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Health Bytes from Web
Clinical trial testing topical cream plus influenza vaccine in progress

A Phase 1 clinical trial examining whether a topical cream can enhance the immune response conferred by a "pre-pandemic" influenza vaccine is underway at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston. Investigators are evaluating whether imiquimod cream, which is commonly used to treat genital warts and certain skin cancers, can boost the body's immune response to an H5N1 influenza vaccine. The trial is enrolling 50 healthy adults’ ages 18-50 years. Baylor is one of the Vaccine and Treatment Evaluation Units (VTEUs) -- a network of clinical research sites that can rapidly enroll large volunteer cohorts to evaluate experimental vaccines against infectious diseases., Sept 6, 2018

Common painkiller poses risk to heart health

One of the most widely used painkillers may pose a threat to cardiovascular health. This is the main takeaway of new research, recently published in The BMJ. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are widely used to alleviate pain. While NSAIDs are commonly recommended to treat inflammatory conditions, headaches, and fever, the drugs are thought to have some cardiovascular risks. However, due to ethical concerns, these risks cannot be evaluated in clinical trials. Now, a new study focuses on one NSAID in particular: diclofenac. Scientists led by Morten Schmidt, at Aarhus University Hospital in Denmark, set out to investigate the cardiovascular risks of taking this common painkiller., Sept 5, 2018

Inadequate sleep may lead to cardiovascular diseases in men

Men who sleep five hours or less per night have twice the risk of developing a major cardiovascular event during the following two decades than those who sleep seven to eight hours, according to a new study. “For people with busy lives, sleeping may feel like a waste of time but our study suggests that short sleep could be linked with future cardiovascular disease,” said Moa Bengtsson, author of the study which was recently presented at a meeting in Germany. High blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, smoking, low physical activity, and poor sleep quality were more common in men who slept five or fewer hours per night compared to those who got seven to eight hours., Aug 27, 2018

Novel role of protein in important pathways that lead to cancer malignancy

Japanese researchers have revealed for the first time that a specific protein plays a critical role in the development and metastasis of highly aggressive prostate and breast cancer cells. The study reports that large amounts of the fatty acid-binding protein 5 (FABP5), a kind of transport protein for fatty acids, promotes processes associated with cancer aggressiveness such as cell growth, invasiveness, survival and inflammation in prostate and breast cancer cells. The researchers point out that a better understanding of the molecular pathways of specific cancers is a step in the direction of finding more effective therapeutic targets., August 30, 2018

Genomic study of 412 anthrax strains provides new virulence clues

By analyzing genomic sequences from more than 400 strains of the bacterium that causes anthrax, researchers have provided the first evidence that the severity -- technically known as virulence -- of specific strains may be related to the number of copies of certain plasmids they carry. Plasmids are genetic structures of the cell that can reproduce independently, and are responsible for producing the anthrax toxin and other virulence factors., August 30, 2018

New compounds 'put cancer cells into a permanent sleep'

In a groundbreaking move, a team of researchers from Australia has now developed a class of compounds able to block cancer cells' activity on a seemingly permanent basis — without producing harmful side effects. Experts from several research institutions across Australia have been collaborating to find a drug that would stop cancer cells from dividing without damaging healthy cells' DNA. The team's results now appear in the journal Nature., August 7, 2018

Biophysicists propose new way to identify crucial factors for protein folding

A protein's folding patterns help them perform their dedicated tasks. As the real "doers" of the cell, even a tiny alteration in a protein's amino acid backbone can cause misfolding and hinder the protein's functionality or cause disease. Scientists seek to better understand protein folding to cure misfolding diseases, but this incredibly complex process requires sophisticated algorithms to identify the folding mechanisms. Computational biophysicists from the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research Hyderabad (TIFR-H) have proposed a new way to identify the most crucial factors for protein folding. They demonstrated the short simulation time of their approach on a small but intriguing protein, "GB1 beta-hairpin," in The Journal of Chemical Physics, from AIP Publishing., September 5, 2018

Researchers move closer to finding potential soft spot in drug-resistant tuberculosis

Antibiotic-resistant tuberculosis is a public health threat. TB and other bacteria become resistant to antibiotics by evolving genetic changes over time, which they can do quite quickly because bacterial lifecycles are short. In fact, it takes only a single genetic mutation to grant TB resistance to isoniazid, one of the first-line antibiotics. The team's results, including new information about a potential TB soft spot, recently were published in the journal Molecular & Cellular Proteomics., Aug 15, 2018

Research findings open door to promising HIV treatments

New research provides details of how the structure of the HIV-1 virus is assembled findings that offer potential new targets for treatment. The study, authored by a multi-institutional team led by Cornell University researchers, was published in the journal Nature. It reports that a small molecule called IP6 plays key roles in the immature development of the virus which occurs within an infected cell. The findings open the door to possible new therapies. One option is for researchers to develop or identify compounds that are similar to IP6 and could bind to the same sites as IP6, thereby blocking it and preventing the virus from maturing., Aug 9, 2018

Researchers identify twenty-five genetic changes that could have extended human lifespan

A new method has made it possible to identify twenty-five parallel mutations located in genes associated with wound healing, blood coagulation and cardiovascular disorders. The results could help to develop new drugs to treat ageing-related diseases. The research confirms the theory that some genes that help us in the initial stages of life are harmful to us once the reproductive stage has ended., Sept 4, 2018



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