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Thursday, December 10, 2009

moving announcement

We have moved  >>>>>

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Are we programmed to be financially illiterate?

Do our schools mass produce graduates destined to work for someone else?

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Being a role model to the children

I lost my dad when I was 17 years old. That was in 1975.

During my younger days, before my dad passed away, I hardly remember how close I was with him. However, I knew he was very hardworking and always worked hard to provide us with food and shelter.

He and my uncle had built the house we lived in.

I am an engineer trained by Monash University but I had not built any house for my own staying!

Father to me was not well understood; he just provided food and shelter.

When I married my wife, and we had our first child in 1988, we were so happy and I tried to find ways to be a good father.

I read books about how a father should be. I attended classes on being a good father. I looked around for some good examples of a good father. I asked around about how a good father should be.

I learnt and I tried to be a good father to my children.

I want to be a good father to my children, and I want to share with them what I have, not just my wealth, my money, but most importantly my experiences as a person, my knowledge, my network of friends ….

I want to be sure they will strive to be good people, contribute well to society, and not become a liability to the nation.

How can I be sure?

There are so many temptations and so many deceptions out there.

I cannot be with them 24 hours a day. I cannot be sure of who they will meet.

I can just keep praying for them to be able to distinguish what is right from wrong, and how to say no to drug abuse, say no to gambling habits, say no to alcoholic abuses, say no to vanity ….

I have found that as a father I have to keep up with the trends that the children are exposed to and learn to understand them better, and how their peers influence them.

As a father, I will not just guide them but also encourage them to be self-reliant.

I try to teach them the value of money, wisdom of power and authority, to be humble but not shy, and be wise but not boastful.

I must be a role model for them.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Pancreatitis, what pancreatitis?

I was warded for 6 days at Hospital Kuala Krai and was discharged on Hari Raya eve. I had to fast for 5 days and five nights? Not really, on the third day I was allowed to consumed plain water, on the forth day - beverages and on the fifth - soft diet.

It was damn painful, I thought I was going to die. After day one, when I recovered , the specialist told me that I will be ok, he explained that he had “cut” of my “engine (no food in the stomach)” and will do so until I recovered and able to do so. If I survived the first day. I will survive, according to him 10 per cent die – before they can even put the “engine” off .

I survived on 6 bottles of common salt and dextrose drips per day, throughout my days in the hospital. I could take plain water - but only very little on the third day, I had diarrhea on that day. I thought this was what I had when I received my therapy in Telipot. It can’t be appendicitis. If Doc Aziz is still around, I could have asked him in person.

I met Yu Nah’s tapper at the Hospital, her menantu was there, he had a motorbike accident.

I was discharged at night and had to ask a doctor to help me take the prescription for me. When he handed me the pills, I had to ask, why are there 2 painkillers. This was his answer, the Tranadol is for your stomach but when you take them it was give you a headache and that’s when you need Paracetamol, both on PRN. Damned modern medicine! no wonder they gave them this definition, “a doctor is someone who gives you pills and at the end the pills kill you". 

Below is a note on the subject from a Doctor, now practicing in the States and from my alma mater .

On a professional topic for a change!

Acute pancreatitis is an inflammation of the exocrine part of the pancreas (that organ abutting the backbone behind the stomach and what the chefs refer to as sweetbread). The pancreas has two functions. The exocrine part produces enzymes needed for digesting fat and protein; the other, the endocrine, produces insulin needed for regulating our sugar metabolism.

When the organ is inflamed, the cell wall becomes leaky and all those enzymes start to leak out and begin digesting your insides, hence the pain and damage. You are literally being digested or destroyed internally by your own enzymes!

Chronic pancreatitis is where the condition is chronic (that is over weeks, months or years). The mechanism and consequences are very different leading many to think that it is an entirely different clinical entity with different causes.

In America (West generally) the main causes of acute pancreatitis are alcohol and gallstones. Nobody knows what causes gallstones, and not all gallstones cause acute pancreatitis. Beyond the two, then we have rare causes, like hyperparathyroidism (hyperactivity of a small gland in the neck anatomically associated with but different from the thyroid gland), drugs, scorpion bites, and other "rare brids."

A Malay friend here had acute pancreatitis a few years ago and his doctors insisted that he was a "closet alcoholic." Knowing the friend well I suggested to him to suggest to his doctors to investigate for possible hyperparathyroidism. Indeed that was he had, and he had surgery that effectively cured the condition as well prevent further possible complications caused by the hyperparathyroidism (like kidney stones).

when I have a patient with acute pancreatitis, the immediate treatment is to maintain his metabolic stability; hence intravenous fluids, pain medications, antibiotics, etc. and give the pancreas a rest. So no eating for a few days. This will resolve most cases. Once that is resolved then investigate for the 'root cause" using CAT scans, ultrasounds, and ERCP (endoscopic examination). If a cause is found, then of course deal with it appropriately.

If no obvious cause, then seek the rare birds as mentioned above. Review the medications you are taking to make sure it is not a contributing factor.

Most acute pancreatitis will resolve. Nonetheless it is a serious disease and when there are complications (like necrotizing pancreatitis; necrotizing means death of tissues), then it is an even more serious and can be lethal. Generally you would require to be in ICU.

In my brief surgical practice in Malaysia I saw many cases of pancreatitis that have "weird" or rare causes including one caused by lupus, another caused by severe malnutrition, another a complication of kidney transplant, and a few of unknown causes that we lumped simply as "tropical pancreatitis."

