February 19, 2019

    The tendency to sun-burn or tan is genetically encoded in a chromosomal region associated with melanoma
    Burning or tanning: it’s in the genes - health science news

    A genetic association study on genomes of 176.678 people of European ancestry has revealed ten new genes that determine whether people will tan or develop a sun burn. The genetic information was paired with self-reports of participants on their tendency to burn or tan. One of the genetic regions that correlate with sun burn had previously been associated with melanoma. It is therefore very likely that genetic variants in this area may increase the risk of developing skin cancer by reducing the ability to tan.

    Read the full story: King’s College London
    Scientific publication: Nature Communications


    Healthy dieting and weight management reduce the risk for, and costs of, diabetes
    Global costs for diabetes projected to double by 2030 - diabetes science news

    With the number of diabetes patients likely to rise from 415 million in 2015 to 642 million in 2040, global costs for diabetes are expected to double by 2030, or a staggering 2.5 trillion USD, a new study finds. The calculations were made by looking at medical costs, and secondary costs such as decreased productivity and earnings in 180 countries. Scientists call for action, as some of the most common risk factors of diabetes, i.e. physical inactivity and obesity, can easily be reduced.

    Read the full story: King’s College London
    Scientific publication: Diabetes Care


    Vitamin and mineral supplements might not be useful at all
    Popular vitamin and mineral supplements provide no health benefit - short science articles

    With half the world poping vitamin and mineral supplements on a regular basis, we expect them to have health benefits. However, researchers conducted a systematic analysis of the existing data of randomized trials published in English from Jan 2012 to October 2017 and found that consumption of multivitamins (Vitamin A, B1, B2, B3, B6, B9), vitamin D, calcium and vitamin C gave no advantage in risk prevention of cardiovascular diseases, stroke, premature death or heart attacks. While these supplements do no harm, but also they do no good as per the study except folic acid which could potentially reduce stroke and heart disease. So, it is better to rely on your diet for the essential vitamins and minerals.

    Read the full story: St. Micheal's
    Scientific publication: Journal of American College of Cardiology


    Researchers have created the sketch of the pathogens that could trigger a global pandemic
    This is the profile of the microorganisms likely to trigger the next catastrophic pandemic - science news - health and medicine

    Dangerous biological outbreaks are always a potential threat. In an effort to encourage better preparations for a global pandemic, scientists created the typical profile of microorganisms that have the ability to trigger such a wide-scale outbreak. RNA viruses are the biggest threat, the study noted. Most likely, the pathogen will be transmitted by breathing. It will be contagious before the symptoms develop, or when the symptoms are mild. To increase the transmission and infection, it will probably have low, but significant, mortality rates. The report also contains eight key recommendations for preparations for a global pandemic.

    Read the full story: EurekaAlert
    Scientific publication: John Hopkins Center for Health Security


    Parthenolide is a natural plant extract with excellent anti-leukemia activity
    Cancer cells resistant to therapy due to interactions with healthy cells - cancer science news

    While much progress has been made with the use of Parthenolide, a natural plant extract, to treat childhood leukemia, some cancerous cell populations remain resistant. A new study shows that this resistance is caused by anti-oxidants from neighboring healthy cells. This finding indicates that it might be possible to develop more efficient strategies to combat leukemia with Parthenolide, or perhaps even other chemotherapy drugs, by depleting bone marrow cells of anti-oxidants.

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


    Increasing the level of physical activity may reduce the risk of health issues associated with sitting too much in front of the computer or TV
    Sitting too much in front of the screen has lower negative impact on active, strong people - science news in brief - medicine

    Too much screen time has been correlated with a series of health problems, from cardiovascular diseases to cancer. However, not everyone seems to be equally affected. A new study suggests that people that are fit, strong and active are more protected from health problems compared to those less fit. The researchers quantified the time spend in front of computer or TV screens, which is a “sedentary” form of leisure. It seems that increasing the levels of activity and fitness may have beneficial outcomes, from this point of view. However, the study only reports a correlation and did not directly test the cause and effect relationship between physical activity and screen time.

