November 21, 2019

    Glucagon might be good for reducing blood sugar levels, according to a new study
    Glucagon and insulin, two opposite forces in diabetes, might actually work together - interesting science news diabetes

    Insulin is a hormone that helps the body remove glucose from the blood. Its counterpart is glucagon, another hormone that stimulates the production of sugars by the liver. It was believed that they have opposite functions, with glucagon being a risk factor for diabetes.

    Now, a new study provides evidence that this is not always the case. A team of scientists showed that glucagon has an additional role: it prepares the liver to become more responsive to insulin making it more efficient in decreasing sugar levels. This is true after a fasting period, for example after sleep when glucagon prepares the liver to respond to the next breakfast.

    The study shows that glucagon needs a protein called PGC1A to control this response of insulin. In this context, more glucagon is actually beneficial because it speeds up the time required to return blood sugar levels to normal. The research might help develop new therapeutic approaches for diabetes.

    Read the full story: AlphaGalileo
    Scientific publication: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences


    Two sperm fertilizing an egg. The twins that are born as a consequence of this are known as sesquizygotic twins, and were first reported in the US in 2007. Image: QUT
    One egg, two sperm: sesquizygotic twins for the first time detected in the womb - health short science news

    Human twins have been described that are semi-identical, sharing 100% of the mother’s DNA, but only partially of the father’s DNA. It thus appears that the egg cell has been fertilized twice before it divided for the first time.

    Ultrasound scans of the mother showed a single placenta, indicating she was expecting identical twins. However, after 14 weeks the children appeared to be a boy and a girl, which is not possible for identical twins.

    The children are thus sesquizygotic twins, and are now four years old and live in Australia.

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


    Any form of Brexit will harm the UK National Health Service, with the No-Deal Brexit causing the most damage
    Brexit expected to harm UK National Health Service, especially under the No-Deal scenario - health short science news

    The leading medical journal The Lancet reports that Brexit will significantly harm the UK National Health Service (NHS), and that the No-Deal Brexit option will do the most damage. Negative effects of Brexit are expected to be reflected in diminished health care work force, reduced NHS financing, reduced availability of medications and vaccines, and reduces sharing of information and medical research.

    The authors of the paper, leading experts in public health and law, warn that the UK is not prepared for negative effects of Brexit on the NHS, and argue that it is vital to understand the impact Brexit, in whichever form, will have on NHS.

    Finally, the authors point out that their article is based on the currently available legal texts, but is limited by the lack of transparency about the British Governments preparations, the lack of detail in the Political Declaration, and the fact that there is no comparison possible, as the UK will be the first nation to leave the EU.

    Read the full story: The Lancet
    Scientific publication: The Lancet


    Spread of viral infections is limited by an alarm signal that is sent from the infected cells to the healthy neighboring cells
    How infected cells ring the alarm bells - health short science news

    Once a virus has deposited its DNA into a host cell, a series of biochemical reactions is elicited within the host cell that lead to the recruitment and secretion of a protein MVB12b.

    This protein packages DNA fragments in vesicles, or exosomes, and thus exports them to uninfected neighboring cells. These cells can now start defensive reactions in response to MVB12b and the viral DNA fragments, thus before they have been infected by the virus.

    This is the way how infected cells activate healthy neighboring cells to prevent the infection from spreading.

    Read the full story: Aarhus University (through Eurekalert)
    Scientific publication: Nature Microbiology


    E. coli bacteria can cause urinary tract infections that need antibiotics treatment. Triclosan strongly reduces the performance of antibiotics to fight the infection. The bacterial cell wall is shown in red and DNA in blue. Image: Petra Levin laboratory, Washington University in St. Louis
    Chemical added to many consumer products impairs the action of antibiotics - health short science news

    Researchers have found that triclosan, which is intended to kill bacteria and therefore added to products as diverse as toothpaste, mouthwash, and even credit cards, inadvertently makes bacteria more resistant to antibiotics.