Once you recover form acute pancreatitis the damage is such that you may have difficulty digesting foods especially those with high fat content; so avoid nasi lemak, rich rendang, kacang goreng. Alcohol is an absolute contraindication. We may not realize it but alcohol comes in many forms apart from the familiar ones in the bottle you get in the bar. Many cough syrups have alcohol base and they can trigger a pancreatitis attack if you so have been made predisposed by a previous attack.

Lastly, if the tissue damage is severe enough to affect the endocrine portion of the pancreas, then you may develop diabetes.

Transplant of both the exocrine and endocrine portions of the pancreas is now clinically feasible and done.

I trust this is helpful.
M. Bakri Musa, M.D.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Eating a diet high in processed food increases the risk of depression

Those who ate the most whole foods had a 26% lower risk of future depression than those who at the least whole foods.

By contrast people with a diet high in processed food had a 58% higher risk of depression than those who ate very few processed foods. more > >

Friday, July 3, 2009

What is Arthritis?

Dr. Holly Atkinson, Internal Medicine

Arthritis is a group of conditions that typically involve inflammation and pain in the joints. Arthritis typically develops where two or more bones meet, although it can affect other tissues in the body. Arthritis can lead to joint weakness and physical deformities that can interfere with even the most basic daily activities. Arthritis pain varies considerably in severity. It may come and go, which is called episodic pain, or it may be chronic, meaning you’ll feel it all the time.

How Does Arthritis Happen?

In most cases, arthritis is a natural part of aging, and develops over a lifetime of the use of our joints. In healthy joints, the ends of the bones are protected by cartilage, which is a tough smooth tissue that cushions the ends and allows them to glide smoothly across one another. The whole joint is surrounded by synovial fluid, which lubricates and delivers nutrients to the cartilage. Osteoarthritis, the most common form of arthritis, develops when the cartilage wears away and the bone ends are left unprotected. They may rub together every time you move, which can cause pain. The edges of the joints may also develop dense spots and bumps called spurs. The ligaments, which are cord-like tissues that connect the bones to other structures around them, may also thicken, preventing movement.

Types of Arthritis

There are more than a hundred types of arthritis. Some of the more common types are as follows:

Osteoarthritis. This is by far the most common form of arthritis and caused by long-time use of the joint and surrounding tissue.

Arthritis Caused By Inflammation. Inflammation is part of the body’s natural healing process. But once the inflammatory process starts and doesn’t stop, cartilage and other tissues surrounding and connecting your bones are attacked. This leads to swelling, throbbing pain and sometimes deformities.

  • Rheumatoid Arthritis, or RA. The inflammation of rheumatoid arthritis starts after the immune system turns on itself and attacks the body. It is not known why the body does this. It’s a called systemic condition, meaning that it affects tissue throughout the body, including the respiratory system, skin, blood vessels, nerves and eyes.
  • Gout. This type of arthritis develops as a result in a defect in body chemistry. People with gout form tiny, needle-shaped crystals in the joints, causing inflammation. That inflammation triggers attacks of severe pain that lasts from one to two weeks. Gout usually affects the toes, but can also occur in the feet, the hands and the wrists. During an attack, the area affected becomes swollen, hot and extremely tender. Gout usually affects men.
  • Ankylosing Spondylitis. This is a condition that mostly affects the spine. Inflammation causes the bones of the spine to grow together.
  • Lupus. This is a serious disorder in which blood vessels throughout the body are inflamed.
  • Scleroderma. This is a disease of the body’s connective tissue that causes a thickening and hardening of the skin.
  • Juvenile Arthritis. This can develop as early as infancy, and is a general term for all types of arthritis that occur in children.

Coping With Arthritis

The treatments for arthritis vary according to which type you have, which joints are affected, the intensity of the pain and how it affects your daily life. There is no cure for arthritis, but there are many things you can do to cope with the condition.

Lifestyle Choices

  • Practice Good Posture. This will help keep your bones and joints aligned. Walking is an easy way to improve posture.
  • Watch Your Weight. Your body weight has a large impact on the amount of stress on your muscles and bones. Excess fat cells also release chemicals that trigger inflammation.
  • Exercise. Activity will help to keep your weight under control, but don’t overdo it. If your body starts to hurt, you should stop. Swimming and the stationary bike are two great options since they are easier on the joints than weight-bearing exercises like walking or dancing.
  • Keep Moving & Stretch. To reduce stiffness, try to avoid sitting or standing in the same position for long periods of time. When writing or using your hands, give your hands a rest every 10 to 15 minutes. On long car trips, get out of the car. Stretch and move around at least once an hour. And when you’re picking up an object, bend your knees and squat while keeping your back straight.

Medication Options

Your doctor may suggest or prescribe medications to ease the pain and inflammation if lifestyle changes don’t help. These options include:

  • NSAIDs or Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs. These target the enzyme active in joint inflammation and work to relieve pain. They are available over- the-counter. Examples include aspirin, ibuprofen and naproxen.
  • Cox 2 Inhibitors. These are a prescription class of NSAIDs. These newer drugs are easier on your stomach, but may have side effects on your heart. Speak to your doctor about these risks.
  • DMARDs or Disease Modifying Anti-Rheumatic Drugs. If these are taken early enough, they can limit the amount of joint damage that occurs in rheumatic arthritis. They work to slow down the disease and prevent permanent joint damage. Because it can take weeks before they start to work, they’re often taken with NSAIDs or corticosteroids. Other forms of DMARDs include immunosuppresants and Tumor Necrosis Factor or TNF-blockers. Immunosuppressants act on your immune system to blunt the immune response, which drives the inflammatory process. However, by blunting the immune system, these drugs also leave you susceptible to infection.

