Lab-Created Minibrains Can Help Better Study Certain Disorders


Scientists are trying to determine how minibrains can better predict future diseases in children.

Stem cell research has provided scientists with ways to better study and treat certain disorders. Recently, a group of scientists from Harvard and Stanford collaborated to investigate how small-scale copies of neurons called minibrains can better predict future diseases in children. The study was funded by the NIH or the National Institutes of Health and revealed some captivating results. These were published in a paper in the journal Nature.

What are Minibrains, and How are they Made?

By first isolating human skin cells in a laboratory, specialists then reprogramed the cells so that they could convert to brain cells. These cells matured into larger masses in a petri dish. Dr. Sergiu Pasca, an assistant of behavioral sciences at Stanford, stated that the cells were equivalent to those of a fetus after two weeks of pregnancy.

Certain disorders and diseases form during the brain’s growth as a fetus, including strains of Asperger’s and Timothy Syndrome. With replicas of fetal brain cells, scientists can now observe what may cause, treat, and cure such ailments.

The Harvard team extracted cells from a healthy child and one with Timothy Syndrome. When healthy brain cells migrate to send signals to other parts of the body, they literally jump from one mass to another. Researchers found that the cells of those with Timothy Syndrome and autism had trouble “jumping” and made slower movements.

The teams hypothesized that the lack of motion was due to an over-absorption of calcium by the cells. They used blood pressure medications designed to block calcium intake on one dish.

“If you do treat the cultures with this calcium blocker, you can restore the migration of cells in a dish,” says Pasca.

The success of applying the calcium blockers gives scientists hope that this will one day help better understand the human brain.

“It helps us to understand [human brain development], a process that we don’t understand very well.” says Paola Arlotta, Harvard’s stem cell team leader.

With these minibrains, researchers now have the tools they need to not only observe but also test and possibly cure diseases outside of the body itself but beneficial for it.

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The Placebo Effect Can Reportedly Help Mend A Broken Heart

broken heart people

A new study proposes that the placebo effect can help mend a broken heart.

Anyone who has experienced the emotional pain of a broken heart can tell you that it feels very real. A recent study carried out by the University of Colorado Boulder seems to suggest that medical science could have an answer. Study results were released in the Journal of Neuroscience.

The Placebo Effect Could Mend A Broken Heart And Even More?

Enlisting the aid of subjects who had recently undergone a bad breakup, researchers at CU-Boulder first established the similarities between physical and emotional pain. The subjects were exposed to heartbreak by looking at a picture of their recent ex.

Then, they were exposed to physical pain by touching something hot. Brain scans that monitored activity accompanied each kind of painful stimuli. The results confirmed that emotional and physical pain produce similar types of brain activity.

After establishing this link, researchers then handed out the placebo. They told half the volunteers the spray would merely help keep their noses hydrated. The remaining half was informed that it was a potent painkiller with the power to combat both physical and emotional pain.

The results gave the researchers insight into the power of the placebo effect. According to Dr. Tor Wager, a CU-Boulder neuroscience professor, the benefits were almost immediate.

“When people got the placebo spray and they believed it was going to be helpful for them, then they felt a lot better,” said Dr. Wager.

However, the good vibes don’t stop there. Research found that the more positive and optimistic outlook enjoyed by the volunteers caused the brain to release opioids. These are a natural feel-good chemical that is part of a healthy functioning brain.

The evidence seems to suggest that optimism helps lead to an uplifting and healthy cycle. As Dr. Tor puts it, the things one believes in can really make a difference. These seem to actually affect the brain’s chemistry and physiology, in a way “that is important in some cases”.

This study shows that positivity is powerful, and one doesn’t need the placebo effect to benefit from it. Finding a way to channel optimistic expectations doesn’t require a fake drug and can be a truly effective way to mend a broken heart or find emotional peace.

