Health & Wellness
Man bites back at killer dog bites with smart optics
Non-invasive diagnostics such as light scanners and swabs are increasingly used to diagnose illness in people. Now EU-backed scientists are trying to extend the techniques to the treatment of pets.
There are an estimated 90 million dogs living as pets in European households. Having a dog in the family can make people more physically active. It can reduce feelings of isolation and loneliness. It can also improve the lives of older individuals – petting a dog has been shown to help reduce blood pressure.
But even though there is a dog living in almost 40% of European homes, there is one relatively small concern. Capnocytophaga canimorsus is a bacteria that lives in the saliva of dogs that can infect people and cause serious disease.
Although it lives in the mouths of dogs and cats harmlessly most of the time, on rare occasions, if a dog bites or licks a cut, some strains of the microbe can trigger a devastating disease in people.
The condition is rare, with around four cases per million inhabitants per annum. As difficult to treat as it is to pronounce, Capnocytophaga canimorsus can travel from the saliva of the dog to the blood of the person when a dog licks a scratch or an abrasion.
‘The name is canimorsus, which is Latin for dog bite,’ said Dr Francesco Renzi, microbiologist at the University of Namur, Belgium, ‘And that is clearly the main infection route.’
Capnocytophaga canimorsus almost never causes illnesses in young healthy people. However, it can cause severe illness in those with compromised immune systems, those with damaged or no spleens and people suffering from alcoholism.
‘People more than 60 years old are also more at risk, maybe because of their immune status,’ said Dr Renzi.
The number of bacteria in the blood can spike, and cause high fever, flu-like symptoms and pain. ‘There are no specific symptoms, and the infection is quite rare,’ said Dr Renzi. This makes it less likely for a doctor to suspect infection with these bacteria.
Around 30% of cases result in death, and many who survive endure amputation due to gangrene. A patient may also suffer from sepsis and multi-organ failure.
While antibiotics, given early, kill the microbe, identifying Capnocytophaga canimorsus can be very difficult, even in hospital labs.
‘What is important is for physicians to talk to patients and ask if they have a dog, if they have been bitten recently,’ said Dr Renzi. A bite wound might not become infected, so it is not obvious that the infection entered this way.
Dr Renzi’s Belgian lab collected saliva from 285 dogs and identified Capnocytophaga canimorsus in 83% of them using a PCR test they developed for the CANITEST project.
They also established that the most harmful bacteria that causes the majority of human illnesses is present in only around 10% of dogs.
Dr Renzi advises dog owners in the 88m European households where dogs live, to wash themselves after contact with their pet’s saliva and to not allow a dog to lick an open wound or cut.
Dr Blaž Cugmas is a young researcher whose big passion in life is to improve animal health. He is especially interested in how technology can be used by veterinarians to diagnose and treat pets.
After completing his PhD in his native Slovenia, Dr Cugmas moved to a lab in Riga, Latvia, which is renowned for biophotonics.
Biophotonics is a light-based method used in medicine, for example when smartphone cameras are used to analyse skin lesions for cancer.
‘Most of these technologies have been developed for humans,’ said Dr Cugmas, ‘And they cannot just be translated to animals.’
The challenge was how to use biophotonics to diagnose illness in pets.
Dr Cugmas set about developing technologies and prototypes that vets could use on animal patients as part of the dogSPEC project.
Today, anyone can buy pulse oximeters, a device that shines light through a finger to a sensor on the other side. It detects blood colour and thereby computes blood oxygen levels. A dramatic fall in blood oxygen, for example, can indicate serious illness.
Dr Cugmas applied his prototype pet pulse oximeter to different locations around the body of cats and dogs to test the animals’ condition.
‘We showed that there are some locations where you can apply a pulse oximeter and get a strong signal,’ he said. This could be used by a vet to help diagnose an illness, to be validated with other tests. A speedier diagnosis will lead to better outcomes for our furry friends.
Another diagnostic device people use, but not normally pets, is an infrared thermometer. This is often used to measure body temperature of children when held close to their forehead. The devices have become widely familiar since they are used to check people’s temperature in Covid-19 pandemic conditions.
Such a device for pets would be incredibly useful, said Dr Cugmas, because normally a vet must apply a thermometer into the rectum of their patient.
‘As you can imagine, this is not very popular with the animal. Cats especially don’t tolerate this very well,’ he said. Dr Cugmas is trying to develop a handheld IR thermometer suitable for pets. He also has a license to practice as a veterinarian.
