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PostPosted: Wed Jan 28, 2015 1:05 pm 
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Sugary drinks risky for young girls: study

Girls who consume lots of sugary drinks start menstruating at a younger age, a study says.

The findings are important because early onset of menstruation is linked to a higher risk of breast cancer in later life, the paper says, although other experts see flaws in the probe.

Writing in the journal Human Reproduction on Wednesday, researchers said they had monitored the health of more than 5500 US girls between 1996 and 2001.

They had been part of a wider study involving nearly 17,000 children.

The girls were aged between nine and 14 when they joined the project and had not yet started their periods.

During the five-year study, those who drank between one-and-a-half servings of sweetened drinks per day had their first period 2.7 months earlier than those who had two or fewer sweet drinks a week, the investigators found.

The earlier menstruation occurred regardless of the girls' height-to-weight ratio - their body mass index - their calorie intake and exercise.

"Our study adds to increasing concern about the widespread consumption of sugar-sweetened drinks in the USA and elsewhere," said Karin Michels of Harvard Medical School, who led the study.

The average age for first menstruation was 12 years and seven months.

A 2.7-month earlier onset translates into a "modest impact" on breast cancer risk, the study said.

Previous work had found that starting menstruating one year earlier increases the cancer risk by about five per cent.

Doctors are already concerned about a separate issue - the ever-earlier onset of puberty in young girls, which remains unexplained.

The latest study was based on statistics, and was not intended to explore the causes.

The authors point to previous research that says high, swift doses of sugar cause a rapid increase in levels of the hormone insulin, which in turn has a knock-on effect on concentrations of sex hormones.

The group of girls in the study was 93 per cent white, and the amount of sweetened drinks they consumed "is likely low" compared with that of other groups, the researchers said.

Sweetened beverages comprised non-diet sodas, non-carbonated fruit-based drinks and sweetened ice tea.

A serving was classified as one can or glass.

Independent commentators were cautious of the findings, pointing in particular at the source of the data.

It was the girls themselves, or their parents, who reported on body size and drink consumption - a method famously prone to error.

"It's fair to ask whether the self-reporting on height is a bit over-estimated and whether on weight it is under-estimated," said Michel Colle, a paediatrician in Bordeaux, southwestern France.

"If so, this would completely distort the BMI and thus the conclusions themselves."

Ieuan Hughes, a paediatrician at Britain's University of Cambridge, said the study also failed to factor in the children's location, parents' occupation and whether they were migrants - other potential factors.

"The reference to breast cancer is overly alarmist," he said.

http://www.sbs.com.au/news/article/2015 ... irls-study


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PostPosted: Sat Jan 31, 2015 11:48 am 
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CSIRO dietary research shows children who don’t eat dairy for breakfast aren’t getting enough

CHILDREN who don’t eat dairy foods for breakfast fail to catch up on their ­nutritional requirements throughout the day, the latest ­CSIRO dietary research shows.

The CSIRO study found children who have milk, cheese or ­yoghurt in the morning go on to eat one-third more dairy for the rest of the day than those who don’t.

In total over the day, dairy intake for those having dairy at breakfast was 2.4 serves — more than double the 1.1 serves for children who did not consume any until later in the day.

One serve equates to 250ml of milk, 200ml of yoghurt, or two slices of cheese.

The findings, based on data from more than 4400 Australian children, reinforced ­nutritional advice that breakfast is a critical time for putting milk, cheese and yoghurt on the menu for growing youngsters.

About 60 per cent of kids aged two to 16 fail to meet the dairy intake recommendations of the Australian Dietary Guidelines for the dairy food group, jeopardising crucial bone development.

CSIRO lead researcher Malcolm Riley said that with school back for the year, his group’s findings were a timely reminder that good nutrition begins at home.

“Children need to increase their dairy intake as they grow,” he said. “Unfortunately, despite their increased requirements, we know dairy foods feature less and less at breakfast time as children get older, and this is a major concern.”

