Sunday, 27 November 2011

Playing music in operation theatres improves surgical outcome

Syed Akbar
Hyderabad: Dr Mangalampalli Balamurali Krishna, MS
Subbulakshmi, Ustad Bismillah Khan and other great musicians and singers
have one thing in common in operation theatres: they inspire surgeons,
anaesthesiologists and nursing staff to perform surgeries more skilfully and
with better coordination.

The practice of listening to music in operation theatres while performing
surgeries is fast catching up in the country with more and more doctors and
paramedical staff playing soft classical instrumental music, ghazals and even
filmi songs. Doctors in some hospitals have made special arrangement to
listen to their favourite music, while a few corporate hospitals have set up
operation theatres and catheter labs with inbuilt speakers. In some hospitals,
patients, who are put on local or regional anaesthesia, are asked before hand
which type of music they would prefer in the operation theatre.

According to Dr N Ranga Bhashyam, senior gastroenterologist and former
honorary surgeon to the President, playing slow classical music in operation
theatre gives a sedative effect to patients, lessens irritation and provides a
sense of calmness to doctors. "Playing music during childbirth has a great
impact on the patient. Even violent people in mental hospitals can be
controlled through slow music of instruments like flute, violin and veena," he

Dr J Shiv Kumar, cardiologist, says he plays music in his cath lab to keep the
blood pressure and heart beat of his patients under control. "Any music
including rock gives a definite impact in theatre. It is fast catching up here as
many doctors believe that it gives them enough confidence," he adds.

Cancer surgeon Dr P Raghuram points out that playing soft instrumental
music soothes the mind of the surgeon. "The volume must be low and the
music should be only in the background. It encourages organised thought,
improves concentration and dexterity of surgeons In some theatres pop music
is played, but it detracts the attention," he says.

According to senior urologist Dr Kim Mammen, who conducted a study on
the impact of music on surgical staff, playing music in operation theatre
helped in "reducing the autonomic reactivity of theatre personnel in stressful
surgeries allowing them to approach their surgeries in a more thoughtful and
relaxed manner."

Dr Kim said they found that instrumental music was the most sought after
type of music, followed by FM radio, ghazals, English country, English
classical and Indian classical.

Hepatitis B: Hyderabad team develops a new DNA probe to find out viral copies

Syed Akbar
Hyderabad: City scientists have designed a new DNA probe that
could accurately tell doctors the number of copies of virus in hepatitis B
patients for easy monitoring of the disease.

This is the first indigenously developed DNA probe for detection of "viral
load" (number of copies of the virus) in hepatitis B patients. It has 100 per
cent sensitivity result and can detect all sub-types of hepatitis B virus.
Further, the new DNA probe will cut down the cost of diagnostic tests as it is
designed in the country.

"During diagnosis of hepatitis B virus, chances are that certain sub-types are
not detected. Moreover, for the virus to be detected it has to be present in
certain number. Our DNA probe saves money for patients and help doctors to
change the treatment modalities as it tells them whether or not the patient is
responding to the treatment," said senior scientist Dr MN Khaja.

Dr Khaja and other city scientists Dr Naresh Yalamanchili, Dr Syed
Rahmatullah, Dr Madhavi Chandra, Dr Vishnupriya Satti, Dr Ramachandra
Rao and Dr M Aejaz Habeeb are part of the team that designed the new DNA
probe. They are from the Centre for Liver Research and Diagnostics, Owaisi
Hospital and Research Centre, and Department of Genetics, Osmania
University. Since the probe does not skip any of the virus varieties present in
the patient, it will give the exact viral load he or she is suffering from.

The higher the viral load the greater the severity of the disease. Hepatitis B
positive patients are put on six or 24 weeks of treatment regimen and during
this period the viral load is accessed at regular intervals. If the viral load
comes down, it means the patient is responding to the treatment. If the patient
is not responding, the doctor will change the treatment mode. The city team's
DNA probe helps in this process.

In 10 years Indians gained 0.50 cm in height: Growth rate slower than that of Europeans

Syed Akbar
Hyderabad: Indians are growing taller at a much slower pace
than people in European countries. According to city scientists, men in
India have turned taller by 0.50 cm and women by 0.22 cm in the last
10 years. This is in contrast to the decadal secular increase in height in
Europe by one centimetre for men and 0.70 cm for women.

