Wednesday November 22, 2017

Stem cells may hold secret to curing blindness: Study

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Photo: www.healthaim.com

Researchers announced this week they have developed a new form of eye repair treatment where stem cells are used to grow new eye tissue for patients suffering from cataracts, the primary cause of blindness and other eye conditions, MNT reports. A dozen infants who were born with the disease have recover their sight after doctors used…

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Cases of Glaucoma show a rising trend in India, can be caused by Smoking: Doctors

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A patient suffering from Glaucoma, VOA

New Delhi, March 19, 2017: As cases of glaucoma show a rising trend in India, ophthalmologists blame smoking as one of the major reasons behind it.

Besides glaucoma, several other eye diseases, such as age-related macular degeneration (AMD), can also be caused or aggravated due to smoking, but only 10-20 per cent people are aware of these facts, they said.

Stating that lifestyle matters a lot for eye-related diseases, the doctors said research papers have proved that smoking increases the risk of AMD and glaucoma.

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“Smoking is very much connected to age-related macular degeneration (AMD), cataract, glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy and dry eye syndrome,” Kamal B. Kapur, from Sharp Sight Group of Eye Hospitals, told IANS.

Kapur said that people who do not smoke, but become passive smokers, also are prone to develop AMD.

Glaucoma is a disease that damages eye’s optic nerve, while AMD causes loss in the centre of the field of vision. In dry macular degeneration, the centre of the retina deteriorates. With wet macular degeneration, leaky blood vessels grow under the retina.

AMD begins as a loss of central vision which makes it difficult to read and see fine details. Over time, vision loss increases significantly.

Mahipal Sachdev, Chairperson and Managing Director of city-based Centre for Sight, said: “Vision loss due to smoking does not have any symptoms like many other eye diseases, but a dilated examination can detect eye diseases in their early stages before vision loss occurs.”

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Some other types of eye-related problems caused by excessive smoking include cataract.

“People, who smoke in excess like 10 cigarettes a day, have up to three times the risk of cataract as non-smokers. Similarly, there is a strong nexus between glaucoma and smoking,” said Sachdev.

The doctors said that there is a special need for awareness among people about the strong link between smoking and vision loss.

“In the first place, smoking has to be brought down, which actually leads to the damage of not just lungs and throat but gradually, the eye nerves also get damaged,” said Samir Sud, a city-based ophthalmologist.

Talking about the dietary habits, he said that nutrients such as Omega-3 fatty acids, zinc and vitamins C and E might help ward off age-related vision problems such as macular degeneration and cataract due to smoking. (IANS)

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Jharkhand Governor Draupadi Murmu pledges to donate Eyes at Run of Vision programme by Kashyap Memorial Eye Hospital

Till now 426 people have donated eyes to KMEH out of which 366 have been transplanted successfully

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Kashyap Memorial Eye Hospital. Image source: Facebook

Ranchi, Septemeber 03, 2016: Jharkhand Governor Draupadi Murmu announced on Saturday that she will donate her eyes at the Run of Vision programme organised by Kashyap Memorial Eye Hospital (KMEH), Ranchi.

Talking to IANS, Dr Bharti Kashyap, Medical Director of the KMEH said: “We are obliged that governor madam announced to donate her eyes so that a blind person can see the world. We express our deep gratitude to the governor.”

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“We have been organising Run For Vision programme for the last 11 years to create awareness among people of the state to donate their eyes. According to reports, in our country every year 25,000 to 30,000 people suffer from blindness due to cornea related problems. Cornea cannot be purchased and can only be transplanted from one human being to another,” she added.

Till now 426 people have donated eyes to KMEH out of which 366 have been transplanted successfully.

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Leaders who have announced to donate eyes to KMEH include Congress leader Jairam Ramesh, former Chief Minister and BJP leader Arjun Munda among others.

Speaking on the occasion, the governor said: “Of the 37 million people suffering from blindness in the world 10 million are from India. There is a need to create awareness by organising camps.” (IANS)

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Oxford University Scientists have discovered 320 million year-old fossil containing oldest plant root cell

The fossils studied during the research are the remains of the soil from the first giant tropical rainforests on Earth

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Scientists in laboratory Image source: Wikimedia commons

Oxford University Herbaria has found in a fossilized root tip, the cells which gave rise to the roots of an ancient plant. The researchers also found, it is the first ever actively growing fossilized root i.e an ancient plant frozen in time. The study is published in the journal Current Biology.

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‘I was examining one of the fossilised soil slides held at the University Herbaria as part of my research into the rooting systems of ancient trees when I noticed a structure that looked like the living root tips we see in plants today. I began to realize that I was looking at a population of 320 million-year-old plant stem cells preserved as they were growing — and that it was the first time anything like this had ever been found. It gives us a unique window into how roots developed hundreds of millions of years ago.’ Oxford Plant Sciences PhD student Alexander (Sandy) Hetherington, who made the discovery during the course of his research, said.

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Plant cells. Image source: Wikimedia

These stem cells are located in the meristems (in plants at the tips of roots and shoots) of multicellular organisms. These stem cells are renewing cells which form these organisms. The 320 million-year-old stem cells discovered are different to all those living today, with a unique pattern of cell division that remained unknown until now. That tells us that some of the mechanisms controlling root formation in plants and trees have now become extinct and may have been more diverse than thought.

These roots were important because they comprised the rooting structures of the plants growing in Earth’s first global tropical wetland forests with tall trees over 50m in height and were in part responsible for one of the most dramatic climate change events in history. The evolution of deep rooting systems increased the rate of chemical weathering of silicate minerals in rocks — a chemical reaction that pulled CO2 out of the atmosphere, leading to the cooling of Earth and thus one of the planet’s great ice ages.

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The fossils studied during this research are the remains of the soil from the first giant tropical rainforests on Earth. The rock in which the soil is preserved formed in the Carboniferous swamps that gave rise to the coal sources spanning what is now Appalachia to central Europe, including the coal fields in Wales, northern England and Scotland.

Sandy has named the stem-cell fossil Radix carbonica (Latin for ‘coal root’).

‘These fossils demonstrate how the roots of these ancient plants grew for the first time. It is startling that something so small could have had such a dramatic effect on Earth’s climate. This discovery also shows the importance of collections such as the Oxford University Herbaria — they are so valuable, and we need to maintain them for future generations.’ says Professor Liam Dolan, Head of the Department of Plant Sciences at Oxford University and senior author of the paper.

-by Vrushali Mahajan, an intern at NewsGram. Twitter @Vrushali Mahajan 

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