there were no confirmed or suspected cases of Ebola in the country.

Media caption Fear and myths: Why people are still in denial about Ebola

However, it did not directly address the case of the woman mentioned by the WHO and provided no further information.

Last week, US Health Secretary Alex Azar criticized Tanzania for its failure to share information on possible cases.

Tanzania is heavily reliant on tourism, which could be affected by confirmed cases.

What is the latest on the outbreak?

It began in the eastern DR Congo in August last year and is the biggest of 10 Ebola outbreaks to hit the country since 1976, when the virus was first discovered.

In July, the WHO declared the Ebola crisis in the country a “public health emergency of international concern”.

There have been more than 3,000 cases and more than 2,000 deaths.

Other nations are on high alert. Four people have died after being diagnosed with the virus in Uganda, which has maintained largely successful screening centers along its border.

The disease can spread rapidly and similarly rapid measures are needed to control it, including hand-washing regimes and quarantines.

What is Ebola?

The Ebola virusImage copyright BSIP/GETTY IMAGES
  • Ebola is a virus that initially causes sudden fever, intense weakness, muscle pain and a sore throat
  • It progresses to vomiting, diarrhea and both internal and external bleeding
  • People are infected when they have direct contact through broken skin, or the mouth and nose, with the blood, vomit, feces or bodily fluids of someone with Ebola
  • Patients tend to die from dehydration and multiple organ failure

German Scientists Engineer Low-Nicotine Tobacco

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

 

German Scientists Engineer Low-Nicotine Tobacco

Friday, 20 September, 2019 – 10:30
A tobacco flower waves in a dew-covered field outside Rolesville, N.C., on Wednesday, Aug. 13, 2014. (AP Photo/Allen G.Breed)
London- Asharq Al-Awsat
German researchers have engineered new low-nicotine tobacco. For this purpose, scientists at the Technical University of Dortmund applied the gene-editing technique on the Virginia tobacco plant and managed to reduce nicotine in it from 400 percent to one percent.

“While each gram of regular tobacco contains 16 milligrams of nicotine, the newly edited version contains only 0.04 percent,” said the study’s lead author Felix Stehle.

“No one in the world has ever managed to reduce nicotine to this level,” he added.

The researchers published their study in the Plant Biotechnology journal.

The tobacco plant is not used to make cigarettes only, but also as a living sample in main research fields.

The researchers explained they used gene cutting to alter the genetic characteristics of this plant. They omitted six genes that play a major role in nicotine production. Although the plant regrouped these genes, it did so in a wrong way, which stopped the production of nicotine. The researchers assured that this process can be used with almost all types of tobacco.

Nicotine is the substance that leads to smoking addiction, in addition to the 4800 substances found in cigarettes, of which 70 substances cause cancer, or suspected to develop cancer.

Acupuncture Causes Woman’s Lung to Collapse

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF LIVE SCIENCE)

 

Acupuncture Causes Woman’s Lung to Collapse

3D drawing of human lungs

An acupuncturist pierced her patient’s lung through a pressure point in her shoulders.
(Image: © Shutterstock)

It’s the stuff of nightmares: An acupuncturist in New Zealand accidentally pierced her patient’s lungs while inserting needles into the patient’s shoulder, causing the organ to collapse.

The 33-year-old woman went to the acupuncture clinic in March following arm and wrist injuries that caused pain in her shoulders. To alleviate the discomfort, her acupuncturist inserted two needles near a spot known in Chinese medicine as the Jian Jing pressure point, or Gallbladder 21, which lies near the top of the shoulders.

It also rests dangerously close to the apices of the lungs — the pointed ends of the organ near the neck. At Gallbladder 21, the surface of the lung lies only 0.4 to 0.8 inches (10 to 20 millimeters) beneath the skin, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

Related: 27 Oddest Medical Cases

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When the needles were inserted, the patient felt a twinge of pain and later recalled that the instruments felt “extremely deep,” according to a report filed by New Zealand’s Health and Disability Commissioner. The acupuncturist left the needles in for 30 minutes before twisting and removing them, an action that left the patient feeling a sudden “right-sided chest pain and shortness of breath.” The patient said she also felt a “stuffy” sensation 10 minutes later, so the acupuncturist removed all of the remaining needles, administered additional treatment, and sent the patient home with instructions to rest and pay attention to her breathing.

