TOWARDS A GRATEFUL TOMORROW: EXPRESSING GRATITUDE TO YOUR HELPING HANDS - The Daily Guardian
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TOWARDS A GRATEFUL TOMORROW: EXPRESSING GRATITUDE TO YOUR HELPING HANDS

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Remember the time when someone thanked you for your help, or just being there for them? Or may be the time when you received something as a token of appreciation. How did it feel? You might have felt really good, right?

Gratitude is not just a gesture, but a positive feeling that a recipient feels after being offered some sort of help. It is an emotion that strengthens social relationships. Research over many years has proved that expression of gratitude can benefit people in ways more than one can imagine. Some of the proven benefits of practising gratitude include:

1. Strengthens and builds relationships

Showing appreciation to your friends and loved ones strengthens bonds. Expressing gratitude also helps in making new friends and building new relationships because it makes you more approachable.

2. Enhances Positive emotions

Research has shown that expressing gratitude to someone not only makes the receiver feel good, but also boosts the happiness of the giver. You will be surprised to know that practicing gratitude keeps away feelings of envy, frustration and facilitates positive emotions that make us happier and more resilient.

3. Increases self-esteem

Studies have shown that expressing gratitude helps in overcoming the tendency to compare ourselves to others which boosts our self esteem. Another study showed that participants who completed a 4-week gratitude contemplation program expressed greater life satisfaction and self esteem than the control group. (Rash, Matsuba and Prkachin, 2011)

4. Improves sleep quality

Studies have shown the effect of gratitude journaling on one’s sleep quality. In a research done back in 2016, participants who were a part of a 2-week gratitude program witnessed improved patterns of sleep cycle. They also expressed that they felt fresher in the next morning as compared to before.

5. Improves overall health status

Studies among patients with hypertension revealed that those who practised gratitude at least once a week witnessed a significant decrease in their blood sugar level. Research over the past has also shown that grateful people are more likely to stay healthy, exercise more and experience holistic wellness as opposed to their counterparts!

Now truth be told, last two years did bring a whirlwind of uncertainty. The unprecedented times haven’t spared any of us resulting in various difficult emotions. Times have been particularly difficult for those who have lost their loved ones, their jobs or have faced any crisis due to the pandemic.

So if during such difficulties, you had some people who really went above and beyond to be there for you, then gratitude is the best gift you can offer.

While we feel thankful towards those who have helped us, it is equally important to express it through actions. Here are some simple Expert tips with which you can practise expressing gratitude:

1. Verbalise your feelings: Expression with words is the most simple yet powerful method to show gratitude towards those who have helped us.

2. Indulge in acts of kindness: Doing simple chores for the person, or helping them with their daily tasks are simple acts of kindness through which you can express gratitude.

3. Write gratitude notes: Think of the ways someone made your life much easier during your stressful time and write a personal note for them. The message can be as simple as “Thank you for sticking around with me”.

4. An impromptu catch-up: We all feel overwhelmed getting through these times, and a simple catchup to ask how they are doing can be really thoughtful. Show them that you value them by letting them know that you are there for them.

Through its gratitude campaigns YourDOST has enabled various partner stakeholders to establish a culture of expressing gratitude among employees, students and their loved ones.

On this International Thank You Day, pledge to be a little more grateful and rather show grateful actions towards all those around you through these simple ways.

The writer is CEO& Co-founder, YourDOST.

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Health & Wellness

Body contouring: Enhanced skin and sculpted body

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Body contouring is a range of cosmetic treatments that are done to enhance and rejuvenate the appearance of arms, legs, back, chest, and torso. Whether you have an excess of fat built, or you want to diminish the signs of ageing body contouring is for you. Body contouring is a procedure that alters the shape of the human body by eliminating excess skin and fat cells. A wide variety of body contouring procedures such as implants or body lifts and minimally invasive procedures such as sculpting are available. One of the leading body reshaping procedures is ‘body contouring with silicone implants. It facilitates the enhancement of specific body parts and provides long-lasting augmentation. It increases the shape, size, and definition of the treated body part.

