Reduce your Carbon Footprint with every bite!

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SHARAN India presents 2 seminars in Bangalore on 26th & 27th March 2010
Concerned about the environment but wonder how you as an individual can make a difference?
Puzzled about the complex but very real connections between environment, health and lifestyle / consumption patterns?
This a four-hour seminar designed by Dr Nandita Shah, a well-known doctor, homeopath and founder of Mumbai-based SHARAN (Sanctuary for Health and Reconnection to Animals and Nature), an organization dedicated to the protection of our planet and all its many rich and diverse living forms.
Date : Friday 26th March 2010
Time : 5 pm – 8 pm
Place : First Floor Training Room, Times Foundation, The Times of India 40/1, S&B Towers, MG Road, Bangalore 560 001
OR
Date : Saturday 27th March 2010
Time : 4 pm – 7 pm
Place : The Green Path # 32 / 2, New BEL Road, Seenappa Layout, Bangalore 560 094
Come and learn the fundamental principles of healthy eating, factors supporting good health, uncover the truth behind many myths, and clarify all your doubts.
Vegan snacks will be provided courtesy of Carnival Cakes.
No registration or fee required. Just come!
For more information, see the brochure here.
Organised by:
Sanctuary for Health and Reconnection to Animals and Nature (SHARAN)
Indian Youth Climate Network (IYCN)
Supported by:
The Green Path
Era Organic
Carnival Cakes
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Advantage Asia: Bloom Of CRO Industry

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The CRO that sprung-up in Asia, particularly in India and China, about a decade ago, received its initial thrust from the escalating R&D costs that were immobilizing the R&D programs of many global pharmaceutical companies. The recent economic slowdown in some of the major western economies has further strengthened the need to outsource some parts of the developmental work to countries with cost advantages. The large patient pool, most of them treatment-naïve, was and still remains the most attractive feature of the CRO industry in Asia. This coupled with lower manpower costs, lower investigator costs and lower cost of overheads for conducting clinical trials in India and China, has driven the growth of this industry in the last few years.

The Asian CRO industry has been estimated to be around $1 billion in 2007 and is all set to double in size by 2010. The largest share of this industry will be held by India, China and Australia. Other Asian countries that are fast developing the technical expertise and trained personnel to cater to the growing global trend of outsourcing clinical research are South Korea, Hong Kong, and Taiwan.

India is the fastest growing outsourced clinical research destination in the Asia Pacific region; with the clinical research market in India (which was about $100 million in 2005) estimated to triple in size by 2010. India’s big advantage remains the availability of large numbers of well-qualified personnel. The cost benefits of conducting a clinical trial in India are well proven by the whopping 50 percent savings in conducting phase I, and nearly 60 percent savings in conducting phase II & III trials in India. The government too has done its bit by signing the TRIPs agreement and setting up a regulation to protect intellectual property rights; by providing fiscal incentives to research-based companies and by allowing the same phase studies (as the country of origin) to be initiated in India. This growth is further augmented by the rapid advances made in the improvement of medical infrastructure in India. Local corporate hospitals like the Apollo group are expanding their presence in various parts of India and are adding several different types of specialties to each center. Also, International hospital chains like Columbia-Asia have entered India and are all set to scale-up the medical infrastructure in India to International levels. These changes have increased the confidence of global pharmaceutical companies in India being able to provide quality CRO services.

China is the next in line. According to some reports there is a 15 percent cost advantage in conducting phase I studies in China; and a 20 percent cost advantage for phase II & III studies. Like India, China too has abundance of well-qualified personnel and its government too is providing easy access to financial assistance to entrepreneurs interested in setting up R&D related businesses through grants and loans; in fact the Chinese government has set up International level pre-clinical facilities in Beijing and Shanghai. This commitment to R&D has resulted in China being able to attract some global players to increase their presence there; for instance, in early 2006, AstraZeneca announced its plans to add a further $100 million to its research program in China.

