Trouble With Math? Maybe You Should Get Your Brain Zapped

If you are one of the 20% of healthy adults who struggle with basic arithmetic, simple tasks like splitting the dinner bill can be excruciating. Now, a new study suggests that a gentle, painless electrical current applied to the brain can boost math performance for up to 6 months. Researchers dont fully understand how it works, however, and there could be side effects.

via Trouble With Math? Maybe You Should Get Your Brain Zapped – ScienceNOW.

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New Tools to Hunt New Viruses

A new flu, H7N9, has killed 36 people since it was first found in China two months ago. A new virus from the SARS family has killed 22 people since it was found on the Arabian Peninsula last summer.

In past years, this might have been occasion for panic. Yet chicken and pork sales have not plummeted, as they did during flus linked to swine and birds. Travel to Shanghai or Mecca has not been curtailed, nor have there been alarmist calls to close national borders.

Is this relatively calm response in order? Or does the simultaneous emergence of two new diseases suggest something more dire?

Actually, experts say, the answer to both questions may well be yes.

via New Tools to Hunt New Viruses – NYTimes.com.

First drug to improve heart failure mortality in over a decade

CoQ10 is the first medication to improve survival in chronic heart failure since ACE inhibitors and beta blockers more than a decade ago and should be added to standard heart failure therapy.

Lisbon, 25 May 2013: Coenzyme Q10 decreases all cause mortality by half, according to the results of a multicentre randomised double blind trial presented today at Heart Failure 2013 congress. It is the first drug to improve heart failure mortality in over a decade and should be added to standard treatment, according to lead author Professor Svend Aage Mortensen (Copenhagen, Denmark).
Continue reading “First drug to improve heart failure mortality in over a decade”

Reducing caloric intake delays nerve cell loss

Activating an enzyme known to play a role in the anti-aging benefits of calorie restriction delays the loss of brain cells and preserves cognitive function in mice, according to a study published in the May 22 issue of The Journal of Neuroscience. The findings could one day guide researchers to discover drug alternatives that slow the progress of age-associated impairments in the brain.

Li-Huei Tsai — director of the Picower Institute for Learning and Memory and Picower Professor of Neuroscience at MIT — along with postdoc Johannes Gräff and others at MIT tested whether reducing caloric intake would delay the onset of nerve cell loss that is common in neurodegenerative disease, and if so, whether SIRT1 activation was driving this effect. The group not only confirmed that caloric restriction delays nerve cell loss, but also found that a drug that activates SIRT1 produces the same effects.

via Reducing caloric intake delays nerve cell loss – MIT News Office.

Viruses in the gut protect from infection

“Mucus is everywhere,” says microbiologist Jeremy Barr. Almost every animal uses it to make a barrier that protects tissues that are exposed to the environment, such as the gut or lungs. Now, Barr and a team of researchers have discovered that mucus is also the key to an ancient partnership between animals and viruses.

Viruses known as bacteriophages, seen here attacking an E. coli (in a coloured scanning electron micrograph), abound in the mucus of organisms across the animal kingdom, where they help keep bacteria in check.

JUERGEN BERGER/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

via Viruses in the gut protect from infection : Nature News & Comment.

Human embryonic stem cells created from adult tissue for first time

Scientists have used the cloning technique that led to Dolly the sheep to turn human skin into embryonic stem cells – which can make any tissue in the body.

The US team overcame technical problems that had frustrated researchers for more than a decade to create batches of the bodys master cells from donated skin.

The work will spark fresh interest in the use of cloning in medical research, and reignite the controversy over a procedure that demands a supply of human eggs, and the creation and destruction of early stage embryos. The US group employed the technique to make embryonic stem cells that were genetically matched to individuals. Such cells could be used to study diseases in exquisite detail, and regenerate damaged organs and tissues.Cloning technique: a donor egg before nucleus extraction

A human egg before nuclear extraction and fusion with a skin cell. The resulting embryonic stem cells were genetically identical to the skin donor. Photograph: Oregon Health & Science University

via Human embryonic stem cells created from adult tissue for first time | Science | The Guardian.

Having A Pet May Lower Heart Disease Risk

They’re man’s best friend, and  they may be one of the heart’s best allies as well.A panel of heart disease experts convened by the American Heart Association AHA reviewed research linking heart health and owning a pet and found that owning a pet is “probably associated” with a lower risk of heart disease for those without a history of heart problems, and with greater survival rates among heart disease patients.

via Having A Pet May Lower Heart Disease Risk | TIME.com.