Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Human skin cells hide circadian clock - health - 28 January 2008 - New Scientist

Human skin cells hide circadian clock - health - 28 January 2008 - New Scientist

An internal clock hidden in human skin cells could reveal whether your body clock is out of sync with your lifestyle, say researchers.

Steven Brown of the University of Zurich in Switzerland and his colleagues knew that the brain’s circadian clock causes a gene called Bmal1 to be more active in the body’s other cells during the daytime.

To find out how closely matched this activity was, they used a virus to equip skin cells taken from 11 early-rising people dubbed "larks" and 17 late-rising "owls" with a firefly gene that would produce a visible glow whenever Bmal1 was active. “The result is light coming out of the cell in a 24-hour rhythm,” says Brown.

By monitoring the times when the cells glowed, they demonstrated that skin cells showed the same sleep-wake patterns as those reported in questionnaires by at least half the donors.

There were discrepancies too, however, most notably in three individuals with seasonal affective disorder. This suggested that skin biopsies might be useful for diagnosing sleep and circadian disorders.

“Knowing that skin clocks ‘tick’ in the same way as brain clocks provides a nice tool to address whether a person is likely to be an early or late riser,” says Russell Foster, a circadian rhythm specialist at the University of Oxford, UK.

“It’s remarkable that measures from the skin allow predictions of brain-driven behaviour,” he adds.

Scientists discover way to reverse loss of memory - Science, News - Independent.co.uk

Scientists discover way to reverse loss of memory - Science, News - Independent.co.uk

Scientists performing experimental brain surgery on a man aged 50 have stumbled across a mechanism that could unlock how memory works.

The accidental breakthrough came during an experiment originally intended to suppress the obese man's appetite, using the increasingly successful technique of deep-brain stimulation. Electrodes were pushed into the man's brain and stimulated with an electric current. Instead of losing appetite, the patient instead had an intense experience of déjà vu. He recalled, in intricate detail, a scene from 30 years earlier. More tests showed his ability to learn was dramatically improved when the current was switched on and his brain stimulated.

Scientists are now applying the technique in the first trial of the treatment in patients with Alzheimer's disease. If successful, it could offer hope to sufferers from the degenerative condition, which affects 450,000 people in Britain alone, by providing a "pacemaker" for the brain.

Three patients have been treated and initial results are promising, according to Andres Lozano, a professor of neurosurgery at the Toronto Western Hospital, Ontario, who is leading the research.

Professor Lozano said: "This is the first time that anyone has had electrodes implanted in the brain which have been shown to improve memory. We are driving the activity of the brain by increasing its sensitivity – turning up the volume of the memory circuits. Any event that involves the memory circuits is more likely to be stored and retained."

The discovery had caught him and his team "completely by surprise", Professor Lozano said. They had been operating on the man, who weighed 190kg (30st), to treat his obesity by locating the point in his brain that controls appetite. All other attempts to curb his eating had failed and brain surgery was the last resort.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Science Centric | News | Cutting caffeine may help control diabetes

Science Centric | News | Cutting caffeine may help control diabetes

Daily consumption of caffeine in coffee, tea or soft drinks increases blood sugar levels for people with type 2 diabetes and may undermine efforts to control their disease, say scientists at Duke University Medical Centre.

Researchers used new technology that measured participants’ glucose (sugar) levels on a constant basis throughout the day. Dr James Lane, a psychologist at Duke and the lead author of the study, says it represents the first time researchers have been able to track the impact of caffeine consumption as patients go about their normal, everyday lives.

The findings, appearing in the February issue of Diabetes Care, add more weight to a growing body of research suggesting that eliminating caffeine from the diet might be a good way to manage blood sugar levels.

Lane studied 10 patients with established type 2 diabetes and who drank at least two cups of coffee every day and who were trying to manage their disease through diet, exercise and oral medications, but no extra insulin. Each had a tiny glucose monitor embedded under their abdominal skin that continuously monitored their glucose levels over a 72-hour period.

Participants took capsules containing caffeine equal to about four cups of coffee on one day and then identical capsules that contained a placebo on another day. Everyone had the same nutrition drink for breakfast, but were free to eat whatever they liked for lunch and dinner.

The researchers found that when the participants consumed caffeine, their average daily sugar levels went up 8 per cent. Caffeine also exaggerated the rise in glucose after meals: increasing by 9 percent after breakfast, 15 percent after lunch and 26 per cent after dinner.

‘We’re not sure what it is about caffeine that drives glucose levels up, but we have a couple of theories,’ says Lane, who is the lead author of the study. ‘It could be that caffeine interferes with the process that moves glucose from the blood and into muscle and other cells in the body where it is used for fuel. It may also be that caffeine triggers the release of adrenaline — the ‘fight or flight’ hormone that we know can also boost sugar levels.’

Either way, he says, the higher sugar levels that result from caffeine are bad news for diabetic patients.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Scientific American Has Second Thoughts About Fluoride

Scientific American Has Second Thoughts About Fluoride

Editors for Scientific American believe recent studies suggest that fluoride raises the risks of disorders affecting teeth, bones, the brain and the thyroid gland, and in general “scientific attitudes” about fluoridation may be shifting.

"Fluoride, the most consumed drug in the USA, is deliberately added to 2/3 of public water supplies theoretically to reduce tooth decay, but with no scientifically-valid evidence proving safety or effectiveness," says lawyer Paul Beeber, president of the New York State Coalition Opposed to Fluoridation.

Meanwhile, according to environmental reporter and director of New York University's Science, Health and Environmental Reporting Program Dan Fagin, "There is no universally accepted optimal level for daily intake of fluoride."

After analyzing hundreds of fluoride studies, researchers found that fluoride:

* Alters endocrine function, especially in the thyroid
* Causes dental fluorosis in young children
* May lower IQ
* May increase the risk of bone fractures

Because scientific evidence suggests that water fluoridation is ineffective and dangerous to health, over 1,200 professional are now urging Congress to stop water fluoridation.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Snoozing Worms Help Explain Evolution Of Sleep

Snoozing Worms Help Explain Evolution Of Sleep

Snoozing Worms Help Explain Evolution Of Sleep

ScienceDaily (Jan. 15, 2008) — The roundworm C. elegans, a staple of laboratory research, may be key in unlocking one of the central biological mysteries: why we sleep. Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine report in the January 11 advanced online edition of Nature that the round worm has a sleep-like state, joining most of the animal kingdom in displaying this physiology. This research has implications for explaining the evolution and purpose of sleep and sleep-like states in animals.

In addition, genetic work associated with the study provides new prospects for the use of C. elegans to identify sleep-regulatory genes and drug targets for sleep disorders.

First author David M. Raizen, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor of Neurology, in collaboration with other researchers at the Penn Center for Sleep, showed that there is a period of behavioral quiescence during the worm's development called lethargus that has sleep-like properties. "Just as humans are less responsive during sleep, so is the worm during lethargus," explains Raizen. "And, just as humans fall asleep faster and sleep deeper following sleep deprivation, so does the worm."

By demonstrating that worms sleep, Raizen and colleagues have not only demonstrated the ubiquity of sleep in nature, but also propose a compelling hypothesis for the purpose for sleep.

Because the time of lethargus coincides with a time in the round worms' life cycle when synaptic changes occur in the nervous system, they propose that sleep is a state required for nervous system plasticity. In other words, in order for the nervous system to grow and change, there must be down time of active behavior. Other researchers at Penn have shown that, in mammals, synaptic changes occur during sleep and that deprivation of sleep results in a disruption of these synaptic changes.

