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Knowledge Update

Introduction & Purpose
Knowledge update and Industry update at Skyline University College (SUC) is an online platform for communicating knowledge with SUC stakeholders, industry, and the outside world about the current trends of business development, technology, and social changes. The platform helps in branding SUC as a leading institution of updated knowledge base and in encouraging faculties, students, and others to create and contribute under different streams of domain and application. The platform also acts as a catalyst for learning and sharing knowledge in various areas.

Weight loss with protein-rich diet linked to better sleep

New York, March 25 (IANS) Overweight middle-aged adults losing weight with a protein-rich diet are more likely to sleep better, than those who are losing weight consuming a normal quantity of proteins, say a new study.

"Most research looks at the effects of sleep on diet and weight control, and our research flipped that question to ask what are the effects of weight loss and diet -- specifically the amount of protein -- on sleep," said Wayne Campbell from Purdue University in the US. 

"We found that while consuming a lower calorie diet with a higher amount of protein, sleep quality improves for middle-age adults. This sleep quality is better compared to those who lost the same amount of weight while consuming a normal amount of protein," Campbell added in a paper published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 

The study analysed 44 overweight or obese participants who consumed either a normal-protein or a higher-protein weight loss diet. 

The participants completed a survey to rate the quality of their sleep every month throughout the study. 

The findings showed that those who consumed more protein while losing weight reported an improvement in sleep quality after three and four months of dietary intervention.

"Short sleep duration and compromised sleep quality frequently lead to metabolic and cardiovascular diseases and premature death," said study's first author Jing Zhou. 

"Given the high prevalence of sleep problems it's important to know how changes to diet and lifestyle can help improve sleep," Zhou stated.

"This research adds sleep quality to the growing list of positive outcomes of higher-protein intake while losing weight and those other outcomes include promoting body fat loss, retention of lean body mass and improvements in blood pressure," Campbell said​

Your season of birth determines risk of allergy

London, March 22 (IANS) The time and date of birth determines our horoscope and the characteristics associated with it. However, a new study reveals a specific marker in our genes, which gives us the horoscope by the seasons of birth and shows how it influences so many things in our life.

The study showed that the season a person is born in influences a wide range of things: From risk of allergic disease, to height and lifespan. 

But, relatively little is known about how a one-time exposure, such as the season of birth, could hold lasting effects.

A specific marker that has been discovered on human deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) has been instrumental in linking the season of birth to risk of allergy in later life.

“It might sound like a horoscope by the seasons, but now we have scientific evidence for how that horoscope could work. Because season of birth influences so many things, the epigenetic marks discovered in this study could also potentially be the mechanism for other seasonally influenced diseases and traits too, not just allergy,” said lead author Gabrielle Lockett from University of Southampton in Britain.

The findings, published in the journal Allergy, revealed that particular epigenetic marks (specifically, DNA methylation) were associated with season of birth and still present 18 years later. 

Also, this epigenetic marks exposed the link to allergic disease, for example people born in autumn had an increased risk of eczema compared to those born in spring.

“Epigenetic marks are attached onto DNA, and can influence gene expression (the process by which specific genes are activated to produce a required protein) for years, maybe even into the next generation,” explained one of the researchers John Holloway, professor at Southampton University.

While these results have clinical implications in mediating against allergy risk, we are not advising altering pregnancy timing,” Holloway added.

The team conducted epigenetic scanning on DNA samples from a group of people born on the Isle of Wight in Britain and the results were validated in a cohort of Dutch children.​

Microsoft's Xbox Kinect to help people with respiratory illnesses

​London, March 23 (IANS) Microsoft's Xbox Kinect - a popular sensor-based gaming console - can assess the respiratory function of patients and spot conditions such as cystic fibrosis, researchers including an Indian origin scientist report.

US bill focuses on co-production/co-development with India

​Washington, March 23 (IANS) US-India Business Council (USIBC) has come out in strong support of legislation that recognizes India's status as an essential US defence partner and facilitates additional co-production/co-development and trade.

Nepal becomes SCO Dialogue Partner member

​Kathmandu, March 22 (IANS) Nepal on Tuesday officially become a Dialogue Partner of the Sanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), after signing a Memorandum of Understanding in Beijing.

Now watch Street View imagery of Sri Lanka on Google Maps

​Colombo, March 22 (IANS) Internet giant Google on Tuesday announced that its popular street view feature for Sri Lanka is active and available on Google Maps.

The launch brings the total number of countries where street view is available to 76.

Coming, super sensitive test to detect cancers, HIV

A new technique developed by a team of chemists at Stanford University has shown promise to be thousands of times more sensitive than current techniques to diagnose diseases -- whether it is a cancer or a virus like HIV.

Found effective in laboratory experiments, the technique, described in the journal ACS Central Science, is now being put to test in real-world clinical trials.

When a disease begins growing in the body, the immune system responds by producing antibodies.

Fishing these antibodies or related biomarkers out of the blood is one way that scientists infer the presence of a disease.

This involves designing a molecule that the biomarker will bind to, and which is adorned with an identifying "flag." Through a series of specialized chemical reactions, known as an immunoassay, researchers can isolate that flag, and the biomarker bound to it, to provide a proxy measurement of the disease.

The new technique, developed in the lab of Carolyn Bertozzi, professor of chemistry at Stanford, augments this standard procedure with powerful DNA screening technology.

