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Concept: Persian language

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ETHNOPHARMACOLOGICAL RELEVANCE: Zataria multiflora Boiss. (ZM) is a thyme-like plant belonging to the Lamiaceae family that grows wild only in Iran, Pakistan and Afghanistan. This plant with the vernacular name of Avishan-e-Shirazi (Shirazi thyme) in Iran is a valuable medicinal and condimental plant. It has several traditional uses as an antiseptic, carminative, stimulant, diaphoretic, diuretic, anesthetic, anti-spasmodic and analgesic. AIM OF THE STUDY: This paper reviews the ethnopharmacology, pharmacology, toxicology, modern pharmaceutical uses and phytochemistry of Zataria multiflora, and highlights the gaps in our knowledge deserving further research. METHODS: All relevant databases were searched for the terms “Zataria”, “Zataria multiflora”, “Shirazi thyme” and “Iranian thyme” without limitation up to 24th October 2012. Information on Zataria multiflora was collected via electronic search using Pubmed, Scopus, Web of Science and SID (for articles in Persian language), and local books on ethnopharmacology. RESULTS: ZM has played an important role in Iranian traditional medicine. In light of the modern pharmacological and clinical investigations, ZM is a valuable medicinal and condimental plant that has anti-microbial, antioxidative, anti-inflammatory, spasmolytic and anti-nociceptive properties. The oil of ZM contains high percentages of oxygenated monoterpenes, in particular thymol and carvacrol, and exhibits excellent anti-microbial properties. CONCLUSIONS: Overall, antimicrobial property appears to be the most interesting studied biological effect of ZM. The lack of a comprehensive phytochemical analysis of ZM is an important limitation that can be noted regarding most of the previous studies.

Concepts: Pharmacology, Medicine, Lamiaceae, Iran, Persian language, Afghanistan, Pharmacognosy, Thymol

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Zoroastrianism is one of the oldest extant religions in the world, originating in Persia (present-day Iran) during the second millennium BCE. Historical records indicate that migrants from Persia brought Zoroastrianism to India, but there is debate over the timing of these migrations. Here we present genome-wide autosomal, Y chromosome, and mitochondrial DNA data from Iranian and Indian Zoroastrians and neighboring modern-day Indian and Iranian populations and conduct a comprehensive genome-wide genetic analysis in these groups. Using powerful haplotype-based techniques, we find that Zoroastrians in Iran and India have increased genetic homogeneity relative to other sampled groups in their respective countries, consistent with their current practices of endogamy. Despite this, we infer that Indian Zoroastrians (Parsis) intermixed with local groups sometime after their arrival in India, dating this mixture to 690-1390 CE and providing strong evidence that Iranian Zoroastrian ancestry was maintained primarily through the male line. By making use of the rich information in DNA from ancient human remains, we also highlight admixture in the ancestors of Iranian Zoroastrians dated to 570 BCE-746 CE, older than admixture seen in any other sampled Iranian group, consistent with a long-standing isolation of Zoroastrians from outside groups. Finally, we report results, and challenges, from a genome-wide scan to identify genomic regions showing signatures of positive selection in present-day Zoroastrians that might correlate to the prevalence of particular diseases among these communities.

Concepts: DNA, Gene, Chromosome, Iran, Persian language, Iranian peoples, Zoroastrianism, Zoroastrians in Iran