There are several other new drugs recently approved by the FDA. Ask your doctor about the benefits and risks of these newer medications.

Other Treatment Options

  • Blood Filtering. This type of treatment removes the antibodies that can contribute to inflammation and pain.
  • Surgery. More severe cases of arthritis may require surgery that removes the joint lining, such as Arthroscopy and Synovectomy. A total joint replacement may also be recommended.
  • Complementary Approaches. Relaxation techniques like hypnosis, deep breathing and muscle relaxation may help ease arthritis pain. Many people also find relief through acupuncture, gentle forms of yoga and Tai Chi.
  • Dietary Supplements. Glucosamine and Chondroitin, the building blocks of cartilage, are popular supplements among people suffering from mild forms of arthritis. Studies have shown that some people with mild arthritis get some relief, with others experience no benefit.

While arthritis is a long term condition, there is much that you can do to live an active life. Work closely with your doctor to find the right combination of treatments for you.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

WHO: Swine flu virus may face deadly mutation

Tue, 12 May 2009

The conformation of new swine flu cases in different countries has caused WHO officials to announce the virus has the potential to cause a global pandemic.

In a Monday news briefing, acting WHO assistant director-general Keiji Fukuda said that it was too early to say whether the swine flu virus would cause a pandemic, adding that there is no sign of sustained person-to-person spread outside North America.

In a Tuesday statement, however, the WHO stressed that the new virus 'appears to be more contagious than seasonal influenza' and that nearly everyone in the world lacks immunity against the new disease.

The report added that the new H1N1 flu virus has the potential to unpredictably mutate into a more virulent form, resulting in a pandemic that may circle the globe in at least two or even three waves.

The Imperial College London had earlier reported that swine flu has a 'full pandemic potential' as it may infect one-third of the world's population in within the next six to nine months, adding that the new virus can infect one out of every three individuals who come into contact with an H1N1 patient.

British scientists also claimed that about 6,000 to 32,000 Mexicans are infected with the deadly virus; Mexican health officials, however, have only reported 2,059 cases of swine flu infection including 56 deaths in 29 of the country's 32 districts.

In the US, the second country attacked by the new strain of the H1N1 flu, the virus is spreading so fast that CDC officials have decided to stop counting individual cases as they are only 'confirming the tip of the iceberg'.

Statistics show that more than 2,600 confirmed swine flu cases, three deaths and 700 suspected cases have been reported in 43 US states.

Health officials have also stressed that the virus, which is 'circulating throughout the United States and is likely to be in every state', is relatively mild and may be troublesome only in those with an underlying disease.

WHO officials concluded that the impact of any pandemic varies in different countries, as it is mild in countries with strong health systems but becomes devastating in those with weak health systems which lack drugs and well-equipped hospitals.-PressTV

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

WHO: swine flu infects 29 countries

Sun, 10 May 2009

Image of newly-identified H1N1 influenza virus obtained at the CDC Influenza Laboratory.

The World Health Organization announced Saturday that the H1N1 (swine) flu virus has spread to 29 countries and confirmed 3440 cases of infection.

The WHO said the latest infections are reported in Argentina, Panama, Australia and Japan.

Mexico has reported 1364 laboratory-confirmed human cases of infection, including 45 deaths. The United States has reported 1639 laboratory-confirmed human cases, including two deaths. Canada has reported 242 laboratory-confirmed human cases, including one death.

The following countries have reported laboratory confirmed cases with no deaths - Argentina (1), Australia (1), Austria (1), Brazil (6), China, Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (1), Colombia (1), Costa Rica (1), Denmark (1), El Salvador (2), France (12), Germany (11), Guatemala (1), Ireland (1), Israel (7), Italy (6), Japan (3), Netherlands (3), New Zealand (5), Panama (2), Poland (1), Portugal (1), Republic of Korea (3), Spain (88), Sweden (1), Switzerland (1) and the United Kingdom (34).

Early signs of influenza H1N1 are flu-like, including fever, cough, headache, muscle and joint pain, sore throat and runny nose, and sometimes vomiting or diarrhea. No vaccine has been developed to fight the fatal virus named H1N1, which has traveled to four continents.

The symptoms have been treated with antivirals. It is feared, however, that H1N1 might be resistant to antiviral medications.

The World Health Organization prepares for the production of a vaccine against the H1N1 virus, as the number of confirmed swine flu cases passes the 2,000 mark.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Yoghurt keeps postpartum obesity away

While many women find weight loss after labor challenging, a new study says probiotic supplements can easily help them retain their figure.

Previous studies had linked taking probiotics, live bacteria or yeast dietary supplements, to improved digestion and intestinal health.

According to the study presented at the 17th European Congress on Obesity in Amsterdam, taking these supplements in the first trimester of pregnancy can lower the risk of post-partum central obesity.

Women who took probiotics during pregnancy were reported to have the lowest levels of central obesity and body fat percentage in the year after delivery.

