Chemists Find Breakthrough Treatment for Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s That Protects Brain Cells From Amyloid Plaque

Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s are diseases of the brain in which gradual degeneration of neurons leads to loss of speech, memory, and thinking.

Existing remedies are aimed only at suppressing symptoms, but cannot stop the process of neurodegeneration itself.

Now Russian scientists have synthesized chemical compounds that can stop the degeneration of neurons in Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and other severe brain pathologies. Continue reading

Coffee is Now Linked to Reduced Risk of Many Ailments, Including Liver Disease, Parkinson’s, Melanoma, Even Suicide

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What beats a cup of joe in the morning? Nothing after you realize the myriad beneficial health outcomes that are now associated with drinking coffee. Continue reading

“Fed Up!” — A Film About the Risks of GE Foods and the Industrial Food System

Story at-a-glance −

Industrial agriculture threatens the very foundation of future food production by damaging the soil and destroying biodiversity

 Instead of solving world hunger, Continue reading

98.6F Ideal Body Temperature

The easiest, safest and most effective way of treating most disease, including cancer, is to increase body temperature with infrared therapy. It is a foundational treatment, which has profound ramifications for thyroid sufferers, patients with adrenal issues and even for people with restless leg syndrome. Doctors waste a lot of their time and patients money administering other treatments, which cannot work as long as core body temperature is not raised back to normal. Continue reading

Regular Coffee Drinkers Have Cleaner Arteries

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People who drank three to five cups of coffee daily were less likely to have calcium deposits in their coronary arteries Continue reading

Lethality of Roundup ‘Weedkiller’ Extends Beyond Plants To Humans, Study Suggests

A shocking new study finds that glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup herbicide, “…may be the most biologically disruptive chemical in our environment,” capable of contributing to a wide range of fatal human diseases.

A new report published in Continue reading

The Drink That Could Shield Against Dementia

Alzheimer’s disease is sure making the health news rounds lately. What’s promising about this scary illness is how much we are able to help shield our minds from it. A brand new health breakthrough proposes that coffee could help older adults avoid dementia.

A new study Continue reading

A Supplement for Protecting Your Brain

Here’s some health news about a natural remedy for those of you who want to boost your mental health: scientists have discovered that creatine could protect the brain. Creatine is a substance in your body the main job of which has to do with energy production. About 95% of your body’s creatine is stored in your muscles. For this reason, creatine is a favorite supplement for athletes and bodybuilders Continue reading

8 Drugs with Really Embarrassing Side Effects

Scientists have made remarkable advances in medicine during the past century, finding treatments for everything from strep throat to Parkinson’s disease. Even vanity causes aren’t beyond the reach of drug companies, which offer solutions to even our most embarrassing physical shortcomings. Continue reading

The Body’s Protein Cleaning Machine

When Dr. Avram Hershko, 74, a biochemist at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa and a winner of the 2004 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, was recently asked to name the most important fact of his life, he answered: “That I love my six grandchildren. For two, three days every week, I take them to dance class, sport and school. I am completely in their lives.” Continue reading

Surprisingly Healthy Foods

Although the best diets contain a large amount of vegetarian, raw foods, several commonly eaten foods have remarkably robust health benefits. Even if your busy life makes it hard to eat right, simply adding chocolate, coffee and orange juice to your menus can offer a distinct boost to your well-being. Continue reading

How Disordered Proteins Spread From Cell To Cell, Potentially Spreading Disease

One bad apple is all it takes to spoil the barrel. And one misfolded protein may be all that’s necessary to corrupt other proteins, forming large aggregations linked to several incurable neurodegenerative diseases such as Huntington’s, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.

Stanford biology Professor Ron Kopito has shown that the mutant, misfolded protein responsible for Huntington’s disease can move from cell to cell, recruiting normal proteins and forming aggregations in each cell it visits.

Knowing that this protein spends part of its time outside cells “opens up the possibility for therapeutics,” he said. Kopito studies how such misfolded proteins get across a cell’s membrane and into its cytoplasm, where they can interact with normal proteins. He is also investigating how these proteins move between neuronal cells.

The ability of these proteins to move from one cell to another could explain the way Huntington’s disease spreads through the brain after starting in a specific region. Similar mechanisms may be involved in the progress of Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s through the brain.

Kopito discussed his research at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Washington, D.C.

Not all bad

Not all misfolded proteins are bad. The dogma used to be that all our proteins formed neat, well-folded structures, packed together in complexes with a large number of other proteins, Kopito said. But over the past 20 years, researchers have found that as much as 30 percent of our proteins never fold into stable structures. And even ordered proteins appear to have some disordered parts.

