Team McCallum

R&D for Lifetime of Life

Premature babies like novelty.

Fleur Lejeune and others report in PloS ONE on a study in grasp in premature babies and found that they held new shapes longer than familiar ones.

The babies had an average age of 31 weeks from conception at birth and were tested at an average age of 33 weeks from conception. The World Health Organization defines 37 weeks as the cutoff point for being premature.

The babies were given an object of one shape and timed to see how long they would hold on to it. This got less each time they were given it as they learned the shape and lost interest in it.

When then given a new shape, the babies held onto it for longer.

This proves premature babies can distinguish different shapes, that they learn shapes, and that they prefer novel shapes.


February 28, 2010 Posted by | Brain, Fleur Lejeune, Learning, Memory | Leave a comment

Natural morning light and teenagers?

Dr Mariana G Figueiro reported in Neuroendocrinololgy Letters that removing the blue component of natural light in the morning caused sleep to get later and later in teenage students. The findings have wider applications, such as shift workers and Alzheimer’s sufferers who have difficulty in sleeping.

The students wore orange goggles to filter out the blue component of light. This upset their circadian rhythm, with melatonin clicking in later each day, and sleep, which occurs roughly 2 hours after melatonin clicks on, also getting later each day. Over 5 days, the drift was 30 minutes later.

Artificial lights are generally poor at producing the blue component of light, and it’s morning exposure to the blue component that synchronises the circadian cycle.

So you need natural light in the morning, or an artificial light that specifically produces the blue component, to get your daily clock on time.

February 27, 2010 Posted by | Alzheimer's, Blue light, Circadian rhythm, Health, Mariana G Figueiro, Success | Leave a comment

Bitter melon v cancer cleared up.

The BBC has published a story on bitter melon and breast cancer here. It’s hardly newsworthy except they seem to have mangled the article, and the mangled article is being copied at numerous health sites across the internet.

The BBC attributes the study to Dr Rajesh Agarwal from the University of Colorado. The study is here in Cancer Research, and the authors are Ratna B Ray, Amit Raychoudhuri, Robert Steele and Pratibha Nerurkar, of St Louis University and the University of Hawaii.

The study was carried out in human breast cancer cells cultured in a lab dish. The bitter melon extract cut the rate at which the cancer cells multiplied and increased the rate at which the cancer cells died off.

The study looked at the mechanisms involved, which happened to include altered rates of cyclins and and survivin, and other technicalities.

The BBC brought in an expert to point out best prevention methods re breast cancer and to state that many lab dish results never make it to the real world.

In the study, the authors conclude “bitter melon extract modulates signal transduction pathways for inhibition of breast cancer cell growth and can be used as a dietary supplement for prevention of breast cancer.” In plain English, don’t drop current best practice, but this can be added on for extra prevention.

February 27, 2010 Posted by | Amit Raychoudhuri, Cancer, Health, Pratibha Nerurkar, Rajesh Agarwal, Ratna B Ray, Robert Steele, Success | 1 Comment

Days of plenty v good old days.

In the 1960s, 9 out 10 people were trying to lose weight, compared to under 6 out of 10 today.

People spent twice as much time every week doing household chores and hardly anyone ate takeaway meals, which appeared in the mid-sixties.

Professor Alan Maryon-Davis, president of the Faculty of Public Health, said people are probably healthier these days in terms of life expectancy.

“But we have these problems which are problems of affluence and we need to get back to being more physically active.”

February 27, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Vitamin B3 treats stroke.

According to a press release by the Henry Ford Hospital, vitamin B3 (niacin) has been used successfully in an animal study to treat stroke. The hospital is now conducting trials of an extended-release form of B3 in humans.

Rats with ischemic stroke were given B3. This promoted growth of new blood vessels and nerve cells in the brain.

Ischemic strokes make up 87% of all strokes, and one factor is build up of fatty (bad) cholesterol deposits on vessel walls. Published research shows that good cholesterol is abnormally low at the time stroke patients arrive at hospital.

Niacin is known to be the most effective medicine in current clinical use for increasing good cholesterol, which helps those fatty deposits.

Dr Michael Chopp found in the rat study that B3 helps restore neurological function in the brain following stroke, and will present these findings at an International Stroke Conference in the US.

February 26, 2010 Posted by | Brain, Cholesterol, Health, Stroke, Vitamin B3 - Niacin, Vitamins | Leave a comment

CBT helps in low-back pain.

