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Friday, 21 October 2016

Wonder Herb which kills the 98% cancerous cells in just 16 hours

Artemisia (aka. Wormwood) has been used in herbalism since ancient times. It is extremely bitter tasting and named wormwood on account of its efficacy in destroying intestinal parasites. It is also one of the herbal ingredients in that mysterious alcoholic beverage Absinthe – which according to the traditional recipe was also prepared with several other herbs including lemon balm, mint, anise, fennel, hyssop, marjoram, angelica and dittany of Crete. 
Image result  Artemisia has tremendous promise as a potential anticancer agent – especially when combined with iron: It targets the cancer cells specifically.
Artemisinin, a compound derived from Wormwood, has been the subject of much research – and it has shown much promise as an anti-malaria agent. It is now well established to have anti-proliferative and apoptotic (killing) effects on a number of cancer cell types.
Artemisia annua was first noted as a possible anticancer herb in 2001, when two researchers at the University of Washington learned that wormwood showed highly selective activity against breast cancer cells. “Artemisinin reacts with iron to form free radicals that kill cells. Since cancer cells uptake relatively large amount of iron than normal cells, they are more susceptible to the toxic effect of artemisinin.”   The anticancer effect of artemisinin is thus much enhanced (up to 100x) by the preloading of cancer cells with iron.
Recent scientific research conducted at the Cancer Research Laboratory, University of California (Berkeley) has found that Artemisinin, a compound found in Artemisia, induced a growth arrest of tumorigenic human breast cancer cell lines with preneoplastic and late stage cancer phenotypes, but failed to arrest the growth of a nontumorigenic human mammary cell line.
In lay terms, what this means is that artemisinin killed the breast cancer cells without harming the healthy cells. This is exactly the kind of effect that researchers are looking for – because one of the greatest challenges of modern cancer research is to develop effective anti-cancer agents which do not also harm healthy cells. Current anticancer regimens are notorious for their highly toxic effects – aka “collateral damage”. 
It is also thought that hyperbaric oxygen therapy could further enhance the anticancer effects of artemisin.
Note that these studies were performed in vitro i.e. in laboratory glassware and so this research, though highly encouraging, should not be considered as proof that artemisinin can cure cancer in human subjects. It is however one of the more promising anticancer herbs we have come across and worthy of due consideration not only by naturopaths but by orthodox medicine. Artemisinin is sometimes being used as supplementation as an adjunct to chemotherapy.  just  look at this comment from a lady whose husband had lung cancer:
“My husband was diagnosed with lung cancer, it filled the left lung and it was wrapped around his spinal cord. Too close to a main artery and esophagus to operate. It also got into the Lymph system. The doctors were surprised that he wasn’t paralyzed since the cancer had crushed and cracked the spinal cord. I gave him Artemisinin capsules for four days at the beginning of the treatments with radiation and chemo. After six weeks hubby was cancer free and stayed that way. An amazing recovery. The medical staff said “they don’t see that very often.”” 
[1] Aleister Crowley “The Green Goddess” (1915)
[2] “Artemisinin Blocks Prostate Cancer Growth and Cell Cycle Progression by Disrupting Sp1 Interactions with the Cyclin-dependent Kinase-4 (CDK4) Promoter and Inhibiting CDK4 Gene Expression” (2009)
[3] “Effects of artemisinin-tagged holotransferrin on cancer cells” (Life Sciences 76, 2005)
[4] Antitumor Activity of Artemisinin and Its Derivatives: From a Well-Known Antimalarial Agent to a Potential Anticancer Drug
[5] “Antiproliferative effects of artemisinin on human breast cancer cells requires the downregulated expression of the E2F1 transcription factor and loss of E2F1-target cell cycle genes”

Music Improves Attitude Towards Exercise Regimen

People are more likely to adopt short duration exercise regimens that could help them stay in shape if it is coupled with music, according to researchers at UBC's Okanagan campus.

According to traditional exercise recommendations from the Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology, adults aged 18 to 64 should accumulate a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous exercise per week.

According to traditional exercise recommendations from the Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology, adults aged 18 to 64 should accumulate a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous exercise per week.
The study, by researchers Kathleen Martin Ginis and Matthew Stork was recently published in the Journal of Sport Sciences.

The research studied the attitudes of people who engage in moderate exercises towards high-intensity interval training (HIIT). The participants had not been exposed to HIIT before. 

HIIT is a time-efficient exercise strategy that sees people engage in short periods of intense anaerobic exercise separated by less-intense recovery periods. The exercise is distinct from more traditional long-duration aerobic exercise, such as jogging continuously for 50 minutes.

The pair found that the first-timers not only had positive attitudes toward HIIT, but that participants also reported feeling more positive about the exercise regimen if they listened to music while they exercised.

"There has been a lot of discussion in the exercise and public policy worlds about how we can get people off the couch and meeting their minimum exercise requirements," says Martin Ginis, professor of health and exercise sciences at UBC. "The use of HIIT may be a viable option to combat inactivity, but there is a concern that people may find HIIT unpleasant, deterring future participation."

To their surprise, the researchers found that participants who engaged in multiple HIIT sessions not only enjoyed the exercise, but they maintained positive attitudes about engaging in HIIT again in the future.

