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Possible Physical Origin Of Alzheimer's Disease

For some time, scientists have blamed Alzheimer's disease on a small molecule called amyloid beta protein (A beta) that leaves large gummy deposits in the brain. Recent studies suggest that these A beta proteins stick together to form floating toxic clumps that kill brain cells. Now, UCLA scientists have identified a tiny loop in A beta as the likely culprit behind the adhesion process.

©University of California
Amyloid Protein Loop. Broken red lines indicate a loop in the amyloid B-protein that enables it to attach to other proteins and form clumps that kill brain cells.

Attention

Scientists discover how gold eases pain of arthritis

Scientists at Duke University Medical Center may have solved the mystery surrounding the healing properties of gold - a discovery they say may renew interest in gold salts as a treatment for rheumatoid arthritis and other inflammatory diseases.

Comment: HMGB1 is an interesting little molecule that likes to get involved in all sorts of DNA-related processes.

National Center for Biotechnology Information has more information here but allow us to cite a few examples:
- DNA repair
- anti-apoptosis (which means preventing pre-programmed cell death)
- establishment and maintenance of the basic structure of chromosomes
- receptor signal transduction

Do we really want to inhibit such a helpful molecule?


Info

Social stress + darkness = increased anxiety

Just in time for Halloween, researchers are releasing new data that show darkness increases the impact of social stress, in an article scheduled for publication in the November 15th issue of Biological Psychiatry. As children and adults alike gear up for the anticipation and excitement of this "spooky" holiday, this study lends a further understanding to our inherent fear of the dark.

Grillon and colleagues at the National Institute of Mental Health sought to examine whether stress increases unconditioned fear in humans. To do this, they measured the startle reflex of healthy volunteers in either light or dark conditions, and after either a socially stressful situation of public speaking, or after a period of relaxation. The startle response is a sensitive tool for measuring anxiety levels, and in this study, was measured when volunteers were presented with white noise stimuli via headphones. The authors found that the startle response was boosted when the volunteers were in complete darkness, and this effect was more pronounced after the stressor.

Arrow Up

Ideal weight varies across cultures, but body image dissatisfaction pervades

Different cultures have different standards and norms for appropriate body size and shape, which can effect how children perceive their body image. Some cultures celebrate a fuller body shape more than others, but researchers at the Center for Obesity Research and Education (CORE) at Temple University have found that an overweight or obese child can still be unhappy with his or her body, despite acceptance from within their ethnic group.

"This unhappiness is yet another consequence of childhood obesity," said Gary Foster, Ph.D., director of CORE and president-elect of the North American Association for the Study of Obesity. "These data illustrate when treating overweight children, it's important to attend the psychological consequences that excess weight confers, no matter what the ethnic group."

Coffee

Broccoli Sprout-Derived Extract Protects Against Ultraviolet Radiation

A team of Johns Hopkins scientists reports in this week's issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that humans can be protected against the damaging effects of ultraviolet (UV) radiation - the most abundant cancer-causing agent in our environment - by topical application of an extract of broccoli sprouts. The results in human volunteers, backed by parallel evidence obtained in mice, show that the degree of skin redness (erythema) caused by UV rays, which is an accurate index of the inflammation and cell damage caused by UV radiation, is markedly reduced in extract-treated skin.

©Unknown

People

Alzheimer's memory loss faster among well-educated

Having more years of formal education delays the memory loss linked to Alzheimer's disease, but once the condition begins to take hold, better-educated people decline more rapidly, researchers said on Monday.

Their study, published in the journal Neurology, tracked memory loss in a group of elderly people from New York City's Bronx borough before they were diagnosed with Alzheimer's or another form of old-age dementia.

Cut

More Women Getting Double Mastectomies

WASHINGTON - More women who have cancer in only one breast are getting both breasts removed, says research that found the trend more than doubled in just six years. It's still a rare option: Most breast cancer in this country is treated by lumpectomy, removing just the tumor while saving the breast.

Attention

Candy incident raises concerns

China - The government is deeply concerned by reports that some Filipino students have fallen ill after eating Chinese-made milk candies, the spokesman of the Ministry of Commerce said.

Comment: Formaldehyde is widely recognized as a human carcinogen while aspartame, which metabolizes into formaldehyde in the human body, is still considered safe for consumption.

Diet Coke anyone?


Syringe

Tests reveal high chemical levels in kids' bodies

Michelle Hammond and Jeremiah Holland were intrigued when a friend at the Oakland Tribune asked them and their two young children to take part in a cutting-edge study to measure the industrial chemicals in their bodies.

"In the beginning, I wasn't worried at all; I was fascinated," Hammond, 37, recalled.

But that fascination soon changed to fear, as tests revealed that their children -- Rowan, then 18 months, and Mikaela, then 5 -- had chemical exposure levels up to seven times those of their parents.

Magic Wand

Study provides first evidence of neural link between sleep loss and psychiatric disorders

It has long been assumed that sleep deprivation can play havoc with our emotions.

This is notably apparent in soldiers in combat zones, medical residents and even new parents. Now there's a neurological basis for this theory, according to new research from the University of California, Berkeley, and Harvard Medical School.

In the first neural investigation into what happens to the emotional brain without sleep, results from a brain imaging study suggest that while a good night's rest can regulate your mood and help you cope with the next day's emotional challenges, sleep deprivation does the opposite by excessively boosting the part of the brain most closely connected to depression, anxiety and other psychiatric disorders.

"It's almost as though, without sleep, the brain had reverted back to more primitive patterns of activity, in that it was unable to put emotional experiences into context and produce controlled, appropriate responses," said Matthew Walker, director of UC Berkeley's Sleep and Neuroimaging Laboratory and senior author of the study, which will be published Oct. 22 in the journal Current Biology.

"Emotionally, you're not on a level playing field," Walker added.