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:: Autism effects may be reversible, say researchers ::


Autism effects may be reversible, say researchers 

April 25: The effects of autism may be more reversible than previously thought, according to new research.


A study by the George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences' Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology has identified potentially removable chemical tags, called "methyl groups", which are found on specific genes of autistic individuals and lead to gene silencing.

The researchers said that blocking the chemical tagging of these genes with drugs that prevent the methylation process may reverse symptoms of autism if the specific genes can be targeted.

Valerie Hu, professor of biochemistry and molecular biology at the university, said: "As the mother of a now 22-year-old son with an autism spectrum disorder, I hope that our studies, as well as those of others, will lead to therapies that are designed to address specific deficiencies that are caused by autism, thus improving the lives of affected individuals."

According to the National Autistic Society, about one in every 100 people has an Autism spectrum disorder.


Source: http://www.craegmoor.co.uk
 

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:: A newly discovered ability for people to taste fat ::

ScienceDaily (Mar. 10, 2010) — A newly discovered ability for people to taste fat could hold the key to reducing obesity, Deakin University health researchers believe.


Deakin researchers Dr Russell Keast and PhD student Jessica Stewart, working with colleagues at the University of Adelaide, CSIRO, and Massey University (New Zealand), have found that humans can detect a sixth taste -- fat. They also found that people with a high sensitivity to the taste of fat tended to eat less fatty foods and were less likely to be overweight. The results of their research are published in the latest issue of the British Journal of Nutrition.

"Our findings build on previous research in the United States that used animal models to discover fat taste," Dr Keast said.

"We know that the human tongue can detect five tastes -- sweet, salt, sour, bitter and umami (a taste for identifying protein rich foods). Through our study we can conclude that humans have a sixth taste -- fat."

The research team developed a screening procedure to test the ability of people to taste a range of fatty acids commonly found in foods.

They found that people have a taste threshold for fat and that these thresholds vary from person to person; some people have a high sensitivity to the taste while others do not.

"Interestingly, we also found that those with a high sensitivity to the taste of fat consumed less fatty foods and had lower BMIs than those with lower sensitivity," Dr Keast said.

"With fats being easily accessible and commonly consumed in diets today, this suggests that our taste system may become desensitised to the taste of fat over time, leaving some people more susceptible to overeating fatty foods.

"We are now interested in understanding why some people are sensitive and others are not, which we believe will lead to ways of helping people lower their fat intakes and aide development of new low fat foods and diets."


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:: Total knee replacement ::

ScienceDaily (Mar. 13, 2010) — Total knee replacement (TKR) successfully relieves pain and improves function in patients with advanced knee arthritis, according to a study presented at the 2010 Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS). The surgery also significantly improves dynamic balance among elderly patients.

Impaired balance and increased tendency to fall are common complaints among the elderly suffering from severe osteoarthritis (worn cartilage). The purpose of the study was to determine whether TKR had any effects on balance measures, in correlation with functional balance and quality of life. This is especially important because falls are the leading cause of injury for senior adults in the U.S., and hip fractures that result from falls can be lethal for elderly patients.

"Balance is critical to the elderly, especially those with knee problems. This study reinforced our hypothesis about how an osteoarthritic patient's function is compromised not only due to pain, but also by balance," said Leonid Kandel, MD, study author and orthopaedic surgeon, Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Hadassah Mount Scopus Hospital, Jerusalem, Israel.

The study examined 63 patients, with a mean age of 73, who had total knee replacements and participated in follow-up evaluations after one year. The study measured accurately static and dynamic balance with a new computerized system called the Balance Master. The study found:

Significant improvement in dynamic balance one year after surgery; Significant progress in balance-determined motor tests; and

Strong statistical correlation between the balance and the Oxford Knee Score functional questionnaire and the quality of life questionnaire SF-36.

One year after surgery, the correlation between patients' improved balance and their ability to walk and perform daily activities was stronger than the correlation between their reduced pain and their ability to walk and do daily activities.

"We are learning that pain relief may not be the only benefit that improves function after knee replacement," explained Dr. Kandel. "This improved balance is a significant quality-of-life change in elderly patients."

Elderly individuals considering knee replacement should talk to their orthopaedic surgeon about the rehabilitation process and ways to improve balance following surgery. Other questions to consider prior to surgery can be found at www.orthoinfo.org.

http://www.sciencedaily.com

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:: A newly discovered ability for people to taste fat could hold the key to reducing obesity, Deakin University health researchers believe. ::

ScienceDaily (Mar. 10, 2010) — A newly discovered ability for people to taste fat could hold the key to reducing obesity, Deakin University health researchers believe.


Deakin researchers Dr Russell Keast and PhD student Jessica Stewart, working with colleagues at the University of Adelaide, CSIRO, and Massey University (New Zealand), have found that humans can detect a sixth taste -- fat. They also found that people with a high sensitivity to the taste of fat tended to eat less fatty foods and were less likely to be overweight. The results of their research are published in the latest issue of the British Journal of Nutrition.

"Our findings build on previous research in the United States that used animal models to discover fat taste," Dr Keast said.

"We know that the human tongue can detect five tastes -- sweet, salt, sour, bitter and umami (a taste for identifying protein rich foods). Through our study we can conclude that humans have a sixth taste -- fat."

The research team developed a screening procedure to test the ability of people to taste a range of fatty acids commonly found in foods.

They found that people have a taste threshold for fat and that these thresholds vary from person to person; some people have a high sensitivity to the taste while others do not.

"Interestingly, we also found that those with a high sensitivity to the taste of fat consumed less fatty foods and had lower BMIs than those with lower sensitivity," Dr Keast said.

"With fats being easily accessible and commonly consumed in diets today, this suggests that our taste system may become desensitised to the taste of fat over time, leaving some people more susceptible to overeating fatty foods.

"We are now interested in understanding why some people are sensitive and others are not, which we believe will lead to ways of helping people lower their fat intakes and aide development of new low fat foods and diets."


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