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Research News: May 2011

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More kids exposed to ionizing radiation with CT scan

CT scans are being used on more and more children in the United States and this trend has concerned some health experts about the effects of radiation on this patient population. Repeated exposure to ionizing radiation emitted by CT scans can increase the risk of developing cancer. A study published this week in the journal Radiology said that in 1995 there were 330,000 children who were given CT scans in emergency departments of U.S. hospitals. But by 2008, the number has ballooned to 1.65 million. While specialized hospitals adjust the radiation dose for younger patients, general hospitals usually do not apply special CT scan protocols for children which can be subjected to adult-sized radiation doses. Modern health care technology has allowed clinicians to diagnose a condition quicker and better. The findings suggest that we may have to step back and consider the potential effects of CT scan tests and have them done only when absolutely necessary to reduce risks.

Better bone health with green tea

Drinking green tea and practicing Taichi may promote bone health of postmenopausal women and reduce the risk of inflammation, a new study suggests. The study findings by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) focused on postmenopausal women and investigated the potential for green tea to work synergistically with Taichi in enhancing bone strength of postmenopausal women. Originating as a martial art in China, Taichi is a mind-body exercise that utilizes slow, gentle movements to build strength and flexibility, as well as deep breathing and relaxation, or vital energy, throughout the body. Carried out as a double-blind, placebo-controlled, intervention trial (the “holy grail” of scientific studies), this experiment involved 171 postmenopausal women with the average age of 57 who had weak bones but not full-fledged osteoporosis. Participants taking Taichi classes also reported significant beneficial effects in quality of life in terms of improving their emotional and mental health.

New trial can reduce cost and length of studies

Doctors at the Veterans Affairs Boston Healthcare System are testing a new kind of clinical trial that’s not only less costly but guides doctors to switch to the best treatment even before the trial is completed. The new approach – called a point-of-care clinical trial – was developed by Stanford University biostatistician Philip Lavori, PhD, and a Boston-based team as an alternative to expensive, lengthy, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trials to compare drugs and procedures that are already in regular use. The high cost of medical care has spurred interest in weeding out costly, ineffective medical care, and in 2009, the economic stimulus package included $1.1 billion for studies, known as comparative-effectiveness research, that pit one treatment against another.

Superbug research initiated by ICMR

The scientists in Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR) have invited research proposals from scientists across the country to study the superbug or the drug resistant bacteria. The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare announced a national anti-microbial policy to help address the issue of superbug which became international news after the presence of such bacteria (NDM-1). This study was reported in the British medical journal The Lancet, to check the presence of such bacteria in India. It will jointly conducted by the Ministry and a special task force set up for the purpose. The project coordinator and the surveillance team setup for the purpose in selected tertiary care hospitals will implement the surveillance of antimicrobials.

 

Non-Invasively technology to monitor glucose levels

Researchers at Freedom Meditech are developing devices that can non-invasively scan the eye to monitor glucose levels in people with diabetes. The devices are based optical polarimetry, a technique that measures the concentration of glucose in the aqueous humour, one of the fluids in the eye. The company has successfully completed a study involving rabbit models, in which the optical polarimetry technique was used to non-invasively measure glucose levels. Freedom Meditech chairman and CEO Craig Misrach said the company is pleased with the promising results of the study and is planning to move the research to the next phase of human clinical studies. “We believe that our proprietary technology could someday become a standard of care for quick and convenient glucose monitoring for people with diabetes,” Misrach said.

Early emphysema blood test developed

Researchers at New York-Presbyterian Hospital’s Weill Cornell Medical Center, US, have developed a blood test which can detect emphysema well before symptoms occur. The test measures the levels of endothelial micro particles, which are particles shed by capillaries that surround alveoli (air sacs) in lungs. In a study, researchers enrolled three groups of people ” healthy non-smokers, healthy smokers, and smokers with early evidence of lung destruction ” and conducted a DLCO test. The researchers found a 95 percent positive correlation between elevated EMPs in the blood and an abnormal DLCO test result, which means that the test detected nearly all cases of early emphysema patients. According to researchers, as most cases of emphysema are caused by smoking, the test can warn smokers about impending development of the disease. Emphysema and chronic bronchitis are the twin disorders that constitute towards chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, the fourth leading cause of death in the US.

 

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