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Fri, 22 Oct 2021
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Think Healthy: Scientists discover a direct route from the brain to the immune system

It used to be dogma that the brain was shut away from the actions of the immune system, shielded from the outside forces of nature. But that's not how it is at all. In fact, thanks to the scientific detective work of Kevin Tracey, MD, it turns out that the brain talks directly to the immune system, sending commands that control the body's inflammatory response to infection and autoimmune diseases. Understanding the intimate relationship is leading to a novel way to treat diseases triggered by a dangerous inflammatory response.

Dr. Tracey, director and chief executive of The Feinstein Institute for Medical Research, will be giving the 2007 Stetten Lecture on Wednesday, Oct. 24, at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, MD. His talk - Physiology and Immunology of the Cholinergic Anti-inflammatory Pathway - will highlight the discoveries made in his laboratory and the clinical trials underway to test the theory that stimulation of the vagus nerve could block a rogue inflammatory response and treat a number of diseases, including life-threatening sepsis.

People

Cult of the Body: Huge numbers willing to go under knife to alter their appearance, study finds

Most women, and large numbers of men, are interested in having cosmetic surgery, UCLA scientists report in the October issue of the Journal of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery.

Forty-eight percent of women surveyed said they would be interested in cosmetic surgery, liposuction or both, and another 23 percent said they would possibly be interested.

Among men, 23 percent said they would be interested in surgery, with 17 percent expressing possible interest.

"Interest in cosmetic surgery is far more widespread than we had anticipated," said David Frederick, a UCLA psychology graduate student and lead author of the study. "The majority of women expressed some interest in cosmetic surgery, and more than one-third of men expressed some degree of interest, which I found really surprising. We know there is tremendous pressure for women to be thin and have a certain appearance and for men to be fit and muscular, but I would not have guessed that so many people would be interested in surgical body alteration."

Health

I'll Have My Cosmetics With a Side of Infertility, Please

Author Stacy Malkan reveals the dangerous truth about everyday products we put in our hair and on our skin.

Carcinogens in cosmetics? Petrochemicals in perfume? If only this were an urban legend. Unfortunately, it's a toxic reality, and it's showing up in our bodies.

In 2004, scientists found pesticides in the blood of newborn babies. A year later, researchers discovered perchlorate, a component of rocket fuel, in human breast milk. Today, people are testing positive for a litany of hazardous substances from flame retardants to phthalates to lead.

Syringe

Jabbed by fear: Thousands exposed to Hep A in Calgary, Canada

Thousands of Calgarians are at risk of contracting hepatitis A after a food-handler at a southeast McDonald's tested positive for the disease.

Comment: As the website Vaccination Information and Choice Network says, "Make an informed choice."


Bulb

Recognizing someone's name but forgetting how you met them is all in your head

New research from The University of Western Ontario suggests the sometimes eerie feeling experience when recognizing someone, yet failing to remember how or why, reveals important insight into how memory is wired in the human brain.

In research published recently in one of the world's most-cited multidisciplinary scientific publications, "Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA," Western psychology graduate student Ben Bowles and psychology professor Stefan Köhler have found that this feeling of familiarity during recognition relies on a distinct brain mechanism and does not simply reflect a weak form of memory.

Magic Wand

Study reveals how the brain generates the human tendency for optimism

A neural network that may generate the human tendency to be optimistic has been identified by researchers at New York University. As humans, we expect to live longer and be more successful than average, and we underestimate our likelihood of getting a divorce or having cancer. The results, reported in the most recent issue of Nature, link the optimism bias to the same brain regions that show irregularities in depression.

The study was conducted by a team of researchers from the laboratory of NYU Professor Elizabeth Phelps. The lead author is Tali Sharot, now a post-doctoral fellow at University College London.

Clock

Daylight savings time disrupts humans' natural circadian rhythm

When people living in many parts of the world move their clocks forward one hour in the spring in observance of daylight saving time (DST), their bodies' internal, daily rhythms don't adjust with them, reports a new study appearing online on October 25th in Current Biology, a publication of Cell Press. The finding suggests that this regular time change - practiced by a quarter of the human population - represents a significant seasonal disruption, raising the possibility that DST may have unintended effects on other aspects of human physiology, according to the researchers.

"When we implement small changes into a biological system which by themselves seem trivial, their effects, when viewed in a broader context, may have a much larger impact than we had thought," said Till Roenneberg of Ludwig-Maximilian-University in Munich, Germany. "It is much too early to say whether DST has a serious long-term impact on health, but our results indicate that we should consider this seriously and do a lot more research on the phenomenon."

Ambulance

Deaths from superbug soaring

Deaths caused by the hospital superbug Clostridium difficile have soared by more than 60 per cent in Scotland in a single year, according to shocking new figures.

The bug, whose spread has been linked to poor cleanliness in hospital wards, was the main cause of death of 164 people last year - up from 100 in 2005. C difficile was also a contributing factor in the deaths of a further 253 people, statistics from the General Register Office for Scotland revealed.

Ambulance

New lethal superbug found in Scottish hospitals

A VIRTUALLY untreatable new superbug has been found in Scotland for the first time after causing death and panic in hospitals in the US and England.

Eleven patients have tested positive for the presence of multi-antibiotic-resistant Acinetobacter, which - unlike MRSA - can only be treated with one medicine.

Health chiefs believe the new superbug is now present throughout Scotland and it is only a matter of time before it mutates into a particularly deadly form which does not respond to any known antibiotic.

Red Flag

Mystery virus puzzles health officials; kills more than 300 people, most of them children

HEALTH DEPARTMENT officials are a puzzled lot these days as identification of the mysterious virus, which has killed over 300 people and infected around 1,800 people mostly children, remains a distant dream. The virus continues to be on the prowl in eastern and western Uttar Pradesh even eight months after it started infecting people.