The big brick wall
No one likes to think about dying. Death is one of those things that is taboo because we’re alive and don’t need to worry about that sort of thing right now. There’s too much to live for to worry about death, so we tend to ignore the big brick wall we’re headed right for. No one lives forever and frankly I’m not sure that I would want to even if I could, but I can’t help but think about what happens when I get closer to that wall and what life will look like before the day I hit it.(more…)
Your BMI might affect your brain function
There are plenty of reasons it’s important to maintain a healthy weight, and now you can add one more to the list: It may be good for your brain. Researchers have found that having a higher body mass index, or BMI, can negatively impact cognitive functioning in older adults.
Untangling a cause of memory loss in neurodegenerative diseases
Tauopathies are a group of neurodegenerative disorders, including Alzheimer’s disease that are characterized by the deposition of aggregates of the tau protein inside brain cells. A new study reveals that the cutting of tau by an enzyme called caspase-2 may play a critical role in the disordered brain circuit function that occurs in these diseases.
For women, caffeine could be ally in warding off dementia
Among a group of older women, self-reported caffeine consumption of more than 261 mg per day was associated with a 36 percent reduction in the risk of incident dementia over 10 years of follow-up. This level is equivalent to two to three 8-oz cups of coffee per day, five to six 8-oz cups of black tea, or seven to eight 12-ounce cans of cola.
Use it or lose it: Stopping exercise decreases brain blood flow
We all know that we can quickly lose cardiovascular endurance if we stop exercising for a few weeks, but what impact does the cessation of exercise have on our brains? New research examined cerebral blood flow in healthy, physically fit older adults (ages 50-80 years) before and after a 10-day period during which they stopped all exercise.
How long do you want to live? Your expectations for old age matter
Why do some people want to live a very long time, while others would prefer to die relatively young? In a latest study, a team of researchers investigated how long young and middle-aged adults in the United States say they want to live in relation to a number of personal characteristics. The results showed that more than one out of six people would prefer to die younger than age 80, before reaching average life expectancy.
‘I miss you so much’: How Twitter is broadening the conversation on death and mourning
Death and mourning were largely considered private matters in the 20th century, with the public remembrances common in previous eras replaced by intimate gatherings behind closed doors in funeral parlors and family homes. But social media is redefining how people grieve, and Twitter in particular — with its ephemeral mix of rapid-fire broadcast and personal expression — is widening the conversation around death and mourning.
Embryonic gene Nanog reverses aging in adult stem cells
The fountain of youth may reside in an embryonic stem cell gene named Nanog. In a series of experiments, the gene kicked into action dormant cellular processes that are key to preventing weak bones, clogged arteries and other telltale signs of growing old. The findings also show promise in counteracting premature aging disorders such as Hutchinson-Gilford progeria syndrome.
Stem cells feel the force
All cells share the same genetic code, no matter if they are skin or brain cells. However, these cells are exposed to very different types of mechanical environments and mechanical stresses. For example, brain tissue is very soft, whereas bone is hard. Researchers know that cells respond to extrinsic forces by changing their structure and their gene expression to be better suited for their particular environments and to be able to execute their specific functions.
It’s in the eyes: Alzheimer’s detected before symptoms
Scientists may have overcome a major roadblock in the development of Alzheimer’s therapies by creating a new technology to observe — in the back of the eye — progression of the disease before the onset of symptoms. Clinical trials are to start in July to test the technology in humans.
Alzheimer’s genetics point to new research direction
A analysis of genetic mutations which cause early-onset Alzheimer’s disease suggests a new focus for research into the causes of the disease. Previous research has revolved around the idea that accumulation in the brain of a small, sticky protein fragment — amyloid beta — causes Alzheimer’s disease.
Chemical changes in the brain affect Alzheimer’s disease
A new study is helping to explain why the long-term use of common anticholinergic drugs used to treat conditions like allergies and overactive bladder lead to an increased risk of developing dementia later in life. The findings show that long-term suppression of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine – a target for anticholinergic drugs – results in dementia-like changes in the brain.