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Study Analyzes What Cycling To Work Can Do For Your Health

woman cycling

Studies show that cycling to work may prove more beneficial to health compared to walking.

Studies show that biking to work may prove more beneficial to health compared to walking. This claim is backed by University of Glasgow researchers. They published their findings in the British Medical Journal outlining how biking helped improve health.

Brief Findings of Cycling and Its Health Benefits

Over a five-year study, over 260,000 UK citizens were asked about their commute to work. The average age group for the study was 53. Research compared the methods of commuting to the rates of cancers, heart attacks, and death. While walking to work proved to be beneficial, the benefits of cycling outweighed the benefits of walking.

Biking reduced not only heart attack and mortality rates but also cancer ones as well. Dr. Jason Gill from the Institute of Cardiovascular and Medical Sciences said,

“Cycling all or part of the way to work was associated with substantially lower risk of adverse health outcomes.”

Walking reduced heart attack rates by 27% and decreased mortality by 31%. Meanwhile, biking reduced heart attack rates by 46% and had diminished the risk of cancer by 45%. Overall, cycling reduced mortality by 40%. The reason walkers don’t get as many health benefits is due to a shorter distance of travel.

People usually walk around 6 miles compared to the average of 3o miles per week by bicycle. They would need to walk more in order to gain the benefits of biking. The added benefit of cycling is from the vigorous workout for the whole body. That is compared to walking as a relaxed form of exercise.

The criticisms the findings faced was due to the people assessing themselves. This meant that some people might not report everything, leaving room for error. Another criticism is that research was also was not inclusive to diets, lifestyle habits or health history depending on the individual.

Despite criticisms, studies show cycling does help overall health.  With these findings, cities are working on ways to implement more roads to accommodate bikers. Having more roads open for bikers will allow them to travel easily and safely. Overall, biking improves health and is a great workout for any person.

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Easter Can Come With A Number Of Dangers For Pets

pest during easter

Easter can come with many threats and dangers for our pets.

Easter is a time of joy and rebirth, but for our beloved pets, it can also be a period riddled with almost unbelievable dangers. Anything from chocolate to the decorations used to celebrate the holiday can potentially turn into a problem.

Pet and especially dog owners should keep a careful watch over their animal friends. Dogs are known to have a sweet tooth when it comes to chocolate. As such, the Easter baskets filled with chocolate eggs or candies could be quite an enticing treat. However, they can also be a cause of great, even fatal problems for a dog or a cat. Over the last years, dark chocolate has been gaining favor as it is considered a “healthier treat”. Nonetheless, this too should be offered in limited quantities.

Chocolate contains a caffeine-like stimulant that, in pets, can lead to vomiting, hyperactivity or even an increased pulse. It can even lead to seizures, in more severe cases.

“In addition, the fat content in candy and chocolate can cause harm to a pet’s pancreas.”

This is according to the Central California Animal Disaster Team, which released a reminder about the dangers to pets brought on by Easter.

Pets Should Also Be Kept Away From Easter Decorations, Which Wil Be For Their Own Good

This spring holiday also comes with a number of other threats, besides the increased presence of chocolaty treats. More exactly, the Easter decorations themselves were listed on the “be careful” category.

The pink, green or blue colored plastic grass used in most baskets can reportedly seem appetizing to our four-legged friends. However, if ingested, these plastic materials can cause blockages in the intestines. This can lead to dehydration or vomiting.

A pet could also take a bite out of plastic foam eggs. These may also lead to problems as it may potentially affect the animal’s digestive tract. Stuffed animals should also be kept away from alive ones as pets could potentially ingest the toys’ tiny components.

A complete list of potential threats for a pet throughout Easter was posted by the ASPCA or the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

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A Rare Parasitic Worm Is Causing Worries In Hawaii

hawaii map of rare parasitic worm

Hawaii Health Officials are worried about the increase in rat lungworm cases, a rare parasitic worm

Hawaii Health Officials are worried as the island seems to be affected by an increasing number of rat lungworm cases, a rare parasitic worm. This can affect people’s brains and lead to several health issues, in rare cases, even death. Over the last few months, Maui authorities have confirmed 4 cases, while an additional four are still under investigation.

This Rare Parasitic Worm Could Lead To Meningitis

The rare parasite or the Angiostrongylus cantonensis is more commonly called the rat lungworm. Symptoms of such an infection include neck stiffness, headaches, nausea, or vomiting. People affected by it can also experience an abnormal sensation in their arms and legs. The rat lungworm can lead to meningitis and, in rare cases, even to neurological problems or death. This is all according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The health officials stated that most people could make a full recovery without following any treatment. However, people affected by such symptoms should seek medical attention.

“If you could imagine, it’s like having a slow-motion bullet go through your brain”. This is according to Dr. Sarah Park. She is an epidemiologist at the Hawaii Health Department.

So far, in 2017, health officials confirmed that 2 Maui residents have been affected by the rare parasitic worm. Also, this affected two island visitors. Presently, authorities are investigating what could be a further 4 cases of such an infection.

Rats are known for carrying the rat lungworm. However, this parasite can also infect slugs and snails, according to the CDC. People can contact a rat lungworm infection if they eat contaminated produce or by consuming undercooked or raw slugs or snails.

This parasite is prevalent in the tropical Pacific islands as well as in Southeast Asia. However, in recent years, it has also become more common in the United States, the Caribbean, and Africa, as its geographical distribution has been expanding to other regions as well.

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Smoking Is the Reason Behind Every 1 In 10 Deaths Worldwide

cigarette smoking

According to a new study, one in every 10 deaths that occur at a global level is caused by smoking.

According to a new study, one in every 10 deaths that occur at a worldwide level is caused by smoking. The same report also established that almost half of all such deaths take place in just 4 countries. These are the United States, Russia, India, and China.

This new report was published in The Lancet medical journal. Dr. Emmanuela Gakidou was its senior researchers. According to the study, in 2015, almost 1 billion people smoked on a daily basis. This translated into 1 in every 4 men and 1 in 20 women. The report is called the Global Burden of Diseases, and it includes 195 countries and territories. Their residents’ smoking habits were analyzed in between 1990 to 2015.

Smoking Is Still One Of The Largest Risk Factors

Dr. Gakidou stated that smoking is considered the second largest risk factor when it comes to disabilities and early death. It has maintained this position, although the number of smokers has reduced. The report found that, in 1990, almost 1 in 3 men and 1 in 12 women lit up a cigarette on a daily basis.

Nonetheless, the global number of smokers did increase throughout the 1990 to 2015 period. This is due to the population growth, which raised the number from 870 million back in the 90s to almost a billion nowadays.

The number of tobacco-related deaths has also increased. Over the aforementioned period, it rose by 4.7 percent to reach over 6.4 million in 2015.

The study found that some countries managed to curb the smoking habits of its population. At the same time, some countries saw an increase, while others reported no difference on the matter. Bangladesh, the Philippines, and Indonesia, for example, saw no change.

On the opposite end, Russia reported a 4 percent increase in the number of daily smokers, as did some African countries. Brazil, for its part, saw quite a significant percentage drop, by half or more in both men and women.

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Maple Syrup Extract May Be Better Than Believed For The Health

maple syrup extract

The latest Canadian research found a new way of using maple syrup extract.

The latest Canadian research found a new way of using maple syrup extract. This could be used in order to treat and combat drug-resistant bacteria or superbugs. It could do so as it would offer a natural, healthy alternative to the use or overuse of antibiotics.

The research was carried out by McGill University scientists. It was led by Nathalie Tufenkji, Ph.D. They presented their results earlier this week, during the 253rd National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society which is being held in San Francisco.

Maple Syrup Extract Could Help Reduce The Use Of Antibiotics

According to the study, by using maple syrup extract, the team was able to cut back on the use of antibiotics. They did so as they mixed the two elements, and resulted in a lowering of the latter. As they started using the extract, the researchers cut back on medicine by as much as 97 percent in some of the cases. Also, even when doing so, they achieved the same results.

The study paper shows that this maple syrup-antibiotics mixture was able to help moth larvae and fruit flies survive for a longer period of time. Previously, these had been exposed to harmful bacteria. According to research, the animals treated with this combination presented better results than the ones that only received an antibiotics treatment.

“We found that these phenolic extracts from maple syrup extract actually energize with antibiotics to protect these insects from infection.”

Tufenkji and her team were able to remove the water and sugar from the maple syrup extract and to isolate its phenolic compounds. Then, they went to mix this with carbenicillin and ciprofloxacin. This combination was effective in combating quite a range of bacterial strains, including, for example, the E.coli.

The research team will continue carrying out studies on the matter. According to reports, they are currently testing the combination on mice.

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A Certain Type of Exercise Is a Youth Elixir in Disguise

aerobic class

One type of exercise can prove to be a real youth elixir especially for senior people.

Aging has been providing an inexhaustible source of research for the scientific world. This life process that all humans are convicted to is barely the accumulation of changes that we go through. A new study highlights the importance of exercises. Instead of adding to the spectrum of changes, this preoccupation keeps the body strong and fortifies it against deterioration. While all types of physical activities are good, there is a particular one that scientists found it to be a real youth elixir.

The Youth Elixir is the High-Intensity Interval Training

The journal Cell Metabolism has just published a research paper that tackled once more the relationship between an active lifestyle and aging. The findings of the study encourage people to pursue all types of physical activities. However, the article praises the high-intensity interval training above all. This kind of exercise is capable of reversing the effects of aging. The process works at a cellular level.

The study was extremely careful to provide accurate results for both young and old groups. Thus, there were two groups of participants selected by age. All of them had to put in practice a strict schedule of high-intensity interval training. The results were spectacular. The young group recorded a 49% increase in mitochondrial capacity. On the other hand, the seniors saw a greater boost of 69%.

HIIT Is the Only Exercise that Can Activate Mitochondrial Capacity

The mitochondrial capacity or biogenesis is triggered whenever there is acertain boost of energy throughout the body. Once the process is activated, cells start to inflate their mitochondrial mass. Moreover, they begin to increase their cell metabolism and feed the body with more energy than usual.

Studies showed that the mitochondrial capacity is slowing down as people are aging. Its performance deterioration can lead to serious health issues such as cardiovascular disease or diabetes. However, the new research paper shows that HIIT is capable of reversing the majority effects of this degradation.

The senior author of the study, Dr. Sreekumaran Nair, is impressed by the results. He claimed that the power of HIIT exercises has no other equivalent that is known to the scientific world.

“Based on everything we know, there’s no substitute for these exercise programs when it comes to delaying the aging process. These things we are seeing cannot be done by any medicine.”

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Deadly Spider Is Fatal and Redemptive at the Same Time


Deadly spider has the cure to celebral stroke.

Strokes are the invisible and silent enemy of anybody. They come up unexpectedly and incapacitate a person in a blink of an eye. There are more preventive measures than solutions. Once the weak blood flow reaches the brain, it causes unrepairable damages and cells die. Doctors turned to nature for help. They discovered a solution in the most improbable source, namely a deadly spider.

The New Cure Is Called Hi1a

One of the deadliest spiders in the world has the capacity to kill a person in 15 minutes with one bite. The Australian funnel web spider also represents an innovative solution to strokes. More exactly, scientists found a miracle protein in its venom. This component can protect brain cells from the damages a stroke may cause. The results of the study show that its effects are powerful even hours after the cerebral accident.

