30 Jun

Medical News Today: Marijuana compound removes Alzheimer's-related protein from nerve cells

With the prevalence of Alzheimer’s disease expected to almost triple in the United States by 2050, there is an urgent need to identify effective treatments for the condition. Now, a new study suggests marijuana may hold the key to such a treatment.
[Fingers holding a marijuana leaf]
THC – the active compound in marijuana – was found to reduce beta-amyloid levels in nerve cells, a protein that is considered a hallmark of Alzheimer’s.

Published in the journal Aging and Mechanisms of Disease, the study reveals how a compound present in marijuana triggered the removal of beta-amyloid protein from nerve cells, or neurons.

Beta-amyloid is considered a hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease; the protein clumps together in the brain of people with the condition, forming plaques.

Studies have suggested these beta-amyloid plaques disrupt communication between neurons in the brain, which leads to symptoms associated with Alzheimer’s, such as impaired memory.

Preventing beta-amyloid accumulation in the brain might seem like an obvious way to tackle Alzheimer’s, but because researchers are still unclear of the exact role the protein plays in the disease process, achieving such a feat is easier said than done.

High beta-amyloid levels trigger inflammation, nerve cell death

To find out more about the role of beta-amyloid in Alzheimer’s, senior author Prof. David Schubert, of the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla, CA, and colleagues modified nerve cells to produce high levels of the protein.

Fast facts about Alzheimer’s

  • More than 5 million people in the U.S. are living with Alzheimer’s
  • Alzheimer’s is the sixth leading cause of death for Americans
  • This year, Alzheimer’s and other dementias will cost the U.S. around $236 billion.

Learn more about Alzheimer’s

The team found that increased beta-amyloid production led to increased expression of pro-inflammatory proteins in nerve cells, causing inflammation and nerve cell death.

“Inflammation within the brain is a major component of the damage associated with Alzheimer’s disease, but it has always been assumed that this response was coming from immune-like cells in the brain, not the nerve cells themselves,” notes first author Antonio Currais, also of the Salk Institute for Biological Studies.

The researchers explain that nerve cells in the brain contain receptors that are activated by lipid molecules known as endocannabinoids. These molecules are naturally produced by nerve cells and are believed to aid nerve cell signaling.

Marijuana contains a chemical called tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is similar to naturally produced endocannabinoids and activates the same receptors. This got the team thinking: could THC prevent nerve cell death?

“When we were able to identify the molecular basis of the inflammatory response to amyloid beta, it became clear that THC-like compounds that the nerve cells make themselves may be involved in protecting the cells from dying,” explains Currais.

Marijuana compound prevented nerve cell death

To test their theory, the researchers applied THC to nerve cells with high beta-amyloid production.

They found that the marijuana compound reduced beta-amyloid levels and eradicated the inflammatory response to the protein, which prevented nerve cell death.

While clinical trials are needed to confirm the role THC might play in protecting nerve cells against beta-amyloid, the researchers believe their findings shed more light on the role beta-amyloid plays in Alzheimer’s disease, which could pave the way for new treatments.

“Although other studies have offered evidence that cannabinoids might be neuroprotective against the symptoms of Alzheimer’s, we believe our study is the first to demonstrate that cannabinoids affect both inflammation and amyloid beta accumulation in nerve cells.”

Prof. David Schubert

Read about how a personalized treatment plan could reverse memory loss in early Alzheimer’s.

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Source: medicalnewstoday

30 Jun

Medical News Today: Butter not significantly linked to ill health, says study

Eating butter has only a small negative impact on total mortality, it does not worsen cardiovascular health, and it may help to protect against diabetes, according to research published in PLOS One.
[butter]
Butter is bad for you…or is it?

Saturated fat is generally considered unhealthy, and dietary guidelines recommend avoiding it.

In 2014, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) noted that consumption of butter in the U.S. was at an all-time high.

In view of this, the authors of the current study felt that an investigation into the impact of butter consumption would be “highly relevant and timely.”

A growing number of experts have been rethinking the focus on isolated macronutrients, such as saturated fats, and their impact on chronic conditions.

Instead, there is a call toward food-based paradigms. This type of approach might better take into account, for example, the fact that the specific fatty acid profile of one food that is rich in dairy fat will be different from the profiles of other foods.

