Friday, 29 July 2016

Fracking Linked To Asthma Flare Ups

Fracking Linked To Asthma Flare Ups

Fracking – Activate Asthma Flare-ups

According to a US study, the contentious method of mining natural gas known as fracking could activate asthma flare-ups. Doctors from Pennsylvania have found that the asthma of patients was difficult to control if they tend to live near a fracking site when compared with the other asthma patients. However, the finding in over 25,000 patients does not seem to be proof of a contributory effect.

Authors have stated in the journal JAMA that more safety studies is essential. Fracking or hydraulic fracturing comprises of drilling down miles underground and then blasting the shale rock with great pressure water mixture in order to release the natural gas which could be trapped within.

Supporters state that it has the capabilities of being greener with regards to carbon footprint than some of the other energy sources. Critics are apprehensive regarding the effect on humans as well as the planet, particularly air and water pollution, earth tremors together with possible health risks. Public Health England had been looking into the issue in the UK and are of the belief that the risks to public health from the point of exposure to emissions from shale gas extraction seems low if operations tend to run properly and are regulated.

Impact of Fracking on Population

The US has already progressed with fracking and is now a big industry. However, the UK seems to be cautious and has stopped its search after a couple of small earthquakes in the vicinity of the test drilling site in the Blackpool area.

Financed by the National Institutes of Health, US researchers set out to research the impact of fracking on the population of Pennsylvania a state that had seen over 6,000 shale gas wells drilled in the last decade. Utilising local electronic health records they had recognised asthma patients and checked whether fracking action could have been linked to disease outbreaks over a period of six years.

 The outbreak had been defined as mild when the patient had to be prescribed with steroid inhaler, moderate if they were needed to be taken to the emergency department and serious if they had to be hospitalised for their condition. The researcher of Johns Hopkins observed the distance that the patient lived from an active fracking site together with the other risk factors like if they seemed to live by a busy road.

More Research to Explore Theory

Patients with asthma in regions having the highest fracking movement, based on distance, size and activity of the shale gas sites in the area seemed to have higher risk of asthma outbreaks when compared with asthma patients living in areas with low fracking movements.

The odds of an outbreak was around 1.5 to 4 times greater, however the researcher were unable to know the reason why. They were of the belief that air pollution from the shale site as well as the heavy vehicles essential in building and servicing these facilities could be at fault though they had no proof regarding the same. Sara Rasmussen, a researcher has stated that they need more research now to explore this theory and another probable pathway could be stress.

Asthma can be aggravated by stress and Sara states that people living in the communities they seemed to have studied would have to cope with disturbance as the shale gas sites were built. And here again it is still not clear if the same had any impact.

Thursday, 28 July 2016

TauRx Alzheimer's Drug LMTX Fails in Large Study Although Some Benefit Seen


LMTX – Unsuccessful to Improve Cerebral/Functional Abilities – Alzheimer

In a late stage study, for an experimental Alzheimer’s drug called LMTX, by TauRX pharmaceuticals have concluded that it was unsuccessful to improve cerebral and functional abilities in patients suffering from slight to moderate Alzheimer’s disease.

Amazingly, results at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference in Toronto, revealed that in about 15 percent of experimental patients who were not administered other standard Alzheimer’s drug, showed a substantial benefit with regards to the drug.The co-founder of Singapore-based TauRX, Claude Wischik, who is also a professor of geriatric psychiatry at Aberdeen University, mentioned in a monotherapy group that, by 85 per cent the drug had reduced the amount of decline in cognitive and functional skills.

The findings were not only called ‘intriguing’, by Dr. Laurie Ryan, chief of the Dementia of Aging Branch at the National Institute on Aging, but also stated that the results do not reveal much at this point.On a whole, the study comprised of a total of 891 subjects, out of which, a figure of only 15 percent were not administered standard Alzheimer’s drug. In a telephone interview, Dr Laurie said that a small portion showed a benefit and that was the reason why they were unable to obtain result. 70.6 was said to be the mean age of the study.

