Grapefruit may hold key to anti-obesity pill?

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Toronto: A substance found in grapefuit could become a key ingredient in fighting obesity and diabetes, according to a new study.

Naringenin, a flavonoid found in citrus fruit such as grapefruit which gives it its bitter taste , makes the liver burn fat instead of storing it.

But high concentrations, far more than is available in the fruit, would be needed to achieve fat-busting benefits. The chemical also helps balance insulin and glucose levels.

If it could be made into a tablet then it could help treat patients suffering from Type 2 diabetes, a main cause of heart disease.

Successful tests have already been carried out on mice by researchers at the Robarts Research Institute at the University of Western Ontario, in Canada, and published in the journal Diabetes.

Two groups of mice were both fed the equivalent of a Western diet to speed up their ┬Ĺmetabolic syndrome┬ĺ – the process which leads to Type 2 diabetes in humans.

One of the groups ate food that had been treated with naringenin. The non-naringenin mice became obese, their cholesterol levels rose and their bodies became resistant to insulin, a hormone that regulates blood sugar levels.
The mice given the chemical did not suffer from these ailments, despite eating identical diets to the others.

Any rise in cholesterol-was corrected by the naringenin which also ┬Ĺreprogrammed┬ĺ their livers to burn fat rather than store it.

Lead researcher Professor Murray Huff added: ┬ĹFurthermore, the marked obesity that develops in these mice was completely prevented by naringenin.
┬ĹWhat was unique about the study was that the effects were independent of calorific intake, meaning the mice ate exactly the same amount of food and the same amount of fat.┬ĺ The team will now try to develop the chemical into a treatment for humans.

Note: anyone taking medication should be wary of eating grapefruit as it may interfere with the effect of drugs, such as as statins.

Extreme grapefruit diet may interfere with the pill

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New York: A woman who went on an intense grapefruit-based diet developed a blood clot in her leg and risked losing the limb, US doctors have reported.

The unusual case, written up in the Lancet medical journal, occurred in Washington state in November last year.

Medics concluded grapefruit had affected the way the 42-year-old’s body processed her contraceptive pill.

In November 2008, the woman came to the casualty department of the Providence St Peter Hospital in Olympia, Washington state.

The day before, she had gone on a long car journey, after which she felt pain radiating from her lower back down to her left ankle.

When she arrived at the hospital she was experiencing difficulty walking, shortness of breath, and light-headedness.By the next day her left leg had turned purple.

The woman was generally in good health but was slightly overweight and had decided to diet.

Three days before falling ill, she had begun a crash diet which included eating 225g of grapefruit each morning, after rarely eating the fruit in the past.

When doctors examined her, an ultrasound scan confirmed the woman had a large blood clot within the veins of her left leg, which stretched from her hip down to her calf and she was deemed to be at risk of losing her leg because of gangrene.

The woman was given clot-busting treatment and had a stent, a kind of tube, fitted in order to widen her vein.

The doctors treating her said a number of risk factors had contributed to the woman developing the clot.

She had an inherited disorder which increased her risk, as did being on the combined Pill. Being immobile in a car probably also contributed to the clot forming.

Writing in the Lancet, the authors led by Dr Lucinda Grande, called it a “constellation of potential risk factors”.

But they added: “The increased [oestrogen] serum concentration due to her three days of grapefruit for breakfast may well have tipped the balance.”

They suggest the fruit blocked the action of a key enzyme that normally breaks down the form of oestrogen in her contraceptive.

A spokesman for the Florida Department of Citrus – an executive agency of Florida government which markets, researches and regulates the state’s citrus industry, said: “The Lancet report looks to be inconsistent with published scientific studies which indicate grapefruit does not cause a clinically significant interaction with oral contraceptives.

“We are aware of no validated evidence that grapefruit affects oral contraceptives, and they are generally considered to be safe to consume with grapefruit.”

New pill can “jumpstart” youth hormone

New York: A new drug can boost levels of one of the most important “youth hormones” in older people, according to a new study by the University of Virginia.

Patients aged between 60 and 61, took doses of an experimental drug called MK-677, that prompts the body to release growth hormone, over a two-year period. This lead to them gaining lean fat-free muscle mass and a redistribution of “middle-age spread” to the arms and legs. There was also a decrease in insulin sensitivity.

