Archive for June, 2013

What are platelets?

Blood ties

The monsoon doesn’t only bring respite from the heat, it also brings a host of diseases like malaria and dengue. Platelet transfusions are essential for the treatment of such cases. But a lack of awareness in Mumbai means platelets are in short supply

Thirteen years ago Patna-resident Sanjeev Sharma brought his son Vikas to Mumbai for treatment of blood cancer. Sanjeev had to run from pillar to post to acquire platelets that his son needed while undergoing chemotherapy at the Tata Memorial Hospital (TMH) in Parel.
“The drugs used in chemotherapy suppressed my son’s bone marrow to such an extent that he could not produce platelets in his body,” recalls Sanjeev. Platelets are cell fragments that help plug holes in the blood vessel. They help blood clot and prevent excessive bleeding. A dip in platelet levels in the body can lead to excessive bleeding and death.
In 2004, Vikas succumbed to the blood cancer. Sanjeev was a shattered man, but also a man with a mission: From then on, he took it upon himself to become a platelet donor at TMH.
Since 2010, he has donated platelets 35 times. “ I decided to stay in Mumbai after Vikas died,” said Sanjeev. He runs an NGO Sadbhavna Kendra that helps relatives of cancer stricken patients platelets.
While voluntary platelet donors are few, thousands of relatives of patients throng hospital corridors in the hunt for platelets. Mumbai requires up to 700 units of blood including separate components such as packed cells, platelets and plasma for planned surgeries, emergency accidents, malaria (especially falciparum) and dengue. As the monsoons pick up, hospitals will soon start seeing at least 15 to 20 malaria cases in a day. Of these, doctors say, five may require platelet transfusion. “Not more than 50 ml of platelets can be extracted from one unit of blood. If enough donors don’t volunteer and donate single donor platelets (SDPs) through apheresis technique then we have to convince relatives to donate,” said Dr Anita Tendulkar, associate professor, department of transfusion medicine at TMH.
The TMH apheresis section, houses four machines. Donors spend an hour or two on the machine. “A donor sits on the apheresis machine. Blood from the arm of the donor goes into a blood separator and the platelets get extracted from the blood after which the blood returns to the body,” explains Dr Puneet Jain, resident doctor. Apheresis is a process in which only one part of the blood, i.e. platelets are extracted. While acquiring platelets from a large number of random donors is not possible during emergencies, experts suggest that single donor platelets (SDPs) need to be tapped. “In the SDP method, one platelet donor donates platelets equivalent to six to eight blood donors. SDPs are safer for transfusion as chances of contamination are less,” said Vinay Shetty of non-profit, Think Foundation. On an average, TMH doctors manage to rope in 60 to 70 voluntary donors in a month while numbers of patients requiring platelet transfusion after surgery or chemotherapy roll into more than hundred. “Our donor hunt continues on a daily basis and we appeal for more donors to come as the city’s demand for platelets is far more than the supply,” said Dr Tendulkar.
Shetty says that patients have to pay for extraction and processing charges of platelets even if the platelets come from voluntary donors. This ends up burning a hole in their pocket. Each bag of SDP contains 300 ml of platelet and can cost anywhere between Rs5,000 to Rs8,000.
Praful Panda, 46, has had transfusions of 10 platelet bags since he was admitted to TMH for blood cancer. “Each bag costs us Rs 5,900, even after subsidy from the hospital. We had to arrange for five to six relatives to donate platelets as my husband requires transfusion twice a day after chemotherapy,” said Praful’s wife Sasmitha.

What are platelets?
Platelets, red cells, white cells and plasma are primary components of the blood
Platelets are cell fragments that help plug any holes in the blood vessel, acting in combination with other factors in the blood, such as fibrin, during clotting to prevent excessive bleeding
Normal person has between 1.5 – 4 lakh platelets in the body
Dip in platelet levels below 7,000 can lead to excessive bleeding and death
People suffering from blood cancer, aplastic anaemia, dengue or malaria require only platelets to be transfused which can prove to be life saving
Very few know that platelets can be donated through a procedure known as plateletpheresis or apheresis
While blood can be donated only four times a year, platelets can be donated up to 24 times a year

Why should you donate?
When the demand is more and the supply is less
Hardly 30% of city’s platelet demands are met through SDPs. The rest of the 70% is met through donations made by relatives or by extraction of Random Donor Platelets (RDPs) from whole blood bags.

The platelet donation process is very safe as the entire process is mechanised under sterilised condition with bare minimum manual intervention.