This is a very practical challenge. Ideally, measuring temperature would be the start of a clinical examination, yet many vets avoid it, ‘because you will irritate the animal so much that you lose their cooperation,’ said Dr Cugmas.
Dr Cugmas is also developing a mobile dermatoscope for pets. This device would use light to assess the redness, or erythema, of an animal’s skin.
In humans, a dermatoscope is used by medical specialists to scrutinise marks that could signal melanoma skin cancer.
While dogs and cats rarely get skin cancer, skin colour changes can be markers for a serious condition. For example, a dog’s skin might flare up as red and itchy if they have an allergic reaction.
‘We are trying to use smartphone cameras, which have a mobile dermatoscope attached, to try to measure skin erythema,’ said Dr Cugmas. He demonstrated its potential in a study of 43 dogs with skin dermatitis in January 2021.
Work is ongoing to physically strengthen devices, since some excitable dogs have in the past knocked over the prototypes and damaged them. Also, given the nature of the patient, it’s important to make the devices chew-proof.
Professor Janis Spigulis is a physicist working in the same biophotonics lab in Riga. He praises the work of his colleague in transferring light-based diagnostic technology to pets.
‘Blaž is trying to stick to the same approaches and to make some devices that are specific for animals,’ he said.
‘Many optical technologies are unknown to veterinarians, so this interdisciplinary interaction is very positive and he has achieved good results.’
The research in this article was funded by the EU. This article was originally published in Horizon, the EU Research and Innovation Magazine.
Health & Wellness
Muscle Growth: A New Perspective on Stacking
Muscle growth, or muscle hypertrophy, is the process of increasing muscle fiber size and strength through resistance training. Traditionally, muscle growth has been pursued through consistent resistance training and proper nutrition.
However, a new perspective on muscle growth has emerged, introducing the concept of ‘stacking.’ Stacking involves combining various supplements, training techniques, and recovery strategies to maximize muscle growth potential.
This holistic approach aims to synergistically enhance the effects of individual components, leading to accelerated and more significant muscle gains.
Understanding ‘Stacking’ in Bodybuilding
Stacking, in the context of bodybuilding, refers to the strategic combination of different elements to optimize muscle growth. These elements can include supplements, such as protein powders, creatine, and amino acids, as well as training techniques like drop sets, super sets, and high-intensity interval training (HIIT). Stacking also involves incorporating specific recovery strategies, such as adequate sleep, foam rolling, and targeted stretching.
There are various types of stacking approaches in bodybuilding. Some bodybuilders stack different supplements to enhance muscle growth and recovery, while others stack training techniques to increase workout intensity and stimulate muscle hypertrophy. Additionally, stacking recovery strategies can help optimize the body’s ability to repair and grow muscle tissue.
Stacking offers several benefits for muscle growth. By combining different supplements, training techniques, and recovery strategies, bodybuilders can create a synergistic effect that enhances muscle-building potential. Stacking may lead to improved workout performance, increased muscle protein synthesis, enhanced nutrient delivery to muscles, and accelerated recovery. Furthermore, it can help break through plateaus and stimulate new muscle growth.
New Perspectives on Stacking for Muscle Growth
The fitness industry now recognizes the importance of a comprehensive approach to stacking, incorporating supplements, training techniques, and recovery strategies for maximum muscle growth potential.
Innovative stacking techniques challenge traditional notions of muscle growth, offering exciting possibilities. Combining specific supplements with targeted training techniques, like blood flow restriction training, shows promise in promoting muscle hypertrophy.
New stacking techniques are revolutionizing muscle growth by optimizing training, nutrition, and recovery strategies. Bodybuilders can achieve greater gains in muscle size and strength by exploring novel combinations and approaches. This evolving understanding of stacking shapes the approach to fitness goals.
Role of Innovative Products in Stacking
With the growing popularity of stacking, the market has seen the emergence of innovative products specifically designed to support muscle growth.
These products are formulated to provide synergistic effects when combined with other components of a stacking regimen. They often contain a combination of key ingredients known to enhance muscle protein synthesis, increase energy levels, improve endurance, and support recovery.
One notable example of an innovative stacking product is the Crazy Bulk Growth Hormone Stack. This stack combines several supplements that work together to optimize muscle growth. These supplements have been carefully formulated with natural ingredients to replicate the effects of synthetic hormones, promoting muscle growth, increased strength, and improved recovery.
While innovative products like the Crazy Bulk Growth Hormone Stack can be beneficial, it is crucial to select the right products for stacking. Not all supplements or combinations will yield the same results for every individual.
