Hair Growth Accelerated with Bee Propolis
-When the researchers tested propolis on mice that had been shaved or waxed, the mice that received the treatment regrew their fur faster than those that didn’t. The scientists also noticed that after the topical application, the number of special cells involved in the process of growing hair increased.
* Stimulatory Effect of Brazilian Propolis on Hair Growth through Proliferation of Keratinocytes in MiceJ. Agric. Food Chem., 2014, 62 (49), pp 11854–11861 DOI: 10.1021/jf503184s More…
Eating bilberries diminishes the adverse effects of a high-fat diet, according to a recent study at the University of Eastern Finland. For the first time, bilberries were shown to have beneficial effects on both blood pressure and nutrition-derived inflammatory responses.
Low-grade inflammation and elevated blood pressure are often associated with obesity-related diseases. The study focused on the health effects of bilberries on mice that were fed high-fat diet for a period of three months. Some of the mice were fed either 5% or 10% of freeze-dried bilberries in the diet. The researchers assessed the effects of the diets by looking at inflammatory cell and cytokine levels, systolic blood pressure, glucose tolerance, insulin sensitivity and weight gain.
Mice on the high-fat diet experienced significant weight gain and detrimental changes in glucose and lipid metabolism, inflammation factors and blood pressure. Bilberries diminished the pro-inflammatory effects of the high-fat diet, indicated by an altered cytokine profile and a reduced relative prevalence of inflammation supporting T-cells. Bilberries also prevented elevated blood pressure caused by the high-fat diet. More…
Compounds may keep virus from entering cells; may accelerate drug development
Researchers found 53 existing drugs that may keep the Ebola virus from entering human cells, a key step in the process of infection, according to a study led by researchers at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and published today in the Nature Press journal Emerging Microbes and Infections.
Among the better known drug types shown to hinder infection by an Ebola virus model: several cancer drugs, antihistamines and antibiotics. Among the most effective at keeping the virus out of human cells were microtubule inhibitors used to treat cancer.
“In light of the historic and devastating outbreak of Ebola virus disease, there is an urgent need to rapidly develop useful treatments against Ebola infection, and our study results argue that repurposing existing drugs may be among the fastest ways to achieve this,” said lead author Adolfo García-Sastre, PhD, Director of the Global Health and Emerging Pathogens Institute within the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. “Many of the compounds identified in this study promise to become lead compounds in near-future drug development efforts studies targeting this virus,” said Dr. García-Sastre, also the Fishberg Chair and Professor of Medicine (Infectious Diseases) within the School.
There is no approved treatment for Ebola virus infection, and the estimated mortality rate of the current Ebola outbreak is nearly 70 percent in many areas. Antibody-based therapy (e.g. ZMapp) has proven effective in animal studies, and has been used for the treatment of a few patients, but has not been confirmed in clinical trials. It is also expensive to make and in short supply. Ebola vaccine trials are getting underway as well, but vaccines will not be available for some time. More…
Is the label ‘hypoallergenic’ helpful or just marketing hype?
Many consumers seek out shampoos, soaps and cosmetics that are labeled “hypoallergenic” or “dermatologist tested,” words that imply the products are safe to use. But recent research gives shoppers reason to question what those labels really mean. Now some scientists and consumer advocates are calling for change, according to an article in Chemical & Engineering News (C&EN), the weekly newsmagazine of the American Chemical Society.
Britt E. Erickson, a senior editor at C&EN, notes that the definitions of the terms “hypoallergenic” and “dermatologist tested/recommended” is currently left to the manufacturers that put them on their products. The Food and Drug Administration has not set any standards for using these descriptions. The last time the agency attempted to do so was in the 1970s, but cosmetic industry giants Almay and Clinique challenged the regulation and ultimately won in an appeals court.
A recent study on 187 personal care products formulated for children has shown that most contain at least one known skin allergen even if they’re marketed as hypoallergenic. Some companies are self-regulating and moving away from using certain compounds, such as those that release formaldehyde. But that doesn’t necessarily guarantee a safer product. And one preservative that some manufacturers have turned to in place of parabens, which are endocrine disruptors, can cause allergic reactions. Some researchers are calling for the FDA to step in. But for now, it is up to consumers to shop by trial and error. More…
Hutchinson-Gilford Progeria Syndrome: New findings from human cell cultures
Progeria research: Substance from broccoli can moderate defects
17.12.2014, Research news
Children who suffer from Hutchinson-Gilford Progeria Syndrome (HGPS) age prematurely due to a defective protein in their cells. Scientists at Technische Universität München (TUM) have now identified another important pathological factor: the system responsible for removing cellular debris and for breaking down defective proteins operates at lower levels in HGPS cells than in normal cells. The researchers have now succeeded in reactivating protein breakdown in HGPS cells and thus reducing disease-related defects with the help of a substance found in broccoli.
