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6 ways you can prepare to “age well”strength trainingYou're probably already doing a lot to ensure that you stay in good health and are able to enjoy your later years: eating right, exercising, getting checkups and screenings as recommended by your doctor. But it also makes sense to have some contingency plans for the bumps in the road that might occur.Living Better, Living Longer Adapt your home. Stairs, baths, and kitchens can present hazards for older people. Even if you don't need to make changes now, do an annual safety review so you can make necessary updates if your needs change.Prevent falls. Falls are a big deal for older people — they often result in fractures that can lead to disability, further health problems, or even death. Safety precautions are important, but so are exercises that can improve balance and strength.Consider your housing options. You might consider investigating naturally occurring retirement communities (NORCs). These neighborhoods and housing complexes aren't developed specifically to serve seniors — and, in fact, tend to host a mix of ages — but because they have plenty of coordinated care and support available, they are senior-friendly.Think ahead about how to get the help you may need. Meal preparation, transportation, home repair, housecleaning, and help with financial tasks such as paying bills might be hired out if you can afford it, or shared among friends and family. Elder services offered in your community might be another option.Plan for emergencies. Who would you call in an emergency? Is there someone who can check in on you regularly? What would you do if you fell and couldn't reach the phone? Keep emergency numbers near each phone or on speed dial. Carry a cellphone (preferably with large buttons and a bright screen), or consider investing in some type of personal alarm system.Write advance care directives. Advance care directives, such as a living will, durable power of attorney for health care, and health care proxy, allow you to explain the type of medical care you want if you're too sick, confused, or injured to voice your wishes. Every adult should have these documents.To learn more ways to enjoy independence and good health in your senior years, buy Living Better, Living Longer, a Special Health Report from Harvard Medical School.
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IGIB researchers partially reverse a rare disorderThe HinduR. Prasad10 FEBRUARY 2018 18:13 ISTUPDATED: 10 FEBRUARY 2018 18:14 IST The syndrome also affects about one in one lakh people, causing a range of defectResearchers at Delhi’s Institute of Genomics & Integrative Biology (CSIR-IGIB) have for the first time used zebra fish to model the rare genetic disorder — Rubinstein Taybi Syndrome (RSTS) — seen in humans. They have also used two small molecules to partially reverse some of the defects caused by the disorder in zebrafish, thus showing them to be an ideal animal model for screening drug candidates. There is currently no cure or treatment for the disorder.The Rubinstein Taybi Syndrome has a frequency of about one in one lakh people, and causes intellectual disability, growth retardation (short stature), craniofacial deformities, heart defects and broad thumbs and toes. The results were published in the journal Biochimica et Biophysica Acta (BBA) - Molecular Basis of Disease.Close to human genomeSince zebrafish genome has very close similarity to human genome and the embryonic developmental is very similar in the two, the team led by Dr. Chetana Sachidanandan at IGIB went about checking if EP300, one of the two genes that cause the disorder is present in the fish and if mutations in this gene result in a RSTS-like disease in fish.Using chemicals, the researchers inhibited the activity of the protein Ep300 to see if this resulted in the manifestation of the disorder in the brain, heart, face and pectoral fins (equivalent to forearm in humans). “Like in the case of humans, the same organs were affected in the fish when the functioning of the protein was stopped. This helped in confirming that the protein in question does the same functions in fish and humans, ” she says.Since zebrafish commonly has two copies of many human genes, the researchers first checked if one or both the genes were functional and equivalent to the human gene that causes the disorder. “We found Ep300a gene was active and functional while Ep300b was not, ” says Prof. Tapas K. Kundu from the Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research (JNCASR), Bengaluru, the other corresponding author. The Ep300a gene is responsible for producing a protein (Ep300) that opens up the DNA.“The protein Ep300 is evolutionarily conserved from fish to humans. Though the Ep300 gene has been earlier identified in fish, its function was not known, ” says Prof. Kundu.Reversal of effectsLike in the case of fish treated with chemicals manifesting the disorder, fish mutants that lacked the Ep300a gene too exhibited defects very similar to those seen in humans.“When we introduced excess amount of a tiny portion of the Ep300a protein in the mutants, the craniofacial deformities became less severe [mutants had severed craniofacial deformities] and pectoral fins in the fish became normal, ” she says.But neuronal defects were not reversed, even partially. “It might be because only a portion of the protein was put into the fish. Probably, that potion isn’t sufficient to compensate for the loss of the whole protein, ” she explains.“It’s proof-of-concept that just a piece of the protein is sufficient to reverse some defects, even if only partially, in zebrafish, ” Dr. Sachidanandan says.Alternatively, the researchers used two small molecules to reverse the defects. If the protein Ep300 is responsible for opening the DNA, there are other proteins that are responsible for closing the DNA.The two molecules were found from a screen of compounds well known for their ability to inhibit proteins responsible for closing the DNA.Like in the case when excess amount of Ep300 protein was introduced, both the molecules could partially restore facial defects but not the neuronal defects.“Introducing excess amount of a portion of the ep300 protein showed greater rescue of deformities than the small molecules, ” says Aswini Babu from IGIB and first author of the paper. “But rescuing the deformities using small molecules is a relatively easier and better option.”