He said the study found those most at risk of not having dairy foods at breakfast — and thus those less likely to achieve the recommended daily intake — were typically girls, children who do not eat until after 9am and those who ate away from home. “Those most likely to start the day with dairy were boys in the younger age group who ate breakfast at home before 9am.

“Dairy foods … contain a package of essential nutrients including calcium for strong bones, protein for growth and development, riboflavin for eyesight, iodine for brain function and more.”

Dairy Australia dietitian Emma Glassenbury highlighted the importance of a proper breakfast so kids avoid playing “catch up” throughout the day.

“What’s concerning is most Aussie kids are missing out on essential nutrients naturally provided by milk, cheese and yoghurt at a critical time of growth and development.”

The minimum daily recommended number of serves of dairy for boys is 2 serves age 4-8, 2.5 serves age 9-11 and 3.5 serves age 12-18; and for girls is 1.5 serves age 4-8, 3 serves age 9-11 and 3.5 serves age 12-18.

http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/n ... ea32b3fcd3


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PostPosted: Tue Feb 03, 2015 8:40 am 
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Labor’s plan to let pharmacists vaccinate

NSW Opposition Leader Luke Foley has announced that a Labor Government will allow - for the first time - properly-trained pharmacists to administer flu vaccinations to healthy adults.

This will improve the general health in the community; reduce doctor visits and hospital admissions; and improve productivity in the State's economy.

Under Labor's policy, trained pharmacists would be allowed to deliver influenza vaccinations to healthy people aged between 18 and 65 for a standard charge.

The influenza vaccine is generally considered to be up to 90% effective in preventing influenza illness for six to 12 months in healthy adults.

Currently in NSW, flu immunisations can only be administered by doctors and nurses.

All pharmacists administering vaccinations will be required to complete a two-day training course accredited by NSW Health. The training will include first aid, CPR and administration of adrenalin and managing anaphylaxis. Participating pharmacists will also be required to hold appropriate professional indemnity insurance and to have a private consultation area on their premises.

This will complement free flu vaccines under the National Immunisation Program provided by GPs to high-risk groups including all people 65 and older, pregnant women, people with chronic conditions and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders aged 15 and older.

"This is a new approach. It is a practical and sensible approach to reducing health costs and protecting the community. Overseas studies have found that pharmacist provided vaccinations were effective in targeting men who did not usually take the preventative measure," Mr Foley said.

"Allowing trained pharmacists to administer adult flu vaccines is a preventative health measure.

"The public health imperative is that we must get more people vaccinated - and pharmacists offer a safe, convenient and cost-effective way of delivering that outcome.

"Since their introduction, vaccinations have saved millions of lives and influenza is the classic vaccine-preventable disease.

"In addition, the best way to protect vulnerable groups such as the elderly and pregnant women is to vaccinate the healthy people around them."

Mr Foley added that last year, NSW Health reported 15,700 cases of influenza strain A and 2,500 cases of influenza strain B.

Nationally, influenza accounts for 18,404 hospitalisations and up to 3457 deaths a year - and tackling the disease costs the Australian health system $115 million.

The NSW Business Chamber estimates that the flu season can cost the NSW economy more than $482 million.

http://www.dailyexaminer.com.au/news/la ... e/2530089/


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 05, 2015 12:11 pm 
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Your supplement might be a sham

NEW YORK (MarketWatch) — DNA tests on some store-brand herbal supplements showed that nearly four of five didn’t have the ingredients listed on the labels, and a large number didn’t have a botanical substance of any kind, according to findings from the New York state attorney general’s office.

Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced the results Tuesday as he asked GNC Holdings Inc. GNC, -1.71% Target Corp. TGT, -0.28% Wal-Mart Stores Inc. WMT, +0.53% and Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc. WBA, -0.16% which owns Duane Reade, to stop sales of store-brand herbal supplements that either had ingredients that couldn't be verified or had ingredients not on the labels.

The letters, sent Monday, call for the retailers to immediately stop the sale of certain popular products, including Echinacea, Ginseng, St. John’s Wort, and others.