The argument goes that a range of items that are similarly high in dairy fats may also contain other substances that could have different lipid and metabolic effects.

For example, dairy products such as yogurt and certain cheeses have been found to have metabolic properties that may help to prevent type 2 diabetes, despite being dairy fats.

Could dairy fat be good for cardiometabolic health?

Butter has a high level of saturated dairy fat content, but how this impacts total mortality, cardiovascular health, and diabetes is unknown.

Researchers from Tufts University in Boston, MA, led by Laura Pimpin Ph.D., a former postdoctoral fellow at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Technology, wanted to see if there were any links between butter consumption, chronic disease, and all-cause mortality.

The researchers carried out a meta-analysis, in which they systematically reviewed data for 636,151 people in nine research studies, in order to calculate the relative risk of consuming butter.

The studies covered 15 country-specific cohorts, and the subjects were followed up for a total of 6.5 million person-years.

During the follow-up period, there were 28,271 deaths, 9,783 cases of cardiovascular disease (CVD), and 23,954 cases of new-onset type 2 diabetes.

The authors considered standard consumption of butter consumption to be 14 grams a day, as estimated by the USDA. This is approximately one tablespoon of butter.

Across the nine studies, average butter consumption varied between one third of a serving per day to 3.2 servings per day.

Overall, each daily serving of butter was linked either minimally with a risk of CVD, not at all with total mortality, and inversely with diabetes, apparently offering some protection against this chronic condition.

The findings suggest “relatively small or neutral overall associations of butter with mortality, CVD, and diabetes.”

Butter in the balance

Given the results, senior author Dr. Dariush Mozaffarian, dean of the School of Nutrition Science and Technology at Tufts, comments that butter should not be “demonized,” but neither should we see it as a route to good health.

Pimpin says that although it is common for people who eat more butter to have less healthy lifestyles and diets, the overall results seem to be fairly neutral.

“This suggests that butter may be a ‘middle-of-the-road’ food: a more healthful choice than sugar or starch, such as the white bread or potato on which butter is commonly spread and which have been linked to higher risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease; and a worse choice than many margarines and cooking oils – those rich in healthy fats such as soybean, canola, flaxseed, and extra virgin olive oils, which would likely lower risk compared with either butter or refined grains, starches, and sugars.”

Laura Pimpin, Ph.D.

Dr. Mozaffarian calls for more research into a potential link between butter consumption and an apparently lower risk of diabetes. He notes that other studies of dairy fat have indicated similar results.

Learn how linoleic acid, found in vegetable fats, might not necessarily decrease the risk of death, despite lowering cholesterol.

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30 Jun

Medical News Today: Brain tumors: Researchers hail soluble asprin as potential breakthrough

At a scientific meeting this week, researchers hail their evidence about a new soluble drug containing liquid aspirin as a potential breakthrough in the treatment of brain tumors.
brain scan
The researchers say the new drug represents a potentially groundbreaking breakthrough for future treatments of brain tumors.

The new research, from the Brain Tumour Research Centre of Excellence at the University of Portsmouth in the United Kingdom, features at the Brain Tumours 2016 – From Biology to Therapy meeting, held in Warsaw, Poland, 27-29 June, 2016.

Describing their findings as “potentially groundbreaking” for future treatments of brain tumors, Prof. Geoff Pilkington and Dr. Richard Hill explain their new drug is able to cross the blood-brain barrier.

The blood-brain barrier is like a smart wrapper that both protects the brain from foreign substances in the bloodstream getting into the brain, while also allowing essential molecules to pass from the brain into the bloodstream and vice versa.

Researchers trying to develop cancer drugs for treating brain tumors have found it very difficult to create compounds that pass through the blood-brain barrier. Many cancer drugs that can defeat tumors in other parts of the body cannot pass through.

The researchers note that a truly liquid aspirin has long been a goal in drug research. Currently available aspirins that are described as “soluble” are not fully soluble; they contain tiny particles of solid aspirin that cause gastric side effects.

‘Drug could be highly effective against glioblastoma’

The new soluble drug – called IP1867B – combines aspirin and two other ingredients. The Portsmouth team developed it in collaboration with Innovate Pharmaceuticals.

All three ingredients are already approved for clinical use, note the researchers, and have been shown to kill tumor cells without harming healthy brain tissue.

They say their findings suggest the new drug could be highly effective against glioblastoma, one of the most devastating and most common type of brain tumor in adults.

Estimates suggest there will be 23,770 new cases and 16,050 deaths from brain and other nervous system cancers in the United States in 2016.

The researchers tested the new drug on cancer cells from tissue taken from adults and children with brain cancer. They found that both individually, and in combination, the drug ingredients were ten times more effective at killing tumor cells than any combination of other currently used drugs.

While these results are exciting and promising, the drug now needs to undergo the usual process of further development and testing in preclinical models before trials can begin on patients with brain cancer.

“It is science like this that will enable us to eventually find a cure for this devastating disease which kills more children and adults under the age of 40 than any other cancer.”

Sue Farrington Smith, chief executive of Brain Tumour Research

Discover how a new class of drugs shows promise against aggressive, resistant forms of prostate cancer.

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30 Jun

Medical News Today: HIV: What are the Symptoms?

HIV is a condition that gradually attacks the immune system. There is currently no cure for HIV.

Once a person has been diagnosed with HIV, they have it for life. According to Planned Parenthood, 40,000 people are diagnosed with HIV in the United States each year.

What is HIV?

HIV attacks the body’s immune cells, specifically targeting the white blood cells called T cells. T cells help the body’s immune system to fight infections.

A doctor with a positive HIV blood sample.
If untreated, HIV reduces the body’s ability to fight infection and diseases.

If HIV is not treated, it reduces the number of T cells in the body. In turn, this affects the body’s ability to fight infection. People with HIV will be not only more at risk from infections but also infection-related cancers.

Over time, the body becomes unable to fight off infections and diseases, especially if HIV is left untreated. Eventually, these infections can overwhelm the weakened immune system.

HIV is classified as a sexually transmitted disease. According to AIDS.gov, HIV is mainly transmitted in the U.S. through sexual behaviors and needle or syringe use. It can be transmitted in several different ways, however:

  • Through the vaginal, anal, or oral sex
  • Through coming into contact with infected blood, semen, cervical, or vaginal fluids
  • From a mother to infant during pregnancy, labor, delivery, and breastfeeding

To become infected, these bodily fluids must come into direct contact with a mucous membrane or damaged tissue. The rectum, vagina, penis and mouth all contain mucous membranes.

To be transmitted by a needle or syringe, the virus must be directly injected into the bloodstream.

Recognizing the symptoms of HIV

Most people develop a flu-like illness between 1 to 4 weeks after becoming infected with the virus. These symptoms are referred to as acute retroviral syndrome and can last from a few days to several weeks.

Specific symptoms include:

  • A fever or a rise in body temperature
  • A body rash that usually does not itch
  • Additional flu-like symptoms such as muscle aches, severe tiredness, night sweats, and sore throat
  • Swollen glands
  • Sores or ulcers in the mouth or the genitals
  • Meningitis

The symptoms of HIV can vary depending on the stage of the infection.

Stages of HIV

Stage 1: Primary acute HIV infection

Within 2 to 4 weeks, people who are infected with the virus may begin to experience flu-like symptoms. This is the body’s natural response to an infection.

At this stage, there is a large amount of the virus present in the blood, and the person is very contagious. HIV can be spread more efficiently this stage than the next stage. However, symptoms can be mild and can often go unnoticed. People often do not realize they are infected.

This stage is commonly referred to as “the window period.” Those infected with HIV develop antibodies to HIV antigens anywhere from 6 weeks to 3 months after being infected. Even if tested, the antibodies may not give a positive test until 6 weeks.

Stage 2: Clinical latency (HIV inactivity or dormancy)

This stage is also referred to as asymptomatic HIV infection or chronic HIV infection. The HIV is still active but reproduces at lower levels. There may not be any visible symptoms, and the person may not get sick.

In people with HIV who are not taking medicine to treat the virus, this dormant period can last for a decade or longer. For some people, this phase may progress faster.

People who are regularly taking antiretroviral therapy (ART) medicine to treat HIV may be in this stage for several decades. They can still transmit the virus to others, but those who are on ART are less likely to transmit HIV than those who are not. People with HIV who receive ART have a much lower level of HIV in their blood.

Although a person with HIV may not exhibit symptoms, the virus is still active inside of the body and can be still be transmitted. During this period, the virus continues to multiply and destroy immune cells. Some people will develop mild infections or symptoms including:

A man has a headache.
Stage 2 HIV symptoms include fever, tiredness, and weight loss.

Stage 3: Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS)

Without treatment for HIV, individuals can expect to progress to AIDS in around 10 years. AIDS is the last stage of HIV infection and the most severe.

At this point, AIDS has badly damaged the body’s immune system. The individual begins to develop an increasing number of severe illnesses. People with AIDS are unable to fight off simple illnesses that people with healthy immune systems would have no trouble fighting.

Many people with HIV eventually develop AIDS. The rate of progress depends on factors such as age, genetic factors, and the strain of the virus.

Signs and symptoms of AIDS include:

  • Frequent soaking night sweats
  • Recurring fever
  • Long-term diarrhea
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Persistent unexplained fatigue
  • Skin rashes
  • Unusual spots and sores in the mouth

Without any treatment, people with AIDS can expect to survive for around 3 years. Those with AIDS see their T cell counts drop below 200 cells per millimeter of blood. They also have a high amount of the virus in their blood and are very infectious.

Diagnosis of HIV

The best way to determine if a person has HIV is through a blood test. HIV blood tests work by detecting certain proteins called antibodies that are present in the blood. The body automatically makes these proteins in response to the presence of HIV.

Saliva tests can also detect the presence of HIV.

People who have shared needles or had sex without a condom should be sure to get tested.

Some sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) can mimic HIV symptoms and make the body more at risk from HIV. STDs that cause open sores on the genitals such as herpes or genital warts can increase the chance of developing HIV.

Treatments for HIV

There is currently no cure for HIV. Doctors will give patients anti-HIV drugs which help to block the virus.

HIV drugs.
While there is no cure for HIV, anti-HIV drugs can block the virus.

Classes of anti-HIV drugs include:

  • Non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NNRTIs)
  • Nucleoside or nucleotide reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NRTIs)
  • Protease inhibitors (PIs)
  • Entry or fusion inhibitors
  • Integrase inhibitors

Each drug works in a different way. A doctor will determine the best drug therapy program for each patient to follow.

As the disease progresses, people with HIV may develop other illnesses that will also require treatment. Some health problems are more common in women and are harder to treat in people infected with HIV:

  • Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) such as gonorrhea, chlamydia, and trichomoniasis
  • Vaginal infections including yeast and bacterial infections
  • Human papillomavirus (HPV) infections which can cause genital warts or cervical cancer
  • Other infections that could potentially affect the eyes, gut, kidneys, lungs, skin, or brain

Preventing HIV

AIDS.gov state that more than 1.2 million people are currently living with the HIV infection in the U.S. Of these, almost 1 in 8 (12.8 percent) are unaware they have the infection.

People can protect themselves from HIV by learning about the dangers and how to avoid them.

  • Practice safe sex. Use a condom when engaging in sexual activity
  • Be honest. People should tell sexual partners if they have HIV so they understand the dangers and can protect themselves
  • Always use clean needles and don’t share them with other people

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30 Jun

Medical News Today: Coping with Chronic Knee Pain

Cases of chronic knee pain have increased a lot in the last 20 years As the knee is the main joint people use for walking, a good understanding of long-lasting knee pain can be important.

Knee injuries are so common partly because of how complex the joint is. The knee is the joint where the thighbone, shinbone, and kneecap (patella) connect. In addition to these bones, the knee includes cartilage, ligaments, menisci and tendons.

Cartilage is a slippery substance on the ends of the bones in the knee. It lets the bones rub smoothly over one another as the leg bends and straightens.

Ligaments are the connective tissues that hold the bones of the knee together and give the knee its stability. The menisci are the cushions between the femur and tibia that also act as shock absorbers. There is one along the outer aspect called the lateral meniscus and one along the inner aspect called the medial meniscus.

Tendons are the connective tissues that attach the muscles in the leg to the bones they control. When all these pieces work together, the knee works as it is supposed to. It protects the bones from impact and allows people to move around freely.

When the components of the knee are not working properly, people are likely to experience pain, inflammation, and many of the other symptoms of chronic knee pain.

Causes of chronic knee pain

There are many things that can contribute to knee pain. Though the outcome is the same, the causes are very different. Knowing what is causing chronic knee pain can help people properly treat it.

A man on the floor with severe knee pain.
Long-lasting knee pain can be caused by injuries such as bone fractures and torn ligaments.

The common causes of chronic knee pain include trauma, degenerative tissue disorders, Infections, connective tissue disorders, and metabolic disorders.

Trauma

Traumatic knee injuries are usually caused by accidents, falls, and physical activities. Traumatic injuries usually happen because the knee has been put under extreme strain. Falling from a height, being hit directly on the knee, or making a sudden change in direction are all causes of traumatic knee injuries.

Common traumatic knee injuries include bone fractures, dislocated kneecaps, and torn ligaments.

Metabolic disorders

Metabolic disorders are illnesses that affect how the cells of the body convert food to energy. There may be a metabolic connection to chronic knee pain.

People with metabolic disorders like gout may often experience knee pain. This is because gout causes uric acid crystals to build up in the joints. The result can be painful inflammation, which can also affect how the knee moves.

Degenerative tissue disorders

According to the Arthritis Foundation, osteoarthritis is the most common chronic condition of the joints. It is a degenerative disease, caused by the “wear and tear” of the joints over time.

Common symptoms are pain and stiffness after long periods of rest. The knees may also get swollen after extended activity.

Osteoporosis is another common disorder. Osteoporosis also damages the cartilage and connecting tissues of the knee because the supporting bone is lost.

Bacterial infection

Bacterial infections such as cellulitis can also cause sudden knee pain. Cellulitis occurs when bacteria that are normally on the surface of the skin make their way underneath the skin’s protective surface.

Cellulitis around the knee can cause the joint itself to become infected if left untreated. This causes redness, swelling, pain, and stiffness. In turn, this can produce chronic knee pain.

Connective tissue disorders

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is the most common connective tissue disorder that causes knee pain. It is a disease that causes the body’s immune system to attack its own tissues. In the case of knee pain, RA attacks the tissues of the knee.

RA causes pain, joint inflammation, fatigue, fevers, and appetite loss.

Risk factors of chronic knee pain

Two women are stretching their quadriceps.
Stretching before physical activity is very important for preventing knee injuries.

A doctor may ask questions about lifestyle to help diagnose the cause of chronic knee pain. The different causes of chronic knee pain have different risk factors associated with them.

  • Trauma: Physical activity without proper stretching can put you at risk for a traumatic knee injury. Intense sports like basketball and football can also put people at risk for traumatic injury.
  • Metabolic disorders: Disorders like gout may be caused by lifestyle choices or genetics. Excessive alcohol use, obesity, and dietary factors may contribute to knee pain caused by metabolic disorders.
  • Degenerative disorders: Degenerative disorders are commonly linked to an aging body, though there are other factors. The risk of osteoporosis increases with age, specific genes, lack of exercise, and dietary factors.
  • Obesity puts people at a higher risk for osteoarthritis, especially in the large joints such as the knees. Other possible factors include age, overuse of the joints, and genetics.
  • Bacterial infections: Risk factors that can lead to cellulitis include a weakened immune system, skin conditions, long-term swelling in the arms and legs, using drugs that require needles, and obesity.
  • Connective tissue disorders: Risk factors for RA include a family history of RA, being over 40, smoking, and obesity. Women are also more likely to develop RA than men.

Symptoms of chronic knee pain

In addition to the pain caused by a chronic knee injury, there are usually other accompanying symptoms. These symptoms may include:

  • Weakness of the knee; inability to stand properly or fully lengthen out the knee
  • Popping sounds as the knee flexes or straightens out
  • Swelling and stiffness around the knee
  • Redness or warm sensations throughout the knee

Diagnosis of chronic knee pain

While it is important to know what may be causing chronic knee pain, people should always rely on the experience of a licensed doctor. If someone is uncertain what may be causing their pain, a full physical examination can help their doctor diagnose it for them.

After accounting for risk factors, an X-ray or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is often needed to diagnose the cause of chronic knee pain. Laboratory work is usually necessary also.

Treatment and prevention of chronic knee pain

Treatment for chronic knee pain may come in the form of prescription drugs or an exercise plan. In the case of injuries and serious degenerative conditions, surgery may be needed.

No matter what the diagnosis, patients will likely be given immediate measures to take to begin reducing symptoms. These can include using anti-inflammatory drugs to reduce the pain and swelling, resting the knee, and doing low-stress exercises.

Prevention and long-term care

Preventing or reducing chronic knee pain in the long term is a simple commitment. It is as easy as taking care of the body and making healthy lifestyle choices.

Lifestyle

Adjusting lifestyle to reduce the risk of chronic knee pain can also help care for knee and joint conditions.

Reducing alcohol intake and quitting smoking may reduce the risk of many disorders that lead to knee pain.

Obesity is a risk factor for many of the disorders that cause chronic knee pain. Because of this, keeping body weight in check can greatly reduce the risk of chronic knee pain.

A man is swimming.
Swimming is a good way to exercise without putting strain on the knees.

Exercise

Adequate exercise is an important part of life. Daily exercise directly decreases the risk of many diseases, including heart disease, cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure, depression, obesity, and osteoporosis.

Exercise is one of the best ways to prevent or reduce the symptoms of many diseases. When coping with chronic knee pain, people should be sure include exercises that strengthen the knees.

Low-stress exercises such as swimming, cycling, and walking are best for caring for or preventing chronic knee pain

Pain-free knees

Chronic knee pain can be caused by a variety of things. Some risk factors can be controlled, and there are many preventive options. People can take steps toward pain-free knees by seeing a doctor and taking care of their bodies.

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30 Jun

Medical News Today: Lou Gehrig's: Safety of stem cell treatment investigated

Research, published this week in Neurology, investigates the safety level of stem cell research in individuals with Lou Gehrig’s disease, also known as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.
[Stem cell researcher]
Could stem cells be the key to ALS?

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a progressive neuromuscular disease that attacks the nerves responsible for voluntary movement, slowly leading to paralysis.

The condition is fatal, normally within 2-5 years from diagnosis; the causes are not understood, and no cure has been identified.

The condition affects an estimated 3.9 per 100,000 persons.

Currently, only one drug has been approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use in the treatment of ALS. The drug, called Riluzole, has been shown to slow the disease, but it offers no improvement and only extends life minimally.

Any potential avenue of investigation is followed doggedly by researchers looking for better treatments. One such avenue is stem cell research.

ALS and stem cell research

Scientists hope that stem cells could be used as support cells for dying motor neurons, perhaps through reducing inflammation, the release of growth factors, or another – as yet unknown – mechanism.

Previous research has demonstrated that stem cells, injected into mice, have been able to make new synaptic connections with motor neurons already in situ. They have also been shown to produce neurotrophic growth factors, which can be protective of existing cells.

Companies, such as Neuralstem, which supported the latest research covered below, set out their hopes for the future of stem cell-based treatments for ALS. According to their website, they expect the transplanted cells to:

  • Graft permanently into the region where they were transplanted
  • Rebuild circuitry with the patient motor neurons
  • Protect patient neurons from further ravages of the disease.

Safety of stem cell therapy for ALS investigated in phase II trial

A recent phase II clinical trial carried out by Dr. Jonathan D. Glass, a neurology professor at Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta, GA, tested the safety of stem cell research for ALS patients.

The study did not concentrate on how well the procedure benefited the patient; the focus was primarily on safety.

The study used just 15 participants from three university hospitals, all of whom had received an ALS diagnosis an average of 2 years earlier. This group was split into five treatment groups, all receiving differing doses of stem cells by an increasing number of injections. The number of stem cells injected ranged from 2-16 million.

The trials were open-label – in other words, all participants knew that they were receiving stem cell therapy.

Each participant received bilateral injections between the C3 and C5 spinal regions. The final group also received injections into the lumbar and cervical cord through two additional procedures.

Over the following 9 months, the researchers measured ALS progression and, more importantly, any side effects of the treatment.

Side effects from stem cell therapy

The majority of the negative side effects were pain and discomfort produced by the procedures themselves and the immunosuppressant drugs that were used. Most people tolerated the intervention well.

However, in two cases, serious complications arose. One individual developed a swelling of the spinal cord that induced pain, sensory loss, and partial paralysis; the other developed a neurological condition known as central pain syndrome.

The progression of the participant’s ALS was compared with historical records. No significant improvements were noted. However, the study was only small-scale; it is, therefore, difficult to draw solid conclusions before further investigations are conducted:

“This study was not designed, nor was it large enough, to determine the effectiveness of slowing or stopping the progression of ALS. The importance of this study is that it will allow us to move forward to a larger trial specifically designed to test whether transplantation of human stem cells into the spinal cord will be a positive treatment for patients with ALS.”

Dr. Jonathan D. Glass

Because ALS progresses so rapidly, a relatively higher relative risk is deemed acceptable if a treatment shows promise. As Dr. Glass explains: “Though there were two serious complications related to the treatment, the level of acceptable risk for treating patients with ALS, where the prognosis is poor and treatments are limited, is arguably higher than that for more benign disorders.”

Although this trial is only a small stepping stone in the right direction, now that relative safety has been demonstrated, further research can build on these findings.

Learn more about ALS and its potential connection with pesticide use.

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30 Jun

Medical News Today: Diabetes risk increased for men who get too much, too little sleep

Getting too much or too little sleep is known to have negative implications for overall health and well-being. Now, a new study has uncovered a sleep-health link that appears to apply to men only: too much or too little sleep may raise their risk of diabetes.
[A man sleeping in bed]
Men who sleep too much or too little may be at greater risk for diabetes.

Senior author Femke Rutters, Ph.D., of the VU Medical Centre in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, and colleagues report their findings in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.

According to the American Diabetes Association, around 29.1 million people in the United States have diabetes.

Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of the condition, which arises when the body is unable to use insulin effectively. Type 1 diabetes occurs when the body does not produce insulin.

Insulin is a hormone produced by the beta cells of the pancreas that transports glucose from the bloodstream into the body’s cells, where it is used for energy. If beta cells cannot produce enough insulin or the body does not correctly respond to the hormone, this results in high blood glucose levels.

Obesity and lack of exercise are two lifestyle factors known to raise the risk of diabetes. For this latest study, Rutters and colleagues set out to determine whether sleep duration could also play a role in diabetes development.

Poorer glucose metabolism for men with limited or excess sleep

The team analyzed data of 788 healthy men and women aged 30-60 years from across 19 European countries. All subjects were part of the European Relationship between Insulin Sensitivity and Cardiovascular Disease (EGIR-RISC) study.

The researchers assessed how many hours sleep participants got each night, and their physical activity levels were assessed using a single-axis accelerometer – a movement sensor.

Subjects’ risk of diabetes was assessed using a hyperinsulinemic-euglycemic clamp, which measures how well the body uses insulin.

Compared with men who slept an average of 7 hours each night – in line with current recommendations – men who slept fewer or more than 7 hours a night had poorer glucose metabolism.

“In men, sleeping too much or too little was related to less responsiveness of the cells in the body to insulin, reducing glucose uptake and thus increasing the risk of developing diabetes in the future,” explains Rutters.

In addition, men who slept fewer or more than 7 hours a night had higher blood sugar levels than those who slept an average of 7 hours.

Women’s diabetes risk may not be affected by sleep

No such associations were identified among women, the researchers report.

In fact, the team found that the cells of women who slept fewer or more than 7 hours a night were more likely to respond to insulin, and their beta cells had better function, suggesting that lack of sleep does not raise women’s diabetes risk.

Still, the researchers say their findings highlight the importance of getting a good night’s sleep – particularly for men.

“Even when you are healthy, sleeping too much or too little can have detrimental effects on your health. This research shows how important sleep is to a key aspect of health – glucose metabolism.”

Femke Rutters, Ph.D.

Learn how diabetes could increase the risk of death from heart attack.

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30 Jun

Health Tip: Fuel Up for a Day at the Beach

Latest Nutrition, Food & Recipes News

(HealthDay News) — A day at the beach is a great way to enjoy the outdoors and some exercise, but it’s easy to end up dehydrated or snacking on unhealthy food.

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends:

  • Packing healthy, non-perishable snacks, such as nuts, fruits and vegetables, trail mix or whole grain crackers.
  • Bringing plenty of water. Add lemon or mint, or opt for sparkling water.
  • Never leaving food unrefrigerated or uncooled for more than two hours, or one hour if the temperature tops 90 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Bringing a cooler with ice, and following food safety practices. Take care not to contaminate cooked or prepared foods with raw meat.

— Diana Kohnle

MedicalNews
Copyright © 2016 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

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30 Jun

Not Kidding: Childless Couples Happier

News Picture: Not Kidding: Childless Couples Happier

Latest Prevention & Wellness News

TUESDAY, June 28, 2016 (HealthDay News) — Parents in the United States are not quite as happy as their childless peers, a new report reveals.