These supplements not only modify the bacteria in the intestines but also influence adipose formation in the body through breaking down sugars and carbohydrates.

A probiotics-supplemented diet during pregnancy and breastfeeding is therefore considered as an economic, practical, and potentially safe method for reducing the risk of obesity after labor.

University of Turku researchers concluded that just one yoghurt cup a day is enough to help pregnant women control their weight.

Courtesy : PressTV - Sun, 10 May 2009

Sunday, April 12, 2009

So Botox isn’t just a pretty face

CLEVELAND, April 12, 2009 – NYT

Dr Mark Stillman, the director of the Centre for Headache and Pain at the Cleveland Clinic, has a treatment for people with frequent migraines: he injects Botox around the head and neck.

Dr Andrew Blitzer, the director of the Centre for Voice and Swallowing Disorders at St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital Centre in Manhattan, has an antidote for speech impediments caused by vocal cord problems: he injects Botox into the larynx.

Dr Fredric Brandt, a dermatologist in Manhattan and Coral Gables, Fla., has a novel procedure for oily skin and skin redness. You guessed it: Botox.

Over the last decade, Botox has become a synonym for the eradication of wrinkles, a kind of shorthand for the entire enterprise of cosmetic medicine. But now, with the popularisation of new medical uses, therapeutic applications of the drug are poised to outstrip the cosmetic treatment in both revenue and prominence.

In the hunt to discover the next blockbuster medical use for Botox, doctors have injected it experimentally into muscles and glands all over the body, making it medicine’s answer to duct tape.

According to recent medical journals, physicians have used it to treat chewing problems, swallowing problems, pelvic muscle spasms, drooling, hair loss, anal fissures and pain from missing limbs.

“We see it as a molecule that keeps on giving. As we understand it more, it gives us new ideas of how to use it,” says Dr Mitchell F. Brin, a neurologist who is the chief scientific officer for Botox at Allergan, the drug’s maker.

No other therapeutic agent “has so many demonstrated uses,” he says.

But some health advocates worry that doctors are widely adopting novel uses for Botox before federal guidance and rigorous clinical studies have established safe and effective dosages for the new treatments.

“It’s trial and error with a nerve poison,” says Dr Sidney M. Wolfe, the director of the health research group at Public Citizen, a consumer advocacy group. Last year, the group petitioned the Food and Drug Administration to require a warning label for injectable toxins.

Botox is a purified form of botulinum toxin, a nerve poison produced by the bacteria that cause botulism, a disease that paralyses muscles and can be fatal. Injections of Botox act like minuscule poison darts that temporarily blunt chemical nerve signals to certain muscles or glands, reducing their activity.

The FDA. has approved Botox to treat four problems: eye muscle disorders, neck muscle disorders, excessive sweating – and that deadly age giveaway, eyebrow furrows. But Allergan, a $14.5 billion specialty pharmaceutical company, owns or has applied for patents on more than 90 uses for the drug.

Dr Brin of Allergan says Botox has a long safety track record – backed by 30 years of favourable research, studies on 11,000 people worldwide and 17 million treatments in the United States since 1994.

“That safety profile has enabled us to continue to explore the product in deeper parts of the body and in more novel areas,” Dr Brin says. Allergan does not promote unapproved uses of the drug, he says.

Botox was developed in the 1970s by Dr Alan Scott, an ophthalmologist in San Francisco who was searching for a cure for crossed eyes. He theorised that minute doses of a nerve poison used to weaken the muscles that pull crossed eyes inward could treat the malady, and he experimented with a variety of paralytic agents.

Then a biochemist who had isolated and purified a strain of botulinum toxin for potential military use as a biological weapon sent Dr Scott a sample. It worked.

Dr Scott named the new drug Oculinum. In 1989, the FDA. approved it to treat crossed eyes and twitching eyelids. Allergan bought Oculinum in 1991 for about $9 million, rebranding it Botox. When David E. I. Pyott became chief executive of the company in 1998, Botox had $90 million in annual sales. Last year, sales topped $1 billion.

“Nobody at Allergan understood how big a gold mine they were sitting on,” Pyott says.

Drug companies often rely on multiple products to fill their pipelines. But at Allergan, Botox became a virtual pipeline in and of itself after the arrival of Pyott, who recognised that it was a medication that could be serially reincarnated for other applications.

Doctors, who are permitted to use approved drugs in unapproved ways as they deem appropriate, were already using Botox off-label at the time on body parts other than eye muscles. Some physicians reported that patients had unexpected side effects – fewer headaches, for example, or smoother skin – after they had Botox.

Pyott invested heavily in expanding in-house research and encouraged doctors to formalise their anecdotal observations with published research.

He also recognised that some Americans would be willing to pay handsomely for injections that tempered wrinkles. To prove the efficacy of the drug, the company sponsored clinical trials to use Botox for cosmetic medical purposes and for other muscle disorders.

Over the last nine years, the FDA has approved Botox to treat neck muscle spasms and to hinder excessive sweating. The agency also approved the same drug, under the name Botox Cosmetic, to smooth forehead wrinkles.

Last year, Botox had worldwide sales of $1.3 billion, divided about equally between cosmetic and medical uses. Among botulinum toxins, Botox has an 83 per cent share of the market, Allergan said.

But, with competing toxins set to enter the American market, Allergan has positioned Botox for other medical uses. Pyott says he expects therapeutic sales of the drug to soon eclipse sales of Botox Cosmetic.