Disordered proteins are important for normal cellular functions. Unlike regular proteins, they only interact with one partner at a time. But they are much more dynamic, capable of several quick interactions with many different proteins. This makes them ideal for a lot of the standard communication that happens within a cell for its normal functioning, Kopito said.

But if some of our proteins are always disordered, how do our cells tell which proteins need to be properly folded, and which don’t? “It’s a big mystery,” said Kopito, and one that he’s studying. This question has implications for how people develop neurodegenerative diseases, all of which appear to be age-related.

Huntington’s disease is caused by a specific mutated protein. But the body makes this mutant protein all your life, so why do you get the disease in later adulthood? Kopito said it’s because the body’s protective mechanisms stop doing their job as we get older. He said his lab hopes to determine what these mechanisms are.

A bad influence

But it’s clear what happens when these mechanisms stop working – misfolded proteins start recruiting normal versions of the same protein and form large aggregations. The presence of these aggregations in neurons has been closely linked with several neurodegenerative diseases.

Kopito found that the mutant protein associated with Huntington’s disease can leave one cell and enter another one, stirring up trouble in each new cell as it progresses down the line. The spread of the misfolded protein may explain how Huntington’s progresses through the brain.

This disease, like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s, starts in one area of the brain and spreads to the rest of it. This is also similar to the spread of prions, the self-replicating proteins implicated in mad cow disease and, in humans, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease. As the misfolded protein reaches more parts of the brain, it could be responsible for the progressive worsening of these diseases.

Now that we know that these misfolded proteins spend part of their time outside of cells, traveling from one cell to another, new drugs could target them there, Kopito said. This could help prevent or at least block the progression of these diseases.

Kopito is currently working to figure out how misfolded proteins get past cell membranes into cells in the first place. It is only once in the cell’s cytoplasm that these proteins can recruit others. So these studies could help find ways to keep these mischief-makers away from the normal proteins.

He is also collaborating with biology professor Liqun Luo to track these proteins between cells in the well-mapped fruit fly nervous system. In the future, Kopito said he hopes to link his cell biology work to disease pathology in order to understand the role misfolded proteins play in human disease.

Revisited Human-Worm Relationships Shed Light on Brain Evolution

“Man is but a worm” was the title of a famous caricature of Darwin’s ideas in Victorian England. Now, 120 years later, a molecular analysis of mysterious marine creatures unexpectedly reveals our cousins as worms, indeed.

An international team of researchers, including a neuroscientist from the University of Florida, has produced more evidence that people have a close evolutionary connection with tiny, flatworm-like organisms scientifically known as “Acoelomorphs.”

The research in the Thursday (Feb. 10) issue of Nature offers insights into brain development and human diseases, possibly shedding light on animal models used to study development of nerve cells and complex neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.

“It was like looking under a rock and finding something unexpected,” said Leonid L. Moroz, Ph.D., a professor in the department of neuroscience with the UF College of Medicine. “We’ve known there were very unusual twists in the evolution of the complex brains, but this suggests the independent evolution of complex brains in our lineage versus invertebrates, for example, in lineages leading to the octopus or the honeybee.”

The latest research indicates that of the five animal phyla, the highest classification in our evolutionary neighborhood, four contain worms. But none are anatomically simpler than “acoels,” which have no brains or centralized nervous systems. Less than a few millimeters in size, acoels are little more than tiny bags of cells that breathe through their skin and digest food by surrounding it.

Comparing extensive genome-wide data, mitochondrial genes and tiny signaling nucleic acids called microRNAs, the researchers hailing from six countries determined a strong possibility that acoels and their kin are “sisters” to another peculiar type of marine worm from northern seas, called Xenoturbella.

From there, like playing “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon,” the branches continue to humans.

“If you looked at one of these creatures you would say, ‘what is all of this excitement about a worm?'” said Richard G. Northcutt, Ph.D., a professor of neurosciences at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, who was not involved in the study. “These are tiny animals that have almost no anatomy, which presents very little for scientists to compare them with. But through genetics, if the analysis is correct – and time will tell if it is – the study has taken a very bothersome group that scientists are not sure what to do with and says it is related to vertebrates, ourselves and echinoderms (such as starfish).

“The significance of the research is it gives us a better understanding of how animals are related and, by inference, a better understanding of the history of the animals leading to humans,” Northcutt said.

Scientists used high-throughput computational tools to reconstruct deep evolutionary relationships, apparently confirming suspicions that three lineages of marine worms and vertebrates are part of a common evolutionary line called “deuterostomes,” which share a common ancestor.

