Diabetes: scientists discover new possible therapy to limit insulin collateral damage

A protein that can act as a regulator of blood sugar and lipids under certain conditions has been identified by a group of researchers at the University of Geneva (UNIGE). The protein, called S100A9, could counteract the side effects of insulin given to diabetics.

The study, published in Nature Communications, mentions what could be a new treatment for diabetes and in general to significantly improve the quality of daily life of tens of millions of people. In fact, millions of people have to use insulin injections for both type 1 and type 2 diabetes. Any overdose can trigger hypoglycemia, the drop in blood glucose levels, while an overdose can lead to hyperglycemia.

By performing experiments on mice, the scientists found that by administering doses of S100A9 to diabetic deficient insulin-deficient rats, improved glucose management and better ketone and lipid control were achieved. They then discovered that this protein appears to work only when there is TLR4, a receptor placed on the membrane of certain cells, including adipocytes and cells of the immune system.

Now Roberto Coppari, one of the authors of the study together with Giorgio Ramadori, intends to understand with his team how the S100A9 protein works. In this regard, they are devising a new treatment that combines low doses of insulin and S100A9 to determine whether glucose and ketones can be better controlled and limit the same negative side effect as insulin.

“We also want to decipher the exact role of TLR4 in order to offer a therapeutic strategy that achieves the delicate balance between optimal blood glucose, ketones and lipid control,” explains Coppari himself.

Oxytocin in babies is influenced by the behaviour of the mother

A new study analyzes the development of oxytocin in the body of children, a development that can be influenced by the behavior of mothers themselves. Oxytocin is an important hormone linked mainly to social interaction and plays this role in many mammals. This same hormone, as reported in the press release presenting the study on the Max Planck Society website, elaborates trust levels and relationships and can also be triggered with a simple visual contact or a touch.

In the new epigenetic study, conducted by researchers Kathleen Krol and Jessica Connelly of the University of Virginia and Tobias Grossmann of the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Cerebral Sciences, researchers show that mothers’ behavior itself can have a significant influence on the development of oxytocin in children.

As Grossmann himself explains, it is already known that oxytocin is involved in the first social processes of the child and may in the long run also influence social behavior later, the more complex ones. The researcher himself explains the meaning of the research they produced: “However, in this study, we asked ourselves whether the mother’s behavior could have a decisive influence on the development of the child’s oxytocin system. The advances in molecular biology, in particular epigenetics, have recently allowed us to study the interaction between nature and breeding, in this case, the care of children, down to the smallest detail. This is exactly what we did here.”

The researchers analyzed various saliva samples taken from the mother and child when he was five months old and then a year later when he was 18 months, all while observing free play interactions between the mothers and the children themselves. According to Krol, the results show that “The oxytocin receptor is essential for the hormone oxytocin to exert its effects and the gene can determine how many are produced.”

In general, the results of this study show that people do not interact with each other simply based on genetics but that the same interaction is based on a balance between genetics and experiences. This means that the first social interactions that the child may have, even with a breeder who is not a parent, can strongly influence biological and psychological development through changes in oxytocin.

Osteoarthritis increases risk of social isolation according to new study

Osteoarthritis may be an important factor in increasing social isolation, especially in the elderly, according to a new study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. The researchers used data from 2942 adults aged 65 to 85 from Italy, Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden, Spain and the United Kingdom. Half of the participants were women and 30% of the participants had arthritis.

The data mainly concerned questionnaires addressed to the participants with questions regarding their social connections and how many times they met friends or family. The researchers noted that the participants in the survey at least risk of social isolation were the younger ones, with higher incomes and higher education levels. The latter also showed greater chances of being more physically active, having a better level of walking and generally of better health.

However, they noted that of the 1585 survey participants who were not initially considered socially isolated, 13% became socially isolated from 12 to 18 months later and above all this occurred parallel to the increase in arthrosis and related pain. This led these patients to be less visually active, to have a worse walking time, to have a greater risk of depression and more problems in making decisions.

