A Convenient Way to Beat Clawed Fingers: Scientists Identify Cells That Trigger Common Hand Disease

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British scientists have identified the cells that trigger a common hand condition, paving the way for new and more effective treatments.

Some 2.6 million Britons suffer from Dupuytren’s disease, an age-related disease in which the fingers curl towards the palm.

It occurs when knots of scar tissue form in the palmar fascia, the thin layer of tissue that lies under the skin of the palm, making it harder. These knots eventually come together to form a thick cord that pulls one or more fingers towards the palm.

This can lead to “scratched” fingers, making it difficult for people to perform daily activities, such as buttoning.

In the absence of drugs to treat the disease and physiotherapy unable to free “seized” fingers, surgery – in which knotted cords are removed under general anesthesia – is the main treatment.

Some 2.6 million Britons suffer from Dupuytren’s disease, an age-related disease in which the fingers curl towards the palm

The recovery is however long (two weeks during which the hand is in a splint, followed by two months of physiotherapy). In addition, the disease reappears in up to half of the cases, because the diseased tissue simply grows back.

Surgery can also be risky if diseased tissue is wrapped around nerves and arteries.

Now, scientists have found a specialized cell type present only in diseased tissue, which they believe is responsible for the scarring that leads to the development of ‘knots’.

These cells could now be the target of drug treatments for the disease in its early stages.

The causes of Dupuytren are not known. In addition to having a genetic component, studies suggest that it is more common in people with diabetes. High blood sugar levels are known to damage blood vessels and one theory is that some of these damaged blood vessel cells break off and form scar tissue.

The first sign of the disease is thickening or pitting of the skin on the palm. In severe cases, people can lose the use of all of their fingers within two to three years.

Dr Ross Dobie, a biologist at the University of Edinburgh and researcher on the study, used single-cell RNA sequencing to analyze the function of thousands of cells taken from diseased fasciae of patients with Dupuytren’s disease and healthy tissue – this revealed the specialized cell type in the diseased tissue. Further experiments on these cells revealed that a protein on their surface was the key to scar formation.

The researchers found that they could stop the protein from working by using monoclonal antibodies, artificial proteins that mimic the role of antibodies in fighting disease. This led to changes in the cells that should prevent them from producing scar tissue, the Journal of Investigative Dermatology reported. More studies are planned to learn how to stop the production of scar tissue by cells.

“Dupuytren’s disease is extremely debilitating and we urgently need better treatments that can help slow, stop and prevent the problems it causes,” says Chris West, consultant plastic surgeon at Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust and co -author of the study.

Neal Millar, professor of orthopedic surgery and musculoskeletal sciences at the University of Glasgow, adds: “These data are crucial for developing new targeted treatments to radically change the options available for patients with Dupuytren’s disease.”

A simple test, in which the thumb is folded over the palm, could give an early warning of an aortic aneurysm, an abnormal swelling of the aorta, the largest blood vessel in the body.

It is usually asymptomatic until too late when the aorta bursts, causing internal bleeding.

The test, from Yale University in the United States, involves raising your hand and stretching your thumb as far as possible over the flattened palm. A thumb sticking out of the far edge of it can be a sign of diseased connective tissue and the aorta may be at risk of rupturing.

Don’t panic if your test is “positive,” say the researchers. The aorta can take decades to swell until it ruptures.

A new PPE that protects doctors better than masks

A new safe ‘hood’ for Covid may offer NHS workers more protection against the virus than standard PPE.

The Morecambe Bay Balaclava is a full, cleanable and reusable head and neck cover that is connected to a portable air filter via a tube that continuously supplies clean air.

It also has noise reduction technology and a clear plastic screen on the front, making it easier for staff to communicate with patients – currently a challenge with masks.

The hood, developed by BAE Systems, will be supplied to NHS hospitals – starting with Lancashire and southern Cumbria – from this month.

