Scientists reverse brain defects in animal models


Tel Aviv: Brain birth defects have been successfully reversed, using stem cells, in animal models by scientists at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

Neural and behavioral birth defects, such as learning disabilities, are particularly difficult to treat, compared to defects with known cause factors such as Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s disease, because the prenatal teratogen – the substances that cause the abnormalities — act diffusely in the fetal brain, resulting in multiple defects.

Prof. Joseph Yanai and his team at the Hebrew university-Hadassah Medical School were able to overcome this obstacle in laboratory tests with mice by using mouse embryonic neural stem cells. These cells migrate in the brain, search for the deficiency that caused the defect, and then differentiate into becoming the cells needed to repair the damage.

The stem cells may develop into any type of cell in the body, however at a certain point they begin to commit to a general function, such as neural stem cells, destined to play a role in the brain/ nervous system. At more advanced developmental stages, the neural stem cells take on an even more specific role as neural or glial (supporting) cells within the brain/ nervous system.

In the researchers’ animal model, they were able to reverse learning deficits in the offspring of pregnant mice who were exposed to organophosphate (a pesticide) and heroin. This was done by direct neural stem cell transplantation into the brains of the offspring. The recovery was almost one hundred percent, as proved in behavioral tests in which the treated animals improved to normal behavior and learning scores after the transplantation. On the molecular level, brain chemistry of the treated animals was also restored to normal.

The researchers went one step further. Puzzled by the stem cells’ ability to work even in those cases where most of them died out in the host brain, the scientists went on to discover that the neural stem cells succeed before they die in inducing the host brain itself to produce large number of stem cells which repair the damage. This discovery, finally settling a major question in stem cell research, evoked great interest and was published earlier this year in one of the leading journals in the field, Molecular Psychiatry.

The scientists are now in the midst of developing procedures for the least invasive method for administering the neural stem cells, which is probably via blood vessels, thus making the therapy practical and clinically feasible.

Normally, stem cells are derived from individuals genetically different from the patient to be transplanted, and therefore the efficacy of the treatment suffers from immunological rejection. For this reason, another important avenue of the ongoing study, toward the same goals, will be to eliminate the immunological rejection of the transplant, which will become possible by taking cells from the patient’s own body — from a place where they are easily obtained — by manipulating them to return to their stem cell phase of development, and then transplanting them into the patient’s brain via the blood stream. One important advantage of this approach will be to eliminate the controversial ethical issues involved in the use of embryo stem cells.

The research on the project has been supported by the US National Institutes of Health, the US-Israel Binational Science Foundation and the Israel anti-drug authorities.

MRI scans can spot Alzheimer’s before symptoms


Miami: MRI scans can be used to diagnose Alzheimer’s disease, even before the onset of symptoms of dementia, say researchers.

Alzheimer’s disease is currently diagnosed by a process of elimination as many other diseases cause similar symptoms, furthermore a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease cannot be confirmed until after the patient has died by autopsy.

However, results of a study by Ranjan Duara and colleagues at the Florida Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center (ADRC) has added to a growing body of evidence which suggests that MRI scans of the brain can be used to diagnose the neurodegenerative disease.

The researchers used a visual rating system to evaluate the extent of atrophy, or shrinkage, present on MRI scans in three parts of the medial temporal lobe of the brain which are vital for conscious memory.

They then compared the MRI brain scans of 260 people, which included people with probable Alzheimer’s disease, people with varying degrees of mild cognitive impairment (MCI), and a control group of normal elderly with no symptoms of memory loss.

Results showed that by using the rating system they could accurately distinguish those with probable Alzheimer’s disease from those with MCI, and from those in the control group. Furthermore, the scans even enabled the researchers to identify brain atrophy in some participants who did not have symptoms of memory loss at the start of the study, but who went on to develop memory problems several years later.

Thus suggesting that MRI scans could enable doctors to identify those who will get Alzheimer’s long before they become symptomatic.

“This study demonstrates that MRI brain scans are accurate enough to be clinically useful, both in diagnosing Alzheimer’s disease itself at an early stage and in identifying people at risk of developing Alzheimer’s,” said Huntington Potter, PhD director of the Florida ADRC.

Exercise helps prevent brain shrinkage

New research in Alzheimer’s prevention shows the important relationship between exercise and preventing Alzheimer’s disease.

A new study has found that people with early Alzheimer’s disease who were less physically fit had four times more brain shrinkage than those who were more physically fit.

(Researchers think that exercise has a direct effect on preserving brain volume, says lead author Jeffrey M. Burns, MD. Preserving brain volume also aids brain function.

“People with early Alzheimer’s disease may be able to preserve their brain function for a longer period of time by exercising regularly and potentially reducing the amount of brain volume lost,” Dr. Burns writes. “Evidence shows decreasing brain volume is tied to poorer cognitive performance, so preserving more brain volume may translate into better cognitive performance.”

The people were tested with treadmill walking, oxygen consumption (a measure of aerobic fitness), mental tests and brain imaging. The results strongly indicated the positive benefits of exercise and a correlation with the prevention of Alzheimer’s disease.

Exercise isn’t the only thing that can help your brain resist the ravages of this disease. There are many proven natural ways to prevent Alzheimer’s. Research supports the use of fish oil, ginkgo, vitamin D, vitamin E, folic acid, green tea and curcumin as effective steps towards Alzheimer’s prevention.

Japanese scientists create brain tissue


Tokyo: Japanese researchers have succeeded in creating a cerebral cortex, the part of the brain involved in thinking and motion, from embryonic stem cells, giving hope for future treatment of brain-related diseases.

The process using embryonic stem cells, which can change into various other types of cells, was successfully carried out by Yoshiki Sasai and Mototsugu Eiraku, of the Riken Center for Developmental Biology in Kobe.

