What's Hot

What's Hot

News flashes are posted here frequently to keep you up-to-date with the latest advances in health and longevity. We have an unparalleled track record of breaking stories about life extension advances.

 

  • Metformin, rapamycin show promise against pancreatic cancer
  • Arginine could benefit neurodegenerative diseases
  • Spice up your health
  • Fish oil mystery solved?
  • Meta-analysis links ED, vitamin D deficiency
  • Green tea compound EGCG improves memory in mouse model of Down syndrome
  • Compounds in berries, tea and more linked with lower dementia risk
  • Vitamin C plus fasting-mimicking diet fights cancer in experimental research
  • Decreased vitamin K levels associated with increased risk of mortality during 13-year median
  • Study finds higher vitamin D levels correlate with decreased COVID-19 mortality
  • Deficient vitamin D levels associated with respiratory symptoms in smokers
  • Life-extending compound supports oral health
  • Areas with higher selenium levels have greater COVID-19 cure rates
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    Metformin, rapamycin show promise against pancreatic cancer

    Metformin, rapamycin show promise against pancreatic cancer May 29 2020. A trial that tested the effects of metformin with or without rapamycin in patients with metastatic pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma previously treated with chemotherapy found that several participants achieved disease stability associated with lengthy survival and that the combination was well tolerated. Both drugs are inhibitors of mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) and have been the subject of experimental research that has explored their effects on life span.

    "Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDA) is aggressive cancer with high mortality at all stages and limited treatment options in the advanced setting," noted senior author Dung T. Le of the Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins. The findings were published in the May 26, 2020 issue of Oncotarget.

    The study included 22 metastatic pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma patients who were stable or responding to treatment after having received chemotherapy for at least six months. Participants were treated with metformin alone or metformin plus rapamycin as maintenance therapy.

    Progression free survival was similar between the groups, with a median of four months in the metformin group and three months in the metformin plus rapamycin group. Median overall survival was 14.8 months among those who received metformin and 9.7 months among those who received the drug combination. The 24-month survival rate was 37% for the entire group. Safety for the two drugs evaluated in this study was similar to that which had been previously reported.

    “The administration of metformin with or without rapamycin in patients with metastatic pancreatic ducal adenocarcinoma who achieve a response to chemotherapy is well-tolerated and was associated with better than expected overall survival in this study,” the authors concluded. “Additional studies are needed to prospectively evaluate the role of these agents compared to a maintenance chemotherapy or observation only approach.”

    —D Dye

     

     

    Arginine could benefit neurodegenerative diseases

    Arginine could benefit neurodegenerative diseases May 27 2020. Research reported on May 21, 2020 in Brain reveals a potential use for the amino acid arginine to improve symptoms in a class of neurodegenerative disorders known as polyglutamine (polyQ) diseases. These diseases, which include Huntington disease, familial spinocerebellar ataxia, and spinal and bulbar muscular atrophy are caused by mutations in genes that are important for the proper function of neurons. The mutations trigger abnormal aggregation of polyQ proteins which leads to neuronal toxicity and neurodegeneration.

    "We cannot cure patients with polyglutamine diseases,” noted corresponding author Yoshitaka Nagai of the National Institute of Neuroscience in Tokyo. “Instead, we have had to resort to symptomatic therapy as the only medical option. The goal of our study was to find a new disease-modifying drug for polyglutamine diseases."

    By screening various chemical chaperones that facilitate proper protein folding, the research team identified arginine as having the strongest ability to prevent the protein aggregate buildup that occurs in polyQ proteins within neurons. "These findings show how arginine could alleviate the detrimental effects of polyQ aggregate formation," lead author Eiko Minakawa reported. "We next wanted to know if arginine could slow down or halt the progression of different polyQ diseases in living organisms."

    It was found that arginine reduced protein aggregation and neurologic symptoms when administered to animal models of polyQ diseases that included flies, roundworms and mice. “As arginine has been safely used for urea cycle defects and for mitochondrial myopathy, encephalopathy, lactic acid and stroke syndrome patients, and efficiently crosses the blood–brain barrier, a drug-repositioning approach for arginine would enable prompt clinical application as a promising disease-modifier drug for the polyQ diseases,” the authors concluded.

    "Our next goal is to conduct clinical trials to use arginine as a novel therapy for polyglutamine diseases including spinocerebellar ataxias, "Dr Nagai revealed.

    —D Dye

     

     

    Spice up your health

    Spice up your health May 25 2020. Postprandial proinflammatory cytokine secretion, which describes the increase in inflammatory factors that occurs after consuming a high-fat or high-carbohydrate meal, is associated with an elevated risk of cardiovascular disease. However, a study appearing on March 25, 2020 in The Journal of Nutrition suggests a way that people may be able to avoid this harmful phenomenon.

