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Memory Loss Does Not Wipe Out Emotions

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New research from the US suggests that emotions triggered by events can endure longer than factual recollection in patients with severe amnesia; the researchers hope their findings will increase understanding of Alzheimer’s and related diseases and also bring comfort to caregivers and families in the knowledge that their loved ones may continue to feel the warmth of visits and conversations even if they can’t remember what happened.

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You can read about the research by scientists at the University of Iowa (UI) in Iowa City in the 12 April early online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, PNAS.

Lead author Justin Feinstein, a student in the UI graduate programs of neuroscience and psychology, told the media that:

“A simple visit or phone call from family members might have a lingering positive influence on a patient’s happiness even though the patient may quickly forget the visit or phone call.”

However, he also described the downside:

“On the other hand, routine neglect from staff at nursing homes may leave the patient feeling sad, frustrated and lonely even though the patient can’t remember why,” said Feinstein.

Feinstein and colleagues studied five patients with a rare case of memory loss due to damage to their their hippocampus that caused new memories to disappear.

The hippocampus is critical for transferring memories from short-term to long-term storage, and is one of the first regions of the brain to suffer damage in Alzheimer’s disease.

The researchers showed the patients short extracts of sad and happy films; although they couldn’t remember details of the films, they retained the emotions elicited by what they had watched.

Each patient watched 20 minutes of a sad film, underwent memory and mood tests, then on another day, they watched 20 minutes of a happy film and had the same tests.

The researchers observed that the films induced the appropriate emotion in the patients, ranging from laughing out loud while watching the happy films to tears during the sad films.

About 10 minutes after watching a film clip, Feinstein and colleagues tested the patients’ factual memories to see how much they could remember about it.

A person with a non-impaired memory would be expected to remember about 30 details from each film clip, but these patients’ memories were severely imparied: one patient couldn’t recall a single detail.

Then they asked the patients another set of questions to gauge their emotional state.

Feinstein said that they still felt the emotion, explaining that “sadness tended to last a bit longer than happiness, but both emotions lasted well beyond their memory of the films”.

“With healthy people, you see feelings decay as time goes on. In two patients, the feelings didn’t decay; in fact, their sadness lingered,” he added.

The researchers concluded that the findings suggest “both positive and negative emotional experiences can persist independent of explicit memory for the inducing event,” and provide “direct evidence that a feeling of emotion can endure beyond the conscious recollection for the events that initially triggered the emotion”.

These results appear to challenge the idea that wiping out a painful memory abolishes the associated emotional suffering, and stress the importance of attending to the needs of people with Alzheimer’s disease.

According to a 2009 report from Alzheimer’s Disease International (ADI), 35 million people worldwide will have dementia this year, and the number is set to double every 20 years, reaching 115.4 million by 2050.

The greatest risk factor for Alzheimer’s is age, and there is currently no cure, said Feinstein.

“What we’re about to face is an epidemic. We’re going to have more and more baby boomers getting older, and more and more people with Alzheimer’s disease. The burden of care for these individuals is enormous,” he added, urging that:

“… we need to start setting a scientifically-informed standard of care for patients with memory disorders. Here is clear evidence showing that the reasons for treating Alzheimer’s patients with respect and dignity go beyond simple human morals.”

The Fraternal Order of Eagles, the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation and the Kiwanis International Foundation, funded the research.

“Sustained experience of emotion after loss of memory in patients with amnesia.”

Source: Today’s Health News: 13th. April.2010

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Malaria’s Sticky Secret

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A team of Australian researchers have identified a key mechanism that enables malaria-infected red blood cells to stick to the walls of blood vessels and avoid being destroyed by the body’s immune system.

The discovery highlights an important potential new target for anti-malarial drugs.

Malaria kills up to three million people every year, mostly in tropical parts of the world. The disease is spread by mosquitoes that inject victims with microscopic parasites that infect healthy red blood cells.

There are a number of different species of parasite, but the deadliest is the Plasmodium falciparum parasite.