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In war zones, the explosion of bombs, bullets, and other ammunition releases multiple neurotoxicants into the environment. The Middle East is currently the site of heavy environmental disruption by massive bombardments. A very large number of US military bases, which release highly toxic environmental contaminants, have also been erected since 2003. Current knowledge supports the hypothesis that war-created pollution is a major cause of rising birth defects and cancers in Iraq. We created elemental bio-imaging of trace elements in deciduous teeth of children with birth defects from Iraq. Healthy and naturally shed teeth from Lebanon and Iran were also analyzed for trace elements. Lead (Pb) was highest in teeth from children with birth defects who donated their teeth from Basra, Iraq (mean 0.73-16.74 (208)Pb/(43)Ca ppm, n = 3). Pb in healthy Lebanese and Iranian teeth were 0.038-0.382 (208)Pb/(43)Ca ppm (n = 4) and 0.041-0.31 (208)Pb/(43)Ca ppm (n = 2), respectively. Our hypothesis that increased war activity coincides with increased metal levels in deciduous teeth is confirmed by this research. Lead levels were similar in Lebanese and Iranian deciduous teeth. Deciduous teeth from Iraqi children with birth defects had remarkably higher levels of Pb. Two Iraqi teeth had four times more Pb, and one tooth had as much as 50 times more Pb than samples from Lebanon and Iran.

Concepts: Middle East, Iran, Western Asia, Persian language, Arabic language, Iraq, Central Asia, Baghdad

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Unfortunately for public health, two months after this crucial moment in September 2015 in which the tragic death of three-year-old Aylan Kurdi brought the world’s attention on the crisis, confusion still predominates about what is at stake and what needs to be done for the many thousands of refugees from the Middle East. (Am J Public Health. Published online ahead of print October 15, 2015: e1-e2. doi:10.2105/AJPH.2015.302929).

Concepts: North Africa, United Arab Emirates, Middle East, Europe, Asia, Iran, Jordan, Persian language

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Gunshot wounding (GSW) is the second most common mechanism of injury in warfare after explosive injury. The aim of this study was to define the clinical burden of GSW placed on UK forces throughout the recent Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts.

Concepts: Avicenna, Injury, Wound, NATO, Iran, Persian language, Improvised explosive device, Royal Air Force

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Metabolomics-genome-wide association studies (mGWAS) have uncovered many metabolic quantitative trait loci (mQTLs) influencing human metabolic individuality, though predominantly in European cohorts. By combining whole-exome sequencing with a high-resolution metabolomics profiling for a highly consanguineous Middle Eastern population, we discover 21 common variant and 12 functional rare variant mQTLs, of which 45% are novel altogether. We fine-map 10 common variant mQTLs to new metabolite ratio associations, and 11 common variant mQTLs to putative protein-altering variants. This is the first work to report common and rare variant mQTLs linked to diseases and/or pharmacological targets in a consanguineous Arab cohort, with wide implications for precision medicine in the Middle East.

Concepts: Middle East, Israel, Iran, Turkey, Persian language, Arabic language, Central Asia, Aramaic language

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Nepal is a key supplier of labour for countries in the Middle East, India and Malaysia. As many more men than women leave Nepal to work abroad, female migrant workers are a minority and very much under-researched. The aim of the study was to explore the health problems of female Nepalese migrants working in the Middle-East and Malaysia.

Concepts: Saudi Arabia, Middle East, Asia, Islam, Persian language, Arabic language, Central Asia, Near East

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Middle East Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) is an emerging viral pathogen that causes severe morbidity and mortality. Up to date, there is no approved or licensed vaccine or antiviral medicines can be used to treat MERS-CoV-infected patients. Here, we analyzed the antiviral activities of resveratrol, a natural compound found in grape seeds and skin and in red wine, against MERS-CoV infection.

Concepts: Immune system, Middle East, Asia, Wine, Persian language, Near East, Far East

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There is limited information about the hazards of cigarettes, smokeless tobacco and waterpipe in the Middle East. The aim of this study was to determine the association between different types of tobacco use and earlier death in the Golestan Cohort Study.

Concepts: United Arab Emirates, Middle East, Asia, Iran, Persian language, Arabic language, Central Asia, Near East

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Refugees are known to have high rates of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Although recent years have seen an increase in the number of refugees from Arabic speaking countries in the Middle East, no study so far has validated the construct of PTSD in an Arabic speaking sample of refugees.

Concepts: Middle East, Islam, Iran, Egypt, Jordan, Persian language, Arabic language, Semitic languages