November 2019 News Briefs


Mega Doctor NEWS

Listening to Music While Driving May Help Calm the Heart

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Past research has shown that experiencing frequent psychological stress can be a significant risk factor for cardiovascular disease, a condition that affects almost half of those aged 20 years and older in the United States. One source of frequent stress is driving, either due to the stressors associated with heavy traffic or the anxiety that often accompanies inexperienced drivers. Does this mean, though, that people who drive on a daily basis are set to develop heart problems, or is there a simple way of easing the stress of driving? According to a new study by researchers from São Paulo State University in Marília, Brazil, Oxford Brookes University in the United Kingdom, and the University of Parma in Italy, there is. Source: Medical News Today

Link Between Inflammation and Mental Sluggishness Shown in New Study

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Scientists at the University of Birmingham in collaboration with the University of Amsterdam have uncovered a possible explanation for the mental sluggishness that often accompanies illness. An estimated 12M UK citizens have a chronic medical condition, and many of them report severe mental fatigue that they characterize as ‘sluggishness’ or ‘brain fog’. This condition is often as debilitating as the disease itself. A team in the University’s Centre for Human Brain Health investigated the link between this mental fog and inflammation – the body’s response to illness. In a study published in Neuroimage, they show that inflammation appears to have a particularly negative impact on the brain’s readiness to reach and maintain an alert state. Source: Newswise 

New Way to Promote Insulin Production in Pre-Diabetes Phase Discovered

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Nanyang Technological University, Singapore scientists have discovered that a type of immune cell known as ‘pancreatic islet macrophages’ is capable of promoting insulin production during the pre-diabetes phase. The scientists believe that the macrophages could be harnessed through new targeted treatments to help prevent Type 2 pre-diabetic patients from turning fully diabetic. Macrophages were not previously known to produce or regulate insulin and had often been overlooked in diabetes research. Working with an international team of scientists, the five-year study was led by Assistant Professor Yusuf Ali from NTU’s Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine. He wanted to investigate pre-diabetes research due to the general lack of awareness, understanding, and diagnoses for the condition. Source: News Medical

E-cigarettes Boost Infection Risk by Blocking Action of Immune Cells

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A new study finds that e-cigarette vapor weakens the mobility and function of immune cells designed to fight infection. This reduced ability may increase the risk of bacterial illnesses in people who vape. The research is published ahead of print in the American Journal of Physiology—Cell Physiology. The human immune system’s first line of defense is a type of immune cell called a neutrophil. Neutrophils constantly circulate in the bloodstream but leave the circulation to travel to sites of infection when disease-causing pathogens (e.g., bacteria, fungi, and viruses) enter the body. Neutrophils kill pathogens by producing reactive oxygen species—a byproduct of metabolism—and shooting out networks of fibers to immobilize and kill pathogens, called neutrophil extracellular traps. Previous studies have shown that exposure to environmental toxins, including cigarette smoke, can reduce neutrophils’ capacity to destroy pathogens. Source: Newswise 

New Treatment Stops Peanut Allergy for 6 Weeks with Single Dose

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A small study published in the journal JCI Insight on November 14, 2019, suggests that antibody treatment could help people with a severe allergy to peanuts eat a small amount of peanut-containing food just two weeks later, without any ill effects. This seems to show that this is a safe, fast and effective treatment for food allergy. Food allergies afflict about 32 million Americans. These troublesome conditions may begin at any age and hinder social activity as well as making food selection and preparation a cumbersome process.  The only current treatment that cures people is oral immunotherapy, in which people eat very small amounts of the foods to which they are allergic, under medical supervision, in very gradually increasing doses, until their bodies adjust to the allergens. This process is called desensitization and may take up anywhere from 6 months to a year. At any point, the individual may develop an exacerbation. Source: News Medical 

Inoculating against the spread of viral misinformation

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In a year that has seen the largest measles outbreak in the U.S. in more than two decades, the role of social media in giving a platform to unscientific anti-vaccine messages and organizations has become a flashpoint. In the first study of public health-related Facebook advertising, newly published in the journal Vaccine, researchers at the University of Maryland, the George Washington University and Johns Hopkins University show that a small group of anti-vaccine ad buyers has successfully leveraged Facebook to reach targeted audiences and that the social media platform’s efforts to improve transparency have actually led to the removal of ads promoting vaccination and communicating scientific findings. The research calls attention to the threat of social media misinformation as it may contribute to increasing “vaccine hesitancy,” which the World Health Organization ranks among the top threats to global health this year. This increasing reluctance or refusal to vaccinate threatens to reverse the progress made in halting vaccine-preventable diseases, such as measles, which has seen a 30% increase in cases globally. Source: Newswise