By Guest Nicole
April 19, 2018
University of Colorado at Boulder
Older adults who take an antioxidant that specifically targets mitochondria see age-related changes in blood vessels reverse by the equivalent of 15 to 20 years within six weeks, a new study shows.
Older adults who take a novel antioxidant that specifically targets cellular powerhouses, or mitochondria, see age-related vascular changes reverse by the equivalent of 15 to 20 years within six weeks, according to new University of Colorado Boulder research.
The study, published this week in the American Heart Association journal Hypertension, adds to a growing body of evidence suggesting pharmaceutical-grade nutritional supplements, or nutraceuticals, could play an important role in preventing heart disease-the nation's No. 1 killer. It also resurrects the notion that oral antioxidants, which have been broadly dismissed as ineffective in recent years, could reap measurable health benefits if properly targeted, the authors say.
"This is the first clinical trial to assess the impact of a mitochondrial-specific antioxidant on vascular function in humans," said lead author Matthew Rossman, a postdoctoral researcher in the department of integrative physiology. "It suggests that therapies like this may hold real promise for reducing the risk of age-related cardiovascular disease."
Read more: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/04/180419141523.htm
By Guest Nicole
Nearly 80 genes that could be linked to depression have been discovered by scientists.
The findings could help explain why some people may be at a higher risk of developing the condition, researchers say.
The study could also help researchers develop drugs to tackle mental ill-health, experts say.
Depression affects one in five people in the UK every year and is the leading cause of disability worldwide. Life events - such as trauma or stress - can contribute to its onset, but it is not clear why some people are more likely to develop the condition than others.
Scientists led by the University of Edinburgh analysed data from UK Biobank - a research resource containing health and genetic information for half a million people.
They scanned the genetic code of 300,000 people to identify areas of DNA that could be linked to depression.
Some of the pinpointed genes are known to be involved in the function of synapses, tiny connectors that allow brain cells to communicate with each other through electrical and chemical signals.
Read more: https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2018-04/uoe-dsp041318.php
By Guest Nicole
(CNN)The UK's fertility regulator has given the green light to a treatment that will make it possible for babies to be made from two women and a man. The new advancement in in vitro fertilization, developed by doctors in Newcastle, is intended to prevent children being born with certain fatal genetic diseases.
The first child to be born in the UK through the new method could arrive by the end of 2017.
The procedure will allow the donation of mitochondria, which provides energy for cells, to mothers with mutations within the DNA of their own mitochondria so they do not pass the mutations on to their child.
What are mitochondria?
Mitochondria are small structures found in our cells that generate the cellular energy used to power every part of our bodies.
Mitochondria have their own DNA, which controls only mitochondrial function and energy production.
This is separate from our "nuclear DNA," which makes us who we are and determines appearance and personality.
(Source: Wellcome Trust)
Replacing your mitochondria
Mitochondrial diseases are genetic conditions; about one in 4,300 affected children are estimated to be born with these conditions every year. Mitochondria provide humans with energy and are present in almost every cell within the body.
Known as "mitochondrial donation," the IVF technique involves replacing faulty mitochondria inherited from the mother with the healthy mitochondria of another woman.
Most of a cell's genetic material, or DNA, is contained within the nucleus, but a very small amount (less than 1%) is found in the mitochondria.
This mitochondrial DNA is inherited only from the mother through her eggs.
If the mother's mitochondrial DNA is faulty, it is possible that she may pass on a number of rare but very serious mitochondrial diseases, including muscle weakness, diabetes, heart problems, epilepsy and stroke-like episodes. In serious cases, they can lead to death.
About 1 in 6,500 children are thought to develop a serious mitochondrial disorder, according to Newcastle's Wellcome Trust Centre for Mitochondrial Research, which has been a leading partner in the project.
A historic decision
"Today's historic decision means that parents at very high risk of having a child with a life-threatening mitochondrial disease may soon have the chance of a healthy, genetically related child," said Sally Cheshire, Human Fertilization and Embryology Authority chairwoman. "This is life-changing for those families."
An expert panel reviewed the development, safety and efficacy of these techniques over five years and four reports, she added, saying the authority feels that "now it is the right time to carefully introduce this new treatment in the limited circumstances recommended by the panel."