Once home, the patient felt persistent pain in the left side of her chest and numbness in the right side. Later that night, she was admitted to the emergency department, where she was diagnosed with bilateral apical pneumothoraces, meaning both of her lungs had collapsed. The pneumothoraces were produced by the acupuncture treatment, which caused gas to be released into her chest cavity.

Although these occurrences are rare, acupuncturists occasionally pierce patients’ lungs through the Jian Jing pressure point. About 30% of the cases of pneumothorax due to acupuncture are caused by  the insertion of needles into that particular spot, according to a 2010 study by the WHO. Per New Zealand’s Code of Health and Disability Services Consumers’ Rights, this well-established risk should be spelled out for patients before any needles enter their skin.

The acupuncturist in this case reportedly failed to inform her patient of these risks and neglected to have her sign a required written consent form. The commissioner recommended that the acupuncturist receive additional training and that the clinic audit whether other clients had received informational brochures and signed consent forms prior to treatment, according to the New Zealand Herald.

You can read more about the case in the New Zealand Herald.

Originally published on Live Science

10 Healthiest Cities in the U.S.

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRAVEL TRIVIA)

 

10 Healthiest Cities in the U.S.

With quality of life, recreation and active lifestyles on everyone’s radar in terms of where to live, work and play, we often wonder where are these pockets of health — and what factors make them so healthy? As with many best and most lists, varying criteria create different outcomes. So depending on what source you choose, different cities may pop up. The most complete and stringent set of factors are employed for the annual American College of Sports Medicine’s (ACSM) American Fitness Index.

The Fitness Index uses strong community fitness — which is easier to gauge — as a proxy for the individual, personal fitness of residents. The top-ranked index cities have more resources that support health and fewer challenges to a healthy lifestyle. Based on the Index outcomes, following are the 10 healthiest U.S. cities.

Boise, Idaho

Credit: CSNafzger/Shutterstock

Hiking, mountain biking and outdoor adventure pursuits in general keep busy Boise residents in shape — enough so for the population to comprise the country’s tenth-healthiest city. No wonder. The capital city of Idaho is home to the Boise River Greenbelt, a series of tree-shaded trails and parks hugging the banks of the Boise River. With a section of river rolling directly through downtown, the greenbelt trail is prime terrain for urban workouts. Serious trail running is also a serious pursuit in and around Boise. Picturesque, punishing runs await at the forebodingly named routes Harrison Hollow, Five-Mile Gulch and Military Reserve, all highlighted expertly on the Boise section of Rootsrated.com.

San Jose, California

Credit: NicolasMcComber/iStock

San Jose is a major Bay Area technology hub, and it happens to have the ninth-fittest population in the nation. So when they aren’t behind computer screens, residents spend quality time outdoors exercising in beautiful natural surroundings. The Visit San Jose webpage for outdoor recreation  provides great tips on the best sites, such as Alum Rock Park in town or nearby at Castle Rock State Park in neighboring Los Gatos, California. Active San Jose citizens can add Zen meditation or a calming jog to their health routine at the city’s Kelly Park Japanese Garden.

Saint Paul, Minnesota

Credit: Vladimir Daragan/Shutterstock

The state capital of Minnesota, Saint Paul is the other half of the “Twin Cities” along with neighboring Minneapolis. Both cities share a penchant for healthy living, and you’ll find Minneapolis elsewhere on this list. For its part, Saint Paul’s fit crowd enjoys utilizing the Gateway State Trail for biking, running or simply strolling in nature. The 18-mile trail takes advantage of a former rail line between Stillwater and Saint Paul, now a paved path. Generally level thanks to its railway roots, the Gateway route winds northeast through Maplewood, North St. Paul and Oakdale, then continues through Washington County before ending at Pine Point Regional Park.

Denver, Colorado

Credit: Andrew Zarivny/Shutterstock

As a base for nearby Rocky Mountain skiing, mountain biking and hiking adventures, Denver is a mecca for active lifestyle seekers. As such, it’s no surprise to find Colorado’s capital at number seven for fitness. With the Mile High city indeed sitting at 5280 feet, residents don’t have to head for the mountains for high-altitude exertion. Just consider the bike trail descriptions at Denver.org. These are no short jaunts. Instead there are miles and miles of rides on paved bikeways that let you roll from Denver to outlying towns. For example, the Cherry Creek Regional Trail starts in Confluence Park and continues beside Cherry Creek for more than 40 miles before terminating near Franktown. Similarly, the Greenway Trail is nearly 30 miles of paved bike path along the banks of the South Platte River, connecting a series of pristine parks. As a bonus, the river played such a big role in local history that the Colorado Historical Society has placed along the route some 20 signs with photos and illustrations detailing important places and events.

