Serine Shows Promise for Alzheimer’s and ALS

Serine Shows Promise for Alzheimer’s and ALS

Scientists have also demonstrated that memorization functions in mice were restored by supplying nutritional L-serine.

#serine #alzheimers #als

Juliette Le Douce, Marianne Maugard, Julien Veran, Marco Matos, Pierrick Jégo, Pierre-Antoine Vigneron, Emilie Faivre, Xavier Toussay, Michel Vandenberghe, Yaël Balbastre, Juliette Piquet, Elvire Guiot, Nguyet Thuy Tran, Myriam Taverna, Stéphane Marinesco, Ayumi Koyanagi, Shigeki Furuya, Mylène Gaudin-Guérif, Sébastien Goutal, Aurélie Ghettas, Alain Pruvost, Alexis-Pierre Bemelmans, Marie-Claude Gaillard, Karine Cambon, Lev Stimmer, Véronique Sazdovitch, Charles Duyckaerts, Graham Knott, Anne-Sophie Hérard, Thierry Delzescaux, Philippe Hantraye, Emmanuel Brouillet, Bruno Cauli, Stéphane H.R. Oliet, Aude Panatier, Gilles Bonvento. Impairment of Glycolysis-Derived l-Serine Production in Astrocytes Contributes to Cognitive Deficits in Alzheimer’s DiseaseCell Metabolism, 2020; 31 (3): 503 DOI: 10.1016/j.cmet.2020.02.004

https://www.cell.com/cell-metabolism/fulltext/S1550-4131(20)30063-2?_returnURL=https%3A%2F%2Flinkinghub.elsevier.com%2Fretrieve%2Fpii%2FS1550413120300632%3Fshowall%3Dtrue

The addition of dietary L-serine, a naturally occurring amino acid necessary for formation of proteins and nerve cells, delayed signs of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) in an animal study.

Deborah C Mash, Walter G Bradley, Amy Beierschmitt, Roberta M Palmour, James S Metcalf, James T Powell, Matthew J Hagan, Susanna P Garamszegi, Patricia D Lecusay, Sandra Anne Banack, Paul Alan Cox, David A Davis. l-Serine Reduces Spinal Cord Pathology in a Vervet Model of Preclinical ALS/MNDJournal of Neuropathology & Experimental Neurology, 2020; DOI: 10.1093/jnen/nlaa002

https://academic.oup.com/jnen/advance-article/doi/10.1093/jnen/nlaa002/5740037

DNA discovered not to be a good predictor of health

 

DNA discovered not to be a good predictor of health

“Simply put, DNA is not your destiny, and SNPs are duds for disease prediction,” said David Wishart, professor in the University of Alberta’s Department of Biological Sciences and the Department of Computing Science and co-author on the study. “The vast majority of diseases, including many cancers, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s disease, have a genetic contribution of 5 to 10 per cent at best.”

#DNA #HEALTH #Disease

Jonas Patron, Arnau Serra-Cayuela, Beomsoo Han, Carin Li, David Scott Wishart. Assessing the performance of genome-wide association studies for predicting disease risk. PLOS ONE, 2019; 14 (12): e0220215 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0220215

https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0220215

Green tea molecule could prevent heart attacks

Green tea molecule could prevent heart attacks

Green tea molecule could prevent heart attacks

Scientists have discovered that a compound found in green tea, currently being studied for its ability to reduce amyloid plaques in the brain in Alzheimer’s disease, also breaks up and dissolves potentially dangerous protein plaques found in the blood vessels.

David Townsend, Eleri Hughes, Geoffrey Akien, Katie L. Stewart, Sheena E. Radford, David Rochester, David A. Middleton. Epigallocatechin-3-gallate remodels apolipoprotein A-I amyloid fibrils into soluble oligomers in the presence of heparin. Journal of Biological Chemistry, 2018; jbc.RA118.002038 DOI: 10.1074/jbc.RA118.002038

How to erase a memory — and restore it

 
Researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine have erased and reactivated memories in rats, profoundly altering the animals’ reaction to past events.

 

The study, published in the June 1 advanced online issue of the journal Nature, is the first to show the ability to selectively remove a memory and predictably reactivate it by stimulating nerves in the brain at frequencies that are known to weaken and strengthen the connections between nerve cells, called synapses.

 

“We can form a memory, erase that memory and we can reactivate it, at will, by applying a stimulus that selectively strengthens or weakens synaptic connections,” said Roberto Malinow, MD, PhD, professor of neurosciences and senior author of the study. Continue reading “How to erase a memory — and restore it”

Can Certain Herbs Stave Off Alzheimer’s Disease?

 

 

ST. LOUIS — Enhanced extracts made from special antioxidants in spearmint and rosemary improve learning and memory, a study in an animal model at Saint Louis University found.

“We found that these proprietary compounds reduce deficits caused by mild cognitive impairment, which can be a precursor to Alzheimer’s disease,” said Susan Farr, Ph.D., research professor geriatrics at Saint Louis University School of Medicine.

Farr added, “This probably means eating spearmint and rosemary is good for you. However, our experiments were in an animal model and I don’t know how much — or if any amount — of these herbs people would have to consume for learning and memory to improve. In other words, I’m not suggesting that people chew more gum at this point.”

Farr presented the early findings at Neuroscience 2013, a meeting of 32,000 on Monday, Nov. 11. She tested a novel antioxidant-based ingredient made from spearmint extract and two different doses of a similar antioxidant made from rosemary extract on mice that have age-related cognitive decline.

She found that the higher dose rosemary extract compound was the most powerful in improving memory and learning in three tested behaviors. The lower dose rosemary extract improved memory in two of the behavioral tests, as did the compound made from spearmint extract.

Further, there were signs of reduced oxidative stress, which is considered a hallmark of age-related decline, in the part of the brain that controls learning and memory.

“Our research suggests these extracts made from herbs might have beneficial effects on altering the course of age-associated cognitive decline,” Farr said. “It’s worth additional study.”

The research, which was supported by the VA Medical Center in St. Louis, was conducted in conjunction with Kemin Industries, which manufactures specialty ingredients for vitamin/dietary supplements or that can be added to food to enhance its nutritional and health benefits.

Established in 1836, the School of Medicine has the distinction of awarding the first medical degree west of the Mississippi River. The school educates physicians and biomedical scientists, conducts medical research, and provides health care on a local, national and international level. Research at the school seeks new cures and treatments in five key areas: infectious disease, liver disease, aging and brain disease, cancer and heart/lung disease.

Some baby formulas ‘contain up to 100 times more aluminium than breast milk’

Friday 11 October 2013

EXPERTS are calling on the Government to take action after new research showed some types of baby formula contain 100 times more aluminium than breast milk.

A team led by Professor Chris Exley at Keele University found at least twice the amount of aluminium in formula as is allowed in tap water, which they said could pose risks to health.

Brands including ­Aptamil, Cow & Gate and Hipp Organic all contained levels of aluminium which are too high, the researchers said.

Prof Exley said aluminium had been linked to Alzheimer’s disease and other neurological conditions and it was time for the Government to take steps to issue limits on aluminium in formula.

Some formulas have amounts of aluminium 100 times higher than the same amount of breast milk, he said. He added: “We believe this is too much aluminium to be subjecting a human to at their most vulnerable stage of life. Manufacturers have done nothing to address this.”

The makers of Aptamil, Cow and Gate and SMA all said levels of aluminium were well within the ­European Food Safety Authority guidelines.

An FSA spokesman said: “Independent experts from the Committee on Toxicity recently reviewed aluminium in the infant diet.

“They concluded that the estimated exposures of infants to aluminium from the dietary sources did not indicate toxicological concerns or a need for a change in Government advice.”

http://www.heraldscotland.com/news/health/some-baby-formulas-contain-up-to-100-times-more-aluminium-than-breast-milk.22394020

 

Good hygiene may be to blame for soaring Alzheimer’s

Modern cities and improved hygiene could be behind rising rates of Alzheimer’s in Britain and the rest of the developed world, scientists have said.

Countries where everyone has access to cleaning drinking water, such as the UK and France, have nine per cent higher Alzheimer's rates then average.

Countries where everyone has access to cleaning drinking water, such as the UK and France, have nine per cent higher Alzheimer’s rates then average.  Photo: PHANIE/ALAMY

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By Laura Donnelly and agencies

4:00PM BST 04 Sep 2013

 

Researchers have linked the “hygiene hypothesis” – the idea that lack of exposure to germs, viruses and parasites harms the immune system – to rising rates of dementia in richer nations.

A new study by Cambridge University compared dementia cases in 192 countries and found it was more common in those with better sanitation and less disease.

Countries where everyone has access to cleaning drinking water, such as the UK and France, have nine per cent higher Alzheimer’s rates then average.

In comparison those where less than half have access, such as Kenya and Cambodia, have a significantly lower incident rate.

Taken together, infection levels, sanitation and urbanisation account for 43 per cent of the variation in rates of Alzheimer’s between different countries, the study found.

Dr Molly Fox, from Cambridge University, who led the new research published in the journal Evolution, Medicine and Public Health, said: “The ‘hygiene hypothesis’, which suggests a relationship between cleaner environments and a higher risk of certain allergies and autoimmune diseases, is well established.

“We believe we can now add Alzheimer’s to this list of diseases. There are important implications for forecasting future global disease burden, especially in developing countries as they increase in sanitation.”

The charity The Alzheimer’s Society said the theory was interesting, but did not demonstrate the cause of the variation.

Dr James Pickett, head of research, said: ‘We have known for some time that the numbers of people with Alzheimer’s varies between countries. That this discrepancy could be the result of better hygiene is certainly an interesting theory and loosely ties in with the links we know exist between inflammation and the disease. However it is always difficult to pin causality to one factor and this study does not cancel out the role of the many other lifestyle differences such as diet, education and wider health which we know can also have a role to play.”

Experts said that although the study allowed for the fact that people live far longer in Western countries, it did not take account of the fact that such countries had better reporting systems and were more likely to document cases of Alzheimer’s disease.

In the Cambridge study, scientists looked at the link between hygiene and Alzheimer’s rates in 192 rich and poor countries. They adjusted the findings to take account of differences in birth rate, life expectancy and age structure.

Access to clean drinking water was one area said to have a high impact on Alzheimer’s rates. Countries such as the UK and France, where this is universal, had a 9 per cent higher incidence of Alzheimer’s than countries such as Kenya and Cambodia where less than half the population can access clean water.

A similar pattern emerged from comparisons between countries with low and high rates of infectious disease.

Switzerland and Iceland, with very low rates, were 12 per cent more affected by Alzheimer’s than China and Ghana, whose infection rates are high.

The more urbanised countries also experienced higher rates of Alzheimer’s irrespective of life expectancy.

In the UK and Australia, where more than three quarters of the population lived in urban areas, Alzheimer’s incidence was 10% higher than in Bangladesh and Nepal, where less than a 10th of people had their homes in towns and cities.

Previous research has shown that Alzheimer’s affects fewer people in Latin America, China and India than it does in Europe.

Even within those regions, prevalence is lower in urban than in rural areas, according to the new findings.

The hygiene hypothesis is based on the assumption that lack of contact with “dirt” in the form of bacteria and other infectious agents upsets the development of white blood cells, key elements of the immune system.

In particular, T-cells are said to be affected. T-cells have a variety of functions, including attacking and destroying foreign invaders and marshalling other parts of the immune system.

Some, known as “regulatory” T-cells, reign in the immune system when it starts to get out of control. Dysfunctional regulatory T-cells can lead to inflammation and autoimmune disorders.

Regulatory T-cell deficiency is linked to the type of inflammation commonly found in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s disease.

The researchers wrote: “Exposure to micro-organisms is critical for the regulation of the immune system.”

Since the turn of the 19th century, such exposure had increasingly diminished in wealthier nations due to lack of contact with “animals, faeces and soil”.

“The increase in adult life expectancy and Alzheimer’s prevalence in developing countries is perhaps one of the greatest challenges of our time,” said Dr Fox.

“Today, more than 50 per cent of people with Alzheimer’s live in the developing world, and by 2025 it is expected that this figure will rise to more than 70 per cent.

“A better understanding of how environmental sanitation influences Alzheimer’s risk could open up avenues for both lifestyle and pharmaceutical strategies to limit Alzheimer’s prevalence.”

The hygiene hypothesis is normally thought to be most relevant in childhood, when the immune system is still developing. But in the case of Alzheimer’s, exposure to microbes across a person’s lifetime might be important, say the scientists. This is because regulatory T-cell numbers peak at various points in life, for example at adolescence and middle age.

Ingredient in Turmeric Spice When Combined With Anti-Nausea Drug Kills Cancer Cells

Aug. 20, 2013 — In a laboratory, preclinical study recently published by the journal Organic & Biomolecular Chemistry, Virginia Commonwealth University Massey Cancer Center researchers combined structural features from anti-nausea drug thalidomide with common kitchen spice turmeric to create hybrid molecules that effectively kill multiple myeloma cells.

Thalidomide was first introduced in the 1950s as an anti-nausea medication to help control morning sickness, but was later taken off the shelves in 1962 because it was found to cause birth defects. In the late 1990’s the drug was re-introduced as a stand-alone or combination treatment for multiple myeloma. Turmeric, an ancient spice grown in India and other tropical regions of Asia, has a long history of use in herbal remedies and has recently been studied as a means to prevent and treat cancer, arthritis and Alzheimer’s disease. According to the American Cancer Society, laboratory studies have shown that curcumin, an active ingredient in turmeric, interferes with several important molecular pathways and inhibits the formation of cancer-causing enzymes in rodents.

“Although thalidomide disturbs the microenvironment of tumor cells in bone marrow, it disintegrates in the body. Curcumin, also active against cancers, is limited by its poor water solubility. But the combination of thalidomide and curcumin in the hybrid molecules enhances both the cytotoxicity and solubility,” says the study’s lead researcher Shijun Zhang, assistant professor in the Department of Medicinal Chemistry at the VCU School of Pharmacy.

Compared to mixing multiple drugs, creating hybrid molecules can provide certain advantages. “Enhanced potency, reduced risk of developing drug resistance, improved pharmacokinetic properties, reduced cost and improved patient compliance are just a few of those advantages,” says another of the study’s researchers Steven Grant, M.D., Shirley Carter Olsson and Sture Gordon Olsson Chair in Oncology Research, associate director for translational research, program co-leader of Developmental Therapeutics and Cancer Cell Signaling research member at VCU Massey Cancer Center.

The hybrid molecules of turmeric and thalidomide created more than 15 compounds, each with a different effect. Scientists found that compounds 5 and 7 exhibited superior cell toxicity compared to curcumin alone or the combination of curcumin and thalidomide. Furthermore, the compounds were found to induce significant multiple myeloma cell death.

“Overall, the combination of the spice and the drug was significantly more potent than either individually, suggesting that this hybrid strategy in drug design could lead to novel compounds with improved biological activities,” added Grant. “The results also strongly encourage further optimization of compounds 5 and 7 to develop more potent agents as treatment options for multiple myeloma.”

161st Health Research Report 10 AUG 2013 – Synopsis

www.healthresearchreport.me 

 

 

In this issue:

1.       Plant-Based Compound May Inhibit HIV Infection, Research Shows

2.       Methamphetamine increases susceptibility to deadly fungal infection

3.       Exercise May be the Best Medicine for Alzheimer’s

4.       Study finds evidence of nerve damage in around half of fibromyalgia patients

5.       Blocking sugar intake may reduce cancer risk or progression in obese and diabetic people

6.       Fatty acids could aid cancer prevention and treatment

7.       Illinois scientists put cancer-fighting power back into frozen broccoli

8.       Diets of Pregnant Women Contain Harmful, Hidden Toxins

9.       L-3-n-butylphthalide protects against cognitive dysfunction in vascular dementia

 ScreenHunter_42 Dec. 31 12.07

Health Research Report

161st Issue Date 10 AUG 2013

Compiled By Ralph Turchiano

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Necrostatin-1 counteracts aluminum’s neurotoxic effects

 Contact: Daphne Watrin d.watrin@iospress.nl 31-206-883-355 IOS Press

 

New studies in mice support toxic role of aluminum in neurodegenerative conditions, according to report in Restorative Neurology and Neuroscience

Amsterdam, NL, August 2, 2013 – Investigators have linked aluminum accumulation in the brain as a possible contributing factor to neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease. A new study published in Restorative Neurology and Neuroscience sheds light on the mechanism underlying aluminum-induced neuronal cell death and identifies necrostatin-1 as a substance which counteracts several of aluminum’s neurotoxic effects.

Researchers have long focused on why neurons die in degenerative diseases. One process is apoptosis, a form of gene-directed programmed cell death which removes unnecessary, aged, or damaged cells. When neurons die as a result of stroke, trauma, or other insult, the process is known as necrosis. Recently, a new type of necrosis, necroptosis (programmed necrosis), has been implicated in the cell demise process. In this report, the results of several experiments support the hypothesis that aluminum-induced neuronal cell death is, to a large extent, due to necroptosis, says lead investigator Qinli Zhang, PhD, of the Department of Occupational Health, Ministry of Education Key Laboratory, School of Public Health of Shanxi Medical University in Taiyuan China.

For instance, when aluminum was added to mouse cortical neurons grown in cell culture, the cells began to die. By adding inhibitors of apoptosis (zVAD-fmk), of autophagy (3-methyladenin, 3-MA), or of necroptosis (necrostatin-1, Nec-1), investigators showed that all treatments enhanced cell viability although Nec-1 demonstrated the strongest protection. Using fluorescent microscopy, in which surviving neural cells stain green, apoptotic cells stain orange, and necrotic cells stain red, the investigators demonstrated Al-induced cell death as well as dose-dependent reduction of necroptosis with Nec-1.

When aluminum was injected into the cerebral ventricles of living mice, brain tissue analysis revealed shrunken and abnormal-looking neurons. When Nec-1 was injected simultaneously with aluminum into the ventricles, more surviving neurons could be seen, especially when higher doses of Nec-1 were used. When the investigators measured cell death-related proteins in the brain, a marker protein of necroptosis known as RIP1 showed the most changes, compared to marker proteins of apoptosis or autophagy. Similar findings were found for Alzheimer-related proteins: aluminum exposure increased the expression of mGluR2, mGluR5, Aβ, and Tau levels while Nec-1 treatment resulted in dose-dependent reductions of these protein levels.

Noting that “progressive cell loss in specific neuronal populations associated with typical learning and memory dysfunction is a pathological hallmark of neurodegenerative disorders, especially in AD,” principal investigator Qiao Niu, MD, PhD, Director, Department of Occupational Health and Director, Institute of Preventive Medicine, Shanxi Medical University, and the team evaluated learning and memory in mice using the Morris Water Maze test. Al-treated mice performed poorly on the test and performance significantly improved if the mice were treated with Nec-1. Interestingly, if Nec-1 treatment was delayed for 2, 4, or 8 hours after the aluminum was introduced, Nec-1 had a protective effect less than simultaneous administration. Impaired cognitive performance was also correlated with reduced mGluR2 and mGluR5 protein in the cortex. “Nec-1, in addition to its use as a therapeutic agent for cell death, might therefore be of use in slowing the progression of the cognitive deficits associated with neuronal degeneration,” says Dr. Niu.

The study demonstrates that Nec-1 may be useful for future prevention of and therapy for neurodegenerative disorders.

###

Changing gut bacteria through diet affects brain function, UCLA study shows

Contact: Kim Irwin kirwin@mednet.ucla.edu 310-794-2262 University of California – Los Angeles Health Sciences

UCLA researchers now have the first evidence that bacteria ingested in food can affect brain function in humans. In an early proof-of-concept study of healthy women, they found that women who regularly consumed beneficial bacteria known as probiotics through yogurt showed altered brain function, both while in a resting state and in response to an emotion-recognition task.

The study, conducted by scientists with UCLA’s Gail and Gerald Oppenheimer Family Center for Neurobiology of Stress and the Ahmanson–Lovelace Brain Mapping Center at UCLA, appears in the June edition of the peer-reviewed journal Gastroenterology.

The discovery that changing the bacterial environment, or microbiota, in the gut can affect the brain carries significant implications for future research that could point the way toward dietary or drug interventions to improve brain function, the researchers said.

“Many of us have a container of yogurt in our refrigerator that we may eat for enjoyment, for calcium or because we think it might help our health in other ways,” said Dr. Kirsten Tillisch, an associate professor of medicine at UCLA’s David Geffen School of Medicine and lead author of the study. “Our findings indicate that some of the contents of yogurt may actually change the way our brain responds to the environment. When we consider the implications of this work, the old sayings ‘you are what you eat’ and ‘gut feelings’ take on new meaning.”

Researchers have known that the brain sends signals to the gut, which is why stress and other emotions can contribute to gastrointestinal symptoms. This study shows what has been suspected but until now had been proved only in animal studies: that signals travel the opposite way as well.

“Time and time again, we hear from patients that they never felt depressed or anxious until they started experiencing problems with their gut,” Tillisch said. “Our study shows that the gut–brain connection is a two-way street.”

The small study involved 36 women between the ages of 18 and 55. Researchers divided the women into three groups: one group ate a specific yogurt containing a mix of several probiotics — bacteria thought to have a positive effect on the intestines — twice a day for four weeks; another group consumed a dairy product that looked and tasted like the yogurt but contained no probiotics; and a third group ate no product at all.

Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scans conducted both before and after the four-week study period looked at the women’s brains in a state of rest and in response to an emotion-recognition task in which they viewed a series of pictures of people with angry or frightened faces and matched them to other faces showing the same emotions. This task, designed to measure the engagement of affective and cognitive brain regions in response to a visual stimulus, was chosen because previous research in animals had linked changes in gut flora to changes in affective behaviors.

The researchers found that, compared with the women who didn’t consume the probiotic yogurt, those who did showed a decrease in activity in both the insula — which processes and integrates internal body sensations, like those form the gut — and the somatosensory cortex during the emotional reactivity task.

Further, in response to the task, these women had a decrease in the engagement of a widespread network in the brain that includes emotion-, cognition- and sensory-related areas. The women in the other two groups showed a stable or increased activity in this network.

During the resting brain scan, the women consuming probiotics showed greater connectivity between a key brainstem region known as the periaqueductal grey and cognition-associated areas of the prefrontal cortex. The women who ate no product at all, on the other hand, showed greater connectivity of the periaqueductal grey to emotion- and sensation-related regions, while the group consuming the non-probiotic dairy product showed results in between.

The researchers were surprised to find that the brain effects could be seen in many areas, including those involved in sensory processing and not merely those associated with emotion, Tillisch said.

The knowledge that signals are sent from the intestine to the brain and that they can be modulated by a dietary change is likely to lead to an expansion of research aimed at finding new strategies to prevent or treat digestive, mental and neurological disorders, said Dr. Emeran Mayer, a professor of medicine, physiology and psychiatry at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and the study’s senior author.

“There are studies showing that what we eat can alter the composition and products of the gut flora — in particular, that people with high-vegetable, fiber-based diets have a different composition of their microbiota, or gut environment, than people who eat the more typical

Western diet that is high in fat and carbohydrates,” Mayer said. “Now we know that this has an effect not only on the metabolism but also affects brain function.”

The UCLA researchers are seeking to pinpoint particular chemicals produced by gut bacteria that may be triggering the signals to the brain. They also plan to study whether people with gastrointestinal symptoms such as bloating, abdominal pain and altered bowel movements have improvements in their digestive symptoms which correlate with changes in brain response.

Meanwhile, Mayer notes that other researchers are studying the potential benefits of certain probiotics in yogurts on mood symptoms such as anxiety. He said that other nutritional strategies may also be found to be beneficial.

By demonstrating the brain effects of probiotics, the study also raises the question of whether repeated courses of antibiotics can affect the brain, as some have speculated. Antibiotics are used extensively in neonatal intensive care units and in childhood respiratory tract infections, and such suppression of the normal microbiota may have longterm consequences on brain development.

Finally, as the complexity of the gut flora and its effect on the brain is better understood, researchers may find ways to manipulate the intestinal contents to treat chronic pain conditions or other brain related diseases, including, potentially, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease and autism.

Answers will be easier to come by in the near future as the declining cost of profiling a person’s microbiota renders such tests more routine, Mayer said.

###

 

The study was funded by Danone Research. Mayer has served on the company’s scientific advisory board. Three of the study authors (Denis Guyonnet, Sophie Legrain-Raspaud and Beatrice Trotin) are employed by Danone Research and were involved in the planning and execution of the study (providing the products) but had no role in the analysis or interpretation of the results.

UCLA’s Oppenheimer Family Center for Neurobiology of Stress is an NIH-funded multidisciplinary, translational research program partially supported by philanthropy. Its mission is to identify the role of the brain in health and medical disease.  The Center is comprised of several research programs which focus on the interactions of the brain with the digestive, cardiovascular and urological systems, chronic pain and mind brain body interactions.

For more news, visit the UCLA Newsroom and follow us on Twitter.

Fruit flies fed organic diets are healthier than flies fed nonorganic diets, study finds

Fruit flies raised on diets based on organic foods performed better on a variety of health tests, including fertility and longevity

A new study looking at the potential health benefits of organic versus non-organic food found that fruit flies fed an organic diet recorded better health outcomes than flies fed a nonorganic diet.

The study from the lab of SMU biologist Johannes H. Bauer, Southern Methodist University, Dallas, found that fruit flies raised on diets of organic foods performed better on several tests for general health.

“While these findings are certainly intriguing, what we now need to determine is why the flies on the organic diets did better, especially since not all the organic diets we tested provided the same positive health outcomes,” said Bauer, principal investigator for the study.

Fruit flies on organic diets showed improvements on the most significant measures of health, namely fertility and longevity, said high school student researcher Ria Chhabra.

“We don’t know why the flies on the organic diet did better. That will require further research. But this is a start toward understanding potential health benefits,” said Chhabra, a student at Clark High School in Plano, Texas, who led the experiment.

Chhabra sought to conduct the experiments after hearing her parents discuss whether it’s worth it to buy organic foods to achieve possible health benefits.

Bauer, an assistant professor in SMU’s Department of Biological Sciences, mentored Chhabra by helping guide and design her research experiments. The research focus of Bauer’s fruit fly lab is nutrition and its relationship to longevity, health and diabetes.

“It’s rare for a high school student to have such a prominent position in the lab. But Ria has tremendous energy and curiosity, and that convinced me to give this research project a try,” Bauer said.

The findings, “Organically grown food provides health benefits to Drosophila melanogaster,” have been published in the open access journal PLOS One. Buaer and Chhabra co-authored the paper with Santharam Kolli, a research associate at SMU. The article is available from PLOS One online at http://bit.ly/RGB8LJ.

Flies on organic food performed better on some health tests “The data demonstrated that flies raised on organic food extracts by-and-large performed better on the majority of health tests,” reported the researchers.

It remains unclear why organic diets delivered better health, the researchers said.

The Bauer lab results come at a time when the health effects of organic food are widely debated.

Prior studies by other researchers have found conflicting results when reviewing the scientific literature for data. While several studies have shown elevated nutrient content and lower pesticide contamination levels in organic food, a recent publication reporting a large-scale analysis of all available studies concluded no clear trend was apparent.

Fruit flies were fed extracts from produce purchased at a grocery store In order to investigate whether organic foods are healthier for consumers, the lab utilized one of the most widely used model systems, the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster. Because of the low costs associated with fly research and the fly’s short life cycle, researchers use fruit flies to study human diseases, from diabetes to heart function to Alzheimer’s disease.

The Bauer lab fruit flies were fed organic and nonorganic produce purchased from a leading national grocery retailer of organic and conventional foods. The flies were fed extracts made from organic and conventional potatoes, soybeans, raisins and bananas. They were not fed any additional nutritional supplements. The researchers tested the effects of each food type independently and avoided any confounding effects of a mixed diet.

The health tests measured longevity, fertility, stress and starvation resistance.