Altogether the trial involved 65 healthy people, some of whom were given a placebo. Doctors found that patients who had received the therapy experienced an increase in growth hormone levels equivalent to levels seen among healthy young adults. The findings are reported in the Nov. 3 issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine.

This compared to those who didn’t get the growth-hormone boosting therapy losting about one pound of muscle in a year, wheras those who got the drug gained about two pounds of muscle mass

Growth hormone levels are highest during mid-puberty, but drop by about half by the time men and women turn 30. The decline continues , with levels diminishing at a rate of about 50 percent every 7 years.

Study author, Dr Michael Thorner said: “As we all get older, our body composition changes. So, people in their 80s and 90s all look the same: their fat is distributed in the center and the abdomen, and they lose a lot of muscle mass.”

“This has become an increasing problem as life expectancy has increased from 45 at the turn of the century to now over 80,” he continued. “Obviously people would like to remain independent and functional as long as possible, but these changes work against them.

“Because this age-related reduction in muscle mass is associated with a decrease in growth hormone secretion, the rationale for the therapy we’re studying is to try and address the problem by boosting the normal secretion of this hormone,” Thorner said.

Human growth hormone, produced naturally by the body’s pituitary gland, is essential to healthy development and the maintenance of tissues and organs. But as people enter their 30s and 40s, levels of the hormone start to decline.

Synthetic versions are legally prescribed for children with “dwarfism” and for adults with a abnormal deficiency – the decline brought about by ageing is not considered abnormal.

Nevertheless, a growing number of adults spend thousands of dollars on buying self-injectable human growth hormone which can be bought on the internet or prescribed by anti-ageing doctors.

Its use is controversial and has also become the focus of “sports doping” headlines, with well-known athletes allegedly turning to the drug for its reputed performance-enhancing properties.

According to the American College of Physicians, it’s estimated that some patients spend as much as $1,000 to $2,000 per month on the drug for anti-aging purposes.

Read more about muscles and ageing the US National Institute on Aging

Diet pill Acomplia banned in EU

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London: The controversial diet pill Acomplia has been banned by European safety chiefs, over concerns that it may be linked to suicide in vulnerable individuals.

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) has ordered doctors to stop prescribing Acomplia now following several deaths, including a suicide and reports of other adverse reactions. It is already banned in the US.

The UK’s, National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence approved the drug four months ago. At that time there were warnings on the packet about the increased risk of depression, anxiety and other ‘serious’ side effects. The EMA also warned that Acomplia should not be taken by patients with major depression or on antidepressants.

Now the EMA has suspended the medicine’s licence because the ‘benefits no longer outweigh its risks’.

It said: “New data from post-marketing experience and ongoing clinical trials indicated that serious psychiatric disorders may be more common than in the clinical trials.”

Patients taking Acomplia are advised to see their doctor or pharmacist

Acomplia, also known as rimonabant, was licensed for the treatment of obesity and overweight patients with type 2 diabetes.

In medical trials. the drug demonstrated that it was helpful to two out five patients in loosing up to 10 per cent of their body body weight.

But a scientific review in The Lancet medical journal found a 40 per cent higher chance of being harmed by ‘adverse events or serious adverse events’.

The pill, made by the French firm Sanofi-Aventis, works by interfering with a system in the body which controls energy levels, reducing the cravings for food and helping to prevent fat from being deposited.

Acomplia costs £44 a month in the UK, and is marketed in 18 European countries.

Can alpha lipoic acid help weightloss and longevity?

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London: The antioxidant Alpha Lipoic Acid can help prevent weightgain, according to a UK company which is planning to turn it into a new “diet pill”.

Dr Malcolm Goyns, director of Immorgene Concepts, a scientific research company in Stockton-on-Tees, who led the initital successful research on rats, said he had tried out AHA himself.

He said that evidence from the tropical Okinawan islands in Japan’s extreme south-west, which has the highest proportion of centenarians in the world, demonstrated the life-prolonging effects of calorie restriction.

Their traditional diet is high in vegetables and fish and low in fat, but they also have a cultural habit known as hara hachi bu ┬ľ or “eat until you are 80 per cent full”.

This is because it takes the human stomach at least 20 minutes to tell the brain how full it really is, which is how the people of Okinawa preventing overeating ┬ľ and are among the leanest and fittest people in Japan as a result.

