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Improving quality of stored drinking water

Hand-washing, long recognized as an effective germ-fighting practice, also appears to play an important role in improving the quality of stored drinking water in poor countries, say researchers.

Boffins have reported a dramatic new real-world evidence supporting the idea that hand washing can prevent the spread of water-borne disease. It appears in a new study showing a connection between fecal bacteria contamination on hands, fecal contamination of stored drinking water, and health in households in a developing country in Africa.

Alexandria Boehm, Jenna Davis, and their students note that almost half of the world’s population — over 3 billion people — have no access to municipal drinking water supply systems. They obtain drinking water wells, springs, and other sources, and store it in jugs and other containers in their homes. Past research showed that this stored water can have higher levels of bacterial contamination than its source. But nobody knew why.
The scientists found a strong link between fecal contamination on the hands of household residents and bacterial contamination in stored water in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.

Stored water contained nearly 100 times more fecal bacteria than the source where it was collected.

New lenses may reduce progress of myopia

A study has found a contact lens that may reduce the progress of nearsightedness, or myopia. The international team of researchers tested the contact lens by fully correcting the central vision but reducing the relative peripheral farsightedness, or hyperopia.

The researchers studied 100 myopic Chinese children, ages 7-14. Test subjects were provided contact lenses with the modified corrections. After six months, the children with the special lenses showed 54 per cent less progression of myopia than control subjects.

“Longer experience with wear of such contact lenses is needed, however the data are promising with regard to a new generation of contact lenses aimed at myopia control,” the researchers said.

Transplanted stem cells could heal injured hearts

In a study on mouse model, scientists found that human adult stem cells injected around the damage caused by a heart attack survived in the heart and improved its pumping efficiency for a year.

The study, by researchers at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Centre, used innovative imaging techniques developed by researchers at MD Anderson to track the stem cells’ location and performance over time.

Injection of a patient’s own adult stem cells into the heart has shown some efficacy in assisting recovery after a heart attack in early human clinical trials, said study senior author Dr Edward T H Yeh.

“But nobody knows how they work, or how long the stem cells last and function in the heart. This study shows how one type of adult stem cell works,” said Yeh.

The team’s research focused on adult stem cells — those that can differentiate into a limited variety of tissues — that circulate in the blood and are distinguished by the presence of the CD34 protein on the cell surface.

These CD34-positive cells usually differentiate into blood vessel cells, also known as endothelial cells.

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