News in brief

Heartburn drugs may up death risk


New York, July 4 (IANS): Individuals who take drugs that are commonly used to treat heartburn, ulcers and other gastrointestinal problems for a prolonged time may be at an increased risk of death, researchers warned. The findings showed that people taking these drugs called as proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) had a 50% increased risk of dying over the next 5 years. “People have the idea that PPIs are very safe because they are readily available, but there are real risks to taking these drugs, particularly for long periods of time,” said Ziyad Al-Aly, Assistant Professor at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. Further, for every 500 people taking PPIs for a year, there was one extra death that would not have otherwise occurred.


Given the millions of people who take PPIs regularly, this could translate into thousands of excess deaths every year, Al-Aly said. PPIs have also been linked to a variety of health problems, including serious kidney damage, bone fractures and dementia, the researchers said. For the study, the researchers examined medical records of some 275,000 users of PPIs and nearly 75,000 people who took another class of drugs — known as H2 blockers — to reduce stomach acid. Both PPIs and H2 blockers are prescribed for serious medical conditions such as upper gastrointestinal tract bleeding, gastroesophageal reflux disease and esophageal cancer. The results revealed a 25% increased risk of death in the PPI group compared with the H2 blocker group.



‘Bee-vision’ can change way drones see the world: Study


Canberra, July 4 (IANS): The way a common bee observes colours could revolutionise the way robots and drones see the world, an Australian study published on Tuesday found. A human’s ability to see colour is heavily affected by changing light around them, but bees are able to see the same colour regardless by using three eyes on top of their head as well as their two main eyes, reports Xinhua news agency.


Adrian Dyer, the lead author of a study into bee’s vision said that the three eyes on top of a bee’s head sample the light above them to detect the conditions. Dyer said the discovery of how the three eyes work could solve the long-running problem of how to advance the technology that allows cameras, robots and drones to see the world.


By analysing the process, researchers identified the mathematical formula used by a bee to process information gathered by the three eyes, information which can be programmed into a computer. They believe that drones with “bee-vision” could have many practical applications, such as monitoring vegetation for ripeness and inspecting infrastructure.