This week’s health news spotlight: novel therapies

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Indy Lifestyle Online

This week in health news was dominated by studies introducing novel therapies from unlikely sources like bananas used to create anti-HIV microbicide, PlayStation 3 modified to help teens with cerebral palsy expand range of motion in finger- and hand-use and meditation to reduce and alleviate pain and anxiety.

Banana beats anti-HIV drugs
On March 19, a new study to be published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry, scientific journal, concluded that banana lectins, a naturally occurring chemical, has the ability to stop the transmission of and help prevent HIV. This novel research from the University of Michigan Medical School found BanLec, "a jacalin-related lectin isolated from the fruit of bananas, a potential component for an anti-viral microbicide that could be used to prevent the sexual transmission of HIV-1. BanLec is an effective anti-HIV lectin and is similar in potency to T-20 and maraviroc, two anti-HIV drugs currently in clinical use."
Full study, "A Lectin Isolated from Bananas Is a Potent Inhibitor of HIV Replication":
http://www.jbc.org/content/285/12/8646.abstract?sid=7b9e04dd-d1a9-4a57-ac6e-47a766bb705a

Meditation alleviates and reduces pain
On March 15, a new study published in the Journal of Pain, the peer-reviewed journal of the American Pain Society, found meditation an effective tool in reducing pain and anxiety. A researcher team from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte (UNCC) led by Fadel Zeidan, PhD, psychologist, trained participants in meditation for three days and then they were exposed to experimental pain stimuli. The researchers also concluded that their "findings indicated significant effects of meditation ... participants also demonstrated a decrease in pain sensitivity after meditation training. Changes in the mindfulness and anxiety assessments suggest that meditation's analgesic effects are related to reduced anxiety and the enhanced ability to focus on the present moment."
Full study, "The Effects of Brief Mindfulness Meditation Training on Experimentally Induced Pain": http://www.jpain.org/article/S1526-5900%2809%2900691-9/abstract#cor1

Virtual rehab by gaming
A novel, collaborative study between Rutgers University engineers and Indiana University School of Medicine clinicians found gaming a therapeutic tool improving hand use in those suffering from cerebral palsy. The 10-month study was published on March 15 in IEEE Transactions on Information Technology in Biomedicine, a technology and biomedical journal published bimonthly by The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE). Meredith R. Golomb, M.D., M.Sc., associate professor of neurology at Indiana University School of Medicine, explained to Relaxnews, "we got significant improvements in hand use in teenagers with chronic disability. I think that subjects who were told that further improvement was impossible may qualify for therapy like this in the future."
Full study, "Feasibility of Modified Remotely Monitored In-Home Gaming Technology for Improving Hand Function in Adolescents With Cerebral Palsy" : http://ti.rutgers.edu/publications/papers/2010_TITB_Huber.pdf

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