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Archive for July 8, 2013

Spaghetti with Parsley Pesto Recipe: Bon Appétit


1 pound spaghetti

Kosher salt

1/2 cup unsalted, roasted almonds

4 cups (packed) fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves

3/4 cup chopped fresh chives

3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan

Freshly ground black pepper


Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, until al dente. Drain, reserving 2 cups pasta cooking liquid.

Meanwhile, pulse almonds in a food processor until smooth. Add parsley, chives, oil, and Parmesan; process until smooth. Season pesto with salt and pepper.

Toss pasta and pesto in a large bowl, adding pasta cooking liquid by 1/4-cupfuls until saucy. Season with salt and pepper.

DO AHEAD: Pesto can be made 5 days ahead. Cover surface directly; chill.

via Spaghetti with Parsley Pesto Recipe: Bon Appétit.

MSD launched Ramadan Hypoglycemia Campaign and mobile app


MSD, a local company, have launched a Ramadan Hypoglycemia Campaign 2012 together with a mobile app in conjunction with the upcoming Holy Month to support Muslim diabetic patients who wish to complete their religious obligations despite of their condition.

The objective of the campaign is to create awareness about the possible complications while fasting. Their initiave involve launching two customised tools, a booklet and a mobile app, to help Muslim diabetics manage their blood sugar levels while performing their obligations. The information booklet entitled ‘The Facts about Fasting during Ramadan’ details key facts and tips on fasting, blood sugar level tracking and a calendar to document prayer and breaking fast times. The booklets are available at all Persatuan Diabetes Malaysia’s office nationwide.

The second tool is an iOS mobile app called ‘Ramadan, diabetes and me’ that allows users to track down their blood sugar levels conveniently. Like the booklet, the app also provides useful tips and information about fasting and diabetic management. Data can be saved in PDF format or shared via email to their doctors. Users will need to key in their blood sugar level into the app everytime they track using a glucometer. Besides that, the app contains a prayer compass, prayer times reminder, and a Ramadan calendar.

The app will available for download by 16 July onwards via the iTunes App Store. It is available in four countries namely Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, United Kingdom and United Arab Emirates in three languages – English, Bahasa Malaysia and Gulf Arabic.

via MSD launched Ramadan Hypoglycemia Campaign and mobile app.

Herbal stimulant khat to be banned

Khat is a “mild stimulant”, the ACMD said


The herbal stimulant khat is to be banned by the government, against the advice of its own Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs.

In January the ACMD said khat should remain a legal substance, saying there was “insufficient evidence” it caused health problems.

But Home Secretary Theresa May has decided to ban it, saying the risks posed could have been underestimated.

Khat will be treated as a class C drug, like anabolic steroids and ketamine.

The Home Office said the ban was intended to “protect vulnerable members of our communities” and would be brought in at the “earliest possible opportunity”.

Khat is already banned in most of Europe and in a number of other countries, including the US and Canada.

The UK’s decision to follow suit is based on security and international considerations, in particular concerns the UK could be used as a transit route for khat to other European countries.

“Failure to take decisive action and change the UK’s legislative position on khat would place the UK at a serious risk of becoming a single, regional hub for the illegal onward trafficking,” Mrs May said in a statement.

But campaigners said they were “disappointed and concerned” at the government’s decision to reject the advisory council’s advice.

“A more proportionate alternative to banning khat and criminalising its use would have been an import ban or making it a supply offence only as applies, for example, to controlled anabolic steroids,” said Martin Barnes from charity Drugscope.

‘Significant social problem’

Khat is traditionally used by members of the Somali, Yemeni and Ethiopian communities.

The Home Office commissioned a review by the ACMD and, reporting its results in January, it said chewing khat produced a “mild stimulant effect much less potent than stimulant drugs, such as amphetamine”.

The ACMD found “no evidence” khat, made from leaves and shoots of a shrub cultivated in the Horn of Africa and the Arabian Peninsula, and containing the stimulant cathinone, was directly linked with serious or organised crime.

But the government said on Wednesday that it was concerned that a lack of evidence could have led the ACMD to underestimate the risk to communities posed by the drug.

Somali groups in the UK had told the ACMD that use of khat was a “significant social problem” and said it caused medical issues and family breakdowns.

The ACMD said withdrawal symptoms such as tiredness and depression were associated with khat, and recommended that the NHS should educate the public about these where necessary.

A government spokesman said ministers wanted to allow police officers to use their discretion when dealing with low-level possession offences, much in the same way they approach those carrying cannabis for personal use.

But repeat and serious offenders would face criminal sanctions, the spokesman added.

Chief Constable Andy Bliss, speaking for the Association of Chief Police Officers, said “there could be a case” for treating khat possession in this way.

“A first offence by an adult generally attracts a warning and a second the issuing of a penalty notice, before escalating to arrest and prosecution,” he said.

“We will explore this possibility with the Home Office and with the College of Policing over forthcoming weeks.”


via BBC News – Herbal stimulant khat to be banned.