"Newer research has established that as little as 10 minutes of intense HIIT, three times per week can elicit meaningful heath benefits," says Stork, a PhD candidate at UBC's Okanagan campus. "For busy people who may be reluctant to try HIIT for the first time, this research tells us that they can actually enjoy it, and they may be more likely to participate in HIIT again if they try it with music."

"Our research aims to learn more about people's perceptions towards HIIT and ultimately determine if people can adhere to these types of exercises in the long term," says Stork. "With the introduction of HIIT exercise, people may not necessarily require the dreaded 150-minute weekly total."
Source:Journal of Sport Sciences.

Glucose intolerance and insulin resistance link to unfavorable cardiac function, structure

A study of U.S. Hispanics with diabetes mellitus showed a link between impaired glucose regulation and adverse measures of cardiac function and structure. Researchers at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health in collaboration with colleagues from Wake Forest Medical School and six other institutions extended previous knowledge regarding the concept of 'diabetic cardiomyopathy, by also observing that these relationships emerged early and before the full onset of diabetes mellitus. The findings are published online in the journal Circulation: Cardiovascular Imaging.
This is the first study to assess the impact of diabetes mellitus on cardiac geometry using several measures and the first to report the association between insulin resistance and cardiac structure and function among a U.S. sample population of Hispanic/Latinos not previously studied.
"Our findings inform and extend the clinical concept of diabetic cardiomyopathy -- adverse changes in cardiac structure and function commonly observed among patients with diabetes mellitus in two ways," said lead author Ryan Demmer, PhD, assistant professor of Epidemiology at the Mailman School of Public Health. "First, they confirm that diabetes mellitus -- both controlled and uncontrolled -- is related to the worse measures of cardiac structure and function among Hispanics. Second, they demonstrate that these relationships emerge early in the natural history of diabetogenesis and prior to diabetes development."
Results were from the ECHO-SOL (Echocardiographic Study of U.S. Latinos) which examined chronic disease risk factors and related morbidity and mortality of 1,818 Hispanic/Latino men (43 percent) and women (57 percent) 45 years of age and older. Participants were recruited from the Bronx, New York; Chicago; Miami; and San Diego.
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These findings also raise the possibility that primary prevention efforts targeting insulin resistance and glucose homeostasis might also be beneficial for optimal cardiac health and heart failure prevention although future studies are necessary. "If confirmed, these results would have high public health importance given the fact that Hispanics have elevated rates of Type 2 diabetes compared to the U.S. population overall. This is coupled with the fact that Hispanics are expected to account for 25 percent of the U.S. population by 2050," noted Demmer.

Study reveals potential new strategy to prevent Alzheimer's disease

Taking a pill that prevents the accumulation of toxic molecules in the brain might someday help prevent or delay Alzheimer's disease, according to scientists at Baylor College of Medicine, Texas Children's Hospital and Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.
The study, published today in Cell Press journal Neuron, took a three-pronged approach to help subdue early events that occur in the brain long before symptoms of Alzheimer's disease are evident. The scientists were able to prevent those early events and the subsequent development of brain pathology in experimental animal models in the lab.
"Common diseases like Parkinson's, Alzheimer's and dementia are caused in part by abnormal accumulation of certain proteins in the brain," said senior author Dr. Huda Zoghbi, professor of molecular and human genetics and of pediatrics - neurology and developmental neuroscience at Baylor and director of the Jan and Dan Duncan Neurological Research Institute at Texas Children's Hospital. "Some proteins become toxic when they accumulate; they make the brain vulnerable to degeneration. Tau is one of those proteins involved in Alzheimer's disease and dementia."
"Scientists in the field have been focusing mostly on the final stages of Alzheimer's disease," said first author Dr. Cristian Lasagna-Reeves, postdoctoral fellow in the Zoghbi lab. "Here we tried to find clues about what is happening at the very early stages of the illness, before clinical irreversible symptoms appear, with the intention of preventing or reducing those early events that lead to devastating changes in the brain decades later."
The scientists reasoned that if they could find ways to prevent or reduce tau accumulation in the brain, they would uncover new possibilities for developing drug treatments for these diseases.
Cells control the amount of their proteins with other proteins called enzymes. To find which enzymes affect tau accumulation, the scientists systematically inhibited enzymes called kinases.
"We inhibited about 600 kinases one by one and found one, called Nuak1, whose inhibition resulted in reduced levels of tau," said Zoghbi, who is also an investigator at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.
The scientists screened the enzymes in two different systems, cultured human cells and the laboratory fruit fly. Screening in the fruit fly allowed the scientists to assess the effects of inhibiting the enzymes in a functional nervous system in a living organism.
"Screening hundreds of kinases in the fruit fly animal model was critical because we could assess degeneration caused by tau in the fly's nervous system and measure neuronal dysfunction. Screening such a large number cannot be done with other animal models like the mouse, and cultured cells cannot model complex nervous system functions," said co-senior author Dr. Juan Botas, professor of molecular and human genetics and of molecular and cellular biology at Baylor.
Brain section from mouse carrying the dementia-causing P301S mutation in human tau shows accumulation of tau neurofibrillary tangles (in dark brown, left). When Nuak1 levels are decreased by 50% (P301S/Nuak1+/-; right), fewer tau tangles accumulate.
"We found one enzyme, Nuak1, whose inhibition consistently resulted in lower levels of tau in both human cells and fruit flies," said Zoghbi. "Then we took this result to a mouse model of Alzheimer's disease and hoped that the results would hold, and they did. Inhibiting Nuak1 improved the behavior of the mice and prevented brain degeneration."
"Confirming in three independent systems - human cells, the fruit fly and the mouse - that Nuak1 inhibition results in reduced levels of tau and prevents brain abnormalities induced by tau accumulation, has convinced us that Nuak1 is a reliable potential target for drugs to prevent diseases such as Alzheimer's," said Zoghbi. "The next step is to develop drugs that will inhibit Nuak1 in hope that one day would be able to lower tau levels with low toxicity in individuals at risk for dementia due to tau accumulation."
Scientific studies like this one that uncover basic biological mechanisms of disease make it possible to develop new strategies to prevent or treat diseases such as Alzheimer's, Parkinson's or dementia.
In the future it might be possible to treat people at risk for Alzheimer's disease by keeping tau low. Think of how taking drugs that lower cholesterol has helped control the accumulation of cholesterol in blood vessels that leads to atherosclerosis and heart disease.
"When people started taking drugs that lower cholesterol, they lived longer and healthier lives rather than dying earlier of heart disease," said Zoghbi. "Nobody has thought about Alzheimer's disease in that light. Tau in Alzheimer's can be compared to cholesterol in heart disease. Tau is a protein that when it accumulates as the person ages, increases the vulnerability of the brain to developing Alzheimer's. So maybe if we can find drugs that can keep tau at levels that are not toxic for the brain, then we would be able to prevent or delay the development of Alzheimer's and other diseases caused in part by toxic tau accumulation."


