Expressing concern over the growing number of Thalassemia patients in the country, experts on Friday called for testing blood before marriage to prevent the disease.
They came up with the call at a press conference jointly organised by the Directorate General of Health Services and Bangladesh Thalassemia Foundation (BTF) at the Jatiya Press Club.
BTF Adviser and Public Administration Ministry Joint Secretary Dr Md Aminul Islam who is on post-retirement leave said they have taken many initiatives marking the ‘Mujib Borsho’ to prevent the disease in the country.
He underscored the need for raising awareness among people to prevent it, saying media can play an important role in this regard.
Citing World Health Organization (WHO), Aminul said some 7 percent people of total population are carriers of Thalassemia in Bangladesh. Around 7,000 children are born with the disease every year.
“We have no exact data on how many patients of the disease are there in Bangladesh. But according to International Thalassemia Federation, around 60,000 people are carrying Thalassemia in Bangladesh. The disease turns rich men into paupers. A patient needs one or two bags blood in every month to survive,” he added.
He also said they will create a volunteers’ group with 10,000 blood donors soon.
“We’ll hold seminars with local and internal experts concerned at different places, including education institutions and ministries, to create awareness in a short time. Besides, we’ll award journalists who played an important role in this regard,” he said.
Blood disease expert Prof Dr Monzur Morshed said there is a shortage of skilled manpower and medical equipment to serve patients with this disease.
Former Cultural Affairs Secretary and Patron of BTF Aktari Momtaj said Thalassemia is a blood-related genetic disorder. “So, awareness is most important before marriage to make a Thalassemia-free Bangladesh.”
“Thalassemia is a preventable disease. It occurs only when both the parents carry the thalassemia gene. In such families, the probability of having a thalassemia-affected baby in each pregnancy is 25 percent. However, if either partner is healthy, children will not be affected at all,” she added.
Deputy Project Manager of Health Ministry Dr Shahnaj Parvez and BTF Registrar Abu Selim were, among others, present.
Since the dawn of humanity humankind has been vulnerable to numerous life-threatening diseases. Recently Coronavirus evolved in China causing severe loss of life. Day by day the vulnerability of coronavirus is reaching other countries beyond the geographical boundary of China. Now it has become an impending threat for people worldwide. Coronaviruses represent a virus-family which causes illness both in humans and animals. Several types of coronaviruses are responsible for causing respiratory infections in humans. The vulnerability may range from common cold infections to severe respiratory diseases like Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). The currently discovered coronavirus is held responsible for coronavirus disease termed as ‘COVID-19’.
Analyzing the Coronavirus (COVID 19) situation in China, it is found that people aged between 30 to 79 year old have been mostly affected. The death toll was significantly high for people aged about 80 years and older.
In Source: statnews.com
Bangladesh several cases of COVID 19 have been found in recent days. However, people of Bangladesh have been vulnerable to disease called ‘Dengue’ – a mosquito-borne viral infection. According to DGHS (Directorate General of Health Services), about 19,513 people were affected by Dengue in August 2019 (Source: wikipedia.org). Unlike COVID 19, the majority of the Dengue patients are young people.
Image Credit: bdnews24.com
The above info-graph shows that men and women aged between 15 to 25 years are mostly vulnerable to Dengue infection. Following this, the risk of Dengue disease prevails upon people under the age-group of 25 to 35 years, and 5 to 15 years. Overall, we can say that people from the active age group are the most vulnerable to the attack of Dengue disease.
‘Dengue’ has been pandemic in many countries around the world. Dengue widely affected in countryside areas, urban poor regions, and suburbs areas. The impact of dengue fever has been rocketed almost 30-folds in the past 50 years. The risk of Dengue fever is impending over 40% of the world’s total population. About 390 million people are estimated to be affected by dengue infections around the world per year. (Source: worldmosquitoprogram.org)
Till date no vaccine has been invented to prevent coronavirus infection 2019 (COVID-19). To prevent the attack of COVID-19, it is the best way to avoid getting exposure to coronavirus. CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) recommends some preventive actions in regular life to prevent the spread of respiratory infections, like COVID-19.
- Avoid close interaction with people who are currently ill.
- Avoid touching the eyes, nose, and mouth.
- Stay home and obtain self-quarantine when you are sick.
- Use a tissue to cover your mouth area while coughing or sneezing, and then throw that used tissue in the dustbin.
- Clean/ disinfect the regularly touched/used objects frequently using a cleaning spray/wipe.
- If you are well, then you don’t need to wear a facemask for protection from respiratory infections, including COVID-19. Rather wearing Facemask is recommended for people who are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 to prevent the spreading of virus to others. Moreover, facemask wearing is highly recommended for people serving as health workers and caretaker of any COVID-19 patient.
