Flu Vaccine from Physician Offers Important Health Check Up, Says Loyola Infectious Disease Specialist

From the FMS Global News Desk of Jeanne Hambleton Released: 12-Sep-2014
Source: Loyola University Health System

flu jabs PIC.

Getting your annual flu shot from your physician affords an opportunity for an overall health checkup, says Jorge Parada, MD, medical director of infectious disease at Loyola University Health System.

(A health check-up would be nice. In our surgery for flu jabs  we queue up like children waiting for dinner. The nurses do about three couples in every ten minutes. It is like a conveyor belt but it works. J.)

Newswise — Everyone knows that the best way to avoid the flu is by getting an annual flu shot. But a trip to your physician every autumn for the vaccination can help you avoid much more than the dreaded flu bug.

“At the doctor’s office, the focus is on you and what is going on with your health. This is your time to talk about concerns to improve your well-being beyond the flu season,” says Jorge Parada, MD, MPH, the medical director of the Infection Prevention and Control Program at Loyola University Health System.

A retail store that offers the flu shot cannot give you expert medical advice from your physician that knows you and your medical history.

“You trust your store employee to help you locate items you want to buy, not to diagnose what is causing a persistent symptom, schedule other annual health maintenance exams such as mammograms or offer expert medical advice,” he said.

When is the best time of year to get the flu shot? The official flu season is October 1 – March 31, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

“Getting the flu shot in October gives you the best chance of avoiding the flu this year,” says Parada.

“If you get your flu shot in the beginning of September, you may start running out of infection immunity by February or March, when the virus is still around.”

The flu season traditionally peaks in late December to early February, he notes. Loyola is planning to distribute more than 30,000 flu vaccinations this season.

“Remember that it takes up to two weeks after the flu shot for the full effect to kick in,” says Parada. “And if you were exposed to the flu around the time you get your flu shot, you may still experience the flu but do not blame the flu shot.”

Just like with other infectious diseases such as polio, mumps, chicken pox and whooping cough, the participation of everyone in receiving vaccinations is critical to stopping the virus.

“When people are universally vaccinated, those infections are largely eliminated,” says Parada. “It may not sound sexy but it is everyone’s civic responsibility to protect themselves and their community.”

Millions of dollars are lost each year during the flu season due to missed days of work, expense of medications and the like. And many lose their lives due to the flu.

“The most vulnerable members of our society, the very young and the elderly or chronically ill, and pregnant women, are hit the hardest by the flu,” says Parada.

For 2014, the flu vaccination composition is the same as in 2013. The 2014-2015 trivalent influenza vaccine is made from the following three viruses:
• an A/California/7/2009 (H1N1)pdm09-like virus;
• an A/Texas/50/2012 (H3N2)-like virus;
• a B/Massachusetts/2/2012-like virus.

It is recommended that quadrivalent vaccines containing two influenza B viruses contain the above three viruses and a B/Brisbane/60/2008-like virus.

There are hundreds of varieties of the flu. “The flu virus is mutating all the time but health professionals track what happens in other countries that experience the flu season earlier and identify the primary strains,” says Parada.

Loyola University Health System is recognized internationally as a leader in infection control and prevention. Loyola is one of a few select hospitals who invest in universal screening of all inpatients for MRSA. Loyola was one of the first institutions to require all staff to have mandatory flu shots as a condition of employment. Loyola was the only academic hospital to participate in a national C. difficile study and performs the most accurate testing for bacteria. Loyola also actively screens emergency department patients for HIV/AIDS as part of an ongoing research study.


Enzymes that help produce caffeine evolved independently in coffee, tea and chocolate, say scientists who have newly sequenced the coffee plant genome

From FMS Global News Desk of Jeanne Hambleton Release: September 4, 2014                           By Cory Nealon   University of Buffalo News Centre

Coffee Beans PIC.

