Thursday November 15, 2018

Paralysis Causing Illness In Children Baffles Doctors

Parents are urged to have their children take basic precautions, such as washing hands and using insect spray to ward off mosquito bites.

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paralysis
Children inspect a Blue Morpho butterfly at the American Museum of Natural History in New York, Oct. 3, 2018. Little is known about acute flaccid myelitis, but it is known that more than 90 percent of the confirmed cases are in children 18 years old or younger. The average age of patients is 4.. VOA
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Federal and state health officials are baffled by a mysterious and rare illness that seems to target children, causing paralysis.

As of Tuesday, 62 cases of what doctors are calling acute flaccid myelitis have been confirmed in 22 states. Sixty-five suspected cases are being investigated.

“There is a lot we don’t know about AFM and I am frustrated that despite all of our efforts, we haven’t been able to identify the cause of this mystery illness,” Nancy Messonnier, a top official at the Centers for Disease Control, said Tuesday.

What is known about the illness is that more than 90 percent of the confirmed cases are in children 18 years old or younger. The average age of patients is 4.

paralysis
But what is particularly confounding doctors is that the number of cases spikes only every other year. Pixabay

Victims generally suffer from muscle weakness and some paralysis of the face, neck, back, arms and legs. The paralysis sets in about a week after the children have come down with fever and respiratory illness.

There is no specific treatment, and most of the victims recover. But the long-term effects are still unknown.

Messonnier called it a “pretty dramatic disease.”

Health experts have ruled out some causes, including poliovirus and West Nile virus.

But what is particularly confounding doctors is that the number of cases spikes only every other year — with larger numbers in 2014, 2016 and this year — and fewer cases in 2015 and 2017.

Also Read: The Woe’s Of Indonesian Children

Parents are urged to have their children take basic precautions, such as washing hands and using insect spray to ward off mosquito bites. Doctors are also urging that vaccines be kept up to date.

Any child experiencing weakness or loss of muscle tone in the arms and legs should be examined immediately. (VOA)

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NASA to Send Organ-on-Chips To Test Human Tissue Health in Space

Called a micro-physiological system, a tissue chip needs three main properties

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NASA, tissue
NASA to send tissue chips to space to test human health, genetic changes. Flcikr

NASA is planning to send small devices containing human cells in a 3D matrix — known as tissue chips or organs-on-chips — to the International Space Station (ISS) to test how they respond to stress, drugs and genetic changes.

Made of flexible plastic, tissue chips have ports and channels to provide nutrients and oxygen to the cells inside them.

The “Tissue Chips in Space” initiative seeks to better understand the role of microgravity on human health and disease and to translate that understanding to improved human health on Earth, NASA said.

“Spaceflight causes many significant changes in the human body,” said Liz Warren, Associate Program Scientist at the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS) in the US.

Kepler, NASA, tissue
This illustration made available by NASA shows the Kepler Space Telescope. As of October 2018, the planet-hunting spacecraft has been in space for nearly a decade. VOA

“We expect tissue chips in space to behave much like an astronaut’s body, experiencing the same kind of rapid change,” Warren said.

The US space agency is planning the investigations in collaboration with CASIS and the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS) at the National Institutes for Health (NIH).

Many of the changes in the human body caused by microgravity resemble the onset and progression of diseases associated with ageing on Earth, such as bone and muscle loss. But the space-related changes occur much faster.

That means scientists may be able to use tissue chips in space to model changes that might take months or years to happen on Earth.

Parkinson's Disease, Kepler, NASA, tissue
A researcher takes a tissue sample from a human brain at the Multiple Sclerosis and Parkinson’s UK Tissue Bank, VOA

This first phase of Tissue Chips in Space includes five investigations. An investigation of immune system ageing is planned for launch on the SpaceX CRS-16 flight, scheduled for this year.

The other four, scheduled to launch on SpaceX CRS-17 or subsequent flights, include lung host defense, the blood-brain barrier, musculoskeletal disease and kidney function.

In addition, four more projects are scheduled for launch in summer 2020, including two on engineered heart tissue to understand cardiovascular health, one on muscle wasting and another on gut inflammation.

Kepler, NASA, tissue
“Detecting life in an agnostic fashion means not using characteristics particular to Earth life,” said Heather Graham at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. Pixabay

Also called a micro-physiological system, a tissue chip needs three main properties, according to Lucie Low, scientific programme manager at National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences in the US.

Also Read: NASA’s Ralph Will Explore Jupiter’s Trojan Asteroids in 2021

“It has to be 3D, because humans are 3D,” she explained.

“It must have multiple, different types of cells, because an organ is made up of all kinds of tissue types. And it must have microfluidic channels, because every single tissue in your body has vasculature to bring in blood and nutrients and to take away detritus,” she added. (IANS)