There are no side effects except that a donor might feel a slight chill during the process. It is a normal reaction to the blood anti-coagulant.

The donor does not have to incur any expenditure while donation. In fact, the hospital voluntarily spends Rs10,000 on the disposable kit, which is used on apheresis machine every time a person comes forward to donate.

How To become a donor?
Any person between 18 – 50 years can become a donor

You should be healthy with no major disease

The doctor shall evaluate an individual’s fitness

Eat iron rich foods like spinach, ragi, jaggery, dates to raise HB levels

Maintain blood HB levels above 12.5 gm/dl and body weight above 55 kilos

Enroll in a platelet donation registry. Contact TMH’s Department of Transfusion Medicine on 022-24177000 ext- 4681 for queries on donation and registration as donor or Think Foundation on 022 – 65181341/

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by admin - June 23, 2013 at 7:30 am

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Shares, gold, silver plunge after Fed makes a statement

Shares, gold, silver plunge after Fed makes a statement


Since May 21, when Ben Bernanke, the US Federal Reserve chief, hinted at withdrawing Quantitative Easing, to Thursday, a day after he hinted again, world equities have lost $2.4 trillion in value.
That’s perhaps the biggest loss a few words have caused to investors worldwide.

Be that as it may, Thursday was the scene of a bloodbath in all asset classes after Bernanke said the Fed might moderate its bond purchases by this year end and end them around mid-2014, if US unemployment falls to 6.5% and other economic indicators are achieved.
While global equity markets dropped 2-3% on heavy volumes, gold and silver too tanked nearly 5% and 8%, respectively.

The Indian equity markets were ravaged, losing 2.74% and erasing Rs 1.57 lakh crore of notional investor wealth.

Investors have now lost Rs 5.70 lakh crore in the past 23 trading sessions, since May 17, 2013, when the Sensex touched its recent high of 20286.12.

Tries to answer some questions that might be on your mind:

Why did all asset classes, shares, gold, bonds, fall?
Even though there was nothing new in the Fed’s statement, Bernanke’s hawkish tone fuelled fears the Fed might ‘taper’ (or reduce bond purchases) earlier than expected, which could squeeze out liquidity that has rushed into different asset classes after the QE began.

Why is there so much weakness in the rupee?
It’s because there is no interest rate arbitrage in Indian bonds. So FIIs have been unloading sovereign bonds, just like everywhere else in the emerging markets.
They had played the ‘carry trade’ where they borrowed dollars at cheap rates and invested in high-yielding emerging market bonds. But with emerging market currencies turning highly volatile due to global liquidity fears, FIIs’ cost of hedging (carry trades are hedged to save investors from currency swings) has soared.
With yields also not helpful, carry trade in bonds is no longer profitable. Also, with the US economy growing, money is shifting to that country. Thus with FIIs demanding dollars to take back to the US, and the US dollar rising globally, the rupee has received a double blow.

But why has gold fallen?
Gold is normally considered a safe haven and so typically attracts money when people are uncertain about future growth and macro environment. With growth in the US seen recovering and no major risk of an immediate crisis in Europe, people are now dumping gold in favour of shares of developed-market companies that could benefit more.

What happens to equities now?
Equity markets in India are likely to remain volatile because of macro issues such as high current account deficit, delay in revival of investment cycle, political uncertainty going into elections and, above all, high dependence on capital flows. Equities are unlikely to see a crisis-like selloff, but the upside looks limited in the near term.

What about the rupee?
The rupee is likely to remain weak because of India’s high current account deficit and until the government takes further reform measures to tackle the structural problems, including of inflation, the currency would be dependent on the direction of foreign flows.

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by admin - at 7:20 am

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It’s all Maya in Mexico for archaeologists

It’s all Maya in Mexico for archaeologists

Lost Mayan city, that could have been home to nearly
30K-40K people, discovered in the jungles of Mexico