Findings suggest beneficial health effects dependent on specific foods Some negative or neutral results were obtained using diets prepared from organic raisins, which suggests the beneficial health effects of organic diets are dependent on the specific food item, Bauer said. That might explain some of the inconsistent results in the published studies in the scientific literature, he said, noting some studies suggest there is a nutritional benefit from organic food, while others suggest there is not.

“To our surprise, in the majority of our tests of flies on organic foods, the flies fed organic diets did much better on our health tests than the flies fed conventional food,” Bauer said. “Longevity and fertility are the two most important aspects of fly life. On both of these tests, flies fed organic diets performed much better than flies fed conventional diets. They lived longer, had higher fertility, and had a much higher lifetime reproductive output.”

Factors such as soil condition and latitude where the produce was grown weren’t considered, mimicking a typical grocery store shopping experience. — Margaret Allen

Follow SMUResearch.com on Twitter.

For more information, www.smuresearch.com.

 

http://blog.smu.edu/research/2013/03/25/fruit-flies-fed-organic-diets-are-healthier-than-flies-fed-nonorganic-diets-study-finds/

151st Health Research Report 22 MAR 2013

In this Issue:

Folic acid lowers risk of autism

Bitter melon juice prevents pancreatic cancer in mouse models

Study: Probiotics reduce stress-induced intestinal flare-ups

Green tea, coffee may help lower stroke risk

How oils and fats regulate feeling of satiety

Study Shows How Vitamin E Can Help Prevent Cancer

New study highlights strong anti-cancer properties of soybeans

Explaining how extra virgin olive oil protects against Alzheimer’s disease

Vectorproof[1]

Health Research Report

151st Issue Date 22 Mar 2013

Compiled By Ralph Turchiano

www.vit.bz

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120922_0002

Supplements For Heat Tolerance – Brief Segment

Published on Mar 15, 2013

With this segment, I do a quick run through of some hypothetical supplements for heat tolerance. This segment is geared towards those who have to endure harsh temperatures while being physically active.

I cover briefly AICAR, Resveratrol, Glycerol, Creatine , Colostrum, Electrolytes, Pine Bark, Prickly Pear, Branched Chain Amino Acids, Hydrogen Sulfide, Garlic.
Some of these are Banned Substances, and can interact with medications. Also, always consult a medical professional before trying.
I had to do this single run, unedited. So please forgive my lack of professionalism on this clip.

Green tea extract interferes with the formation of amyloid plaques in Alzheimer’s disease

Contact: Laura J. Williams laurajw@umich.edu 734-615-4862 University of Michigan

ANN ARBOR—Researchers at the University of Michigan have found a new potential benefit of a molecule in green tea: preventing the misfolding of specific proteins in the brain.

The aggregation of these proteins, called metal-associated amyloids, is associated with Alzheimer’s disease and other neurodegenerative conditions.

A paper published recently in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences explained how U-M Life Sciences Institute faculty member Mi Hee Lim and an interdisciplinary team of researchers used green tea extract to control the generation of metal-associated amyloid-β aggregates associated with Alzheimer’s disease in the lab.

The specific molecule in green tea, (—)-epigallocatechin-3-gallate, also known as EGCG, prevented aggregate formation and broke down existing aggregate structures in the proteins that contained metals—specifically copper, iron and zinc.

“A lot of people are very excited about this molecule,” said Lim, noting that the EGCG and other flavonoids in natural products have long been established as powerful antioxidants. “We used a multidisciplinary approach. This is the first example of structure-centric, multidisciplinary investigations by three principal investigators with three different areas of expertise.”

The research team included chemists, biochemists and biophysicists.

While many researchers are investigating small molecules and metal-associated amyloids, most are looking from a limited perspective, said Lim, assistant professor of chemistry and research assistant professor at the Life Sciences Institute, where her lab is located and her research is conducted.

“But we believe you have to have a lot of approaches working together, because the brain is very complex,” she said.

The PNAS paper was a starting point, Lim said, and her team’s next step is to “tweak” the molecule and then test its ability to interfere with plaque formation in fruit flies.

“We want to modify them for the brain, specifically to interfere with the plaques associated with Alzheimer’s,” she said.

Lim plans to collaborate with Bing Ye, a neurobiologist in the LSI. Together, the researchers will test the new molecule’s power to inhibit potential toxicity of aggregates containing proteins and metals in fruit flies.

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Other authors of the paper, all from U-M, are: Sanghyun Lee and Jung-Suk Choi of the Life Sciences Institute; Alaina DeToma, Suk-Joon Hyung, Akiko Kochi and Brandon Ruotoloa of the Department of Chemistry; and Jeffrey Brender, Ayyalusamy Ramamoorthy and Subramanian Vivekanandan of the Department of Chemistry and Biophysics.

The work was supported by the National Institutes of Health, Alzheimer’s Association, Alzheimer’s Art Quilt Initiative, American Heart Association, and a Graduate Research Fellowship from the National Science Foundation Study: http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2013/02/19/1220326110.abstract

Green tea and red wine extracts interrupt Alzheimer’s disease pathway in cells

Contact: Chris Bunting c.j.bunting@leeds.ac.uk 44-113-343-2049 University of Leeds

Natural chemicals found in green tea and red wine may disrupt a key step of the Alzheimer’s disease pathway, according to new research from the University of Leeds.

In early-stage laboratory experiments, the researchers identified the process which allows harmful clumps of protein to latch on to brain cells, causing them to die. They were able to interrupt this pathway using the purified extracts of EGCG from green tea and resveratrol from red wine.

The findings, published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry, offer potential new targets for developing drugs to treat Alzheimer’s disease, which affects some 800,000 people in the UK alone, and for which there is currently no cure.

“This is an important step in increasing our understanding of the cause and progression of Alzheimer’s disease,” says lead researcher Professor Nigel Hooper of the University’s Faculty of Biological Sciences. “It’s a misconception that Alzheimer’s is a natural part of ageing; it’s a disease that we believe can ultimately be cured through finding new opportunities for drug targets like this.”

Alzheimer’s disease is characterised by a distinct build-up of amyloid protein in the brain, which clumps together to form toxic, sticky balls of varying shapes. These amyloid balls  latch on to the surface of nerve cells in the brain by attaching to proteins on the cell surface called prions, causing the nerve cells to malfunction and eventually die.

“We wanted to investigate whether the precise shape of the amyloid balls is essential for them to attach to the prion receptors, like the way a baseball fits snugly into its glove,” says co-author Dr Jo Rushworth. “And if so, we wanted to see if we could prevent the amyloid balls binding to prion by altering their shape, as this would stop the cells from dying.”

The team formed amyloid balls in a test tube and added them to human and animal brain cells. Professor Hooper said: “When we added the extracts from red wine and green tea, which recent research has shown to re-shape amyloid proteins, the amyloid balls no longer harmed the nerve cells. We saw that this was because their shape was distorted, so they could no longer bind to prion and disrupt cell function.

“We also showed, for the first time, that when amyloid balls stick to prion, it triggers the production of even more amyloid, in a deadly vicious cycle,” he added.

Professor Hooper says that the team’s next steps are to understand exactly how the amyloid-prion interaction kills off neurons.

“I’m certain that this will increase our understanding of Alzheimer’s disease even further, with the potential to reveal yet more drug targets,” he said.

Dr Simon Ridley, Head of Research at Alzheimer’s Research UK, the UK’s leading dementia research charity, which part-funded the study, said: “Understanding the causes of Alzheimer’s is vital if we are to find a way of stopping the disease in its tracks. While these early-stage results should not be a signal for people to stock up on green tea and red wine, they could provide an important new lead in the search for new and effective treatments. With half a million people affected by Alzheimer’s in the UK, we urgently need treatments that can halt the disease – that means it’s crucial to invest in research to take results like these from the lab bench to the clinic.”

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The research was funded by the Wellcome Trust, Alzheimer’s Research UK and the Medical Research Council.

Further information

For interviews, please contact Chris Bunting, Press Officer, University of Leeds; phone 0113 343 2049, email c.j.bunting@leeds.ac.uk

The Full Paper:  Jo V. Rushworth, Heledd H. Griffiths, Nicole T. Watt and Nigel M. Hooper, ‘Prion protein-mediated neurotoxity of amyloid-β oligomers requires lipid rafts and the transmembrane LRP1,’ Journal of Biological Chemistry [DOI:10.1074/jbc.M112.400358] is available at http://www.jbc.org/content/early/2013/02/06/jbc.M112.400358.full.pdf+html from 6pm (EST), February 5.  Copies of the paper are available on request from the University of Leeds press office.

Notes for editors:

1. Nigel Hooper is Professor of Biochemistry at the University of Leeds. Further information about his research can be found here: http://www.fbs.leeds.ac.uk/staff/profile.php?un=bmbnmh

2. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia, costing the UK economy £23 billion per year.  One in three people aged over 65 are expected to die with a form of dementia and 163,000 new cases are diagnosed in England and Wales each year. Worldwide, more than 35 million people are estimated to have dementia. (Source: www.alzheimersresearchuk.org )

3. University of Leeds, Faculty of Biological Sciences

The Faculty of Biological Sciences at the University of Leeds is one of the largest in the UK, with over 110 academic staff and over 400 postdoctoral fellows and postgraduate students. The Faculty is ranked 4th in the UK (Nature Journal, 457 (2009) doi:10.1038/457013a) based on results of the 2008 Research Assessment Exercise (RAE).  The RAE feedback noted that “virtually all outputs were assessed as being recognized internationally, with many (60%) being internationally excellent or world-leading” in quality. The Faculty’s research grant portfolio totals some £53M and funders include charities, research councils, the European Union and industry.  www.fbs.leeds.ac.uk

4. The Wellcome Trust is a global charitable foundation dedicated to achieving extraordinary improvements in human and animal health. It supports the brightest minds in biomedical research and the medical humanities. The Trust’s breadth of support includes public engagement, education and the application of research to improve health. It is independent of both political and commercial interests. www.wellcome.ac.uk

5. Alzheimer’s Research UK is the UK’s leading charity specialising in finding preventions, treatments and a cure for dementia. We are currently supporting dementia research projects worth over £20 million in leading Universities across the UK. To help us defeat dementia, donate today by visiting www.alzheimersresearchuk.org or calling 01223 843899.

6. For almost 100 years the Medical Research Council has improved the health of people in the UK and around the world by supporting the highest quality science. The MRC invests in world-class scientists. It has produced 29 Nobel Prize winners and sustains a flourishing environment for internationally recognised research. The MRC focuses on making an impact and provides the financial muscle and scientific expertise behind medical breakthroughs, including the first antibiotic penicillin, the structure of DNA and the lethal link between smoking and cancer. Today MRC funded scientists tackle research into the major health challenges of the 21st century. www.mrc.ac.uk

Low Testosterone Linked to Alzheimer’s Disease

2010 study posted for filing

SLU Geriatrician Collaborates on Year-Long Study of Chinese Older Men

ST. LOUIS — Low levels of the male sex hormone, testosterone, in older men is associated with the onset of Alzheimer’s disease, according to research by a team that includes a Saint Louis University scientist.

John Morley, M.D.

“Having low testosterone may make you more vulnerable to Alzheimer’s disease,” said John E. Morley, M.D., director of the division of geriatric medicine at Saint Louis University and a study co-investigator. “The take-home message is we should pay more attention to low testosterone, particularly in people who have memory problems or other signs of cognitive impairment.”

The study was published electronically prior to its print publication in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease and led by Leung-Wing Chu, M.D., who is chief of the division of geriatric medicine at Queen Mary Hospital at the University of Hong Kong.

Researchers studied 153 Chinese men who were recruited from social centers. They were at least 55 years and older, lived in the community and didn’t have dementia. Of those men, 47 had mild cognitive impairment – or problems with clear thinking and memory loss.

Within a year, 10 men who all were part of the cognitively impaired group developed probable Alzheimer’s disease. These men also had low testosterone in their body tissues; elevated levels of the ApoE 4 (apolipoprotein E) protein, which is correlated with a higher risk of Alzheimer’s disease; and high blood pressure.

“It’s a very exciting study because we’ve shown that a low level of testosterone is one of the risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease,” Morley said.

The findings corroborate findings in previous studies of older Caucasian men that show low testosterone is associated with impaired thinking and Alzheimer’s disease. They suggest that testosterone may have a protective value against Alzheimer’s disease.

The next step, Morley said, is to conduct a large-scale study that investigates the use of testosterone in preventing Alzheimer’s disease. Morley and his co-authors advocate studying the effectiveness of testosterone replacement in older men who have both mild memory problems and low testosterone in staving off Alzheimer’s disease.

91st Health Research Report 10 OCT 2010 – Reconstruction

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Health Research Report

91st Issue 10 OCT 2010

Compiled By Ralph Turchiano

www.vit.bz

www.youtube.com/vhfilm 

www.facebook.com/engineeringevil

www.engineeringevil.com  

www.healthresearchreport.me 

120922_0002

 

Editors Top Five:

 

1. Diabetes risk may fall as magnesium intake climbs

2. J&J, FDA leaders take heat for ‘phantom’ recall

3. Vitamin D deficiency rampant in patients undergoing orthopedic surgery, damaging patient recovery

4. Think saturated fat contributes to heart disease? Think again

5. Surprise: Scientists discover that inflammation helps to heal wounds

 

In this Issue:

 

1. Diabetes risk may fall as magnesium intake climbs

2. UM School of Medicine Center for Celiac Research finds rate of celiac disease is growing

3. Sparkling drinks spark pain circuits

4. Maternal diet high in trans fats doubles risk of excess body fat in breastfed babies, study finds

5. Garlic oil shows protective effect against heart disease in diabetes

6. Blueberries help fight artery hardening, lab animal study indicates

7. IU researchers: Chemotherapy alters brain tissue in breast cancer patients

8. Dirty hands, dirty mouths: U-M study finds a need to clean the body part that lies

9. Research examines vicious cycle of overeating and obesity

10. Dog ownership is associated with reduced eczema in children with dog allergies

11. Faith in God associated with improved survival after liver transplantation

12. Drugs for low libido raise concerns over industry ‘construction’ of new diseases

13. Bioethics scholars fault requirement that all women in clinical drug trials use contraception

14. J&J, FDA leaders take heat for ‘phantom’ recall

15. Vitamin D levels lower in African-Americans

16. Vigorous exercise reduces breast cancer risk in African-American women

17. Think saturated fat contributes to heart disease? Think again

18. Sleep loss limits fat loss

19. Walnuts, walnut oil, improve reaction to stress

20. Surprise: Scientists discover that inflammation helps to heal wounds

21. Amino acid supplement makes mice live longer

22. Shortfalls in carotenoid ( Pro-Vitamin A )intake may impact women’s health

23. Low Testosterone Linked to Alzheimer’s Disease

24. Vitamin D deficiency rampant in patients undergoing orthopedic surgery, damaging patient recovery

 

Public release date: 24-Sep-2010

 

Diabetes risk may fall as magnesium intake climbs

 

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – Getting enough magnesium in your diet could help prevent diabetes, a new study suggests.

 

People who consumed the most magnesium in foods and from vitamin supplements were about half as likely to develop diabetes over the next 20 years as people who took in the least magnesium, Dr. Ka He of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and colleagues found.

 

The results may explain in part why consuming whole grains, which are high in magnesium, is also associated with lower diabetes risk. However, large clinical trials testing the effects of magnesium on diabetes risk are needed to determine whether a causal relationship truly exists, the researchers note in Diabetes Care.

 

It’s plausible that magnesium could influence diabetes risk because the mineral is needed for the proper functioning of several enzymes that help the body process glucose, the researchers point out. Studies of magnesium and diabetes risk have had conflicting results, though.

 

To investigate the link, the researchers looked at magnesium intake and diabetes risk in 4,497 men and women 18 to 30 years old, none of whom were diabetic at the study’s outset. During a 20-year follow-up period, 330 of the subjects developed diabetes.

 

People with the highest magnesium intake, who averaged about 200 milligrams of magnesium for every 1,000 calories they consumed, were 47 percent less likely to have developed diabetes during follow up than those with the lowest intakes, who consumed about 100 milligrams of magnesium per 1,000 calories.

 

He and colleagues also found that as magnesium intake rose, levels of several markers of inflammation decreased, as did resistance to the effects of the key blood-sugar-regulating hormone insulin. Higher blood levels of magnesium also were linked to a lower degree of insulin resistance.

 

“Increasing magnesium intake may be important for improving insulin sensitivity, reducing systemic inflammation, and decreasing diabetes risk,” He and colleagues write. “Further large-scale clinical trials are needed to establish causal inference and elucidate the mechanisms behind this potential benefit.”

 

SOURCE: http://link.reuters.com/xuz35p Diabetes Care, published online August 31, 2010.

 

Public release date: 27-Sep-2010

 

UM School of Medicine Center for Celiac Research finds rate of celiac disease is growing

 

Study finds increasing number of celiac cases, particularly in the elderly

Working to solve the puzzle of when people develop celiac disease has led researchers from the University of Maryland School of Medicine Center for Celiac Research to some surprising findings. They have found that the autoimmune disorder is on the rise with evidence of increasing cases in the elderly. An epidemiological study published September 27 in the Annals of Medicine supports both trends—with interesting implications for possible treatment and prevention.

 

“You’re never too old to develop celiac disease,” says Alessio Fasano, M.D., director of the University of Maryland’s Mucosal Biology Research Center and the celiac research center, which led the study. The Universita Politecnica delle Marche in Ancona, Italy; the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health; the Women & Children’s Hospital of Buffalo; and Quest Diagnostics Inc. of San Juan Capistrano, Calif., also participated.

 

Celiac disease is triggered by consuming gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley and rye. Classic symptoms include diarrhea, intestinal bloating and stomach cramps. Left untreated, it can lead to the malabsorption of nutrients, damage to the small intestine and other medical complications.

 

Since 1974, in the U.S., the incidence of the disorder has doubled every 15 years. Using blood samples from more than 3,500 adults, the researchers found that the number of people with blood markers for celiac disease increased steadily from one in 501 in 1974 to one in 219 in 1989. In 2003, a widely cited study conducted by the celiac research center placed the number of people with celiac disease in the U.S. at one in 133.

 

As the people in the study aged, the incidence of celiac disease rose, echoing the findings of a 2008 Finnish study in Digestive and Liver Disease that found the prevalence of celiac disease in the elderly to be nearly two and a half times higher than the general population. The recent findings challenge the common speculation that the loss of gluten tolerance resulting in the disease usually develops in childhood.

 

“You’re not necessarily born with celiac disease,” says Carlo Catassi, M.D., of the Universita Politecnica delle Marche in Italy. Dr. Catassi is the lead author of the paper and co-director of the Center for Celiac Research. “Our findings show that some people develop celiac disease quite late in life.” The trend is supported by clinical data from the center, notes Dr. Catassi, who urges physicians to consider screening their elderly patients.

 

Although researchers have identified specific genetic markers for the development of celiac disease, exactly how and why an individual loses tolerance to gluten remains a mystery. “Even if you have these genetic markers, it’s not your destiny to develop an autoimmune disease,” adds Dr. Fasano. “Our study shows that environmental factors cause an individual’s immune system to lose tolerance to gluten, given the fact that genetics was not a factor in our study since we followed the same individuals over time.”

 

The finding contradicts the common wisdom that nothing can be done to prevent autoimmune disease unless the triggers that cause autoimmunity are identified and removed. Gluten is one of the triggers for celiac disease. But if individuals can tolerate gluten for many decades before developing celiac disease, some environmental factor or factors other than gluten must be in play, notes Dr. Fasano.

 

Identifying and manipulating those factors could lead to novel treatment and possible prevention of celiac disease and other autoimmune disorders including type 1 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis. Researchers at the University of Maryland Center for Celiac Research are working toward that goal, says Dr. Fasano. As the third most common disease category after cancer and heart disease, autoimmune disorders affect approximately five to eight percent of the U.S. population, according to the National Institutes of Health.

 

“The groundbreaking research of Dr. Fasano and his team sheds new light on the development of celiac disease, a complex disorder that continues to present challenges to physicians and their patients,” says E. Albert Reece, M.D., Ph.D., M.B.A, vice president for medical affairs, University of Maryland, and John Z. and Akiko K. Bowers Distinguished Professor and dean, University of Maryland School of Medicine.

 

Diagnosis of celiac disease can be a challenge as patients who test positive for the disease may not display the classic symptoms of gastrointestinal distress linked to the disease. Atypical symptoms include joint pain, chronic fatigue and depression. In the study, only 11 percent of people identified as positive for celiac disease autoimmunity through blood samples had actually been diagnosed with the disease.

 

Public release date: 28-Sep-2010

 

Sparkling drinks spark pain circuits

 

Fizzy beverages light up same pain sensors as mustard and horseradish, a new study shows — so why do we drink them?

 

You may not think of the fizz in soda as spicy, but your body does.

 

The carbon dioxide in fizzy drinks sets off the same pain sensors in the nasal cavity as mustard and horseradish, though at a lower intensity, according to new research from the University of Southern California.

 

“Carbonation evokes two distinct sensations. It makes things sour and it also makes them burn. We have all felt that noxious tingling sensation when soda goes down your throat too fast,” said Emily Liman, senior author of a study published online in the Journal of Neuroscience.

 

That burning sensation comes from a system of nerves that respond to sensations of pain, skin pressure and temperature in the nose and mouth.

 

“What we did not know was which cells and which molecules within those cells are responsible for the painful sensation we experience when we drink a carbonated soda,” said Liman, an associate professor of neurobiology in the USC College of Letters, Arts and Sciences.

 

By flowing carbonated saline onto a dish of nerve cells from the sensory circuits in the nose and mouth, the researchers found that the gas activated only a particular type of cell.

 

“The cells that responded to CO2 were the same cells that detect mustard,” Liman said.

 

These cells express a gene known as TRPA1 and serve as general pain sensors.

 

Mice missing the TRPA1 gene showed “a greatly reduced response” to carbon dioxide, Liman said, while adding the TRPA1 genetic code to CO2-insensitive cells made them responsive to the gas.

 

Now that carbonated beverages have been linked to pain circuits, some may wonder why we consume them. A new park in Paris even features drinking fountains that dispense free sparkling water.

 

Liman cited studies going back as far as 1885 that found carbonation dramatically reduced the growth of bacteria.

 

“Or it may be a macho thing,” she speculated.

 

If only a sip of San Pellegrino were all it took to prove one’s hardiness.

 

The pain-sensing TRPA1 provides only one aspect of carbonation’s sensory experience. In 2009, a group led by Charles Zuker of the University of California, San Diego and Nicholas Ryba of the National Institutes of Health showed that carbonation trips cells in the tongue that convey sourness.

 

Public release date: 29-Sep-2010

 

Maternal diet high in trans fats doubles risk of excess body fat in breastfed babies, study finds

 

Athens, Ga. – A new University of Georgia study suggests that mothers who consume a diet high in trans fats double the likelihood that their infants will have high levels of body fat.

 

Researchers, whose results appear in the early online edition of the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, found that infants whose mothers consumed more than 4.5 grams of trans fats per day while breastfeeding were twice as likely to have high percentages of body fat, or adiposity, than infants whose mothers consumed less than 4.5 grams per day of trans fats.

 

The researchers investigated different fatty acids, but determined trans fats to be the most important contributor to excess body fat. “Trans fats stuck out as a predictor to increased adiposity in both mothers and their babies,” said study co-author Alex Anderson, assistant professor in the UGA College of Family and Consumer Sciences.

 

Anderson explained that although breast milk is optimal for the health of infants, it could also contain high levels of trans fats, depending on the mother’s diet. A better understanding of how a mother’s consumption of trans fats may impact the health of her baby would aid nutritionists in making more accurate dietary recommendations to prevent chronic disease later in life by encouraging mothers to select a diet low in trans fats, he said.

 

To determine the effect of the intake of trans fats by the child through breast milk, the researchers studied three different groups; mothers who only breast fed their infants, those that only used formula and those that used a combination of breast milk and formula.

 

It is important to measure body fat in addition to weight, said Anderson, since being overweight does not always mean having a high percent of body fat and vice versa. “It’s not just the weight, but the amount of body fat in the person that affects their health,” Anderson said. “That is why adiposity is such an important measure of cardiovascular risk.”

 

The researchers also found that mothers who consumed more than 4.5 grams of trans fats per day increased their own risk of excessive fat accumulation, independent of pre-pregnancy weight, by almost six times. This data suggests that trans fats intake could have a more significant weight-gain effect on breastfeeding mothers than it does at other times in their lives, Anderson said.

 

The researchers studied 96 women, many of whom were highly educated non-Hispanic white women, and note that the study should be replicated in a larger, more diverse group to strengthen information about the health dangers of eating trans fats. “It would help to be able to follow the child from when the mother was pregnant, through birth, and then adolescence, so that we can confirm what the type of infant feeding and maternal diet during breastfeeding have to do with the recent epidemic of childhood obesity,” said Anderson.

 

Maternal diet high in trans fats doubles risk of excess body fat in breastfed babies, study finds

Athens, Ga. – A new University of Georgia study suggests that mothers who consume a diet high in trans fats double the likelihood that their infants will have high levels of body fat.

 

Researchers, whose results appear in the early online edition of the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, found that infants whose mothers consumed more than 4.5 grams of trans fats per day while breastfeeding were twice as likely to have high percentages of body fat, or adiposity, than infants whose mothers consumed less than 4.5 grams per day of trans fats.

 

The researchers investigated different fatty acids, but determined trans fats to be the most important contributor to excess body fat. “Trans fats stuck out as a predictor to increased adiposity in both mothers and their babies,” said study co-author Alex Anderson, assistant professor in the UGA College of Family and Consumer Sciences.

 

Anderson explained that although breast milk is optimal for the health of infants, it could also contain high levels of trans fats, depending on the mother’s diet. A better understanding of how a mother’s consumption of trans fats may impact the health of her baby would aid nutritionists in making more accurate dietary recommendations to prevent chronic disease later in life by encouraging mothers to select a diet low in trans fats, he said.

 

To determine the effect of the intake of trans fats by the child through breast milk, the researchers studied three different groups; mothers who only breast fed their infants, those that only used formula and those that used a combination of breast milk and formula.

 

It is important to measure body fat in addition to weight, said Anderson, since being overweight does not always mean having a high percent of body fat and vice versa. “It’s not just the weight, but the amount of body fat in the person that affects their health,” Anderson said. “That is why adiposity is such an important measure of cardiovascular risk.”

 

The researchers also found that mothers who consumed more than 4.5 grams of trans fats per day increased their own risk of excessive fat accumulation, independent of pre-pregnancy weight, by almost six times. This data suggests that trans fats intake could have a more significant weight-gain effect on breastfeeding mothers than it does at other times in their lives, Anderson said.

 

The researchers studied 96 women, many of whom were highly educated non-Hispanic white women, and note that the study should be replicated in a larger, more diverse group to strengthen information about the health dangers of eating trans fats. “It would help to be able to follow the child from when the mother was pregnant, through birth, and then adolescence, so that we can confirm what the type of infant feeding and maternal diet during breastfeeding have to do with the recent epidemic of childhood obesity,” said Anderson.

 

Public release date: 29-Sep-2010

 

Garlic oil shows protective effect against heart disease in diabetes

 

Garlic has “significant” potential for preventing cardiomyopathy, a form of heart disease that is a leading cause of death in people with diabetes, scientists have concluded in a new study. Their report, which also explains why people with diabetes are at high risk for diabetic cardiomyopathy, appears in ACS’ bi-weekly Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

 

Wei-Wen Kuo and colleagues note that people with diabetes have at least twice the risk of death from heart disease as others, with heart disease accounting for 80 percent of all diabetes-related deaths. They are especially vulnerable to a form of heart disease termed diabetic cardiomyopathy, which inflames and weakens the heart’s muscle tissue. Kuo’s group had hints from past studies that garlic might protect against heart disease in general and also help control the abnormally high blood sugar levels that occur in diabetes. But they realized that few studies had been done specifically on garlic’s effects on diabetic cardiomyopathy.

