ISLAMABAD – Scientists have identified a genetic link between Alzheimer’s disease and diabetes, a finding they say could open new doors for treating and preventing the disease.
It has been known for some time that people with diabetes have a much higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s, but not why this is so.
Now, in experiments on worms, researchers from the City College of New York found that a known Alzheimer’s gene also plays a role in the way insulin is processed.
A key indication of Alzheimer’s, which can only be seen after death, is the presence of sticky plaques of amyloid protein in decimated portions of patients` brains. It`s known that mutations in a gene involved in the processing of amyloid protein in Alzheimer’s which run in families.
Now, the researchers who looked at a similar gene in the nematode worms (C-elegans) found the gene also affected their insulin pathway — the chemical reactions involved in its production and processing.
“People with type 2 diabetes have an increased risk of dementia. The insulin pathways are involved in many metabolic processes, including helping to keep the nervous system healthy,” lead study author Prof Chris Li was quoted as saying by a news channel.
However, she stressed that more work was needed to probe this potential link and its effects further. Mark Johnston, editor-in-chief of the journal Genetics, which published the study, said it was an important discovery.
“We know there’s a link between Alzheimer’s and diabetes, but until now it was somewhat of a mystery. This finding could open new doors for treating and preventing the disease.”
Dr Marie Janson, director of development at Alzheimer’s Research UK, said: “This early-stage study may provide an interesting clue to help scientists unravel how diabetes and Alzheimer’s are linked, but questions still remain to be answered.
“As this research looked at the effects of a gene in worms, studies are now needed to discover whether the equivalent gene in people has the same effect, and exactly what mechanisms may be involved.”
`Tomatoes can help keep skin young, protect against sunburn`
Ladies, no need to waste your money on buying expensive skin creams. Scientists say tomatoes may provide the best defence to keeping skin looking young and safe from sun damage.
Tests has shown that eating tomato paste could help protect against sunburn and skin ageing caused by sunlight exposure. The age-defying ingredient is lycopene - the natural pigment that makes tomatoes red - with highest levels found in processed or cooked tomatoes used in ketchup, paste, soup and juice.
In the study, women eating a diet rich in processed tomatoes had increased skin protection, as seen by a reduction in skin redness and less DNA damage from ultraviolet (UV) exposure.
Researchers compared the skin of 20 women, half of whom were given five tablespoons (55g) of standard tomato paste with 10g of olive oil every day for 12 weeks.
The effects on their skin were compared with the remaining volunteers, aged between 21 and 47, eating just olive oil for the same length of time.
The volunteers were exposed to UV rays found in sunlight at the beginning and end of the trial. The researchers found significant improvement in the skin’s ability to protect itself against UV among those eating tomato paste.
Compared with the other women, the tomato-eating group had 33 per cent more protection against sunburn in the form of less redness. The researchers calculated that protection offered by the tomato paste to be equivalent to a sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 1.3.
Skin samples taken from groups before and after trial showed an increase in levels of procollagen, a molecule which gives skin its structure and loss of which leads to skin ageing and lack of elasticity.
There was also less damage to mitochondrial DNA in the skin, which is also linked to skin ageing.
Dermatology scientist Prof Mark Birch-Machin from Newcastle University said the tomato paste eaten was not overly excessive, but the amount that would be consumed from a lot of tomato-based meals.
“Eating tomatoes will not make you invincible in the sun but it may be a useful addition to sun protection along with sunscreen, shade and clothing,” he said.
“The protective effect of eating tomatoes on our mitochondria is important as they are the energy producers in all our body cells including skin.
Therefore being kind to our mitochondria is likely to contribute to improved skin health, which in turn may have an anti-ageing effect,” he added.
Stem cells stay alive for 17 days in dead bodies`
Scientists have revealed that some stem cells can lay dormant for more than two weeks in a dead person and then be revived to divide into new, functioning cells. The research unlocks further knowledge about the versatility of these cells, touted as a future source to replenish damaged tissue.
“Remarkably, skeletal muscle stem cells can survive for 17 days in humans and 16 days in mice post-mortem, well beyond the one to two days currently thought,” the Daily Mail quoted the statement of scientists.
The researchers led by Fabrice Chretien of the Pasteur Institute in Paris, found that the stem cells retained their ability to differentiate into perfectly functioning muscle cells. “This discovery could form the basis of a new source, and more importantly new methods of conservation, for stem cells used to treat a number of pathologies,” the researchers said.
Stem cells are infant cells that develop into the specialised tissues of the body. The latest findings have sparked great excitement as they offer hopes of rebuilding organs damaged by disease or accident.
The Pasteur Institute team found that to survive in adverse conditions, skeletal muscle stem cells lower their metabolism to enter a dormant state, using less energy.
The team then also looked at stem cells taken from bone marrow, where blood cells are produced.
These remained viable for four days after death in lab mice and retained their ability to reconstitute tissue after a bone marrow transplant.
“By harvesting stem cells from the bone marrow of consenting donors post mortem, doctors could address to a certain extent the shortage of tissues and cells,” the team said. The investigators sounded a word of caution, though.
The approach was ‘highly promising’, but required more testing and validation before it could be tested in humans. The research is published in the journal Nature Communication.