Recent Challenges

The Indian and Chinese CRO industry could have proliferated at a much faster pace had they not been held back by some of the issues that are unique to this part of the world. The major issue has long been the lack of skills (particularly among Indian and Chinese clinical research personnel) that are taken for granted among personnel of similar qualifications in the West. The other issues include the lack of adequate infrastructure required to ensure quality of the study; inaccuracies in the documentation; improper interpretation and implementation of global regulatory requirements and growing concerns regarding confidentiality of study outcomes.

Some of the more recent challenges that have been thrown at the Asian CRO industry are the need for global data, EU Clinical Trials Directive and Electronic Data Capture (EDC). Global pharmaceutical companies seek CROs with global presence because of their need for global data; this is often challenging to local CROs in Asia who have limited global presence. According to Gregory Holmes, Executive VP for Clinical Operations at SFBC, a contract research organization based in North America, “A lot of our business is driven from the US and North America but we continue to diversify. We find that it’s necessary to run clinical trials on all continents; it’s just part of the regulatory package.”

The EU Clinical Trials Directive has made the conduct of clinical trials in Europe increasingly complicated, thus driving the pharmaceutical industry to look for CROs who can provide greater regulatory support in this changing environment. Sources indicate that the complexity of conducting clinical trials has increased manifold; for instance, by 2005 the number of clinical procedures involved in a clinical trial had reached >85, a 70 percent increase over those required in 2000.

EDC has now become a way of life in the clinical research industry as this is believed to improve process efficiencies. This will require CROs to either create their own EDC software or partner with IT service providers that have the expertise to convert the paper-based records to electronic ones.

As safety has become the focus of most research, CROs who can partner with pharmaceutical companies to provide additional safety and efficacy data that will inevitably be requested by the large regulatory bodies like the FDA are now more sought-after. In this scenario, the Asian CROs now increasingly have to find global partners who can take them up the value chain.

Future outlook

Even as the pharmaceutical industry is evolving and adopting newer business models, by moving away from the blockbuster, me-too brands towards research in understanding disease pathways; the CRO industry remains the backbone of the pharmaceutical industry’s research efforts. This is reflected in the fact that the worldwide CRO industry which was believed to be about $18 billion in size in 2007, is all set to grow by 14-15 percent annually in the coming years. This is reflected in the confident statement by Greg Holmes, Executive Vice President of Clinical Operations, SFBC, who says, “There’s a huge surge right now and I think in terms of supply and demand, there’s more demand. It’s a great time to be a CRO. In turn, the number of drugs being developed through phases II-IV has also increased.”

The main drivers of this growth are early development and phase I activity. By outsourcing early stage development work to expert CROs, global pharmaceutical companies have been able to increase the number of targets that they can put through clinical development. “Pipeline trends highlight preclinical and phase I as the fastest-growing areas of drug development during the last two to three years. One of the factors driving this growth is a greater focus on eliminating drug candidates at an earlier and less costly stage of development,” says Simon Higginbotham, Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer, Kendle.

As the pharmaceutical industry faces increasing scrutiny and tighter regulations, they in turn expect greater rigor out of their clinical research service providers. Since the CRO industry is very fragmented, global pharmaceutical companies often tend to create preferred service provider lists. While large groups like Quintiles, Covance and Parexel can find their way to the preferred vendor lists quite easily, some of the smaller CROs are now heading towards consolidation and forming strategic partnerships in order to compete for a position on these lists. Asian CROs have begun their quest for expansion through partnerships and one such alliance was formed in the second half of 2007 between the Russian, Synergy Research Group (SynRG) and Neeman Medical International (NMI), an India-based CRO, which established a new CRO Worldwide Network alliance to be “able to compete with global CROs in the bids for large international multi-center clinical studies.”

Several local CROs in Asia are now looking at expanding outwards. This trend is clearly visible from the recent acquisitions by Indian CROs of either parts of business or entire CRO set-ups in Europe. Take for instance the case of Synchron Research Services, an Ahmedabad, India-based CRO who announced in the first quarter of 2008 that they had acquired (for approximately $6.7 million) the stand-alone bio-analytical and bio-marker facility of Paraxel in France. This is touted as one of the significant acquisitions in CRO industry in India. Paraxel is also believed to have increased its stake in Synchron from 19.5 percent to 31 percent. This seems to be the perfect example of local focus and global reach.