Seattle, Washington

Credit: aiisha5/iStock

With Mt. Rainier National Park in its backyard and the waters of Puget Sound on its front porch, Seattle is a magnet for outdoors enthusiasts, earning it the number six ranking among healthy metros. While the city is surrounded by water, mountains and towering conifer forests, within its limits it contains thousands of acres of parkland. Among the best and most picturesque are 530-acre Discovery Park and the 230-acre grounds of the Washington Park Arboretum. As home to REI, of course hiking, camping, backpacking and climbing are everyday pursuits here, rain or shine. But biking is also a big deal. To that end, The Burke-Gilman Trail wends its way some 27 miles through the city’s northern neighborhoods. Seattle Cycling Tours, meanwhile, offers a 2.5-hour guided bike trek through central city landmarks and neighborhoods including Pioneer Square, South Lake Union and the Seattle Center.

Portland, Oregon

Credit: 4nadia/iStock

Spread out in the shadow of snow-capped Mount Hood, Portland is known for its parks, bridges and bike lanes — and for its generally green attitude. It’s no surprise then, that the number five fittest city has myriad recreational pursuits for Portlanders. Surrounding mountains and forests offering hiking, mountain biking and climbing at every emerald-green turn of the trail. Oregon’s largest city sits directly on the Columbia and Willamette rivers, so paddling is a prime pursuit for fitness within the urban core. Another in-city outdoor highlight, Washington Park features both the city’s Japanese Garden and the Oregon Zoo.

Madison, Wisconsin

Credit: Joey Reuteman/Shutterstock

Consider the winters in Wisconsin when noting the ingenious nature of the Sett Recreation Center at the University of Wisconsin—Madison. Part of the three-story student union building, with the Sett Pub located conveniently on the lower level, perfect cold-weather activities occupy the rest of the space with live music, dancing, bowling, billiards and indoor rock-climbing. It’s not all about the indoors, of course. Madison, which lies just east of Milwaukee, is the Wisconsin state capital, and the city’s Capital City State Trail is a favorite urban exercise outlet. The picturesque paved path winds past Monona Terrace, a lakefront convention center designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, providing an architectural treat along with exercise options.

Washington, D.C.

Credit: Sean Pavone/Shutterstock

Hemmed in by the bordering states of Maryland and Virginia and known for its imposing neoclassical monuments and government buildings, our nation’s capital at first glance doesn’t scream fitness. Yet the population of Washington, D.C., is serious about staying in shape, it seems, ranking at number three among healthy metros. The city actually helps with that, providing myriad free outdoor activities, many of which can be found at Washington.org. D.C.’s favorite outdoor exercise space is no doubt Rock Creek Park. It’s 4.4 square miles encompass multiple hiking and biking trails, plus riding stables and tennis courts. Hikers, bikers and runners also enjoy long stretches of the C&O Canal Towpath, with 180-plus miles of accessible trail along the scenic Potomac River between Georgetown and Cumberland, Maryland.

Minneapolis, Minnesota

Credit: f11photo/Shutterstock

Minneapolis, the major Minnesota metro that forms the “Twin Cities” with the neighboring state capital of Saint Paul, consistently ranks among the nation’s best read cities. It’s per capita bookstores, libraries and degreed denizens help earn that title. Smarts and staying in shape apparently go hand in hand, with Minneapolis sitting at number two for healthiest cities. Bisected by the Mississippi River, the city is full of serene parks and lakes, all of which make for great outdoor recreation. For example, within city limits more than 10 miles of trails traverse famed Minnehaha Park and its environs. One popular recreation route starts beneath 53-foot Minnehaha Falls, from where hikers, bikers and runners can follow the tree-shaded trail through dense woods to bluffs overlooking the mighty Mississippi River, then loop back to the falls.