The cortex remained undeveloped, equivalent to that of a fetus, but it’s the first time that researchers have ever created brain tissue involving different cell types, rather than single brain cells. The research is published in the US magazine Cell Stem Cell.

Researchers hope that the process will shed light on the how illnesses like Alzheimer’s disease work and how they can be cured, as well as leading to treatments to lessen the aftereffects of strokes.

The researchers placed about 3,000 embryonic stem cells in a culture solution, and had the cells gather together naturally to form a solid, and, after 46 days, a sphere of tissue measuring two millimeters in diameter, with a hollow at its center, was formed.

The self-organized tissue uses four types of neurons in four layers, and is identical to the cerebral cortex of a fetus seven to eight weeks after conception. The researchers confirmed that the neurons formed a network, and the cells were able to activate simultaneously.

An adult cerebral cortex has six layers. Accordingly, the stage of development of the cortex in the experiment could be presumed to be at about “40 or 50 percent,” according to Mr Sassi.



Ragdale Hall launches Brain Circuit


Health spa, Ragdale Hall, is leading the way in alternative fitness programmes with the addition of its unique BRAIN CIRCUIT class to the already varied, actvity titmetable.

In recognising the importance of exercising the grey matter to overall health and well-being, Health and Fitness consultant, Dean Hodgkin, decided to take this discipline to a whole new level with hand held computers, space-age toys, physical puzzles and a library of books to test your logic, challenge your problem solving skills and elevate your brain to greater efficiency.

The class follows a traditional circuit-training format whereby you move around the room, from station to station, to face a different challenge at each. At one station there’s even a state-of-the-art game-table that allows you to move a ball by simply controlling your thoughts.

Comments Dean, “Beyond the minor hassles of forgetting names, pin numbers or where we left our keys, the current wave of brain training can seriously slow the ageing process, significantly reducing the risk of dementia, including Alzheimer’s, that sadly affects around half a million people in the UK.”

To ensure you get the most from the class, Dean has created a dedicated space, the incredible MIND GYM with its eclectic design incorporating quirky furniture in vibrant colours, promising to stimulate your senses the moment you enter. It truly is the perfect environment to unleash the power of your mind!

For more information:

Blood pressure drugs help cut Alzheimer’s risk

Chicago: Drugs used to cut blood pressure has been shown to improve the risk of Alzheimer’s.

According to a new US study of angiotensin receptor blockers, or ARBs, which are normally prescribed as a second choice treatment to patients unable to tolerate ACE inhibitors, another class of blood pressure drug, the results are dramatic.

Both drugs work by allowing the blood vessels to the vessels to relax and widen so more blood can flow through them, which cuts blood pressure.

Alzheimer’s is associated with high blood pressure, damaged arteries and amaloid plaques, a type of protein which attaches itself to the neurotransmitters in the brain.

In the new study, an Alzheimer’s conference in Chicago was told, six million patients treated for high blood pressure between 2001 and 2006 were examined by scientists.

Those taking ARBs were 35 to 40 per cent less likely to develop Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia than patients on other medications.

Patients already suffering from Alzheimer’s when they started taking ARBs had a 45 per cent reduced chance of developing delirium, being admitted to a nursing home, or dying prematurely during the period of the study.

Those who had experienced strokes before or during the course of their illness appeared to benefit most from the drugs.

Study leader Professor Benjamin Wolozin, of Boston university medical school, said: ‘For those who already have dementia, use of ARBs might delay deterioration of brain function and help keep patients out of nursing homes. The study is particularly interesting because we compared the effects of ARBs to other medications used for treating blood pressure or cardiovascular disease.’

Alzheimer’s Disease is affecting more and more older adults as people live longer.

Can tomatoes fight Alzheimer’s?


Seol: Korean scientists have genetically modified tomatoes to produce a prototype vacinne against Alzheimer’s Disease.

The disease, kills brain cells when a sticky plaque known as beta-amyloid protein clogs up nerve connections.

And the disease, which starts with short-term memory loss and leads to death, is on the increase as people live longer.Current drugs do not prevent or cure it but only slow its progress.

The researchers from the Korea Research Institute of Bioscience and Biotechnology say they have genetically modified the fruit to create an edible vaccine that fires up the immune system to fight the disease.

To create the vaccine, the scientists combined the gene behind the beta-amyloid protein with the tomato’s genetic code.They then used mice to experiment with the designer tomatoes.

Blood samples taken from the mice revealed the tomatoes triggered their immune systems to release disease-fighting antibodies, although the levels of plaques in the brain were not reduced.

They said the tomato was a good way of getting a vaccine into the body because it was enjoyable to eat and could be eaten raw.The vaccine could be destroyed if the tomatoes were cooked, they added.

Tomatoes are already known as a natural antioxidant. They cut cholesterol and may help prevent some cancers (prostate, rectal and colon), protect against sunburn and are packed with vitamin C. The active ingredient is called lycopene which is responsible for the red colour.

Do incontinence drugs accelerate mental decline?


New York: Elderly people treated with drugs for dementia and bladder incontinence at the same time declined faster than those treated only for demenia, according to new research from the Wake Forest University School of Medicine in North Carolina.

Lead researcher Kaycee M Sink MD, MAS, Assistant Professor of Internal Medicine at the school commented: “It is likely that the oppositional effects of the drugs contributed to the accelerated decline.

“Over a year’s time, the decline we observed would represent a resident going from requiring only limited assistance in an activity to being completely dependent or from requiring only supervision to requiring extensive assistance in an activity.”

The combination of drugs affected older adults who started out with higher levels of function in activities of daily living such as dressing, personal hygiene, toileting, transferring, bed mobility, eating, and being able to get around the unit. The results which reveal a 50% greater decline are pubished in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

The study looked at 395 nursing home residents in Indiana who were taking medications for both conditions and 3,141 who were taking only a dementia medication.