It is estimated that in the period 2008 to 2012, the top 50 global pharmaceuticals companies are going to face patent expiries on $102 billion worth of brands (Source: Generic Series: Optimizing Brand Lifecycle Management: Winning Strategies to Maximize Revenue in the Face of Growing Generic Competition. DMHC2401 | Publication Date: 15 July 2008). This will further squeeze the margins of pharmaceutical companies that are already struggling with the prospect of low R&D productivity and low ROI on R&D investments. Thus, to save on developmental costs, global pharmaceutical companies are more likely to partner with full-service CROs rather than go about looking for a number of service providers who have proven abilities in several service areas related to clinical research. These services include preclinical/toxicology services; conduct of clinical trials from phase I to phase IV; site management services; regulatory affairs support; quality assurance; data management services; and laboratory analysis services. See figure 1 for services that form part of full-service CROs.

Emphasizing the emerging need for full-service CROs, Dr D’Sylva, CEO, Commonwealth Biotechnologies (CBI) said, at the Second Annual Global R&D Congress in Washington DC, “Simply adding affordable capacity by outsourcing to Asia is no longer sufficient,” and that drug companies are increasingly asking “CROs to provide more value by operating as full collaborators, with integrated service offerings, the ability to innovate and solve problems.”

However, even though full-service CROs are the order of the day, not all large CROs can provide all the specialty services and often this vertically integrated business model is not profitable for mid-sized and smaller CROs. Hence, large CROs are now looking at partnering with specialty CROs that have a proven track record in specialty services like clinical site management services; laboratory services; clinical data management services, etc. This is a win-win solution since it provides the pharmaceutical industry with a combination of the best possible service providers and the large and mid-sized CROs can join hands and gets a sizeable chunk of the business instead of competing for the same
piece of pie.

While the full-service model is followed by very few CROs in Asia, there are plenty of smaller CROs that specialize in and provide many of the associated services like clinical site management, data management, safety reporting, drug distribution and central laboratory services.

The following sections give further details regarding two key associated services of CROs in Asia; namely, clinical site management services and central laboratory services.

Clinical Site Management Services

Site management services include site initiation, site monitoring and project management.

Some of the advantages of using CROs with efficient clinical site management services are:

• Early study initiation due to ability to gain quick regulatory approvals and getting on board good study investigators because of presence of site coordinators.
• Quick ethics committee approval.
• Clinical research coordinators help in speedy patient enrolment and retention up to study closure.
• Constant supervision of site activities ensures quick resolution of issues and maintaining quality standards.
• Ensuring that ‘clean data’ is generated from the site thus reducing data management time and cost.
• Ensuring regular supply of investigational drug to the sites.
• Ensuring that sites comply with ICH GCP and other regulatory guidelines.

Central Laboratory Services

Laboratory services are required in order to analyze the body fluids or other specimens collected from the patients or study participants by the study investigators at the various sites at which the study is being conducted. Large CROs like Covance have central laboratory services that process shipments of specimens received from study sites across the world.

At the time of receipt these specimens are separated according to their storage requirements e.g., those that need to be frozen or refrigerated, need to be separated from those that are kept at room temperature. Once the specimen kit is received at the central laboratory, it is checked against a customized, protocol-specific database to verify the visit number, the tests required to be performed, any optional tests that may be required, patient demographic, time/date of specimen collection and also stability and appropriate storage history of the specimen kit.

When the specimen is being processed or analyzed, each kit containing the specimen and its accompanying tube is appropriately bar-coded to give it a unique identity which links it to the patient and the specific visit during which the specimen was collected.

Some CROs may also offer on-site testing for the simpler studies with short timelines. The larger CROs with well-equipped central laboratory services can offer a range of analytical options which address a variety of scientific disciplines starting from the basic ones like routine chemistry and pathology, microbiology, virology, immunology, hematology, flow cytometry, to the more complex ones like genomics.

In addition to central laboratory services, large global and full-service CROs can also offer what is known as ‘local laboratory services’ which allow the specimens to be processed at laboratories near the study sites but through a software link allow the specimen-related data to be sent to a central laboratory that collects specimen-data and not actual specimens on a real-time basis.