    In experiments with mice, researchers found that antibiotic efficiency was reduced by as much as 100-fold. Triclosan does this by triggering ppGpp in bacteria, which normally shuts down biochemical pathways during stress. While many antibiotics target ppGpp, they cannot exert their effects, as ppGpp is not available to them. Thus, the antimicrobial chemical triclosan has the opposite effect of what it is supposed to achieve: promoting the survival of bacteria instead of killing them.

    Researchers say that the use of antimicrobial additives to consumer products should be reconsidered.

    Read the full story: Washington University in St. Louis
    Scientific publication: Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy


    High salt concentrations have been found in the skin of atopic dermatitis patients and could be the cause of skin allergy
    Salt as a trigger of skin allergy - health short science news

    A new study has surprisingly shown that salt can affect allergic immune reactions. It appeared that salt increases the production of Th2 immune cells that are active in allergic skin reactions such as atopic dermatitis.

    They do this by releasing elevated amounts of proinflammatory molecules called interleukin-4 and interleukin-13.

    High salt concentrations have been found on the skin of patients with atopic dermatitis, which, as a consequence, harbors a unique bacteria population on the skin that grows well in the presence of salt. It is as yet unknown how the high salt concentrations are achieved, or whether diet has an influence on this.

    Read the full story: Technical University of Munich
    Scientific publication: Science Translational Medicine


    New drug might increase the life of patients with a certain type of aggressive breast cancer
    New drug gives hope for metastatic triple-negative breast cancer - science news articles with summaries

    Triple-negative breast cancer is an aggressive disease for which the typical treatment is chemotherapy. Currently a new drug is being developed for the disease and the first clinical trial gave promising results.

    The drug, sacituzumab govitecan is smartly designed to deliver toxins directly to tumor cells. It is made by putting together an antibody that recognizes the cancer cells and the metabolite of an established chemotherapy drug (irinotecan).

    The drug was tested on 108 women and 33% of them responded. The drug increased the time for cancer progression, thus prolonging the life of patients compared to other drugs (it did not cure the disease). There were side effects, but fewer than traditional therapy.

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


    Drug combination might become the new standard for the treatment of advanced renal cancer. Image: Nephron [CC BY-SA 3.0 (Creative commons)]
    Combined drug cancer therapy might be implemented in the near future - health short science news

    Clinical research is advancing for the future treatment of advanced cancers. A new report has disclosed the results of a phase III clinical study in which renal cancer patients were treated with two drugs: one used in immunotherapy, and one targeted to renal cancer.

    The results show that the tumor shrunk in more than 55% of the patients versus 25% of the patients that received standard treatment with the targeted drug only.

    However, many (38%) patients suffered from side effects related to the activation of the immune system, mostly resulting in thyroid disorders. The combined treatment is not curative, but prolongs life.

    Read the full story: Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
    Scientific publication: New England Journal of Medicine


    A new study provides evidence that short exposure to anesthesia is safe for infants
    General anesthesia in infancy unlikely to be harmful - short science news

    For the first time, a randomized clinical trial assessed the effects of general anesthesia on children and their development. The study claims that one hour of anesthesia did not induce any measurable neurodevelopmental or behavioral problems up to the age of 5 years.

    This is evidence that brief general anesthesia, required by many surgical interventions, is safe for young children.

    The study involved 722 infants from seven countries. Since 84% of the participants were males, the findings should be confirmed in girls. Moreover, there is still the question if the same is true for longer exposure to anesthesia.

    Read the full story: EurekaAlert
    Scientific publication: The Lancet


    Fatty acids may help reduce bacteria-induced pregnancy problems
    Omega-3 fatty acids could help prevent miscarriages - science news articles

    Between 10 and 30% of preterm births are caused by uterine infections with a type of bacteria named F. nucleatum, commonly found in the mouth. When reaching the placenta, the bacteria causes inflammation, which endangers the pregnancy.