Archaeologists have found an ancient Maya city that remained hidden for centuries in the rain forests of eastern Mexico, a discovery in a remote nature reserve they hope will yield clues about how the civilization collapsed around 1,000 years ago.
The team, led by Ivan Sprajc, associate professor at the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts, found 15 pyramids — including one that stands 75 feet (23 metres) tall — ball courts, plazas and tall, sculpted stone shafts called stelae. They named the city Chactun, meaning “Red Rock” or “Large Rock.”
Sprajc said it was likely slightly less populous than the large ancient Maya city of Tikal in Guatemala, and could have been home to as many as 30,000 or 40,000 people, though further research is necessary to determine an exact estimate. Chactun likely had its heyday during the late Classic period of Maya civilization between 600 and 900 AD, Sprajc said.
The team’s research was approved by the Mexican National Institute of Anthropology and History and funded by the National Geographic Society and two European companies.
Sprajc said the site — which covers 22 hectares (54 acres) and lies 75 miles (120 km) due west of Chetumal — is one of the largest found in the Yucatan’s central lowlands. The nearest settlement to the ruins is the small town of Xpujil, around 16 miles (25 km) away.
“The whole site is covered by the jungle,” he said in Spanish. While the site was unknown to the academic community, Sprajc found evidence that other people had been to the site as recently as 20 or 30 years ago, but not since.
While reviewing aerial photographs taken by the National Commission for the Knowledge and Use of Biodiversity 15 years ago to monitor the nature reserve, Sprajc and his team saw suggestions of ruins and marked the coordinates.
They then spent three weeks clearing a 10-mile path through the jungle to reach the site. After mapping the site for six weeks and documenting the monuments, they blocked the path before leaving to prevent access.
The presence of multiple ball game courts is an indication that Chactun was a very important city, Sprajc said. It was likely abandoned around the year 1,000, probably due to demographic pressure, climate change, wars and rebellions.

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by admin - June 22, 2013 at 8:05 pm

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The human brain is now available in 3-D as well

The human brain is now available in 3-D as well

Those in the scientific community, who wanted to take a closer look at the human brain, can now do so, thanks to a new breakthrough.

A 3-D digital reconstruction of a complete human brain, called the BigBrain, now for the first time shows the brain anatomy in stunning, microscopic detail. It shows the human brain at a spatial resolution of 20 microns, smaller than the size of one fine strand of hair—exceeding that of existing reference brains presently in the public domain.

The new tool is made freely available to the broader scientific community to advance the field of neuroscience. Researchers from Germany and Canada collaborated on the ultra-high resolution brain model.

The sophisticated modern image processing methods reveal an unprecedented look at the very fine details of the human brain’s microstructure, or cellular level.

The anatomical tool will allow for three-dimensional cytoarchitectonic mapping of the human brain and serve as an atlas for small cellular circuit data, or single layers or sublayers of the cerebral cortex, explained the researchers. Until recently, reference brains did not probe further than the macroscopic, or visible, components of the brain. Now, the BigBrain provides a resolution much finer than the typical 1 mm resolution from MRI studies.

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by admin - at 8:03 pm

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Having a bite of the original Apple

Having a bite of the original Apple

It’s the kind of electronic junk that piles up in basements and garages — an old computer motherboard with wires sticking out. But because it was designed by two college dropouts named Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak, it could be worth more than half a million dollars (€375,000).

An Apple 1 from 1976, one of the first Apple computers ever built and forerunner of today’s MacBooks, iPads and iPhones, goes on the auction block at Christie’s next week.

The bidding starts at $300,000 (€227,000). “This is a piece of history that made a difference in the world; it’s where the computer revolution started,” said Ted Perry, a retired school psychologist who owns the old Apple and has kept it stashed away in a cardboard box at his home outside Sacramento, California.

The green piece of plastic covered with a copper-colored labyrinth of memory chips was one of the first 25 such computer elements, and sold for $666.66. About 200 were made but most have disappeared or been discarded.
Various estimates put the number known to still exist from about 30 to 50. They came with eight kilobytes of memory — a million times less than the average computer today.

Vintage Apple products have become an especially hot item since Jobs’ death in October 2011, surrounding the mystique attached to this entrepreneur who joined forces with Wozniak to build computer prototypes in a California garage.

Another Apple 1 was sold last month for a record $671,400 by a German auction house, breaking a previous record of $640,000 set in November. Sotheby’s sold one last year for $374,500.

“This is the seed from which the entire orchard grew, and without this, there would be no Apple,” said Stephen A. Edwards, professor of computer science at Columbia University. “I’ve been shocked auction prices got into the six digits. The market has just gone crazy.”

The latest auction at Christie’s, “First Bytes: Iconic Technology from the Twentieth Century,” is being conducted online only from June 24 to July 9.

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by admin - at 7:56 pm

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A volcano is now a world heritage site

A volcano is now a world heritage site

Italy’s Mount Etna, one of the world’s most “active and iconic” volcanoes, was on Friday granted World Heritage status by UNESCO in recognition of its scientific and cultural importance.

