News and Notes from Around the World
Drugless dissolvable implant for pain
In our last issue we featured cannabis as an alternative to opioids for pain relief. Now a team of researchers has developed a small, soft, flexible implant that relieves pain on demand and without the use of drugs. The first-of-its-kind device could provide a much-needed alternative to opioids and other highly addictive medications. The biocompatible, water-soluble device works by softly wrapping around nerves to deliver precise, targeted cooling, which numbs nerves and blocks pain signals to the brain.
Just looking at food, can trigger inflammation
Talking about microglial cells, the smell and sight of a meal stimulate these cells and interleukin 1 beta (IL-1β) is secreted, which in turn affects the autonomic nervous system via the vagus nerve. As published in the journal Cell Metabolism, IL-1β is responsible for a considerable proportion of normal insulin secretion in healthy individuals and it’s also involved in the development of type 2 diabetes. Significantly, obesity impairs insulin release and dysregulate IL-1β signaling.
Patterns of brain connectivity predicts age
A study, published in Psychology and Aging, shows that the connectivity between certain brain regions can predict people’s chronological age with a high level of accuracy. Brain connectivity is a function of healthy aging. The differences in cognitive functioning among people of different ages are well documented.
Anti-anxiety drugs can alter the complex wiring of the brain
A study published in Nature Neuroscience sheds light on the mechanism by which anti-anxiety drugs, such as diazepam, act on the brain and could lead to cognitive impairment in vulnerable individuals. The study suggested that anti-anxiety drugs (benzodiazepines), did not act on nerve cells directly but on microglial cells (cells of the brain’s own intrinsic immune system). The microglial cells directly participate in the overall functional integrity of the brain and chronic use of anti-anxiety medication alters this function and could promote disease-specific pathological changes in the brain.
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