The Morecambe Bay Hood is a full, cleanable and reusable head and neck cover that is connected to a portable air filter via a tube that continuously supplies clean air

The Morecambe Bay Hood is a full, cleanable and reusable head and neck cover that is connected to a portable air filter via a tube that continuously supplies clean air

Tiny mites found on the skin can live for almost 150 hours on lipsticks, 21 in mascara and two in powder, reports the journal Acta Parasitologica. Demodex mites can be beneficial because they remove dead skin, but can cause rashes and rosacea. Researchers warn that sharing makeup can spread dust mites.

The drug targets several autoimmune diseases

Can the same drug treat type 1 diabetes, multiple sclerosis, and rheumatoid arthritis?

Most likely, say scientists from the Université Libre de Bruxelles in Belgium.

All three conditions are caused by the body’s immune system attacking and damaging its own cells.

Now, experiments on tissue samples from people with the disease have shown that a gene called TYK2 is key to the damage, reports the journal Science Advances.

This means that existing medications for one condition could help others. “Characterizing the similarities and differences between autoimmune diseases has the potential to transform the way we treat and cure these diseases,” the scientists said.

The “pen” device makes cancer operations faster and more precise

A pen-like device was developed to improve the accuracy of pancreatic cancer surgery by making it easier for surgeons to remove diseased tissue.

To test for cancer cells, the MasSpec hand-held pen drops some water on the tissue. The water extracts molecules from the tissue which are then absorbed by the gadget and analyzed within seconds using mass spectrometry imaging.

A study from the University of Texas in the United States found the device to be 92% accurate when tested on 157 tissue samples in the lab and 100% accurate when used during operations. It was also 100 times faster than the current practice of sending a biopsy to a lab for analysis during an operation.

How a computer game can help people with PTSD

A computer “game” that asks players to fill in missing letters with words could help people with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Researchers at Ruhr University in Bochum, Germany asked 40 patients with PTSD, characterized by anxiety and flashbacks caused by a traumatic event, to log in four times a week for two weeks and fill in the blanks in sentences related to their trauma.

It was hoped that this would show them that their symptoms were normal reactions and thus reduce the distress they were feeling.

Another 40 patients underwent placebo training and all underwent psychotherapy.

According to the journal Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics, those who played the “game” had fewer trauma-related thoughts afterward and had lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol in their systems.

Melody music

How music can improve your health. This week: Relieves the pain of childbirth

Just listening to music can make childbirth pain more manageable, according to a 2020 study published by the Archives of Gynecology and Obstetrics.

In a study of 30 women, those who listened to music had less pain and anxiety during labor than women who did not have music.

Almost everyone who listened to music reported positive effects as early as 60 minutes. Using a pain scale of 0 (no pain) to ten (unbearable pain), the music group reported an average score of 8.8, compared to 9.8 in the group without music.

Previous studies have shown that music can calm the central nervous system, especially the areas that perceive pain.

Listening to familiar tunes is also helpful, the researchers noted, as they can provide comfort in an otherwise unfamiliar environment.

Eat more

Whole fruit – two or more servings per day – may reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes, suggests research in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism. In a study of over 7600 people, those who ate two servings (150 g) per day were 36% less likely to develop type 2 five years later, compared to people who ate less than half a serving or no fruit. The slow-release fiber in fruit can delay the rise in blood sugar.

What’s inside ?

We reveal the ingredients of everyday health products. This week: Veet Body & Legs Hair Removal Cream for Sensitive Skin

ALCOHOL CETEARYL: This thick and white substance is composed of two fatty alcohols (solid at room temperature and used in care products).

These are found naturally in plants and animals or made in the laboratory. The ingredient helps make the cream smoother and prevents liquids and oils from separating.

POTASSIUM THIOGLYCOLATE: An acid which, when mixed with alkaline calcium hydroxide (another ingredient), breaks down hair.

ALOE BARBADENSIS LEAF JUICE: Also known as aloe vera, it has soothing properties and acts as an anti-inflammatory to prevent the skin from reacting when the cream breaks the hair.

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