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Researchers took fragments of proteins from bacteria and flatworms, which when fused together were effective at binding to the gold nanoparticle surface and able to form stable bonds to any other protein.

Scientists have developed a new technique to bind proteins to nanoparticles that can help make drugs “smarter” and more effective at reaching their target.

The new technique decorates gold nanoparticles with a protein of choice so that they can be used to tailor drug to more accurately target an area on the body, such as a cancer tumour.

Gold nanoparticles are spheres made of gold atoms having a diameter of only few billionths of a metre which can be coated with a biological protein and combined with drugs to enable the treatment to travel through the body and reach the affected area.

“Gold nanoparticles are a vital tool in new drug development and drug delivery systems. We have unlocked the key to binding proteins and molecules so that those drugs will be more effective,” said Enrico Ferrari, a nanobiotechnologist from Britain’s University of Lincoln.

Until now, the proteins used to coat the nanoparticles had to be mixed together with particles which do not have the ability to control the way they bind, possibly making the drug less effective.

However, the new method, published in the journal Nature Communications, enables pharmacologists to place the proteins onto the gold nanoparticles layer by layer in a specific order.

This maintains the integrity of the protein so that the drug is more effective, opening up possibilities for the development of nanomedicine.

“This method might help to design nanomedicines that do not need extensive chemical modification of a protein drug or a nano-carrier and therefore can be developed more easily and faster,” Ferrari added.

Researchers took fragments of proteins from bacteria and flatworms, which when fused together were effective at binding to the gold nanoparticle surface and able to form stable bonds to any other protein.

By mixing this fusion protein with gold nanoparticles, it permanently binds to the gold surface while also being able to stably bind a target protein.

The novel method could also potentially be applied to biosensors and diagnostic kits that use gold, such as those used in clinical settings to identify ongoing infections in patients’ blood, the researchers said.

 

Courtesy - Indian Express

"That is, we do not come to know the world through only our external senses - we see the world differently when we feel pleasant or unpleasant," said a researcher of the study.

Our emotional state in a given moment may influence what we see, according to a study which shows that humans are active perceivers. The findings published in the journal Psychological Science could have implications that extend from everyday social interactions to situations with more severe consequences. For instance, they could be useful when judges or jury members have to evaluate whether a defendant is remorseful, researchers said. In two experiments, they found that participants saw a neutral face as smiling more when it was paired with an unseen positive image.

“We do not passively detect information in the world and then react to it – we construct perceptions of the world as the architects of our own experience. Our effective feelings are a critical determinant of the experience we create,” said Erika Siegel, a psychological scientist at the University of California, San Francisco in the US. “That is, we do not come to know the world through only our external senses – we see the world differently when we feel pleasant or unpleasant,” she said.

In previous studies, Siegel and colleagues found that influencing people’s emotional states outside of conscious awareness shifted their first impressions of neutral faces, making faces seem more or less likeable, trustworthy, and reliable. In the latest research, they wanted to see if changing people’s emotional states outside awareness might actually change how they see the neutral faces. Using a technique called continuous flash suppression, the researchers were able to present stimuli to participants without them knowing it.

In one experiment, 43 participants had a series of flashing images, which alternated between a pixelated image and a neutral face, presented to their dominant eye. At the same time, a low-contrast image of a smiling, scowling, or neutral face was presented to their non-dominant eye – typically, this image will be suppressed by the stimulus presented to the dominant eye and participants will not consciously experience it. At the end of each trial, a set of five faces appeared and participants picked the one that best matched the face they saw during the trial.

The face that was presented to participants’ dominant eye was always neutral. However, they tended to select faces that were smiling more as the best match if the image that was presented outside of their awareness showed a person who was smiling as opposed to neutral or scowling. In a second experiment, the researchers included an objective measure of awareness, asking participants to guess the orientation of the suppressed face. Those who correctly guessed the orientation at better than chance levels were not included in subsequent analyses. Again, the results indicated that unseen positive faces changed participants’ perception of the visible neutral face.

Courtesy - Indian Express

Middle-age and older adults often display a blunted thirst perception, which places them at risk for dehydration and subsequently may reduce the cognitive health-related benefits of exercise.

Older people who indulge in physical activity should increase their amount of water intake, to reap the full cognitive benefits of exercise, researchers suggest.

Dehydration has been shown to impair exercise performance and brain function in young people, but less is known about its impact on older populations.

The findings showed that hydration boosts performance on test of executive function that includes the skills needed to plan, focus, remember and multitask following exercise.

Exercise has been shown to improve intellectual health, including executive function.

