December 12, 2018

    The bacteria living in our intestines, collectively known as the microbiome, are important for the health of the gut
    A healthy gut with the good bacteria - health science news

    Good bacteria in the intestines that can attach themselves to the intestinal epithelium balance inflammatory immune reactions and keep the gut healthy, a new study found. These bacteria promote the secretion of the anti-inflammation molecule interleukin-10 by a special class of immune cells, the so-called antigen-presenting cells. Interleukin-10 signals to other cells of the immune system, and proper amounts are required for a balance between inflammatory and anti-inflammatory activity. This balance is of great importance, as the immune system needs to launch an inflammatory response against harmful bacteria such as Salmonella, but not against food. Thus, the good bacteria are necessary to keep this balance through controlling the immune system.

    Read the full story: Baylor College of Medicine
    Scientific publication: Immunity


    Melanomas develop from pigmented moles and can at times be difficult to treat
    Loss of a cellular antenna turns benign pigment cells into aggressive melanoma - health science news

    When human benign pigment cells lose their cilia, with which cells sense their environment, they degenerate and form an aggressive form of melanoma. Loss of cilia appears to be caused by an epigenetic mechanism, in which the control of gene expression, but not the DNA coding of the gene, is altered. The epigenetic silencing of the genes that make the cilia is caused by one protein, EZH2. The loss of cilia subsequently activates a host of factors within the cell that promote tumor development. These results give a better understanding of why otherwise normal cells turn into cancer cells, and provide treatment options.

    Read the full story: University of Zürich
    Scientific publication: Cancer Cell


    Life expectancy plateaus after 105 years
    Death probability slows down after the age of 105 years - short science articles

    After studying extremely old Italians, researchers have come to the conclusion that if you survive the dangerous 90s, and reach 105 years of age, then the chances of reaching 110 years is pretty good. These scientists tracked the mortality rate of approx 4000 Italians born between 1986 and 1910. The mortality rate not only stopped getting worse with age but it actually improves beyond a certain age. This research suggests that there is no fixed upper limit to human lifespan.

    Read the full story: UC Berkeley
    Scientific publication: Nature


    For colon cancer cells, aspartate is a limiting factor for their growth. Restricting this cellular nutrient could slow cancer growth.
    Key cellular nutrient identified that speeds up tumour growth - cancer science news

    While most cancer research focuses on the molecular machinery within the cancer cells themselves, other research addresses the role that the cancer cells’ environment may play in tumour growth. Using the latter approach, scientists have found that aspartate, a component of proteins and DNA, is a key nutrient for some tumours to grow. Upregulation of aspartate made colon cancer cells, osteosarcoma cells and mouse pancreatic cells more rapidly, while human pancreatic cells kept dividing at their initial rate. These and other experiments in this study show that acquiring aspartate may be a metabolic limitation for a subset of cancer, depending on the localisation of the tumour in the body and the environment the tumour grows in. These factors have to be taken into account for the development of tumour treatments in the future.

    Read the full story: Massachusettes Institute of Technology
    Scientific publication: Nature Cell Biology


    Mitosis, or cell division, is a two step process. First the DNA doubles, then the cell divides
    New molecular mechanism discovered that prevents cell division and cancer - cancer science news

    When cells divide, their DNA is copied first in its entirety, before the cells actually splits in two. This is to ensure that both daughter cells receive a correct set of DNA that is identical from cell to cell in the body. Researchers have now identified that two enzymes become active only after completion of DNA synthesis and drive the cells into division. They are inactive during DNA replication. Thus, the control of cell division is partially controlled by DNA replication, which is an important finding with respect to the quest of pharmacological compounds for cancer arrest.

    Read the full story: Karolinska Institutet
    Scientific publication: Molecular Cell


    Sickle cell anemia might be treated in the future with a new and precise gene editing technique
    New gene editing technique cures blood disorder in fetal mice - health science news

    New research shows that it is possible to correct a genetic defect by a new site-specific gene editing technique in fetal mice. In this study, scientists injected nanoparticles carrying donor DNA as well as synthetic molecules, peptide nucleic acids (PNAs), in mice embryos to repair a gene involved in anemia. The nanoparticles are taken up by the cells, and PNAs, which resemble DNA, bind the target gene to form triple helix (unlike the natural double DNA helix). The cell will try to repair this, and use the donor DNA with the correct gene for this that was delivered by the nanoparticles. Four months after the mice had been injected in uterus of the mother, they were living without any signs of anemia. The new technique makes it possible to treat single-gene disorders, such as cystic fibrosis and sickle cell very early in life, so that babies will not develop disease.

