2 Mayıs 2014 Cuma

Mass Memory and Reasoning Tests 'Track Dementia Risk'

A third of a million adults in the UK are to be invited to take part in the world's biggest study of cognitive function.The aim of the trial, funded by the Medical Research Council, is to try to predict what factors may increase the risk of developing dementia.

All the participants will be part of UK Biobank, and previously gave DNA samples and lifestyle information.They will be asked to do a series of memory and reasoning tests online.

When they were enrolled in UK Biobank over the past decade, volunteers gave blood and urine samples, underwent a fitness test and answered questions on their health and diet.

They also did a series of computer-based puzzles - those cognitive tests will now be repeated.

What is the test like?

If you are already part of UK Biobank then you may remember doing a computer test measuring your cognitive function.This includes simple games like Snap and some easy Maths questions.

But there are some designed to stretch you.Some of the tests are done against the clock, so it can tell researchers whether your speed of response has declined.

It doesn't matter if you get the questions wrong - I am sure I made a few mistakes.You will not be given your test results or be told whether you did better or worse than when you enrolled.

So what's in it for volunteers?

Nothing except the knowledge that you are helping improve the health of future generations.It is a piece of pure altruism to which half a million Britons signed up.

So it may not help you, but it could help your children or grandchildren stay healthy.All the participants were aged 40-69 when the programme started.This time the volunteers can do the test at home by logging in online.

Dr John Gallacher, an epidemiologist at Cardiff University. who helped devise the tests said: "Most people will have just minute falls in their test results since they did them last time but even this might help us predict who will develop dementia in the future."

Researchers will also look at other factors like smoking, diet and exercise, to see how big a factor these are in triggering dementia.

"It's important to stress that this is not a dementia test," said Dr Gallacher.

"In order to stratify people for dementia risk we have to know their cognitive function before they develop the condition."

UK Biobank, based in Stockport, is the world's biggest and most detailed biomedical resource.Information about individual participants is anonymised, but open to researchers in any field provided they feed all their results back.

Another long term goal is to develop new treatments.Dr Gallacher added: "If we could delay the onset of dementia by five years that would halve the number of people with the condition, which would be massive".

Dr Doug Brown, Alzheimer's Society Director of Research and Development said: "We know that changes in the brain happen decades before any symptoms of dementia present themselves."Studying people in mid-life could ultimately help us find clues to understand or even prevent the condition."

AstraZeneca Rejects New Pfizer Offer !

Announcing Pfizer's new offer, Pfizer chairman and chief executive Ian Read said the firm believed "that there is a highly compelling strategic, business and financial rationale for combining our businesses, with significant benefits for shareholders and stakeholders of both companies".

BBC Business editor
When it was revealed on Monday that Pfizer was looking to bid for AstraZeneca, a major shareholder I spoke to said a £50 a share offer might just seal the deal by Friday. Well, he was half right. There was a £50 offer. But it didn't seal it.

AstraZeneca is betting that Pfizer has a little more in the tank, both in terms of the overall offer and the cash element. Shareholders would like more money up front and less of the offer paid out in Pfizer shares.

The American business is a willing buyer for three reasons. It has a large amount of cash to deploy that it doesn't want to repatriate to the US where there would be a hefty tax bill. Britain is highly attractive because of its low corporation tax levels and the tax incentives for scientific research. AstraZeneca has a potentially lucrative pipeline of cancer drugs.

There are always many acts to a deal of this size. I am sure this latest rejection is just one of them.

Finally, is the government interested in increasing its powers over foreign takeovers, as Lord Heseltine suggested this morning? According to Whitehall sources I have spoken to, I wouldn't hold your breath.

Read more from Kamal
"We believe our proposal is responsive to the views of AstraZeneca shareholders and provides a sound basis upon which to arrive at recommendable terms for the combination of our two companies."

Pfizer also sent a letter to Prime Minister David Cameron to try to address concerns over the bid.

On Wednesday, four scientific bodies raised concerns about possible UK lab closures following a Pfizer deal, and a committee of MPs is considering an inquiry into the issue.

Pfizer told Mr Cameron it would go ahead with Astra's planned research and development (R&D) base in Cambridge, and retain its Macclesfield manufacturing facilities.

Pfizer also pledged that if the deal went ahead, 20% of the combined company's R&D workforce would be based in the UK.

The US firm said its commitments would be valid for five years, unless circumstances changed significantly.

Business Secretary Vince Cable told the BBC: "We've now received some assurances from the company that they will strengthen the British science base, they will protect British manufacturing.

"We need to look at that in detail, we need to look at the small print, we need to establish that it is binding, but as far as it goes, on the basis of what we've seen so far, it is welcome and encouraging."

On Friday, Conservative peer Lord Heseltine called for greater powers for the UK government to intervene in foreign takeovers if crucial UK interests were at risk.

On Monday it emerged that Pfizer had originally made a takeover approach for AstraZeneca in January, worth £46.61 a share, which was rejected.

