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Saturday, 24 March 2012

Curcumin can Help Combat Parkinson's Treatment

Curcumin a compound found in turmeric can help prevent clumping of a protein involved in Parkinson's disease.
A team of researchers led by Basir Ahmad, a Michigan State University postdoctoral researcher, demonstrated earlier this year that slow-wriggling alpha-synuclein proteins are the cause of clumping, or aggregation, which is the first step of diseases such as Parkinson's.
Now, a new study led by Ahmad has found that curcumin can help prevent clumping.
"Our research shows that curcumin can rescue proteins from aggregation, the first steps of many debilitating diseases," said Lisa Lapidus, MSU associate professor of physics and astronomy who co-authored study with Ahmad.
"More specifically, curcumin binds strongly to alpha-synuclein and prevents aggregation at body temperatures," she stated.
Lapidus' lab uses lasers to study protein folding. Proteins are chains of amino acids that do most of the work in cells. Scientists understand protein structure, but they don't know how they are built - a process known as folding.
Lapidus' team is shedding light on the process by correlating the speed at which protein folds with its tendency to clump or bind with other proteins.
When curcumin attaches to alpha-synuclein it not only stops clumping, but it also raises the protein's folding or reconfiguration rate. By bumping up the speed, curcumin moves the protein out of a dangerous speed zone allowing it to avoid clumping with other proteins.
Finding a compound that can fix a protein when it first begins to misfold can lead scientists to identify drugs that can treat certain diseases. Doctors won't be prescribing curcumin pills any time soon, though, Lapidus said.
"Curcumin's usefulness as an actual drug may be pretty limited since it doesn't go into the brain easily where this misfolding is taking place," she said.
"But this kind of study showcases the technique of measuring reconfiguration and opens the door for developing drug treatments," she noted.
Results of the study appeared in the current issue of the Journal of Biological Chemistry.

Antibiotics Not The Solution For Viral Sinus Infections

New Guidelines issued by the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA) have warned against prescribing antibiotics for sinus as most of the infections are caused by viruses.
Nearly one in seven people are diagnosed with a sinus infection each year. Although sinus infections are the fifth leading reason for antibiotic prescriptions, 90 to 98 percent of cases are caused by viruses, which are not affected by antibiotics.
Used inappropriately, antibiotics foster the development of drug-resistant superbugs."There is no simple test that will easily and quickly determine whether a sinus infection is viral or bacterial, so many physicians prescribe antibiotics 'just in case,'" said Anthony W. Chow, MD, chair of the guidelines panel and professor emeritus of infectious diseases at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver.
"However, if the infection turns out to be viral – as most are – the antibiotics won't help and in fact can cause harm by increasing antibiotic resistance, exposing patients to drug side effects unnecessarily and adding cost."The guidelines – the first developed by IDSA on this topic – provide specific characteristics of the illness to help doctors distinguish between viral and bacterial sinus infections.
A sinus infection, called acute rhinosinusitis, is inflammation of the nasal and sinus passages that can cause uncomfortable pressure on either side of the nose and last for weeks. Most sinus infections develop during or after a cold or other upper respiratory infection, but other factors such as allergens and environmental irritants may play a role.
The guidelines recommend treating bacterial sinus infections with amoxicillin-clavulanate versus the current standard of care, amoxicillin. The addition of clavulanate helps to overcome antibiotic resistance by inhibiting an enzyme that breaks down the antibiotic.
The guidelines also recommend against using other commonly used antibiotics, including azithromycin, clarithromycin and trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole, due to increasing drug resistance. The recommendation to use amoxicillin-clavulanate instead of amoxicillin is a major shift from older guidelines developed by other organizations.
Dr. Chow notes that this recommendation was made due to increases in antibiotic resistance as well as the common use of pneumococcal vaccines, which have changed the pattern of bacteria that cause sinus infections.
The IDSA guidelines use the new GRADE system (Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development and Evaluation), which is designed to more clearly assess the quality of evidence and strength of recommendations. The new IDSA guidelines note that randomized controlled trials referenced in previous guidelines often don't differentiate between bacterial and viral cause of infection, and therefore may not provide the best recommendations.
"These are the first evidence-based rhinosinusitis guidelines using the GRADE system," said Thomas M. File Jr., MD, co-author of the guidelines and chair of the Infectious Disease Section at Northeast Ohio Medical University, Rootstown, Ohio. "Health care providers face difficulties when treating sinus infections, and these guidelines provide the best recommendations available.
The guidelines are transparent, clearly stating the level of evidence for each recommendation and pointing out where we need more research."The IDSA rhinosinusitis guidelines contain a number of other recommendations, including:
• How to tell the difference – The guidelines note a sinus infection is likely caused by bacteria and should be treated promptly with antibiotics if:
symptoms last for 10 days or more and are not improving (previous guidelines suggested waiting seven days); or
symptoms are severe, including fever of 102 or higher, nasal discharge and facial pain lasting 3-4 days in a row; or
symptoms get worse, with new fever, headache or increased nasal discharge, typically after a viral upper respiratory infection that lasted five or six days and initially seemed to improve.
• Shorter treatment time – Most guidelines to date have recommended 10 days to two weeks of antibiotic treatment for a bacterial infection. However, the IDSA guidelines suggest five to seven days of antibiotics is long enough to treat a bacterial infection without encouraging resistance. The IDSA guidelines still do recommend children receive antibiotic treatment for 10 days to two weeks.
• Avoid decongestants and antihistamines – Whether the sinus infection is bacterial or viral, decongestant and antihistamines are not helpful and may make symptoms worse. Nasal steroids can help ease symptoms in people who have sinus infections and a history of allergies.
• Saline irrigation may help – The guidelines note nasal irrigation using a sterile solution – including sprays, drops or liquid – may help relieve some symptoms. However, the guidelines note this may not be helpful in children because they are less likely to tolerate the discomfort of the therapy.
To ease symptoms of a sinus infection, Dr. File said he recommends patients take acetaminophen for sinus pain, use saline irrigation and drink plenty of fluids. The voluntary guidelines are not intended to take the place of a doctor's judgment, but rather support the decision-making process, which must be individualized according to each patient's circumstances.