“Middle-age and older adults often display a blunted thirst perception, which places them at risk for dehydration and subsequently may reduce the cognitive health-related benefits of exercise,” said researchers including Brandon Yates, of Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital in Boston, US.

The study, presented at the American Physiological Society (APS) annual meeting at Experimental Biology 2018 in San Diego, explored the association between hydration status before exercising and exercise-enhanced cognition in older adults.

The team recruited recreational cyclists (average age 55) who participated in a large cycling event on a warm day (78-86 degrees F).

The cyclists performed a “trail-making” executive function test–quickly and accurately connecting numbered dots using paper and pencil — before and after the event.

The team tested the volunteers’ urine before they exercised and divided them into two groups — normal hydration and dehydrated — based on their hydration status.

The normal hydration group showed noticeable improvement in the completion time of the trail-making test after cycling when compared to their pre-cycling test.

The dehydration group also completed their post-cycling test more quickly, but the time reduction was not significant.

“This suggests that older adults should adopt adequate drinking behaviours to reduce cognitive fatigue and potentially enhance the cognitive benefits of regular exercise participation,” the researchers said.

Courtesy - Indian Express

When you do a task happily, you are very productive. Thus, in order to be productive at work, either do only what you love or love everything that you have to do. Do not argue too much with people who pay you.

“Time cannot be saved, it can either be wasted or used productively”

As an author and a motivational speaker, I cannot overemphasise the importance of being productive in life. One question that has always amazed me is how is it that though we have 24 hours in a day, there is so much of income inequality in this world. Education does make a difference, but even amongst equally educated folks, money is not equally distributed.

After years of research and study, I concluded that our understanding of the subject of productivity does act as one of the key reasons behind inequality that exists in the world. The other reasons being the country you live in, the industry you join and the company you work for and whether you are an entrepreneur or an employee. However, in this article I will be addressing the topic of personal productivity which can be the game-changer for you if you decide to master it.

*A to-do list helps

Productivity in simple words is defined as the measure of your efficiency in performing some action. One of the things that works for me is writing down five to seven things that I need to accomplish in a day to feel successful and proud of myself. This feeling of accomplishment is important for feeling in charge of your life.

The tool called ‘to-do’ list has generated a lot of negative publicity that it does not work. This publicity obviously was started by people who were never serious about planning and running their day. Once things went haywire they complained about the tool rather than blaming the user of the tool.

* Focus and minimise distractions

How many hours can you work without checking your smartphone or social media? As a matter of practice, I check my phone only after having my meals and rest of the time, I switch off the mobile data. Friends, family and colleagues can reach me over calls on phone or official emails on laptop. I am embarrassed to admit that few years ago a diagnostic smartphone app actually shocked me. I was spending approximately four hours on smartphone and checking it about 300 times daily. The data was consistent and helped me change my phone habits. Smartphones are just one distraction and you need to manage multiple things like TV shows, partying, weddings and sports updates. I do not wish to be prescriptive but we all need to find the right balance between creation and consumption.

*  Stop multitasking

The human brain can do only thing at a time. Multi-tasking is a myth. Set your stakeholders’ expectations right and do not try to juggle too many balls at one time. Do not start five projects at once. Start one major and one minor project. Finish them and then move on to the next item on the agenda.

* Be mentally and emotionally aligned

When you do a task happily, you are very productive. Thus, in order to be productive at work, either do only what you love or love everything that you have to do. If your employer wants you to do something and if it cannot be avoided, then do it with a smile. Do not argue too much with people who pay you. You can try to change them through peaceful discussions or power-games, but if you cannot change them then simply change yourself or change your employer. Be emotionally sorted and mentally sharp in any task that you need to undertake. If you are having an exceptionally bad day, then practising gratitude can help you  feel aligned and make you productive.

* Be physically fit and move during the day

Your productivity depends on your ability to run your day in an organised and calm manner. If you stay hydrated and take the right nutrition, you will feel physically fit. Never overeat or take too much caffeine or sugar. Excess sugar, caffeine and overeating disturb the natural metabolism process. Always exercise for 30-60 minutes every day to stay alert and fit. So many people feel sleepy after the lunch hours and wait for the day to end. Never sit for longer for more than an hour at a stretch. Do a quick five-minute stretch and take a brisk walk break after every one hour.

* Delegate what others can do

You cannot be productive if you do not learn to delegate. If you have just started your career and have no one to delegate work to, then it is understandable that you have to do everything yourself. However, if you are a tenured manager than learn to delegate in life. Coach your junior to do what you are doing and move to a bigger challenge in or outside your company. This is the only way to grow financially and to maximise your productivity.