Avoids Stamping in Brain of Abnormal Fibres – Protein Tau

The drug LMTX has been developed to avoid stamping in the brain of abnormal fibres connected with a protein known as tau. The development of plaques is said to happen much earlier than the development of tangles. Hence several scientists have been making attempts in the development of drugs in order to clear the brain of plaques according to Dr Ganesh Babulal, researcher in the department of neurology at Washington University in St. Louis.

Pharmaceutical companies like Biogen, Abbvie and Eli Lilly have started developing their own tau inhibitors though the field is yet in its initial stages compared to what had been done to study drugs intended at beta-amyloid. The results are primary from a large-scale experiment of a drug that aims ‘tau’, which is the Alzheimer’s-related protein.

It forms lethal tangles of nerve fibres related with fatal disease. With the help of existing treatments, Alzheimer’s symptoms can be improvised on, but no drug yet, has managed to show the slow progression of disease.

Many Companies Targeting Tau

Several companies, like Biogen, AbbVie and Eli Lilly, have started targeting tau itself, the protein linked with cell death, after many years of failed drug experiments in which, beta-amyloid, the Alzheimer’s protein which forms sticky plaques in the brain, was targeted.Although, the overall study goal was missed, Wischik remained hopeful.

He brought to light distinct analysis of brain scans which demonstrated a statistically substantial decrease in the rate of shrinkage of the brain, among the monotherapy patients who had been benefited, indicating that the drug slowed brain atrophy.Uncertainty persists, as to why the drug worked only in patients that were not receiving any other Alzheimer’s treatment.

Wischik commented that the firm is speculating on the same, but at the moment was unable to obtain an answer. TauRX has been researching LMTX in 800-patient trial on patients with mild Alzheimers’ where the aim is to prevent the progress of Alzheimer’s in patients taking LMTX and the outcome of it is anticipated later in the year

Wednesday, 27 July 2016

How Robot Therapists Can Fill A Gap in Health Care


Robots - Key Aides to Resource Constrained Health-Care

As technology tends to progress robots are eradicating job labour in hospitals and will take up therapeutic roles such as helping autistic children encouraging teens with diabetes to exercises and keeping elderly Alzheimer’s patients company.

According to a recent McKinsey & Co. study shows that the industry of health-care is said to be the most unaffected regarding resisting mechanisation where less than 30% of the activities of a nurse could be mechanical. The demand for health care tends to be so great that we find robots as key aides to resource constrained health- care workers.

The aim was to fill a hole which tends to leave several patients under served and alone. Professor Maja Mataric leading the team at the University of Southern California’s Viterbi School of Engineering had stated that they are mostly motivated by autism since the incidence seems to be so high and several children presently have been diagnosed with autism.

It has been estimated by the U.S. Centres for Disease Control and Prevention that 1 in 68 children had been analysed with autism spectrum disorder. The National Autism Association had informed that autism is the fastest growing until now, the most underfunded progressive disorder.

Robots Beneficial in Training Autistic Children

This tends to develop a great as well as a growing demand for services which are unable to be handled by the prevailing human resources. Professor Mataric began developing her socially assistive robots with expressive features together with virtual personalities, twelve years back. She has teamed up with manufacturers in developing the bots, some of which seems to be more human looking than the others and is programmed utilising the data from the research of USC.

Sensors have been implanted in the bots which tend to collect further data on things such as group interactions, inclusive of the flow of human communication together with the time taken for a person in completing a given task.

As the information progresses, the model will also tend to improve. Robots could be beneficial in training some of the autistic children on how to behave in socially suitable ways and could at times draw out social skills which human therapist could be struggling to produce.

Robots Could Help to Break the Ice and Make Friends

For certain kids, robots tend to be less frightening than humans and also have the added advantage of being capable of repeating behaviour with stability that could be helpful in therapy, according to Mataric. In one of her project, Mataric had utilised her robots to help in teaching children with autism on sharing.

The kids together with the robots had taken turns playing a game in helping the child build an understanding on when to let others take their turn. The initial step was for the child to play with the robot and the next was to introduce another child in the game.

