Scientists Say You Should Do This Exercise at Least Twice a Week to Make Your Brain Work Better.


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Engaging in regular weightlifting could actually make your brain work better and prevent dementia, concludes new research by Australian scientists. As about 135 million people are estimated to develop dementia by 2050, the study’s findings are key in ensuring healthier brain function in the population.

The researchers focused on 100 people aged 55 to 86 with “mild cognitive impairment” (MCI) who were asked to do weight lifting and brain training. MCI is considered a precursor to developing Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia.

In 2014, the same team published a paper outlining how cognition skills improve as a result of weight training. The benefits lasted even 12 months after that study concluded.

“What we found in this follow-up study is that the improvement in cognition function was related to their muscle strength gains. The stronger people became, the greater the benefit for their brain,” said the study’s lead author, Dr. Yorgi Mavros, of Sydney University.

Twice a week, over a six month period, the study’s participants worked with weights that were 80% as heavy as the max they could lift. The stronger they got, the more weight they lifted, sticking to the 80% rule.

Subsequent MRI scans of the study’s subjects showed an increase in certain areas of their brains.

While future studies will determine whether this holds true for people of any age group, the positive results encouraged Dr. Mavros to state a general recommendation for all.

“The more we can get people doing resistance training like weight lifting, the more likely we are to have a healthier ageing population,” said Dr. Mavros. “The key however is to make sure you are doing it frequently, at least twice a week, and at a high intensity so that you are maximising your strength gains. This will give you the maximum benefit for your brain.”

To build on their findings, the researchers are planning further studies.

“The next step now is to determine if the increases in muscle strength are also related to increases in brain size that we saw,” said the study’s senior author Professor Maria Fiatarone Singh, geriatrician at University of Sydney. “In addition, we want to find the underlying messenger that links muscle strength, brain growth, and cognitive performance, and determine the optimal way to prescribe exercise to maximise these effects.”

The Study of Mental and Resistance Training (SMART) trial was conducted by University of Sydney researchers in collaboration with the Centre for Healthy Brain Ageing (CHeBA) at University of New South Wales and the University of Adelaide.

Source:http://bigthink.com

Can Acidic Drinks Damage Kids’ Teeth Permanently?


High acidity levels in soft drinks, fruit juice and sports beverages pose a threat to youngsters’ teeth, a new study reports.

“Our research has shown that permanent damage to the tooth enamel will occur within the first 30 seconds of high acidity coming into contact with the teeth. This is an important finding and it suggests that such drinks are best avoided,” study corresponding author Dr. Sarbin Ranjitkar, of the Craniofacial Biology Research Group at the University of Adelaide in Australia, said in a university news release.

“If high acidity drinks are consumed, it is not simply a matter of having a child clean their teeth an hour or 30 minutes later and hoping they’ll be OK — the damage is already done,” he added.

The findings were recently published in the Journal of Dentistry.

Normally, Ranjitkar said, there’s a balance between acids and protective mechanisms in a healthy mouth. But, “once that balance is shifted in favor of the acids, regardless of the type of acid, teeth become damaged,” he explained.

High acidity drinks also can combine with other factors to cause major, irreversible damage to youngsters’ teeth, according to Ranjitkar.

“Often, children and adolescents grind their teeth at night, and they can have undiagnosed regurgitation or reflux, which brings with it acidity from the stomach. Combined with drinks high in acidity, this creates a triple threat to young people’s teeth which can cause long-term damage,” he said.

Tooth erosion caused by acidic beverages is on the rise in children and young adults, according to Ranjitkar.

“Dental erosion is an issue of growing concern in developed countries, and it is often only detected clinically after extensive tooth wear has occurred,” he said. “Such erosion can lead to a lifetime of compromised dental health that may require complex and extensive rehabilitation — but it is also preventable with minimal intervention.”

NEW HOPE FOR POWDERY MILDEW RESISTANT BARLEY.


New research at the University of Adelaide has opened the way for the development of new lines of barley with resistance to powdery mildew.

In Australia, annual barley production is second only to wheat with 7-8 million tonnes ayear. Powdery mildew is one of the most important diseases of barley.