Dr Goyns said: “While calorie restriction diets are followed as a matter of course in communities like Okinawa, the diet can be difficult to follow for most people. Our discovery indicates that by following a calorie restriction diet for six months and then taking alpha-lipoic acid while eating normally, the same life extension effects will be experienced.”

He added: “Simply adding the supplement to the diet has no effect. It seems that alpha-lipoic acid fools the body into behaving as if it was still on whatever diet it was following before the supplement was added. We found there was an anti-obesity effect as well. Although weight does rise when you come off the restricted diet, if you take alpha-lipoic acid, even though you are eating normally again you still have a reduced weight.”

The study, published in Mechanisms of Ageing and Development, was carried out by Dr Goyns with colleagues from the University of Liverpool. The researchers investigated the effect of alpha-lipoic acid when given to rats on normal and low calorie diets.

Experiments have shown that curbing the amount of food rats eat can extend their lives by 25 to 40 per cent. However, anti-ageing benefits are lost when the rats return to a normal diet. In the study, researchers found the benefits of the low calorie diet were extended by giving the rats the supplement when they returned to normal eating.

Brian Merry of the School of Biological Sciences at the University of Liverpool, who carried out the study, said: “If you put the animals on to a restricted diet they would normally go on to an extended survival trajectory. When they were switched to a normal diet, this compound seemed to lock them into the benefits of their pre-existing diet.”

“It is an unusual and interesting finding and it needs repeating in further research. That was as far as I was prepared to go, but Malcolm [Goyns] wanted to apply it to humans. I said I didn’t agree with his interpretation and we had to wait for further studies.”

He added: “People have been buying this stuff and taking it for years as a dietary supplement. I don’t think anyone knows what its effect is. There have only been two studies in rats and mice [before our study].

“It is also sometimes used in stroke patients to treat re-perfusion injury. What happens as the blood supply is restored after a stroke is oxidative damage to the cells. Alpha-lipoic acid is an antioxidant and can help reduce the damage. It is also used to treat diabetics and oxidative damage to the liver in people who have eaten poisoned mushrooms.”

Alpha-lipoic acid is sold as an anti-oxidant supplement and is also used in the treatment of certain conditions including stroke and liver damage.

Scientists invent exercise pill

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La Jolla, Ca: Trying to reap the health benefits of exercise? Forget treadmills and spin classes, researchers at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies may have found a way around the sweat and pain. They identified two signaling pathways that are activated in response to exercise and converge to dramatically increase endurance.

The team of scientists, led by Howard Hughes Medical Investigator Ronald M. Evans, Ph.D., a professor in the Salk Institute’s Gene Expression Laboratory report in the July 31 advance online edition of the journal Cell that simultaneously triggering both pathways with oral drugs turned laboratory mice into long-distance runners and conferred many of exercise’s other benefits.

In addition to their allure for endurance athletes, drugs that mimic the effects of exercise have therapeutic potential in treating certain muscle diseases, such as wasting and frailty, as well as obesity and a slew of associated metabolic disorders where exercise is known to be beneficial.

Previous work with genetically engineered mice in the Evans lab had revealed that permanently activating a genetic switch known as PPAR delta turned mice into indefatigable marathon runners. In addition to their super-endurance, the altered mice were resistant to weight gain, even when fed a high-fat diet that caused obesity in ordinary mice. On top of their lean and mean physique, their response to insulin improved, lowering levels of circulating glucose.

“We wanted to know whether a drug specific for PPAR delta would have the same beneficial effects,” says Evans. “Genetic engineering in humans, commonly known as gene doping when mentioned in connection with athletic performance, is certainly feasible but very impractical.”

An investigational drug, identified only as GW1516 (and not commercially available), fit the bill. When postdoctoral researcher and lead author Vihang A. Narkar, Ph.D., fed the substance to laboratory mice over a period of four weeks, the researchers were in for a surprise.

“We got the expected benefits in lowering fatty acids and blood glucose levels but no effect, absolutely none, on exercise performance,” says Narkar. Undeterred, he put mice treated with GW1516 on a regular exercise regimen and every day had them run up to 50 minutes on a treadmill.

Now the exact same drug that had shown no effect in sedentary animals improved endurance by 77 percent over exercise alone and increased the portion of “non-fatiguing” or “slow twitch” muscle fibers by 38 percent. The result, while very dramatic, gave rise to a vexing question: Why is exercise so important?

