What's the buzz........

What's the buzz........

Alcohol has damaging effects on brain

Previous research had shown that though alcohol had a wide range of pharmacological effects on the body, the brain was a primary target. However, the molecular mechanisms by which alcohol alters neuronal activity in the brain were not clearly understood.
Now, a new study has shed light into the interactions of alcohol with prototype brain proteins thought to underlie alcohol actions in the brain.

“Alcohol is the most common drug in the world which has been used by diverse human communities longer than recorded history, yet our understanding of its effects on the brain is limited when compared to other drugs,” said Rebecca J Howard, a postdoctoral fellow at The University of Texas.

Howard explained that neuroscientists have discovered how marijuana, cocaine, and heroin each bind to a special type of protein on the surface of brain cells, fitting like a key into a lock to change that protein’s normal function. Yet alcohol has special properties that make it difficult to characterise its lock-and-key binding in detail, for example, alcohol is much smaller than other drugs, and appears to interact with several different types of proteins.

“The adverse effects of alcohol abuse are devastating on a personal level and on a societal level,” added Gregg Homanics, a professor of anesthesiology,University of Pittsburgh. “Alcohol abuse costs our society more than the costs of all illegal drug abuse combined.  Our understanding of alcohol action has dramatically shifted in the last 10 to 15 years or so. There is now solid experimental evidence that alcohol binds in a very specific manner to key protein targets in the brain to cause the drug’s well known behavourial effects.  added Homanics.

Magical thinking helps cope with stressful situations

“Magical thinking occurs when an individual invokes mystical, supernatural forces to understand, predict, or even influence events to overcome these stressful situations,” said researchers.

“Weight loss activities are stressful for a number of reasons: being overweight is associated with several negative health consequences as well as social stigma. To cope with conflicting pressures, consumers engage in various forms of magical thinking. They describe weight loss as being influenced by mysterious forces, such as a body that conspires against them.       
               
Powerful vaccination strategy to fight malaria

Scientists have discovered a powerful strategy to combat malaria that may be described as the most effective next-generation vaccination approach for the disease.The new approach works by eliciting an immune response that can combat the malarial parasite during multiple stages of its complex life cycle.

“Halting Plasmodium infection during the clinically silent liver stage represents an attractive goal of antimalarial vaccination, but is challenging because, if not complete, some parasites can get into the blood and cause disease,” noted study co-author Stefan Kappe,Seattle Biomedical Research Institute. Using mouse malaria models, the researchers discovered that immunization with late-liver-stage-arresting GAP provided superior and long-lasting protection against liver-stage infection when compared with irradiated parasites or early-liver-stage arresting GAP.

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