Mataric has mentioned that the main part of a robot assisted therapy is not just to have it between the user and the robot but it has to be with other people also. That is especially true in autism since the deficit is regarding social behaviour. Robots could also tend to break the ice with autistic kids who seem to have difficulty in making friends.

Mataric has begun her own firm to commercialize bots of USCand is of the belief that, as in the case of other commercial products such as iRobot’s Roomba vacuum, prices would drop as the industry progresses. She states that the only way to reach real people in the real world is to make the product reasonably priced.

Tuesday, 19 July 2016

Sodas Linked to Gallbladder Cancer


Soda/Sugary Beverages Linked to Gallbladder Cancer

According to a Swedish study, individuals who tend to consume plenty of soda or any other sugary beverages could be at a greater risk of being affected by rare cancers in the gallbladder and bile ducts surrounding the liver.Not much is known regarding the causes of biliary tract together with gallbladder tumours though initial evidence recommend obesity and elevated blood sugar levels which are a symbol of diabetes could increase the risk of these menaces.

Susanna Larsson of the Karolinska Institute in Sweden stated that since sodas and the other sugary drinks have been connected to high blood sugar as well as weight gain, researchers speculated if these drinkscould play a role in these kinds of cancer.

To discover the possibility, researchers investigated the survey data on eating and drinking habits of over 70,000 adults and thereafter followed them for over 13 years on an average to check whether cancer was diagnosed. During the study period, around 150 people had developed biliary tract or gallbladder cancers. The study observed that when compared with people who seemed to refrain from sugar sweetened drinks overall, individuals who had consumed two and more juice beverages or soda, inclusive of artificially sweetened sodas each day had more thandoublethe risk of having gallbladder tumours and 79% higher chancesof developing biliary tract cancer.

Soda Consumption Connected with Risk of Biliary Tract Cancer

Larsson had mentioned in her email that soda consumption has been inconsistently connected with the risk of biliary tract cancer and other cancers in earlier similar studies. Larsson adds that the present study is the first study showing a strong connection between consumption of sweetened beverages like soda and the risk of biliary tract cancer.

 Towards the beginning of the study, participants completed the food and drink questionnaires which queried on how many sodas or juice drinks had been consumed by them in the past week and how much they had typically consumed during the earlier year. When they had answered these questions in 1997, the participants were of 61 years old on an average and about half of them seemed to be overweight and approximately 25% seemed to be current smokers. The researchers had excluded individuals who had earlier cancer diagnosis or a history of diabetes.

Precise Reason for Connection Between Sodas & Tumours Unclear

Those who consumed two or more sodas or sugary drinks daily were more likely of being overweight and had a higher-calorie intake with more sugar and carbohydrates and less protein and fat. The risk of gallbladder and biliary tract tumours continued though even after researchers adjusted to participantsregardlessof being overweight. Since the study is said to be observational, the conclusions does not prove that soda and sugary drinks could cause cancer.

The authors noted in JNCI – Journal of the National Cancer Institute that there could be a possibility that since researchers only haddata on the habits of drinking at the beginning of the study, the results could have been influenced due to changes over a period of time in the beverages that people consumed. Dr Margo Denke, a former researcher at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School in Dallas who was not involved in the study stated that the researchers also were short of exact data in evaluating how often the drinks people opted were diet sodas.

Dr Igor Astsaturov, a medical oncologist at Fox Chase Cancer Centre in Philadelphia also not involved in the study commented that the precise reasons for the connection between sodas and these tumours could be unclear, though the message for consumers is still simple.

Wednesday, 13 July 2016

Thumb Suckers and Nail Biters Have Fewer Allergies

Thumb Suckers

Thumb Suckers/Nail Biters – Hygiene Hypothesis – Strengthens Immune System

According to a study, children who tend to suck their thumb or bite their nails seem to be less likely to develop allergies. The explanation, according to the authors in the journal Pediatrics, is the hygiene hypothesis - exposure to some germs which strengthens the immune system of the body. In New Zealand, thumb sucking and nail biting looked to prevent some allergies among 1,000 individuals that were assessed and recorded periodically at the age of five, seven, nine and eleven and allergies were tested for at age thirteen and thirty-two.

