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Indian American Stanford scientist’s findings could diagnose active tuberculosis

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STANFORD, Calif. (DIYA TV) — Stanford University researchers have developed a simple blood test which could be capable of streamlining the diagnosis process of tuberculosis — a disease almost as old as humanity itself. Nearly 1.5 people die of the disease each year because there isn’t a proper test to diagnose it, another 9.6 million are infected globally each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The researchers have discovered a gene expression which distinguishes patients with active tuberculosis against those with other diseases or latent tuberculosis. The test was published in a study last week in Lancet Respiratory Medicine, and titled: the Khatri blood test. The diagnostic power of the test was confirmed after being administered on 400 people.

“The test can be used not only for diagnosis and to inform treatment, but also to study the effectiveness of different treatments. The test’s hugely accurate negative response would be especially helpful in monitoring the effectiveness of treatments during clinical trials,” said Purvesh Khatri, an assistant professor of medicine at Stanford, and an author of the paper.

Purvesh Khatri, an author of the paper.

Purvesh Khatri, an author of the paper.

Khatri added the simplicity of the test will allow it to be used by any hospital in the world, even those without basic utilities.

“Any hospital should be able to perform the test. Villages without electricity could likely use ordinary blood samples and a solar-powered PCR machine, which multiplies strands of DNA, to accurately test people for active tuberculosis,” he said.

Developed in the Khatri lab, the test removes the need to collect sputum because it only requires an ordinary blood sample. It’s capable of also identifying HIV, can diagnose all strains of disease, even in the instance where a disease has evolved a resistance to antibiotic drugs, according to the study. The results of the test have been astounding, according to researchers.

“If the test comes up negative, it’s right 99 percent of the time. That is, of 100 patients who test negative with the Khatri test, 99 do not have active [tuberculosis],” researchers said.

The findings arrived at the most opportune time — in 2014, the World Health Organization called for a better diagnostic approach to tuberculosis, and was seeking a test which would yield a positive result at least 66 percent of the time when a child has an active case of bacterial disease. The Khatri blood has exceeded the 66 percent figure, researchers said it can positively identify disease-stricken children 86 percent of the time.

Khatri and his team of researchers are now working to further develop the test and prepare it for widespread use.

Health

Why Congress passed a South Asian specific heart health bill

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PALO ALTO, Calif. (Diya TV) —  It’s well known in the South Asian diaspora that cardiac issues are commonplace. But new research is shedding light on how prevalent it is and why it’s a topic scientists are efforting to understand better.

South Asians face cardiac issues at four times the rate of the general population according to Stanford Medicine and studies suggest South Asians have two to three times higher risk of coronary artery disease when compared to other ethnic groups.

Thus, South Asians often face heart related procedures at a relatively young age and are also more likely to lose their life from heart attacks.

“When you look at data coming out of both India and elsewhere, South Asians have higher risk even at younger ages,” said Dr. Abha Khandelwal of Stanford’s South Asian Translational Heart Initiative (SSATHI).

“The heart attacks are happening about eleven years earlier on average than any other ethnic group.” 

In July 2022, Congress passed H.R. 3771, the South Asian Heart Health Awareness and Research Act of 2022, co-sponsored by Seattle-area Rep. Pramila Jayapal. 

The bill authorizes the Department of Health and Human Services to “establish programs that support heart-disease research and awareness among communities disproportionately affected by heart disease, including the South Asian population of the United States.” 

During a press conference broadcasted by Diya TV celebrating the passage of the bill that was attended by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Jayapal said “this is an issue that affects every single district across the country and it was really great to have such a big bipartisan vote.”

For Stanford’s Rajesh Dash, this effort is personal. The Indian American doctor has seen the epidemic first-hand, personally and professionally.

About 2 years ago, a few colleagues of mine and myself had recognized that we all have a family history of early heart disease. A lot of people in our families have died at early ages and have had heart problems their whole life.”

There are standard recommendations made by medical practitioners to reduce the risk of heart ailments – exercise more, have a better diet, stop smoking and manage stress.

But SSATHI officials point out genetics also play a role. So risk factor screenings and research programs like theirs that call for additional heart testing and genetic risk evaluation are additional options to consider.

SSATHI patient Jaswant Tawdekar says with all the risk factors involved, one shouldn’t put their checkups on the backburner, even if they ‘look’ like the picture of health.

“A lot of people think if they are lean they might not have any issues at all. But that’s not the case with South Asians.”

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FBI: Amity CEO Ridhima Singh, others accused of major healthcare fraud

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Amity

SAN FRANCISCO (Diya TV) — The FBI says, CEO Ridhima Singh of Amity Home Health Care is among the 28 people, that include doctors and nurses, accused in the scheme. Federal prosecutors charged the Bay Area’s largest home health care provider, Amity Home Health Care, with involvement in a kickback scheme that led to $115 million in tainted claims. The complaint said medical professionals received $8 million worth of bribes disguised as payroll, phony medical directorships, reimbursements, entertainment or gifts, in what the Department of Justice said was simply “a cash for patients scheme.”

The man accused of stabbing and killing 62 year old Parmjit Singh in Tracy made his first court appearance. 21 year old Anthony Kreiter-Rhoads of Tracy pleaded not guilty of homicide during his arraignment. Police are still investigating the motive behind the crime.

And Priyanka Chopra & her husband Nick Jonas were named by People Magazine as their pick for ‘Best Dressed of the Year.’

Ravi Kapur contributed to this report.

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PM Modi’s Houston reception sold out, 50,000 to attend

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Modi Kashmir SanjayPanda FireEye

HOUSTON (Diya TV) — “Howdy, #Modi!”, the community event in Houston next month featuring Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is sold out, with more than 50,000 people registering for the program. This community summit will be at NRG Stadium, home of the Houston Texans football team. The expected crowd will be the largest for a foreign leader in the United States other than for Pope Francis.

The Indian government has begun to ease restrictions in most areas of Kashmir, with barricades being lifted to allow more freedom of movement of people and traffic. Markets remained shut and phone and internet services are still suspended. Large security measures are also still in place. Students are being asked to return to school, but most classrooms are still mostly empty.

With a lot of narratives online about what’s going on in Kashmir, we asked Indian Counsel General in San Francisco, Sanjay Panda, to give context and sort out fact from fiction.

Fire Eye, an American-based cyber security firm says hackers broke into a leading India-based healthcare website, stealing nearly seven million records containing patient and doctor information. Fire Eye did not publicly name the website, but says the cyber criminals are mostly China-based and are selling the stolen data underground.

Ravi Kapur contributed to this report.

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