Recent study suggests vitamin D could repair nerve damage in multiple sclerosis

According to new research from the University of Cambridge, a protein activated by vitamin D could be involved in repairing damage to myelin in people with multiple sclerosis (MS). The study offers significant evidence that vitamin D could be a possible treatment for MS in the future.

Researchers identified that the ‘vitamin D receptor’ protein pairs with an existing protein, called the RXR gamma receptor, already known to be involved in the repair of myelin, the protecive sheath surrounding nerve fibres. By adding vitamin D to brain stem cells where the proteins were present, they found the production rate of oligodendrocytes (myelin making cells) increased by 80%. When they blocked the vitamin D receptor to stop it from working, the RXR gamma protein alone was unable to stimulate the production of oligodendrocytes. Continue reading “Recent study suggests vitamin D could repair nerve damage in multiple sclerosis”

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Eat More Processed Meat Do Cause Cancer

High consumption of processed meat are at increased risk of early death, in particular due to cardiovascular diseases but also to cancer

People who eat a lot of processed meat such as bacon, sausages, ham and burgers run a greater risk of premature death and developing conditions such as cancer and heart disease, research shows. Processed meat has been modified to either extend its shelf life or change the taste and the main methods are smoking , curing, or adding salt or preservatives. Simply putting beef through a mincer does not mean the resulting mince is “processed” unless it is modified further. Processed meat includes bacon, hot dogs, sausages, corned beef, beef jerky, salami and ham as well as canned meat and  meat-based sauces. It is the chemicals involved in the processing which could be increasing the risk of cancer. High temperature cooking, such as on a barbeque, can also create carcinogenic chemicals.

The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), the cancer agency affiliated with WHO, has evaluated the carciogenicity of the consumption of red meat and processed meat. The experts concluded that each 50 gram portion of processed meat eaten daily increases the risk of colorectal cancer by 18%. If they were all had an extra 50g of bacon a day for the rest of their lives then the risk would increase by 18% to around seven in 100 people getting bowel cancer. Continue reading “Eat More Processed Meat Do Cause Cancer”

A Cure Worse than the Disease?

Sapere aude! ‘Have courage to use your own reason!’ – that is the motto of enlightenment. – I. Kant

Immanuel Kant was a philosopher who took Hume’s challenge seriously – indeed, more seriously than Hume himself (Kant, 2004). If science is so critical to our understanding of the universe, he reasoned, it must be possible to place it on a firm epistemic foundation, which requires defusing the problem of induction. And so he set out to do just this, though whether and in what sense he succeeded in this project is still a matter of debate.

Kant accepts the empiricist idea that we have no direct access to information about the “real” world (noumena) beyond our mental representations (phenomena). Since metaphysics is about the ultimate nature of reality, any empiricist making metaphysical claims is in the awkward position of using sensation as a guide to the supposedly extra-sensory causes of sensation. To make matters worse, Kant argues persuasively that our sensation is not a passive faculty on which the world impresses itself, but instead involves active (if subconscious) interpretation (a claim richly confirmed by modern psychology). This makes it impossible to know the nature of the world beyond our experience with any confidence – we are trapped in our own minds, as it were. To use a simple analogy, it’s as if we spend our entire lives locked inside a movie theatre with only the images on the screen as a guide to the outside world. We have no way to tell whether and to what extent the images correspond to what’s outside. And since we also know that our expectations and desires influence what see on the screen, we have strong grounds to be skeptical about any claim concerning the world beyond the theatre. Continue reading “A Cure Worse than the Disease?”

Seaweed in Karimunjawa in warning

The Central Java provincial administration has been urged to pay serious attention on the condition of seaweed in the waters around the Karimunjawa Island, Jepara Regency, that have been severely damaged allegedly due to waste from local hotels. Waste from hotels operating in Karimunjawa, including garbage and waste from washing activities, were simply dumped into the sea. It was damaging the sea biota.

The damage could have been avoided if the hotels in the area had been developed according to regulations, especially with regard to the requirement to build waste water management installation (IPAL), which process the waste before it is released into the environment. The Jepara regency administration was too reckless in issuing licences to hotels having no IPAL. The damage to the seaweed plantation in Karimunjawa had reached a dangerous level as it had been infected with a virus that continued to grow.

The environment in Karimunjawa needed to be well-preserved because the area had been named as a national park area according to Forestry Minister Decree No. 78/1999. The decree deems Karimunjawa to be a conservation, recreation and production area whose usage must not violate natural preservation and sustainability principles.