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A tool that tracks and stops bacterial blight outbreaks in ricericetoday.irri.org/a-tool-that-tracks-and-stops-bacterial-blight-outbreaks-in-rice/A new, faster, and more accurate way of identifying infectious organisms—down to their genetic fingerprint—could finally put farmers a step ahead of bacterial blight. Severe bacterial blight infection in a susceptible rice variety from West Java, Indonesia. (Photo by R. Oliva)Severe bacterial blight infection in a susceptible rice variety from West Java, Indonesia. (Photo by R. Oliva)A revolutionary tool called the PathoTracer has been developed at the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) and it can identify the exact strain of the bacterium that causes bacterial blight present in a field in a matter of days instead of several months of laboratory work.“It’s like a paternity test that uses DNA profiling, ” said Ricardo Oliva, a plant pathologist at IRRI. “It will not only tell you that you have bacterial blight in your plant. It will tell you the particular strain of the pathogen so that we can recommend varieties resistant to it.”For more than four years, Dr. Oliva and his team worked on deciphering the genetic code of Xanthomonas oryzae pv. oryzae, the pathogen that causes bacterial blight, to develop the test. Bacterial blight is one of the most serious diseases of rice. The earlier the disease occurs, the higher the yield loss—which could be as much as 70% in vulnerable varieties.“Bacterial blight is a persistent disease in rice fields, ” said Dr. Oliva. “The epidemic builds up every season when susceptible varieties are planted. The problem is that the bacterial strains vary from one place to another and farmers don’t know which are the resistant varieties for that region. We were always behind because the pathogens always moved and evolved faster.”Identifying the strains of bacterial blight present in the field requires a lot of labor and time. You need people to collect as many samples as they can over large areas to accurately monitor the pathogen population. In addition, isolating the pathogens in the lab is laborious and it typically takes several months or even a year to determine the prevalent strains in a region.The PathoTracer can identify the local bacteria in the field using small leaf discs as samples. The samples will be sent to a certified laboratory to perform the genetic test and the results will be analyzed by IRRI.The team that developed PathoTracer. Left row: Maritess Carillaga, Cipto Nugroho, Ian Lorenzo Quibod, and Genelou Grande. Right row: Veronica Roman-Reyna, Sapphire Thea Charlene Coronejo, and Dr. Oliva. Not in photo: Eula Gems Oreiro, EiEi Aung, and Marian Hanna Nguyen. (Photo by Isagani Serrano, IRRI)The team that developed PathoTracer. Left row (front to back): Maritess Carillaga, Cipto Nugroho, Ian Lorenzo Quibod, and Genelou Grande. Right row: Veronica Roman-Reyna, Sapphire Thea Charlene Coronejo, and Dr. Oliva. Not in photo: Eula Gems Oreiro, EiEi Aung, Epifania Garcia, Ismael Mamiit, and Marian Hanna Nguyen. (Photo by Isagani Serrano, IRRI)“It takes only a few days to analyze the samples, ” Dr. Oliva explained. “With the PathoTracer, we can bring a year’s work down to probably two weeks. Because the tool can rapidly and efficiently monitor the pathogen present in each season, the information can be available before the cropping season ends.”It’s like knowing the future, and predicting what would happen the next season can empower the farmers, according to Dr. Oliva.“Recognizing the specific local bacteria present in the current season can help us plan for the next, ” he added. “We can come up with a list of recommended rice varieties that are resistant to the prevalent pathogen strains in the locality. By planting the recommended varieties, farmers can reduce the risk of an epidemic in the next season and increase their profits.”The PathoTracer was pilot tested in Mindanao in the southern part of the Philippines in April 2017. The rains came early in the region, just after the peak of the dry season, and that triggered an outbreak of bacterial blight.“We went there and took samples from different fields, ” Dr. Oliva said. “By the end of April, we had the results and we were able to come up with a list of resistant varieties that could stop the pathogen. We submitted our recommendation to give farmers a choice in reducing the risk. If the farmers planted the same rice varieties in the succeeding rainy seasons, I am 100% sure the results would be very bad.”The PathoTracer can run thousands of samples and can, therefore, easily cover large areas, making it an essential tool for extension workers of agriculture departments and private-sector rice producers, or it can be incorporated into monitoring platforms such as the Philippine Rice Information System (PRiSM) or Pest and Disease Risk Identification and Management (PRIME) to support national or regional crop health decision-making.