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Friday, 13 February 2015

Revolutionary new probe zooms in on cancer cells

IMAGEBrain cancer patients may live longer thanks to a new cancer-detection method developed by researchers at the Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital - The Neuro, at McGill University and the MUHC, and Polytechnique Montréal. The collaborative team has created a powerful new intraoperative probe for detecting cancer cells. The hand-held Raman spectroscopy probe enables surgeons, for the first time, to accurately detect virtually all invasive brain cancer cells in real time during surgery. The probe is superior to existing technology and could set a new standard for successful brain cancer surgery.
"Often it is impossible to visually distinguish cancer from normal brain, so invasive brain cancer cells frequently remain after surgery, leading to cancer recurrence and a worse prognosis," says Dr. Kevin Petrecca, Chief of Neurosurgery and brain cancer researcher at The Neuro, and co-senior author of the study published today in Science Translational Medicine. "Surgically minimizing the number of cancer cells improves patient outcomes."
Designed and developed in partnership with Dr. Frédéric Leblond, Professor in Engineering Physics at Polytechnique Montréal, and co-senior author of the study, the probe technique uses laser technology to measure light scattered from molecules. "The emitted light provides a spectroscopic signal that can be interpreted to provide specific information about the molecular makeup of the interrogated tissue," says Dr. Leblond. "The Raman spectroscopy probe has a greater than 92% accuracy in identifying cancer cells that have invaded into normal brain."
The Raman probe was tested on patients with grade 2, 3 and 4 gliomas, which are highly invasive brain cancers. "We showed that the probe is equally capable of detecting invasive cancer cells from all grades of invasive gliomas," says Dr. Petrecca. "There is strong evidence that the extent of tumour removal affects prognosis for all grades of invasive gliomas."
In order to show that the use of this system improves patient outcomes, a clinical trial at the Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital will be launched for patients with newly diagnosed and recurrent glioblastoma. If positive, this portable intraoperative Raman Spectroscopy probe will improve brain cancer surgeries and in turn extend survival times for brain cancer patients.
Dr. Kevin Petrecca at The Neuro and Dr. Frederic Leblond at Polytechnique Montréal are co-senior authors. Kelvin Mok at The Neuro and Dr. Michael Jermyn, at The Neuro and Polytechnique Montréal are co- first authors on the paper. This work was supported by the Fonds de recherche du Québec-Nature et technologies, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada and the Groupe de recherche en sciences et technologies biomédicales.
Source:McGill University 

Beating high blood pressure with a combination of coconut oil and physical exercise

Coconut oil is one of the few foods that can be classified as a "superfood." Its unique combination of fatty acids can have profound positive effects on health, including fat loss, better brain function and many other remarkable benefits.
Researchers working at the Biotechnology Center at the Federal University of Paraiba in Brazil set out to test the hypothesis that a combination of daily coconut oil intake and exercise training would restore baroreflex sensitivity and reduce oxidative stress, resulting in reduction in blood pressure. They published their findings today in the journal Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism.
Their experiments were performed in spontaneously hypertensive rats. They found that both coconut oil and exercise training were able to reduce weight gain compared to rats that were given saline and were not exposed to the exercise training protocol along the 5 weeks of study.
Either coconut oil supplementation or exercise training was shown to reduce blood pressure. However, only combined coconut oil and exercise training were able to bring the pressure back to normotensive values. The reduction in blood pressure caused by the combination of coconut oil supplementation and exercise training might be explained by the improvement of the reduced baroreflex sensitivity and by the reduction in oxidative stress in the serum, heart and aorta.
"This is an important finding as coconut oil is currently being considered a popular "superfood" and it is being consumed by athletes and the general population who seek a healthy life style", explained Dr. Valdir de Andrade Braga, co-author of the study. "The possibility of using coconut oil as an adjuvant to treat hypertension adds to the long list of benefits associated with its consumption. Our next step is to start some clinical trials in order to verify whether we can reproduce those findings in hypertensive human patients."
This article "Coconut Oil Supplementation and Physical Exercise Improves Baroreflex Sensitivity and Oxidative Stress in Hypertensive Rats" was published today in Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism.
Source:Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism.