    Connie J. Rogers and colleagues conducted a crossover study in which 12 overweight or obese men with one or more risk factors for cardiovascular disease were provided with a high-fat, high-carbohydrate meal with or without the addition of two grams or six grams of a spice mixture consisting of basil, bay leaf, black pepper, cinnamon, coriander, cumin, ginger, oregano, parsley, red pepper, rosemary, thyme and turmeric. The experiment was repeated on two following days in which the administration of the meal/spice combinations were rotated among the participants to enable each to receive all three combinations during the course of the study.

    Blood samples collected prior to and hourly for four hours after the meal were analyzed for factors relating to inflammation."Additionally, we cultured the white blood cells and stimulated them to get the cells to respond to an inflammatory stimulus, similar to what would happen while your body is fighting an infection," Dr Rogers noted. "We think that's important because it's representative of what would happen in the body. Cells would encounter a pathogen and produce inflammatory cytokines."

    Four hours after consumption, the meal that contained six grams of the spices was associated with a significant reduction in the secretion of a proinflammatory cytokine known as interleukin-1beta. "If spices are palatable to you, they might be a way to make a high-fat or high-carb meal more healthful," Dr Rogers commented. "We can't say from this study if it was one spice in particular, but this specific blend seemed to be beneficial."

    —D Dye

     

     

    Fish oil mystery solved?

    Fish oil mystery solved? May 22 2020. Research reported in the March 3, 2020 issue of the Journal of the American Heart Association helps explain how consuming fish and omega 3 fatty acids may help lower the risk of cardiovascular disease.

    The protective effect of greater fish or omega 3 intake against cardiovascular disease that has been observed in some human studies has been attributed to an associated decrease in triglyceride levels. However, in some investigations, omega 3 fatty acid intake has been linked with a slight increase in low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, the type of cholesterol that, when elevated, is among the risk factors for atherosclerosis.

    The current study included 26,034 participants in the Women’s Health Study. By measuring plasma lipids and apolipoproteins and analyzing lipoprotein levels with nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy, Nuria Amigó and colleagues at the Universitat Rovira i Virgili observed factors associated with omega 3 fatty acids that were mainly consistent with cardiovascular prevention. They determined that only large LDL particle concentrations, which are less likely to promote atherosclerosis and future cardiovascular events than smaller particles, increased in association with greater fish and omega 3 intake.

    The findings emphasize the importance of testing the blood for lipoprotein subfractions. “It is increasingly appreciated that lipoprotein particles, and not their major lipid components, serve as both direct mediators of atherosclerosis and principal targets of lipid‐modifying therapies proven to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease,” Dr Amigó and colleagues noted.

    “We report for the first time that higher habitual fish consumption and higher levels of dietary‐derived omega 3 fatty acid intake were both associated with greater differences in lipoprotein subfractions than traditional lipids,” they announced. “This finding suggests that dietary‐derived omega 3 fatty acids may influence cardiovascular disease risk through lipid and lipoprotein metabolism, perhaps more than previously appreciated.”

    —D Dye

     

     

    Meta-analysis links ED, vitamin D deficiency

    Meta-analysis links ED, vitamin D deficiency May 20 2020. Results from a meta-analysis published on May 14, 2020 in Nutrients indicate a link between deficient serum levels of vitamin D and an increase in erectile dysfunction.

    “Erectile dysfunction (ED) is found very frequently in the male population, in particular in its arteriogenic form, which also represents an important predictor of cardiovascular diseases,” noted Andrea Crafa and colleagues. “Some evidence suggests that vitamin D could play a role in cardiovascular risk prevention thanks to its ability to reduce endothelial damage, oxidative stress, the production of inflammatory cytokines, and dyslipidemia.”

    The analysis included eight studies that reported serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D [25(OH)D] levels and data concerning erectile function among a total of 4,055 men. Although there was no significant difference in vitamin D levels between men with and without ED, when men with vitamin D deficiency, categorized as 25(OH)D levels of less than 20 nanograms per deciliter, were evaluated, erectile function scores were significantly worse than those of men whose vitamin D levels were higher.

    Erectile dysfunction has been associated with low testosterone levels and studies have shown an association between low testosterone levels and decreased levels of vitamin D. In men with normal testosterone, ED is often due to cardiovascular disease. In consideration of these factors, Dr Crafa and colleagues conducted a further analysis that was limited to men with normal testosterone levels; however, the association between vitamin D deficiency and worse erectile function remained significant.