    Read the full story: Yale
    Scientific publication: Nature Communications


    Insulin might be packed in a capsule for oral intake in the future
    Insulin in a pill - health science news

    To overcome the obstacles associated with daily insulin injections, researchers have long sought after ways to deliver insulin orally. Now, this is coming close to reality. Scientists have packaged insulin in a specially designed capsule, where it is carried in an ionic liquid. This allows the insulin to be transported through the hostile, acidic environment of the stomach, and to be released in the small intestine. With the aid of the ionic liquid, insulin can then pass the intestinal wall and enter the blood. The formulation is biocompatible, safe, not too expensive to make, and survives for two months at room temperature. Long-term toxicology and bioavailability studies still have to be done, but all in all, this new technique for oral insulin delivery is definitely promising, and might change the life of many diabetes patients.

    Read the full story: Harvard – John A. Paulsen School of Engineering and Applied Sciences
    Scientific publication: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA


    Arresting movement of cancer cells could be an effective way of therapy
    A drug to prevent cancer cells from spreading - short science articles

    Researchers have shown that it could be possible to freeze cancer cells and then kill them. The drug named KBU2046 has shown effectiveness to inhibit cell mobility in human cell models of solid cancers like prostate, breast, colon and lung. This drug engages with the heat shock proteins, the cleaners of a cell. The drug binds to these cleaner proteins which stop the movement of the cells. This could be a new way of treating cancer since several drugs solely concentrate on killing the cancer cells but the majority of cancer mortality is due to metastasis of these cells to distant organs.

    Read the full story: OSHU
    Scientific publication: Nature Communications


    The organization of the blood vessels in the kidney, where the blood is filtered, is quite different than previously thought
    New views on the structure of the kidney - Health science news

    The structure of the kidney has been studied essentially to completion over the last 170 years, or so we thought. Now, researchers have discovered that the structure of the blood vessels within the kidney is quite different from what has been presented for years in the textbooks. Using improved microscopic analyses, the researchers have identified until now unrecognized blood vessel regions that may be lacking in smaller species or even human infants, as there is simply no place for them in smaller kidneys. This, however, needs further confirmation. The current study might lead to a better understanding of kidney diseases.

    Read the full story: University of Bristol
    Scientific publication: American Journal of Physiology – Renal Physiology


    Increased salt intake unequivocally linked to increased risk of death
    High salt intake linked to increased death risk - short science articles

    There has been controversy recently regarding the relationship between increased risk of death and salt intake. However, a new study suggests that an inaccurate estimation technique was responsible for these paradoxical results. Previous studies used spot test to determine sodium excreted in human urine samples; however there is wide fluctuation in the sodium level in the urine and hence for a more accurate measurement, one needs to do a 24 hrs measurement. Scientists used this gold standard technique of using an average of multiple non-consecutive urine samples of 3000 patients with pre-hypertension and found that there was a direct relationship between increased sodium intake and risk of death.

    Read the full story: ScienceDaily
    Scientific publication: International Journal of Epidemiology


    It is important to minimize the risk of mosquito bites by using mosquito repellent
    Keystone virus jumped from mosquitos to humans for the first time - health science news

    The Keystone virus, first found in the Tampa Bay-area in Florida, has been found in a teenager that was hospitalized with a rash and fever symptoms in August 2016. While the patients did not report symptoms of encephalitis, viral cultures from his samples showed that the virus grows well in mouse neuronal cell cultures, suggesting that the virus can infect the brain. The Keystone virus is a member of the California serogroup of viruses that can cause encephalitis in humans, and can apparently be transmitted by mosquitos, just like the Zika virus for instance.

    Read the full story: University of Florida
    Scientific publication: Clinical Infectious Diseases


    Thioredoxin-interactive protein could enable the ageing process
    Important molecule for ageing discovered - short science articles

    Scientists have discovered an important protein which is a central switch in the ageing process. The protein named TXNIP (thioredoxin-interactive protein) is responsible for shifting the balance of reactive oxidative species (ROS) from optimal to harmful amounts. These ROS accumulate in the cell and cause damage to the DNA which then ultimately changes the proteins and lipids in the cell. The cells of 55-year-old volunteers were significantly higher in TXNIP as compared to younger volunteers. Then the researchers bred flies with high or low levels of TXNIP and found that those with higher TXNIP lived shorter. Since these proteins are highly conserved in all species, it is highly likely that similar mechanisms exist in humans.