The advantages of having central laboratory services are:

• Quick, high-quality and uniform data availability
• Rapid access to safety data required for quick decision-making
• Laboratory results are consistent and conform to a single global standard that can be understood by investigators across geographies
• Real-time access to laboratory data saves data management time and costs

An intelligent pill…

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By Shilpa C Nangali

You might have heard a lot about iPod, iRobots but have u ever heard about an iPill? Wondering what it is?

Definitely not Cipla’s emergency contraceptive!

Philips has developed an “intelligent pill” (iPill), which contains a microprocessor, battery, wireless radio, pump and a drug reservoir. The uniqueness of this iPill is that it can release medication in a specific area in the body. This iPill capsule can measure acidity with a sensor to determine its location in the gut, and can then release drugs where they are needed. This iPill is especially useful for those who are suffering from digestive tract disorders. Delivering drugs to treat digestive tract disorders such as Crohn’s disease directly to the location of the disease means doses can be lower, reducing side effects.


However, capsules containing miniature cameras are already used as diagnostic tools but one disadvantage with these capsules is lack of the ability to deliver drugs. Also, these iPills can measure the local temperature and report it wirelessly to an external receiver!

But I don’t understand why everything must start with “i” ??? 😉

Fight against AIDS but not against people with it!

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By Shilz

HIV is a debilitating and deadly disease of the human immune system, and is one of the world’s most serious health problems. The World Health Organization estimates that about 20 million people have died from AIDS since the infection was first described in 1981. Our India is one of the largest and most populated countries in the world, with more than one billion inhabitants. Of this number, it’s estimated that around 2.5 million Indians are currently living with HIV, and this is all due to lack of awareness and poor counseling.

The prevalence of HIV/AIDS is “high” in Maharashtra, of which Mumbai is capital, according to the country’s National Aids Control Organization. In some researches it has been found that that the risk of committing suicide is higher in people who have HIV.

In a bizarre incident, a couple infected with deadly HIVDefine virus killed their three children and then committed suicide. The Bombay, India-based couple took this extreme step after discovering that their six-year-old daughter had contracted the virus that causes AIDS. The bodies of Babu Ishwar Thevar, 39, his wife, Amothi, 33, two sons Venkatesh, 10, and Mani, 8, and daughter, Mahalaxmi, 6, were found in their home on August 5, 2008. The couple was living with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIVdefine) for two years and had been depressed by news that their daughter also had the HIV virus.

The police think that the parents allegedly fed sweets laced with poison to their two boys, and as the daughter survived eating the poisoned sweets, the parents then smothered her with a pillow before committing suicide. The couple had hanged themselves from the ceiling by a nylon rope.

Social stigma and discrimination against HIV-positive people are widespread in our country. People living with HIV fear to loose their status in the society, hence keep their disease a secret. In India, the HIV-infected people have faced violent attacks; been rejected by families as well as by spouses and communities. They also have been refused medical treatment, and even, in some reported cases, denied the last rites after they die. Such harsh reactions to HIV and AIDS make it difficult to educate people about how they can avoid infection.

It is really foolish that even most of the educated people decline to shake hand with HIV infected persons. People do not have proper knowledge about the modes of transmission of HIV.

Revathi, South Indian actress and film director, struggled a lot to convince so called super-hit hero’s in the Bollywood to play the character of a person with AIDS in her movie “Phir Milenge”. Salman Khan was the only one to accept the role when Revathi first came up with the idea. She herself admits it was difficult to find an actor for Salman’s role, with several turning it down, mostly because of the social stigma attached to the disease. The movie educates without being preachy, something it may have been in the danger of. It tends to drag in the first half but touches your heartstrings later. However, such movies are rarely received by people. All they want – item numbers, romance, comedy, fights, thrills bla bla bla…!!!

Knowledge about the illness is often confused — even among India’s professional medical community — but it is widely connected with sexual activity, which is a taboo topic in what remains a deeply conservative country. Past series of shocking “skull and crossbones” government adverts served to nurture fear without educating the public — particularly in rural areas where literacy levels are still low. Children’s organizations are known to have refused to take in orphans whose parents died of AIDS. Even in cities, counselling services are rare, leaving those who suffer from guilt and depression chronically undersupported.