- Wash your hands often – especially after using the bathroom, before taking food and after sneezing, blowing your nose, or coughing – with soap-water, or alcohol-based hand sanitizer (60% alcohol or higher) for minimum 20 seconds.
You can take some precautions to protect yourself from dengue infection.
- Remove the breeding zones (especially stagnant clean water) of mosquito inside and around your home
- Protect yourself from mosquito bites
- Stay away from visiting mosquito-prone areas
- Wear full-sleeves dress and full pants to cover most body-parts, especially arms and legs.
- Apply mosquito nets both day and night while you sleep.
When two or more dengue cases are found within 14 days period and the households of the dengue victims are located within 150m distance, a “dengue cluster” is identified (NEA website). If you are currently staying/visiting in a “dengue cluster” tagged neighborhood, adopt the following preventing measures:
- Apply mosquito repellent (containing DEET/diethyltoluamide) to exposed skin area and/or clothing.
- Don’t need to apply the repellent under clothing, on irritated skin, cuts/wounds, and areas of eyes, mouth, ears.
- Don’t spray the repellent directly over the face. Rather apply the repellent on your hands, and then put it over your face using your hands. Then clean your hands immediately.
- Don’t apply repellent over infants below two-month old.
- If you experience any kind of negative reaction like rash due to the application of repellent, wash it off instantly with mild soap-water and avoid using that product. And consult a doctor afterwards.
On the whole, it behooves upon us to take preventive measures from life-threatening diseases like COVID-19 and Dengue infection. Stay safe, don’t panic and get aware about the latest updates and recommendations from the reliable authorities and health organizations.
A man from London has become the second person in the world to be cured of HIV, doctors say.
Adam Castillejo is still free of the virus more than 30 months after stopping anti-retroviral therapy, reports BBC.
He was not cured by the HIV drugs, however, but by a stem-cell treatment he received for a cancer he also had, the Lancet HIV journal reports.
The donors of those stem cells have an uncommon gene that gives them, and now Mr Castillejo, protection against HIV.
In 2011, Timothy Brown, the "Berlin Patient" became the first person reported as cured of HIV, three and half years after having similar treatment.
What is the treatment?
Stem-cell transplants appear to stop the virus being able to replicate inside the body by replacing the patient's own immune cells with donor ones that resist HIV infection.
Adam Castillejo - the now 40-year-old "London Patient" who has decided to go public with his identity - has no detectable active HIV infection in his blood, semen or tissues, his doctors say.
It is now a year after they first announced he was clear of the virus and he still remains free of HIV.
Lead researcher Prof Ravindra Kumar Gupta, from the University of Cambridge, told BBC News: "This represents HIV cure with almost certainty.
"We have now had two and a half years with anti-retroviral-free remission.
"Our findings show that the success of stem-cell transplantation as a cure for HIV, first reported nine years ago in the Berlin Patient, can be replicated."
But it will not be a treatment for the millions of people around the world living with HIV.
The aggressive therapy was primarily used to treat the patients' cancers, not their HIV.
And current HIV drugs remain very effective, meaning people with the virus can live long and healthy lives.
Prof Gupta said: "It is important to note that this curative treatment is high-risk and only used as a last resort for patients with HIV who also have life-threatening haematological malignancies.
"Therefore, this is not a treatment that would be offered widely to patients with HIV who are on successful anti-retroviral treatment."
But it might offer hope of finding a cure, in the future, using gene therapy.
How does it work?
CCR5 is the most commonly used receptor by HIV-1 - the virus strain of HIV that dominates around the world - to enter cells.
But a very small number of people who are resistant to HIV have two mutated copies of the CCR5 receptor.
This means the virus cannot penetrate cells in the body it normally infects.
Researchers say it may be possible to use gene therapy to target the CCR5 receptor in people with HIV.
It is the same receptor the now jailed Chinese scientist He Jiankui worked on when he created the world's first gene-edited babies.
Is it a permanent cure?
The tests suggest 99% of Mr Castillejo's immune cells have been replaced by donor ones.
But he still has remnants of the virus in his body, as does Mr Brown.
And it is impossible to say with absolute certainty his HIV will never come back.
Mr Castillejo told the New York Times: "This is a unique position to be in, a unique and very humbling position.
"I want to be an ambassador of hope.
"I don't want people to think, 'Oh, you've been chosen.'
"No, it just happened.
"I was in the right place, probably at the right time, when it happened."
Prof Sharon Lewin, from the University of Melbourne, Australia, said: "Given the large number of cells sampled here and the absence of any intact virus, is the London Patient truly cured?
"The additional data provided in this follow-up case report is certainly encouraging but unfortunately, in the end, only time will tell."
Australian researchers on Friday said they have replicated a crucial brain process that pointed to a potential pathway in slowing the development of Alzheimer's disease.
