what's the buzz

what's the buzz

Indian zebrafish helps decode Alzheimer’s 

 Zebrafish, which are originally from India, but also a popular aquarium fish, has helped researchers to obtain a deeper insight into the Alzheimer’s disease.

The research by scientists at VIB and KU Leuven on the regulation of stem cells in the nerve tissue of zebrafish embryos provided surprising insights into neurodegenerative disease processes in the human brain. It helped in identifying the molecules responsible for this process. The zebrafish, a small fish measuring 3 to 5 cm in length, with dark stripes along the length of its body have several unusual characteristics that make them popular for scientific research. The genetic code of humans and zebrafish is more than 90 percent identical. In addition, the genetic material of these fish is easy to manipulate, meaning that they are often used as a model in the study of all sorts of diseases. Evgenia Salta, scientist in the team of Bart De Strooper, used zebrafish as a model in molecular brain research and discovered a previously unknown regulatory process for the development of nerve cells.

MiRNA-132 appeared to play a role in maintaining the plasticity of the adult human brain. The adult brain still contains stem cells, but these are limited in number. The activity of miRNA-132 was reduced in diseases of the nervous system that involved the death of nerve cells, such as Alzheimer’s dementia. The concentration of miRNA-132 was also reduced in the brains of patients with Alzheimer’s disease. Therefore, the zebrafish allowed them to mimic a condition that also occurs in Alzheimer’s dementia.

This new knowledge about the molecular signaling pathway that underlies this process gives them an insight into the exact blocking mechanism. 
Common cold infection linked to increased stroke risk in kids

A research by UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital, San Francisco, has suggested that common cold infections are temporarily linked to increased stroke risk in vulnerable children.

Researchers here found that the risk of stroke was increased only within a three-day period between a child’s visit to the doctor for signs of infection and having the stroke.

Senior author Heather Fullerton, a paediatric vascular neurologist and medical director of the Paediatric Brain Center at the hospital, said that these findings suggested that infection had a powerful but short-lived effect on stroke risk.Fullerton continued that they had seen this increase in stroke risk from infection in adults, but until now, an association had not been studied in children.

She added that the prevention of infection was the key for kids who were at risk for stroke, and they should make sure those kids were getting vaccinated against whatever infections such as flu.

The study observed that children who had strokes were 12 times more likely to have had an infection within the previous three days than the children without strokes. The total number of infections over a two-year period was not associated with increased stroke risk and about 80 percent of the minor infections identified by the researchers were upper respiratory. ‘Sleep switch’  reason for fragmented sleep patterns  

Older adults have trouble sleeping because of a group of neurons that are found to function as a ‘sleep switch’ in the brain, a new study ahs revealed. Researchers at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) and the University of Toronto/Sunnybrook Health Sciences Center showed that these inhibitory neurons are considerably diminished among the elderly and individuals with Alzheimer’s disease, and that this, in turn, is accompanied by sleep disruption.

Clifford B. Saper, MD, Chairman of Neurology at BIDMC, said that sleep loss and sleep fragmentation was associated with a number of health issues, including cognitive dysfunction, increased blood pressure and vascular disease, and a tendency to develop type 2 diabetes and it now appeared that loss of these neurons may be contributing to these various disorders as people age.

Saper said that they found that in the older patients who did not have Alzheimer’s disease, the number of ventrolateral preoptic neurons correlated inversely with the amount of sleep fragmentation and the fewer the neurons, the more fragmented the sleep became.
Blocking ‘chilli - pepper receptors’ may ease pain

Scientists have revealed that blocking the receptor that reacts to chilli and pepper, could relieve one off pain.

Biting into a chilli pepper causes a burning spiciness that is irresistible to some, but intolerable to others. Scientists exploring the effect of chilli-pepper are using their findings to develop a new drug candidate for many kinds of pain, which could be caused by inflammation or other problems.

Laykea Tafesse explained that decades ago, scientists had pegged a compound called capsaicin as the active ingredient in chilli peppers that causes fiery pain. In the 1990s, researchers were able to sequence the genetic sequence for the protein ‘receptor’ that capsaicin attaches to in the body.

The receptor is a protein on cells that acts as a gate, allowing only certain substances into a cell. The advance launched a hunt for compounds that can block this gate, cut off the pain signal and potentially treat pain that current drugs are no match for.

Tafesse’s team wanted to explore variations on this theme to find a better drug candidate. They produced more than two dozen similar compounds, each with its own unique molecular tweak.  They tested them in the lab and in animals for the traits they were looking for, such as potency, safety, the ability to dissolve in water and whether they can be taken orally. One prospect showed the most promise, and it has advanced into clinical trials.

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