    The scientists discovered that omega-3 fatty acids, common in fish oil, were able to reduce the inflammation and bacterial growth in lab animals. Moreover, supplements with these fatty acids reduced miscarriages in pregnant mice.

    To prove the same benefits will be available to humans, the omega-3 acids should be tested in future clinical trials.

    Read the full story: Columbia University
    Scientific publication: JCI Insight


    An MIT-led research team has developed a drug capsule that could be used to deliver oral doses of insulin. Credit: Felice Frankel
    No more insulin injections? That’s cool - interesting science news

    Researchers from the MIT have developed a drug capsule which was deliver insulin orally which could potentially replace insulin injections in patients with type 2 diabetes which they need everyday.

    A few years back another drug capsule was developed which was coated with several tiny needles, which could inject the drug in the stomach lining or small intestine. However, the new capsule has just 1 needle thereby avoiding the injection in the stomach, which used to break down the insulin by the stomach acid.

    The researchers have also developed a technology to control the rate at which the insulin can be released so that it can be optimized for each patient.

    Read the full story: MIT
    Scientific publication: Science


    Cytological specimen showing cervical cancer. Image: National Cancer Institute / Wikimedia Commons
    Fighting cancer cells from within - health short science news

    A new cancer drug invades cancer cells and kills them. This new concept has shown promise in patients with six different cancer types.

    In patients with advanced, drug-resistant cancers, over a quarter with cervical and bladder tumours, and nearly 15 per cent with ovarian and lung tumours, responded to the new treatment. Results have allowed to move the drug forward to phase II clinical testing, to test it at a larger scale in more patients.

    This is an especially hopeful development for patients whose cancers do not respond to regular drug treatment.

    Read the full story: The Institute of Cancer Research (ICR)
    Scientific publication: The Lancet Oncology


    Tuberculosis is induced by a bacterium that sometimes is difficult to kill. Vitamin D might help with the removal of this bacteria
    Vitamin D speeds up treatment of dangerous tuberculosis - science news articles with summaries

    Multi-drug resistant tuberculosis (TB) is becoming a global threat and it is notoriously difficult to treat. Now, scientists discovered that vitamin D may speed up the treatment process and could help remove the TB bacteria from the lungs.

    When vitamin D is added to the antibiotic treatment, it accelerates the clearance of the bacteria. Moreover, the vitamin D itself, at the doses used, was safe and had no serious side-effects. It is believed that this positive response is due to an enhancement of the immune system by vitamin D.

    This is a novel approach to fighting tuberculosis, contrasting the developing of new antibiotics as a measure to counteract the emergence of drug-resistant bacteria.

    Read the full story: Queen Mary University of London
    Scientific publication: European Respiratory Journal


    Think kindly about yourself to relax your body and to feel safe
    Being kind to yourself brings mental and physical rewards - latest scientific news and research

    People that are kind to themselves show increased relaxation and a stronger feeling of safety, according to the latest research. A team of scientists instructed subjects to either think kindly or be critical to themselves.

    People that were instructed to be kind were more relaxed, had a lower heart rate, and displayed more compassion towards themselves and towards others. In contrast, the participants that were instructed to be critical had an increased heart rate and sweating response, plus feelings of threat and distress.

    The study suggests that being kind puts the body in a state of relaxation, important for regeneration and healing. This may be connected to psychological problems such as depression.

    Read the full story: University of Exeter
    Scientific publication: Clinical Psychological Science


    Golf could lead to lumbar spine injury
    Golf causes contact sport like injuries - interesting science news

    Spine injuries are usually associated with contact sports like American football or rugby. However, researchers have found out that modern day golfer experience minor repeated traumatic spine injuries which can lead to a pathological spine.

    Comparing present day golfers like Tiger Woods to golf legends like Ben Hogan shows that over the last two decades the golf swing has become more powerful and the techniques of the swing have also changed with more compressive force being directed towards the spine affects the joints asymmetrically.

