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Health Bulletin


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  1. #271
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Artificial sweetener may cure Parkinson's disease

    An artificial sweetener produced by fungi, bacteria, and algae could help treat those suffering from Parkinson's disease, according to a new study.

    Mannitol that is present in sugar-free gum and candy has been approved by the FDA as a diuretic to flush out excess fluids and used during surgery as a substance that opens the blood/brain barrier to ease the passage of other drugs.

    Profs. Ehud Gazit and Daniel Segal of Tel Aviv University's Department of Molecular Microbiology and Biotechnology and the Sagol School of Neuroscience, along with their colleague Dr. Ronit Shaltiel-Karyo and PhD candidate Moran Frenkel-Pinter, found that mannitol also prevents clumps of the protein a-synuclein from forming in the brain — a process that is characteristic of Parkinson's disease.

    These results of the study have suggested that this artificial sweetener could be a novel therapy for the treatment of Parkinson's and other neurodegenerative diseases.

    After identifying the structural characteristics that facilitate the development of clumps of a-synuclein, researchers searched for a compound that could inhibit the proteins' ability to bind together.

    In the lab, they found that mannitol was among the most effective agents in preventing aggregation of the protein in test tubes. The benefit of this substance is that it is already approved for use in a variety of clinical interventions, Segal said.

    Next, to test the capabilities of mannitol in the living brain, the researchers turned to transgenic fruit flies engineered to carry the human gene for a-synuclein.

    To study fly movement, they used a test called the "climbing assay," in which the ability of flies to climb the walls of a test tube indicates their locomotive capability. In the initial experimental period, 72 percent of normal flies were able to climb up the test tube, compared to only 38 percent of the genetically-altered flies.

    The researchers then added mannitol to the food of the genetically-altered flies for a period of 27 days and repeated the experiment. This time, 70 percent of the mutated flies could climb up the test tube. In addition, the researchers observed a 70 percent reduction in aggregates of a-synuclein in mutated flies that had been fed mannitol, compared to those that had not.

    These results have been published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry.


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  2. #272
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Artificial sweetener may cure Parkinson's disease

    An artificial sweetener produced by fungi, bacteria, and algae could help treat those suffering from Parkinson's disease, according to a new study.

    Mannitol that is present in sugar-free gum and candy has been approved by the FDA as a diuretic to flush out excess fluids and used during surgery as a substance that opens the blood/brain barrier to ease the passage of other drugs.

    Profs. Ehud Gazit and Daniel Segal of Tel Aviv University's Department of Molecular Microbiology and Biotechnology and the Sagol School of Neuroscience, along with their colleague Dr. Ronit Shaltiel-Karyo and PhD candidate Moran Frenkel-Pinter, found that mannitol also prevents clumps of the protein a-synuclein from forming in the brain — a process that is characteristic of Parkinson's disease.

    These results of the study have suggested that this artificial sweetener could be a novel therapy for the treatment of Parkinson's and other neurodegenerative diseases.

    After identifying the structural characteristics that facilitate the development of clumps of a-synuclein, researchers searched for a compound that could inhibit the proteins' ability to bind together.

    In the lab, they found that mannitol was among the most effective agents in preventing aggregation of the protein in test tubes. The benefit of this substance is that it is already approved for use in a variety of clinical interventions, Segal said.

    Next, to test the capabilities of mannitol in the living brain, the researchers turned to transgenic fruit flies engineered to carry the human gene for a-synuclein.

    To study fly movement, they used a test called the "climbing assay," in which the ability of flies to climb the walls of a test tube indicates their locomotive capability. In the initial experimental period, 72 percent of normal flies were able to climb up the test tube, compared to only 38 percent of the genetically-altered flies.

    The researchers then added mannitol to the food of the genetically-altered flies for a period of 27 days and repeated the experiment. This time, 70 percent of the mutated flies could climb up the test tube. In addition, the researchers observed a 70 percent reduction in aggregates of a-synuclein in mutated flies that had been fed mannitol, compared to those that had not.

    These results have been published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry.

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  3. #273
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Weight loss can boost memory: study

    Shedding pounds can not only make you healthier, it may also improve your memory, a new study has claimed. Memory improves in older, overweight women after they lose weight by dieting, and their brain activity actually changes in the regions of the brain that are important for memory tasks, researchers said.

    "Our findings suggest that obesity-associated impairments in memory function are reversible, adding incentive for weight loss," said lead author Andreas Pettersson, from the Umea University, Sweden.A special type of brain imaging called functional magnetic resonance imaging (functional MRI) allowed Pettersson and co-workers to see brain activity while the subjects performed a memory test.

