Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Molecular Map Helps Illuminate Why Mice Only Live For Two Years

Molecular Map Helps Illuminate Why Mice Only Live For Two Years - ScienceDaily
"Researchers at the National Institute of Aging and Stanford University have used gene arrays to identify genes whose activity changes with age in 16 different mouse tissues. The study uses a newly available database called AGEMAP to document the process of aging in mice at the molecular level. The work describes how aging affects different tissues in mice, and ultimately could help explain why lifespan is limited to just two years in mice...Previous studies have studied gene expression changes during aging in just one tissue. The new work stands out because it is much larger and more complete, including aging data for 16 different tissues and containing over 5.5 million expression measurements...One noteworthy result is that some tissues (such as the thymus, eyes and lung) show large changes in which genes are active in old age whereas other tissues (such as liver and cerebrum) show little or none, suggesting that different tissues may degenerate to different degrees in old mice...Another insight is that there are three distinct patterns of aging, and that tissues can be grouped according to which aging pathway they take. This result indicates that there are three different clocks for aging that may or may not change synchronously, and that an old animal may be a mixture of tissues affected by each of the different aging clocks...Finally, the report compares aging in mice to aging in humans. Several aging pathways were found to be the same, and these could be interesting because they are relevant to human aging and can also be scientifically studied in mice."

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Cancer-resistant Mouse Developed By Adding Tumor-suppressor Gene

Cancer-resistant Mouse Developed By Adding Tumor-suppressor Gene - ScienceDaily
"...The researchers discovered that the Par-4 gene kills cancer cells, but not normal cells. There are very few molecules that specifically fight against cancer cells, giving it a potentially therapeutic application...Rangnekar's study is unique in that mice born with this gene are not developing tumors. The mice grow normally and have no defects. In fact, the mice possessing Par-4 actually live a few months longer than the control animals, indicating that they have no toxic side effects...The implications for humans could be that through bone marrow transplantation, the Par-4 molecule could potentially be used to fight cancer cells in patients without the toxic and damaging side effects of chemotherapy and radiation therapy..."

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Monday, November 26, 2007

Data On Food Antioxidants Aid Research

Data On Food Antioxidants Aid Research - ScienceDaily
"Measures of the antioxidant capacities of 277 selected foods were released today by Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists. The new database provides easy access to antioxidant values for a wide variety of foods, many of which may be excellent sources of healthful compounds...Many of the fruits, nuts, vegetables and spices listed were analyzed for their Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity, known as ORAC...."

ARS link to the report here.

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Omega-3 Fatty Acids Protect Against Parkinson's

Omega-3 Fatty Acids Protect Against Parkinson's, Study Says - ScienceDaily
"...Analyses revealed that omega-3 fatty acids--in particular DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), a specific type of omega-3--had replaced the omega-6 fatty acids already present in the brains of the mice that had been given omega-3 supplementation..."This demonstrates both the importance of diet on the brain's fatty acid composition and the brain's natural inclination for omega-3 fatty acids," observes Calon. Since concentrations of other types of omega-3's had remained similar in both groups of mice, researchers suggest that the protective effect against Parkinson's comes essentially from DHA...Another conclusion to be drawn from this finding is that a brain containing a lot of omega-6 fatty acids may be a fertile ground for Parkinson's disease. These fatty acids, abundant in foods rich in either vegetable oil or animal fat, are already under suspicion for their role in the body's inflammatory response, cardiac disease, arthritis, and Alzheimer's. In a balanced diet, the ratio between omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids should be 4 to 1. However, the average Western diet contains 10 to 20 times more omega-6's than omega-3's..."In North America, the average intake of DHA is between 60 to 80 mg a day, while experts recommend a daily minimum of 250 mg,"..."

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Low B12 tied to faster mental decline with age

Low B12 tied to faster mental decline with age - Yahoo! News
"...Among a group of men and women aged 65 and older, those whose levels of two B12 activity markers indicated higher blood levels of the vitamin had a slower drop-off in cognitive function over 10 years than their peers...The researchers checked levels of the biologically active portion of vitamin B12, holotranscobalamin, as well as methylmalonic acid, a marker for B12 function. Testing for B12 itself has a "poor predictive value," they note...doubling a person's vitamin B12 levels by taking oral supplements could slow cognitive decline by one third..."

