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what's the buzz

US company creates plant-based egg

Veg egg! In some good news for vegetarians, an artificial egg made entirely from plants has been developed by food scientists at a US company.

The company has successfully created faux mayonnaise and a variety of baked goods using the egg substitute. The eggs are made from a “simple, but awesome species of peas,” sorghum and  “11 plants (in total) that are particularly awesome,” FoxNews.com quoted the company CEO Josh Tetrick as saying.

Tetrick sought help of Chris Jones, a contestant on the TV show ‘Top Chef’, and biochemist Joshua Klein to help him create what they describe the most realistic egg-free egg product yet.

Tetrick insists the plant-based egg is not just for herbivores.The company may have some big name backers such as Bill Gates and Paypal co-founder Peter Thiel, however, some experts believe the egg and poultry industry will not be affected.

“Realistically they are never going to replace any significant amount of the poultry industry,” US Department of Agriculture research physiologist Raymond Glahn said. “Products like these come along all the time,” said Glahn.

While Glahn agrees there is great nutritional value to plant-based foods, he said there is a need for a diverse diet for optimal health, the report said.The San Francisco-startup Hampton Creek Foods’ website claims its product is healthier and costs 19 per cent less than normal eggs.

Tetrick said the company’s new product is different than what is already available in the market.

Diabetes drug can reverse Alzheimer’s

A commonly prescribed diabetes drug can reverse memory loss and the build-up of plaques in the brain linked to Alzheimer’s disease, scientists have found. The study, led by Professor Christian Holscher at Lancaster University, found that the drug liraglutide might be able to reverse some of the damage caused by Alzheimer’s, even in the later stages of the condition.

Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia. The condition is characterised by the slow death of brain cells. It is progressive, ultimately terminal and there is yet no cure.

If successful in clinical trials this will be the first new dementia treatment in a decade.
In the study, mice with late-stage Alzheimer’s given the drug performed significantly better on an object recognition test and their brains showed a 30 per cent reduction in the build-up of toxic plaques. Most drugs that show promising effects in dementia do so at an early stage of the disease; these results from a more advanced stage of Alzheimer’s will provide hope that this drug could be of benefit for people in the moderate to severe stages too.

Liraglutide is a member of a class of drugs known as a GLP-1 analogue.The drug is used to stimulate insulin production in diabetes, but research shows it can also pass through the blood brain barrier and have a protective effect on brain cells.

“This exciting study suggests that one of these drugs can reverse the biological causes of Alzheimer’s even in the late stages and demonstrates we’re on the right track,” said Dr Doug Brown, Director of Research and Development at Alzheimer’s Society. A major clinical trial led by Dr Paul Edison of Imperial College London to test the effectiveness of the drug on people with Alzheimer’s disease will begin recruiting patients in the next few weeks.

What makes cholera toxin so deadly

Researchers have identified an underlying biochemical mechanism that helps make cholera toxin so deadly, often resulting in life-threating diarrhea.  Two groups of scientists at the University of California, San Diego, worked on fruit flies, mice and cultured human intestinal cells to study cholera toxin, produced by the highly infectious bacterium Vibrio cholerae.

They discovered the toxin exerts some of its devastating effects by reducing the delivery of proteins to molecular junctions that normally act like Velcro to hold intestinal cells together in the outer lining of the gut.  The UC San Diego researchers found that cholera toxin acts by two entirely distinct, but cooperating mechanisms to produce diarrhea.

In addition to increasing the efflux of chloride ions through a protein channel called CFTR, it weakens cell junctions to allow a rapid outflow of counterbalancing sodium ions and water between the cells.  The scientists showed that many of the effects of the cholera toxin on the gut could be reversed by genetic manipulations that bolster the delivery of proteins to these junctions.

Understanding this novel mechanism of cholera action could also have important implications for other disorders of intestinal barrier function such as Crohn’s disease, colitis and celiac disease.

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