In US Nationwide survey reveals widespread use of mind and body practices

More Americans of all ages are rolling out their yoga mats in an effort to improve their health. A large nationally representative survey shows that the number of Americans using mind and body approaches to improve health and well-being remains high. Of note is a significant increase in the use of yoga since 2002. In addition, almost as many Americans practice meditation or receive chiropractic or osteopathic manipulation.
The complementary health questionnaire was developed by NIH's National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS). The complementary health questionnaire is administered every 5 years as part of the National Health Interview Survey (NHIS), an annual study in which tens of thousands of Americans are interviewed about their health- and illness-related experiences. To identify trends in Americans' use of certain practices, 2012 survey data were compared with versions of the survey fielded in 2002 and 2007.
"The 2012 NHIS survey is the most current, comprehensive, and reliable source of information on the use of complementary health approaches by U.S. adults and children. The survey data suggest that consumers are paying attention to medical evidence and using it to inform their decisions," said Josephine P. Briggs, M.D., Director of NCCIH. "This reaffirms how important it is for NIH to rigorously study complementary health approaches and make that information easily available to consumers."
Survey highlights:
  • Approximately 21 million adults (nearly double the number from 2002) and 1.7 million children practiced yoga.
  • Nearly 20 million adults and 1.9 million children had chiropractic or osteopathic manipulation.
  • Nearly 18 million adults and 927,000 children practiced meditation.
  • Children whose parents use a complementary health approach are more likely to use one as well.
The increase in yoga has occurred across all age, racial, and ethnic groups. Most notably, the largest shift in the use of any mind and body approach was seen in the demographics of people using yoga:
  • Among Americans age 18-44, yoga use nearly doubled since 2002;
  • Among older Americans age 45-64, usage increased from 5.2 percent in 2002 to 7.2 percent in 2012; and
  • Approximately 400,000 more children aged 4-17 used yoga in 2012 than in 2007.
The high rates of use may be partly due to a growing body of research showing that some mind and body practices can help manage pain and reduce stress. Another factor that may have influenced the increased popularity of yoga is increased access--for instance, industry reports show that the number of yoga studios in the United States has increased substantially in recent years.
The 2012 survey results, released in a National Health Statistics Report by NCHS, are based on combined data from 88,962 American adults and 17,321 interviews with a knowledgeable adult about children aged 4-17 years. The 2012 survey is the third conducted by NCCIH and NCHS--previous surveys occurred as part of the 2002 and 2007 NHIS. Children's data were assessed in 2007 and 2012.
The pattern of use of complementary health approaches is one of the four guiding principles that determine the practices and products studied by NCCIH. The others are that the practice or product must be able to be studied using high-quality and rigorous research, hold promise, and have an impact on the public's health. As well, knowing about use can help identify Americans' unmet health needs. For example, pain is one of the leading reasons why Americans turn to complementary health approaches. Thus, the Center's research priorities include the study of complementary approaches--such as yoga, massage, and meditation--that may help manage pain and other symptoms that are not consistently addressed well by drugs and other conventional treatments.

Psychological factors play a part in acupuncture treatment of back pain

People with back pain who have low expectations of acupuncture before they start a course of treatment will gain less benefit than those people who believe it will work, according to new research from the University of Southampton.
Conversely, those people who have a positive view of back pain and who feel in control of their condition experience less back-related disability over the course of acupuncture treatment.
The University of Southampton's Dr Felicity Bishop, an Arthritis Research UK career development fellow, carried out the research to find out why some people with back pain gain more benefit from acupuncture than others.
The findings of the study, which has been funded by Arthritis Research UK, are published in The Journal of Clinical Pain.
"The analysis showed that psychological factors were consistently associated with back-related disability," explained Dr Bishop. "People who started out with very low expectations of acupuncture - who thought it probably would not help them - were more likely to report less benefit as treatment went on.
"When individual patients came to see their back pain more positively they went on to experience less back-related disability. In particular, they experienced less disability over the course of treatment when they came to see their back pain as more controllable, when they felt they had better understanding of their back pain, when they felt better able to cope with it, were less emotional about it, and when they felt their back pain was going to have less of an impact on their lives."
Acupuncture is one of the most established forms of complementary therapy. Recommended in clinical guidelines, there is evidence from clinical trials to show that it can help to reduce pain.
Previous research has established that factors - other than the insertion of needles - play a part in the effectiveness of acupuncture, such as the relationship that the patient develops with the acupuncturist and the patient's belief about acupuncture.
Dr Bishop recruited 485 people who were being treated by acupuncturists onto the study, and they completed questionnaires before they started treatment, then two weeks, three months and six months later. The questionnaires measured psychological factors, clinical and demographic characteristics and back-related disability.
Dr Bishop added that to improve the effectiveness of treatment, acupuncturists should consider helping patients to think more positively about their back pain as part of their consultations.
Future studies are needed to test whether this could significantly improve patients' treatment outcomes.
Dr Stephen Simpson, director of research at Arthritis Research UK, said: "This study emphasises the influence of the placebo effect on pain. The process whereby the brain's processing of different emotions in relation to their treatment can influence outcome is a really important area for research.
"Factors such as the relationship between practitioner and the patient can inform this and we should be able to understand the biological pathways by which this happens. This understanding could lead in the future to better targeting of acupuncture and related therapies in order to maximise patient benefit."
Source:The Journal of Clinical Pain.