Anasuya, a widow in her twenties, told a research team from the charity: “In villages people do not distinguish between HIV and AIDS, the last stage. They treat us as worse than Untouchables.”

Meghna Girish, the co-ordinator of a program for people living with HIV/AIDS in India run by the charity ActionAid, said: “Even after an AIDS patient’s death, people are often scared to touch the body, making last rites a problem.”

In one incident in June two doctors were suspended from a hospital in the northern city of Meerut after a man claimed that he was forced to perform the delivery of his son when medical staff refused to touch his wife upon learning that she was HIV-positive. The man alleged that he had carried out the procedure himself — even cutting and tying the umbilical cord — as doctors issued instructions from a distance.

Even the relatively rich suffer the effects of medical ignorance, according to a recent study conducted by the World Health Organization (WHO). It said that nearly 10,000 of the estimated 40,000 HIV-infected people being treated by private doctors in India were prescribed “irrational drug combinations”. Faulty regimens were making patients resistant to first-line antiretroviral drugs faster than usual, the study said.

The WHO also found that Indian drug companies are delivering powerful drugs directly to the homes of HIV patients — cutting out medical professionals — to overcome patients’ fears of discrimination.

The Government this week made a gesture towards integrating HIV/Aids sufferers by promising to issue them with cards that make bearers eligible for a national scheme designed to provide a minimum amount of employment to India’s poorest people.

In addition, about 100,000 people with HIV who are receiving antiretroviral therapy at 174 government centers across the country were promised to be treated as living below the poverty line, a status that qualifies them for food handouts.

Why is this stigma attached with AIDS, is it not possible to root out this stigma from our country?


References:
TimesOnline.co.uk, BBC News, Avert.org & The MedGuru

Most Of The Married Women Say: “But I Don’t Feel Too Old to Be a Mommy!”

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By Shilpa Nangali

All that I am or ever hope to be, I owe to my angel, my Mother. I find it so soothing when I keep my head on her lap and I forget all the torments, worries & woes ! We become stronger over the years, but not without battle scars along the way. However, if my parents are there with me in this journey of my life, I feel as if I have got all the strength needed to fight against any hurdles. I love you mom. This blog post is for all the mothers…they are with us every moment, being there before we ever ask, saying: “It’s OK honey, Mommy’s here.” 🙂


“Youth fades; love droops; the leaves of friendship fall; A mother’s secret hope outlives them all.”

A reflection on motherhood: A story shared by Deana

I remember vividly the moment that I became a mother. Not in the physical sense, but in the spiritual sense.

It wasn’t the moment of conception, or the day that I found out that I was pregnant. It wasn’t when I felt the first kick of my precious child’s little foot, nor was it when they lifted her and placed her in my arms, still wet and screaming after her exit from my womb. It was in a moment of blinding joy the evening after she was born.

I tried to rest that first night, after giving birth, but I couldn’t sleep. I kept my baby with me most of the day. I counted her fingers and toes. I nursed her. Her father held her, talked to her and rocked her. Later that night I nursed her to sleep and put her in the bedside bassinet. I turned off the lights and climbed into bed after checking on her several times, just to make sure she was okay. Then I got back up and just stared at her. I felt as if my heart swelled several sizes and then I burst into tears. I was absolutely overwhelmed by the need to protect her, love her and do whatever was necessary to make sure she was perfectly happy.

However, now a days, for many women, an established career and financial stability come first before motherhood. This trend is going to continue and will lead to increase in stress among older women who want to conceive. From celebrities to the woman next door, later childrearing is no flash-in-the-pan fad. By delaying child birth, they are increasing their chances of miscarriage and risk of having a Down Syndrome child. Also, an increase in the rates of cesarean sections reported by many countries appears to be associated, in part, to more and more women deciding to have children later in life, according to a report in the Journal PLoS Medicine.