 

The scientists fed either garlic oil or corn oil to laboratory rats with diabetes. Animals given garlic oil experienced beneficial changes associated with protection against heart damage. The changes appeared to be associated with the potent antioxidant properties of garlic oil, the scientists say, adding that they identified more than 20 substances in garlic oil that may contribute to the effect. “In conclusion, garlic oil possesses significant potential for protecting hearts from diabetes-induced cardiomyopathy,” the report notes.

 

Public release date: 29-Sep-2010

 

Blueberries help fight artery hardening, lab animal study indicates

 

Blueberries may help fight atherosclerosis, also known as hardening of the arteries, according to results of a preliminary U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)-funded study with laboratory mice. The research provides the first direct evidence that blueberries can help prevent harmful plaques or lesions, symptomatic of atherosclerosis, from increasing in size in arteries.

 

Principal investigator Xianli Wu, based in Little Rock, Ark., with the USDA Agricultural Research Service (ARS) Arkansas Children’s Nutrition Center and with the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, led the investigation. The findings are reported in the current issue of the Journal of Nutrition.

 

Atherosclerosis is the leading cause of two forms of cardiovascular disease–heart attacks and strokes. Cardiovascular disease is the number one killer of Americans.

 

The study compared the size, or area, of atherosclerotic lesions in 30 young laboratory mice. Half of the animals were fed diets spiked with freeze-dried blueberry powder for 20 weeks; the diet of the other mice did not contain the berry powder.

 

Lesion size, measured at two sites on aorta (arteries leading from the heart), was 39 and 58 percent less than that of lesions in mice whose diet did not contain blueberry powder.

 

Earlier studies, conducted elsewhere, have suggested that eating blueberries may help combat cardiovascular disease. But direct evidence of that effect has never been presented previously, according to Wu.

 

The blueberry-spiked diet contained 1 percent blueberry powder, the equivalent of about a half-cup of fresh blueberries.

 

All mice in the investigation were deficient in apolipoprotein-E, a trait which makes them highly susceptible to forming atherosclerotic lesions and thus an excellent model for biomedical and nutrition research.

 

Wu’s group wants to determine the mechanism or mechanisms by which blueberries helped control lesion size. For example, by boosting the activity of four antioxidant enzymes, blueberries may have reduced the oxidative stress that is a known risk factor for atherosclerosis.

 

In followup studies, Wu’s group wants to determine whether eating blueberries in infancy, childhood and young adulthood would help protect against onset and progression of atherosclerosis in later years. Early prevention may be especially important in light of the nation’s epidemic of childhood obesity. Overweight and obesity increase atherosclerosis risk.

 

Public release date: 29-Sep-2010

 

IU researchers: Chemotherapy alters brain tissue in breast cancer patients

 

INDIANAPOLIS — Researchers at the Indiana University Melvin and Bren Simon Cancer Center have published the first report using imaging to show that changes in brain tissue can occur in breast cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy.

 

The cognitive effects of chemotherapy, often referred to as “chemobrain,” have been known for years. However, the IU research is the first to use brain imaging to study women with breast cancer before and after treatment, showing that chemotherapy can affect gray matter. The researchers reported their findings in the October 2010 edition of Breast Cancer Research and Treatment.

 

“This is the first prospective study,” said Andrew Saykin, Psy.D., director of the Indiana University Center for Neuroimaging and a researcher at the IU Simon Cancer Center. “These analyses, led by Brenna McDonald, suggest an anatomic basis for the cognitive complaints and performance changes seen in patients. Memory and executive functions like multi-tasking and processing speed are the most typically affected functions and these are handled by the brain regions where we detected gray matter changes.”

 

Dr. Saykin, who is Raymond C. Beeler Professor of Radiology at the IU School of Medicine, and colleagues studied structural MRI scans of the brain obtained on breast cancer patients and healthy controls. The scans were taken after surgery, but before radiation or chemotherapy, to give the researchers a baseline. Scans were then repeated one month and one year after chemotherapy was completed.

 

The researchers found gray matter changes were most prominent in the areas of the brain that are consistent with cognitive dysfunction during and shortly after chemotherapy. Gray matter density in most women improved a year after chemotherapy ended.

 

For many patients, Dr. Saykin said, the effects are subtle. However, they can be more pronounced for others. Although relatively rare, some patients — often middle-aged women — are so affected that they are never able to return to work. More commonly, women will still be able to work and multi-task, but it may be more difficult to do so.

 

The study focused on 17 breast cancer patients treated with chemotherapy after surgery, 12 women with breast cancer who did not undergo chemotherapy after surgery, and 18 women without breast cancer.

 

“We hope there will be more prospective studies to follow so that the cause of these changes in cancer patients can be better understood,” Dr. Saykin said.

 

Dr. Saykin and his colleagues started their research at Dartmouth Medical School before finishing the data analyses at IU. A new, independent sample is now being studied at the IU Simon Cancer Center to replicate and further investigate this problem affecting many cancer patients.

 

Public Release: 29-Sep-2010

 

Dirty hands, dirty mouths: U-M study finds a need to clean the body part that lies

 

ANN ARBOR, Mich.—Apparently your mom had it right when she threatened to wash your mouth out with soap if you talked dirty. Lying really does create a desire to clean the “dirty” body part, according to a University of Michigan study.

 

“The references to ‘dirty hands’ or ‘dirty mouths’ in everyday language suggest that people think about abstract issues of moral purity in terms of more concrete experiences with physical purity,” said Spike W.S. Lee, a U-M doctoral candidate in psychology, who conducted the study with Norbert Schwarz, a psychologist at the U-M Institute for Social Research (ISR), the Ross School of Business, and the U-M psychology department.

 

The findings of the study, published in the current (October) issue of Psychological Science, support that connection.

 

For the study, Lee and Schwarz asked 87 students to play the role of lawyers competing with a colleague, “Chris,” for a promotion. Each was asked to imagine they found an important document that Chris had lost, and that returning the document would help his career and hurt their own career. Each participant was instructed to leave Chris a message by either voice mail or email, telling him who they were and either lying that they could not find his document or telling the truth that they had found the document.

 

Next, participants rated the desirability of several products as part of a supposed marketing survey and reported how much they were willing to pay for each product. The products included mouthwash and hand sanitizer.

 

Study participants who lied on the phone, leaving an untrue and malevolent voicemail, felt a stronger desire for mouthwash and were willing to pay more for it than those who lied on e-mail. And conversely, those who lied on e-mail, typing the same mean message, felt a stronger desire for hand sanitizer and were willing to pay more for that. Saying nice and ethical things, on the other hand, made it less appealing to clean the body part involved in conveying the message.

 

In scientific terms, the findings showed that “the embodiment of moral purity is specific to the motor modality involved in the moral transgression.” Verbal lying increased participants’ assessment of mouthwash while lying on e-mail, using their hands, increased the assessment of hand sanitizer’s value.

 

“This study shows how ‘concrete’ the metaphorical links are between abstract and concrete domains of life,” Schwarz said. “Not only do people want to clean after a dirty deed, they want to clean the specific body part involved.”

 

Public release date: 29-Sep-2010

 

Research examines vicious cycle of overeating and obesity

 

New research provides evidence of the vicious cycle created when an obese individual overeats to compensate for reduced pleasure from food.

 

Obese individuals have fewer pleasure receptors and overeat to compensate, according to a study by University of Texas at Austin senior research fellow and Oregon Research Institute senior scientist Eric Stice and his colleagues published this week in The Journal of Neuroscience.

 

Stice shows evidence this overeating may further weaken the responsiveness of the pleasure receptors (“hypofunctioning reward circuitry”), further diminishing the rewards gained from overeating.

 

Food intake is associated with dopamine release. The degree of pleasure derived from eating correlates with the amount of dopamine released. Evidence shows obese individuals have fewer dopamine (D2) receptors in the brain relative to lean individuals and suggests obese individuals overeat to compensate for this reward deficit.

 

People with fewer of the dopamine receptors need to take in more of a rewarding substance — such as food or drugs — to get an effect other people get with less.

 

“Although recent findings suggested that obese individuals may experience less pleasure when eating, and therefore eat more to compensate, this is the first prospective evidence to show that the overeating itself further blunts the award circuitry,” says Stice, a senior scientist at Oregon Research Institute, a non-profit, independent behavioral research center. “The weakened responsivity of the reward circuitry increases the risk for future weight gain in a feed-forward manner. This may explain why obesity typically shows a chronic course and is resistant to treatment.”

 

Using Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI), Stice’s team measured the extent to which a certain area of the brain (the dorsal striatum) was activated in response to the individual’s consumption of a taste of chocolate milkshake (versus a tasteless solution). Researchers tracked participants’ changes in body mass index over six months.

 

Results indicated those participants who gained weight showed significantly less activation in response to the milkshake intake at six-month follow-up relative to their baseline scan and relative to women who did not gain weight.

 

“This is a novel contribution to the literature because, to our knowledge, this is the first prospective fMRI study to investigate change in striatal response to food consumption as a function of weight change,” said Stice. “These results will be important when developing programs to prevent and treat obesity.”

 

Public release date: 30-Sep-2010

 

Dog ownership is associated with reduced eczema in children with dog allergies

 

Cincinnati, OH, September 30, 2010 — Children with eczema, a chronic skin condition that often begins in childhood, have a greater risk of developing asthma and food allergies. The number of children with eczema is rising, but the reasons for this are unclear. A new study soon to be published in The Journal of Pediatrics examines the relationship between pet ownership and eczema. Researchers found that dog ownership among children with dog allergies may reduce the risk of developing eczema by age 4 years; cat ownership, however, may increase the risk among children with cat allergies.

 

Dr. Tolly Epstein and colleagues from the University of Cincinnati and Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center gathered data from 636 children enrolled in the Cincinnati Childhood Allergy & Air Pollution Study (CCAAPS), a long-term epidemiologic study examining the effects of environmental particulates on childhood respiratory health and allergy development. Children enrolled in the study are considered at high risk for developing allergies because they were born to parents with allergies. The researchers focused on several potential risk factors for developing eczema, including dog and cat ownership. The children were tested for 17 separate allergies on a yearly basis from ages 1 through 4 years, and the parents completed yearly surveys.

 

The results provided interesting information regarding pet ownership. The researchers found that children who tested positive for dog allergies were less likely to develop eczema by age 4 years if they owned a dog before age 1 year. According to Dr. Epstein, “Children with dog allergies who did not own dogs were 4 times more likely to develop eczema.”

 

Unlike dog ownership, cat ownership seemed to have a negative effect on children with cat allergies. “Children who owned a cat before age 1 year and were allergic to cats based on a skin allergy test were 13 times more likely to develop eczema by age 4 years,” Dr. Epstein explains. She notes, however, that children who were not allergic to cats were not at an increased risk for eczema if they owned a cat. Dr. Epstein suggests that parents of children at risk for eczema may want to consider these findings when choosing a family pet.

 

Public release date: 30-Sep-2010

 

Faith in God associated with improved survival after liver transplantation

 

Study reveals religiosity prolongs life span

 

Italian researchers report that liver transplant candidates who have a strong religious connection have better post-transplant survival. This study also finds that religiosity—regardless of cause of death—prolongs the life span of individuals who underwent liver transplantation. Full findings are now available online and in the October issue of Liver Transplantation. a journal published by Wiley-Blackwell on behalf of the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases (AASLD).

 

Much of the medical profession today is focused on the delivery of services, rather than whole patient care which not only takes into account physical well-being, but psychological, social, and spiritual aspects as well. Although there is a lack of interest in religion by the medical community, the authors point out that 90% of the world’s population today is involved in some form of religion or spiritual pursuit. Prior studies have demonstrated that religiosity allows individuals to better cope with illness, and may even influence disease progression. Furthermore, a report by McCullough et al. that included a meta-analysis of 42 studies (surveying roughly 126,000 people) found active religious involvement increased the odds of being alive at follow-up by 26%.

 

“Our study tested the hypothesis that religiosity—seeking God’s help, having faith in God, trusting in God, trying to discern God’s will even in the disease—improves survival of patients with end-stage liver disease who underwent liver transplantation,” explains Franco Bonaguidi, D.Psych., and lead author of the study. The study team selected 179 patients who received a liver transplant between January 2004 and December 2007, and who also completed the religiosity questionnaire. Participants (129 males and 50 females) had a media age of 52 years and were followed for 4 years (median = 21 months) post-transplantation. Indications for liver transplant included: viral hepatitis (68%), alcoholic liver disease (17%), and autoimmune hepatitis (7%).

 

Results indicate that the Search for God factor (hazard ratio = 2.95) and length of stay in the intensive care unit (1.05) were independently associated with survival. Furthermore, it was the personal relationship between the patient and God, regardless of religious creed (Christian, Muslim, or other) rather than formal church attendance that positively affected survival. As one participant described, “I recovered my life by the will of Someone up there…I had great faith in Him. This closeness made me feel strong and calm.”

 

Dr. Bonaguidi concluded, “We found that an active search for God—the patient’s faith in a higher power rather than a generic destiny—had a positive impact on patient survival.” The authors caution that this study focuses on a severely ill patient population, therefore the conclusions may not be applicable to individuals with different illnesses or degrees of disease severity.

 

Public release date: 30-Sep-2010

 

Drugs for low libido raise concerns over industry ‘construction’ of new diseases

 

Feature: Merging of marketing and medical science: female sexual dysfunction

 

Drug companies have not only sponsored the science of a new condition known as female sexual dysfunction, they have helped to construct it, in order to build global markets for new drugs, reveals an article in this week’s BMJ.

 

Researching his new book ‘Sex, Lies and Pharmaceuticals’ Ray Moynihan, journalist and lecturer at the University of Newcastle in Australia, discovered that drug industry employees have worked with paid key opinion leaders to help develop the disease entity; they have run surveys to portray it as widespread; and they helped design diagnostic tools to persuade women that their sexual difficulties deserve a medical label and treatment.

 

He believes that “drug marketing is merging with medical science in a fascinating and frightening way” and he asks whether we need a fresh approach to defining disease.

 

He quotes a company employee saying that her company was interested in “expediting the development of a disease” and he reveals how companies are funding surveys that portray sexual problems as widespread and creating tools to assess women for “hypoactive sexual desire disorder.”

 

Many of the researchers involved in these activities were drug company employees or had financial ties to the industry, writes Moynihan. Meanwhile, scientific studies conducted without industry funding were questioning whether a widespread disorder of low desire really existed.

 

Industry is also taking a leading role in “educating” both professionals and the public about this controversial condition, he adds.

 

For example, a Pfizer funded course designed for doctors across the United States claimed that up to 63% of women had sexual dysfunction and that testosterone and sildenafil (Viagra) may be helpful, along with behavioural therapy. And he points out that German drug company Boehringer Ingelheim’s “educational” activities “went into overdrive” as the planned 2010 launch of its desire drug, flibanserin, approached.

 

In June, flibanserin was rejected by advisors to the US Food and Drug Administration and Pfizer’s sildenafil was also pulled after studies showed virtually no difference from placebo. But although the drugs have so far failed, Moynihan warns that “the edifice of scientific evidence about the condition remains in place … creating the impression that there is a massive “unmet need” for treatment.”

 

And with more experimental drugs in the pipeline, “the drug industry shows no signs of abandoning plans to meet the unmet need it has helped to manufacturer,” he says.

 

“Perhaps it’s time to reassess the way in which the medical establishment defines common conditions and recommends how to treat them,” he suggests.

 

“Perhaps it is time to develop new panels to take responsibility for defining treatable illness, made up of people without financial ties to those with vested interests in the outcomes of their deliberations and much more broadly representative of the wider public … and start the slow process of untangling the marketing from the medical science.” he concludes.

 

“Faced with a woman in tears whose libido has disappeared and who is terrified of losing her partner, doctors can feel immense pressure to provide an immediate, effective solution,” says Dr Sandy Goldbeck-Wood, a specialist in psychosexual medicine, in an accompanying commentary.

 

She says Moynihan’s research clarifies both the conflicts of interest at work and the relative paucity of good quality evidence for pharmacological solutions to women’s sexual problems. However, she argues: “his argument that female sexual dysfunction is an illness constructed by pathologising doctors under the influence of drug companies will fail to convince clinicians who see women with sexual dysfunction, or their patients.”

 

Women who have struggled to overcome the psychological and cultural barriers to requesting help with their sexual difficulties will not welcome the argument that they are to be “left alone,” she writes.

 

She believes the problem is one of oversimplification and believes that more studies are needed that reflect the complexity of sexual life. “It’s time to invest in more research into the most realistic, respectful and evidence based treatments, rather than narrow biological ones founded on poor evidence,” she says.

 

Public release date: 30-Sep-2010

 

Bioethics scholars fault requirement that all women in clinical drug trials use contraception

 

(Garrison, NY) Research ethics review committees often require all women of childbearing age who enroll in clinical trials to use contraceptives to protect against a developing fetus being exposed to potentially harmful drugs. A mandatory contraceptive policy is often imposed even when there is no evidence that a trial drug could harm a fetus or when women have no chance of becoming pregnancy. This requirement is excessive and can safely be relaxed in many cases, according to a report in IRB: Ethics & Human Research.

 

Policies on contraceptive use in research should reflect the level of potential risk the study drug poses to the fetus, write Chris Kaposy, an assistant professor of Health Care Ethics at Memorial University of Newfoundland, Canada; and Françoise Baylis, professor and Canada Research Chair in Bioethics and Philosophy at Dalhousie University in Halifax. They point to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s categories for prescription drug labeling for drug use in pregnancy as a helpful guide. The FDA has five categories, each with different degrees of evidence of risk to fetuses.

 

Category A, for example, indicates that “adequate, well-controlled studies in pregnant women have not shown increased risk of fetal abnormalities.” And yet the policy of the University of Nebraska Medical Center’s institutional review board – which Kaposy and Baylis reviewed as a typical example of IRB contraceptive use policies – permits researchers to petition the IRB to impose a mandatory contraception or abstinence requirement for trial participants in studies that use Category A drugs. However, the authors argue that an ideal policy for Category A drugs would not require contraception or abstinence.

 

The authors also say that contraception should not be mandated for women who have no chance of becoming pregnant while participating in a clinical drug trial. “Consider, for example, women who are not sexually active (e.g., nuns) or who are not sexually active in a heterosexual relationship (e.g., lesbians),” they write. Mandating contraception for these groups sends “a paternalistic message of mistrust” that undermines the normal practice of treating research participants as autonomous decision-makers.

 

“Our recommendations are an attempt to find an appropriate balance between the interests of potential fetuses and the autonomy and well-being of women,” they write.

 

Public release date: 30-Sep-2010

 

J&J, FDA leaders take heat for ‘phantom’ recall

 

By MATTHEW PERRONE, AP Health Writer Matthew Perrone, Ap Health Writer

Thu Sep 30, 5:58 pm ET

 

WASHINGTON – Johnson & Johnson executives and the Food and Drug Administration both shouldered the blame Thursday for a secret recall in which hired contractors quietly bought up defective painkillers to clear them from store shelves.

 

J&J Chief Executive William Weldon told House lawmakers the company “made a mistake” in conducting the so-called “phantom recall,” which is one of a string of problems that have drawn congressional scrutiny

 

In the same committee hearing, the FDA’s deputy commissioner, Dr. Joshua Sharfstein, said his agency should have acted sooner to halt J&J’s plan. At the same time, though, he stressed that regulators were not aware of the deceptive nature of the recall.

 

Sharfstein and Weldon testified before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, which held its second hearing on J&J’s unprecedented spate of recalls. The largest, involving more than 135 million bottles of infants’ and children’s Tylenol and other medicines, triggered the committee’s investigation.

 

“We recognize that we need to do better, and we will work hard to restore the public’s trust and faith in Johnson & Johnson,” Weldon told lawmakers.

 

Democrats and Republicans pressed Weldon on its “phantom” recall involving 88,000 packets of Motrin, which Weldon acknowledged as “not one of our finer moments.”

 

But lawmakers also pressed the FDA on when and what it knew about the activity. New Brunswick, N.J.-based J&J has repeatedly claimed it alerted the agency’s officials in Puerto Rico, where the defective Motrin was originally manufactured.

 

Sharfstein said J&J informed the FDA of its plan to repurchase the pills – which did not dissolve correctly – in April 2009.

 

“From this point, it took until July for the FDA to tell the company that a recall should be conducted,” Sharfstein said in his testimony. “In my opinion that message should have been given sooner.”

 

But Sharfstein stressed that the FDA did not know J&J had instructed contractors to pose as regular customers while buying the product and to not alert store employees to their activity.

 

“Based on the documents I reviewed, I don’t see any indication that the FDA was aware of the surreptitious, lying nature of the recall,” he said.

 

Republican lawmakers criticized a “too cozy” relationship between FDA and J&J employees, citing months-long e-mail exchanges between the two before regulators took action. But Sharfstein said ultimate blame lies with J&J, pointing out that the FDA does not have the authority to order when and how companies conduct recalls.

 

“I think fundamentally the responsibility is with the company to handle their quality problems in a much different way,” Sharfstein said.

 

Companies are advised to work with the FDA on recalls, although that isn’t a legal requirement.

 

Committee Chairman Edolphus Towns, D-N.Y., has introduced a bill that would give the agency the power to order recalls.

 

The maker of trusted brands like Tylenol and Benadryl, J&J has announced nine recalls of drugs for children and adults since last September with problems ranging from too much active ingredient to tiny shards of metal.

 

In May, J&J closed its Fort Washington, Pa., facility, the largest manufacturing site for children’s medications. J&J announced Thursday it would begin shipping its grape-flavored Children’s Tylenol next week, the first of its children’s formulas to return to the market.

 

Weldon said the company plans to invest $100 million across the company to improve facilities, equipment and operations around the world.

 

Weldon, who has been CEO since 2002, missed the committee’s last hearing because of back surgery.

 

Testifying beside him Thursday was J&J executive Colleen Goggins, who oversaw the consumer division of the company’s McNeil Healthcare unit during the recalls.

 

At the May hearing, Goggins told lawmakers she had no knowledge of instructions to contractors involved in the phantom recall to not tell store employees what they were doing. In her testimony Thursday, Goggins acknowledged that the company wrote those instructions.

 

“Based on what I have learned since May, I believe that McNeil should have handled things differently,” Goggins said.

 

Goggins will retire in March, Johnson & Johnson announced this month.

 

Ralph’s Note – If all the product did was not dissolve correctly….Then why the incredible secrecy, and deception? I’m sorry.. First the FDA and J&J admit being dishonest….Then they issue this weak press release. Yes the FDA may not of had the authoity to issue a recall…BUT IT IS THEIR JOB TO AT LEAST INFORM THE PUBLIC.. Now that all the recalled tablets have been secretly REMOVED AS EVIDENCE….How will we ever know the TRUTH. Whatever Tablets remain, need to go to an independent testing facility…. WHY are no lot numbers mentioned in this article? They are probably still sitting in medicine cabinets across the country….

 

Public release date: 1-Oct-2010

 

Vitamin D levels lower in African-Americans

 

MIAMI — African-American women had lower vitamin D levels than white women, and vitamin D deficiency was associated with a greater likelihood for aggressive breast cancer, according to data presented at the Third AACR Conference on the Science of Cancer Health Disparities.

 

“We know that darker skin pigmentation acts somewhat as a block to producing vitamin D when exposed to sunlight, which is the primary source of vitamin D in most people,” said Susan Steck, Ph.D., M.P.H., associate professor of epidemiology at the University of South Carolina.

 

Steck and colleagues observed 107 women who were all diagnosed with breast cancer in the previous five years. Sixty of these women were African-American, while the remaining 47 were white.

 

All women donated a blood sample, and vitamin D status was determined using circulating 25 hydroxyvitamin D levels as a marker. The mean serum concentration of vitamin D was 29.8 ng/ml in white women and 19.3 ng/ml in African-American women.

 

Researchers defined vitamin D deficiency as a serum concentration less than 20 ng/ml, and found this to be the case in 60 percent of African-American women compared with 15 percent of white women. Serum levels were lowest among patients with triple-negative breast cancer, and aggressive disease was eight times more likely among patients with vitamin D deficiency.

 

Steck said the findings of this study provide a foundation for a possible prevention strategy, but further research would be required.

 

Public release date: 1-Oct-2010

 

Vigorous exercise reduces breast cancer risk in African-American women

 

MIAMI — Vigorous exercise of more than two hours per week reduces the risk of developing breast cancer in postmenopausal African-American women by 64 percent, compared to women of the same race who do not exercise, according to researchers at Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center.

 

Results were presented at the Third AACR Conference on The Science of Cancer Health Disparities, held Sept. 30 to Oct. 3, 2010.

 

“People often want to know what they can do to reduce their risk of disease, and we have found that just two or more hours of vigorous activity per week can made a difference in one’s risk of developing breast cancer,” said the lead researcher Vanessa Sheppard, Ph.D., a cancer control scientist and assistant professor in the department of oncology at the Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center.

 

In this study, more than two hours of aerobics, running or similar activity over the span of a week counted as vigorous activity.

 

“We also know from other studies that being physically active can have benefits in other diseases that occur at high rates in African-American women, such as diabetes and hypertension,” Sheppard said. “Four out of five African-American women are either overweight or obese, and disease control is a particularly important issue for them.”

 

Evidence showing exercise reduces breast cancer risk has been inconsistent, and there are few that look specifically at African-American women, Sheppard said. The issue is important, she added, because breast cancer has some important differences in this community. Whereas more white women are diagnosed with breast cancer, African-American women have a higher risk of developing premenopausal breast cancer than white women do, and comparatively more African-American women develop the most aggressive form of the disease, known as triple-negative breast cancer.

 

The researchers identified 97 recently diagnosed African-American breast cancer patients in the Washington, D.C., area and matched them with 102 African-American women without breast cancer. Participants filled out a questionnaire about exercise routines; the responses were analyzed and compared.

 

Women who exercised vigorously for more than two hours a week in the past year had a 64 percent reduced risk of breast cancer compared to women who did not exercise. Women who engaged in moderate exercise, like walking, had a 17 percent reduced risk, compared to women who were sedentary.

 

After evaluating those who were pre- and postmenopausal, they found that vigorous exercise only significantly benefitted postmenopausal women — they had a 62 percent reduction in risk.

 

“I was surprised that we did not find a significant effect in premenopausal women, but it may be because we need a larger sample,” Sheppard said.

 

However, when the researchers examined the effect of total physical activity, which combined walking with vigorous activity of two or more hours per week, they saw significant gains for both premenopausal and postmenopausal women.

 

“We suggest that our findings, while promising, should be interpreted with caution. This is a pilot study and a larger, more rigorous study is needed to precisely quantify the effect of exercise on development of breast cancer. I think it is fair to conclude that if African American women exercise they can help take charge of their health,” said Sheppard.

 

Public release date: 1-Oct-2010

 

Think saturated fat contributes to heart disease? Think again

 

Leading scientists re-examine the role of saturated fat in the diet

(Rosemont, IL) Oct. 1 – For the past three decades, saturated fat has been considered a major culprit of cardiovascular disease (CVD) and as a result dietary advice persists in recommending reduced consumption of this macronutrient. However, new evidence shows that saturated fat intake has only a very limited impact on CVD risk — causing many to rethink the “saturated fat is bad” paradigm.

 

A series of research articles published in the October issue of Lipids provides a snapshot of recent advances in saturated fat and health research, based on science presented at the 100th American Oil Chemists’ Society (AOCS) annual meeting in Orlando, Florida (May 2009). During a symposium entitled “Saturated Fats and Health: Facts and Feelings,” world-renowned scientists specializing in fat research analyzed the evidence between saturated fat intake and health, and overall agreed upon the need to reduce over-simplification when it came to saturated fat dietary advice.