    Such spine disc based injuries are the most common injuries in modern day golfers accounting for 35-55% of the total injuries.

    Read the full story: Journal of Neurosurgery Publishing Group (via ScienceDaily)
    Scientific publication: Journal of Neurosurgery


    Scientist Jennifer Roberts collected soil samples in the Kongsfjorden region of Svalbard, Norway, that showed antibiotic-resistant genes have transferred into soil-microbe populations in one of Earth's most remote locations. Image: Jennifer Roberts/KU News Service
    Multidrug resistance genes found in Arctic soil microbes - health short science news

    New research has revealed that the spread of antibiotic-resistant microbes, including multidrug-resistant "superbugs" is a global phenomenon and could potentially carry high risk of human health worldwide.

    One of these genes is the New Delhi gene which first emerged in India only a few years ago, and is now found in the High Arctic of Norway, a remote area where only few people come. Researchers think that the genes are transferred by humans and birds.

    Our human and animal use of antibiotics can thus have impacts beyond local communities, as they are global, and this calls for rethinking of antibiotics use and waste.

    Read the full story: University of Kansas
    Scientific publication: Environment International


    Streptomyces bacteria that produced the new antibiotic cyphomycin show off a purple hue. Image: Marc Chevrette
    Microbes living on insects as a source of new, potent, antibiotics - health short science news

    Bacteria living on insects make antibiotics that are more powerful than those that are produced by soil bacteria and are currently in use in medicine.

    A study on microbes from more than 1400 insects collected across the Americas showed anti-bacterial activity even against some of the most common and dangerous antibiotics-resistant pathogens.

    These newly discovered antibiotics have low toxicity in humans, so that it is possible that they are suitable for in clinical use in the future.

    Read the full story: University of Wisconsin-Madison
    Scientific publication: Nature Communications


    Researchers speculate that we would live longer if we fast regularly
    Potential benefits of fasting including anti-ageing - interesting science news

    Fasting seems to have far reaching effects beyond the traditional weight loss benefits usually associated with it. Researchers analyzed the blood samples of four fasting individuals in this study.

    They identified that fasting increases the metabolism of purine and pyrimidine, key substances involved in gene expression and protein synthesis. Also several anti=oxidants such as ergothioneine and carnosine are also increased which could protect cells against free radical induced damage.

    Also, fasting boosts the production of numerous metabolites which are usually abundant in young individuals but are depleted in old age and might have anti-ageing properties as seen in animal models.

    Read the full story: Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology (OIST) Graduate University
    Scientific publication: Scientific Reports


    Aerobic sport could improve thinking abilities, even in younger people
    Regular exercise makes people smarter - science news articles

    Walking, cycling and other types of aerobic exercise may provide a boost in thinking skills in people as young as 20, according to a recent study.

    More precisely, exercise improves the cognitive ability known as the executive function, one’s ability to regulate their own behavior and organize to achieve a goal. Interestingly, the beneficial effects of physical activity were more pronounced in older participants.

    Although the study had a rather small number of participants (132 people), it points towards a positive effect of exercise on thinking skills, that increases with age. Ideally, the results should be confirmed by larger studies investigating people over a longer period of time.

    Read the full story: American Academy of Neurology
    Scientific publication: Neurology


    Increased risk of stroke related death linked to air pollution
    Another negative of air pollution: more stroke deaths - interesting science news

    Researchers have found out that those places which have poorer air quality have higher rates of deaths and shorter life expectancy. This is especially true if the fine particulate matter is higher than PM 2.5.

    Burning of coal, biomass, kerosene as well as diesel engines produces this type of particulate matter and it is inhalable and hence can enter our blood circulation.

    Those who are living in such places can benefit from reducing their exposure by avoiding major traffic during rush hours, keeping car windows down and circulating only the internal air of the car.