Arlington, Virginia

Credit: uschools/iStock

Aerobics, aquatics, seated exercise classes, strength training, core strength, boxing, tai chi, yoga, pilates, walking clubs, tennis and biking are among the programs offered by Arlington Parks and Recreation. And those are just the senior activities. There’s a reason Arlington landed at number one in the nation for fit populations. Active pursuits are provided for every age and fitness level through the municipal recreation department, which also makes it easy to get involved with accomodations for income level and disabilities. At least a part of the population is getting their blood pumping with more extreme pursuits. The adrenaline crowd here is serious about mountain biking, and the Arlington Single Track Tour is an exciting, two-county ride to get in some exercise.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg Treated Again For Cancer

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF NPR NEWS)

 

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg Treated Again For Cancer

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg speaks with NPR in July.

Shuran Huang/NPR

Updated at 2:37 p.m. ET

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has just completed three weeks of radiation treatment at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York, the U.S. Supreme Court disclosed Friday.

The radiation therapy, conducted on an outpatient basis, began Aug. 5, shortly after a localized cancerous tumor was discovered on Ginsburg’s pancreas. The treatment included the insertion of a stent in Ginsburg’s bile duct, according to a statement issued by the court.

Doctors at Sloan Kettering said further tests showed no evidence of disease elsewhere in the body. The treatment comes just months after Ginsburg was operated on for lung cancer last December. The 86-year-old justice has been treated for cancer in various forms over the past 20 years.

“Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg today completed a three-week course of stereotactic ablative radiation therapy at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City,” a statement from the Supreme Court read. “The focused radiation treatment began on August 5 and was administered on an outpatient basis to treat a tumor on her pancreas. The abnormality was first detected after a routine blood test in early July, and a biopsy performed on July 31 at Sloan Kettering confirmed a localized malignant tumor.

“As part of her treatment, a bile duct stent was placed. The Justice tolerated treatment well. She cancelled her annual summer visit to Santa Fe, but has otherwise maintained an active schedule. The tumor was treated definitively and there is no evidence of disease elsewhere in the body. Justice Ginsburg will continue to have periodic blood tests and scans. No further treatment is needed at this time.”

Shortly before her new round of treatment, Ginsburg sat for an interview with NPR, and her resilience was on full display.

“There was a senator, I think it was after my pancreatic cancer, who announced with great glee that I was going to be dead within six months,” Ginsburg said. “That senator, whose name I have forgotten, is now himself dead, and I,” she added with a smile, “am very much alive.”

During Ginsburg’s three weeks of treatment in New York, she kept up a busy schedule in New York, often going out in the evening to the movies, the opera and the theater.

At the National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene, where Fiddler on the Roof is playing, word spread during intermission that Ginsburg was there, and the audience stood for several minutes applauding the diminutive justice.

Also in the audience that night was Kate McKinnon, whose frequent portrayal of Ginsburg on NBC’s Saturday Night Live has become a marquee event on the show. Soon, the justice and her imitator were caught in photos clasping hands for the first time.

The justice also continued to work during her time in New York, according to court sources, and she has been spotted frequently window shopping, even going in to try on shoes and other items that have interested her.

Ginsburg has 11 public events planned for September and has not canceled any of them to date.

The Supreme Court is set to open a new term on the first Monday in October, and the justices routinely return to work in September.

President Trump has already named two conservative justices to the court, thus ensuring a five-justice conservative majority in most controversial cases.

Were Ginsburg to leave the court prior to the 2020 election or even the inauguration, Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell has made clear the GOP would move immediately to fill the vacancy. That would ensure a 6-to-3 conservative majority on the court, all but guaranteeing a conservative grip on the court for decades to come.

Israeli doctor treating Syrians hopes to save hearts and win minds

(This article is courtesy of the Times of Israel)

 

Israeli doctor treating Syrians hopes to save hearts and win minds

In 2013, Salman Zarka, then head of IDF medical corps in the north, sent injured Syrians who came to Israel’s border to a Safed hospital. Now, he’s running it

Dr. Salman Zarka, director of the Ziv Medical Center in Safed, Israel, speaks with a Syrian girl to whom he gave treatment (Courtesy).

Dr. Salman Zarka, director of the Ziv Medical Center in Safed, Israel, speaks with a Syrian girl to whom he gave treatment (Courtesy).

WASHINGTON — For Israeli soldiers guarding the country’s northern border, Shabbat morning is often, though not always, quite placid, even with a raging civil war unfolding miles away.

The Israel Defense Forces have naturally been vigilant to keep the Syrian conflict from bleeding into Israel, especially over the last year as Iran has sought to entrench itself in the beleaguered Arab state. But more often than not, it hasn’t been Syrians with weapons that head toward Israel’s borders: it has been Syrians with injuries.

