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Researchers create “super mice” resistant to disease and ageing

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A group of researchers from the Spanish National Center for Cancer Research (CNIO) claims to have succeeded in creating in the laboratory the first mice born with telomers much longer than the average of their species. Telomeres are regions that are located at the ends of the chromosome and have the function of protecting the latter from deterioration or from fusion with neighboring chromosomes. Telomeres become shorter and smaller as we get older and one of the scientists’ goals is to make them stay the same length or to make them longer just to counteract the aging phenomenon.

In a new study, published in Nature Communications, the researchers found that mice with longer telomeres lived longer and with better health, free from diseases such as cancer and obesity. This research is very important, according to the authors, also because in this case the longevity of the mice was increased without resorting to genetic modifications. According to Maria Blasco, CNIO researcher and one of the authors of the study, genes are not the only alternative to consider when talking about longevity: “There is scope to prolong life without altering genes.”

And since the shortening of the telomeres themselves is considered one of the main causes of aging in mammals, it is therefore possible to work with their shortening to increase the life span and make its course better, and this is what happened with mice in the Spanish laboratory, becoming “super mice” who lived longer and in better health.

The methods used so far to alter the length of telomeres have always been based on the alteration of the expression of genes. The method used by the Spanish group is instead based on a therapy that favors the synthesis of telomerase. The researchers obtained hyper-long telomeres in 100% of mouse cells. The latter showed that they had fewer tumors and lived longer. They also showed other positive qualities: they accumulated less fat and were leaner and showed lower metabolic aging with lower levels of bad cholesterol and better tolerance to insulin and glucose.

In general, the damage done by aging to their DNA was less and the mitochondria worked better. These are unprecedented results that show that telomeres longer than normal are not only not harmful but have beneficial effects and delay metabolic age.

Tracey Johnson

Tracey was a Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM) before retiring in 2015 to spend more time with her husband and two sons. In February of 2019 she came up with the idea of starting an online news journal reporting on the latest medical advances, and very shortly afterwards, Health Shiner was born.

3428 Counts Lane, West Hartford, Connecticut 06105
Ph: 860-231-3066
Email: [email protected]
Tracey Johnson
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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.

Tracey Johnson

Tracey was a Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM) before retiring in 2015 to spend more time with her husband and two sons. In February of 2019 she came up with the idea of starting an online news journal reporting on the latest medical advances, and very shortly afterwards, Health Shiner was born.

3428 Counts Lane, West Hartford, Connecticut 06105
Ph: 860-231-3066
Email: [email protected]
Tracey Johnson
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.”

Tracey Johnson

Tracey was a Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM) before retiring in 2015 to spend more time with her husband and two sons. In February of 2019 she came up with the idea of starting an online news journal reporting on the latest medical advances, and very shortly afterwards, Health Shiner was born.

3428 Counts Lane, West Hartford, Connecticut 06105
Ph: 860-231-3066
Email: [email protected]
Tracey Johnson
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.

Tracey Johnson

Tracey was a Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM) before retiring in 2015 to spend more time with her husband and two sons. In February of 2019 she came up with the idea of starting an online news journal reporting on the latest medical advances, and very shortly afterwards, Health Shiner was born.

3428 Counts Lane, West Hartford, Connecticut 06105
Ph: 860-231-3066
Email: [email protected]
Tracey Johnson
Continue Reading
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