Gold nanotubes launch a three-pronged attack on cancer cells

Scientists have shown that gold nanotubes have many applications in fighting cancer: internal nanoprobes for high-resolution imaging; drug delivery vehicles; and agents for destroying cancer cells.
The study, published today in the journal Advanced Functional Materials, details the first successful demonstration of the biomedical use of gold nanotubes in a mouse model of human cancer.
Study lead author Dr Sunjie Ye, who is based in both the School of Physics and Astronomy and the Leeds Institute for Biomedical and Clinical Sciences at the University of Leeds, said: "High recurrence rates of tumours after surgical removal remain a formidable challenge in cancer therapy. Chemo- or radiotherapy is often given following surgery to prevent this, but these treatments cause serious side effects.
Gold nanotubes - that is, gold nanoparticles with tubular structures that resemble tiny drinking straws - have the potential to enhance the efficacy of these conventional treatments by integrating diagnosis and therapy in one single system."
The researchers say that a new technique to control the length of nanotubes underpins the research. By controlling the length, the researchers were able to produce gold nanotubes with the right dimensions to absorb a type of light called 'near infrared'.
The study's corresponding author Professor Steve Evans, from the School of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Leeds, said: "Human tissue is transparent for certain frequencies of light - in the red/infrared region. This is why parts of your hand appear red when a torch is shone through it.
"When the gold nanotubes travel through the body, if light of the right frequency is shone on them they absorb the light. This light energy is converted to heat, rather like the warmth generated by the Sun on skin. Using a pulsed laser beam, we were able to rapidly raise the temperature in the vicinity of the nanotubes so that it was high enough to destroy cancer cells."
In cell-based studies, by adjusting the brightness of the laser pulse, the researchers say they were able to control whether the gold nanotubes were in cancer-destruction mode, or ready to image tumours.
In order to see the gold nanotubes in the body, the researchers used a new type of imaging technique called 'multispectral optoacoustic tomography' (MSOT) to detect the gold nanotubes in mice, in which gold nanotubes had been injected intravenously. It is the first biomedical application of gold nanotubes within a living organism. It was also shown that gold nanotubes were excreted from the body and therefore are unlikely to cause problems in terms of toxicity, an important consideration when developing nanoparticles for clinical use.
Study co-author Dr James McLaughlan, from the School of Electronic & Electrical Engineering at the University of Leeds, said: "This is the first demonstration of the production, and use for imaging and cancer therapy, of gold nanotubes that strongly absorb light within the 'optical window' of biological tissue.
"The nanotubes can be tumour-targeted and have a central 'hollow' core that can be loaded with a therapeutic payload. This combination of targeting and localised release of a therapeutic agent could, in this age of personalised medicine, be used to identify and treat cancer with minimal toxicity to patients."
The use of gold nanotubes in imaging and other biomedical applications is currently progressing through trial stages towards early clinical studies.
Source: University of Leeds

Plant-based diet may reduce obese children's risk of heart disease

Preliminary study by Cleveland Clinic finds plant-based vegan diet may be more effective than American Heart Association diet in reducing cardiovascular risks
 Obese children who begin a low-fat, plant-based vegan diet may lower their risk of heart disease through improvements in their weight, blood pressure, body mass index, cholesterol levels, insulin sensitivity, and high-sensitivity C-reactive, according to Cleveland Clinic research published online today by The Journal of Pediatrics.
The four-week study - led by Michael Macknin, M.D., a staff pediatrician at Cleveland Clinic Children's - compared a plant-based vegan diet to the American Heart Association (AHA) diet in 28 obese children with high cholesterol between the ages of 9 and 18. One parent of each child also followed the assigned diet plan.
Those on the plant-based diet consumed plants and whole grains, with limited avocado and nuts, no added fat, and no animal products. These children experienced significant improvements in nine measures: BMI, systolic blood pressure, weight, mid-arm circumference, total cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, and insulin, as well as two common markers of heart disease, myeloperoxidase and high-sensitivity C-reactive protein.
Those on the American Heart Association diet consumed fruits, vegetables, whole grains and non-whole grains, limited sodium, low-fat dairy, selected plant oils, and lean meat and fish in moderation. These children experienced significant improvements in four measures: weight, waist circumference, mid-arm circumference and myeloperoxidase.
"As the number of obese children with high cholesterol continues to grow, we need to have effective lifestyle modifications to help them reverse their risk factors for heart disease," Dr. Macknin said. "We've known that plant-based diets are beneficial in adults in preventing and possibly reversing heart disease. This study shows that the same may be true in children too, though more studies are needed.
"Cardiovascular disease begins in childhood. If we can see such significant improvements in a short four-week study, imagine the potential for improving long-term health into adulthood if a whole population of children began to eat these diets regularly."
Children on the plant-based diet reduced their consumption of animal protein from 42 grams daily to 2.24 grams daily, while also reducing their percentage of calories from fat and saturated fat to 18 percent and 3.6 percent, respectively.
Children on the AHA diet were to consume less than 30 percent of their total calories from fat, less than 7 percent of calories from saturated fat, less than 1500 mg sodium and less than 300 mg cholesterol.
"Most families in the study were able to follow these dietary guidelines for the four-week study," Dr. Macknin said, "but we found that they had difficulty purchasing the food necessary for a balanced plant-based diet. So we know that plant-based diets are effective, but if they are to be widely used, we need to make access to plant-based, no-added-fat foods easier and more affordable."
Source: The Journal of Pediatrics.

