Research on Transport of Medical Knowledge from Tamilnadu

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The Medical Skills of the Malabar Doctors in Tranquebar, India as Recorded by Surgeon T L F Folly, 1798

The research paper on the medical skills of Tamil people of 17th century AD was recorded by A Danish surgeon T L F Folly. NIKLAS THODE JENSEN, a PhD scholar of Department of History, The Saxo Institute, University of Copenhagen, Denmark traced out the foot prints of the interesting story of documentation of the Danish surgeon and has been retold facts of Medical knowledge of Tamil people on those days.

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Map of Tranquebar, by Peter Anker, governor of Tranquebar from 1788 to 1807, c. 1800. (© Museum of Cultural History, University of Oslo, Norway; photo: Ann Christine Eek)

Excerpts from the paper

"The literature about Tranquebar under Danish rule is primarily in Danish and has not previously dealt with issues of health and medicine. The main focus has been on either political history or the history of the Protestant mission in Tranquebar. An excellent account of the former is found in the standard three volume history of the Danish East Indies by Gunnar Olsen, Kamma Struwe and Aage Rasch,2 and inKolonierne i Asien og Afrika by Ole Feldbæk and Ole Justesen.3 These sources are old but offer a comprehensive history of the Danish involvement in India; while an excellent account of the Christian mission in Tranquebar is given in Anders Nørgaard's PhD thesis Mission und Obrigkeit: die dänisch-hallische Mission in Tranquebar, 1706–1845.4 A more recent approach to the history of Tranquebar—at least for the issues of health and medicine—has come from anthropology. The Danish anthropologist Esther Fihl has written about the social, political and economical interactions between the Indian society and the Danish colonial power.5A similar approach from a historical vantage point has been used by the Danish historian Niels Brimnes. In his book Constructing the colonial encounter, he uses caste conflicts in colonial Madras and Tranquebar to untangle the complex interactions between the Indians and the colonial powers.6 Very recently, and of interest for the issues dealt with in this article, Brimnes has moved on to deal with indigenous doctors in South India. In his article ‘Coming to terms with the native practitioner: indigenous doctors in colonial service in South India, 1800–1825’, Brimnes reveals how European doctors and administrators came to perceive South Indian physicians during the first twenty-five years of the nineteenth century.7Presumably, these Indian physicians in British service originated from the same group or culture of south Indian physicians as those described by Folly in Tranquebar in the 1790s. Thus Folly's remarks on the south Indian physicians in Tranquebar are an early contribution to the European perceptions of south Indian physicians revealed and discussed by Brimnes."

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Spinal cord regeneration success in mice

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By Emma Wilkinson
Health reporter, BBC News

US researchers have for the first time encouraged substantial regrowth in nerves controlling voluntary movement after spinal cord injury.
By manipulating an enzyme involved in cell growth, researchers were able to regenerate spinal cord nerves in mice, Nature Neuroscience reports. It follows similar work on repairing the optic nerve to restore sight.
Nerve cells
UK experts said the next challenge would be to turn the findings into a treatment suitable for humans.
The ability to grow new nerve cells is present at birth but then diminishes with age.
It means that after injury or illness to the spine, the nerve cell fibres, known as axons, cannot regenerate.


Until now, such robust nerve regeneration has been impossible in the spinal cord”
Professor Oswald Steward
In the latest study the researchers attempted to switch back on the signalling pathway that encourages this new growth in young mammals.
They did it by knocking out a gene called PTEN in mice which in normal circumstances puts a halt on new nerve growth.
The team, from Harvard Medical School and the University of California, Irvine, reported substantial regrowth in severed spinal cords in the animals.
They are now working on tests to see if the technique can actually restore spinal cord function.
Potential treatment
Study author Professor Oswald Steward said: "Until now, such robust nerve regeneration has been impossible in the spinal cord.
"Paralysis and loss of function from spinal cord injury has been considered untreatable, but our discovery points the way toward a potential therapy to induce regeneration of nerve connections following spinal cord injury in people."

Breath test may help detect cancer

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A simple breath test could one day be used to diagnose cancer.A breath test could one day be used to detect four of the most common types of cancer, say scientists.
Researchers have developed sensors that can spot chemical signs of lung, breast, bowel and prostate cancer in a person's breath.
They believe further work could lead to a cheap, portable "electronic nose" that can help doctors diagnose cancer at an early stage.
The scientists carried out tests on 177 volunteers including healthy participants and patients with different cancers. They showed it was possible to use sensors to detect chemicals emitted from tumour cells that appear in the breath.
Professor Abraham Kuten, one of the researchers from the Technion Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa, Israel, said: "This study shows that an 'electronic nose' can distinguish between healthy and malignant breath, and can also differentiate between the breath of patients with different cancer types.
"If we can confirm these initial results in large-scale studies, this new technology could become a simple tool for early diagnosis of cancer along with imaging. It could also be an easy way to assess and monitor the effectiveness of cancer treatment and detect relapses earlier."
The research is reported on Tuesday in the British Journal of Cancer.
Dr Lesley Walker, from the charity Cancer Research UK, which owns the journal, said: "It is important to say at the outset that this is a small study at a very early stage and much more research is needed to see if breath can be used in the detection of cancer. These results are interesting and show that there is the potential to develop a single breath test to detect these cancers.
"Strengthening the methods for early diagnosis of cancer as well as improved treatments will have a significant impact on cutting death rates.
"Breast, lung, bowel and prostate cancers are the four most common types of cancer in the UK. They often go undetected until the disease is well established and are the most common causes of death from cancer."

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