Most HGPS patients carry a mutation that produces a defective form of the protein lamin A. This defective protein is referred to as progerin. Normal lamin A is a key component of the matrix surrounding the DNA in the cell nucleus and plays a role in gene expression. By contrast, the defective form, progerin, is not functional but is nevertheless continuously synthesized. The result is that progerin accumulates in the nucleus and causes the cell to “age”. Consequently, HGPS patients develop classic diseases of old age such as atherosclerosis, osteoporosis, heart attacks and strokes. The disease is therefore regarded as a possible model system for the natural aging process in cells.
A window on the cell nucleus
In order to find out which specific metabolic pathways are affected by the mutation and the defective protein, Prof. Karima Djabali and her team from the TUM School of Medicine and the Institute for Medical Engineering conducted a comparative study of diseased and healthy tissue cells in which they investigated the composition of proteins in the cell nuclei and looked for differences. More…
New research helps explain a paradoxical effect of certain antidepressants–that they may actually worsen symptoms before helping patients feel better. The findings, highlighted in a paper publishing online December 17 in the Cell Press journal Trends in Cognitive Sciences, may help investigators fix the problem as well as create new classes of drugs to treat depression.
Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are the most widely prescribed class of antidepressant drugs, and they work by increasing levels of a brain chemical called serotonin. While this boost in serotonin occurs within minutes to hours after an SSRI is taken, patients usually have to take the medication for about 2 weeks before experiencing any relief of symptoms. During this delay, the drug may actually aggravate depression, in some cases even increasing the risk for suicide.
Researchers and clinicians have been puzzled by this, but Adrian Fischer of Otto-von-Guericke University in Germany and his colleagues now point to evidence from recent studies showing that serotonin neurons transmit a dual signal that consists of the release of serotonin as well as glutamate, another brain chemical. The investigators say that SSRIs may affect these two components of the dual signal in different ways.
“While the serotonergic component is immediately amplified following SSRI administration, the glutamate component is acutely suppressed and is only normalized after several days of drug treatment,” says Fischer. He notes that the serotonin component of the dual signal has been linked to motivation, while the glutamate component has been linked to pleasure and learning. “These differential time courses may help to explain the paradox of acute versus chronic SSRI effects.” More…
“A growing body of research suggests vitamin E could make up for the loss of immune response caused by aging,” said co-senior author Simin Nikbin Meydani, D.V.M., Ph.D., director of the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging, professor of Nutrition and immunology at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy
BOSTON (Dec. 16, 2014) — Extra vitamin E protected older mice from a bacterial infection that commonly causes pneumonia. Microbiologists and nutrition researchers from Tufts University report that the extra vitamin E helped regulate the mice’s immune system. The findings, published online in advance of print in the The Journal of Immunology, show promise for studies investigating the effects of vitamin E and infection in humans.
Older adults over age 65 are at high risk for developing pneumonia, an inflammation of the lungs typically caused by infection. The most common type of pneumonia that occurs in this age group is caused by Streptococcus pneumoniae bacteria. As a person gets older, the immune system can become weak, making them vulnerable to lung infection. Normally, the body fights this infection using specific white blood cells, known as neutrophils, that enter the lungs and kill the bacteria. If the numbers of neutrophils in the lungs are not well regulated, however, they can cause inflammation and damage. Aging can disrupt the ability of the body to regulate neutrophils.
“Earlier studies have shown that vitamin E can help regulate the aging body’s immune system, but our present research is the first study to demonstrate that dietary vitamin E regulates neutrophil entry into the lungs in mice, and so dramatically reduces inflammation, and helps fight off infection by this common type of bacteria,” said first author Elsa N. Bou Ghanem, Ph.D., postdoctoral scholar in the department of molecular biology and microbiology at Tufts University School of Medicine (TUSM). More…
ATLANTA–The Paleolithic diet, or caveman diet, a weight-loss craze in which people emulate the diet of plants and animals eaten by early humans during the Stone Age, gives modern calorie-counters great freedom because those ancestral diets likely differed substantially over time and space, according to researchers at Georgia State University and Kent State University.
