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How Yoga made Indian astronaut Rakesh Sharma fearless in space

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Bengaluru, June 19 (IANS) NV Raghuram, yoga teacher of Indian astronaut Rakesh Sharma and the founder of Yoga Bharati, on Wednesday revealed that yoga made Sharma “fearless and more adaptable than any other astronaut” in his team.

He was sharing some of Sharma’s encounters in space at a conference on ‘Yoga for Space’ here.

The Central Council for Research in Yoga & Naturopathy (CCRYN), in collaboration with Svyasa, organised the conference at S-Vyasa University, Bengaluru, to mark the 10th edition of International Day of Yoga (IDY) 2024.

The conference’s focus was on the convergence of experts from various fields to enhance society, including astronauts.

According to Ministry of AYUSH, these initiatives aim to raise awareness in society and promote vigorous yoga practice, recognising that a healthy individual fosters a healthy society, as proclaimed by the theme of ‘IDY 2024’.

Dr Raghavendra Rao, Director of the Central Council for Research in Yoga & Naturopathy, Delhi, shed light on the inclusivity and diversity inherent in the IDY journey, showcasing yoga practices in extreme conditions on land, in the ocean, and throughout a day spanning from Japan to California, culminating in the exploration of yoga in space with this conference.

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Dr BR Ramakrishnan, Pro-Chancellor of S-Vyasa University, spoke about the amalgamation of ancient wisdom with space science, stressing the convergence of the best from the East and the West.

This year’s IDY celebrations will be held in Srinagar, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi once again at the helm.

In the last 10 years, IDY has set four Guinness Book of World Records.

As a special initiative, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) will organise ‘Yoga for Space’ to mark the ‘IDY 2024’. All scientists and officials of ISRO will perform yoga together as per guidelines.

–IANS

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Scientists find protein to block muscle fatigue in long Covid, Alzheimer's

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New Delhi, July 14 (IANS) US researchers have identified a protein responsible for causing fatigue in people with long Covid, Alzheimer’s and other diseases.

While infections and neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s are known to cause inflammation in the brain, the patients often develop muscle problems that seem to be independent of the central nervous system.

A team led by the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis found that it is caused by a specific protein that travels from the brain to the muscles and leads to loss of muscle function.

The study, conducted in fruit flies and mice, also identified ways to block this process. This may help physicians treat or prevent muscle wasting caused by bacterial infections, Alzheimer’s disease, and long Covid.

Aaron Johnson, Associate professor of developmental biology explained that when people are ill, “messenger proteins from the brain travel through the bloodstream and reduce energy levels in skeletal muscle.”

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The “process reduces energy levels in skeletal muscle, decreasing the capacity to move and function normally”, he said, in the study, published in the journal Science Immunology.

For the study, the team modelled three different types of diseases — an E. coli bacterial infection, a SARS-CoV-2 viral infection, and Alzheimer’s.

They found that when the brain is exposed to inflammation, it builds up damaging chemicals called reactive oxygen species. This causes brain cells to produce an immune-related molecule called interleukin-6 (IL-6), which travels throughout the body via the bloodstream.

In mice, IL-6 was responsible — and the corresponding protein in fruit flies — for reducing energy production in muscles’ mitochondria, known as the cells’ energy factories.

They also found that IL-6 activates what is called the JAK-STAT pathway in muscle, and this is what causes the reduced energy production of mitochondria.

Currently, several therapeutics already approved by the Food and Drug Administration for other diseases can block this pathway, the team said.

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–IANS

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Here’s how smoking can worsen your diabetes

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New Delhi, July 14 (IANS) While smoking can cause definite health issues among people of all ages, in people with diabetes, it can worsen the risk of heart disease, and stroke and make the illness harder to manage, according to a top diabetologist on Sunday.

Taking to the social media platform X.com, Dr V Mohan, Chairman of Dr Mohan’s Diabetes Specialities Centre, explained ways in which smoking can affect people with diabetes.

He said that smoking increases insulin resistance.

“Smoking makes it harder for your body to respond to insulin, leading to higher blood sugar levels and worsening diabetes control,” the doctor said.

It also raises the risk of severe complications “such as heart disease, stroke, and peripheral artery disease.”

Smoking can also worsen blood pressure and cholesterol levels — both critical factors for managing diabetes effectively.

Smoking can also impair blood circulation in people with diabetes, and also accelerate the risk of death.

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“Smoking damages blood vessels, reducing blood flow and increasing the risk of foot ulcers and infections that can lead to amputations,” Dr Mohan said.

“People with diabetes who smoke are more likely to experience fatal health outcomes compared to non-smokers. This includes a significantly higher risk of total mortality and cardiovascular mortality,” he added.

A 2023 study by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), along with Dr Mohan and other researchers showed that India has a staggering 101 million individuals afflicted by diabetes, while the number of prediabetes stands at 136 million. The country is also home to a whopping 315 million people suffering from hypertension, and 213 million with high cholesterol, among others.

“Take charge of your health: quit smoking and manage your diabetes better,” Dr Mohan said.

