Tag Archives: researchers

Tattoos are a sign that you’re healthy

According to the American Journal of Human Biology, a new study suggests people with more than one tattoo have better immune system responses to new tattoos than those who are getting tattooed for the first time.

The research states that the act of getting a tattoo activates the immune system in a way that can be compared to getting a vaccination, making one less susceptible to future illnesses. Although the study is small and needs some development, it does enlighten us to how the body can be trained to react to stress over time.

covered in tattoos
“The research states that the act of getting a tattoo activates the immune system.”

The study included researchers from the University of Alabama, who retrieved saliva samples from 29 different volunteers before the received tattoos and after they were given. Nine of the 29 volunteers were first-time tattoo recipients. The researchers analyzed the saliva samples for “immunoglobulin A, which is an antibody that lines the gastrointestinal and respiratory systems, and cortisol,” a stress hormone known to lower immune response.

After analyzing the data, the researchers discovered that the volunteers who had never received a tattoo had a much lower immunoglobulin A level than those who have had tattoos before. This could suggest that people who have had more experience with tattoos have an immune system that is more prepared for stress of that caliber.

“They don’t just hurt while you get the tattoo, but they can exhaust you,” Lynn, one of the lead researchers, said in the release. “It’s easier to get sick. You can catch a cold because your defenses are lowered from the stress of getting a tattoo.”

Lynn says that someone getting a tattoo for the first time is like an out-of-shape person exercising at the gym. One’s muscles are sore at first, but the pain reduces after one exercises enough.

Although there are some problems with this study, the fact that some people could simply have better immune systems than others or the fact that getting a tattoo can be dangerous if one goes to a tattoo shop which is careless with their instruments,causing infection, Lynn hopes the study can reduce the stigma that surrounds getting tattoos and hopes others won’t judge so harshly when viewing a person with tattoos.

Neuroscientist pled guilty to 17 fraud-related charges

Scientific integrity suffered Thursday March 31 when an Australian neuroscientist was given a two-year suspended sentence after entering a plea of guilty to 17 fraud-related charges. The main counts that faced Bruce Murdoch were for an article that proclaimed an outstanding discovery in the treatment of Parkinson’s.

The judge’s conclusions were definitive. She articulated that there was no evidence, that Murdoch even directed the clinical trial on which his alleged discoveries were supported.

Murdoch produced forged consent forms for participants of his studies, one of which was deceased at the time the supposed study occurred. Additionally, Murdoch fraudulently took private and public research money for the fake study, that was distributed in the very respectable European Journal of Neurology in 2011.

The quantity of U.S. academic fraud cases in science have risen drastically since the beginning of the 20th century. In 2011, the journal Nature recorded the amount of retractions in the past decade and discovered they had elevated ten times as much. The journal noted that around 50 percent of the retractions were based on scientist misconduct, not based simply on errors.

The U.S. Office of Research Integrity (ORI), which conducts investigations for supposed misconduct involving National Institutes of Health funding, has been much more occupied recently. Throughout 2009 and 2011, ORI had identified merely three cases of misconduct which called for a course of action. Throughout 2012 and 2015, three cases increased to 36 cases that had a cause for action.

Although criminal cases against researches are very uncommon, they are climbing. Jail time is even more uncommon, but still occur. In July 2015, an ex-biomedical scientist at Iowa State University, Dong-Pyou Han, conceded and plead guilty to two felony charges of making false statements to acquire NIH research grants. Han was sentenced to over four years in prison.

Han confused to falsifying the outcomes of many vaccine experiments, some in which he spiked blood samples from rabbits with human HIV antibodies in order for the rabbits to seem to have built up an immunity to the virus.

Two years ago, ORI forced its own punishment against Han. In spite of the fact that it could have issued a funding ban for his entire lifetime, it just blocked Han from obtaining federal dollars for three years.

Ivan Oransky, the executive director of the Center for Scientific Integrity, which runs the blog Retraction Watch, that keeps an informal list of the most unfavorable offenders of scientific retractions, announced plans to ultimately track research misconduct.