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Thursday, November 22, 2007

Fat Hormone May Contribute To Longevity

Fat Hormone May Contribute To Longevity - ScienceDaily
Via QualityCounts
"Both humans and mice that manage to live to a ripe, old age show a clear change in their glucose metabolism...long-lived Snell dwarf mice burn less glucose and more fatty acids during periods of fasting, and as a result produce fewer free radicals...The key to this switch may be adiponectin, a hormone produced by fat cells that helps lower glucose production and stimulates cells to use fat for energy instead. The researchers found that Snell mice had three times as much adiponectin in their blood as control mice; Snell mice also had fewer triglycerides in their cells, indicative of higher fat metabolism...The benefit of burning fats instead of glucose for energy is that it produces fewer oxygen radicals which can damage cells and exacerbate the effects of aging. Confirming this, Combs and colleagues found far less free radical damage, measured as the frequency of a chemical modification on protein known as carbonyl groups, in Snell mice than controls..."

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Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Pine bark extract shows arthritis benefits

Pine bark extract shows arthritis benefits -
"Extracts from French maritime pine bark may reduce the pain and stiffness associated with arthritis of the knee by about 40 per cent...Moreover, the randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial involving 37 patients with osteoarthritis and using the pine bark extract, Pycnogenol, indicated an improvement in physical function of 52 per cent...after 90 days of Pycnogenol supplementation the WOMAC scores for self-reported pain, stiffness, and physical function were reduced by 43, 35, and 52, respectively...Watson and co-workers do propose that the beneficial effect of the pine bark extract might be due to its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties..."

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Worm study shows antidepressant may lengthen life

Worm study shows antidepressant may lengthen life - Yahoo! News
"An antidepressant may help worms live longer by tricking the brain into thinking the body is starving...The drug, called mianserin, extended the life span of the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans by about 30 percent...Buck's team did a random search through 88,000 different drug compounds to see if any of them happened to make C. elegans live longer....Three other compounds, including another antidepressant, have similar effects, said Michael Petrascheck..."Weight gain and increased appetite seems to be one of the side effects. It is one of the reasons these are not such popular antidepressants,"...The drug with the strongest effect was mianserin, in a class of drugs known as tetracyclic antidepressants...The drug is used in Europe under several brand names, including Bolvidon, Norval and Tolvon but not usually in the United States. It can cause aplastic anemia and other effects on immune system cells...Buck's team found that in addition to interfering with serotonin in the worm, it also blocked receptors for another neurotransmitter, octopamine...They said some other research suggests that serotonin and octopamine may complement one another -- with serotonin signaling the presence of food and octopamine signaling starvation...Buck said it is possible that mianserin drug tips the balance in the direction of octopamine, tricking the brain into thinking it has been starved...Petrascheck said another antidepressant, mirtazapine, had similar effects. An antihistamine and migraine drug called cyproheptadine, as well as a compound not used in people called methiothepin also affected serotonin and extended worm life span...They tested other popular antidepressants that affect serotonin and found they did not make the worms live longer.He is worried that people will rush to take the drugs in the hope of living longer."It is a stretch from a worm to a human being," Petrascheck said."

Here's a question. Say you take mianserin and become obese. Do you still live a longer life? Or does the obesity and all the negative effects of that cancel out the potential life extension of the drug? Did the worms become obese? Gain weight?

By the way this is the first wire service article I've ever seen where c. elegans got more than an initial for its first name - Caenorhabditis elegans. Bravo Maggie Fox of Reuters! Although I understand the need for abbreviations in journalism especially with science articles, it's nice once in a while for science writers to spell it out.

88,000 drug compounds! That is one hard working lab. I find it a bit depressing that with all those compounds, the best of the best can only muster 30% life extension in a worm. Oh well, let's hope it's a jumping off point.

And for those who are dying to know more about the red headed step child of neurotransmitters, octopamine, here's more at Wiki.

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Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Even Very Low Levels Of Lead Cause Brain Damage In Children

Even Very Low Levels Of Lead Cause Brain Damage In Children - ScienceDaily
"...amounts well below the current federal standard -- are associated with reduced IQ scores..."We found that the average IQ scores of children with BLLs of only 5 to 10 mcg/dl were about 5 points lower than the IQ scores of children with BLLs less than 5 mcg/dl. This indicates an adverse effect on children who have a BLL substantially below the CDC standard, suggesting the need for more stringent regulations,"...According to the CDC, about one out of every 50 children in the United States between ages 1 and 5 has a BLL above 10 mcg/dl and about 10 percent of children have BLLs of 5 mcg/dl or higher; about 25 percent of U.S. homes with children under age 6 have a lead-based paint hazard..."The bottom line," according to Canfield, "is that lead is a persistent neurotoxin that causes brain damage. The fact that lead has been found in millions of toys, even toys specifically designed for children to put into their mouths, presents an unacceptable risk. Our findings suggest the need to re-evaluate the current federal standards for lead in consumer products and the current definition of an elevated BLL in children."..."