People choose to have body sculpting to look and feel thinner or to attain a certain shape. It’s often used on specific areas of the body when diet and exercise aren’t making a difference. There are many options available that can also remove extra skin to make the skin look smoother and younger. Such procedures can help people who have excess skin after significant weight loss. It can also improve loose, saggy or wrinkled skin that occurs with natural ageing.

It helps to achieve more defined, well-shaped body parts, younger and thinner appearance, and smoother skin. With body contouring, you can get symptomatic improvement and full body transformation. Many men can easily achieve six-pack abs and women can get celebrity-like bodies; hourglass figures. It generally targets breasts, tummy, arms, butt, hips, and thighs parts of the body. It helps to eliminate fat, tighten the body and provide a desired shape to the body. If somebody is unable to achieve toned lower leg muscle with exercises, then they must try body contouring. Men may consider calf implants to emphasise the bulk of calf muscle. Females may consider calf implants to proportionate lower legs with the thighs. If you are a bodybuilder and not satisfied with the calf development achieved through exercise, then body contouring is best for you. It also helps to correct the imbalance caused by birth or physical defects such as spina bifida or clubfoot.

Results from body contouring treatments are more noticeable and immediate. It may take a few weeks or months to see a difference. Body contouring procedures are minimally invasive done under anaesthesia and leave no scars. It requires little or no downtime. It produces few or no side effects. It yields gradual results, so the treatment is discrete. The results may last for as long as you maintain your ideal weight.

It is a safe procedure. Implants are not placed deeply into the tissues, so there is little chance of complications. For a month you are required to wear a compression garment and avoid strenuous activities. Regular walking is resumed the day after the treatment, and you can return to work and light exercise in two weeks. It is a minimally invasive procedure. Bruising, swelling and temporary aches are normal and subside in seven to ten days. You will be able to resume light activities in two to three days. In four to six weeks you may resume strenuous activities. It is suitable for the hips, abdomen, thighs, and other areas as recommended by your specialist. It is non-invasive with minimal downtime. It is quick, taking about 30 minutes to perform. It yields results in just three or more treatments. It is a low-risk treatment procedure with no established side effects although it is not recommended if you’re pregnant or if your liver function is compromised. It yields lasting results as long as you don’t gain significant weight.

Dr Parag Telang is a Board Certified Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeon, practising in UAE and India. He is a Director of Designer Bodyz Centre for advanced cosmetic surgery located in Mumbai and a Specialist Plastic Surgeon with a DHA and HAAD license. He can be reached at drparagtelang@gmail.com

Body contouring is a range of cosmetic treatments that are done to enhance and rejuvenate the appearance of arms, legs, back, chest, and torso.

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What’s the role of genetic testing in planning a healthy pregnancy?

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The news of pregnancy brings with it different feelings—happiness, anticipation but sometimes worry and anxiety. Some parents worry that their unborn baby might have health problems. While most babies are born healthy, genetic testing can provide you with a closer look and certainty into your and your baby’s health.

 Genetic testing checks for the medical conditions of the babies while in their womb. Even before the pregnancy, genetic testing looks at the parent’s genes to know the chances that the child born might have a genetic disorder.

These genetic tests are mostly optional, but these tests can help you plan a healthy pregnancy. So, you can make the right health decisions and know what to expect when your baby comes.

Genetic testing before and during the pregnancy

Genetic testing is important to plan a pregnancy because it shows the likelihood that an unborn child will have certain inherited health conditions. If a parent (mother or father) has a gene for the disorder but doesn’t have the condition themselves, they are called a carrier. Genetic screening before pregnancy tells you if you or your partner possess those genes, and if so, what are the chances that you might pass these genes to your children.

Genetic testing during the pregnancy determines with as much certainty as possible if the unborn child has certain genetic disorders or birth defects. With the help of genetic tests during the pregnancy, parents can make an informed decision after consulting with the health care provider. Genetic tests also help your healthcare provider personalise their care for the parents or newborn baby, which enhances the chances for a healthy pregnancy.

Many new-age diagnostic companies are providing genetic testing to parents for a healthy pregnancy. For example, Genes2Me, India’s leading diagnostic company, offers a mother and child care segment dedicated to covering each facet of the pregnancy journey. The genetic testing lab offers prenatal and postnatal screenings, newborn screenings, and pediatric developmental disorders with complete pregnancy screening solutions all in a single place.