Brain Makes People Fall in Love, Not Heart

In the matters of the heart, the brain reigns supreme.
 Larry Young, a psychologist who studies love at the Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta, said that brain releases a cocktail of three chemicals, oxytocin, dopamine and opiates, which makes people fall in love, ABC News reported.

All of those acts together in the brain's reward system, which becomes wired to be especially tuned to the partner; the space, the sound, maybe the smell of the partner, he further added.

Oxytocin, not be confused with the drug oxycodone, is sometimes called the "cuddle hormone," and is responsible for the bonding between mother and baby and between partners. Dopamine is involved in exhilaration and excitement, Young said. Cocaine and sex both cause the brain to release dopamine. Opiates cause feelings of warmth and pleasure. Heroine and sex both cause the brain to release opiates.

Young further mentioned that the next time people see the partners, their reward system would be activated and love can also be like addiction.
Source:ABC News

High-egg Diet Not Harmful In Type 2 Diabetes: Study

A new study indicates that eggs do not have an adverse effect on lipid levels in patients with type 2 diabetes. Scientists also found that an egg-rich diet for 3 months was associated with better appetite control and may provide greater satiety.

Nicholas Fuller, PhD, from the Boden Institute Clinical Trials Unit, University of Sydney, Australia, said that, "These findings suggest that a high egg diet can be included safely as part of the dietary management of patients with type 2 diabetes."

The researcher presented this study as a poster at the European Association for the Study of Diabetes 2014 Meeting last month. Dr. Fuller explained that the study was motivated by the negative perception widely held toward egg consumption by patients with type 2 diabetes.

"High egg consumption, though not associated with adverse cardiovascular outcomes in the general population, may be associated with worse cardiovascular outcomes in people with type 2 diabetes," he added.

The researcher notes that national guidelines on egg consumption and total dietary cholesterol intake are inconclusive and also vary widely between different countries.

In Australia, the National Heart Foundation recommends a maximum of 6 eggs per week as part of a diet low in saturated fatty acids for healthy people and in those with type 2 diabetes. However, in the US, guidelines recommend dietary cholesterol be limited to less than 300 mg/day for healthy individuals and suggest that those with type 2 diabetes stick to less than 4 eggs per week.

"There is a lack of good-quality prospective data on the effects of high egg consumption in type 2 diabetes patients," said Dr. Fuller.
 Source:National Heart Foundation

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Unwanted impact of antibiotics broader, more complex than previously known

