Compound From Turmeric Has Neuroprotective Effects
Two new studies suggest that a compound derived from turmeric may have clinical promise for ischemic stroke and traumatic brain injury (TBI), both of which currently lack good therapies.
A synthetic derivative of turmeric made by scientists at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies dramatically improved the behavioral and molecular deficits seen in animal models of these conditions.
In previous studies, David R. Schubert and Pamela Maher in the Salk Cellular Neurobiology Laboratory had developed a series of new compounds using a novel drug discovery paradigm that starts with natural products derived from plants; it then calls for selecting synthetic derivatives that show efficacy in multiple assays testing protection against various aspects of the nerve cell damage and death that occur in brain injuries and in age-associated neurodegenerative diseases.
One compound, called CNB-001, which was derived from curcumin, the active ingredient in the spice turmeric, proved highly neuroprotective in all of the assays; it also enhanced memory in normal animals.
Additional information from Science Daily and the Journal of Neurochemisty on curcumin studies.
A daily dose of whole body vibration may help reduce the usual bone density loss that occurs with age, Medical College of Georgia researchers report.
Twelve weeks of daily, 30-minute sessions in 18-month old male mice â€“ which equate to 55- to 65-year-old humans â€“ appear to forestall the expected annual loss that can result in fractures, disability and death. Dr. Karl H. Wenger, biomedical engineer in the MCG Schools of Graduate Studies and Medicine, reported the findings with his colleagues in the journal Bone.
Researchers found vibration improved density around the hip joint with a shift toward higher density in the femur, the long bone of the leg, as well. Hip fractures are a major cause of disability and death among the elderly.
They also found a reduction in a biomarker that indicates bone breakdown and an increase in the surface area involved in bone formation in the vibrating group.
The findings provide more scientific evidence that the technique, which dates back to the 1800s and is now showing up in homes, gyms and rehabilitation clinics, has bone benefit, particularly as a low-risk option for injured individuals with limited mobility, Wenger said.
The scientists theorize that the rhythmic movement, which produces a sensation similar to that of a vibrating cell phone but on a larger scale, exercises cells so they work better. Vibration prompts movement of the cell nucleus, which is suspended by numerous threadlike fibers called filaments. “The filaments get all deformed like springs and then they spring back,” Wenger said.
All the movement releases transcription factors that spur new osteoblasts, the cells that make bone. With age, the balance of bone production and destruction â€“ by osteoclasts â€“ tips to the loss side.
In the case of an injury, vibration acts on stem cells, the master controllers of the healing process. “We think that in fracture healing, you get a more dramatic response. We don’t know exactly why it affects the biology differently but it’s likely because of the extent to which stem cells invade the injured area,” Wenger said. They have found that vibration slows stem cell proliferation, which may sound counterintuitive, but likely means more stem cells differentiate into bone cells rather than continuing to just make more generic stem cells. With age, stem cells have difficulty differentiating.
To see if their findings translate to the trauma clinic, they are evaluating vibration tolerance in patients with lower-limb fractures and finding, surprisingly, that even two weeks after injury the subtle vibration is soothing, rather than painful, to most.
The bone group, based in the MCG Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, also is working with Georgia Prevention Institute scientists to explore vibration’s potential to improve glucose uptake â€“ to see if vibration results in more insulin production or aids glucose clearance in some other way â€“ and whether, like exercise, it can reduce fatty liver disease in chunky, pre-diabetic children.
In related studies, postmenopausal women at the peak age of bone decline, experienced results similar to those of Wenger’s aging mice. Wenger’s studies used only male mice to mitigate the impact of fluctuating hormones and focus on aging. In the human study, led by Dr. Clinton T. Rubin at the State University of New York at Stony Brook, the women receiving daily whole body vibration didnâ€™t gain appreciable bone but they did not lose it either.
While vibration lacks the same cardiovascular benefit of exercise, animal and human studies also have shown it can improve muscle strength and weight loss.
- Dr. Karl H. Wenger, biomedical engineer in the MCG Schools of Graduate Studies and Medicine
- Full bibliographic informationEffect of whole-body vibration on bone properties in aging mice. Bone. 2010 Oct;47(4):746-55. Epub 2010 Jul 16.
Wenger KH, Freeman JD, Fulzele S, Immel DM, Powell BD, Molitor P, Chao YJ, Gao HS, Elsalanty M, Hamrick MW, Isales CM, Yu JC.
- Notes for editorsMEDIA CONTACT:Toni Baker
Public Relations Manager
Medical College of Georgia
Sleep disturbances increase the risk of work disability and may slow the return to work process. This is especially true in cases where work disability is due to mental disorders or musculoskeletal diseases. These results come from a recent study conducted by the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health in collaboration with the universities of Turku and London.
The research is being conducted as part of two major research projects on social capital in the workplace (Kunta10) and on well-being in the hospital workplace. The follow-up study is part of the Academy of Finland Research Programme on The Future of Work and Well-being (WORK) and the Responding to Public Health Challenges Research Programme (SALVE).
Sleep disturbances include difficulties initiating sleep, intermittent and non-restorative sleep, and waking up too early. The occurrence of these disturbances was studied in 56,732 public sector employees in Finland. During the three-year follow-up, 7 per cent of them were incapacitated for work. Data on work disability and sickness absences lasting 90 days or longer, disability pensions and deaths were obtained from national registers. The associations of sleep disturbances with returning to work were studied in employees who were on long-term sickness leave or retired on disability pension.
Just over one-fifth or 22 per cent of the employees studied reported sleep disturbances on at least five nights a week. A further 26 per cent reported sleep disturbances on 2â€“4 nights a week. In the former group, the risk of work disability for any reason was one and a half times greater than in employees who reported sleep disturbances once a week or less often.