However the habits did not have any bearing on asthma or hay fever threat. Around a third of the children were regular thumb suckers or nail biters. They were considerably less likely of have allergies at the age of 13. The possibilities of these children developing allergy to things like house dust bug or pet cat or dog was around a third less than those of the others who did not have these habits.

 Senior author Dr Robert Hancox of the Dunedin School of Medicine at the University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand, stated that in this research, it was impossible to ascertain that thumb sucking or nail biting could cause decrease in allergies.

Pets at Home/Living on Farms – Identified as Environmental Influences

He had informed Reuters that it is always possible that there could be another explanation for this association though it is difficult to suggest what it could be.Prof Malcolm Sears, who is a researcher for the Firestone Institute for Respiratory Health at McMaster and St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton, stated that the findings are consistent with the hygiene theory that early contact to dirt or germs reduces the risk of developing allergies and while they did not recommend that these habits could be encouraged, there does seem to be a positive side to these habits.

 Holly Shaw of Allergy UK commented that `research that has been carried out in other countries also adds weight to this theory of the part of the environment and gut macrobiotic tend to play in shaping the potential of the individual to develop a food allergy. Having pets at home, older siblings and staying on a farm have also been identified as environmental effects which may have a role in the development of allergic disease.

Increased Microbial Exposures – Affecting Immune System

The researchers tested the idea that common childhood habits of thumb-sucking and nail-biting could have increased microbial exposures, affecting the immune system as well as dropping the development of allergic reaction which is known as atopic sensitization.

From all the children at 13 years, around 45% indicated atopic sensitization though among those with one oral habit only 40% seemed to have allergies. From those with both habits, only 31% had the allergies. This tendency continued right into adulthood showing no difference based on smoking in the home, possession of cats or dogs or exposure to house dust bugs.

The idea that thumb sucking and nail biting would likely decrease the risk of allergies later would need to be supported by various studies in different geographical states across the globe, according to Emmanuel Prokopakis of the University of Crete School of Medicine in Greece who has not been part of the new study.

Thursday, 7 July 2016

Indian Doctors Grow New Nose on Boy's Forehead


Indian Doctors Supplanted New Nose Grown on Forehead

Indian doctors have supplanted a new nose that was grown on the forehead of a 12 year old boy whose nose had been damaged. The nose of Arun Patel was damaged and disfigured when he was afflicted with pneumonia while a baby and the infection had damaged the cartilage of his nose which made it difficult for the doctors to repair it. An identical operation had been done in 2013 in China where a man had been given a new nose which had been damaged in a traffic accident.

The parents of Arun had taken him to a doctor in their village in the central state of Madhya Pradesh immediately after birth when he had been suffering from pneumonia. However, with the treatment his condition got worse and he lost his nose owing to wide tissue damage. The village doctors having no medical training had injected his face which resulted in the damage of the tissue.

Over a decade later, a group of doctors in Indore city planned to conduct a rare four phased plastic surgery to provide a new nose for Arun. The Indian doctors had performed this amazing procedure on Arun Patel’s nose which had disappeared after the tissue had shrivelled and died owing to the treatment of irresponsible doctors.

Rare Surgery Performed in Four Phases

Dr Ashwini Dash leading the surgical team informed S Niazi of BBC Hindi that he was `confident that the new nose would work properly like his other organs’.He added that the complete operation took around a year to finish.The doctors first reconstructed the nose on his forehead before it was implanted to its precise place. This rare surgery had been performed in four phases over a period of one year.

In the first phase, a silicon `tissue expander’ had been placed on his forehead in order to make space to grow a new nose and a special chemical had been injected for the expansion of tissues.The second phase comprised of taking the cartilage from his chest to develop a new nose that grew on his forehead over a period of three months with a good supply of blood where the tissue began to develop, before it was removed and implanted on his face.

