Haier China signs contract with HEC for PM’s Laptop Programme

Haier China signs contract with HEC for PM’s Laptop Programme

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan witnessed on Monday the historic contract signing ceremony for supply and commissioning of 100,000 laptops under Prime Minister’s Youth Programme (PMYP). Ms. Leila Khan, Member National Assembly and Adviser to the Chairperson PMYP was the chief guest during the ceremony held at HEC Secretariat, Islamabad.Anwar Amjad, Director General, Information Technology, Higher Education Commission (HEC) and Zhang Le, International Projects Manager, Haier Electrical Appliances Corp Ltd signed the contract. Haier has won the contract through a competitive process conducted by Higher Education Commission in which major manufacturers of laptops participated.The Programme aims at distribution of laptops among young and bright students studying in public sector higher education institutions across the country. HEC is the executing agency responsible for developing criteria, mechanism, modalities and a roadmap for procurement and distribution of laptops under this Programme. During 2013-14, 100,000 laptops will be distributed among students as per defined criteria.Speaking at the occasion, the chief guest Leila Khan shared the vision of PMLN Government for development of youth. She appreciated HEC for effectively managing the selection process for the laptop Programme. She emphasized that it has been ensured that entire procedure of the laptop Programme is transparent and that laptops will be distributed purely on merit.Dr Mukhtar Ahmed, Chairperson HEC thanked the government for showing confidence in HEC for execution of the laptop Programme. He appreciated the idea of the Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif for not only providing laptops to students but also bound procuring agency to assemble laptops in Pakistan. He said that right from the start Transparency International has been involved so that nobody has any doubt on fairness of the whole process. It may be mentioned here that Transparency International Pakistan has congratulated Prime Minister for procurement of 100,000 laptops fully in accordance with PPRA Rules. The whole process has been completed by HEC in a record time of 20 days.Wang, General Manager, Haier Electrical Appliances Corp Ltd appreciated the initiatives of present government for the youth of Pakistan, including laptop Programme. He said that Haier has thousands of customers globally. “We always focus on customers’ demands. We will provide best quality laptops to beneficiaries of the scheme.”Earlier, in his welcome address, Dr Mansoor Akbar Kundi, Executive Director Higher Education Commission said that the youth Programme launched by the Government is talent-centric, which is a source of inspiration for the young population of this country.

Yale Research Shows People with a Mental Illness are More Likely to Smoke

Yale Research Shows People with a Mental Illness are More Likely to Smoke

Yale Research Shows People with a Mental Illness are More Likely to Smoke

Yale Research Shows People with a Mental Illness are More Likely to Smoke

New research from Yale University shows that people with a mental illness are much more likely to smoke cigarettes and are less likely to quit smoking than those without mental illness.

Those in the United States with a mental illness diagnosis are much more likely to smoke cigarettes and smoke more heavily, and are less likely to quit smoking than those without mental illness, regardless of their specific diagnosis, a new study by researchers from the Yale School of Medicine shows.

They also found variations in smoking rates and likelihood of quitting among different diagnoses of mental illness. The results are reported in the April issue of the journal Tobacco Control.

Thirty-nine percent of adults with a psychiatric diagnosis smoked compared to 16% without a diagnosis, according to data from the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions analyzed by researchers. Two out of every three people with drug use disorder smoke, compared to one out of three with social phobia.

“We know that smokers with mental illness are more susceptible to smoking-related disease, and those with mental illness die 25 years earlier than adults without mental illness,” said Sherry McKee, associate professor of psychiatry, and senior author on the study. “Effective smoking cessation treatments are available and we know that smokers with mental illness can quit smoking. We need to address why smokers with mental illness are not being treated for their smoking.”

Over the three-year study period, 22% of smokers with no psychiatric disorders were able to quit smoking, whereas rates of quitting among those with psychiatric disorders illness were 25% lower. Rates of quitting were lowest among those with dysthymia (10%), agoraphobia (13%), and social phobia (13%). “We also found that individuals with multiple diagnoses had the lowest quit rates,” added Philip Smith, lead author on the study.

This study adds to evidence that smokers with mental illness consume nearly half of all cigarettes in the United States, despite making up a substantially smaller proportion of the population.

Researchers and policymakers are increasingly calling attention to this important public health issue, and this study helps point to a need for interventions and policy that directly help individuals with mental illness quit smoking.