Residents included in the analysis were aged 65 years and older and had had at least two consecutive prescriptions for cholinesterase inhibitors, for example, donepezil (Aricept), galantamine (Razadyne), rivastigmine (Exelon), and tacrine (Cognex). These drugs are designed to increase levels of acetylcholine, a chemical that enhances communication between nerve cells in the brain.

About 10% of the residents were also taking either oxybutynin or tolterodine, the two most commonly prescribed drugs for urinary incontinence. These drugs are known as anticholinergic agents and are designed to block acetylcholine, a substance required by the brain for optimum function.

“The two drugs are pharmacological opposites, which led us to hypothesise that the simultaneous treatment of dementia and incontinence could lead to reduced effectiveness of one or both drugs,” said Dr. Sink.

She said the finding of the more rapid decline among residents taking both types of drugs represents a significant public health problem because an estimated 33% of people with dementia also take a drug for incontinence.

“Until now, the clinical dilemma for managing incontinence and dementia has been largely theoretical. This research suggests it may lead to worse outcomes, which is the opposite intention of therapy for dementia.”

The researchers also measured whether the residents taking both drugs experienced a decline in mental function as well, but there was no difference between the two groups, possibly because the test was not sensitive enough. Dr. Sink said that similar research should be extended to community-dwelling older adults with dementia and that more sensitive measures for cognition should be used. Previous studies have shown that the bladder medications are associated with cognitive decline and that people with dementia are especially sensitive to this side effect.

“The results suggest that clinicians should continue to try nondrug management strategies for incontinence before beginning therapy with one of these common drugs,” said Dr. Sink.

She noted that the study was conducted in 2003 and 2004, before newer incontinence medications were introduced that may have less effect on acetylcholine in the brain.

Exercise grows your brain


London: Physical exercise helps to keep your brain healthy by boosting oxygen which is turn increases the number of blood vessels.

And experts say that exercise is the single most important measure you can take to help keep your cognitive abilities as you age.

The reason exercise is so vital is that that the body’s circulatory system begins to shrink as we age – reducing the amount of oxygen and glucose available to brain cells.

But to achieve real results exercise needs to last for at least 30 minutes at each session and to elevate heart rate. Walking is recommended if you don’t want to visit the gym.

Can Botox damage the human brain?


Pisa: A new study has found that the popular anti-wrinkle treatment Botox may travel from its injection site to the brain.

The study in which botulinum toxin — the active ingredient in Botox — was injected into the whisker muscles of rats, may disrupt brain activity, is published today in the Journal of Neuroscience.

Following the injection the scientists looked at the connected brain areas for signs of the toxin. Within three days of the injection, they found remnants of a protein broken down by the toxin in an area of the brainstem.

The toxin also moved from one hippocampus, which controls long-term memory and spatial navigation, to the hippocampus on the opposite side of the brain, and from the superior colliculus, the part of the brain associated with eye-head coordination, back to the eye.

The study found that brain cell activity was disrupted both where botulinum neurotoxin was injected and in some of the distant-but-connected sites.

The study’s author, Matteo Caleo of the Italian National Research Council’s Institute of Neuroscience in Pisa, called the finding a concern and noted that the effects of the botulinum injection on the hippocampus were still present six months later.

He said more work is needed to better understand how the toxin spreads along nerves and how to prevent the spread or use it therapeutically.

In February, the Food and Drug Administration warned that Botox and a competitor had been linked to dangerous botulism symptoms in some users, including cases so bad that a few children given the drugs for muscle spasms had died.

Two weeks earlier, the nonprofit organization Public Citizen petitioned the FDA to strengthen warnings to users of Botox and competitor Myobloc, citing 180 reports of US patients suffering fluid in the lungs, difficulty swallowing or pneumonia, which resulted in 16 deaths.

The FDA is probing reports of illnesses in people of all ages who used the drugs for a variety of conditions, including at least one hospitalization of a woman given Botox for forehead wrinkles.

Reduce your risk of dementia


London: The Alzheimer’s Society today launched a national campaign to reduce people’s risk of dementia as the count down to Dementia Awareness Week begins.

Running from the 6 – 12 July 2008, Dementia Awareness Week will challenge people to reduce their risk of developing dementia, a condition that affects one in three people who live past the age of 65. Already over 700 000 people in the UK have dementia and millions more families are affected. This number is set to increase dramatically to over a million people by 2025.

Alzheimer’s Society Ambassadors, Fiona Phillips, Russell Grant, Lynda Bellingham and Ruth Langsford are among the high profile supporters of the campaign.

Alzheimer’s Society is launching a revised edition of ‘Be head strong’, a free advice booklet showing how people can reduce their risk of dementia. It contains nutritional information on what types of foods to eat, exercise activities and information to help dispel existing myths about dementia.

The booklet urges people to follow a healthy diet, get active and not smoke. People are also being encouraged to visit their GP and get their blood pressure and cholesterol checked.

A recent survey by Alzheimer’s Society found that dementia is the condition we fear most in old age yet many people do not realise there are things we can do to reduce our risk.

Background information
· Copies of the Alzheimer’s Awareness Week brochure ‘Be Headstrong. Challenge your risk of Dementia’ are available on request.

· be launched on 24 April 2008 containing information to reduce your risk and

· 1 in 3 older people will end their lives with a form of dementia

· 700,000 people in the UK have a form of dementia, more than half have Alzheimer’s disease. In less than 20 years nearly a million people will be living with dementia. This will soar to 1.7 million people by 2051. 1 in 6 people over 80 have dementia.

