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Chronic pain strongly involves a protein called RGS4

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An important finding regarding chronic pain was made by a group of researchers from the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. In their study, published in the Journal of Neuroscience, the researchers explain that they discovered a protein called RGS4 (Regulator of G protein Signaling 4) that plays a very important role in maintaining chronic pain.

The transition from acute pain to chronic pain occurs through adaptations in the immune cells, in the glial and in the neuronal ones, changes that at the moment are not completely understood. It is precisely this lack of understanding that underlies the failure of many chronic pain medications which can also cause side effects. The only drugs that seem to actually work are opioids but these can cause serious long-term side effects.

This new discovery, which the researchers themselves refer to as “exciting”, could instead be very useful for creating new drugs that target this protein to stop chronic pain. As Venetia Zachariou, a professor at Mount Sinai explains, the RGS4 protein appears to strongly contribute to the transition from acute to pathologic/chronic pain.

The experiments, in this case, were carried out on mice: the researchers used genetically modified mice in which the action of the RGS4 protein was deactivated. This deactivation did not affect acute pain or the induction of chronic pain itself but the mice themselves recovered within three weeks.

The researchers also tried to reduce the expression of RGS4 in a particular area of ​​the brain and this caused recovery from mechanical and cold allodynia. Now researchers are trying to study the influence of RGS4 also in other areas of the body such as the spinal cord or in other areas of the brain that regulate mood.

William Stiff

A graduate of Georgia State University and a registered practitioner with the Physical Therapy Association of Georgia, William has held a long career as a physical therapist and has maintained a life-long interest in medical research and discovery. He writes for Health Shiner during his spare time, submitting a story whenever he comes across research that he feels is worth reporting. Outside of his career, William is also a passionate woodworker and painter.

3286 Heavner Avenue, Conyers Georgia, 30207
Ph: 770-785-5619
Email: [email protected]
William Stiff
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Medical Research

Deaf people have “rewired” brains that influence learning according to a new study

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According to a new study published in Nature Scientific Reports, the brains of people with congenital deafness can develop differently and this can influence the ways in which these same people learn to learn. This study, according to the same researchers, may prove useful precisely to develop new methods of teaching “tailor-made” for all people who have never had the opportunity to use hearing during their existence.

According to Colin Johnson, a researcher at the College of Science of the State University of Oregon, people who are born deaf can have a life that is severely compromised even with regards to school and teaching in general. Often these people, in fact, as specified by the researcher, generally fail to reach an adequate level of education and this leads to cascade to other consequences that certainly do not improve the standard of living.

Researchers have discovered that it is a particular protein mutation that causes hearing loss and that it can also alter the wiring of different groups of neurons. The protein, known as otoferlina, has the sole task of encoding the sound in the sensory hair cells that are found in the inner ear.

If this protein undergoes a genetic modification, total hearing loss can occur. This mutation weakens the link between the protein and a calcium synapse in the ear and this lack of interaction is the basis of hearing loss.

Studying this protein in humans has always been difficult due to its size and due to the fact that it is characterized by low solubility. That is why Johnson and colleagues have studied zebrafish that share a similarity in genetic, molecular and cellular levels with humans.

Thanks to these studies, the researcher has discovered a smaller version of the otoferlina that could be used for gene therapy but only in those brains that have not yet undergone a complete rewiring such as that of adults.

“If you grow up without that protein, it’s not just a matter of replacing the gene. If you are deaf and grow deaf, it seems that the physical wiring of your brain is a little different. This complicates the goal of doing gene therapy. We need to go further and look at these hair cells and the brain itself. Does the brain process information differently? This is an area we need to focus on,” explains Johnson.

William Stiff

A graduate of Georgia State University and a registered practitioner with the Physical Therapy Association of Georgia, William has held a long career as a physical therapist and has maintained a life-long interest in medical research and discovery. He writes for Health Shiner during his spare time, submitting a story whenever he comes across research that he feels is worth reporting. Outside of his career, William is also a passionate woodworker and painter.