Health insurers sometimes cover medical uses of Botox; a treatment for a clenched jaw might cost $1,000 every three months, for example. But for cosmetic treatments, which dipped slightly at the end of last year, consumers must pay cash.

“The therapeutic will end up being bigger than the cosmetic even if the economy recovers because there are some big unmet medical needs there,” Pyott says.

In the next few months, the company is expecting federal approval to market the drug for stroke victims suffering from limb tightness or spasms.

Later this year, Allergan plans to seek approval to market the drug for chronic migraine headaches, Pyott said. He also said the company eventually plans to seek FDA approval to market Botox for benign enlarged prostate.

But many doctors are not waiting for federal sanction to inject Botox for these and other disorders. While Allergan doesn’t break down Botox sales, Gary Nachman, an analyst at Leerink Swann, an investment bank, estimates that perhaps as much as half of Botox sales already come from off-label uses.

“It’s the magic bullet,” says Nachman.

Botox is so widely adopted in medicine – and ingrained in popular culture – that some doctors don’t think that novel uses are experiments.

Several years ago, Dr Kamran Jafri, a facial surgeon in Manhattan, started injecting Botox just under the skin of the face, a technique that he says reduces pore size, blotchiness and oily skin.

“Dosing is by trial and error,” Dr Jafri says. “I don’t think it’s experimental because it’s a treatment I’ve been doing a lot and it’s been working.”

Such ad hoc uses of Botox are perfectly legal for doctors. But some medical professionals are concerned that doctors are experimenting with and adopting Botox therapy before clinical trials and government approval have established safe doses for new indications – and without definitive proof that the new treatments work.

While life-threatening complications following use of Botox and other botulinum toxins are rare, a few people have died after they were treated. In some cases, the toxin has spread from the injection site, causing serious swallowing and breathing problems. For example, several children with cerebral palsy died after receiving large doses in their limbs.

“It is possible to over-inject. This is a poison,” says Dr Frederick Burgess, the chief of anaesthesia at the VA Medical Centre in Providence, R.I. “Things can go wrong. It is rare, but it happens.”

Last year, Public Citizen petitioned the FDA, asking for a stronger warning on botulinum toxins that would emphasise the risk of diffusion from the injection site and the need for patients to seek immediate medical care for swallowing or breathing difficulties.

The Canadian health authority instituted such a labelling change earlier this year.

Pyott of Allergan says that there have been a few serious problems following Botox injections – but not necessarily directly caused by the drug. Some patients had serious illnesses prior to treatment, he said.

“Physicians have experimented with higher and higher doses,” Pyott says. “Like any drug, if you take too much, you can have side effects.”

The FDA is reviewing the safety of botulinum toxins, according to an agency press release. Last year, the agency also postponed approval of a new toxin called Dysport for use in neck muscle problems. The FDA asked the manufacturer to first develop a plan for communicating the risk of the drug to doctors and patients.

On Monday, the FDA is due to issue a decision on the cosmetic version of Dysport, called Reloxin.

Johnson & Johnson is also developing an anti-wrinkle injection called PureTox.

But industry analysts predicted that the FDA would postpone approving any new botulinum toxins until regulators have finalised a stronger warning label for all of the brands.

When Pyott arrived at Allergan, it specialised in eye-care pharmaceuticals. Over the last decade, he has turned it into the house that Botox built, expanding credibility for the drug in various medical specialties by buying complementary businesses.

To solidify Allergan’s dominance in appearance medicine, for example, the company spent $3.2 billion in 2006 to acquire Inamed, a leading maker of skin-plumping injections and breast implants. In preparation for the planned introduction of Botox as a treatment for headaches, overactive bladder and enlarged prostates, the company has also established itself in neurology and urology by developing or marketing other specialty drugs, Pyott says.

The possibility of lucrative new uses for Botox has not gone unnoticed. After rumours of a possible merger with GlaxoSmithKline last month, Allergan stock rose almost 24 per cent over the course of two days, to $48.95; it now trades at $47.47. Both companies declined to comment on merger rumours.

“This is a bad time to sell because they are not going to get rewarded for all of the wonderful stuff in the pipeline,” says Ronny Gal, an analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein. “I would stay independent for a couple of years.”

Gal says sales of Botox could double within the next five to seven years, provided that the FDA approves new major medical uses. One million people or more might seek Botox injections for chronic headaches, while the audience for benign enlarged prostate would be “practically every man over the age of 75,” Gal says.

Pyott has a master plan, meanwhile, to expand the Botox franchise even further. The company is developing new iterations of the drug intended to treat specific targets, such as pain receptors, without weakening muscles.

Allergan also owns or has applied for patents on dozens of other uses for its toxin, a move to pre-empt competitors from marketing their products for expanded uses.

“I feel a little bit like I am sitting with a beautiful vessel inside the harbour but I forgot to give you the map to where our mines are,” Pyott says of the Botox patents that he said were filed in different countries. “There could be a big bang when you hit one of our patents.”

But Gal, the analyst, devoted his Christmas vacation to unearthing about 90 patent applications worldwide by Allergan. These included Botox for sinus headache, fibromyalgia pain, ulcers, inner ear disorders and uterine problems as well as appearance treatments like “buttock deformity.”

