Washington: According to a recent study, scientists suggest that taking a certain kind of pill may prevent the accumulation of toxic molecules in brain which would help prevent or delay Alzheimer's disease. The study took a three-pronged approach to help subdue early events that occur in the brain long before symptoms of Alzheimer's disease are evident. The scientists were able to prevent those early events and the subsequent development of brain pathology in experimental animal models in the lab. Senior author of the study Huda Zoghbi said, "Common diseases like Parkinson's, Alzheimer's and dementia are caused in part by abnormal accumulation of certain proteins in the brain. Some proteins become toxic when they accumulate; they make the brain vulnerable to degeneration. Tau is one of those proteins involved in Alzheimer's disease and dementia." Cristian Lasagna-Reeves, the first author of the study said,"Scientists in the field have been focusing mostly on the final stages of Alzheimer's disease. Here we tried to find clues about what is happening at the very early stages of the illness, before clinical irreversible symptoms appear, with the intention of preventing or reducing those early events that lead to devastating changes in the brain decades later." The scientists reasoned that if they could find ways to prevent or reduce tau accumulation in the brain, new possibilities for developing drug treatments for these diseases could be uncovered. Cells control the amount of their proteins with other proteins called enzymes. To find which enzymes affect tau accumulation, the scientists systematically inhibited enzymes called kinases. "We inhibited about 600 kinases one by one and found one, called Nuak1, whose inhibition resulted in reduced levels of tau," said Zoghbi. The scientists screened the enzymes in two different systems, cultured human cells and the laboratory fruit fly. Screening in the fruit fly allowed the scientists to assess the effects of inhibiting the enzymes in a functional nervous system in a living organism. "Screening hundreds of kinases in the fruit fly animal model was critical because we could assess degeneration caused by tau in the fly's nervous system and measure neuronal dysfunction. Screening such a large number cannot be done with other animal models like the mouse, and cultured cells cannot model complex nervous system functions," said co-senior author Juan Botas. Brain section from mouse carrying the dementia-causing P301S mutation in human tau shows accumulation of tau neurofibrillary tangles.When Nuak1 levels are decreased by 50 percent, fewer tau tangles accumulate. "We found one enzyme, Nuak1, whose inhibition consistently resulted in lower levels of tau in both human cells and fruit flies. Then we took this result to a mouse model of Alzheimer's disease and hoped that the results would hold, and they did. Inhibiting Nuak1 improved the behaviour of the mice and prevented brain degeneration," said Zoghbi. "Confirming in three independent systems - human cells, the fruit fly and the mouse - that Nuak1 inhibition results in reduced levels of tau and prevents brain abnormalities induced by tau accumulation, has convinced us that Nuak1 is a reliable potential target for drugs to prevent diseases such as Alzheimer's," Zoghbi added. He further said, "The next step is to develop drugs that will inhibit Nuak1 in hope that one day would be able to lower tau levels with low toxicity in individuals at risk for dementia due to tau accumulation." Scientific studies like this one make it possible to develop new strategies to prevent or treat diseases such as Alzheimer's, Parkinson's or dementia. In the future it might be possible to treat people at risk for Alzheimer's disease by keeping tau low. Think of how taking drugs that lower cholesterol has helped control the accumulation of cholesterol in blood vessels that leads to atherosclerosis and heart disease. "When people started taking drugs that lower cholesterol, they lived longer and healthier lives rather than dying earlier of heart disease," said Zoghbi. "Nobody has thought about Alzheimer's disease in that light. Tau in Alzheimer's can be compared to cholesterol in heart disease. Tau is a protein that when it accumulates as the person ages, increases the vulnerability of the brain to developing Alzheimer's. So maybe if we can find drugs that can keep tau at levels that are not toxic for the brain, then we would be able to prevent or delay the development of Alzheimer's and other diseases caused in part by toxic tau accumulation," he concluded. The study was published in the Cell Press journal Neuron.