    Read the full story: German Cancer Research Center
    Scientific publication: FEBS letters


    A higher fat content could be associated with lower breast cancer in young women
    Younger women with high body fat associated with lower breast cancer risk - short science articles

    In sharp contrast to the increased risk of breast cancer in postmenopausal women with obesity, a large-scale study in premenopausal women has shown that higher body fat is linked with lower breast cancer risk. This is true for women even in the normal weight range. The largest risk reduction was seen in women in the age group of 18-24 years, with a decreased risk of 23%. Several factors could contribute to this link of higher BMI and lower breast cancer such as differences in hormones, growth factor or breast density. For example, the estrogen produced in fat tissue could induce a negative release effect on estrogen from the ovaries thereby controlling the release of growth factors. This isn't an excuse to gain weight, but an indication that we still need to understand the factors contributing to breast cancer in pre-menopausal women.

    Read the full story: UNC
    Scientific publication: JAMA oncology


    Being married decreases risk of cardiovascular diseases
    Your marriage literally protects you against diseases - short science articles

    Researchers conducted a pooled analysis of available data and found that being married might protect us against the development of heart diseases and stroke. Those who were married had a 42% lower risk of cardiovascular diseases and a 16% lower risk of coronary heart disease. Further, those who weren't married had an increased risk of death due to heart disease or stroke by 42% and 55% respectively. In-depth analysis showed that divorcees had a 35% while widowers had a 16% higher risk of stroke. There could be several reasons for better health of married people including early recognition of health problems, better financial security and enhanced wellbeing. This is prompting researchers to include marital status as an independent risk factor for cardiovascular heart diseases.

    Read the full story: BMJ news
    Scientific publication: Heart


    Intermittent fasting diet induces weight loss
    16:8 diet for weight loss - short science articles

    Researchers have found that time-restricted eating, i.e. fasting during a select few hours in a day could induce weight loss in obese individuals as compared to controls. This time restricted dieting plan actually resulted in a lower consumption of calories through the day. Additionally, there was a fall in the blood pressure as well. This diet is named so because it involves 16 hours of 'fasting' and 8 hours of 'feasting'. These results are similar to the alternate day fasting regimen but the 16:8 diet plan is easier to maintain for people.

    Read the full story: University of Illinois
    Scientific publication: Nutrition and Healthy Aging


    Some chemicals routinely found in daily care products may contribute to the development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria
    Chemical in toothpaste and soap may help create superbugs - science news in short

    A new study investigated the relationship between chemicals found in personal care products, such as toothpaste and hand soap and antibiotic resistance. They found that triclosan, a chemical present in more than 2000 care products, can induce antibiotic resistance contributing to the creation of “superbugs” (antibiotic-resistant microorganisms). "These chemicals are used in much larger quantities at an everyday level, so you end up with high residual levels in the wider environment, which can induce multi-drug resistance,” said one of the authors. This discovery calls for a re-evaluation of the impact of the chemicals found in care products since antibiotic resistance is a major threat to public health.

    Read the full story: The University of Queensland
    Scientific publication: Environment International


    Bacteria in the fat mouse contribute to mood and insulin resistance problems
    Gut microbiota contribute to mood changes and insulin resistance in obesity - health science news

    Bacteria living the guts of mice fed with a high-fat diet can contribute to anxiety and depression that is frequently observed in obese people and diabetes type 2 patients. Also, the presence of these bacteria in the gut induced insulin resistance in two important brain areas, the hypothalamus (helps controlling body metabolism) and the nucleus accumbens (involved in mood and behavior). Transplanting the gut bacteria to mice that were germ-free (thus without any bacteria of their own) was enough to induce all of these symptoms, and the use of antibiotics reversed them back to normal. The results suggest that getting rid of the wrong bacteria, or promoting the growth of good ones, can be helpful to treat these symptoms in type 2 diabetes.

    Read the full story: Joslin Diabetes Center
    Scientific publication: Molecular Psychiatry


    Replacing starchy food with lentils decreases blood sugar levels
    Blood glucose levels significantly reduced by lentils - short science articles

    Researchers have found that replacing rice or potatoes with lentils can reduce the blood sugar levels by at least 20% and 35% respectively. The study lead authors state that pulses are very nutrient dense foods which can reduce chronic diseases which are associated with deranged blood glucose levels. The lentils can slow down the digestion and release of sugars found in the starchy foods which can ultimately reduce the blood glucose levels. Further, the researchers state that the lentils contain substances which inhibit the enzymes involved in absorption of glucose and the fibre content in them facilitate the production of short chain fatty acids also leading to lower blood sugar levels.

