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Scientists develop a Drug likely to benefit people with Alzheimer’s Disease

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FILE - An image shows activity in a human brain. Scientists have developed a drug capable of sweeping away abnormal protein clumps in the brain which are a hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease. VOA

Washington, Jan 27, 2017: Scientists have developed a drug they hope will benefit people with Alzheimer’s disease, which afflicts an estimated 44 million people around the world. The new compound sweeps away abnormal protein clumps in the brain which are a hallmark of the neurodegenerative disorder.

In a study reported in the journal Science Translational Medicine, researchers describe how a synthetic drug, called antisense oligoneucleotide, reduced the production and in some cases cleared clumps of tau in the brain.

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Tau bundles are one of the hallmarks of the disease, along with beta amyloid deposits, another destructive protein.

By stopping the formation of tau, researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, Missouri, found they could extend the lives of mice that were bred to have collections of human tau in their brains.

Lead author Sara DeVos said scientists saw an improvement in their condition.

“So these mice die earlier than normal. So when we treat with our drug, the mice live longer and we can also prevent neurons from dying. So if we give this drug, the neurons will no longer die as a result of these tau bundles,” said DeVos

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The investigators also tested the compound in monkeys and saw positive results.

FILE – Patients with Alzheimer’s and dementia are seen during a therapy session. Alzheimer’s afflicts an estimated 44 million people around the world. VOA

Human testing expected soon

Antisense oligneucleotide targets the genetic instructions for building tau. The molecule binds to messenger RNA, which carries out the DNA blueprint for life, preventing tau from being produced. The drug can be made to target RNA for destruction of any protein, said scientists.

Tim Miller, a professor of neurology at Washington University and senior author of the study, hopes the drug, developed with Ionis Pharmaceuticals, will soon be tested in humans with Alzheimer’s disease.

“The most exciting and most interesting … is to apply this to people who we presume have abnormal tau to test the hypothesis whether lowering tau in those people will be of benefit to those people,” he said.

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Other types of antisense oligoneucleotides have been approved by U.S. regulators and are being used to treat the neurodegenerative disease muscular dystrophy and spinal muscular atrophy. The compound is in clinical trials for Huntington’s disease and ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.

Because tau deposits are only a piece of the puzzle that causes Alzheimer’s, the investigators envision using the drug with other treatments, also in development.

There is no cure for Alzheimer’s disease, which primarily strikes senior adults, leading to a decline in mental functioning and eventually death. (VOA)

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Viral hepatitis Caused 1.34 mn Deaths Globally: Study

Viral hepatitis was found to be amongst the top ten leading global killers

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Viral hepatitis
World Health Organization poster for Hepatitis Campaign. VOA

London, Sep 16, 2017: Viral hepatitis with 1.34 million deaths globally has surpassed all chronic infectious diseases including HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis, according to a study by Global Burden of Disease.

The study reveals that in 2016, the total deaths caused by viral hepatitis, including liver cancer, acute cases, cirrhosis, hepatitis A, E, B, C and D account for 1.34 million globally, exceeding tuberculosis (1.2 million), HIV/AIDS (1 million) and malaria (719,000).

These staggering death rates occurred despite recent advances in hepatitis C medications that can cure most infections within three months and the availability of highly-effective vaccinations for hepatitis B.

“It’s outrageous, but not surprising, that the Global Burden of Disease Report found that deaths related to viral hepatitis have surpassed HIV, TB and malaria” said Charles Gore, President of the World Hepatitis Alliance — a not-for profit organisation based in London.

“This is largely due to a historic lack of political prioritisation coupled with an absent global funding mechanism,” Gore added, in the paper published in the journal the Lancet.

Further, viral hepatitis was found to be amongst the top ten leading global killers which include heart disease, road accidents, Alzheimer’s disease, amongst others.

Also Read: WHO Calls for stepped up action to Eliminate Hepatitis B and C by 2030 

If this trend has to be reversed, immediate action must be taken at both a regional and national level, said the report, while suggesting measures such as scaling up testing and diagnosis.

Viral hepatitis is a highly contagious liver infection caused by the hepatitis A virus and only 5 per cent of people living with the disease are aware of their conditions there are only few noticeable symptoms.

As a result, many people are either misdiagnosed or do not come forward for testing, increasing the chance of infecting others and missing the opportunity to access life-saving treatment.

Reducing hepatitis related deaths by 65 per cent by 2030 is a key component of the World Health Organization’s Global Hepatitis Strategy.