A research study by the clinical division of the city-based National
Institute of Nutrition has revealed that the average height of adult men
and women in the country is 165 cm and 152 cm respectively. The NIN
team comprising Dr Raja Sriswan Mamidi, Dr Bharati Kulkarni and Dr
Abhishek Singh has gone through the anthropometric data of around
70,000 men and about 1.19 lakh women in the age group of 20 to 49
years to arrive at the finding.

Given the fact that India has made impressive progress on the
economic and health front, the average increase in height of Indians
should have been much more. "The secular increase in height has been
modest in India in spite of impressive economic growth," the scientists

An interesting finding by the NIN team was that people who consumed
milk daily had put in more height. The team also found some difference
in the height of people living in different States and linked the regional
differences to the varying quantum of milk consumed.

The scientists noted that milk consumption helped both men and
women in gaining height, though the increase in height was a littler
more in men. This shows that dietary intake also influences the overall
increase in the height of both men and women.

The NIN's is the first study on adult height and associated secular
trends in relation to socio-economic factors based on a nationally
representative sample.

TB strains in Hyderabad and Andhra Pradesh are of ancestral type; Hyderabad scientists discover new lead molecule for TB

Syed Akbar
Hyderabad: A group of city scientists has discovered a novel lead molecule that could effectively kill the bacteria that cause tuberculosis, while another group has found that the TB strains circulating in Hyderabad and other parts of Andhra Pradesh are of “ancestral” type and, thus, relatively less damaging in nature.

Two teams from the Institute of Life Sciences, an associate institute of the University of Hyderabad, have achieved considerable success in understanding the mechanism of the TB pathogen, particularly why there have been no institutionalised outbreaks of TB in India despite high infection burden, illiteracy, crowding, poverty and not so good hygienic practices.

The novel molecule has shown promising results in the laboratory tests and could emerge as a source of new drug to fight tuberculosis, which is turning resistant to a number of drugs. The anti-TB molecule has successfully killed TB bacterium in test tube studies.

The bacterial strains that cause tuberculosis are broadly divided into “ancestral” and “modern” strains. The strains circulating in India are largely of ancestral type. So far, there have been no studies on the types of strains present in TB patients in Hyderabad or other parts of AP. The University of Hyderabad scientists, led by Dr Niyaz Ahmed, associate professor at the Department of Biotechnology, and their collaborators from the Bhagwan Mahavir Medical Research Centre, have made a pioneering attempt to understand the TB pathogen in this part of the world.

“Significant presence of the ancestral type bacteria in the TB patients from AP assumes importance as M. tuberculosis belonging to the ancestral lineage could show reduced transmission as well as ability to acquire drug resistance as compared to other lineages. This perhaps explains why the Indian population has never suffered institutionalised TB outbreaks as seen in some other parts of the world where ancestral type bacteria are not so prevalent,” said Dr Niyaz Ahmed.

The distribution of the Mycobacterium tuberculosis genotypes in India has been characterised by widespread prevalence of ancestral lineages in the south, and the modern forms predominating in the north of India. The pattern was, however, not clearly known in the south-central region such as Hyderabad and the rest of AP where the prevalence of both tuberculosis and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection is one of the highest in the country.

Moreover, this area has been the hotspot of TB vaccine trials. Correct baseline understanding of the prevalent bacterial types would prevent vaccine escape by any novel strains.

Drink 200 ml milk or lime juice and eat a banana a day to beat the occupational stress

Syed Akbar
Hyderabad:  As stress is now increasingly blamed on spurt in
cardiac and brain problems, Indian nutritionists have found a natural
way of beating stress, particularly the one linked to occupation.
Drink 200 ml of lime juice or milk or eat a banana everyday for three
months and your occupational stress level will come down by 40 per
cent, they suggest.

Stress is a psychological and physiological response to the events
that upset one’s personal balance. Consuming select foods will not
only help in busting the stress to a large extent, but also improve
the iron content in the blood.

Nutritionists R Usharani and UK Lakshmi from the department of food
science and nutrition, Avinashlingam Institute for Home Science and
Higher Education for Women, Coimbatore, in their presentation at the
city-based National Institute of Nutrition pointed out that a person
with a stress score of 230 (on the occupational stress index) would
lose as much as 99.9 score by drinking about 200 ml of lime juice
everyday. The score will come down by 73 if the person takes 200 ml of
milk daily. The result in case of eating a banana a day is lower of
the score by 98 points.