Wal-Mart fared worst in the tests, with just 4% of its products tested confirming the DNA from plants on the products’ labels. Overall, 79% of all DNA test ordered by his office didn’t verify DNA of plants on the products’ labels.

In addition, 35% of the product tests identified DNA bar codes from plant species not listed on the labels, representing contaminants and fillers, according to Schneiderman. Some of the contaminants identified include rice, beans, pine, citrus, asparagus, primrose, wheat, houseplant, wild carrot, and others, his office said. In many cases, unlisted contaminants were the only plant material found in the product samples.

Overall, 390 tests involving 78 samples were performed.

GNC said it stands by the “quality, purity and potency” of its products, which it said it tests using “validated and widely used testing methods.” It criticized the testing methods but said it will comply with the order.

Wal-Mart also later responded, saying testing done by its suppliers hadn’t identified issues with its products, but added that it plans to comply with the Attorney General’s order to stop selling those supplements.

On Wednesday, Target said it is working with its vendors to investigate questionable supplements, noting that it plans on pulling dicey products from its shelves at all of its stores.

Representatives for Walgreen’s couldn’t immediately be reached.

The Council for Responsible Nutrition, an industry trade group for dietary supplements, called the order “a self-serving publicity stunt under the guise of protecting public health” and said the type of test ordered could be wrong for these products.

“Supposed concerns about the products in question are based on a novel testing method that has been roundly criticized by botanical scientists who question whether DNA barcoding technology is an appropriate or validated test for determining the presence of herbal ingredients in finished botanical products,” it said. “Processing during manufacturing of botanical supplements can remove or damage DNA.”

http://www.marketwatch.com/story/your-h ... 2015-02-03


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PostPosted: Sun Feb 08, 2015 9:29 am 
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Anti-Vaccine Doctor Jack Wolfson ‘Didn’t Care’ If His Kid Infected Yours: Now He’s Under Investigation

Anti-vaccine doctor Jack Wolfson made waves earlier this week when CNN reported his comments critical of immunization.

It’s somewhat unusual in the established medical community to see someone speak out against the good that vaccines do, but when it happens, it rarely makes national news.

Not the case with Wolfson, and that probably owes more to how he said what he said than it does to his basic belief that parents shouldn’t have to vaccinate children, even if it means other kids could get deathly ill.

Before going any further, here’s the exact wording of the previous interview, which the Inquisitrreported on Monday.

First, the CNN reporter asked him this question.

“Could you live with yourself if your child got another child sick — I mean really sick? Complications, even death? Could you live with yourself?”

Here’s what the anti-vaccine doctor had to say.

“I could live with myself very easily. It’s a very unfortunate thing that people die but unfortunately, people die, and I’m not going to put my child at risk to save another child. I’m not going to sacrifice the well-being of my child. My child is pure. It’s not my responsibility to be protecting their child.”

Needless to say, that soundbite made waves, hitting the front page of Reddit and staying there for more than a day. Most commenters were furious with Wolfson, though he did also have his supporters.

Fast forward five days, and now it appears that Wolfson is done talking. According to an updated report from CNN, the anti-vaccine doctor stopped taking questions and even called the police on their news van.

The news site speculates that Wolfson may have stopped talking because the Arizona Medical Board “has opened against him.”

“Parents following advice like those Wolfson gives are at the core of the U.S. outbreak,” writes Ben Brumfield, adding that “some doctors have advocated that medical licenses be revoked for recommendations like his.”

The AMB confirmed that it had received two complaints against Wolfson, but stopped short of disclosing the nature of those complaints.

Prior to calling the police, Wolfson was cornered outside of his clinic.

“Can we talk about the investigation?” asked CNN’s Kyung Lah.

“I have no comment,” he said.

“Are you changing your opinion about vaccinations?” she asked.

He remained silent.

http://www.inquisitr.com/1821059/anti-v ... stigation/


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 11, 2015 11:27 am 
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Health risks for obese mothers and their babies can be reversed

Health risks for overweight mothers and their babies are caused by damage to egg cells and may be reversible, scientists in Australia have said.