Carolyn Mazure of Yale also contributed to the study.

The study was funded by the National Institutes of Health and the Food and Drug Administration.

Publication: Philip H Smith, Carolyn M Mazure, Sherry A McKee, “Smoking and mental illness in the US population,” Tobacco Control, 2014; doi:10.1136/tobaccocontrol-2013-051466

Source: Bill Hathaway, Yale University News

US Confirms First MERS Case (watch video report)

US Confirms First MERS Case (watch video report)

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control has confirmed the first case of the deadly Middle East Respiratory Virus, or MERS, within the United States.

CDC officials Friday said an American health care worker who recently traveled to Saudi Arabia has been hospitalized with the virus in the midwestern state of Indiana. They say the patient has been isolated and is in stable condition.

National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases director Anne Schuchat said the case is rapidly evolving, and that the CDC is working to identify people who may have been in contact with the patient. Schuchat said the patient traveled from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on April 24 to London, and then on to Indiana.

The MERS virus first appeared in September 2012, and all of the cases have been linked to six countries in the Arabian peninsula. Saudi Arabia has seen the most cases.

Schuchat said around 400 people have tested positive for the disease since it first appeared, and that about one-third of those people have died from the virus.

MERS is a member of the coronavirus family, which includes germs that cause the common cold, as well as severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS.

SARS popped up in southern China in 2003, infected about 8,000 people in 29 countries and killed about 800 before it was contained.

A spike in MERS cases in Saudi Arabia that began last week has raised worries among health experts that the virus has mutated into a more spreadable form. Schuchat said the reason for the increase is not yet known.

It is not yet clear where MERS came from originally, but camels are the lead suspects.

Report: Drug-Resistant Bacteria Pose Major Threat to Global Public Health

Report: Drug-Resistant Bacteria Pose Major Threat to Global Public Health

 — Doctors have long warned against prolonged use of antibiotics, saying that bacteria can build resistance to drugs, eventually rendering them ineffective. The World Health Organization reported Wednesday that antibiotic-resistant bacteria now exist in many parts of the world. Some diseases that once could easily be cured by antibiotics have now become deadly.

The Geneva-based WHO said its survey shows very high rates of drug-resistant E. coli bacteria, which can cause meningitis and infections of the skin, blood, kidneys and other organs. The agency’s assistant director-general, Keiji Fukuda, said Wednesday that the survey also found worrying rates of resistance in other bacteria, such as those that cause pneumonia, diarrhea, urinary tract infections and gonorrhea. 
“It’s clear that rates are very high of resistance among bacteria, causing many of the most common serious infections, the ones that we see both occurring in the community, as well as in hospitals,” said Fukuda.
Romanian doctor Adrian Cercel said he has virtually no treatment left for some of his patients.
“During the last 20 years, the bacteria have developed very sophisticated resistance mechanisms, and we are facing a situation in which we don’t have antibiotics to treat the patient due to the existence of pan-resistant germs,” said Cercel.
The WHO’s survey shows that in some countries, many types of bacterial infections do not respond to antibiotic treatment in more than half of patients. Public health specialists blame overconsumption of antibiotics, which are often prescribed for non-bacterial ailments. Jean-Baptiste Ronat, with the group Doctors Without Borders, said that people also can consume the drug inadvertently by eating meat from animals that have been treated with antibiotics.
“So the two main dangers, actually, [are] the use and the overuse of antibiotics in food factories and animal production – especially the fact that we use antibiotics as growth factors since ages in the U.S. and all over the world. It has been restricted in Europe since 2001. And the second one is the overuse in human health. Taking into account that most of the time people take antibiotics because they have a common cold and because the patient want[s] antibiotics,” said Ronat.
Ronat and others said the world is returning to conditions similar to the era before antibiotics. 
“That means in the 19th [century], so before the first world war, where we had no antibiotics and where we were just dying because of a urinary tract infection or because of a pulmonary infection.  So this is what is going to happen in the future,” predicted Ronat.
The WHO report describes the problem as a major threat to global public health. It recommends that people use antibiotics only when prescribed by a doctor. They should complete the full prescription, never share antibiotics with others, and never use leftover prescriptions.