A healthy colon is essential for a healthy body. By extracting the water and salt from waste prior to elimination, which in turn maintains the body’s electrolyte balance, the colon helps keep our body and its systems functioning optimally.The colon can get backed up by waste attaching to its walls, however, which can result in a myriad of health problems, including: headaches, low energy, vomiting, weight gain, skin allergies, acne, constipation, joint pains, indigestion, fatigue, diarrhea, vision issues, loss of memory, stress, bloating, and more. A clogged colon can also lead to numerous diseases, particularly colorectal cancer.
A colon cleanse can rid the body of harmful toxins and wastes that have accumulated as a result of poor diet, lack of exercise, heightened stress, chronic dehydration, drug intake, lifestyle changes, and more.
Here you will find 8 natural remedies for safely cleansing your colon:

1. Drink plenty of water.

Water is essential for human life, yet as many as 75% of all Americans suffer from dehydration. The colon requires water to keep waste flowing. Health experts generally recommend you consume three liters a day to avoid colon blockage, though this number can change depending on your size, the climate you live in, and how frequently and vigorously you exercise.

2. Try prunes.

Prune juice is rich in fibre, which makes it a great option for clearing colon blockage. Try drinking eight ounces before breakfast and another eight ounces after dinner. Once your bowel movements become more frequent, begin tapering yourself off the beverage. Eating dried prunes may also be beneficial, as research published in Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition found that they may be able to reduce colon cancer.

3. Eat plenty of fibre.

Along with prunes, avocados, berries, coconut, figs, okra, and Brussels sprouts are also great high-fibre options to take advantage of. A high-fibre diet is linked to a lower risk of developing both hemorrhoids and small pouches in your colon called diverticular disease.

4. Drink lemon juice.

Because lemon juice contains antioxidants and high amounts of vitamin C, it is thought to promote proper functioning of the digestive system. The acid in lemon juice “works with the body to nourish and to enhance proper function,” according to Roxanne Sukol, MD, a preventive medicine specialist at the Cleveland Clinic’s Wellness Institute. She says that drinking lemon water allows for slow absorption of the nutrients of the foods you consume, which allows for the conservation of insulin in the body, and allows your body to get more out of the food you’re eating. Squeeze the juice from one lemon into a glass of lukewarm water, then add a pinch of sea salt and honey and stir. Drink the solution on an empty stomach in the morning.
Citrus flavonoids are the main cause of improved digestion when drinking warm lemon water.  They aid in the assimilation of food, help prevent fatty liver, decrease chances of cardiovascular disease, fat-lowering, and reduced insulin sensitivity.  This is because it  inhibits certain synthesis of fat in the body  
Citrus flavonoids act as a great digestive tonic, and it also suppresses food cravings    It’s been shown to calm an upset stomach or mild indigestion.  This has to do with the hydrochloric acid in your stomach that start the process of breaking down your food.  It is believed the citrus flavonoids in lemon water support the hydrochloric acid in the stomach in breaking down food  
The best way to utilize lemon water as a digestion aid is to also include the zest of the lemon which will improve the good bacteria in your gut.

5. Try ginger.

Ginger is great for reducing bloating, while also stimulating the function of the colon to allow for it to expel wastes and harmful toxins. Research has also found that this spice may be able to prevent colon cancer. Try adding a teaspoon of ginger juice to a little honey and water, stirring and consuming several times per day.

