Can Managing Cholesterol Reduce Alzheimer's Risk?
Managing cholesterol might help reduce Alzheimer's risk, says researchers, including one of Indian-origin, who identified a genetic link between the progressive brain disorder and heart disease.
Examining DNA from more than 1.5 million people, the study showed that risk factors for heart disease such as elevated triglyceride and cholesterol levels (HDL, LDL, and total cholesterol) were genetically related to Alzheimer's risk.
However, genes that contribute to other cardiovascular risk factors, like body mass index and Type-2 diabetes, did not seem to contribute to genetic risk for Alzheimer's.
"The genes that influenced lipid metabolism were the ones that also were related to Alzheimer's disease risk," said Celeste M. Karch, Assistant Professor at the Washington University's School of Medicine.
Thus, if the right genes and proteins could be targeted, it may be possible to lower the risk for Alzheimer's disease in some people by managing their cholesterol and triglycerides, added Rahul S. Desikan, Assistant Professor at the UCSF.
For the study, published in the journal Acta Neuropathologica, the team identified points of DNA that increase the risk of cardiovascular disease and also heighten the risk for Alzheimer's disease.
The team looked at differences in the DNA of people with factors that contribute to heart disease or Alzheimer's disease and identified 90 points across the genome that were associated with risk for both diseases.
Their analysis confirmed that six of the 90 regions had very strong effects on Alzheimer's and heightened blood lipid levels, including several within genes that had not previously been linked to dementia risk.
These included several points within the CELF1/MTCH2/SPI1 region on chromosome 11 that previously had been linked to the immune system.
The researchers confirmed their findings in a large genetic study of healthy adults by showing that these same risk factors were more common in people with a family history of Alzheimer's, even though they had not themselves developed dementia or other symptoms such as memory loss.
"These results imply that cardiovascular and Alzheimer's pathology co-occur because they are linked genetically. That is, if you carry this handful of gene variants, you may be at risk not only for heart disease but also for Alzheimer's," Desikan said.
Ladies! Weight Loss May Lower Breast Cancer Risk Post Menopause
Women, please take a note. Losing weight can help lower the risk of developing breast cancer in the post-menopausal stage, a new study has found.
The study, published in the journal CANCER, found that among post-menopausal women, participants who lost weight had a lower risk of developing invasive breast cancer than those who maintained or gained weight.
"Our study indicates that moderate, relatively short-term weight reduction was associated with a statistically significant reduction in breast cancer risk for postmenopausal women," said co-author Rowan Chlebowski from the City of Hope National Medical Center in Duarte, California.
Although obesity has been strongly related to breast cancer risk, studies examining whether weight loss might reduce postmenopausal women's risk have provided mixed results, the researchers said.
For the study, the research team analysed information on 61,335 women participating in the World Health Initiative Observational Study who had no prior history of breast cancer and had normal mammogram results.
The participant's body weight, height and body mass index were assessed at the start of the study and again three years later.
The team found that during an average follow-up of 11.4 years, there were 3,061 new cases of invasive breast cancer diagnosed.
"These are observational results, but they are also supported by randomised clinical trial evidence from the Women's Health Initiative Dietary Modification trial where, in a randomised clinical trial setting, adopting a low-fat dietary pattern that was associated with a similar magnitude of weight loss resulted in a significant improvement in breast cancer overall survival," Chlebowski said.
"These findings, taken together, provide strong correlative evidence that a modest weight loss programme can impact breast cancer," he noted.
Now Your Height Can Predict Health Risks You May Suffer in Future
Scientists say they have developed a new DNA tool that uses machine learning to accurately predict people's height and assess their risk for serious illnesses such as heart disease and cancer.
The tool, or algorithm, builds predictors for human traits such as height, bone density and even the level of education a person might achieve, purely based on one's genome, according to the research published in the journal Genetics.
"While we have validated this tool for these three outcomes, we can now apply this method to predict other complex traits related to health risks such as heart disease, diabetes and breast cancer," said Stephen Hsu from Michigan State University (MSU) in the US.
Further applications have the potential to dramatically advance the practice of precision health, which allows physicians to intervene as early as possible in patient care and prevent or delay illness, researchers said.
The research analysed the complete genetic makeup of nearly 500,000 adults in the UK using machine learning, where a computer learns from data.
The computer accurately predicted everyone's height within roughly an inch.
While bone density and educational attainment predictors were not as precise, they were accurate enough to identify outlying individuals who were at risk of having very low bone density associated with osteoporosis or were at risk of struggling in school.
Traditional genetic testing typically looks for a specific change in a person's genes or chromosomes that can indicate a higher risk for diseases such as breast cancer.
Hsu's model considers numerous genomic differences and builds a predictor based on the tens of thousands of variations.
Using data from the UK Biobank, an international resource for health information, Hsu and his team put the algorithm to work, evaluating each participant's DNA and teaching the computer to pull out these distinct differences.