* Upgrade your skills and learn what pays in the market

We are living in a world of unprecedented economic and technological change. The skills that were considered essential for success in the previous decade may no longer guarantee winning in the current or the next decade. Take up the best internet courses and online classes to learn more about the future of your industry. What are the top three skills you must learn to be among the highest paid professional in your job or business?

Read and explore the subject of productivity. The above hacks may not be exhaustive but if practised daily they are enough to trigger a transformation in your life. Go beyond theory and make them part of your routine. My words may not change you but they can inspire you to change. Be inspired and take charge of your life.

Siddhartha S is an author of 5 books — '60 Keys to Success with NLP’, ‘Thank God it’s Monday’, and many others. He calls himself a ‘weekend writer’ and writes on how to attain peak performance in personal life. The views presented are strictly his personal views and cannot be attributed to any organisation he is or will be part of.

Courtesy - Indian Express

 

Significant improvements in positive mood and pain scores, as well as decreases in negative mood and anxiety, were observed, the researchers said. Patients perceived BVAI as overall positive (95 per cent) and wished to participate in future art-based interventions (85 per cent).

A brief bedside art therapy may improve mood and decrease the levels of pain and anxiety in patients with cancer, a study claims. In the study published in the European Journal of Cancer Care, a bedside visual art intervention (BVAI) facilitated by art educators improved mood and reduced pain and anxiety in inpatients with haematological cancers.

The study was conducted on 19 female and two male patients admitted to the inpatient bone marrow transplant and haematologic services at Mayo Clinic School of Medicine-Rochester in the US. They were invited to participate in a BVAI where the goal of the session was to teach art technique for about 30 minutes. Significant improvements in positive mood and pain scores, as well as decreases in negative mood and anxiety, were observed, the researchers said.

Patients perceived BVAI as overall positive (95 per cent) and wished to participate in future art-based interventions (85 per cent), they said. According to the researchers, the findings indicate that experiences provided by artists within the community may be an adjunct to conventional treatments in patients with cancer-related mood symptoms and pain.

Courtesy - Indian Express

Revered like a god at one point of time, the Manipur ‘polo’ pony now survives on scraps of garbage from the road.

On the side of the world’s oldest polo ground in Imphal, one of two large hoardings sends out a strong appeal to the public: “Save Manipuri pony, the original Polo pony.” The other, simply states, “We gave the world the game of Polo.” And they did. Modern polo can be rooted back to Manipur, and is derived from the indigenous game called Sagol Kangjei, originally played with Manipuri ponies. The animals, often considered the ‘pride of Manipur’ , are believed to be the descendents of Samadon Ayangba, the winged steed of Lord Marjing, one of the many deities in Manipuri mythology. They are warrior horses, among the  five equine breeds in the country.

Today, these animals, once revered as gods, are on the brink of extinction. As per the Quinquennial Livestock Census of India, conducted after every five years, the population of Manipuri pony has been dwindling since 2003, from a total of 1,898 ponies to only 1,011 in 2012. The census for 2017 is yet to
be conducted.

30 Deaths in 12 Months

As per a random survey conducted by Manipuri Pony Society (MPS) in 2014, with the support from Manipur Horse Riding and Polo Association (MHRPA), Manipur Equestrian Association (MEA) and all the polo clubs and some pony owners of Manipur, there are about 97 ponies at the temporary Pony sanctuary at Lamphelpat. “The four-month-long exercise could not reach some remote areas of the state. However, we could make a rough judgment that the population of the ponies would be less than 600 at the point of time,” says N Ibungochoubi, MPS secretary, “But the rate of death is much higher than the rate of birth and we fear that today the number of ponies must be even lesser than what we had presumed,” he said.

Road accidents and food poisoning are the two biggest factors for undesirably high fatality rate of the ponies. Rapid urbanisation has caused the natural habitats (grazing fields) of the ponies to dwindle, and they come out to the roads. Here, they  survive on the garbage and little patches of grazing ground left in and around valley. This leads to multiple diseases which gradually kills the breed. The MPS has recorded around 30 deaths of young colts in 2017 alone.

Earlier the Manipur government allotted two temporary sanctuaries for the ponies: one at Lamphelpat, Imphal West and the other in Marjing foothills, Imphal East. “The Lamphelpat’s sanctuary remained flooded throughout the rainy season while there was a shortage of fodder at the Heingang sanctuary—thus driving out ponies to the streets a usual,” said Homen Thangjam, a member of MHRPA.

A New Statue

The government declared the ‘Manipuri Pony’ as an endangered breed in 2013. Subsequently, in a bid to protect the horse breed, the government introduced the Manipuri Pony Conservation and Development Policy in 2016. However, the policy has failed to achieve anything substantial.

