Team McCallum

R&D for Lifetime of Life

Nerve cell decay halted.

Nerve cell degeneration occurs in neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s, motor neurone disease, mutiple sclerosis, glaucoma and as part of the normal process of ageing.

Dr Jon Gilley and Dr Michael Coleman at the BBSRC (Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council) have found a protein, called Nmnat2, without which axons (an essential part of healthy nerve cells) quickly degenerate, even if other nutrients are present. So it is like the equivalent of oxygen to human survival.

Adding external Nmnat2 was found to protect injured nerve cells, suggesting a possible treatment route for neurodegenerative diseases.

The full report is available for free in PLoS Biology.


January 31, 2010 Posted by | Aging, Alzheimer's, Brain, Glaucoma, Health, Jon Gilley, Michael Coleman, Motor neurone disease, Multiple sclerosis, Nmnat2 | Leave a comment

Mid life activity aids women’s survival.

A study compared the detailed physical exercise of over 13,500 women, average age 60 as at 1986, with successful survival later in their 70s.

Authors Dr Qi Sun and others defined successful survival as no history of 10 major chronic diseases or coronary artery bypass graft surgery and no cognitive impairment, physical impairment, or mental health limitations.

The detailed physical exercise data collected in 1986 measured both effort and duration to calculate METs (metabolic equivalent tasks). For example, brisk walking (average 3.5 mph) for an hour is 3.5 METs, while aerobics for an hour is 6 METs.

The authors split the results into quintiles (blocks of one fifth of the participants) and found the most common weekly METs for each was 0.9, 3.6, 7.9, 16.2, 39.1.

Putting the lowest quintile as 1, the authors found the rate of successful survival was 1, 0.98, 1.37, 1.34 and 1.99.

Total activity which added up to the equivalent of about 2 hours of brisk walking per week increased chances of successful survival by 37%.

Further, compared with women whose walking pace was easy, women with a moderate walking pace had a 90% increase in the odds of successful aging; women whose walking pace was brisk or very brisk had 2.68-fold increased odds.

Leaner women had higher rates of successful survival than those overweight or obese.

Individual vigorous activities strongly associated with successful survival were – jogging, running, tennis, areobics, calisthenics.

The full report is currently available at the Archives of Internal Medicine.

January 30, 2010 Posted by | Aging, Exercise, Health, Obesity, Qi Sun, Success | Leave a comment

US economy up 5.7% in Q4.

The US economy grew at 5.7% in the fourth quarter of 2009, the fastest rise in six years, and ahead of analysts’ predictions of 4.8%.

Despite the increase, the number of unemployed stands at 15.3 million, an unemployment rate of 10%, compared with 7.7 million and 5% at the start of the recession.

January 29, 2010 Posted by | Economy | Leave a comment

Ginkgo biloba epilepsy issue.

A report in the Journal of Natural Products investigates a link between ginkgo biloba and epileptic seizures.

Among many active ingredients, ginkgo biloba contains ginkgotoxin. This is concentrated in the seeds in lethal amounts.

Ginkgotoxin is also present in the leaves. Report authors Eckhard Leistner and Christel Drewke noted massive variations in the strength of active products in ginkgo biloba teas, although they did not specifically test for ginkgotoxin.

They did look at how ginkgotoxin works in humans. They found it prevents uptake of vitamin B6 by the brain, appears to interfere with 2 neurotransmitters known to trigger epileptic convulsions, and also may prevent the uptake of anticonvulsant medicine.

The report covered 10 cases, 7 of which are on the US FDA’s Special Nutritionals Adverse Event Monitoring System.

The authors suggested product manufacturers should be required to test for the level of ginkgotoxin.

The German equivalent of the FDA, Bfarm, ruled recently that pharmaceutical companies selling ginkgo biloba medications have to amend the package insert advising patients suffering from seizures to consult their physician before taking high-dosage medications of this type.

January 29, 2010 Posted by | Christel Drewke, Eckhard Leistner, Ginkgo biloba, Ginkgotoxin, Medicine/Treatment | Leave a comment

Solution for common heart rhythm problem.

Over 2 million Americans suffer from heart rhythm problems (atrial fibrillation) with 160,000 new cases per year.

Dr David Wilber led a study to compare catheter ablation (burning a small area of heart tissue responsible for erratic heartbeat signals) and drugs. All patients had already failed on at least one drug to control heartbeat.

The patients were split into 2 groups – one put on ablation, the other put on a type of drug not tried before.

After a year, 66% of ablation patients remained free of irregular heartbeats, compared to 16% in the group on drugs.

Another major study underway, called CABANA, is designed to determine whether ablation patients live longer than patients receiving medication. Researchers will follow about 3,000 patients for three years.