The cause of junk food cravings

A new study suggests that if you crave junk food after a manic day, it might be because you’re lacking sleep. The study found that sleep deprivation may lead to increased appetite and a love of unhealthy foods.

More than a third of adults in the United States don’t get enough sleep (7 or more hours per day) regularly and approximately the same amount are obese (having a BMI of more than 30.0), according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Erin Hanlon, a University of Chicago research associate and study author, intended to link these two widespread issues.

Sleep deprivation increases hunger, which can be dangerous because of the fragile stability separating the expenses in energy of remaining awake and the nourishment ingested — these normally do not change if you’ve had or haven’t had enough sleep.

Hanlon’s study which was published in the journal Sleep, measured data between 14 generally healthy young adults with four normal nights of sleep (8.5 hours) against data of those who had four restricted nights of sleep (4.5 hours). Every day, the two groups of participants were given healthy meals. On the last day, study subjects were provided with a carefully prepared meal, accompanied by unrestricted freedom at a snack bar that contained plenty of junk food. The young adults who had four nights of restricted sleep gravitated to snacks with almost double the fat and protein and added carbohydrates.

chips
“Sleep deprivation increases hunger.’

Previous research by the University of Chicago team indicated that sleep deprivation influenced endocannabinoid levels, chemicals in the brain that are associated with managing and regulating appetite.

The researchers calculated the concentration of 2AG, a particular endocannabinoid, in the young adults’ blood. The team then correlated the young adults’ 2AG concentration levels with their hunger and food intake.

The young adults who had four nights of normal sleep, had a 2AG concentration that progressively rose in their blood throughout the day. The concentration of 2AG peaked in the early afternoon that was accompanied by the emergence of a craving for food.

Hanlon’s team recorded a higher concentration of 2AG that continued later on into the evening in the participants who slept less. Subjects were also more hungry and had a higher probability of eating junk food.

According to Hanlon, the study is a single step in comprehending how sustaining sufficient sleep can boost our health.

A new report links extreme weather to climate change

A new report called Attribution of Extreme Weather Events in the Context of Climate Change written by the Committee on Extreme Weather Events and Climate Change Attribution links extreme weather to climate change. The report was pre-published recently and the final report will be available through the National Academies Press in spring 2016.

Working under Washington’s National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, the researchers of climate from British and American universities laid out the reports findings Friday March 11 at a news conference.

The committee expresses that they have a strong belief that most events of extreme weather such as heat waves, heavy precipitation, and droughts are being affected or caused by climate change.

Could extreme weather such as hurricanes be caused by climate change? Graphic from Wikipedia
Could extreme weather such as hurricanes be caused by climate change? Graphic from Wikipedia

Prior to this report, scientists and researchers had a general consensus that the happenstance of extreme weather and climate change had no conclusive link.

The researchers gathered long-term data on extreme events which allowed them to outline how they were developing in severity as the impacts of climate change grew over time.

The committee members noted the heatwave in Russia that occurred in 2010, which prompted the nation’s most detrimental drought in about 40 years, and the loss of around 34,749 square miles of crops. They additionally pointed to the extreme rain in the United Kingdom that occurred in 2000, which led to the most damaging and widespread flooding since the 1940s.

According to researchers, they don’t quite have enough information to conclude that every event of extreme weather is due to climate change. However, as the research is expanded, they may be able to link wildfires, hurricanes, cyclones, typhoons, and tornados to climate change.

As these extreme weather events become more dangerous and more frequent, the repercussions will be taken out on the economy and individual’s lives.

In 2014, the World Meteorological Organization approximated that occurrences of extreme weather cost the human race over 2 trillion dollars and have killed over 2 million people, while devastating millions more.

The researchers hope that they can expand upon the reports findings through research in order for researchers and forecasters to eventually design better predictive models not just with respect to the understanding of climate, but with the conclusive understanding of the effect that climate change is having on Earth’s weather systems.

Exercise’s optimum point

Exercising has various health advantages; however, if you are trying to get thinner, exercise by itself may not be sufficient. A new study suggests that bodies might adjust to more elevated amounts of physical activity, so you might not burn more calories even if you work out a lot.

If you're looking to lose weight, over-exercising is not the solution. Image from Hypnosis Chicago.
If you’re looking to lose weight, over-exercising is not the solution. Image from Hypnosis Chicago.

Scientists found that the individuals in the study who engaged in moderate levels of exercise burned about 200 more calories each day, on average, than those who had the most reduced levels of physical activity. The scientists found that the individuals who were the most physically active burned an identical amount of calories as the individuals who were moderately active.

It is not explicitly known why increased levels of exercise might not lead to burning more calories, the scientists said.

Study author Herman Pontzer, an associate professor of anthropology at the City University of New York said “You still have to exercise,” because physical activity is vital for your health.

In the new study, the scientists focused on the levels of exercise and the quantity of calories burned among 332 individuals ages 25 to 45 through the span of a week. The individuals in the study lived in Ghana, South Africa, the Seychelles (an island nation in the Indian Ocean), Jamaica and the United States.

The scientists discovered that there was a little though quantifiable connection between individuals’ physical activity level and the aggregate number of calories they burned per day. However, this connection held only when the scientists contrasted the individuals with moderate activity levels with the people who had the most inactive lifestyles. Individuals who had moderate levels of physical activity burned about 200 more calories every day, on average, than the individuals who were basically inactive, the scientists discovered.

Conversely, “The most physically active people expended the same amount of calories each day as people who were only moderately active,” Pontzer said in a statement.

The scientists said that these discoveries might imply that there is an optimum point for exercise. While too little physical activity is unhealthy, working out too much might provoke the body to make acclimations to adjust.

The study’s findings are published in the journal Current Biology.

Why habits are hard to break

A new study by Duke University scientists presents that habits leave an enduring imprint on particular circuits in the brain, preparing us to nourish our desires.

Published online January 21 in the journal Neuron, the examination develops researchers’ comprehension of how habits like eating sugar and different vices appear in the brain and proposes new procedures for breaking them.

“One day, we may be able to target these circuits in people to help promote habits that we want and kick out those that we don’t want,” said Nicole Calakos, M.D., Ph.D., the study’s senior examiner and an associate professor of neurology and neurobiology at Duke University Medical Center.

Calakos, a specialist in the brain’s versatility and adaptability, collaborated with Henry Yin, a specialist in animal  habit-related behavior in Duke’s department of psychology and neuroscience. Both researchers are additionally members of the Duke Institute for Brain Sciences.

The scientists trained generally sound mice to shape different degrees of a sugar habit by dispensing sweets if they pressed a lever. The mice that developed a dependency on the sugar continued pushing the lever even without being rewarded with a sweet.

IMG_6576
Photo by: Danielle Johnson. Photo of: Raven Mason

The researchers then compared the brains of the sugar-dependent mice with those that didn’t develop a habit. Specifically, they looked at the basal ganglia, “a complex network of brain areas that controls motor actions and compulsive behaviors, including drug addiction.”

The basal ganglia, scientists said, discharged two primary types of paths carrying opposing messages, a “go” message that spurs action and a “stop” signal.

For the non-dependent mice, the stop signal was turned on prior to the go signal. The opposite was the case for the addicted mice. The analysts said they anticipated that the stop signal would be less dynamic in a dependent brain.

The analysts noted that the adjustments in the circuits took place over the “entire region of the basal ganglia they were studying as opposed to specific subsets of brain cells.” The progressions were “long-lasting and obvious” to the point scientists could tell which brain was dependent by observing small pieces in a petri dish.

This, analysts add, may be why one addiction can prompt others.

As a major aspect of the study, the researchers needed to check whether they could end habits in the mice, by just giving them sweets when they quit pushing the lever. The mice that ended the habit had “weaker go cells.”

This could prompt offering people some assistance with breaking negative habits, however since the basal ganglia is so intricate, it may be difficult to target with medications, said the researchers.

Their discoveries are distributed in the journal Neuron.