Group CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) has been tested against standard treatment in UK patients with chronic low-back pain, and produced considerable improvement, according to a study in the Lancet by Professor Sarah E Lamb and others.

After one year, 59% of those that received CBT said they had recovered, compared with 31% of the control group. Objective measures of pain also showed improvement was doubled among those who had the therapy.

In standard UK treatment, GPs reassure patients that they will get better, advise them to keep active and avoid bed rest (which tends to make the condition worse), and to take a couple of paracetamol (acetaminophen) when required.

The CBT aimed to break the cycle where sufferers draw away from activity and movement.

According to study researcher Zara Hansen “Cognitive behaviour therapy is twice as effective as a single session of advice and at least as effective as manipulation, exercise therapy or acupuncture but at half the cost.”

February 26, 2010 Posted by | Acetaminophen, Acupuncture, Back pain, CBT, Paracetamol, Sarah E Lamb, Zara Hansen | 2 Comments

Derby ring road named Lara Croft Way.

A new £36.2m Derby inner-ring road is to be named after computer game and movie character Lara Croft following a public vote.

The star of the Tomb Raider franchise was originally devised by a computer game developer based in Derby.

Lara Croft won 89% of the vote.

February 26, 2010 Posted by | Fun, Lara Croft | Leave a comment

Is sitting killing you?

“Your chair is your enemy.

It doesn’t matter if you go running every morning, or you’re a regular at the gym. If you spend most of the rest of the day sitting — in your car, your office chair, on your sofa at home — you are putting yourself at increased risk of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, a variety of cancers and an early death. In other words, irrespective of whether you exercise vigorously, sitting for long periods is bad for you.”

Olivia Judson, an evolutionary biologist at Imperial College, London, has written a brilliant article here in the New York Times.

It covers the dangers of sitting down, how you can be a gym rat and still be unhealthy, and more importantly, really easy steps to change things.

The article draws on a dozen or more studies in this area, and Olivia Judson writes in plain, simple, clear English. We love it!

February 25, 2010 Posted by | Activity, Cancer, Cardiovascular Disease, Diabetes, Exercise, Health, New York Times, Olivia Judson, Success, Weight management | 1 Comment

Caring God heals.

Belief that there is a caring Supreme Being resulted in more favourable outcomes for patients treated for major depression and bipolar depression.

136 patients were assessed on 3 separate standard scales – the Beck Depression Inventory, the Beck Hopelessness Scale, and the Religious Well-Being Scale.

Participants who scored in the top third of the Religious Well-Being Scale were 75-percent more likely to get better with medical treatment for clinical depression than those in the bottom third.

Testing for degree of hopefulness showed no link to to improved outcome.

The improvement was tied specifically to the belief that a Supreme Being cared.

The study, reported in the Journal of Clinical Psycholoy, was carried out by Dr Patricia Murphy and Dr George Fitchett, both chaplains at Rush University.

February 24, 2010 Posted by | Depression, George Fitchett, Health, Patricia Murphy, Positive Psychology, Religion | Leave a comment

Cancer breakthrough.

J Martin Brown and colleagues studied the pathway of recurrence of cancer in gioblastoma treated with radiotherapy, and appear to have made findings that have much wider implications for cancer treatment.

Gioblastoma is highly recurrent and so is lethal. Brown blocked recurrence after radiotherapy with a drug called AMD3100, which is already clinically approved.

The team described the science in the Journal of Clinical Investigation. The full report is free here.

Radiation therapy destroys the tumour, AND the local blood vessels supporting it. So the tumour calls on a second method to get a new blood supply, a much lesser already existing source of blood from circulating cells, and calls on that to regrow.

Brown describes 3 steps in this path, each with various ways to stop regrowth of cancer.

The team found AMD3100 the most effective, stopping a stage called SDF-1/CXCR4 interaction. In fact, they found it 100% effective.

They tested another treatment called VEGF, and found it to be much less effective than AMD3100.

The bad news. The study was in mice, though the science will work in humans. Worse is AMD3100 in licensed in bone marrow transplants, not cancer, so new trials will take years.

Good news. This method of preventing regrowth offers promise in other recurring cancers. Further, some radiotherapy treatments can be turned down. It’s not kill the tumour. It’s turn off the blood supply.

February 23, 2010 Posted by | AMD3100, Cancer, Glioblastoma, J Martin Brown, Success | Leave a comment