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Indian-American Teen Awarded For Invention To Improve Brain Cancer Treat

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Washington: An Indian-American teenager has been conferred with the 2019 National STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) Education Award for her ground-breaking invention designed to improve treatments for glioblastoma, the deadliest form of brain cancer.

The $10,000 award given by STEM Education US, recognises Kavya Kopparapu, 19, of Herndon, Virginia, as an “extraordinarily talented and accomplished” individual “who has meaningfully promoted STEM education”, The American Bazaar reported on Saturday.

A freshman at Harvard University studying computer science and biology, the budding scientist has invented GlioVision, a precision medicine platform powered by Artificial Intelligence (AI) that predicts brain tumour characteristics in a fraction of the time and cost of traditional methods by using a scanned image of a biopsy rather than a DNA sample. 

It is a major step to targeted treatment for patients with cancer which uses a deep learning computer system to determine the molecular and genetic signature of a brain tumour with 100 per cent accuracy. 

Ms Kavya has been recognised for her commendable efforts to battle a rare but deadly disease, and to encourage others to pursue their expertise in STEM-related fields.

Also a social entrepreneur, Ms Kavya is the founder and CEO of Girls Computing League, a non-profit organisation which has raised over $100,000 for computer science programming that impacts more than 3,800 American students. 1

An experienced speaker, she has delivered talks at the Smithsonian Institution, NASA Kennedy Space Centre, and participated in several AI conferences.

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Health & Fitness

Fruit juice is just another soda as study suggests cancer link

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Drinking soda doesn’t just threaten to make us fat, it could be linked to a higher risk of cancer, judging from a new study. But here’s the more surprising part: so could fruit juices.

Increased daily consumption of about 3.4 ounces of soda — roughly a third of a can of Coke — was associated with an 18% greater risk of some cancers in a study published in the British Medical Journal. The likelihood of breast tumors alone rose even more, by 22%. When people drank the same amount of unsweetened fruit juice, they were also more likely to develop cancer, the researchers found.

The research, part of a broader effort carried out in France to investigate links between nutrition and health, is one of the first to find a connection between sweet drinks and cancer. The findings may also taint the image of fruit juices, which are often perceived — and promoted — as healthy.

“All beverages — either with sugar or without — are safe to consume as part of a balanced diet,” the American Beverage Institute said in a statement. Beverage companies are working to provide more choices with reduced or no sugar, smaller package sizes and clear calorie information, the industry group said.

The researchers tracked 97 beverages and 12 artificially sweetened ones, including carbonated ones, sports drinks, syrups and pure fruit juices. The correlations they found don’t necessarily mean the beverages alone lead to cancer. The study didn’t seek to understand the reason for the link, though the researchers speculated that sugar’s effect on visceral fat, blood-sugar levels and inflammation may play a role. Additives found in sodas and pesticides in fruit could also have an impact, they wrote.

The study found no increased cancer risk from sugar-free drinks, although so few of the people studied consumed them that the results may not be significant, the researchers said. Water, unsweetened tea and coffee also showed no heightened risk.

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Brand Story

LAIQA: Creating A Period Of Change

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Red is the color of strength.

Sanitary napkins have been in demand for all of time. Now, with the rising awareness on menstruation and feminine health, people even in the remote areas of India know about sanitary napkins.

Earlier, women did not know about it and had to find other cheaper and more viable options. Today the scenario is different. There are organizations working to make eco-friendly sanitary napkins that reach the vast majority of the country.

One such brand that is doing some lovely work is LAIQA; a homegrown line of sanitary napkins founded by Monica Bindra, Nazish Mir and Ali Mir.

LAIQA breaks many a barrier by introducing BODO i.e. buy one donate one. For every pack of pads sold, LAIQA donates one pad to a lesser-privileged menstruating girl or woman. To make their brand more accessible, LAIQA has paired up with 3 NGOs on a voluntary basis.

‘Good For Her, Good For Earth’. Earlier, pads were mostly plastic and harmful to the female genitalia. LAIQA offers an effective solution to this by lessening the use of plastic in the napkins to just 7% – making them biodegradable.

Menstruation is not easy for everyone as the flow varies from woman to woman. However, LAIQA has taken into consideration all these factors and created 4 types of individual or combo packs.

1. a pack of 10 Ultra-thin day pads, designed for moderate flow
2. a pack of 10 Cosy-fluff night pads, designed for heavy flow 
3. a pack of 20 Panty-liners, designed for everyday discharges and spotting
4. a Combo box of 10 day + 5 night pads, designed for the duration of your period, also customizable according to personal preference.

The pads have a top layer of high quality feather-soft top sheet and a breathable bottom sheet. LAIQA swears by feminine hygiene and believes in utmost comfort, making their products rash-free, chlorine-free and fragrance-free. This prevents UTIs and yeast infections.

LAIQA is here to offer a hassle-free service for your period. Their subscription model is available on their website, and can also be accessed via their hotline number+919891310451 where in the pad is delivered to you within an hour in Delhi NCR and you can place orders for Pan India.

Subscription offers for you:
1. 10% off on 3 months subscription,
2.15% off on 6 months subscription and,
3. 20% off if you subscribe for 12 months.

Rest assured, the pack/packs will be delivered to you every month in advance or in bulk, whichever you prefer – and always just in time for your period.

LAIQA is breaking the stigma around menstruation, offering eco-friendly pads, and making them available to marginalized sections of society while also offering an option to customize the pads according to one’s flow. So here’s hoping you’re ready for your period of change!

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Health & Fitness

Dogs may accurately sniff out cancer in blood

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Dogs can use their highly evolved sense of smell to pick out human blood samples with cancer with almost 97% accuracy, according a a study that may lead to inexpensive and non-invasive screening approaches for the deadly disease.

Dogs have smell receptors 10,000 times more accurate than humans, making them highly sensitive to odours we can’t perceive, said researchers who presented the study at the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology annual meeting in Florida, US.

“Although there is currently no cure for cancer, early detection offers the best hope of survival,” said Heather Junqueira, lead researcher at the US-based healthcare company BioScentDx.

“A highly sensitive test for detecting cancer could potentially save thousands of lives and change the way the disease is treated,” Junqueira said in a statement.

The researchers used a form of clicker training to teach four beagles to distinguish between normal blood serum and samples from patients with malignant lung cancer.

Although one beagle was unmotivated to perform, the other three dogs correctly identified lung cancer samples 96.7% of the time and normal samples 97.5% of the time.

“This work is very exciting because it paves the way for further research along two paths, both of which could lead to new cancer-detection tools,” said Junqueira.

“One is using canine scent detection as a screening method for cancers, and the other would be to determine the biologic compounds the dogs detect and then design cancer-screening tests based on those compounds,” she said.

BioScentDx plans to use canine scent detection to develop a non-invasive way of screening for cancer and other life-threatening diseases.

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