Washington: High body mass index (BMI), increased waist circumference and type 2 diabetes mellitus may increase the risk of liver cancer, a new study has found. A team of researchers from the National Cancer Institute in the US and the American Cancer Society, studied whether obesity, and type 2 diabetes mellitus are associated with liver cancer risk. Peter Campbell from the American Cancer Society and colleagues pooled data from 1.57 million adults enrolled in 14 different US-based prospective studies. At enrollment, participants completed questionnaires related to their height, weight, alcohol intake, tobacco use and other factors potentially related to cancer risk. None of them had cancer at enrollment. Type 2 diabetes mellitus was diagnosed in 6.5 per cent of the study participants. Over time, 2,162 developed liver cancer, which the researchers had verified. They compared the rates of liver cancer among participants with and without obesity and diabetes to determine the relative risks of liver cancer. Researchers found that for every five kg/m2 increase in BMI, there was a 38 and 25 per cent increase in the risk for liver cancer in men and women, respectively. The increase in risk was eight per cent for every five cm increase in waist circumference. When adjusted for alcohol intake, smoking, race and BMI, participants with type 2 diabetes mellitus were 2.61 times more likely to be diagnosed with liver cancer and the risk increased with increase in BMI. “We found that each of these three factors was associated, robustly, with liver cancer risk. All three relate to metabolic dysfunction. This adds substantial support to liver cancer being on the list of obesity-associated cancers,” Campbell said. The findings also add further evidence to support public health efforts aimed at curbing obesity, Campbell added. “This is yet another reason to maintain a body weight in the ‘normal’ range for your height,” he said. “Liver cancer is not simply related to excess alcohol intake and viral hepatitis infection,” he said. “From a public health perspective, these results are very important because obesity and diabetes, unfortunately, are common conditions in the population,” said Katherine A McGlynn, from the National Cancer Institute. “While some other well-described risk factors, such as hepatitis B virus or hepatitis C virus, are associated with increased risks of liver cancer, these factors are much less common than are obesity and diabetes,” McGlynn added. The study was published in the journal Cancer Research.
Melbourne: Lack of proper sleep may impact the accuracy of facial identification, according to a new study which could have important implications for those working in security or forensic settings. It is often necessary to identify unfamiliar people by comparing face images: for example a CCTV image to a mugshot, or a passport photograph to a traveller. Researchers from the University of New South Wales (UNSW) in Australia and the University of Glasgow in the UK found that accuracy of these decisions is impaired by poor sleep. However, the study also found that poor sleepers were just as confident in their decisions, highlighting possible implications for security and policing. Participants were asked to decide whether two images, presented on a computer monitor at the same time, pictured the same person or two different people. The researchers set the task to differ from the face recognition tasks most of us encounter in our daily lives in two important ways: firstly, the people pictured in the images are unfamiliar. Secondly, the task did not involve memory, because the images appear on the screen at the same time. Researchers said that while most people would typically expect to perform well on these tasks, many are surprised at how many errors they make. Previous studies have shown impaired memory for faces following restricted sleep. However, until now it was not known whether lack of sleep impairs performance on face identification tasks that do not rely on recognition memory. "We found that poor sleep in the three days leading up to the test was associated with poorer performance on the face matching test. In a separate experiment, we also found that participants with insomnia were poorer on the task," said Louise Beattie, from the University of Glasgow. "Sleep disruption is common in the general population, and especially so among night-shift workers," Beattie said. "Here we show for the first time that performance in a crucial "passport task" is affected by poor sleep, and our research has important implications for those working in security or forensic settings," she added. "This adds to the literature showing poor sleep and shift work to be associated with a range of adverse health, cognitive and emotional effects," she said. The study was published in the journal Royal Society Open Science.