The tallest active volcano on the European continent at 3,300 meters (10,900 feet), Mount Etna has been written about for 2,700 years and has “one of the world’s longest documented records of historical volcanism”, according to UNESCO.

“The diverse and accessible assemblage of volcanic features such as summit craters, cinder cones, lava flows, lava caves and the Valle de Bove depression have made Mount Etna a prime destination for research and education,” UNESCO said.

The volcano, in the east of Sicily, is one of the most-studied in the world and “continues to influence volcanology, geophysics and other earth science disciplines”, UNESCO added.

“Mount Etna’s notoriety, scientific importance, and cultural and educational value are of global significance.”

Situated near Catania, Sicily’s second city, the volcano, which is some 200 kilometres in circumference, was created by a series of eruptions beneath the sea off the ancient coastline of Sicily some 500,000 years ago. There are still periodic eruptions at the central crater. Lava flows down the sides of the volcano have sometimes threatened villages, which are built up to around 800 metres.

Catania city has been hit several times during eruptions, including being almost completely destroyed by one of the largest recorded eruptions in 1669, after which it was rebuilt in the Baroque style.

The zone listed by UNESCO — largely undeveloped except for a few seismic monitoring stations and some shelters along mountain paths — is part of the Mount Etna National Park, created in 1987.

The Italian delegate to the UNESCO meeting told that they were “moved and touched” by the decision.

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by admin - at 7:52 pm

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Future of monsoon could be erratic

Future of monsoon could be erratic

Close on the heels of a World Bank report — warning India of extreme more extreme droughts in large parts, resulting in widespread food shortages in the next few decades — comes more bad news on the weather front
Indian monsoon’s daily variability is likely to increase under future global warming, a new study has revealed.

Computer simulations with a comprehensive set of 20 state-of-the-art climate models were used to derive the likelihood of Indian monsoon to be all the more erratic in near future.

The study conducted by Anders Levermann and Arathy Menon, have found that the ‘‘increased variability’’ translates into potentially severe impacts on people who cannot afford additional loss.

Levermann said that all the different climate models have shown increased variability and adaptation measures are necessary to tackle the problem. He further pointed that if rainfall comes in a spell and is followed by a drought it can be devastating even if the average is normal. This requires the right kind of adaptation measures that account for this variability like intelligent insurance schemes.

The study pointed out that even if global warming is limited to internationally acknowledged threshold of 2 degrees Celsius, this would lead the risk of additional day-to-day variability of 8-24 per cent above pre industrial level.

Menon said that 4-12 per cent increase in the daily variability of Indian monsoon indicate to per degree Celsius of global warming which is a robust indicator that it is going to increase in near future.

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by admin - at 7:49 pm

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A woman’s face determines the length of a relationship, says a new study

Coming face to face with the truth

A woman’s face determines the length of a relationship, says a new study

Men looking for a quick fling prefer women with more “feminine” facial features, said a study on Friday that delved into the evolutionary determinants of the mating game.

Feminine features like a smaller jawbone or fuller cheeks are closely linked to a woman’s perceived attractiveness, which in turn is taken as an indicator of health, youth and fidelity and other traits, it said. Feminine features are associated with a higher level of the female hormone oestrogen, which is also linked with reproductive success.

Studies on factors that influence human mating mostly focus on women, who have shown a similar preference for a hunkier man for a fling but a geekier one to settle down with – possibly a more reliable bet for helping to raise children.

In a study with several hundred heterosexual male volunteers, a team of researchers made composite pictures of women’s faces, and asked the men which ones they would choose for long or short-term relationships.

There were two versions of each face —one with slightly more feminine and the other more masculine features. The faces were taken from European or Japanese faces.
They found that men rated women with more feminine features more highly for a fling. The preference was especially high among men who were already in a steady relationship.

“When a man has secured a mate, the potential cost of being discovered may increase his choosiness regarding short-term partners relative to unpartnered men, who can better increase their short-term mating success by relaxing their standards,” wrote the study authors.
But in making long-term choices, men “may actually prefer less attractive/feminine women,” they added.
Previous research has found that attractive women are likelier to be unfaithful, particularly if their partner is ugly.

“If his partner cheats on him, a man risks raising a child which is not his own,” explained the authors.

The study, led by Anthony Little from the University of Stirling and Benedict Jones from the University of Glasgow, appears in the British Journal of Psychology.