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Senior Research Scientist Dr Alan Little and team have discovered the composition of special growths on the cell walls of barley plants that block the penetration of the fungus into the leaf.

The research, by the ARC Centre of Excellence in Plant Cell Walls in the University’s School of Agriculture, Food and Wine in collaboration with the Leibniz Institute of PlantGenetics and Crop Plant Research in Germany, will be presented at the upcoming 5th International Conference on Plant Cell Wall Biology and published in the journal New Phytologist (www.newphytologist.com).

Powdery mildew is a significant problem wherever barley is grown around the world,” says Dr Little. “Growers with infected crops can expect up to 25% reductions in yield and the barley may also be downgraded from high quality malting barley to that of feed quality, with an associated loss in market value.

In recent times we’ve seen resistance in powdery mildew to the class of fungicide most commonly used to control the disease in Australia. Developing barley with improved resistance to the disease is therefore evenmore important.”

The discovery means researchers have new targets for breeding powdery mildew resistant barley lines.

“Powdery mildew feeds on the living plant,” says Dr Little. “The fungus spore lands on the leaf and sends out a tube-like structure which punches its way through cell walls, penetrating the cells and taking the nutrients from the plant. The plant tries to stop this penetration by building a plug of cell wall material – a papillae – around the infection site. Effective papillae can block the penetration by the fungus.

“It has long been thought that callose is the main polysaccharide component of papilla. But using new techniques, we’ve been able to show that in the papillae that block fungal penetration, two other polysaccharides are present in significant concentrations and play a key role.

“It appears that callose acts like an initial plug in the wall but arabinoxylan and cellulose fill the gaps in the wall and make it much stronger.”

In his PhD project, Jamil Chowdhury showed that effective papillae contained up to four times the concentration of callose, arabinoxylan and cellulose as cell wall plugs which didn’t block penetration.

“We can now use this knowledge find ways of increasing these polysaccharides in barley plants to produce more resistant lines available for growers,” says Dr Little.

Zinc ‘starves’ deadly bacteria.


Australian researchers have found that zinc can ‘starve’ one of the world’s most deadly bacteria by preventing its uptake of an essential metal.

The finding, by infectious disease researchers at the University of Adelaide and The University of Queensland, opens the way for further work to design antibacterial agents in the fight against Streptococcus pneumoniae.

Streptococcus pneumoniae is responsible for more than one million deaths a year, killing children, the elderly and other vulnerable people by causing pneumonia, meningitis, and other serious infectious diseases.

Published in the journal Nature Chemical Biology, the researchers describe how zinc “jams shut” a protein transporter in the bacteria so that it cannot take up manganese, an essential metal that Streptococcus pneumoniae needs to be able to invade and cause disease in humans.

“It’s long been known that zinc plays an important role in the body’s ability to protect against bacterial infection, but this is the first time anyone has been able to show how zinc actually blocks an essential pathway causing the bacteria to starve,” says project leader Dr Christopher McDevitt, Research Fellow in the University of Adelaide’s Research Centre for Infectious Diseases.

“This work spans fields from chemistry and biochemistry to microbiology and immunology to see, at an atomic level of detail, how this transport protein is responsible for keeping the bacteria alive by scavenging one essential metal (manganese), but at the same time also makes the bacteria vulnerable to being killed by another metal (zinc),” says Professor Bostjan Kobe, Professor of Structural Biology at The University of Queensland.

The study reveals that the bacterial transporter (PsaBCA) uses a ‘spring-hammer’ mechanism to bind the metals. The difference in size between the two metals, manganese and zinc, causes the transporter to bind them in different ways. The smaller size of zinc means that when it binds to the transporter, the mechanism closes too tightly around the zinc, causing an essential spring in the protein to unwind too far, jamming it shut and blocking the transporter from being able to take up manganese.

“Without manganese, these bacteria can easily be cleared by the immune system,” says Dr McDevitt. “For the first time, we understand how these types of transporters function. With this new information we can start to design the next generation of antibacterial agents to target and block these essential transporters.”

Understanding women’s chronic pain.


New research from the University of Adelaide has found that chronic pain in women is more complex and harder to treat than chronic pain in men.