New York: Incorporating laughter into a physical activity program could improve older adults’ mental health, aerobic endurance and confidence in their ability to exercise, a study has found. In the study, older adults participated in a moderate-intensity group exercise program called ‘LaughActive’ that incorporates playful simulated laughter — self-initiated as bodily exercise — into a strength, balance and flexibility workout. The findings showed that simulated laughter can be an ideal way for older adults with functional or cognitive impairment. Significant improvements were also found among participants in mental health, aerobic endurance and outcome expectations for exercise. Further, 96.2 per cent participants found laughter to be an enjoyable addition to a traditional exercise program, 88.9 per cent said laughter helped make exercise more accessible and 88.9 per cent reported the program enhanced their motivation to participate in other exercise classes or activities. “The combination of laughter and exercise may influence older adults to begin exercising and to stick with the program,” said lead author Celeste Greene, graduate student at Georgia State University. Despite the health benefits of physical activity and the risks of physical inactivity, many adults don’t engage in sufficient physical activity to achieve health benefits. Maintaining the motivation to adhere to regular physical activity is a challenge for many older adults, the researchers said. Adults should participate in a minimum of 30 minutes of physical activity at least five days a week to achieve desirable health outcomes, according to the US Department of Health and Human Services’ 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines. These health benefits include lower mortality and a reduced risk of a number of chronic conditions, including coronary heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, Type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, osteoporosis, colon cancer, breast cancer, anxiety and depression. Regular physical activity also reduces the impact of age-related declines in aerobic endurance, the incidence of falls and hip fracture and the degenerative loss of muscle mass, quality and strength. All of these benefits are crucial in older adults maintaining their ability to perform activities of daily living. The pleasant associations with laughter may add enjoyment to an exercise program and keep older adults motivated to work out, the researchers noted, in the paper published in the journal The Gerontologist. For six weeks, the participants in the study attended two 45-minute physical activity sessions per week that included eight to 10 laughter exercises lasting 30 to 60 seconds each. As laughter is scientifically demonstrated to strengthen and relax muscles, the intentional laughter exercise was incorporated into the workout routine after every two to four strength, balance and flexibility exercises.
Berlin: While the link between lifestyle and genetic factors with diabetes is well established, researchers have now found that long-term exposure to higher levels of traffic-related air pollution may also put you at increased risk of developing the chronic condition. Exposure to air pollution increases the risk of developing insulin resistance as a pre-diabetic state of Type-2 diabetes, the study said. "Whether the disease becomes manifest and when this occurs is not only due to lifestyle or genetic factors, but also due to traffic-related air pollution," said Professor Annette Peters from Helmholtz Zentrum Muenchen - German Research Centre for Environmental Health, located in Neuherberg, in Germany. For the study, published in the journal Diabetes, the researchers analysed data of nearly 3,000 participants of the KORA (Cooperative Health Research in the Region Augsburg conducted in Germany between 2006-2008) study who live in the city of Augsburg and two adjacent rural counties. All individuals were interviewed and physically examined. Furthermore, the researchers took fasting blood samples, in which they determined various markers for insulin resistance and inflammation. Non-diabetic individuals underwent an oral glucose tolerance test to detect whether their glucose metabolism was impaired. The researchers compared these data with the concentrations of air pollutants at the place of residence of the participants, which they estimated using predictive models based on repeated measurements at 20 sites (for particle measurements) and at 40 sites (for nitrogen dioxide measurements) in the city and in the rural counties. "The results revealed that people who already have an impaired glucose metabolism, so-called pre-diabetic individuals, are particularly vulnerable to the effects of air pollution," lead author of the study Kathrin Wolf from Helmholtz Zentrum Muenchen said. "In these individuals, the association between increases in their blood marker levels and increases in air pollutant concentrations is particularly significant! Thus, over the long term - especially for people with impaired glucose metabolism - air pollution is a risk factor for Type-2 diabetes," Wolf noted.