Atkins - Long Term Effects of a Ketogenic Diet in Obese Patients

Atkins - Long Term Effects of a Ketogenic Diet in Obese Patients

OBJECTIVE: To determine the effects of a 24-week ketogenic diet (consisting of 30 g carbohydrate, 1 g/kg body weight protein, 20% saturated fat, and 80% polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fat) in obese patients.

PATIENTS AND METHODS: In the present study, 83 obese patients (39 men and 44 women) with a body mass index greater than 35 kg/m2, and high glucose and cholesterol levels were selected. The body weight, body mass index, total cholesterol, low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, high density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, triglycerides, fasting blood sugar, urea and creatinine levels were determined before and after the administration of the ketogenic diet. Changes in these parameters were monitored after eight, 16 and 24 weeks of treatment.

RESULTS: The weight and body mass index of the patients decreased significantly (P<0.0001). The level of total cholesterol decreased from week 1 to week 24. HDL cholesterol levels significantly increased, whereas LDL cholesterol levels significantly decreased after treatment. The level of triglycerides decreased significantly following 24 weeks of treatment. The level of blood glucose significantly decreased. The changes in the level of urea and creatinine were not statistically significant.

CONCLUSIONS: The present study shows the beneficial effects of a long-term ketogenic diet. It significantly reduced the body weight and body mass index of the patients. Furthermore, it decreased the level of triglycerides, LDL cholesterol and blood glucose, and increased the level of HDL cholesterol. Administering a ketogenic diet for a relatively longer period of time did not produce any significant side effects in the patients. Therefore, the present study confirms that it is safe to use a ketogenic diet for a longer period of time than previously demonstrated.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Ketogenic diet to reduce hunger, diabetes and obesity. It is known that intake of monounsaturated fat increases the

Ketogenic diet to reduce hunger, diabetes and obesity.

The premise of the ketogenic diet is to lower endogenous insulin levels and promote the use of body fat as fuel. During partial fasting with carbohydrate restriction, insulin declines, and glucagon increases. This shift in the insulin-to-glucagon ratio results in mobilization of free fatty acids from adipose tissue, increased mobilization of amino acids from muscle, and increased fatty acid oxidation by the liver.

Strict use of a ketogenic diet high in fats and extremely low in carbohydrates is sometimes used for treatment of refractory epilepsy, and is effective about half of the time. It has been suggested that a ketogenic diet might be used as a mood stabilizer in affective disorders. A report published in the peer-reviewed, open access journal Nutrition and Metabolism, showed that a brain protein, amyloid-beta, which is an indicator of Alzheimer's disease, is reduced in mice on the so-called ketogenic diet.

Results from a Mayo Clinic study that analyzed medical records of epilepsy patients also suggest a ketogenic diet, which mimics the effects of starvation, can be successfully implemented with children on an outpatient basis.

A low-carbohydrate ketogenic with fish, borage and flaxseed oil supplementation led to weight loss, a reduction in VLDL, and increase in HDL-cholesterol and a change from small to large LDL cholesterol. Due to these favorable effects on weight, VLDL and HDL, this approach may be useful to treat the metabolic syndrome.

A important comparative study shown that subjects on a low-carbohydrate diet lost more weight and had greater improvements in the triglyceride concentration and insulin sensitivity than those on a low-fat diet. These metabolic benefits were clinically meaningful and occurred independently of weight loss; an exparts at Philadelphia Veterans Affairs Medical Center.

Study confirms that symptoms of negative affect and hunger improved to a greater degree in patients following an low-carbohydrate, ketogenic diet (LCKD) compared with those following an low-fat diet (LFD) and significant improvement of weight loss.

Individual research confirmed that the ketogenic very low diet (VLCD) is very effective, in the short term, for treating obese adolescents with type 2 diabetes.

Another study directed by the Mount Sinai School of Medicine suggests a ketogenic- high caloric diet may prevent the progression of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS).This may be due to the ability of ketone bodies to promote ATP synthesis and bypass inhibition of complex I in the mitochondrial respiratory chain.

When the diet is extremely low in starches and sugars, blood sugar levels drop substantially so that muscle and brain have to turn to alternative fuels. Consequently, fatty acids are broken down in the liver and converted to ketones, which then serve as a major fuel source. Diets that limit carbohydrates and eliminate transfats, and at the same time emphasize fiber and good fats, appear to be healthiest, especially among individuals who are predisposed to developing diabetes.

Researchers at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) have demonstrate that a liver hormone known as FGF21 is required to oxidize fatty acids -- and thereby burn calories. Diets that limit carbohydrates and eliminate transfats, and at the same time emphasize fiber and good fats, appear to be healthiest, especially among individuals who are predisposed to developing diabetes"; they stated.

Compared with a low-fat diet, a low-carbohydrate diet program had better participant retention and greater weight loss. During active weight loss, serum triglyceride levels decreased more and high-density lipoprotein cholesterol level increased more with the low-carbohydrate diet than with the low-fat diet; according to Pub Med.

Scientists at Aberdeen's Rowett Research Institute have shown that a high protein, low carbohydrate diet is most effective at reducing hunger and promoting weight loss, at least in the short term. Their work has just been published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Healthy, obese men were given two different diets during their stay in the Rowett's specialised Human Nutrition Unit. Both diets had a high protein content (30% of total energy value of the diet) but they differed in the amount of carbohydrate: One diet was low in carbohydrate (4%) and the other contained a moderate amount of carbohydrate (35% total energy value).

"Our volunteers found both diets to be equally palatable, but they felt less hungry on the high-protein low-carbohydrate diet compared with the diet which contained high-protein but moderate amounts of carbohydrate," said Dr Alex Johnstone, the Rowett's weight-loss expert who led the study.

"Weight loss during the two four week study periods was greater on the high-protein low-carbohydrate diet, averaging 6.3 kg per person, compared with 4.3 kg on the moderate carbohydrate diet," said Dr Johnstone.

"In this study, we showed that on the high-protein low-carbohydrate diet the volunteers became ketogenic within 1-2 days of starting this diet and so it may be that high-protein, low-carbohydrate diets are particularly effective because of the combined effect of the protein and the ketone bodies," said Dr Johnstone.

"We showed that the volunteers on the ketogenic diet reduced their energy intake without increasing their hunger and this was a very important factor in their ability to stick to the diet."

The ketogenic diet may have mood-stabilizing prope...[Med Hypotheses. 2001] - PubMed Result

The ketogenic diet may have mood-stabilizing prope...[Med Hypotheses. 2001] - PubMed Result

The ketogenic diet may have mood-stabilizing properties.
El-Mallakh RS, Paskitti ME.

Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, University of Louisville School of Medicine, Kentucky 40292, USA.

The ketogenic diet, originally introduced in the 1920s, has been undergoing a recent resurgence as an adjunctive treatment for refractory epilepsy, particularly in children. In this difficult-to-treat population, the diet exhibits remarkable efficacy with two-thirds showing significant reduction in seizure frequency and one-third becoming nearly seizure-free. There are several reasons to suspect that the ketogenic diet may also have utility as a mood stabilizer in bipolar illness. These include the observation that several anticonvulsant interventions may improve outcome in mood disorders. Furthermore, beneficial changes in brain-energy profile are noted in subjects on the ketogenic diet. This is important since global cerebral hypometabolism is a characteristic of the brains of depressed or manic individuals. Finally, the extracellular changes that occur in ketosis would be expected to decrease intracellular sodium concentrations, a common property of all effective mood stabilizers. Trials of the ketogenic diet in relapse prevention of bipolar mood episodes are warranted.