6. Use aloe vera.

Aloe vera is highly valued for its detoxifying powers, and can even serve as a laxative, making it an effective tool for cleansing the colon. You can simply cut an aloe vera leaf vertically to squeeze out its gel, add to the juice of one lemon, stir, refrigerate for a couple of hours, and consume several times per day.

7. Eat yogurt.

Yogurt is rich in beneficial probiotics as well as good bacteria that work to rid the body of harmful bacteria. It’s also a great source of calcium, which works to hinder the growth of cells lining the colon. Yogurt is also known for treating stomach issues such as indigestion and irregular bowel movements.

8. Try an apple cider vinegar cleanse.

Apple cider vinegar is full of enzymes that promote probiotic growth. A study from the University of Kaiserslautern in Germany published in a 2008 article in Nutrition concluded that apple pectin and other apple extracts can stimulate the formation of butyrate, which is a nutrient linked to colon health. And Dr. Frank Lipman touted apple cider vinegar as having an impressive ability to improve digestion and ease gastrointestinal issues. Try mixing eight  ounces of warm water with two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar and two tablespoons of organic honey. After shaking and stirring, drink the concoction every morning until you notice regular bowel movements.

Thursday, 20 October 2016

Stephen Hawking hailed a new AI research centre as 'crucial to the future of our civilisation and our species'

Professor Stephen Hawking has hailed a new artificial intelligence (AI) research institute at Cambridge University as "crucial to the future of our civilisation and our species," The Guardian reports. The £10 million Leverhulme Centre for the Future of Intelligence (LCFI), which opened this week, will aim to examine the morality and governance of AI. The centre writes on its website that it will study the impacts of this "potentially epoch-making technological development, both short and long term." Speaking at the opening of the LCFI on Wednesday, Hawking said that AI will be "either the best, or the worst thing, ever to happen to humanity," according to The Guardian. He also said: "I believe.
Professor Stephen Hawking on Wednesday opened a new artificial intelligence research centre at Britain's Cambridge University.
The Leverhulme Centre for the Future of Intelligence (CFI) will delve into AI applications ranging from increasingly "smart" smartphones to robot surgeons and "Terminator" style military droids.
Funded by a £10 million (11.2 million-euro, $12.3-million) grant from the Leverhulme Trust, the centre's express aim is to ensure AI is used to benefit humanity.
Opening the new centre, Hawking said it was not possible to predict what might be achieved with AI.
"Perhaps with the tools of this new technological revolution, we will be able to undo some of the damage done to the natural world by the last one -- industrialisation.
"And surely we will aim to finally eradicate disease and poverty. Every aspect of our lives will be transformed.
"In short, success in creating AI could the biggest event in the history of our civilisation," Hawking said.
The centre is a collaboration between the universities of Oxford, Cambridge, Imperial College London, and Berkeley, California.
It will bring together researchers from multiple disciplines to work with industry representatives and policymakers on projects ranging from regulation of autonomous weapons to the implications of AI for democracy.
"AI is hugely exciting. Its practical applications can help us to tackle important social problems, as well as easing many tasks in everyday life," said Margaret Boden, a professor of cognitive sciences and consultant to the CFI.
The technology has led to major advances in "the sciences of mind and life", she said, but, misused, also "presents grave dangers".
"CFI aims to pre-empt these dangers, by guiding AI-development in human-friendly ways," she added.
Fears of robots freeing themselves from their creators have inspired a host of films and literature -- "2001: a Space Odyssey" to name but one.
Hawking warned technological developments also posed a risk to our civilisation.
"Alongside the benefits, AI will also bring dangers, like powerful autonomous weapons, or new ways for the few to oppress the many.
"It will bring disruption to our economy. And in the future, AI could develop a will of its own -- a will that is in conflict with ours," he said.
But catastrophic scenarios aside, the development of AI, which allows robots to execute almost all human tasks, directly threatens millions of jobs.
- Freedom or destruction? -
So will AI, which has already conquered man in the game of chess, ultimately leave humans on the sidelines?
"We don't need to see AI as replacing us, but can see it as enhancing us: we will be able to make better decisions, on the basis of better evidence and better insights," said Stephen Cave, director of the centre.
"AI will help us to learn about ourselves and our environment -- and could, if managed well, be liberating."
With this in mind, ethics will be one of the key fields of research of the CFI.
"It's about how to ensure intelligent artificial systems have goals aligned with human values" and ensure computers don't evolve spontaneously in "new, unwelcome directions", Cave said.
"Before we delegate decisions in important areas, we need to be very sure that the intelligence systems to which we are delegating are sufficiently trustworthy."
The opening of the research centre comes at a time when major international groups have competing ambitions in AI.
Google has integrated the technology in its new phone, Apple and Microsoft are proposing personal assistants, while Sony and Volkswagen have also invested in AI development.