London: Increased physical activity among patients with a type of lung disease could reduce their risk of anxiety as well as depression, a study has found. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a group of lung diseases that block airflow and make it difficult to breathe. The prevalence of depression and anxiety is approximately 40 per cent in COPD patients while the corresponding figure is less than 10 per cent in the general population, the study said. But, the results suggested that in patients with COPD, higher levels of physical activity could lessen the risk of developing anxiety by 11 per cent and that of depression by 15 per cent. "In COPD patients, those with high physical activity are less likely to develop depression or anxiety over time," said Milo Puhan from University of Zurich, Switzerland. "The study has particular significance since mental disorders are common in patients with COPD," Puhan added. Physical activity promotion programs could be considered to lower the burden of mental disorders in COPD patients, the researchers suggested. Conversely, low physical activity could increase the risk of other highly prevalent health conditions such as cardiovascular, neurological, hormonal, musculoskeletal, cancer, and infectious diseases in patients with COPD. For the study, the team included 409 patients from primary care practice in the Netherlands and Switzerland. The researchers assessed physical activity using the Longitudinal Ageing Study Amsterdam Physical Activity Questionnaire at baseline and followed patients for up to five years. The study was presented at 2016 European Respiratory Society (ERS) International Congress in London, recently.
Ottawa: Scientists have identified a genetic link that could potentially lead to treatments for patients suffering from a form of a bowel disease, and could also treat ageing diseases. Crohn's disease is an inflammatory bowel disease in which the intestines of some patients can be blocked by thickened and scarred connective tissue - a condition known as fibrosis. "Fibrosis is a response to chronic inflammation, but it is also a process that occurs during normal ageing. If you can reverse this, you've essentially found a way to promote regeneration rather than degeneration," said lead author Bernard Lo, doctoral student at the University of British Columbia in Canada. In the study, the scientists identified a mutation named 'ROR alpha' -- hormone receptor -- that prevented mice from developing fibrosis after they were infected with a type of salmonella that mimics the symptoms of Crohn's. The scientists showed that Rora-aplha deficient mice were protected from fibrosis. The infected intestinal tissues displayed diminished pathology, attenuated collagen deposition, as well as reduced fibroblast accumulation, said the paper appearing in the journal Science Immunology. "The gene that was defective in those cells is a hormone receptor, and there are drugs available that may be able to block that hormone receptor in normal cells and prevent fibrotic disease," said Kelly McNagny, Professor at the University of British Columbia. The study found that ROR alpha -- hormone receptor and group 3 innate lymphoid cells (ILC3) -- a type of immune cells contribute to the development of fibrosis in a mouse model of Crohn's disease. ILC3 are critical for the development of gut fibrosis and may serve as a target for treating fibrotic complications of Crohn's disease, the authors suggested. In addition, the team is hopeful that their discovery could be applied to other types of tissue that experience fibrosis. Liver cirrhosis, chronic kidney disease, scarring from heart attacks and muscle degeneration all result in tissue fibrosis, noted McNagny. Apart from offering a target for potential therapies, the findings could also lead to treatments for diseases of ageing. "We think that we can potentially block complications of all these age-related fibrotic diseases by dampening these particular inflammatory cell types," McNagny concluded.