Sleep cycle changes can be detrimental to your health

In the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, a new study proposes that when routine sleep habits are disrupted, the danger for long-term health problems such diabetes and coronary disease rises. Sleep adjustments are connected to metabolic problems, including insulin resistance and a higher body mass index.

Although other exploration on the subject has linked sleep disruptions to poor health, the new study is the first to explicitly connect shifts in sleeping times to metabolic issues. Those issues were free of other variables, for example, sleep disorders, smoking, and financial status.

The scientists studied 447 middle-aged, healthy, women and men, aged 30 to 54, who worked no less than 25 hours weekly outside their homes. They each wore a motion-monitoring wristband, called Actiwatch-16, that recorded their rest and movement every day for a seven days. Surveys were utilized to evaluate their activity and dietary patterns.

Around 85 percent of the members of the study slept longer on their days-off than on days of work, while the other 15 percent woke up earlier on their days-off than on workdays, the study found. None of the participants kept up with their workday rest schedules on days-off.

man in bed eyes opened suffering insomnia and sleep disorder
“Around 85 percent of the members of the study slept longer on their days-off than on days of work.”

Those with huge contrasts within their sleep schedules on days of work and days-off displayed a tendency to have worse levels of cholesterol and fasting insulin, greater insulin resistance, bigger waist size, and higher body mass index (BMI).

This connection between what the scientists call “social jetlag” and the health risk factors persevered even subsequent to altering different measures of rest and lifestyle behaviors, such as physical movement and calorie consumption.

Social jetlag refers to the mismatch between an individual’s biological circadian rhythm [body clock] and their socially imposed sleep schedules. Other researchers have found that social jetlag relates to obesity and some indicators of cardiovascular function,” study creator Patricia Wong, of the University of Pittsburgh, said in a news release from the Endocrine Society.

The affiliation found in the research does not demonstrate an immediate cause-and-effect relationship between conflicting rest routines and the development of obesity, diabetes and heart disease.

The study’s findings were published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, on November 18.

Experimental Alzheimer’s drug shows anti-aging effects

Salk Institute researchers have discovered that a trial drug candidate aimed towards battling Alzheimer’s contains a large amount of surprising anti-aging effects in animals.

The Salk team advanced their previous development of a drug candidate, referred to as J147, that takes a alternative tactic — focusing on Alzheimer’s major risk factor, old age. Once these mice were treated with J147, they had improved memory and cognizance, healthier blood vessels within the brain and various enhanced physiological components, as explained in the journal Aging, on November 12, 2015.

Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive brain disorder, recently rated as the third leading cause of death in the United States. Alzheimer’s impacts over five million Americans. It is also the most widely recognized cause of dementia in adults who are older, according to the National Institutes of Health.

The group of researchers decided to zero in on the key risk for the disease — old age. Using cell-based screens against old age-associated cerebrum toxicities, they synthesized J147.

The team used a thorough set of assessments to measure the expression of all genes within the brain, as well as over five hundred small molecules involved with metabolism within in the brains and blood of three groups of the rapidly aging mice. The three groups of rapidly aging mice included one set that was young, one set that was old and one set that was old but fed J147 as they aged.

Mice treated with J147 (right) showed improved physiology, memory and appearance that more closely resembled younger mice. Photo from the Salk Institute.
Mice treated with J147 (right) showed improved physiology, memory and appearance that more closely resembled younger mice.
Photo from the Salk Institute.

The old mice that received J147 performed better on memory and other tests for comprehension and furthermore showed more powerful motor movements. The mice treated with J147 additionally had less indications of Alzheimer’s in their brains. Essentially, as a result of the substantial data collected on the three groups of mice, it was possible to show that numerous parts of gene expression and metabolism within the old mice fed J147 were fundamentally the same of those of the young animals. These included markers for expanded energy metabolism, diminished brain inflammation and decreased levels of oxidized unsaturated fats within the brain.

While these studies represent a new and stimulating approach to Alzheimer’s drug discovery and animal testing within the context of aging, the sole way to show the clinical pertinence of the work is to move J147 into human clinical trials for Alzheimer’s disease, which the researchers aim to start next year.