Genetic tests before pregnancy 

Many genetic abnormalities can be found before the baby’s birth. Your health care provider may recommend you take the genetic screening test if you or your partner has a family history of genetic disorders. In addition, if you have had a fetus or baby with a genetic abnormality before, genetic testing can help you know your unborn baby’s health.

Some of the genetic disorders that can be diagnosed before birth include Cystic fibrosis, Duchenne muscular dystrophy, Hemophilia A, Polycystic kidney disease, Sickle cell disease, Tay-Sachs disease, and Thalassemia. Genetic testing before birth can help you know if you are likely to have a baby with the above genetic disorder.

Genetic test at each stage of pregnancy 

There are different pregnancy genetic tests during each stage of the pregnancy.

First-trimester screening tests – During the first trimester, parents are recommended by the health care provider to go for a blood test and an ultrasound test. This test is required to measure the size of the clear space in the tissue at the back of a baby’s neck (nuchal translucency). In the case of nuchal translucency measurement is abnormally large, it may imply that the child is suffering from Down syndrome or other medical conditions. Also, the couple carrier screening of beta-thalassemia and sickle cell anaemia is highly recommended during the first trimester. 

Second-trimester screening tests – During the second trimester, Quad screen tests are recommended. This is a blood test where levels of four substances are measured in the blood. The test determines the risk of carrying a baby with certain chromosomal conditions, such as down syndrome, trisomy 18, etc. The genetic test also helps detect neural tube defects—any abnormalities of the spinal cord or brain.

Prenatal cell-free DNA screening – Fetal DNA in the maternal bloodstream is examined to screen for the increased chance for specific chromosome problems, such as Down syndrome. You can also gather information about the baby’s rhesus (Rh) blood type.

Newborn screening test – After the baby is born, newborn screening tests are recommended to detect any abnormalities in your baby’s genes that might cause him or her to develop certain health conditions, such as inborn errors of metabolism. Genetic tests are important because they can diagnose the medical condition early, and therefore treatment can be started before any complications develop.

The way forward

It is the parents’ choice to choose any carrier screening, prenatal screening, or prenatal diagnostic tests. Genetic testing for pregnancy checks the unborn babies for medical conditions while they are still in the womb. Even before the pregnancy, genetic tests are helpful to understand what kind of genes the parents are passing to their child(children). Genetic testing plays a crucial role in planning a healthy pregnancy, and therefore many parents are opting for these genetic tests because they do not want to leave their chances to fate.

The writer is founder and CEO of Genes2Me.

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Health & Wellness

Phenomenon of healthy ageing and physiology of ageing

Neha Sinha

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Ageing is not a disease but a biological universal phenomenon and is attributed to various factors including disease, environment, genetics, lifestyle, and the natural process itself. Today most people can expect longevity in their 60s and beyond. People worldwide are living longer. WHO states that by 2050, the world’s population of people aged 60 years and older will double (2.1billion) and the number of persons aged 80 years or older is expected to triple between 2020 and 2050 (to reach 426 million). The impact of ageing is becoming more and more prominent with increased life expectancy, better healthcare, and changing social structures.

Everyone does not age at the same time and at the same rate. Senescence (biological ageing) is typically counted from 60 and beyond, and the number in millions is now exceeding billions. Chronological age (the number of years you have lived) and biological age (your body’s age) can be different. A 90-year-old can seem 20 years younger and a 30-year-old can look much older! Ageing is multidimensional and apart from physical changes, it also has an impact on our emotional, social, and professional identities. There are many theories on when we start to age including some who believe the process starts as soon as we are born. Around the age of 30, our metabolism begins to slow down, and bone mass stops increasing. After a certain age, our brain also loses the plasticity to grasp new things as easily. The physiology of ageing is a vast subject that covers the impact of ageing on a body from head to toe in a dynamic way. From nervous to musculoskeletal, arthritis, obesity, and cognitive decline, ageing affects everything.

Neurons in the brain get destroyed with time and this, in turn, affects cognition and other functions. The changes in the brain structure are considered a normal part of ageing. Studies also show that neurons are highly sensitive to oxygen supply that reaches the brain through various direct and indirect exposures, and disease like arteriosclerosis cuts off the oxygen supply.