· Alzheimer’s Society champions the rights of people living with dementia and those who care for them. Alzheimer’s Society works in England, Wales and Northern Ireland

· As a charity, Alzheimer’s Society depends on the generosity of the public to help it care, research and campaign for people with dementia. You can donate now by calling 0845 306 0898 or

· Alzheimer’s Society Dementia Helpline number is 0845 300 0336 or visit

Happiness – its mostly in your genes


Edinburgh: Happiness is in your genes, according to the latest research from the University of Edinburgh.

Fifty per cent of our disposition is genetic, with external factors such as money, career, health, relationships accounting for the rest, says the report in the journal Psychological Science.

Those who are lucky enough to inherit a happy disposition also have extra reserves for times of stress, the researchers who studied 900 sets of twins found.

Leader researcher Dr Alexander Weiss says: “Together with life and liberty, the pursuit of happiness is a core human desire. Although happiness is subject to a wide range of external influences we have found that there is a heritable component of happiness which can be entirely explained by genetic architecture of personality.”

Those who have inherited a poor set of genes have to work harder at being happy, they said.

Stem cell cure for stroke in five years?


Boston: Stem cell injections have potential to repair the human brain following a stroke, according to US doctors.

Gary Steinberg at Stanford University has led the team of researchers who experimented with the brain cells of rats. They used embryonic stem cells and mixed them with natural chemicals, including growth factors.They then placed them into brain cells in hopes of helping stroke patients.

They tested the injections of stem cells on rats that had strokes to come up with their results.

They found that within two months they saw significant improvement on the part of the rats. It is expected that within five years the stroke victims’ brain damage would be fully recovered.

The authors wrote “This is the first report demonstrating that the transplantation of human neural stem cells derived from human embryonic stem cells can improve neurologic behavior after experimental use.”

Steinberg stated that they hope to test this out in human clinical trials within five years. “Human embryonic stem cell-based therapies have the potential to treat this complex disease.”

Alzheimer’s – join the campaign to fight against mental decline


London: Research conducted by Help the Aged has revealed that the UK public rank mental decline higher than any other worry about ageing, including big issues like the pensions crisis and the fear of isolation (1).

In response to this concern, the Charity is today launching a new website to help mobilise public support for one of the world’s most promising scientific projects to combat the condition.

Help the Aged has committed to fund this historic project, called The Disconnected Mind, through to its conclusion in 2015. Donations are needed now to maximise the possibility of a breakthrough in the fight against early mental decline that usually leads to dementia (2).

The project is unique because the scientists leading the study at the University of Edinburgh will revisit 1,000 volunteers, who are now aged 71, who took part in the Scottish Mental Survey in 1947 – a survey that has not been repeated since. The project will compare the participants’ childhood mental ability, current ability, biological health and 60 years of life experience. uniquely divides the project into tangible pieces so that the public can see how any donation from them, however small, can make a big difference. For example, just £45 would fund the in-depth examination of one participant’s test results, which could hold the secret to the prevention or treatment of mental decline.

Early mental decline often leads to dementia that affects 700,000 people in the UK. Tragically, this is expected to rise to over a million by 2025 unless new ways are found to combat it.

More on the Survey

(1) Survey by GfK NOP for Help the Aged. A sample of 1000 adults aged 16+ in the UK were interviewed during the weekend of 4th – 6th May 2007. This survey was designed to be nationally representative of the telephone owning population of the UK. It revealed that mental decline ranks higher (41% of responses) than any other concern about ageing, including big issues like the pensions crisis/lack of savings and fear of isolation. Initial mental decline often leads to full dementia which the survey revealed is the age-related health condition of greatest concern, with 53% of respondents ranking it above strokes, incontinence and osteoporosis.

(2) Four out of five people who experience mild mental impairment go on to develop dementia within six years.

The team of experts at the University of Edinburgh performing The Disconnected Mind project are Professor Ian Deary, Doctor John Starr, Professor Jim McCulloch, Professor Joanna Wardlaw, Professor Richard Morris and Doctor Karen Horsburgh.
Help the Aged is the charity fighting to free disadvantaged older people in the UK and overseas from poverty, isolation, neglect and ageism. It campaigns to raise public awareness of the issues affecting older people and to bring about policy change. The Charity delivers a range of services: information and advice, home support and community living, including international development work. These are supported by its paid-for services and fundraising activities – which aim to increase funding in the future to respond to the growing unmet needs of disadvantaged older people. Help the Aged also funds vital research into the health issues and experiences of older people to improve the quality of later life.

Can infra red light grow new brain cells to reverse Alzheimer’s?


London: A scientist has claimed that an experimental helmet whch bathes the brain in infra-red light is capable of stimulating the growth of new brain cells in patients with Alzheimer’s disease.

The creators of the helmet, a County Durham, UK-based medical research company called Virulite, say that ten minutes use daily over a period of four weeks can reverse the symtoms of dementia.

Dr Gordon Dougal, a director of Virulite, bases the claims on a study at the University of Sunderland which found infra-red light can reverse memory loss in mice.

Dr Dougal says that the treatment not only stops brain decay but partially reverses it.

The study at Sunderland found that exposing middle-aged mice to infrared light for six minutes a day for ten days improved their performance in a three-dimensional maze. In the human trials, due to start this summer, the scientists will use levels of infra-red that occur naturally in sunlight.

Test your brain fitness with Mindfit


MindWeavers plc, the company behind the unique computer-based ‘brain workout’ MindFit, has set you to a memory test.

The challenge comprises 12 simple questions covering events from throughout the year, each question designed to test the memory.

• Which teams played in the final of the Rugby World Cup?

• Which famous tenor’s funeral was held in Modena?

• Which novice driver came close to winning the F1 Grand Prix

• Who was Nicholas Sarkozy’s opponent in the French Presidential

• In which month did Tony Blair finally resign?

• Which royal couple celebrated their golden wedding anniversary in

• In which country were thousands of monks arrested after protesting
again Human Rights abuses?

