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Salil Vaniawala
Dr. Salil N.Vaniawala
S N Genelab & Research Centre.

It gives me immense pleasure to give an insight about our laboratory.
Today genetic and molecular testing has become pertinent part of diagnosis for various ailments like cancer, infertility and infectious diseases like HIV, HCV, and HBV etc.

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We're all growing older. However, many of us don't realize we're aging too fast. Well, cheer up! There are dozens of things we can do to turn back the clock years, even decades. 

We all want strong, disease-free bodies and minds so we can continue working, doing things we love and spending quality time with people we care about.

Telomere Length Reveals How Fast We're Aging

Our drivers license says we're one age, but inside our bodies, microscopic telomeres may tell a different story. Scientists can measure them and tell us the longer the better. Telomeres act much like a plastic tip on a shoelace. They protect our chromosomes and DNA. But over time, as cells divide, telomeres shrink, causing health issues. The quicker our telomeres shrink, the quicker we age. 

Women's health physician Sara Gottfried noticed she was feeling older than she should and went for testing. "So, I was 45. I was interested in telomeres, the little caps on your chromosomes that are the best markers of biological, as opposed to chronological, aging," she explained, "And I flunked the test. So at age 45, I had the telomeres of a 65-year-old woman and that's not what you want to hear when you're 45 years old!" 

Better Choices Pay Off

Dr. Gottfried discovered unhealthy lifestyle choices are the main reason telomeres shrink too fast.

"Well I think the biggest problem that no one knows about is that they're aging too fast," she said, "And the interesting part for me is you can measure this." 

READ: Beating Cancer: How Cutting Sugar Reversed One Man's Death Sentence

She developed her own test to score how well a person is aging, which she shares in her book, Younger.

"It took me about five years to develop it," Dr. Gottfried recalled, "We had a thousand people go through it, mostly women, about 98 percent. And they averaged about 10 years that they added onto their health span."

56-year-old Cathy Pickle was one of the women who jumped on board. She 

 


The genes of a small Indiana Amish community may hold the secret humans have pursued for much of living memory: the key to living longer and healthier lives. The secret seems to lie in a mutation of the gene SERPINE1, which allows carriers to live, on average, 10 percent longer than others.

Douglas Vaughan, a medical researcher and the chair of medicine at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine, became interested in the Old Order Amish community because they had a high incidence of a rare bleeding disorder, caused by a mutation on both copies of the SERPINE1 gene. This mutation prevents the regulation of a protein called PAI-1, which dissolves blood clots.

Those with a single copy of the mutation also had a lower incidence of diabetes, lower insulin levels after fasting, slightly lower blood pressure, and possibly more flexible blood vessels. Of the 177 people in the Amish community, 43 people had a single mutated SERPINE1 copy.

“For the first time we are seeing a molecular marker of aging (telomere length), a metabolic marker of aging (fasting insulin levels) and a cardiovascular marker of aging (blood pressure and blood vessel stiffness) all tracking in the same direction in that these individuals were generally protected from age-related changes,” said Vaughan. A paper describing this discovery was recently published in Science Advances.

A MEDICINE FOR AGING?

Perhaps unsurprisingly, those with a single copy of SERPINE1 mutation also had lower levels of the clotting protein PAI-1. This protein may be the key to this genetic fountain of youth: it plays a role in the process by which cells go dormant when they can no longer replicate, called cellular senescence

However, Vaughan’s team found that those with a mutation on only one of these copies didn’t have the bleeding disorder. Just as carriers of the sickle-cell anemia gene have protection against malaria, people with a single copy of the SERPINE1 mutation appeared to gain advantages from it: they had a longer average lifespan and 10 percent longer telomeres, the small protective cap of repeated nucleotides at the ends of chromosomes. These caps tend to shorten and unravel over an organism’s lifetime, and have been linked with the biology of aging.

 
 

The Telomere and Telomerase Group at the Spanish National Cancer Research Centre (CNIO) has shown that it is possible to block the growth of human and murine glioblastoma in mouse models by blocking the TRF1 protein; an essential component of the telomere-protective complex known as shelterin. The study, published in Cancer Cell, describes a new and promising way to combat this type of brain tumour, considered one of the most lethal and difficult to treat, by attacking its ability to regenerate and divide immortally. 