As maternal age increases, the ability of the smooth muscle of the uterus to contract slows down, which is thought to slow the progression of labor, thereby increasing the likelihood of c-section. The association between advanced age and poor outcome in labor is likely to reflect a biological effect of aging on the uterus!

Twenty years ago most women would have already had their children before the age of 35, but many celebrities marry at the age of 35! And, most of the women believe that “becoming a mommy means they are getting too old” !

With more women deciding to delay motherhood the use of prenatal screening and diagnostic testing is increasing. Gray says this is because older mothers have a higher risk of giving birth to a child with a congenital abnormality. By conducting additional prenatal screenings, doctors are identifying more abnormalities than ever before. The result, is that older mothers must make more difficult decisions than women who aren’t screened.

Most of the women, who delay childbearing give reason stating that they have not met the right partner (Mr.Right!), or because they don’t feel ready financially. Few women are misled by the media about how easy it is to get pregnant after 40.

“You see celebrities aged 39 and 40 having kids and you indulge in that thought. They reaffirm the trend that it’s not so bad having children later in life. It’s kind of comforting” says Lindsay Lanzillotta, 32, an independent film producer.

Lanzillotta has been married for five years but has been putting off having a child, until she is better off financially and is more established in her career. “In the dream scenario I thought I would be married by 23 and have kids by 27. Realistically it could be two years time before I have a child which is kind of frightening,” says Lanzillotta.

People are giving themselves a narrower window to have children, says Roderic Beaujot, author of the paper Delayed Life Transitions: Trends and Implications and professor of sociology at the University of Western Ontario. What we are seeing now is the “two-worker model” where both women and men invest longer in themselves before they invest in reproduction, says Beaujot.

Before having children, they want to be an enduring relationship, and have time with their partner before they become parents, he says. In most cases, he adds, they also want to finish their education and establish their work lives. If relationships and work lives don’t evolve as anticipated this window of opportunity may be further narrowed, he says.

Before 1970, there was less reason for couples to wait says Beaujot, because women dedicated less time to developing their careers. In the “bread winner model” that commonly prevailed, a woman’s career was seen to be subordinate to that of the bread winner man and as a consequence women generally started having families earlier, says Beaujot.

Nowadays, with equal importance placed on the careers of both men and women, women are at a disadvantage if they decide to have children earlier in life, since they are in a position that is easier to exploit, says Beaujot.

Earlier motherhood means that a woman has less time to build up workplace relationships, and so is in less of a position to make maternal demands and to have these demands met, says Beaujot.

If a woman starts a family later on in her career when she is more established, she benefits by having more support from both her workplace and partner, who is likely to be more financially stable! For people to achieve their work and family goals earlier on in life there needs to be stronger governmental investments in young families, including subsidies for parental leaves, tax benefits, reduced work hours and childcare!

Sources: New Media Journalism Online, Reuters, Yahoo News, Google Books Search-But I don’t feel too old to be a mommy and Parenting.Ivillage.com

Do not allow ur blood to become thicker & sticky!!!

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By Shilpa Nangali

“An early morning walk is a blessing for the whole day.” – Henry David Thoreau, US writer and naturalist.


A vigorous five-mile walk will do more good for me when I’m unhappy than any medicine in the world! Most of us work mechanically, like robots, without any physical exercises. If I work like that then that puts me into a kind of depression! In fact, even I was one among them, who have no physical workouts but now I have realized how important is walking or any other physical exercises in our lives. Walk and be happy; walk and be healthy. Trust me, when I work out, I feel happiest! After my aerobics class, I will be so joyous and that joy will be carried through out my day!


Make your feet your friend. Our legs are considered as secondary hearts of our body. Help these secondary hearts to beat properly, do not make them numb!!!

If the air quality is bad, you are more likely to have serious heart disease related events. Gokhan Mutlu, MD, assistant professor of medicine at the Northwestern’s Feinberg School and a physician at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, said: “Being exposed to higher levels of pollution may unmask heart disease even if you’ve never had any symptoms.”

Mutlu published a study in 2007 that showed how pollution triggers heart attacks and strokes. He found that microscopic air pollution, particles less than one-tenth of the diameter of a human hair, makes the blood thicker and sticky. So people, please see to that your blood will not become thicker & sticky!!!