Obese and overweight women are more likely to have fertility problems and also have an increased risk of miscarriage, while their children are more likely to suffer from birth defects, or to be obese themselves later in life.

Why this happens has not been fully understood, but in a study in mice, scientists at the University of Adelaide found that obesity leads to damage to the mitochondria – the vital energy-producing parts of cells.

All our mitochondria come from our mother. The researchers found that the eggs of obese mice produced heavier than normal foetuses, with reduced amounts of mitochondrial DNA to their offspring.

Once they had determined the cell-level chemical stresses that were causing the damage in obese mothers, researchers were able to identify compounds known to alleviate these effects. These were “highly successful” in stopping cell damage caused by obesity being passed down to offspring, they said.

The discovery holds out the possibility of a treatment that could restore “natural fertility” to obese mothers, said associate professor Rebecca Robker, lead author of the study. “It’s now well established that obesity in females leads to very serious fertility problems, including the inability to conceive. Obesity can also result in altered growth of babies during pregnancy, and it permanently programmes the metabolism of offspring, passing the damage caused by obesity from one generation to the next.

“In our laboratory studies, we’ve been able to unravel a key mechanism that leads to this multi-generational damage, and we’ve found a way to stop it happening.”

Professor Adam Balen, a leading expert in reproductive medicine at the University of Leeds, and chair of the British Fertility Society, said that while any drug treatment was a long way off, the findings were “very interesting”.

He said: “This information reinforces the need for women to be nutritionally healthy before they get pregnant.”

http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style ... 37068.html


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PostPosted: Sat Feb 14, 2015 1:06 pm 
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Stress May Be Linked To Worse Recovery In Women After Heart Attack

New research suggests that stress makes it more difficult for women to recover from a heart attack.

Researchers at Yale University found that young and middle-aged women experience more stress than their male counterparts, which could contribute to worse recovery from acute myocardial infarction (AMI).

"Women tend to report greater stress and more stressful life events than men, potentially because of their different roles in family life and work, as compared to men," Xiao Xu, first author of the study, said in a statement. "This difference in the level of stress may be an important reason for sex-based differences in recovery after acute myocardial infarction."

For the study, Xu and colleagues collected and analyzed data from the Variation in Recovery: Role of Gender Outcomes on Young AMI Patients (VIRGO) study, which involved a diverse network of 103 hospitals in the United States, 24 in Spain and 3 in Australia from 2008 to 2012.

They found that compared with men, women had significantly higher rates of diabetes, chronic lung disease, chronic renal dysfunction, depression, and cancer, as well as previous stents, congestive heart failure, and stroke. Women were also more likely to have children or grandchildren living in their household, while experiencing greater financial strain.

"This study is distinctive in focusing particularly on young women and going beyond traditional predictors of risk to reveal how the context of these people's lives influences their prognosis," Harlan M. Krumholz, senior author of the study, said in a statement. "Helping patients develop positive attitudes and coping skills for stressful situations may not only improve their psychological well-being, but also help recovery after AMI. Stress management interventions that recognize and address different sources of stress for men and women would be beneficial."

The findings are detailed in the journal Circulation.

http://www.universityherald.com/article ... attack.htm


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PostPosted: Tue Feb 17, 2015 6:29 pm 
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Looking for that fruit or vegetable that might prevent cancer?

Blueberries. Green tea. Tomatoes. And, oh, that cruciferous cauliflower. All make the lists of super foods that might help prevent cancer. Then there are the foods such as smoked meat and fried foods that supposedly might cause cancer. Such information is standard fare for TV doctors and Web sites, but most of us don’t know how to judge such claims.

What sounds authoritative may not be. Only about half of the recommendations on two internationally syndicated TV medical talk shows were supported by scientific evidence, according to a recent study in the journal BMJ.

