Monday March 18, 2019

Researchers Develop Novel Method to Predict Mortality in Elderly

The quantification of the immune system's ageing is a complex challenge that requires multidimensional monitoring over time

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FILE - An elderly couple walks down a hall in Easton, Pennsylvania, Nov. 6, 2015. -VOA

Researchers have developed a method to assess the “age” of patients’ immune systems, thus predicting mortality in older adults.

According to researchers from the Israel Institute of Technology (Technion), the immune age is a kind of biological clock that will help identify an early weakening of the immune system.

The new model will help devise preventive measures to reduce disease and mortality, Xinhua news agency reported.

In the study, Technion scientists, along with a team from the Stanford University in California, were able to quantify the changes in the immune system that happen over the years.

In nine years, they characterised the immune systems of 135 healthy people of different ages once a year and built a model that quantifies these changes in a specific person.

The data enabled the researchers to quantify the immune age in an index called “IMM-AGE score”, which provides information that the chronological age cannot tell.

Representational image for elders.
New method developed to help predict mortality in elderly. Pixabay

Using the new method, the team quantified the immunisation age of more than 2,000 elders.

The researchers believe that with the new method, they will also be able to characterise genes that affect immunisation age, and even identify lifestyle, habits and medications that affect the “age”.

With an increase in inflammatory processes, the human body undergoes slow and constant functional weakening of the immune system.

Also Read- Sri Lanka Warns of Extreme Heat Amid Rising Temperatures

Ageing of the immune system has devastating consequences, including an inability to cope with infections and an increased risk of chronic diseases such as cancer.

The quantification of the immune system’s ageing is a complex challenge that requires multidimensional monitoring over time. (IANS)

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Alzheimer’s Linked To Improper Sleep In Elderly: Study

Staying awake for prolonged periods causes tau levels to rise.

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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

Poor sleep among older adults has been associated with Alzheimer’s, suggesting that good sleep habits may help preserve brain health, finds a new study.

Studying mice and people, researchers at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, found that sleep deprivation increases levels of the key Alzheimer’s protein, tau.

And, in follow-up studies on mice, the team has shown that sleeplessness accelerates the spread of toxic clumps of tau, a harbinger of brain damage and decisive step along the path to dementia through the brain.

These study indicated that lack of sleep alone helps drive the disease.

alzheimer's, cholesterol
Poor sleep can predict Alzheimer’s Risk in elderly. Pixabay

Tau is normally found in the brain — even in healthy people — but under certain conditions it can clump together into tangles that injure nearby tissue and presage cognitive decline.

“The interesting thing about this study is that it suggests that real-life factors such as sleep might affect how fast the disease spreads through the brain,” said the researchers, including David Holtzman, MD from the varsity.

This study shows that sleep disruption causes the damaging protein tau to increase rapidly and to spread over time, Holtzman added.

To find out whether lack of sleep was directly forcing tau levels upward, the team measured tau levels in mice and people with normal and disrupted sleep.

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

Findings, published in the journal Science, showed that tau levels in the fluid surrounding brain cells were about twice as high at night, when the animals were more awake and active, than during the day, when the mice dozed more frequently.

Similarly, disturbing the mice’s rest during the day caused daytime tau levels to double.

Much the same effect was seen in people indicating that a sleepless night caused tau levels to rise by about 50 per cent, the researchers discovered.

Furthermore, staying up all night enables people sleep more the next chance they get in addition to being stressed and cranky.

Also Read: Professor Offers Students Higher Grade For More Sleep

The mice too, rebounded from a sleepless day by sleeping more later.

Hence, staying awake for prolonged periods causes tau levels to rise. Altogether, tau is routinely released during waking hours by the normal business of thinking and doing, and then this release is decreased during sleep allowing tau to be cleared away, the findings suggested.  (IANS)