New Womb-Like Device May Transform Care for Extremely Premature Infants

A unique womb-like environment designed by pediatric researchers at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia — which is in an experimental stage using animal models — could transform care for extremely premature babies: after birth, they would be immersed in lab-made amniotic fluid — and kept underwater for weeks.

Most previous attempts at creating a womb-like device used artificial pumps to drive the blood through the system, causing heart failure. In the system invented by Partridge et al , the fetal heart is the only pump. It is different in other key ways. Use of the bag, rather than a more open container, nearly eliminated the infection issues that contributed to previous failures. And while previous attempts relied on blood vessels in the neck, the authors figured out how to quickly and successfull… Read more

Regular Consumption of Sugary Beverages Affects Brain

Researchers using data from the Framingham Heart Study (FHS), a joint project of the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute and Boston University, have shown that people who more frequently consume sugary beverages such as sodas and fruit juices are more likely to have poorer episodic memory, smaller hippocampal and total brain volumes. The authors have also found that people who drank diet soda daily were 3 times as likely to develop stroke and dementia when compared to those who did not consume diet soda.

According to Pase et al , regular consumption of sodas, fruit juices and artificially sweetened sodas affects the brain. Image credit: Bruno Glaetsch.
Excess sugar is known to have adverse effects on health. Diet soft drinks are often touted as a healthier alternative to regular soda.
However, bo… Read more

Physical Activity Can Lower Risk of Heart Damage, Says New Study

According to a new study, physical activity can lower the risk of myocardial damage in middle-aged and older adults and reduce the levels of myocardial damage in people who are obese.

Physical activity is inversely associated with chronic subclinical myocardial damage, according to a study by Florido et al . Image credit: Skeeze.
“Physical activity is associated with reduced risk of heart failure, particularly among obese people,” the team behind the study said.
“Heart failure may be caused by subclinical myocardial damage, in which there is damage to the heart muscle but a patient does not show sign or symptoms.”
The scientists studied 9,427 participants aged 45-64 years without cardiovascular disease and a body mass index of more than 18.5 kg/m2.
Physical activity was categorized per American H… Read more

Frog Skin Peptide ‘Urumin’ Kills H1 Influenza Viruses

An international team of scientists from the United States and India has discovered that a component of the skin mucus secreted by a South Indian fungoid frog can destroy many strains of human influenza viruses and protect mice against influenza infection. The discovery is reported in the journal Immunity .

This image shows the Wide-spread fungoid frog ( Hydrophylax bahuvistara ) in its native environment in southern India. Image credit: Sanil George / Jessica Shartouny.
“Different frogs make different peptides, depending on where their habitat is,” said study senior author Dr. Joshy Jacob, an associate professor of microbiology and immunology at Emory Vaccine Center and the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at Emory University School of Medicine.
“You and I make host defense peptides… Read more

Beetroot Juice before Exercise Keeps Aging Brain Sharp

According to a study published recently in the Journals of Gerontology: Medical Sciences , drinking a beetroot juice before exercise makes the brain of older adults perform more efficiently, mirroring the operations of a younger brain.

Drinking a beetroot juice before exercise makes the aging brain perform more efficiently. Image credit: Ken Bennett, Wake Forest University.
“Exercise has positive neuroplastic effects on the aging brain. It has also been shown that ingestion of beetroot juice increases blood flow to the brain and enhances exercise performance,” the study authors said.
“We examined whether there are synergistic effects of beetroot juice and exercise on neuroplasticity in the aging brain.”
The study included 26 men and women age 55 and older who did not exercise, had high blood pr… Read more

Ability to Distinguish Objects in Peripheral Vision Varies between Individuals, Study Finds

New research led by University College London, UK, shows that on average we are worse at spotting objects in crowded environments when they are above or below eye level, although the extent to which this happens varies between individuals: some people are better at spotting things above their center of vision while others are better at spotting things off to the right.

This is an image to demonstrate visual ‘crowding’ and test peripheral vision. Ensure that the red dot in the center of the image is at eye level and focus on it. While holding your focus on the red dot, try to read the middle ‘C’ in every triplet. Is the gap facing left or right? You may find it easier to read in some directions than others. People usually find it easier to read below the dot than above, and easier still to the left or right. Image credi… Read more

Gray Hair Linked with Increased Risk of Coronary Artery Disease in Men

Gray hair has been linked with an increased risk of coronary artery disease in men, in a study presented this month at EuroPrevent 2017 in Malaga, Spain.

According to Dr. Samuel and co-authors, patients at high risk of CAD should have regular check-ups to avoid early cardiac events by initiating preventive therapy. Image credit: Arek Socha.
“Cardiovascular disease is a leading cause of death worldwide,” said study corresponding author Dr. Irini Samuel, a researcher in the Department of Cardiology at Cairo University, Egypt.
“Aging is an unavoidable coronary risk factor and is associated with dermatological signs that could be a marker for an increased coronary risk.”
“We tested the hypothesis that hair graying as a visible marker of aging is associated with risk of coronary artery disease (CAD) in… Read more

Unbalanced Skin Microbiome May Be Key to Acne Development, Study Finds

The overall balance of the bacteria on a person’s skin, rather than the presence or absence of a particular bacterial strain, appears to be an important factor for acne development and skin health, according to a study published recently in the journal Scientific Reports .

This micrograph depicts the gram-positive bacterium Propionibacterium acnes grown in thioglycollate medium at 48 hours. Propionibacterium acnes is a very common obligate anaerobic, non-spore forming rod, and the etiologic pathogen responsible for acne vulgaris, or pimples. It normally resides in the sebaceous glands of the skin. Image credit: Bobby Strong, CDC.
The skin — the human body’s largest organ — functions as the first line of defense by providing a protective barrier between the environment and inner body.
It harbor… Read more

Maple Syrup Extract Synergizes with Common Antibiotics

A phenolic-rich extract from maple syrup can make disease-causing bacteria more susceptible to common antibiotics, according to new research from McGill University.

A maple syrup extract increases the potency of common antibiotics. Image credit: Three-Shots.
“Native populations in Canada have long used maple syrup to fight infections. I’ve always been interested in the science behind these folk medicines,” said lead author Dr. Nathalie Tufenkji, a principal investigator in the Biocolloids and Surfaces Laboratory in the Department of Chemical Engineering at McGill University.
The idea for the project really gelled when Dr. Tufenkji, who had been studying the antimicrobial effects of cranberry extracts, learned of the anti-cancer properties of a phenolic maple syrup extract.
“That gave… Read more

Study: Concentrated Blueberry Juice Improves Brain Function in Older Adults

New research from the University of Exeter, UK, has demonstrated that regular consumption of concentrated blueberry juice improves brain function in healthy older adults.

Supplementation with an anthocyanin-rich blueberry concentrate improved brain perfusion and activation in brain areas associated with cognitive function in healthy older adults. Image credit: Xicocool.
In the study, older adults who drank concentrated blueberry juice every day showed improvements in cognitive function, blood flow to the brain and activation of the brain while carrying out cognitive tests. There was also evidence suggesting improvement in working memory.
“Blueberries are rich in flavonoids, which possess antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties,” explained lead author Dr. Joanna Bowtell, H… Read more

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