CDC: Thousands of Premature Deaths are Preventable

CDC: Thousands of Premature Deaths are Preventable


Dr. Keith Melancon, right, Georgetown's kidney transplant director, performs the surgery to harvest the kidney from donor Tom Otten, at Georgetown University Hospital in Washington.

Dr. Keith Melancon, right, Georgetown’s kidney transplant director, performs the surgery to harvest the kidney from donor Tom Otten, at Georgetown University Hospital in Washington.

Five things kill the majority of the nearly 900,000 Americans who die prematurely each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).
Premature death, as defined by the CDC, is under 80 years old, given that the average life expectancy in the U.S. is 79.
The five top killers are heart disease, cancer, chronic lower respiratory disease, stroke and unintentional injuries. These accounted for 63 percent of all U.S. deaths in 2010 though the rates vary greatly by state.
Of those deaths, the CDC says 20 to 40 percent could be prevented if people had access to the top preventative care available in the country for each specific cause of death, a best-case scenario of sorts.
The best-case scenario was calculated by calculating the mortality rates of the five top causes of death in all the U.S. states. The three states with the lowest mortality for each of the five top killers was then averaged.
The CDC study estimated the number of avoidable, premature deaths for each cause would be as follows:

  • 34 percent of premature deaths from heart diseases, potentially extending about 92,000 lives
  • 21 percent of premature cancer deaths, potentially extending about 84,500 lives
  • 39 percent of premature deaths from chronic lower respiratory diseases, potentially extending about 29,000 lives
  • 33 percent of premature stroke deaths, potentially extending about 17,000 lives
  • 39 percent of premature deaths from unintentional injuries, potentially extending about 37,000 lives

Those numbers, the CDC said, could not be added together because some people might recover from a heart attack only to later die from cancer, for example.
The CDC data covered 2008 to 2010.
“As a doctor, it is heartbreaking to lose just one patient to a preventable disease or injury – and it is that much more poignant as the director of the nation’s public health agency to know that far more than a hundred thousand deaths each year are preventable,” said CDC director Tom Frieden, MD in a statement.
The southern states, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee, saw between 28 and 33 percent of preventable premature deaths, the CDC said.
“This data is yet another demonstration that when it comes to health in this country, your longevity and health are more determined by your [postal] code than they are by your genetic code,” Frieden said during a news conference.

Ways to lower the risk of premature death include many common sense steps.
For example, the CDC recommends eating healthy, exercising, avoiding smoking, using seatbelts, using helmets, controlling high blood pressure and avoiding exposure to harmful chemicals and other substances.
Frieden told reporters that the “good news is that things that people can change — what we call modifiable risk factors — make a huge difference.”

According to a 2009 World Health Organization report, the top causes of premature death worldwide are poor childhood nutrition, unsafe sex, alcohol use, lack of safe water, bad sanitation and hygiene, and high blood pressure.

Saudi Arabia Finds 26 More Cases of MERS, Egypt Reports First Sufferer

Saudi Arabia Finds 26 More Cases of MERS, Egypt Reports First Sufferer

 — Saudi Arabia said on Thursday the total number of cases of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), an often deadly new disease, had nearly doubled in the kingdom in April with 26 more infections reported on Tuesday and Wednesday.
The first case of the disease in Egypt was also reported on Thursday, in a 27-year-old man who lives in Saudi Arabia but returned ill to Egypt last week after having been in contact with an uncle in the kingdom who died of MERS.
International concern about the disease is acute because Saudi Arabia is expected to receive large numbers of foreign pilgrims during the fasting month of Ramadan in July, followed by millions more for Islam’s annual haj pilgrimage in October.
Although the WHO has said the disease, from the same family as the SARS virus, is difficult to pass between humans, most of the cases reported in Saudi Arabia so far appear to have been transmitted between people rather than from animals.
A team of WHO experts has arrived in Saudi Arabia and is working with authorities on boosting infection control measures, particularly in hospitals, and studying how the virus spreads.
Seven of the new cases were in Jeddah, four in Mecca, 10 in Riyadh, two in the northern town of Tabuk and one each in Hafr al-Batin near Kuwait and Najran near Yemen. Two people, who had previously been confirmed as suffering from the disease, died.
The new cases have taken the total number of confirmed infections in Saudi Arabia to 371, a jump of 89 percent during the month of April. Most of the new infections last month came in an outbreak in three hospitals in Jeddah.
Of people who caught the disease in Saudi Arabia, 107 have died since it was identified two years ago.
But health experts believe the initial source of transmission was from an animal reservoir, probably camels. On Tuesday, acting health minister Adel Fakeih said Saudis should avoid close contact with camels or consuming their raw milk or meat.
Traders and other people at Riyadh’s camel market on Monday told Reuters they had not been officially notified or warned about the likely connection between MERS and camels and had been taking no extra precautions such as increased hand washing.
The WHO said last week it was advisable to be careful around camels, and international infection experts have been pointing to the link between the animals and the disease for months.
Although Saudi Arabia and the WHO have advised very old people, children and those suffering long-term disease to delay their haj this year because of MERS, they have stopped short of imposing other restrictions such as on visa numbers.
Countries including Qatar, Kuwait, Jordan, the United Arab Emirates, Oman and Tunisia as well as several countries in Europe have reported MERS cases since the virus emerged.
The World Health Organization announced the Egyptian case on its website, saying it was the first laboratory-confirmed case of MERS reported by authorities there. It said the 27-year-old man was in stable condition.