According to the researchers, arthrosis increases the risk of social isolation as well as increasing the risk of other diseases. And given that the same social isolation can worsen general health, researchers believe that older people who suffer from arthritis could benefit more than others from participating in social activities.

Longer hormone therapy associated with better cognitive status in women

Increasingly the emphasis has been on reducing estrogen levels during the transition to menopause with regard to general brain health, especially cognitive function. To counteract this reduction, more and more often, so-called “hormonal therapy” is used. A new study, published in Menopause, suggests a longer window regarding the use of hormone therapy.

It is suspected, among other things, that estrogens may play a role in raising the risk of Alzheimer’s in women considering that, for example, two-thirds of 5.5 million cases of Alzheimer’s in the United States are women. In addition, previous studies have highlighted the role of estrogen in learning and memory.

In this new study, researchers analyzed data from 2000 post-menopausal women followed for 12 years. The results showed, according to the press release that presented the study, that increased exposure to estrogen could be linked to a better state of cognition in adult women. Furthermore, the researchers discovered that those women who started hormone therapy first showed scores, in cognitive tests, higher than those women who started such therapy later.

Stephanie Faubion, medical director of the North American Menopause Society (NAMS), comments on these findings in the press release: “Although the assessment of the risk-benefit ratio of hormone therapy use is complicated and must be customized, this study provides further evidence of the beneficial cognitive effects of hormone therapy, particularly when started immediately after menopause. This study also highlights the potential effect of early estrogen deprivation on cognitive health in the context of premature or early menopause without adequate estrogen replacement.”

Oral vitamin D spray as effective as tablets according to a new study

In an attempt to understand the efficacy of oral vitamin sprays, a research group from the University of Sheffield performed a clinical study on various subjects. The study, published later in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, concludes that the spray method for taking vitamin D is as effective as the ingestion of a tablet.

During the experiments, the volunteers took vitamin D for six weeks. All achieved adequate levels of vitamin D after only three weeks of using the oral spray, even those patients who were most lacking, as specified by Bernard Corfe, professor of molecular gastroenterology and lead author of the study.

“There is now a greater awareness of the need for people to integrate their vitamin D level, but only about 40% of adults in the UK have sufficient levels. So this research is an opportunity to highlight the importance of this vitamin, which is essential in supporting general health and providing a valuable alternative source for those who may have difficulty or prefer not to take tablets,” says the researcher in the press release that presents research.

Taking vitamins through an oral spray can be very useful for those people who have problems with swallowing, problems that can arise even for medical conditions, and that cannot swallow various tablets. There are also children among those who may find problems taking tablets. This study shows that oral spray is just as effective for raising levels of vitamin D.

Birth weight related to the risk of childhood allergies, according to study

According to a study produced by researcher Kathy Gatford of the Robinson Research Institute of the University of Adelaide, the greater the weight of the child at birth compared to the gestational period, the greater the risk of food allergies and eczema.

To reach this conclusion, the researchers analyzed 15,000 previous studies mostly from European countries. This is data related to millions of allergic people and researchers have focused mostly on data on children. Specifically, Gatford and colleagues analyzed the links between birth weight and the incidence of allergic diseases in children and adults.

According to the researcher, for every pound of weight gain at birth there was a 44% increase in the child’s risk of incurring food allergies and a 17% increase in incurring eczema. There were no connections with hay fever.

According to the doctor, those children who showed limited intrauterine growth seemed to be protected, once born, from the development of allergic responses. However, these same children saw their risks of developing other diseases later in life increase.

“It is increasingly clear that genetics alone does not explain the risks of developing allergies and that environmental exposures before and around birth can plan people for an increase or a reduction in the risk of allergies”, explains the researcher who adds: “We do not want small children, but we would like to understand how much less or slower growth before birth is protective against allergies.”

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