• Which virus affected British cattle farmers in 2007?

• Which Government departments were chopped in Gordon Brown’s first
cabinet reshuffle? And for a bonus point, what have they now become?

• Which concert was organised to raise awareness of global warming?

• In his final budget before becoming Prime Minister, by how much did
Gordon Brown cut income tax?

• Which novel, released in June 2007 completed the adventures of
Harry Potter?

How good is your memory and could you benefit from a regular brain ‘workout’ in 2008?

There is widespread recognition that mental as well as physical fitness helps us to live longer and healthier lives, and that an active brain maintains our quality of life as we get older. So along with the traditional New Year’s resolutions to achieve physical fitness, MindFit is offering an effective way of exercising our brains as well in 2008.

Clinical trials have demonstrated that using MindFit for twenty minutes a day, three times a week can promote a healthier mind.

As the craze for brain exercise sweeps across the UK, an independent survey conducted by NOP shows that nearly two thirds of people over 50 say that they do crosswords, and one in five computer games to keep their brain active. While these forms of activity may help, MindFit has been scientifically proven to improve important skills such as memory, reaction time and spatial awareness, protecting against the effects of ageing.

MindWeavers, the team that has brought MindFit to the UK includes renowned neuroscientist Dave Moore who set up the company in 2000 whilst at Oxford University, and top brain scientist Baroness Professor Susan Greenfield, Director of the Royal Institute.

MindWeavers Chief Executive Officer, Bruce Robinson concluded, ‘’ ’MindFit raises the seriousness of brain exercise while still being fun to use.
During the season when many consider turning over a new leaf for the new year ahead, MindFit provides the ideal opportunity to keep your brain healthy in 2008.’’

MindFit can be purchased through the MindWeavers’ website: or by telephoning 0845 643 2742 within the UK.

* The independent NOP Omnibus including questions commissioned by MindWeavers interviewed 473 adults aged 50+ was conducted by telephone during 24th-26th August 2007. The results were weighted in order to be nationally representative.

MindFit retails in the UK at £89.99 and can be purchased through the MindWeavers’ website: < a href="">

MindWeavers plc is a University of Oxford spin-out company which creates and sells software products that apply World-leading neuronal science to harness the dynamism of the human brain. The Company’s innovative software products can maintain brain health in older people, protecting against age-related mental decline and dramatically improve children’s language learning abilities.

MindWeavers moved into the ‘brain exercise’ and brain health market with the acquisition of BrainBoost and is currently launching a series of innovative brain exercise products for the baby boomer market, as well as trialling brain health products that aim to protect people who have been diagnosed with early cognitive decline.

Answers to the Quiz – how did you score?

• Which teams played in the final of the Rugby World Cup?
England and South Africa

• Which famous tenor’s funeral was held in Modena?


• Which novice driver came close to winning the F1 Grand Prix

Lewis Hamilton

• Who was Nicholas Sarkozy’s opponent in the French Presidential

Segolene Royal

• In which month did Tony Blair finally resign?

• Which royal couple celebrated their golden wedding anniversary in

HRH Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip

• In which country were thousands of monks arrested after protesting
again Human Rights abuses?


• Which virus affected British cattle farmers in 2007?

Blue Tongue

• Which Government departments were chopped in Gordon Brown’s first
cabinet reshuffle? And for a bonus point, what have they now become?

DTi and Department of Education

DTi now Department of Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (BERR)

DfE now split into Department for Children, Schools and Families and Department of Innovation, Universities and Skills

• Which concert was organised to raise awareness of global warming?

Live Earth

• In his final budget before becoming Prime Minister, by how much did
Gordon Brown cut income tax?


• Which novel, released in June 2007 completed the adventures of
Harry Potter?

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

Common nut’s success in appetite control


London: Pinolenic Acid, a natural plant extract, from the Korean pine nut (Pinus Koraiensis), has been shown to suppress appetite dramatically without causing harmful stimulatory side effects.

A form of polyunsaturated fatty acid it attacks the underlying mechanisms involved in hunger so effectively that the 18 participants in a recent study reduced their food intake by 36% and experienced a reduction in the desire to eat of 29%. The experiment also produced a significant increase in two hormonal appetite suppressors that send signals of “satiety” or fullness to the brain – cholecystokinin (CCK) which increased by 60% and glucagons-like peptide 1 (GLP1) of 25% that remained for up to four hoursafter eating.

[The experiment which was presented in a paper, “Korean pine nut fattyacids affect appetite sensations, plasma CCK and GLPI in overweight subjects” to the American Physiological Society in April 2006, by Alexandra Einerhand, director, nutrition and toxicology-Europe at Lipid Nutrition, a division of Loders Croklaan, Wormerveer, the Netherlands.] In another recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (5 April 2006), the effects of calorie restriction on health biomarkers were measured in a group of overweight adults over a six month period.

In response to reduced food intake, fasting insulin levels plummeted –
excess insulin acts as a death hormone that devastates virtually every cell and organ system in the body. Insulin overload increases the risk of heart disease, cancer, blindness, stroke, Alzheimer’s, and other age-related diseases. The amount of weight lost in the groups that restricted their calorie intake – the moderate calorie restriction experienced a 24% reduction in body fat mass, while the very low-calorie group achieved a 32% reduction in fat mass.

This process of calorie restriction, at the same time as maintaining optimal nutrition, has been shown to radically extend life span in lower animals and primates. It is thought that this may also apply to humans. Unfortunately, the greatest obstacle faced by anyone undertaking calorie restriction and trying to achieve sustained weight reduction in the nagging sensation of feeling hungry. Most people give into this craving and thus forgo the opportunity to reduce their risks for life-threatening diseases.