Doctors Regrow Muscle in Severe Wounds for First Time

Doctors Regrow Muscle in Severe Wounds for First Time


This undated handout photo provided by the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center shows Dr. Stephen Badylak, a surgery professor at the university, and deputy director of the McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine, holding a sheet of “extracellular matrix,” scaffolding-like material derived from pig bladder.

This undated handout photo provided by the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center shows Dr. Stephen Badylak, a surgery professor at the university, and deputy director of the McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine, holding a sheet of “extracellular matrix,” scaffolding-like material derived from pig bladder.

A team of U.S. doctors are reporting a remarkable medical breakthrough – the regrowth of muscle lost to a traumatic leg injury.

The experiment was paid for by the Pentagon and carried out at the University of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Physicians conducted the test on five men, including wounded U.S. soldiers, who have lost a large amount of leg muscle because of a serious injury.

Muscle does not regrow naturally in a severe wound. The lost muscle is replaced by hard scar tissue that can leave the affected area useless.

The physicians used material taken from pigs to implant what they describe as a scaffold inside the wound. The pig material sent out a chemical signal that attracted free-roaming stem cells to the wound. Those stem cells formed new muscle tissue.

Three of the five patients recovered enough muscle for the scientists to declare the experiment a success, saying they can now hop and squat on the wounded leg.

Details of the study are published in the journal Science Translational Medicine.

New Treatment Regenerates Muscle Lost in Traumatic Injury

New Treatment Regenerates Muscle Lost in Traumatic Injury


Sgt. Matt Krumwiede of the U.S. Army (L) talks to his friend Sgt. Jesse McCart at a hunting ranch outside San Antonio, Texas,

Sgt. Matt Krumwiede of the U.S. Army (L) talks to his friend Sgt. Jesse McCart at a hunting ranch outside San Antonio, Texas,

 — U.S. doctors said on Wednesday they have succeeded in coaxing the regeneration of muscle tissue lost in people who suffered traumatic injuries, including wartime bomb wounds, with a new type of treatment that uses material from a pig’s bladder.

Implanting the pig material at the wound site enticed the patient’s own stem cells — master cells that can transform into various kinds of cells in the body — to become muscle cells and regenerate tissue that had been lost, the researchers said.

The study was small, involving only five male patients, but its results suggested that this procedure could offer new hope to a category of patients, including troops who suffered major war injuries, with scant good treatment options, they added.

All five patients, including two U.S. soldiers hurt by bombs planted by insurgents, had badly damaged leg muscles.

The research was backed by $3 million in funding over five years from the U.S. Defense Department, said Dr. Stephen Badylak of the University of Pittsburgh, who led the study.

Thousands of American troops have been left with serious physical impairments after sustaining wounds involving major loss of muscle tissue in roadside bombings and other incidents since 2001 in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. When a large amount of muscle is lost in vehicle crashes, industrial accidents, bomb blasts or other traumas, the body is unable to replace it and the site forms scar tissue that lacks the functionality of the lost muscle.

Existing treatments include surgery to remove scar tissue or replace it with muscle from somewhere else in the body, but these methods do not yield satisfying results and are hard on patients, the researchers said.

