what's the buzz

what's the buzz

‘B-Mobile’ app to curb sedentary behaviour

Researchers at The Miriam Hospital in the US  have developed a new smartphone app, ‘B-Mobile’, that monitors sedentary behaviour and motivates you to get up and walk around. More sedentary time, regardless of physical activity levels, is associated with greater risk for obesity, cardiovascular disease and mortality.

 The app can produce short-term reductions in sedentary behaviour that may be effective in improving health. The app was tested in a study of primarily middle-aged women who were obese, although the intervention can be applied to those who are not obese. 

The app automatically monitored the time participants spent being sedentary, and after an extended period with no activity, prompted participants via a tone paired with motivational messages to get up and walk around for a few minutes. Participants received feedback providing encouragement for taking a break and reinforcement when they achieved the walking break goal. Researchers tested three different approaches to see which was best at reducing the total amount of sedentary time. 

Even though all three were successful, researchers found it is better to take shorter breaks more often for better health. 
3D view of brain receptor developed

In a breakthrough that may help in developing drugs for Alzheimer's and other neurological disorders, researchers have developed a 3D view of an important receptor in the brain. This receptor allows us to learn and remember, and its dysfunction can result in a wide range of neurological diseases including Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, schizophrenia and depression.

The unprecedented view gives scientists new insight into how the receptor - called the NMDA receptor - is structured. And importantly, the new detailed view gives vital clues for developing drugs to combat neurological diseases and conditions. 

“This is the most exciting moment of my career,” said Eric Gouaux, a senior scientist with Oregon Health and Science University in the US. 

“The NMDA receptor is one of the most essential, and still sometimes mysterious, receptors in our brain. Now, with this work, we can see it in fascinating detail,” he said. Receptors facilitate chemical and electrical signals between neurons in the brain allowing them to communicate with each other. 

The NMDA (N-methyl-D-aspartate) receptor facilitates neuron communication that is the foundation of memory, learning and thought. Malfunction of the NMDA receptor occurs when it is increasingly or decreasingly active.

Keep insects off 

 Scientists have come up with the ways one can identify the insects that are harmful, the diseases they carry and how to safely avoid them during summer.

 Jennifer Layden, MD, infectious disease specialist at Loyola University Health System, said that mosquitoes and ticks are the two pests that people should primarily avoid because they potentially carry infectious diseases. While ticks can carry Lyme Disease and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, mosquitoes can spread West Nile Virus. Christina Hantsch, MD, toxicologist at Loyola added that common insect repellent products contain up to 30 pc DEET for maximum protection, and products with DEET provide longer duration protection as the concentration of DEET increases.

 Layden recommended that adults should administer insect repellent to children, as they can have a difficult time manipulating cans and bottles, and may end up inhaling repellent or getting it in mouths or eyes, which should be avoided.

 She also said that clothing permethrin-treated fabric is a great option for those who are very active outdoors in the warm months and gave the following tips from on how to avoid bugs this summer: Dusk and dawn are the prime hours for insects;      wear long sleeves and long pants to cover skin; wear light colours which tend to not attract bugs; wear loose clothing to avoid skin irritation.

Signs that need medical attention include fever, vomiting, excessive sleepiness, swelling, redness and infection.