    Read the full story: ScienceDaily
    Scientific publication: BMC Medicine


    Gut bacteria control anti-cancer immune function in the liver
    Gut microbiome controls anti-cancer immune responses in the liver - health science news

    A new study has found the mechanism by which gut bacteria and the immune system work together in the liver and control cancer. From experiments with mice that had liver cancer and were treated with antibiotics, scientists found that bacteria control the metabolism of bile acids in the gut. Bile acids, in turn, control the expression of a signalling molecule of the immune system in liver capillaries, which increases the number of immune cells that fight cancers. The scientists found that bile acids control the expression of the signalling molecule in humans as well, and it is thus possible that the newly discovered mechanism also applies to liver cancer patients.

    Read the full story: National Cancer Institute – National Institutes of Health
    Scientific publication: Science


    Eating fish while pregnant does not increase chances of autism in children
    Autism not linked to fish consumption during pregnancy - science news in brief

    There has been proposed that mercury exposure due to eating fish during pregnancy is a major cause of autism. Now, a large-scale study published results on this topic. Using analysis of blood samples, reported fish consumption and information on autism and autistic traits, researchers found no links between levels of mercury in the mothers and autism in their children. These findings show that eating fish during pregnancy is safe.

    Read the full story: ScienceBriefss
    Scientific publication: Molecular Autism


    Coal power plants reduce fertility and increase preterm birth
    Healthier babies when nearby coal and oil plants retire - health science news

    By comparing preterm births and fertility before and after the closure of eight power plants in California between 2001 and 2011, scientists established that the percentage of preterm babies fell from 7 to 5 percent, and even from 14.4 to 11.3 percent in non-Hispanic African-American and Asian women. Also, the fertility of women increased after retirement of the power plants. Considering that preterm birth contributes to infant mortality and health problems later in life, this study shows the importance of removing air pollution for human health.

    Read the full story: University of California – Berkeley
    Scientific publication: American Journal of Epidemiology


    Asthma patients may soon benefit from new medication
    New treatment for severe asthma - health science news

    An international team of researchers have found that the use of a particular antibody, Dupilumab, is a safe and efficient treatment option of severe asthma. It can reduce by 70% standard treatment with glucocorticoids which can have side-effects with prolonged use, including immunosuppression. The antibody blocks interleukin-4 and interleukin-13 signalling, two messenger molecules of the immune system. Thus, Dupilumab is effective and safe to control severe asthma.

    Read the full story: New England Journal of Medicine
    Scientific publication: New England Journal of Medicine


    Study suggests short sleep during the week can be compensated by sleeping more on weekends
    Sleep duration and mortality: can we compensate for lack of sleep on weekends? - science news in brief

    A new study analyzed the relationship between the duration of sleep during weekdays and weekends and mortality rates. For people below 65 years of age, the study found that short sleep during weekends (< 5 hours) was associated with higher risk of mortality. However, the mortality rate returned to normal values in those people that were sleeping fewer hours during weekdays but had longer sleep on the weekends. So, it turns out we might be able to recover for those lost hours of sleep on weekends, after all! Interestingly, no correlations were found between the duration of sleep and mortality in people over 65 years.

    Read the full story: Wiley
    Scientific publication: Journal of Sleep Research


    RNA is not only the intermediate between DNA and proteins, but has also regulatory functions within the cell
    New view on how tumors form - health science news

    Big data analysis has revealed that shortening of the 3’UTR of genes, which is the part of the gene that makes it switch on or off, switches protective genes off. This is in contrast to what was previously believed, as the general notion is that genes that can cause tumorous cancer growth on. This was confirmed in studies on breast cancer cells. Even more, the experiments and the model showed that 3’UTRs control in fact whole regulatory networks within the cell, and that disruption of these networks has effects on tumor growth. These findings could completely alter the way that medical science look at tumor development.

    Read the full story: University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston
    Scientific publication: Nature Genetics


    Mosquito saliva alone activates the immune system, thus without virus infection
    Mosquito saliva alone is sufficient to trigger immune responses - health science news

    When mosquitos bite to feed, they transfer more than 100 proteins from their saliva to the victim. In a special animal model to study the effects of mosquito bites on the human skin, researchers observed a multitude of immune reactions, just in response to the proteins in the saliva. Thus, the immune system is already activated without a virus infection, for instance with the Zika or yellow fever virus. This surprising result may help to design strategies that fight transmission of viruses and spread of disease by mosquitos.

