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Internet use reduces depression in elderly

A new research that followed the lives of thousands of retired older Americans for six years, found that Internet use among the elderly can reduce the chances of depression by more than 30 percent.


“That’s a very strong effect. And it all has to do with older persons being able to communicate, to stay in contact with their social networks, and just not feel lonely,” Shelia Cotten, a Michigan State University professor of telecommunication, information studies and media who led the project said.


Cotten and her colleagues analysed the data collected by the Health and Retirement Survey, a survey collecting information from more than 22,000 older Americans every two years. This particular sample included more than 3,000 respondents.

Other smaller studies have been inconclusive about the role Internet use and technology, in general, play in helping people overcome depression. One way in which this study was different is it took into consideration the subjects’ depression levels before they began using the Internet to know if past depression affected current depression.

What they found is yes, some people did remain depressed despite Internet use, although it wasn’t substantial. “Internet use continues to reduce depression, even when controlling for that prior depressive state,” Cotten said.

The researchers also confirmed what was found in other studies that for older people who live alone, Internet use had a greater impact on their levels of depression. “This study makes significant contributions to the study of Internet use and depression in the older, retired population,” Cotten said.

Tuberculosis drug could also help treat other diseases

A drug under clinical trials to treat tuberculosis could be the basis for a class of broad-spectrum drugs that act against various bacteria, fungal infections and parasites, yet evade resistance.

Led by University of Illinois chemistry professor Eric Oldfield, the team determined the different ways the drug SQ109 attacks the tuberculosis bacterium, how the drug can be tweaked to target other pathogens from yeast to malaria – and how targeting multiple pathways reduces the probability of pathogens becoming resistant. SQ109 is made by Sequella Inc., a pharmaceutical company.

“Drug resistance is a major public health threat,” Oldfield said.
“We have to make new antibiotics, and we have to find ways to get around the resistance problem. And one way to do that is with multitarget drugs. Resistance in many cases arises because there’s a specific mutation in the target protein so the drug will no longer bind. Thus, one possible route to attacking the drug resistance problem will be to devise drugs that don’t have just one target, but two or three targets,” he said.
Oldfield read published reports about SQ109 and realised that the drug would likely be multifunctional because it had chemical features similar to those found in other systems he had investigated.


The original developers had identified one key action against tuberculosis – blocking a protein involved in building the cell wall of the bacterium – but conceded that the drug could have other actions within the cell as well since it was found to kill other bacteria and fungi that lacked the target protein. Oldfield believed he could identify those actions – and perhaps improve upon SQ109.

New method to fight Malaria drug resistance discovered


An anti-malarial treatment that lost its status as the leading weapon against the deadly disease could be given a new lease of life, with new research indicating that it simply needs to be administered differently.

The findings could revive the use of the cheap anti-malarial drug chloroquine in treating and preventing the mosquito-bourne disease, which claims the lives of more than half a million people each year around the world.

The parasite that causes malaria has developed resistance to chloroquine, but research carried out at the Australian National University (ANU) and Germany’s University of Heidelberg has shown that the parasite protein that causes resistance has an Achilles’ heel.

“We studied diverse versions of this protein and in all cases found that it is limited in its capacity to remove the drug from the parasite,” malaria researcher Dr Rowena Martin, from the ANU Research School of Biology said.

“This means malaria could once again be treated with chloroquine if it is administered twice-daily, rather than just once a day,” the researcher said.
Once hailed as a wonder drug, chloroquine is still used in developing nations in the South
Pacific, Africa, Asia and South America, but has been withdrawn from use in many
developed countries.

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