Sunday, January 12, 2014

High fiber diet may protect against asthma

 Posted by Neill Abayon

In the past 50 years, as fruits and vegetables have featured less and less in the Western diet, rates of allergic asthma have gone up. Now a new study suggests these trends are not coincidental, but causally linked.

Funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF), and led by Benjamin Marsland, an assistant professor at Lausanne University Hospital (CHUV) in Switzerland, researchers report their work in a recent online issue of Nature Medicine.

Using laboratory mice, they found that when gut bacteria digest dietary fiber, such as that contained in fruits and vegetables, they release fatty acids into the bloodstream, and these affect how the immune system behaves in the lungs.

The finding builds on knowledge that has been around for some time: that having a rich and diverse mix of microbes in the gut that digests and ferments fiber, helps prevent cancer of the intestines.

More here.

Bacteria linked to premature birth

Premature birth can have long-term health effects for both mothers and children

A major cause of premature birth - where waters break too soon, triggering labour - may be caused by specific bacteria, according to research.

 The findings could lead to screening and possible treatment for women at risk of early labour, says a US team.

The study, published in the journal PLOS ONE, suggests certain bacteria may lead to thinning of the membranes around the baby, causing them to tear.

Early rupture of membranes causes almost a third of all premature births.

The membranes that make up the sac that holds the baby usually break at the start of labour.

If a mother's waters break before the baby has reached full term, the medical term is preterm premature rupture of the membranes (PPROM).

If this happens early, before contractions start, it can - but does not always - trigger early labour.

Researchers at Duke University School of Medicine have found high numbers of bacteria at the site where membranes rupture, which are linked with the thinning of membranes.

If the bacteria are the cause rather than the consequence of early membrane rupture, it may be possible to develop new treatments or screen for women at risk, they say.

Study author Amy Murtha, associate professor of obstetrics and gynaecology at Duke University School of Medicine, said: "For instance, if we think that certain bacteria are associated with premature rupturing of the membranes, we can screen for this bacteria early in pregnancy.

More here.

New obesity treatment possible with novel protein discovery


Posted by Neill Abayon

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than one-third of US adults are now obese. But new research published in the Journal of Neuroscience details how a protein in the brain regulates food intake and body weight - opening new doors for the treatment of obesity.

The research team, led by Maribel Rios, associate professor of the department of neuroscience at Tufts University School of Medicine, say their findings may also help explain why some drugs, such as gabapentin and pregabalin, can cause people to gain weight.

The investigators discovered that alpha2/delta-1 - a protein that has not previously been associated with obesity - assists the function of a protein called brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF).

Rios notes that in one of his previous studies, it was found that BDNF is crucial for appetite suppression.

But in this most recent study, the research team found that low levels of BDNF were linked to reduced function of alpha2/delta-1 in the hypothalamus - an area of the brain that plays an important role in regulating weight and food intake.

More here.


'Heat maps' find cervical cancer

Posted by Neill Abayon

A new test that uses heat to examine blood can be used to detect cancer, according to US scientists. 

The "plasma thermogram" examines the proteins inside blood, including those produced by tumours.
A study, in the journal Plos One, showed the test could detect cervical cancer and how advanced it was.
Cancer Research UK said thermograms might improve detection, but more evidence on the accuracy and reliability was needed.

Screening for cervical cancer currently involves a looking for abnormal cells in a smear test and detecting high-risk viruses that can cause the disease.

The study, at the University of Louisville, used the plasma thermogram technology to analyse blood samples.
The sample will respond differently to heat depending on the types of proteins contained in the blood. It results in a thermogram - like a fingerprint - of the protein content.

The system was tested on 67 women with different stages of the cervical cancer to see if it could detect the differences between the patients and healthy people.

More here.