History of the Ketogenic Diet (by Lyle McDonald)

History of the Ketogenic Diet (by Lyle McDonald):

Other clinical conditions
Epilepsy is arguably the medical condition that has been treated the most with ketogenic diets (1-3). However, preliminary evidence suggests that the ketogenic diet may have other clinical uses including respiratory failure (6), certain types of pediatric cancer (7-10), and possibly head trauma (11) . Interested readers can examine the studies cited, as this book focuses primarily on the use of the ketogenic diet for fat loss.

Obesity
Ketogenic diets have been used for weight loss for at least a century, making occasional appearances into the dieting mainstream. Complete starvation was studied frequently including the seminal research of Hill, who fasted a subject for 60 days to examine the effects, which was summarized by Cahill (12). The effects of starvation made it initially attractive to treat morbid obesity as rapid weight/fat loss would occur. Other characteristics attributed to ketosis, such as appetite suppression and a sense of well being, made fasting even more attractive for weight loss. Extremely obese subjects have been fasted for periods up to one year given nothing more than water, vitamins and minerals.

The major problem with complete starvation is a large loss of body protein, primarily from muscle tissue. Although protein losses decrease rapidly as starvation continues, up to one half of the total weight lost during a complete fast is muscle and water, a ratio which is unacceptable.

In the early 70's, an alternative approach to starvation was developed, termed the Protein Sparing Modified Fast (PSMF). The PSMF provided high quality protein at levels that would prevent most of the muscle loss without disrupting the purported 'beneficial' effects of starvation ketosis which included appetite suppression and an almost total reliance on bodyfat and ketones to fuel the body. It is still used to treat severe obesity but must be medically supervised (13).

At this time, other researchers were suggesting 'low-carbohydrate' diets as a treatment for obesity based on the simple fact that individuals tended to eat less calories (and hence lose weight/fat) when carbohydrates were restricted to 50 grams per day or less (14,15). There was much debate as to whether ketogenic diets caused weight loss through some peculiarity of metabolism, as suggested by early studies, or simply because people ate less.

[...]



"Somewhat difficult to understand is why ketogenic diets have been readily accepted as medical treatment for certain conditions but are so equally decried when mentioned for fat loss. Most of the criticisms of ketogenic diets for fat loss revolve around the purported negative health effects (i.e. kidney damage) or misconceptions about ketogenic metabolism (i.e. ketones are made out of protein).

This begs the question of why a diet presumed so dangerous for fat loss is being used clinically without problem. Pediatric epilepsy patients are routinely kept in deep ketosis for periods up to 3 years, and occasionally longer, with few ill effects (3,5). Yet the mention of a brief stint on a ketogenic diet for fat loss and many people will comment about kidney and liver damage, ketoacidosis, muscle loss, etc. If these side effects occurred due to a ketogenic diet, we would expect to see them in epileptic children.

It's arguable that possible negative effects of a ketogenic diet are more than outweighed by the beneficial effects of treating a disease or that children adapt to a ketogenic diet differently than adults. Even then, most of the side effects attributed to ketogenic diets for fat loss are not seen when the diet is used clinically. The side effects in epileptic children are few in number and easily treated, as addressed in chapter 7."

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Type 1 Diabetes a Nerve Disease?

Type 1 Diabetes a Nerve Disease?

Type 1 Diabetes a Nerve Disease?
Findings in Mice Suggest Totally New Direction for Diabetes Treatment
By Daniel J. DeNoon
WebMD Medical News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

Dec. 18, 2006 -- Sensory nerve cells -- not immune cells -- may be the key culprits in type 1 diabetes, mouse studies suggest.

The findings, if confirmed in humans, would turn diabetes research on its head. They suggest that diabetes could be treated or prevented with drugs that work on the nervous system.

The study is published in the Dec. 15 issue of Cell; it comes from the labs of Hans Michael Dosch, MD, PhD, and Michael Salter, MD, PhD, at The Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto.

"We are now working hard to extend our studies to [type 1 diabetes] patients, where many have sensory nerve abnormalities," Dosch says in a news release. "But we don't yet know if these abnormalities start early in life and if they contribute to disease development."
Type 1 Diabetes a Nerve Defect?

Most researchers believe type 1 diabetes is a problem with the immune system attacking healthy cells.

These new findings suggest that haywire immune responses are tied to defective sensory nerve cells.

These cells, called TRPV1 neurons, respond to insulin by sending out powerful chemical signals, one of which is a pain-related protein called substance P.

Dosch and Salter's team finds that in diabetic mice, TRPV1 neurons send only a weak signal. When the researchers killed off the mice's TRPV1 cells, the animals' diabetes disappeared. And when they injected the animals' pancreases with substance P, most became diabetes-free.

The researchers suggest that defective sensory nerves help start -- and maintain -- diabetes in diabetes-prone humans.

"Our observations open new avenues for therapeutic strategies," Dosch, Salter, and colleagues conclude.

They also say TRPV1 defects may play a role in other autoimmune diseases. Lupus and rheumatoid arthritis are examples of other autoimmune diseases.

An editorial by University of California researchers Helene Bour-Jordan, PhD, and Jeffrey A. Bluestone, PhD, accompanies the Dosch and Salter team's report.

Bour-Jordan and Bluestone say the new findings support a growing suspicion among researchers that autoimmune diseases arise from interplays between the nervous system and the immune system.

Two different neural pathways regulate loss and regain of consciousness during general anesthesia

Two different neural pathways regulate loss and regain of consciousness during general anesthesia

University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine researchers have answered long-running questions about the way that anesthetics act on the body, by showing that the cellular pathway for emerging from anesthesia is different from the one that drugs take to put patients to sleep during operations. The findings will be published this week in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The research focuses on orexins, the small, specialized fraction of the brain’s 100 billion neurons that play a key role in regulating the body’s wakeful state. Studying mice whose orexin systems had been genetically destroyed – a state similar to humans suffering from narcolepsy, a neurological condition that causes unusual daytime sleepiness – Max B. Kelz, MD, PhD, an assistant professor in Penn’s Department of Anesthesiology and Critical Care and the Mahoney Institute of Neurological Sciences, found that these mice took much longer to emerge from general anesthesia than those with normal orexin signaling systems. However, the mice with faulty orexin systems did not appear to fall asleep faster during anesthesia, which suggests that different processes are at play when transitioning to and from the anesthetized stated.

“The modern expectation is that anesthesiologists can simply flip a consciousness switch as easily as we might turn the room lights on or off,” says lead author Max B. Kelz, MD, PhD, an assistant professor in Penn’s Department of Anesthesiology and Critical Care and the Mahoney Institute of Neurological Sciences. “However, what patients do not realize is that despite 160 years of widespread clinical use, the mechanisms through which the state of anesthesia arises and dissipates remain unknown.”

Kelz became interested in these questions after treating a narcoleptic patient who took more than six hours to regain consciousness after anesthesia, compared to the typical six minutes or so. By probing what’s different about the narcoleptic brain, the Penn study has established for the first time that the process of entry into and exit from the anesthetized state are not mirror images of one another.

When I am eating low carb I find it much easier to wake up in the morning. Before I felt fuzzy for hours. My diet is far from perfect, however, and I still have difficulties getting awake. Perhaps that's why I want to stay up late every night, because it takes me so long to really feel awake, it seems silly to go right back to bed. I'm most awake and alert in the late evenings, esp. past midnight.

Diabetes breakthrough

Diabetes breakthrough

In a discovery that has stunned even those behind it, scientists at a Toronto hospital say they have proof the body's nervous system helps trigger diabetes, opening the door to a potential near-cure of the disease that affects millions of Canadians.

Diabetic mice became healthy virtually overnight after researchers injected a substance to counteract the effect of malfunctioning pain neurons in the pancreas.