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Monday, November 19, 2007

Next generation antioxidant test puts blueberry at number one

Next generation antioxidant test puts blueberry at number one -
"A new study using the cellular antioxidant activity (CAA) assay, dubbed the 'next step' in quantifying antioxidant activity, has added to reports of blueberry's antioxidant prowess...The test moves the quantification of antioxidant activity from the test tube to measuring bioactivity inside cells, and marks an advance in the understanding and activity of antioxidants... blueberry topped the CAA rankings, followed by cranberry, apple, red grape, and finally green grape...A test of select phytochemicals, the researchers reported that quercetin had the highest CAA value, followed by kaempferol, epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), myricetin, and luteolin, respectively..."The CAA assay is a more biologically relevant method than the popular chemistry antioxidant activity assays because it accounts for some aspects of uptake, metabolism, and location of antioxidant compounds within cells," wrote Wolfe and Liu...Previously, the antioxidant activity of selected compounds has been measured using a range of lab-based assays, including the ferric reducing ability of plasma (FRAP) assay, the oxygen radical absorbance capacity (ORAC) and Trolox equivalent antioxidant capacity (TEAC)..."How useful the assay will be in predicting in vivo uptake and availability of dietary antioxidants remains to be determined with further research."... "

But why might all these tests be mostly useless? Because an increase in dietary antioxidants can sometimes come at the cost of a decrease in endogenous antioxidants. The end result? You age faster. Seems contradictory right? Not if you factor in the innate feedback system within mammals. What we need to understand is which antioxidants also come with the added chemistry to fight cancer, diabetes, heart disease, stroke and so on. Cocoa is not capable of doing so many wonderful things to our health merely because it fights free radicals. Instead it regulates nitric oxide, amongst other things. Take away that and other physiologic changes that chocolate causes, and keep its antioxidant ability and there's little to get excited about. I hope researchers in the field of antioxidant research begin to develop a more comprehensive view of antioxidants, rather than just look at free radicals and the ability to prevent the damage from them via diet. Turmeric and cocoa are prime candidates to explore the more complex nature of antioxidants - that they can fundamentally alter a variety of processes in mammalian physiology that can have dramatic effects on health and longevity.

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Significant Anti-cancer Effect Of Milk Thistle

Scientific Evidence Of The Significant Anti-cancer Effect Of Milk Thistle - ScienceDaily
"...scientists demonstrated the anti-cancer effects of silibinin, a major biologically active compound of milk thistle. Being widely used as a folk remedy for liver diseases, milk thistle is safe and well-tolerated, and it protects the liver from drug or alcohol-related injury. Silibinin is highly purified from milk thistle...

The researchers found that silibilin can significantly reduce the growth of several human hepatoma cell lines. In addition, they demonstrated that silibinin mediates anti-liver cancer effects by:

  1. reduced cancer cell proliferation and cell cycle progression;
  2. enhanced programmed death of cancer cells; and
  3. altered chromatin structure of the cancer cells.

Their research results indicate that silibinin can be used to prevent the development of liver cancer, one of the most common cancers worldwide. The results have also opened our minds to the possibility of testing other herbal supplements for possible treatment of human cancers..."

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Vitamin D may curb type 2 diabetes

Vitamin D may curb type 2 diabetes risk - Yahoo! News
"...17-year follow-up of roughly 4,000 men and women, researchers found that individuals with higher blood levels of vitamin D had a 40 percent lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes than those with lower levels of this vitamin..."