Living Alone Increases Likelihood of Depression

People of working age who live alone are more likely to be depressed compared with people living in families. The Finnish study reveals that such depressed people are 80% more likely to be taking antidepressants.
Poor housing conditions for women and a lack of social support for men are the main factors for depression. The study said that living alone could be linked with feelings of isolation and a lack of social integration and trust, which are risk factors for mental health.While, living with other people could offer emotional support and feelings of social integration, as well as other factors that protect against mental health problems.
The study is published in BioMed Central's public health journal.

Researchers Identify New Functions of Brain Responsible for Seeing Movement

Two areas of the brain that compare the movement of the eye with the visual movements have been discovered by scientists.
The two areas of the brain that are particularly good at reacting to external movements, even during eye movements, are known as V3A and V6. They are located in the upper half in the posterior part of the brain.
Area V3A shows a high degree of integration: it reacts to movements around us regardless of whether or not we follow the moving object with our eyes. But the area does not react to visual movements on the retina when eye movements produce them.
Area V6 has similar characteristics. In addition, it can perform these functions when we are moving forwards. The calculations the brain has to perform are more complicated in this case: the three-dimensional, expanding forward movement is superimposed onto the two-dimensional lateral movements that are caused by eye movements.
The scientists Elvira Fischer and Andreas Bartels from the Werner Reichardt Centre for Integrative Neuroscience and the Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics have investigated these areas with the help of functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). fMRI is a procedure that can measure brain activity based on local changes in blood flow and oxygen consumption.
Participants in the study were shown various visual scenarios whilst undergoing fMRI scanning. For example, they had to follow a small dot with their eyes while it moved across a screen from one side to the other. The patterned background was either stationary or moved at varying speeds, sometimes slower, faster or at the same speed as the dot.
Sometimes the dot was stationary while only the background moved. In a total of six experiments the scientists measured brain activity in more than a dozen different scenarios.
From this they have been able to discover that V3A and V6, unlike other visual areas in the brain, have a pronounced ability to compare eye movements with the visual signals on the retina.
"I am especially fascinated by V3A because it reacts so strongly and selectively to movements in our surroundings. It sounds trivial, but it is an astonishing capability of the brain", explained Andreas Bartels, project leader of the study.
Whether it is ourselves who move or something else in our surroundings is a problem about which we seldom think, since at the subconscious level our brain constantly calculates and corrects our visual impression.
Indeed, patients who have lost this ability to integrate movements in their surroundings with their eye movements can no longer recognize what it is that ultimately is moving: the surroundings or themselves. Every time they move their eyes these patients feel dizzy.
Studies such as this bring us one step closer to an understanding of the causes of such illnesses.

