What's, the, buzz

What's, the, buzz

Gardening gives the elderly a zest for life

Want to feel younger, healthier and more alive? Start gardening. Researchers from two universities in Texas found that a regular spot of gardening gives the over-50s more of a ‘zest for life’ than those who don’t have green fingers.

Gardeners are also more likely to be organised and optimistic than non-gardeners, say scientists.

Researchers analysed almost 300 people over 50, dividing them into gardeners and non- gardeners.

They found that 71 per cent of gardeners said they did not ‘feel old’ compared with 57 per cent of non-gardeners.

The gardeners also felt more energetic, got more exercise and were shown to be more mentally active.

There were also higher scores for ‘life satisfaction’ among gardeners — while they were also more likely to eat fresh fruit and vegetables. “These factors, combined with higher physical activity, result in healthier lifestyles and increased quality of life,” the researchers said.

Newly identified spider toxin may help treat pain

Spider venom toxins are useful tools for exploring how ion channels operate in the body. These channels control the flow of ions across cell membranes, and are key components in a wide variety of biological processes and human diseases.

A newly identified toxin from the American Funnel Web spider acts on T-type and N-type calcium channels, researchers have discovered. The toxin offers a new target for studying T-type channels, which play a role in congestive heart failure, hypertension, epilepsy and pain.

“The blocking mechanism of the toxin is different from classical pore blocker toxins and voltage modifier toxins,” says lead researcher Xiao Zhang. “It indicates a new toxin blocking mechanism on voltage-gated ion channels.” Zhang purified the toxin and created a recombinant version as part of his doctoral research.

“If we can develop a calcium-channel blocker based on this toxin, we could have a new way to identify how these channels work and develop drugs for treating pain and disease,” says Zhang.