  • An international research team has sequenced the genome of the coffee plant Coffea canephora.
  • By comparing genes in the coffee, tea and chocolate plants, the scientists show that enzymes involved in making caffeine likely evolved independently in these three organisms.
  • More than 8.7 million tons of coffee was produced in 2013; it is the principal agricultural product of many tropical nations.
  • The study was led by the French Institute of Research for Development, the French National Sequencing Center (CEA-Genoscope) and the University at Buffalo. The findings appear in the journal Science.


BUFFALO, N.Y. — The newly sequenced genome of the coffee plant reveals secrets about the evolution of man’s best chemical friend: caffeine.

The scientists who completed the project say the sequences and positions of genes in the coffee plant show that they evolved independently from genes with similar functions in tea and chocolate, which also make caffeine.

In other words, coffee did not inherit caffeine-linked genes from a common ancestor, but instead developed the genes on its own.

Why coffee?

With more than 2.25 billion cups consumed daily worldwide, coffee is the principal agricultural product of many tropical countries. According to estimates by the International Coffee Organization, more than 8.7 million tons of coffee were produced in 2013, revenue from exports amounted to $15.4 billion in 2009-2010, and the sector employed nearly 26 million people in 52 countries during 2010.

“Coffee is as important to everyday early risers as it is to the global economy. Accordingly, a genome sequence could be a significant step toward improving coffee,” said Philippe Lashermes, a researcher at the French Institute of Research for Development (IRD).

“By looking at the coffee genome and genes specific to coffee, we were able to draw some conclusions about what makes coffee special.”

Lashermes, along with Patrick Wincker and France Denoeud, genome scientists at the French National Sequencing Center (CEA-Genoscope), and Victor Albert, professor of biological sciences at the University at Buffalo, are the principal authors of the study.

Scientists from other organizations, particularly the Agricultural Research Center for International Development in France, also contributed, along with researchers from public and private organizations in the U.S., France, Italy, Canada, Germany, China, Spain, Indonesia, Brazil, Australia and India.

The team created a high-quality draft of the genome of Coffea canephora, which accounts for about 30 percent of the world’s coffee production, according to the Manhattan-based National Coffee Association.

Next, the scientists looked at how coffee’s genetic make-up is distinct from other species.

Compared to several other plant species, including the grape and tomato, coffee harbors larger families of genes that relate to the production of alkaloid and flavonoid compounds, which contribute to qualities such as coffee aroma and the bitterness of beans.

Coffee also has an expanded collection of N-methyltransferases, enzymes that are involved in making caffeine.

Upon taking a closer look, the researchers found that coffee’s caffeine enzymes are more closely related to other genes within the coffee plant than to caffeine enzymes in tea and chocolate.

This finding suggests that caffeine production developed independently in coffee. If this trait had been inherited from a common ancestor, the enzymes would have been more similar between species.

“The coffee genome helps us understand what is exciting about coffee — other than that it wakes me up in the morning,” Albert said.

“By looking at which families of genes expanded in the plant, and the relationship between the genome structure of coffee and other species, we were able to learn about coffee’s independent pathway in evolution, including — excitingly — the story of caffeine.”

Why caffeine is so important in nature is another question. Scientists theorize that the chemical may help plants repel insects or stunt competitors’ growth. One recent paper showed that pollinators — like humans — may develop caffeine habits. Insects that visited caffeine-producing plants often returned to get another taste.

The new Science study does not offer new ideas about the evolutionary role of caffeine, but it does reinforce the idea that the compound is a valuable asset. It also provides the opportunity to better understand the evolution of coffee’s genome structure.

“It turns out that, over evolutionary time, the coffee genome was not triplicated as in its relatives: the tomato and chile pepper,” Wincker said.

“Instead it maintained a structure similar to the grape’s. As such, evolutionary diversification of the coffee genome was likely more driven by duplications in particular gene families as opposed to en masse, when all genes in the genome duplicate.”

This stands in contrast to what has been suggested for several other large plant families, where other investigators have noted correlations between high species diversity in a group and the presence of whole genome doublings or triplings.

