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Concussions may lead to Alzheimers

A new study has suggested that a history of concussion involving at least a momentary loss of consciousness could be related to the onset of Alzheimer’s-associated plaques in the brain.

Study author Michelle Mielke, PhD, with Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, said that in people with a history of concussion, a difference in the amount of brain plaques was found only in those with memory and thinking problems, not in those who were cognitively normal.

For the study, people from Olmsted County in Minnesota were given brain scans; these included 448 people without any signs of memory problems and 141 people with memory and thinking problems called mild cognitive impairment.

Participants, who were all age 70 or older, were also asked about whether they had ever experienced a brain injury that involved any loss of consciousness or memory.

Of the 448 people without any thinking or memory problems, 17 percent reported a brain injury and 18 percent of the 141 with memory and thinking difficulties reported a concussion or head trauma. The study found no difference in any brain scan measures among the people without memory and thinking impairments, whether or not they had head trauma.

Mixing proteins can help build better malaria vaccine

Researchers including an Indian-origin scientist have suggested that a cocktail of AMA1 proteins from only a few different strains can overcome major limitations of an earlier designed version of AMA1-based malaria vaccines.

The challenge with the malaria parasite in general and its AMA1 surface protein in particular is that both exist as multiple strains. Using AMA1 in a vaccine readies the human immune system for subsequent encounters with the parasite, but when such a vaccine was previously tested in humans, it was effective mostly against one particular P. falciparum strain.

In different laboratory tests, Quadvax-induced antibodies inhibited the growth of 26 different parasite strains, and the scientists suggest that “the combination of four AMA1 variants in Quadvax may be sufficient to overcome global AMA1 diversity”.

Why girls are preferred over boys by IVF parents

A new research has found that a majority of IVF parents undergoing embryo screening are choosing girls over boys in order to decrease the child’s risk of autism, as male babies are about 4 times likely as girls to develop the medical condition.

Mark Bowman, director of the fertility company Genea, said that his firm has conducted over 100 cycles of “pre-implantation genetic diagnosis” this year alone, mainly for conditions like cystic fibrosis.

In a way these tests are the ultimate preventative medicine, Bowman said.

Guidelines provided by the National Health and Medical Research Council said that although sex selection is not allowed, it can be done to prevent the spread of a “serious genetic condition”.  Bowman added that in about 1 in 20 cases parents undergo a cycle of pre-implantation diagnosis just for sex selection to avoid having another autistic child.
But some couples also choose sex selection for controversial reasons, such as depression and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder.

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