    Read the full story: Baylor College of Medicine
    Scientific publication: PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases


    Infants exposed to Zika virus before birth have higher risk of heart problems
    Prenatal Zika virus exposure induces cardiac defects in infants - science news in brief

    A correlation study showed for the first time a link between laboratory-confirmed prenatal exposure to the Zika virus and cardiac defects. Exposed children had a higher prevalence of heart malformations compared to those not exposed to the virus. Overall, women infected with the virus were up to 10 times more likely to have a child with heart defects. Thus, the study suggests that children exposed parentally to the virus should be checked for cardiac problems.

    Read the full story: University of California, Los Angeles
    Scientific publication: PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases


    Colorectal cancers consist of two different cell types that may substitute each other
    Colon cancer evades treatment by switching cell type - cancer science news

    Late stage colon cancer is difficult to treat, and now scientists now why. Colon cancers consist of two different cell types, and treatment is directed against only one of them. The untreated cells continue to proliferate and the cancer keeps on growing. The researchers suggest to target both cell types for more effective treatment of colorectal cancer.

    Read the full story: Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München
    Scientific publication: Journal of Experimental Medicine


    Different types of foods contain calories with different effects on our bodies
    Not all calories are equal when to comes to cardiovascular diseases - science news in brief

    All calories, from any food, contribute to our diet and health but, not equally. A new scientific paper reviewed the mechanisms between the calories from different sources and cardiometabolic diseases. The researchers noted that sugar-sweetened beverages greatly increase the risk for cardiovascular problems. This is true even when these beverages are consumed during efficient weight-loss diets. The calories contained in this type of drinks produce more damage than the same amount of calories contained by other aliments. Another point raised by the scientists is that aspartame (a type of artificial sugar) does not promote weight gain in adults.

    Read the full story: University of California Davis
    Scientific publication: Obesity Reviews


    People infected with malaria smell differently than healthy individuals and this can be used to diagnose the disease early
    Scientists smell malaria: odor test helps diagnostic - science news in brief

    Malaria affects more than 200 million people worldwide. Identifying people infected is difficult because the disease can be asymptomatic for a long time. But, this is about to change as researchers have discovered that the smell of people infected with malaria is different. A new study investigated the volatile chemicals released from the skin of children from Kenya and discovered that they had a particular profile when the child had an acute or asymptomatic malaria infection. The detection rate of the disease was close to 100% when this approach was used. The results were encouraging and now the scientists are planning to develop clinical applications based on the newly identified volatile biomarkers.

    Read the full story: ETH Zurich
    Scientific publication: PNAS


    The pork tapeworm can migrate from the intestines to the brain and cause epilepsy
    Tapeworm infections in school-aged children - health science news

    A new study mapped out the prevalence and risk factors for Taenia solium cysticercosis in school-aged children in a region of China. The tapeworm or its eggs are transmitted by pork meat and pork and human feces, and the worms migrate to the brain where they cause cysticercosis, a leading cause of epilepsy in developing countries. The researchers found that many children had antibodies against cysticercosis, caused by Taenia infections as a result of limited hygiene, and the presence of pigs that carry the worms and are a source of food. Community education and hygienic measures in this poor region in China are necessary to eradicate the flatworms and improve the academic performance of the school-going children.

    Read the full story: Stanford University
    Scientific publication: PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases


    Mycobacterium tuberculosis bacteria are often tolerated without any medical treatment
    To fight or to tolerate: that is the question for tuberculosis - health science news

    It is often thought that the immune system fights pathogens to eliminate the risk of disease, but our body still has another choice: that of tolerance. Indeed, over 90% of people that have been infected with the bacterium that causes tuberculosis never develop the disease, but tolerate the bacteria without any treatment. Now, researchers have found that low numbers of T cells, that defend the body against intruders, are important for tolerance, and that their activity is kept within limits by the mitochondrial protein cyclophilin D. These radically new findings of limited T cell recruitment during infection, instead of massive T cell activation as previously thought, open up new strategies for the treatment of tuberculosis.