Incidence of Pancreatic Cancer Increasing With Low Awareness

Awareness about pancreatic cancer remains relatively low, while the incidence of the disease is increasing, experts said at a conference on gastroenterology, media reported.The United European Gastroenterology (UEG) Week conference noted that about 100,000 people in Europe are expected to have pancreatic cancer in the coming year, overtaking the population with breast cancer, which is estimated to stand around 90,000, Xinhua news agency reported.
However, the outlook for pancreatic cancer patients has not improved noticeably. Femme Harinck from the Erasmus Medical Centre in the Netherlands said over 80 per cent of cases are only identified when the cancer is in its advanced stage as symptoms often appear late.

According to Harinck, the five-year survival rate for this cancer between 2008 and 2012 was only 7 percent, far less than the 70 percent of colon cancer.

Nuria Malats, from the Spanish National Cancer Research Centre and holding a similar view, said the incidence of pancreatic cancer in the US is expected to increase from 40 per 100,000 people in 2010 to 70 per 100,000 people by 2030. 
The mortality rate from the cancer, she said, is only second to lung cancer. Both of the two cancers are nowadays among the most difficult to treat.

Malats said the exact causes of pancreatic cancer are still not clear, though chronic local inflammations appear to lead to higher risk. Gum inflammations and resulting bacteria also appear to play a role, along with a mix of diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure and smoking.

Source: IANS

Structure of primary cannabinoid receptor is revealed

IMAGENew research is providing a more detailed view into the structure of the human cannabinoid (CB1) receptor. These findings provide key insights into how natural and synthetic cannabinoids including tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)--a primary chemical in marijuana--bind at the CB1 receptor to produce their effects. The research was funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), part of the National Institutes of Health.
There is considerable interest in the possible therapeutic uses of marijuana and its constituent cannabinoid compounds. Molecules that target CB1 receptors may have promise in treating a variety of conditions such as pain, inflammation, obesity, nerve cell diseases, and substance use disorders. However, some synthetic cannabinoids such as K2 or Spice can produce severe and even deadly reactions, whereas other cannabinoids produce less serious side effects.
"Cannabinoids can produce very different outcomes, depending on how they bind to the CB1 receptor," said NIDA Director Nora D. Volkow, M.D. "Understanding how these chemicals bind to the CB1 receptor will help guide the design of new medications and provide insight into the therapeutic promise of the body's cannabinoid system."
Researchers used a specific chemical, AM6538, to inactivate and crystallize the CB1 receptor. They then computed the three-dimensional structure of the CB1-AM6538 complex through crystallography, which determines molecular shape by measuring the angles and intensities of x-rays that are bounced off a crystal structure. Based upon prior evidence showing how specific cannabinoids attach to different chemical configurations, researchers were able predict how these cannabinoids would fit into the three-dimensional CB1 model. The model was also used to calculate how long each cannabinoid bound to the CB1 receptor, thereby providing clues into mechanisms whereby some chemicals produce longer-lasting effects.
"We found that the CB1 receptor consists of multiple sub-pockets and channels," said Alexandros Makriyannis, Ph.D., director of the Center for Drug Discovery, Northeastern University in Boston, and a co-author on the paper. "This complex structure will allow chemists to design diverse compounds that specifically target portions of the receptor to produce desired effects."
Source:NIH/National Institute on Drug Abuse

Climate change forces birches to adapt to new conditions

Led by Professor, Vice-Dean Elina Oksanen at the Department of Environmental and Biological Sciences of the University of Eastern Finland, the project was launched 18 months ago and is currently conducting growth chamber experiments at the Kuopio Campus. The project secured funding from the Academy of Finland’s Arctic Academy Programme, seeking to carry out increasingly efficient Arctic research by making use of plant imaging techniques, among other things. The project’s partners include researchers from the University of Helsinki, the Natural Resources Institute of Finland in Vantaa, and the National Research Council of Italy.
“We study the internal, genetic modification of birch species and how different birch species are able to adapt to climate change. This project brings together experts from a variety of fields,” says Senior Researcher Sari Kontunen-Soppela.
“It is important to study birches in the Arctic area, as there are fewer different species there,” says Project Researcher Sarita Keski-Saari.
The currently ongoing experiments analyse silver and downy birches from southern and northern parts of Finland, as well as from Florence in Italy. The birch seedlings have been tissue cultured and they come from natural growth sites.
“We have two growth chambers in Kuopio, and the results will also be used in upcoming field experiments in Italy and in southern and northern Finland.” In Italy, the duration of the photoperiod in the summer is 8.5 hours, whereas in northern Finland, the sun doesn’t set at all. This phenomenon is known as the midnight sun.
“Plants measure the length of the night. In our growth chambers, we modify the photoperiod, i.e. the length of the day, while keeping other conditions such as humidity and temperature steady throughout the entire experiment,” Kontunen-Soppela explains.
“We are interested in finding out whether northern birches can utilise the midnight sun and keep photosynthesis going even at night,” Keski-Saari says.
“Chlorophyll fluorescence allows us to see, indirectly, the photosynthesis of plants. We measure variation in daily photosynthesis under different photoperiods. The birch is a pioneer species that needs plenty of light in order to grow rapidly. In other words, it turns light into chemical energy and uses this energy to grow,” Kontunen-Soppela says.
The study seeks to analyse whether birches originating from specific places are acclimated to their original conditions only, or whether also birches from Italy can make use of the midnight sun.
“Too much light is a stress factor for plants and they need the night time to repair light-induced damage, among other things. We want to know whether the plant is able to repair damages even when the sun doesn’t set. Throughout the experiment, we also analyse the number of leaves and height growth,” Keski-Saari explains.