Malaria: ‘Too few’ bed nets paid for by UK are being used

The UK is hoping to halve the number of malaria deaths in 10 target countries by 2015

Not enough anti-malarial bed nets paid for by the UK are being used around the world, ministers have been warned.

The UK has funded 25 million mosquito nets since 2010 but the National Audit Office said usage among target groups, such as children, was disappointing.

The watchdog urged the UK to work with aid recipients to “change attitudes” and to ensure proper value for money.

Ministers said the increased use of bed nets was part of a multi-faceted strategy acknowledged to save lives.

There is no vaccine for malaria and the disease killed an estimated 660,000 people last year and left 250 million people seriously ill.

The World Health Organization has warned of a $2.8bn shortfall in global funding to tackle the disease, regarded as one of the biggest health and economic challenges for countries with high rates of illness.

It is important that the department influence the governments of countries receiving malaria aid so that their efforts to tackle the disease match its own rising spending”

Amyas MorseNational Audit Office

The UK spent £252m in 2011-12 on counter-prevention measures in 18 countries, 16 of them in Africa. The budget is expected to rise to £494m in 2014-15, making the UK the third largest global donor.

The NAO’s report, which drew on first-hand research in Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Nigeria and Burma, said the countries had been “well-chosen” but questioned the effectiveness of some of the spending.

There had been a 23% increase in the number of families in the four countries owning a mosquito net since 2010 but usage by target groups such as children had increased by just 11.6%.

A target for 80% of children under five to sleep under bed nets by 2015 was in danger of being missed, it added, and better monitoring was needed of how many nets were used and how long they lasted.

‘Rapid resurgence’

Mortality rates from malaria in Africa have dropped by a third in the past decade but the NAO warned this progress was at risk of stalling and there could be “a rapid resurgence of the disease”.


  • Burma
  • Zimbabwe
  • Tanzania
  • India
  • Malawi
  • Ghana
  • Rwanda
  • Somalia
  • Nigeria
  • Democratic Republic of Congo
  • Uganda
  • Zambia
  • Burundi
  • Ethiopia
  • Kenya
  • Mozambique
  • Sierra Leone
  • Sudan

With some nets wrongly sized and difficult to hang, persuading the most vulnerable to use them was as much of a challenge as providing them in the first place, the watchdog said.

“Bilateral programmes use proven interventions, such as providing bed nets, and funding the introduction of rapid diagnostic tests and the distribution of drugs,” said its head Amyas Morse.

“But sustained improvement will crucially depend on changing the attitudes and behaviour of the populations at risk.

“It is important that the department influence the governments of countries receiving malaria aid so that their efforts to tackle the disease match its own rising spending.”

Campaign group Malaria No More said the NAO’s conclusions were based on “a few countries” and the issue of 12 million nets in Ghana had produced “encouraging” results with reported usage among children up sharply.

“We know what works and thanks to the simple, cost-effective means at our disposal, global malaria death rates have been cut by 26% between 2000-2010,” said its director James Whiting.

International Development Secretary Justine Greening said the watchdog’s report had recognised that the UK’s programmes saved lives and represented good value for money.

“Less disease and healthier populations make for more stable, productive and ultimately self-sufficient developing economies,” she said. “The UK is playing its part by improving access to life-saving drugs, increasing the use of bed nets and investing in developing new technologies to tackle malaria and reduce the spread of resistance.”

via BBC News – Malaria: ‘Too few’ bed nets paid for by UK are being used.

Baby born using new IVF screening technique

Connor Levy’s parents had been trying to conceive naturally for four years.


A baby has been born in the US using a new method for screening embryos during IVF which could dramatically reduce costs, researchers report.

Connor Levy was born in May after the test, devised at Oxford University, helped doctors pick an embryo with the best chance of success.

Only one in three attempts at IVF results in a baby as abnormalities in an embryo’s DNA are common.

Large trials are now needed to see how effective the method is, experts say.

If there are abnormalities with the packages of DNA, called chromosomes, in the embryo then it will not implant in the womb or if it does the foetus will not reach term.

All this hard work and we have finally got our little tiny human being named Connor”

Marybeth ScheidtsMother

It is a problem which increases rapidly with age. One quarter of embryos are abnormal in a woman’s early 30s, but this soars to three quarters by the time a woman reaches her late 30s and early 40s.

Some clinics already offer a form of chromosome screening, but it can add between £2,000 and £3,000 to the cost of IVF in the UK. Connor’s mother, Marybeth Scheidts, said it would have cost her $6,000 (£4,100) for the test in Pennsylvania.

The new test takes advantage of the dramatic advances in sequencing the human genome. Within 24 hours it can ensure the correct number of chromosomes are present.

Dr Dagan Wells from Oxford University told the BBC: “Current tests are adding a significant amount of money on to an already expensive procedure and that is limiting access; most patients are having to pay for this out of pocket themselves.

“What our technique does is it gives you the number of chromosomes and other biological information about the embryo at a low cost – probably about two thirds of the price of existing methods of screening.”