 

“The relationship between dietary intake of fats and health is intricate, and variations in factors such as human genetics, life stage and lifestyles can lead to different responses to saturated fat intake,” said J. Bruce German, PhD, professor and chemist in the Department of Food Science and Technology, University of California at Davis. “Although diets inordinately high in fat and saturated fat are associated with increased cardiovascular disease risk in some individuals, assuming that saturated fat at any intake level is harmful is an over-simplification and not supported by scientific evidence.”

 

Professor Philippe Legrand of Agrocampus-INRA in France confirmed this by discussing various roles that different saturated fatty acids play in the body. His main conclusion was that saturated fats can no longer be considered a single group in terms of structure, metabolism and cellular function, and recommendations that group them together with regard to health effects need to be updated.

 

Effect of Saturated Fat Replacement on CVD Risk

 

Results from a research review conducted by Dariush Mozaffarian, MD, MPH, Department of Epidemiology and Nutrition at Harvard University School of Public Health, found that the effects of saturated fat intake on CVD risk depend upon simultaneous changes in other nutrients. For example, replacing saturated fat with mono-unsaturated fat yielded uncertain effects on CVD risk, while replacing saturated fat with carbohydrates was found to be ineffective and even harmful especially when refined carbohydrates such as starches or sugars were used in place of fat . Replacing saturated fat with polyunsaturated fat gave a small reduction in CVD risk, but even with optimal replacement the magnitude of the benefit was very small. According to Mozaffarian it would be far better to focus on dietary factors giving much larger benefits for CVD health, such as increasing intake of seafood/omega-3 fatty acids, whole grains, fruits and vegetables, and decreasing intake of trans fats and sodium.

 

”Carbohydrate intake has been intimately linked to metabolic syndrome, which is a combination of risk factors that can increase CVD risk,” said Jeff Volek, PhD, RD, Department of Kinesiology, University of Connecticut. His research showed that very low carbohydrate diets can favorably impact a broad spectrum of metabolic syndrome and cardiovascular risk factors, even in the presence of high saturated fat intake and in the absence of weight loss.

 

Kiran Musunuru, MD, PhD, MPH. Cardiovascular Research Center and Center for Human Genetic Research, Massachusetts General Hospital, focused on the role of carbohydrates and fats on atherogenic dyslipidemia – a new marker for CVD risk often seen in patients with obesity, metabolic syndrome, insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes. He showed that low-carbohydrate diets appear to have beneficial lipoprotein effects in individuals with atherogenic dyslipidemia, compared to high-carbohydrate diets, whereas the content of saturated fat in the diet has no significant effect.

 

Full-Fat Dairy: An Unnecessary Target?

 

As long as saturated fat targets remain firmly rooted in dietary advice, nutrient-rich foods that contribute saturated fat to the diet, like full-fat dairy products, will continue to be unduly criticized regardless of their health benefits.

 

A recent meta-analysis of epidemiological and intervention studies of milk fat conducted by Peter Elwood, DSc, MD, FRCP, FFPHM, DUniv, Hon DSc, Honorary Professor at the School of Medicine, Cardiff University, found that milk and dairy consumption actually was associated with a decrease in CVD risk .

 

“It is clear that we have barely scratched the surface in our understanding about the biological effects of saturated fatty acids,” said Cindy Schweitzer, PhD, Technical Director, Global Dairy Platform. “Scientific meetings where researchers from different disciplines within the field of nutrition share information are extremely important to identify both the gaps in our knowledge and the studies that are needed to answer the important questions about diet and health.”

 

All of these recent research advances add to the growing body of science re-assessing the role of saturated fat in the diet. Whether it’s nutrient replacement or better understanding the role certain foods can play in CVD risk, saturated fat is definitely not be as bad as once thought.

 

Public release date: 4-Oct-2010

 

Sleep loss limits fat loss

 

Cutting back on sleep reduces the benefits of dieting, according to a study published October 5, 2010, in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

 

When dieters in the study got a full night’s sleep, they lost the same amount of weight as when they slept less. When dieters got adequate sleep, however, more than half of the weight they lost was fat. When they cut back on their sleep, only one-fourth of their weight loss came from fat.

 

They also felt hungrier. When sleep was restricted, dieters produced higher levels of ghrelin, a hormone that triggers hunger and reduces energy expenditure.

 

“If your goal is to lose fat, skipping sleep is like poking sticks in your bicycle wheels,” said study director Plamen Penev, MD, PhD, assistant professor of medicine at the University of Chicago. “Cutting back on sleep, a behavior that is ubiquitous in modern society, appears to compromise efforts to lose fat through dieting. In our study it reduced fat loss by 55 percent.”

 

The study, performed at the University of Chicago’s General Clinical Resource Center, followed 10 overweight but healthy volunteers aged 35 to 49 with a body mass index ranging from 25, considered overweight, to 32, considered obese. Participants were placed on an individualized, balanced diet, with calories restricted to 90 percent of what each person needed to maintain his or her weight without exercise.

 

Each participant was studied twice: once for 14 days in the laboratory with an 8.5-hour period set aside for sleep, and once for 14 days with only 5.5 hours for sleep. They spent their waking hours engaged in home- or office-like work or leisure activities.

 

During the two-week, 8.5-hours-in-bed phase, volunteers slept an average of 7 hours and 25 minutes each night. In the 5.5-hour phase, they slept 5 hours and 14 minutes, or more than two hours less. The number of calories they consumed, about 1,450 per day, was kept the same.

 

The volunteers lost an average of 6.6 pounds during each 14-day session. During weeks with adequate sleep, they lost 3.1 pounds of fat and 3.3 pounds of fat-free body mass, mostly protein. During the short-sleep weeks, participants lost an average of 1.3 pounds of fat and 5.3 pounds of fat-free mass.

 

Getting adequate sleep also helped control the dieters’ hunger. Average levels of ghrelin did not change when dieters spent 8.5 hours in bed. When they spent 5.5 hours in bed, their ghrelin levels rose over two weeks from 75 ng/L to 84 ng/L.

 

Higher ghrelin levels have been shown to “reduce energy expenditure, stimulate hunger and food intake, promote retention of fat, and increase hepatic glucose production to support the availability of fuel to glucose dependent tissues,” the authors note. “In our experiment, sleep restriction was accompanied by a similar pattern of increased hunger and … reduced oxidation of fat.”

 

The tightly controlled circumstances of this study may actually have masked some of sleep’s benefits for dieters, suggested Penev. Study subjects did not have access to extra calories. This may have helped dieters to “stick with their lower-calorie meal plans despite increased hunger in the presence of sleep restriction,” he said.

 

The message for people trying to lose weight is clear, Penev said. “For the first time, we have evidence that the amount of sleep makes a big difference on the results of dietary interventions. One should not ignore the way they sleep when going on a diet. Obtaining adequate sleep may enhance the beneficial effects of a diet. Not getting enough sleep could defeat the desired effects.”

 

Public release date: 4-Oct-2010

 

Walnuts, walnut oil, improve reaction to stress

 

A diet rich in walnuts and walnut oil may prepare the body to deal better with stress, according to a team of Penn State researchers who looked at how these foods, which contain polyunsaturated fats, influence blood pressure at rest and under stress.

 

Previous studies have shown that omega-3 fatty acids — like the alpha linolenic acid found in walnuts and flax seeds — can reduce low density lipoproteins (LDL) — bad cholesterol. These foods may also reduce c-reactive protein and other markers of inflammation.

 

“People who show an exaggerated biological response to stress are at higher risk of heart disease,” said Sheila G. West, associate professor of biobehavioral health. “We wanted to find out if omega 3-fatty acids from plant sources would blunt cardiovascular responses to stress.”

 

The researchers studied 22 healthy adults with elevated LDL cholesterol. All meals and snacks were provided during three diet periods of six weeks each.

 

The researchers found that including walnuts and walnut oil in the diet lowered both resting blood pressure and blood pressure responses to stress in the laboratory. Participants gave a speech or immersed their foot in cold water as a stressor. Adding flax seed oil to the walnut diet did not further lower blood pressure. They report their findings in the current issue of the Journal of the American College of Nutrition.

 

“This is the first study to show that walnuts and walnut oil reduce blood pressure during stress,” said West. “This is important because we can’t avoid all of the stressors in our daily lives. This study shows that a dietary change could help our bodies better respond to stress.”

 

A subset of the participants also underwent a vascular ultrasound in order to measure artery dilation. Results showed that adding flax oil to the walnut diet significantly improved this test of vascular health. The flax plus walnuts diet also lowered c-reactive protein, indicating an anti-inflammatory effect. According to West, that could also reduce risk of cardiovascular disease.

 

The researchers used a randomized, crossover study design. Tests were conducted at the end of each six-week diet, and every participant consumed each of the three diets in random order, with a one-week break between. Diets included an “average” American diet – a diet without nuts that reflects what the typical person in the U.S. consumes each day. The second diet included 1.3 ounces of walnuts and a tablespoon of walnut oil substituted for some of the fat and protein in the average American diet. The third diet included walnuts, walnut oil and 1.5 tablespoons of flaxseed oil. The three diets were matched for calories and were specifically designed for each participant so that no weight loss or gain occurred. The walnuts, walnut oil, and flax oil were either mixed into the food in such offerings as muffins or salad dressing or eaten as a snack. About 18 walnut halves or 9 walnuts make up the average serving used by the researchers.

After each diet, the participants underwent two stress tests. In the first test, they received a topic; and they were given two minutes to prepare a three-minute speech, which they presented while being videotaped. The second stressor was a standard physical test of stress consisting of submerging one foot in ice-cold water. Throughout these tests, the researchers took blood pressure readings from the participants.

 

Results showed that average diastolic blood pressure — the “bottom number” or the pressure in the arteries when the heart is resting — was significantly reduced during the diets containing walnuts and walnut oil.

 

Walnuts are a rich source of fiber, antioxidants, and unsaturated fatty acids, particularly alpha linolenic acid, an omega-3 fatty acid, and these compounds could be responsible for the beneficial effects on blood pressure. Flax oil is a more concentrated source of omega-3 fatty acids than walnut oil, but this study did not test whether flax oil alone could blunt cardiovascular responses to stress.

 

“These results are in agreement with several recent studies showing that walnuts can reduce cholesterol and blood pressure,” noted West. “This work suggests that blood pressure is also reduced when a person is exposed to stress in their daily life.”

 

Public release date: 4-Oct-2010

 

Surprise: Scientists discover that inflammation helps to heal wounds

 

New research in the FASEB Journal suggests that muscle inflammation after acute muscle injury is essential to muscle repair by means of insulin-like growth factor-1

A new research study published in The FASEB Journal (http://www.fasebj.org) may change how sports injuries involving muscle tissue are treated, as well as how much patient monitoring is necessary when potent anti-inflammatory drugs are prescribed for a long time. That’s because the study shows for the first time that inflammation actually helps to heal damaged muscle tissue, turning conventional wisdom on its head that inflammation must be largely controlled to encourage healing. These findings could lead to new therapies for acute muscle injuries caused by trauma, chemicals, infections, freeze damage, and exposure to medications which cause muscle damage as a side effect. In addition, these findings suggest that existing and future therapies used to combat inflammation should be closely examined to ensure that the benefits of inflammation are not eliminated.

 

“We hope that our findings stimulate further research to dissect different roles played by tissue inflammation in clinical settings, so we can utilize the positive effects and control the negative effects of tissue inflammation,” said Lan Zhou, M.D., Ph.D., a researcher involved in the work from the Neuroinflammation Research Center/Department of Neurosciences/Lerner Research Institute at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio.

 

Zhou and colleagues found that the presence of inflammatory cells (macrophages) in acute muscle injury produce a high level of a growth factor called insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1) which significantly increases the rate of muscle regeneration. The research report shows that muscle inflammatory cells produce the highest levels of IGF-1, which improves muscle injury repair. To reach this conclusion, the researchers studied two groups of mice. The first group of mice was genetically altered so they could not mount inflammatory responses to acute injury. The second group of mice was normal. Each group experienced muscle injury induced by barium chloride. The muscle injury in the first group of mice did not heal, but in the second group, their bodies repaired the injury. Further analysis showed that macrophages within injured muscles in the second group of mice produced a high level of IGF-1, leading to significantly improved muscle repair.

 

“For wounds to heal we need controlled inflammation, not too much, and not too little,” said Gerald Weissmann, M.D., Editor-in-Chief of The FASEB Journal, “It’s been known for a long time that excess anti-inflammatory medication, such as cortisone, slows wound healing. This study goes a long way to telling us why: insulin-like growth factor and other materials released by inflammatory cells helps wound to heal.”

 

Public release date: 5-Oct-2010

 

Amino acid supplement makes mice live longer

 

When mice are given drinking water laced with a special concoction of amino acids, they live longer than your average mouse, according to a new report in the October issue of Cell Metabolism, a Cell Press publication. The key ingredients in the supplemental mixture are so-called branched-chain amino acids, which account for 3 of the 20 amino acids (specifically leucine, isoleucine, and valine) that are the building blocks of proteins.

 

“This is the first demonstration that an amino acid mixture can increase survival in mice,” said Enzo Nisoli of Milan University in Italy, noting that researchers last year showed that leucine, isoleucine, and valine extend the life span of single-celled yeast.

 

In the new study, the researchers gave middle-aged, male mice extra branched-chain amino acids (BCAA) in their drinking water. The animals were otherwise healthy and eating standard mouse chow.

 

Animals that were given the extra amino acids over a period of months lived longer, with a median life span of 869 days compared to 774 days for untreated control animals, the researchers report. That’s an increase of 12 percent.

 

Those survival gains were accompanied by an increase in mitochondria in cardiac and skeletal muscles. Mitochondria are the cellular components responsible for powering cells. The supplement-fed mice also showed increased activity of SIRT1, a well-known longevity gene, and of the defense system that combats free radicals. They therefore showed fewer signs of oxidative damage.

 

The benefits of the amino acid supplements appear similar to those earlier ascribed to calorie restriction, Nisoli said.

 

Treated animals also showed improvements in their exercise endurance and in motor coordination, the researchers report. (It is important to note that the animals in the current study were all male, Nisoli said. They plan to test the effects in females in future studies.)

 

The findings in older mice suggest that the supplementary mixture may be specifically beneficial for those who are elderly or ill. “It may not be useful in young people or body builders,” who are already in good condition, he said. But it might be a useful preventive strategy, he added, emphasizing that the mice they studied “were just aged, not sick.”

 

Nisoli emphasized that consuming amino acid supplements is different from consuming proteins containing those amino acids. That’s because they do not have to be digested, and can enter the bloodstream immediately. “They come with no energy cost.”

 

He suspects that BCAA nutritional supplements may prove to be particularly helpful for people with heart failure, the muscle-wasting condition known as sarcopenia, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or other conditions characterized by energy defects. In fact, there are already some small studies in human to support that idea and BCAA supplements are already available for purchase in several countries, including Italy.

 

The challenge, Nisoli says, will be convincing clinicians that these supplements might be a benefit to their patients. He says a large clinical trial is needed, but there is little incentive for companies to do such trials for dietary supplements as opposed to drugs.

 

Overall, Nisoli said the new work supports a “general philosophy of a nutritional approach to disease, aging, and problems of energy status.”

 

Public release date: 5-Oct-2010

 

Shortfalls in carotenoid ( Pro-Vitamin A )intake may impact women’s health

 

Newly released report finds younger women have greater ‘carotenoid gap’ in the diet than older women

GRAND RAPIDS, MICH., Oct. 5, 2010 – Only about a third of American women are meeting their fruit and vegetable intake recommendations, which means they are likely missing out on potentially important breast and ovarian health benefits (1). Along with vitamins, minerals and fiber, fruits and vegetables contain a type of phytonutrient called carotenoids, which research suggests help support women’s health including breast and ovarian health.

 

Based on a new report called America’s Phytonutrient Report: Women’s Health by Color, older women have total carotenoid intakes 20 percent greater than younger women after accounting for differences in caloric intake. Similar to the original America’s Phytonutrient Report: Quantifying the Gap which found that on average eight out of 10 American adults are falling short on phytonutrient consumption, the new report revealed a troubling shortfall, this time among women and carotenoids. America’s Phytonutrient Reports are released by The Nutrilite Health Institute, a worldwide collaboration of experts who are dedicated to helping people achieve optimal health – through research, education, and practical, personalized solutions. Nutrilite is the world’s leading brand of vitamin, mineral, and dietary supplements, based on 2008 sales.

 

Carotenoids are compounds that give fruits and vegetables their vibrant colors, which research suggests may offer breast, ovarian and other health benefits for women. Using NHANES energy-adjusted data to compare the diets of women 45 years and older with those younger, the report finds that many women of all ages lack carotenoid-rich foods in their diet, but the relative magnitude of the “carotenoid gap” is greater among women less than 45 years old as compared to older women.

 

“This points to a troubling phenomenon where younger women may be missing some of the benefits of consuming more carotenoid rich fruits and vegetables, and yet calorie for calorie, older women are eating more of these important nutrients,” said Keith Randolph, Ph.D., Technology Strategist for Nutrilite.

 

The Carotenoids by Color Category

 

This new report examined consumption of five different carotenoids across three phytonutrient color categories including alpha-carotene, beta-carotene and beta-cryptoxanthin in the yellow/orange category, lutein/zeaxanthin in the green category and lycopene in red. In every color category, older women consumed equal or greater amounts compared to younger women after adjusting for differences in caloric intake. Specifically, women age 45 and older consume:

 

•50 percent more beta-carotene;

•40 percent more alpha-carotene and lutein/zeaxanthin;

•and, 10 percent more beta-cryptoxanthin.

For lycopene, younger and older women consume comparable amounts.

 

Carotenoids Shown To Reduce Cancer Risk

 

A growing body of research suggests carotenoids may be associated with protective benefits against certain cancers. The research points to an apparent lowered risk for breast and ovarian cancers among women of all ages who increase their intake of fruits and vegetables rich in various carotenoids including lutein/zeaxanthin, lycopene, alpha-carotene, beta-carotene and beta-cryptoxanthin according to Randolph.

 

Top Food Sources

 

It turns out that a limited number of foods account for significant portions of carotenoid intakes, according to the new report. Following are the single largest food contributors in the diets of American women by color category of phytonutrient:

 

•Green Carotenoid: Lutein/Zeaxanthin

 

◦Spinach accounts for 33% of lutein/zeaxanthin intake among younger women and 31% among older.

•Red Carotenoid: Lycopene

 

◦Tomatoes (and tomato products) account for 93% of lycopene intake among younger women and 89% among older.

•Yellow/Orange Carotenoid: Alpha-carotene

 

◦Carrots account for 76% of alpha-carotene intake among younger women and 73% among older.

•Yellow/Orange Carotenoid: Beta-carotene

 

◦Carrots account for 33% of beta-carotene intake among younger women and 30% among older.

•Yellow/Orange Carotenoid: Beta-cryptoxanthin

 

◦Oranges (and orange juice) account for 61% of beta-cryptoxanthin intake among younger women and 60% among older.

Powering Up Produce

 

Choosing to increase the amount of the fruit and vegetables richest in carotenoids is important for long-term preventative health among women. While foods like spinach, tomatoes and carrots are certainly part of a healthy diet, there are opportunities for women to choose a wider variety of produce. For example, while carrots are among the top food sources of alpha and beta-carotenes, cooked pumpkin is also a concentrated food source of not only those carotenes, but of beta-cryptoxanthin. However, based on the current data analysis, cooked pumpkin accounts for less than 3% of total intake of these carotenoids among American women.

 

“It’s concerning that so many American women lack a variety of carotenoid-rich foods in their regular diets,” says Amy Hendel, Nutrilite’s Phytonutrient Coach. “By selecting the most carotenoid-rich produce choices, women can purposefully increase their carotenoid and phytonutrient intakes which can impact health significantly as they age.”

 

Hendel, a registered physician assistant and health/wellness expert, offers these easy substitutions to “power up” your plate and add new flavors to your meal plan:

 

•Green: A serving of cooked kale provides triple the amount of lutein/zeaxanthin as a serving of raw spinach.

•Red: A serving of guava delivers more than one and a half times the lycopene in a raw tomato.

•Yellow/Orange:

◦A serving of sweet potatoes has nearly double the beta-carotene as a serving of carrots.

◦A serving of carrots delivers four times the amount of alpha-carotene as a serving of winter squash.

◦A serving of fresh papaya has roughly 10 times the beta-cryptoxanthin found in an orange.

 

Hendel adds, a good goal for most individuals is to consume 10 servings of fruits and vegetables daily, with an emphasis on quality, not just quantity. If this proves challenging, consider a natural, plant-based dietary supplement which includes phytonutrients such as carotenoids.

 

“Just remember, small changes in the diet each day can add up to powerful changes over time. Older women may eat more carotenoids, but women of all ages are falling short. Diet is a lifetime of exposure and best we teach younger women how to eat right, up those carotenoids, and exercise more from the beginning,” says Hendel.

 

Public release date: 5-Oct-2010

 

Low Testosterone Linked to Alzheimer’s Disease

 

SLU Geriatrician Collaborates on Year-Long Study of Chinese Older Men

 

ST. LOUIS — Low levels of the male sex hormone, testosterone, in older men is associated with the onset of Alzheimer’s disease, according to research by a team that includes a Saint Louis University scientist.

 

John Morley, M.D.

 

“Having low testosterone may make you more vulnerable to Alzheimer’s disease,” said John E. Morley, M.D., director of the division of geriatric medicine at Saint Louis University and a study co-investigator. “The take-home message is we should pay more attention to low testosterone, particularly in people who have memory problems or other signs of cognitive impairment.”

 

The study was published electronically prior to its print publication in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease and led by Leung-Wing Chu, M.D., who is chief of the division of geriatric medicine at Queen Mary Hospital at the University of Hong Kong.

 

Researchers studied 153 Chinese men who were recruited from social centers. They were at least 55 years and older, lived in the community and didn’t have dementia. Of those men, 47 had mild cognitive impairment – or problems with clear thinking and memory loss.

 

Within a year, 10 men who all were part of the cognitively impaired group developed probable Alzheimer’s disease. These men also had low testosterone in their body tissues; elevated levels of the ApoE 4 (apolipoprotein E) protein, which is correlated with a higher risk of Alzheimer’s disease; and high blood pressure.

 

“It’s a very exciting study because we’ve shown that a low level of testosterone is one of the risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease,” Morley said.

 

The findings corroborate findings in previous studies of older Caucasian men that show low testosterone is associated with impaired thinking and Alzheimer’s disease. They suggest that testosterone may have a protective value against Alzheimer’s disease.

 

The next step, Morley said, is to conduct a large-scale study that investigates the use of testosterone in preventing Alzheimer’s disease. Morley and his co-authors advocate studying the effectiveness of testosterone replacement in older men who have both mild memory problems and low testosterone in staving off Alzheimer’s disease.

 

Public release date: 6-Oct-2010

 

Vitamin D deficiency rampant in patients undergoing orthopedic surgery, damaging patient recovery

 

Doctors provide strategy to improve outcomes

 

Almost 50 percent of patients undergoing orthopedic surgery have vitamin D deficiency that should be corrected before surgery to improve patient outcomes, based on a study by researchers at Hospital for Special Surgery (HSS) in New York City. Vitamin D is essential for bone healing and muscle function and is critical for a patient’s recovery. The study appears in the October issue of The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery.

 

“In the perfect world, test levels, fix and then operate,” said Joseph Lane, M.D., professor of Orthopedic Surgery and chief of the Metabolic Bone Disease Service at HSS, who led the study. “If you put people on 2,000-4,000 [milligrams] of vitamin D based on what their deficient value was, you can usually get them corrected in four to six weeks, which is when you are really going to need the vitamin D. If you are really aggressive right before surgery, you can correct deficient levels quickly, but you have to correct it, measure it, and then act on it.”

 

According to Dr. Lane, bone remodeling or bone tissue formation, a part of the healing process, occurs about two to four weeks after surgery. This is the critical stage when your body needs vitamin D.

 

For their study, investigators conducted a retrospective chart review of 723 patients who were scheduled for orthopedic surgery between January 2007 and March 2008 at HSS. They examined the vitamin D levels, which had been measured in all patients before their surgery, and found that 43 percent had insufficient vitamin D and 40 percent had deficient levels.

 

Vitamin D inadequacy was defined as

 

The highest levels of deficiency were seen in patients in the trauma service, where 66 percent of patients had insufficient levels and 52 percent had deficient levels. Of the patients undergoing foot and ankle surgery, 34 percent had inadequate levels and of patients undergoing hand surgery, 40 percent had insufficient levels.

 

In the Sports Medicine Service, 52.3 percent had insufficient levels and of these, one-third of these or 17 percent of the total had deficient levels. “We frequently see stress fractures in the Sports Medicine Service and if you want to heal, you have to fix the calcium and vitamin D,” Dr. Lane said.

 

In the Arthroplasty Service, which conducts hip and knee replacements, 38 percent had inadequate levels and 48 percent had deficient levels. “With arthroplasty, there is a certain number of patients that when you put in the prothesis, it breaks the bone adjacent to the protheses, which can really debilitate patients.” This could be prevented or minimized by rectifying vitamin D levels. Dr. Lane also explained that they now perform procedures where they grow a bone into a prosthesis without using cement. “In those people, it would be an advantage to have adequate vitamin D, because it matures the bone as it grows in, it is really healing into the prosthesis,” he said.

 

“The take home message is that low vitamin D has an implication in terms of muscle and fracture healing, it occurs in about 50 percent of people coming in for orthopedic surgery, and it is eminently correctable,” Dr. Lane said. “We recommend that people undergoing a procedure that involves the bone or the muscle should correct their vitamin D if they want to have an earlier faster, better, result. What we are saying is ‘wake up guys, smell the coffee; half of your patients have a problem, measure it, and if they are low, then fix it.'”

 

In recent years, vitamin D deficiency has been recognized as a common phenomenon and is caused by many factors. It is difficult to get from foods, except, for example, cod liver oil and fish. Until recently, the recommended daily allowance was set too low so foods were not supplemented with adequate doses. And third, while people can absorb vitamin D from sunlight, people these days often work long hours and often use sunscreen that impedes vitamin D intake.

 

________________________________

These reports are done with the appreciation of all the Doctors, Scientist, and other

Medical Researchers who sacrificed their time and effort. In order to give people the

ability to empower themselves. Without the base aspirations for fame, or fortune.

Just honorable people, doing honorable things.

 

Liver defect likely cause of DHA deficiency in Alzheimer’s patients, UCI study finds

2010 study posted for filing

Contact: Janet Wilson janethw@uci.edu 949-824-3969 University of California – Irvine

Low levels of the omega-3 fatty acid may contribute to the neurodegenerative disease

Irvine, Calif. — UC Irvine researchers have discovered that markedly depleted amounts of an omega-3 fatty acid in brain tissue samples from Alzheimer’s patients may be due to the liver’s inability to produce the complex fat, also contained in fish-oil supplements.

Low levels of docosahexaenoic acid, or DHA, have been associated with the chronic neurodegenerative disease affecting millions of Americans, but no cause had been identified.

In postmortem liver tissue from Alzheimer’s patients, the UCI team found a defect in the organ’s ability to make DHA from shorter molecules present in leafy plants and other foods. Previous studies have shown that most brain DHA is manufactured in the liver.

Non-Alzheimer’s livers did not have this defect, said Daniele Piomelli, the Louise Turner Arnold Chair in the Neurosciences and director of the Center for Drug Discovery at UCI, who led the research with Giuseppe Astarita, project scientist in pharmacology.

“We all know Alzheimer’s is a brain disease, but our findings – which were totally unexpected – show that a problem with liver fat metabolism can make people more vulnerable,” Piomelli said. “They also suggest a reason why clinical trials in which Alzheimer’s patients are given omega-3 fatty acids to improve cognitive skills have had mixed results.”