The researchers selected four groups of women employed in an industry
and their occupational stress index was measured at 230. The group
that had the lime juice gained the maximum benefit, followed by those
who ate banana. Those who consumed milk daily too successfully busted
their stress levels, but to a lesser extent. The dietary supplement
was given to the groups for 90 days. At the end of the study, the
stress levels were measured. Those who did not consume any of these
three foods had elevated stress levels. The haemoglobin content
increased, making them less anaemic.

“Haemoglobin levels of all the groups, which had taken milk, lime
juice or banana, had increased. In case of lime juice, the increase in
iron content in the blood was by 1.3 grams per decilitre. The figures
for those who had milk and banana are one gram and 1.1 gram per
deciliter respectively. Incidentally, those who did not have any of
these foods showed a significant reduction in their haemoglobin
levels,” they said.

Harmful effect of garbage dump yards: Ground water up to three km radius contaminated

Syed Akbar
Hyderabad: Ground water in areas up to three km radius around
garbage disposal sites of the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation
is highly alkaline and unfit for human use.

According to a joint research study by the city-based National
Geophysical Research Institute and the department of applied
geochemistry, Osmania University, the pH of ground water in localities
around the three GHMC garbage dump yards at Jawaharnagar, Dundigal and
Autonagar varies from 5.1 to 8.1. As many as 60 water samples from
around these sites were analysed for water purity and chemical

The pH of groundwater varies from 5.1 to 8.1 in Jawaharnagar, 6.8 to 8.1 in
Dundigal and 6.6 and 7.8 in Autonagar. The average concentration of
total dissolved solids (TDS) in the groundwater varies from 500 to
1500 mg/l. About 80 per cent of samples are beyond the permissible
limit of 500 mg/l of TDS. High TDS is attributed to addition of ions
by weathering and leaching of minerals from rocks and leachates
emanating from waste disposal sites.

The study was carried out by Vandana Parth and NN Murthy of NGRI and
Praveen Raj Saxena of Osmania University. They found that the total
alkalinity in the groundwater is greater than the acceptable limit for
drinking purpose.

The average concentration of total alkalinity exceeds the desirable
limit of 200 mg/l
The ground water was also contaminated by high concentration of
fluoride, 2.1 mg/l in Jawaharnagar, 2.2 mg/l in Dundigal and 3.1 mg/l
in Autonagar. The researchers noticed that about 71 per cent of
groundwater samples have fluoride values larger than the permissible
limit of 1.5 mg/l (WHO) and 1.0 mg/l (Bureau of Indian Standards).

They attributed the high nitrate to consequence of the oxidation of
ammonia and similar sources within leachates originating from waste
disposal facilities. About 80 per cent of the groundwater samples had
high salinity.

Saturday, 26 November 2011

Sorghum (jowar) is now a smart crop, to fight climate change

Syed Akbar
Hyderabad, Nov 22: The humble jowar (sorghum), long considered as a
poor man’s food, has now emerged as a “smart” agricultural crop that
could fight against global warming and climate change.

The city-based Directorate of Sorghum Research (DSR) on Tuesday
claimed that jowar varieties are capable of mitigating the impact of
global warming by regulating the emission of greenhouse gases in the
environment. The DSR scientists also claimed that some varieties of
sorghum are completely fit into the new system of climate smart

According to Dr JV Patil, director of DSR, sorghum is a special type
of plant classified under C4 group of plants. Though C4 plants occupy
just one per cent of all known plant species, they fix as much as 30
per cent of the earth’s carbon. Sorghum takes back all the
carbondioxide and methane gases and thus can be described as “zero
emission” plant varieties.

Jowar also plays a vital role in regulating nitrous oxide. The brown
mid-rib varieties of jowar have lower lignin and higher digestibility,
Dr Patil said adding that even cattle that feed on jowar fodder do not
release methane gas into the atmosphere.

“Sorghum is one of the cheapest sources of micronutrients like iron
and zinc and with roughage and slow release of carbohydrates it is
preferred food for diabetics and obese population,” he added.