Climate change makes days warmer, not longer

Findings from the currently ongoing experiments aren’t available just yet. However, earlier studies have shown that when northern and southern seedlings are planted on the same field, the growing season of the northern seedlings ends earlier than the growing season of the southern ones.
Source:University of Eastern Finland

Wednesday, 19 October 2016

Migraine Headaches Linked to Higher Levels of Nitrate Reducing Bacteria in the Mouth

  • Nitrate reducing microbes are normally present in our oral cavities and gut.
  • They promote our heart health by increasing blood flow to the heart and reducing blood pressure.
  • If found in higher levels than normal, they may cause migraine headaches.
Higher levels of nitrate reducing bacteria in the oral cavity may cause migraine headaches, rules a recent study at the University of California San Diego School of Medicine (UC San Diego).
The researchers embarked on the study, based on the assumption that since certain foods were known to trigger migraines, the headaches might be related to the microbial population in their digestive tracts

"There is this idea out there that certain foods trigger migraines--chocolate, wine, and especially foods containing nitrates," says Antonio Gonzalez, a programmer analyst in the laboratory of Rob Knight at UC San Diego, and lead author on the study. "We thought that perhaps there was a connection between someone's microbiome and what they were eating."

Details and Results of the Study 

Gonzalez and his colleague Embriette Hyde sequenced bacteria found in oral cavity samples from 172 participants, and 1,996 fecal samples from healthy participants. The participants were earlier asked to complete surveys asking whether they suffered from migraine headaches

The results of the sequencing indicated to them the qualitative and quantitative differences in the bacterial population between migraine sufferers and those who did not. With regards tobacterial community composition, the investigators did not find any significant differences in the fecal or oral samples of migraineurs and non-migraineurs

Additionally, they employed a bioinformatic tool termed PICRUS to analyze variations in genes that might occur in the two different sets of samples, as per the bacterial species present. They detected a slight, but statistically significant increase in the amount of genes that encoded nitrate, nitrite and nitric oxide reductases in the fecal samples of migraine sufferers. In the oral samples, these genes were significantly much higher in persons suffering from migraine

"We know for a fact the nitrate-reducing bacteria are found in the oral cavity," says Hyde, who is the project manager for the American Gut Project in the Knight laboratory. "We definitely think this pathway is advantageous to cardiovascular health, but now we have a potential connection to migraines as well." 

How Nitrates Cause Migraine Headaches 

Many persons, who suffer from migraine headaches have noticed a link between consuming nitrates and their severe headaches. Patients with heart disease, who take nitrates forchest pain or congestive heart failure report severe headaches as a side effect. 

The authors of the study feel that we may have a mutually beneficial symbiotic relationship with bacteria in our oral cavities, which do promote our cardiovascular health. But in some people, an excess of nitrate-reducing bacteria in the mouth could also lead to migraines, rules the study. 

Nitrates, occurring in certain foods such as processed meats, green leafy vegetables, and in certain medicines, are reduced to nitrites by microbes found in the mouth. When circulating in the blood, these nitrites become converted to nitric oxide (NO) under certain conditions.Nitric oxide is a powerful vasodilator that promotes cardiovascular health by increasing coronary blood flow and reducing blood pressure. 

However, nitrates also cause vasodilation of the blood vessels supplying the brain, which may be responsible for the severe headaches. Vasoconstricting agents such as ergotamine are generally administered for relief from migraine headaches. 

Future Research Plans 

Gonzalez and Hyde say that they plan to study more well-defined groups of patients, segregated on the basis of the different types of migraines. They could then determine if the microbes in their oral cavities actually expressed nitrate-reducing genes, estimate levels of their circulating NO and study how it correlates with their migraine status. 

Perhaps far into the future, Gonzalez says, "We will have a magical probiotic mouthwash for everyone that helps your cardiovascular health without giving you migraines." But for now, he says, "If you suspect that nitrates are causing you migraines, you should try to avoid them in your diet." 

Replacing diet beverages with water may help diabetic patients lose weight

In a study of 81 overweight and obese women with type 2 diabetes who usually consumed diet beverages and were on a weight loss program, those who substituted water for diet beverages after their lunch for 24 weeks had a greater decrease in weight (-6.40 vs. -5.25 kg) and body mass index (-2.49 vs. -2.06 kg/m2) compared with those who continued to consume diet beverages. Participants who switched to water also experienced greater improvements in fasting blood sugar levels and insulin sensitivity.
The findings are published in Diabetes, Obesity and Metabolism.