In the UK one in four adults is obese and the treatment of obesity-related illnesses, including type 2 diabetes, knee and hip operations cost the HNS £1bn last year. Satiety is the sense of food satisfaction and fullness experienced after eating. Hunger and satiety both depend on a complex feed back loop involving many hormones and other substances secreted by the gut that interact with control centres in the brain.

The gut participates in the hunger satiety circuit by secreting two important hormones, cholescystokinin (CCK) and glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1), among others. Cholecystokinin is recognised to suppress appetite in humans. When a partially digested meal rich in fats or proteins leaves the stomach to enter the duodenum (the first portion of the small intestine), the duodenal mucosa cells secrete CCK. In turn CCK stimulates the pancreas to secrete numerous enzymes to help digest food. CCK also acts on the gallbladder to stimulate the release of bile into the small intestine, which helps emulsify and break down fats.

Most important to appetite control, CCK acts to slow gastric emptying and to promote a feeling of fullness, thus suppressing further food intake. Glucagon-like peptide-1 is another hormone that is intimately connected with fullness and satiety. Produced in the small intestine in response to fat and carbohydrates, GLP-1 works in part by activating what is known as the “ileal break” mechanism.

This slows down the absorption of food in the gut, promoting feelings of fullness and satiety, and therefore limits the further desire for food intake. GLP-1 also helps to control the health of pancreatic beta cells, which serve the crucial function of manufacturing insulin in the body. Abnormal beta cell function plays a key role in insulin resistance and scientists believe that therapies that boost GLP-1 levels could help alter the course of diabetes.

Pinolenic acid has been developed into a new supplement, Natural Appetite Control, available for the first time in the UK for adults seeking to lower their calorie intake and maintain a successful long-term weight management programme. Each softgel of new Natural Appetite Control provides 1000mg of a standardised extract of Korean pine nuts containing the highest concentration of pinolenic acid found in any pine nut species.

Pine nuts are used extensively in Mediterranean cookery, such as in Italian pesto, but the nuts of the Korean pine have a far greater concentration of pinolenic acid than those of European pine nuts. The recommended daily dose of this all-natural vegetable-based (suitablefor vegetarians) formula is three softgels taken 30-60 minutes before a meal with the highest calorie content.

To reduce snacking, three softgels may be taken between meals. The best time to take this supplement may be in the evening, to reduce food intake before bedtime. Natural Appetite Control should be used in conjunction with a healthy diet and exercise programme. Results may vary. Natural Appetite Control costs £15.30 for 90 softgels and is available from Telephone enquiries: 0800 011 2496

Boosting our brainpower – how far should we go, ask doctors?


London: How many healthy people would take prescription drugs or go through an invasive medical procedure to improve their memory, concentration and other cognitive abilities?

In a thought-provoking discussion paper launched this week by the BMA, doctors discuss the ethics of healthy people seeking to improve their cognition and mental performance with pharmaceutical products or even ‘medical operations’ to help their brains perform better.

The paper ‘Boosting your brainpower: ethical aspects of cognitive enhancements1’ has been produced by the BMA’s Medical Ethics Committee (MEC) to stimulate public debate on this issue.

Chairman of the BMA’s MEC, Dr Tony Calland, said today:

“This is a fascinating area that has not been debated by the public. On the one hand, it may all seem very harmless – how many of us take omega 3 supplements to prevent memory loss? On the other hand, we need to consider where this search for optimum brain performance will lead. Should drugs or medical procedures that are designed to treat medical conditions be used by healthy people who simply want to be better than normal?

“We know that there is likely to be a demand by healthy individuals for this ‘treatment’. However given that no drug or invasive medical procedure is risk free, is it ethical to make them available to people who are not ill? Also, how much brain power is enough? There is a concern that there may be undue pressure, perhaps from employers, to ensure that workers are even more effective and productive. The BMA does not have the answers to these questions but we think it is very important that the issues are debated.”

The BMA paper examines the effectiveness of various methods that have been suggested as possible cognitive enhancers, including:

Nutrition and nutritional supplements – for example omega 3 supplements.
Pharmaceutical products – for example drugs that are used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder or Alzheimer’s disease.
Brain stimulation and neurotechnology – involving techniques such as transcranial magnetic stimulation (which has been referred to as “botox for the brain”) where magnetic pulses are used to stimulate particular areas of the brain or deep brain stimulation (which has been referred to as ‘brain-lifts’) – an invasive procedure involving the insertion of electrodes into the brain that transmit tiny electrical currents. There is at the moment no evidence that these procedures can improve cognition in healthy people, but the possibility cannot be entirely ruled out. It should be remembered that people are willing to endure major surgery to enhance their visual appearance, so they may be willing to do so to improve their cognitive ability as well, if the techniques prove to be effective.

The paper discusses the balance of benefits and harms related to cognitive enhancements. There may be individual benefits, in that a person might feel better in themselves and also positional benefits, for example, the modern-day UK is highly competitive with children judged from a young age on the basis of success in tests and exams and so individuals with a competitive edge may do better than others.

Harms include the side effects of taking prescription drugs long-term. The effects on healthy people of taking these drugs may be very different from someone taking them who has a medical condition that requires treatment.

There could also be unintended consequences, for example, our brains selectively filter out some information and memories, particularly those that are trivial or traumatic, and we do not know whether drugs to enhance memory will impair this important function. There may be a risk of ‘over-enhancement’ and someone could be plagued by unwanted and traumatic memories that cause distress or even psychological harm.

We need to consider how, as a society, we should respond to the promises and challenges of cognitive enhancements, says the report. The BMA hopes that the publication of this paper will begin a public debate on this issue and, to start the process, the Royal Institution of Great Britain is holding a public meetingin London on this issue on Wednesday 14 November at 7pm.