The study appears Sept. 8 in the open-access, peer-reviewed journal PLoS ONE.

DHA occurs naturally in cold-water fatty fish and seaweed. It is essential for the proper functioning of adult human brains and for the development of our nervous system and vision during the first six months of life. Omega-3 fatty acids are also part of a healthy diet that helps lower risk of heart disease.

“Additionally, we found that the greater the amount of Alzheimer’s-related cognitive problems experienced in life by the patients, the lower were their liver DHA levels,” Astarita said. “So we do see a connection.”

Piomelli added that the results point to new diagnostic and dietary approaches to Alzheimer’s: Specific blood lipid profile tests might identify at-risk persons, and dietary supplements with a chemically enhanced form of DHA may benefit early-stage patients.

“Our research isn’t advocating that liver metabolism is a key to Alzheimer’s,” he noted. “The factors causing the disease are many and complex, but we feel this is another piece in the Alzheimer’s puzzle.”

###

 

Carl Cotman, Kwang-Mook Jung, Nicole C. Berchtold, Vinh Q. Nguyen and Daniel L. Gillen of UCI’s Institute for Memory Impairments and Neurological Disorders contributed to the study, along with Elizabeth Head of the University of Kentucky’s Sanders-Brown Center on Aging.

About the University of California, Irvine: Founded in 1965, UCI is a top-ranked university dedicated to research, scholarship and community service. Led by Chancellor Michael Drake since 2005, UCI is among the most dynamic campuses in the University of California system, with nearly 28,000 undergraduate and graduate students, 1,100 faculty and 9,000 staff. Orange County’s largest employer, UCI contributes an annual economic impact of $3.9 billion. For more UCI news, visit www.today.uci.edu.

News Radio: UCI maintains on campus an ISDN line for conducting interviews with its faculty and experts. Use of this line is available for a fee to radio news programs/stations that wish to interview UCI faculty and experts. Use of the ISDN line is subject to availability and approval by the university.

UCI maintains an online directory of faculty available as experts to the media. To access, visit http://www.today.uci.edu/experts. For UCI breaking news, visit www.zotwire.uci.edu.

Healthy diet could slow or reverse early effects of Alzheimer’s disease

2010 study posted for filing

Contact: Preston M. Moretz pmoretz@temple.edu 215-204-4380 Temple University

Patients in the early to moderate stages of Alzheimer’s Disease could have their cognitive impairment slowed or even reversed by switching to a healthier diet, according to researchers at Temple University.

In a previous study [http://www.temple.edu/newsroom/2009_2010/12/stories/alzheimers.htm], researchers led by Domenico Praticò, an associate professor of pharmacology in Temple’s School of Medicine, demonstrated that a diet rich in methionine could increase the risk of developing Alzheimer’s Disease. Methionine is an amino acid typically found in red meats, fish, beans, eggs, garlic, lentils, onions, yogurt and seeds.

“The question we asked now as a follow-up is if, for whatever reason, you had made bad choices in your diet, is there a chance you can slow down or even reverse the disease or is it too late — that there is nothing you could do,” said Praticò.

As in the previous study, the researchers fed one group of mice a diet high in methionine and another group a regular, healthy diet. After five months, they split the group receiving the methionine-rich diet into two, with one group continuing the amino-heavy diet while the second switched to the healthy diet for an additional two months.

“At the end of the study, when we looked at these mice, what we found — very surprisingly — was that switching to a more healthy diet reversed the cognitive impairment that had built up over the first three months of eating the methionine-rich diet,” said Praticò. “This improvement was associated with less amyloid plaques — another sign of the disease — in their brains.

Pratico said that the cognitive impairment that had been observed in the mice after three months on the methionine-rich diet was completely reversed after two months on the healthier diet, and they were now able to function normally.

“We believe this finding shows that, even if you suffer from the early effects of MCI or Alzheimer’s, switching to a healthier diet that is lower in methionine could be helpful in that memory capacity could be improved,” he said.

Pratico stressed that this was not a drug therapy for curing MCI or Alzheimer’s, but that it did demonstrate that a lifestyle change such as diet can improve some of the impairments that have already occurred in the brain.

“What it tells us is that the brain has this plasticity to reverse a lot of the bad things that have occurred; the ability to recoup a lot of things such as memory that were apparently lost, but obviously not totally lost,” he said.

Pratico also emphasized that the researchers believe that in addition to switching to a healthy diet, patients diagnosed with MCI or Alzheimer’s also need a regiment of physical as well as mental exercises.

“This combination won’t cure you, but we believe, as we saw in this study, that it will be able to slow down or even possibly reverse the effects on the cognitive impairment,” he said.

###

The study, “Normalization of hyperhomocysteinemia improves cognitive deficits and ameliorates brain amyloidosis of a transgenic mouse model of Alzheimer’s disease,” is being published in the Journal of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (http://www.fasebj.org/). It was funded by a grant from the National Institutes of Health.

Copies of this study are available to working journalists and may be obtained by contacting Preston M. Moretz in Temple’s Office of University Communications at pmoretz@temple.edu.

Key nutrient in maternal diet promises ‘dramatic’ improvements for people with Down syndrome ( Choline )

2010 study posted for filing

Contact: John Carberry jjc338@cornell.edu 607-255-5353 Cornell University

ITHACA, N.Y. – A nutrient found in egg yolks, liver and cauliflower taken by mothers during pregnancy and nursing may offer lifelong “dramatic” health benefits to people with Down syndrome .

A new study done at Cornell University and published June 2 in the peer-reviewed journal Behavioral Neuroscience found that more choline during pregnancy and nursing could provide lasting cognitive and emotional benefits to people with Down syndrome. The work indicated greater maternal levels of the essential nutrient also could protect against neurodegenerative conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease.

“We found that supplementing the maternal diet with additional choline resulted in dramatic improvements in attention and some normalization of emotion regulation in a mouse model of Down syndrome,” said lead author Barbara Strupp, professor of nutritional sciences and of psychology.

In addition to mental retardation, Down syndrome individuals often experience dementia in middle age as a result of brain neuron atrophy similar to that suffered by people with Alzheimer’s disease. Strupp said the improved mental abilities found in the Down syndrome mice following maternal choline supplements could indicate protection from such neurodegeneration “in the population at large.”

Strupp and her co-authors tested Down syndrome-model mice born from mothers that were fed a normal diet versus those given choline supplements during their three-week pregnancy and three-week lactation period. They also examined normal mice born from mothers with and without additional choline. The choline-supplemented mothers received about 4.5 times more choline (roughly comparable to levels at the higher range of human intake) than unsupplemented mothers.

Beginning at 6 months of age, the mice performed a series of behavioral tasks over a period of about six months to assess their impulsivity, attention span, emotional control and other mental abilities. The researchers found the unsupplemented Down syndrome-model mice became more agitated after a mistake than normal mice, jumping repeatedly and taking longer to initiate the next trial. The choline-supplemented Down syndrome-model mice showed partial improvement in these areas.

“I’m impressed by the magnitude of the cognitive benefits seen in the Down syndrome-model mice,” Strupp said. “Moreover, these are clearly lasting cognitive improvements, seen many months after the period of choline supplementation.”

Strupp said the results are consistent with studies by other researchers that found increased maternal choline intake improves offspring cognitive abilities in rats. However, this is the first study to evaluate the effects of maternal choline supplementation in a rodent model of Down syndrome.

Previous studies of humans and laboratory animals have shown that supplementing the diets of adults with choline has proven to be largely ineffective in improving cognition.

“Although the precise mechanism is unknown, these lasting beneficial effects of choline observed in the present study are likely to be limited to increased intake during very early development,” Strupp said.

###

The study, funded in part by the National Institutes of Health, was part of the dissertation of Cornell doctoral candidate Jisook Moon. Other Cornell collaborators included Myla Strawderman, research associate in nutritional sciences, and David Levitsky, professor of nutrition and psychology. Strupp and collaborators have received additional NIH funding to study the neural mechanisms underlying the results observed in this study.

Obesity gene, carried by more than a third of the US population, leads to brain tissue loss

2010 study posted for filing

Contact: Mark Wheeler mwheeler@mednet.ucla.edu 310-794-2265 University of California – Los Angeles

Three years ago, geneticists reported the startling discovery that nearly half of all people in the U.S. with European ancestry carry a variant of the fat mass and obesity associated (FTO) gene, which causes them to gain weight — from three to seven pounds, on average — but worse, puts them at risk for obesity.

Now, UCLA researchers have found that the same gene allele, which is also carried by roughly one-quarter of U.S. Hispanics, 15 percent of African Americans and 15 percent of Asian Americans, may have another deleterious effect.

Reporting in the early online edition of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, senior study author Paul Thompson, a UCLA professor of neurology; lead authors April Ho and Jason Stein, graduate students in Thompson’s lab; and colleagues found that the FTO variant is also associated with a loss of brain tissue. This puts more than a third of the U.S. population at risk for a variety of diseases, such as Alzheimer’s.

Using magnetic resonance imaging, the researchers generated three-dimensional “maps” of brain volume differences in 206 healthy elderly subjects drawn from 58 sites in the U.S. as part of the Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative, a large, five-year study aimed at better understanding factors that help the brain resist disease as it ages.

They found that there was consistently less tissue in the brains of those who carry the FTO allele, compared with non-carriers. Individuals with the “bad” version of the FTO gene had an average of 8 percent less tissue in the frontal lobes, the “command center” of the brain, and 12 percent less in the occipital lobes, areas in the back of the brain responsible for vision and perception. Further, the brain differences could not be directly attributed to other obesity-related factors such as cholesterol levels, diabetes or high blood pressure.

Thompson called the findings worrying and mysterious.

“The results are curious. If you have the bad FTO gene, your weight affects your brain adversely in terms of tissue loss,” he said. “If you don’t carry FTO, higher body weight doesn’t translate into brain deficits; in fact, it has nothing to do with it. This is a very mysterious, widespread gene.”

People who carry this specific DNA sequence are heavier on average, and their waist circumference is half an inch bigger.

This is a large percentage of the population, said Thompson, who is also a member of UCLA’s Brain Research Institute and the UCLA Laboratory of Neuro Imaging.

“This is a shocking finding. Any loss of brain tissue puts you at greater risk for functional decline,” he said. “The risk gene divides the world into two camps ― those who have the FTO allele and those who don’t.”

But the news is not necessarily completely negative, Thompson said, because “carriers of the risk gene can exercise and eat healthily to resist both obesity and brain decline.”

Thompson sees both a public health message and a science message in this finding.

“Half of the world carries this dangerous gene. But a healthy lifestyle will counteract the risk of brain loss, whether you carry the gene or not. So it’s vital to boost your brain health by being physically active and eating a balanced diet,” he said.

And from a scientific standpoint, he said, “the gene discovery will help to develop and fine tune the anti-dementia drugs being developed to combat brain aging.”

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Funding for the study came from the National Institutes of Health and from private industry. The authors report no conflict of interest.

The UCLA Department of Neurology encompasses more than a dozen research, clinical and teaching programs that cover brain mapping and neuroimaging, movement disorders, Alzheimer’s disease, multiple sclerosis, neurogenetics, nerve and muscle disorders, epilepsy, neuro-oncology, neurotology, neuropsychology, headaches and migraines, neurorehabilitation, and neurovascular disorders. The department ranks first among its peers nationwide in National Institutes of Health funding.

For more news, visit the UCLA Newsroom and follow us on Twitter.

Alzheimer’s disease may protect against cancer and vice versa

2009 study posted for filing

Contact: Rachel Seroka rseroka@aan.com 651-695-2738 American Academy of Neurology

ST. PAUL, Minn. – People who have Alzheimer’s disease may be less likely to develop cancer, and people who have cancer may be less likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease, according to a new study published in the December 23, 2009, online issue of Neurology®, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

“Discovering the links between these two conditions may help us better understand both diseases and open up avenues for possible treatments,” said study author Catherine M. Roe, PhD, of Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, MO, and a member of the American Academy of Neurology.

For the study, researchers looked at a group of 3,020 people age 65 and older who were enrolled in the Cardiovascular Health Study and followed them for an average of five years to see whether they developed dementia and an average of eight years to see whether they developed cancer. At the start of the study, 164 people (5.4 percent) already had Alzheimer’s disease and 522 people (17.3 percent) already had a cancer diagnosis.

During the study, 478 people developed dementia and 376 people developed invasive cancer. For people who had Alzheimer’s disease at the start of the study, the risk of future cancer hospitalization was reduced by 69 percent compared to those who did not have Alzheimer’s disease when the study started. For Caucasian people who had cancer when the study started, their risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease was reduced by 43 percent compared to people who did not have cancer at the start of the study, although that finding was not evident in minority groups.

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The study was supported by the National Institutes of Health, the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, the National Institute on Aging, the National Center for Research Resources, and the Washington University Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center.

The American Academy of Neurology, an association of more than 21,000 neurologists and neuroscience professionals, is dedicated to promoting the highest quality patient-centered neurologic care. A neurologist is a doctor with specialized training in diagnosing, treating and managing disorders of the brain and nervous system such as stroke, Alzheimer’s disease, epilepsy, Parkinson’s disease, and multiple sclerosis.

For more information about the American Academy of Neurology, visit http://www.aan.com.

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73rd Health Research Report 05 JAN 2010 – Reconstruction

 

In this issue:

1. Growing evidence suggests progesterone should be considered a treatment option for traumatic brain injuries

2. Alzheimer’s disease may protect against cancer and vice versa

3. Citrus surprise: Vitamin C boosts the reprogramming of adult cells into stem cells

4. Chlorophylls effective against aflatoxin

5. New year, new vitamin C discovery: It ‘cures’ mice with accelerated aging disease

6. (glycyrrhizin extracted from licorice root) A trip to the candy store might help ward off rare, but deadly infections

7. Running shoes may cause damage to knees, hips and ankles

8. Natural compound ( Quercetin) blocks hepatitis C infection

9. Caffeine consumption associated with less severe liver fibrosis

 

Public release date: 22-Dec-2009

Growing evidence suggests progesterone should be considered a treatment option for traumatic brain injuries

Researchers at Emory University in Atlanta, GA, recommend that progesterone (PROG), a naturally occurring hormone found in both males and females that can protect damaged cells in the central and peripheral nervous systems, be considered a viable treatment option for traumatic brain injuries, according to a clinical perspective published in the January issue of the American Journal of Roentgenology.

“Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is an important clinical problem in the United States and around the world,” said Donald G. Stein, PhD, lead author of the paper. “TBI has received more attention recently because of its high incidence among combat casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan. Current Department of Defense statistics indicated that as many as 30 percent of wounded soldiers seen at Walter Reed Army Hospital have suffered a TBI, a finding that has stimulated government interest in developing a safe and effective treatment for this complex disorder,” said Stein.

“Growing evidence indicates that post-injury administration of PROG in a variety of brain damage models can have beneficial effects, leading to substantial and sustained improvements in brain functionality. PROG given to both males and females can cross the blood-brain barrier and reduce edema (swelling) levels after TBI; in different models of cerebral ischemia (restriction of blood supply), significantly reduce the area of necrotic cell death and improve behavioral outcomes; and protect neurons distal to the injury that would normally die,” said Stein.

PROG was recently tested in two phase 2 clinical trials for traumatic brain injury and will begin a phase 3 NIH sponsored trial soon.

“Given its relatively high safety profile, its ease of administration, its low cost and ready availability, PROG should be considered a viable treatment option — especially because, in brain injury, so little else is currently available,” said Stein.

 

Public release date: 23-Dec-2009

Alzheimer’s disease may protect against cancer and vice versa

Embargoed for release until 4 p.m. ET, Wednesday, Dec. 23, 2009

ST. PAUL, Minn. – People who have Alzheimer’s disease may be less likely to develop cancer, and people who have cancer may be less likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease, according to a new study published in the December 23, 2009, online issue of Neurology®, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

“Discovering the links between these two conditions may help us better understand both diseases and open up avenues for possible treatments,” said study author Catherine M. Roe, PhD, of Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, MO, and a member of the American Academy of Neurology.

For the study, researchers looked at a group of 3,020 people age 65 and older who were enrolled in the Cardiovascular Health Study and followed them for an average of five years to see whether they developed dementia and an average of eight years to see whether they developed cancer. At the start of the study, 164 people (5.4 percent) already had Alzheimer’s disease and 522 people (17.3 percent) already had a cancer diagnosis.

During the study, 478 people developed dementia and 376 people developed invasive cancer. For people who had Alzheimer’s disease at the start of the study, the risk of future cancer hospitalization was reduced by 69 percent compared to those who did not have Alzheimer’s disease when the study started. For Caucasian people who had cancer when the study started, their risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease was reduced by 43 percent compared to people who did not have cancer at the start of the study, although that finding was not evident in minority groups.

Public release date: 24-Dec-2009

Citrus surprise: Vitamin C boosts the reprogramming of adult cells into stem cells

Famous for its antioxidant properties and role in tissue repair, vitamin C is touted as beneficial for illnesses ranging from the common cold to cancer and perhaps even for slowing the aging process. Now, a study published online on December 24th by Cell Press in the journal Cell Stem Cell uncovers an unexpected new role for this natural compound: facilitating the generation of embryonic-like stem cells from adult cells.

Over the past few years, we have learned that adult cells can be reprogrammed into cells with characteristics similar to embryonic stem cells by turning on a select set of genes. Although the reprogrammed cells, called induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs), have tremendous potential for regenerative medicine, the conversion is extremely inefficient.

“The low efficiency of the reprogramming process has hampered progress with this technology and is indicative of how little we understand it. Further, this process is most challenging in human cells, raising a significant barrier for producing iPSCs and serious concerns about the quality of the cells that are generated,” explains senior study author Dr. Duanqing Pei from the South China Institute for Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine at the Guangzhou Institutes of Biomedicine and Health, Chinese Academy of Sciences.

Dr. Pei and colleagues measured the production of reactive oxygen species or ROS during reprogramming and discovered a potential link between high ROS and low reprogramming efficiency. They became particularly interested in antioxidants, hypothesizing that they might suppress ROS and cell senescence, which seems to be a major roadblock for the generation of iPSCs.

The researchers found that adding vitamin C, an essential nutrient that is abundant in citrus fruits, enhanced iPSC generation from both mouse and human cells. Vitamin C accelerated gene expression changes and promoted a more efficient transition to the fully reprogrammed state. Somewhat to their surprise, they found that other antioxidants do not have the same effect, but vitamin C does seem to act at least in part through slowing cell senescence.

“Our results highlight a simple way to improve iPSC generation and provide additional insight into the mechanistic basis of reprogramming,” concludes Dr. Pei. “It is also of interest that a vitamin with long-suspected anti-aging effects has such a potent influence on reprogramming, which can be considered a reversal of the aging process at the cellular level. It is likely that our work may stimulate further research in this area as well.”

 

Public release date: 29-Dec-2009

Chlorophylls effective against aflatoxin

CORVALLIS, Ore. – A new study has found that chlorophyll and its derivative chlorophyllin are effective in limiting the absorption of aflatoxin in humans. Aflatoxin is produced by a fungus that is a contaminant of grains including corn, peanuts and soybeans; it is known to cause liver cancer – and can work in concert with other health concerns, such as hepatitis.

Levels of aflatoxin are carefully regulated in the United States, but are often found in the food supplies of developing nations, especially those with poor storage facilities.

OSU scientist George Bailey, a distinguished professor of environmental and molecular toxicology, pioneered studies of aflatoxin in China, where he found that in one region, one out of every 10 adults died from liver cancer.

But what has the science world particularly intrigued with this follow-up study is the methodology used by the researchers – a new “Phase 0” approach that safely tests low levels of carcinogens in human volunteers to measure the total aflatoxin exposure and to determine the effect of dietary chlorophlls on reducing this exposure.

Results of the study were just published in the journal Cancer Prevention Research.

Bailey and several other researchers, including lead author Carole Jubert, were part of the recent study. The journal also included a perspective written by a pair of Johns Hopkins researchers – Thomas Kensler and John Groopman – who praise the methodology and suggest that these Phase 0 “microdosing” studies should be expanded.

They wrote: “…microdosing studies with carcinogens have the potential to provide important insights into chemopreventive interventions and to enhance the overall clinical development and safety evaluation of preventive agents.”

The Phase 0 study “…may open the door for all kinds of new research,” said Jubert, a former researcher in Bailey’s lab at OSU’s Linus Pauling Institute. Jubert now works for Life Microsystems, an OSU spinoff company that hopes to continue work with natural products grown in Oregon, including pure chlorophylls.

“The technology is not particularly difficult,” she added. “It’s just a novel approach to evaluate toxin exposure in humans.”

In their study, Jubert and her colleagues gave very low doses of aflatoxin labeled with carbon-14 isotopes as a tracer to four human volunteers. They then gave the volunteers the same doses of aflatoxin along with doses of either chlorophyll or chlorophyllin, which previously had been shown to reduce carcinogen bioavailability in trout and rats. Using an accelerator mass spectrometer, they measured the rate of aflaxtoxin bioavailability. This technique is extremely sensitive, the researchers say, allowing measurement of minute amounts of any labeled compound.

Their research revealed rapid absorption of aflatoxin, which was significantly limited after the chlorophyll and chlorophyllin treatments.

“The beauty of this kind of ‘Phase 0’ study is the use of ultra-sensitive technology and ‘microdoses’ of environmental carcinogens to study toxicokinetics within the human body,” said John Mata, an OSU pharmacologist and second author on the study. “These measurements can be important because they allow us to better design future studies to understand the effects of dietary constituents on cancer risk.

“In this case, clearly the results merit further study,” Mata added. “We showed that aflatoxin is absorbed quite rapidly and that chlorophyll and chlorophyllin have an ameliorating effect, preventing the toxin from getting into the bloodstream. Further studies can more precisely explore the interactions, as well as dosage levels.”

Jubert and Mata also have tested the feasibility of using similar technology on human exposure to other toxins, including smokers who ingest carcinogens through cigarette smoke.

Mata, a professor in OSU’s College of Veterinary Medicine, is a pharmacologist who previously worked in the drug industry. He said Phase 1 studies are designed to see if a compound is safe; Phase 2 expands the scope of the project, and Phase 3 looks at the compounds’ efficacy. Phase 0 represents a new concept – a way to measure the kinetics of a drug by using extremely small doses that pose little risk to the volunteers.

In this case, the amount of radiation given the human volunteers was equal to that you would encounter from a one-hour airplane ride; the level of aflatoxin administered was 1/30th the amount the Food and Drug Administration allows in a peanut butter sandwich.

Public release date: 4-Jan-2010

New year, new vitamin C discovery: It ‘cures’ mice with accelerated aging disease

New research in the FASEB Journal reports vitamin C reverses abnormalities caused by Werner syndrome gene, including cancer, obesity, diabetes, heart failure and high cholesterol

A new research discovery published in the January 2010 print issue of the FASEB Journal (http://www.fasebj.org) suggests that treatments for disorders that cause accelerated aging, particularly Werner’s syndrome, might come straight from the family medicine chest. In the research report, a team of Canadian scientists show that vitamin C stops and even reverses accelerated aging in a mouse model of Werner’s syndrome, but the discovery may also be applicable to other progeroid syndromes. People with Werner’s syndrome begin to show signs of accelerated aging in their 20s and develop age-related diseases and generally die before the age of 50.

“Our study clearly indicates that a healthy organism or individuals with no health problems do not require a large amount of vitamin C in order to increase their lifespan, especially if they have a balanced diet and they exercise,” said Michel Lebel, Ph.D., co-author of the study from the Centre de Recherche en Cancerologie in Quebec, Canada. “An organism or individual with a mutation in the WRN gene or any gene affected by the WRN protein, and thus predisposes them to several age-related diseases, may benefit from a diet with the appropriate amount of vitamin C.”

Scientists treated both normal mice and mice with a mutation in the gene responsible for Werner’s syndrome (WRN gene) with vitamin C in drinking water. Before treatment, the mice with a mutated WRN gene were fat, diabetic, and developing heart disease and cancer. After treatment, the mutant mice were as healthy as the normal mice and lived a normal lifespan. Vitamin C also improved how the mice stored and burned fat, decreased tissue inflammation and decreased oxidative stress in the WRN mice. The healthy mice did not appear to benefit from vitamin C.

“Vitamin C has become one of the most misunderstood substances in our medicine cabinets and food,” said Gerald Weissmann, M.D., Editor-in-Chief of the FASEB Journal. “This study and others like it help explain how and why this chemical can help to defend some, but certainly not all, people from premature senescence.”

Ralph’s note – “ The healthy mice did not appear to benefit from vitamin C” If the mice were healthy, What benefit were they looking for Specifically (I.e. Immortality, Laser Vision, etc..)

 

Public release date: 4-Jan-2010

(glycyrrhizin extracted from licorice root) A trip to the candy store might help ward off rare, but deadly infections

New research in the Journal of Leukocyte Biology shows that glycyrrhizin extracted from licorice root helps the body defend against Pseudomonas aeruginosa infection

As it turns out, children were not the only ones with visions of sugar plums dancing in their heads over this past holiday season. In a new research report published in the January 2010 issue of the Journal of Leukocyte Biology (http://www.jleukbio.org), a team of scientists from the University of Texas Medical Branch and Shriners Hospitals for Children show how a compound from licorice root (glycyrrhizin from Glycyrrhiza glabra) might be an effective tool in battling life-threatening, antibiotic-resistant infections resulting from severe burns. Specifically, they found that in burned mice, glycyrrhizin improved the ability of damaged skin to create small proteins that serve as the first line of defense against infection. These proteins, called antimicrobial peptides, work by puncturing the cell membranes of bacteria similar to how pins pop balloons.

“It is our hope that the medicinal uses of glycyrrhizin will lead to lower death rates associated with infection in burn patients,” said Fujio Suzuki, Ph.D., one of the researchers involved in the work. Suzuki also said that more research is necessary to determine if this finding would have any implications for people with cystic fibrosis, who can develop Pseudomonas aeruginosa infections in their lungs.

To make this discovery, Suzuki and colleagues used three groups of mice. The first group was normal, the second group was burned and untreated, and the third group was burned and treated with glycyrrhizin. The skin of the untreated burned mice did not have any detectable antimicrobial peptides that prevent bacteria from growing and spreading, but the normal mice did. The skin of the untreated burned mice also had immature myeloid cells, which indicate an inability of the skin to produce antimicrobial peptides needed to prevent infection. The mice treated with glycyrrhizin, however, were more like the normal mice as they had the antimicrobial peptides and no immature myeloid cells.

“Burns are the most painful of all injuries,” said John Wherry, Ph.D., Deputy Editor of the Journal of Leukocyte Biology, “and the deadly Pseudomonas infections that can result from severe burns do more than add insult to those injuries. This research should serve as an important stepping stone toward helping develop new drugs that help prevent or treat Pseudomonas.”

 

Public release date: 4-Jan-2010

Running shoes may cause damage to knees, hips and ankles

Greater stresses on joints than running barefoot or walking in high-heeled shoes observed

New York, NY, January 4, 2010 – Knee osteoarthritis (OA) accounts for more disability in the elderly than any other disease. Running, although it has proven cardiovascular and other health benefits, can increase stresses on the joints of the leg. In a study published in the December 2009 issue of PM&R: The journal of injury, function and rehabilitation, researchers compared the effects on knee, hip and ankle joint motions of running barefoot versus running in modern running shoes. They concluded that running shoes exerted more stress on these joints compared to running barefoot or walking in high-heeled shoes.

Sixty-eight healthy young adult runners (37 women), who run in typical, currently available running shoes, were selected from the general population. None had any history of musculoskeletal injury and each ran at least 15 miles per week. A running shoe, selected for its neutral classification and design characteristics typical of most running footwear, was provided to all runners. Using a treadmill and a motion analysis system, each subject was observed running barefoot and with shoes. Data were collected at each runner’s comfortable running pace after a warm-up period.