Researchers at Oregon State University have discovered that antibiotics have an impact on the microorganisms that live in an animal's gut that's more broad and complex than previously known.
The findings help to better explain some of the damage these medications can do, and set the stage for new ways to study and offset those impacts.
The work was published online in the journal Gut, in research supported by Oregon State University, the Medical Research Foundation of Oregon and the National Institutes of Health.
Researchers have known for some time that antibiotics can have unwanted side effects, especially in disrupting the natural and beneficial microbiota of the gastrointestinal system. But the new study helps explain in much more detail why that is happening, and also suggests that powerful, long-term antibiotic use can have even more far-reaching effects.
Scientists now suspect that antibiotic use, and especially overuse, can have unwanted effects on everything from the immune system to glucose metabolism, food absorption, obesity, stress and behavior.
The issues are rising in importance, since 40 percent of all adults and 70 percent of all children take one or more antibiotics every year, not to mention their use in billions of food animals. Although when used properly antibiotics can help treat life-threatening bacterial infections, more than 10 percent of people who receive the medications can suffer from adverse side effects.
"Just in the past decade a whole new universe has opened up about the far-reaching effects of antibiotic use, and now we're exploring it," said Andrey Morgun, an assistant professor in the OSU College of Pharmacy. "The study of microbiota is just exploding. Nothing we find would surprise me at this point."
This research used a "cocktail" of four antibiotics frequently given to laboratory animals, and studied the impacts.
"Prior to this most people thought antibiotics only depleted microbiota and diminished several important immune functions that take place in the gut," Morgun said. "Actually that's only about one-third of the picture. They also kill intestinal epithelium. Destruction of the intestinal epithelium is important because this is the site of nutrient absorption, part of our immune system and it has other biological functions that play a role in human health."
The research also found that antibiotics and antibiotic-resistant microbes caused significant changes in mitochondrial function, which in turn can lead to more epithelial cell death. That antibiotics have special impacts on the mitochondria of cells is both important and interesting, said Morgun, who was a co-leader of this study with Dr. Natalia Shulzhenko, a researcher in the OSU College of Veterinary Medicine who has an M.D. from Kharkiv Medical University.
Mitochondria plays a major role in cell signaling, growth and energy production, and for good health they need to function properly.
But the relationship of antibiotics to mitochondria may go back a long way. In evolution, mitochondria descended from bacteria, which were some of the earliest life forms, and different bacteria competed with each other for survival. That an antibiotic would still selectively attack the portion of a cell that most closely resembles bacteria may be a throwback to that ingrained sense of competition and the very evolution of life.
Morgun and Schulzhenko's research group also found that one of the genes affected by antibiotic treatment is critical to the communication between the host and microbe.
"When the host microbe communication system gets out of balance it can lead to a chain of seemingly unrelated problems," Morgun said.
Digestive dysfunction is near the top of the list, with antibiotic use linked to such issues as diarrhea and ulcerative colitis. But new research is also finding links to obesity, food absorption, depression, immune function, sepsis, allergies and asthma.
This research also developed a new bioinformatics approach named "transkingdom network interrogation" to studying microbiota, which could help further speed the study of any alterations of host microbiota interactions and antibiotic impact. This could aid the search for new probiotics to help offset antibiotic effects, and conceivably lead to systems that would diagnose a person's microbiome, identify deficiencies and then address them in a precise and individual way.
Healthy microbiota may also be another way to address growing problems with antibiotic resistance, Morgun said. Instead of trying to kill the "bad" bacteria causing an illness, a healthy and functioning microbiota may be able to outcompete the unwanted microbes and improve immune function.
Source:journal Gut,

Bacteria's hidden traffic control

 Researchers at the University of Washington map the localization pattern of nearly every protein in a bacterial cell for its entire cell cycle, a new tool for discovering how bacteria coordinate the timing and location of subcellular processes

IMAGENot unlike an urban restaurant, the success of a bacterial cell depends on three things: localization, localization and localization. But the complete set of controls by which bacteria control the movement of proteins and other essential biological materials globally within the confines of their membrane walls has been something of a mystery. Now, researchers at the University of Washington have parsed out the localization mechanisms that E. coli use to sort through and organize their subcellular components.
"Despite their small size and relative simplicity, bacterial cells appear to possess a robust and complex level of subcellular organization, both spatially and temporally, that was once thought to only exist in more complex organisms," said Nathan Kuwada, a postdoctoral fellow in the lab of Paul Wiggins at the University of Washington.
"We wanted to know how many mechanisms bacteria possess to localize subcellular components, and to answer this question, we set out to image the localization pattern of nearly every protein in a bacterial cell for the entire cell cycle."
Kuwada will describe the group's findings this week at the Biophysical Society's 59th annual meeting in Baltimore, Md.
E. coli localize nearly one-fifth of their proteins to specific subcellular sites, but until now, the cell-cycle localization behavior of only a small subset of proteins had been characterized in detail.
Kuwada and his colleagues sought to remedy this by imaging an existing library of green-fluorescent protein fusions in E. coli by use of a high-throughput live-cell imaging scheme. This allowed them to image close to a thousand individual protein fusions in growing cells for 6-8 hours, providing them with hundreds of complete cell cycles for each protein.
Using custom image processing software, the researchers processed and organized the thousands of images from each experiment, allowing them to quantitatively compare the localization patterns on a genomic scale. The researchers also developed a public online database with all of their raw and processed data in a browsable and searchable form at:
Rather than a small number of patterns combining in various permutations determined by function, the researchers found that bacteria possess a large number of distinct patterns with subtle spatial and temporal differences.
For example, Kuwada and his colleagues also observed that the DNA-binding proteins were asymmetrically distributed towards the daughter cell during cell divisions, despite the morphological symmetry between parent and daughter cells.
"Although the asymmetry is somewhat weak, it is still statistically significant and we think it must have an exciting biological significance," Kuwada said. "This finding, which is only observable using our complete-cell-cycle approach, potentially has many biological consequences that we are currently trying to better understand."
Future work for Kuwada and his colleagues includes further exploring the specific mechanisms that drive subcellular organization, through targeting the behavior of specific groups of proteins such as transcription factors with increased precision.
The presentation, "Global characterization of transcription factor localization and partitioning in Escherichia coli" by Nathan J. Kuwada and Paul A. Wiggins, is at 1:45 PM, on Sunday, February 8, 2015, at the Baltimore Convention Center, in Hall C, poster 383. ABSTRACT:
Source:Biophysical Society