"I couldn't believe it," said Dr. Michael Salter, a pain expert at the Hospital for Sick Children and one of the scientists. "Mice with diabetes suddenly didn't have diabetes any more."

The researchers caution they have yet to confirm their findings in people, but say they expect results from human studies within a year or so. Any treatment that may emerge to help at least some patients would likely be years away from hitting the market.

But the excitement of the team from Sick Kids, whose work is being published today in the journal Cell, is almost palpable.

"I've never seen anything like it," said Dr. Hans Michael Dosch, an immunologist at the hospital and a leader of the studies. "In my career, this is unique."

Their conclusions upset conventional wisdom that Type 1 diabetes, the most serious form of the illness that typically first appears in childhood, was solely caused by auto-immune responses -- the body's immune system turning on itself.

They also conclude that there are far more similarities than previously thought between Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes, and that nerves likely play a role in other chronic inflammatory conditions, such as asthma and Crohn's disease.

The "paradigm-changing" study opens "a novel, exciting door to address one of the diseases with large societal impact," said Dr. Christian Stohler, a leading U.S. pain specialist and dean of dentistry at the University of Maryland, who has reviewed the work.

[...]

The problems stem partly from inflammation -- and eventual death -- of insulin-producing islet cells in the pancreas.

Dr. Dosch had concluded in a 1999 paper that there were surprising similarities between diabetes and multiple sclerosis, a central nervous system disease. His interest was also piqued by the presence around the insulin-producing islets of an "enormous" number of nerves, pain neurons primarily used to signal the brain that tissue has been damaged.

Suspecting a link between the nerves and diabetes, he and Dr. Salter used an old experimental trick -- injecting capsaicin, the active ingredient in hot chili peppers, to kill the pancreatic sensory nerves in mice that had an equivalent of Type 1 diabetes.

"Then we had the biggest shock of our lives," Dr. Dosch said. Almost immediately, the islets began producing insulin normally "It was a shock ? really out of left field, because nothing in the literature was saying anything about this."

It turns out the nerves secrete neuropeptides that are instrumental in the proper functioning of the islets. Further study by the team, which also involved the University of Calgary and the Jackson Laboratory in Maine, found that the nerves in diabetic mice were releasing too little of the neuropeptides, resulting in a "vicious cycle" of stress on the islets.

So next they injected the neuropeptide "substance P" in the pancreases of diabetic mice, a demanding task given the tiny size of the rodent organs. The results were dramatic.

The islet inflammation cleared up and the diabetes was gone. Some have remained in that state for as long as four months, with just one injection.

They also discovered that their treatments curbed the insulin resistance that is the hallmark of Type 2 diabetes, and that insulin resistance is a major factor in Type 1 diabetes, suggesting the two illnesses are quite similar.

A low-carbohydrate, ketogenic diet to treat type 2 diabetes

Nutrition & Metabolism | Full text | A low-carbohydrate, ketogenic diet to treat type 2 diabetes

Conclusion

In summary, the LCKD had positive effects on body weight, waist measurement, serum triglycerides, and glycemic control in a cohort of 21 participants with type 2 diabetes. Most impressive is that improvement in hemoglobin A1c was observed despite a small sample size and short duration of follow-up, and this improvement in glycemic control occurred while diabetes medications were reduced substantially in many participants. Future research must further examine the optimal medication adjustments, particularly for diabetes and diuretic agents, in order to avoid possible complications of hypoglycemia and dehydration. Because the LCKD can be very effective at lowering blood glucose, patients on diabetes medication who use this diet should be under close medical supervision or capable of adjusting their medication.

Ketogenic Diet Prevents Seizures By Enhancing Brain Energy Production, Increasing Neuron Stability

Ketogenic Diet Prevents Seizures By Enhancing Brain Energy Production, Increasing Neuron Stability

"These findings support our hypothesis that a dietary regimen can dramatically affect the expression of genes and the function of neurons within the brain, which enhances the ability of these neurons to withstand the metabolic challenges of epileptic seizures," Dr. Dingledine said.

The ketogenic diet causes molecules called ketone bodies to be produced as fat is broken down. Scientists have understood that these molecules somehow cause a change in metabolism leading to a potent anticonvulsant effect. According to some animal studies they also may limit the progression of epilepsy.

The Emory research team studied the link between diet and epileptic seizures on the behavioral, cellular and genetic level. They found, as had others, that in rats fed the KD the resistance to seizures develops slowly, over one to two weeks, in contrast to rats treated with conventional anticonvulsant drugs. On the cellular level, they found that the anticonvulsant effect of the ketogenic diet did not correlate with a rise in plasma ketone levels or with a decrease in plasma glucose. Because longer treatment with the KD was necessary to increase the resistance to seizures, they concluded that changes in gene expression might hold the key to the diet's anticonvulsant effects.

To identify which genes might be involved, the researchers used microarray "gene chips" to examine changes in gene expression for more than 7,000 rat genes simultaneously. They focused on the hippocampus, a region of the brain known to play an important role in many kinds of epilepsies. More than 500 of the genes they examined were correlated with treatment with the KD. The most striking finding was the coordinated up-regulation of genes involved in energy metabolism.

To explain this genetic effect, the scientists first eliminated the possibility that the KD diet might cause enhanced production of GABA, a chemical messenger in the brain that helps limit seizure activity. They found that GABA levels in the hippocampus were unchanged with the KD.

To test whether energy reserves in hippocampal neurons were enhanced with the KD, they counted the number of energy "factories," or mitochondria, within cells using electron microscopy. They found that KD treatment significantly increased the number of mitochondria per unit area in the hippocampus. This finding, along with the concerted increase in the expression of genes encoding energy metabolic enzymes, led them to conclude that KD treatment enhances energy production in the hippocampus and may lead to improved neuronal stability.

Finally, the researchers tested whether brain tissue affected by the KD would be more resistant to low levels of glucose (an effect of seizures) because of their enhanced energy reserves. They found that synaptic communication in KD-fed rats was more resistant to low glucose levels than in control animals fed a regular diet.

The researchers believe their new knowledge could lead to the development of more effective drug treatments for epilepsy and brain damage.

And because the diet enhances the brain's ability to withstand metabolic challenges, they also believe the ketogenic diet should be studied as a possible treatment for other neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer's or Parkinson's diseases.

Ketogenic low-carbohydrate diets have no metabolic...[Am J Clin Nutr. 2006] - PubMed Result

Ketogenic low-carbohydrate diets have no metabolic...[Am J Clin Nutr. 2006] - PubMed Result

BACKGROUND: Low-carbohydrate diets may promote greater weight loss than does the conventional low-fat, high-carbohydrate diet. OBJECTIVE: We compared weight loss and biomarker change in adults adhering to a ketogenic low-carbohydrate (KLC) diet or a nonketogenic low-carbohydrate (NLC) diet.

[...]

However, inflammatory risk (arachidonic acid:eicosapentaenoic acid ratios in plasma phospholipids) and perceptions of vigor were more adversely affected by the KLC than by the NLC diet. CONCLUSIONS: KLC and NLC diets were equally effective in reducing body weight and insulin resistance, but the KLC diet was associated with several adverse metabolic and emotional effects. The use of ketogenic diets for weight loss is not warranted.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Drug 'can reverse Alzheimer's symptoms in minutes'| News | This is London

Drug 'can reverse Alzheimer's symptoms in minutes'| News | This is London

A drug used for arthritis can reverse the symptoms of Alzheimer's "in minutes".

It appears to tackle one of the main features of the disease - inflammation in the brain.

The drug, called Enbrel, is injected into the spine where it blocks a chemical responsible for damaging the brain and other organs.

A pilot study carried out by U.S. researchers found one patient had his symptoms reversed "in minutes".