“Nothing has ever worked. There’s been multiple things tried: the hype and the hope of stem cell therapy, new surgical techniques,” said Badylak.

This study, published in the journal Science Translational Medicine, demonstrated for the first time the regeneration of functional muscle tissue in people with major muscle loss.

“While the number of patients was small, we were very encouraged by the data. And we were seeing very dramatic improvements in quality of life for some of our patients,” added Dr. J. Peter Rubin of the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, another of the researchers.

The doctors implanted material from a pig’s urinary bladder called “extracellular matrix” – the non-cellular component including collagen present within all tissues and organs – to serve as scaffolding for the rebuilding of lost muscle mass.

This material acted as a “homing device” to recruit existing stem cells in the body to rebuild healthy muscle tissue at the site of the injury, the researchers said.

Pig parts have been used for years in surgical procedures. Pig bladder “extracellular matrix” has been used in hernia repair and fixing chest wall defects after cancer removal. Before trying the procedure in people, the researchers said they successfully tested it in mice with muscle injuries.

Wartime injuries

To take part in the study, the five men had to have lost at least 25 percent of leg muscle volume and function at least six months earlier and then completed physical therapy for three to six months until their function and strength no longer improved.

The doctors then implanted the pig material and directed the men to resume physical therapy for up to six more months. Biopsies and scans confirmed that muscle growth had taken place.

The patients hurt by bomb blasts were a 27-year-old who lost 83 percent of his thigh muscle and had undergone 50 previous surgical operations, and a 28-year-old who lost 68 percent of his thigh muscle and had 14 previous operations.

The other three men had calf injuries, including one who also came from the military but was hurt while exercising and not in combat, and two civilians with severe skiing injuries.

“Frankly, most of these patients have been through hell. These are serious injuries,” Badylak said. “In fact, one or two of the patients even considered amputation at one point because they’ve just been through so much.”

Three of them, including both soldiers hurt by bombs, were measured six months after the implantation operation as stronger in five categories by at least 20 percent – and often by far more than that. The other two men also showed broad improvement but not in all five measures, the researchers said.

Badylak said four additional patients, including one woman, have since undergone the procedure with good results.

Resistance to Antibiotics Spreading Worldwide (watch video report)

Resistance to Antibiotics Spreading Worldwide (watch video report)

 — The World Health Organization warns (WHO) resistance to antibiotics is spreading to all regions around the world and is now a major threat to public health.   A new WHO report analyzes data from 114 countries.  It finds antibiotics are no longer effective in treating potentially life-threatening illnesses in a growing number of people.  

This report is the first and most comprehensive look at antimicrobial resistance.  It presents a frightening view of a world without effective antibiotics to treat common infections.  The World Health Organization says this serious threat is not a prediction for the future.  It is happening right now in every region of the world.

The report focuses on antibiotic resistance in seven different bacteria, which are responsible for common, serious diseases, such as diarrhea, pneumonia, urinary tract infections and gonorrhea.  

WHO’s Assistant Director-General for Health Security, Keiji Fukuda, says hospitals in all regions of the world are reporting untreatable or nearly untreatable infections.  

“If we take a look at an important infection like gonorrhea, this is an infection which affects about one million people per day, an important sexually transmitted disease. We now see that 10 countries have reported finding gonorrhea, which is untreatable by any antibiotics.  We have no medical treatment for this infection in many of these instances,” said Fukuda.

Among those countries are Austria, Canada, Japan, South Africa, Sweden and the United Kingdom.  Untreated gonorrhea can cause infertility, ectopic pregnancy and blindness in babies born to infected mothers.

The WHO report also notes that treatment of some urinary tract infections is now ineffective in more than half of patients.  It says antibiotic resistance causes people to be sick for longer periods and increases the risk of death.

Health officials cite the misuse and inappropriate use of drugs and the practice of adding antibiotics to agricultural feed to fatten animals as some of the factors leading to growing antibiotic resistance.

Dr. Fukuda says the health care system relies on these medicines to protect people when they are most vulnerable.

“It means that when people develop cancer and are on chemotherapy and become immuno-compromised, they are at much higher risk for complications and infections and severe ones.  When babies are born prematurely, they are in the same situation.  When we have children who are malnourished, they are at much higher risk for infection,” he said.