Super computer: India to upgrade its super computer to petaflops in 12th five-year plan

Syed Akbar
Hyderabad, Nov 24: India is working on a high power super computer
with petaflops power, which is 1000 times more powerful than the
existing teraflops computer. It will be ready during the 12th
five-year plan, according to Dr R Chidambaram, principal scientific
advisor to the government of India.

Flops is a measurement of the power of a computer. A teraflops
computer has a processing speed of a trillion floating-point
operations per second. A petaflops computer is 1000 times more
powerful i.e. it can handle one thousand trillion floating-point
operations per second.

Dr Chidambaram was delivering the inaugural address at the 22nd annual
conference of Indian Nuclear Society. He said a draft technology map
identifying thrust areas for research and development will be ready by
December 1.

Dr S Banerjee, chairman of Atomic Energy Commission, who also
participated in the conference, told reporters that the ground level
data work on the proposed super nuclear power station at Kovvada in
Srikakulam had been completed. “We have completed the baseline survey.
A detailed geo-technical study was also over. We are yet to start the
reactor-specific investigations at Kovvada,” he said.

Referring to the controversy surrounding the Kudankulam nuclear power
plant, Dr Banerjee hoped that they would win over the hearts of
people. “It has plenty of safety features to remove the decay heat in
case of mishap. There’s gravitational system for flow of water to cool
the plant if something goes wrong.” He also allayed the fears of the
local people that there would be high radiation at the site and the
livelihood of the fishermen would be affected.

ECIL chairman YS Mayya, Indian Nuclear Society secretary Dr RK Singh,
Prof P Rama Rao, president of Indian Nuclear Society, and others were
present. INS Homi Bhabha Lifetime Achievement Award was given to
eminent nuclear scientist Dr Baldev Raj. The society also presented
young engineer awards, outstanding service awards, science
communication award and industrial excellence award.

Indian Defence scientists working on future weapons: e-bombs, laser weapons and hi-tech soldiers

Syed Akbar
Hyderabad, Nov 24: Indian Defence scientists are now working on the
state-of-the-art futuristic high power laser weapons and e-bombs as
powerful as 1000 lightning strikes, and equip individual soldiers with
wearable computers.

According to Dr VK Saraswat, scientific advisor to the Defence
Minister, work is going on high power laser weapons that could provide
India a distinctive defence advantage by numbing the enemy targets.
“Research is at technological level. Efforts are on to graduate from
physics portion to technological part to produce these top-notch
electronic warfare
systems,” he added. Since these technologies are “denied” (they are
not given to the country by other nations), India is working on
indigenous systems for future defence needs.

Dr Saraswat was delivering a lecture on “strategic electronics” at the
inaugural session of the 22nd annual conference of Indian Nuclear
Society here on Thursday. Later, he interacted with mediapersons.
About the e-bomb, he said it would have explosively pumped flux
compression generator. It will produce electrical impulses in terawatt
range equivalent to 10 to 1000 lightning strikes.

Stating that India now has radars that can detect objects as high as
500 km and capable of finding out even satellites, Dr Saraswat said
research is on to improve the radar detection range to about 3000 km.
“This is being done taking into account the targets that may emerge in
the future,” he added. Work is also going on active electronically
scanned array radars, battlefield surveillance Doppler radars, through
wall radars that could see what is hidden behind a structure, and
antennas that cannot be seen.

“We are looking for future technologies that will help in equipping
army soldiers with wearable computers providing them night fighting
capabilities, health monitoring and personal area communication,
besides GIS. “We are equipped to provide solution to almost every
platform, whether ground base or airbase,” he said. Referring to
exo-atmospheric kill vehicles, Dr Saraswat pointed out that defence
scientists are developing 600 sq km radius satellite systems.
Specialised technology like built-in redundant aided integrated chip
system (brains) will be ready by 2014 while effort is also on to bring
entire avionics on a chip.

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This Day In History

Mother's Care

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Minnu The Cat & Her Kittens Brownie, Goldie & Blackie

Someone with Nature

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Syed Akbar in an island in river Godavari with Papikonda hills in the background

Recognition by World Vegetable Centre

Recognition by World Vegetable Centre

Under the shade of Baobab tree

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At Agha Khan Akademi in Kenya

Gateway to the Southern Hemisphere

Gateway to the Southern Hemisphere

Convention on Biodiversity

Convention on Biodiversity
Syed Akbar at the 11th Conference of Parties to the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity