Unplanned pregnancy remains high among young Australian women

Despite high rates of contraceptive use, unwanted pregnancies resulting in terminations remain high among young women.In an article in the April issue of the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health, Danielle Mazza from Monash University, and colleagues, examine the paradox of high rates of contraceptive use, over the counter availability of emergency contraception and unplanned pregnancy.”The emergency contraceptive pill has been available to women for over-the-counter purchase since 2004,” Professor Mazza said.”Together with high rates of contraceptive use, this should result in lower rates of unplanned pregnancies for Australian women, but it has not.”Although women have a high level of awareness of the emergency contraceptive pill, their knowledge about how and when to use it, and where to obtain it, remains inadequate.”Further research is needed to better understand the role of GPs in helping women to understand their contraceptive options and reduce unplanned pregnancy.”Story Source:The above story is based on materials provided by Wiley. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

Read more

Hearing loss affects old people’s personality

As people approach old age, they generally become less outgoing. New research from the University of Gothenburg shows that this change in personality is amplified among people with impaired hearing. The findings emphasise the importance of acknowledging and treating hearing loss in the elderly population.The researchers studied 400 individuals 80-98 years old over a six-year period. Every two years, the subjects were assessed in terms of physical and mental measures as well as personality aspects such as extraversion, which reflects the inclination to be outgoing, and emotional stability. The results show that even if the emotional stability remained constant over the period, the participants became less outgoing.Interestingly, the researchers were not able to connect the observed changes to physical and cognitive impairments or to age-related difficulties finding social activities. The only factor that could be linked to reduced extraversion was hearing loss.’To our knowledge, this is the first time a link between hearing and personality changes has been established in longitudinal studies. Surprisingly, we did not find that declining overall health and functional capacity make people less outgoing. But hearing loss directly affects the quality of social situations. If the perceived quality of social interaction goes down, it may eventually affect whether and how we relate to others,’ says Anne Ingeborg Berg, PhD, licensed psychologist and researcher at the Department of Psychology, University of Gothenburg.The study yields interesting knowledge about personality development late in life, and also points to the importance of acknowledging and treating hearing loss among the elderly.The utilisation of hearing aids did not affect the correlation found, which suggests that there is a need for support in the use of aids such as hearing devices.’Our previous studies have shown that outgoing individuals are happier with their lives. It is hypothesised that an outgoing personality reflects a positive approach to life, but it also probably shows how important it is for most people to share both joy and sadness with others. …

Read more

Ants plant tomorrow’s rainforest

Tropical montane rain forests are highly threatened and their remnants are often surrounded by deforested landscapes. For the regeneration of these degraded areas, seed dispersal of forest trees plays a crucial role but is still poorly understood. Most tree species are dispersed by birds and mammals, but also by ants. A study published today in the Journal of Ecology by a team from the LOEWE Biodiversity and Climate Research Centre and the University of Halle-Wittenberg demonstrates the importance of this hitherto neglected ecosystem function for the restoration of montane rain forests. Ants promote the regeneration of these forests by dispersing seeds to safe sites for tree establishment.The Yungas, a region on the eastern slopes of the Bolivian Andes near La Paz, are marked by elongated valleys with relicts of the original mountain rain forest. Due to land-use practices like slash-and-burn agriculture and the extension of coca plantations, the forests are highly fragmented. The forest relicts are surrounded by an open, largely degraded cultural landscape. In this context, the team conducted experiments to find out to what extent ants contribute to the dispersal of a widespread, primarily bird-dispersed tree (Clusia trochiformis) and tested whether this ecosystem function may contribute to the restoration of deforested areas.The red, lipid-rich aril, a fleshy pulp surrounding the seeds of Clusia, is highly attractive to many animals. Birds are the primary dispersers. They feed on the nutritious part of the fruits, the fleshy aril, and defecate the seeds. …

Read more

Do elephants call ‘human!’? Low rumble alarm call in response to the sound of human voices

African elephants make a specific alarm call in response to the danger of humans, according to a new study of wild elephants in Kenya.Researchers from Oxford University, Save the Elephants, and Disney’s Animal Kingdom carried out a series of audio experiments in which recordings of the voices of the Samburu, a local tribe from North Kenya, were played to resting elephants. The elephants quickly reacted, becoming more vigilant and running away from the sound whilst emitting a distinctive low rumble.When the team, having recorded this rumble, played it back to a group of elephants they reacted in a similar way to the sound of the Samburu voices; running away and becoming very vigilant, perhaps searching for the potentially lethal threat of human hunters.The new research, recently reported in PLOS ONE, builds on previous Oxford University research showing that elephants call ‘bee-ware’ and run away from the sound of angry bees. Whilst the ‘bee’ and ‘human’ rumbling alarm calls might sound similar to our ears there are important differences at low (infrasonic) frequencies that elephants can hear but humans can’t.’Elephants appear to be able to manipulate their vocal tract (mouth, tongue, trunk and so on) to shape the sounds of their rumbles to make different alarm calls,’ said Dr Lucy King of Save the Elephants and Oxford University who led the study with Dr Joseph Soltis, a bioacoustics expert from Disney’s Animal Kingdom, and colleagues.’We concede the possibility that these alarm calls are simply a by-product of elephants running away, that is, just an emotional response to the threat that other elephants pick up on,’ Lucy tells me. ‘On the other hand, we think it is also possible that the rumble alarms are akin to words in human language, and that elephants voluntarily and purposefully make those alarm calls to warn others about specific threats. Our research results here show that African elephant alarm calls can differentiate between two types of threat and reflect the level of urgency of that threat.’Elephant ‘human’ alarm call rumbleSignificantly, the reaction to the human alarm call included none of the head-shaking behaviour displayed by elephants hearing the bee alarm. When threatened by bees elephants shake their heads in an effort to knock the insects away as well as running — despite their thick hides adult elephants can be stung around their eyes or up their trunks, whilst calves could potentially be killed by a swarm of stinging bees as they have yet to develop a thick protective skin.Lucy explains: ‘Interestingly, the acoustic analysis done by Joseph Soltis at his Disney laboratory showed that the difference between the ”bee alarm rumble” and the ”human alarm rumble” is the same as a vowel-change in human language, which can change the meaning of words (think of ”boo” and ”bee”). Elephants use similar vowel-like changes in their rumbles to differentiate the type of threat they experience, and so give specific warnings to other elephants who can decipher the sounds.’This collaborative research on how elephants react to and communicate about honeybees and humans is being used to reduce human-elephant conflict in Kenya. Armed with the knowledge that elephants are afraid of bees, Lucy and Save the Elephants have built scores of ‘beehive fences’ around local farms that protect precious fields from crop-raiding elephants.’In this way, local farmers can protect their families and livelihoods without direct conflict with elephants, and they can harvest the honey too for extra income,’ says Lucy. ‘Learning more about how elephants react to threats such as bees and humans will help us design strategies to reduce human-elephant conflict and protect people and elephants.’Story Source:The above story is based on materials provided by University of Oxford. The original article was written by Pete Wilton. …

Read more

Ever-so-slight delay improves decision-making accuracy

Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC) researchers have found that decision-making accuracy can be improved by postponing the onset of a decision by a mere fraction of a second. The results could further our understanding of neuropsychiatric conditions characterized by abnormalities in cognitive function and lead to new training strategies to improve decision-making in high-stake environments. The study was published in the March 5 online issue of the journal PLoS One.”Decision making isn’t always easy, and sometimes we make errors on seemingly trivial tasks, especially if multiple sources of information compete for our attention,” said first author Tobias Teichert, PhD, a postdoctoral research scientist in neuroscience at CUMC at the time of the study and now an assistant professor of psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh. “We have identified a novel mechanism that is surprisingly effective at improving response accuracy.The mechanism requires that decision-makers do nothing — just briefly. “Postponing the onset of the decision process by as little as 50 to 100 milliseconds enables the brain to focus attention on the most relevant information and block out irrelevant distractors,” said last author Jack Grinband, PhD, associate research scientist in the Taub Institute and assistant professor of clinical radiology (physics). “This way, rather than working longer or harder at making the decision, the brain simply postpones the decision onset to a more beneficial point in time.”In making decisions, the brain integrates many small pieces of potentially contradictory sensory information. “Imagine that you’re coming up to a traffic light — the target — and need to decide whether the light is red or green,” said Dr. Teichert. “There is typically little ambiguity, and you make the correct decision quickly, in a matter of tens of milliseconds.”The decision process itself, however, does not distinguish between relevant and irrelevant information. Hence, a task is made more difficult if irrelevant information — a distractor — interferes with the processing of the target. …

Read more

Large mammals were the architects in prehistoric ecosystems

Researchers from Denmark demonstrate in a study that the large grazers and browsers of the past created a mosaic of varied landscapes consisting of closed and semi-closed forests and parkland.The study is published March 3, 2014 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.Dung beetles recount the nature of the pastThe biologists behind the new research findings synthesized decades of studies on fossil beetles, focusing on beetles associated with the dung of large animals in the past or with woodlands and trees. Their findings reveal that dung beetles were much more frequent in the previous interglacial period (from 132,000 to 110,000 years ago) compared with the early Holocene (the present interglacial period, before agriculture, from 10,000 to 5,000 years ago).”One of the surprising results is that woodland beetles were much less dominant in the previous interglacial period than in the early Holocene, which shows that temperate ecosystems consisted not just of dense forest as often assumed, but rather a mosaic of forest and parkland,” says postdoctoral fellow Chris Sandom.”Large animals in high numbers were an integral part of nature in prehistoric times. The composition of the beetles in the fossil sites tells us that the proportion and number of the wild large animals declined after the appearance of modern man. As a result of this, the countryside developed into predominantly dense forest that was first cleared when humans began to use the land for agriculture,” explains Professor Jens-Christian Svenning.Bring back the large animals to EuropeIf people want to restore self-managing varied landscapes, they can draw on the knowledge provided by the new study about the composition of natural ecosystems in the past.”An important way to create more self-managing ecosystems with a high level of biodiversity is to make room for large herbivores in the European landscape — and possibly reintroduce animals such as wild cattle, bison and even elephants. They would create and maintain a varied vegetation in temperate ecosystems, and thereby ensure the basis for a high level of biodiversity,” says senior scientist Rasmus Ejrns.The study received financial support from the 15 June Foundation and a grant from the European Research Council. To a large extent, it supports the idea that the rewilding-based approach to nature management should be incorporated to a far greater degree in nature policy in Europe -especially in the case of national parks and other large natural areas.Story Source:The above story is based on materials provided by Aarhus University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

Read more

Education attenuates impact of TBI on cognition

Kessler Foundation researchers have found that higher educational attainment (a proxy of intellectual enrichment) attenuates the negative impact of traumatic brain injury (TBI) on cognitive status. The brief report, Sumowski J, Chiaravalloti N, Krch D, Paxton J, DeLuca J. Education attenuates the negative impact of traumatic brain injury (TBI) on cognitive status, was published in the December issue of Archives of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation Volume 94, Issue 12:2562-64.Cognitive outcomes vary post-TBI, even among individuals with comparable injuries. To examine this finding, investigators looked at whether the hypothesis of cognitive reserve helps to explain this differential cognitive impairment following TBI. Kessler Foundation investigators have previously supported the cognitive reserve hypothesis in persons with multiple sclerosis, demonstrating that lifetime intellectual enrichment protects patients from cognitive impairment, as published in Multiple Sclerosis Journal. In the current study, they sought to determine whether individuals with TBI with greater intellectual enrichment pre-injury (estimated with education), are less vulnerable to cognitive impairment.Researchers compared 44 people with moderate to severe TBI with 36 healthy controls. Their cognitive status (processing speed, working memory, episodic memory) was evaluated with neuropsychological tasks. “Although cognitive status was worse in the TBI group,” said Dr. Sumowski, senior research scientist in Neuropsychology & Neuroscience Research at Kessler Foundation, “higher education attenuated the negative effect of TBI on cognitive status, such that persons with higher education were protected against TBI-related cognitive impairment.””These results support the hypothesis of cognitive reserve in TBI, ie, as in MS, higher intellectual enrichment benefits cognitive status,” concluded Dr. Chiaravalloti, the Foundation’s director of TBI Research. …

Read more

Birth with Balance: share your birth story

I was recently contacted by Chelsea from the website Birth with Balance. She has created a forum and a community for birth stories and she shared both of mine–the coerced cesarean in the hospital and the VBAC homebirth. I love what she’s doing (she’s also due any moment now with her homebirth baby!) and wanted to share this resource with all of you… this is a guest post written by Chelsea, so check it out!********************As a labor and delivery nurse I am truly passionate about the process of childbirth. Though I currently work in a high-risk birthing unit I also have an interest in home births and have had the opportunity to train with Ina May Gaskin, the most famous midwife in the world. …

Read more

Traditional Medicine: Environment change threatens indigenous know-how

The way indigenous cultures around the globe use traditional medicines and pass on knowledge developed over centuries is directly linked to the natural environment, new research has found.This makes indigenous cultures susceptible to environmental change, a threat that comes on top of the challenges posed by globalisation.”Traditional medicine provides health care for more than half the world’s population, with 80 per cent of people in developing countries relying on these practices to maintain their livelihood. It is a very important part of traditional knowledge,” says Dr Haris Saslis-Lagoudakis, from The Australian National University’s (ANU) Research School of Biology.”This knowledge is typically passed down from generation to generation, or it is ‘borrowed’ from neighbours. Because of this borrowing, globalisation can homogenise medicinal practices of different communities, leading to loss of medicinal remedies.”But this is not the only challenge that indigenous cultures face.”Imminent changes in the environment also pose a threat to traditional knowledge,” explains Dr Saslis-Lagoudakis.”Traditional medicine utilises plants and animals to make natural remedies. Despite a lot of these species being under threat due to ongoing climatic changes and other human effects on the environment, the effect that these changes can have on traditional medicine is not thoroughly understood.”Dr Saslis-Lagoudakis and a team of international researchers led by the University of Reading (UK) investigated how the environment shapes medicinal plant use in indigenous cultures, specifically Nepal, a country in the Himalayans that has outstanding cultural, environmental and biological diversity.”By understanding the relationship between environment and traditional knowledge, we can then understand how cultures have responded to changes in the environment in the past,” he says.The team studied 12 ethnic groups from Nepal and recorded what plants different cultures use in traditional medicine. They calculated similarities in their medicinal floras and also calculated similarities in the floras these cultures are exposed to, how closely related they are, and their geographic separation.”We found that Nepalese cultures that are exposed to similar floras use similar plant medicines.”Although shared cultural history and borrowing of traditional knowledge among neighbouring cultures can lead to similarities in the plants used medicinally, we found that plant availability in the local environment has a stronger influence on the make-up of a culture’s medicinal floras.”Essentially, this means that the environment plays a huge role in shaping traditional knowledge. This is very important, especially when you think of the risks that these cultures are already facing.”Due to ongoing environmental changes we are observing across the globe, we might lose certain plant species which will lead to changed ecosystems, and an overall poorer natural environment. This will then affect what plants people can use around them.”We should be concerned about the fate of the traditional knowledge of these cultures. However, understanding the factors that shape traditional knowledge can provide the underpinnings to preserve this body of knowledge and predict its future.”Story Source:The above story is based on materials provided by Australian National University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

Read more

Taking statins to lower cholesterol? New guidelines

Clinicians and patients should use shared decision-making to select individualized treatments based on the new guidelines to prevent cardiovascular disease, according to a commentary by three Mayo Clinic physicians published in this week’s Journal of the American Medical Association.Shared decision-making is a collaborative process that allows patients and their clinicians to make health care decisions together, taking into account the best scientific evidence available, as well as the patient’s values and preferences.In 2013, the American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association issued new cholesterol guidelines, replacing previous guidelines that had been in place for more than a decade. The new guidelines recommend that caregivers prescribe statins to healthy patients if their 10-year cardiovascular risk is 7.5 percent or higher.”The new cholesterol guidelines are a major improvement from the old ones, which lacked scientific rigor,” says primary author Victor Montori, M.D., Mayo Clinic endocrinologist and lead researcher in the Knowledge and Evaluation Research Unit. “The new guidelines are based upon calculating a patient’s 10-year cardiovascular risk and prescribing proven cholesterol-lowering drugs — statins — if that risk is high.”However, Dr. Montori cautions that the risk threshold established by the guideline panel is somewhat arbitrary. Instead he recommends that patients and their clinicians use a decision-making tool to discuss the risks and benefits of treatment with statins.”Rather than routinely prescribing statins to the millions of adults who have at least a 7.5 percent risk of having a heart attack or stroke within 10 years, there is an opportunity for clinicians and patients to discuss the potential benefits, harm and burdens of statins in order to arrive at a choice that reflects the existing research and the values and context of each patient,” he says.”We’re creating a much more sophisticated, patient-centered practice of medicine in which we move the decision-making from the scientist to the patient who is going to experience the consequences of these treatments and the burdens of these interventions,” Dr. Montori explains. “Decision-making tools can democratize this approach and put it in the hands of millions of Americans who have their own goals front and center in the decision-making process.”Additional authors of the commentary include Henry Ting, M.D., and Juan Pablo Brito Campana, M.B.B.S., both of Mayo Clinic.Story Source:The above story is based on materials provided by Mayo Clinic. The original article was written by Shelly Plutowski. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

Read more

Video game teaches kids about stroke symptoms, calling 9-1-1

Children improved their understanding of stroke symptoms and what to do if they witness a stroke after playing a 15-minute stroke education video game, according to new research reported in the American Heart Association journal Stroke.Researchers tested 210 9- and 10-year-old, low-income children from the Bronx, New York, on whether they could identify stroke and knew to call 9-1-1 if they saw someone having a stroke. Researchers tested the children again after they played a stroke education video game, called Stroke Hero. Finally, they gave the children remote access to the video game and encouraged them to play at home, re-testing 198 of the children seven weeks later.Researchers found:Children were 33 percent more likely to recognize stroke from a hypothetical scenario and call 9-1-1 after they played the video game. They retained the knowledge when they were re-tested seven weeks later. Children who continued to play the game remotely were 18 percent more likely to recognize the stroke symptom of sudden imbalance than were the children who played the video game only once. Ninety percent of the children studied reported they liked playing Stroke Hero. While 67 percent said they would play it at home, only about 26 percent did. Researchers didn’t examine why. “We need to educate the public, including children, about stroke, because often it’s the witness that makes that 9-1-1 call; not the stroke victim. Sometimes, these witnesses are young children,” said Olajide Williams, M.D., M.S., lead author and associate professor of neurology at Columbia University in New York City.The Stroke Hero video game involves navigating a clot-busting spaceship within an artery, and shooting down blood clots with a clot-busting drug. …

Read more

Mesothelioma Lawyers and Mesothelioma Lawsuits- Do you need them?

Why File a Mesothelioma Lawsuit ?Every year, thousands of people die or become ill due to the negligence of asbestos manufacturers. If this has happened to you or a loved one, you should look for a mesothelioma lawyer as soon as possible. You may have been powerless to prevent current medical problems, but you do have legal options. Hire a lawyer with extensive experience and knowledge of asbestos claims to help you receive compensation from those responsible.Mesothelioma cancer, which is almost exclusively caused by asbestos exposure, and other asbestos-related illnesses are attributed to negligence of asbestos companies who knew about the associated health risks and decided not to tell employees or leak this information to the general public. As early as the 1920s asbestos companies …

Read more

Mesothelioma and Asbestos

Asbestos is a fibrous material which has been in use for a long time mainly for its fire resistant qualities. Asbestos is a preferred building material due to its fire resistant and heat resistant capability coupled with the fact that it is not expensive.Asbestos was very popular amongst California business owners in the early and mid 20’s and they used it in nearly every way they could. They tried to use asbestos to create safer, and cheaper buildings, but time has proven that these building are not any safer, nor are they more cheaper,as the high cost of treating the mesothelioma disease that they caused, they also lead to loss of lives.Asbestos was once used in everything from automotive parts, clothing, and blankets. It …

Read more

Gene regulation differences between humans, chimpanzees very complex

Oct. 17, 2013 — Changes in gene regulation have been used to study the evolutionary chasm that exists between humans and chimpanzees despite their largely identical DNA. However, scientists from the University of Chicago have discovered that mRNA expression levels, long considered a barometer for differences in gene regulation, often do not reflect differences in protein expression — and, therefore, biological function — between humans and chimpanzees. The work was published Oct. 17 in Science.”We thought that we knew how to identify patterns of mRNA expression level differences between humans and chimpanzees that would be good candidates to be of functional importance,” said Yoav Gilad, PhD, Professor of Human Genetics at the University of Chicago. “Now we see that even such mRNA patterns are not translated to the protein level. Which means that it is unlikely that they can affect a functional phenotypic difference.”For genes to be expressed, DNA must be transcribed into messenger RNA (mRNA), which then code for proteins, the biological building blocks and engines that drive cellular function. Although humans and chimpanzees share highly similar genomes, previous studies have shown that the species evolved major differences in mRNA expression levels. Many of these differences were thought to indicate areas of evolutionary divergence, thus pointing to genes important for human-specific traits.To test this, Gilad, Jonathan Pritchard, PhD, currently at Stanford University, and their team, spearheaded by postdoctoral fellow Zia Khan, PhD, used high-resolution mass spectrometry to compare the expression levels of thousands of proteins with corresponding mRNA expression data in human and chimpanzee cell lines.The team found 815 genes with differing mRNA expression levels but only 571 genes that differed in protein expression. In total, they identified an estimated 266 genes with mRNA differences that did not lead to changes in protein levels. …

Read more

Doctor turns to singing and social media to change medical practice

Sep. 10, 2013 — A doctor from the UK has shown how an innovative music video can help increase awareness of how to treat asthma.Dr Tapas Mukherjee, from Glenfield Hospital in the UK, produced and starred in a music video to draw attention to new guidelines showing a better way of managing asthma.A study presented at the European Respiratory Society (ERS) Annual Congress in Barcelona today, has demonstrated the success of this video and suggests that social media can be used to successfully improve medical practice.In April 2012, an audit at Dr Mukherjee’s hospital highlighted a lack of knowledge in acute severe asthma management. Only 45% of healthcare professionals had used hospital guidelines on the management of asthma and only 62% were aware of them.The guidelines were translated into memorable lyrics, with Dr Mukherjee singing the advice on how to treat acute asthma. The video was posted on the social media sites, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.A repeat audit was carried out in June 2012. When comparing the results to the previous audit in April, the study found that 100% of healthcare professionals were aware of the guidelines. All aspects of asthma management and knowledge had improved, with the most significant improvements seen for chest radiograph indication and target oxygen saturation.Dr Mukherjee said: “Our study has shown that social media can help to change clinical practice, with 100% awareness of the new guidelines in the post-analysis. As doctors are often working in busy environments, we have to think of creative ways of reaching them with important clinical information. Our study has shown that social media is a free and effective way of doing this. The method could be adapted to different scenarios and the possibilities are not limited by resources of money, but only by imagination.”The video can be seen at: http://www.europeanlung.org/en/news-and-events/media-centre/press-releases/doctor-turns-to-singing-and-social-media-to-change-medical-practice

Read more

First detailed view of morphing Parkinson’s protein revealed

Sep. 6, 2013 — Researchers have taken detailed images and measurements of the morphing structure of a brain protein thought to play a role in Parkinson’s disease, information that could aid the development of medications to treat the condition.The protein, called alpha synuclein (pronounced sine-yoo-cline), ordinarily exists in a globular shape. However, the protein morphs into harmful structures known as amyloid fibrils, which are linked to protein molecules that form in the brains of patients with neurodegenerative diseases.”The abnormal protein formation characterizes a considerable number of human diseases, such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and Huntington’s diseases and type II diabetes,” said Lia Stanciu, an associate professor of materials engineering at Purdue University.Until now, the transition from globular to fibrils had not been captured and measured.Researchers incubated the protein in a laboratory and then used an electron microscope and a technique called cryoelectron microscopy to snap thousands of pictures over 24 hours, capturing its changing shape. The protein was frozen at specific time intervals with liquid nitrogen.Findings reveal that the protein morphs from its globular shape into “protofibril” strands that assemble into pore-like rings. These rings then open up, forming pairs of protofibrils that assemble into fibrils through hydrogen bonds.”We found a correlation between protofibrils in these rings and the fibrils, for the first time to our knowledge, by measuring their true sizes and visualizing the aggregation steps,” Stanciu said. “A better understanding of the mechanism yields fresh insight into the pathogenesis of amyloid-related diseases and may provide us the opportunity to develop additional therapeutic strategies.”Parkinson’s disease affects 1 percent to 2 percent of people older than 60, and an increase in its prevalence is anticipated in coming decades.The findings were detailed in a research paper appearing in the June issue of the Biophysical Journal. The paper was authored by doctoral student Hangyu Zhang; former postdoctoral research associate Amy Griggs; Jean-Christophe Rochet, an associate professor of medicinal chemistry and molecular pharmacology; and Stanciu.The researchers caused the protein to morph into fibrils by exposing it to copper, mimicking what happens when people are exposed to lead and other heavy metals. The contaminants interfere with the protein, changing the oxidation states of ions in its structure.The research was funded by the National Institutes of Health. Future work will include experiments focusing on what happens when higher concentrations of copper are used.

Read more

Researchers pin down the genetics of going under

Sep. 5, 2013 — Falling asleep in your bed at night and being “put to sleep” under general anesthesia — as well as waking up in the morning or coming out of anesthesia — aren’t quite the same thing, yet they share some important similarities. Max Kelz, MD, PhD, assistant professor of Anesthesiology and Critical Care at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, along with colleagues from Penn, UCSD, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, and Thomas Jefferson University, explored the distinctions between anesthetic unconsciousness and sleep by manipulating the genetic pathways known to be involved in natural sleep and studying the resulting effects on anesthetic states. Their work will be published in PLOS Genetics.Previous research by Kelz’s team pointed to a neurological barrier, called neural inertia, that separates awareness from anesthetic unconsciousness and resists the transition from one state to the other. They also found that the processes by which the brain enters anesthesia and then later reemerges into consciousness are actually quite different — one isn’t simply the reverse of the other. With this knowledge in hand, Kelz and his colleagues used a Drosophila model system to focus on the genetic pathways controlling neural inertia. “In this new study we sought to understand whether anesthetics were working on some of the natural systems that regulate normal sleep and wakefulness,” says Kelz.They found that four genes involved in natural sleep, Sh (Shaker), sss (sleepless), na, and unc79, also control neural inertia and thus the effects of induction and emergence of anesthetic unconsciousness. Various mutations in these four genes profoundly affect neural inertia and can even collapse it completely. For example, says Kelz, “Mutations in the sleepless gene can cause some resistance to entering an anesthetic state, and an even larger impact on the exit from the anesthetic state. Flies with the sleepless mutation pop out of the anesthetic state at doses at which their normal siblings are still entering. …

Read more

Novel method to identify suitable new homes for animals under threat from climate change

Sep. 5, 2013 — Scientists at the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) have devised a novel method to identify suitable new homes for animals under threat from climate change.Conservation scientists used their knowledge on species ecology to create habitat suitability maps and correctly identify sites that will remain viable in the future regardless of changing climate. However, the key for success is to understand, and account for, the link between variation in species population size, climate and how the climate may change.Almost half of all bird and amphibian species are believed to be highly vulnerable to extinction from climate change. Species in extreme or rare habitats such as the emperor penguin in the Antarctic and American pika in the USA have already experienced drastic declines in populations due to the impact of climate change on their home.As climate changes, many species will need to move to a different location in order to survive. For species that aren’t able to do this naturally, the only chance of survival is a helping hand through the use of translocations.The research is published today (6 September) in the Journal of Applied Ecology.Dr Nathalie Pettorelli, ZSL’s climate change coordinator and senior author on the paper, says: “Climate change poses a worrying threat to many animals, and relocating vulnerable species to new and more suitable habitats may be the only way to protect them. However, this is an extreme conservation action, which needs to be thoroughly justified, and requires clear guidance on where threatened populations should be moved. Our research shows how these key requirements can be met.”The team used the hihi bird as an example because of the conservation success which came after efforts put into its relocation since the 1980s. Yet, despite large investments into its protection, climate change is now posing a significant threat to its future survival.Dr Alienor Chauvenet, lead author of the study, says: “All current hihi populations are surrounded by either a large stretch of water or unsuitable habitat such as farmland or cities with plenty of non-native predators. This isolation makes it very perilous for them to move and individuals attempting to relocate naturally are unlikely to survive.”Our work shows that assisted colonisation may be the only way to guarantee the survival of this unique species under climate change,” Dr Chauvenet added.Translocations will continue to be an important part of conservation as climate changes. ZSL’s novel method shows how these interventions can be planned to be successful even under the influence of a changing environment. …

Read more

Statins prevent cataracts, study suggests

Aug. 31, 2013 — Statins lower the rate of cataract by 20 percent, according to research presented at the ESC Congress today by Professor John B. Kostis from New Jersey, USA. The risk of cataract was reduced by 50 percent when treatment was initiated in younger individuals (in their 40s) and the duration of therapy was longer (e.g. up to 14 years).Cataracts are the leading cause of visual impairment worldwide affecting more than 20 million people. Statins are among the most commonly prescribed medications. In the USA they are prescribed to 1 in 3 people over 45 years of age at a cost of $35 billion annually.Professor Kostis said: “There is persistent concern among physicians and other health care providers about the possible cataractogenicity of statins.1 We therefore investigated the relationship of statins and cataracts in a meta-analysis of 14 studies selected after detailed review of the medical literature. To our knowledge this is the first meta-analysis on the topic.”The meta-analysis included 2,399,200 persons and 25,618 cataracts. The average duration of treatment was 54 months and average age was 61.Using random effects meta-analysis, a statistically significant decrease in cataracts with statins was observed (odds ratios [OR] 0.80, 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.77-0.83, p<0.0001). Professor Kostis said: “This corresponds to an approximately 20% lower rate of cataracts with statin use compared to no statin use.”</p>Absolute risk reduction was 1.4%+0.015% (95% CI 1.1%-1.7%, p<0.0001). …

Read more

Utilizzando il sito, accetti l'utilizzo dei cookie da parte nostra. maggiori informazioni

The cookie settings on this website are set to "allow cookies" to give you the best browsing experience possible. If you continue to use this website without changing your cookie settings or you click "Accept" below then you are consenting to this.

Close