The members of the scientific team come from the Monash University and the University of Queensland. They found the solution to strokes in the Fraser Island in Australia. This is home to some of the deadliest arachnids on Earth. They managed to capture three such specimens. Back in their lab, they extracted the venom in pipettes. The final step was to enhance a certain protein from the venom gland synthetically. The result was the cure called Hi1a.

The study used only lab rats to test the new medicine. Even though the cure did not prove its efficiency on humans yet, the results are surprising. Scientists watched how Hi1a blocks ion channels in the brain. These play a major role in the process of damaging brain cells after a stroke.

The Reason Why a Deadly Spider Is Actually a Lifesaver

Lead researcher of the paper, Prof Glenn King, explained that his laboratory deals mainly with disorders affecting the human nervous system. All these cases are directly connected to ion channels. These can suffer from a dysfunction such as epilepsy or from an over-active state which leads to stroke or chronic pain.

Doctors thought it normal to look for a cure in the venom of a deadly spider. This is because evolution enabled them to incapacitate their prey by shutting down their very nervous system. Thus, their venom contains agents that modulate ion channels. By altering the very protein that controls this power under lab conditions, scientists can turn deadly venom into a cure for strokes. The next step in this study is to assess whether the medicine is safe enough for human trials.

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‘Healthiest Hearts In The World’ Found In An Amazonian Tribe

tsimane healthiest hearts people

A team of researchers found the Tsimane people to be the healthiest hearts in the world’.

A team of researchers found the healthiest hearts in the world’. These were established to be the Tsimane people, a remote tribe in the Amazon.

The study was carried out by an international team of researchers. They released their results on March 17th in the Lancet journal. Their paper is titled: “Coronary atherosclerosis in indigenous South American Tsimane: a cross-selection cohort study”.

Where And How Do The Tsimane Live?

The Tsimane, also known as the Chimane, live in lowland Bolivia. They are indigenous to the area and have a mostly subsistence agricultural culture. Besides this, they also rely on fishing and hunting. These two contribute to their food supplies.

According to the researchers, the Tsimane are “an incredible population”. They have a radically different way of living when compared to the rest of the world. Also, they have a very different diet. These differences are believed to have contributed to their latest denotation.

There are around 16,000 people in the Tsimane tribe. They live in the Amazon rainforest on the Maniqui River. Their lifestyle is similar to that of thousands of years old civilizations. The research team admits that the globe cannot return to an agricultural or hunting and fishing way of life. Nonetheless, civilization could “learn something” from the Tsimane.

How Did The Tsimane Come To Be Declared The Healthiest Hearts?

The team named the remote tribe the people with the ‘healthiest hearts’. This appellation came after a series of tests. For their study, the scientists gathered a team of over 700 volunteers. The study team collaborated with another research group. This latter was studying mummified bodies.

The 705 volunteers went through a CT scanner. Researchers were looking to analyze their “CAC” levels. This is the coronary artery calcium or a sure sign of clogged up blood vessels. CAC is also a potential sign that shows the risk of heart attacks.

According to the study report, up to 45 years old, almost no Tsimane had CAC. In contrast, by the same age, almost 25 percent of the American exhibit this sign. As they reach the age of 75, just about one-third of the tribe’s people present CAC. In comparison, almost 80 percent of the US population shows CAC signs.

The team studied the population over a longer period of time. As such, it was not the case of a mostly young population or unhealthy members dying young. Besides CAC levels, they also looked for signs of inflammations. Research also carried out blood tests. These looked for cholesterol and glucose levels as well as blood pressure.

According to a study researcher, their CAC level “[…] is much lower than in every other population where data exists.”.

Despite the fact that they present high levels of inflammation, the tribe nonetheless has very low levels of heart diseases. Putting it simply, the healthiest hearts population shows that maintaining a healthy diet and a constantly active life can help reduce the clogging up of the blood vessels.

The research team will be carrying out a new study. In it, they will be studying each element of the Tsimane lifestyle. Based on the results, they will try to adapt and apply this to the modern, urbanized way of living.

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