Monday April 22, 2019

A Possible Cause For Alzheimer’s Finally Found: Researchers

In the cases of Alzheimer's and traumatic brain injury, the build-up of KCNB1 is associated with severe damage of mental function.

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alzheimer's, cholesterol
One hemisphere of a healthy brain (L) is pictured next to one hemisphere of a brain of a person suffering from Alzheimer disease. VOA

Researchers have identified a new mechanism that may contribute to Alzheimer’s disease and traumatic brain injury, hoping that the discovery may lead to effective treatment.

According to researchers from Rutgers University, the causes of Alzheimer’s is unknown. But a popular theory suggests a protein known as amyloid-beta slowly builds up a plaque in the brains of people with the disease.

The research team looked at a new mechanism, which involves a non-amyloid-beta protein, a potassium channel referred to as KCNB1.

Under conditions of stress in a brain affected by Alzheimer’s, KCNB1 builds up and becomes toxic to neurons and then promotes the production of amyloid-beta. The build-up of KCNB1 channels is caused by a chemical process commonly known as oxidation.

Alzheimer's
Alzheimer’s disease. Wikipedia

“Indeed, scientists have known for a long time that during aging or in neurodegenerative disease cells produce free radicals,” said co-author Federico Sesti, a professor at the varsity.

“Free radicals are toxic molecules that can cause a reaction that results in lost electrons in important cellular components, including the channels,” Sesti added.

The study, published in the journal Cell Death and Disease, found that in brains affected by Alzheimer’s, the build-up of KCNB1 was much higher compared to normal brains.

“The discovery of KCNB1’s oxidation/build-up was found through observation of both mouse and human brains, which is significant as most scientific studies do not usually go beyond observing animals,” said Sesti.

“Further, KCBB1 channels may not only contribute to Alzheimer’s but also to other conditions of stress as it was found in a recent study that they are formed following brain trauma,” Sesti added.

 Alzheimer's
A lady suffering from Alzheimer’s. Flickr

In the cases of Alzheimer’s and traumatic brain injury, the build-up of KCNB1 is associated with severe damage of mental function. As a result of this discovery, the researcher successfully tested a drug called Sprycel in mice. The drug is used to treat patients with leukemia.

Also Read: A Majority of Children Die Due to Lack of Basic Healthcare Facilities: UN

The research team now hopes to launch a clinical trial to test the treatment in humans. (IANS)

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Avoid Smoking During Pregnancy To Prevent Premature Births

The negative health impacts of cigarette smoking during pregnancy, including low birth weight, delayed intrauterine development, pre-term birth, infant mortality, and long-term developmental delays, are well known. 

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The researcher plans to look at quit rates and smoking intensity and their impact on the risk of infant mortality. Pixabay

Expecting mothers, take note. As smoking during pregnancy is linked with negative health outcomes, a team of researchers has found that smoking cessation during pregnancy may reduce the risk of pre-term birth.

The findings, published in the JAMA Network Open journal, showed that the probability of pre-term birth decreased with earlier smoking cessation in pregnancy — up to a 20 per cent relative decrease if cessation occurred at the beginning of pregnancy.

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If we determine quitting, and quitting early, reduces the risk of infant mortality, then that may speak to mothers even more saliently about the importance of smoking cessation. Pixabay

“Of concern, though, given the substantial benefits of smoking cessation during pregnancy is that the proportion of pre-pregnancy smokers who quit smoking during pregnancy has remained essentially stagnant since 2011,” said lead author Samir Soneji from The Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice in the US.

For the study, the researchers conducted a cross-sectional study of more than 25 million pregnant women who gave birth to live neonates during a six-year period — measuring their smoking frequency three months prior to pregnancy and for each trimester during pregnancy.

The negative health impacts of cigarette smoking during pregnancy, including low birth weight, delayed intrauterine development, pre-term birth, infant mortality, and long-term developmental delays, are well known.

But the good news is that the proportion of women who start their pregnancy as smokers has been declining in recent years, the researchers said.

smoking

The findings, published in the JAMA Network Open journal, showed that the probability of pre-term birth decreased with earlier smoking cessation in pregnancy — up to a 20 per cent relative decrease if cessation occurred at the beginning of pregnancy. Pixabay

However, the study also found that only about 25 per cent of women who smoked prior to pregnancy were able to quit throughout their pregnancy, and approximately 50 per cent of women who smoked during their pregnancy did so with high frequency (more than 10 cigarettes per day).

The researcher plans to look at quit rates and smoking intensity and their impact on the risk of infant mortality.

Also Read: How Netflix Binge-Watching Can Lead You The “Mean World Syndrome”

“Thankfully most premature babies end up doing well,” he said.

“But premature birth is strongly linked to infant mortality. If we determine quitting, and quitting early, reduces the risk of infant mortality, then that may speak to mothers even more saliently about the importance of smoking cessation,” he added. (IANS)