The malaria parasite infects healthy red blood cells, where it reproduces, and producing up to thirty-two new daughter parasites. “It’s like remodelling a house so you can live in it and raise a family,” said researcher Alan Cowman from the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research in Melbourne.

Blood cells infected by the malaria parasite lose their normal rigid shape and develop knobs on their surface, causing them to stick to blood vessel walls and stop circulating smoothly.

The parasite secretes a ‘glue’, known as PfEMP1, which travels to the surface of the infected red blood cells, leading to the formation of the knobs. The cells become sticky and adhere to the walls of the blood vessels. “This stops the cells from being cleared by the spleen, which is a protective mechanism for the parasite,” Cowman says.

“It’s absolutely essential for the parasite to survive in our bodies.”

Infected cells can also cause blood vessels to clog, a factor in some of the more serious effects of malaria such as cerebral malaria, where the disease affects the brain.

Now, the researchers, led by Cowman, have identified eight new proteins that transport the P falciparum parasite’s ‘glue’ to the surface of the infected red blood cells. They have shown that removing just one of these proteins prevents the infected red blood cells from sticking to the walls of the blood vessels.

“It really is a big step in understanding the parasite itself,” Cowman says. “In the long term it points toward concentrating on some of these proteins so that they don’t work any more, so the parasite would be cleared much more efficiently.”

It is also possible that researchers could use their new understanding to develop weakened forms of the parasite to use in a vaccine against the disease, he says.

Sources: The Times Of India

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Sea Cucumber ‘New Malaria Weapon’

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Sea cucumbers could provide a potential new weapon to block transmission of the malaria parasite, a study suggests.

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Sea cucumbers live on the ocean floor

The slug-like creature produces a protein, lectin, which impairs development of the parasites.

An international team genetically engineered mosquitoes – which carry the malaria parasite – to produce the same protein in their gut when feeding.

The PLoS Pathogens study found the protein disrupted development of the parasites inside the insects’ stomach.

Malaria causes severe illness in 500 million people worldwide each year, and kills more than one million.

It is estimated that 40% of the world’s population are at risk of the disease.

To stimulate the mosquitoes to produce lectin, the researchers fused part of the gene from the sea cucumber which produces the protein with a gene from the insect.

The results showed that the technique was effective against several of the parasites which cause malaria.

Lectin is poisonous to the parasites when they are still in an early stage of development called an ookinete.

Usually, the ookinetes migrate through the mosquito’s stomach wall, and produce thousands of daughter cells which invade the salivary glands, and infect a human when the mosquito takes a blood meal.

But when exposed to lectin the ookinetes are killed before they can start their deadly journey.

Work left

Researcher Professor Bob Sinden, from Imperial College London, said: “These results are very promising and show that genetically engineering mosquitoes in this way has a clear impact on the parasites’ ability to multiply inside the mosquito host.”

However, he said much more work still had to be done before the technique could be used to curb the spread of malaria.

“Although the sea cucumber protein significantly reduced the number of parasites in mosquitoes, it did not totally remove them from all insects.

“At the current stage of development, the genetically modified mosquitoes would remain dangerous to humans.

“Ultimately, one aim of our field is to find a way of genetically engineering mosquitoes so that the malaria parasite cannot develop inside them.”

Professor Sanjeev Krishna, an expert in malaria at St George’s Hospital Medical School, London, said new treatments for malaria were vital, as there was some sign that the parasites which cause the disease were developing resistance to the current artemisinin drugs.

He said: “This is a very important first step in developing a potential new way to control this infection.”

Dr Ron Behrens, of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, said the technique showed promise in theory – but he warned that introducing genetically modified mosquitoes could be fraught with practical difficulties.

“You would have to get the modified version to become the predominant species, and that has never been done in any setting before,” he said.

Sources :BBC NEWS ( 23rd. Dec’07)

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Blood Group For Lower Malaria Risk

 

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The most common blood type in Indians seems to provide better protection against the most deadly form of malaria. British scientists have found that people with blood group O – around 38% of the Indian population – are naturally protected from some of the most severe forms of the disease, which kills around two million people annually across the globe……....click ¬†& see

A team from Edinburgh University, with researchers in the US, Mali and Kenya, studied African children and found that those with this blood type were two-thirds less likely to experience coma or life-threatening anaemia conditions synonymous with severe malaria.