The artificial nose had been removed in the third phase by the doctors and implanted on his face and the final phase of the process involved repairing his forehead. Owing to an unusual plastic surgery, the nose was reconstructed on his forehead before the same was transplanted in place.

Normal Rhinoplasty Difficult

Dr Ashwini Dash leading the surgical team stated that the procedure involved many stages and a normal rhinoplasty was difficult on his face since his nose had virtually disappeared. Hence it was intended to perform a special plastic surgery on him, which medically is known as `pre-fabricated forehead flap rhinoplasty. Doctors stated that they would have to observe the implant of his nose carefully in case further operation would be essential.

Arun informed MailOnline that he was overjoyed with the results. He also added that he was too scared to see himself in the mirror and would always walk on roads with his head down. In school, the children would be afraid of him and made fun of him and that on getting a new nose, it was like getting new life.

Monday, 4 July 2016

Is your hand sanitizer safe? The FDA wants to know

hand sanitizer

FDA to Investigate Sanitizer – Harmless/Effective

Presently alcohol based sanitizer seems to be all over the place and Food and Drug Administration needs to be aware of them. Recently, it requested more controlled proof to verify that the sanitizers could be considered harmless and effective. The FDA specifically would be investigating to check if the sanitizer could be harmful to pregnant women and children. Since it is being used by millions of Americans regularly and frequently repeatedly, these over the counter sanitizers are utilised to diminish bacteria when it is either inconvenient or impossible for hand-washing.

The agency has been inquiring with the makers of hand sanitizer for details on how safe and effective it could be not because it thinks that they are definitely unsafe but because they are being utilised so often that there could be some unknown side effects. Hand sanitizers which are over 60% alcohols tend to kill about the same amount of germs like soap and water.

However since hand sanitizer gels are not rinsed off with water, whatever chemicals used in killing the germs may tend to remain on the hands when the alcohol seems to evaporate. The agency, specially wants to be more aware about the three elements in these products namely ethanol or ethyl alcohol, isopropyl alcohol and benzalkonium chloride.

High Concentration Exposure to Ethyl - Dangerous

Ethyl alcohol is said to be a primary alcohol while isopropyl a secondary alcohol. Though they seemed to be associated, they tend to have various chemical properties as well as absorbency. According to the New Jersey Department of Health, high concentration exposure to ethyl alcohol – PDF could be dangerous to the foetus while isopropyl alcohol – PDF could cause irritation to the eyes and skin. Benzalkonium chloride found in various products from burn treatments to spermicides to floor cleaners, tend to have antimicrobial properties.

As per the European Medicines Agency – PDF, Benzalkonium chloride, in the study of animalseemed to have lethal effects on rodents when taken orally in recurring large doses. The concerns of FDA are established on the independent advisory committee of the agency who had reviewed scientific data on these elements. But the federal agency has not yet asked for the products to be removed from the market.

FDA Responsibility to Determine – Safe & Effective to Consumers

The FDA had initially reviewed these antiseptics in 1970 and since then several things have altered, inclusive of how often people tend to use them. Moreover, latest technologies tend to detect low levels of antiseptics in the body and the FDA is more aware about how it could affect the health of a person.

The agency noted that over the past seven years, 90% of the entire antiseptic rub had utilised ethanol as their active element and additional information was essential to know about how repeated exposure to this as well as the other active elements would impact the body.

Janet Woodcock, FDA director stated that `it is our responsibility to determine whether these products are safe and effective so that consumers can be confident when using them on themselves and their families multiple times a day and to do that, we must fill the gaps in scientific data on certain active ingredients’.

Saturday, 2 July 2016

To improve your memory, get moving ... or take a nap


Enhancing Memory – Break Sweat/Take Nap

New secrets have been revealed by scientists for enhancing memory retention one of which involves breaking sweat while the other is taking a nap. According to a small study published in the journal Current Biology this month, four hours of exercise on learning something could improve your memory. Working out regularly has been linked with improvement of memory as well as the thinking skills.