Neuroscientist Describes Documented Cases Of Humans “Flying” Outside Of Their Body

 Scientific knowledge is expanding every day at an exponential rate, and the implications of new developments, particularly those that challenge the current framework regarding the true nature of reality, are far-reaching indeed. One area that continues to become a focal point of study for many physicians and neuroscientists is the relationship between mind, brain, and consciousness.
Is the brain a receiver of consciousness, or is consciousness a product of the brain? Although science has not yet shown with absolute certainty that consciousness exists separately from our physical organs, there is a lot of evidence (both anecdotal and scientific) which indicates that consciousness is something completely separate – that it continues on even after we have deceased, that it is and can be a separate “thing” from the brain. There seems to be a lot of consistency when it comes to studies that have examined this issue. New findings within this field are rapidly changing how we perceive and relate to the physical world.
Below is a video of Dr. Bruce Greyson speaking at a conference that was held by the United Nations. He is considered to be one of the “fathers” of near death studies. He is Professor Emeritus of Psychiatry and Neurobehavioral Science at the University of Virginia.
In the video he describes documented cases of individuals who were clinically dead (showing no brain activity), but observing everything that was happening to them on the medical table below at the same time. He describes how there have been many instances of this – where individuals are able to describe things that should have been impossible to describe. Another significant statement by Dr Greyson posits that this type of study has been discouraged due to our tendency to view science as completely materialistic. Seeing is believing, so to speak, in the scientific community. It’s unfortunate that just because we cannot explain something through materialistic means, it must be instantly discredited. The simple fact that “consciousness” itself is a non-physical “thing” is troubling for some scientists to comprehend, and as a result of it being non material, they believe it cannot be studied by science.

Coconut Oil and Exercise can Beat High Blood Pressure

Combination of coconut oil supplementation and physical exercise can beat high blood pressure, according to scientists at the Biotechnology Center at the Federal University of Paraiba in Brazil.


Coconut oil has a unique combination of fatty acids that can have profound positive effects on health, including fat loss, better brain function and many other remarkable benefits. Researchers tested the hypothesis that a combination of daily coconut oil intake and exercise training would restore baroreflex sensitivity and reduce oxidative stress, resulting in reduction in blood pressure. 

Mice studies revealed that both coconut oil and exercise training were able to reduce weight gain compared to rats that were given saline and were not exposed to the exercise training protocol along the 5 weeks of study. Either supplementation with coconut oil or exercise training was shown to reduce blood pressure. However, only the combination of coconut oil supplementation and exercise training was able to bring the blood pressure back to normotensive values. This reduction in blood pressure caused by the combination might be explained by the improvement of the reduced baroreflex sensitivity and by the reduction in oxidative stress in the serum, heart and aorta. 

Dr. Valdir de Andrade Braga, co-author of the study said, "The finding was important as coconut oil is currently being considered a popular 'superfood' and it is being consumed by athletes and the general population who seek a healthy lifestyle. The possibility of using coconut oil as an adjuvant to treat hypertension adds to the long list of benefits associated with its consumption." 

Source:The study appears in the journal Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism.