Head of Karimunjawa district Nuryanto confirmed the damage to the seaweed in his region but said he had no idea what caused the damage. He also underlined the need for replanting the seaweed to help restore its condition. Local people had been regularly replanting seaweed in the area, but it did not grow well. It maybe because the seedlings they plant are not of good quality, they always experience failure.

Nuryanto expressed concerns at the situation especially because the majority of Karimunjawa’s population of 11,000 depended for their livelihood on seaweed which had always fetched a good price in the market. Wet seaweed is priced at Rp 1,200 (US 14 cents) per kilogram while sun-dried seaweed gets between Rp 12,000 and Rp 13,000 per kilogram

Local people planned to replant seaweed in the region in November and December. He also expressed hope that the provincial administration would come up with a solution to the problem.

Greenland Unstoppable Meltdown More Robust to Climate Change

Greenland’s ice seems less vulnerable than feared to a runaway melt that would drive up world sea levels, according to a study showing that a surge of ice loss had petered out. It is too early to proclaim the ice sheet’s future doom caused by climate change as stated by Kurt Kjaer from University of Copenhagen.

An examination of old photos taken from planes revealed a sharp thinning of glaciers in north-west Greenland from 1985 to 1993. Another pulse of ice loss in the area lasted from 2005 to 2010.Image

The discovery of fluctuations casts doubt on projections that Greenland could be headed for an unstoppable meltdown, triggered by manmade global warming. Greenland contains enough ice to raise sea levels by 7 meters if it all thawed. Kjaer told Reuters that ice loss starts and then it stops. This is a break from thinking that it is something that starts, accelerates and will consume Greenland all at once. However, Kjaer noted that the ice sheet did not get bigger in the pause between the pulses of ice loss. He said satellite data of Greenland’s ice only dated back to about 2000 and the use of aerial photos had extended the records of the remote Arctic region back another 15 years.

The cause of the surge in ice loss in the 1980s was unclear but might have been linked to a shift in ocean currents. The underlying cause of a change in currents was unknown. NASA said last month that almost the entire surface of Greenland had been thawing in a rare warm spell that it said might happen only once every 150 years. And iceberg twice the size of Manhattan recently broke off the Petermann glacier, to the north of the area studied by Kjaer’s team.

Lack of historical data is a problem for climate scientists studying Greenland and the far bigger Antarctic ice sheet, which would raise sea levels by about 60 meters if it ever all melted.

Rising Health Care Costs

The problem of rising prescription drug costs has emerged as a critical policy issue around the world, particularly in the United States. These costs strain the budgets of patients and health insurers, and directly contribute to adverse health outcomes by reducing adherence to important medications. Drug spending is driven by brand-name drugs, which currently account for about 20% of all prescriptions in the US, but 80% of costs. Brand-name drugs generally are granted periods of market exclusivity during which they charge high prices to account for the initial investment in research and development. In the case of small molecule drugs, once the market exclusivity period ends, competitors producing bioequivalent generic drugs can enter the market, and the drug price quickly falls. In this week’s PLOS Medicine, Nathalie Vernaz and colleagues study the consequences of this delicate balancing act going awry due to the cumulative effects of so-called life-cycle management (or ‘‘evergreening’’) strategies employed by the drug’s manufacturer.

Life-Cycle Management in the Pharmaceutical Market

The term ‘‘life-cycle management’’ refers to the practice of brand-name manufacturers seeking to further extend the market exclusivity periods for their drugs to maintain revenue streams. Market exclusivity extensions may be achieved through a number of different strategies. Some evergreening strategies offer scant public health benefits, including slight changes in formulation protected by later-issued patents, marketing tools such as drug coupons that reduce patients’ out-of-pocket spending on brand-name drugs, and negotiating settlements with generic companies to prevent challenges to potentially weak or invalid patents. Other evergreening strategies may provide more measurable advantages to patients, such as developing extended-release versions or combination products. Continue reading “Rising Health Care Costs”

STRATEGY FOR GROWTH HAS SOME BLANKS

The Japanese government is set to approve a new growth strategy billed as a fundamental rethinking of the economy, tackling deflation and renewing its energy policy after the natural and nuclear disasters last year.

The plan contain some impressive targets, like helping create more than ¥100 trillion, or $1.278 trillion, worth of new industry and 4.7 million new jobs in field like renewable energies and medicine by 2020. Continue reading “STRATEGY FOR GROWTH HAS SOME BLANKS”