The average life expectancy of patients with glioblastoma is about 14 months. This brain tumour (which is the most common) can evade and overcome the limited therapeutic options that exist today to treat it. It is particularly known for its ability to regenerate, because, the tumour contains a subset of cells with characteristics that are similar to stem cells, called glioblastoma stem cells (GSCs), one of these cells is capable of reproducing the entire tumour.

 

These GSCs cells are the cornerstone of glioblastoma and one of its identifying features. One of their characteristics is that they have very high levels of the telomeric protein TRF1, which in addition to being essential for protecting telomeres, is required to maintain the capacity of these cells to regenerate the tumour.  

 

"We know that TRF1 is expressed particularly in stem cells, so we thought it would be interesting to see what would happen in tumours that had a strong tumour stem cell nature if we blocked TRF1," explains Maria A. Blasco, head of the Telomeres and Telomerase Group and senior author of the paper. Glioblastoma is clearly a type of tumour that could benefit from blocking TRF1 owing to the ability of its glioma stem cells to regenerate the tumours after current treatments.

 

Blocking TRF1 Reduces Tumour Growth 

 

"The first thing we saw was that TRF1 is highly overexpressed in both mouse and human glioblastomas, which indicated that by blocking it we could perhaps impair its growth," says Leire Bejarano, a member of Blasco’s group and first author of the paper.

 

Consequently, Blasco, Bejarano and colleagues started working with mouse models. They removed TRF1 during the initiation of the tumour, as well as blocked it once the glioblastomas had already formed. "Both strategies – said Bejarano – led to a significant increase in the survival rate of the mice with glioblastomas." In the first case, the increase in survival was of 80% and in the case of already-existing tumours the increase in survival was of 30%.

 
 

Parents often worry about peanut allergies because the reaction to peanuts can be very severe. New, late-breaking research being presented at the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI) Annual Scientific Meeting suggests that peanut allergy in children has increased 21 percent since 2010, and that nearly 2.5 percent of U.S. children may have an allergy to peanuts.

"Peanut allergies, along with other food allergies, are very challenging for children and families," says Ruchi Gupta, MD, MPH, ACAAI member and lead author of the study. "While 21 percent represents a large increase in the number of kids with a likely peanut allergy, the good news is that parents now have a way to potentially prevent peanut allergy by introducing peanut products to infants early after assessing risk with their pediatrician and allergist."

New guidelines introduced in January walk parents through the process of introducing peanut-containing foods to infants that are at high, medium and low-risk for developing peanut allergies. The guidelines are based on groundbreaking research showing that high risk infants (infants with severe eczema and/or a history of egg allergy) who are introduced to peanut-containing food early are significantly more likely to prevent developing a peanut allergy.

More than 53,000 U.S. households were surveyed between October 2015 and September 2016 for the study. The research suggests that rates of peanut, tree nut, shellfish, fin fish, and sesame allergies are increasing. Allergy to tree nuts, for example, increased 18 percent from 2010 when data were last collected, and allergy to shellfish increased 7 percent. Also evident was an increase in occurrence in black children compared to white children.

"According to our data, the risk of peanut allergy was nearly double among black children relative to white children," says food allergy researcher Christopher Warren, PhD candidate and study co-author. "Black children were also significantly more likely to have a tree nut allergy relative to white children. These findings are consistent with previous work by our group suggesting that black children in the U.S. may be at elevated food allergy risk. It's important that anyone with a food allergy work with their allergist to understand their allergy and how best to avoid the foods that cause their allergic reaction."

 

ANAHEIM, CA — The American College of Cardiology (ACC) and the American Heart Association (AHA) have released a new guideline on hypertension with a new definition that will call 130 to 139 mm Hg systolic and or 80 to 89 mm Hg stage 1 hypertension.

