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Tue, 29 Sep 2020
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Parkinson's Disease: Nicotine Could Help; Pesticides Harm

The Parkinson's Institute recently announced new findings concerning the role of environmental factors in the development of Parkinson's disease.

Highlights of the research include:

The role of pesticides (eg. Paraquat and Dieldrin) as potential risk factors for Parkinson's disease, a role suggested by both epidemiological statistics and laboratory evidence.

The threat of toxic agents to damage neurons by causing the accumulation of harmful proteins.

Intraneuronal protein aggregates as markers of Parkinson's pathology, based on work carried out at The Parkinson's Institute indicating that these aggregates could be formed as a consequence of toxic exposure.

The importance of targeting a specific protein, alpha-synuclein, in order to achieve neuroprotection in Parkinson's
The role of inflammation in the development of Parkinson's disease and the possibility that anti-inflammatory drugs could be beneficial to patients.

The possibility that nicotine may act as a neuroprotective agent.

Wine

Researchers Light Up for Nicotine, the Wonder Drug

Smoking may be bad for you, but researchers and biotech companies are quietly developing pharmaceuticals that are decidedly good for brains, bowels, blood vessels and even immune systems -- and they're inspired by tobacco's deadly active ingredient: nicotine.

Bulb

Study finds smoking wards off Parkinson's disease

There is more evidence to back up a long-standing theory that smokers are less likely to develop Parkinson's disease than people who do not use tobacco products, researchers reported on Monday.

Comment: For more information on why smoking can be good for certain people, go here.


Health

Pioneering treatment for brain cancer gets Swiss approval

LONDON - An experimental treatment for brain cancer has won approval for commercial use in Switzerland, its London-listed US maker, Northwest Biotherapeutics, Inc., announced on Monday.

Light Saber

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.