“Coffee lies in the plant family Rubiaceae, which has about 13,000 species and is the world’s fourth largest; thus, with no genome duplication at its root, it appears to break the mold of a genome duplication link to high biodiversity,” Denoeud said.

The research was funded by the French National Research Agency; Australian Research Council; Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada; CNR-ENEA Agrifood Project of Italy; Funding Authority for Studies and Projects (FINEP Qualicafe) of Brazil; National Institutes of Science and Technology (INCT Cafe) of Brazil; the U.S. National Science Foundation; the College of Arts and Sciences, University at Buffalo; and in-kind support by scientists at Nestle’s research and development center in Tours, France.

“The coffee genome helps us understand what is exciting about coffee — other than that it wakes me up in the morning,” said Victor Albert, professor of biological sciences University at Buffalo.



Study shows a seasonal effect on the pace of motor development in babies born in Israel during their first year

From the FMS Global News Desk of Jeanne Hambleton Released: 11-Sep-2014   Source : University of Haifax


Newswise — The season of a baby’s birth influences its motor development during its first year of life, a new study by University of Haifa researcher’s shows. Babies born in the winter (between December and May) start crawling earlier compared to babies born in the summer (June-November).

The research was conducted by Dr. Osnat Atun-Einy of the University’s Department of Physical Therapy and Dr. Dina Cohen, Moran Samuel and Prof. Anat Scher of the Department of Counseling and Human Development. 47 healthy babies with typical development patterns where divided them into two groups.

The first group comprised “summer-fall” babies, 16 babies born from June to November, and the second, “winter-spring” babies, 31 babies born from December to May. The study consisted of motor observations in the babies’ homes when there were seven months old, and a follow-up session when they began to crawl. Parents were asked to record the stages in their babies’ development before and between the observations.

The study used the Alberta Infant Motor Scale (AIMS), an observational assessment with high reliability, to track the babies’ development. The scale relates to four positions: Prone (on the stomach), supine (on the back), sitting, and standing.

The average age at which the babies started crawling was 31 weeks. But while the babies born in the winter (who started to crawl in the summer) started to crawl at an average 30 weeks, those born in the summer (who started to crawl in the winter) began crawling at an average of 35 weeks, with no differences noted between the boys or the girls or in the initial style of crawling (belly crawling or using hands and knees).

The overall AIMS score was higher for those babies born in the winter, and the score for movement in the prone position, the scale most meaningful in connection with crawling was, significantly higher for the babies in the winter group.

By contrast, there was no significant difference in the scores for the supine position, sitting, or standing between the two groups. According to the researchers, the findings strengthen the assumption that there is a window of opportunity for starting to crawl and stress the effect of the season on the start of crawling.

“The difference in crawling onset of four weeks constitutes 14 percent of a seven-month-old’s life and is significant,” the researchers note. “Documenting the trend by comparing the results of a standard evaluation scale strengthens the findings and points to a significant seasonal effect in the Israeli context.

”The geographic location and the local climate where the study is conducted is important to understand the findings, they add. A seasonal effect is found in places where the differences in the home environment between summer and winter are significant.

Studies done in Denver, Colorado and in Osaka, Japan found a seasonal effect that corresponds with the findings of the Haifa study, but a study conducted in Alberta, Canada, where winters are long and cold on the one hand, but the home environment (because of winter heating) is very similar all year round, the seasonal effect was not observed.

“Although the winter in Israel is comparatively mild compared to other places in the world, it turns out that it nonetheless influences the motor development of babies because of the differences between summer and winter in Israel,” the researchers say.

“The season influences the babies’ experiences in a number of ways, including layers of clothing that are worn; the opportunities babies are given to spend on the floor on their stomachs, and the hours of activity and daylight. Awareness of the seasonal effect is important so that parents will give their babies proper movement and development opportunities in the winter as well,” the researchers say.

Back tomorrow Jeanne


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