How to pick the right embryo to implant is a major issue in fertility clinics

He says trials are now needed to see if it could improve IVF success rates.

Tears of joy

The baby and a further pregnancy resulting from the screening method will be announced at the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology conference.

Marybeth Scheidts, 36, and her husband David Levy, 41, had been trying to conceive naturally for four years and also tried artificial insemination.

In the screening three of the 13 embryos produced were healthy. Without chromosome screening, picking the right embryo would have been down to luck. Instead they were successful on their first attempt.

Marybeth told BBC News Online that the years of trying were tough: “It takes its toll, there were some days I would break down and cry, I wanted to hide in my bedroom and say stop.

They done the work in humans, they’ve pregnancies – so it’s a pretty powerful proof of concept study using an exciting technique”

Stuart LaveryDirector of IVF at Hammersmith Hospital

“Then to see him… all this hard work and we have finally got our little tiny human being named Connor.”

Dr Michael Glassner, the fertility doctor at Main Line Health System where the IVF took place, said such techniques would become more common.

“If you have ever sat across the desk from a patient that has failed or is in that crossroads of thinking of another cycle and you look in their eyes where they are barely able to hold on to their hopes and dreams – anything that is so significantly going to impact pregnancy rates is going to become standard.

“So I think five years from now you fast forward – yes I think it will be standard.”

Commenting on the study, Stuart Lavery, a consultant gynaecologist and director of IVF at Hammersmith Hospital, said: “This is amazing science.

“They done the work in humans, they’ve pregnancies – so it’s a pretty powerful proof of concept study using an exciting technique.”

He also praised the researchers for saying proper trials needed to be conducted before it was used widely.

via BBC News – Baby born using new IVF screening technique.

The Science Hour, Bone marrow ‘frees men of HIV drugs’; Self-cleaning seabird eggs; New tests for liver disease

Bone marrow ‘frees men of HIV drugs’; Self-cleaning seabird eggs; New tests for liver disease

Bone marrow ‘frees men of HIV drugs’
Doctors in the United States say two patients have been taken off their HIV drugs after they were given bone marrow transplants for blood cancers. Dr Daniel Kuritzkes is part of the medical team behind the research and says “we’ve learnt something very important about the mechanisms by which HIV infected cells could be eliminated”.

Self-cleaning seabird eggs
Guillemots – highly social, cliff-nesting seabirds – lay eggs that are self-cleaning. Scientists studying guillemot eggs accidentally spilled water on a batch. When the accident happened, the researchers noticed that the water stood in droplets on the eggs’ surface, similar to the droplets that are seen on lotus leaves or other hydrophobic, water-repellent, self-cleaning surfaces. BBC Science reporter Victoria Gill heard the scientists’ story at the Society for Experimental Biology Conference in Valencia, Spain.

Scarred Liver
Liver disease is on the increase worldwide, due to the rise in hepatitis C in some countries and increasing alcohol use in others. Researchers from the University of Nottingham are exhibiting how new tests, including a technique borrowed from the cheese industry and the use of unique MRI protocols, are being used to diagnose liver disease at an earlier stage. Dr Neil Guha, a liver specialist, and Dr Susan Francis, a physicist, are from the NIHR Nottingham Digestive Diseases Biomedical Research Unit in the UK.
via BBC World Service – The Science Hour, Bone marrow ‘frees men of HIV drugs’; Self-cleaning seabird eggs; New tests for liver disease.

Two more die in Saudi Arabia from MERS coronavirus

A man, wearing a surgical mask as a precautionary measure against the novel coronavirus, walks near a hospital in Khobar city in Dammam

(Reuters) – Two more people have died of the SARS-like coronavirus MERS, Saudi Arabia’s Health Ministry said, bringing to 38 the number of deaths from the disease inside the country shortly before Islam’s Ramadan fast when many pilgrims visit.

A two-year-old child died in Jeddah and a 53-year-old man died in Eastern Province, where the outbreak has been concentrated, the ministry said late on Saturday in a statement on its website. Four people have died outside the kingdom.

The ministry said another three people had been confirmed as being infected with Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS), bringing the total number of confirmed cases inside the kingdom to 65 since it was identified a year ago.

On Friday the World Health Organization said MERS, which can cause fever, coughing and pneumonia, had not yet reached pandemic potential and may simply die out.

Ramadan, Islam’s fasting month, is expected to start in Saudi Arabia on Monday night and is traditionally a time when hundreds of thousands of Muslims come to Mecca for umrah, a pilgrimage that can be carried out at any time of year.

Millions are also expected to travel to Mecca for the main pilgrimage, haj, that will take place in October, although the authorities have cut the number of visas this year, citing safety concerns over expansion work at the main mosque site.

WHO experts said last month that countries at risk from MERS should put in place plans for handling mass gatherings but has stopped short of recommending restrictions on travel.

(Reporting by Angus McDowall; Editing by Alison Williams)

via Two more die in Saudi Arabia from MERS coronavirus | Reuters.

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