Sweetener could double as insecticide
What started as a ninth grader’s science project has the potential to turn into a very good thing for the environment. While doing the school project–designed to test the the effects of artificial sweeteners on fruit flies–a father-son team from Philadelphia found that flies raised on the sweetener Truvia had a much shorter life span compared to other flies. To investigate further, the father, a scientist at Drexel, moved the project from his home to a lab. And there he found that erythritol, the main ingredient in Truvia, could successfully be used to bait flies and act as an effective insecticide.
After finding that the flies consumed more than twice as much erythritol as sucrose when given the choice between the two, the researchers wanted to see how much erythritol would be needed to kill the flies. The findings showed that flies given food with low levels of erythritol (about 0.1 grams in 10 milliliters of water) displayed no difference in life span than flies raised on food without any erythritol. However, flies given food with high levels of erythritol (2.4 grams in 10 milliliters of water) were dead within two days.
While the researchers don’t know exactly how erythritol killed the flies, other studies have shown that it can inhibit an insect’s ability to absorb nutrients and water and their ability to move around. More studies are needed to determine its effects on other insects.
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Sourced from: Live Science, Artificial Sweetener Could Be Used As a Safer Insecticide
Published On: June 5, 2014
Scientists make progress on compound that could prevent Alzheimer’s
Scientists reporting in a study published in the Annals of Neurology say that a new compound shows promise as potential treatment for helping to prevent Alzheimer’s disease.
Long before Alzheimer’s symptoms appear, clumps of amyloid beta protein start accumulating in the brain. That’s why amyloid proteins have become a prime target for researchers looking for ways to prevent Alzheimer’s. In 2012, a study found that 0.5 percent of people in Iceland carry a mutation that allows the brain to clear amyloid beta, which halves the production of the protein throughout their life. This slows the cognitive decline and allows these Icelanders to live longer than those without the mutation. Scientists think that a treatment that mimics this mutation could lead to a new way to prevent Alzheimer’s.
The study found that even low concentrations of 2-PMAP compound reduced the production of amyloid precursor protein (APP) – the mother protein to amyloid beta – in test cells by more than half. Then researchers moved the experiment to an animal model. They found that 2-PMAP had the same effect on APP in the brains of mice engineered to have amyloid deposits similar to Alzheimer’s.
After five days of treatment, the amyloid beta levels in the brains of the mice were lowered, and after four months, the levels were sharply reduced, and prevented cognitive problems in those mice.
The compound seems to work by interfering with the APP gene transcript into the protein, which may make it safer than other compounds that have been tested as a way to lower amyloid beta.
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Sourced from: Medical News Today, Compound ‘may form basis of Alzheimer’s prevention drug’
Published On: June 5, 2014