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Thu, 19 Oct 2017
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Health & Wellness


WHO issues warning on antibiotic crisis, says drug development lagging as antibiotics are unprofitable for Big Pharma

© Getty
Concern about growing global antibiotic resistance has come to a head: The World Health Organization is now warning that the world is running out of antibiotics.

There aren't enough truly new antibiotics being developed, especially for the most concerning antibiotic-resistant infections, according to a WHO report released Tuesday.

The United Nations health agency has aired its concerns about antibiotic resistance, which makes it more difficult to treat infections, for some time. Some of the group's latest moves included updating guidelines for treating sexually transmitted infections and cautioning that just three antibiotics are being developed to treat gonorrhea, a "fairly grim" situation.

But the latest WHO report takes a broad and prospective look at antibiotic development, and what it describes is not a pretty picture.

Comment: Antimicrobial resistance - The looming medical apocalypse

Snowflake Cold

Two ways to increase brown fat cells

© Gregory Nemec
They're the hot ticket in warding off weight gain, but is there a formula for making brown fat cells? Yes, according to recent research.

1. Exposure to cold could cause adults to generate new brown fat cells, according to research reported in journal Nature Medicine. Unlike ubiquitous white fat cells, which lounge around storing fat, rarer brown ones burn fat at a higher rate as part of a duty to keep us warm.

2. Consuming sleep hormone melatonin may control weight gain by stimulating 'beige fat', suggests a study published in the Journal of Pineal Research. In a study of rats, long-term melatonin consumption appeared to alter the white-to-brown fat ratio in thin subjects. It also synced with production of beige fat in obese diabetic subjects.

That doesn't mean eating foods containing melatonin will turn you into Miranda Kerr, but hey, can't hurt. (How's a sandwich with mustard, goji berry, almonds, sunflower seeds, cardamom, fennel, coriander and cherries sound?).


Better Earth

Separating the wheat from the chaff: As EU embraces GMO frankenfoods, Russia set to become leading organic food producer

© Eduard Korniyenko / Reuters
Last week, an EU court ruled Italy cannot ban the cultivation of an EU-approved genetically modified crop, thus publicly supporting GMO. At the same time, Russia has been ramping up production and export of organic food. "Recently the organic food market has definitely expanded in Russia. The organically produced food industry held a market valuation of $178 million in 2015, an increase from 2010's $116 million total," economist Iryna Kobuta at the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Regional Office for Europe and Central Asia told RT.

"Euromonitor has also noticed increased spending on pre-packaged organic food and drink in Russia. 2015 saw consumers purchase close to $12 million worth of packaged eco-foods. Russia exports organic buckwheat, millet, alfalfa, flax, and wildly grown products - including wild berries, mushrooms, cedar nuts, and herbs - to a variety of countries. Russia also exports organic wheat to the EU," she added. In 2015, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced plans to make the country the largest supplier of healthy, ecologically clean and high-quality food which Western producers "have long lost."

Comment: Medvedev said in 2014: "If the Americans like to eat GMO products, let them eat it then. We don't need to do that; we have enough space and opportunities to produce organic food."

See also:


Many patients thought to be in 'vegetative' states may still be conscious and can recover over time

Some experts say 40 percent of people believed to be in vegetative states may actually be minimally conscious. A correct diagnosis could save their lives.
Traumatic brain injuries aren't created equal.

Many patients once thought to be in unconscious vegetative states are actually minimally conscious, say experts, and they can recover over time.

But wrong diagnoses are rampant, according to studies.

In fact, researchers say more than 40 percent of patients with traumatic brain injuries have been wrongly labeled as vegetative.

And that diagnosis hasn't changed much in many years.

The message, say researchers, is that there's hope for patients in minimally conscious states (MCS).

But first, the diagnosis must be correct.



Can brown fat be used to fight obesity?

© Richie Pope
For most people, "fat," particularly the kind that bulges under the skin, is a four-letter word. It makes our thighs jiggle; it lingers despite our torturous attempts to eliminate it. Too much of it increases our risk for heart disease and type 2 diabetes (the most common form of the condition). For decades researchers have looked for ways to reduce our collective stores of fat because they seemed to do more harm than good.

But biology is rarely that simple. In the late 2000s several research groups independently discovered something that shattered the consensus about the absolute dangers of body fat. Scientists had long known that humans produce at least two types of fat tissue-white and brown. Each white fat cell stores energy in the form of a single large, oily droplet but is otherwise relatively inert. In contrast, brown fat cells contain many smaller droplets, as well as chestnut-colored molecular machines known as mitochondria. These organelles in turn burn up the droplets to generate heat. Babies, who have not yet developed the ability to shiver to maintain their body temperature, rely on thermogenic deposits of brown fat in the neck and around the shoulders to stay warm. Yet investigators assumed that all brown fat disappears during childhood. The new findings revealed otherwise. Adults have brown fat, too.