Their findings are published in The Quarterly Review of Biology.
“Based on evidence that’s been gathered over many decades, there’s very little evidence that any early hominids had very specialized diets or there were specific food categories that seemed particularly important, with only a few possible exceptions,” said Dr. Ken Sayers, a postdoctoral researcher at the Language Research Center of Georgia State. “Some earlier workers had suggested that the diets of bears and pigs–which have an omnivorous, eclectic feeding strategy that varies greatly based on local conditions–share much in common with those of our early ancestors. The data tend to support this view.”
The co-author on the paper, Dr. C. Owen Lovejoy, is a Distinguished Professor of Anthropology at Kent State University, well known for his reconstructions of the socioecology and locomotor behavior of early hominids such as “Ardi” (Ardipithecus ramidus, 4.4 million years old) and “Lucy” (Australopithecus afarensis, 3.2 million years old).
The study examines anatomical, paleoenvironmental and chemical evidence, as well as the feeding behavior of living animals. While early hominids were not great hunters, and their dentition was not great for exploiting many specific categories of plant food, they were most likely dietary “jacks-of-all-trades.”
The review paper covers earliest hominid evolution, from about 6 to 1.6 million years ago. This touches on the beginning of the Paleolithic era, which spans from 2.6 million to roughly 10,000 years ago, but Sayers suggests that the conclusions hold in force for later human evolution as well. More…
Sydney: Despite a worldwide obsession with diets and fitness regimes, many health professionals cannot correctly answer the question of where body fat goes when people lose weight, a UNSW Australia study shows.
The most common misconception among doctors, dieticians and personal trainers is that the missing mass has been converted into energy or heat.
“There is surprising ignorance and confusion about the metabolic process of weight loss,” says Professor Andrew Brown, head of the UNSW School of Biotechnology and Biomolecular Sciences.
“The correct answer is that most of the mass is breathed out as carbon dioxide. It goes into thin air,” says the study’s lead author, Ruben Meerman, a physicist and Australian TV science presenter.
In their paper, published in the British Medical Journal today, the authors show that losing 10 kilograms of fat requires 29 kilograms of oxygen to be inhaled and that this metabolic process produces 28 kilograms of carbon dioxide and 11 kilograms of water.
Mr Meerman became interested in the biochemistry of weight loss through personal experience.
“I lost 15 kilograms in 2013 and simply wanted to know where those kilograms were going. After a self-directed, crash course in biochemistry, I stumbled onto this amazing result,” he says. More…
NEW YORK, NY (December 15, 2014)–Researchers at Columbia University Medical Center have found that, in addition to gluten, the immune systems of patients with celiac disease react to specific types of non-gluten protein in wheat. The results were reported online in the Journal of Proteome Research.
Celiac disease, an autoimmune disorder that affects about 1 percent of the U.S. population, is triggered by the ingestion of wheat and related cereals in genetically susceptible individuals. The immune response results in inflammation and tissue damage in the small intestine, which can lead to severe gastrointestinal symptoms, as well as a number of extra-intestinal manifestations. Gluten proteins, which represent about 75 percent of the total protein content of wheat grain, are known to be the primary triggers of the immune response in celiac disease. While the role of gluten in celiac disease has been extensively studied since the 1950s, the possible involvement of wheat non-gluten proteins has not been characterized and is poorly understood.
“This work is the first to attempt mapping of the B cell response to non-gluten proteins of wheat in celiac disease,” said the study’s principal investigator, Armin Alaedini, PhD, assistant professor of medicine (in the Institute of Human Nutrition and the Celiac Disease Center) at Columbia University. More…
Researchers recently completed one of the most extensive investigations to date of prenatal hormones in first-time expectant couples. Women showed large prenatal increases in salivary testosterone, cortisol, estradiol, and progesterone, while men showed significant prenatal declines in testosterone and estradiol, but no detectable changes in cortisol or progesterone.
While the results in women were expected, the results seen in men suggest that impending fatherhood might cause men’s hormone levels to change. Additional studies are warranted to understand whether partners’ prenatal hormone changes are linked with postpartum behavior and adjustment.
