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Firm handshake indicator of long life

A firm handshake, often seen as a sign of confidence, could also signal that you will have a long life.

A decades-long study of more than 50,000 people has revealed that our grip strength, the speed we walk or get up from a chair and our ability to balance are the possible indicators of how long we may live. The Medical Research Council measured the firmness of the grip in study volunteers across 33 countries aged from 18 years to over 80.

The link between grip strength and survival could be seen in younger as well as older adults. Other tests of physical capability, including tests of walking speed, chair-rising and standing balance, were conducted in volunteers aged 60 years and older.

“Research that helps people to enjoy a long and healthy life is a crucial part of the MRC’s work and evermore important to help cater for the health needs of an ageing population,” Rachel Cooper from the Medical Research Council.

Cockroaches could help fight MRSA, E-coli

Cockroaches and locusts, which are widely reviled for their dirty image, could actually be more of a health benefit than a health risk, say scientists.

Scientists at Nottingham University have discovered that the insects contain powerful antibiotic molecules in their brains that could be used to develop new treatments against MRSA and E-coli.

They have identified up to nine different molecules in the tissues of cockroaches and locusts that are toxic to bacteria and they hope will pave the way for new treatments for multi-drug resistant bacterial infections.

The tissues of the brain and nervous system of the insects were able to kill more than 90 per cent of MRSA and E-coli bacteria, without harming human cells.

“We hope that these molecules could eventually be developed into treatments for E-coli and MRSA infections that are increasingly resistant to current drugs,” said Simon Lee, a postgraduate researcher who is presenting his work at the Society for General Microbiology’s autumn meeting in Nottingham.

“Also, these new antibiotics could potentially provide alternatives to currently available drugs that may be effective but have serious and unwanted side effects,” he added.

‘Chewing gum’ cure to save kids across world

A new brain surgery technique, which has been invented by an Indian-origin doctor to save the life of a seriously ill newborn baby, is set to be used by medical practitioners to treat children all over the world.

Jo Bhattacharya, Glasgow’s Royal Hospital for Sick Children, was asked to operate on a 16-day-old child who had been diagnosed with a rare brain condition called the Vein of Galen malformation. He carried out the first of a series of eight operations on baby Pierce Drennan. But Pierce’s form of the condition was so complex that Bhattacharya decided to use a different method.

He passed the balloon through the child’s jugular vein to the brain, then injected a solidifying liquid, which he said was ‘like chewing gum’, to finally seal the blood vessels. It’s expected Pierce will now live a normal healthy life.

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