The MPS and other like-minded groups reportedly have been urging the government to demarcate natural habitats such as Lamphelpat and other favourable grounds in all the districts of Manipur and conserve them as open and free grazing grounds for the local animal including ponies.

K. Dhanachandra, secretary Manipuri Pony Owner and Players Association (MPOPA), said there are 16 clubs, comprising pony owners from different part of the states. But the clubs are getting no financial assistance from the government at the moment. “Unlike cattle, rearing ponies is not a lucrative business, the owners are doing so just for the love of the sports and the animal,” he said.

Despite the odds, constant efforts are made by NGOs like MPS, MHRPA and pony enthusiasts to popularise the game of polo, with the intention to preserve the endangered species. There are about 15 pony-related events organised by the MHRPA such as the International Polo Tournament, Governor’s Cup, State Equestrian Championship during the polo season from October to March before the onset of monsoon. These tournaments keep the tradition of the pony alive.

It is against this backdrop that the Manipur Chief Minister N Biren Singh has recently announced to develop Marjing Pony sanctuary, as a tourist destination where a 120-feet-high statue of the Manipuri pony will be erected, drawing flak from many quarters. “After all these years, when we thought the government had finally come to its senses, it is giving more emphasis on developing a statue by investing crores but not for the living ponies. What could be more disappointing than that?” said K Dhanachandra MPOPA secretary.

Courtesy - Indian Express

 

The findings, reported in the BMJ, show that artificial pancreas treatment provides almost two-and-a-half extra hours of normal blood glucose levels (normoglycaemia) a day, while reducing time in both high (hyperglycaemia) and low (hypoglycaemia) blood glucose levels.

Mimicking the way a dialysis machine works for kidney disease patients, an artificial pancreas can lead to better blood sugar control in diabetics, researchers from Oxford and Cambridge along with their Greek counterparts have reported.

The findings, reported in the BMJ, show that artificial pancreas treatment provides almost two-and-a-half extra hours of normal blood glucose levels (normoglycaemia) a day, while reducing time in both high (hyperglycaemia) and low (hypoglycaemia) blood glucose levels.

The researchers concluded: “Artificial pancreas systems are an efficacious and safe approach for treating outpatients with type 1 diabetes. The main limitations of current research evidence on artificial pancreas systems are related to inconsistency in outcome reporting, small sample size, and short follow-up duration of individual trials.”

Endocrinologists in India, however, expressed apprehensions that such a setup may be too expensive for a common patient.

Artificial pancreas is a system that measures blood sugar levels using a continuous glucose monitor (CGM) and transmits this information to an insulin pump that calculates and releases the required amount of insulin into the body, just as the pancreas does in people without diabetes. It is also possible to release glucagon, yet another pancreatic hormone, through a similar contraption; both insulin and glucagon can be delivered too. The system works only in those people whose diabetes is a result of deficiencies in their pancreas function, that is type I diabetes, in which the pancreas does not produce enough insulin to keep blood sugar levels within the normal range.

Said Dr Anoop Misra, Chairman, Fortis-C-DOC Centre of Excellence for Diabetes, Metabolic Diseases and Endocrinology, “Artificial pancreas is an exciting approach to better management of patients with type 1 diabetes, who often struggle with blood sugar control and multiple injections. However, most patients in India cannot even afford insulin pump (available in India), and artificial pancreas will cost more, putting it out of reach.”

Courtesy - Indian Express

 

Saturday, 24 March 2018 16:40

Poor dental health linked to diabetes risk

For the study, researchers reviewed the records of 9,670 adults with 20 years of age and above who were examined by dentists during the 2009-2014 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.

You may be at an increased risk of diabetes if you are not taking care of your dental health, warns a new study which suggests that dental examination may provide a way to identify the risk for developing the disease.

“We found a progressive positive relationship between worsening glucose tolerance and the number of missing teeth,” said lead author Raynald Samoa from the City of Hope National Medical Center in Duarte, California.

For the study, presented at the ENDO 2018: The Endocrine Society’s 100th Annual Meeting and Expo, researchers reviewed the records of 9,670 adults with 20 years of age and above who were examined by dentists during the 2009-2014 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.

They analysed their reported body mass index (BMI) and glucose tolerance states by fasting plasma glucose, two-hour post-challenge plasma glucose, hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c), established diabetes and whether the condition was treated with oral agents or insulin.

The researchers recorded the numbers of missing teeth due to caries, or cavities, and periodontal disease for individual patients.

They also determined the relationship between glucose tolerance and dental condition by considering age, gender, racial and ethnic group, family history of diabetes, smoking status, alcohol consumption, education and poverty index.