This discovery now brings hope of developing drugs which mimic the properties of red cells. In fatal malaria, it is often found that red blood cells infected by parasites block blood vessels which supply oxygen to the brain.

The malarial parasites arm the blood cells  surface with proteins which stick to blood vessel walls. O and B are the commonest blood group among Indians. Nearly 32% of north Indians and 38% south Indians have O blood group.

“The finding that red cells present in O group blood play the major role in preventing malaria from worsening is a significant finding for India. Blood is made of antigens or proteins, some of which show protection against certain diseases. Why that occurs has not been scientifically proven yet but statistically, they have shown significant protection rates,” blood safety specialist Dr Debasish Gupta said.

Edinburgh University’s Dr Alex Rowe, whose finding was published in the journal ‘PNAS’ on Tuesday, said, “This explains why some people are less likely to suffer from life-threatening malaria than others and tells us that if we can develop a drug to reduce rosetting and mimic the effect of being blood group O, we may reduce the number of children dying from severe malaria.”

The scientists found that malaria parasites recruit healthy RBCs to stick to the parasite, encasing the infected RBC inside a so-called rosette. It makes the blockage, and the disease, worse.

However, the team’s findings suggest that group O RBCs do not easily join rosettes as the cells surface structure prevents it from sticking. The study suggests that reduced rosetting of malaria parasites is the reason why people with group O blood are less likely to suffer severe malaria.

ABO blood group types were assessed on 567 blood samples from Malian children. We found that blood group O was present in only 21% of the severe malaria cases compared to 45% of other blood groups. Rosetting was shown to be significantly lower in parasite isolates from patients with blood group O compared to non-O blood groups,” the study said.

Source: The Times Of India

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Suppliments our body needs

Iron

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What is iron?

Iron is an important trace mineral found in every cell of the body, usually in combination with protein. Depending on the level of iron in the body, it can act either as an antioxidant, or it can stimulate the formation of free radicals.

Why do you need it?

Iron is an essential nutrient because it is a vital part of red blood cells, which carry oxygen to all body cells. Iron is essential to the formation of hemoglobin and myoglobin, which carries the oxygen in the blood and muscles. It makes up part of many proteins and enzymes in the body.

How much iron should you take?

According to the National Academy of Sciences, the recommended daily allowance (RDA) of iron is as follows:

* Adult men: between 10-12 milligrams/day
* Adult women: 15 milligrams/day
* Children aged 7-10: 10 milligrams/day
* Infants: 10 milligrams/day
* Pregnant/lactating women: 30 milligrams/day

What are some good sources of iron?

Red meat, fish, poultry, eggs, legumes and fortified cereals are all good sources of iron. Other sources include oysters, dried fruits, molasses, and dark, leafy green vegetables such as broccoli and spinach.

The best food sources of easily absorbed iron are animal products. Iron from vegetables, fruits, grains, and supplements is harder for the body to absorb. Mixing lean meat, fish, or poultry with beans or dark leafy greens at a meal can improve absorption of vegetable sources of iron up to three times. Foods rich in vitamin C also increase iron absorption.

What can happen if you don’t get enough iron?

Iron deficiency is the most common nutritional deficiency worldwide. Deficiency occurs in the form of iron deficiency anemia. Iron deficiency and anemia can occur during periods of rapid growth, during pregnancy, and among women who are menstruating more than usual. It can be associated with any type of intestinal loss of blood, frequent donation of blood, or from the inability to absorb iron efficiently. Initial symptoms of iron deficiency anemia are fatigue and lack of energy. Dizziness, weight loss, headaches and lowered immunity can also occur.

What can happen if you take too much?

Iron toxicity rarely develops from an increased intake of dietary iron alone; however, increased intake of iron supplements may lead to toxicity. Symptoms include fatigue, anorexia, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, headache, weight loss, shortness of breath, and possibly a grayish color to the skin.

Source:ChiroFind.com