“The messages that the public is getting are bits and pieces, without the big picture,” said Walter Willett, chair of the Department of Nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health. “It’s sort of the Wild West out there in terms of what people hear about nutrition and cancer.”

Of course, the blueberries we eat today are good for us. But nutrition’s role in cancer prevention is much more complex than a single dietary component: Evidence has mounted, for example, that lifestyle — diet, weight control and exercise — is vital in helping reduce risk. For now, experts endorse general dietary advice that is healthful for a variety of chronic diseases and conditions, rather than reductionist thinking that focuses on single foods or nutrients.

Reductionist thinking neglects the broader approaches of cancer nutrition research, including eating patterns and the mechanisms of microbiology. The quest now is for answers about nutrition’s relationship to the many challenges of cancers, challenges that go beyond any individual study.

Cancer is complicated

When you hear that a certain food helps prevent cancer, ask: Which cancer? “Cancer is multiple diseases,” said Marian Neuhouser, a nutritional epidemiologist at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle.

Whereas cardiovascular disease might be broken down into several types, including myocardial infarction, stroke and peripheral vascular disease, she said, “for cancer, it’s really over 100 different diseases.”

“Cancer is a very complex, very challenging disease to study whether you’re looking at it on the cell level or the clinical level or the epidemiologic and preventive level,” Willett said.

Cancer occurs when abnormal cells divide uncontrollably. But one cannot assume that all cancers operate in the same way, said Geoffrey Kabat, a cancer epidemiologist at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York. Different cancers can have somewhat different risk factors, which may or may not overlap: The cancers linked to tobacco, for example, might differ from those linked to radiation.

Researchers caution about overreacting to a single study. New findings come out every week, but “we never take any one study to be the answer to anything,” said Nancy Potischman, a nutritional epidemiologist at the National Cancer Institute. Only if the same results come up in multiple studies across multiple populations, “then you might think that, yes, this food might be important,” she said.

While it’s relatively easy to see the effect of a food on a lab animal, it’s difficult to study humans, who put variety on their plates. Population studies query participants about what they eat and follow them through a time period. Clinical trials might have a group that eats a certain food or nutrient and a control group that doesn’t consume that food, but these studies are very expensive, specific and hard to organize and maintain. Sometimes findings that are promising in early research don’t prove to be definitive in follow-up studies.

A yen for super foods

Still, we yen for super foods — and nutrients. For a while, attention focused on folic acid, which didn’t quite live up to all its hopes, at least for cancer. Now there’s a great deal of interest in vitamin D.

“There’s a process of making hypotheses and testing them,” said Jo L. Freudenheim, a professor of epidemiology and environmental health at the State University of New York at Buffalo. “To the extent this goes out to the public, it can lead to unreasonable expectations.” And that can set off the next new fad.

Tobacco use remains the leading preventable cause of cancer incidence and death worldwide. After tobacco, the lifestyle trio of diet, weight control and exercise may be linked to one-third to two-thirds of cancers.

“They’re inseparable,” Neuhouser said. “You can have a great diet and you can have a healthy weight, but if you’re extremely sedentary then there’s a risk.”

Excess weight link

And there’s a strong link between excess weight and several kinds of cancer, including the esophagus, breast (after menopause), endometrium, colon and rectum, kidney, pancreas, thyroid, gallbladder, according to the NCI. Exercise helps balance calories consumed and calories burned.

Evidence mounts about how lifestyle may affect risk of cancer.

In the largest study of its kind, nearly half a million Americans were evaluated for adherence to American Cancer Society cancer prevention guidelines that include smoking avoidance; a healthful, consistent weight; physical activity; limiting alcohol; and a diet emphasizing plants.

Those who followed the guidelines most closely had lowered risk of developing cancer (10 percent for men, 19 percent for women) and dying from cancer (25 percent for men, 24 percent for women) compared with those whose habits were least in line with the guidelines. Most striking was the reduction of overall risk of dying: 26 percent for men, 33 percent for women during the 14-year study period.