First and foremost, exercise depletes muscles’ energy store, a chemical known as ATP. In times of high demand, ATP releases all its energy and forms AMP. Rising AMP levels alert AMPK, a metabolic master regulator, which acts like a gas gauge that the cell is running on empty and revs up the production of ATP. “That led us to consider whether AMPK activation was the critical trigger that allowed PPAR delta to work,” recalls Narkar.

Usually, AMPK can be found in the cytoplasm, the compartment that surrounds the nucleus, but the Salk researchers’ experiment revealed that some exercise-activated AMPK molecules slip into the nucleus. There they physically interact with PPAR delta and increase its ability to turn on the genetic network that increases endurance.

“It essentially puts a turbo charge on PPAR delta, which explains why exercise is so important,” says Evans.

Then came the ultimate couch potato experiment. The researchers fed untrained mice AICAR, a synthetic AMP analog that directly activates AMPK. After only four weeks and without any prior training, these mice got up and ran 44 percent longer than untreated, untrained mice. “That’s as much improvement as we get with regular exercise,” says Narkar.

“Exercise in a pill” might sound tempting to couch potatoes and Olympic contenders alike, but the dreams of the latter might be cut short. Evans developed a test that can readily detect GW1516 and its metabolites as well as AICAR in blood and urine and is already working with officials at the World Anti-Doping Association, who are racing to have a test in place in time for this year’s Summer Olympics.

The study was supported by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Hillblom Foundation and the National Institute of Health.

Researchers who contributed to the work include postdoctoral researchers Michael Downes, Ph.D., Ruth T. Yu, Ph.D., doctoral candidate Emi Embler, B.S., research associates Michael C. Nelson, B.S., Yuhua Zou, M.S., Ester Banayo, and Henry Juguilon, in the Gene Expression Laboratory, doctoral candidate M. Mihaylova, and assistant professor Reuben Shaw, Ph.D., in the Molecular and Cell Biology Laboratory, assistant professor Yong-Xu Wang, Ph.D., at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, Massachusetts, and professor Heonjoon Kang, Ph.D., at the School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Seoul National University, South Korea.

The Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla, California, is an independent nonprofit organization dedicated to fundamental discoveries in the life sciences, the improvement of human health and the training of future generations of researchers. Jonas Salk, M.D., whose polio vaccine all but eradicated the crippling disease poliomyelitis in 1955, opened the Institute in 1965 with a gift of land from the City of San Diego and the financial support of the March of Dimes.

Scientists in prostate cancer breakthrough

London: British scientists have created a new drug that can shrink prostate tumours in 80 per cent of cases, it was revealed today.

The drug, called abiraterone, was discovered by doctors at London’s Royal Marsden Hospita.

Prostate cancer,is a disease that is more prevelant over the age of 50,and as people live longer, the incidence is expected to increase.

There are two types of prostate cancer: aggressive and non-aggressive. In the latter, which accounts for about a third of all prostate cases, the disease is usually fatal within 18 months.

The disease can be treated using hormone therapy which blocks testosterone but in many cases the cancer becomes resistant and the only other alternative is chemotherapy which has many unpleasant side effects.These include nausea, pain and hairloss.

Royal Marsden lead researcher Dr Johann de Bono said the new drug required the patient to take just four pills a day.

It is hoped that the drug will be on sale for general use by 2011.

Scientists believe the technique could also be effective on other tumours, such as breast and bowel cancers.

Abiraterone works by blocking a key enzyme in the body which help in the production of the male hormones.

Patient trials at the Royal Marsden, home to Britain’s Institute of Cancer Research and Europe’s largest cancer research centre, which eventually came up with abiraterone revealed that it shrank the tumour in three quarters of patients.

Abiraterone is now being used in a 1,200-patient international study, including at ten sites across the UK. If it is licensed as expected in 2011.

Banned slim pill gets UK go-ahead

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London: Acomplia, a weightloss pill banned in the US over concerns that it may increase the risk of suicide has been given approval for patients in the UK.

The once-a-day pill which is also available in Germany and France can now be prescribed by the public health authority, the National Health Service, to patients who have failed to loose weight on other pills such as Xenical and Reductil.

It has failed to get US authorisation because it it thought to increase suicidal thoughts in people already suffering from depression.