That came to the fore on a fateful morning in February 2013, when seven Syrians arrived at the Israeli border in need of serious medical attention. The medics there provided them with care, but it soon became clear that this would not be enough to save their lives.

At the time, Salman Zarka was the head of the IDF Northern Command’s Medical Corps. He quickly determined that the wounded Syrians needed to go to a civilian hospital where they could receive a higher level of care.

The closest one was the Ziv Medical Center in Safed, an ancient city overlooking the Sea of Galilee. Zarka ordered that they be rushed to the facility, where they were treated, and some underwent surgery. Every single one of them survived.

Ten days later, they went back to their homes in Syria.

Now, Zarka is the director of Ziv — a position he’s held since 2014 — where he has continued to treat Syrians who come to the Israeli border in need of lifesaving medical interventions.

A Syrian man carries two girls covered with dust following a reported air strike by government forces on July 9, 2014 in the northern city of Aleppo. (Photo credit: AFP/AMC/ZEIN AL-RIFAI)

Since 2013, Ziv has played a small but pivotal role in the treatment of injured Syrians over the course of their country’s ruthless civil war. That is at least partly due to the hospital’s strategic location: roughly seven miles from the border with Lebanon and a little more than 50 from the Syrian border.

At first, Zarka thought 50 miles was too far for patients in critical condition (about a 30-minute drive with sirens), who, he feared, might not survive the trip.

“We decided that if we’re going to have a mission of saving lives, we’ll do it in the best way we know, and the best way with our experience was to have a military hospital just on the border so severe injuries can be treated there,” Zarka recently told The Times of Israel.

Therefore, in March 2013, after consultation with government officials, Israel built a facility on the border, near a Druze village.

But a year and a half later, it closed.

“We discovered it wasn’t needed,” said Zarka, who is Druze. “Most of the Syrians’ injuries were orthopedic. They did not require immediate medical attention and could wait to be treated at civilian facilities.”

Today, most of the burden falls on Ziv to treat Syrians who come to Israel asking for help. Since February 2013, the hospital has treated roughly 5,000 Syrians, according to Zarka.

The experience, he said, appears to have an impact on those rescued — many of whom had grown up thinking their southern neighbor was a villain.

Dr. Salman Zarka treats a wounded Syrian boy at the Ziv Medical Cener in Safed. (Courtesy)

“I’ve met many Syrians. When I met them at first, they were very afraid to meet their enemy and receive medical support from us,” Zarka said. “They didn’t always tell us the truth. We noticed that sometimes they changed their names. But things have changed. They have started smiling and speaking Hebrew. A number have told us that for many years they have been educated that we are the devil and need to be kicked back to the sea.

“Now,” he said, “they understand that we are more human than Assad.”

At Ziv, Syrians are treated confidentially to protect their identity from Syrian authorities, who would not take kindly to their accepting help from the Jewish state.

The patients stay anywhere from a few days to a few months. In a few rare cases, some have stayed longer than a year. While there, Zarka noted, they receive the same level of care as Israelis.

“We offer not just treatment for their injuries, we treat them according to the Israeli standards,” he said. “We do our best not just to try to save their lives, we try to improve the quality of their lives.”

Magen David Adom (MDA) ambulance at the entrance to the emergency unit at Ziv Medical Center in Safed, northern Israel, on March 6, 2019. (David Cohen/Flash90)

In one instance, a Syrian woman came to the border with her 10-year-old diabetic daughter after their village was bombed. The girl was unconscious and her mother thought she was dead. Shortly after they arrived at the border, the IDF brought them to Ziv, where the girl was treated for three months.

During that period, the medical staff trained the mother to care for her child once they left the unit — teaching her how to check her daughter’s glucose levels and how to give an insulin injection. They wanted to make sure she could keep her daughter healthy once they left.

When Ziv released her from the hospital, Zarka was fearful for both of their futures. “We were very worried especially about what would happen to this wonderful girl when she got back to Syria,” he said.

Four months later, however, that girl made it back to Ziv for a checkup.

“To see that she is surviving and gaining weight and in a better situation … you believe that you are changing something,” he said.

Zarka said when the girl returned she gave him a present: a drawing of the Israeli flag with a big heart and her name on it.

It said, “Todah Raba” — “Thank you” in Hebrew.

For Zarka, experiences like this one reveal the ability to influence the worldview of Syrians who might otherwise despise Israelis without actually knowing them. It may be a small sample size, he said, but that little girl will grow up grateful for the country that helped her while her own was trapped in a humanitarian catastrophe.