Officially the 2017 "ACC/AHA/AAPA/ABC/ACPM/AGS/APhA/ASH/ASPC/NMA/PCNA Guideline for the Prevention, Detection, Evaluation and Management of High Blood Pressure in Adults," the document includes new recommendations on the definition of hypertension, systolic and diastolic blood pressure thresholds for initiation of treatment with antihypertensive medications, and an aggressive new BP treatment target.

The guidelines were released here at the American Heart American Heart Association (AHA) 2017 Scientific Sessions and published simultaneously in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology [1], and in the AHA journal Hypertension [2].

"The goal was to provide a comprehensive guideline for diagnosis, prevention, evaluation, treatment, and very important, strategies to improve control rates during treatment," Dr Paul Whelton (Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, New Orleans, LA), chair of the 2017 Hypertension Practice Guidelines, told a press conference here.

 

Whelton pointed to five main areas of emphasis in the new guideline:

  • A strong emphasis on blood-pressure measurement, both accuracy of blood-pressure measurements and using the average of measures taken over several visits, as well as an emphasis on out-of-office blood-pressure measurements, "which is relatively new for a blood-pressure guideline," he noted.

  • A new blood-pressure classification system, updating the previous Seventh Report of the Joint National Committee on Prevention, Detection, Evaluation and Treatment of High Blood Pressure (JNC7) guidelines. "We thought the evidence supported a slightly new classification system," he said.

  • A new approach to decision-making for treatment that incorporates 


Researchers from ECU’s School of Medical and Health Sciences studied the diets of more than 1000 Western Australian women, focusing on nitrate intake derived from vegetables.

They found that over a 15 year period, those women who had the highest intake of nitrate from vegetables had up to a 40 percent lower risk of dying from heart disease or stroke.

Getting enough greens

PhD student Lauren Blekkenhorst, said the research was built on her previous study that collated data from around the world on the measured nitrate concentration in commonly eaten vegetables.

Nitrate is a compound that is naturally present in the environment and is essential for plant growth.

“We found that leafy green vegetables, such as spinach, lettuce, and kale had the highest amounts of nitrate, followed by radish, beetroot, and celery,” she said.

“People get roughly 80 percent of their average nitrate intake from vegetables so they are the primary source.”

How much is enough?

Ms. Blekkenhorst said about 75 g per day (1 serve) of green leafy vegetables would provide enough nitrate to achieve these health benefits.

“This is about one cup of raw vegetables which shouldn’t be too hard for all of us to eat daily,” she said.

How does it work?

Lead researcher, Dr. Catherine Bondonno, said that the bacteria living in our mouths were critical for the cardiovascular health benefits observed.

“The bacteria living on our tongue break down the nitrate that we eat into another compound called nitrite. Nitrite and other breakdown products play a key role in regulating our blood pressure,” she said.

“This is the underlying mechanism that is resulting in the long-term improvements in heart health.”

 

In Fragile X Syndrome--the leading genetic form of intellectual disability and autism--the effects of a single defective gene ripple through a series of chemical pathways, altering signals between brain cells. It's a complex condition, but new research from Rockefeller University finds that inhibiting a regulatory protein alters the intricate signaling chemistry that is responsible for many of the disease's symptoms in animal models. The work, published in Cell, offers insight into how redundant mechanisms control the amount of protein in a cell and provides a path to possible therapeutics for the autism spectrum disorders.

The work centers on a group of proteins--known as chromatin remodeling proteins--that control gene expression. Chromatin remodelers work by adding chemical tags to DNA, regulating the cellular machinery that transcribes genes into messages.

"Drugs that target chromatin remodelers are already in clinical trials to treat cancers like leukemia," says study author Erica Korb, a postdoctoral researcher at Rockefeller. "It is an attractive approach because a single inhibitor allows you to target a whole network of genes at once." The new research suggests that chromatin remodeling proteins may similarly play a key role in Fragile X Syndrome. By targeting chromatin remodelers in animals, the scientists were able to successfully alleviate symptoms of the disease.

Researchers have known for some time that Fragile X Syndrome is caused by defects in a single gene, known as FMRP, but exactly how FMRP affects neural function has remained a mystery.