“The early evolution of lineages leading to vertebrates, sea stars and acorn worms is much more complex than most people expect because it involves not just gene gain, but enormous gene loss,” said Moroz, who is affiliated with the Whitney Laboratory for Marine Bioscience and UF’s McKnight Brain Institute. “An alternative, yet unlikely, scenario would be that our common ancestor had a central nervous system, and then just lost it, still remaining a free living organism.

Understanding the complex cellular rearrangements and the origin of animal innovations, such as the brain, is critically important for understanding human development and disease, Moroz said.

“We need to be able to interpret molecular events in the medical field,” he said. “Is what’s happening in different lineages of neuronal and stem cells, for example, completely new, or is it reflecting something that is in the arrays of ancestral toolkits preserved over more than 550 million years of our evolutionary history? Working with models of human disease, you really need to be sure.”

Introducing – Velvet Bean: Herbal Alternative for Parkinson’s

Research shows that Velvet bean, a natural source of L-Dopa, improves the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. This herb has been used in Ayurvedic medicine for centuries.

Mucuna pruriens, or Velvet bean, is an ancient herb that has received much attention in recent years because of its effectiveness in treating Parkinson’s disease, a debilitating neurological condition that affects millions, particularly with advancing age. Velvet bean’s active chemical ingredient is a natural form of dopamine, making it very specific for Parkinson’s disease, as well as for any disorder caused by insufficient levels of this critical neurotransmitter. Research has shown that when natural dopamine is chemically removed from the herb, Velvet bean is still effective against the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, indicating that the herb possesses multiple anti-Parkinsonian properties.

Velvet bean has been used as part of the traditional herbal treatment for Parkinson’s disease in Ayurvedic medicine for centuries. Empirical evidence gathered over this time strongly suggests that this treatment stops the progress of the disease by helping to regenerate the nervous system and arresting damage caused by free radicals. Herbal treatment has not been shown to reverse Parkinson’s disease, however.

Velvet Bean as an Herbal Alternative to L-Dopa

Due to the high concentration of naturally-occuring L-dopa in Velvet bean seeds, it has been studied intensively for its potential use in slowing the progress of Parkinson‘s, which is characterized by progressive degeneration of dopaminergic neurons in specific areas in the brain. Dopamine does not cross the blood-brain barrier and therefore cannot be used directly as a treatment. However, L-dopa does gain access to the brain-where it is converted to dopamine.

In a clinical trial, the effects of Velvet bean were compared with standard doses of L-dopa in Parkinson’s patients. For this study, eight Parkinson‘s patients were treated with a short duration L-dopa response and completed a randomized, controlled, double blind crossover trial. Compared with standard treatment, the velvet bean preparation proved to have a significantly faster effect. The average onset was approximately 22% faster with a dose of 30 g of Velvet bean extract than that of the standard drug treatment.

Further Research on Velvet Bean and Parkinson’s Disease Symptoms

In a second clinical study, the efficacy of a traditional Ayurvedic treatment including Velvet bean was studied in 18 clinically diagnosed Parkinson’s disease patients. Patients whose herbal therapy was accompanied by traditional Ayurvedic cleansing experienced significant improvements in their Parkinson’s disease symptoms, particularly in motor activities. These patients showed reductions in tremors, radykinesia, stiffness and cramps as compared to patients receiving herbal therapy alone.

This research indicates that the naturally-occurring L-dopa contained in Velvet bean may offer advantages over conventional L-dopa preparations in the long-term management of Parkinson’s disease. The necessity of combining such treatment with whole-body cleansing, such as that traditionally administered in Ayurveda, significantly enhances the effectiveness of the herbal treatment.

Too Much of Vitamin A is Bad for Human System

NEW YORK – Excessive intake of Vitamin A can have a negative effect on the human body, a new study says.

The research shows that Vitamin A plays a crucial role in energy production within cells but too much or too little of it can harm the system.

This is particularly important as combinations of foods, drinks, creams, and nutritional supplements containing added Vitamin A make an overdose more possible than ever before.

“Our work illuminates the value and potential harm of Vitamin A use in cosmetic creams and nutritional supplements,” said study co-author Ulrich Hammerling of Sloan-Kettering Institute for Cancer Research, New York.

“Although Vitamin A deficiency is not very common in our society, over-use of this vitamin could cause significant disregulation of energy production impacting cell growth and cell death.”

Though Vitamin A for nutrition and foetal development is well-known, it has been unclear why Vitamin A deficiencies and overdoses cause such widespread and profound harm to our organs, until now.

The discovery by Hammerling and colleagues explains why these effects occur, while also providing insight into Vitamin A’s anti-cancer effects, says a Sloan-Kettering release.

The scientists used cultures from both human and mice cells containing specific genetic modifications of the chemical pathways involved in mitochondrial (which powers the cell) energy production.

These findings were published in the FASEB Journal.