“She will believe Israelis are saving lives, that we are good people,” Zarka said. “Maybe some day, we will have a different relationship.”

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Israel: Nano-vaccine against melanoma developed by Tel Aviv University researchers

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL)

 

Nano-vaccine against melanoma developed by Tel Aviv University researchers

New approach to deadly skin cancer has been effective in preventing and treating primary tumors in mice, study says

Illustrative image of a doctor using a dermatoscope for a skin examination for melanoma (AndreyPopov, iStock by Getty Images)

Illustrative image of a doctor using a dermatoscope for a skin examination for melanoma (AndreyPopov, iStock by Getty Images)

Researchers at Tel Aviv University say they may have developed a new way to treat and prevent melanoma, through the use of a “nano-vaccine.”

The new approach to fighting the most aggressive type of skin cancer has so far been effective in mice in preventing the development of melanoma and in treating primary tumors and metastases that result from melanoma, the researchers said in a study.

“Our research opens the door to a completely new approach — the vaccine approach — for effective treatment of melanoma, even in the most advanced stages of the disease,” said a statement by Prof. Satchi-Fainaro, chair of the Department of Physiology and Pharmacology and head of the Laboratory for Cancer Research and Nano-medicine at TAU’s Sackler Faculty of Medicine, who led the study.

The focus of the research, published on Monday in Nature Nanotechnology, is a nano-particle that serves as the basis for the new vaccine.

A nano-vaccine developed by researchers at Tel Aviv University enhances the sensitivity of melanoma to immunotherapy to destroy cancer cells. Illustration by Maayan Harel.

Melanoma develops in the skin cells that produce melanin or skin pigment. The cancer accounts for only about 1% of skin tumors, but is behind a large majority of skin cancer deaths, according to the American Cancer Society. Some 7,230 people in the US are expected to die of melanoma in 2019, according to the American Cancer Society.

“The war against cancer in general, and melanoma in particular, has advanced over the years through a variety of treatment modalities, such as surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy and immunotherapy; but the vaccine approach, which has proven so effective against various viral diseases, has not materialized yet against cancer,” said Satchi-Fainaro. “In our study, we have shown that it is possible to produce an effective nano-vaccine against melanoma and to sensitize the immune system to immunotherapies.”

The researchers used tiny particles, about 170 nano-meters in size, made up of  biodegradable polymers. Within each particle, they “packed” two peptides — short chains of amino acids, which are found in melanoma cells. They then injected the nano-particles (or “nano-vaccines”) into mice that had melanoma.

“The nano-particles acted just like known vaccines for viral-borne diseases,” Satchi-Fainaro said. “They stimulated the immune system of the mice, and the immune cells learned to identify and attack cells containing the two peptides — that is, the melanoma cells. This meant that, from now on, the immune system of the immunized mice will attack melanoma cells if and when they appear in the body.”

Tel Aviv University researchers have developed nano-vaccine to fight melanoma in mice. Left to right: Prof. Helena Florindo, Dr João Conniot, Prof. Ronit Satchi-Fainaro, Dr Anna Scomparin. (Galia Tiram).

The researchers then examined the effectiveness of the vaccine under three conditions.

In the first scenario, the vaccine was injected into healthy mice, followed by an injection of melanoma cells. “The result was that the mice did not get sick, meaning that the vaccine prevented the disease,” Satchi-Fainaro said. This means the vaccine proved to have a preventative effect, she explained.

Second, the nano-particle vaccine was used to treat a primary melanoma tumors in mice, together with immunotherapy treatments that are already approved for use or still under development. The combination of the vaccine with the treatment “significantly delayed the progression of the disease and greatly extended the lives of all treated mice,” the statement said.

In the last scenario, the researchers tested their approach on tissues taken from human patients in which the melanoma cancer cells had spread to the brain. They found that in the human brain, where there is metastases, the two same peptides exist. This suggested that just as these two peptides can trigger an immune reaction in mice when used as a nano-vaccine, they are likely to trigger a similar reaction in the brain, indicating that the vaccine could be used to treat brain metastases in humans as well, Satchi-Fainaro said in a phone interview.

A nano-vaccine developed by researchers at Tel Aviv University activates the immune system to attack melanoma (Illustration by Galia Tiram).