Click here for Renal (Kidney) Nerve Ablation, a simple op to cure high blood pressure.

January 28, 2010 Posted by | Ablation, Atrial fibrillation, David Wilber, Health, Success | Leave a comment

Fusion in 2010?

The US National Ignition Facility is designed to investigate the issues surrounding fusion. It has 192 laser beams focussed on a centimetre of gold containing a tiny pellet of fuel (deuterium plus others).

A report in Science shows the target was hit with 690 kiloJoules. This is under 8% of the daily recommended energy requirement for an average woman (2000 kcals) but it was fired into the target in around 10 billionths of a second.

According to team leader Siegfried Glenzer, a number of potential obstacles to fusion have been resolved in this experiment.

Since the news report in Science, the team has run the facility at a much higher level of 1 megaJoule (1,000 kiloJoules) with fusion-ready fuel pellets.

Current calculations say 1.2 megaJoules will be required for ignition, and the facility is rated up to 1.8 megaJoules.

When will ignition happen? According to Dr Glenzer “It’s going to happen this year.”

January 28, 2010 Posted by | Change, Fusion, National Ignition Facility, Science, Siegfried Glenzer, Success | Leave a comment

Preventing flu.

Allison E. Aiello led a team from the University of Michigan to investigate the use of face masks and hand sanitisers in the prevention of flu.

Over 1,400 students in the university halls of residence were split into 3 groups – a control group with no intervention, a group to wear face masks and a group to wear face masks and use alcohol hand sanitisers.

The students were monitored for flu symptoms for 6 weeks after confirmation of influenza at the University of Michigan campus.

Dr Aiello found a reduction in flu symptoms of 35% to over 50% in both groups wearing masks, compared to the control group.

The difference in symptoms between the two mask groups was not significant statistically, suggesting the use of hand sanitisers made little difference.

The report is in the Journal of Infectious Diseases.

Click here for How To Survive (H1N1) Flu.

January 28, 2010 Posted by | Allison E. Aiello, Health, Influenza, Success | 2 Comments

How to survive H1N1 flu.

Dr Ryan Zarychanski (and team) from the University of Manitoba analysed what made the difference when you get H1N1 flu (swine flu).

Nearly 800 cases of H1N1 in Manitoba revealed most patients (almost 3/4) were OK with treatment in the community, under a quarter had to be admitted to hospital, and just 6 in 100 needed intensive care.

What made the difference?

The report in the Canadian Medical Association Journal came up with 3 major factors.

“First Nations” peoples (for which we substitute ‘native’ or ‘indigenous’) were particularly hardly hit at 37%, well over their share of population.

“Underlying complications”, in other words people who already had a medical condition, also fared badly.

The really big factor seems to be the time between when symptoms start and when treatment begins. (So in the first 2 cases above, this would be really difficult.)

2 days from symptoms to antivirals = community treatment.
4 days from symptoms to antivirals = hospitalisation.
6 days from symptoms to antivirals = intensive care.

It would seem that recognising the symptoms of flu early and seeking treatment early makes the difference.

Click here for Preventing Flu.

January 27, 2010 Posted by | Health, Influenza, Ryan Zarychanski, Success | 4 Comments

Low-carb diet beats diet pill+low fat diet?

Dr William S. Yancy and others tested a low-carb diet with ketosis (as in Atkins) against orlistat plus weekly low-fat diet instruction, over 48 weeks.

Orlistat has been sold on prescription as Xenical in the US since 1999, and since 1997 as Alli over the counter. The Alli recommended dose is 60mg 3 times a day. Dr Yancy and team were testing double this, 120mg 3 times a day.

Both groups lost an average weight of about 9% over the period.

However, the low-carb diet group improved blood pressure readings, whereas the orlistat group worsened slightly.

A higher percentage of participants stuck with the orlistat diet, 88%, than with the low-carb diet, 79%, for the full 48 weeks.

The results appear in The Archives of Internal Medicine.

January 26, 2010 Posted by | Diet, Obesity, Orlistat, William S Yancy | Leave a comment

Is the UK out of recession?

The UK economy may have exited recession, after figures showed the economy had grown by a weaker-than-expected 0.1% in the last three months of 2009.

This figure could later be revised down or up, which could alter the news. First estimates of how the economy has performed are made with about 40% of the data available.

The economy had previously contracted for six consecutive quarters – the longest period since quarterly figures were first recorded in 1955.

The UK’s had been the last major economy still in recession.

Europe’s two biggest economies – Germany and France – came out of recession last summer. Japan and the US also exited recession last year.

January 26, 2010 Posted by | Economy | Leave a comment