A morning walk in greenery – the real oxygen park!!! 😉

When lungs are inflamed by pollution, they secrete a substance, interleukin-6, which causes an increased tendency for blood to clot. People who live in polluted areas are more likely to have blood clots in their legs. Traveling long distances by car or plane is known to put people at risk for these clots.

For people in certain risk groups, breathing high levels of pollution can cause heart attacks and strokes within 24 hours of exposure and increase the possibility of having blood clots in their legs on the plane home, according to a warning given by two researchers in pulmonary medicine and critical care at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine.

It’s not just Olympic athletes who need to worry about the heavily polluted air in Beijing, for the dirty air may cause serious heart problems for some spectators too!!! Spectators could suffer serious health problems from traveling to China for the games.

People who are at most risk include those who already have known cardiovascular disease or risk factors for cardiovascular disease such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, obesity, lung disease, a current smoking habit or a family member diagnosed with heart disease before age 55. If you spend a few weeks in Beijing, your blood might become thicker and sticky and then when you fly 12 hours back to the US that further increases your risk. If clots migrate into the lungs and cause pulmonary embolism, that can kill you,” Mutlu warned.

The Chinese government has been scrambling to cut down on air pollution before the world’s best athletes compete in the Olympics next month at Beijing; they’ve closed down factories near Beijing and allowed people to drive their cars only every other day.

Even if you have a healthy visit to China, you’re not off the hook—Mutlu says the same pollutant particles can cause blood clots, especially if you spend too much time sitting down on one of those marathon flights back to the States.

So what’s a globe-trotting sports fan to do? Men over 40 should take aspirin, the researchers say, and everyone would do themselves a favor by staying inside during rush hour, when cars in traffic jams are spewing forth exhaust. And what about that lengthy flight home? Make sure you get up occasionally and walk around. That’s probably good for you no matter where you’re flying to or from.

I feel that in every walk with nature we receive far more than we seek. I am right now connecting to the silence within..which is clearing most of the mental cob webs…it is in the silent mind that the true consciousness can be built…!

References:
Economic Times & Discover magazine

Is CUPID on the way to find something new?!

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By Shilz

Yes, CUPID is on the way to find something new in the field of multiple sclerosis. Do not scratch your head, thinking how CUPID is related to MS! I am not writing about CUPID, the God of erotic love and beauty, instead about CUPID trial – Cannabinoid Use in Progressive Inflammatory brain Disease.

First and foremost, I want to mention that possession of cannabis is a criminal offense, although the police are more lenient with those possessing small amounts for their own personal medical use. There have been claims cannabis may have beneficial effects in a variety of medical conditions, including MS, severe nausea and vomiting (for example, during chemotherapy), glaucoma, chronic pain and migraine. The problem is many of these claims are little more than anecdotal evidence – personal reports from people who’ve tried it, or treated someone with it. Reliable scientific evidence based on properly conduced clinical trials has been sparse.

The CUPID (Cannabinoid Use in Progressive Inflammatory brain Disease) study at the Peninsula Medical School in Plymouth has reached an important milestone with the news that the full cohort of 493 people with multiple sclerosis (MS) has been recruited to the study. CUPID is a clinical trial which will evaluate whether tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), one of many compounds found in the in the cannabis plant (and the main active ingredient) is able to slow the progression of MS. This is an important study for people with MS because current treatments either target the immune system in the early stages of MS, or are aimed at easing specific symptoms such as muscle spasms or bladder problems. At present there is no treatment which slows progression of the disease.

The CUPID trial follows an earlier study — Cannabinoids and Multiple Sclerosis (CAMS) — which suggested a link between THC and the slowing of MS. The CAMS trial saw participants take THC for a year — the CUPID trial will last for longer and aims to assess the effect of THC on progressive MS. It has taken two years to recruit the 493 participants who will each take part in the trial for three years, and in some cases three and a half years. After data cleaning and analysis the results should be available by spring/early summer 2012.