The European Medicines Agency has already issued a warning highlighting the fact that it may ber unsafe for anyone suffering from depression or taking anti-depressant drugs.

It has demonstrated success is helping two out of five patients shed 10 per cent of their weight.

Red wine pill may be cure for diabetes

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San Francisco: Resveratrol, a substance found in red wine, may cure the symptoms of adult onset diabetes, according to the results of a new trial of a drug based on this ingredient.

The American company, Sirtris Pharmaceuticals, says the trial demonstrates the drug is safe and cuts blood glucose levels, which are not controlled in diabetics, in results presented today at the 26th Annual JPMorgan Healthcare Conference in San Francisco. The findings could lead to a new drug to control Type 2 Diabetes which now affects millions and the number continues to grow.

The 28-day study of pills to deliver a control, 2.5 gram or five grams of what it called SRT501 each to roughly 30 patients with Type 2 Diabetes in India.

The drug is also being tested on 130 patients in a Phase 2 study in combination with metformin, a drug therapy for Type 2 Diabetes, and results are expected later this year. Any anti-ageing effects have yet to be established.

The drug targets an enzyme called SIRT1, from the sirtuin family of enzymes which control the ageing process. The new drug, SRT501 acts by increasing the activity of the mitochondria, the energy powerhouse of our cells, and lowering levels of glucose in the blood and improving insulin sensitivity.

Longevity pill nearer, say scientists

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New York: Scientists are a step closer to producing a superdrug to extend lifespan, according to a report in the journal Nature.

In the journal, the researchers from Harvard report that three compounds invented by Sirtris, a pharmaceutical company, have succeeded in activating cellular defenses that slow diseases of ageing in the same way associated with resveratrol, a naturally occurring chemical found in red wine.

The difference is that Sirtris’s synthetic compounds are 1,000 times as potent as the resveratrol in wine. This solves a big drawback with the naturally occurring chemical┬Świne contains such minute quantities that a person would have to drink hundreds of bottles a day to see any significant benefit.

The potent new pills mimic resveratrol in mice by activating the SIRT-1 gene, which appears to trigger a process called caloric restriction. In many organisms, that process acts to slow down aging and ramp up cellular defenses in the face of a reduced diet during times of scarce food supplies. Sirtris’s new compounds, however, act without the little critters having to reduce their diet.

In past experiments, many of them conducted by Harvard pathologist and Sirtris cofounder David Sinclair, resveratrol has increased the lifespan of mice up to 24 percent, and other simpler organisms such as yeast up to 59 percent. In November 2006, Sinclair and Sirtris scientists that resveratrol could reduce the impact of a high fat diet, increase stamina two fold and significantly extend lifespan of mice.

Skeptics have long claimed that aging is too complex to be regulated by a small number of genes, though Sinclair and other leading longevity scientists such as Leonard Guarente of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Cynthia Kenyon of the University of California at San Francisco keep refining and supporting their argument that it is.

Investors have believed the Sirtris story enough to pony up $103 million in private rounds and $63 million in an IPO last May. Sirtris’ stock today has risen as much as 6 percent┬Śroughly twice the rise in the S&P 500 index.

The current paper does not target longevity specifically, but demonstrates that Sirtris’s pills may slow a major disease of aging, diabetes type II, which afflicts 18 million Americans.

The pills improved insulin sensitivity, lowered plasma glucose levels, and increased the function of mitochondria, the powerhouse of the cell that is associated with healthy and long-living cells.

Sirtris recently started human trials using a super-potent version of resveratrol, and so far the drug is reported to be producing positive results. The synthetic compounds are both more potent and more stable chemically.

They also are better candidates for Food and Drug Administration approval since in many cases a synthetic compound concocted in a lab can be more consistently manufactured and standardized for doses than products based on a natural compound.

The three “New Drug Entities” described in today’s paper will begin human trials in the first half of 2008.

Beauty spend continues to grow

London: UK women will spend nearly ┬ú40million this year on ‘beauty pills’ to enhance their appearance – twice as much as five years ago.

They are splashing out on a range of ‘magic’ potions, which claim to make hair glossier, nails stronger and even reverse the signs of ageing.

But experts claim few of the products actually work and women would stand a better chance of improving their looks by eating better, keeping out of the sun and not smoking.

