Monday November 20, 2017

Alzheimer’s disease linked to several unsaturated fatty acids in the brain: Study

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Cognitive Impairment
Alzheimer's disease patient Isidora Tomaz, 82, sits in an armchair in her house in Lisbon, Portugal. It’s predicted that by 2050, 135 million Americans are going to suffer from mild cognitive impairment, a precursor of Alzheimer's. VOA

London, March 23, 2017: Researchers have found that several unsaturated fatty acids in the brain may be associated with the progression of Alzheimer’s disease.

Alzheimer’s disease is a neurodegenerative disorder, which causes impaired memory, executive function and language. It accounts for 60-80 per cent of total dementia cases worldwide, with over 46 million people suffering from the disease worldwide. The number of patients is estimated to rise to 131.5 million by 2050.

Currently, it is thought that the main reason for developing memory problems in dementia is the presence of two big molecules in the brain called tau and amyloid proteins — that are shown to start accumulating in the brain up to 20 years prior to the onset of the disease.

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However, the findings, published in the journal PLOS Medicine, showed that the metabolism of omega-3 and omega-6 unsaturated fatty acids were significantly decreased in Alzheimer’s brains when compared to brains from healthy patients.

“Our results show a potentially crucial and unexpected role for fats in the onset of dementia. Most surprisingly, we found that a supposedly beneficial omega-3, DHA, actually increased with the progression of the disease,” said Cristina Legido Quigley from King’s College London.

In the study, the team looked at brain tissue samples from 43 people ranging in age from 57 to 95 years old.

The researchers then measured the metabolite levels of the brain regions that are commonly associated with neurodegerative diseases — the middle frontal gyrus and the inferior temporal gyrus — as well as the metabolite levels in a brain area that is not normally affected by the disease’s pathology — the cerebellum.

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The results showed that unsaturated fatty acid metabolism is significantly dysregulated in the brains of patients with varying degrees of Alzheimer pathology.

The main molecules that were different were six small fats — docosahexaenoic acid, linoleic acid, arachidonic acid, linolenic acid, eicosapentaenoic acid, and oleic acid — including omegas, which changed in abundance in different regions of the brain. (IANS)

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Computer Brain Training Exercise May Reduce Risk of Dementia by 29%, says Study

A computer brain training exercise designed to improve the speed and accuracy of visual attention can help seniors reduce risk of dementia by nearly a third

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Computer Brain Training
Computer Brain Training may reduce risk of dementia. Pixabay.

New York, Nov 18: A computer brain training exercise designed to improve the speed and accuracy of visual attention can help seniors reduce risk of dementia by nearly a third, suggest results of a 10-year study.

This exercise is known as “speed of processing training”, “useful field of view training”, or “UFOV training.

“Speed of processing computer brain training resulted in decreased risk of dementia across the 10-year period of, on average, 29 per cent as compared to the control,” said lead study author Jerri Edwards from University of South Florida in the US.

“When we examined the dose-response, we found that those who trained more received more protective benefit,” Edwards added.

The study, published in the journal Alzheimer’s & Dementia: Translational Research & Clinical Interventions, enrolled 2,802 healthy older adults in the US and followed them as they aged from an average of 74 to 84 years.

Participants were divided into a control group or one of three intervention arms using different types of cognitive training.

One group received instruction on memory strategies and another group received instruction on reasoning strategies. The third group received individualised computerised speed of processing training.

Researchers found no significant difference in risk of dementia for the strategy-based memory or reasoning training groups, as compared to the control group.

However, as compared to the control group, the computerised speed training group showed significantly less risk of dementia — averaging a 29 per cent risk reduction.

When reviewing the impact of each computerised speed training session completed, researchers found those who completed more sessions had lower risk.

The computerised speed training task or the computer brain training exercise was designed to improve the speed and accuracy of visual attention, including both divided and selective attention exercises.

The computer brain training exercise was developed by Karlene Ball of the University of Alabama Birmingham and Dan Roenker of Western Kentucky University – both in the US. (IANS)

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Viral hepatitis Caused 1.34 mn Deaths Globally: Study

Viral hepatitis was found to be amongst the top ten leading global killers

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Viral hepatitis
World Health Organization poster for Hepatitis Campaign. VOA

London, Sep 16, 2017: Viral hepatitis with 1.34 million deaths globally has surpassed all chronic infectious diseases including HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis, according to a study by Global Burden of Disease.

