Toronto: A new oral medication is showing significant progress in restoring vision to patients having an inherited retinal disease which causes visual impairment ranging from reduced vision to complete blindness.
Until now, the disease called Leber Congenital Amaurosis (LCA) has been untreatable.
“This is the first time that an oral drug has improved the visual function of blind patients with LCA,” said the study’s lead author Robert Koenekoop from McGill University Health Centre (RI-MUHC) in Montreal, Canada.
“By giving patients with RPE65 or LRAT mutations an oral retinoid intermediate (QLT091001), most patients’ vision improved rapidly,” Koenekoop said.
“We discovered that a certain portion of the retinal cells that were not working because of the lack of 11-cis retinal could be woken up,” Koenekoop noted.
The study, published in The Lancet, involved 14 participants from around the world with LCA ranging in age from six to 38 years old.
Their blindness was caused by either mutations in the genes RPE65 or LRAT, leading to a serious defect in the retinoid cycle.
Ten out of the 14 patients expanded their visual fields; others improved their visual acuity.
“The drug changed my life,” Jargen who was enrolled in the MUHC study, along with others from North America, Europe, China and Brazil, said.
“My visual acuity and visual field increased significantly. I can now go by myself into a shopping centre or to the airport and even take the metro, which were unthinkable for me before. I hope many people can access the drug in a near future,” JArgen added.
Parenting: MIND YOUR MIND
Q- I am college drop out and am struggling with strange experiences since childhood. My mother has schizophrenia and was always in her own world and my grandmother looked after me and her. I do not remember being hugged or cuddled by either of them and have seen my grandmother working consistently, complaining and worrying. Often, I was the target of her outburst. In school, I never had friends and would feel comfortable being with myself. I feel something is missing and do not know how to sort myself out. Once, in Grade 7 I was referred to a counsellor, but I felt odd and did not talk to her- ST
Dear ST, It takes a lot of courage to share your story and having the clarity that there is something amiss and you need help. I really appreciate your first step. A childhood bereft of emotional bonding and loving care, is indeed lonely and hard. However, your ability to connect your present distress to your experiences and being aware of it, highlights the possibility of better times to come. Emotional Neglect is a parent’s or caregiver’s failure to act.
It’s a failure to notice, attend to, or respond appropriately to a child’s feelings. In your case, your mother’s illness did not let her feel and express her natural maternal instincts and it appears that your grandmother was overwhelmed with responsibilities and stress of being the only support to two dependents. Emotional neglect is generally unrecognized by the child until symptoms begin to appear in adulthood, as happened with you. The ideal response for you would be to seek one on one psychotherapy. Although, it was difficult for you to share with your counsellor earlier in school, but with present realization of something amiss; it would become easier to share and get support.
However, till you take the appointment and begin with identifying your feelings and needs. Try to label the exact feeling and list your strengths. Plan and work out the connection of your strengths with your goals or needs. Take one small step at a time and spend time doing constructive activities that make you feel good, such as exercise, a sport, a hobby, or volunteering at a place that interests you. Remember, your feelings matter! All these activities would provide opportunities to meet new people with similar interests. Make sure to have regular short and sweet conversations with people, gradually it would get easier and longer.
The more you focus on constructive, healthy ways of self-care, you would soon begin to experience the feelings. Try sharing your grandmother’s work load and help her in domestic chores, sharing domestic expenses through your income (if none, take a part time job) and your mother’s care.