3286 Heavner Avenue, Conyers Georgia, 30207
Ph: 770-785-5619
Email: [email protected]
William Stiff
Continue Reading

Medical Research

Ghrelin can increase the urge to exercise according to a new discovery

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As some researchers have observed when performing experiments on mice, limiting access to food can increase the levels of a particular hormone, called ghrelin, and this in turn can increase the motivation to exercise, something that naturally leads, in a chain effect, slimming.

In the study, published in the Journal of Endocrinology, it is described how the increase in the level of this hormone pushed mice to voluntarily start exercising or physical activity. This finding, according to the same researchers, could lead, through the limitation of food intake or through the so-called “intermittent fasting,” overweight people to be encouraged to exercise more.

On the other hand, the restriction of food the same regular exercise are the two main ways and the most economic strategies to prevent and treat obesity, a sort of global “epidemic” that requires much more effective intervention strategies. However, adhering to a regular training regime can be difficult for many because motivation is lacking.

This hormone, also called the “hunger hormone,” can not only stimulate the appetite but, as demonstrated by Yuji Tajiri and colleagues from the Kurume University medical school, Japan, it can also stimulate the same desire to exercise. The mice genetically modified in the laboratory for not having ghrelin of their body, in fact, ran less than the control mice, which instead had normal ghrelin levels.

According to Tajiri, the results achieved by this study indicate “that hunger, which promotes ghrelin production, could also be involved in increasing motivation to voluntary exercise when nutrition is limited. Therefore, maintaining a healthy diet, with regular meals or fasting, could also encourage motivation for exercising in overweight people.”

William Stiff

A graduate of Georgia State University and a registered practitioner with the Physical Therapy Association of Georgia, William has held a long career as a physical therapist and has maintained a life-long interest in medical research and discovery. He writes for Health Shiner during his spare time, submitting a story whenever he comes across research that he feels is worth reporting. Outside of his career, William is also a passionate woodworker and painter.

3286 Heavner Avenue, Conyers Georgia, 30207
Ph: 770-785-5619
Email: [email protected]
William Stiff
Continue Reading

Medical Research

Exposure to sunlight can modify intestinal microbiome

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Exposure of the skin to ultraviolet light from the sun can modify the intestinal microbiome according to a new study published in Frontiers in Microbiology. To mediate this change would be vitamin D and this would also explain the protective effect of ultraviolet light itself with regard to inflammatory bowel diseases.

It is well known that exposure to sunlight gives greater production of vitamin D in the skin. It is known, however, through studies published in recent years, also that the same greater quantity of vitamin D can alter the human intestinal microbiome. It follows that solar radiation on the skin can change the human intestinal microbiome but this has only been shown in rodents. This new study shows that this effect is also real for humans.

The researchers performed experiments on 21 healthy volunteer women. The 21 patients underwent three one-minute ultraviolet exposure sessions throughout the body for a week. Throughout the treatment, stool samples were taken and intestinal bacteria were analyzed. Blood samples were also taken to analyze vitamin D levels. The researchers discovered that the exposure of the skin to ultraviolet rays significantly increased the intestinal microbial diversity and this happened only in those people who had not taken vitamin D supplements in the course of experiments.

As explained by Bruce Vallance, a researcher at the University of British Columbia who led the study, exposure to UVB rays increased the richness and uniformity of the subjects’ microbiome. Before exposure to rays, women who did not take supplements showed a less diversified intestinal microbiome than women who already took vitamin D supplements. Among the bacteria that increased the most were the Lachnospiraceae, a genus of bacteria already previously linked with vitamin D.

“UVB light is able to modulate the composition of the intestinal microbiome in humans, through the synthesis of vitamin D,” says Vallance. Now researchers would like to discover the underlying causes but according to Vallance, it is likely that exposure to UVB light somehow affects the immune system of the skin and this, in turn, has a favorable influence on the intestinal environment for different species of bacteria.

William Stiff

A graduate of Georgia State University and a registered practitioner with the Physical Therapy Association of Georgia, William has held a long career as a physical therapist and has maintained a life-long interest in medical research and discovery. He writes for Health Shiner during his spare time, submitting a story whenever he comes across research that he feels is worth reporting. Outside of his career, William is also a passionate woodworker and painter.

3286 Heavner Avenue, Conyers Georgia, 30207
Ph: 770-785-5619
Email: [email protected]
William Stiff
Continue Reading
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