Kids' Development Better With Grandparents Than Expensive Nurseries

Review of research papers in child development revealed young children who are looked after by their grandparents develop better than those placed in expensive nurseries.
It also revealed that spending time in a loving family environment could help boost children's vocabulary and make them more emotionally secure.
While the experience of being in a more formal setting such as a nursery can help prepare children for starting school, even this was not a major advantage in the long term, the study carried out by the Institute for Fiscal Studies and the Nuffield Foundation added.
The researchers, led by Caroline Bryson, a social scientist, said that half of children whose parents both work are looked after at least part of the time by relatives, usually grandparents.
When they go to primary school the proportion increases to 60 per cent as grandparents step in to provide care after school ends and before parents get home from work.
While the cost of childcare was a factor in parents asking their own parents to look after their children, it was not the only factor, the review found.
One study the researchers reviewed asked parents to rank what motivated them to chose grandparents with "trust" coming top followed by "love".
Another set of data collected from children born in the year 2000 appears to show that those looked after by their grandparents "experience slightly higher vocabulary development in the early years, the Telegraph reported.
"There is also evidence of a positive association between socio-emotional development and being looked after by grandparents among more educated families. This was still apparent when the children reached age five," the report added.
But the opposite appeared to be the case among children from disadvantaged backgrounds who benefited overall from formal childcare.
While being in formal childcare did appear to make children initially more "school ready", the researchers added: "We should note that being cared for by grandparents did not significantly put children at a disadvantage in school readiness compared to children not in formal childcare, but rather that it provided no advantage, while formal childcare did."
The study noted that while the number of children being looked after some of the time by their grandparents has increased overall in the last 10 years, the amount of time they spend with them has actually fallen.
This is put down to the availability of free preschool care for children over three but which only covers a limited number of hours.

Beetroot Juice Lowers BP

Just a small glass of beetroot juice could help beat high blood pressure (BP) or hypertension.
Scientists at the University of Reading have found that just a 100gm dose of beetroot juice can result in a significant short-term lowering of blood pressure, lasting up to 4-hours and, in some cases, up to 13-hours.
Scientists believe that this property of beetroot is due to its high nitrate content, which when ingested becomes nitric oxide. This increases blood flow and helps to keep BP low.
Red and white beetroot had an equal effect. This shows that betalain, which gives red beetroot its color, plays a minimal role in lowering BP. Bread enriched with either beetroot had a similar effect.
Professor Julie Lovegrove said, "This new data strengthens the evidence for a beneficial effect of nitrate-rich foods in lowering BP, even at relatively low levels of dosage."
He said, "Enriching bread with beetroot may provide a useful vehicle to increase consumption, particularly for those at risk of cardiovascular disease."
The study is published in the British Journal of Nutrition.

Women Prefer Men Who are Better Cooks Than Lovers

Married women prefer their husbands to cook dinner for them than have sex, and more than 50% would choose food over time in bed, according to an Australian survey.The poll also revealed that more than 9 in 10 women would prefer their man to cook them a meal than give them flowers. 77% of women were very impressed by a man who knew how to cook.On the contrary 2/3rd married men preferred a partner who was good in bed rather than good in the kitchen.
When women were asked what their partner could do around the house to help them, women picked traditionally female pursuits like cooking dinner, cleaning the bathroom and vacuuming or mopping the house over more manly tasks.

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