Exotic ingredients in pills – such as extract of bark or protein from sea creatures – are used as little more than a marketing tool to encourage shoppers to buy, they added.

A study by market researchers Mintel revealed that spending on beauty pills is expected to top ┬ú37million this year – up 130 per cent since 2002 – and rise to ┬ú 63million by 2012.

Almost a third of Britons, mostly women and young girls, said they use beauty supplements or would consider using them to help safeguard their looks.

Top- selling pills include supermodel Naomi Campbell’s favourite brand Imedeen, which claims to improve skin, and retails at ┬ú81.50 for three months’ supply of 180 tablets.

Perfectil Platinum, which costs £39.49 for 60 tablets, contains bark extract, blackcurrant seed oil and marine collagen and is marketed as renewing skin cells.

Other products examined contained vitamins, antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids, which are said to keep skin clear and hair glossy.

But scientists have been quick to pour scorn on the claims. Dr Richard Weller, a dermatologist at Edinburgh University, said: ‘I’ve not heard of any evidence that supplements such as bark extract will improve your hair or your skin.

‘These pills are very lucrative for the companies that make them, but they should be coming up with proof.

‘It shows people just want a quick fix, and they like spending money on themselves. Instead, they should be thinking about prevention.

‘The things that cause ageing are excessive sunlight and smoking – and avoiding them is free and known to be effective.’

Italians create ‘pasta’ diet pill

Naples: Italian scientists has created a new diet pill that fills you up as if you have eaten a whole bowl of pasta.

The new 500mg pill which is drunk with two glasses of water is made of cellulose powder that expands 1,000 times its original size – it effectively becomes the size of a tennis ball in the stomach.

Professor Luigi Ambrosio, of the National Research Council in Naples, the lead researcher in the project says,”The sensation is like eating a nice plate of spaghetti.”

The pill has been tested on 20 people for a month last year, and is now being tested on a further 90 people at the Policlinico Gemelli hospital in Rome until October this year.

A new company known as Academic Life Science has been created to market the pill which . He hopes to be selling the pill by next May.

Professor Ambrosio, said the cellulose from which the pill is made comes from a natural substance found inside plants and has a beneficial action on the gut.

First diet pill approved by the FDA goes on sale in US

Los Angeles: The first over-the-counter diet drug approved by the US Food & Drug Administration has gone on sale. In some cities there were stampedes as the drug called Alli sold out.

Alli is a lower dose version of the prescription-only drug called Xenical that blocks absorption of fat. It works by disabling some of the natural enzymes in the digestive system that break down fat for absorption. When those enzymes can’t do their job, excess fat passes through the body.

Those who use alli “may recognize it in the toilet as something that looks like the oil on top of pizza,” according to the product Web site – www.myalli.com Nutrients absorbed from carbohydrates and proteins are not affected

The drug blocks about one-quarter of fat consumed. When used along with a healthy diet plan and regular exercise, about half of people taking Alli in clinical studies lost 5 percent of their body weight in six months.

But the drug has some unpleasant side effects. Digestive side effects include gas with oily spotting, loose stool, and hard-to-control bowel movements, reports its manufacturer GlaxoSmithKline.These side effects are more likely when a person consumes more than 30 percent of fat in a meal.

The drug is relatively expensive at $40 to $50 for 20- and 30-day starter kits may have put customers off.

Pill to delay menopause may be on way, says top UK scientist

London: A leading fertility expert has revealed that new drugs are being developed that would delay the menopause.

The UK’s Professor Robert Winston if Imperial College London who was speaking at the Cheltenham Science Festival said that a protein had been discovered which if taken as an injection or pill could extend the life of eggs in the ovaries.

This development would give hope to the many women who find themselves childless in later life and comes at a time when doctors have seen a surge in women over the age of 40 seeking in vitro fertilisation treatments.

Professor Winston, professor of fertility studies at Imperial said scientifists believed they have identified a protein which could prolong egg life. This came at a time when women were healthier than ever before.

At the age of 16, said Professor Winston, a woman had 400,000 eggs – but by the age of 46 there will be virtually none left. He said women lost around two eggs an hour.

New pill may help MS sufferers get mobile

New York: A new drug that helps sufferers of multiple sclerosis to walk may soon be on the market.