Washington: Consuming traditional diets of countries such as India, Japan and Nigeria - which have lower meat content than the Western diet - may significantly reduce the risk of Alzheimer's disease, a new study has found. Globally, about 42 million people now have dementia, with Alzheimer's disease as the most common type of dementia. Rates of Alzheimer's disease are rising worldwide. The most important risk factors seem to be linked to diet, especially the consumption of meat, sweets, and high-fat dairy products that characterise a Western Diet. For example, when Japan made the nutrition transition from the traditional Japanese diet to the Western diet, Alzheimer's disease rates rose from 1 per cent in 1985 to 7 per cent in 2008, with rates lagging the nutrition transition by 20-25 years. The evidence of these risk factors, which come from ecological and observational studies, also shows that fruits, vegetables, grains, low-fat dairy products, legumes, and fish are associated with reduced risk. In addition to reviewing the journal literature, a new ecological study was conducted using Alzheimer's disease prevalence from 10 countries (Brazil, Chile, Cuba, Egypt, India, Mongolia, Nigeria, Republic of Korea, Sri Lanka and the US) along with dietary supply data 5, 10 and 15 years before the prevalence data. Dietary supply of meat or animal products (not including milk) five years before Alzheimer's disease prevalence had the highest correlations with it. The study discussed the specific risk each country and region faces for developing Alzheimer's disease based on their associated dietary habits. Residents of the US seem to be at particular risk, with each person having about a 4 per cent chance of developing Alzheimer's disease, likely due in part to the Western dietary pattern, which tends to include a large amount of meat consumption. "Reducing meat consumption could significantly reduce the risk of Alzheimer's disease as well as of several cancers, diabetes mellitus type 2, stroke and chronic kidney disease," said William B Grant, author of the research published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition. "Mounting evidence from ecological and observational studies, as well as studies of mechanisms, indicates that the Western dietary pattern - especially the large amount of meat in that diet - is strongly associated with risk of developing Alzheimer's disease and several other chronic diseases," Grant said. "Although the traditional Mediterranean diet is associated with about half the risk for Alzheimer's disease of the Western diet, the traditional diets of countries such as India, Japan, and Nigeria, with very low meat consumption, are associated with an additional 50 per cent reduction in risk of Alzheimer's disease," he said.
Michigan: Surprised to see your grandparents making friends on Facebook, chatting online or using instant messaging services on smartphones? If yes, take heart, as indulging in social media could reduce loneliness as well as chronic conditions such as high blood pressure and diabetes in older adults. It is because, social media technology like emails, Twitter, Skype has the potential to cultivate successful relationships among older adults, the reseachers said. "Each of the links between social technology use and physical and psychological health was mediated by reduced loneliness," said William Chopik, Assistant Professor at Michigan State University, in the US. The study also found that participants active on social media platforms were generally more satisfied with life and had fewer depressive symptoms as well as chronic conditions such as high blood pressure and diabetes. More than 95 per cent of the elderly participants in the study, said they were either "somewhat" or "very" satisfied with technology, while 72 per cent said they were not opposed to learning new technologies. "Older adults think the benefits of social technology greatly outweigh the costs and challenges of technology," Chopik added. Previous research on technology use across the life span had focused on the digital divide -- or the disparities between younger and older adults -- painting a rather bleak picture of seniors' ability and motivation to adapt to a changing technological landscape. However, the new study challenge this interpretation. "Despite the attention that the digital divide has garnered in recent years, a large proportion of older adults use technology to maintain their social networks and make their lives easier," Chopik said, adding, "in fact, there may be portions of the older population that use technology as often as younger adults." For the study, the team examined the benefits of using technology for social connection among older adults in 591 participants with an average age of 68. The findings are published online in the journal Cyberpsychology, Behavior and Social Networking.
London: Smokers with asthma who switch to vaping found significant improvement and fewer respiratory infections, according to a study. The study, published in the Journal of Addiction Research & Therapy provided sufficient information to suggest that vaping does not increase infection rates and may in fact lead to a decrease in infections. For the study, data was collected through online survey of 941 respondents who switched to vaping for at least two months and assessed subjective changes in the respiratory symptoms. The results showed that 66 per cent of respondents reported an improvement in respiratory symptoms, 29 per cent reported no change and five per cent reported worsening. "There is no doubt that e-cigarettes are much safer than conventional cigarettes, but smokers are still led to believe that they are dangerous. This misinformation includes a misreported study on rats that claimed that vaping may increase vulnerability to infections," said Peter Hajek, Professor at the Queen Mary University of London. Some previous cell and animal studies have been interpreted as suggesting that vaping may increase vulnerability to infection, but these studies did not use realistic exposure levels. Human trials have reported no significant adverse respiratory effects associated with e-cigarette use for up to 1.5 years. The researchers said that it is not surprising that the survey respondents noticed improvements in their respiratory health. This is because smoking increases susceptibility to respiratory infections and stopping smoking can be expected to have a positive effect. In addition to this, vaping may also provide some antimicrobial protection through the e-liquid ingredient propylene glycol, though further evidence is needed to confirm this.