"The algorithm looks at the genetic makeup and height of each person," Hsu said.
"The computer learns from each person and ultimately produces a predictor that can determine how tall they are from their genome alone," Hsu said.
Scientists discover non-addictive painkiller
Washington: Scientists have found a non-addictive painkiller to help fight the current opioid crisis, though in an animal model.
Known as AT-121, the new chemical compound has a dual therapeutic action that suppressed the addictive effects of opioids and produced morphine-like analgesic effects in non-human primates.
“In our study, we found AT-121 to be safe and non-addictive, as well as an effective pain medication,” said Mei-Chuan Ko, Ph.D., professor of physiology and pharmacology at the School of Medicine, part of Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center.
The main objective of this study was to design and test a chemical compound that would work on both the mu opioid receptor, the main component in the most effective prescription painkillers, and the nociceptin receptor, which opposes or blocks the abuse and dependence-related side effects of mu-targeted opioids.
In the study, the researchers observed that AT-121 showed the same level of pain relief as an opioid, but at a 100-times lower dose than morphine. At that dose, it also blunted the addictive effects of oxycodone, a commonly abused prescription drug.
The bifunctional profile of AT-121 not only gave effective pain relief without abuse potential, it also lacked other opioid side-effects that patients typically struggle with, such as itch, respiratory depression, tolerance and dependence.
Next steps include conducting additional preclinical studies to collect more safety data, and then if all goes well, applying to the Food and Drug Administration for approval to begin clinical trials in people, Ko said.
The full findings are present in the journal- Science Translational Medicine.
Women's Bladder Not Sterile, Contains Bacteria: Study
In a breakthrough, US researchers have found that women's bladder is not a sterile place and can contain both beneficial and deadly bacteria, a finding that could lead to better diagnostic tests for urinary tract infections (UTI).
The findings debunked the common belief that urine in healthy women is sterile and showed that that bacteria is "shared" between the bladder and vagina and the microbiota includes pathogens such as E. coli and S. anginosus as well as beneficial bacteria such as L.iners and L.crispatus.
The beneficial bacteria residing in both the bladder and vagina could provide protection against urinary infections.
"Now that we know the bladder is not sterile, we have to re-evaluate everything we thought we knew about the bladder, and that is what we are doing," said Alan J. Wolfe, microbiologist at the Loyola University Chicago.
This insight "should alter the way we view the bacteria of the female pelvic floor both by enabling further research and by providing new diagnostic and treatment options for urinary tract infections, urgency urinary incontinence and other associated urinary tract disorders," the researchers noted.
For the study, published in Nature Communications, the team sequenced the genes of 149 bacterial strains from nearly 100 women.
While the microbiota (community of microorganisms) found in the bladder and vagina were similar, they were markedly distinct from the microbiota found in the gastrointestinal tract.
It appears that bacteria travel between the bladder and the vagina, effectively creating one microbiota niche.
Urination provides an obvious way for bacteria to travel from the bladder to the vagina.
But it's a mystery how bacteria could travel from the vagina to the bladder, especially since most of the bacteria examined in the study lack features such as flagella (whip-like structures) or pili (grappling hooks) that would enable them to move, the researchers said.
Hey Sanju, This New Therapy Could Help Combat Drug Addiction
Researchers have developed a treatment that may help reverse chemical imbalances made to the brain by habitual drug use and could one day help recovering drug addicts avoid future drug use. When tested on rats, the new treatment was effective in reducing the animals' cravings, according to the findings published in the Journal of Medicinal Chemistry.
When someone habitually misuses drugs, their brain chemistry is changed in ways that make it harder for them to quit taking drugs despite negative consequences. Once someone has developed this brain disorder, their mind pays sharper attention to cues that encourage drug use, making it harder for them to abstain. Serotonin, a brain chemical that transmits information between neural regions, is a key player in these changes.
The researchers found that the serotonin 2C receptors in drug addicts do not work as well as they should.
The team led by researchers from the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston in the US designed, synthesised and pharmacologically evaluated a series of small molecule therapeutics designed to restore the weakened signalling. The findings showed that the novel therapeutic may help reverse chemical imbalances made to the brain by habitual drug use.
In their experiment, the researchers trained rats to press on a lever for cocaine infusions at certain light cues. Once the rats learned this cocaine-seeking behaviour, half of them received the most promising therapeutic and the other half received only saline.
The findings showed that the animals treated with the new therapeutic pressed the lever for cocaine far fewer times than the saline-treated control animals, even when reinforced with the cocaine-associated light cues. "We are the first to show that a serotonin 2C receptor therapeutic of this type can be successfully used to decrease drug-seeking behaviours," said Kathryn Cunningham, Director of Center for Addiction Research at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston.
"Our findings are especially exciting because in addition to someday helping people to recover from drug addiction, impaired functioning of the serotonin 2C receptor is also thought to contribute to other chronic health issues such as depression, impulsivity disorders, obesity and schizophrenia," Cunningham added.