The BMA paper ‘Boosting your brainpower: ethical aspects of cognitive enhancements’ can be accessed on the BMA website at : < ahref="">BMA

Stroke the silent killer – new guide for victims and carers


Are you at risk from the the third leading killer of young and old alike?

Discover a life transforming view of life after stroke, and discover new and beautiful ways to improve the quality of your life, even in the face of adversity…

Have you already suffered a stroke, or witnessed the struggles of a family member that has suffered, and want supportive, helpful and encouraging information that will allow you to lead an improved quality of life?

Every year for thousands of people stroke becomes a silent killer. For those lucky enough to survive, life following a stroke can be filled with pain, sorrow and feelings of loss and abandonment.

Fortunately, there are ways to overcome those feelings and limitations, and discover a new independence; one that you will discover is rich and rewarding.

Each year thousands of people become victims of stroke but can fail to recognize the early warning signs…

• Sudden weakness in your arm, leg or hands.
• The impression that you are not able to feel one side of your face or body.
• Difficulty seeing or experienced temporarily blurriness from one eye.
• Difficulty walking or experiencing balancing problems.
• The worst headache of your life…

If you have experienced one or more of the symptoms above, your life may be at risk. Stroke is increasingly prevalent in modern times. Call your doctor immediately or visit the nearest ER!

The impacts of stroke can be devastating for the more than
700,000 people that suffer from stroke each year.

The good news is when armed with knowledge and information; you can learn to lead an extraordinary life even following a devastating stroke. One of the most important desires stroke survivors have is the ability to regain an independent lifestyle.

How is this achieved? It is often achieved through rehabilitation, support and counselling, as well as caring for one’s individual health related problems following a stroke.

“The only work that will ultimately bring any good to any of us is the work of contributing to the healing of others…“
Adapted from M. Williamson

Friends and loved ones can also find they are confused about how to cope with a loved one’s loss. Fortunately, there is help and guidance just a moment away. Everyone can learn to heal others and heal their own sense of loss by learning more about life following a stroke.

“Life After A Stroke” is a moving, tell-all guide that teaches survivors, caregivers and close family how to cope with the after effects of a stroke. Using this guide you can learn how to regain some of your independence and improve the quality of your life to the greatest extent possible. It is available in standard and mp3 format for your convenience.

Imagine what your life would be like if you could learn to communicate with others in a sensible, logical and non-frustrating manner after a stroke…

While you may not return to the state of health you were in before, there is much evidence suggesting with proper knowledge and information, you can lead a rich and rewarding life after a stroke.

Are you ready to take back your life, or help another to do so?

Perhaps you are a caregiver looking for guidance and support while caring for a family member or loved one suffering from stroke. No matter the case, you’ve landed in just the right place to find the information you need.

Introducing a Revolutionary New Approach To Healing…Find out how to
improve the quality of YOUR life and that of your loved ones,
by adopting a few simple, common-sense strategies.

In this unique and gentle approach to Stroke, learn everything there is to know about stroke whether a survivor, friend, family member or caregiver.

This important guide contains information that will:

• Educate you about the immediate after – effects of stroke, so you know what to expect and how to overcome setbacks in the early weeks following a stroke.
• Teach you how to set goals following a stroke that will speed the progression of your healing.
• Help you understand what rehabilitation is all about, including what forms of rehabilitation are available and how they can improve your quality of life and standard of living.
• Help you discover and learn new and innovative tools for treating the physical symptoms of stroke, including spasticity and muscle pain.
• Tell you about new ways of treating old problems, including use of a popular cosmetic procedure that may reduce muscle tightness and help improve coordination and balance.
• Teach you what ITB therapy is and how it can improve delivery of targeted medications to your system, so you feel better faster, longer.
• Show you how to set up an individual approach to rehabilitation that aligns with your personal needs, goals and interests.

Learn how to avoid future strokes

Someone who has had a stroke is almost twice as likely to experience another. Learn the 2 most important steps you can take to prevent future strokes and enhance your odds for an improved quality of life following stroke.

Friends, Family and Caregivers

Friends, family and caregivers also need support and guidance during the period of time following a stroke. The good news is in Life After Stroke, you can learn how to communicate and reevaluate each member of a household’s roles, so everyone enjoys an improved quality of life when caring for a loved one.

Most importantly, Life After Stroke offers hope for the future. When you have nowhere else to turn, you always have hope.

You can find more information here:

Intelligent hide mental decline, US survey reveals


New York: Highly educated people are better at hiding the signs of dementia which means they go downhill faster in the later stages of Alzheimer’s, says a new report from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University.

Alzheimer’s is caused by an accumulation of ‘plaques and tangles’ or protein deposits in the brain which may first lead to difficulty finding words. This progresses to typical symptoms of dementia, loss of memory, confusion and agitation.

Researchers in New York at looked at 117 people who developed dementia out of an original group of 488 from the 1980s onwards.

The study looked at people born between 1894 and 1908, had formal education levels ranging from less than three years’ schooling to postgraduate level. For six years, they were given annual cognitive tests which assessed memory, speech and ability to think.

The results, published in the journal Neurology, found that for each additional year of formal education, the accelerated memory decline associated with oncoming dementia was delayed by approximately two and a half months.

However, once that rapid decline commenced, those with more education saw their rate of decline accelerate 4 per cent faster for each additional year of education.

They found that, for example, a college graduate with 16 years of education, whose dementia is diagnosed at age 85, would have begun to experience accelerated memory decline 3.8 years earlier, at age 81.

A person with just four years of education, who is diagnosed at the same age, would have begun to experience a less rapid rate of decline around age 79, more than six years before diagnosis.

Researcher Charles Hall, an associate professor at Albert Einstein College, said it was well recognised that intelligent dementia victims get symptoms at a later stage than less clever sufferers.