    Read the full story: McGill University
    Scientific publication: Science Immunology


    There may be a negative correlation between antibiotic use and vaccination
    Antibiotics in early life may reduce effectiveness of vaccines - science news in brief

    A new study shows that there is a worrying connection between antibiotic use and vaccination. Using lab animals as models, scientists discovered that antibiotics exposure in early life interfere with five important routine vaccinations. If these findings are confirmed in humans, it is bad news. The use of antibiotics is increasing globally and this could impact the effectiveness of vaccine-induced immune reactions and thus protection against diseases.

    Read the full story: Medicalxpress
    Scientific publication: Cell Host and Microbe


    Eating low energy foods may reduce hunger, thus reducing the total amount of food eaten in a day
    A new diet shows promise for losing weight, according to research - science news in brief

    Scientists from the UK have tested a new diet based on low energy foods. The study found that those eating food such as vegetables, lean meat, pasta, eggs and rice reported feeling full even when eating 1000 calories less. They compared the efficacy of this way of eating to the NHS Live Well diet (which limits calories for women to 1400 per day). Those on the low energy diet lost more than 5% in 14 weeks. “This study has produced the first evidence that low energy density meals reduce hunger for food among people who are following a weight loss plan”, one of the authors declared.

    Read the full story: ScienceBriefss
    Scientific publication: The Journal of Nutrition


    The myelin sheet that surround the axons of neurons is necessary for proper muscle tone and movement
    A new theory about the cause of multiple sclerosis - health science news

    Scientists have proposed an alternative theory about the origin of multiple sclerosis, stating that the disease starts by myelin (see image) damage first, followed by an immune response against the damaged myelin. Current theory holds that it is the immune system that acts first to damage the myelin, the exact opposite of the new theory. When the scientists prevented myelin damage in an animal model, the immune reaction did not occur. Although this finding does not prove that myelin damage should happen first for multiple sclerosis to occur, it does show that this alternative theory is worth examining further, especially for the new treatment options that might result from it.

    Read the full story: University of Calgary
    Scientific publication: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA


    Vaginal birth after a prior caesarean section has slightly higher risks for complications compared to a second caesarean birth
    Natural birth after a C-section, how risky is it? - health science news in brief

    A new study performed by Canadian researchers claims that natural birth after a previous caesarean section (C-section) is relatively safe. Choosing between vaginal birth or repeated C-section is not always easy as both options have risks and benefits. The study shows that the risks of complications are very low, below 1% in both cases. However, although the rates of adverse outcomes are low, attempted vaginal birth after cesarean delivery continues to be associated with higher risks, but lower than previously believed. The researchers concluded this after analyzing birth data from 2003 to 2015, from Canada. 

    Read the full story: University of Alberta
    Scientific publication: CMAJ


    Stephen Hawking suffered from ALS, a neurodegenerative disease affecting control over muscles
    Function of a gene discovered that could explain 40% of familial ALS - health science news

    By studying worms, biologists have discovered the function of a gene that might explain as much as 40% of familial forms of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). The gene makes sure that waste products are excreted from the cell through specialised structures called lysosomes. When the gene is lost, waste products accumulate in the cells, affecting their function. Researchers believe that waste accumulation also happens in human neurons in ALS, which likely leads to malfunctioning and eventually cell death and lack of control of the muscles.

    Read the full story: Massachusetts Institute of Technology
    Scientific publication: Current Biology


    Maybe one day we will be able to stop obesity induced by eating food rich in fats
    Genetic modification: could we eat burgers and pizza and stay slim - short science news health

    A study on mice shows that it could be possible to stay slim when eating a fat-rich diet (think pizza and burgers). Fat is very efficiently stored in the body, but when a certain gene was deleted in lab animals this process was stopped. The gene is producing the enzyme NAMPT which contributes to the accumulation of fat. Mice without this enzyme were able to eat very fat food without becoming obese and maintained better control of blood glucose than normal mice on high-fat food. However, the study contradicts the traditional belief that boosting the activity of the NAMPT enzyme has health benefits. It remains to be seen if this finding will allow us one day to indulge in “forbidden” foods without getting fat!

    Read the full story: University of Copenhangen
    Scientific publication: Molecular Metabolism


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