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Onion and green tea can tackle obesity

A biomedical professor has found onions, green tea and olive leaf extract can fight obesity and its related diseases such as heart disease, diabetes and fatty liver, even when a high-fat and high-carbohydrate diet is indulged in. Prof Lindsay Brown, from the University of Southern Queensland, tested a range of foods on rats that were being fed an unhealthy diet high in sugar and fat.

He found certain foods helped prevent the growth of inflammatory cells in the animals' fat pads, located in the abdomen, which take fat from the blood stream and store it, reports the Daily Telegraph. Rats being fed food such as onions, green tea, olive leaf extract, purple carrots and chia seeds had a decreased number of fat cells and lost weight by the end of the study, despite maintaining a poor diet overall.

The rodents were also found with improved liver and heart function. Brown said that the key message of his research was that people should “eat better rather than eat less.” Onions and olive leaf extract contain a flavonoid called rutin - also found in apples, tea and red wine - that Brown found prevented metabolic changes in rats fed the high-sugar, high-fat diet.

Computer helps to design anti-flu virus proteins

Scientists have used computational methods to design new antiviral proteins not found in nature, but capable of targeting specific surfaces of flu virus molecules. One goal of antiviral protein design is to block molecular mechanisms involved in cell invasion and virus reproduction. Computationally designed, surface targeting, antiviral proteins might also have diagnostic and therapeutic potential in identifying and fighting viral infections.

In their report, Sarel J. Fleishman and Timothy Whitehead of the University of Washington Department of Biochemistry described their general computational methods for designing new, tiny protein molecules that could bind to a certain spot on large protein molecules.

They took apart some protein structures and watched how these disembodied sections interacted with a target surface. They analyzed particular high-affinity interactions, and used this information to further refine computer-generated designs for interfaces.

Alzheimer’s gene damages brain before disease starts

A new study has revealed that carriers of a common Alzheimer's risk gene have impaired brain wiring, 50 years before the disease typically strikes. Paul Thompson, a UCLA professor of neurology, reports that the C-allele of the CLU gene, which is possessed by 88 percent of Caucasians, impairs the development of myelin, the protective covering around the neuron's axons in the brain, making it weaker and more vulnerable to the onset of Alzheimer's much later in life.

The researchers scanned the brains of 398 healthy adults ranging in age from 20 to 30 using a high-magnetic-field diffusion scan (called a 4-Tesla DTI), a newer type of MRI that maps the brain's connections. They compared those carrying a C-allele variant of the CLU gene with those who had a different variant, the CLU T-allele.

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