Nevertheless, there are still a few ailments that Botox does not claim to solve. Botox doesn’t work on stuttering, for example, because it involves too many parts of the anatomy – including the lips, the larynx and the tongue, says Dr Brin of Allergan.

“Stuttering is too complicated,” Dr Brin says a little wistfully. “It didn’t pan out.”

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Wristband to alert sun over-exposure

Tue, 07 Apr 2009 17:31:30 GMT | PressTV

The increased rate of skin cancer among sunbathers prompts scientists to create a wristband to warn user against maximum sun exposure.

Excessive sun exposure is reported as the main trigger for DNA changes leading to melanoma, the most malignant type of skin cancer in 70 percent of sufferers.

The new bracelet-style product, which will enter the market in the upcoming months, turns pink when the sunbather is in danger of getting a sunburn.

The chemicals inside the band react to UV rays, changing in color from yellow to pink. Scientists believe the UV-driven reaction with the dye in the band acts as an "intelligent ink".

The band also notifies the user when it is necessary to reapply sunscreen. Like the skin, this band absorbs sunscreen and gradually turns brown when it is time to reapply sunscreen.

BRAF gene mutation has been recently identified as the first event in the cascade of genetic changes leading to melanoma.

Researchers are optimistic that by identifying the gene responsible for this cancer they can lower the incidence of sun over-exposure and in turn lower the rate of skin cancer and its complications.

Broccoli sprouts cut gastric cancer risk

Tue, 07 Apr 2009 17:46:42 GMT | PressTV

Broccoli sprouts protect the stomach against a bacterial infection which causes conditions such as gastritis, ulcers and stomach cancer.

According to a study published in Cancer Prevention Research, eating 2 1/2 ounces of three-day-old broccoli sprouts every day for at least two months reduces the levels of H. pylori infection but does not prevent it.

H. pylori levels are reported to return to pre-treatment levels eight weeks after the individual stops eating the sprouts.

H. pylori is a known carcinogen and a major risk factor for stomach cancer; reducing the number of this microorganism can therefore lower the subsequent risk of cancer.

Sulforaphane, a compound with proven anticancer and antibiotic properties commonly found in broccoli, stimulates the body particularly the gastrointestinal tract to produce enzymes that protect the body against cell damage and inflammation.

Compared to broccoli heads, the sprouts are a richer source of sulforaphane.

Scientists concluded that a diet rich in broccoli sprouts can lower the risk of various types of cancer including esophageal, bladder, skin, lung, and gastric.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

'Rocket fuel' found in US baby formula

Sun, 05 Apr 2009 14:34:13 GMT | PressTV

While the contamination of baby formula is not unheard of, this is the first time that rocket fuel-tainted formula has been found in the US.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported trace levels of perchlorate -- a chemical used as the main ingredient in solid rocket fuel, fireworks, and road flares -- in certain brands of baby formula.

Authorities declined from saying which brands had been tested.

The report revealed that the cow milk-based formula contained more perchlorate than soymilk- and lactose-free cow milk-based formulas.

While the Environmental Protection Agency reports perchlorate levels are within the safe range, the report has caused public health concerns about the damage the compound can cause to the function of the thyroid.

Perchlorate can inhibit the thyroid gland's iodine uptake, interfering with fetal development, the study published in the Journal of Exposure Science and Environmental Epidemiology reports.

Reports indicating the presence of perchlorate in the water supplies of 35 states particularly near defense and aerospace sites have aggravated the condition.

Many believe American babies are at an increased risk, as they are not only exposed to the compound in baby formula but also in tap water.

Scientists believe to counteract the effects of perchlorate iodine must be added to formula and urge the government to set a stricter perchlorate health advisory level.

Male contraceptives to hit markets soon

Sun, 05 Apr 2009 17:22:04 GMT | PressTV

The discovery of a new gene has raised hopes of producing a male contraceptive pill in the near future, to reduce unwanted pregnancies.

According to a study published in the American Journal of Human Genetics, mutations in the CATSPER1 gene, responsible for producing the protein needed for normal sperm movement, is linked with male infertility.

"Identification of targets such as the CATSPER1 gene that are involved in the fertility process and are specific for potentially minimizing the side effects of a drug targeting the protein's function, provide new targets for a pharmacological male contraceptive," the leader of the research team, Michael Hildebrand said.

Men treated with the antibodies designed to target the CATSPER1 protein were reported to have reduced fertility. As the sperm of these men were unable to fertilize eggs, scientists believe these antibiotics can be used to produce a male contraceptive.

They hope to use these findings to develop new infertility treatments.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Human body regenerates heart cells: Study

Fri, 03 Apr 2009 19:25:29 GMT | PressTV

A study using Carbon-14 dating method has shown that human body can regenerate heart cells at a rate of about one percent a year.

Conducted by Sweden's Karolinska Institute researchers, the study has raised hopes for the artificial stimulation of the renewal process and reducing the need for transplants in future.

"It would be a way to try and help the heart to some self-help rather than transplanting new cells," Jonas Frisen of Sweden's Karolinska Institute said in a telephone interview.

"Taking advantage of the heart's own capacity to generate new cells either using pharmaceutical compounds or, if it is possible, by exercise or any other environmental factor."

Heart cells stop dividing early in life and although there are stem cells in the heart, its muscle just forms scar tissue and never fully regenerates.

Scientists also found that the rate at which our body regenerates heart cells slows by time reducing to half a percent a year by the age of 75, Reuters reported.