    “This meta-analysis suggests a role for vitamin D in conditioning the severity of ED that also seems to be independent of serum testosterone levels,” they concluded. “Particularly, this study suggests an association between vitamin D deficiency with only the most severe forms of ED.”

    They recommended the initiation of clinical trials to test the effects of vitamin D supplementation in men who have ED and normal testosterone levels.

    —D Dye

     

     

    Green tea compound EGCG improves memory in mouse model of Down syndrome

    Green tea compound EGCG improves memory in mouse model of Down syndrome May 18 2020. Research reported on May 11, 2020 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences contributes to an understanding of differences in neural activity in brains affected by Down syndrome and supports a role for epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), a compound occurring in green tea, in improving memory and behavior.

    By studying a mouse model of Down syndrome, Dr Victoria Puig and colleagues observed overactivation and poor connectivity of the neural networks of brain circuits associated with learning and memory. "These results suggest that both hyperactivity of neuronal networks and deficiencies in the connectivity of specific brain circuits are possible dysfunctional mechanisms that contribute to memory deficits in Down syndrome and, therefore, offer new therapeutic possibilities for treating intellectual disability," explained Dr Puig, of the Hospital del Mar Medical Research Institute’s Integrated Pharmacology and Systems Neuroscience Research Group in Barcelona.

    The study supports findings of a trial conducted by Rafael de la Torre, PharmD, and associates that revealed the safety and effectiveness of cognitive training combined with EGCG in adult Down syndrome patients. Cognitively trained participants who received EGCG had better memory, inhibitory control and adaptive behavior than trained participants who received a placebo.

    "This study provides an in-depth description of the neurophysiological abnormalities present in different brain states in Down syndrome model mice and provides the keys for understanding the cellular mechanisms underlying the improved executive function observed in people with Down syndrome after chronic treatment with epigallocatechin gallate," commented coauthor Mara Dierssen.

    “The group is evaluating the effects of cognitive stimulation during brain development on the neuronal activity of mice with Down syndrome,” Dr Alemany added. “This is important for understanding the cellular mechanisms of cognitive stimulation that are normally used in people to improve intellectual disability".

    —D Dye

     

     

    Compounds in berries, tea and more linked with lower dementia risk

    Compounds in berries, tea and more linked with lower dementia risk May 15 2020. A study reported on April 22, 2020 in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found a correlation between greater intake of foods that contain flavonoids and a lower risk of Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias (ADRD).

    The investigation included 2,801 participants in the Framingham Heart Study Offspring Cohort, which consisted of the children and partners of men and women enrolled in the original Framingham Heart Study. Dietary questionnaires completed upon enrollment and at four subsequent exams were analyzed for the intake of important food sources of six flavonoid classes. The subjects, whose age averaged 59.1 years at the beginning of the current study, were followed for an average of 19.7 years, during which 193 cases of ADRD were diagnosed.

    Subjects whose flavonoid intake was among the top 40% had a 42% lower risk of developing ADRD during follow-up compared with those who were among the lowest 15% of consumers. Having a low intake of flavonols or flavonoid polymers, which are present in significant amounts in tea, apples and pears, was associated with approximately double the risk of ADRD; and low intake of anthocyanidins present in red wine, blueberries and strawberries was associated with four times the risk ADRD in comparison with the highest intake.

    "Our study gives us a picture of how diet over time might be related to a person's cognitive decline, as we were able to look at flavonoid intake over many years prior to participants' dementia diagnoses," commented senior author Paul Jacques, who is a nutritional epidemiologist at the US Department of Agriculture Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University. "With no effective drugs currently available for the treatment of Alzheimer's disease, preventing disease through a healthy diet is an important consideration."

    —D Dye

     

     

    Vitamin C plus fasting-mimicking diet fights cancer in experimental research

    Vitamin C plus fasting-mimicking diet fights cancer in experimental research May 13 2020. Research involving colorectal cancer cells and mice with colorectal cancer reported on May 11, 2020 in Nature Communications revealed a benefit for combining vitamin C with a diet that elicits the effects of fasting.

    "For the first time, we have demonstrated how a completely nontoxic intervention can effectively treat an aggressive cancer," announced senior author Valter Longo. "We have taken two treatments that are studied extensively as interventions to delay aging—a fasting-mimicking diet and vitamin C—and combined them as a powerful treatment for cancer."

    Since fasting is difficult for many individuals to maintain, the researchers tested the effects of a plant-based diet designed to provide the benefits of fasting via a reduction in calories, sugar, protein and fat, which was alternated with refeeding periods to help reduce loss of lean body mass in the experimental animals. In cells, the effects of the diet were produced by decreasing the amount of glucose and serum contained in the medium in which the cells were grown.