The researchers found a progressive increase in the number of patients with missing teeth as glucose tolerance declined, from 45.57 per cent in the group with normal glucose tolerance (NGT), to 67.61 per cent in the group with abnormal glucose tolerance (AGT), to 82.87 per cent in the group with diabetes mellitus (DM).

The differences in the average number of missing teeth among the three glucose tolerance groups were significant: 2.26 in the NGT group, 4.41 in the AGT group and 6.80 in those with DM, the researchers noted.

Courtesy - Indian Express

"People say classical music is dying. I feel it will always survive. It was composed by humans, to be performed by humans, to be listened to by humans. The number of people could be less, but they will always need it", says the pianist expert.

Saying classical music makes one feel on a higher plane, a visiting Moroccan pianist contends that “there hasn’t been a terrorist or someone committing a crime after coming from a classical music concert”. “One thing I can say: That there hasn’t been a terrorist or someone committing a crime after coming from a classical music concert. You can’t say the same about pop concerts. Classical (music) elevates the soul. You feel richer. You feel in the higher sphere. Pop can sometimes bring out the violent elements of one’s personality,” said Marouan Benabdallah, a Moroccan musician who is a big name in his country and who recently performed in India. “Classical music is universal. It doesn’t belong to one nation or one culture.” Benabdallah was four years old when he started playing the piano which, according to a research, demands more skill than any other instrument. The 35-year-old feels that the instrument is complex to an extent that a complete orchestra can be played on it.

“When you start learning to play the piano, it is not that difficult and results come quickly. It becomes more and more complex with time and you realise that you can play the whole orchestra on it,” the musician told IANS in an interview after his concert here at the India Islamic Cultural Centre. “My mother is a music teacher. She used to give lessons at home… students were there, the piano was there in front of me all the time,” he said, adding: “It was absolutely natural for me to start playing it.”

Understanding the nuances of the instrument, he said, takes a lifetime. “You can reach a certain point. Once you reach there, there is always a higher point in terms of the sensibility of music and the instrument you play. Today when I look back, I feel I have improved a lot. There are people, I know, who haven’t,” he laughed. “It is like an ongoing journey that will end only after death.” At his Delhi performance, the musician brought to the capital works by classical composers from the Arab world — from war-torn Syria to Lebanon, from Algeria, Morocco’s political rival in north Africa, to Egypt and, of course, his native Morocco.

One of his curious experiences while performing in India, which he has visited a fair number of times, was that the audience starts trickling in late and the printed time is not necessarily the time he gets to start his show because, like in Chandigarh once, only one couple was in the audience when he came on stage. Talking of classical piano compositions, he said they were different from other forms of music. “You cannot listen to it while playing football, or in the gym. It is not the music that masses demand — the music that doesn’t need much focus.”

Benabdallah described the classical music genre as universal and richer than other genres. “People say classical music is dying. I feel it will always survive. It was composed by humans, to be performed by humans, to be listened to by humans. The number of people could be less, but they will always need it.” He said the genre needs more support. “Music companies are not looking at it. It is surviving on its own without any support. “It needs patrons, music lovers, and art lovers and not (music) companies looking at their finances.”

Courtesy - Indian Express

Saturday, 24 March 2018 16:33

Sadist people more likely to seek vengeance

By gaining a deeper understanding of what drives certain people to seek revenge, researchers will be able to create profiles that could be used to identify those who are most likely to commit violence in the future and intervene.

People who enjoy hurting others and seeing them in pain are more likely to seek revenge against those who have wronged them, a study has found. Researchers from Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) in the US found that sadism is the dominant personality trait that explains why certain people are more likely than others to seek vengeance.

“We wanted to paint a picture of the personality of the type of person who seeks revenge. Were all slighted in our daily lives, but some of us seek revenge and some of us do not,” said David Chester, assistant professor at VCU.

“The core of what we found is that the person who seeks revenge is a person who tends to enjoy it,” Chester said.
The researchers conducted three studies involving 673 students in which participants filled out questionnaires that have been validated to predict a persons real-life behaviour.

They were asked to say whether they agree or disagree to a variety of statements, such as “Anyone who provokes me deserves the punishment that I give” and “If Im wronged, I cant live with myself until I revenge.”

By gaining a deeper understanding of what drives certain people to seek revenge, researchers will be able to create profiles that could be used to identify those who are most likely to commit violence in the future and intervene.
“Identifying who is most at risk for seeking revenge is really important to do in order to intervene before they engage in harmful acts and start to hurt other people in retaliation,” Chester said.

Courtesy - Indian Express

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