It’s important to consider factors such as personal goals, body type, training style, and potential allergies or sensitivities when choosing stacking products. Consulting with a knowledgeable professional or nutritionist can help determine the most appropriate products for individual stacking regimens.
Stacking: A Comprehensive Approach to Muscle Growth
To harness the full potential of stacking, it should be integrated into a comprehensive muscle growth plan. This involves setting specific goals, designing a tailored training program, optimizing nutrition, and incorporating the appropriate stacking techniques and products. By taking a holistic approach, individuals can create a synergistic effect that maximizes muscle growth and overall performance.
Several case studies have demonstrated the effectiveness of stacking for muscle growth. Athletes and bodybuilders who have implemented stacking strategies and incorporated innovative products into their routines have often experienced accelerated gains in muscle mass, increased strength, and improved overall physique. These success stories serve as evidence of the potential of stacking when implemented correctly.
While stacking offers great potential, it is not without its challenges. Some individuals may find it overwhelming to navigate the vast array of supplements, training techniques, and recovery strategies available. Additionally, finding the right combination and dosage for optimal results can be a trial-and-error process. However, with proper research, guidance, and a systematic approach, these challenges can be overcome, leading to significant advancements in muscle growth.
The Future of Stacking in Muscle Growth
As stacking evolves, it will play a pivotal role in the future of bodybuilding, optimizing results and redefining what’s achievable in muscle growth. Advancements in stacking techniques, innovative products, and research will shape the bodybuilding landscape.
Research and development in stacking will focus on novel supplement combinations, synergistic training effects, and new recovery strategies. Scientific evidence will enhance our understanding of muscle growth mechanisms and the role of stacking.
Stacking has the potential to revolutionize muscle growth. With a comprehensive approach, it breaks plateaus, accelerates gains, and provides a competitive edge for athletes and bodybuilders, unlocking new levels of performance and hypertrophy.
To Sum the Information Up
The new perspective on stacking for muscle growth offers a holistic approach that combines supplements, training techniques, and recovery strategies to maximize results. Stacking has become increasingly important in modern bodybuilding, recognizing the synergistic effects of various components in optimizing muscle growth.
Looking to the future, stacking holds great potential to revolutionize muscle growth by pushing the boundaries of what is achievable. Continued research and development in stacking techniques, innovative products, and understanding the mechanisms of muscle growth will shape the future of bodybuilding and unlock new levels of performance and physique transformation.
Health & Wellness
Unpacking the Science of Growth Hormone Stacks
Growth hormones, or somatotropin, are vital hormones produced by the pituitary gland that regulate growth and development in the body. They stimulate bone, muscle, and organ growth, while also influencing metabolism and body composition.
In this article, we will explore the science behind growth hormone stacks, their purpose in bodybuilding and fitness, scientific principles, benefits and risks, safe usage guidelines, legal and ethical considerations. Our goal is to empower readers to make informed decisions about growth hormone stack usage.
Understanding Growth Hormone Stacks
Growth hormone stacks refer to combinations of various compounds that are used together to enhance the effects of growth hormones in the body. These stacks typically include growth hormone-releasing peptides (GHRPs), growth hormone secretagogues, and other complementary substances. The purpose of growth hormone stacks is to optimize the natural production and release of growth hormones, leading to amplified results.
Growth hormone stacks are widely used in the bodybuilding and fitness community to accelerate muscle growth, improve athletic performance, and aid in fat loss. By combining different compounds that work synergistically, growth hormone stacks offer a comprehensive approach to maximizing the benefits of growth hormones.
Common components found in growth hormone stacks include growth hormone-releasing peptides (GHRPs) such as GHRP-2 and GHRP-6, growth hormone secretagogues like Ipamorelin, and other substances that support hormonal balance and muscle growth, such as testosterone boosters, amino acids, and anabolic steroids.
The Science Behind Growth Hormone Stacks
Growth hormone stacks work by stimulating the pituitary gland to produce and release more growth hormones. This can be achieved through the use of GHRPs and growth hormone secretagogues, which act as agonists to specific receptors in the body, triggering the release of growth hormones. These compounds also help regulate the feedback mechanisms that control the production and release of growth hormones.
Growth hormone stacks have been shown to have a profound impact on muscle growth and fat loss. They increase protein synthesis, which promotes muscle hypertrophy, and enhance the utilization of fat for energy, leading to a reduction in body fat percentage. Additionally, growth hormone stacks can improve recovery, increase energy levels, and enhance overall physical performance.