A break came in 2011, when Rockefeller's Robert B. Darnell, Robert and Harriet Heilbrunn Professor and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator, identified hundreds of cellular messages that were associated with FMRP, many of which encode proteins that are involved in neural function. Specifically, these proteins are required at the synapse, the space between two neurons where chemical communications are exchanged. In healthy patients, FMRP binds to the cellular messages and stops them from becoming proteins. But in patients with Fragile X Syndrome, the researchers found that the defective form of FMRP can no longer effectively inhibit protein production, increasing the amount of these synaptic proteins in the cell.


Consuming a diet rich in antioxidant foods may help decrease the risk of type 2 diabetes, according to a new study published November 9 in Diabetologia.

The trial is the first prospective investigation into the link between total antioxidant consumption and risk of type 2 diabetes, say the researchers.

"This work complements our current knowledge of the effect of isolated foods and nutrients and provides a more comprehensive view of the relationship between food and type 2 diabetes," senior author Guy Fagherazzi, PhD, of the University Paris-Sud, Villejuif Cedex, France, said in a press release.

Prior research has suggested that oxidative stress may contribute to the development of type 2 diabetes. While some studies have found that the antioxidant vitamin E may help decrease the risk of type 2 diabetes, others have not confirmed this effect for the antioxidants vitamin C, flavonoids, and lycopene.

 

However, these studies looked only at isolated nutrients, and there is some evidence to suggest that ingredients in the diet may have a cumulative or synergistic effect and that the total antioxidant capacity may help reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes.

In particular, fruits, vegetables, wine, coffee, and tea have been identified as important sources of antioxidants.

"Ceiling Effect" for Total Antioxidant Intake and Diabetes Risk

To examine whether overall antioxidant content in the diet has an impact on diabetes risk, Dr Fagherazzi and colleagues analyzed data from the large E3N-EPIC prospective cohort study, begun in France in 1990 with the aim of studying risk factors for cancer and severe chronic conditions in women born between 1925 and 1990.


Getting old not only means gray hair and wrinkles, but also the aging of our cells. Aging changes our organs, tissues, and cells, affecting bodily functions all over the body. Connective tissue that binds tissue together becomes weaker, epithelial layers of our skin become thinner, and we tend to lose muscle mass in our old age.

This process of cellular aging is believed to be the result of senescent cells, which accumulate as we get older but do not grow or function as they should. However, a team of researchers from the University of Exeter has discovered a new way to rejuvenate these inactive cells so that within a few hours, they start to divide again and have longer telomeres.

Aging cells

Senescent cells are a normal part of aging and are a process where previously normal cells stop dividing. The cessation is thought to be the result of telomere shortening that ultimately triggers a DNA damage response. Despite senescent cells inability to divide, they are still metabolically active having the ability to secrete important signals that call on immune cells and other immune response components.

This new researcher builds on previous findings that showed that a class of genes called Exeter factors are progressively switched off as we age. This new study found that these splicing genes can be turned back on with chemicals, making senescent cells look and act more like younger cells.

Chemical compounds based on a substance naturally found in red wine, dark chocolate, red grapes, and blueberries were added cells in culture. The researchers found it didn’t take long for cells to start behaving like young cells and begin dividing.

“This is a first step in trying to make people live normal lifespans, but with health for their entire life. Our data suggests that using chemicals to switch back to the major class of genes that are switched off as we age might provide a means to restore function to old cells,” said Professor Lorna Harries.


Drinking alcohol, even a light or moderate amount, increases the risk of several common cancers, according to a leading group of cancer doctors.

This week, the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) issued a statement identifying alcohol as a "definite" risk factor for cancer. The statement is intended to raise awareness about the strong link between alcohol and cancer.

 

However, the link between increased alcohol consumption and cancer has been firmly established," Johnson said. [10 Do's and Don'ts to Reduce Your Risk of Cancer]

It's estimated that, worldwide, about 5 percent of new cancers and 6 percent of cancer deaths each year are directly attributable to alcohol consumption, the ASCO statement said.