The researchers observed increased joint torques at the hip, knee and ankle with running shoes compared with running barefoot. Disproportionately large increases were observed in the hip internal rotation torque and in the knee flexion and knee varus torques. An average 54% increase in the hip internal rotation torque, a 36% increase in knee flexion torque, and a 38% increase in knee varus torque were measured when running in running shoes compared with barefoot.

These findings confirm that while the typical construction of modern-day running shoes provides good support and protection of the foot itself, one negative effect is the increased stress on each of the 3 lower extremity joints. These increases are likely caused in large part by an elevated heel and increased material under the medial arch, both characteristic of today’s running shoes.

Writing in the article, lead author D. Casey Kerrigan, MD, JKM Technologies LLC, Charlottesville, VA, and co-investigators state, “Remarkably, the effect of running shoes on knee joint torques during running (36%-38% increase) that the authors observed here is even greater than the effect that was reported earlier of high-heeled shoes during walking (20%-26% increase). Considering that lower extremity joint loading is of a significantly greater magnitude during running than is experienced during walking, the current findings indeed represent substantial biomechanical changes.” Dr. Kerrigan concludes, “Reducing joint torques with footwear completely to that of barefoot running, while providing meaningful footwear functions, especially compliance, should be the goal of new footwear designs.”

Public release date: 4-Jan-2010

Natural compound ( Quercetin) blocks hepatitis C infection

Finding may lead to a new treatment

Researchers have identified two cellular proteins that are important factors in hepatitis C virus infection, a finding that may result in the approval of new and less toxic treatments for the disease, which can lead to liver cancer and cirrhosis.

An estimated 270 to 300 million people worldwide are infected with hepatitis C and the conventional treatments – interferon and ribavirin – can have significant side effects. A new drug targeting cellular proteins rather than viral proteins would be a valuable addition to the treatment arsenal, said Samuel French, an assistant professor of pathology and senior author of the study.

French and his team set out to identify the cellular factors involved in hepatitis C replication and, using mass spectrometry, found that heat shock proteins (HSPs) 40 and 70 were important for viral infection. HSP 70 was previously known to be involved, but HSP 40 was linked for the first time to hepatitis C infection, French said. They further showed that the natural compound Quercetin, which inhibits the synthesis of these proteins, significantly inhibits viral infection in tissue culture.

“This is an important finding because we can block these proteins with the idea of reducing the level of the virus in people and, ideally, completely eliminate it,” said French, who also is a researcher at UCLA’s Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center.

The study appeared in the most recent issue of the journal Hepatology.

Since Quercetin has been shown to inhibit hepatitis C infection, French said, a Phase I clinical trial will be launched at UCLA to determine if the compound is safe and effective.

Quercetin is a plant-derived bioflavonoid, and is used by some people as a nutritional supplement. Laboratory studies show it may have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, and it is being investigated for a wide range of potential health benefits. Currently, there are early-stage clinical trials testing quercetin for safety and efficacy against sarcoidosis, asthma and glucose absorption in obesity and diabetes.

“Because Quercetin targets cellular proteins rather than viral proteins, there is less likelihood of developing viral resistance,” French said. “Cellular proteins cannot change like viral proteins can.”

Many patients in the United States have a type of hepatitis C virus that does not respond to the standard treatments. In these cases, if the virus can’t be blocked, end-stage liver disease and, ultimately, death may occur. Once HSP 40 and 70 were identified, French and his team used Quercetin in an attempt to block the proteins and found that the compound “reduced infectious particle production at non-toxic concentrations,” according to the study.

“Quercetin may allow for the dissection of the viral life cycle and has potential therapeutic use to reduce virus production with low associated toxicity,” the study states.

The UCLA clinical trial will most likely target those with type 1 hepatitis C, which is the non-responsive type prevalent in this country. Only about 50 percent of those with type 1 hepatitis C respond to treatment, French said.

Volunteers with type 1 hepatitis C who opt not to undergo conventional therapies would be recruited for the study. In other studies in other diseases, Quercetin has resulted in no significant side effects, French said.

“A non-toxic treatment for chronic hepatitis C would be great because our current therapies have significant side effects and only a certain percentage of the patient population responds,” French said.

Public release date: 5-Jan-2010

Natural compounds in pomegranates may prevent growth of hormone-dependent breast cancer

Eating fruit, such as pomegranates, that contain anti-aromatase phytochemicals reduces the incidence of hormone-dependent breast cancer, according to results of a study published in the January issue of Cancer Prevention Research, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research.

Pomegranate is enriched in a series of compounds known as ellagitannins that, as shown in this study, appear to be responsible for the anti-proliferative effect of the pomegranate.

“Phytochemicals suppress estrogen production that prevents the proliferation of breast cancer cells and the growth of estrogen-responsive tumors,” said principal investigator Shiuan Chen, Ph.D., director of the Division of Tumor Cell Biology and co-leader of the Breast Cancer Research Program at City of Hope in Duarte, Calif.

Previous research has shown that pomegranate juice — punica granatum L — is high in antioxidant activity, which is generally attributed to the fruit’s high polyphenol content. Ellagic acid found in pomegranates inhibits aromatase, an enzyme that converts androgen to estrogen. Aromatase plays a key role in breast carcinogenesis; therefore, the growth of breast cancer is inhibited.

Chen, along with Lynn Adams, Ph.D., a research fellow at Beckman Research Institute of City of Hope, and colleagues, evaluated whether phytochemicals in pomegranates can suppress aromatase and ultimately inhibit cancer growth.

After screening and examining a panel of 10 ellagitannin-derived compounds in pomegranates, the investigators found that those compounds have the potential to prevent estrogen-responsive breast cancers. Urolithin B, which is a metabolite produced from ellagic acid and related compounds, significantly inhibited cell growth.

“We were surprised by our findings,” said Chen. “We previously found other fruits, such as grapes, to be capable of the inhibition of aromatase. But, phytochemicals in pomegranates and in grapes are different.”

According to Gary Stoner, Ph.D., professor in the Department of Internal Medicine at Ohio State University, additional studies will be needed to confirm the chemopreventive action of Urolithin B against hormone-dependent breast cancer.

“This is an in vitro study in which relatively high levels of ellagitannin compounds were required to demonstrate an anti-proliferative effect on cultured breast cancer cells,” said Stoner, who is not associated with this study. “It’s not clear that these levels could be achieved in animals or in humans because the ellagitannins are not well absorbed into blood when provided in the diet.”

Stoner believes these results are promising enough to suggest that more experiments with pomegranate in animals and humans are warranted.

Powel Brown, M.D., Ph.D., medical oncologist and chairman of the Clinical Cancer Prevention Department at the University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center, agreed with Stoner’s sentiments and said these results are intriguing. He recommended that future studies focus on testing pomegranate juice for its effect on estrogen levels, menopausal symptoms, breast density or even as a cancer preventive agent.

“More research on the individual components and the combination of chemicals is needed to understand the potential risks and benefits of using pomegranate juice or isolated compounds for a health benefit or for cancer prevention,” Brown said. “This study does suggest that studies of the ellagitannins from pomegranates should be continued.”

Until then, Stoner said people “might consider consuming more pomegranates to protect against cancer development in the breast and perhaps in other tissues and organs.”

Public release date: 5-Jan-2010

Caffeine consumption associated with less severe liver fibrosis

Study finds caffeine in sources other than coffee does not have similar effect

Researchers from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) determined that patients with chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) who consumed more than 308 mg of caffeine daily had milder liver fibrosis. The daily amount of caffeine intake found to be beneficial is equivalent to 2.25 cups of regular coffee. Other sources of caffeine beyond coffee did not have the same therapeutic effect. Details of this study are available in the January 2010 issue of Hepatology, a journal published by Wiley-Blackwell on behalf of the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases.

Liver fibrosis or scaring of the liver is the second stage of liver disease and characterized by a degradation of liver function due to accumulated connective tissue. Past studies have looked at modifiable behaviors, such as coffee consumption, that mitigate the progression of liver disease. A number of studies have looked at the benefits of higher coffee intake with results that include: lower prevalence of chronic liver disease, reduced risk of hepatocellular carcinoma (liver cancer), and lower risk of death from cirrhosis complications. “From data collected to date it remains unclear whether coffee itself, or caffeine provides the beneficial effect,” said Apurva Modi, M.D. and lead author of the current study that focuses on caffeine intake and its impact on liver fibrosis.

From January 2006 to November 2008 all patients evaluated in the Liver Disease Branch of the National Institutes of Health were asked to complete a questionnaire to determine caffeine consumption. Questions were asked pertaining to all sources of caffeine including regular and diet soft drinks; regular and decaffeinated coffee; black, green, Chinese and herbal teas; cocoa and hot chocolate; caffeine-fortified drinks; chocolate candy; caffeine pills; and medications with caffeine. Participants were asked about their frequency of caffeine consumption, which was quantified as never; 1-3 times per month; 1, 2-4, or 5-6 times per week; 1, 2-3, 4-5, and 6 or more times per day.

The analysis included 177 participants who were undergoing liver biopsy with a mean age of 51 years and mean body mass index (BMI) of 27.5. Of those in the cohort 56% were male, 59% Caucasian, 19% Black, 19% Asian, 3% Hispanic, and 68% had chronic HCV. Daily consumption of caffeine from food and beverages raged from none to 1028 mg/day with an average of 195 mg/day, which is equivalent to 1.4 cups of coffee daily. Most caffeine consumed came from regular coffee (71%) followed by caffeinated soda (13%), and black tea (4%). Repeated administration of the questionnaire within a 6-month period displayed consistent responses suggesting caffeine intake does not significantly change over time.

Patients with an Ishak fibrosis score of less than 3 had a mean caffeine intake of 212 mg/day compared with 154 mg/day for those with more advanced fibrosis. The Ishak fibrosis score is the preferred system that measures degree of liver scarring with 0 representing no fibrosis through 6 indicating cirrhosis. For each 67 mg increase in caffeine consumption (about one half cup of coffee) there was a 14% decrease in the odds of advanced fibrosis for patients with HCV. “Our data suggest that a beneficial effect requires caffeine consumption above a threshold of approximately 2 coffee-cup equivalents daily,” noted Dr. Modi. The protective effects of consuming more than 308 mg of caffeine daily persisted after controlling for age, sex, race, liver disease, BMI and alcohol intake for all study participants.

Researchers further evaluated caffeine and coffee separately to determine the individual effect of each on fibrosis. Results showed that consumption of caffeinated soda, green or black tea was not associated with reduced liver fibrosis. However, a significant protective effect could have been missed due to small numbers, as 71% of total caffeine consumed came from coffee. Caffeinated coffee had the most pronounced effect on reduced liver fibrosis. The authors suggest that further research is needed to determine if the protective benefits of coffee/caffeine intake plateau at amounts beyond the daily consumption threshold.

________________________________

 

These reports are done with the appreciation of all the Doctors, Scientist, and other

Medical Researchers who sacrificed their time and effort. In order to give people the

ability to empower themselves. Without the base aspirations for fame, or fortune.

Just honorable people, doing honorable things.

Health Research Report

73rd  Issue 05 JAN 2010

Compiled By Ralph Turchiano

www.healthresearchreport.me www.vit.bz

www.youtube.com/vhfilm www.facebook.com/engineeringevil

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Green tea chemical combined with another may hold promise for treatment of brain disorders: EGCG, can prevent and destroy a variety of protein structures known as amyloids

2009 study posted for filing

Contact: patti Jacobs pjacobs12@comcast.net 617-864-2712 Boston Biomedical Research Institute

Watertown, MA—Scientists at Boston Biomedical Research Institute (BBRI) and the University of Pennsylvania have found that combining two chemicals, one of which is the green tea component EGCG, can prevent and destroy a variety of protein structures known as amyloids. Amyloids are the primary culprits in fatal brain disorders such as Alzheimer’s, Huntington’s, and Parkinson’s diseases. Their study, published in the current issue of Nature Chemical Biology (December 2009), may ultimately contribute to future therapies for these diseases.

“These findings are significant because it is the first time a combination of specific chemicals has successfully destroyed diverse forms of amyloids at the same time,” says Dr. Martin Duennwald of BBRI, who co-led the study with Dr. James Shorter of University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine.

For decades a major goal of neurological research has been finding a way to prevent the formation of and to break up and destroy amyloid plaques in the brains and nervous systems of people with Alzheimer’s and other degenerative diseases before they wreak havoc.

Amyloid plaques are tightly packed sheets of proteins that infiltrate the brain. These plaques, which are stable and seemingly impenetrable, fill nerve cells or wrap around brain tissues and eventually (as in the case of Alzheimer’s) suffocate vital neurons or brain cells, causing loss of memory, language, motor function and eventually premature death.

To date, researchers have had no success in destroying plaques in the human brain and only minimal success in the laboratory. One reason for these difficulties in finding compounds that can dissolve amyloids is their immense stability and their complex composition.

Yet, Duennwald experienced success in previous studies when he exposed amyloids in living yeast cells to EGCG. Furthermore, he and his collaborators also found before that DAPH-12, too, inhibits amyloid production in yeast.

In their new study, the team decided to look in more detail at the impact of these two chemicals on the production of different amyloids produced by the yeast amyloid protein known as PSI+. They chose this yeast amyloid protein because it has been studied extensively in the past, and because it produces varieties of amyloid structures that are prototypes of those found in the damaged human brain. Thus, PSI+ amyloids are excellent experimental paradigms to study basic properties of all amyloid proteins.

The team’s first step was to expose two different amyloid structures produced by yeast (e.g., a weak version and a strong version) to EGCG. They found that the EGCG effectively dissolved the amyloids in the weaker version. To their surprise, they found that the stronger amyloids were not dissolved and that some transformed to even stronger versions after exposure to EGCG.

The team then exposed the yeast amyloid structures to a combination of the EGCG and the DAPH-12 and found that all of the amyloid structures broke apart and dissolved.

The next steps for the research team will be to explore the mechanism and potency of such a combinatorial therapy for the treatment of diverse neurodegenerative diseases.

“Our findings are certainly preliminary and we need further work to fully comprehend the effects of EGCG in combination with other chemicals on amyloids. Yet, we see our study as a very exciting initial step towards combinatorial therapies for the treatment of amyloid-based diseases,” says Duennwald.

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Authors of the study include: Martin L Duennwald and Chan Chung from Boston Biomedical Research Institute and Nicholas P Lopreiato, Elizabeth A Sweeny, M Noelle Knight, James Shorter, Huan Wang, and Blake E Roberts from the Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine.

The Boston Biomedical Research Institute is a not-for-profit institution dedicated to the understanding, treatment, and prevention of specific human diseases such as muscular dystrophy, cancer, cardiovascular disease, and Alzheimer’s. For more information, visit us on the web at www.bbri.org.

Radioprotection and extracts of Ginko biloba

Contact: Chang-Mo Kang
kangcm@kcch.re.kr
Inderscience Publishers

Herbal tonic for radiotherapy

Antioxidant extracts of the leaves of the Gingko biloba tree may protect cells from radiation damage, according to a study published in the International Journal of Low Radiation. The discovery may one day be used to help reduce side effects in cancer patients undergoing radiotherapy.

Chang-Mo Kang of the Korea Institute of Radiological and Medical Sciences in Taegu and colleagues are interested in the protective effects of well-known herbal remedies of which Gingko biloba is one. G. biloba is a unique tree species with no close living relatives and extracts of its leaves contain antioxidant compounds including glycosides and terpenoids known as ginkgolides and bilobalides.

These compounds are thought to protect cells from damage by free radicals and other reactive oxidizing species found in the body. These are generated continuously by the body’s normal metabolism, and in excess in some diseases or after exposure to pollution or radiation. They damage proteins, DNA and other biomolecules and left unchecked can kill cells.

As such, extracts of certain plants that contain antioxidants, including G. biloba, have attracted interest for their pharmacological activity. G. biloba is currently sold as a herbal supplement and there are numerous claims for health benefits, including the possibility of preventing the onset of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.

Kang and colleagues have now collected human white blood cells, lymphocytes, from healthy donors aged 18 to 50 years. They treated half of these cells with commercially available G. biloba extract in the laboratory and doused the other half with salt solution as an experimental control. They then compared the effects of gamma radiation from radioactive cesium on the white blood cells compared to the untreated control samples.

The team uses a light microscope to look for lymphocytes undergoing programmed cell death, or apoptosis, as a result of radiation exposure. They found that there was a significant increase in apoptosis in the untreated cells compared with those treated with G. biloba extract. Almost a third of the untreated cells underwent apoptosis compared with approximately one in twenty of the treated cells. Parallel studies with laboratory mice also demonstrated a similar protective effect against radiation poisoning.

The results suggest that the extracts can neutralize the free-radicals and oxidizing agents produced in the cells by the radiation and so prevent them from undergoing apoptosis.

 

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“Protective effect of Gingko biloba against radiation-induced cellular damage in human peripheral lymphocytes and murine spleen cells” in Int. J. Low Radiation, 2009, 6, 209-218

Pesticide levels in blood linked to Parkinson’s disease, UT Southwestern researchers find

2009 study posted for filing

Contact: Aline McKenzie
aline.mckenzie@utsouthwestern.edu
214-648-3404
UT Southwestern Medical Center

DALLAS – July 13, 2009 – People with Parkinson’s disease have significantly higher blood levels of a particular pesticide than healthy people or those with Alzheimer’s disease, researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center have found.

In a study appearing in the July issue of Archives of Neurology, researchers found the pesticide beta-HCH (hexachlorocyclohexane) in 76 percent of people with Parkinson’s, compared with 40 percent of healthy controls and 30 percent of those with Alzheimer’s.

The finding might provide the basis for a beta-HCH blood test to identify individuals at risk for developing Parkinson’s disease. The results also point the way to more research on environmental causes of Parkinson’s.

“There’s been a link between pesticide use and Parkinson’s disease for a long time, but never a specific pesticide,” said Dr. Dwight German, professor of psychiatry at UT Southwestern and a senior author of the paper. “This is particularly important because the disease is not diagnosed until after significant nerve damage has occurred. A test for this risk factor might allow for early detection and protective treatment.”

About 1 million people in the U.S. have Parkinson’s, a number expected to rise as the population ages. The disease occurs when brain cells in particular regions die, causing tremors, cognitive problems and a host of other symptoms.

The study involved 113 participants, ages 50 to 89. Fifty had Parkinson’s, 43 were healthy and 20 had Alzheimer’s. The researchers tested the subjects’ blood for 15 pesticides known as organochlorines.

These pesticides, which include the well-known DDT (dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane), were widely used in the U.S. from the 1950s to the 1970s but are more tightly regulated now. They persist in the environment for years without breaking down. In the body, they dissolve in fats and are known to attack the type of brain nerves that die in Parkinson’s disease, the researchers said.

“Much higher levels of the beta-HCH were in the air, water and food chain when the Parkinson’s patients were in their 20s and30s,” Dr. German said. “Also, the half-life of the pesticide is seven to eight years, so it stays in the body for a long time.”

Parkinson’s disease is more common among rural men than other demographic groups, but it is not a matter of a single factor causing the devastating disease, Dr. German said.

“Some people with Parkinson’s might have the disease because of exposure to environmental pesticides, but there are also genes known to play a role in the condition,” Dr. German said.

Although the current study points to an interesting link between the pesticide beta-HCH and Parkinson’s, there could be other pesticides involved with the disease, he said.

For example, the pesticide lindane often contains beta-HCH, but lindane breaks down faster. Beta-HCH might simply be a sign that someone was exposed to lindane, with lindane actually causing the damage to the brain, the researchers said.

In future research, Dr. German hopes to test patients from a wider geographical area and to measure pesticide levels in post-mortem brains. He and his team also are collecting blood samples from both patients with Parkinson’s and their spouses to see if a genetic difference might be making the one with Parkinson’s more susceptible to pesticides than the other.

###

Other UT Southwestern researchers involved in the study were Dr. Padraig O’Suilleabhain, associate professor of neurology; Dr. Ramón Diaz-Arrastía, professor of neurology; and Dr. Joan Reisch, professor of clinical sciences.

Researchers from the Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, including lead author Dr. Jason Richardson, and the Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences Institute in New Jersey also participated in the study.

The study was funded by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, the National Institute on Aging, the Dallas Area Parkinsonism Society, Rowe & Co. Inc., the Dallas Foundation and the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research.

Visit www.utsouthwestern.org/neurosciences to learn more about UT Southwestern’s clinical services in neurosciences, including psychiatry.

This news release is available on our World Wide Web home page at www.utsouthwestern.edu/home/news/index.html

To automatically receive news releases from UT Southwestern via e-mail, subscribe at www.utsouthwestern.edu/receivenews

Dr. Dwight German — http://www.utsouthwestern.edu/findfac/professional/0,2356,12533,00.html

Researchers find possible environmental causes for Alzheimer’s, diabetes : nitrates

2009 study posted for filing

Contact: Nancy Cawley Jean njean@lifespan.org Lifespan

Call for reducing nitrate levels in fertilizer and water, detoxifying food and water

Providence, RI – A new study by researchers at Rhode Island Hospital have found a substantial link between increased levels of nitrates in our environment and food with increased deaths from diseases, including Alzheimer’s, diabetes mellitus and Parkinson’s. The study was published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease (Volume 17:3 July 2009).

Led by Suzanne de la Monte, MD, MPH, of Rhode Island Hospital, researchers studied the trends in mortality rates due to diseases that are associated with aging, such as diabetes, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, diabetes and cerebrovascular disease, as well as HIV. They found strong parallels between age adjusted increases in death rate from Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and diabetes and the progressive increases in human exposure to nitrates, nitrites and nitrosamines through processed and preserved foods as well as fertilizers. Other diseases including HIV-AIDS, cerebrovascular disease, and leukemia did not exhibit those trends. De la Monte and the authors propose that the increase in exposure plays a critical role in the cause, development and effects of the pandemic of these insulin-resistant diseases.

De la Monte, who is also a professor of pathology and lab medicine at The Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University, says, “We have become a ‘nitrosamine generation.’ In essence, we have moved to a diet that is rich in amines and nitrates, which lead to increased nitrosamine production. We receive increased exposure through the abundant use of nitrate-containing fertilizers for agriculture.” She continues, “Not only do we consume them in processed foods, but they get into our food supply by leeching from the soil and contaminating water supplies used for crop irrigation, food processing and drinking.”

Nitrites and nitrates belong to a class of chemical compounds that have been found to be harmful to humans and animals. More than 90 percent of these compounds that have been tested have been determined to be carcinogenic in various organs. They are found in many food products, including fried bacon, cured meats and cheese products as well as beer and water. Exposure also occurs through manufacturing and processing of rubber and latex products, as well as fertilizers, pesticides and cosmetics.

Nitrosamines are formed by a chemical reaction between nitrites or other proteins. Sodium nitrite is deliberately added to meat and fish to prevent toxin production; it is also used to preserve, color and flavor meats. Ground beef, cured meats and bacon in particular contain abundant amounts of amines due to their high protein content. Because of the significant levels of added nitrates and nitrites, nitrosamines are nearly always detectable in these foods. Nitrosamines are also easily generated under strong acid conditions, such as in the stomach, or at high temperatures associated with frying or flame broiling. Reducing sodium nitrite content reduces nitrosamine formation in foods.

Nitrosamines basically become highly reactive at the cellular level, which then alters gene expression and causes DNA damage. The researchers note that the role of nitrosamines has been well-studied, and their role as a carcinogen has been fully documented. The investigators propose that the cellular alterations that occur as a result of nitrosamine exposure are fundamentally similar to those that occur with aging, as well as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and Type 2 diabetes mellitus.

De la Monte comments, “All of these diseases are associated with increased insulin resistance and DNA damage. Their prevalence rates have all increased radically over the past several decades and show no sign of plateau. Because there has been a relatively short time interval associated with the dramatic shift in disease incidence and prevalence rates, we believe this is due to exposure-related rather than genetic etiologies.”

The researchers recognize that an increase in death rates is anticipated in higher age groups. Yet when the researchers compared mortality from Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease among 75 to 84 year olds from 1968 to 2005, the death rates increased much more dramatically than for cerebrovascular and cardiovascular disease, which are also aging-associated. For example, in Alzheimer’s patients, the death rate increased 150-fold, from 0 deaths to more than 150 deaths per 100,000. Parkinson’s disease death rates also increased across all age groups. However, mortality rates from cerebrovascular disease in the same age group declined, even though this is a disease associated with aging as well.

De la Monte notes, “Because of the similar trending in nearly all age groups within each disease category, this indicates that these overall trends are not due to an aging population. This relatively short time interval for such dramatic increases in death rates associated with these diseases is more consistent with exposure-related causes rather than genetic changes.” She also comments, “Moreover, the strikingly higher and climbing mortality rates in older age brackets suggest that aging and/or longer durations of exposure have greater impacts on progression and severity of these diseases.”

The researchers graphed and analyzed mortality rates, and compared them with increasing age for each disease. They then studied United States population growth, annual use and consumption of nitrite-containing fertilizers, annual sales at popular fast food chains, and sales for a major meat processing company, as well as consumption of grain and consumption of watermelon and cantaloupe (the melons were used as a control since they are not typically associated with nitrate or nitrite exposure).

The findings indicate that while nitrogen-containing fertilizer consumption increased by 230 percent between 1955 and 2005, its usage doubled between 1960 and 1980, which just precedes the insulin-resistant epidemics the researchers found. They also found that sales from the fast food chain and the meat processing company increased more than 8-fold from 1970 to 2005, and grain consumption increased 5-fold.

The authors state that the time course of the increased prevalence rates of Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and diabetes cannot be explained on the basis of gene mutations. They instead mirror the classical trends of exposure-related disease. Because nitrosamines produce biochemical changes within cells and tissues, it is conceivable that chronic exposure to low levels of nitrites and nitrosamines through processed foods, water and fertilizers is responsible for the current epidemics of these diseases and the increasing mortality rates associated with them.

De la Monte states, “If this hypothesis is correct, potential solutions include eliminating the use of nitrites and nitrates in food processing, preservation and agriculture; taking steps to prevent the formation of nitrosamines and employing safe and effective measures to detoxify food and water before human consumption.”

###

 

Other researchers involved in the study with de la Monte include Alexander Neusner, Jennifer Chu and Margot Lawton, from the departments of pathology, neurology and medicine at Rhode Island Hospital and The Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University.

The study was funded through grants from the National Institutes of Health. Two subsequent papers have been accepted for publication in the near future that demonstrate experimentally that low levels of nitrosamine exposure cause neurodegeneration, NASH and diabetes.

De la Monte, Suzanne M., Alexander Neusner, Jennifer Chu and Margot Lawton. “Epidemilogical Trends Strongly Suggest Exposures as Etiologic Agents in the Pathogenesis of Sporadic Alzheimer’s Disease, Diabetes Mellitus, and Non-Alcoholic Steatohepatitis.” Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, 17:3 (July 2009) pp 519-529.

The Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease (http://www.j-alz.com) is an international multidisciplinary journal to facilitate progress in understanding the etiology, pathogenesis, epidemiology, genetics, behavior, treatment and psychology of Alzheimer’s disease. The journal publishes research reports, reviews, short communications, book reviews, and letters-to-the-editor. Groundbreaking research that has appeared in the journal includes novel therapeutic targets, mechanisms of disease and clinical trial outcomes. The Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease has an Impact Factor of 5.101 according to Thomson Reuters’ 2008 Journal Citation Reports. The Journal is published by IOS Press (http://www.iospress.nl).

Founded in 1863, Rhode Island Hospital (www.rhodeislandhospital.org) in Providence, RI, is a private, not-for-profit hospital and is the largest teaching hospital of the Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University. A major trauma center for southeastern New England, the hospital is dedicated to being on the cutting edge of medicine and research. Many of its physicians are recognized as leaders in their respective fields of cancer, cardiology, diabetes, emergency medicine and trauma, neuroscience, orthopedics, pediatrics, radiation oncology and surgery. Rhode Island Hospital receives nearly $50 million each year in external research funding. It is home to Hasbro Children’s Hospital, the state’s only facility dedicated to pediatric care, which is ranked among the top 30 children’s hospitals in the country by Parents magazine. Rhode Island Hospital is a founding member of the Lifespan health system.