Numerous scientific studies have explored the effects of growth hormone stacks on muscle growth and fat loss. These studies have consistently demonstrated the positive impact of growth hormone stacks on these parameters, showcasing their potential as effective tools for bodybuilders and fitness enthusiasts. However, it is important to note that the use of growth hormone stacks should be approached with caution and under professional supervision.
The Pros and Cons of Using Growth Hormone Stacks
The benefits of using growth hormone stacks are significant. They include accelerated muscle growth, increased strength and endurance, enhanced fat loss, improved recovery and healing, and overall improvement in body composition. Growth hormone stacks can also boost collagen synthesis, leading to improved skin elasticity and joint health.
One popular product in the market for growth hormone stacks is Crazybulk. Crazybulk offers a range of legal and safe alternatives to anabolic steroids, designed to mimic the effects of traditional steroids without the associated risks and side effects.
Reviews and testimonials from users are an essential factor to consider when choosing such products. For instance, if you read CrazyBulk Reviews, they indicate the effectiveness and quality of the product, therefore providing valuable insights for potential consumers.
While growth hormone stacks offer numerous benefits, it is crucial to be aware of the potential risks and side effects. Improper use, excessive dosages, or prolonged use can lead to adverse effects such as acromegaly (excessive growth of facial and body tissues), insulin resistance, fluid retention, joint pain, and cardiovascular complications. It is essential to consult with a healthcare professional before starting any growth hormone stack regimen to minimize these risks.
Safe and Effective Use of Growth Hormone Stacks
For safe and effective usage of growth hormone stacks, follow these guidelines. Consult a specialized healthcare professional to assess your needs, provide personalized recommendations, and monitor progress. Adhere to recommended dosages, cycle lengths, and frequency. Regular health check-ups and blood work help monitor adverse effects.
A well-balanced diet is essential when using growth hormone stacks. Include sufficient protein, carbs, and healthy fats to support muscle growth and recovery. Regular exercise, especially resistance training, maximizes the benefits. Adequate sleep, stress management, and hydration contribute to overall health and optimize growth hormone effects.
Seek advice from fitness professionals with expertise in growth hormone stacks. They guide you in selecting suitable stacks, adjust dosages, and provide insights for optimal health and wellness. Their knowledge ensures safe and effective usage.
Legal and Ethical Considerations of Growth Hormone Stacks
The legal status of growth hormone stacks varies from region to region. In some countries, growth hormone stacks are considered controlled substances and require a prescription. It is essential to understand the legal implications and regulations regarding growth hormone stack usage in your specific location.
In competitive sports, the use of growth hormone stacks is often prohibited due to the potential unfair advantage they may confer. Athletes should adhere to the regulations set forth by the respective governing bodies to ensure fair play and maintain the integrity of the sport.
While there are legal and ethical considerations surrounding growth hormone stacks, it is important to advocate for fair and responsible use. Education and awareness about safe usage protocols, as well as open discussions about the potential benefits and risks, can contribute to a more informed approach to growth hormone stack usage.
Understanding the science of growth hormone stacks is essential for those interested in maximizing their fitness and bodybuilding efforts. By comprehending the mechanisms, potential benefits, and risks associated with growth hormone stacks, individuals can make informed decisions about their usage.
It is crucial to prioritize safety, consult with professionals, and adhere to legal and ethical guidelines. With the right knowledge and responsible approach, growth hormone stacks can be a valuable tool in achieving fitness and performance goals.
Health & Wellness
Scientists remain vigilant for new Covid-19 variants while improving the ability to predict complications
Regular life may have resumed for most people, but the pandemic rumbles on as researchers keep a watch on new variants and increase efforts to better identify patients at risk.
By VITTORIA D’ALESSIO
Everyone, it seems, is more than ready to move on from Covid-19, but virus experts say it’s still too early for us to lower our guard.
That’s because the pandemic, they insist, is far from over. Indeed, in a typical week, 180 000 new cases are still being reported across Europe. So, while regular life has resumed for most of us – and the World Health Organization has dropped the status of Covid-19 as a ‘global emergency’ (the highest level of alert) – scientists remain vigilant.
‘We might have good control over the pandemic – and the vaccine has played a major role in achieving this – but the virus continues to persist, and the situation is still very dynamic,’ said Professor Giuseppe Pantaleo, head of Immunology and Allergy at the Swiss Vaccine Research Institute.
The virus causing Covid-19 is an artful opportunist, endlessly evolving to evade our defences – and with each significant mutation comes the threat of a new wave of infection. According to Pantaleo, a time is likely to come when our current defences – whether built up through infection or acquired by vaccination – will no longer effectively counter the virus. Complacency could be a costly mistake.