‘Our study showed that a person with 16 years of formal education would experience a rate of memory decline that is 50 per cent faster than someone with just four years education,’ he said.

‘This rapid decline may be explained by how people with more education have a greater cognitive reserve, or the brain’s ability to maintain function in spite of damage.

‘So, while they’re often diagnosed with dementia at a later date – which we believe may be because of their ability to hide the symptoms – there’s still damage to their brain.’

Dr Hall said the better educated did not make a ‘conscious’ effort to hide their failing memory, but were benefiting from greater mental reserves which allowed them to compensate for it in the short-term.

He added that the fact that highly- educated dementia victims experience a period of rapid mental decline will have implications for the families and for the success of new treatments.

Scientists create cells that disolve Alzheimer’s plaque

Genetically engineered cells, that produce an enzyme that disolves the toxic plaques associated with Alzheimer’s disease, have been produced by scientists.

The researchers used mice which they infected with a human gene that caused them to develop, at an accelerated rate, the disease that robs millions of elderly people of their memories. After receiving the doctored cells, the brain-muddling plaques melted away. If this works in humans, old age could be a much happier time of life.

Alzheimer’s involves a protein called amyloid-beta, which makes up gooey clots or plaques that form in the brain. These toxic clumps, along with accessory tangled fibers, kill brain cells and interfere with memory and thinking. The situation has been compared to a build-up of cholesterol in coronary arteries.

“Delivery of genes that led to production of an enzyme that breaks up amyloid showed robust clearance of plaques in the brains of the mice,” notes Dennis Selkoe, Vincent and Stella Coates Professor of Neurologic Diseases at Harvard Medical School. “These results support and encourage further investigation of gene therapy for treatment of this common and devastating disease in humans.”

The first published report of the experiments, done by Selkoe and other researchers from Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women’s and McLean hospitals, appeared Aug. 27 on the Web site of the Public Library of Science.

The gene delivery technique employed by the research team has been used in several other trials with animals that model human diseases, including cancers. The procedure involves removing cells from patients, making genetic changes, and then putting back the modified cells, which should treat a disease or disability. So far, this approach has produced encouraging results for cancers, blood, muscle, and eye diseases, spinal cord injuries, stroke, Parkinson’s and Huntington diseases, and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig’s disease). “Several of these potential treatments have advanced to human trials, with encouraging outcomes for patients,” says Matthew Hemming, lead author of the report and a graduate student in Selkoe’s lab.

Another way to do gene therapy involves using a virus to carry the curative gene to target cells. However, two people have died and three contracted leukemia in experiments using this method. The drawback of using viruses this way is that the added gene often mixes with the patient’s genome in ways that can lead to unwanted side effects, including cancer and, possibly, death.

The Harvard team used skin cells from the animal’s own body to introduce a gene for an amyloid-busting enzyme known as neprilysin. The skin cells, also known as fibroblasts, “do not form tumors or move from the implantation site,” Hemming notes. “They cause no detectable adverse side effects and can easily be taken from a patient’s skin.” In addition, other genes can be added to the fibroblast-neprilysin combo, which will eliminate the implants if something starts to go wrong.
Will it work in humans?

This method worked well in the Alzheimer’s experiments. “The gene that removed the amyloid-beta may not only prevent brain cells from dying, but will also remove the toxic protein that drives the disease progression,” Hemming comments.

The experiments proved that the technique works, but will it work in humans? One major obstacle, Selkoe says, is the larger size of a human brain compared to that of a mouse. That difference will require an increase of amyloid-busting activity throughout a much larger space.

One solution might involve implanting the genes and fibroblasts where they have the best access to amyloid-beta, in the spinal fluid for example, instead of trying to inject them into a small target. The amyloid-killing combo might be put into capsules that would secrete neprilysin into the blood circulating in the brain, eliminating the need to hit an exact spot.

This or some other clever maneuver that does not require surgery might eliminate the gooey plaques, but will that improve a person’s memory? And will the change be long-lasting? “Further work is needed to determine if reducing the plaque burden has cognitive benefits over a long period,” notes Hemming, “but there’s a wealth of evidence arguing that it will.”

More information at

Statins may be new weapon against Alzheimer’s

Seattle: The family of anti-cholesterol drugs called statins and taken by millions around the world, can protect against Alzheimer’s disease, according to new research.

An examination of brain tissue has provided the first direct evidence that statins – taken to prevent heart disease and strokes – can also ward off dementia and memory loss. The study is published in the American Journal of Neurology.

The new findings s come from a study of 110 brains – donated for medical research – at the University of Washington School of Medicine in Seattle. The researchers led by Dr Gail Li examined the brains for changes linked to Alzheimer’s -including the creation of ‘plaques’ and ‘tangles’ made from the protein called beta amyloid.

These changes appear in the brain long before any symptoms of dementia develop. Eventually, they damage enough brain cells to trigger confusion, memory loss and eventually death. The researchers found far fewer tangles in the brains of people who had taken statins, compared to those who had not.

The findings were true even after age, sex and the history of strokes were taken into account. This is the first study to compare the brains of people who took statins with those who did not.

Dr Eric Larson, study co-author said: “These results are exciting, novel and have important implications for prevention strategies.”

Statins work by blocking the action of a chemical in the liver which is needed to make the ‘bad’ form of cholesterol, LDL. Reducing levels of bad cholesterol keeps blood vessels unclogged.

The researchers are not sure how statins also prevent the buildup of protein tangles in the brain. They suspect that a healthy flow of blood is a key factor.

Another study, five year’s ago at Boston University found that statins may cut the risk of Alzheimer’s by as much as 79 per cent, even in people with a family history of the disease. Some small- scale studies have found an apparent link between statins and cancer and Parkinson’s disease. Other studies, however, suggest that the drugs can ease the pain of rheumatoid arthritis.