The study reveals that in 2016, the total deaths caused by viral hepatitis, including liver cancer, acute cases, cirrhosis, hepatitis A, E, B, C and D account for 1.34 million globally, exceeding tuberculosis (1.2 million), HIV/AIDS (1 million) and malaria (719,000).

These staggering death rates occurred despite recent advances in hepatitis C medications that can cure most infections within three months and the availability of highly-effective vaccinations for hepatitis B.

“It’s outrageous, but not surprising, that the Global Burden of Disease Report found that deaths related to viral hepatitis have surpassed HIV, TB and malaria” said Charles Gore, President of the World Hepatitis Alliance — a not-for profit organisation based in London.

“This is largely due to a historic lack of political prioritisation coupled with an absent global funding mechanism,” Gore added, in the paper published in the journal the Lancet.

Further, viral hepatitis was found to be amongst the top ten leading global killers which include heart disease, road accidents, Alzheimer’s disease, amongst others.

Also Read: WHO Calls for stepped up action to Eliminate Hepatitis B and C by 2030 

If this trend has to be reversed, immediate action must be taken at both a regional and national level, said the report, while suggesting measures such as scaling up testing and diagnosis.

Viral hepatitis is a highly contagious liver infection caused by the hepatitis A virus and only 5 per cent of people living with the disease are aware of their conditions there are only few noticeable symptoms.

As a result, many people are either misdiagnosed or do not come forward for testing, increasing the chance of infecting others and missing the opportunity to access life-saving treatment.

Reducing hepatitis related deaths by 65 per cent by 2030 is a key component of the World Health Organization’s Global Hepatitis Strategy.

The strategy, which was adopted by 194 governments, sets out a list of key targets, which, if achieved, will eliminate viral hepatitis by 2030. (IANS)

 

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Contagious yawning: Why we yawn when someone else does? Read to find out

The findings of Research on why is yawning so so contagious?

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Why we yawn when someone else does?
Why we yawn when someone else does? Pixabay
  • Contagious yawning is triggered involuntarily when we observe another person yawn, it is a common form of Echophenomena
  • The  Research findings showed that our urge to yawn is increased if we are instructed to resist yawning
  • Echophenomena isn’t just a human trait, it is found in chimpanzees and dogs too

New York, USA, September 3, 2017:  Ever wondered why even if we are not tired, we yawn if someone else does? Why is yawning so contagious?

It is because the human propensity for contagious yawning is triggered automatically by primitive reflexes in a brain area responsible for motor function, a research suggests.

Contagious yawning is triggered involuntarily when we observe another person yawn – it is a common form of Echophenomena -the automatic imitation of another’s words (echolalia) or actions (echopraxia).

The  Research findings showed that our urge to yawn is increased if we are instructed to resist yawning. And no matter how hard we try to stifle a yawn, it might change how we yawn but it won’t alter our propensity to yawn.

Also Read: Ever wondered why you Itch when another person scratches in front of you?

“This research has shown that the ‘urge’  is increased by trying to stop yourself. Using electrical stimulation we were able to increase excitability and in doing so increase the propensity for contagious yawning,” said Georgina Jackson, a Professor at the University of Nottingham.

“The findings may be important in understanding the association between motor excitability and the occurrence of Echophenomena in a wide range of conditions linked to increased cortical excitability and/or decreased physiological inhibition such as epilepsy, dementia, autism, and Tourette syndrome,” added Stephen Jackson, a Professor at the University.

For the study, published in the journal Current Biology, the team used transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) to analyze volunteers who viewed video clips showing someone else yawning and were instructed to either resist yawning or to allow themselves to yawn.

“If we can understand how alterations in cortical excitability give rise to neural disorders we can potentially reverse them. We are looking for potential non-drug, personalized treatments, using TMS that might be effective in modulating imbalances in the brain networks,” Jackson said.

Echophenomena isn’t just a human trait, it is found in chimpanzees and dogs too. (IANS)