“Other studies have shown that men’s hormones change once they become fathers, but our findings suggest that these changes may begin even earlier, during the transition to fatherhood,” said Dr. Robin Edelstein, lead author of the American Journal of Human Biology study. “We don’t yet know exactly why men’s hormones are changing; these changes could be a function of psychological changes that men experience as they prepare to become fathers, changes in their romantic relationships, or even physical changes that men experience along with their pregnant partners.” More…
LANSING, Mich. December 15, 2014 – Cyclists who are preparing for race day may have a new sports drink to give them an edge in recovery: tart cherry juice. A new study published in Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism found that Montmorency tart cherry juice helped accelerate recovery, maintain muscle function and reduce certain markers of exercise-induced inflammation among a group of cyclists participating in a simulated road race.
The research team, led by Glyn Howatson and Phillip G. Bell at Northumbria University in the U.K., conducted this double-blind, placebo-controlled study to identify the effects of Montmorency tart cherry juice on recovery from a metabolically challenging exercise: prolonged, high-intensity cycling. The study involved 16 well-trained male cyclists who were divided into two groups: one group consumed Montmorency tart cherry juice and the other group drank a placebo that contained an equal amount of carbohydrates.
The cyclists in the tart cherry juice group mixed 30 mL (or about 1 ounce) of Montmorency tart cherry juice concentrate with 10o mL of water and drank the juice twice a day (8 a.m. and 6 p.m.) for eight consecutive days. Each glass contained the equivalent of 90-110 Montmorency tart cherries, which are the most common varietal of tart cherries grown in the U.S. These dark, ruby red cherries have been frequently studied for their potential role in exercise recovery, including a similar study with cyclists previously conducted by Howatson and Bell that examined the positive impact of Montmorency tart cherry juice after a three-day simulated road race.
The fifth day of the study involved a 109-minute cycling trial designed to replicate a road race. More…
Press Release, 15 December 2014:
Pollutant levels before birth are apparently more critical than after
Leipzig. New flooring in the living environment of pregnant women significantly increases the risk of infants to suffer from respiratory diseases in their first year of life. This is the result of a study carried out by the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ) and the “St Georg” Municipal Hospital, which demonstrates that exposure to volatile organic compounds in the months before and after birth induces breathing problems in early childhood. The scientists therefore recommend that redecoration should be avoided during pregnancy or in the first year of children’s life. According to an article written by the scientists in the scientific journal Environment International this could prevent at a rough estimate around 20,000 cases per year of wheezing requiring medical treatment in infants in Germany alone.
The observed health risks are caused by increased concentrations of volatile organic compounds (in short: VOCs), such as styrene or ethylbenzene, which escape from new flooring and are then absorbed through the respiratory air. “We therefore do not recommend that laminate, carpet or floor coverings be laid in the homes of pregnant women. Although the concentrations of these volatile chemicals are lower if no adhesive is used when installing the flooring, even then the concentrations are still high enough to significantly increase the risk of infants suffering from respiratory complaints in their first few months”, explains Dr. Ulrich Franck from the UFZ. Thereby, in particular those children whose mother or father have already suffered from asthma, hay fever or other allergic diseases are affected with an up to fivefold increased risk for airway diseases. More…
Turns out, feeling younger than your actual age might be good for you.
A research letter published online by JAMA Internal Medicine found that older people who felt three or more years younger than their chronological age had a lower death rate compared with those who felt their age or who felt more than one year older than their actual age.
Self-perceived age can reflect assessments of health, physical limitation and well-being in later life, and many older people feel younger than their actual age, according background information in the report. Authors Isla Rippon, M.Sc., and Andrew Steptoe, D.Sc., of the University College London, examined the relationship between self-perceived age and mortality.
The authors used data from a study on aging and included 6,489 individuals, whose average chronological age was 65.8 years but whose average self-perceived age was 56.8 years. Most of the adults (69.6 percent) felt three or more years younger than their actual age, while 25.6 percent had a self-perceived age close to their real age and 4.8 percent felt more than a year older than their chronological age. More…
15 JUL 2013
Research points to potential role for cranberry derivatives in implantable medical devices
Consuming cranberry products has been anecdotally associated with prevention of urinary tract infections (UTIs) for over 100 years. But is this popular belief a myth, or scientific fact?
In recent years, some studies have suggested that cranberries prevent UTIs by hindering bacteria from sticking to the walls of the urinary tract, thanks to phytochemicals known as proanthocyanidins (PACs). Yet the mechanisms by which cranberry materials may alter bacterial behaviour have not been fully understood.
Now, researchers in McGill University’s Department of Chemical Engineering are shedding light on the biological mechanisms by which cranberries may impart protective properties against urinary tract and other infections. Two new studies, spearheaded by Prof. Nathalie Tufenkji, add to evidence of cranberries’ effects on UTI-causing bacteria. The findings also point to the potential for cranberry derivatives to be used to prevent bacterial colonization in medical devices such as catheters.