Other patients have shown some improvements in symptoms such as forgetfulness and confusion after weekly injections over six months.

The study of 15 patients with moderate to severe Alzheimer's has just been published in the Journal of Neuroinflammation by online publishers Biomed Central.

The experiment showed that Enbrel can deactivate TNF (tumour necrosis factor) - a chemical in the fluid surrounding the brain that is found in Alzheimer's sufferers.

When used by arthritis sufferers, the drug is self-administered by injection and researchers had to develop a way of injecting it into the spine to affect the brain cells.

Sue Griffin, a researcher at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, said: 'It is unprecedented to see cognitive and behavioural improvement in a patient with established dementia within minutes of therapeutic intervention.

'This gives all of us in Alzheimer research a tremendous new clue

about new avenues of research.' Enbrel is not approved for treating Alzheimer's in the U.S. or the UK and is regarded as highly experimental, said Dr Griffin.

'Even though this report predominantly discusses a single patient it is of significant scientific interest because of the potential insight it may give into the processes involved in the brain dysfunction of Alzheimer's,' she added.

Lead author of the study Edward Tobinick, of the University of California and Director of the Institute for Neurological Research, said the drug had 'a very rapid effect that's never been reported in a human being before'.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

The blowout diet: fast all day, feast at night - Health - Times Online

The blowout diet: fast all day, feast at night - Health - Times Online

The blowout diet: fast all day, feast at night
Jerome Burne
For years we’ve been advised to eat little and often, and never to skip breakfast. But now some scientists argue that stop-start eating, as our hunter-gatherer ancestors did, is better for us than ‘grazing’
COWS, SHEEP, goats — when it comes to diet, we have a lot to learn from the cloven-footed beast, it seems. “Grazing”, or eating little and often, has become something of a mantra among nutritional experts.

The theory is that several small meals a day helps to balance blood-sugar levels, reducing our desire to snack and to overeat. The reality is that once you start grazing, it’s often difficult to stop.

The other great dietary wisdom is that breakfast is the most important meal of the day — it will boost your brainpower and might even help you to stay trim. People who skip breakfast regularly are more likely to be overweight. If you must forgo a meal, it should be dinner.

Of course, few of us live as the experts recommend. We regularly skip breakfast or eat a large meal at the end of the day. Sometimes it’s easy to go for a whole day eating almost nothing, only to make up for it the next with a blowout.

All heresy in the current dietary lexicon. But could the experts have got it wrong? Recent research on rats suggests that such “bad” feeding patterns could actually be good for your heart and your brain — and might even help you to lose weight. The secret is to eat like a hunter-gatherer.

For several years Dr Mark Mattson, a neuroscientist at the National Institute on Ageing in Baltimore, has been fiddling with the feeding schedules of the rats in his laboratory; his findings suggest that the difference between being fat and at risk of heart disease, and slim with clear arteries, may lie less in what you eat than when.

Experts have long known that a sure way to increase the age-span of almost any animal is to put it on a semi-starvation diet. Rats and monkeys forced to subsist on 30 to 40 per cent of their normal intake have clearer arteries, lower levels of inflammation, better blood-sugar control and are less susceptible to damage of cells in the brain. But however healthy it may be, this brutal diet will never catch on — it’s just too unpleasant.

But Dr Mattson has discovered that restricting calories is not the only way to achieve these health benefits. Putting animals on an “intermittent feeding schedule” produces similar results. He found that when the animals were made to fast for a day and allowed to eat as much as they wanted the next, this warded off diabetes just as well as either exercise or constant semi-starvation.

In fact, not only were the animals as healthy, but they also lost weight, because over time they ate 30 to 40 per cent less food than a control group that was allowed to eat whenever it wanted to. The obvious question, then, is whether this approach would also work for people. Going without food one day and making up for it the next is not nearly as difficult to cope with as being permanently hungry.

“We have just finished a study with people who ate all their food in a two to four-hour period in the evening,” says Dr Mattson. The results have not been analysed fully but he is optimistic: “After the original study was published (in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences) I was contacted by a number of people who had tried the day-on, day-off regimen and found that it allowed them to lose weight fairly easily.” One correspondent had even checked his blood and found some of the benefits reported in the rat study.

In an article in The Lancet last month, Dr Mattson raised doubts about some of our cherished notions about mealtimes. The evidence that breakfast is good for you is, he suggests, mixed; one study found that skipping breakfast was associated with smoking, drinking and being overweight, while another found that it actually improved insulin and glucose levels.

Glasses that Block Blue-Light Could Improve ADHD Symptoms and Sleep Disorders - Associated Content

Glasses that Block Blue-Light Could Improve ADHD Symptoms and Sleep Disorders - Associated Content

Scientists at the Lighting Innovations Institute of Ohio's John Carroll University, under the lead of Dr. Richard Hansler, have discovered that the elimination of blue light for a couple of hours a day improve the symptoms of Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Furthermore, people suffering from sleep disorders like insomnia also seem to improve their overall quality of sleep, if the blue-light is eliminated for a couple of hours each day.

The researchers' innovation is simple and cheap but could mean the improvement of the quality of life for many. The scientists developed special glasses that block the blue light, if worn. Blocking the blue light rays results in changes of the circadian rhythm of the patient. The circadian rhythm is the process of normal and regular changes of a person's mental and physical characteristics throughout each day. Circadian is Latin for 'around a day'. In a normal daily rhythm, melatonin, the sleep hormone, is not released until a person is in darkness, when blue-light rays are not present. Thus, wearing blue-light blocking glasses cause the release of the melatonin to happen earlier in the day.

Through their research the scientists determined that the early melatonin release caused a significant reduction in ADHD symptoms. Previously, studies by scientists at the University of Toronto have also shown that advancing the circadian rhythm improve symptoms of ADHD. In the Toronto study, twenty-nine adults diagnosed with ADHD were enrolled in a three-week trial.

The Ohio researchers also determined that their method could greatly improve sleep quality. Furthermore, the scientists believe the blue-light blocking glasses can also aid in the prevention of postpartum depression and Seasonal Affective Disorders, as well as the reduction of the risk of cancer. They recommend for patients to wear the glasses a couple of hours before bedtime.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

ERIC -Social Skills Differences among Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder Types in a Chat Room Assessment Task

ERIC - Education Resources Information Center

Social Skills Differences among Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder Types in a Chat Room Assessment Task


This study assessed social skills in 116 children aged 7-12 with ADHD-Combined Type (ADHD-C; n=33), ADHD-Inattentive Type (ADHD-I; n=45), and comparison children (n=38), with consideration of the role sluggish cognitive tempo (SCT) symptoms play in distinguishing profiles. Social skills were assessed using a novel computerized chat room task, in which participants were encouraged to join a conversation and type messages to interact with four computer-simulated peers. Every participant received the identical stimulus from the simulated peers, but was free to respond to it in his or her own unique way. Relative to comparison children, children with ADHD-C made off-topic and hostile responses; children with ADHD-I made off-topic responses, few responses and showed poor memory for the conversation. ADHD subtype differences remained after statistical control of IQ, reading achievement, typing skill, and comorbid disruptive behavior disorders. SCT symptoms, most prevalent among children with ADHD-I, predicted a distinct pattern of social withdrawal and lower hostility. Parent and teacher ratings and in-vivo observations of social skills correlate with this new measure.

Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Adrenal Axis Function in Children with Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.

Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Adrenal Axis Function in Children with Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.

Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Adrenal Axis Function in Children with Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.
Authors: Kaneko, Motohisa; And Others
Descriptors: Attention Deficit Disorders; Biochemistry; Children; Hyperactivity; Incidence; Physiology
Source: Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, v23 n1 p59-65 Mar 1993

Pub Types: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Abstract: This study with 30 children showing attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) found a normal diurnal saliva cortisol rhythm in only 43.3 percent of the subjects and a dexamethasone suppression in 46.7 percent, with both these abnormalities more frequent in the severely than the mildly hyperactive group. Results suggest abnormalities in hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis function. (Author/DB)

On Nutrition: Need To Lose Weight? Try Fasting - US News and World Report

On Nutrition: Need To Lose Weight? Try Fasting - US News and World Report

If your pants mysteriously shrink during the holiday season, you may want to consider a weight-loss method with a bad reputation: skipping meals. Though conventional wisdom has held that if you fast or omit meals you will only make up for it by eating more later on, some experts advocate just those methods—not only to control your weight, but also to gain other health benefits.

First, let's look at the weight factor. The data have been consistent, says David Levitsky, a professor of nutrition and psychology at Cornell University. If you skip a meal or downsize it, you do feel hungrier at the next one—but you don't make up for all of the calories you avoided, he says. In one unpublished study, his research team gave one group of people a commercially available small lunch (yogurt, soup, or some other small snack) adding up to about 200 calories, while a second group had regular buffet lunches of about 600 calories. Both groups were told to eat as they wished during the rest of the day. After two weeks, the small-lunch bunch lost weight; they were eating about 400 calories fewer than the all-you-can-eaters. "You don't compensate precisely for skipping a meal or reducing it," says Levitsky.

Heresy of heresies: He contends that this even extends to skipping—or skimping on—breakfast. (Since some studies have shown that most people get a lot of fiber at breakfast, however, you might want to consider eating a fiber-rich meal, like a bowl of cereal, at lunch if you don't earlier.)

A variation that also may lead to weight loss is restricting calories on alternate days. In a small study published in March, researchers followed a group of 10 people with a body mass index above 30 who were fed just 20 percent of their normal calorie intake on alternate days. On the other days they could eat what they wanted. After eight weeks, they'd lost an average of 8 percent of their body weight. These people were also asthma patients, and their symptoms also improved significantly after two weeks on the regimen, says study author James Johnson, a clinical instructor in the department of surgery at Louisiana State University School of Medicine.

What about plain old fasting? A study presented at an American Heart Association conference earlier this month suggested that skipping meals on a regular basis might protect against heart disease. Researchers in Utah looked at the rates of heart disease among Mormons, who are supposed to fast on the first Sunday of every month (they're also instructed to avoid caffeine and alcohol). It also looked at the habits and disease rates among a smaller number of non-Mormons. Among health or lifestyle behaviors that made a difference in the risk of heart disease, only fasting was found to be significant: It didn't matter if you were Mormon or not; if you fasted, you had a smaller chance of having heart disease.

"The thought from a biological perspective is that fasting rests the metabolism for a day and resensitizes the body's cells to glucose and insulin," says study author Benjamin Horne, who researches heart disease at the University of Utah and Intermountain Medical Center in Salt Lake City. That's only a theory based on what researchers have noted in animals, says Horne, who says most studies on the mechanisms and effects of fasting and calorie restriction have been done in rodents, roundworms, and slugs.

Still, there's plenty of evidence from those animal studies to suggest that restricting calories—either by a consistently reduced food intake, skipping meals, or fasting—might be good for humans, too, says Mark Mattson, a neuroscientist at the National Institute on Aging who was also an author of the asthma study. He says there are at least two possible mechanisms. Eating less cuts down on the production of free radicals, which damage cells and can lead to disease. He also says that there's a cellular response similar to what happens when we exercise. Like working out, going without calories is mildly stressful to the cells at the time, but beneficial over the long run. "Dietary restriction is about the best dietary advice I can give you," says Levitsky. "We don't know about living a longer life, but all the markers are in a favorable direction."

You may have noticed, though, that the bottom line to any of these meal skipping or reducing techniques is cutting down on the overall number of calories you eat and thus losing weight. That is never easy, but for some people, skipping a meal or two a week or taking a day every month away from food, or eating a lot less during a given meal or on every other day may be more appealing than simply cutting calories all the time.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Orexins and orexin receptors: a family of hypothal...[Cell. 1998] - PubMed Result

Orexins and orexin receptors: a family of hypothal...[Cell. 1998] - PubMed Result

Orexins and orexin receptors: a family of hypothalamic neuropeptides and G protein-coupled receptors that regulate feeding behavior.
Sakurai T, Amemiya A, Ishii M, Matsuzaki I, Chemelli RM, Tanaka H, Williams SC, Richardson JA, Kozlowski GP, Wilson S, Arch JR, Buckingham RE, Haynes AC, Carr SA, Annan RS, McNulty DE, Liu WS, Terrett JA, Elshourbagy NA, Bergsma DJ, Yanagisawa M.

Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Department of Molecular Genetics, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas, 75235-9050, USA.

The hypothalamus plays a central role in the integrated control of feeding and energy homeostasis. We have identified two novel neuropeptides, both derived from the same precursor by proteolytic processing, that bind and activate two closely related (previously) orphan G protein-coupled receptors. These peptides, termed orexin-A and -B, have no significant structural similarities to known families of regulatory peptides. prepro-orexin mRNA and immunoreactive orexin-A are localized in neurons within and around the lateral and posterior hypothalamus in the adult rat brain. When administered centrally to rats, these peptides stimulate food consumption. prepro-orexin mRNA level is up-regulated upon fasting, suggesting a physiological role for the peptides as mediators in the central feedback mechanism that regulates feeding behavior.

Nicotine up-regulates expression of orexin and its...[Endocrinology. 2000] - PubMed Result

Nicotine up-regulates expression of orexin and its...[Endocrinology. 2000] - PubMed Result

Nicotine up-regulates expression of orexin and its receptors in rat brain.
Kane JK, Parker SL, Matta SG, Fu Y, Sharp BM, Li MD.

Department of Pharmacology, University of Tennessee College of Medicine, Memphis 38163, USA.

Orexins are two recently discovered neuropeptides that can stimulate food intake. As the chronic use of tobacco typically leads to a reduction in body weight, it is of interest to determine whether nicotine, the major biologically active tobacco ingredient, has an effect on orexin metabolism in the brain. Using a semiquantitative RT-PCR technique, the levels of messenger RNA (mRNA) for prepro-orexin, orexin A (OX1-R) and orexin B (OX2-R) receptors were 20-50% higher in rats receiving nicotine for 14 days at the level of 2-4 mg/kg day compared with rats receiving saline solvent alone. In animals treated with nicotine at 4 mg/kg x day, the expression levels of mRNA for prepro-orexin, OX1-R, and OX2-R were significantly higher compared with those in either the free-feeding control or pair-fed saline control rats. RIA data indicated that both orexin A and orexin B peptide levels were significantly elevated (45-54%; P < 0.01) in the dorsomedial nucleus (DMH) of the nicotine-treated rats compared with either solvent-only or pair-fed controls. Additionally, orexin B was significantly elevated (83%; P < 0.01), over levels in both types of the control animals, in the paraventricular nucleus (PVN) region.