Professor John Zajicek from the Peninsula Medical School, who heads the team carrying out the CUPID study, said: “We are delighted to have achieved the correct number of patient participants for this trial. Patients have been recruited from 27 sites across the UK. If we are able to prove beyond reasonable doubt the link between THC and the slowing down of progressive MS, we will be able to develop an effective therapy for the many thousands of MS sufferers around the world.”

The CUPID trial is funded by the Medical Research Council, the Multiple Sclerosis Society and the Multiple Sclerosis Trust. Chris Jones, chief executive of the MS Trust, commented: “The MS Trust is delighted to be supporting this study on behalf of people with MS. The ability to halt progression in MS is what we dream of – the Holy Grail for those whose condition deteriorates year on year. This study should give us the definitive answer as to whether cannabinoids will prove to be such an agent.”

Dr Laura Bell, research communications officer for the MS Society, said: “People affected by MS are keen to know whether there’s any truth in the suggestion that elements of the cannabis plant can help ease the symptoms and slow down progression of the condition. “The MS Society is supportive of safe clinical trials investigating the medicinal properties of cannabis and it’s great news that this trial is going ahead. We look forward to the results of this exciting study.”

The Cannabis in Multiple Sclerosis (CAMS) trial, funded by the Medical Research Council and published in The Lancet in 2003, demonstrated some of the uncertainty about the benefits of cannabis in alleviating MS symptoms. More than 600 people took part in the trial, which was examining the effects on spasticity. They took oral capsules containing either whole cannabis extract, or tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the drug’s principal active ingredient, or a placebo (dummy treatment). The trial was blinded so that participants didn’t know what they were taking. The researchers weren’t able to show a significant improvement in spasticity among those treated with cannabis extract, or THC, even though the participants reported an improvement in their symptoms, in particular pain, spasms, spasticity and sleep quality, but not irritability, depression, tiredness, tremor or energy levels. The researchers did find that patients taking the cannabis derivative showed an improvement in their ability to walk. The researchers also pointed out that three-quarter of the patients given cannabis had guessed they were taking active medication, and half of those receiving placebo had guessed they weren’t receiving cannabis. The researchers concluded the study had yielded no definitive verdict on whether or not cannabis eases the symptoms of MS. They added that many of those taking placebo capsules containing no active treatment felt benefits, which indicated how much patients gain by taking part in clinical trials, irrespective of the treatment they are given.

Increase in medicinal cannabinoid trials

In the past two to three years, there’s been a dramatic increase in the number of clinical trials investigating medicinal cannabinoids – synthetic drugs based on the active chemicals isolated from cannabis – in MS.

These medicines, such as a delta-9-THC buccal spray, have been tested for the treatment of symptoms such as chronic pain and spasticity, and most of the studies suggest they have a helpful effect, at least for a subgroup of patients.

Risks are as unclear as benefits

Just as the benefits have yet to be proven, so the risks remain unclear. Cannabis undoubtedly has psychoactive effects (this is, after all, why people use it as a recreational drug). There’s research to show that cannabis may cause short-term memory problems, poor concentration and slowed reaction times during acute intoxication. There is also some evidence to suggest long-term use of cannabis may increase the risk of psychosis, especially in certain people who are more vulnerable.The risk of long-term psychological harm and the issue of whether cannabis use leads to the use of other drugs are the subject of heated debates.

Herbal cannabis contains hundreds of chemicals, which could be having different effects, and it’s difficult to know what you’re getting and in what dose when you smoke it. Researchers looking at purified medicinal cannabinoids say adverse side-effects have generally been mild compared with the other drugs used to treat pain and spasticity in MS. Even so, there’s concern about potential long-term effects, in particular psychiatric effects, and adverse effects on foetal development.

Prescribed cannabinoids may be the best choice

The only legal option if you want to try cannabis as a treatment for MS is to talk to your doctor about medicinal cannabinoids. These contain a synthetic version of THC and are in tablet form. They’re legal, easy to take and have a guaranteed dosage. People who’ve tried them say they’re not as effective as smoking cannabis, but do help to some degree, although side-effects may still be a problem.

Sources: ScienceDaily.com and BBC Health -Ask the doctor (Dr Trisha Macnair)


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