Sunday, 8 February 2015

Drinking green tea before taking supplements may offer protection from toxicity

As high doses of green tea extract supplements for weight loss become more popular, potential liver toxicity becomes a concern. In the last decade, dozens of people have been diagnosed with the condition. However, drinking green tea in the weeks before taking supplements likely reduces risk, according to researchers in Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences.
Researchers gave mice high doses of the green tea polyphenol epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG). The dosage was equivalent to the amount of the polyphenol found in some dietary supplements taken by humans.
One group of mice was pretreated with a diet containing a low level of ECGC for two weeks prior to receiving high doses of the polyphenol. Another group was fed a diet that did not include EGCG prior to receiving the high, supplement-like doses. After three days of high doses, the scientists tested the blood of the mice to determine how their livers handled the EGCG. Pretreated mice had a 75 percent reduction in liver toxicity compared to untreated mice.
The research data show that dietary pretreatment with the green tea polyphenol protects mice from liver toxicity caused by subsequent high oral doses of the same compound, explained Josh Lambert, associate professor of food science. He suggested that the research has relevance to people who are taking or are considering taking supplements containing green tea extract.
"We believe this study indicates that those who are chronic green tea consumers would be less sensitive to potential liver toxicity from green-tea-based dietary supplements," he said. "If you are going to take green tea supplements, drinking green tea for several weeks or months ahead of time may reduce your potential side effects."
Lambert has another suggestion for people considering green tea supplements -- drink green tea instead.
"Drinking green tea rather than taking supplements will allow you to realize the benefits and avoid the risk of liver toxicity," he said. "The beneficial effects that people have reported as being associated with green tea are the result of dietary consumption rather than the use of supplements. The relative risk of using supplements remains unclear."
Tea -- Camellia sinensis -- is rich in catechins, polyphenols that are natural antioxidants. A number of animal studies have shown the preventive effects of green tea polyphenols against obesity. And Lambert pointed out that a recent analysis of 11 human trials with green tea preparations reported a nearly three-pound average body weight loss in intervention groups compared to control groups.
Green tea's effect on weight loss may be more noticeable if a person exercises. In research published last year, Lambert showed that mice on a high-fat diet that consumed decaffeinated green tea extract and exercised regularly experienced sharp reductions in final body weight and significant improvements in health.
Approximately 34 percent of adults in the United States are classified as obese, Lambert noted, leading to a strong interest in the potential benefits of including green tea and green tea supplements in weight-loss efforts. The liver toxicity research, recently published online inFood and Chemical Toxicology, revealed a unique property of the green tea polyphenol EGCG.
"It appears that EGCG can modulate its own bioavailability and that dietary treatment may reduce the toxic potential of acute high oral doses of EGCG," said lead researcher Sarah Forester, assistant professor of chemistry, California State University, Bakersfield, a former Penn State postdoctoral fellow.
"These data may partly explain the observed variation in liver toxicity response to dietary supplements containing green tea."
Some people drink surprisingly large volumes of green tea, according to Lambert, as much as 10-20 cups a day, but liver toxicity has never been reported in that context.
"No person can sit down and drink 16 cups of green tea all at once," he said. "However if you take a supplement you can get that type of green tea extract dose, so there is some indication that the dosage form has an influence on the potential to cause liver toxicity."
Source:Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences.

Medical marijuana for children with developmental and behavioral disorders?