The statement also cites a recent report from the World Cancer Research Fund and the American Institute for Cancer Research, which concluded that there is convincing evidence that drinking alcohol can be a cause of seven cancers. These include breast cancer, colorectal cancer, esophageal cancer, liver cancer and cancers of the oral cavity, pharynx and larynx (also referred to as "head and neck cancer").

Drinking even one alcoholic drink per day is linked with a 5 percent increase in the risk of breast cancer, a 17 percent increase in the risk of oropharyngeal cancer (a cancer of the middle part of the throat) and a 30 percent increase in the risk of esophageal cancer, compared with not drinking, according to a 2013 study cited by the ASCO statement.

Heavier drinking is linked with greater risks, the statement said. People who drink more than four alcoholic drinks a day have five times the risk of cancer of the oral cavity and pharynx, five times the risk of esophageal cancer and two times the risk of liver cancer, compared with those who don't drink.

"The good news is that, just like people wear sunscreen to limit their risk of skin cancer, limiting alcohol intake is one more thing people can do to reduce their overall risk of developing cancer," said Dr. Noelle LoConte, an associate professor of medicine at the University of Wisconsin and lead author of the ASCO statement.

 

"People typically don't associate drinking beer, wine and hard liquor with increasing their risk of developing cancer in their lifetimes," Dr. Bruce Johnson, the president of ASCO, said in a statement. Indeed, a recent survey from the organization found that 70 percent of Americans didn't know that drinking alcohol is a risk factor for cancer.

 
 

DALLAS - HIV adds to the typical health concerns that affect people as they age, and with fewer people dying of AIDS, healthcare providers are facing more complicated geriatric cases.

By 2030, 73% of people with HIV will be older than 50 years, according to one report (Lancet Infect Dis2015;15:753-754). But despite advances in antiretroviral therapy, life expectancies are still lower for people with HIV than for those without, according to a population-based study (J Acquir Immune Defic Syndr2016;71:213-218).

One of the key issues of concern for people with HIV is that they will develop more comorbidities as they age than uninfected people, said Kristine Erlandson, MD, from the Divisions of Infectious Diseases and Geriatric Medicine at the University of Colorado Hospital in Aurora.

Polypharmacy, which is already common in older patients, is an even greater issue in people with HIV because of their added comorbidities. And it can lead to a host of health problems.

 

The Problem of Polypharmacy

"We know that more medications are associated with decreased drug adherence, an increased risk of drug side effects, increased drug-to-drug interactions, and a risk for geriatric syndromes, including falls, cognitive impairment, and frailty," Dr Erlandson said here at the Association of Nurses in AIDS Care (ANAC) 2017.

The use of five or more medications is associated with increased mortality in older adults, but the association is stronger in people with HIV, according to data from one cohort of veterans (Drugs Aging2013;30:613-628).

And a recent review of 248 older San Franciscans with HIV - presented by Meredith Greene, MD, from the UCSF School of Medicine in San Francisco at the 8th International Workshop on HIV & Aging in October - showed that patients were taking a mean of 14 medications, 11 of which were not related to HIV.


A niacin skin-flushing test may help identify patients with schizophrenia, new research shows.

The study included 163 patients with schizophrenia (SZ), 63 patients with a mood disorder (depression, mania, or bipolar disorder), and 63 healthy control participants (HCs). Participants underwent a niacin skin-flushing test consisting of applications of niacin at four different concentrations on the forearm.

Investigators led by Chunling Wan, PhD, of Shanghai Jiao Tong University in China, found that patients with schizophrenia displayed a blunted response to niacin, compared to those with a mood disorder (MD) and HCs.

The subgroup that displayed a blunted response accounted for close to a third of all SZ patients. The specificity of the test was more than 80% in both male and female patients.

 

"In this study, we used niacin skin test in a relatively large sample set and successfully identified a subgroup of niacin-blunted SZ patients out from MD patients and HCs with impressive specificity," the authors write.

"Our result provides extra clues for etiological research of SZ and helps to optimize clinical strategies and facilitate precise diagnosis and personalized medicine for patients with SZ."

The study was published online October 25 in Schizophrenia Bulletin.

Lack of Diagnostic Markers

The authors state that the "lack of diagnostic markers has long been a challenge in the clinical management of SZ."