The lifestyle impact

Fourteen types of cancer seemed affected by lifestyle behavior, most particularly gallbladder, endometrial, liver and colorectal. For men and women, a healthful weight and physical activity were the top factors in reduced deaths overall. Albert Einstein College of Medicine Researchers published this analysis online in January in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, based on data from a National Institutes of Health/AARP study.

Kabat, the study’s lead author, said that these results, while encouraging, might be explained by unknown factors: Those who best follow guidelines might be particularly health-conscious and have good access to health care. But overall, the findings affirm decades of other studies showing that “maintaining a healthy weight, physical activity and maybe certain aspects of diet are associated with better health,” he said.

Dietary patterns

Another approach to cancer and nutrition considers dietary patterns. “What we eat on any one day is not going to change our cancer risk, but it’s the pattern over the long term.” Neuhouser said. Several diets that emphasized fruit, vegetables, whole grains and plants or plant-based proteins were analyzed against information collected over more than 12 years from nearly 64,000 post-menopausal women in the Women’s Health Initiative Observational Study. Consuming a high-quality diet was associated with lower death rates from chronic diseases including cancer, as reported last year in the American Journal of Epidemiology.

Food and timing

For researchers in the field of developmental nutrition, the quest is not what you eat, but when you eat it.

“We don’t fully understand whether or not there are certain periods of life which are more important to have healthy aspects of the three pillars” of diet, exercise and weight, Neuhouser said.

For breast cancer, for example, researchers are looking at nutrition at birth and time of first period through first pregnancy, Freudenheim said.

Evidence is increasing that eating red meat in high school might have a bearing on the development of some kinds of breast cancer decades later, Willett said. Also, alcohol consumption by young women may raise the risk of breast cancer later in life.

Greater understanding of metabolism might offer clues to how cancer cells develop, according to the National Cancer Institute’s Potischman. Metabolomics is an emerging branch of science that focuses on metabolites, the substances produced through digestion and other bodily processes.

The bacteria, viruses and other organisms that live in and on humans seem to play a bigger role in health and disease than was previously understood, Freudenheim said. How the countless microbes in such areas as the gut and the mouth might contribute to or prevent cancers is one of the open questions in the new area of study of the microbiome, which refers to the many organisms in the body, 10 percent of which are human and 90 percent nonhuman.

Personalized diet advice?

Nutrigenetics considers what we eat, the components in our foods and their interactions with genetic processes. Regarding diet, “right now we’re making blanket recommendations, but one size doesn’t fit all,” says Stephen Hursting, a professor of nutrition at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He said that someday research on our genetic and biochemical differences might lead to personalized dietary recommendations to reduce cancer risk.

When considering links between cancer and nutrition, “one shouldn’t lose the big picture by focusing on: Is green tea going to be a magic bullet?” Kabat said. “It’s unlikely to be.”

But, he said, healthful lifestyle habits can make a difference.

“There’s no reason to believe they can do any harm, and there’s a lot of either hard evidence or suggestive evidence that they will do good.”

And a balanced understanding of the research behind it all is a perfect complement to a balanced lifestyle.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/ ... story.html


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 19, 2015 1:42 pm 
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Cynata up 66pc on US result

SHARES in Melbourne-based stem cell manufacturer Cynata Therapeutics climbed 66 per cent this morning after the company’s “world-first” technology passed a key test in the US.

Cynata claims to have found a way of mass-producing “mesenchymal” stem cells, which are being used in about 300 current studies into treatments for various diseases.

While many stem cells are tailored to specific clients or diseases, Cynata’s aim is to generate an off-the-shelf variety for widespread use. Its approach also avoids some of the key problems of the mainstream techniques — the pain and inconvenience of bone marrow extractions, and the ethical objections to the harvesting of embryonic stem cells.

The company says the approach can also generate an unlimited supply of cells from a single blood donation, overcoming the need to find and screen new donors.

Cynata today reported that its technique had received the tick of approval from a Wisconsin biotech. “Extensive trials at Waisman Biomanufacturing have now confirmed this process is capable of producing mesenchymal stem cells for therapeutic application, consistently, efficiently and economically,” it said.