Q -I am a mother of a nine months old baby. My husband’s job keeps him out of town for days and sometimes the whole week. Since my son’s birth; I have been unable to sleep due to his disturbed sleep at night. He has started to sleep for most of the night for past 3 to 4 months but somehow my sleep is lost! I am unable to have a sound sleep since then. It takes me hours of tossing and turning before I fall asleep and often the fear of my son waking up to disturb my sleep weighs heavy on my mind. When I get up in the morning on my son’s cry or movement; it is a struggle. In fact, the entire day I feel tired; until again the night when I am unable to sleep. I am scared to take sleeping pills, as the doctor has prescribed. -AT
Dear AT, It appears that you are stressed out due to single-handedly raising your infant. The good part is that he is grown out of the stage of inconsistent or short sleep patterns and now has a regular time of sleep and waking up. Please try to match your baby’s sleep time with yours. The prescription could be discussed with the doctor by raising your concerns of side effects or other aspects. Along with that, you can try psychotherapy and discuss the reasons for stress, the fears you have regarding your son’s night time waking, etc. Meanwhile, try a few of the following tips; such as spending the last hour before bed doing a calming activity such as reading, listening to meditative music, avoiding electronics, doing some physical exercise during the day.
DISCLAIMER: The answers given in this column are not to be taken as a professional psychotherapy service. It is completely educational in nature. Please note that each individual’s situation is different and one must consult a therapist for psychotherapy service or advice.
Rima Sehgal PhD
Role of tiny bubbles in teeth cleaning identified
London: The formation of tiny bubbles around the head of ultrasonic scalers, used by dentists to remove built-up plaque, is key to the cleaning process, researchers including an Indian-origin scientist have revealed.
The bubble formation, or cavitation of water around the head of the scaler, was observed using high-speed cameras.
The findings are the first to prove that cavitation takes place around the free end of ultrasonic scalers.
Removing dental plaque and calculus that is the build-up of what we know as tartar or hard plaque, is a big part of maintaining oral health and a regular occurrence in dental check-ups.
“These findings will help us to understand how to make the tools as effective as possible,” said Damien Walmsley from University of Birmingham in Britain.
“Putting the pieces together, we can say that altering the shape and power of these commonly used tools make them more effective, and hopefully, pain-free,” added lead study author Nina Vyas.
For the study published in the journal PLOS ONE, scalers of differing power and head shape were used and compared to quantify the patterns of cavitation.
A Satelec ultrasonic scaler was studied at medium and high operating power using high speed imaging at 15,000, 90,000 and 250,000 frames per second, and the tip displacement was recorded using scanning laser vibrometry.
Researchers were not only able to show that cavitation occurred at the free end of the tip, but that it increases with power and the area and width of the cavitation cloud varies for different shaped tips.
The methods developed will help test new instrument designs to maximise cavitation, with the aim of designing ultrasonic scalers that operate without touching the tooth surface, the authors noted.
With this, the process of teeth cleaning will become both less painful and more effective.
Barley can help reduce appetite, blood sugar level
London (IANS): Eating a special mixture of dietary fibres found in barley can help reduce appetite and blood sugar levels, finds a new study.
According to researchers, barley can also rapidly improve people’s health by reducing risk for cardiovascular disease.
“It is surprising yet promising that choosing the right blend of dietary fibres can — in a short period of time — generate such remarkable health benefits,” said Anne Nilsson from Lund University in Sweden.
The study was conducted with healthy middle-aged participants who were asked to eat bread largely made out of barley kernels (up to 85 percent) for three days — at breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Approximately 11-14 hours after their final meal of the day, participants were examined for risk indicators of diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
The researchers found that the participants’ metabolism improved for up to 14 hours, with additional benefits such as decreases in blood sugar and insulin levels, increases in insulin sensitivity and improved appetite control.
The effects arise when the special mixture of dietary fibres in barley kernel reaches the gut, stimulating the increase of good bacteria and the release of important hormones, the researchers said.
“After eating the bread made out of barley kernel, we saw an increase in gut hormones that regulate metabolism and appetite, and an increase in a hormone that helps reduce chronic low-grade inflammation, among the participants. In time this could help prevent the occurrence of both cardiovascular disease and diabetes,” said Anne Nilsson.
The ambition is also to get more people to use barley in meals, for example in salads, soups, stews, or as an alternative to rice or potatoes.
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