60th Health Research Report 07 JUL 2009 – Reconstruction

Editors Top Five:

1.Your Arteries on Wonder Bread

2.Report: Prostate cancer screening has yet to prove its worth

3. Doubts cast on credibility of some published clinical trials

4. Health food supplement may curb compulsive hair pulling

5. Acid-reducing medicines may lead to dependency

In this issue:

1.Irritability should be considered when diagnosing bipolar disorder in children

2. Kidney damage from medical imaging procedures can cause long-term health problems

3. Chemicals in common consumer products may play a role in pre-term births

4. Vitamin A derivative provides clues to better breast cancer drugs

5.Your Arteries on Wonder Bread

6. Tryptophan deficiency may underlie quinine side effects

7. Mice run faster on high-grade oil

8.Report: Prostate cancer screening has yet to prove its worth

9. Magic ingredient in breast milk protects babies’ intestines

10.K-STATE RESEARCHER STUDIES THE ANTI-CANCER CAPABILITIES OF A SPECIAL PURPLE SWEET POTATO

11.Triggering muscle development — a therapeutic cure for muscle wastage?

12.Acid-reducing medicines may lead to dependency

13.Doubts cast on credibility of some published clinical trials

14.. Caffeine reverses memory impairment in Alzheimer’s mice

15.Researchers find possible environmental causes for Alzheimer’s, diabetes

16.Muscle damage may be present in some patients taking statins

17. Health food supplement may curb compulsive hair pulling

18.Sugar substitute appears to prevent early childhood cavities

Health Research Report

60th Issue Date 07 JUL 2009

Compiled By Ralph Turchiano

www.healthresearchreport.me www.vit.bz

www.youtube.com/vhfilm www.facebook.com/engineeringevil

www.engineeringevil.com

Eli Lilly and Zyprexa Under the Spotlight for criminal activity

2009 Report posted for filing

 

Reviewed by John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on June 14, 2009 Eli Lilly & Co.’s atypical antipsychotic medication, Zyprexa, was not only marketed to doctors for an unapproved, off-label use — the treatment of dementia in elderly patients — but it was done despite Lilly’s access and knowledge of at least seven studies that showed the drug was apparently ineffective for the treatment of dementia.

 

The studies also showed that the use of the drug resulted in “significantly” more deaths than patients taking placebo pills in the studies.

 

Eli Lilly plead guilty to federal charges in January 2009 for illegally marketing Zyprexa for off-label uses to older Americans from 1999 to 2001.

 

The latest Zyprexa revelation comes as Eli Lilly continues to fight in U.S. District Court in New York against claims brought against the company by pension plans and health care insurance companies seeking to get back money spent on purchasing Zyprexa for their customers. Lilly has settled numerous previous cases related to Zyprexa for approximately $2.62 billion, including a $615 million fine for the federal charge of marketing the drug for off-label uses.

 

Eli Lilly claims that the off-label marketing of Zyprexa for dementia in elderly patients ended in 2001. However, the groups suing Lilly claim that the drug manufacturer continued to promote Zyprexa to physicians treating elderly patients even the company claimed it had stopped, according to its own internal emails and documents.

 

According to the Bloomberg news agency, “The plaintiffs cite documents including a 2002 business plan calling for expanding prescriptions in off-label use. They also point to notes from Lilly sales representatives through 2003 recording efforts to press doctors to prescribe elderly patients Zyprexa for mood symptoms, irritability and insomnia.”

 

“Insurers and other so-called third-party payers contend Lilly should pay as much as $6.8 billion in damages for downplaying Zyprexa’s health risks, including excessive weight gain and the risk of contracting diabetes, and marketing the drug for unapproved uses to pump up profits,” Bloomberg further noted.

 

Notes written by Eli Lilly salespeople during their sales calls to doctors allegedly demonstrated their continued push to primary care physicians to prescribe Zyprexa for off-label, unapproved uses — something that is illegal for a drug company to do. As late as 2003, such notes indicated that salespeople were apparently still recommending Zyprexa for off-label uses such as helping elderly patients sleep, manage irritability, decrease hostility and improve unclear thinking — some of which are typical symptoms of dementia. Without using the word “dementia,” Lilly salespeople apparently continued to tout the benefits of Zyprexa for common dementia symptoms.

 

Side effects were, according to the latest unsealed documents, acknowledged, but minimized. According to Bloomberg, “‘Acknowledge weight gain but present it as a manageable side effect,” Lilly advised its sales force, according to the documents. “With most customers, we will continue to address the diabetes concern only when it arises,” the December 2001 document said. “Get back to selling!”’

 

The latest set of documents unsealed also showed that Lilly company employees wrote a number of the medical studies that demonstrated Zyprexa’s effectiveness. The studies were then submitted to medical journals and published under doctors’ names who agreed to put their names on the studies. The ghostwriting effort by Lilly was not publicly known before the unsealing of the court documents.

 

The seven studies that did not show Zyprexa’s effectiveness for dementia were not published in medical journals.

 

Zyprexa is Eli Lilly’s most profitable and lucrative drug, accounting for $4.7 billion in international sales in 2008 — accounting for over 30 percent of all atypical antipsychotics sales in the U.S.

 

Source: Bloomberg news agency and wire reports

59th Health Research Report 23 JUN 2009 – Reconstruction

 

Editors top five:

1. Eli Lilly and Zyprexa Under the Spotlight (criminal activity)

2. Dioxins in Food Chain Linked to Breastfeeding Ills

3. Children susceptible to pesticides longer than expected, study finds

4. ‘Cannabis alters human DNA’ — new study

5. Successful weight loss with dieting is linked to vitamin D levels

 

In this issue:

1. Dioxins in Food Chain Linked to Breastfeeding Ills

2. BPA may cause heart disease in women, research shows

3. Bisphenol A exposure in pregnant mice permanently changes DNA of offspring

4. A red-wine polyphenol called resveratrol demonstrates significant health benefits

5. Successful weight loss with dieting is linked to vitamin D levels

6. Newborn weights affected by environmental contaminants

7. ‘Cannabis alters human DNA’ — new study

8. Study finds autistics better at problem-solving

9. Powerful Nutrient Cocktail Can Put Kids with Crohn’s into Remission

10. Eli Lilly and Zyprexa Under the Spotlight

11. Antibiotics take toll on beneficial microbes in gut

12. Green tea may affect prostate cancer progression

13. Children susceptible to pesticides longer than expected, study finds

Health Research Report

59th Issue Date 23 JUN 2009

Compiled By Ralph Turchiano

www.healthresearchreport.me www.vit.bz

www.youtube.com/vhfilm http://www.facebook.com/engineeringevil

www.engineeringevil.com

 

Association Found Between Parkinson’s Disease and Pesticide Exposure in French Farm Workers: pesticide exposure may lead to neurodegeneration

2009 study posted for filing

Paris, France – June 04, 2009 – The cause of Parkinson’s disease (PD), the second most frequent neurodegenerative disease after Alzheimer’s disease, is unknown, but in most cases it is believed to involve a combination of environmental risk factors and genetic susceptibility. Laboratory studies in rats have shown that injecting the insecticide rotenone leads to an animal model of PD and several epidemiological studies have shown an association between pesticides and PD, but most have not identified specific pesticides or studied the amount of exposure relating to the association.

A new epidemiological study involving the exposure of French farm workers to pesticides found that professional exposure is associated with PD, especially for organochlorine insecticides. The study is published in Annals of Neurology, the official journal of the American Neurological Association.

Led by Alexis Elbaz M.D., Ph.D., of Inserm, the national French institute for health research in Paris, and University Pierre et Marie Curie (UPMC, Paris 6), the study involved individuals affiliated with the French health insurance organization for agricultural workers who were frequently exposed to pesticides in the course of their work. Occupational health physicians constructed a detailed lifetime exposure history to pesticides by interviewing participants, visiting farms, and collecting a large amount of data on pesticide exposure. These included farm size, type of crops, animal breeding, which pesticides were used, time period of use, frequency and duration of exposure per year, and spraying method.

The study found that PD patients had been exposed to pesticides through their work more frequently and for a greater number of years/hours than those without PD. Among the three main classes of pesticides (insecticides, herbicides, fungicides), researchers found the largest difference for insecticides: men who had used insecticides had a two-fold increase in the risk of PD.

“Our findings support the hypothesis that environmental risk factors such as professional pesticide exposure may lead to neurodegeneration,” notes Dr. Elbaz.

The study highlights the need to educate workers applying pesticides as to how these products should be used and the importance of promoting and encouraging the use of protective devices. In addition to the significance of the study for those with a high level of exposure to pesticides, it also raises the question about the role of lower-level environmental exposure through air, water and food, and additional studies are needed to address this question.

Commonly used medications may produce cognitive impairment in older adults:

2009 study posted for filing

Contact: Cindy Fox Aisen
caisen@iupui.edu
317-274-7722
Indiana University


Drugs, such as diphenhydramine, which have an anticholinergic effect, are important medical therapies available by prescription and also are sold over the counter under various brand names such as Benadryl®, Dramamine®, Excederin PM®, Nytol®, Sominex®, Tylenol PM®, and Unisom®. Older adults most commonly use drugs with anticholinergic effects as sleep aids.INDIANAPOLIS – Many drugs commonly prescribed to older adults for a variety of common medical conditions including allergies, hypertension, asthma, and cardiovascular disease appear to negatively affect the aging brain causing immediate but possibly reversible cognitive impairment, including delirium, in older adults according to a clinical review now available online in the Journal of Clinical Interventions in Aging, a peer reviewed, open access publication.

While it is known that these medications do have an effect on the brain and in the case of sleeping pills, are prescribed to act on the brain, the study authors suggest the amount of cognitive impairment caused by the drugs in older adults is not well recognized.

“The public, physicians, and even the Food and Drug Administration, need to be made aware of the role of these common medications, and others with anticholinergic effects, in causing cognitive impairment. Patients should write down and tell their doctor which over-the-counter drugs they are taking. Doctors, who often think of these medications simply as antihistamines, antidepressants, antihypertensives, sleep aids or even itching remedies, need to recognize their systemic anticholinergic properties and the fact that they appear to impact brain health negatively. Doing so, and prescribing alternative medications, should improve both the health and quality of life of older adults,” said senior study author Malaz Boustani, M.D., Indiana University School of Medicine associate professor of medicine, Regenstrief Institute investigator, and research scientist with the IU Center for Aging Research.

Dr. Boustani and colleagues conducted a systematic evidence-based analysis of 27 peer reviewed studies of the relationship of anticholinergic effect and brain function as well as investigating anecdotal information. They found a strong link between anticholinergic effect and cognitive impairment in older adults.

“One of the goals of our work is to encourage the Food and Drug Administration to expand its safety evaluation process from looking only at the heart, kidney and liver effects of these drugs to include effects of a drug on the most precious organ in human beings, our brain,” Dr. Boustani said.

“Many medications used for several common disease states have anticholinergic effects that are often unrecognized by prescribers” said Wishard Health Services pharmacist, Noll Campbell, Pharm.D., first author of the study, noting that these drugs are among the most frequently purchased over the counter products. “In fact, 50 percent of the older adult population use a medication with some degree of anticholinergic effect each day.”

“Our main message is that older adults and their physicians should have conversations about the benefits and harms of these drugs in relation to brain health. As the number of older adults suffering from both cognitive impairment and multiple chronic conditions increases, it is very important to recognize the negative impact of certain medications on the aging brain,” said Dr. Boustani.

The brain pharmacoepidemiology group of the IU Center for Aging Research currently is conducting a study of 4,000 older adults to determine if the long term use of medications with anticholinergic effects is linked to the irreversible development of cognitive impairment such as Alzheimer disease.

###

Authors of the JCIA study are Noll Campbell, Pharm.D., Wishard Health Services; Malaz Boustani, M.D., MPH; Tony Limbil, M.D., MPH, of University of Illinois; Carol Ott, Pharm.D. of Wishard and Purdue University; Chris Fox, MRCPsych and Ian Maidment, B.Pharm., of Kent Institute of Medicine and Health Sciences University of Kent and Medway NHS Trust, United Kingdom; Cathy C. Schubert, M.D. of the IU School of Medicine; Stephanie Munger, B.S., of Regenstrief and IUCAR; Donna Fick, R.N., Ph.D., of Pennsylvania State University; David Miller, M.D., of the IU School of Medicine and Rajesh Gulati, M.D., of IU Medical Group – Primary Care.

The study was funded by the John A. Hartford Foundation, the Atlantic Philanthropies, the Starr Foundation, and the National Institute on Aging

Eating lots of carbs, sugar may raise risk of cognitive impairment, Mayo Clinic study finds

Contact: Nick Hanson newsbureau@mayo.edu 507-284-5005 Mayo Clinic

Those 70-plus who ate food high in fat and protein fared better cognitively, research showed

ROCHESTER, Minn. — People 70 and older who eat food high in carbohydrates have nearly four times the risk of  developing mild cognitive impairment, and the danger also rises with a diet heavy in sugar, Mayo Clinic researchers have found. Those who consume a lot of protein and fat relative to carbohydrates are less likely to become cognitively impaired, the study found. The findings are published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease.

The research highlights the importance of a well-rounded diet, says lead author Rosebud Roberts, M.B., Ch.B., a Mayo Clinic epidemiologist.

“We think it’s important that you eat a healthy balance of protein, carbohydrates and fat, because each of these nutrients has an important role in the body,” Dr. Roberts says.

Researchers tracked 1,230 people ages 70 to 89 who provided information on what they ate during the previous year. At that time, their cognitive function was evaluated by an expert panel of physicians, nurses and neuropsychologists. Of those participants, only the roughly 940 who showed no signs of cognitive impairment were asked to return for follow-up evaluations of their cognitive function. About four years into the study, 200 of those 940 were beginning to show mild cognitive impairment, problems with memory, language, thinking and judgment that are greater than normal age-related changes.

Those who reported the highest carbohydrate intake at the beginning of the study were 1.9 times likelier to develop mild cognitive impairment than those with the lowest intake of carbohydrates. Participants with the highest sugar intake were 1.5 times likelier to experience mild cognitive impairment than those with the lowest levels.

But those whose diets were highest in fat — compared to the lowest — were 42 percent less likely to face cognitive impairment, and those who had the highest intake of protein had a reduced risk of 21 percent.

When total fat and protein intake were taken into account, people with the highest carbohydrate intake were 3.6 times likelier to develop mild cognitive impairment.

“A high carbohydrate intake could be bad for you because carbohydrates impact your glucose and insulin metabolism,” Dr. Roberts says. “Sugar fuels the brain — so moderate intake is good. However, high levels of sugar may actually prevent the brain from using the sugar — similar to what we see with type 2 diabetes.”

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The study was funded by the National Institute on Aging.

About Mayo Clinic

Mayo Clinic is a nonprofit worldwide leader in medical care, research, and education for people from all walks of life. For more information, visit www.mayoclinic.org/about/ and www.mayoclinic.org/news.

Nick Hanson 507-284-5005 (days) 507-284-2511 (evenings) Email: newsbureau@mayo.edu

MULTIMEDIA ALERT: For audio and video of Dr. Roberts talking about the study, visit Mayo Clinic News Network.

Aspirin and similar drugs may be associated with brain microbleeds in older adults: Causes amyloid accumulation often related to Alzheimer’s disease

2009 study posted for filing

Contact: Monique M.B. Breteler, M.D., Ph.D. m.breteler@erasmusmc.nl JAMA and Archives Journals

Individuals who take aspirin or other medications that prevent blood clotting by inhibiting the accumulation of platelets appear more likely to have tiny, asymptomatic areas of bleeding in the brain, according to a report posted online today that will appear in the June print issue of Archives of Neurology, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.

Cerebral microbleeds—small deposits of the iron-storing protein hemosiderin in the brain—may be a sign of cerebral small-vessel disease, according to background information in the article. This condition, common among older adults, occurs when the walls of blood vessels in the brain become weakened. When microbleeds occur in certain brain areas, they may indicate a type of small vessel disease known as cerebral amyloid angiopathy, in which the accumulation of amyloid (a protein often related to Alzheimer’s disease) causes degeneration of smooth muscle cells and increases the susceptibility of blood vessels to ruptures and hemorrhages.

Meike W. Vernooij, M.D., and colleagues at Erasmus MC University Medical Center, Rotterdam, the Netherlands, investigated the relationship between cerebral microbleeds and the use of anti-clotting medications in 1,062 individuals without dementia involved in the Rotterdam Scan Study. Participants (average age 69.6) underwent magnetic resonance imaging examinations in 2005 and 2006. Pharmacy records were used to assess whether any of the individuals took anti-clotting drugs. These included aspirin and carbasalate calcium—called platelet aggregation inhibitors because they prevent the accumulation of platelets that form blood clots.

In the years before MRI, 363 (34.2 percent) of the participants had used any anti-clotting drugs, including 245 (23.1 percent) who took platelet aggregation inhibitors (67 taking aspirin and 141 taking carbasalate calcium). Compared with patients who did not use anti-clotting drugs, those who took aspirin or carbasalate calcium were more likely to have cerebral microbleeds visible on MRI. This association was particularly strong among individuals taking these drugs at higher doses, typically used to treat or prevent heart disease. Microbleeds in the frontal lobe were more common among aspirin users than carbasalate calcium users. There was no association between other types of anti-clotting drugs and cerebral microbleeds.

“There is currently major interest in bleeding risks with the use of antithrombotic or thrombolytic treatment in persons who have microbleeds that are apparent on MRI because this may affect treatment in patients with cardiovascular or cerebrovascular disease,” the authors write. “The cross-sectional design of our analyses prohibited an investigation of whether persons with cerebral microbleeds are at increased risk for symptomatic hemorrhage [excessive bleeding] when using platelet aggregation inhibitors.”

The beneficial effects of anti-clotting drugs for individuals at risk for heart attack and stroke typically outweigh any risks of bleeding, they note. “Nevertheless, it may be that in selected persons (e.g., those with signs of cerebral amyloid angiopathy), this risk-benefit ratio may differ for certain drugs (e.g., aspirin), thus influencing treatment decision,” they conclude.

###

(Arch Neurol. 2009;66[6]:(doi:10.1001/archneurol.2009.42).  Available pre-embargo to the media at www.jamamedia.org.)

Editor’s Note: Please see the article for additional information, including other authors, author contributions and affiliations, financial disclosures, funding and support, etc

Cognitive Decline Begins in Late 20s, U.Va. Study Suggests

2009 study posted for filing

 

March 18, 2009 — A new study indicates that some aspects of peoples’ cognitive skills — such as the ability to make rapid comparisons, remember unrelated information and detect relationships — peak at about the age of 22, and then begin a slow decline starting around age 27.

 

“This research suggests that some aspects of age-related cognitive decline begin in healthy, educated adults when they are in their 20s and 30s,” said Timothy Salthouse, a University of Virginia professor of psychology and the study’s lead investigator.

 

His findings appear in the current issue of the journal Neurobiology of Aging.

 

Salthouse and his team conducted the study during a seven-year period, working with 2,000 healthy participants between the ages of 18 and 60.

 

Participants were asked to solve various puzzles, remember words and details from stories, and identify patterns in an assortment of letters and symbols.

 

Many of the participants in Salthouse’s study were tested several times during the course of years, allowing researchers to detect subtle declines in cognitive ability.

 

Top performances in some of the tests were accomplished at the age of 22. A notable decline in certain measures of abstract reasoning, brain speed and in puzzle-solving became apparent at 27.

 

Salthouse found that average memory declines can be detected by about age 37. However, accumulated knowledge skills, such as improvement of vocabulary and general knowledge, actually increase at least until the age of 60.

 

“These patterns suggest that some types of mental flexibility decrease relatively early in adulthood, but that how much knowledge one has, and the effectiveness of integrating it with one’s abilities, may increase throughout all of adulthood if there are no pathological diseases,” Salthouse said.

 

However, Salthouse points out that there is a great deal of variance from person to person, and, he added, most people function at a highly effective level well into their final years, even when living a long life.

 

One of the unique features of this project in the University of Virginia Cognitive Aging Laboratory is that some of the participants return to the laboratory for repeated assessments after intervals of one to seven years.

 

“By following individuals over time, we gain insight to cognition changes, and may possibly discover ways to alleviate or slow the rate of decline,” Salthouse said. “And by better understanding the processes of cognitive impairment, we may become better at predicting the onset of dementias such as Alzheimer’s disease.”

 

Salthouse’s team also is surveying participants’ health and lifestyles to see if certain characteristics, such as social relationships, serve to moderate age-related cognitive changes.

 

They hope to continue their studies over many more years, with many of the same participants, to gain a long-term understanding of how the brain changes over time.

 

— By Fariss Samarrai

52nd Health Research Report 17 MAR 2009 – Reconstruction

 

 

Editors top five:

1. NCRP Report No. 160 on increased average radiation exposure of the US population

2. Grape Extracts May be Effective Against Harmful Gut Bacteria

3. Not so sweet: Over-consumption of sugar linked to aging

4. Support for adjunctive vitamin C treatment in cancer

5. A diet rich in calcium aids weight loss

 

 

In this Issue:

1. Moderate alcohol intake associated with bone protection

2. NCRP Report No. 160 on increased average radiation exposure of the US population

3. Half in US see another country emerging as world’s technological leader

4. New study shows how spikes in nitrite can have a lasting impact on the heart

5. Normal Human Gut Bacteria May Inhibit Shiga Toxin Development Following Infection with E. coli O157:H7

6. Grape Extracts May be Effective Against Harmful Gut Bacteria

7. Pure fructose frequently confused with high fructose corn syrup

8. Not so sweet: Over-consumption of sugar linked to aging

9. Support for adjunctive vitamin C treatment in cancer

10.’Holy powder’ ingredient makes membranes behave for better health

11. Teenage boys who eat fish at least once a week achieve higher intelligence scores

12. May supplementation of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA)suppress colon tumor cell growth?

13. Vitamin C intake associated with lower risk of gout in men

14. UI study suggests salt might be ‘nature’s antidepressant’

15. Low vitamin D levels associated with several risk factors in teenagers

16. AMERICAN ADULTS FLUNK BASIC SCIENCE

17.Older patients with 1 type of heart failure may receive little or no benefit from drugs

18.A diet rich in calcium aids weight loss

 

Health Research Report

52nd Issue Date 17 MAR 2009

Compiled By Ralph Turchiano

www.healthresearchreport.me www.vit.bz

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Language learning makes the brain grow

Contact: Johan Mårtensson johan.martensson@psychology.lu.se 46-707-554-401 Lund University

At the Swedish Armed Forces Interpreter Academy in the city of Uppsala, young people with a flair for languages go from having no knowledge of a language such as Arabic, Russian or Dari to speaking it fluently in the space of 13 months. From morning to evening, weekdays and weekends, the recruits study at a pace unlike on any other language course.

As a control group, the researchers used medicine and cognitive science students at Umeå University – students who also study hard, but not languages. Both groups were given MRI scans before and after a three-month period of intensive study. While the brain structure of the control group remained unchanged, specific parts of the brain of the language students grew. The parts that developed in size were the hippocampus, a deep-lying brain structure that is involved in learning new material and spatial navigation, and three areas in the cerebral cortex.

“We were surprised that different parts of the brain developed to different degrees depending on how well the students performed and how much effort they had had to put in to keep up with the course”, says Johan Mårtensson, a researcher in psychology at Lund University, Sweden.

Students with greater growth in the hippocampus and areas of the cerebral cortex related to language learning (superior temporal gyrus) had better language skills than the other students. In students who had to put more effort into their learning, greater growth was seen in an area of the motor region of the cerebral cortex (middle frontal gyrus). The areas of the brain in which the changes take place are thus linked to how easy one finds it to learn a language and development varies according to performance.

Previous research from other groups has indicated that Alzheimer’s disease has a later onset in bilingual or multilingual groups.

“Even if we cannot compare three months of intensive language study with a lifetime of being bilingual, there is a lot to suggest that learning languages is a good way to keep the brain in shape”, says Johan Mårtensson.

###

The study was performed by a group of researchers at Lund University and the Umeå Centre for Functional Brain Imaging in collaboration with the Swedish Armed Forces Interpreter Academy. The findings have been published in the scientific journal NeuroImage. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1053811912006581

For more information, please contact Johan Mårtensson, johan.martensson@psychology.lu.se, +46 707 554401.

Caffeine may block inflammation linked to mild cognitive impairment

Contact: Phyllis Picklesimer p-pickle@illinois.edu 217-244-2827 University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences

URBANA – Recent studies have linked caffeine consumption to a reduced risk of Alzheimer’s disease, and a new University of Illinois study may be able to explain how this happens.

“We have discovered a novel signal that activates the brain-based inflammation associated with neurodegenerative diseases, and caffeine appears to block its activity. This discovery may eventually lead to drugs that could reverse or inhibit mild cognitive impairment,” said Gregory Freund, a professor in the U of I’s College of Medicine and a member of the U of I’s Division of Nutritional Sciences.

Freund’s team examined the effects of caffeine on memory formation in two groups of mice—one group given caffeine, the other receiving none. The two groups were then exposed to hypoxia, simulating what happens in the brain during an interruption of breathing or blood flow, and then allowed to recover.

The caffeine-treated mice recovered their ability to form a new memory 33 percent faster than the non-caffeine-treated mice. In fact, caffeine had the same anti-inflammatory effect as blocking IL-1 signaling. IL-1 is a critical player in the inflammation associated with many neurodegenerative diseases, he said.

“It’s not surprising that the insult to the brain that the mice experienced would cause learning memory to be impaired. But how does that occur?” he wondered.

The scientists noted that the hypoxic episode triggered the release of adenosine by brain cells.

“Your cells are little powerhouses, and they run on a fuel called ATP that’s made up of molecules of adenosine. When there’s damage to a cell, adenosine is released,” he said.

Just as gasoline leaking out of a tank poses a danger to everything around it, adenosine leaking out of a cell poses a danger to its environment, he noted.

The extracellular adenosine activates the enzyme caspase-1, which triggers production of the cytokine IL-1β, a critical player in inflammation, he said.

“But caffeine blocks all the activity of adenosine and inhibits caspase-1 and the inflammation that comes with it, limiting damage to the brain and protecting it from further injury,” he added.

Caffeine’s ability to block adenosine receptors has been linked to cognitive improvement in certain neurodegenerative diseases and as a protectant against Alzheimer’s disease, he said.

“We feel that our foot is in the door now, and this research may lead to a way to reverse early cognitive impairment in the brain. We already have drugs that target certain adenosine receptors. Our work now is to determine which receptor is the most important and use a specific antagonist to that receptor,” he said.

###

The study appears in the Journal of Neuroscience and can be viewed online at http://www.jneurosci.org/content/32/40/13945.full. Co-authors are Gabriel Chiu, Diptaman Chatterjee, Patrick Darmody, John Walsh, Daryl Meling, and Rodney Johnson, all of the U of I. Funding for the study was provided by the National Institutes of Health.

Sleeping Brain Behaves as If It’s Remembering Something

In the background is an entorhinal cortex neuron that was studied. The blue-green trace shows neocortical slow oscillation while the yellow trace shows the persistent activity of entorhinal cortical neuron, even when the inputs from neocortex were silent. (Credit: Mayank Mehta)

ScienceDaily (Oct. 7, 2012) — UCLA researchers have for the first time measured the activity of a brain region known to be involved in learning, memory and Alzheimer’s disease during sleep. They discovered that this part of the brain behaves as if it’s remembering something, even under anesthesia, a finding that counters conventional theories about memory consolidation during sleep.

