what's the buzz

what's the buzz

Prolonged sitting could shorten life

Emerging studies have found that prolonged sitting increases the risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes, slows metabolism and even shortens our lives. A University of Sydney study has found that adults who sat 11 or more hours a day had a 40 percent increased risk of dying in the next three years compared with those who sat for fewer than four hours a day, the New York Daily News reported.

“That morning walk or trip to the gym is still necessary, but it’s also important to avoid prolonged sitting,” the paper quoted study author Dr. Hidde van der Ploeg, of the University of Sydney’s School of Public Health, as saying in a statement.

According to him, their results suggest the time people spend sitting at home, work and in traffic should be reduced by standing or walking more.  For adults, van der Ploeg suggests a moderate intensity activity, such as walking, for at least 30 minutes in the morning.

A similar report was published by The British Journal of Sports Medicine last fall, which highlighted a link between prolonged sitting and health.  The report looked at Australian adults in 2008, and concluded that those who watch TV an average of six hours a day will live 4.8 years fewer than those who don’t.

While taking into consideration age, diet and exercise habits, the study found that those with the “highest sedentary behavior” had the greatest risk for cardiovascular disease, diabetes and dying prematurely. It means adults older than 25 who watch a single hour of TV will see their life expectancy shorten by 21.8 minutes.

But a single cigarette reduces life expectancy by about 11 minutes, the study said.

Injection of stem cells into brain effective for stroke

In a small clinical trial at Glasgow's Southern General Hospital, five seriously disabled stroke patients have shown small signs of recovery following the injection of stem cells into their brain.

Prof Keith Muir, of Glasgow University, who is treating them, said he is "surprised" by the mild to moderate improvements in the five patients.

But he noted that it is too soon to tell whether the effect is due to the treatment they are receiving, the BBC reported.  The five stroke patients are among nine patients in their 60s, 70s and 80s who are taking part in the clinical trial to assess the safety of the procedure which involves injecting stem cells into the damaged brain part.

It is one of the first trials in the world to test the use of stem cells in patients.

Results to be presented at the European Stroke Conference in London on Tuesday show that there have been no adverse effects on the patients so far and there have been improvements to more than half participating in the trial.

All the patients involved in the trial had their strokes between six months and five years before they received the treatment.  The recovery of any one of them - let alone five - was not expected, according to Prof Muir, who is in charge of the trial.

He told BBC News that they've seen people who now have the ability to move their fingers where they have had several years of complete paralysis. The results so far pave the way for a so-called phase two trial later this year, which will be desirable to determine whether any improvement is due to the treatment.

Sea anemone venom-derived compound to treat obesity

A synthetic compound ShK-186, originally derived from a sea anemone toxin, has been found to enhance metabolic activity and shows potential as a treatment for obesity and insulin resistance, according to scientists at UC Irvine.

The findings reveal that ShK-186 selectively blocks the activity of a protein that promotes inflammation through the Kv1.3 potassium channel. The study presents the first evidence that the drug candidate – which in March showed positive results in a Phase 1 safety clinical trial – may also work in an anti-obesity capacity.

UC Irvine licensed ShK-186 to Kineta Inc., a Seattle based biotechnology company in 2009; it is the company`s lead drug candidate. Kineta is developing this compound to treat autoimmune diseases, such as multiple sclerosis, psoriatic arthritis and lupus. It has also licensed the use of ShK-186 for the treatment of metabolic syndrome and obesity.

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