The next step for the researchers, she  said in the phone interview, is to “show that we can control the growth” of the metastasized cells in order to “prolong overall survival.”

The researchers believe that their “nano-vaccine” approach could be expanded beyond melanoma.

“We believe that our platform may also be suitable for other types of cancer and that our work is a solid foundation for the development of other cancer nano-vaccines,” Satchi-Fainero said.

The researchers are now setting up a company to take the development of their nano-vaccine further. It may take at least five to 10 years before a product could reach the market, if all the clinical trials go well, she said in the interview.

The team of researchers included Prof. Helena Florindo of the University of Lisbon, while on sabbatical at the TAU, and Dr. Anna Scomparin and postdoctoral fellow Dr. João Conniot, both of the TAU.

The project was funded by EuroNanoMed-II, the Israeli Health Ministry, the Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology (FCT), the Israel Science Foundation (ISF), the European Research Council (ERC) Consolidator and Advanced Awards, the Saban Family Foundation – Melanoma Research Alliance (MRA) Team Science Award, and the Israel Cancer Research Fund (ICRF).

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How much water do you really need to drink?

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRIVIA GENIUS)

 

How much water do you really need to drink?

Eight glasses a day, right? That’s what we’ve always been told. But as it turns out, this widely-held belief isn’t as accurate as you might think. To really get an idea of how much water you need to drink to maintain your health, let’s look at the issue and come up with some answers.

Eight glasses is a myth

Credit: Svetlana-Cherruty / iStock

Yes, unfortunately, this bit of wisdom that many of us go our whole lives believing is a myth. There’s no actual science behind the claim that six to eight glasses of water per day is necessary for good health, but nevertheless, the claim gets tossed around by the government, the media, and just about anyone who fancies him/herself as a nutrition expert.

The original “eight glasses” claim purportedly comes from a recommendation by the 1945 U.S. Food and Nutrition Board, which stated that we should drink 2.5 liters of water every day for good health. There are two problems with this right off the bat:

  • The recommendation wasn’t based on any actual research.
  • The recommendation also suggests that most of this intake could come from foods.

Unfortunately, in lieu of more concrete directions, this recommendation took hold in our culture. Add in the fact that nutrition science is complicated and poorly-understood (even by experts!), and it’s clear why we can’t seem to shake the idea that more water = better health.

How much do you actually need?

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This isn’t to say that hydration isn’t important; it certainly is, especially in hotter regions where people lose more water from sweating and exhalation. There are plenty of clear associations between hydration and metabolism, skin health, and general fitness.

But too much of anything isn’t good. Even water. So, how much is the right amount The answer is a bit tricky. There are three factors influencing how much water you should drink:

  • Body weight
  • Activity level
  • Local climate

Generally, the more you weigh, the hotter it is, and the more active you are, the more water you’ll need.

In terms of coming up with a specific total, some resources suggest taking half your body weight and aiming for that total in ounces; for example, a 200-pound person would need 100 ounces of water each day. However, this is just a rule of thumb—there’s no specific formula that works for every person. There are just too many variables that go into the equation, especially when you start adding water intake from solid foods.

Water intake doesn’t mean drinking

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It’s important to note that your daily “water intake” encompasses more than just the liquid you drink. Nearly every food we eat has water in it, and some (like fruits and vegetables) are extremely water-rich. Many of us end up getting much of our recommended liquid intake just from the meals we eat.

In short, you might be more hydrated than you think you are — even without downing a tall glass of water at every meal. This begs the question: How can I tell whether I’m hydrated enough to be healthy?

Follow your body’s signals

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Every person’s water needs are unique, and as such, we need to rely on our own unique signals when deciding whether we’re properly hydrated. According to the Mayo Clinic, there are a few easy ways to stay hydrated, no matter how much water your body needs:

  • Drink water or other liquids regularly, including with meals
  • Drink any time you feel thirsty (or hungry!)
  • If you’re exercising, drink extra before and after a workout

It should be easy enough to tell whether you’re hydrated; generally, thirst, fatigue, and overtly-yellow urine are signs of dehydration. Aim for a routine of daily water intake that matches the energy you expend.

The perfect amount of water

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Unfortunately, there’s no “ideal” recommendation for water intake that applies to everyone. Heck, even on an individual level, water needs vary widely across people. It’s not important that you force yourself to chug water each day in hopes of meeting an arbitrary goal. What is important is that you listen to your body’s signals and adjust your intake until it matches your lifestyle.