    Read the full story: University of Glueph
    Scientific publication: The Journal of Nutrition


    A small moelcule PM-43I could help treat asthma effectively
    A tiny molecule could defeat asthma - short science articles

    At the epicentre of asthma attacks which cripple millions worldwide is a transcription factor STAT6 which is necessary for expression of several genes in the lungs which then produce all the inflammatory substances involved in the attack. Now, scientists have designed a small molecule PM-43I which specifically inhibits the STAT6 in the lung cells which additionally doesn't trigger unwanted side-effects. PM-43I is able to reverse preexisting allergic airway disease in mice did not have any long-term lung toxicity and is efficiently excreted out by the kidney. An important advantage of this drug is that patients could stop taking steroids which have several side effects like suppression of immunity. Researchers are moving the drug towards next stage of testing it in humans.

    Read the full story: Baylor College of Medicine
    Scientific publication: Journal of Biological Chemistry


    Implantable, patient-friendly, device for continuous delivery of drugs to the heart. Image: Second Bay Studios/Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences
    Direct and continuous delivery of medication to the heart to prevent heart failure - health science news

    Scientists have engineered a device that can be implanted on the heart for the delivery of drugs on a continual basis to treat the after effects of a heart attack. The device can be connected to a pump through a tube so that it can be refilled, not only with drugs but also with stem cells or proteins, should this be desired. This device is especially designed to prevent or treat the scarring that occurs after a heart attack, which can lead to heart failure.

    Read the full story: Harvard – John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences
    Scientific publication: Nature Biomedical Engineering


    New approach to treat cancers, including certain types of lung cancer
    Targeting a cancer cell’s metabolic need to fight tumors - health science news

    Researchers have successfully targeted an understudied metabolic pathway in cancer cells to arrest cell growth and survival. This pathway concerns oxidative phosphorylation, which can now be inhibited by a newly developed drug. The drug was tested in preclinical studies for treating lung cancers with a special genetic mutation, which makes the cancerous cells sensitive to the drug, as these cells consume more oxygen and display increased oxidative phosphorylation for their metabolic needs. This study therefore provides the basis of the development of new medication for a number of cancers.

    Read the full story: University of Texas – MD Anderson Cancer Center
    Scientific publication: Nature Medicine – drug
    Scientific publication: Nature Medicine – preclinical lung cancer study


    Recovery of dementia might be possible thanks to a drug that is already used for the treatment of asthma
    Medication for asthma reverses cognitive impairment in mice with dementia - health science news

    A common type of pathology in the brain observed in dementia (tau pathology) can be reversed by a drug that is already approved for the treatment of asthma, and is known as zileuton. It reduces the levels of leukotrienes (fat-like substances that play a role in allergies), which are normally useful for the protection of neurons at the short term, but are detrimental at the long term. In the brain of experimental mice with dementia, zileuton reduced the levels of leukotrienes by 90% and completely restored synapses that neurons use to communicate. This is the first study showing that it is possible to intervene after dementia has been established in mice.

    Read the full story: Temple University
    Scientific publication: Molecular Neurobiology


    Stopping smoking might be easier in the future with new therapeutic molecules
    New molecules to quit smoking in development - health science news

    In an effort to develop drugs that can facilitate smoking cessation therapies, researchers have modified a commonly used drug, cytisine, to make it more specific for nicotine receptors in the brain. The new molecules will thus reduce the side effects of cytisine, and will still give partial reward, which is required by smokers to cope with cravings. The new molecules will be at the basis for further drug design to create effective and specific therapeutic agents, making cessation of smoking easier.

    Read the full story: University of Bristol
    Scientific publication: Chem


    Negative social media experiences correlate with depressive symptoms
    Negative social media experiences induce depression symptoms - science news in brief

    A new study investigated the correlations between social media experiences and depression symptoms reported by young adults. It was found that positive social media experiences were not linked in any significant way with depression. However, the negative experiences were strongly associated with it. Each 10 percent increase in negative experiences was associated with a 20 percent increase in the odds of depressive symptoms. The findings may be useful for designing interventions and clinical recommendations to reduce the risk of depression. Just another reminder that we should be cautious and critical while using the social media!

    Read the full story: University of Pittsburgh
    Scientific publication: Depression and Anxiety


    The more time a young person spends in education, the higher the chances for developing myopia
    Too much time spent in education may induce myopia - science news in brief - health

    A study investigated the causal link between the time spent in education and myopia, in a large population cohort from the UK. The conclusion was that the more time people spend educating themselves, the higher the chances of developing myopia. For every additional year of education, there was an increase in myopic refractive error of ‑0.27 dioptres/year. Exactly how this happens is not clear from the study. One likely explanation is that children spend less time outdoors. This is in agreement with previous studies that showed that spending more time outdoors protects against myopia. The findings have important applications for educational practices.

    Read the full story: ScienceBriefss
    Scientific publication: BMJ


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