    The researchers randomly assigned 20 overweight, postmenopausal women (average age, 61) to one of two healthy weight loss diets for six months. Nine women used the Paleolithic diet, also called the Caveman diet, which was composed of 30 per cent protein, 30 per cent carbohydrates and 40 per cent unsaturated fats.

    The other 11 women followed the Nordic Nutrition Recommendations of a diet containing 15 per cent protein, 55 per cent carbs and 30 per cent fats. Before and after the diet, the investigators measured the women's body mass index (BMI) and body fat composition. They also tested the subjects' episodic memory by instructing them to memorise unknown pairs of faces and names presented on a screen during functional MRI.

    The name for this process of creating new memory is encoding. Later, the women again saw the facial images along with three letters. Their memory retrieval task, during functional MRI, was to indicate the correct letter that corresponded to the first letter of the name linked to the face.

    The group's average BMI decreased from 32.1 before the diet to 29.2 (below the cutoff for obesity) after six months of dieting, and their average weight dropped from 85 to 77.1 kilogrammes, researchers said. Memory performance improved after weight loss, and Pettersson said the brain-activity pattern during memory testing reflected this improvement.

    After weight loss, brain activity reportedly increased during memory encoding in the brain regions that are important for identification and matching of faces. "The altered brain activity after weight loss suggests that the brain becomes more active while storing new memories and therefore needs fewer brain resources to recollect stored information," he said. The results were presented at The Endocrine Society's meeting in San Francisco.

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  4. #274
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Scientists discover new TB drug

    Scientists have hit upon a novel drug that attacks the tuberculosis bacteria, a finding that could prove to be an effective tool in treating the dreaded disease, says a study.

    The researchers at the New Jersey Medical School of University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ) discovered the drug that cripples the TB bug by dissolving its protective fatty coating, a finding that could eventually be used to improve TB treatment in humans.

    The study has been posted online by Nature Chemical Biology.

    TB is caused by infection with the Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb) and is the second biggest cause of deaths worldwide, second only to HIV/AIDS, reports Science Daily.

    With drug-resistant strains of Mtb on the rise, there is a critical need for more effective anti-TB agents.

    "Mtb is a little ball of soap," said lead author David Alland, professor of medicine and director of the Centre for Emerging and Re-emerging Pathogens at New Jersey Medical School, describing the meshwork of long fatty acids that make up the bug's protective cell wall.

    There are few anti-TB drugs that disrupt this coat. But so far no single drug has been able to kill the bacteria completely.

    The researchers screened for agents that trigger expression of a bacterial gene that gets turned on when cell wall synthesis is compromised.

    They discovered a class of compound called thiophenes that killed the Mtb in culture without the emergence of drug resistance. And the combination of thiophene and the existing coat-busting drug isoniasid achieved 100 percent bacterial killing.

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  5. #275
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Aspirin may fight cancer by slowing DNA damage

    Aspirin can lower risk for some cancers by slowing DNA damage, scientists, including one of Indian-origin, have found. The study led by a University of California, San Francisco scientist found that aspirin slows the accumulation of DNA mutations in abnormal cells in at least one pre-cancerous condition.
    "Aspirin and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, which are commonly available and cost-effective medications, may exert cancer-preventing effects by lowering mutation rates," said Carlo Maley, a member of the UCSF Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center.

    In the study, published in the journal PLOS Genetics, Maley working with gastroenterologist Brian Reid, of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, analysed biopsy samples from 13 patients with a pre-cancerous condition called Barrett's esophagus who were tracked for six to 19 years. DNA mutations Some patients started out taking daily aspirin for several years, and then stopped, while others started taking aspirin for the first time during observation. The goal was to track the rate of mutations in tissues sampled at different times.

    The researchers found that biopsies taken while patients were on an aspirin regimen had on average accumulated new mutations about 10 times more slowly than biopsies obtained during years when patients were not taking aspirin. Maley now plans to test a hypothesis that may explain that aspirin's lowering of mutation rates is due to the drug's effect of reducing inflammation.

    Inflammation, a response of the immune system, in recent years has been recognised as a hallmark of cancer. Maley said that less inflammation may result in less production within pre-cancerous tissue of oxidants known to damage DNA, and may dampen growth-stimulating signalling.

    For the duration of the study, the rate of accumulation of mutations measured in the biopsied tissue between time points was slow, even when patients were not taking aspirin, with the exception of one patient.While mutations accumulated at a steady rate, the vast majority of mutations arose before the abnormal tissue was first detected in the clinic, the researchers concluded.

    These findings are consistent with the fact that although Barrett's esophagus is a significant risk factor for esophageal cancer, the vast majority of cases do not progress to cancer, Maley said. In the one patient who later went on to develop cancer, a population of cellular 'clones' with a great number of mutations emerged shortly before he started taking aspirin. Rather than aiming to kill tumour cells, it may be better to try to halt or slow growth and mutation, Maley said. Additional authors include Amitabh Srivastava and Robert Odze from Harvard University.

