what's the buzz

what's the buzz

Hunger feelings may combat Alzheimer’s

The sensation of hunger itself may protect against Alzheimer’s disease, a new study on mice has suggested.

Interestingly, the results of this study suggest that mild hunger pangs, and related hormonal pathways, may be as important to the much-discussed value of “caloric restriction” as actually eating less.

Caloric restriction is a regimen where an individual consumes fewer calories than average, but not so few that they become malnourished. Studies in many species have suggested that it could protect against neurodegenerative disorders and extend lifespans, but the effect has not been confirmed in human randomised clinical trials.

But researchers behind the new study argued that hormonal signals are the middlemen between an empty gut and the perception of hunger in the brain, and that manipulating them may effectively counter age-related cognitive decline in the same way as caloric restriction.

Fruits flies could harbour clues for human healing

Human skin and a fruit fly’s exoskeleton, called a “cuticle” may not look alike, but both coverings protect against injury, infection, and dehydration.

The top layers of mammalian skin and insect cuticle are mesh-works of macromolecules, the mammal version consisting mostly of keratin proteins and the fly version predominantly of the carbohydrate chitin.

Yet, the requirement of an outer boundary for protection is so ancient that the outermost cells of both organisms respond to some of the same signals. And because of these signaling similarities, the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster serves as a model for wound healing.

A new way to study wound healing in flies suggests new targets for wound-healing drugs.

About 177 million people a year suffer from a wound, an opening that breaks the skin and usually damages the tissue underneath, which may be surgical, traumatic as a burn or laceration, or may be a chronic condition, as with people who have diabetes or those with immune system diseases.

Magic mushroom drugs could treat severe depression

Drugs made from magic mushrooms could help treat people with severe depression, a new study suggests.

Scientists believe that the chemical psilocybin, the psychedelic ingredient in magic mushrooms, can turn down parts of the brain that are overactive in severely depressive patients, the Guardian reported.

The drug appears to stop patients dwelling on themselves and their own perceived inadequacies. However, a bid by British scientists to carry out trials of psilocybin on patients in order to assess its full medical potential has been blocked by red tape relating to Britain’s strict drugs laws.

Professor David Nutt, professor of neuropsychopharmacology at Imperial College London, said that because magic mushrooms are rated as a class-A drug, their active chemical ingredient cannot be manufactured unless a special licence is granted.

“We haven’t started the study because finding companies that could manufacture the drug and who are prepared to go through the regulatory hoops to get the licence is proving very difficult,” Nutt said.

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