Early detection of dementia in Parkinson’s disease might be key to treatment
If Parkinson’s disease wasn’t bad enough for families to have to learn to deal with, about 80% of patients also develop dementia. That’s the problem with the brain; while it has the amazing ability to adapt to just about anything, it can’t fix everything. There are no particularly good solutions to Parkinson’s or dementia, however, early detection of dementia is key to keeping it at bay and a new study may have a way to do just that.
Limitless: How long-term memories are erased and how to stop it
Currently, neuroscientists think our brain has about enough storage space to hold the entire internet. That’s a lot of space, about a petabyte in fact — if we are to believe this estimate. So, what did you read in the news this day 5 years ago? Don’t worry, I don’t even remember what I had for breakfast this morning and my long-term memory doesn’t fair much better. However, vital information about how the brain erases long-term memories has been uncovered by researchers.
Alzheimer’s on and now Alzheimer’s off?
Alzheimer’s disease, is anything more frustrating than seeing someone — who otherwise looks healthy — start to forget who you are? Worse than that, we don’t know exactly what causes Alzheimer’s disease, or how to stop it. Well actually that might be changing. Don’t get too excited, because we’ve had false starts before, but an international group of scientists have succeeded in sorting out the mechanism of Alzheimer’s disease development and possibly distinguished its key trigger.
Want a younger brain? Stay in school — and take the stairs
Taking the stairs is normally associated with keeping your body strong and healthy. But new research shows that it improves your brain’s health too — and that education also has a positive effect. Researchers found that the more flights of stairs a person climbs, and the more years of school a person completes, the “younger” their brain physically appears.
Some aging treatments shown to have opposite effects on males and females
What helps her live longer might be harmful to him, according to a new study that may shed light on how and why organisms age. Analyzing years of previous research on dietary and pharmaceutical tests on flies and mice, researchers showed that aging interventions can have opposite effects on mortality rates in males versus females.
Brain plasticity assorted into functional networks
Plasticity of the brain, what does that even mean? Well the good news is that it isn’t just a marketing ploy, the brain needs to be “plastic” because we need to be able to adapt. Frankly speaking, the brain still has a lot to learn about itself. Scientists at the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute have made a key finding of the striking differences in how the brain’s cells can change through experience.
Synapse discovery could lead to new treatments for Alzheimer’s disease
A team of researchers led by UNSW Australia scientists has discovered how connections between brain cells are destroyed in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease – work that opens up a new avenue for research on possible treatments for the degenerative brain condition.
Stem cell study paves the way for patient therapies
Stem cells that have been specifically developed for use as clinical therapies are fit for use in patients, an independent study of their genetic make-up suggests. The research – which focused on human embryonic stem cells – paves the way for clinical trials of cell therapies to treat conditions such as Parkinson’s disease, age-related degeneration of the eyes and spinal cord injury.
Not so happy old age?
The notion that older people are happier than younger people is being challenged following a recent study led by a University of Bradford lecturer. In fact it suggests that people get more depressed from age 65 onwards. The study, led by psychology lecturer Dr Helena Chui, builds on a 15-year project observing over 2,000 older Australians living in the Adelaide area.
Lipid helps keep algae and brain fluid moving
The same lipid that helps algae swim toward the light also appears to enable one type of brain cell to keep cerebrospinal fluid moving, researchers report.
Lack of ZZZZs may zap cell growth, brain activity
Lack of adequate sleep can do more than just make you tired. It can short-circuit your system and interfere with a fundamental cellular process that drives physical growth, physiological adaptation and even brain activity, according to a new study. Albrecht von Arnim, a molecular biologist based in the Department of Biochemistry and Cellular and Molecular Biology, studied plants but said the concepts may well translate to humans.
What metabolism could reveal about aging and mortality
Why some people live much longer than others is an enduring mystery. Now, based on a study of a worm, scientists are getting one step closer to understanding longevity. They report that the metabolic profiles of the worms could accurately predict how long they would live and that middle age could be a key turning point.
