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Simple blood test to detect diabetes early

A new blood test can save millions of people from diabetes, by detecting the risk of the disease before it actually develops.

Researchers have discovered that a simple blood test reveals an individual's risk of developing type-2 diabetes before they develop either condition - far earlier than previously believed.

The findings could help doctors provide earlier diagnosis and treatment. Dr. Michal Shani and Prof. Shlomo Vinker of the Sackler Faculty of Medicine and Clalit Health Services collaborated on the study. 

To get a picture of blood glucose levels over time, doctors test for levels of glycated hemoglobin, or A1c, in the blood. When blood glucose levels are high, more A1c is formed. So A1c serves as a biomarker, indicating average blood glucose levels over a two- to three-month period.

According to the ADA, having an A1c level of 6.5 percent or more is an indicator of the disease and an A1c level of between 5.7 and 6.4 percent is an indicator of prediabetes.To evaluate the A1c test's ability to screen for diabetes in high-risk patients, the researchers analyzed the medical history of 10,201 patients who were given the test in central Israel between 2002 and 2005.

They found that overall, 22.5 percent of the patients developed diabetes within five to eight years. Patients with A1c levels as low as 5.5 percent - below the official threshold for diagnosing diabetes were significantly more likely to develop diabetes than patients with A1c levels below 5.5 percent.

Every 0.5 percent increase in A1c levels up to 7 percent doubled the patients' risk of developing diabetes. Obesity also doubled patients' risk of developing diabetes, the researchers found.

New drug breakthrough for  Osteoporosis cure

A team of scientists has discovered a new drug which appears to be a potent stimulator of new bone growth, thus leading to new treatments for osteoporosis and other diseases that occur when the body doesn’t make enough bone.

Scientists at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis studied mice, and principal investigator Fanxin Long focused on a pathway involved in bone formation.The so-called WNT proteins carry messages into cells and regulate embryonic and adult tissue in mammals, including humans. The WNT proteins enter cells from the outside and then can activate multiple pathways inside those cells.

Long’s team reported that a specific member of the WNT family of proteins dramatically enhances bone formation, and it works through a mechanism that has not been well-studied in bone before. It’s called the mTOR pathway, and it interprets a cell’s surrounding environment, and nutritional status.

“By analyzing that information, mTOR can determine whether a cell should go into a mode to make lots of stuff, like proteins or, in this case, new bone,” explained Long.Long and his colleagues studied mice that made either normal levels or an extra amount of WNT proteins.  They found that a particular WNT protein, WNT7B, is a potent stimulator of bone formation in mice. They also found that the protein created more bone by greatly increasing the number of bone-manufacturing cells in the mice.

Gardening promotes healthy lifestyles among kids too

A new study has revealed that gardening, often considered to be an activity reserved for adults, is beneficial for children too and they can also reap the benefits of digging, raking, and weeding.

Researchers Sin-Ae Park, Ho-Sang Lee, Kwan-Suk Lee, Ki-Cheol Son, and Candice Shoemaker in South Korea said that the data can inform future development of garden-based programs that help engage children in physical activity and promote healthy lifestyles.

The research team studied 17 children as they engaged in 10 gardening tasks: digging, raking, weeding, mulching, hoeing, sowing seeds, harvesting, watering, mixing growing medium, and planting transplants.

The study was conducted in South Korea in two garden environments- a high tunnel, and an outdoor area. The children visited the gardens twice, and each child performed five different tasks during each visit.

They were given 5 minutes to complete each gardening task, and were allowed a 5-minute rest between each task. Results showed that the 10 gardening tasks represented moderate- to high-intensity physical activity for the children.

Digging and raking were categorized as “high-intensity” physical activities; digging was more intense than the other gardening tasks studied.

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