He says similar devastating scenarios are playing out whenever people go in for surgery.  Dr. Fukuda warns more people are likely to die from these infections.  He notes resistance also increases the cost of health care, with lengthier stays in the hospital and more intensive care required.

He says effective antibiotics have been one of the pillars allowing people to live longer, healthier lives.  He warns everyone will suffer from antibiotic resistance, especially those in poor, developing countries.  

The World Health Organization is using this report to kick-start a global effort to address drug resistance.  It says nations and people should view these findings as a wake-up call for a global plan of action to tackle this growing problem.   It says efforts must be intensified to educate people and increase awareness of the looming dangers. And it says tools and medications must be developed to replace those that are becoming ineffective.

Study: Mother’s Diet Before Conception Can Alter Child’s Genes, Affect Health

Study: Mother’s Diet Before Conception Can Alter Child’s Genes, Affect Health


Mariama Diokh throws salt onto a pile while her 5-month-old infant sits nearby on the Senegal coast close to the Gambian border,

Mariama Diokh throws salt onto a pile while her 5-month-old infant sits nearby on the Senegal coast close to the Gambian border,

 — A mother’s diet before conception can alter her child’s genes permanently, potentially making them more prone to lifelong health problems, researchers found in a study published Tuesday in the onlinescience journal Nature Communications.

The children of women who conceived during Gambia’s lean season had different genetic markers on their DNA compared to the children of women who conceived during the harvest season, researchers from theLondon School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicinereported.

Andrew Prentice, director of the MRC International Nutrition Group and one of the authors of the study, explained.

“I think everybody understands that we inherit our genes from our parents and that those are the main ways in which we resemble our parents and we inherit the characteristics they had,” he said. “What fewer people know is that those genes can actually be altered and they can be altered by several processes, which are very complicated and not yet fully understood, but one of these involves adding little markers onto the genes, which can switch some genes on or turn them off.”

Prentice and his colleagues studied how diet affects which genes are turned on or off by comparing two groups of women in rural Gambia: one that conceived during the dry season, when food is lacking in both quantity and quality, and one that conceived during the rainy season, when mothers have access to more protein and high-energy meals.

The researchers followed more than 2,000 women across 34 villages between July 2009 and July 2011.

Each time a woman gave birth, the researchers measured the markers on the baby’s genes.

“To our great surprise, we found very strong effects in the different levels of markings, according to whether the babies had been conceived in the dry season or the rainy season. … So what this tells us is that a mother’s diet in preparation for pregnancy or right at the moment of conception is highly crucial to how these genes are marked and that this almost inevitably will have lasting effects on their baby’s health,” Prentice said.

Researchers do not know precisely what the affected genes are responsible for, but are believed to determine susceptibility to cancer later in life, as well as weight gain and obesity, and the probability of dying from infectious diseases as a young adult.

In addition to folic acid, which has already been shown to help the development of babies, the study concluded vitamin B and a chemical compound known as choline, which is found in eggs and certain animal products, are necessary to achieving the “good” markings on the genes and improving the long-term health of a child.

Senior author Branwen Hennig, senior investigator scientist with MRC in Gambia, said: “Our results represent the first demonstration in humans that a mother’s nutritional well-being at the time of conception can change how her child’s genes will be interpreted, with a life-long impact.”
Prentice said, “Our ultimate goal is to define an optimal diet for mothers-to-be. … Preconceptional folic acid is already used to prevent defects in embryos. Now our research is pointing towards the need for a cocktail of nutrients, which could come from the diet or from supplements.”

WHO: Upsurge in MERS Corona Virus Due to Warmer Weather

WHO: Upsurge in MERS Corona Virus Due to Warmer Weather


Undated electron microscope image of novel coronavirus particles, also known as the MERS virus, colorized in yellow.

Undated electron microscope image of novel coronavirus particles, also known as the MERS virus, colorized in yellow.

 — The World Health Organization (WHO) says it believes the recent spike in cases of  Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, or MERS Corona virus is probably due to a seasonal increase of the disease rather than to any changes in the behavior of the virus.

WHO says similar upsurges have occurred around the same time in the past two years.  

WHO spokesman Gregory Hartl says the increase in cases is most likely due to the warmer weather in the Arabian Peninsula and to outbreaks of the disease in two or three hospitals in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

He says health officials do not know how the virus is transmitted from person to person.  But it is clear, he says, the disease does not spread with the same ease that Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, or SARS, did.

