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Why people tend to put on weight

A new study has revealed that a protein in the brain helps regulate food intake and body weight.

The findings reveal a potential new avenue for the treatment of obesity and may help explain why medications that are prescribed for epilepsy and other conditions that interfere with this protein, such as gabapentin and pregabalin, can cause weight gain.

The protein – alpha2/delta-1 – has not been linked previously to obesity.

A team led by Maribel Rios, PhD, associate professor in the department of neuroscience at Tufts University School of Medicine, found that alpha2/delta-1 facilitates the function of another protein called brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). Rios said that they know that low levels of the BDNF protein in the brain lead to overeating and dramatic obesity in mice. Deficiencies in BDNF have also been linked to obesity in humans.

Rios and colleagues discovered that low levels of BDNF were associated with decreased function of alpha2/delta-1 in the hypothalamus, a brain region that is critical to the regulation of food intake and weight.

When the team inhibited the alpha2/delta-1 protein in normal mice, mice ate significantly more food and gained weight. Conversely, when the team corrected the alpha 2/delta-1 deficiency in mice with reduced BDNF levels, overeating and weight gain were mitigated. In addition, blood sugar levels were normalised.

New causes of diabetes discovered

Researchers have discovered two new genetic causes of neonatal diabetes.

The new research by the University of Exeter Medical School has provided further insights on how the insulin-producing beta cells are formed in the pancreas The team discovered that mutations in two specific genes which are important for development of the pancreas can cause the disease. These findings increase the number of known genetic causes of neonatal diabetes to 20.

Lead author, Dr Sarah Flanagan, said that neonatal diabetes is diagnosed when a child is less than six months old, and some of these patients have added complications such as muscle weakness and learning difficulties with or without epilepsy. She sad that their genetic discovery is critical to the advancement of knowledge on how insulin-producing beta cells are formed in the pancreas, which has implications for research into manipulating stem cells, which could one day lead to a cure.

Neonatal diabetes is caused by a change in a gene which affects insulin production. This means that levels of blood glucose (sugar) in the body rise dangerously high.
Sleeping pills up risk of heart attacks by 50 pc

A new study suggests that sleeping pills taken by tens of thousands of Britons can increase the risk of heart attacks by up to 50 percent.

Scientists found that zolpidem, which is sold under the brand name Stilnoct in the UK, is linked with a dramatic rise in the number of life-threatening cardiac events, the Daily Express reported. Four standard dose pills a year – 35 milligrams – send the risk soaring by around 20 percent. People taking the equivalent of 60 tablets a year could see the threat jump by half.

Scientists cannot be fully certain yet that sleeping pills are causing heart problems – and the manufacturers say there are no known adverse cardiac reactions to zolpidem.However, the researchers say the results from a study of more than 5,000 people are sufficiently worrying for “further large-scale and in-depth investigations”. 

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