As per co-author of the study and professor of cognitive neuroscience at the Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour in the Netherlands, Guillen Fernandez, the latest discovery tends to provide a precise time window in taking an important advantage of this association. Besides this, Fernandez has stated that it could lead to further studies augmenting the delay as well as the intensity of post-learning exercise for the purpose of great study achievement which could be applicable for education.

In other words the study tends to support the idea that after-school sports could assist students to retain what has been learnt in the classroom. Around 72 men and women completed a task for the study, wherein they observed 90 photos appear one after the other on a screen for around 40 minutes.

Participants Tested – Hooked to MRI Scanner

The participants were then instructed to recall precisely where on the screen the pictures had appeared. Thereafter, the participants were segregated into three groups wherein one group exercised instantly on completing the task. The second group exercised four hours on completion of the task while the third did not attempt to exercise at all.

The group which had exercised had participated in a 35-minute interval training session on an exercise bike. Two days thereafter, all the participants had completed a test measuring on how well they had recalled the picture location, which was done while they were hooked up to an MRI scanner.

It was observed that exercising following the learning of the picture locations had no effect on memory retention, though waiting four hours resulted in a 10% increase on an average in memory retention. Besides this, the MRI scans also showed that during the memory test, those who exercised after a period of few hours had increased activity in the hippocampus of their brain, which is a region linked with learning and memory.

Sleep Assist in Transforming Short-Term Memories – Long Term Memories

Fernandez has stated that they have no conclusive answer for the immediate exercise not enhancing the memory. However he added that a follow-up study was underway for examining the influence that exercise has on memory in great detail. Other studies have indicated that sleeping immediately after learning something could also be helpful in remembering.

Sara Mednick, professor of psychology at the University of California, Riverside has stated that `sleep tends to assist in transforming short-term memories into long term memories by helping in making stronger connections between the new experiences and old memories which enables the new experience to be integrated with our general knowledge and understanding of the world’.

Published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, this month, the Mednick led research tends to define the role of the autonomic nervous system of the body that plays during sleep in memory consolidation. It is a process which several earlier thought was the work of the central nervous system.

Surgical Handpieces Have a Helping Hand

Surgeons rely on quality surgical handpieces for precision results during all types of surgical procedures. One of the most important types of handpieces is the phaco, used by eye surgeons to produce the best results during optical procedures. Because the eye is such a sensitive area of the body, it is necessary for all the equipment used to operate in perfect order.

Accuracy Always Matters in Repairs

Because of the importance of the task that these instruments are used for, there is no room for error. There are also functions that only a phaco can perform, making it necessary for doctors to make sure that all of these instruments are in the best shape possible. The best choice for repairing these instruments is a repair professional with OEM experience.

Familiarity with Different Brands

A surgical handpiece repair professional will be familiar with the different brands and models of phacos used. Even though every model performs the same function, there will be subtle differences in parts that a professional will need to be familiar with for a successful repair. Prior experience in phaco manufacturing always makes a difference in the quality of a repair.

Repair According to Specifications

In addition to repairing instruments in a timely manner, a professional should repair according to specifications for ISO 13485 and FDA requirements. By having your instruments repaired according to these specifications, you can be assured of compliance with all standards and better quality. Your procedures will have a chance of retaining a good success rate when repair is done the proper way.

Getting Started With a Repair Professional

Once you've found a professional who will repair to your specifications, you'll be able to get the process started fairly quickly. Submitting a work order is the best way to start the process because the repair company will have a better idea of what they are dealing with before your instrument arrives. When you receive your phaco back, it will be as good as new for you to use. The right choice will help ensure the quality of your repair and overall well-being of your patients.

Save Money Right! Tips for Medical Practitioners

lab coat
In the medicine industry, whether you work in the hospital sector or you work in a private clinic, the idea of saving money is often frowned upon. After all, you’re there to help people feel better at almost any cost.

That doesn’t mean that saving money is a bad thing, and if you’re running a company, you need to make sure you stay in the black to provide healthcare services to your clients. How can you save money without cutting corners though?

Use this guide to learn more about how you can save money in the healthcare industry without lowering your standard of care one bit.