“We do not think it does transmit very efficiently,” said Hartl. “It certainly is not anything like SARS or like diseases like influenza…There is no way we can predict the future.  But, for us, at the moment, certainly this virus MERS does not have the ability to infect in the same way that SARS did.  So, that is a good sign.”   

Hartl says SARS is highly contagious.  The disease broke out in China, Hong Kong and Taiwan in the early 2000s.  Over a six-month period, at the height of the epidemic, nearly 8,100 cases and 774 deaths were reported.  

By comparison, Hartl notes WHO has confirmed 261 cases of MERS corona virus in two years.  But, the downside is that 93 people have died, which is a much higher fatality rate than that of SARS.  

The MERS corona virus is shrouded in mystery.  Health officials know that camels are one of the hosts of the virus, but they believe the disease may also stem from other sources.  They also do not know why some humans get infected and others do not.  

The virus made its first appearance in Egypt last week.  Cases also have been confirmed in Greece, Malaysia, the Philippines and Indonesia.  But WHO spokesman Hartl says patients in those countries acquired the disease while they were in Saudi Arabia.  He says the virus remains largely contained in the Middle East.

He says the virus has not changed its character.  Thirty viruses have been tested, he says, and none have mutated.   

“These viruses do not transmit from human to human because when they transmit from human to human, small changes in the genome of the virus will occur,” said Hartl. “However, in this case, we believe that this means that almost all the introductions still are coming from the environment somehow.” 

Hartl says health officials are faced with the big challenge of trying to figure out how the virus passes from its natural host or reservoir to humans.  

The World Health Organization says in the absence of any drugs to treat the disease, the best way people can protect themselves from falling ill is to practice good general hygiene.  WHO says people should wash their hands frequently and keep their distance from people who show signs of MERS.

New Device May Help Remove Blood Clots from Brain (watch video report)

New Device May Help Remove Blood Clots from Brain


U.S. researchers are developing a new type of robotic needle designed to remove blood clots in the brain. It hasn’t yet been used in the operating room. But in simulated surgery, it’s been able to remove 90 percent of the blood clots.  The device could potentially save many lives.

Researchers at Vanderbilt University are using red and yellow gelatin molded to look like a brain. With the gelatin, they are testing a robot to see if it can suction out the red gelatin that represents a blood clot. The robot has a flexible needle that surgeons might use one day to remove real blood clots without damaging the surrounding brain tissue.

Robert Webster is an engineering professor with a personal interest in the robot’s success.

“This was really compelling to me personally, because my father actually had one of these [blood clots] a couple of years ago, and at the time, there were no good treatments for him,” he said.

Webster’s father survived, but 40 percent of those who have this common medical problem, do not.

“Oftentimes based on the anatomy and the way the blood vessels are configured and these disease processes, the clots are oftentimes deep down in the brain,” said Dr. Kyle Weaver, a neurosurgeon involved in this project. “And the thought is that surgery is actually going to do more damage than the blood clot is on its own.”

That’s where the robot may help. It has a series of thin, flexible metal tubes controlled by a computer. Webster says surgeons will be able to scan a patient’s brain and the computer will then map the best route to the clot. The tubes will navigate around delicate brain matter, not through it.

The researchers are trying to design tools that could attach to the robot – such as a tiny grasper  – that could break up a clot before suctioning it out. The robot has to go through trials and an approval process before it can be used in operating rooms. But the researchers hope that when it’s ready, surgeons will be able to use it to save lives.

Breath Test Detects Lung Cancer

Breath Test Detects Lung Cancer

U.S. researchers have developed a breath test that detects lung cancer.  Researchers say the test is more sensitive than high-tech imaging, especially for distinguishing benign tumors from cancerous ones.  

When an X-ray scan of a patient’s lungs reveals a nodule or tiny mass, the challenge for doctors is determining whether the growth is benign, or a sign of early stage cancer. Investigators say the breath analysis could help when used in conjunction with PET scans or other imaging modalities.
Researchers conducted a trial involving 107 patients with lung cancer, 40 people with benign lung nodules, and seven individuals whose cancer had spread to other parts of their body.  The results were compared to a group of 88 healthy individuals.
The breath analysis was almost as sensitive as high-tech imaging at identifying patients with lung cancer, and it was twice as accurate at distinguishing benign lung disease, dramatically reducing the rate of so-called “false positives.”

