Cholesterol drugs may prevent blindness
Macular degeneration is one of the most common forms of blindness, particularly among older adults. Now, researchers from the Washington University School of Medicine have discovered a potentially groundbreaking treatment that could prevent the debilitating condition: cholesterol-lowering drugs. The scientists were able to draw connections between high cholesterol levels and macular degeneration, ultimately discovering that immune cells became destructive when they were clogged with fats. The doctors treated the condition with eye drops made from a drug originally created to lower cholesterol.
When an individual has the “wet” form of macular degeneration, immune cells cease to be protective and instead become detrimental to the eye. Rather than “eating” fatty deposits and sending them back into the blood, older immune cells become bloated after eating the fats and are unable to expel them. This causes inflammation, to which the body responds by creating more blood vessels. This rapid blood vessel creation can damage the eye, potentially resulting in blindness.
This form of age-related macular degeneration could take a person’s sight within three months if left untreated. Though the research is admittedly at an early stage, this could be a big step forward in preventing blindness.
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Sourced from: BBC News, Macular degeneration: Cholesterol drugs ‘may save sight’
Fighting cocaine addiction with lasers
Research from the National Institute on Drug Abuse has found that cocaine addiction can be erased by simply shining a laser onto a rat’s brain. While more research is needed, scientists feel that this could be a breakthrough in treating people with cocaine addiction.
The study found that for rats—and also humans–cocaine addiction can dull activity in the prefrontal cortex, where impulse control and decision-making takes place. In this study, scientists genetically engineered the rats’ brains to turn the prefrontal cortex into a switch, which would be “flipped” when exposed to the laser’s light. Once the doctors shined the laser onto the specific part of the rat’s brain, the cocaine addiction was gone. However, as with any switch, it can be flipped back - the doctors could also activate cocaine addiction by shining the laser again, even in rats that were never hooked.
Though lasers likely would not be used on humans, the scientists say it is possible that transcranial magnetic stimulation could be implemented. It’s a non-invasive technique already used to treat depression.
Clinical trials on humans are expected to begin at the National Institutes of Health. An estimated 1.4million Americans are addicted to cocaine.
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Sourced from: Live Science, Zap a Cocaine Addiction With … Lasers?
Eating fish helps your live longer
The ultimate goal of any healthy behavior is to lead a longer, better life, right? According to researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health and the University of Washington, eating two weekly servings of fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids can help increase life expectancy by an average of 2.2 years. Among elderly adults with high blood levels of omega-3s, all mortality was reduced by 27 percent and the risk of dying from heart disease was lowered by 35 percent.
Earlier research has found that eating fish rich in protein and heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids can reduce the risk of dying from heart disease. This study focused on the level of omega-3s in the blood and how this affects the length of life in older adults. The study authors compiled 16 years of data from nearly 2,700 adults aged 65 and over, all of whom were healthy at the time of baseline testing. The scientists took three blood samples and tested for fatty acids in each, finding that three different omega-3s were each linked to significantly lowered risk of mortality.
Fatty acid docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) lowered risk of heart disease by 40 percent. Docosapentaenoic acid (DPA) significantly lowered stroke risk and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) significantly lowered the risk of nonfatal heart attack.
Seafood high in omega-3s include salmon, mackerel, sardines, swordfish, mussels and oysters.
NEXT: Cholesterol drugs may save vision
Sourced from: Medical News Today, Eating Fish Helps You Live Longer