"If you exchange cells at this rate it means that even if you live a very long life you will not have exchanged more than 50 percent of your cells," said Frisen.

"So at any given time your heart is a mosaic of cells you carry with you from birth and cells that that have been added later to replace cells that have been lost during life."

According to the study reported in the journal Science, the heart's ability to regenerate cells could help find out whether people are susceptible to heart disease or not.

"We are interested in studying whether some heart diseases could potentially be caused by too low an ability to replace heart cells," said Frisen.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Energy drinks could be troublesome

Mon, 30 Mar 2009 18:14:28 GMT | PressTV

Energy drinks are reported to be associated with potential health risks in individuals with heart diseases and high blood pressure.

According to a study published in the Annals of Pharmacotherapy, drinking two cans of popular energy drink increases the blood pressure as well as the heart rate.

Healthy individuals can tolerate the extra pressure imposed to their heart; the condition, however, may be life-threatening in those suffering from underlying heart-related problems.

Caffeine and taurine have direct impact on cardiac function; the high levels of these two non-essential amino acids are believed to be responsible for the increases in blood pressure and heart rate following the consumption of energy drinks.

Scientists therefore urge individuals with hypertension or heart disease to avoid drinking energy drinks.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Fish robots to detect water pollution

Sun, 22 Mar 2009 15:24:54 GMT | PressTV

British scientists have developed a robot fish which can detect water pollution.
British scientists are slated to release into Spanish seas five carp-shaped fish robots which are capable of detecting water pollution.

Built by Essex University researchers, the 1.5-meter-long robots have an eight-hour battery and move like real fish.

They are equipped with chemical sensors which enable them to detect harmful contaminants such as leaks from vessels or underwater pipelines.

Costing $29,000 each, the robots swim at a maximum speed of about one meter per second, do not need remote controlling and transmit information using Wi-Fi technology.

The fish robots will navigate the Bay of Biscay at Gijon in northern Spain as part of a three-year joint project between the engineering consultancy BMT Group and Essex University.

"The hope is that this will prevent potentially hazardous discharges at sea as the leak would undoubtedly get worse over time if not located," AFP quoted Professor Huosheng Hu of Essex University as saying.

If the project is successful, the fish could also be used in rivers, lakes and seas across the world to prevent the spread of pollution.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Aluminum in water ups Alzheimer's risk

Fri, 06 Mar 2009 10:07:56 GMT | PressTV

Preliminary research has revealed that an excessive intake of aluminum could increase the risk of developing Alzheimer's disease.

"Alzheimer's disease is a multifactorial disease, and aluminum concentrations in drinking water may have an effect on cognitive decline and Alzheimer's disease," said Dr. Virginie Rondeau, at the Institut National de la Sante et de la Recherche Medicale in Bordeaux, France.

The French researchers declared that higher levels of silica appear to decrease the risk by reducing the oral absorption of aluminum or by increasing the excretion of this metal.

"Further studies are needed to settle the debate over the link between aluminum or silica in drinking water and neurologic disorders and cognitive impairment," the research team added.

The findings of the study are published in the February 15 issue of The American Journal of Epidemiology.

Previous studies have shown that following a Mediterranean diet -- one rich in fruits, vegetables, fish and olive oil -- can help improve memory and tackle Alzheimer's disease.

From a separate study, scientists indicate that drinking apple juice might improve mental performance and subsequently tackle the risk of developing Alzheimer's disease.

Scientists are optimistic that their findings will help pave the way for developing new drugs to treat Alzheimer's.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Afghan women call for peace, justice

Sun, 08 Mar 2009 18:08:15 GMT | PressTV

Afghan women have attended a ceremony in Kabul to mark the International Women's Day and call for peace and justice in Afghanistan.

Hundreds of women attended the ceremony which was held under the auspices of the UN on Sunday.

The event was also attended by Afghan President Hamid Karzai, who condemned forced marriage and urged Afghan men not to marry off their daughters to men several decades older.

“It's very cruel that our traditions and social practices force girls to get married in their childhood or to make up for debts,” said President Karzai.

Forced marriages are a great concern in Afghanistan. Afghan girls are frequently married off to resolve disputes or to pay debts.

The Afghan government has reported over 10,000 cases of self-immolation by girls, who were trying to escape forced marriages and domestic violence in 2008.

Karzai also said that the reconciliation process is necessary to help eradicate mounting violence in the war-torn country that has reached a record level since the 2001 invasion.

The country's tumultuous situation is preventing girls from attending school. Girls account for 35 percent of Afghan students but their number has been decreasing due to attacks on girls' schools.

UN reports say the attacks have increased from 236 cases in 2007 to 293 in 2008.

“Violence against women in our country is increasing and we expect proper measures to be taken in this regard. This is not acceptable and we strongly condemn this,” an Afghan mother of two told a Press TV correspondent.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

All you need to know: Nail care

If the eyes are the windows to the soul, the nails hold clues to one's health and even personality. A substructure of the outer layer of the skin, nails are diagnostic tools providing the initial signal of the presence or onset of systemic diseases.

Nails are mainly composed of the protein keratin; when healthy they are smooth and without ridges and discoloration. Healthy nail beds - the skin on top of which the nail grows - are pink.

Nutritional deficiencies generally show up in the nails, causing them to easily chip, peel, crack or break. For instance, a lack of protein, folic acid and vitamin C causes hangnails while a lack of vitamin A and calcium causes dryness and brittleness.