19 Kasım 2013 Salı

Fruit Bats Deadly Viruses

Bats harbour more deadly viruses than was previously thought, scientists say. Researchers have found that henipaviruses, which spread to other animals and humans, and a disease that is similar to rabies are widespread in a species of fruit bat found in Africa. The team says this poses a potential risk to human health, because the bats roost close to cities and are also hunted for food. The study is published in Nature Communications. Professor James Wood, an epidemiologist from the University of Cambridge, said:

"I think that it's no immediate cause for panic - these viruses have probably been there for a very long time in bats. "But I think that it does raise questions relating public health surveillance and care that should be taken to avoid possible contact that might result in transmission." Disease reservoir Bats are a well-known mixing pot for viruses, some of which can spread to other animals and humans. The origins of diseases such as Sars and Ebola can be traced back to these flying mammals, and they have also been implicated in the spread of the new deadly Mers virus. In Africa, the straw-coloured fruit bat (Eidolon helvum), the continent's most widely distributed bat, is known to host different infectious diseases.

But until now the extent has not been known. Straw-coloured fruit bat The bats roost in their millions and can live close to cities To find out more, researchers tested more than 2,000 bats in 12 African countries. They found that just under half (42%) were harbouring henipaviruses, which can be deadly if they spread to other animals and humans, particularly in the form of the Hendra virus. Prof Wood explained: "In Australia... the virus has spread into horses, and from horses, this virus has passed into vets tending sick horses, and this has killed a a number of people in Australian. "In Malaysia there was a huge outbreak associated with pigs in 1999, in which more than 100 pig farmers and slaughter house workers died." About a third of the fruit bats were also found to be infected with the rabies-like Lagos bat virus.

Prof Wood said there was no evidence yet that the two viruses had spread to humans in Africa. But he added that in some areas disease surveillance was poor, and there could have been cases that went undetected. The researchers said improved vigilance was needed. "For Lagos bat virus I think there are particular risks for those people who hunt bats, because it is most likely transmitted by bites," said Prof Wood. "But perhaps more worrying for the family of henipaviruses, there may well be some transmission from urine and that raises very large questions for people who live in close proximity to large bat roosts." The team said that removing the bats or culling them was not an option, and could even spread the viruses further. They added that the animals were also a crucial part of the ecosystem. "Making sure the animals live in a protected zone is probably is safer in terms of direct risks than intervening to make the bat colonies move on," explained Professor Wood.

5 Mayıs 2013 Pazar

10 Food Swaps For a Healthier Cinco de Mayo

Use them instead of: Pickled jalapenos Why they're healthier: Mass-produced pickled vegetables are soaked in preservatives (such as sodium benzoate) and often contain added sugars and sodium. Raw jalapenos, on the other hand, are sodium-free and have just 4 calories per pepper—not to mention a fresher, spicier flavor. Plus, research has shown that raw peppers have a higher concentration of antioxidants, including capsaicin, a compound that gives peppers their heat and makes your body temperature rise, helping you burn fat and calories faster.

10 Food Swaps For a Healthier Cinco de Mayo

Mexican dishes are a crowd favorite, but they're often loaded with cheese and fatty ingredients. So we gathered recipes that use fresh vegetables, lean protein, and fiber-rich beans to get the same great taste with less saturated fat and calories. In general, you should aim for 30% or less of calories come from fat, and most of those calories should come from healthy unsaturated fat. All fruits and vegetables, due to their rich nutrient and fiber content, help to combat chronic inflammation, so make sure to include adequate amounts of these foods daily. Some types of fresh produce, however, are even more potent than others. Some terrific anti-inflammatory fruits and vegetables to include in your meal plan include apples, berries, broccoli, mushrooms, papaya, pineapple, and spinach. So try one of these Mexican food recipes tonight!

20 Nisan 2013 Cumartesi

8 Recipes for a Healthy Taco Night

Before you roll up your sleeves and dive into these tasty taco-night recipes, you have an important decision to make: hard taco shells, or soft? For soft tacos, wrap 24 corn tortillas in a clean kitchen towel and microwave for one minute and 30 seconds. To make hard shells, preheat oven to 450 degrees. Loosely fold tortillas in half and overlap on a baking sheet. Bake until just crisp, 8 to 12 minutes.Ingredients: Ground turkey, tomatoes, onion, chipotle chiles, ground cumin, fresh oregano, olive oil, salt, pepper Calories: 185

Dancing With the Stars: The Workout

Most of us weren't born with the flexibility of an Olympic gymnast—and that includes ABC's Dancing With the Stars pro Cheryl Burke. "I am not one of those girls who can just land in a split," says Cheryl, 28. "I need to warm up to be flexible." Before you launch into a dance workout, Burke recommends doing this eight-minute warm-up routine, which stretches and strengthens the muscles surrounding the hips, thighs, and ankles. Three days a week, begin with two minutes of jumping jacks and dive into these moves. DWTS-style heels—strictly optional!Benefit: Strengthens and stretches thighs, hips and glutes How to do it: Stand with feet a bit wider than hip-width, toes turned out. With hands on hips and back straight, lower butt toward ground until you feel a stretch in thighs. Pulse, moving ever so slightly up and down, for 10 counts. Rest for 30 to 60 seconds; repeat.Benefit: Stretches and strengthens feet and ankles How to do it: Extend right leg, point toes and "write" the entire alphabet in lowercase letters, using right leg as the "pen." Rest for 30 seconds. Repeat alphabet using uppercase letters and a larger range of motion. Repeat with left leg.