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  6. #276
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Getting enough sleep may prevent diabetes in men

    Catching up on lost sleep may help men lower their risk of developing type 2 diabetes, a new study has claimed.

    Researchers from Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institut (LA BioMed) found that insulin sensitivity, the body's ability to clear glucose (blood sugar) from the bloodstream, significantly improved after three nights of "catch-up sleep" on the weekend in men with long-term, weekday sleep restrictions.

    "We all know we need to get adequate sleep, but that is often impossible because of work demands and busy lifestyles," said lead researcher Dr Peter Liu. "Our study found extending the hours of sleep can improve the body's use of insulin, thereby reducing the risk of type 2 diabetes in adult men," Liu said.

    Insulin is a hormone that regulates a person's blood sugar level. The body of a patient with type 2 diabetes cannot effectively use the insulin it produces, or it becomes "resistant" to insulin.

    Retaining the body's sensitivity to insulin reduces the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. "The good news is that by extending the hours they sleep, adult men - who over a long period of time do not get enough sleep during the working week - can still improve their insulin sensitivity," Liu said.

    Liu and researchers from the University of Sydney in Australia studied 19 non-diabetic men, with an average age of 28.6 years, who for six months or longer (average, 5.1 years) self-reported inadequate sleep during the workweek.

    On average, the men received only 6.2 hours of sleep each work night. But they regularly caught up on their sleep on the weekends, sleeping an extra 37.4 per cent, or 2.3 hours, per night, the authors reported. The researchers randomly assigned the men to two of three sleep conditions: (1) 10 hours of sleep, (2) six hours of sleep or (3) 10 hours in bed, in which noises during deep sleep aroused them into shallow sleep without waking them. The six hours of sleep tested persistent sleep restriction.

    The study found that when the men slept 10 hours a night on each of three nights of catch-up sleep, their insulin sensitivity was much better than when they had persistent sleep restriction. Their insulin resistance test score also improved (decreased) with sleep extension.

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  7. #277
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    'Indians think blood donation could alter their personality'

    Indian recipients prefer to get an organ transplant or blood transfusion from a donor whose personality or behaviour matches theirs, a new study has found.

    Some people in India and the US, who undergo transplants, believe that their personality or behaviour may change to become more like that of the blood or organ donor, researchers from the University of Michigan, said.

    They feel so "creeped out" that they would decline an organ or blood that came from a murderer or thief, the study conducted on participants from India and US found.

    People think that behaviours and personalities are partly due to something hidden deep inside their blood or bodily organs, Meredith Meyer, the study's lead author, said.

    Surprisingly, researchers found that results from blood transfusions were just as strong as from heart transplants.

    "Since blood transfusions are so common and relatively straightforward, we had expected people might think that they have very little effect," Meyer said.

    Participants viewed a list of possible human donors and judged whether they wanted someone who shared similar traits.

    Possible donors also included two animals: a pig or a chimpanzee. For human donors described as having the same gender, the characteristics could be positive (eg high IQ, talented artist, kind person or philanthropist) or negative (eg low IQ, thief, gambler or murderer).

    Respondents ranked how much they liked the idea of each being a donor, as well as assessed their beliefs that the transplant would cause the recipient's personality or
    behaviour to become similar to the donor's.

    The findings indicate it was more important for people to have a donor similar to themselves than the positive or negative qualities that individual possesses. Transplants from animals were judged to be particularly distasteful.

    "People dislike the prospect of any change in their essence - positive or negative¿and so any salient difference between the donor and recipient leads to increased resistance to the transplant (despite the fact) there is no scientific model to account for why transplants might lead to transference of features," Meyer said.

    The study compared transplant beliefs¿heart, pacemaker and skin grafts¿with participants from both the US and India, where some of its subcultures express strong contamination beliefs. Researchers thought this might influence Indians' beliefs about transplants.

    Respondents from both countries did not like transplants from animals or donors with negative traits, but differed in how they viewed donor-to-recipient transfers. Indians felt stronger than Americans that transplants would affect their behaviour.
    The findings appear in the journal Cognitive Science.

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  8. #278
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    thank you vijijgermany for sharing health related information.


  9. #279
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    HIV tests every 5 yrs would save million lives

    Providing universal HIV testing for India's billion-plus population every five years would prove to be a cost-effective approach to managing the epidemic, even with more intensive testing for high-risk groups, a new study has revealed.

    The findings are based on a careful analysis of India's HIV epidemic using the Cost-Effectiveness of Preventing AIDS Complications (CEPAC) International model, a sophisticated statistical tool that has already been used in HIV policymaking in France, South Africa, and other countries.

