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Seaweed may help fight malaria

Scientists at the Georgia Institute of Technology say that a type of tropical seaweed may hold the key to producing the next generation of treatments for malaria.

A group of chemical compounds used by a species of tropical seaweed to ward off fungus attacks may have promising anti-malarial properties for humans.

The compounds are part of a unique chemical signaling system that seaweeds use to battle enemies — and that may provide a wealth of potential new pharmaceutical compounds.

Using a novel analytical process, researchers found that the complex antifungal molecules are not distributed evenly across the seaweed surfaces, but instead appear to be concentrated at specific locations — possibly where an injury increases the risk of fungal infection. The class of compounds is known as bromophycolides.

Cholesterol, BP linked to early memory problems

Middle-age men and women who have cardiovascular issues, such as high cholesterol and high blood pressure, may not only be at risk for heart disease, but for an increased risk of developing early cognitive and memory problems as well.

For the study, 3,486 men and 1,341 women with an average age of 55 underwent cognitive tests three times over 10 years. The tests measured reasoning, memory, fluency and vocabulary. Participants received a Framingham risk score that is used to predict 10-year risk of a cardiovascular event. It is based on age, sex, HDL cholesterol, total cholesterol, systolic blood pressure and whether they smoked or had diabetes.

The study found people who had higher cardiovascular risk were more likely to have lower cognitive function and a faster rate of overall cognitive decline compared to those with the lowest risk of heart disease.

A 10-per cent higher cardiovascular risk was associated with poorer cognitive test scores in all areas except reasoning for men and fluency for women. Higher cardiovascular risk was also associated with a 10-year faster rate of overall cognitive decline in both men and women compared to those with lower cardiovascular risk.

How reovirus kills cancer cells

A new study has found a virus that can help treat cancer. Reoviruses are successfully being used in clinical trials to treat patients with cancer. Not only does the virus cause cancer cells to die, it also forces them to release pro-inflammatory chemokines and cytokines, which in turn causes the patient’s immune system to attack the disease.
The study shows that reovirus infected cancer cells secrete proteins which, even when isolated, result in the death of cancer cells.
Normal human cells are protected from reovirus infection by a protein called PKR. However a cellular signalling protein (Ras), which can block PKR activity, is abnormally activated in many types of cancer and provides a window of opportunity for reovirus infection.
A multi-centre study, involving labs in the UK and America, collected growth media from reovirus infected melanoma cells.

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