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Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Vitamin D may slow aging

Vitamin D 'may help slow ageing' BBC News
"A King's College London study of more than 2,000 women found those with higher vitamin D levels showed fewer ageing-related changes in their DNA...after adjusting the results for the age of the volunteer, women with higher levels of vitamin D were more likely to have longer telomeres in these cells, and vice versa...Professor Brent Richards, who led the study, said: "These results are exciting because they demonstrate for the first time that people who have higher levels of vitamin D may age more slowly than people with lower levels of vitamin D..."This could help to explain how vitamin D has a protective effect on many ageing-related diseases, such as heart disease and cancer"...Another of the study's authors, Professor Tim Spector, said: "Although it might sound absurd, it's possible that the same sunshine which may increase our risk of skin cancer may also have a healthy effect on the ageing process in general" was possible that vitamin D might not be delaying the shortening of telomeres, but that another factor which did this might alter the way the vitamin was created and metabolised by the body"

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Tuesday, November 6, 2007

High-fat Atkins diet damages blood vessels

High-fat Atkins diet damages blood vessels: study on Yahoo! News
" The high-fat Atkins diet can cause long-term damage to blood vessels, as well as some of the inflammation linked with heart and artery disease...In contrast, low-fat regimens such as the South Beach and Ornish diets lowered cholesterol and appeared to benefit artery function, they said...."It really is the Atkins diet that is the worst," Dr. Michael Miller, director of preventive cardiology at the University of Maryland Medical Center in Baltimore, said in a telephone interview..."The Atkins diet caused the LDL levels to go up by about 7 percent, whereas in the Ornish and South Beach diets ... they went down 7 to 10 percent."..."

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Dark Chocolate Fights Heart Woes

Dark Chocolate Fights Heart Woes - WebMD
"A Japanese study suggests that dark chocolate can improve blood flow to heart muscle. That'€™s important because improved coronary blood flow mitigates the risk of chronic chest pain, or angina, and heart attacks, says Yumi Shiina...Shiina credits flavonoids, a group of antioxidant compounds also found in red wine, tea, and fruits and vegetables, with dark chocolates healthy effects...The study involved 39 healthy men who ate a 1.4-ounce candy bar of either dark chocolate or white chocolate daily for two weeks...After two weeks, coronary circulation significantly improved in participants who ate dark chocolate...Cacao polyphenol contains four times as many disease-fighting flavonoids per serving than red wine or tea..."

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Monday, November 5, 2007

Breast-feeding linked to heart-health benefits

Breast-feeding linked to heart-health benefits - Yahoo! News
"The list of health benefits to children who were breast-fed as babies is growing, with research unveiled on Monday showing they are more likely as adults to have higher levels of "good" cholesterol...Numerous studies have shown babies whose mothers breast-fed them enjoy health advantages over formula-fed babies. These include fewer ear, stomach or intestinal infections, digestive problems, skin diseases and allergies, and less likelihood of developing high blood pressure, diabetes and obesity...breast-fed babies are better off in two important heart disease risk factors as adults than bottle-fed babies -- levels of "good" HDL cholesterol and body mass index...Those who were breast-fed were 55 percent more likely to have high average levels of high-density lipoprotein, or HDL, cholesterol in adulthood than low levels..."The results are intriguing in that they point to this concept that early nutrition or early environmental exposures may affect long-term health," Parikh said ..."

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Breastfeeding Boost IQ In Infants With 'Helpful' Genetic Variant

Breastfeeding Boost IQ In Infants With 'Helpful' Genetic Variant - ScienceDaily
" two studies of breast-fed infants involving more than 3,000 children in Britain and New Zealand, breastfeeding was found to raise intelligence an average of nearly 7 IQ points if the children had a particular version of a gene called FADS2..."It is this genetic variant in FADS2, a gene involved in the control of fatty acid pathways, that may help the children make better use of the breast milk and promote the brain development that is associated with a higher IQ score," said Julia Kim-Cohen, assistant professor of psychology at Yale..."Children who do not carry the 'helpful' genetic variant have normal average IQ scores," Kim-Cohen said. "Being breastfed for them is not associated with an IQ advantage."...Ninety percent of the children in the two study groups had at least one copy of the "C" version of FADS2, which yielded higher IQ if they were breast-fed. The other 10 percent, with only the "G" versions of the gene, showed no IQ advantage or disadvantage from breastfeeding...The gene was singled out for the researchers' attention because it produces an enzyme that helps convert dietary fatty acids into the polyunsaturated fatty acids DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and AA (arachidonic acid) that have been shown to accumulate in the human brain during the first months after birth...laboratory studies in which rodents and primates were fed supplemental fatty acids have shown increased brain DHA concentrations and enhanced abilities in tests of learning, memory and problem-solving..."Our findings support the idea that the nutritional content of breast milk accounts for the differences seen in human IQ," Moffitt said. "But it's not a simple all-or-none connection: it depends to some extent on the genetic makeup of each infant."..."