In this case, the chemists replaced the standard flag with a short strand of DNA, which can then be teased out of the sample using DNA isolation technologies that are far more sensitive than those possible for traditional antibody detections.

The researchers tested their technique, with its signature DNA flag, against four commercially available tests for a biomarker for thyroid cancer.

It outperformed the sensitivity of all of them, by at least 800 times, and as much as 10,000 times.

By detecting the biomarkers of disease at lower concentrations, physicians could theoretically catch diseases far earlier in their progression.

"The thyroid cancer test has historically been a fairly challenging immunoassay, because it produces a lot of false positives and false negatives, so it wasn't clear if our test would have an advantage," said study co-author Peter Robinson.

"We suspected ours would be more sensitive, but we were pleasantly surprised by the magnitude," Robinson noted.

Based on the success of the thyroid screening, the group has won a few grants to advance the technique into clinical trials for screening other diseases including HIV.​

New York, March 20 (IANS)

How our brain traces old memories?

London, March 20 (IANS) A team of German scientists has found out what actually happens if we try to remember things that took place years or decades ago?

The study revealed that the neural networks involved in retrieving very old memories are quite distinct from those used to remember recent events.

"For the very first time we were able to show that the retrieval of old and recent memories are supported by distinct brain networks," said Magdalena Sauvage, professor at Ruhr-University Bochum in Germany.

When we remember events which occurred recently, the hippocampus -- the portion of the brain, thought to be the centre of emotion, memory, and the autonomic nervous system -- is activated, said the paper appeared in the journal eLIFE.

Hippocampus contains the cornu ammonis regions 1 and 3 (CA1 and CA3), which plays a major role in retrieving recent memories.

For the study, the team monitored brain activity in mice during the retrieval of memories that are one day to one year old - e.g. up to the mouse-equivalent of 40 human years.

For their study they applied a high-resolution molecular imaging technique, which detects the expression of a particular gene tied to plasticity processes and this way sheds light on cognitive processes.

The CA3 region, believed to be the place of memory storage in the hippocampus, no longer plays a role when we remember very old memories.

Rather, the involvement of the CA1 region persists and the cortical areas -- largest part of the brain -- adjacent to the hippocampus become involved.

The reason for the differential involvement of the hippocampal sub-regions could lie in the mechanisms supported by CA3.

In CA3, memories can be retrieved on the basis of single features of an original memory, which are used as cues. 

"Since the memory for single features degrades over time, we speculate that they might ultimately be of no more use as cues, hence retrieving memory would then essentially rely on CA1 and other processes taking place in the parahippocampal region of the brain," explained Sauvage.​

South Africans save 515 mw power during Earth Hour

Cape Town, March 20 (IANS) South Africans actively took part in the Earth Hour campaign by switching off lights from 8.30-9.30 p.m., saving an average of 515 mw electricity during the hour, authorities said on Sunday.

As part of its support for the Earth Hour campaign, the country's electricity utility Eskom measured the reduction in electricity used during the hour on Saturday, Xinhua reported.

"We would like to encourage people to take action beyond this one hour, and to make energy efficiency and environmental conservation part of their daily lifestyles," Eskom said.

People are encouraged to reduce their energy consumption every day by using electricity efficiently, and switching off all non-essential lights and household appliances, said the utility.

Commercial customers, particularly shopping centres and office blocks, can also make a big difference by switching off non-essential lights and not leaving office equipment such as computers in standby mode after hours, it added.

Earth Hour is an annual global event, initiated in Sydney, in 2007 to encourage people to switch off lights and unused appliances for an hour as a symbolic demonstration of their commitment to action against climate change.​

MRI more accurate than ultrasound to predict preterm birth: Study

London, March 21 (IANS) For mothers-to-be, going for an MRI of the cervix area can give more accurate results than ultrasound to predict if some women will give a preterm birth, say researchers.

Early dilation of the cervix, a neck of tissue connecting the uterus with the vagina, during pregnancy can lead to premature delivery. 

Women in their second trimester of pregnancy with a cervix measuring 15 millimeters or less, as seen on ultrasound, are considered to be at higher risk of preterm birth. 

However, ultrasound has limitations as a predictor of preterm birth, as it does not provide important information on changes in cervical tissue in the antepartum phase just before childbirth.

"A better understanding of the process of antepartum cervical remodeling, loosely divided in two distinct phases called softening and ripening, is critical to improve the diagnosis of cervical malfunction and anticipate the occurrence of birth," explained lead study author Gabriele Masselli from Sapienza University in Rome.

To learn more, researchers used an MRI technique called diffusion-weighted imaging (DWI) to examine pregnant women who had been referred for suspected fetal or placental abnormality. 

DWI has been increasingly used for abdominal and pelvic diseases, but has not been tested for the evaluation of the uterine cervix in pregnant patients.

Each of the 30 pregnant women in the study, published in the Journal of Radiology, had a sonographically short cervix and a positive fetal fibronectin test between 23 and 28 weeks of gestation. 

Fetal fibronectin is a glue-like protein that helps hold the fetal sac to the uterine lining and the presence of it before week 35 of gestation may indicate a higher risk of preterm birth.

Of the 30 women, eight delivered within a week of the MRI examination. The other 22 delivered an average of 55 days later. 

The researchers analysed the difference between an MRI and ultrasound method.

"Our results suggest that MRI has emerged as a powerful imaging biomarker in evaluating patients with impending delivery," the authors stated.​