Dartmouth study: How age-related genetic anomalies contribute to the maternal age effect

For women in their 30s and beyond, the probability of a pregnancy that results in a miscarriage or a Down syndrome pregnancy is staggering with the risk increasing to 1 in 3 by the time a woman reaches her early 40s due to the "maternal age effect," the high incidence of mistakes in chromosome segregation that occur during the cell division process of meiosis, which gives rise to the egg. Now, in a study just published online in the PNAS (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences), Dartmouth researchers have provided the first evidence in an intact living organism that an increase of reactive oxygen species (ROS) within oocytes (the cells that undergo meiosis to form eggs) causes a significant increase in meiotic chromosome segregation errors.
One hallmark of aging cells is an increase in the damage of cellular components due to ROS, oxygen molecules that have picked up an extra electron that makes them highly reactive and damaging. Dartmouth's study illustrates how oxidative damage may contribute to the maternal age effect, a hypothesis that was first put forward over 20 years ago.
During meiosis, chromosome pairs perform a highly choreographed dance in which they first come together and then move apart into the cells that will eventually form an egg. Accumulation of oxidative damage in the aging human oocyte could disrupt this process, causing a failure of chromosome pairs to segregate accurately. A failure of chromosome pairs to segregate accurately leads to Down syndrome when the egg inherits two copies of chromosome 21 (instead of one copy); after fertilization, this leads to an embryo with three copies of chromosome 21 (Trisomy 21).
One critical aspect that governs accurate chromosome segregation is something called sister chromatid cohesion. Cohesion refers to protein-mediated physical linkages that hold sister chromatids together. In meiotic cells, cohesion between sisters also holds a chromosome pair (recombinant homologs) together and helps to ensure that the pair segregate accurately during the first meiotic division. If cohesion is lost prematurely, the probability that chromosomes will undergo segregation errors is much higher. The work conducted at Dartmouth has now shown for the first time that increased levels of ROS in the oocyte result in premature loss of meiotic cohesion, which then leads to segregation errors.
Similar to other geneticists, Bickel and her team used the fruit fly for their research. To investigate the role of ROS levels during meiosis, they applied genetic techniques to decrease the proteins that normally neutralize ROS, to experimentally increase ROS levels within the oocytes of a living female fruit fly. The researchers then looked at the female fruit fly's offspring to quantitatively measure how often chromosome segregation errors occur within its oocytes.
"Not only does our work provide insight into a phenomenon that negatively affects pregnancy outcomes, it also raises the exciting possibility that approaches that slow down the accumulation of oxidative damage could lower the incidence of chromosome segregation errors in the oocytes of older women," says Sharon Bickel, associate professor of biological sciences at Dartmouth. "This is the most important work of my career," she added.
Based on these findings, one possibility is that a diet rich in antioxidants may be able to slow the age-related demise of meiotic cohesion. Bickel's lab plans to test this hypothesis, by feeding fruit flies antioxidants and measuring whether the increase in segregation errors that they have previously observed in "aged" oocytes can be suppressed by dietary interventions. This future study reflects the lab's broader focus on defining the pathway of events necessary for chromosomes to "do the right thing" during meiosis.

Study: Does a cancer cell's shape hint at its danger?

Doctors can sometimes use a cancer cell's genetics to predict how it will act - how dangerous it is and thus what treatments should be used against it. Now a paper published in the journalIntegrative Biology shows that a cancer cell's shape may offer similar clues. Eventually, the researchers from Colorado State University hope that their measurements of cell shape could be combined with genomic data to offer a more precise prognosis and guide strategies for treating a patient's disease.
"This is the tip of the iceberg - the beginning of an investigation taking shape - which comes from a well-known fact that the process of carcinogenesis leads to mis-regulation of the cytoskeleton. In other words, the formation of cancer changes the shape of cells," says Ashok Prasad, PhD, assistant professor in the CSU Department of Chemical & Biological Engineering.
He points out that when a pathologist examines a tumor sample, he or she may see physical abnormalities in a cell's growth or nucleus or chromosomes. However, "Our hypothesis is that there are subtler changes in shape at a statistical level, early in the process of carcinogenesis, that a computer could pick up," Prasad says.
To determine what these changes may be, Prasad and colleagues including first author Elaheh Alizadeh, PhD candidate in the Prasad lab, first had to quantify cell shape. Rather than trying to categorize cells as "a little oblong" or "somewhat spherical", the group used what are called Zernike moments to precisely capture cell dimensions. Basically, a Zernike moment, named after physicist Frits Zernike who won the 1953 Nobel Prize in Physics, is a way of representing shapes as data. This requires choosing a finite number of measurements (the researchers chose 256), which then became a sort of numerical cell-shape signature. The researchers also found a way to represent differences in Zernike moments between cell lines as vectors. The question was whether a vector describing differences in Zernike moments could help identify which cell line was likely to be the most invasive.
"Machine learning is a tool that you have to give some examples - you have to say 'these are oranges and these are apples' and then a neural network can learn what distinguishes one from the other. Then you give the system an apple and see if it can correctly tell you which one it is," Alizadeh says.
In this case, the "apples" and "oranges" were more and less invasive osteosarcoma cell lines.
"The four cell lines we used, the model can predict them with good accuracy," Alizadeh says. With an undergraduate degree in physics and a Masters in plasma engineering (both earned while studying in Tehran, Iran), and now PhD work in chemical engineering that includes machine learning, Alizadeh's background allows a unique perspective on this line of research that draws on all three, combining the physics of Zernike moments with the challenge of data mining with the realities of gathering data from human cell lines.
After proving the promise of their model, the question was what would happen when the team's machine learning confronted a hypothetical fifth cell line, as would be the case if asked to evaluate a new patient sample. "What we found is that if we first allowed our neural network to evaluate new cells - to recalibrate its categorization based on the characteristics of these new cells - it does predict the classes pretty well," Alizadeh says.
However, Prasad and Alizadeh point out that significant questions remain. For example, how a cell is prepared for imaging can affect its shape - "What you put these cells on when you look at them may affect what you see," Prasad says. Likewise, there are myriad ways to quantify cell shape, of which Zernike moment is only one possibility. Future research will explore additional ways to capture the data of a cell's dimensions.
Still, "If we could say that this set of shape changes represents these genetic changes - if we could do this, I think it would be amazing," Prasad says. "It would let us add shape as one more variable in determining a cancer's prognosis from biopsy."