Cut Hours

If you’re going to serve your community, you need to be open when your clients can come in, right? While that might be true, you don’t have to be open all the time unless you’re an emergency facility.

Even cutting your work day back so you go home at four can make a big difference. Perhaps some of your staff should go home after lunch if you can manage a lighter workload? Maybe some days you should only be open before or after noon?

Consider removing your very slowest hours from the books and making your business as efficient as possible when you are open.

Reduce Staff

Nobody wants to let employees go, especially if they do a good job for you. The fact is that some medical business simply have too many. If you’re a small company, paying extra salaries could really impact your bottom line.

Take a look at who you’re paying and determine if everybody on board is truly needed. Would you be better served if that person worked part time or was replaced by a staffer without the same skill set? After all, there’s no reason to pay somebody with 10 years of managerial experience to answer the phone.

Carefully look at your books every quarter and see where you can cut spending. Even reducing hours can make a big difference over the course of a year or more.

Buy in Bulk

Some items that you use in your office or lab are ones that you use every single day. So why not but large quantities and save per item? You can even buy Dickies lab coats and scrubs in bulk so you’re paying less per piece.

A six month supply will be gone before you know it, but you’ll still have money in the bank.

Friday, 1 July 2016

Study Suggests Marijuana could help Against Alzheimer's

Jamie Lusch/The Medford Mail Tribune via AP

Marijuana – Useful in Treating Alzheimer’s disease

Marijuana would someday be useful in treating Alzheimer’s disease according to a study published this month in Aging and Mechanisms of disease. It was reported  that researchers at the Salk Institute had tested the effects of THC on lab grown neurons and found the cannabis compound hindered the plaque build-up which was linked with Alzheimer’s. The build-up is said to be the outcome of protein called amyloid beta that could result in inflammation of the cells in the brain, as per the press release of the researchers. The inflammation hinders the communication between neurons.

The study shows that THC tends to reduce the amount of amyloid beta proteins in the neurons as well as prevents inflammation. Researchers are certain that THC operates by distressing the same receptors in the brain which are involved by physical activity that can slow Alzheimer’s. Moreover the study not only shows that marijuana could also theoretically be utilised in treating Alzheimer’s but may clarify the link between amyloid beta proteins and inflammation. But additional testing inclusive of humans is essential before any strong conclusion.

Early Use of Marijuana – Change Physical Development of Brain

A new study reports that young teen that tend to smoke pot could end up with brains which seem amazingly different from those who use marijuana later on in life. Early use could change the physical development of youngsters’ brain and seems to obstruct the natural process wherein the body tends to eradicate unwanted neurons and synaptic connections according to the researchers.

As a consequence, the brains of people who began smoking at a younger age than 16 seem to have less surface wrinkles and folds in the outer layer of the brain known as cerebral cortex, as per study lead author Francesca Filbey who is chair of Behavioural and Brain Sciences at the University of Texas at Dallas’ Centre for BrainHealth.

The researchers state that the cortex also seemed to be thicker in the case of early use in teens, indicating that less development had taken place. Yet, the study is unable to conclusively prove a cause-and effect connection. Filbey comments that the researchers could not rule out that the difference in the development of the brain could have driven early marijuana use instead of vice versa.

Influence of Marijuana on Dopamine Level in Brain

She added that it could probably be that having these changed brain patterns could have led to the greater marijuana use. However the alteration in the development of the brain could be due to the influence of marijuana on dopamine level in the brain that could impact on how the cortex tends to develop. MRI scans of 42 heavy marijuana users were analysed by the research team including 20 considered as `early onset’ users since they began before the age of 16.

 All of the study helpers had started utilising marijuana in their teens and continued till adulthood. The researchers claim that they had reported using pot at least once a week and explained that usual brain development in teens comprises of a process known as synaptic pruning. The brain tends to sharpen itself during this process by eliminating unwanted synapses and neurons and results in a thinner cortex which has more wrinkles and folds on its surface and larger contrast between gray and white matter of the brain.