    It was discovered that that the combination’s anticancer effect only occurred in cells that had mutations to the KRAS gene, which occurs in up to 50% of all human colorectal cancers. "In this study, we observed how fasting-mimicking diet cycles are able to increase the effect of pharmacological doses of vitamin C against KRAS-mutated cancers," commented first author Maira Di Tano.

    “These data, together with additional published and ongoing clinical studies, indicate that fasting-mimicking diet cycles in combination with a variety of therapies could represent a promising nontoxic strategy for the treatment of different cancer types, paving the way for conducting clinical trials to test fasting-mimicking diets plus vitamin C in combination with standard of care for the treatment of KRAS-mutant cancers,” the authors concluded.

    —D Dye

     

     

    Decreased vitamin K levels associated with increased risk of mortality during 13-year median

    Decreased vitamin K levels associated with increased risk of mortality during 13-year median May 11 2020. A study reported on May 2, 2020 in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition revealed a greater risk of premature mortality among men and women with low blood levels of phylloquinone. Phylloquinone is a form of vitamin K known as vitamin K1, while menaquinones are forms of vitamin K2. Unexpectedly, the study did not find a corresponding increase in the risk of cardiovascular disease, which is associated with coronary artery calcification that has been linked with low vitamin K levels.

    The investigation included 3,891 participants from the Health, Aging, and Body Composition Study, the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis and the Framingham Offspring Study who had measurements of fasting vitamin K1 blood levels. During a median period of 13 years, 858 cardiovascular disease events and 1,209 deaths occurred.

    Participants whose vitamin K1 levels were 0.5 nanomoles per liter (nmol/L) or lower had a 19% greater risk of dying from any cause than those whose levels were greater than 1.0 nmol/L. Subjects whose levels were between 0.5 nmol/L and 1.0 nmol experienced risk reductions similar to people with higher levels. The risk of cardiovascular disease events did not significantly differ between groups.

    “To the best of our knowledge, this is the largest study of circulating phylloquinone and clinical events, which is a notable strength,” authors M. Kyla Shea of Tufts University and colleagues announced. “Although there is an enthusiasm among some for supplemental menaquinones in reducing cardiovascular disease risk based on the current evidence in humans, the relative importance of menaquinones compared with phylloquinone to cardiovascular health and other health outcomes is unknown. Filling this gap will require randomized controlled trials designed to compare the effects of the different vitamin K forms on cardiovascular disease and noncardiovascular disease outcomes.”

    —D Dye

     

     

    Study finds higher vitamin D levels correlate with decreased COVID-19 mortality

    Study finds higher vitamin D levels correlate with decreased COVID-19 mortality May 8 2020. Results from an investigation published on May 6, 2020 in Aging Clinical and Experimental Research reveal an association between higher levels of vitamin D within European countries and a lower percentage of COVID-19 cases and deaths.

    The study analyzed the relationship between vitamin D levels and number of cases of COVID-19 and COVID-19 deaths per one million people as of April 8, 2020 in 20 European countries. An association was observed between lower levels of the vitamin and an increase in the number of COVID-19 cases per million as well as the number of deaths.

    The researchers noted that vitamin D levels are severely reduced among older individuals in Italy, Spain and Switzerland and that this group has proven particularly vulnerable to COVID-19. While Southern European countries have more exposure to vitamin-D-producing ultraviolet light, lower levels may be the result of the population’s shade-seeking behavior and greater skin pigmentation which decreases vitamin D synthesis from sunlight. Higher vitamin D levels in Northern European residents could be due to consumption of cod liver oil, vitamin D supplements and fortified dairy products.

    "We found a significant crude relationship between average vitamin D levels and the number COVID-19 cases, and particularly COVID-19 mortality rates, per head of population across the 20 European countries,” reported lead researcher Dr Lee Smith, of the Cambridge Centre for Sport and Exercise Sciences at Anglia Ruskin University in Cambridge, England.

    “Vitamin D has already been shown to protect against acute respiratory infections and it was shown to be safe,” the authors concluded. “It should be advisable to perform dedicated studies about vitamin D levels in COVID-19 patients with different degrees of disease severity.”

    —D Dye

     

     

    Deficient vitamin D levels associated with respiratory symptoms in smokers

    Deficient vitamin D levels associated with respiratory symptoms in smokers May 6 2020. On May 4, 2020 BMC Pulmonary Medicine reported the outcome of a prospective study which found an association between vitamin D deficiency and increased airway wall thickening and other symptoms in current and former smokers with and without chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

    The investigation included men and women enrolled in the COPDGene Study, a longitudinal observational study designed to identify genetic factors and subtypes associated with COPD. The current study included 1,544 current or former smokers between the ages of 45 and 80 years. Questionnaires completed by the participants reported disease symptoms, disease-related quality of life, demographic information and medical history. Subjects underwent chest CT scans, spirometry (which evaluates lung function) and six-minute walking tests. Blood samples collected at the initial study visit were analyzed for serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels.