inflamationDepression is a scary, dark, and seemingly uncontrollable beast many of us have experienced in our lifetimes. Some of us have even found the length and depth of our depression to be so overwhelming we seek medical advice that often leads to prescription pills.Prescription pills have their downfalls, however, including side effects like weight gain, loss of libido, and, according to a new study, the potential to actually double the risk of suicide and violence.
And while depression is typically treated as a mental disorder, new research says that, perhaps, that’s not always the case. What if depression also has a physical cause that requires eliminating inflammation in the body to alleviate symptoms?
Research has recently linked depression to chronic inflammation. A 2012 study in the journal Neuropsychopharmacology noted:
Elevated biomarkers of inflammation, including inflammatory cytokines and acute-phase proteins, have been found in depressed patients, and administration of inflammatory stimuli has been associated with the development of depressive symptoms. Data also have demonstrated that inflammatory cytokines can interact with multiple pathways known to be involved in the development of depression, including monoamine metabolism, neuroendocrine function, synaptic plasticity, and neurocircuits relevant to mood regulation. . . .
Psychosocial stress, diet, obesity, a leaky gut, and an imbalance between regulatory and pro-inflammatory T cells also contribute to inflammation and may serve as a focus for preventative strategies relevant to both the development of depression and its recurrence.
In this respect, depression is the result of your body trying to shield itself from an inflammatory response. Some of the biggest symptoms of depression associated with bodily inflammation involve flat mood, slow thinking, avoidance, changes in perception, and metabolic changes. Evolutionary psychology suggests that this once protected us, keeping us holed up in our caves since we felt too low to go out during a time when illness made us vulnerable to attack, and at risk of passing infection on to others.
In 2013, investigators at Denmark’s Aarhus University analyzed the health records of about 3.6 million people and concluded that those with inflammation caused by autoimmune conditions had a 45% greater chance of suffering from depression. And those who had ever been in the hospital for a life-threatening inflammatory infection were 62% more likely to suffer from depression.
All the findings out there, all the scientific explanations, beg a crucial question: Are people depressed because of inflammatory illnesses? Or is there perhaps an unknown physical process that makes inflammation trigger depression?
Researchers believe that cytokines in your blood, or inflammatory messengers like CRP, interleukin-1 (IL-1), interleukin-6 (IL-6), and TNF-alpha, are linked to and predictive of depression.
In melancholic depression, for example, white blood cells called monocytes make pro-inflammatory genes that trigger the secretion of cytokines. Meanwhile, cortisol sensitivity decreases, which is known to shield against inflammation.
And another team of Danish researchers published a study that found raised levels of C-reactive protein, a substance in the body produced in response to inflammation, were linked to an “increased risk for psychological distress and depression in the general population.”
Dr. Mercola noted that inflammatory agents bring information to your nervous system by stimulating your vagus nerve — responsible for connecting your gut and brain.
“During inflammatory states, brain cells called microglia are activated. When this happens, an enzyme called indoleamine 2 3-dioxygenase (IDO) directs tryptophan away from the production of serotonin and melatonin, instructing it instead to produce an NMDA (an amino acid derivative) agonist called quinolinic acid, which can trigger anxiety and agitation,” he says.
Research also suggests anti-inflammatory drugs may be able to treat depression and would be less harmful than antidepressant pills like selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs).
While SSRIs are said to work by boosting levels of serotonin in the brain, Peter Jones, a professor of psychiatry, believes some of the benefit of antidepressants may come from the fact that SSRI drugs seem to lessen inflammation in the body as a side effect.
Currently, the arthritis drug sirukumab is being tested on depressed patients, while researchers are also looking into creating anti-inflammatory drugs that specifically target depression.
Of course, this solution seems to simply be replacing one issue with another, and one drug with another. But the biggest breakthrough seems to be a new understanding of depression, and if inflammation is, in fact, as closely linked as research shows, you could begin by eating a ketogenic diet that is high in healthy fats and low in net carbs. This type of diet even eliminates C-reactive protein almost completely.
Even just snacking on some raw nuts could lower your levels of inflammation. A great source of healthy fat, eating just a handful of them five times per week can reduce inflammation, according to recent research reported in Reuters Health.

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