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Exercise ‘Can Fight Ageing’

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Long-term physical activity has an anti-ageing effect at the cellular level, a German study suggests.
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Exercise seems to stimulate a key enzyme
Researchers focused on telomeres, the protective caps on the chromosomes that keep a cell’s DNA stable but shorten with age.

They found telomeres shortened less quickly in key immune cells of athletes with a long history of endurance training.

The study, by Saarland University, appears in the journal Circulation.

In a separate study of young Swedish men, cardiovascular fitness has been linked to increased intelligence and higher educational achievement.

Telomeres are relatively short sections of specialised DNA that sit at the ends of all our chromosomes.

They have been compared to the plastic tips at the ends of shoelaces that prevent the laces from unravelling.

Each time a cell divides, its telomeres shorten and the cell becomes more susceptible to dying.

National athletes:-
The researchers measured the length of telomeres in blood samples from two groups of professional athletes and two groups of people who were healthy non-smokers, but who did not take regular exercise.

One group of professional athletes included members of the German national track and field athletics team, who had an average age of 20.

The second group was made up of middle-aged athletes who had regularly run long distances – an average of 80km a week – since their youth.

The researchers found evidence that the physical exercise of the professional athletes led to activation of an enzyme called telomerase, which helped to stabilise telomeres.

This reduced the telomere shortening in leukocytes, a type of white blood cell that plays a key role in fighting infection and disease.

The most pronounced effect was found in athletes who had been regularly endurance training for several decades.

Potency of training:

Lead researcher Dr Ulrich Laufs said: “This is direct evidence of an anti-ageing effect of physical exercise.

“Our data improves the molecular understanding of the protective effects of exercise and underlines the potency of physical training in reducing the impact of age-related disease.”

Professor Tim Spector, an expert on genetics and ageing at Kings College London, said other studies had suggested more moderate exercise had a beneficial effect on ageing.

He said: “It is still difficult to separate cause and effect from these studies – as longer telomeres may still be a marker of fitness.

“Nevertheless – this is further evidence that regular exercise may retard aging.”

Professor Kay-Tee Khaw, of the University of Cambridge, an expert on ageing, said: “The benefits of physical activity for health are well established from many large long-term population studies.

“Even moderate levels of physical activity are related to lower levels of many heart disease risk factors such as blood pressure and cholesterol and lower risk of many chronic diseases associated with ageing such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes and some cancers.”

 

Intelligence link…….>In the second study, published in Proceeding of the National Academy of Sciences, a team from the University of Gothenburg analysed data on more than 1.2 million Swedish men born from 1950-1976 who enlisted for military service at age 18.

They found that good heart health was linked to higher intelligence, better educational achievement and raised status in society.

By studying twins in the study, the researchers concluded that environmental and lifestyle factors were key, rather than genetics.

They said the findings suggested that campaigns to promote physical exercise might help to raise standards of educational achievement across the population.

Lead researcher Professor Georg Kuhn said cardiovascular exercise increased blood flow to the brain, which in turn might help forge more and stronger connections between nerve cells.

However, he said it was also possible that intelligent people tended to make more exercise.

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Source: BBC News :4th .Jan.2010

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Naps with Dreams Improve Performance

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Researchers led by Sara C. Mednick, an assistant professor of psychiatry at the University of California, San Diego, gave 77 volunteers tests under three before- and-after conditions: spending a day without a nap, napping without REM sleep, and napping with REM sleep. Just spending the day away from the problem improved performance; people whostayed awake did a little better on the 5 p.m. session than they had done on the 9 a.m. test. Taking a nap without REM sleep also led to slightly better results. But a nap that included REM sleep resulted in nearly a 40 percent improvement over the pre-nap performance.

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The study is published June 8 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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Jet Lag to be History

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Scripps Research scientists say that they have determined the molecular structure of a plant photolyase protein, which is very similar  to the two proteins that control the circadian clock in humans and other mammals, moving a step closer to making jet lag history.

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The researchers claim that their study has even enabled them to test how structural changes affect the function of such proteins.

“The plant photolyase structure provides a much better model to use to study how the cryptochrome proteins in the human clock function than we have ever had before,” says Dr. Kenichi Hitomi, a postdoctoral research fellow at Scripps Research.

“It’s like knowing for the first time where the engine is in a car. When you know what the most important parts of the protein are, then you can begin to figure out how it functions,” the researchers added.

Dr. Elizabeth Getzoff, professor in the Department of Molecular Biology and member of The Skaggs Institute for Chemical Biology at Scripps Research, says that understanding how these proteins work may be helpful in fixing the clock when needed.

“In addition to decoding how the clock works, a long-term goal is to develop a drug to help people who can’t reset their clock when they need to, like people who work night shifts or travel long distances. Having the three-dimensional protein is a great step forward in both of those pursuits,” she says.

Working in collaboration with researchers from Scripps Research and from other institutions, including two universities in Japan, Hitomi studied Arabidopsis thaliana, a plant native to Europe and Asia that has one of the smallest genomes of all plants.

The researchers point out that just like all other plants, this plant also contains proteins known as photolyases, which use blue light to repair DNA damage induced by ultraviolet light.

They say that humans and mammals possess a homologous protein known as cryptochrome that modulates the circadian clock.

Getzoff says: “This is an amazing, and very puzzling, family of proteins, because they do one thing in plants and quite a different thing in mammals, yet these cousins all have the same structure and need the same cofactor, or chemical compound, to become activated.”

Hitomi adds: “All of these proteins were probably originally responses to sunlight. Sunlight causes DNA damage, so plants need to repair this damage, and they also need to respond to sunlight and seasons for growth and flowering. The human clock is set by exposure to sunlight, but also by when we eat, sleep and exercise.”

Hitomi and his colleagues set about producing proteins from the Arabidopsis thaliana genes that produce two related photolyase enzymes. These genes had been cloned earlier in the laboratory of co-author Dr Takeshi Todo of Kyoto University.

The researchers moved the gene from the plant into E coli bacteria to produce a lot of the protein, and later crystallized it to determine the atomic structure by using X-ray diffraction.

The researchers then produced a variety of mutant proteins in order to test the functional structure of the enzymes.

“We can now look at things that are the same and different between human and mouse cryptochromes and plant photolyases. Our results provide a detailed, comparative framework for biological investigations of both of these proteins and their functions,” says Hitomi.

He believes that his team’s findings may form the basis of drugs that can ease jet lag and regulate drug metabolism, as well as help better understand some fascinating circadian clock disorders that have been found in mice and man.

The study has been published in The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Sources:The Times Of India

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Docs Claim Leukemia Cure with Arsenic, Vitamin A

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Doctors appear to have safely and successfully treated patients with cancer of the blood and bone marrow with a combination of arsenic and vitamin A, according to long-term study in China.

In an article published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the doctors said they prescribed the regimen to 85 patients and monitored them for an average of 70 months. Of these, 80 patients went into complete remission and the researchers did not find any associated long-term problems and there was no development of secondary cancers.

“Two years after the treatment, the patients had arsenic levels well below safety limits, and only slightly higher .

Sources: The Times Of India

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Longer Ring Finger Predicts Financial Success

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The length of a man’s ring finger may predict his success as a financial trader. Researchers at the University of Cambridge in England  report that men with longer ring fingers, compared to their index fingers, tended to be more successful in the frantic high-frequency trading in the London financial district.
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Indeed, the impact of biology on success was about equal to years of experience at the job, the team led by physiologist John Coates reports in Monday’s edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
The same ring-to-index finger ratio has previously been associated with success in competitive sports such as soccer and basketball, the researchers noted.

The length ratio between those two fingers is determined during the development of the fetus and the relatively longer ring finger indicates greater exposure to the male hormone androgen, the researchers noted.
Previous studies have found that such exposure can lead to increased confidence, risk preferences, search persistence, heightened vigilance and quickened reaction times.

In the new study, the researchers measured the right hands of 44 male stock traders who were engaged in a type of trade that involved rapid decision-making and quick physical reactions.

Over 20 months those with longer ring fingers compared to their index fingers made 11 times more money than those with the shortest ring fingers. Over the same time the most experienced traders made about 9 times more than the least experienced ones.

Looking only at experienced traders, the long-ring-finger folks earned 5 times more than those with short ring fingers.

While the finger ratio, showing fetal exposure to male hormones, appears to signal likely success in high-actively trading that calls for risk-taking and quick reactions, it may not indicate people who would do well at other sorts of financial activities, the researchers said. Some traders require additional skills on dealing with clients and sales workers.

Sources: The Times Of india

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