Michael Bousrama is an associate professor at the University of Louisville medical school and the study’s lead author. He says lung spots are often detected on an X-ray or CT (computed tomography) scan when a patient goes to the doctor complaining of shortness of breath or chest pain.

“In this day and age what you do is you do a biopsy; either you stick a needle through the skin and into the lung, into the mass, or you do a bronchoscopy; or you might get a PET scan to determine whether or not it’s more or less likely to be cancer.   All of those things are expensive and the CT-guided biopsy and the bronchoscopy are invasive procedures.  They have complications and pain associated with them.  So the concept of being able to analyze somebody’s breath to help determine whether a given pulmonary nodule is cancer or not could be very appealing,” said Bousrama.

Bousrama says the breath test, which can be done in the doctor’s office, has the potential to quickly put a patient’s mind at ease in determining that a growth is benign.

The test is designed to measure levels of four specific substances called carbonyl compounds, which are found in the breath of people with malignant tumors.  The majority of patients in the study with benign nodules had at most only one elevated carbonyl compound compared to people with stage IV lung cancer. They had three or four elevated cancer markers.

Bousrama envisions using the breath analysis to confirm an initial diagnosis of lung cancer using high-tech imaging.  He says the test won’t be available for a number of years.

Michael Bousrama described the breath analysis test at a meeting of the American Association for Thoracic Surgery in Toronto, Canada.

REDC Lahore University of Management Sciences LUMS Organises Awareness Seminar on HORIZON 2020

REDC Lahore University of Management Sciences LUMS  Organises Awareness Seminar on HORIZON 2020

REDC Lahore University of Management Sciences LUMS  Organises Awareness Seminar on HORIZON 2020

REDC Lahore University of Management Sciences LUMS Organises Awareness Seminar on HORIZON 2020

Rausing Executive Development Centre (REDC) organised a half day seminar with the European Union Delegation on the new EU Research and Innovation Programme, HORIZON 2020. The objective of the seminar was to promote awareness about the HORIZON 2020 programme in the country and was attended by faculty members, researchers and academicians. Dr. Shafay Shumail was the conference director for the event.

The seminar created awareness about the Horizon 2020’s aim to promote joint high-profile scientific projects. The projects will be carried out through collaborative consortia between non-EU states and EU science and technology partners.

Dr. Arif Butt, Dean, Suleman Dawood School of Business (SDSB) shared that HORIZON 2020’s vision is in sync with LUMS perspective of developing a culture of consolidated research to integrate knowledge into classroom teaching materials and to establish collaborative linkages with domestic and international research institutions.

The European Union’s Regional Scientific Counsellor Mr. Denis Dambois discussed the details of the HORIZON 2020 programme. Deputy Head of the European Union Delegation Mr. Pierre Mayaudon stated that the HORIZON 2020 programme will bring together the EU and Pakistani communities through research and innovation in various fields ranging from agriculture, energy, climate change to biotechnology, safety and security.

TRG Recruitment Drive 2014 Held atLahore University of Management Sciences LUMS

TRG Recruitment Drive 2014 Held atLahore University of Management Sciences LUMS

TRG Recruitment Drive 2014 Held atLahore University of Management Sciences LUMS

TRG Recruitment Drive 2014 Held atLahore University of Management Sciences LUMS

The Resource Group (TRG) in collaboration with the Career Services Office (CSO) organised their Recruitment Drive 2014 for several vacancies and internship positions at LUMS on April 17, 2014. The drive was addressed to all the 2014 undergradute students across all disciplines.

The drive constituted of a presentation by Mr. Shoaib Shakoor, Director IBEX Global, at TRG followed by a comprehensive introduction of the team. It was an honor to see the LUMS alumni among their team, who shared their experiences at TRG with the students. They also played a video which captured the attention of the audience. The video highlighted TRG’s main aim to hire creative minds. Mr. Shoaib informed students that TRG is the only company in the industry that hires throughout the year.

Later Mr. Hassan took charge and provided students with the instructions for the test. He told students how well they can attempt the test by following certain guidelines. Later the TRG recruitment team conducted a written test which was an hour long.

The students actively participated in the question and answer session at the end and showed great interest in joining TRG as a permanent resource.