Overcoming the loss of a process in the brain called "RNA editing" may slow the progress of the major neurological condition and other synaptic disorders, the University of Technology Sydney said in a statement late Friday.
"RNA editing" is a genetic mechanism that modifies proteins essential in the connection between brain nerve cells called synapses, it said. RNA editing is deregulated in the brains of Alzheimer's disease patients, but whether that can cause disease is unknown.
University researchers "replicated this deregulated process in the brains of mice, and discovered it led to the loss of synapses, as occurs in Alzheimer's". Alzheimer's is a progressive, irreversible neurological disorder and the most common form of dementia, with most patients older than 65.
"Understanding mechanisms leading to synapses loss is essential to understand how patients suffering from Alzheimer's disease start losing their memory capacities and how to prevent this from happening," said Professor Bryce Vissel, senior author of the findings published in scientific journal Molecular Brain.
"Our study is extremely important because we now have shown a mechanism that can lead to loss of synapses as occurs in Alzheimer's disease."
Dr Gary Morris, a scientist who contributed to the study, said that because "synapses are important for learning, the loss of these synapses leads to memory loss".
"Our study suggests that if we can overcome the loss of RNA editing in the brain, we may potentially be able to slow the disease."
Vissel said the researchers' next step is "to see if they can rescue synapses and memory deficits in Alzheimer's disease by overcoming the loss of RNA editing in the Alzheimer's brain".
"We have good reason to think that this could ultimately be a highly beneficial approach for solving Alzheimer's and potentially other neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson's," Vissel said.
A newly-discovered part of our immune system could be harnessed to treat all cancers, say scientists and reports BBC.
The Cardiff University team discovered a method of killing prostate, breast, lung and other cancers in lab tests.
The findings, published in Nature Immunology, have not been tested in patients, but the researchers say they have "enormous potential".
Experts said that although the work was still at an early stage, it was very exciting.
What have they found?
Our immune system is our body's natural defence against infection, but it also attacks cancerous cells.
The scientists were looking for "unconventional" and previously undiscovered ways the immune system naturally attacks tumours.
What they found was a T-cell inside people's blood. This is an immune cell that can scan the body to assess whether there is a threat that needs to be eliminated.
The difference is this one could attack a wide range of cancers.
"There's a chance here to treat every patient," researcher Prof Andrew Sewell told the BBC.
He added: "Previously nobody believed this could be possible.
"It raises the prospect of a 'one-size-fits-all' cancer treatment, a single type of T-cell that could be capable of destroying many different types of cancers across the population."
How does it work?
T-cells have "receptors" on their surface that allow them to "see" at a chemical level.
The Cardiff team discovered a T-cell and its receptor that could find and kill a wide range of cancerous cells in the lab including lung, skin, blood, colon, breast, bone, prostate, ovarian, kidney and cervical cancer cells.
Crucially, it left normal tissues untouched.
T-cells attack cancer cells
Exactly how it does this is still being explored.
This particular T-cell receptor interacts with a molecule called MR1, which is on the surface of every cell in the human body.
It is thought MR1 is flagging the distorted metabolism going on inside a cancerous cell to the immune system.
"We are the first to describe a T-cell that finds MR1 in cancer cells - that hasn't been done before, this is the first of its kind," research fellow Garry Dolton told the BBC.
Why is this significant?
T-cell cancer therapies already exist and the development of cancer immunotherapy has been one of the most exciting advances in the field.
The most famous example is CAR-T - a living drug made by genetically engineering a patient's T-cells to seek out and destroy cancer.
CAR-T can have dramatic results that transform some patients from being terminally ill to being in complete remission.
However, the approach is highly specific and works in only a limited number of cancers where there is a clear target to train the T-cells to spot.
And it has struggled to have any success in "solid cancers" - those that form tumours rather than blood cancers such as leukaemia.
The researchers say their T-cell receptor could lead to a "universal" cancer treatment.
So how would it work in practice?
The idea is that a blood sample would be taken from a cancer patient.
Their T-cells would be extracted and then genetically modified so they were reprogrammed to make the cancer-finding receptor.
Source: BBC Research
The upgraded cells would be grown in vast quantities in the laboratory and then put back into the patient. It is the same process used to make CAR-T therapies.
However, the research has been tested only in animals and on cells in the laboratory, and more safety checks would be needed before human trials could start.
What do the experts say?
Lucia Mori and Gennaro De Libero, from University of Basel in Switzerland, said the research had "great potential" but was at too early a stage to say it would work in all cancers.
"We are very excited about the immunological functions of this new T-cell population and the potential use of their TCRs in tumour cell therapy," they said.
Daniel Davis, a professor of immunology at the University of Manchester, said: "At the moment, this is very basic research and not close to actual medicines for patients.
"There is no question that it's a very exciting discovery, both for advancing our basic knowledge about the immune system and for the possibility of future new medicines."