What's the buzz

What's the buzz

Sleep disorder tied to Parkinson’s

Researchers at the University of Toronto have identified a potential cause for a severe sleep disorder that could also have implications for Parkinson’s disease and other neurodegenerative diseases.

“Our research is the first to establish a potential genetic link to human REM sleep behaviour disorder (RBD).  That’s important because between 60 and 80 per cent of people diagnosed with human RBD develop Parkinson’s disease or other neurodegenerative disorders later in life,” said Dr. John Peever, lead author of the study.
Peever’s team focused on investigating a genetic cause of RBD because the underlying cause of this disorder is unknown. There is evidence indicating that reduced brain inhibition could cause RBD, so Peever’s team genetically reduced brain inhibition in mice and then recorded their sleep and muscle activity.

“We found that mice with reduced brain inhibition acted just like human RBD patients and they moved violently during REM sleep,” said Peever. “This link strongly suggests that patients with RBD may also have impaired brain inhibition.”

Fast food has no impact on students’ weight

People generally worry that fast food restaurants near schools may raise the risk of their kids being overweight, given their chance of consuming more fast-food and sweetened beverage.

But researchers from the University of Southern Maine have found that food store locations near schools have no impact on high school students’ weight. For their study, they surveyed 552 students to determine height, weight, and calorie-dense food consumption of ninth to twelfth grade students.

Findings from the study revealed that half of the students consumed soda at least once a week and just over 10 per cent consumed it daily, with a slightly smaller number consuming sports drinks in these time periods.

In addition, nearly two thirds had visited a burger and fries fast food restaurant in the previous month, whereas over half had visited a pizza shop during that period.

Of the 552 students surveyed, one quarter  were overweight , whereas 73 percent were of normal weight and 1.8 percent were underweight.  This study found no correlation between students' overweight risk and the presence of stores with unhealthful food.

New therapies to reverse blindness on the anvil

Therapies to reverse blindness caused by common retinal diseases such as macular degeneration and retinitis pigmentosa could soon be on the anvil, thanks to stem cell technology developed to correct a genetic defect present in a rare blinding disorder.

A team of scientists from the University of Wisconsin-Madison used a technology to generate induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells from a human patient with an uncommon inherited eye disease known as gyrate atrophy.

“When we generate iPS cells, correct the gene defect that is responsible for this disease, and guide these stem cells to become RPE cells, these RPE cells functioned normally,” said lead study author Jason Meyer.

Researchers are hopeful that once the gene defect responsible for a blinding disorder is corrected in iPS cells, these cells may be able to restore vision.

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