China’s first 5G-streamed robot-assisted surgery conducted in Shanghai

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE CHINA NEWS NETWORK ‘SHINE’)

 

China’s first 5G-streamed robot-assisted surgery conducted in Shanghai

Video provided by Renji Hospital

The first robot assisted surgery broadcast through 5G was conducted in Renji Hospital on Thursday, allowing doctors throughout the Yangtze River Delta region to witness proceedings.

Doctors in other parts of the Renji medical network, student doctors studying in Renji and those working in Renji’s branch in Ningbo, Zhejiang Province, were able to watch the whole da Vinci procedure performed by Dr Zhong Ming, deputy director of Renji’s gastrointestinal surgery department.

Da Vinci is surgical system which uses robotic technology to allows surgeons to perform minimally invasive procedures.

China's first 5G-streamed robot-assisted surgery conducted in Shanghai

Ti Gong

Dr Zhong Ming from Renji Hospital operates the da Vinci system.

“We have tried 3D and VR in previous broadcasts. The previous limits of our digital technology, hardly met the requirements for medical education,” Zhong said. “5G allows students and interns to clearly see each step of the surgery in real time.”

Doctors from remote areas are perhaps the greatest beneficiaries. 5G allows them to see the most advanced technology in leading hospitals.

“Without the broadcast, I may never have had a chance to witness a da Vinci surgery in my entire life,” said Dr Yu Mengxi from Yunnan Province, who is in training at Renji Hospital.

Zhang Jidong, vice president of Renji Hospital, said surgery broadcasts are a very effective way to introduce doctors in rural areas to new medical technology, eventually benefiting more patients.

China's first 5G-streamed robot-assisted surgery conducted in Shanghai

Ti Gong

The da Vinci surgery system

The 2-minute guide to the human heart

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRIVIA GENIUS)

 

The 2-minute guide to the human heart

Out of all the muscles in the body, the heart works the hardest. It pumps continuously whether we are working out or relaxing in bed, keeping the rest of our organs working properly – and keeping us alive. Here is a two-minute guide to the human heart so that you can better understand how it works.

Heart basics

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The human heart is a fist-sized organ located just to the left of the center of the chest. In healthy adults, it beats around 80 times per minute, meaning that it beats around 115,000 times per day. This adds up to around 42 million beats per year. If you want to take that statistic even further, in the average 70-year lifespan of a human being, the heart beats more than 2.5 billion times. This beating is what pushes blood, oxygen, and other nutrients through the body.

Chambers

The human heart has four distinct chambers, the top two of which are called the right and left atria. The two bottom chambers are the right and left ventricles. Blood from the rest of the body flows into the heart via the atria, and the ventricles pump that blood back out into the rest of the body, creating a constant, cyclical system.

Valves

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There are also four valves in the human heart. The two valves that are located between the atria and the ventricles are called atrioventricular valves, and are further divided into the tricuspid (right valve) and the mitral (left valve). There are also two semilunar valves located where the ventricles let out. These are called the pulmonary and aortic valves.

Pericardium and heart wall

The pericardium is a two-walled sac that surrounds the heart, protecting it and keeping it in its proper place inside the chest. Between the inner and outer layers of the pericardium is a fluid that lubricates the heart while it contracts, as well as protects it from the movement of the nearby diaphragm and lungs.

The wall of the heart itself helps to protect this important organ as well. It is made up of three layers: the epicardium, which is the inner wall of the pericardium; the myocardium, which contains the muscular part of the heart that contracts when it beats; and the innermost layer called the endocardium, which is the lining that comes in contact with the blood that flows through the heart.

Arteries and veins

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The final aspect of the heart’s anatomy that needs discussing is the system of arteries and veins. Arteries are the vessels that carry blood away from the heart, with the largest and most important one being the aorta, which comes out of the left ventricle. The veins are the opposite of arteries, in that they bring blood back into the heart after it circulates through other parts of the body.

Cardiac cycle

As strange as it may sound, the heart has an electrical system as well, which sends cardiac impulses that cause it to beat. This beating is a part of what is called the cardiac cycle, and is divided into two parts. The first part is called systole, which is when the ventricles contract and send blood into the arteries to go to the rest of the body. The second part is called diastole, which is when the ventricles relax and take in blood from the atria. Incredibly, this all happens thousands of times a day, and as long as the cycle goes smoothly, it isn’t necessary to give it a second thought.