What's the Buzz

What's the Buzz

Master switch that triggers arthritis

Scientists at Imperial College London have discovered a protein that triggers rheumatoid arthritis. They have found a protein called IRF5 that acts as a switch, telling immune system cells, called macrophages, to promote or stop inflammation.

Rheumatoid arthritis is an incurable immune system disease where joints are swollen by inflammation. The body uses inflammation as a defence against infection and tissue damage, but too much is harmful.

Blocking the production of IRF5 could help in a range of diseases including RA, lupus and even MS. “This is really exciting,” said senior researcher Irina Udalova.

Free milk at schools ‘key to lower risk of bowel cancer’

A study has found that those who drank free milk supplied at schools have a reduced risk of bowel cancer.

Associate professor Brian Cox and Dr Mary Jane Sneyd, Otago University, revealed that they found a 30 per cent reduced risk of bowel cancer for those who took part in school milk programmes. They explained that calcium — a nutrient in milk more commonly associated with healthy bone development — may affect the growth of bowel adenomas, benign tumours that can become malignant.

“Although calcium supplementation in adults has been shown to reduce the risk of recurrent adenoma, the effect of childhood dietary calcium on their initial development is not known,” said the authors.

Cox said, “The research team is currently planning further research which, if funding can be obtained, could confirm that the provision of milk at school can significantly reduce the risk of bowel cancer in future generations.”

He added, “It’s not clear how much changing your diet in adulthood would change your risk of bowel cancer.”

BP control system in kidney’s structural units

A new study has found blood pressure control system in kidney’s structural units. The kidney is made up of roughly one million working units called nephrons. These basic structural units remove waste products from the blood, recycle some substances to be reused and eliminate what is left as urine. The end segment of nephrons, called the distal nephron, helps set blood pressure by controlling the amount of sodium in our blood.

Scientists at the University of Texas Health Science Centre San Antonio have shed light on how this essential function of the distal nephron is regulated. They demonstrated that sodium handling by the distal nephron is under the control of a local regulatory system.

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