Despite lack of evidence, some are advocating cannabis for children with autism, reports Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics
 As medical marijuana becomes increasingly accepted, there is growing interest in its use for children and adolescents with developmental and behavioral problems such as autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), according to a review in the February Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics, the official journal of the Society for Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics. The journal is published by Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, a part of Wolters Kluwer Health.
That's despite a lack of studies showing any clinical benefit of cannabis for young patients with these disorders--whereas evidence strongly suggests harmful effects of regular marijuana use in the developing brain. Scott Hadland, MD, MPH, John R. Knight, MD, and Sion Kim Harris, PhD of Boston Children's Hospital write, "Given the current scarcity of data, cannabis cannot be safely recommended for the treatment of developmental or behavioral disorders at this time."
"Children with severe ASD cannot communicate verbally and may relate to the world through loud, repetitive shrieking and hand-flapping that is very disruptive to their families and all those around them," comments Dr Knight, the study's senior author. "So my heart goes out to families who are searching for something, anything to help their child," he continues. "But in using medicinal marijuana they may be trading away their child's future for short-term symptom control."
Known Harmful Effects of Marijuana in Children and Teens...
The review was prompted by rapid changes in US marijuana policy, with marijuana being permitted for medical use in many jurisdictions and legalized in others. "Amidst this political change, patients and families are increasingly asking whether cannabis and its derivatives may have therapeutic utility for a number of conditions, including developmental and behavioral disorders in children and adolescents," according to Dr Knight and colleagues.
They review the important pharmacological properties of cannabis and related compounds, along with data on marijuana use in the population. Adolescents with developmental and behavioral disorders--especially ADHD--may be predisposed to early and heavier substance use. Meanwhile, a growing body of evidence links cannabis to "long-term and potentially irreversible physical, neurocognitive, psychiatric, and psychosocial adverse outcomes."
Over time, regular cannabis use by adolescents has been linked to persistent declines in intelligence quotient and increased risk of addiction, major depression, anxiety disorders, and psychotic thinking. The adolescent brain may be uniquely susceptible to the harmful effects of marijuana, reflecting the role of the cannabinoid receptors in normal neurodevelopment. Brain abnormalities in adults who are heavy marijuana users may have their origin in neurodevelopmental changes starting in adolescence.
...With Little Data on Benefits in Developmental or Behavioral Disorders
While cannabis has been proposed to have a broad range of clinical benefits in adults, "At this time, good evidence is almost entirely lacking for its application in pediatric developmental and behavioral conditions," Dr Knight and coauthors write.
"The scant research that we have on adolescent use is alarming enough," says Leonard Rappaport MD, MS, Chief of the Division of Developmental Medicine at Boston Children's Hospital and past president of the Society for Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics. "But we are really moving into entirely new territory when we consider giving cannabis to children as that has not even been done in neurotypical children, let alone those with developmental or behavioral problems."
And yet, a number of online groups are advocating the use of "medical marijuana" for children with autism, ADHD, and other developmental and behavioral conditions. These groups often cite evidence from animal research, or from a small number of clinical reports, to claim beneficial effects of cannabis in children. Those beneficial effects are likely from cannabidiols, which also benefit children with uncommon forms of epilepsy and have limited euphoric effects; rather than tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), with its strong euphoric and neurotoxic effects.
This movement, coupled with the increased willingness of physicians to prescribe cannabis, "may result in issuing of medical marijuana permits for developmental or behavioral diagnoses for which no data on efficacy, safety, or tolerability exist," the researchers write. They note that if and when studies of cannabis for developmental and behavioral conditions are performed, they will likely use extracts formulations of known dosage--rather than plant forms of medical marijuana, which vary widely in strength and effects. Dr Knight adds, "We need more research on cannabidiols, and development of products that are high in cannabidiols and low in THC."
Dr Knight and coauthors hope their article will draw attention to the potential harmful effects of marijuana in young people--as well as lack of evidence on its effects in those with developmental or behavioral disorders. They conclude, "As marijuana policy evolves and as the drug becomes more readily available, it is important that practicing clinicians recognize the long-term health and neuropsychiatric consequences of regular use."
Source:Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics
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Hearing Have Evolved Over 300 Million Years Ago: Study

The early terrestrial vertebrates were able to hear 300 million years ago, even when there was no tympanic middle ear development, finds a new study.
 Hearing Have Evolved Over 300 Million Years Ago: Study
The research led by Aarhus University described that lungfish and salamanders can hear, despite of not having an outer ear or tympanic middle ear. 

The study revealed that not only the terrestrial adult salamanders, but also the fully aquatic juvenile salamanders and even the lungfish, which are completely maladapted to aerial hearing were able to detect airborne sound despite of not having a tympanic middle ear by sensing the vibrations induced by sound waves. 

The researchers concluded with their study that the early terrestrial vertebrates without tympanic middle ears were not deaf to airborne sound during the first 100 million years on land. 

Source:The study is published in two journals Proceedings of the Royal Society B and The Journal of Experimental Biology.


'Sixth Sense' in Fishes Allows Them to Detect Flows of Water

A new study published in the journal Physical Review Letters has provided a deeper insight into how 'sixth sense' in fishes allows them to detect flows of water.
 'Sixth Sense' in Fishes Allows Them to Detect Flows of Water The findings of the study have helped researchers resolve a long-standing mystery about how these aquatic creatures respond to their environment. It is a known fact that fish respond to changes in their fluid environment, which include avoiding obstacles, reducing swimming effort by slaloming between vortices, or whirlpools, and tracking changes in water flow left by prey, even without the aid of vision. 

To explore how fish exploit this flow information, the research team focused on a fish's 'lateral line', a system of sensory organs known to detect both movement and vibration in the water that surrounds them, with particular consideration to the line's sensory-laden canals that open to the environment through a series of pores. They focused on the placement of these canals along the body, noting that their location can help explain how a fish's sixth sense functions. For example, the concentration of these canals at the heads of blind cave fish seems well-suited for detecting obstacles. 

The researchers found that the canal system was concentrated at locations on the body wherever strong variations in pressure occur. Just as the shape of a TV or radio antenna was designed to detect electromagnetic signals, the fish's canal system was like an antenna laid on the body surface and is configured to be sensitive to the pressure changes. The research team's use of finely detailed models, developed with the help of a taxidermist who made custom molds from real trout, made it possible to record this data for the first time.
journal Physical Review Letters 

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