The risk of work disability due to mental health problems or musculoskeletal disorders was elevated both in employees reporting mild and in those with severe sleep disturbances. Severe sleep disturbances were also associated with work disability due to cardiovascular diseases, neurological diseases and external reasons such as accidents.
Sixty per cent of the employees who were incapacitated returned to work within two years. The risk of a delayed return to work was higher among those whose work disability was due to musculoskeletal disorders. Among men whose incapacity was due to mental health diseases, both mild and severe sleep disturbances predicted a slower return to work.
- Full bibliographic informationThe results of the study have been published in the latest issue of the SLEEP journal, see www.journalsleep.org/ViewAbstract.aspx?pid=27917.
- Notes for editorsFor further information, contact Senior Researcher Paula Salo at the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, tel. +358 30 474 7553, email. firstname.lastname@example.orgAcademy of Finland Communications
Communications Specialist Leena VÃ¤hÃ¤kylÃ¤
tel. +358 9 7748 8327
Researchers at the Swedish medical university Karolinska Institutet have been able to describe the 3D structure of a complete egg receptor that binds sperm at the beginning of fertilization. The results, published in the journal Cell, will lead to better understanding of infertility and may enable entirely new types of contraceptives.
For centuries, the imagination of people has been grasped by the encounter of gametes â€“ egg and sperm-, whose union gives rise to a new individual. At the beginning of conception, sperm binds to proteins in the extracellular coat of the egg, called zona pellucida (ZP). But the molecular details of this fundamental biological event have so far remained obscure.
Luca Jovineâ€™s research team at Karolinska Institutet has now managed to determine the three-dimensional structure of the receptor molecule that binds sperm, called ZP3 (see press photos). The detailed structural information, based on data collected at the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (ESRF), makes it possible to begin exploring at the molecular level how the egg interacts with sperm at fertilization.
The study suggests which parts of the receptor are likely to be directly contacted by sperm, and provides new insights into how the sperm receptor is assembled and secreted from the egg. The findings have important implications for human reproductive medicine, as they may explain how mutations in the sperm receptor gene could cause infertility. The research could also potentially lead to the design of non-hormonal contraceptives specifically targeting egg-sperm interaction.
â€œThe results give a remarkable picture of the female side of fertilizationâ€, says Luca Jovine, who has led the study. â€œBut this is, of course, only half of the story. The next step will be to tackle the corresponding molecules on sperm that allow it to bind to the egg.â€
The research was performed in collaboration with Prof. Tsukasa Matsuda at Nagoya University, Japan, and Dr. David Flot at the ESRF. It was funded by the Center for Biosciences; the Swedish Research Council; the EU Sixth Framework Programme; the Scandinavia-Japan Sasakawa Foundation; Grant-in-aids from the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science and MEXT; and an EMBO Young Investigator award to Luca Jovine.
- Image Credit: ZP3 molecule Copyright Luca Jovine, Karolinska Institutet
- Full bibliographic informationâ€œInsights into Egg Coat Assembly and Egg-Sperm Interaction from the X-Ray Structure of Full-Length ZP3â€, Ling Han, Magnus MonnÃ©, Hiroki Okumura, Thomas Schwend, Amy L. Cherry, David Flot, Tsukasa Matsuda & Luca Jovine, Cell, 29 October 2010. doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2010.09.041
27 February 2011 Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Jerusalem, February 27, 2011 — Researchers from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the US have discovered the mechanism whereby dangerous mercury eventually finds its way into the fish we eat from the open seas and oceans.
The researchers, Prof. Menachem Luria from the Fredy and Nadine Herrmann Institute of Earth Sciences at the Hebrew University and Dr. Daniel Obrist of the University of Nevada, found that â€œpassiveâ€ mercury normally found in the atmosphere is converted into an â€œactive,â€ oxidized form in the presence of bromine. The passive mercury is generally non-transferable, whereas the active form is readily absorbed into the environment.
The air over the Dead Sea was chosen for the experiments on mercury oxidation â€“ even though it does not contain any fish â€“ since it has unusually high levels of bromine that is emitted from the surface into the atmosphere, converting the mercury there into the oxidized mercury.
â€œIn the world generally, the amount of oxidized mercury in the atmosphere constitutes about one percent of all the mercury in the atmosphere,â€ said Prof. Luria, â€œwhile above the Dead Sea the oxidized mercury often amounts up to about 50 percent.â€
In fact, the bromine in the air over the Dead Sea is 200 times greater than over other bodies of water,Â say the researchers, due not only to the high level of bromine present on the surface but also to the high rate of its evaporation into the atmosphere because of the very high temperatures there. It is important to note, they emphasize, that this process of conversion of passive into active mercury occurs over all bodies of water, even though it may be at much lower levels than at the Dead Sea.
Although health officials in the world have issued warnings from time to time about the danger of mercury found in fish, the process by which the inactive mercury is converted into the active, oxidized form was previously unknown. The current research has now revealed how this occurs, with the resultant introduction of this dangerous, active form of mercury into the fish food chain and ultimately into humans through the consumption of sea food. Â .
The research by Prof. Luria and Obrist was supported by the National Science Foundation of the US, and the results were published in Nature Geoscience Journal. This is the latest of numerous research projects conducted in the Dead Sea area, which serves as a natural laboratory for a long list of biological-chemical and geophysical research projects, commented Prof. Luria.
Full bibliographic information1.Bromine-induced oxidation of mercury in the mid-latitude atmosphere
Daniel Obrist, Eran Tas, Mordechai Peleg, Valeri Matveev, Xavier FaÃ¯n, David Asaf, Menachem Luria
Nature Geoscience 4, 22-26 (28 November 2010) doi:10.1038/ngeo1018 Letter
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