A barrier against brain stem cell aging
Neural stem cells generate new neurons throughout life in the mammalian brain. However, with advancing age the potential for regeneration in the brain dramatically declines. Scientists now identified a novel mechanism of how neural stem cells stay relatively free of aging-induced damage. A diffusion barrier regulates the sorting of damaged proteins during cell division.
Cells from human umbilical cord blood improve cognition in Alzheimer’s disease model mice
Alzheimer’s disease (AD), which affects an estimated 26 million people worldwide, is the fourth leading cause of death among the elderly and the leading cause of dementia. Predictions are that the number of AD cases will quadruple by 2050. Although pharmacological methods for treating AD have been discovered, none significantly delay the progression of the disease.
Study of 83,000 veterans finds cardiovascular benefits to testosterone replacement
A Veterans Affairs database study of more than 83,000 patients found that men whose low testosterone was restored to normal through gels, patches, or injections had a lower risk of heart attack, stroke, or death from any cause, versus similar men who were not treated. The study also found that men who were treated but did not attain normal levels did not see the same benefits as those whose levels did reach normal.
Study shows long-term effects of type 2 diabetes on the brain, thinking
In just two years, people with type 2 diabetes experienced negative changes in their ability to regulate blood flow in the brain, which was associated with lower scores on tests of cognition skills and their ability to perform their daily activities, according to a new study.
Long-term memories are maintained by prion-like proteins
Research from Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC) has uncovered further evidence of a system in the brain that persistently maintains memories for long periods of time. And paradoxically, it works in the same way as mechanisms that cause mad cow disease, kuru, and other degenerative brain diseases.
Omega-3 supplements and antioxidants may help with preclinical Alzheimer’s disease
Here’s more evidence that fish oil supplementation and antioxidants might be beneficial for at least some people facing Alzheimer’s disease. A new report describes the findings of a very small study in which people with mild clinical impairment, such as those in the very early stages of the disease, saw clearance of the hallmark amyloid-beta protein and reduced inflammation in neurological tissues. Although the findings involved just 12 patients over the course of 4 to 17 months, the findings suggest further clinical study of this relatively inexpensive and plentiful supplement should be conducted.
Rare neurons enable mental flexibility
Behavioral flexibility — the ability to change strategy when the rules change — is controlled by specific neurons in the brain, Researchers have confirmed. Cholinergic interneurons are rare — they make up just one to two percent of the neurons in the striatum, a key part of the brain involved with higher-level decision-making. Scientists have suspected they play a role in changing strategies, and researchers at OIST recently confirmed this with experiments.
Cell density remains constant as brain shrinks with age
New, ultra-high-field magnetic resonance images (MRI) of the brain by researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago provide the most detailed images to date to show that while the brain shrinks with age, brain cell density remains constant. The images provide the first evidence that in normal aging, cell density is preserved throughout the brain, not just in specific regions, as previous studies on human brain tissue have shown.
(More) bad news for Vets: PTSD linked to accelerated aging
Before PTSD had a name there was shellshock. It was mysterious and much like today, not everyone showed symptoms so — for the most part — it was written off. In recent years however, public health concerns about post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) have risen significantly, driven in part by affected military veterans returning home. While this has opened the door for better care for people suffering from PTSD, it has also lead to some startling revelations about the extent of damage. New research that was just released, sad to say, doesn’t bode well for people with PTSD either.
Botox makes unnerving journey into our nervous system
New research might bring a frown to even the most heavily botoxed faces, with scientists finding how some of the potent toxin used for cosmetic surgery escapes into the central nervous system. Researchers have shown how Botox – also known as Botulinum neurotoxin serotype A – is transported via our nerves back to the central nervous system.
Beta secretase inhibitors offer treatment for Alzheimer’s disease
With each new amyloid-targeting treatment for Alzheimer’s disease that has been developed, there has been a corresponding concern. For example, antibodies targeting amyloid-β peptide (Aβ) produce inflammation in the brain in some patients. Gamma secretase inhibitors tend to produce adverse effects by interacting with Notch, an important pathway for cellular signaling. However, a new target for alzheimer’s is offering some new hope.