Vitamin B deficiency causes fragility with horizontal and vertical ridges. Insufficient vitamin B12 intake leads to excessive dryness, rounded and curved nail ends and darkened nails.

Nails are not tools for picking, scraping, poking and prying. Protect your hands with cotton-lined gloves when doing housework

Iron deficiency causes spoon nails -- nails with a concave shape -- and vertical ridges while zinc deficiency can lead to the appearance of white spots on the nails.

Nails- Diagnostic tools

Nails separated from the nail bed (onycholysis)
While some nail conditions are harmless, changes or abnormalities in the nails often point to an underlying disorder before other symptoms begin to present themselves.

Thick nails may indicate the weakening of the vascular system, poor blood circulation or thyroid disease. Thick toenails, on the other hand, can be the result of fungal infection.

Red moons may indicate heart problems. When the moons turn slate blue it can be the sign of lung trouble or heavy metal poisoning -- such as silver poisoning.

White lines show possible heart disease, high fever or arsenic poisoning. White lines across the nails may indicate liver disease.

White-colored nails indicate possible liver or kidney disorders or anemia. White nails with pink tips are a sign of cirrhosis.

Yellow nails with elevation of the nail tips can signal an internal disorder before symptoms present themselves, such as lymphatic system problems, respiratory disorders, diabetes and liver disorders.

Vertical ridges indicate poor general health, poor nutrient absorption and iron deficiency. Horizontal ridges can be the result of severe stress. Ridges running up and down the nails can also indicate tendency to develop arthritis.

The development of bumps on the surface of the nails, a condition known as nail beading, is a sign of rheumatoid arthritis.

Downward-curved nail ends may show heart, liver or respiratory problems.

Nail separated from the nail bed denote a thyroid disorder or local infection.

Healthy nails are smooth and without ridges and discoloration.
Brittle, soft, shiny nails without moons may indicate an overactive thyroid. Brittle nails also show iron deficiency, thyroid problems, impaired kidney function and circulation problems.

Tips for strong and healthy nails

Alfalfa, black cohosh, burdock rot, dandelion, gotu kola and yellow dock are rich in nail-strengthening minerals, such as silica, zinc and B vitamins. Horsetail is good for the flexibility of nails.

Borage seed, flaxseed, lemongrass, parsley, primrose and pumpkin seed are good sources of essential fatty acids.

Butcher's broom, chamomile, ginko biloba, rosemary, sassafras, and turmeric are good for circulation which nourishes the nails.

Avoid refined sugars and simple carbohydrates. Include plenty of quality proteins, grains, legumes, oatmeal, nuts and seeds in your diet.

Eat foods rich in silicon and sulfur, such as apples, cucumbers, grapes, garlic, asparagus, broccoli, sea vegetables, fish and onions. Include biotin-rich foods like soy, whole grains and liver in your diet.

Eggs, liver, green-leafy vegetables, poultry, almonds, avocados, beets, dates, lima beans, pumpkins, peaches, pears, prunes, and raisins are rich in iron.

Fresh carrot juice is rich in phosphorous and calcium and helps strengthen the nails.

Excessive intake of citrus fruits, salt and vinegar can cause a protein/ calcium imbalance that can affect nail health. Cuts and cracks in the nails may indicate a need for more liquids; therefore, drink plenty of water.

Helpful nail tips and remedies

Nail splitting
Like the skin, nails need moisture therefore applying hand cream each morning and evening can help prevent nails from drying out.

Nails are not tools for picking, scraping, poking and prying. Protect your hands with cotton-lined gloves when doing housework, as repeated immersion in water containing bleach or dishwashing liquid can cause the nails to split.

Soaking the nails in warm olive oil or cider vinegar for ten to twenty minutes a day can help strengthen them. Taking 2 tablespoons of wheat germ oil daily can help prevent splitting nails or hangnails.

Soak the nails before cutting them, as they are more likely to split and peel when they are dry.

Do not cut nails too short or wear shoes that are too tight, as this can result in ingrown nails or toenails.

Avoid cutting the cuticles as it may lead to infection; instead use baby oil or cream to gently push them back. Inflamed cuticles in diabetics often signal infection.

Discolored nails can be the result of prolonged illness, stress, nicotine, allergies, or diabetes. Green nails indicate bacterial or fungal infection between the nail and the nail bed. A mixture of equal parts of water and vinegar applied to the nails with a cotton swab can treat fungal infection.

Soak the nails before cutting them, as they are more likely to split and peel when they are dry.
To restore color and texture to brittle and yellowed nails, make a mixture of equal parts of honey, avocado oil and egg yolk, and add a pinch of salt. Rub the mixture into the nails and cuticles, and leave it on for half an hour before rinsing. If the treatment is repeated daily, results will begin to show in 2 weeks.

Use nail polish removers as little as possible, as they contain solvents that make the nails brittle. These solvents are also highly toxic and are absorbed through the skin. Use only oil-based nail polish removers containing acetate instead of acetone.

Do not use artificial nails, as they cause fungal infection of the fingernails in some cases and often destroy the underlying nail. The glue used in attaching these nails is also absorbed through the skin and is dangerous for the body.

Tue, 24 Feb 2009 14:54:13 GMT
By Hedieh Ghavidel, Press TV, Tehran

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