“National breeding programs could also make more informed decisions, ” Dr. Oliva said. “If you know the pathogen population in the entire Philippines, for example, the country’s breeding program could target those strains.”IRRI is interested in expanding the genetic testing tool to include rice blast and, further down the road, all bacteria, viruses, and fungi that infect rice.The speed at which PathoTracer can identify the strains of bacterial blight present in the field can be used for recommending resistant rice varieties to farmers for planting in the next cropping season. (Photo: IRRI)The speed at which PathoTracer can identify the strains of bacterial blight present in the field can be used for recommending resistant rice varieties to farmers for planting in the next cropping season. (Photo: IRRI)The PathoTracer has been tested in other Asian countries and IRRI expects to roll it out early in 2018. When it becomes available, the expected potential impact of the PathoTracer on a devastating disease that affects rice fields worldwide would be huge.“Imagine if this tool prevented bacterial blight outbreaks every season across Asia, ” said Dr. Oliva. “It’s super cool!”For more information about bacterial blight, see Section II, Chapter 2 of IRRI’s Rice Diseases Online Resource
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With cryo-electron microscope, India hopes to join the revolution sweeping across the world of medicineBy Hari Pulakkat, ET Bureau | Updated: Feb 12, 2018, 08.06 PM ISTAdvantage BioThe Bengaluru bio cluster has two additional institutions: the National Centre for Biological Sciences (NCBS) and the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Platforms (C-Camp). C-Camp is also an incubator of biology startups, some of which need to solve protein structures regularly for their work. The first company to use the cryo-EM facility is Bugworks, which is developing a new generation of drugs against antibiotic-resistant bacteria.Bugworks already has two drug candidates that aim to stop the bacteria from making copies of itself. They target the proteins responsible for unwinding the DNA in the bacteria, thereby not letting it duplicate itself. Drug companies like Bugworks need to know how a drug candidate binds to its target protein, and the cryo-EM will provide an image of the drug-protein complex easily.2“We use cryo-EM to optimise the next generation of drugs, ” says Santanu Datta, chief scientific officer, Bugworks. “X-ray crystallography will provide only a static picture.” At the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), a few kilometres from the bio cluster, assistant professor Tanveer Hussain is preparing to use the microscope for his research on protein synthesis. Hussain had used the cryo-EM in Ramakrishnan’s lab at Cambridge, while working on the initial steps of protein synthesis. He will soon get a smaller cryo-EM at IISc, which will be used for screening samples to be taken to the larger one at InStem.Scientists in other institutions are preparing to use it too. The Department of Biotechnology will fund a few smaller cryo-EMs at Pune, Faridabad and IIT-Delhi. “The cryomicroscope should be seen as a symbol of India’s entry into microscopy, ” says K Vijay-Raghavan, former secretary, DBT. India could amplify the benefits of the investment through technology development, especially in big data techniques. The microscope is evolving rapidly, and future versions will have deep reach while current versions will get cheaper.The technology parts of the cryo-EM — the electron gun, the detector, computation and so on — improved gradually over the years but made a quantum jump around 2012-13. This improvement made scientists move to the field in droves in the last three years. Henderson, who played a key role in developing the cryo-EM, has a few ideas about the immediate future of the technology. “We expect improvements of a factor of 20 in the information content of each image in two to three years, ” says Henderson. This means that you can get contemporary images with onetwentieth the effort, or make the same effort and get images that are 20 times better.This future excites scientists, and structural biologists using other methods are moving into the new field. So much so that companies that make the microscopes — the Bengaluru device was made by ThermoFisher — cannot make them fast enough. “It is a very exciting time, ” says Henderson. India is joining the bandwagon a bit late, but not too late.
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