Moving forward has been approved, but caution is still recommended.
"Although it is tempting to rush ahead with new treatments, the UK approach of testing public opinion, putting the issue to Parliament and carefully monitoring laboratory research has proved to be the most responsible and sustainable of introducing new, cutting-edge treatments into the clinic," Cheshire said. "Such an approach has allowed us to balance innovation with safety, maintaining public trust as we go."
In February 2015, UK lawmakers voted in favor of a law that would allow the pioneering technique using DNA from three people.
The Newcastle team aims to offer treatment for up to 25 women a year affected by mitochondrial disease, but the treatment could be held back if they don't have enough healthy donated eggs.
The UK is probably not the first country in the world to have children born through the three-person technique.
A Jordanian couple and doctors in New York claimed they performed the procedure in Mexico, with the child being born on April 6.
The use of this reproductive technology was originally intended to prevent Leigh syndrome, a severe neurological condition that affects at least one in 40,000 newborns.
The mother in this historic case previously had four pregnancy losses and had given birth to two children, one of whom survived less than a year and another who lived only six years, both due to this syndrome.
For religious reasons, the mother wanted to use a technique that would not require the destruction of a fertilized egg. A team of doctors, led by Dr. John Zhang, founder of the New Hope Fertility Center in New York City, went to Mexico to perform the procedure, as it is not licensed in the US.
But the UK may now see many babies being born through the method in the coming years.
"Mitochondrial donation offers a real opportunity to cure a class of potentially devastating inherited conditions and will bring hope to hundreds of affected families in the UK," said Dr. Dagan Wells, associate professor at the NIHR Biomedical Research Centre at the University of Oxford. "Research teams, such as those of Professors Herbert and Turnbull in Newcastle, have done sterling work to assess safety of methods for replacing defective mitochondria, and their research has provided much reassurance in that regard.
"The HFEA's decision to allow clinics to apply for permission to perform mitochondrial donation finally opens the way to begin using this technology for the benefit of families that have faced much heartbreak and hardship as a result of carrying a mitochondrial disorder."
"This marks a momentous and historic step, and we hope families next year will begin their journey to eradicate these genetic diseases," added Dr. Adam Balen, chairman of the British Fertility Society. "Clinics will now need to apply for a license, and the regulator will grant them, taking into account each application extremely carefully."
CNN's Meera Senthilingam contributed to this report.
By Guest Nicole
Scientists report that diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids can reverse the damage
April 22, 2016
University of California - Los Angeles
Consuming fructose, a sugar that's common in the Western diet, alters hundreds of genes that may be linked to many diseases, life scientists report. However, they discovered good news as well: an important omega-3 fatty acid known as DHA seems to reverse the harmful changes produced by fructose.
A range of diseases -- from diabetes to cardiovascular disease, and from Alzheimer's disease to attention deficit hyperactivity disorder -- are linked to changes to genes in the brain. A new study by UCLA life scientists has found that hundreds of those genes can be damaged by fructose, a sugar that's common in the Western diet, in a way that could lead to those diseases.
However, the researchers discovered good news as well: An omega-3 fatty acid known as docosahexaenoic acid, or DHA, seems to reverse the harmful changes produced by fructose.
"DHA changes not just one or two genes; it seems to push the entire gene pattern back to normal, which is remarkable," said Xia Yang, a senior author of the study and a UCLA assistant professor of integrative biology and physiology. "And we can see why it has such a powerful effect."
DHA occurs naturally in the membranes of our brain cells, but not in a large enough quantity to help fight diseases.
"The brain and the body are deficient in the machinery to make DHA; it has to come through our diet," said Fernando Gomez-Pinilla, a UCLA professor of neurosurgery and of integrative biology and physiology, and co-senior author of the paper.
DHA strengthens synapses in the brain and enhances learning and memory. It is abundant in wild salmon (but not in farmed salmon) and, to a lesser extent, in other fish and fish oil, as well as walnuts, flaxseed, and fruits and vegetables, said Gomez-Pinilla, who also is a member of UCLA's Brain Injury Research Center.