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by admin - at 7:36 pm

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Here’s a peek into the lives of the six contestants who are a part of Abhay Deol’s Connected Hum Tum

Connected Hum Tum powered by Hyundai airs Monday to Friday 10 pm on Zee TV

A self-made woman, she has looked after her family after her father passed away. She’s made it big, but the question for her is — what next? Will she find a man to settle down with? She says, “All of us face some or the other dilemma and there are so many who would relate to our problems. Watching us on the show and dealing with these, will guide them too.”
26, Activist, Theatre Producer
She grew up in Goa and lives with her twin sister. She is a producer-incharge at a theatre production and is about to act in a movie for the first time. Sonal is in a serious relationship and wondering if the parents of her lover will accept their unconventional bond. “I realised the camera allows sense of reflection through which I got to know myself and become a better person,” says she.
25, Struggling Actress
She hails from a Jat joint family in Meerut. Having lived in the shadow of her super-achieving sister, Mahima wants to make her own mark. Living in Mumbai for the past year, she has no support from her family. She has a boyfriend in Delhi who does not belong to her caste. Her boyfriend, like her family, wants her to return and get married. Her message? “I want to tell aspiring actors, who are in their struggling phase to not lose hope but focus on their work.”
MADHAVI MAUSKAR, 53, Foreign Language Expert, Corporate Trainer
She’s lived a life of unconventional choices. With two divorces, she’s hit rock bottom and bounced back! Madhavi is about to be a grandmother for the second time. And her first exhusband wants to get back with her. She says, “I want to thank all those who have troubled me for helping me change the course of my life. One has to forgive and move on.”
30, Fashionable Shopaholic, Brand Manager
She has done all the right things. She studied hard, got a career in place and married a boy her parents chose. But things did not work out and she sought a divorce. Her parents were deeply embarrassed and she ended up blaming herself for ‘not trying hard enough’. Settled well professionally, she’s getting married again to a guy she met at a friend’s party. And this time around, she’s determined to do everything right! But she asks, “Why should it only be a woman’s responsibility to make a marriage work?”
33, Dentist, Belly Dance Instructor
She is a mother of a two-year-old, has a husband she loves and a mother she wishes hadn’t neglected her in her childhood. She juggles her responsibilities at home and at her clinic. Preeti has a passion for dance. She wants to maintain her conventional roles as well as the unconventional ones. So, what message does she want to send across? “I don’t intend to give any message. It’s about capturing your regular fears, dreams and relationships,” she says.

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by admin - June 11, 2013 at 4:37 am

Categories: Filmy   Tags:

Weddings in waiting

Weddings in waiting

    While buzz of an impending marriage between Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie is constantly doing the rounds, they are yet to tie the knot. An increasing number of celebrity couples, who are living in, don’t seem to be in a hurry to wed. We bring you some celeb couples who’ve been pushing their D-Day plans, or are supposedly married, but don’t want to make it official yet!

John Abraham and Priya Runchal

Post his break-up with Bipasha Basu, John was spotted with banker Priya at public dos and one expected wedding bells soon. But with Priya being away in London for higher studies, this couple seems to be in no hurry to settle yet.

Kunal Kemmu and Soha Ali Khan

Soha Ali Khan has been in a live-in relationship with actor Kunal Kemmu for three years and even bought a house recently. Though open about their relationship, marriage, it seems, is reserved for another day.

Sushant Singh Rajput and Ankita Lokhande

They started dating during Pavitra Rishta — the telly show in which they were the lead pair -— and there are rumours of them being secretly married. Ankita quit the show to spend more time with Sushant, who is focussed on his Bollywood career. Living-in for the last four years, they continue to dodge queries about their relationship status.

A six-year age gap — she is 28 while he is 22 — and entirely different backgrounds did not stop them from reportedly moving in together. Though marriage seems far away, they are rumoured to have bought a $1.5 million home in Los Angeles. Freida sports a diamond ring, but the couple is still focussed on their careers.

Rubina Dilaik and Avinash Sachdev
BT had reported about the duo getting married last December — in a secret ceremony — after they courted on the sets of telly show Choti Bahu. While close pals insist that they are married, Avinash refuted the reports saying they would marry only after two years.

Shane Warne and Liz Hurley
When pictures of the model-actress and cricketer indulging in heavy PDA surfaced, many took it to be just another fling. But Shane and Liz surprised everyone when they got engaged. The couple, who have four children from their earlier spouses, are yet to walk down the aisle.

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by admin - at 4:31 am

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