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Organic Mangos Recalled Due to Listeria Health Risk

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Mango Recall

Organic mangos are being recalled due to possible risk of Listeria monocytogenes.

Pacific Organic Produce in San Francisco, California haS voluntarily recalled a specific number of cases of organic Tommy Atkins mangos (PLU numbers 94051 & 94959) that were sold under the Purity Organic brand between the dates of April 14, 2014 and May 2, 2014 due to the possible health risk from Listeria monocytogenes.

The PLU number is printed in the middle of the PLU sticker on the fruit. The mangos were shipped to retailers and distributors in limited quantities within five (5) U.S. states: Arizona, California, Colorado, New Jersey and Texas.

Only the specific PLU numbers and sell dates identified above are included in this recall.

Organic Mangos Recalled

No illnesses have been reported in association with the recall and no other mangos or products under the Purity Organic brand are being recalled.

Pacific Organic Produce is coordinating closely with regulatory officials and has contacted its customers to ensure that any remaining recalled products are removed.

Listeria causes fever, nausea, diarrhea, muscle aches and is particularly threatening to pregnant women and others with weakened immune systems.

According to the CDC, approximately 1600 illnesses and 260 deaths are attributed to listeriosis annually. Listeria is the third leading cause of death from food poisoning in the U.S.

Consumers should not consume the recalled mangos and retain their store receipts, PLU stickers or any other proof of purchase, the company said. Retailers and consumers with questions should call Amy Rosenoff at Pacific Organic Produce customer service at 1-415-673-5555, from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. (PT) Monday to Friday.

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Ketamine Drug To Lower UK Suicide Rate

This drug called ketamine could reduce the UK’s suicide rate.

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Macro Verch | Flickr | CC BY 2.0

Suicide remains to be a leading cause of death for younger people in the United Kingdom and has grown to be an issue that needs immediate attention. Suicide is often linked to mental illnesses such as depression, which is one of the most significant causes. Researchers are looking at a drug named ketamine to try and minimize people committing suicide.

In the UK, rigid and thorough supervision and access to healthcare have allowed its suicide statistics to see an annual decrease from the past three years. However, a total of 5,821 suicides were registered in 2017 alone, the UK Office of National Statistics posted.

The statistic was an age-standardized rate of 10.1 deaths per 100,000 population or one death by suicide every two hours and many more who attempted within the same period. Furthermore, it showed to be more prevalent in younger generations aged 20-34 years old.

From the same report, the UK’s Mental Health Organization noted that suicide is considerably higher in men, with around three times as many men dying as a result of suicide compared to women. In fact, it is the leading cause of death for men under 50 in the UK. Those at highest risk are men aged between 40 and 44 years old.

Significantly, suicide has long been linked to depression. Depression is a common mental disorder that causes people to experience a depressed mood, whereas it can include a loss of interest or pleasure, feelings of guilt or low self-worth, low energy, and poor concentration. In worse cases, people suffering from severe depression tend to isolate themselves from others such as friends, family, and even people who can help alleviate the illness–ultimately making the situation even worse.

Fortunately, a drug called ketamine is looking to be a favorable solution in addressing suicide by providing a more immediate remedy to the negative effects of depression.

Basically, ketamine is the popularly known drug that is raved at parties and other drinking scenes because of its hallucination and other psychedelic effects but, formerly, the drug was used as an anesthetic in battlefields and operating rooms, especially during the Vietnam War.

Researchers found that ketamine can be a new and effective way of addressing depression since it targets brain functions through brain pathways that other drugs don’t usually use. Furthermore, it is lauded as a fast-acting drug that could take effect within hours after taking a dose, as compared to conventional anti-depressants that need up to 8 weeks of continued intakes.

Also, ketamine is consumed via a nasal spray that is supposedly meant to reach the brain faster; add that to the part where the drug only needs to be consumed in lesser doses compared to others, which significantly affects the experiences for people going through a severe depression.

According to Harvard Health Publishing, one likely target for ketamine is the NMDA receptors in the brain. The drug binds to these receptors and appears to increase the amount of a neurotransmitter called glutamate in the spaces between neurons. Glutamate then activates connections in another receptor, called the AMPA receptor. Together, the initial blockade of NMDA receptors and activation of AMPA receptors lead to the release of other molecules that help neurons communicate with each other along new pathways. Known as synaptogenesis, this process likely affects mood, thought patterns, and cognition.