The strategy, which was adopted by 194 governments, sets out a list of key targets, which, if achieved, will eliminate viral hepatitis by 2030. (IANS)

 

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Treating insomnia in young people can ease mental health problems like Anxiety, Depression: Study

The study is published in The Lancet Psychiatry journal

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A study published Wednesday found that treating insomnia in young people could ease mental health problems such as anxiety and depression
A study published Wednesday found that treating insomnia in young people could ease mental health problems such as anxiety and depression. VOA

London, USA, September 7, 2017: Treating young people who suffer from insomnia by using online cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) could reduce debilitating mental health problems such as anxiety and depression, scientists said Wednesday.

In a large trial published in The Lancet Psychiatry journal, researchers at Oxford University’s Sleep and Circadian Neuroscience Institute also found that successfully treating sleep disruption eased psychotic symptoms such as hallucinations and paranoia.

“Sleep problems are very common in people with mental health disorders, but for too long insomnia has been trivialized as merely a symptom, rather than a cause, of psychological difficulties,” said Daniel Freeman, a professor of clinical psychology who led the work.

“This study turns that old idea on its head, showing that insomnia may actually be a contributory cause of mental health problems.”

The research involved 3,755 university students from across Britain who were randomized into two groups. One group had six sessions of online CBT, each lasting about 20 minutes, and delivered via a digital program called Sleepio. The others had access to standard treatments but no CBT.

Freeman’s team monitored participants’ mental health with a series of online questionnaires at zero, three, 10 and 22 weeks from the start of treatment.

The researchers found that those who had the CBT sleep treatment reduced their insomnia significantly as well as showing small but sustained reductions in paranoia and hallucinatory experiences.

The CBT also led to improvements in depression, anxiety, nightmares, psychological well-being, and daytime work and home functioning.

Andrew Welchman, head of neuroscience and mental health at the Wellcome Trust health charity, which helped fund the research, said the results suggested improving sleep may provide a promising route into early treatment to improve mental health.

Freeman added: “A good night’s sleep really can make a difference to people’s psychological health. Helping people get better sleep could be an important first step in tackling many psychological problems and emotional problems.” (VOA)

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For the First Time in USA, 53-year-old convict Mark Asay was Executed using Etomidate in Lethal Injection

Etomidate is the drug which was used for Mark Asay's execution

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Mark Asay was executed using Etomidate
Mark Asay was executed using Etomidate. Pixabay
  • Etomidate was invented by scientists from Janssen Pharmaceuticals 
  • The reason behind conviction of Mark Asay last year was that in 1988 he racially motivated killing of 2 men in Jacksonville, Florida
  • Before he shot Booker, he called him a racial epithet

Florida (USA), August 25, 2017: A 53-year-old convict Mark Asay was executed using a new drug called Etomidate for lethal injection on 24 August 2017. This drug has not been used before in the US.

Mark Asay was executed reportedly and one of the three drugs used for lethal injection was etomidate. It’s the first time that in execution they used the drug etomidate.

Earlier midazolam was used for executions but now it is harder to get this drug as some drug manufacturers didn’t want it to be used for executions. Now, Etomidate is a substitution for midazolam.

According to CNN report, Greg Panico, spokesman for the company said, “Etomidate, an intravenous anesthetic, was invented by scientists from Janssen Pharmaceuticals in the 1960s

According to WJAX report, “This month, the Florida Supreme Court rejected arguments from Mark Asay’s attorneys that the new drug would cause too much pain.”  Florida’s highest court said that the inmate Mark Asay had not shown that it would result in more pain and dismissed a motion to block the execution.

The reason behind conviction of Mark Asay last year was that in 1988 he racially motivated killing of 2 men in Jacksonville, Florida.

Also Read: Women-Centric Drug Rehabilitation Centers in Hyderabad is Saving Young Girls from Recreational Drugs like LSD

The two men whom the jury found him guilty of murdering were Robert Lee Booker, who was black and Robert McDowell.  “Before he shot Booker, he called him a racial epithet. Prosecutors say he killed McDowell, who was dressed as a woman, after saying he would pay him for sex,” mentions WJAX report.

“The execution marks Florida’s first since The US Supreme Court ruling temporarily halted the practice in early 2016, saying the state’s sentencing process was unconstitutional because it gave judges, rather than juries, too much power in deciding whether to execute an inmate,” mentions CNN report.

On 24 August 2017, US Supreme Court denied a stay for execution request in Asay’s case and it was scheduled that he would die by injection after 6 p.m. EST. It was also revealed that Asay didn’t have any pending petitions along with the Florida Supreme Court.

In 1979, the death penalty was reinstituted by the state and since then, Mark James Asay is the first white man to be sentenced for the death penalty in Florida for killing a black man.


 

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