In summary, we demonstrated that an inverse association between nicotine and food intake as well as body weight held with doses comparable to those consumed by average human smokers. Moreover, our data indicated that chronic exposure to nicotine can induce a long-term increase in the expression levels of prepro-orexin and their receptor mRNA in the rat hypothalamus and in the levels of orexin A in the DMH and orexin B in the DMH and PVN among the six hypothalamic regions that we examined.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Disentangling the overlap between Tourette's disor...[J Child Psychol Psychiatry. 1998] - PubMed Result

Disentangling the overlap between Tourette's disor...[J Child Psychol Psychiatry. 1998] - PubMed Result:

"OBJECTIVE: To identify similarities and differences in neuropsychiatric correlates in children with Tourette's syndrome (TS) and those with ADHD. METHOD: The sample consisted of children with Tourette's syndrome with ADHD (N = 79), children with Tourette's syndrome without ADHD (N = 18), children with ADHD (N = 563), psychiatrically referred children (N = 212), and healthy controls (N = 140). RESULTS: Disorders specifically associated with Tourette's syndrome were obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) and simple phobias. Rates of other disorders, including other disruptive behavioral, mood, and anxiety disorders, neuropsychologic correlates, and social and school functioning were indistinguishable in children with Tourette's and ADHD. However, children with Tourette's syndrome plus ADHD had more additional comorbid disorders overall and lower psychosocial function than children with ADHD. CONCLUSIONS: These findings confirm previously noted associations between Tourette's syndrome and OCD but suggest that disruptive behavioral, mood, and anxiety disorders as well as cognitive dysfunctions may be accounted for by comorbidity with ADHD. However, Tourette's syndrome plus ADHD appears to be a more severe condition than ADHD alone."

Social and emotional adjustment in children affect...[J Child Psychol Psychiatry. 2000] - PubMed Result

Social and emotional adjustment in children affect...[J Child Psychol Psychiatry. 2000] - PubMed Result

This study examined social-emotional functioning in children with Gilles de la Tourette's syndrome (TS) alone and children with TS and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). In addition, the contribution of family functioning to social competence was examined. Children with a clinical diagnosis of TS were recruited from the Yale Child Study Center TS specialty clinic. Unaffected control children were recruited through newspaper advertisements and announcements within the university and at area schools. The final sample consisted of 72 children (45 boys and 27 girls) between the ages of 8 and 14. Sixteen children met DMS-III-R criteria for TS, 33 children met criteria for TS and ADHD, and 23 children had no psychiatric diagnoses. Children with TS and ADHD evidenced more externalizing and internalizing behavior problems and poorer social adaptation than children with TS only or unaffected controls. Children with TS only were not significantly different from unaffected controls on most measures of externalizing behaviors and social adaptation but did exhibit more internalizing symptoms. Tic symptom severity was not associated with social, behavioral, or emotional functioning among children with TS, even after stratifying by medication status. However, ADHD diagnosis, obsessional symptom severity, and family functioning were significantly associated with social and emotional adjustment among TS children. Moreover, family functioning was associated with social and emotional adjustment even after controlling for TS and ADHD diagnostic status. These findings demonstrate that much of the social and behavioral dysfunction in children with TS is ADHD-specific and children with TS alone have a very different social-emotional profile than do those with TS plus ADHD. Finally, social-emotional adjustment in children with TS is best understood within the family context.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Forget oil, the new global crisis is food

Forget oil, the new global crisis is food

A new crisis is emerging, a global food catastrophe that will reach further and be more crippling than anything the world has ever seen. The credit crunch and the reverberations of soaring oil prices around the world will pale in comparison to what is about to transpire, Donald Coxe, global portfolio strategist at BMO Financial Group said at the Empire Club's 14th annual investment outlook in Toronto on Thursday.

"It's not a matter of if, but when," he warned investors. "It's going to hit this year hard."

Mr. Coxe said the sharp rise in raw food prices in the past year will intensify in the next few years amid increased demand for meat and dairy products from the growing middle classes of countries such as China and India as well as heavy demand from the biofuels industry.

"The greatest challenge to the world is not US$100 oil; it's getting enough food so that the new middle class can eat the way our middle class does, and that means we've got to expand food output dramatically," he said.

The impact of tighter food supply is already evident in raw food prices, which have risen 22% in the past year.

Mr. Coxe said in an interview that this surge would begin to show in the prices of consumer foods in the next six months. Consumers already paid 6.5% more for food in the past year.

Wheat prices alone have risen 92% in the past year, and yesterday closed at US$9.45 a bushel on the Chicago Board of Trade.

At the centre of the imminent food catastrophe is corn - the main staple of the ethanol industry. The price of corn has risen about 44% over the past 15 months, closing at US$4.66 a bushel on the CBOT yesterday - its best finish since June 1996.

This not only impacts the price of food products made using grains, but also the price of meat, with feed prices for livestock also increasing.

"You're going to have real problems in countries that are food short, because we're already getting embargoes on food exports from countries, who were trying desperately to sell their stuff before, but now they're embargoing exports," he said, citing Russia and India as examples.

"Those who have food are going to have a big edge."

With 54% of the world's corn supply grown in America's mid-west, the U.S. is one of those countries with an edge.

But Mr. Coxe warned U.S. corn exports were in danger of seizing up in about three years if the country continues to subsidize ethanol production. Biofuels are expected to eat up about a third of America's grain harvest in 2007.

wcbstv.com - Breathalyzer Tests Now The Law At N.J. High School

wcbstv.com - Breathalyzer Tests Now The Law At N.J. High School

PEQUANNOCK TOWNSHIP, N.J. (CBS) ― When it comes to keeping our teenagers safe and sober, one New Jersey school district is taking the lead by employing the use of a Breathalyzer test.

And as CBS 2 HD found out, it's become such a successful deterrent, students are passing with flying colors.

Keeping high school students sober can be, in some situations, a full time job.

"I personally got Breathalyzed," said student Jessica Forrest.

At Pequannock High School.

Getting checked for alcohol is now the rule at dances and other social events.

"I'm all for it because if your child isn't doing anything wrong, then you have nothing to hide," parent Barbara Fede said.


So the kids will avoid the prom, and drink at a friend's house instead. Or leave early to get drunk afterwards. Or show up sober, pass the test and then drink AT the prom with bottles of whisky they sneak in- mixing it with cokes they buy at the prom. Problem solved!

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Solanaceae - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Solanaceae - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Solanaceae is a family of flowering plants, many of which are edible, while others are poisonous (some have both edible and toxic parts). The name of the family comes from the Latin Solanum "the nightshade plant", but the further etymology of that word is unclear; it has been suggested it originates from the Latin verb solari, meaning "to soothe". This would presumably refer to alleged soothing pharmacological properties of some of the psychoactive species found in the family. It is more likely, however, that the name comes from the perceived resemblance that some of the flowers bear to the sun and its rays, and in fact a species of Solanum (Solanum nigrum) is known as the sunberry. The family is also informally known as the nightshade or potato family. The family includes the Datura or Jimson weed, eggplant, mandrake, deadly nightshade or belladonna, capsicum (paprika, chile pepper), potato, tobacco, tomato, and petunia. The Solanaceae family is characteristically ethnobotanical, that is, extensively utilized by humans. It is an important source of food, spice and medicine. However, Solanaceae species are often rich in alkaloids that can range in their toxicity to humans and animals from mildly irritating to fatal in small quantities.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

NPR : Retune the Body with a Partial Fast

NPR : Retune the Body with a Partial Fast

For thousands of years, beginning with philosophers like Hippocrates, Socrates and Plato, fasting was recommended for health reasons. The Bible writes that Moses and Jesus fasted for 40 days for spiritual renewal.

To understand how the body reacts to a lack of food, you could start by looking at what happens to newborns. Newborns can't sleep through the night because they need to eat every few hours. They don't produce enough glycogen, the body's form of stored sugar, to make energy.

"Glycogen is necessary for thinking; it's necessary for muscle action; it's necessary just for the cells to live in general," says Dr. Naomi Neufeld, an endocrinologist at UCLA.

Neufeld says most adults need about 2,000 calories a day. Those calories make energy, or glycogen. Neufeld says it doesn't hurt — it might even help the body — to fast or stop eating for short periods of time, say 24 hours once a week, as long as you drink water.