Immunotherapy, a promising new treatment of Alzheimer’s disease
Alzheimer’s disease, it slowly takes things away from the person without giving anything back. Right now there is no cure and at best we can slow the progression in some cases. Time is always a factor and no two cases are the same. However, new treatments are in the works and a new study has revealed that a single dose of an immunotherapy reverses memory problems in an animal model of Alzheimer’s disease.
Classical Music modulates genes responsible for brain functions
Although listening to music is common in all societies, the biological determinants of listening to music are largely unknown. According to a latest study, listening to classical music enhanced the activity of genes involved in dopamine secretion and transport, synaptic neurotransmission, learning and memory, and down-regulated the genes mediating neurodegeneration. Several of the up-regulated genes were known to be responsible for song learning and singing in songbirds, suggesting a common evolutionary background of sound perception across species.
The “successful aging” debate
We see it everyday in advertising, turn back the clock, reverse aging — look, feel, and be younger. With all these standards, how do you define aging, or more importantly successful aging. Scholars have long debated what successful aging is, how to measure it, and how to promote it. But researchers are now laying the groundwork for building consensus on the topic — while pointing out that the answer may differ among academics and the general public, as well as across populations and demographic groups.
Music may reduce your ability to remember!
Sometimes just turning on some background music really helps a person get things done. While music may help some people relax when they’re trying to concentrate, new research suggests that it doesn’t help them remember what they’re focusing on, especially as they get older.
Meditation might mean more gray matter in later years
Since 1970, life expectancy around the world has risen dramatically, with people living more than 10 years longer. That’s the good news. The bad news is that starting when people are in their mid-to-late-20s, the brain begins to wither — its volume and weight begin to decrease. As this occurs, the brain can begin to lose some of its functional abilities.
Scientists find the genetic trigger for immune system response
Mitochondria are the “powerhouse of the cell.” We all learn in biology that they have seemingly one function in the body, converting food and oxygen into energy. Well that might not be the case anymore; the thousands of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) molecules present in each cell have been identified in an unexpected relationship with the innate immune response.
You can live longer, but not healthier
We all want to live longer and thanks to medical technologies our life expectancies have dramatically increased. Which would be handy if we could actually enjoy the extra years. Unfortunately a study of long-lived mutant C. elegans by scientists shows that the genetically altered worms spend a greater portion of their life in a frail state and exhibit less activity as they age than typical nematodes. These findings suggest that genes that increase longevity may not significantly increase healthy lifespan and point to the need to measure health as part of aging studies going forward.
mTOR and the fountain of youth
The fountain of youth might be just right around the corner, I know here at the labs we’ve reported several different ways to get to that fabled place, but now we have one more. New research shows that seniors received a significant boost to their immune systems when given a drug that targets a genetic signaling pathway linked to aging and immune function.
Turning Back the Clock: Arteries
In what appears to be Fountain of Youth month here at Lunatic Laboratories, we have yet another way to turn back the clock, this time specifically for your arteries — at least that’s what University of Colorado Boulder are hoping with the new study they recently released.
When researchers gave mice [the human age equivalent of 70 to 80 year olds] water containing a specific antioxidant [MitoQ] for four weeks, they found that the arteries of those mice performed like arteries from mice with an equivalent human age of just 25 to 35 years.
The Fountain of Youth [Coming to a store near you]
The fountain of youth, as it turns out, isn’t so much a fountain, it’s a new drug. There has been countless dollars thrown at anti-aging research, some producing better results than others. So when scientists at northwestern medicine in collaboration with Tohoku University in Japan, released a new study I am sure there was more than one happy person seeing the results.
The team, building on previous research, have managed to extend the life of accelerated aging mice more than four times longer than the control group. All thanks to an experimental drug — not only did it extend the life, it also protected the lungs and cardiovascular system from aging.