Gene explains why breast-feeding makes kids smarter - Yahoo! News
"...researchers ruled out alternate explanations, saying the effect of FADS2 applied equally to babies with normal and low birth weight. The effect was also the same no matter the mother's social class or IQ...The team also tested the mothers' DNA and concluded that the FADS2 gene did not somehow alter the quality of breast milk..."We took cells from the children and then analyzed DNA and then we compared how they scored on IQ tests and looked up if they were breast-fed as babies," Moffitt said in a telephone interview. "It was very straightforward."..."

The greatest boost to IQ and memory seems to come from prenatal choline supplementation. "
"Taking a nutrient called choline during pregnancy could "super-charge" children's brains for life"

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aspirin, ibuprofen can reduce the risk of Parkinson's

Headache, arthritis pills reduce Parkinson's risk - Yahoo! News
"...Women who took aspirin regularly lowered their risk of Parkinson's disease by nearly 40 percent, Wahner and colleagues reported in the journal Neurology..."Interestingly, aspirin only benefited women. It may be that men are taking lower doses of aspirin for heart problems, while women may be using higher doses for arthritis or headache," Wahner said...Epidemiologist Beate Ritz, who also worked on the study, said the drugs may prevent damaging inflammation in the brain..."

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Thursday, November 1, 2007

Genetically Engineer Mice That Outrun and Outlive Ordinary Mice

Gene Tweak Makes for Mighty Mice - WebMD
"Scientists at Case Western Reserve University have genetically engineered mice that outrun, outlive, and out-eat ordinary mice while staying lean, light, and fertile well into old age...Chalk it up to a change in a single gene...That genetic tweak boosted levels of an enzyme called PEPCK-C in the mice's skeletal muscles, knocking mice's muscle metabolism into orbit...The mighty mice were seven times more active than normal mice. They showed unusually high levels of activity in their cages from the time they were 2 weeks old...One treadmill test began at a leisurely pace. The researchers raised the treadmill's incline and speed every two minutes until the mice were exhausted and couldn't run for 10 seconds...The genetically engineered mice ran for 32 minutes, while the ordinary mice pooped out at 19 minutes...The genetically engineered mice ate 60% more than the ordinary mice, but they were lean and light, weighing half of what normal mice weigh with 90% less body fat...A major unanswered question, Hanson's team notes, is what brain changes accompany the genetically engineered mice's hyped-up activity."

Research on PEPCK-C showing that fasting can induce its expression.

Research on "mighty mice"

Genetically Engineered 'Mighty Mouse' Can Run 6 Kilometers Without Stopping - ScienceDaily
Mentions that the mice were "markedly more aggressive". Rather important part of the story not getting much press.

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Clam, 405, is oldest animal ever

Clam, 405, is oldest animal ever - Telegraph
Via FightAging
"...So significant is the find that Help The Aged have awarded a £40,000 grant to the team to investigate how the molusc, born when Queen Elizabeth I was on the throne and William Shakespeare was writing The Merry Wives of Windsor, has survived over the centuries...The record-breaking shellfish, 31 years older than the previous oldest animal, another clam, was caught last year when scientists from the Bangor University School of Ocean Sciences were dredging the seabed north of Iceland..."We need to find out how it retains muscle strength, remains cancer-free and keeps its nervous system intact over such a long period of time"...

According to the Guinness Book of Records, the existing record for the longest-lived animal belongs to a 220 year old Arctica clam collected in 1982 from American waters.

Unofficially, the record belongs to a 374 year old Icelandic clam in a German museum.

  • The oldest ever...
  • Tree, bristlecone pine: USA: 4,844 (years)

    Fish, lake sturgeon: 154

    Mammal: bowhead whale: 130

    Human: Jeanne Calment: 122

    Macaw: 106

    Elephant: 78

    Horse: 62

    Japanese salamander: 55

    Herring gull: 49

    Bat: 32

    Dog: 24

    Rabbit: 18"

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    Zinc Helps Elderly Ward Off Pneumonia

    Zinc Helps Elderly Ward Off Pneumonia on Yahoo! Health
    "...those with normal blood zinc concentrations were about 50 percent less likely to develop pneumonia than those with low concentrations..."Not only did (people with lower zinc concentrations) have a higher risk of developing pneumonia, when they did become sick, they did not recover as quickly and required a longer course of antibiotics..."

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