"You re-tune the body, suppress insulin secretion, reduce the taste for sugar, so sugar becomes something you're less fond of taking," Neufeld says.

Eventually the body burns up stored sugars, or glycogen, so less insulin is needed to help the body digest food. That gives the pancreas a rest. On juice diets recommended by some spas, you may lose weight, but your digestive system doesn't get that rest.

Mark Mattson, a scientist with the National Institute on Aging, says that when we convert food into energy, our bodies create a lot of byproducts we could do without, including free radicals.

"These free radicals will attack proteins, DNA, the nucleus of cells, the membranes of cells," Mattson says. "They can damage all those different molecules in cells."

And even if you don't fast, Mattson says that simply limiting the calories you consume may be beneficial. He points to studies where rats and mice were fed every other day. Compared with those fed normal daily diets, there was a reduction in disease among the rats that were severely restricted in their food intake. Mattson says those findings hold promise that humans could also benefit from partial fasting.

Mattson thinks partial fasting has numerous benefits, from improving glucose regulation, which can protect against diabetes, to also lowering blood pressure. Some animal studies have also shown that partial fasting has very beneficial effects on the brain, protecting against Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and stroke.

Partial fasting may even extend lifespan because eating less sends a message to the cells of the body that they should conserve and use energy more efficiently.

"When they're exposed to a mild stress, [the body's cells] sort of expect that maybe this is going to happen again," Mattson says. "So maybe next time I may have to go longer without food, so I'd better be able to deal with that when it comes on."

Mattson says that process is similar to the way muscles get built up when they're stressed by exercise. Mattson adds that because complete fasting is difficult to study and there is little actual research comparing people who fast with those who don't, it's not clear whether complete fasting (water only) is also beneficial.

Proponents say small, short-term studies find that complete fasting lowers blood pressure and reduces cancer risk. But Dr. Naomi Neufeld worries that complete fasting could be harmful. After the first few days of liquid only, the body uses up all its stored glucose to make energy. And then it turns to other sources, including fat and muscle.

Dopamine-related Drugs Affect Reward-seeking Behavior

Dopamine-related Drugs Affect Reward-seeking Behavior

Drugs that adjust dopamine levels in the brain greatly affect how people react to success and failure, according to research presented at the American Academy of Neurology's 59th Annual Meeting in Boston.

[…]

Participants were divided into three groups. One group was given levodopa, a drug that increases dopamine levels in the brain. Another took haloperidol, a dopamine receptor blocker. The third was given a placebo. Dopamine is a chemical naturally produced by the body that transmits signals between nerve cells.

Researchers showed each group symbols associated with winning or losing different amounts of money. To "win" more money, participants had to learn through trial and error which symbols resulted in which outcomes.

The study found people who took levodopa were 95 percent more likely to choose symbols associated with higher monetary gains than those who took haloperidol. As a result, the levodopa group won more money, but they did not lose less money.

"The results show dopamine drives us to get what we want, but not avoid what we fear," said study author Mathias Pessiglione, PhD, who now works at the Salpetriere Hospital in Paris, France.

The findings may provide a better understanding of the side effects of dopamine-related drugs and the disorders they are used to treat, such as Parkinson's disease and schizophrenia. "This study may explain why dopamine depletion leads to the lack of motivation often described in people with Parkinson's disease," said Pessiglione, "and how dopamine replacement therapy can cause compulsive behaviors, such as overeating and gambling addictions, in the same people."

Low-carb diet may stunt prostate tumors

NewsDaily: Science -- Low-carb diet may stunt prostate tumors

Tumor growth was stalled and survival rates lengthened in mice fed a low-carbohydrate diet, U.S. researchers found.

[…]

The study, published in the journal Prostate, found mice fed a low-fat but high-carbohydrate diets had larger tumors. The mice on a diet high in both fat and carbohydrates had the biggest tumors and the worst survival rates.

"This study showed that cutting carbohydrates may slow tumor growth, at least in mice," lead researcher Dr. Stephen Freedland, of Duke University Medical Center, in Durham, N.C., said in a statement. "If this is ultimately confirmed in human clinical trials, it has huge implications for prostate cancer therapy through something that all of us can control, our diets."

The researchers hypothesized carbohydrates in the diet affect the levels of serum insulin and a related substance known as insulin-like growth factor in the body.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Hormone Links Sleep, Hunger And Metabolism

Hormone Links Sleep, Hunger And Metabolism

While investigating how the hormone orexin might control sleep and hunger, researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center have discovered, to their surprise, that it activates a protein, HIF-1, long known to stimulate cancerous tumor growth.

[…]

"HIF-1 is very big in the cancer community," Dr. Kodadek said. "So we were intrigued to find this important and very basic mechanism that is unrelated to cancer."

Orexin was already known for its role in sleep and hunger. Researchers, including Dr. Masashi Yanagisawa, professor of molecular genetics at UT Southwestern, had found that lack of orexin causes the sleep disorder narcolepsy.

"It's really the most straightforward system relevant to the biology of sleep you can look at," Dr. Kodadek said. "You lack orexin" You've got narcolepsy. End of story."

[…]

Surprisingly, the activity of a component of HIF called HIF1-alpha was among the most highly activated of any gene in the study. And when orexin stimulated HIF1-alpha, it in turn increased the expression of a variety of genes dedicated to burning sugar to provide energy for the body. Studies in brain slices of mice with and without orexin receptors support their results.

The findings help explain orexin's link to the metabolic system, the researchers said. The body is known to step up its production of orexin when blood sugar gets low. The researchers hypothesized that when a body has low blood sugar and gets hungry, the increase in orexin activates HIF-1 production, revving up metabolism so the body gets the most energy out of the sugar on hand.

This action of HIF-1 when stimulated by orexin is different than how it acts in tumors, Dr. Kodadek said. In tumors, HIF-1 changes cells' metabolism so they can burn sugar for energy without oxygen. This method is inefficient, but allows cells to stay alive.

Orexin, on the other hand, forces HIF-1 to switch cells to burn sugar using oxygen, which burns sugar faster but more efficiently. This strategy makes sense, they said, in terms of evolution.

"You need to be active and energetic, especially when you're hungry, so you can search for a meal," said Dr. Devanjan Sikder, instructor of internal medicine and lead author of the study.

"This orexin pathway we found is basically an overdrive function. Even though blood sugar levels are low, you're not only awake, but you're also energetic because of the action of HIF-1," said Dr. Kodadek. "In retrospect, our findings make a lot of sense, but they were surprising at the time."

This is confusing, a little. So high blood sugar means low orexin. This means low alertness and wakefulness, and you burn sugar w/o oxygen, in the fashion that tumors also prefer. Low blood sugar means high orexin, which means more awakeness and energy, and you burn sugar in a more efficient manner, with oxygen. Some people in Germany are experimenting with low carb diets to starve tumors of their energy source. Perhaps this is why it works?

Scientists discover stubbornness gene : Science Technology

Scientists discover stubbornness gene : Science Technology

Hamburg, Germany - People who are stubborn and never seem to learn from their mistakes may have a mutated gene that makes them bull-headed, according to scientists in Germany. About one-third of the population have this mutation, which may be nature's way of ensuring that there are always some people who will not give up trying when at first they do not succeed, say the researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences in Leipzig, Germany.

"Where would we be without those few individuals who refuse to accept defeat and who continue to soldier onwards when common sense tells the rest of mankind that there's no use trying?" one of the authors of the study, Dr Tilmann Klein, said in an interview.

About 30 per cent of the population have the mutation, called the A1 mutation, said co-author Dr Markus Ullsperger.