Friday December 15, 2017

Childhood adversities may up health issues

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New York, Oct 31:Young children who face adverse problems such as death of a parent, growing up in poverty, physical or sexual abuse, or having a parent with a psychiatric illness are likely to be at a higher risk of developing health problems in adulthood, warn researchers.

Research showed that facing three or more adverse experiences at a time can lead to smaller brain volumes. As a result, children are unable to express their emotions properly, which leads to depression and worse social and emotional outcomes.

Those who faced adversities between the age group of nine to 15 years were 15 per cent more likely to develop severe depression by their pre-teenage years and early teenage years and 25 per cent more likely to suffer physical health problems, like asthma and gastrointestinal disorders.

“Our findings demonstrate how powerful the psychosocial environment can be,” said Joan L. Luby, Professor at the University of Washington in Missouri, US.

“A child’s brain doesn’t develop based solely on its genetic infrastructure. It is influenced by the stresses of poverty, violence, the loss of a parent, and other adverse experiences, which together can have serious health consequences evident as early as the teenage and preteenage years,” she added.

The study, published in the journal JAMA Pediatrics, conducted multiple MRI brain scans on children between three to six years of age which showed that the inferior frontal gyrus — part of the brain important for language comprehension and production — was smaller in children with more adverse experiences.

“People exposed to adversity early in life experience changes in the volume of the inferior frontal gyrus that probably can make children more vulnerable to behavioural issues and bad decision-making,” Luby said.

–IANS

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Researchers found a new Drug to Reduce Alcohol Addiction in Teenagers

The drug is (+)-Naltrexone can reduce the drinking habit in teenagers.

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A new drug can reduce Alcohol addiction in teenagers
A new drug can reduce Alcohol addiction in teenagers. Pixabay
  • Researchers have found a new drug that may eventually help to reduce alcohol addiction in adults who used to binge during their adolescent years.

A new drug found which can reduce Alcohol addiction in teenagers

“During our teen years, the brain is still in a relatively immature state. Binge drinking worsens this situation, as alcohol undermines the normal developmental processes that affect how our brain matures,” said lead author Jon Jacobsen, a Ph.D. student at the University of Adelaide, Australia.

“Therefore, when an adolescent who has been binge drinking becomes an adult, they’re often left with an immature brain, which assists in the development of alcohol dependence,” Jacobsen added.

For the study, published in the Journal Neuropharmacology, researchers observed that adolescent mice involved in binge drinking behavior developed an increased sensitivity to alcohol as adults and engaged in further binge drinking.

The researchers were able to prevent some of these detrimental behaviors observed in adulthood, by giving mice a drug that blocks a specific response from the immune system in the brain.

The drug is (+)-Naltrexone, known to block the immune receptor Toll-like receptor 4 (TLR4).

“This drug effectively switched off the impulse in mice to binge drink. The mice were given this drug still sought out alcohol, but their level of drinking was greatly reduced,” says senior author Professor Mark Hutchinson, Director of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Nanoscale BioPhotonics at the University of Adelaide.

“We’re excited by the finding that we can potentially block binge drinking in an adult after they have experienced such behavior during adolescence, by stopping the activation of the brain’s immune system. It’s the first time this has been shown and gives us hope that our work has implications for the eventual treatment of alcohol addiction in adults,” Hutchinson noted.(IANS)

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Dinosaur-killing asteroid could hold the cure for cancer

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cancer
Dinosaur-killing asteroid could hold the cure for cancer

London: A 10-km wide asteroid that wiped out dinosaurs when it crashed into earth over 65 million years ago contains a rare metal — iridium — that could be used in the effective treatment of cancer, researchers have found.

Scientists from the UK and China have demonstrated that iridium — a rare metal delivered to Earth by the asteroid — can be used to kill cancer without harming healthy cells.

Laser-based techniques are emerging as viable treatments for cancer, targeting tumours far more precisely than the shotgun blast of radiation and chemotherapy. Researchers from the University of Warwick in the UK and Sun Yat-Sen University in China have found that laser light can turn iridium into an effective cancer killer, the newatlas.com reported.

The team created a compound of iridium and organic materials, and then introduced it into a lung cancer tumour grown in the lab. When red laser light is shone onto it through the skin, the compound is activated, converting the oxygen in the tumour into singlet oxygen, a poisonous form of the element that effectively kills the cancer cells from the inside. With cancer becoming resistant to certain treatments, it’s crucial to find new methods such as this.

Further study found that the compound was effective as it managed to penetrate every layer of the tumour.

The team used ultra-high resolution mass spectrometry to highlight which proteins in the cancer cells were being targeted. They found that the compound had damaged proteins that manage heat shock stress and glucose metabolism, which are known to be crucial molecules for cancer’s survival.

When the researchers tested the iridium compound on a clump of non-cancerous tissue they found it had no effect, meaning it seems to be a highly targeted treatment that doesn’t attack healthy cells. The research was published in the journal Angewandte Chemie.

Iridium is relatively rare on Earth naturally, but scientists have found a spike in the Chicxulub crater, an impact crater buried underneath the Yucatán Peninsula in Mexico, which is often associated with the asteroid impact that wiped out the dinosaurs.

“The precious metal platinum is already used in more than 50 per cent of cancer chemotherapies,” says Peter Sadler, lead author of the study. “The potential of other precious metals such as iridium to provide new targeted drugs that attack cancer cells in completely new ways and combat resistance, and which can be used safely with the minimum of side-effects, is now being explored. It’s certainly now time to try to make good medical use of the iridium delivered to us by an asteroid 66 million years ago!” — IANS

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Test for Zika more than once during pregnancy: Study

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Zika
Test for Zika more than once during pregnancy: Study

New York, November 2,2017:  Women should be tested for the Zika virus more than once during pregnancy as the pathogen can be intermittently present in the urine for up to seven months, researchers suggested.

The study showed that the test could again be positive for the Zika virus even after the viral load had disappeared in previous tests.

 The virus can be detected in a patient’s urine for as long as seven months.

“These results suggest the virus continues replicating during pregnancy, in the foetus or the placenta, which must serve as a reservoir for the pathogen,” said Mauricio Lacerda Nogueira, Professor at the Sao Paulo Research Foundation (FAPESP) in Brazil.

“However, viral load in the mother’s fluids is intermittent and very low, almost at the detection threshold,” Nogueira added, in the paper appearing in the journal Emerging Infectious Diseases.

Molecular tests to detect Zika virus enable identification of the pathogen’s genetic material in body fluids such as blood, urine, semen and saliva during the acute phase of infection.

These tests have also been used routinely in prenatal checkups for pregnant women with symptoms of the disease.

According to Nogueira, if the result of a molecular test is negative, it should ideally be repeated at least twice at intervals of no less than a week.

“We typically test urine samples because they are easier to obtain and because the blood viral load is lower and disappears faster,” he said.

For the study, the team included women in different stages of pregnancy (four weeks to 38 weeks).

Some women had babies with complications — such as hearing loss and brain cyst — that were probably caused by Zika.

However, the researchers were unable to establish a correlation between the number of times the virus was detected in the mother and the occurrence of an adverse outcome.(IANS)