In research results published online last month in the Canadian Journal of Microbiology, Prof. Tufenkji and members of her laboratory report that cranberry powder can inhibit the ability of Proteus mirabilis, a bacterium frequently implicated in complicated UTIs, to swarm on agar plates and swim within the agar. The experiments also show that increasing concentrations of cranberry powder reduce the bacteria’s production of urease, an enzyme that contributes to the virulence of infections.
These results build on previous work by the McGill lab, showing that cranberry materials hinder movement of other bacteria involved in UTIs. A genome-wide analysis of an uropathogenic E. coli revealed that expression of the gene that encodes for the bacteria’s flagellar filament was decreased in the presence of cranberry PACs. More…
27 JUN 2013
SAN FRANCISCO– A supplemental beverage used to treat muscle-wasting may help boost muscle mass among the elderly, according to a new study. The results were presented today at The Endocrine Society’s 95th Annual Meeting in San Francisco.
The supplemental beverage, called Juven®, contains three amino acids, including arginine. Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins, and are required for cell growth and repair. The amino acid arginine is especially important because it increases growth-hormone production, which causes the body to produce a critical protein called insulin-like growth factor 1, or IGF-1. This protein promotes growth and development and, as its name suggests, is similar in structure to the hormone insulin.
Previously, studies showed that Juven® helped increase muscle mass in patients with AIDS or cancer. These earlier findings led this study’s investigators to hypothesize that the increased muscle mass could result from greater blood concentrations of IGF-1. They theorized that these increased protein levels could have the same benefits among the elderly, who also experience decreased muscle mass and strength related to drops in hormone production that occur with aging. In turn, increased muscle strength could potentially improve quality of life among the elderly.
They found that participants who received Juven® had significant increases in lean body mass, while those who received placebo did not have any change. In addition, blood concentrations of IGF-1 increased among Juven® recipients, but not among the placebo group. The correlation between the improved IGF-1 concentrations and increased lean tissue, however, was not statistically significant.
“The amino acid cocktail of the dietary supplement Juven® appears to hold promise for increasing lean body in healthy older adults,” said study lead author Amy C. Ellis, PhD, assistant professor at the University of Alabama at Tuscaloosa. “However, more research is needed to determine the cause-and-effect relationship and the mechanisms by which the amino acids in Juven® may favorably affect body composition of healthy, older adults.”
Study participants were 29 healthy adults between the ages of 65 and 87 years. Each received either Juven® or a placebo drink twice a day, along with their regular daily diet, for six months. At the beginning of the study and again six months later, investigators used a special test to measure lean body mass. At both times, they also assessed participants’ blood levels of IGF-1 after fasting.
The National Institutes of Health and the Center for Aging at the University of Alabama-Birmingham funded the study. Abbott Laboratories, the manufacturer of Juven®, provided the dietary supplement and the placebo.
28 JUN 2013
SAN FRANCISCO– Vitamin D supplementation may help delay early onset of puberty in girls, a new clinical study finds. The results were presented Monday at The Endocrine Society’s 95th Annual Meeting in San Francisco.
Among girls, puberty generally begins between the ages of 10 and 14. Boys undergo these changes later, usually between 12 to 16 years of age. Precocious puberty is diagnosed in girls when sexual development begins before the age of 8; in boys, it is diagnosed when these changes occur before age 9.
Recently, medical research has linked vitamin D deficiency to a number of diseases, including cancer, obesity and autoimmune disease. Low vitamin D levels have been found in girls with precocious puberty, as well, although the exact relationship between vitamin D deficiency and early development remains unclear.
To determine how low vitamin D deficiency is related to precocious puberty, investigators in the current study compared blood levels of the vitamin between girls with early and normal development.
They found that girls with precocious puberty were significantly more likely than those with age-appropriate development to have a severe vitamin D deficiency. Among the precocious puberty group, 44 percent had a severe deficiency in vitamin D, compared to 21 percent of the group with age-appropriate physical development.
Additionally, investigators examined the activity of neurons responsible for stimulating the release of a hormone that triggers the ovulation process. Specifically, investigators used the neuron-stimulating compound called N-methyl-D-aspartate, or NMDA, to activate the neurons responsible for releasing gondadotropin-releasing hormone, or GnRH. They found that vitamin D was associated with a suppression of the NMDA-mediated neuronal activities on GnRH neurons. More…