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Eat candies to ward off deadly infections

A new study showns that a compound extracted from licorice root, commonly used in candies, can help fight rare, but deadly infections. Scientists from the University of Texas have revealed that a compound called glycyrrhizin might be an effective tool in battling life-threatening, antibiotic-resistant infections resulting from severe burns.

The study showed that in burned mice, glycyrrhizin improved the ability of damaged skin to create small proteins that serve as the first line of defence against Pseudomonas aeruginosa infection.

These proteins, called antimicrobial peptides, work by puncturing the cell membranes of bacteria similar to how pins pop balloons.

“It is our hope that the medicinal uses of glycyrrhizin will lead to lower death rates associated with infection in burn patients,” said Fujio Suzuki.

“Burns are the most painful of all injuries and the deadly Pseudomonas infections that can result from severe burns do more than add insult to those injuries,” said Dr John Wherry.

Using kitchen spoon may lead to dosage errors

Consuming liquid medicine using a kitchen spoon might prove to be either ineffective or dangerous, say researchers. Dr Brian Wansink, Cornell Food and Brand Lab, insists we should not rely upon kitchen spoons as we pour too little or too much medicine, depending on spoon size.

During the study, former cold and flu sufferers were asked to pour one teaspoon of nighttime flu medicine into kitchen spoons of differing sizes.

Depending upon the size of the spoon, the 195 former patients poured an average of eight per cent too little or 12 per cent too much medicine. “When pouring into a medium-size tablespoon, participants under-dosed. But when using a larger spoon, they poured too much medicine,” said Wansink.

“Twelve per cent more may not sound like a lot, but this goes on every four to eight hours, for up to four days.” “So it really adds up-to the point of ineffectiveness or even danger,” Wansink added.

“Simply put, we cannot always trust our ability to estimate amounts,” said the study’s co-author, Dr Koert van Ittersum, Georgia Tech.

Eggs help development of fetal brains

Expectant mothers have finally got a reason to eat bacon and eggs — a new study has shown that an ingredient, commonly found in such products, plays a critical role in development of fetal brains.

North Carolina researchers showed that choline plays a critical role in helping fetal brains develop regions associated with memory.

“Our study in mice indicates that the diet of a pregnant mother, especially choline in that diet, can change the epigenetic switches that control brain development in the fetus,” said Steven Zeisel, the senior scientist involved in the work and a senior member of the FASEB Journal’s editorial board.

“Understanding more about how diet modifies our genes could be very important for assuring optimal development,” Zeisel added.

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