News and Notes January 2023

January Newsletter 2023

Zinc reverses lung damage and significantly improves patient survival

Zinc may reverse lung damage and improve survival for patients with a deadly age-related condition (often affecting those over age 50) known as idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF). As published in The Journal of Clinical Investigation, this discovery has the potential to change the landscape of treatment for patients with this disease. Paul Noble, MD, chair of the Department of Medicine, director of the Women’sGuild Lung Institute and co-senior author of the study: ‘We identified a root cause of IPF-related lung damage and a potential therapeutic target that might restore the lungs’ ability to heal themselves.' IPF, which leads to scarring of the lungs, called fibrosis, and progressive breathing difficulty, has no cure, and most patients die or require a lung transplant within three to five years of diagnosis.

What they found is that stem cells lining the air sacs in the lungs of patients with IPF lose their ability to process zinc, which is known to have a role in the growth of cells and healing damaged tissue. lack of zinc impairs the ability for the alveolar epithelial cells (AEC2s) to regenerate. They discovered the cells from IPF lungs were missing a protein called zinc transporter 8 (ZIP8), which draws zinc into the cell.


Reshaping the gut microbiome to prevent or treat neurodegeneration

We know about the gut-brain axis and that our microbiome have far-reaching effects on how our bodies function. Our microbial community produce vitamins, help us digest food, prevent the overgrowth of harmful bacteria and regulate the immune system, among other benefits. A new study published in the journal Science, suggests that the gut microbiome also plays a key role in the health of our brains. ‘We gave young mice antibiotics for just a week, and we saw a permanent change in their gut microbiomes, their immune responses, and how much neurodegeneration related to a protein called tau they experienced with age,' said neurology professor David M. Holtzman, Washington University School of Medicine. Manipulating the gut microbiome with probiotics, for example, could be a way to have an effect on the brain without putting anything directly into the brain.

News and Notes January 2023

Cannabis for pain management

According to a new study published in JAMA Network Open, almost a third of patients with chronic pain reported using cannabis to manage it. Using cannabis led them to decrease the use of pain medications, including prescription opioids and over-the-counter analgesics. We need more research on the benefits and risk of using cannabis for chronic pain.

News and Notes January 2023

We need to pay attention to the link between ADHD and mental health

Adults with ADHD symptoms are more likely to experience anxiety and depression than those with high levels of autistic traits, according to new research led by psychologists at the University of Bath in the UK. ADHD is characterised by inattention and/or hyperactivity and impulsivity and is estimated to affect between 3% and 9% of the population.

Lead researcher, Luca Hargitai, said: ‘Scientists have long known that autism is linked to anxiety and depression, but ADHD has been somewhat neglected.'

News and Notes January 2023

Brain ageing is related to inflammation

Researchers used an imaging method known as MERFISH (Multiplexed Error Robust Fluorescence In Situ Hybridization), to study biological systems. With MERFISH, one can look not only at changes in gene expression across different ages, but also in particular cell types, related to their spatial relationship. The study revealed that ageing and inflammation affected how genes were expressed by cells. ‘Aging is associated with impairment in cognition, which is directly linked to neuronal function. But if many of the changes occur in non-neuronal cells, then we may have identified a multistep process in which inflammation primarily affects non-neuronal cells, which in turn leads to impairments in neuronal function' said cellular biologist Catherine Dulac. These results provide critical insights into age-related decline and inflammation in the brain.

New research published in The Journal of Physiology shows that a short but intense bout of cycling (high-intensity exercise) increases the production of a specialised protein that is essential for brain formation, learning and memory, and could protect the brain from age-related cognitive decline.

Source: The Physiological Society

News and Notes January 2023

AI can hear alcohol in voice

New artificial intelligence (AI) algorithm technology can instantly determine whether a person is above the legal alcohol limit by analyzing a 12-second clip of their voice. A test that could simply rely on someone speaking into a microphone would be a game changer. Imagine getting into your car, that will only switch on with voice recognition software – and it won't start because you are under the influence! I think this is wonderful. They need to work on the accuracy that is at 70% at the moment. This may disallow humans to enter sports stadiums and music concerts…

News and Notes January 2023

A 28% higher risk of developing dementia

Social connections are increasingly understood as a critical factor for the health of individuals as they age. New research published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society indicates that being socially isolated (versus not socially isolated) was associated with a 28% higher risk of developing dementia over 9 years, regardless of race or ethnicity. This is a wakeup call for all of us to be more thoughtful of the role of social connections on our cognitive health.

News and Notes January 2023

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