Archive for January 2011
Although most people in developed countries get plenty of calories each day, their diets are often lacking in key nutrients that their bodies have evolved to expect. Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids, such as those found in fish and walnuts, are one category of crucial ingredients that the body cannot make on its own. Although these beneficial fatty acids are known to be good for heart health, researchers are just beginning to learn how omega-3s impact our brains—and by extension, our moods and behavior.
Lipids are integral to the central nervous system, and as studies of statins and diabetes drugs have shown, dropping levels of some lipids can have deleterious cognitive effects. Omega-3 deficiencies specifically have been linked to mood disorders, such as depression, but the underlying neural mechanism has been subject to debate.
New research in mice, published online January 30 in Nature Neuroscience, offers insights into just how dietary intake of these fatty acids might alter the brain’s function. (Scientific American is part of Nature Publishing Group.)
Advanced melanoma patients taking an experimental drug aimed at a particular mutation in their tumors lived longer than patients who did not receive the drug in a decisive clinical trial, the drug’s manufacturer, Roche, said Wednesday.
Eating just 1 cup of strawberries or blueberries each week can reduce your risk of developing high blood pressure, a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke. The new findings appear in the February issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
The new study included 87,242 women who took part in the Nurses’ Health Study II, 46,672 women from the Nurses’ Health Study I, and 23,043 men from the Health Professionals Follow-up study. During the 14-year follow-up period, 29,018 women and 5,629 men developed high blood pressure.
Men and women with the highest amount of anthocyanin from blueberries and strawberries had an 8% reduction in their risk for developing high blood pressure, compared to study participants who ate the least amount of these anthocyanin-rich berries, the study showed.
MIT scientists have discovered that cells lining the blood vessels secrete molecules that suppress tumor growth and keep cancer cells from invading other tissues, a finding that could lead to a new way to treat cancer.
Elazer Edelman, professor in the MIT-Harvard Division of Health Sciences and Technology (HST), says that implanting such cells adjacent to a patient’s tumor could shrink a tumor or prevent it from growing back or spreading further after surgery or chemotherapy. He has already tested such an implant in mice, and MIT has licensed the technology to Pervasis Therapeutics, Inc., which plans to test it in humans.
Edelman describes the work, which appears in the Jan. 19 issue of the journal Science Translational Medicine, as a “paradigm shift” that could fundamentally change how cancer is understood and treated. “This is a cancer therapy that could be used alone or with chemotherapy radiation or surgery, but without adding any devastating side effects,” he says.
A woman in the US is able to speak for the first time in 11 years after a pioneering voicebox transplant.Brenda Jensen said the operation, which took place in California, was a miracle which had restored her life.Thirteen days after the surgery she said her first words: “Good morning, I want to go home.”It is the first time a voicebox and windpipe have been transplanted at the same time and only the second time a voice box has ever been transplanted.
The herpes zoster vaccine, better known as the shingles vaccine and recommended for adults 60 and older, cuts the risk of getting the painful disease by 55%, new research finds.
“Compared to childhood vaccines, people would [probably] think 55% is not too impressive, because many childhood vaccines are in the range of 80% to 90% [effective],” says researcher Hung Fu Tseng, PhD, MPH, a research scientist at Kaiser Permanente Southern California.
However, he tells WebMD, the 55% risk reduction ”is pretty high compared to other adult vaccines.”
Getting the vaccine makes it less likely that adults will get the painful rash that can occur when the varicella zoster virus, which causes childhood chickenpox, reactivates to cause shingles. The associated pain can last months or even years.
About a million episodes of shingles, sometimes debilitating, occur in the U.S. annually, Tseng says