The research team simultaneously measured the activity of single neurons from multiple parts of the brain involved in memory formation. The technique allowed them to determine which brain region was activating other areas of the brain and how that activation was spreading, said study senior author Mayank R. Mehta, a professor of neurophysics in UCLA’s departments of neurology, neurobiology, physics and astronomy.

In particular, Mehta and his team looked at three connected brain regions in mice — the new brain or the neocortex, the old brain or the hippocampus, and the entorhinal cortex, an intermediate brain that connects the new and the old brains. While previous studies have suggested that the dialogue between the old and the new brain during sleep was critical for memory formation, researchers had not investigated the contribution of the entorhinal cortex to this conversation, which turned out to be a game changer, Mehta said. His team found that the entorhinal cortex showed what is called persistent activity, which is thought to mediate working memory during waking life, for example when people pay close attention to remember things temporarily, such as recalling a phone number or following directions.

“The big surprise here is that this kind of persistent activity is happening during sleep, pretty much all the time.” Mehta said. “These results are entirely novel and surprising. In fact, this working memory-like persistent activity occurred in the entorhinal cortex even under anesthesia.”

The study appears Oct. 7, 2012 in the early online edition of the journal Nature Neuroscience.

The findings are important, Mehta said, because humans spend one-third of their lives sleeping and a lack of sleep results in adverse effects on health, including learning and memory problems.

It had been shown previously that the neocortex and the hippocampus “talk” to each other during sleep, and it is believed that this conversation plays a critical role in establishing memories, or memory consolidation. However, no one was able to interpret the conversation.

“When you go to sleep, you can make the room dark and quiet and although there is no sensory input, the brain is still very active,” Mehta said. “We wanted to know why this was happening and what different parts of the brain were saying to each other.”

Mehta and his team developed an extremely sensitive monitoring system that allowed them to follow the activities of neurons from each of three targeted portions of the brain simultaneously, including the activity of a single neuron. This allowed them to decipher the precise communications, even when the neurons were seemingly quiet. They then developed a sophisticated mathematical analysis to decipher the complex conversation.

During sleep, the neocortex goes into a slow wave pattern for about 90 percent of that time. During this period, its activity slowly fluctuates between active and inactive states about once every second. Mehta and his team focused on the entorhinal cortex, which has many parts.

The outer part of the entorhinal cortex mirrored the neocortical activity. However, the inner part behaved differently. When the neocortex became inactive, the neurons in the inner entorhinal cortex persisted in the active state, as if they were remembering something the neocortex had recently “said,” a phenomenon called spontaneous persistent activity. Further, they found that when the inner part of the entorhinal cortex became spontaneously persistent, it prompted the hippocampus neurons to become very active. On the other hand, when the neocortex was active, the hippocampus became quieter. This data provided a clear interpretation of the conversation.

“During sleep the three parts of the brain are talking to each other in a very complex way,” he said. “The entorhinal neurons showed persistent activity, behaving as if they were remembering something even under anesthesia when the mice could not feel or smell or hear anything. Remarkably, this persistent activity sometimes lasted for more than a minute, a huge timescale in brain activity, which generally changes on a scale of one thousandth of a second.”

The findings challenge theories of brain communication during sleep, in which the hippocampus is expected to talk to, or drive, the neocortex. Mehta’s findings instead indicate that there is a third key actor in this complex dialogue, the entorhinal cortex, and that the neocortex is driving the entorhinal cortex, which in turn behaves as if it is remembering something. That, in turn, drives the hippocampus, while other activity patterns shut it down.

“This is a whole new way of thinking about memory consolidation theory. We found there is a new player involved in this process and it’s having an enormous impact,” Mehta said. “And what that third player is doing is being driven by the neocortex, not the hippocampus. This suggests that whatever is happening during sleep is not happening the way we thought it was. There are more players involved so the dialogue is far more complex, and the direction of the communication is the opposite of what was thought.”

Mehta theorizes that this process occurs during sleep as a way to unclutter memories and delete information that was processed during the day but is irrelevant. This results in the important memories becoming more salient and readily accessible. Notably, Alzheimer’s disease starts in the entorhinal cortex and patients have impaired sleep, so Mehta’s findings may have implications in that arena.

For this study, Mehta teamed with Thomas Hahn and Sven Berberich of Heidelberg University in Germany and the Max Planck Institute for Medical Research and James McFarland of Brown University and the UCLA Department of Physics. Going forward, the team will further study this brain activity to uncover the mechanisms behind it and determine if it influences subsequent behavioral performance.

“These results provide the first direct evidence for persistent activity in medial entorhinal cortex layer neurons in vivo, and reveal its contribution to cortico-hippocampal interactions, which could be involved in working memory and learning of long behavioral sequences during behavior, and memory consolidation during sleep,” the study states.

The study was funded by the Whitehall Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, the W. M. Keck Foundation, the German Ministry of Education and Research and the Max Planck Society.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/10/121007134729.htm

46th Health Research Report 23 DEC 2008 – Reconstruction

 

 

 

 

Editors Top Five:

 

 

 

1. Long-term use of diabetes drugs by women significantly increases risk of fractures

 

2. 10% of U.S. High School Seniors Use Vicodin

 

3. Lack of vitamin D causes weight gain and stunts growth in girls

 

New study shows that a cough medicine ingredient could effectively treat prostate cancer

 

5. A low dose of caffeine when pregnant may damage the heart of offspring for a lifetime

 

In this issue:

 

1. Asthma: Commonly used medication shows no clear benefits in children

 

2. Long-term use of diabetes drugs by women significantly increases risk of fractures

 

Lack of vitamin D causes weight gain and stunts growth in girls

 

4. Use weights, not aerobics, to ease back pain

 

5. High pesticide levels found in fruit-based drinks in some countries outside U. S.

 

6. A low dose of caffeine when pregnant may damage the heart of offspring for a lifetime

 

7. 10% of U.S. High School Seniors Use Vicodin

 

8. Vitamin D deficiency in infants and nursing mothers carries long-term disease risks

 

9. New anti-cancer components of extra-virgin olive oil revealed

 

10. Lean muscle mass helps even obese patients battle cancer

 

11. Einstein researchers find convincing evidence that probiotics are effective

 

New study shows that a cough medicine ingredient could effectively treat prostate cancer

 

13. New data regarding safety of artemisinin combination therapy for pregnant women with malaria

 

14. Cousin marriage laws outdated

 

15. New evidence that people make aspirin’s active principle — salicylic acid

 

16. Vitamin D deficiency associated with greater rates of cesarean sections

 

17. UCSB scientists show how certain vegetables combat cancer

 

 

Health Technology Research Synopsis

46th Health Research Report 23 DEC 2008

Compiled By Ralph Turchiano

www.healthresearchreport.me www.vit.bz

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www.engineeringevil.com

45th Health Research Report 09 NOV 2008 – Reconstruction

Editors Top Five:

1. Selenium may slow march of AIDS

2. Vitamin B1 could reverse early-stage kidney disease in diabetes patients

3. Persistent pollutant may promote obesity

4. Broccoli compound targets key enzyme in late-stage cancer

5. Down’s symptoms may be treatable in the womb

In this issue:

1. Inhaled corticosteroids raise pneumonia risk for lung disease sufferers

2. Stanford/Packard study shows no benefit from drug widely used to prevent premature births

3. US infant formula safe from melamine, says FDA

4. Vitamin K linked to insulin resistance in older men

5. Down’s symptoms may be treatable in the womb

6. Selenium may slow march of AIDS

7. Fast food a potential risk factor for Alzheimer’s

8. Despite “Apology Laws,” Physicians May Not Communicate Medical Errors

9. Broccoli compound targets key enzyme in late-stage cancer

10. Persistent pollutant may promote obesity

11. Calcium and vitamin D may not be the only protection against bone loss

12. A little wine boosts omega-3 in the body: Researchers find a novel mechanism for a healthier heart

13. Flu vaccine linked to reduced illness, impairment of academic performance among college students (Read WHOLE article),,,

14. Eating eggs when pregnant affects breast cancer in offspring

15. Vitamin D found to fight placental infection

16. Interferon as long-term treatment for hepatitis C not effective, report HALT-C researchers

17. Updated standards to reduce metal contaminants in prescription drugs

18. Breaking the silence after a study ends

19. Vitamin B1 could reverse early-stage kidney disease in diabetes patients

20. Statin warning for pregnant women

21. Pine bark reduces inflammatory marker CRP in osteoarthritis

 

Health Technology Research Synopsis

45th Issue Date 09 NOV 2008

Compiled By Ralph Turchiano

www.healthresearchreport.me www.vit.bz

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www.engineeringevil.com

 

 

 

Melatonin may save eyesight in inflammatory disease: Uveitis

2008 study posted for filing

Contact: Angela Colmone
acolmone@asip.org
301-634-7953
American Journal of Pathology

Buenos Aires, Argentina — Current research suggests that melatonin therapy may help treat uveitis, a common inflammatory eye disease. The related report by Sande et al., “Therapeutic Effect of Melatonin in Experimental Uveitis,” appears in the December issue of The American Journal of Pathology.

People with uveitis develop sudden redness and pain in their eyes, and their vision rapidly deteriorates. Untreated, uveitis can lead to permanent vision loss, accounting for an estimated 10-15% of cases of blindness in the US. Uveitis has a wide variety of causes, including eye injury, cancer, infection, and autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis. There is currently no optimal treatment for uveitis. Corticoid steroid eye drops are often used; however, long-term corticoid use has many negative side effects, including the possible development of glaucoma.

Researchers lead by Dr. Ruth Rosenstein of The University of Buenos Aires and The National Research Council (CONICET) hypothesized that melatonin, which regulates sleep/wake cycles and reduces jet lag, may be able to prevent the ocular inflammation in uveitis. They found in an experimental model of uveitis that levels of two factors that contribute to inflammation, TNFα and NFκB, were reduced with melatonin treatment. Importantly, melatonin treatment also decreased the appearance of clinical symptoms of uveitis such as inflammation, blood vessel expansion and cataract, and protected the blood-ocular barrier integrity.

Taken together, the data from Sande et al suggest that “melatonin, which lacks adverse collateral effects even at high doses, could be a promising resource in the management of uveitis. Alone or combined with corticosteroid therapy, the anti-inflammatory effects of melatonin may benefit patients with chronic uveitis and decrease the rate and degree of corticosteroid-induced complications.” Future studies will aim at understanding the mechanisms governing melatonin protection in the eye.

 

###

 

This work was supported by grants from the Agencia Nacional de Promoción Científica y Tecnológica (ANPCyT), the University of Buenos Aires, CONICET, Argentina, and the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation.

Sande PH, Fernandez DC, Aldana Marcos HJ, Chianelli MS, Aisemberg J, Silberman DM, Sáenz, DA, Rosenstein RE: Therapeutic effect of melatonin in experimental uveitis. Am J Pathol 2008 173:1702-1713

For press copies of the articles, please contact Dr. Angela Colmone at 301-634-7953 or acolmone@asip.org or the Journal Editorial Office at 301-634-7959.

For more information on Dr. Rosenstein, please contact at: ruthr@fmed.uba.ar

The American Journal of Pathology, official journal of the American Society for Investigative Pathology, seeks to publish high-quality, original papers on the cellular and molecular biology of disease. The editors accept manuscripts that advance basic and translational knowledge of the pathogenesis, classification, diagnosis, and mechanisms of disease, without preference for a specific analytic method. High priority is given to studies on human disease and relevant experimental models using cellular, molecular, animal, biological, chemical, and immunological approaches in conjunction with morphology.

44th Health Research Report 25 NOV 2008 – Reconstruction

 

Editors Top Five:

1. What cures you may also ail you: Antibiotics, your gut and you

2. Roche ordered to pay $13M to users of acne drug

3. Potassium loss from blood pressure drugs may explain higher risk of adult diabetes

4. 14 drugs identified as most urgently needing study for off-label use, Stanford professor says

5. Pregnancy study finds strong association between two antidepressants and heart anomalies

In this issue:

1. Many doctors plan to quit or cut back: survey

2. Obese kids’ artery plaque similar to middle-aged adults

3. Evolution’s new wrinkle: Proteins with cruise control provide new perspective

4. Mandatory HPV Vaccination Is Unwarranted and Unwise

5. Plastic surgeons warn of malnutrition in body contouring patients

6. Soluble fiber, antispasmodics and peppermint oil should be used to treat IBS

7. Arsenic linked to cardiovascular disease at EPA-regulated drinking water standards

8. Calcium may only protect against colorectal cancer in presence of magnesium

9. Study helps clarify role of vitamin D in cancer therapy

10. What cures you may also ail you: Antibiotics, your gut and you

11. Indigo ointment may help treat patients with psoriasis

12. Broccoli may lower lung cancer risk in smokers

13. Exercise increases brain growth factor and receptors, prevents stem cell drop in middle age

14. Garlic chemical tablet treats diabetes I and II

15. Fake TV News: Widespread and Undisclosed

16. Red, red wine: How it fights Alzheimer’s

17. Roche ordered to pay $13M to users of acne drug

18. Melatonin may save eyesight in inflammatory disease

19. 14 drugs identified as most urgently needing study for off-label use, Stanford professor says

20. Stomach ulcer bug causes bad breath

21. Mineral oil contamination in humans: A health problem?

22. Pregnancy study finds strong association between two antidepressants and heart anomalies

23. Potassium loss from blood pressure drugs may explain higher risk of adult diabetes

24. Feed a cold, feed a fever: Research shows calorie cut makes it harder to fight flu

25. Pain is in the eyes of the beholder

26. Estrogen therapy could be dangerous for women with existing heart risk

Health Technology Research Synopsis

44th Health Research Report 25 NOV 2008

Compiled By Ralph Turchiano

www.healthresearchreport.me www.vit.bz

www.youtube.com/vhfilm http://www.facebook.com/engineeringevil

www.engineeringevil.com

 

43rd Health Research Report 11 NOV 2008 – Reconstruction

 

 

 

 

Editors Top Five:

 

 

 

1. Optimal Dose of Vitamin E Maximizes Benefits, Minimizes Risk

 

2. Study shows pine bark reduces jetlag

 

3. Vitamin B3 reduces Alzheimer’s symptoms, lesions

 

4. The upside to allergies: cancer prevention

 

5. Can rectal vitamin E induce remission in patients with mild to moderate ulcerative colitis?

 

 

 

In this Issue:

 

 

 

1. Eating red meat sets up target for disease-causing bacteria

 

2. Grapes may aid a bunch of heart risk factors, animal study finds

 

3. The upside to allergies: cancer prevention

 

4. New MU Study Indicates that Exercise Prevents Fatty Liver Disease

 

5. Vigorous activity protects against breast cancer

 

6. Optimal Dose of Vitamin E Maximizes Benefits, Minimizes Risk

 

7. Drinking milk to ease milk allergy

 

8. Can rectal vitamin E induce remission in patients with mild to moderate ulcerative colitis?

 

9. How did glycine significantly decrease liver injury?

 

10. Fibromyalgia can no longer be called the ‘invisible’ syndrome

 

11. New evidence for homeopathy

 

12. Vitamin B3 reduces Alzheimer’s symptoms, lesions

 

13. Study shows pine bark reduces jetlag

 

14. Dietary sport supplement shows strong effects in the elderly

 

15. UC Davis researchers discover Achilles’ heel in pancreatic cancer

 

16. Could vitamin D save us from radiation?

 

17. LOW POTASSIUM LINKED TO HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE

 

18. Doctors should disclose off-label prescribing to their patients

 

19. Can vitamins and minerals prevent hearing loss?

 

Health Technology Research Synopsis

43rd Issue Date 11 NOV 2008 

Compiled By Ralph Turchiano

www.healthresearchreport.me www.vit.bz

www.youtube.com/vhfilm http://www.facebook.com/engineeringevil

www.engineeringevil.com

Melatonin and exercise work against Alzheimer’s in mice

Contact: SINC info@agenciasinc.es 34-914-251-820 FECYT – Spanish Foundation for Science and Technology

Different anti-aging treatments work together and add years of life

The combination of two neuroprotective therapies, voluntary physical exercise, and the daily intake of melatonin has been shown to have a synergistic effect against brain deterioration in rodents with three different mutations of Alzheimer’s disease.

A study carried out by a group of researchers from the Barcelona Biomedical Research Institute (IIBB), in collaboration with the University of Granada and the Autonomous University of Barcelona, shows the combined effect of neuroprotective therapies against Alzheimer’s in mice.

Daily voluntary exercise and daily intake of melatonin, both of which are known for the effects they have in regulating circadian rhythm, show a synergistic effect against brain deterioration in the 3xTg-AD mouse, which has three mutations of Alzheimer’s disease.

“For years we have known that the combination of different anti-aging therapies such as physical exercise, a Mediterranean diet, and not smoking adds years to one’s life,” Coral Sanfeliu, from the IIBB, explains to SINC. “Now it seems that melatonin, the sleep hormone, also has important anti-aging effects”.

The experts analysed the combined effect of sport and melatonin in 3xTg-AD mice which were experiencing an initial phase of Alzheimer’s and presented learning difficulties and changes in behaviour such as anxiety and apathy.

The mice were divided into one control group and three other groups which would undergo different treatments: exercise –unrestricted use of a running wheel–, melatonin –a dose equivalent to 10 mg per kg of body weight–, and a combination of melatonin and voluntary physical exercise. In addition, a reference group of mice were included which presented no mutations of the disease.

“After six months, the state of the mice undergoing treatment was closer to that of the mice with no mutations than to their own initial pathological state. From this we can say that the disease has significantly regressed,” Sanfeliu states.

The results, which were published in the journal Neurobiology of Aging, show a general improvement in behaviour, learning, and memory with the three treatments.

These procedures also protected the brain tissue from oxidative stress and provided good levels of protection from excesses of amyloid beta peptide and hyperphosphorylated TAU protein caused by the mutations. In the case of the mitochondria, the combined effect resulted in an increase in the analysed indicators of improved performance which were not observed independently.

Treatment not easily transferable to humans

“Transferring treatments which are effective in animals to human patients is not always consistent, given that in humans the disease develops over several years, so that when memory loss begins to surface, the brain is already very deteriorated,” the IIBB expert points out.

However, several clinical studies have found signs of physical and mental benefits in sufferers of Alzheimer’s resulting from both treatments. The authors maintain that, until an effective pharmacological treatment is found, adopting healthy living habits is essential for reducing the risk of the disease appearing, as well as reducing the severity of its effects.

The melatonin debate

The use of melatonin, a hormone synthesized from the neurotransmitter serotonin, has positive effects which can be used for treating humans. With the approval of melatonin as a medication in the European Union in 2007, clinical testing on this molecule has been increasing. It has advocates as well as detractors, and the scientific evidence has not yet been able to unite the differing views.

According to the Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database, melatonin is probably effective in sleeping disorders in children with autism and mental retardation and in blind people; and possibly effective in case of jet-lag, sunburns and preoperative anxiety.

“However, other studies which use melatonin as medication show its high level of effectiveness,” Darío Acuña-Castroviejo explains to SINC. He has been studying melatonin for several years at the Health Sciences Technology Park of the University of Granada.

The expert points out that international consensus already exists, promoted by the British Association for Psychopharmacology –also published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology in 2010–, which has melatonin as the first choice treatment for insomnia in patients above the age of 55. This consensus is now being transferred to cases of insomnia in children.

Its use in treating neurodegenerative diseases is acquiring increasing scientific support in lateral amyotrophic sclerosis, in Alzheimer’s, and Duchenne muscular dystrophy.

“Even though many more studies and clinical tests are still required to assess the doses of melatonin which will be effective for a wide range of diseases, the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of melatonin mean that its use is highly recommended for diseases which feature oxidative stress and inflammation,” Acuña-Castroviejo states.

This is the case for diseases such as epilepsy, chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, and even the aging process itself, where data is available pointing to the benefits of melatonin, though said data is not definitive.

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Reference:

García-Mesa Y, Giménez-Llort L, López LC, Venegas C, Cristòfol R, Escames G, Acuña-Castroviejo D, Sanfeliu C. “Melatonin plus physical exercise are highly neuroprotective in the 3xTg-AD mouse”. Neurobiol Aging 2012 Jun; 33(6):1124.e13-29.

Contact:

Coral Sanfeliu Instituto de Investigaciones Biomédicas de Barcelona (IIBB) Tel.: +34 93.363.83.38 Email: coral.sanfeliu@iibb.csic.es

About melatonina:

Darío Acuña-Castroviejo Centro de Investigación Biomédica Parque Tecnológico de Ciencias de la Salud Universidad de Granada Telf.: +34 958 241000, ext. 20169 Email: dacuna@ugr.es

Children with MS were 1.74 times more likely to have received a certain type of hepatitis B vaccine, called Engerix B®. Those children with MS developed symptoms three or more years after the vaccine.

Public release date: 25-Sep-2008 Re-Posted for Filing

Contact: Rachel Seroka
rseroka@aan.com
651-695-2738
American Academy of Neurology

Majority of children vaccinated against hepatitis B not at increased risk of MS

ST. PAUL, Minn. – The majority of children vaccinated against hepatitis B are not at an increased risk of developing multiple sclerosis (MS), according to a study to be published in the October 8, 2008, online issue of Neurology®, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

The study based in France involved 349 children with MS and 2,941 children without the disease. The children were all under the age of 16. A total of 24.4 percent of the children with MS were vaccinated for hepatitis B in the three years before the study, compared to 27.3 percent for the children without MS.

Although the study found that hepatitis B vaccination does not generally increase the risk of multiple sclerosis, the children with MS were 1.74 times more likely to have received a certain type of hepatitis B vaccine, called Engerix B®. Those children with MS developed symptoms three or more years after the vaccine. The risk was only found for this specific type of hepatitis B vaccine and not found for all vaccines against hepatitis B.

This association cannot be taken as confirmation that the vaccine caused MS. Further studies are needed to determine whether this is a causal relationship.

 

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The American Academy of Neurology, an association of more than 21,000 neurologists and neuroscience professionals, is dedicated to improving patient care through education and research. A neurologist is a doctor with specialized training in diagnosing, treating and managing disorders of the brain and nervous system such as stroke, Alzheimer’s disease, epilepsy, Parkinson’s disease, and multiple sclerosis.

For more information about the American Academy of Neurology, visit www.aan.com.

Neural implants could spark better decisions

18:00 19 September 2012 by Douglas Heaven Magazine issue 2883.

Ever wish you could make better choices? That could one day be possible thanks to an electronic brain implant that can enhance short-term memory and decision-making in primates. The implant can also restore these functions in an animal model of Alzheimer’s disease and other types of brain damage, paving the way for the development of new treatments for people with these conditions.

Sam Deadwyler at Wake Forest University School of Medicine in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, and colleagues have previously shown that a neural implant can restore some motor and sensory functions in rats. Now they have used a similar implant to stimulate higher-level thinking in monkeys.

During normal brain function, neurons “fire” when they receive an input from another neuron via the connection between them, called a synapse. The spatial and temporal pattern of this activity  – where and when the neurons fire   – can be detected and recorded.

To find out if it is possible to hijack and then retune these patterns of activity, Deadwyler’s team first trained five rhesus macaques to perform a task that tests their attention, short-term memory and decision-making skills.

First, the monkeys were shown a random image from a pool of 5000. The image was then blanked out for an interval of 1 to 90 seconds, before reappearing in a different position, alongside up to seven other images. If the monkey selected the original image once it reappeared it was rewarded with juice.

After two years of training, the monkeys correctly matched the images 75 per cent of the time at the easier levels  – when the image was blanked out for a short period of time, and fewer images were displayed when it reappeared. Their success rate declined to 40 per cent in tasks with the longest interval and maximum amount of images to choose from.

The animals then had a device capable of recording and stimulating neuronal activity implanted into their prefrontal cortex, an area of the brain responsible for many facets of intelligence. Specifically, the implant was able to record neuronal communication in the so-called supra-granular layers (layers 2/3), part of the six layers that make up this part of the cortex, and both record from and stimulate neurons in layer 5 (see diagram). Layers 2/3 and 5 are around 1350 micrometres apart and differ in their predominant cell type and connectivity.

The challenge lay in working out which patterns of activity should be induced and when in order to enhance the monkeys’ performance in the task. To do so, the team recorded neuronal activity while the animals performed the task again. They then analysed the activity going into and out of the different layers and extracted patterns of neuronal firing that correlated with correct and incorrect decisions.

The team was then able to enhance the animals’ decision-making process by ensuring that the implant kicked in whenever the neuronal activity in layers 2/3 resembled that seen when an incorrect decision was being made. When it did, the implant stimulated a pattern of activity in layer 5 that replicated the activity recorded when a correct decision was made.

The implant was able to improve average performance in the task by 10 to 20 per cent. In the hardest versions of the task – such as when the original image reappeared alongside several other images  – the monkeys also significantly increased their speed, taking 2 rather than 3 seconds to correctly identify the image.

The team next tested the implant’s ability to restore cognitive function in monkeys that had been given cocaine. The drug is commonly used in animals to model the loss of synaptic connections seen in Alzheimer’s, dementia and other types of brain injury.

Without stimulation from the implant, the monkeys’ performance dropped by 10 per cent across all difficulty levels. When the implant was switched on, however, their performance was boosted to just below levels seen in monkeys who hadn’t been given cocaine or an implant.

“It’s a wonderful piece of work,” says Daniel Chew at the University of Cambridge, who was not involved in the study. He suggests that since the implant reduces the number of incorrect responses there may be an even greater degree of improvement on a more difficult task.

Simon Schultz at Imperial College London agrees that it is an impressive study, but says that it is not clear what exactly is going on. We understand the motor and sensory domains quite well, he says, but we still don’t know how the cortex works. These guys step around that, he says, by effectively recognising what a correct decision looks like, recording that pattern and playing it back.

In the study, the patterns of activity used to stimulate a correct answer were specific to each monkey. Would it be possible to use a pattern taken from one high-performing individual and use it to raise the game of others? According to team member Robert Hampson, giving one monkey a “correct” pattern of activity from another didn’t work, and in fact reduced performance, just as scrambled patterns did.

To apply this technology to people with conditions such as Alzheimer’s, this limitation would have to be overcome, either by learning much more about how a correct pattern is shaped from inputs into each area, or recording healthy brain activity before a person developed symptoms of brain damage.

A further problem is the invasive nature of implants. “It causes very acute inflammation and scarring,” says Chew. This can kill the neurons around the implant, insulating the electrodes and diminishing their effectiveness. Chew and his colleagues are trying to create biologically compatible electrodes to get around this problem.

Another possibility is bypassing the need for an implant entirely. Deadwyler and Hampson both point out that transcranial imaging and stimulation – the ability to visualise and stimulate activity in the brain non-invasively – is advancing quickly and that it may one day be possible to adapt their approach to work from outside the skull.

Regardless, the pair believe that human trials of the implant are in sight since similar hardware has already been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration for use in people with Parkinson’s. “[Human trials] may not be too far down the line,” says Deadwyler.

This is great news for people with brain deterioration  – the likely first participants of such a trial. But besides therapeutic treatment, the possibilities are endless. Imagine an implant in your visual cortex, says Schultz. This, he suggests, would make it possible to identify the pattern of activity that occurs when you imagine a number. When this pattern was recognised by the implant it could stimulate the pattern for a new number for you to picture. In theory, such an implant could be used to create a secure code for a cryptographic key based on values only you can access.

The problem with developing a prosthesis for cognitive enhancement rather than restoration is that it is harder to justify the trials. But, as Schultz jokes, “why stop at repair when you can enhance as well?” It’s a nice idea, but the ethical hurdles mean that developing a prosthesis for cognitive enhancement rather than restoration is not currently justifiable, he says. For the time being, at least, the focus will rightly be on ways to restore lost function in people with brain damage. And that’s surely a good decision.

Journal reference: Journal of Neural Engineering, doi.org/jcx

http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn22282-neural-implants-could-spark-better-decisions.html?full=true&print=true