At the moment, critics are still arguing over the other side-effects of the drug that could potentially affect other brain functions such as it to cause hallucinations. Others are also saying that it could become a gateway drug to stronger medications such as opioids. But what medical providers are looking to implement with the drug is strict supervision at least two hours after intake before patient release.

As soon as November, ketamine could be available for sale in the UK through private clinics. The drug recently gained attention after selling fast in the US, which Johnson & Johnson sells in under the brand name Spravato.

The Harvard Medical School’s publishing also noted that “if a person responds to ketamine, it can rapidly reduce suicidality (life-threatening thoughts and acts) and relieve other serious symptoms of depression. Ketamine also can be effective for treating depression combined with anxiety.”

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UK’s Department Of Health Focuses On Sleep

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Photo: The Creative Exchange | Unsplash.com

Cabinet ministers are aiming to help the public with their insomnia problems.

The United Kingdom ministers plan to issue guidance on how much sleep each person needs. This plan is part of the government’s proposals that aims to improve the public’s health in the UK.

A leaked draft emphasizes that lack of sleep links to multiple physical and mental health problems. Illnesses tied to sleep deprivation is obesity, strokes, heart attacks, anxiety, and depression. Aside from being susceptible to diseases, lack of sleep also hinders the process of recovery from surgery or illness.

Patients, especially those who just finished having surgery, should have “protected sleep time” that will ensure the patient receives the rest it means. There’s no word if there will be guidelines on how to implement this in hospitals. Staying in a hospital sometimes leads to compromised rest due to the constant noise such as the beeps and clicks of machine monitors, the busyness of doctors and nurses attending to patients, and a steady stream of visitors walking around.

However, the government emphasizes that good sleeping habits are essential not just to post-operation patients. In the United Kingdom, three out of four adults sleep less than seven hours every night.

The government will be reviewing the evidence presented in the draft and then create concrete actions to promote better sleep. One of the ideas is to improve good “sleep hygiene.”

Sleep hygienes are practices and habits to achieve good sleep quality. A crucial part of sleep hygiene is the duration of sleep a person gets. An appropriate amount of time to sleep is needed to ensure enough rest and full rest alertness for the rest of the day. Sleeping too little or too much affects a person’s lifestyle and health.

Aside from sleeping guidelines, Health Secretary Matt Hancock will publish a full list of proposals in a public health green paper. The plans will tackle different health issues ranging from quitting smoking to lessening obesity. The aim is to prevent the public from getting minor illnesses, which will save the National Health Service (NHS) money in the long run.

Director of the Sleep and Circadian Neuroscience Institute and Oxford University professor Russell Foster affirmed that there is overwhelming evidence that links sleep to conditions like diabetes, dementia, and depression. He further added that the minister should also consider individual preferences and variation when they come up with the final recommendations.

“What’s emerged over the last few years is that some really important things are going on within the brain. Our ability to consolidate memories, to process information, coming up with innovative solutions to complex problems are all really important functions within the brain at night. In essence, our ability to function during the day is defined by the quality of sleep we had at night,” Foster said in a report.

Sleep-related Products and Services

In recent years, business for sleep-related products and services have increased. Products have also improved from trivial items like pillows and mattresses.

Now, there are special treatment pillows and mattresses that address different sleeping issues for its users. Innovations on how to market it were also launched.

Business like Casper launched mattress-in-a-box in 2014, which allowed buyers to test their mattress for 100 days. If the customer was not satisfied, the bed could be returned and would be picked up by the company.

Aside from the essentials of sleep, understanding how to develop good sleeping is also important. Nowadays, wearable technology is helping to understand users’ sleeping patterns. Sleep trackers are now a default feature in most fitness trackers.

If the trackers and comfortable pillows and mattress still don’t do the trick, hire a sleep consultant. New parents, who are most affected by sleep deprivation, can hire sleep consultants to help improve their baby’s sleeping patterns. Sleep coaches will help train the baby sleep consistently in a regular pattern, allowing parents to enjoy night’s rest at the right time, too.