Inevitably, ageing is associated with diseases. Genetic and environmental factors like smoking, and living in polluted, chemical-pack cities are also seen as red flags for the neurological changes to be expedited. Changes like lost connections between neurons or certain cells of the brain can cause loss of memory or identification. Much advanced form of this, may lead to dementia when the elderly start forgetting things and loses cognitive skills accompanied by several behavioural changes.

Our special senses like vision, hearing, taste, smell, and touch start fading away with neurological decline. With time we need a hearing aid, glasses, lose appetite, find it difficult to have a strong grip, and so on. There are several minor changes also, at times, elders are seen as more drawn to sweets than salt, sour or other flavours. This is due to their tongue reception disdaining salt and exaggerating bitterness. Excessive consumption of sweets and decreased mobility put elders at risk for obesity which, in turn, has an impact on cardiovascular health.

The list of the physiology of ageing doesn’t end here. It is elaborate and goes from organ to organ covering multiple systems like respiratory, musculoskeletal, digestive, and others. What’s crucial is to focus on active ageing given all the prospects of a natural process comprising final retirement. Awareness needs to be raised regarding active ageing and preparing for it need to start much earlier in life. The younger generation has a role to play in valuing, encouraging, and contributing to an elder-friendly society. Active ageing aims to preserve the active role of senior adults with continued opportunities for healthcare, social participation, and security. Countering many physiological and psychological changes in the elderly by promoting, preparing, and planning for future ageing can be seen as the derivative of improved quality of life, overall well-being, and independence enabling them to maintain autonomy.

Active ageing needs to be a global goal, and a sense of urgency needs to be created to implement this across nations so that the combined impact can be lessened and elders can be perceived more and more as assets than liabilities. Disease prevention, encouraging healthy lifestyles, reducing stress, improving social and vocational avenues, and reforming care systems would all contribute to this universal goal

The writer is a dementia specialist as well as CEO & co-founder of Epoch Elder Care.

Ageing is not a disease but a biological universal phenomenon and is attributed to various factors including disease, environment, genetics, lifestyle, and the natural process itself. Today most people can expect longevity in their 60s and beyond. People worldwide are living longer. WHO states that by 2050, the world’s population of people aged 60 years and older will double (2.1billion) and the number of persons aged 80 years or older is expected to triple between 2020 and 2050 (to reach 426 million). The impact of ageing is becoming more and more prominent with increased life expectancy, better healthcare, and changing social structures.

Everyone does not age at the same time and at the same rate. Senescence (biological ageing) is typically counted from 60 and beyond, and the number in millions is now exceeding billions. Chronological age (the number of years you have lived) and biological age (your body’s age) can be different. A 90-year-old can seem 20 years younger and a 30-year-old can look much older! Ageing is multidimensional and apart from physical changes, it also has an impact on our emotional, social, and professional identities. There are many theories on when we start to age including some who believe the process starts as soon as we are born. Around the age of 30, our metabolism begins to slow down, and bone mass stops increasing. After a certain age, our brain also loses the plasticity to grasp new things as easily. The physiology of ageing is a vast subject that covers the impact of ageing on a body from head to toe in a dynamic way. From nervous to musculoskeletal, arthritis, obesity, and cognitive decline, ageing affects everything.

Neurons in the brain get destroyed with time and this, in turn, affects cognition and other functions. The changes in the brain structure are considered a normal part of ageing. Studies also show that neurons are highly sensitive to oxygen supply that reaches the brain through various direct and indirect exposures, and disease like arteriosclerosis cuts off the oxygen supply.

Inevitably, ageing is associated with diseases. Genetic and environmental factors like smoking, and living in polluted, chemical-pack cities are also seen as red flags for the neurological changes to be expedited. Changes like lost connections between neurons or certain cells of the brain can cause loss of memory or identification. Much advanced form of this, may lead to dementia when the elderly start forgetting things and loses cognitive skills accompanied by several behavioural changes.

Our special senses like vision, hearing, taste, smell, and touch start fading away with neurological decline. With time we need a hearing aid, glasses, lose appetite, find it difficult to have a strong grip, and so on. There are several minor changes also, at times, elders are seen as more drawn to sweets than salt, sour or other flavours. This is due to their tongue reception disdaining salt and exaggerating bitterness. Excessive consumption of sweets and decreased mobility put elders at risk for obesity which, in turn, has an impact on cardiovascular health.