Suddenly, people started throwing around terms like holy grail to describe the promise of brown fat to combat obesity. The idea was appealingly simple: if researchers could figure out how to incite the body to produce extra brown fat or somehow rev up existing brown fat, a larger number of calories would be converted into heat, reducing deposits of white fat in the process.

Comment: See also:


Gut microbes could actually set off relapses of multiple sclerosis

The clue is inflammation.

The role played by the millions of bacteria that live in our intestines is poorly understood, but the more we learn, the more complex it gets.

And, according to two new studies out this week, this microbiome could play a more significant part in multiple sclerosis than we thought.

Multiple sclerosis, which affects 2.5 million people around the world, is thought to be an autoimmune disease. During a relapse, or attack, immune cells breach the blood-brain barrier and enter the central nervous system, something that is highly restricted in healthy people.

These immune cells then attack the protective coating around nerve cells. This causes inflammation in the brain, which in turn causes scarring. These scars are responsible for the physical symptoms of MS.

No one knows what causes it, but a growing body of research is connecting it to the gut microbiome.

Eye 1

Parasitic eye infection which can blind pets and infect humans spreading throughout mainland Europe

Cats, dogs and even humans are at risk from the disease which can be transmitted by fruit flies.
An eye infection that can blind pets could spread to Ireland, owners are being warned.

Caused by a parasitic worm it has become increasingly common in mainland Europe.

The disease, Thelazia callipaeda or oriental eye worm, is transmitted by a type of fruit-fly that lands on the eyes and leaves infected larvae.

Humans as well as cats and dogs are also at risk from the flies which feed on eye secretions.

There have been three recent cases among dogs reported in the UK.


Gates foundation funding development of microparticle implant to automatically time-release vaccines in infants

In effect, a capsule with a massive dosage of vaccine would be inserted into a baby to be time released due to the scheduled degradation of the compound encasing the vaccine.
A new discovery could revolutionize the way childhood vaccines are administered, as engineers at MIT have invented a way for multiple doses of a vaccine or drug to be given over an extended period of time with only one injection.

The process involves the invention of a "new 3-D fabrication method that can generate a novel type of drug-carrying particle that could allow multiple doses of a drug or vaccine to be delivered over an extended period of time," according to MIT News.

This novel fabrication technique, called SEAL (Stamped Assembly of Polymer Layers), creates three-dimensional microparticles that resemble tiny coffee cups that can be filled with vaccines or drugs, which are sealed with a lid. The "cups," made of a FDA-approved biocompatible polymer, can be designed to degrade at specific times, spilling out the contents.

Comment: The Gates Foundation is determined to usher in an era of mandatory vaccines.

Life Preserver

Healthy brown fat can improve your metabolic health and keep you slim

Your body fat percentage is a useful gauge to dictate metabolic health or dysfunction, with lower levels (to a point) generally associated with better health outcomes. This is referring to white fat (the kind that accumulates where you least want it).

Brown fat is most prominent in newborn animals (including human babies), where its main function is to generate body heat, helping newborns to regulate their temperatures.

Here's where it gets interesting... brown fat generates heat by burning calories, and because of this, it's being explored as a tool for weight loss, healthy metabolism, and much, much more.

Plus, newer research revealed that not only do adults have some brown fat, but it also appears to have physiological roles beyond heat generation. These roles are just now beginning to be explored...

Comment: See also:

Apple Red

Mouse study suggests substance found in apple peels can reduce obesity by increasing muscle mass and healthy brown fat

Ursolic acid consumption increased skeletal muscle, increasing the animals' strength and endurance, and also boosted the amount of brown fat.
Obesity and its associated problems such as diabetes and fatty liver disease are increasingly common global health concerns. A new study by University of Iowa researchers shows that a natural substance found in apple peel can partially protect mice from obesity and some of its harmful effects.

The findings suggest that the substance known as ursolic acid reduces obesity and its associated health problems by increasing the amount of muscle and brown fat, two tissues recognized for their calorie-burning properties.

The study, which was published June 20 in the journal PLoS ONE, was led by Christopher Adams, M.D., Ph.D., UI associate professor of internal medicine and a Faculty Scholar at the Fraternal Order of Eagles Diabetes Research Center at the UI.

"From previous work, we knew that ursolic acid increases muscle mass and strength in healthy mice, which is important because it might suggest a potential therapy for muscle wasting," Adams says. "In this study, we tested ursolic acid in mice on a high-fat diet -- a mouse model of obesity and metabolic syndrome. Once again, ursolic acid increased skeletal muscle. Interestingly, it also reduced obesity, pre-diabetes and fatty liver disease.