Study finds body has two “rush hours”
Turns out our bodies may have their own rush hours.
Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania have found that genes largely increase cell and tissue activity around dawn and dusk. They believe this can help determine when it’s best to take time-sensitive medication.
In the study, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers observed cells in 12 different tissues, every two hours throughout the day. Samples from the liver, kidneys, lungs brain and certain fat tissues were studied, among others. Of the tissues studied, 43percent showed daily changes in cell activity. From these findings, researchers were able to estimate that protein-controlling genes would also have rush hours in almost half of all body tissues found in the body.
Taking a medication at a time that aligns with your body clock, could have a huge impact on its effectiveness, according to the study.
Almost half of the top 100 drugs already on the market target the same genes that have increased activity during these rush hours, researchers said. They are optimistic that these findings can aid drug companies in developing future treatments.
Sourced from: BBC News HealthResearchers at the University of Pennsylvania found that genes largely increase cell and tissue activity around dawn and dusk. They believe this can help discover when it’s best to take time-sensitive medication., Source: Body clock: ‘Rush Hour’ transformation discovered
Binge drinking linked to long-term brain changes
Binge drinking during teenage years can have long-term effects on brain function.
The teenage brain is still developing, and researchers from University of Massachusetts Amherst have published a study that found excessive alcohol consumption can change the brain’s myelin – the protective coating around nerve fibers – resulting in cognitive damage years later.
Researchers tested the effects of alcohol in male rats by having them drink sweetened alcohol for two weeks. The control group only had sweetened water. The sweetener made the alcohol tasty for rats, and they could request the beverage at any point by pressing a lever that released more of it.
After the study period, the researchers analyzed the rat brains, particularly the myelin. Compared to the control group, the rats that drank the alcohol had decreased myelin in the prefrontal cortex. This is the area of the brain crucial for decision making and controlling emotion. The reduction in myelin continued even months later when the rats were adults.
They also discovered that when the rats were exposed to alcohol again in adulthood, the results were comparable to alcohol consumption in their younger years. Researchers believe this may be because the brain develops a hypersensitivity to alcohol.
The rats also underwent a memory test as adults to see how well they retained information on a short-term basis. The rats that consumed alcohol in their teenage years performed worse on the test than those who drank only water.
Published in The Journal of Neuroscience, these findings could help showcase how alcohol causes structural damage to the brain and impairs memory and cognitive function years later.
Why scratching makes an itch worse
Have an itch that you can’t seem to ease? It’s not your imagination; it’s your brain. In a new study, researchers have found the brain releases serotonin when you scratch yourself so it’s not painful. However, the serotonin also activates neurons in the spinal cord to re-trigger that itching sensation.
Scientists at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis genetically engineered mice so that they did not have the ability to make serotonin. The researchers then injected a substance into the mice to make their skin itch. At first they didn’t scratch much, but once serotonin was injected, their normal response to itching occurred.
While the research was performed on mice, it is believed the same chemical exchange happens in humans. It’s unclear how, but researchers discovered that serotonin can switch from signaling pain-sensing neurons to nerve cell neurons in the spinal cord that set off the itching sensation.
The researchers said they hope the findings, published in the journal Neuron, can be used to help people with chronic itching. Treatment could include breaking the signal between serotonin and the spinal cord neurons involved in the itching sensation.