The list of the physiology of ageing doesn’t end here. It is elaborate and goes from organ to organ covering multiple systems like respiratory, musculoskeletal, digestive, and others. What’s crucial is to focus on active ageing given all the prospects of a natural process comprising final retirement. Awareness needs to be raised regarding active ageing and preparing for it need to start much earlier in life. The younger generation has a role to play in valuing, encouraging, and contributing to an elder-friendly society. Active ageing aims to preserve the active role of senior adults with continued opportunities for healthcare, social participation, and security. Countering many physiological and psychological changes in the elderly by promoting, preparing, and planning for future ageing can be seen as the derivative of improved quality of life, overall well-being, and independence enabling them to maintain autonomy.

Active ageing needs to be a global goal, and a sense of urgency needs to be created to implement this across nations so that the combined impact can be lessened and elders can be perceived more and more as assets than liabilities. Disease prevention, encouraging healthy lifestyles, reducing stress, improving social and vocational avenues, and reforming care systems would all contribute to this universal goal

The writer is a dementia specialist as well as CEO & co-founder of Epoch Elder Care.

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Health & Wellness

DECODING THE LINK BETWEEN HYPERTENSION, HEART DISEASE AND STROKE

Hypertension, heart disease, and stroke are three different conditions. But if you have hypertension, the risk of developing heart disease or stroke also increases. If the blockage occurs near the brain or heart, it can lead to either a stroke or heart attack, respectively.

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Hypertension or high blood pressure is described as the number one killer disease in the world. It occurs when the pressure of blood pushing against a person’s arteries is higher than normal. Hypertension can lead to several health concerns. It can cause multiple life-threatening problems slowly without the knowledge of a person and either kills or impairs the quality of life in later stages.

Hypertension, heart disease, and stroke are three different conditions. But if you have hypertension, the risk of developing heart disease or stroke also increases. If the blockage occurs near the brain or heart, it can lead to either a stroke or heart attack, respectively.

How to identify if you have high blood pressure?

Often termed as a silent disease, hypertension may or may not show any signs or symptoms. People usually don’t know that they have it. Hence, it is important for all adults above18 years or older to regularly monitor their blood pressure, especially if it has ever been high or above the “normal” range, or if you have a family history of hypertension.

A blood pressure reading of 120/80 mmHg or below is considered normal and a reading of more than or equal to 130/80 mmHg is considered hypertension.

Hypertension and heart diseases

Over time, hypertension can cause damage to the blood vessels and LDL (bad) cholesterol to accumulate in the wall of the arteries. It can cause the arteries to narrow which can limit the flow of blood and oxygen to the heart muscle. This can lead to ischemic heart disease and ultimately heart attack. This is a serious medical condition. If left untreated, people can die from ischemic heart disease.

Hypertension can put pressure on your heart and force the heart to work hard to pump blood. This can lead to the thickening of the heart muscle and make the heart less elastic. All these changes to the arteries and heart can reduce the blood flow and lead to problems such as coronary artery disease, heart attack and heart failure.

Hypertension and stroke

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 7 in 10 people who experience a first heart attack and 8 in 10 people who experience a first stroke also have high blood pressure. Stroke is a medical emergency and it is the leading cause of disability and one of the leading causes of mortality worldwide. When the arteries leading to the brain burst or become blocked, it can cause a stroke. In this state, the brain no longer receives oxygen-rich blood, it can cause brain cells and the arteries to die. A stroke occurs due to the damaging effects of hypertension on the arteries. It can cause Ischemic and Hemorrhagic stroke.

Lowering hypertension for the prevention of heart diseases and stroke

Preventing hypertension can lower the risk of heart disease and stroke. One can keep the blood pressure in a healthy range by following a healthy lifestyle. One can follow the tips below to prevent hypertension.

♦ Eat healthily. Include plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables in your diet. Follow the DASH diet, a flexible and balanced eating plan that helps create a heart-healthy eating style for life.