The company will now scale up manufacturing and expedite its clinical trial programs, it said.

Following the announcement, shares in the company rose 27 cents to 68 cents.

CEO Ross Macdonald said Cynata had demonstrated the ability to make stem cells at industrial scale in a “good manufacturing process” environment. “We look forward to aggressively pursuing commercial applications for this game-changing therapeutic technology,” Dr Macdonald said.

He said one of the big issues facing regenerative medicine companies was how to produce enough stem cells consistently, reproducibly and economically for clinical and commercial benefit.

The company is planning an early stage clinical trial using its stem cells to treat people with “graft-versus-host” disease, a potentially fatal condition affecting bone marrow transplant recipients.

Earlier this month the company announced a deal with the University of Western Australia to trial the cells on people with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, an incurable lung disease.

http://www.theaustralian.com.au/busines ... 7225505506


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PostPosted: Sun Feb 22, 2015 9:07 am 
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Flexercise: do real runners take walking breaks?

I am the world's laziest runner. It's less run and more a mash up of walking, jogging, skipping and sprinting.

It's hedonistic exercise, but I rarely miss a day and I always look forward to it because there's flexibility in it and I drive when I have it in me and drift when I don't.

Flexercise is how I made it happily through the half marathon, the bridge run and the City to Surf.

I can't really call myself a real runner though, can I?

Real runners don't take walking breaks, do they? They certainly don't skip.

Or do they?

Jen A. Miller, the author of Running: A Love Story, reckons they do.

Like me, she initially thought the idea was ridiculous.

"When a runner friend suggested I run my first distance race by adding walk breaks, the idea startled me," she writes in The New York Times. "I didn't think you were allowed to walk in races, not if you wanted to be a real runner."

She felt like a failure after racing in five marathons and walking for periods in four of them.

"I should have been charging the finish line in a blaze of glory with my hands thrown triumphantly over my head. Instead I dragged myself across the final timing mats," she says.

"A shroud of failure hung over me during those races and for weeks after, a sense that I wasn't a real runner, that I had given up."

Then she did her research.

She discovered a study in the Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport that found those taking regular walking breaks during a race can finish at the same time as those who run the whole way.

And the ones who didn't flog themselves the whole way suffered far less wear and tear of their bodies.

The study followed 42 runners as they trained for three months for their first marathons.

The runners were divided into two groups: those who would run the whole way and those who would take 60-second walking breaks every 2.5 kilometres.

Despite the different paces, both groups finished the marathon in similar times with the walk breakers reporting less fatigue and muscle pain after the event.

"Most people think that if you walk in a marathon race, you will need much more time to finish," said Kuno Hottenrott, a professor of sports science at the Martin Luther University of Halle-Wittenberg in Germany and lead author of the study.

But, as Hottenrott was surprised to find, this is not necessarily the case.

"Since running a marathon is as much of a physical as well as a mental challenge, it is for a runner mentally easier to break the marathon distance down into smaller parts and focus on one segment at a time, instead of looking at the whole marathon distance."

Interestingly, it's even possible to drop your time by incorporating regular walk breaks. Former Olympic runner Jeff Galloway says you can finish as much as seven minutes faster in a half marathon if you add in walk breaks to rejuvenate.

Miller no longer stresses about whether or not she's a 'real' runner.

In her coming races, which will accumulate to more kms than a marathon over the course of one weekend, her game plan is simple.

"I've returned to that proven strategy: nine minutes of running, followed by one minute of walking," she says. "Repeat. Repeat. Repeat."

For me, I've got the 55km Coastrek walk next. There might not be any sprinting involved, but it's still a decent distance to get through. I think I'll take a flexercise approach; you can expect to see skipping.

And when I next race or pop out for a canter, I might be a counterfeit 'real' runner for not flogging it the whole way, but if going the distance and enjoying it counts, it'll be the real deal.

http://www.smh.com.au/lifestyle/diet-an ... 3l5j5.html


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