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Binge drinking slows  bone healing

A group of researcher have tried to explain how alcohol slows healing on the cellular and molecular levels.

Now a study by Loyola University Medical Center researchers could lead to treatments to improve bone healing in alcohol abusers, and possibly non-drinkers as well.

Senior author John Callaci, PhD, and Roman Natoli, MD, PhD, studied the effects that alcohol consumption had on bone healing in mice. One group of mice was exposed to alcohol levels roughly equivalent to three times the legal limit for driving. A control group was exposed to equal amounts of saline (salt water).

The study found three ways in which alcohol impaired bone healing after a fracture:
There were differences between the control group and the alcohol-exposed group in the callus, the hard bony tissue that forms around the ends of fractured bones. In the alcohol-exposed group, the callus was less mineralized, meaning not as much bone was forming. Moreover, the bone that did form was not as strong. Mice exposed to alcohol showed signs of oxidative stress, a process that impairs normal cellular functions.

The alcohol-exposed mice had significantly higher levels of malondialdehyde, a molecule that serves as a marker for oxidative stress.

Gene therapy to become future of cardio treatment

A global hunt for genes influencing heart disease risk has uncovered 157 changes in human DNA that alter levels of cholesterol and other blood fats – a finding that may lead to new medications.

Each of the changes points to genes that can modify levels of cholesterol and other blood fats and are potential drug targets. Many of the changes point to genes not previously linked to blood fats, also called lipids.

A surprising number of the variations were also associated with coronary artery disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity, and high blood pressure.

The research also reveals that triglycerides – another type of blood lipid – play a larger role in heart disease risk than previously thought.

The results increase by more than a third the total number of genetic variants linked to blood lipids. All but one of the variants associated with blood lipids are near stretches of DNA that encode proteins.

Relation with TV characters enhance kids’ scientific skills

Researchers are investigating if relationships formed by kids with media characters like Dora the Explorer or Elmo help them learn science, technology, engineering and mathematical (STEM). Rebekah Richert, associate professor of psychology at University of California, Riverside, said that many people are involved in designing educational games, and there is a lot of interest in creating high-quality and interactive media. “On the surface they seem likely to help children learn. But there can be big gaps between what technology offers and what children really learn.”

In a series of studies, the researchers will examine how toddlers and preschoolers learn from educational media and how that can support STEM education.

Among the questions the NSF-funded project will attempt to answer is which characters or types of characters in children’s media — like the popular Dora the Explorer, created for Nickelodeon, or Sesame Street’s Elmo — could be used to stimulate STEM learning.

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