    A team of researchers at Brown, Yale, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard, and in Chennai, India, integrated scores of factors specific to the country to find that testing for the whole country, with greater frequency for high-risk groups and areas, would pay off despite India's huge population and even in cases where conditions are worse than the researchers assume.

    "Testing even 800 million adults is a public health undertaking of a historic magnitude," said study co-lead author Dr. Kartik Venkatesh, a postdoctoral fellow at Brown University and Women and Infants Hospital.

    "But what we were able to show is that even if you increase the cost of HIV treatment and care pretty significantly and really decrease the number of individuals who would link to care, even under those dire circumstances, testing this frequently and this widely still was reasonable," he added.

    Co-author Dr. Soumya Swaminathan, director of the National Institute for Research in Tuberculosis in Chennai, India, said the projections of the model would help the country in its battle with the epidemic, one of the world's largest.

    The main results from the model are projections of the dollar cost per year of extended lifespan.

    After extensive research to determine the best possible data for the country, Venkatesh, Becker, and the team coded several other parameters into the model including what percentage of people would refuse the test (18 per cent), how many patients who test positive would get care (50 per cent), the prevalence of HIV in the population (0.29 per cent), and many other factors such as the monthly risk of opportunistic infection in positive patients, hospitalization costs, the effectiveness rate of therapy, and the likelihood of positive patients transmitting the virus to others.

    They ran the models not only for the general population but also for people in high-risk districts and high-risk groups (e.g., with a higher prevalence of the virus but with more frequent testing today).

    As they ran the numbers to determine the costs and effects on patients of broader and more frequent testing, they compared the results to what would happen under the status quo, in which there is less-than-universal testing.

    Here is what they found:

    Testing the general population just once would be "very cost-effective" because it would cost 1,100 dollars per year of life saved (YLS) in general and 800 dollars per YLS among high-risk populations.

    Testing the population every five years would be "cost-effective" with a price of 1,900 dollars per YLS saved in general, and 1,300 dollars per YLS among high-risk groups.

    Testing annually would not be cost-effective for the general population, but would be for high-risk people.

    The general trends of cost effectiveness remained even after "sensitivity" analyses in which the researchers entered different statistical assumptions in the model in case their assumptions were too optimistic.

    But to make testing the general population every five years no longer cost-effective, the researchers had to tell the model that only 20 percent of the general population would agree to testing and only 20 per cent of positive patients would get care.

    Venkatesh said the main benefit of national testing would simply be getting more people to learn they are positive and therefore to seek effective care before they have full-blown AIDS and a complication. A secondary benefit, however, would be to curb transmission of the virus, both because behavior can change and because therapy can reduce transmissibility.

    The study was published in the journal PLoS One.


  10. #280
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    New gene involved in obesity found

    Scientists have found that a gene that protects telomeres - the ends of chromosomes - also plays a key role in obesity.


    Researchers from the Spanish National Cancer Research Centre (CNIO) are the first to identify a link between telomeres that shorten with ageing and obesity.

    "We still don't know what evolutionary significance to attach to it, but it is at the very least interesting that a telomere gene is related to obesity," said Maria Blasco, CNIO director and co-author of the study.

    RAP1 gene forms part of the shelterin complex, a group of proteins that make up the protective hood of telomeres - the DNA sequence at the ends of chromosomes that shortens with each cellular division and thus measures the ageing of the organism.

    There are six shelterins, and CNIO's Telomeres & Telomerase Group, which studies them in-depth, has discovered that RAP1, contrary to the rest, is not essential for the survival of the organism; but that does not mean RAP1 is not important.

    The reverse is rather the case: when comparing the genomes of different species, it can be observed that RAP1 is the most conserved shelterin of all. Despite the long history of evolutionary changes, RAP1 has not changed; it is present even in yeast.

    CNIO researchers had earlier discovered that RAP1, in addition to being located in telomeres, is also present in the rest of the chromosome; they supposed it acts regulating the action of other genes.

    In order to analyse this other potential function, and its importance in the organism, CNIO researchers created a lineage of mice without RAP1 and, to their surprise, discovered a model for obesity.

    "Mice, especially female mice, without RAP1 do not eat more, but do gain weight. They suffer from metabolic syndrome, accumulate abdominal fat and present high glucose and cholesterol levels, amongst other symptoms," said Paula Martinez, first-author of the study.

    The reason is that RAP1 plays an important role in the regulation of genes involved in metabolism. In particular, researchers have discovered that it acts on the same signalling pathway mediated by another protein: PPAR-gamma.

    In fact, PPAR-gamma deficient mice suffer from a type of obesity "surprisingly similar" to that seen in mice without RAP1.

    The study was published in the journal Cell Reports.


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