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Gut bacterium breaks down dietary fibre

A new study has found the sequence of genes that help bacterial communities living in the human gut breakdown a main component of dietary fibre found in the cell walls of fruits and vegetables.

The findings of the study, conducted by University of British Columbia researchers, illuminate the specialised roles played by key members of the vast gut bacterium, and could inform the development of tailored microbiota transplants to improve intestinal health after antibiotic use or illness.

Senior author of the study and UBC professor Harry Brumer said that while they are vital to our diet, the long chains of natural polymeric carbohydrates that make up dietary fibre are impossible for humans to digest without the aid of our resident bacteria.

Brumer asserted that the newly discovered sequence of genes enables Bacteroides ovatus and its complex system of enzymes to chop up xyloglucan, a major type of dietary fibre found in many vegetables – from lettuce leaves to tomato fruits.

About 92 per cent of the population harbours bacteria with a variant of the gene sequence, according to the researchers’ survey of public genome data from 250 adult humans.
How calcium-triggered cardiac arrhythmias occur

Researchers have found the underlying mechanism of the calcium-triggered arrhythmias.The study findings outlines the discovery of this fundamental physiological process that researchers hope will one day help design molecularly tailored medications that correct the pathophysiology.

While many factors contribute to the development of arrhythmias, including genetics, scientists know that a common mechanism of cardiac arrhythmias is calcium overload in the heart, i.e. calcium-triggered arrhythmias that can lead to sudden death.

Using a combination of molecular biology, electrophysiology, and genetically engineering mice, scientists at the University of Calgary’s and Alberta Health Services’ Libin Cardiovascular Institute of Alberta (Libin Institute)have discovered that a calcium-sensing-gate in the cardiac calcium release channel (ryanodine receptor) is responsible for initiation of calcium waves and calcium-triggered arrhythmias.

Utilizing a genetically modified mouse model they were able to manipulate the sensor and completely prevented calcium-triggered arrhythmias.

SR Wayne Chen, PhD, the study’s senior author and University of Calgary- Libin Institute researcher, said that the calcium-sensing- gate mechanism discovered here is an entirely novel concept with potential to shift our general understanding of ion channel gating, cardiac arrhythmogenesis, and the treatment of calcium-triggered arrhythmias. 
Paracetamol can slow brain development in kids

A new study has found that paracetamol can interfere with the brain development of children, and can even be dangerous for unborn kids.

Researchers at Uppsala University examined paracetamol, one of the most commonly used drugs for pain and fever in children, by giving small doses of it to ten-day-old mice. They later carried out tests on the behavioral habits of the mice in adulthood.

They found that the mice could be hyperactive in adulthood, could display behavioural disturbances, and could have lower memory capability compared to the mice that weren’t given the dose, the Local reported.

Researchers said that the exposure to and presence of paracetamol during a critical period of brain development can induce long-lasting effects on cognitive function and alter the adult response to paracetamol in mice.

They added that parents should be careful in administering the drug.

Researcher Henrik Viberg told the Upsala Nya Tidning newspaper that this shows that there are reasons to restrict the use of paracetamol at the end of pregnancy and to hold back from giving the medicine to infants.

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