    Read the full story: American Heart Association


    Babies can understand when a word starts and ends in continuous speech, a phenomenon known as word segmentation
    Infants can pick out individual words from language from birth - health short science news

    Before infants can learn words, they first have to identify those words in continuous speech. A near-infrared spectroscopy study found that three-day old children can already do so.

    The non-invasive imaging study revealed that babies can recognize when a word begins and stops (prosody, the “melody” of speech), and can compute the frequency of when sounds in a word come together.

    Thus, even newborns can already listen, although without knowing what the words mean. Nice for the young parents to know!

    Read the full story: University of Liverpool
    Scientific publication: Developmental Science


    Fried chicken wings could be a quite ticket to death
    What kills you fast: fried chicken and fish - interesting science news

    In a landmark study recently published, researchers have found that regularly eating fried food significantly increases the risk of death from any cause as well as heart disease related death especially amongst postmenopausal women.

    The researchers came to this conclusion after studying the data of 106,966 women who were part of the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) from 1993-98 and were followed up for approximately 25 years.

    This is a serious concern since approximately 33% of North Americans have fried food every single day. While the adverse health effects of this food are always known, this is for the first time they are also linked to increased risk of death.

    Read the full story: BMJ news
    Scientific publication: BMJ


    Steroid treatment can trigger metabolic changes such as a fatty liver (shown here) via the transcription factor E47 Image: Helmholtz Zentrum München
    Cortisone treatments cause metabolic side effects through transcription factor E47 - health short science news

    Treatment of patients with cortisone can cause metabolic side effects, a new study shows.

    Cortisones are prescribed as antiinflammatory drugs to treat for example asthma or rheumatism for decades. They are also used for the treatment of cancer, and autoimmune diseases.

    Now, it appears that corticosterone induces metabolic effects, especially in the liver, through the upregulation of the transcription factor E47, which changes the gene expression pattern in the cells. This leads to elevated blood sugar (so-called steroid diabetes) and fat levels, or a fatty liver. While these results were obtained in laboratory animals, further study needs to confirm similar effects of cortisone treatment in humans.

    Read the full story: Helmholtz Zentrum München
    Scientific publication: Nature Communications


    Left: The 23 pairs of chromosomes of cells in which autophagy is functioning look normal. Right: the chromosomes of cells in which autophagy is not functioning show structural and numerical aberrations, characteristics of cancer. Image: Salk Institute
    Cellular process discovered that prevents cancer - health short science news

    Autophagy is a cellular process that has always been thought off as a survival mechanism. Now it turns out that it can promote cell death, and thereby prevents cancer.

    . Autophagy (literally: to eat oneself) promotes the death of cells that have their telomers at the ends of their DNA shortened or absent, so that these cells would continue to divide.

    Autophagy is a completely new mechanism to limit cell division, and thus to prevent cancer before it begins, and could lead to the development of new lines of therapy.

    Read the full story: Salk Institute
    Scientific publication: Nature


    Mouth bacteria associated with chronic gum disease seem to play a role in Alzheimer's disease pathology
    Is Alzheimer’s disease caused by mouth bacteria? - health short science news

    A very surprising culprit of Alzheimer’s disease has been identified: Porphyromonas gingivalis (Pg), the bacterium commonly associated with chronic gum disease.

    Scientists have found this bacterium in the brain of patients with Alzheimer’s disease. In mice, Pg could infect the brain and increased the production of amyloid beta, a component of the plaques commonly found in the brain of Alzheimer’s patients. Finally, scientists could block neurotoxicity caused by the bacteria, leading to a milder infection of the brain and cessation of abnormal amyloid beta production and neuroinflammation in the hippocampus of mice.

    Although promising, the results still need further support from additional experiments to causally link mouth bacteria with Alzheimer’s disease, the scientists say.

    Read the full story: University of Louisville
    Scientific publication: Science Advances


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