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Wed, 03 Jun 2020
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Pumpkin: A fairytale end to insulin injections?

Compounds found in pumpkin could potentially replace or at least drastically reduce the daily insulin injections that so many diabetics currently have to endure. Recent research reveals that pumpkin extract promotes regeneration of damaged pancreatic cells in diabetic rats, boosting levels of insulin-producing beta cells and insulin in the blood, reports Lisa Richards in Chemistry & Industry, the magazine of the SCI.

A group, led by Tao Xia of the East China Normal University, found that diabetic rats fed the extract had only 5% less plasma insulin and 8% fewer insulin-positive (beta) cells compared to normal healthy rats (Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture, 87(9) 1753-7 2007).

Xia says: 'pumpkin extract is potentially a very good product for pre-diabetic persons, as well as those who have already developed diabetes.' He adds that although insulin injections will probably always be necessary for these patients, pumpkin extract could drastically reduce the amount of insulin they need to take.

Health

New Diet Drug Touches Off a Feeding Frenzy

Boxes of Alli, the first FDA-sanctioned diet drug to be sold without a prescription, are selling in huge numbers, despite the fact that the pill comes with the potential for extremely unpleasant and embarrassing side effects.

The manufacturer has predicted that 5 million to 6 million Americans a year will buy the drug.

Ambulance

New fears over MMR link to autism; Damage Control shifts into high gear

Fresh fears over a possible link between the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine and autism have been raised after a new study found that almost double the number of children could have the condition than previously thought.

Key

CDC: Out of Excuses on the Autism Study that "Should be Done"

A simple study of autism rates among vaccinated and unvaccinated children "could be done and should be done" to help settle the raging debate that has now spilled into the U.S. Federal Courts.

Health

Researcher sees link between vitamin D and autism

The growing prevalence of autism is one of the biggest scientific whodunits in the medical world, with few clues for its rising incidence.

But a U.S. researcher is advancing a controversial hypothesis: that autism is related to vitamin D deficiency during fetal development and early childhood.

Magic Wand

From the corner of the eye: Paying attention to attention

Every kid knows that moms have "eyes in the back of their heads." We are adept at fixing our gaze on one object while independently directing attention to others. Salk Institute neurobiologists are beginning to tease apart the complex brain networks that enable humans and other higher mammals to achieve this feat.

In a study published in the July 5, 2007 issue of Neuron, the researchers report two classes of brain cells with distinct roles in visual attention, and highlight at least two mechanisms by which these cells mediate attention. "This study represents a major advance in our understanding of visual cognition, because it is the first study of attention to distinguish between different classes of neurons," says system neurobiologist John Reynolds, Ph.D., associate professor in the Systems Neurobiology Laboratory at the Salk Institute.

Health

Chronic fatigue: clues in the blood

Researchers at UNSW believe that blood may hold vital insights into what is happening in the brain of patients with chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS).

In a study unparalleled in its scope, a team led by UNSW Professor Andrew Lloyd of the Centre for Infection and Inflammation Research, has studied the differences in gene expression patterns in the blood of people who either recover promptly after acute glandular fever or develop the prolonged illness called post-infective syndrome.

The researchers examined six million pieces of gene expression information for analysis in the project, known as the Dubbo Infection Outcomes Study. The study is named after the NSW town in which the work was conducted. The team studied the expression of 30,000 genes in the blood, testing each of the 15 individuals between four and five times over a 12-month period.

The team was able to narrow its findings to the expression of just 35 genes whose pattern of expression correlated closely with the key symptoms of the illness when examined from onset through to recovery. Gene expression is significant because it is the process by which a gene's DNA sequence is converted into the proteins which ultimately determine the manifestations of disease.

Heart

Organic food 'better' for heart

Organic fruit and vegetables may be better for you than conventionally grown crops, US research suggests.

A ten-year study comparing organic tomatoes with standard produce found almost double the level of flavonoids - a type of antioxidant.

Comment: So let's get this straight - food that is saturated in toxic substances such as industrial chemical fertilizers and pesticides actually leads to... less nutritious food? What a good job we have the clever scientists to tell us these things.

Health

High fluoride in drinking water is associated with poor performance on intelligence tests

Chinese children drinking well water with very high levels of fluoride scored poorly on intelligence testing compared to those with lower exposures.

This is one of the first studies in humans to find that too much fluoride is associated with low performance on intelligence tests. More information is needed to ascertain if the sum total amount of ingested fluoride from tap water, consumer products and other sources are enough to inhibit brain development in children living in the US and other countries where fluoridation is common.

Comment: For more information on Fluoride read:

Fluoride Accumulates in Pineal Gland


Magic Wand

How pain distracts the brain

Anybody who's tried to concentrate on work while suffering a headache knows that pain compellingly commands attention - which is how evolution helped ensure survival in a painful world. Now, researchers have pinpointed the brain region responsible for pain's ability to affect cognitive processing. They have found that this pain-related brain region is distinct from the one involved in cognitive processing interference due to a distracting memory task.

Ulrike Bingel and colleagues at the University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf published their discovery in the July 5, 2007 issue of the journal Neuron, published by Cell Press.

To search for the region responsible for pain's ability to usurp attention, the researchers asked volunteers to perform a cognitive task involving distinguishing images, as well as a working memory task involving remembering images. The researchers asked the volunteers to perform the tasks as they experienced different levels of pain caused by the zapping of their hands by a harmless laser beam.

During these tests, the volunteers' brains were scanned using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). In this widely used analytical technique, harmless magnetic fields and radio waves are used to scan the brain to determine blood flow across regions, which reflects brain activity.