    Deficient vitamin D levels of less than 20 nanograms per milliliter (ng/mL) were detected in 563 participants. Being deficient in the vitamin was associated with worse quality of life and an increased risk of breathing difficulties. Deficiency was also associated with reduced exercise capacity and greater airway wall thickness. “To our knowledge, the association of vitamin D deficiency with increased airway wall thickness on chest CT scans has not been previously reported,” authors Auyon J. Ghosh and colleagues noted.

    Follow-up visits occurred five years after enrollment. Vitamin D deficiency was found to be associated with more severe respiratory exacerbations per year.

    “Vitamin D deficiency was associated with increased respiratory symptoms, decreased functional status, increased frequency of severe exacerbations, as well as airway wall thickening on chest CT scans,” the authors concluded. “Further research is needed to determine the potential impact of vitamin D supplementation to improve disease outcomes.”

    —D Dye

     

     

    Life-extending compound supports oral health

    Life-extending compound supports oral health May 4 2020. An article appearing on April 28, 2020 in eLife reported a benefit for the drug rapamycin in the prevention of periodontal (gum) disease in aging mice. Periodontal disease is a common occurrence in older humans and can result in inflammation and loss of tooth and bone.

    Rapamycin is an immunosuppressant that is used to prevent transplanted organ rejection. The drug has been the subject of research concerning its potential life extension benefit. "We hypothesized that biological aging contributes to periodontal disease, and that interventions that delay aging should also delay the progress of this disease," explained lead author Jonathan An, who is an acting assistant professor of the Department of Oral Health Sciences at the University of Washington in Seattle.

    Dr An and his associates gave one group of older mice a diet that contained rapamycin while a control group received an unenhanced diet. Microcomputed tomography 3D imaging revealed that rapamycin-treated mice had undergone periodontal bone regeneration, a reduction in gum and periodontal bone inflammation, and a shift of oral bacteria toward a more youthful profile. “This provides a geroscience strategy to potentially rejuvenate oral health and reverse periodontal disease in the elderly,” the authors of the report concluded.

    "By targeting this aging process through rapamycin treatment, our work suggests that we can delay the progress of gum disease and actually reverse its clinical features," remarked senior author Matt Kaeberlein, who is a professor of pathology and adjunct professor of Oral Health Sciences at the University of Washington.

    Because rapamycin decreases immune function and has other potential side effects, Dr Kaeberlein cautioned that "Clinical trials in humans are needed to test whether rapamycin's potential oral health and other benefits outweigh its risks.”

    —D Dye

     

     

    Areas with higher selenium levels have greater COVID-19 cure rates

    Areas with higher selenium levels have greater COVID-19 cure rates May 1 2020. A letter published on April 28, 2020 in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition reported a greater likeliness of recovering from the coronavirus COVID-19 in areas of China that have high selenium levels in comparison with low selenium areas.

    “A set of interesting studies published by the Beck laboratory in the 1990s showed that host selenium deficiency increased the virulence of RNA viruses such as coxsackievirus B3 and influenza A,” Jinsong Zhang of Anhui Agricultural University and colleagues wrote. “Passage through a selenium-deficient animal that was unable to produce sufficient antioxidant selenoproteins for its own protection resulted in the virus mutating to a virulent form that caused more severe pathology.”

    "Given the history of viral infections associated with selenium deficiency, we wondered whether the appearance of COVID-19 in China could possibly be linked to the belt of selenium deficiency that runs from the north-east to the south-west of the country," lead researcher Margaret Rayman of the University of Surrey explained.

    By evaluating data from provinces and municipalities with over 200 cases and cities with over 40 cases, the team confirmed that the population of areas with high selenium, such as the city of Enshi in Hubei, were likelier to recover from the virus than residents of low selenium areas. An investigation of hair selenium status of 2,563 residents of cities with more than 40 cases of COVID-19 also revealed better cure rates among participants with higher selenium levels.

    "The correlation we have identified is compelling, particularly given previous research on selenium and infectious diseases,” commented coauthor Ramy Saad, MD, of Royal Sussex County Hospital. “As such, a careful and thorough assessment of the role selenium may play in COVID-19 is certainly justified and may help to guide ongoing public-health decisions".

    —D Dye

     

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