♦ Maintain a healthy weight. Being overweight or obese can increase the risk of hypertension

♦ Be physically active. One can do moderate-intensity exercise, such as brisk walking or bicycling

♦ Avoid smoking and drinking alcohol. Smoking can increase the risk of hypertension and can cause heart attack and stroke. Also, consuming an excessive amount of alcohol can lead to hypertension.

♦ Take good rest and adequate amount of sleep. Not getting enough sleep on a regular basis is associated with an increased risk of hypertension, heart disease and stroke.

The writer is senior consultant – Interventional Cardiology, Aster CMI Hospital.

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RESEARCHERS USE AI TO ANALYSE LARGE AMOUNTS OF BIOLOGICAL DATA

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University of Missouri researchers have applied a form of artificial intelligence (AI), previously used to analyze how National Basketball Association (NBA) players move their bodies, to now help scientists develop new drug therapies for medical treatments targeting cancers and other diseases.

The findings of the study were published in the journal Nature Communications. The type of AI, called a graph neural network, can help scientists with speeding up the time it takes to sift through large amounts of data generated by studying protein dynamics. This approach can provide new ways to identify target sites on proteins for drugs to work effectively, said Dong Xu, a Curators’ Distinguished Professor in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at the MU College of Engineering and one of the study’s authors.

“Previously, drug designers may have known about a couple places on a protein’s structure to target with their therapies,” said Xu, who is also the Paul K. and Dianne Shumaker Professor in bioinformatics. “A novel outcome of this method is that we identified a pathway between different areas of the protein structure, which could potentially allow scientists who are designing drugs to see additional possible target sites for delivering their targeted therapies. This can increase the chances that the therapy may be successful.”

Xu said they can also simulate how proteins can change in relation to different conditions, such as the development of cancer, and then use that information to infer their relationships with other bodily functions.

“With machine learning we can really study what are the important interactions within different areas of the protein structure,” Xu said. “Our method provides a systematic review of the data involved when studying proteins, as well as a protein’s energy state, which could help when identifying any possible mutation’s effect. This is important because protein mutations can enhance the possibility of cancers and other diseases developing in the body.”

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RESEARCHERS FIND NEW APPROACH FOR TREATMENT OF DEVASTATING BRAIN TUMOURS

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The findings from a seven-year research project suggests that there could be a new approach to treating one of the most common and devastating forms of brain cancer in adults, Glioblastoma Multiforme (GBM).

In a peer-reviewed study published by BMC Cancer, scientists from the University of Surrey show that a short chain of amino acids (the HTL-001 peptide) is effective at targeting and inhibiting the function of a family of genes responsible for the growth of GBM – Hox genes. The study was conducted in cell and animal models. The HTL-001 peptide used in the study has undergone safety testing and is suitable for patient trials. These trials are now being considered in GBM and other cancers.

Hardev Pandha, project lead and Professor of Medical Oncology at the University of Surrey, said:

“People who suffer from Glioblastoma Multiforme have a five per cent survival rate over a five-year period – a figure that has not improved in decades. While we are still early in the process, our seven-year project offers a glimmer of hope for finding a solution to Hox gene dysregulation, which is associated with the growth of GBM and other cancers, and which has proven to be elusive as a target for so many years.”

Ironically, Hox genes are responsible for the healthy growth of brain tissue but are ordinarily silenced at birth after vigorous activity in the growing embryo. However, if they are inappropriately ‘switched on’ again, their activity can lead to the progression of cancer. Hox gene dysregulation has long been recognised in GBM.

The project was carried out in collaboration with the universities of Surrey, Leeds and Texas, and HOX Therapeutics, a University of Surrey start-up company based on the University’s Surrey Research Park.

Professor Susan Short, co-author of the study from the University of Leeds, said, “We desperately need new treatment avenues for these aggressive brain tumours. Targeting developmental genes like the HOX genes that are abnormally switched on in the tumour cells could be a novel and effective way to stop glioblastomas growing and becoming life-threatening.”

James Culverwell, CEO of HOX Therapeutics, said, “HOX Therapeutics is excited to be associated with this project and we hope that with our continuing support, this research will eventually lead to novel and effective treatments for both brain and other cancers where HOX gene over-expression is a clear therapeutic target.”

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