‘It’s critical for us to keep monitoring populations for new variants,’ said Pantaleo. ‘We need to know the impact each mutation has on the effectiveness of vaccines and treatments so we can be prepared for what is coming next and put in place new measures to control the spread.’
Pantaleo coordinates CoVICIS, a three-year Covid-19 surveillance programme due to end next year and funded by the EU to the tune of €10 million.
CoVICIS involves researchers in Switzerland, Italy, France, Germany, South Africa and Ethiopia. African involvement is essential for the project to fulfil its ambition of evolving into a surveillance platform with a global reach.
Most countries on the African continent lack the infrastructure to monitor infections within their borders. Moreover, much of Africa’s population remains unvaccinated, said Pantaleo, meaning the virus has more opportunity to spread and mutate (a fact that probably explains why several variants, including Omicron, first emerged in Africa).
For good reason then, monitoring the evolution of Covid-19 in Africa is a pressing concern. However, Pantaleo hopes the programme will set the stage for collaborations with an even wider reach.
‘This pandemic has taught us that when it comes to dangerous pathogens we are all connected. We need to establish a new type of research infrastructure so, when it’s time to deal with a new virus, we can quickly mobilise the world’s scientific community and work as one,’ he said.
Since the earliest days of the pandemic, scientists have been looking for new means to predict how any given person is likely to respond to a Covid-19 infection. The way some experience the virus as a mild cold while others die can seem almost random. Though there’s no doubt that having a comorbidity or an underlying non-diagnosed condition puts a person at higher risk, little is known about why some healthy individuals develop severe Covid-19.
There are two types of at-risk patients the researchers hope to identify: those who are hit hard during the acute phase of illness and those who are saddled with the debilitating symptoms of long-Covid.
‘What we must remember is that for many people, the virus causing Covid does not simply infect the lung cells, cause a few pulmonary problems and then go away,’ said Dr Yvan Devaux, leader of the Cardiovascular Research Unit at the Luxembourg Institute of Health. ‘For a substantial number of people, an infection leads to problems that affect the entire body and persist long-term.’
What has become clear from the work by Devaux and others is that Covid-19 can be bad for your heart.
One study of 160 000 unvaccinated people found that infected patients in the acute phase of their illness are four times more likely than uninfected individuals to develop a major cardiovascular disease – and 40% more likely in the 18 months that follow.
Taken to heart
This is true regardless of age, sex, race or pre-Covid-19 health status and whether an infection is mild or severe. However, the worst cardiovascular outcomes are experienced by Covid-19 patients who end up in intensive care and people with pre-existing cardiovascular conditions.
In other words, serious infections increase the likelihood of developing heart conditions and pre-existing heart conditions increase the likelihood of dying from Covid-19.
The problem is, cardiovascular disorders have an uncanny ability to remain hidden: a heart attack is often the first sign of an underlying problem. For this reason, finding reliable ways to expose cardiac problems before they become critical has long been a research priority within the EU.
Devaux and his collaborators have been trying to find new tests to diagnose cardiovascular conditions for many years. The pandemic simply spurred them on.
New tests to pre-empt complications
In March 2020 – the same month the World Health Organization declared Covid-19 a pandemic – the team decided to find a way to identify Covid-19 patients who were most likely to develop heart complications after an initial infection.
‘We had good reason to believe there would be a strong link between Covid infection and coronary heart conditions,’ said Devaux, ‘and we wanted to be part of the international effort to save lives.’
The EU-funded COVIRNA project is devising a test to predict who is most likely to develop cardiovascular complications.
The hope is that an affordable blood test will soon be ready to roll out to hospitalised Covid-19 patients. It will measure a specific type of free-floating RNA molecule that has been linked to cardiovascular disease.
The researchers have collated RNA data from 2 000 study participants and are currently using artificial intelligence to analyse this information and create a reliable tool to predict an individual’s risk.
High-risk patients will then receive personalised care to monitor their health and, if necessary, receive treatment to degrade the troublesome RNA molecules.
‘Patients would get the test a few days into the disease and doctors would then be able to tailor their care – for instance, by sending them for a heart MRI scan when they otherwise wouldn’t have one or by redirecting them to a cardiologist to be watched closely,’ said Devaux.
‘We might not be able to close the last page on Covid quite yet, but this test could be considered a good output of the pandemic.’
Research in this article was funded by the EU. This article was originally published in Horizon, the EU Research and Innovation Magazine.
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