Adults can also find technology that will help them sleep immediately. For insomniacs, products ranging from wearable technology to meditation apps can help soothe one’s mind and lull them to sleep.

Companies have also learned that taking care of their employees meant providing facilities for them to rest. Offices are now equipped with sleeping facilities where employees can take a quick nap while on their break. Employers noted that their staff is more productive and alert after they’ve implemented these facilities.

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HIV Vaccine Trials Will Start In The US And Europe

Johnson & Johnson is proceeding with expanded trials of their new HIV vaccine for men.

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Photo: Open Grid Scheduler / Grid Engine | Flickr.com | Public Domain CC0 1.0

Johnson & Johnson will launch a series of human trials for an experimental Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) vaccine in the US and Europe within the year. The pharmaceutical giant, along with GlaxoSmithKline, applied for a Food and Drug Administration approval in April.

The new vaccine is a tetravalent mosaic. The goal of the vaccine is to raise the body’s immunity against different varieties of HIV. What’s new with this vaccine is that its “mosaic” qualities carry proteins that defend against multiple strains of the virus. In the company’s previous animal trials, the company has published results of two-thirds success rates.

In the clinical trials set for this year, there will be at least 3,800 male participants. In the entire TRAVERSE study, this is already Phase 2. The participants will have six shots over four sessions. Results of these trials will be published in 2023.

The goal of the study is to build immunity against HIV to prevents Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS). HIV attacks the cells of the immune system lowering the body’s defense against illnesses. AIDS, or late-stage HIV infection, is when the patient’s immune system is destroyed and no longer able to protect the body. Once a patient reaches this stage, any kind of infection, minor or major, becomes life-threatening.

According to UNAIDS, the joint United Nations program on HIV/AIDS, there are 36.9 million people with HIV in 2017. At least 1.8 million of those infected are children with ages 15 years old and below. On a positive note, there’s a 51% decrease of AIDS-related deaths in 2017 compared to 2004, when the threat of the virus recently peaked.

The development of the tetravalent mosaic HIV vaccine was dubbed as the TRAVERSE study. In 2018, J&J presented results of the study at the HIV Research for Prevention Conference in Madrid, Spain. According to J&J, the results showed significant and promising results.

Based on TRAVERSE analysis, the tetravalent mosaic vaccine regimen is safe and well-tolerated at the study’s 28th week. The Phase 1 clinical trial had 201 male participants from the US and Rwanda. The participants received prime vaccine shots at week intervals: Week 0, 12, 24, and 28. Four groups received different types of the tetravalent mosaic vaccine and placebos.

The trials started last July 2016. It’s initial completion date, the date its last patient was examined or received the intervention, was last August 2018. The final results and the completion date is expected in June 2021.

The Imbokodo Study

Since the TRAVERSE study focused on male participants, another variation of the vaccines targeted female participants. The trials are under the study named “Imbokodo.” J&J’s child company, Janssen Pharmaceuticals collaborated with the HIV Vaccine Trials Network (HVTN) to test the vaccine regimen in 26 sites in 5 countries in Africa.

A total of 2,600 women participated in the trials. The women participants are from ages 18 to 36 years. The participants received six injections over 12 months. The vaccine teaches the immune system to recognize the virus and fight it with antibodies.

The participants are being monitored by the research team on site. According to HVTN, initial results show that antibodies formed but has not yet ensured protection. HIV detection methods find it recognized the HIV antibodies as the virus itself. In this case, using the HIV fingerprick tests on the participants showed that they are positive with HIV. However, further lab testing identified that the false positives were Vaccine-Induced Seropositive (VISP) test results.

The participants have regular HIV testing during the trials. Once a participant finishes their trials, she can still request for the special tests from the company.

The study was named after an isiZulu word that means “rock.” A popular African proverb inspired it: “You strike the women, you strike the rock!”

The Imbokodo study started last November 2017. Its last participant will receive her last procedure in November 2020 with expected results to be published in 2022.

Multiple companies and organizations are looking to find ways to prevent the virus and cure the disease. In 2017, there was a hopeful way to cure HIV and AIDS through gene-editing using the Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindrome Repeats (CRISPR) technology. It proved to be highly successful during its animal trials, but it has not yet progressed to human clinical trials.

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