Americans get most of their fructose in foods that are sweetened with high-fructose corn syrup, an inexpensive liquid sweetener made from corn starch, and from sweetened drinks, syrups, honey and desserts. The Department of Agriculture estimates that Americans consumed an average of about 27 pounds of high-fructose corn syrup in 2014. Fructose is also found is in most baby food and in fruit, although the fiber in fruit substantially slows the body's absorption of the sugar -- and fruit contains other healthy components that protect the brain and body, Yang said.
To test the effects of fructose and DHA, the researchers trained rats to escape from a maze, and then randomly divided the animals into three groups. For the next six weeks, one group of rats drank water with an amount of fructose that would be roughly equivalent to a person drinking a liter of soda per day. The second group was given fructose water and a diet rich in DHA. The third received water without fructose and no DHA.
After the six weeks, the rats were put through the maze again. The animals that had been given only the fructose navigated the maze about half as fast than the rats that drank only water -- indicating that the fructose diet had impaired their memory. The rats that had been given fructose and DHA, however, showed very similar results to those that only drank water -- which strongly suggests that the DHA eliminated fructose's harmful effects.
Other tests on the rats revealed more major differences: The rats receiving a high-fructose diet had much higher blood glucose, triglycerides and insulin levels than the other two groups. Those results are significant because in humans, elevated glucose, triglycerides and insulin are linked to obesity, diabetes and many other diseases.
The research team sequenced more than 20,000 genes in the rats' brains, and identified more than 700 genes in the hypothalamus (the brain's major metabolic control center) and more than 200 genes in the hippocampus (which helps regulate learning and memory) that were altered by the fructose. The altered genes they identified, the vast majority of which are comparable to genes in humans, are among those that interact to regulate metabolism, cell communication and inflammation. Among the conditions that can be caused by alterations to those genes are Parkinson's disease, depression, bipolar disorder, and other brain diseases, said Yang, who also is a member of UCLA's Institute for Quantitative and Computational Biosciences.
Of the 900 genes they identified, the researchers found that two in particular, called Bgn and Fmod, appear to be among the first genes in the brain that are affected by fructose. Once those genes are altered, they can set off a cascade effect that eventually alters hundreds of others, Yang said.
That could mean that Bgn and Fmod would be potential targets for new drugs to treat diseases that are caused by altered genes in the brain, she added.
The research also uncovered new details about the mechanism fructose uses to disrupt genes. The scientists found that fructose removes or adds a biochemical group to cytosine, one of the four nucleotides that make up DNA. (The others are adenine, thymine and guanine.) This type of modification plays a critical role in turning genes "on" or "off."
The research is published online in EBioMedicine, a journal published jointly by Cell and The Lancet. It is the first genomics study of all the genes, pathways and gene networks affected by fructose consumption in the regions of the brain that control metabolism and brain function.
Previous research led by Gomez-Pinilla found that fructose damages communication between brain cells and increases toxic molecules in the brain; and that a long-term high-fructose diet diminishes the brain's ability to learn and remember information.
"Food is like a pharmaceutical compound that affects the brain," said Gomez-Pinilla. He recommends avoiding sugary soft drinks, cutting down on desserts and generally consuming less sugar and saturated fat.
Although DHA appears to be quite beneficial, Yang said it is not a magic bullet for curing diseases. Additional research will be needed to determine the extent of its ability to reverse damage to human genes.
The paper's lead author is Qingying Meng, a postdoctoral scholar in Yang's laboratory. Other co-authors are Zhe Ying, a staff research associate in Gomez-Pinilla's laboratory, and colleagues from UCLA, the National Institutes of Health and Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York.
Yang's research is supported by the National Institutes of Health (grant R01DK104363), as is Gomez-Pinilla's (R01DK104363 and R01NS050465).
The above post is reprinted from materials provided by University of California - Los Angeles. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.
Americans get most of their fructose in foods that are sweetened with high-fructose corn syrup, an inexpensive liquid sweetener made from corn starch, and from sweetened drinks, syrups, honey and desserts. The Department of Agriculture estimates that Americans consumed an average of about 27 pounds of high-fructose corn syrup in 2014.
Credit: © AlenKadr / Fotolia
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