–IANS

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SGPGI doctors in Lucknow perform world's first robotic surgery

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Lucknow, July 14 (IANS) Doctors at Sanjay Gandhi Postgraduate Institute of Medical Sciences (SGPGIMS) here have performed the world’s first robotic surgery to treat a rare case of pelvic lipomatosis, an official said.

The official spokesperson said, “The case related to a 24-year-old man who was diagnosed with a rare disease.”

Given the complexity of the case, the surgical team at SGPGI decided to perform an augmentation cystoplasty with bilateral ureteric reimplantation. This procedure involved enlarging the bladder using a section of the patient’s intestine and repositioning the ureters to ensure proper drainage and function.

The surgery was performed for more than seven hours. Such a complex procedure where the surgical correction of both the bladder and ureter is done in one setting with a surgical robot has not been reported anywhere in the world, the official added.

Uday Pratap Singh, who led the surgery, said this operation offers numerous advantages over traditional open or laparoscopic surgery.

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“The use of the da Vinci Xi robotic system allowed us to perform this complex surgery with unparalleled precision. This milestone is a testament to the capabilities of robotic surgery in treating rare and challenging conditions,” he said.

The patient’s post-operative recovery has been remarkable, with significant improvement in bladder and kidney function.

“This achievement underscores SGPGI’s commitment to advancing medical science and providing cutting-edge care to patients with complex urological conditions,” said SGPGIMS Director R.K. Dhiman.

–IANS

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Indian-American scientist discovers new biomarker for obsessive compulsive disorder

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New Delhi, July 13 (IANS) A team of researchers led by an Indian-American scientist Dr Sameer Sheth has identified a specific neural activity pattern for patients who suffer from obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and have undergone deep brain stimulation (DBS) for its treatment.

The team’s goal was to determine how low-frequency brain oscillations in the theta (4-8 Hertz) to alpha (8-12 Hertz) range, which have been shown in a substantial body of scientific literature to play an important role in cognitive processes, were altered in people with severe, treatment-resistant OCD.

To accomplish this, the team from Baylor College of Medicine and Texas Children’s Hospital in the US used a novel feature of contemporary DBS devices: the ability to record brain activity in addition to providing stimulation.

Unlike most studies, which are done in lab conditions, this one was done in real-life situations.

Before DBS, predictable and periodic neural activity was seen and after its activation, symptomatic reactions were seen, because DBS helps the patients let go of their phobias and embedded responses, allowing them to behave more normally, the researchers noted in the study published in the journal Nature Medicine.

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“This neuro-psychological biomarker can serve as a better litmus test to check on the improvements in the lives of people having OCD and could be used for other debilitating conditions as well for they stem from similar neural patterns,” said Dr Sheth at Baylor College of Medicine.

OCD is a prevalent and debilitating mental health illness that affects approximately 2-3 per cent of the global population. In severe circumstances, patients spend a significant amount of time engaging in repetitive compulsions and dwell on intrusive ideas.

OCD has a significant impact on the health and quality of life of patients and careers. Approximately 20-40 per cent of people with severe OCD are resistant to traditional therapies.

Since the early 2000s, DBS therapy has been utilised to control neural activity in specific areas of the brain associated with OCD symptoms.

–IANS

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New biomarkers reveal if glaucoma patients are at high risk of losing eyesight

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New Delhi, July 13 (IANS) A team of researchers has discovered blood markers that may predict whether glaucoma patients are at a higher risk of continuing to lose eyesight after normal therapy.

Glaucoma (known as kala motia in India), affects nearly 11.2 million people aged 40 and above in India. It’s the third common cause of blindness in our country, according to experts.

The main factors for glaucoma are old age and high blood pressure. Treatments to lower the intraocular pressure in the eye are available but they are not foolproof.

Researchers from University College London (UCL) and Moorfields Eye Hospital in the UK investigated whether mitochondrial function, as evaluated in white blood cells, is lower in people with glaucoma and if there is any connection at all.

The subjects were studied on the efficiency of their blood cells using oxygen, the amount of eyesight lost over time, and the levels of nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD).

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NAD is a chemical in the body that helps cells produce energy and is derived from vitamin B3 in the food.

Firstly, the researchers observed that particular cells in the blood, known as peripheral blood mononuclear cells, use oxygen differently in persons with glaucoma.

Secondly, people with glaucoma have lower amounts of NAD in their blood cells, which means lower oxygen consumption in their body cells, according to the study published in the journal Nature Medicine.

“White blood cell mitochondrial function and NAD levels, if introduced as a clinical test, would enable clinicians to predict which patients are at higher risk of continued vision loss, allowing them to be prioritised for more intensive monitoring and treatment,” said Senior author Professor David (Ted) Garway-Heath from UCL’s Institute of Ophthalmology and Moorfields Eye Hospital.

If research proves that low mitochondrial function or NAD is a factor, then new treatments can be introduced, said authors.

The researchers are now running a major clinical research to see if high-dose vitamin B3 can improve mitochondrial function and minimize vision loss, opening up new avenues.

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–IANS

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