The drug, known as Fampridine-SR, helps damaged nerves communicate with each other and may also be helpful in treating spinal injuries.

Although there are drugs that help relieve some MS symptoms there is nothing available that helps with the problems of mobility caused by the disease. The crippling disease is usually diagnosed between the ages of 20 and 40 and affects three times as many women as men.

The cause is unknown and doctors are not certain whether it is caused by a virus or the immune system. The early symptoms include tingling and extreme tiredness. In later stages patients are usually wheelchair bound and have problems with mobility and speech and sufferers have good and bad periods.

As well as drugs some patients have been able to use a cannabis-based drug called Sativex. The drug is a spray that is squirted into the mouth and contains two of the active ingredients in cannabis, tetrahydrocannabinol and cannabidiol. Stem cell treatment may also be a possibility.

The new twice a day mobility pill which is made by Acorda Therapeutics, is a slow-release tablet that lets tiny quantities of the active drug seep into the central nervous system over several hours. The latest trial results suggest it can have a dramatic impact.

More than 300 patients with walking disabilities were given either the active pill or a dummy one and then asked to complete a timed 25ft walk to test their speed and agility. The test was repeated over the course of the 14-week trial.

Results showed 35 per cent of those on Fampridine-SR showed improvements in walking, compared with just eight per cent in the placebo group.

Tests also revealed improvements in leg strength. However, patients on the drug reported more side-effects such as seizures, nausea and dizziness.

The drug works by stopping potassium leaking from cells. When myelin gets damaged, potassium can escape, weakening the electric current that helps to carry messages. The drug stops these leaks and helps electrical signals pass through areas of damage.

New anti smoking pill on way

Los Angeles: A pill to help smokers fight cigarette addiction has been approval by the FDA in the US and could also gon on sale in Britain.

Chantix (barenicline tartrate), made by pharmaceutical company Pfizer, works by duplicating the affect of nicotine.

A recent study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine found almost half the smokers who took Chantix managed to quit. The trials suggest it is twice as effective as another drug Zyban, which is an anti-depressant.The new drug works by blocking withdrawal symptoms.

In the US study, researchers from Los Angeles Clinical Trials and the Varenicline Study Group tested the drug, Zyban or a placebo on 626 men and women aged 18 to 65 to either Chantix in three different doses, Zyban or a placebo.

After 12 weeks, 38.8 per cent of those who took Chantix managed to quit, compared to 19.8 per cent for Zyban and 10.6 per cent for the placebo.

Nicotine cravings were significantly reduced for those taking the highest dose of Chantix compared to the placebo. Zyban also reduced craving, but to a lesser extent.

The pill had some side effects, including nausea, but spacing out the doses over the course of the day appeared to lessen the impact.

Diet pill death in Paris

Paris: French health officials said one person has died and five others are in intensive care after taking diet pills prepared by a Parisian pharmacist that contained the thyroid glands of pigs.

French authorities are still trying to contact more than 60 other people believed to have taken the capsules.

Animal thyroid extract, normally prescribed to help patients with over-active thyroid glands or diabetes, is supposed to boost metabolism and limit the body’s absorption of fats and sugars. It is banned in the French medical profession’s code of ethics for use in diet pills, but is not against the law.

The French health ministry said a person taking the pills died in a Paris hospital on April 18, and 16 people have since been admitted to hospitals experiencing palpitations, fever, vomiting and diarrohea.

The director-general of France’s health ministry, Didier Houssin, said the five patients in intensive care were in a coma or had “neurological difficulties”.

Anti-Ageing pill closer

Los Angeles: A breakthrough by US scientists has brought the prospect of an anti-agieng pill closer.

The team, led by Dr Valter Longo, a biomedical gerontologist at the University of Southern California, have successfully prolonged the life of yeast cells by up to six times its usual lifespan.

Dr Longo said the next step would be to exploit this understanding to create a drug that could reverse human ageing.

The research, in which scientists removed two key genes – SCH9 and Sir2, forced the single celled organisms into “survival mode.” SCH9 governs the abiity of the cell to convert nutrients into energy, while Sir2 restricts the lifespan by converting energy into growth and reproduction. The removal of the genes tricked the cells into believing they had no food and so they concentrated on survival and lived for six weeks instead of one.

The experiment also confirms earlier research in which flies, worms and mice, who were put on a calorie restricted diet lived longer.