The work, to be presented tomorrow at the Faculty of Pain Medicine spring meeting in Byron Bay, organised by the Australian and New Zealand College of Anaesthetists (ANZCA), suggest that men and women should be prescribed medications and treated for pain differently according to their gender.

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Study leader Dr Mark Hutchinson from the University’s School of Medical Sciences says laboratory studies have shown for the first time that the brain’s immune cells, known as glial cells, contribute to differences in pain between the sexes.

“There are fundamental differences in the experience of pain between females and males,” says Dr Hutchinson, whose research has been investigating why acute pain turns to chronic pain (experienced for at least three months consecutively) in some people and why chronic pain is more prevalent in women than in men.

“Our research is discovering brain mechanisms at work that are proving chronic pain in women is more complex and difficult to treat than in men, despite the similarity of the initial cause of pain.

“Female and male structures in the brain are different but that doesn’t explain women’s higher rate of pain.  There are multiple different pain systems in females and males,” he says.

“Our studies certainly show that women’s experience of pain is more severe and the pain is harder to treat.”

Dr Hutchinson says it’s already known that some drugs for inflammatory bowel disease only work on women and not on men, indicating the need for more tailored treatments.

“Better understanding female chronic pain is extremely important to treatment.  We’re hoping our research will lead to the development of sex-targeted drugs that will provide more effective pain relief,” he says.

Life created from eggs made from skin cells.


Stem cells made from skin have become “grandparents” after generations of life were created in experiments by scientists in Japan.

The cells were used to create eggs, which were fertilised to produce baby mice. These later had their own babies.

If the technique could be adapted for people, it could help infertile couples have children and even allow women to overcome the menopause.

But experts say many scientific and ethical hurdles must be overcome.

Healthy and fertile

Stem cells are able to become any other type of cell in the body from blood to bone, nerves to skin.

Last year the team at Kyoto University managed to make viable sperm from stem cells. Now they have performed a similar feat with eggs.

They used stem cells from two sources: those collected from an embryo and skin-like cells which were reprogrammed into becoming stem cells.

The first step, reported in the journal Science, was to turn the stem cells into early versions of eggs.

A “reconstituted ovary” was then built by surrounding the early eggs with other types of supporting cells which are normally found in an ovary. This was transplanted into female mice.

Surrounding the eggs in this environment helped them to mature.

IVF techniques were used to collect the eggs, fertilise them with sperm from a male mouse and implant the fertilised egg into a surrogate mother.

Dr Katsuhiko Hayashi, from Kyoto University, told the BBC: “They develop to be healthy and fertile offspring.”

Those babies then had babies of their own, whose “grandmother” was a cell in a laboratory dish.

Devastating blow

The ultimate aim of the research is to help infertile couples have children. If the same methods could be used in people then cells in skin could be turned into an egg. Any resulting child would be genetically related to the mother.

However, Dr Hayashi said that was still a distant prospect: “I must say that it is impossible to adapt immediately this system to human stem cells, due to a number of not only scientific reasons, but also ethical reasons.”

He said that the level of understanding of human egg development was still too limited. There would also be questions about the long-term consequences on the health of any resulting child.

Dr Evelyn Telfer, from the University of Edinburgh, said: “It’s an absolutely brilliant paper – they made oocytes [eggs] from scratch and get live offspring. I just thought wow! The science is quite brilliant.”

However, she warned that this had “no clinical relevance” as there were still too many gaps in understanding about how human eggs developed.

“If you can show it works in human cells it is like the Holy Grail of reproductive biology,” she added.

Prof Robert Norman, from the University of Adelaide, said: “For many infertile couples, finding they have no sperm or eggs is a devastating blow.

“This paper offers light to those who want a child, who is genetically related to them, by using personalised stem cells to create eggs that can produce an offspring that appears to be healthy.

“It also offers the potential for women to have their own children well past menopause raising even more ethical issues.

“Application to humans is still a long way off, but for the first time the goal appears to be in sight.”

Dr Allan Pacey, from the British Fertility Society and the University of Sheffield, said: “What is remarkable about this work is the fact that, although the process is still quite inefficient, the offspring appeared healthy and were themselves fertile as adults.”

Source:BBC

 

 

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