The analysis of 22 industrialized countries found that the largest “happiness gap” between those who have kids and those who don’t can be found in America.

That’s thanks to the dearth of workplace policies enabling employees of U.S. companies to have a more flexible schedule or take paid time off for illness, vacations or the birth of a child, the researchers said.

“The United States, without any standard paid leave available to mothers or parents — or any standard vacation or sick leave to support raising a dependent child — falls strikingly behind all the other countries we examined in terms of providing for parents’ happiness and overall well-being,” said researcher Matthew Andersson. He is an assistant professor of sociology at Baylor University, in Waco, Texas.

For the report, researchers from Baylor, the University of Texas at Austin and Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, N.C., compared data from the United States, European countries, Australia, New Zealand and Russia.

The research revealed that countries with government-mandated paid leave policies have a smaller “happiness gap” between parents and couples who don’t have kids.

“In fact, in those places [with leave policies], parents might be slightly happier,” Andersson said in a Baylor news release.

After considering each country’s economy and fertility rate and testing theories that could take a toll on parents’ happiness — such as unexpected births or large families — the researchers found these variables were insignificant.

“Another striking finding was that giving money to parents in child allowances or monthly payments had less effect on parental happiness than giving them the tools such as flexible work time,” the researchers said in the report.

The researchers said programs like subsidized child care actually improve the happiness of society as a whole, “with an extra happiness bonus for parents of minor children.”

The findings were published June 22 in the American Journal of Sociology.

— Mary Elizabeth Dallas

MedicalNews
Copyright © 2016 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

SOURCE: Baylor University, news release, June 22, 2016

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Source: MediciNet

30 Jun

The Older the Drinking Age, the Lower the Illness Rates?

News Picture: The Older the Drinking Age, the Lower the Illness Rates?

Latest Prevention & Wellness News

TUESDAY, June 28, 2016 (HealthDay News) — States typically raised the minimum drinking age to lower drunk driving rates, but a new study suggests the move could have other health benefits.

Researchers say states that prevent people younger than 21 from buying alcohol may also curb deaths from chronic alcohol-related health issues, such as liver disease and certain cancers.

The finding wasn’t a surprise for one expert in substance abuse treatment.

“We in the treatment field are acutely aware that those who have alcohol and substance abuse problems in adolescence and late adolescence remain at high risk of lifelong problems,” said Bruce Goldman, who directs substance abuse services at Zucker Hillside Hospital in Glen Oaks, N.Y.

The new study was led by Dr. Richard Grucza, an associate professor of psychiatry at Washington University in St. Louis. His team noted that prior research has shown that boosting the minimum drinking age to 21 has been tied to a lowering of alcoholism rates.

A 1984 federal law set 21 as the minimum age to buy alcohol.

Did that translate to better health in other ways? To find out, Grucza’s research team analyzed data on U.S. adults who turned 18 years old between 1967 and 1990.

During this time period, the minimum drinking age varied from state to state. The study’s authors examined if young people who were legally able to drink before their 21st birthday had any higher risk of death from an alcohol-related disease than people who couldn’t legally drink until they turned 21.

Using Census and community population data, the study found that among people who did not attend college, a minimum legal drinking age of 21 was tied to a lower risk of death from these conditions over the course of a lifetime. The study couldn’t prove cause-and effect, however, only an association.

But, the benefit did not seem to apply to college graduates: Their rates of alcohol-related health issues were the same, regardless of whether the drinking age was set at 21 or lower.

College campuses are notorious for high levels of binge drinking, Grucza’s team noted, and that might make college kids more resistant to public policy, such as state drinking laws.

Goldman believes societal norms help perpetuate that trend.

“Our accepted, cultural norm that college students ‘drink a lot’ needs to radically change if we are to reduce the short- and long-term serious consequences of college age binge drinking,” he said.

The study was published June 24 in Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research.

— Mary Elizabeth Dallas

MedicalNews
Copyright © 2016 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

SOURCE: Bruce Goldman, LCSW, director, substance abuse services, Zucker Hillside Hospital, Glen Oaks, N.Y.; Research Society on Alcoholism, news release, June 24, 2016

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Source: MediciNet