Researchers discover a rare genetic mutation that increases the risk of Alzheimer's disease

Researchers from Nottingham have played their part in the discovery of a rare genetic mutation that increases the risk of Alzheimer's disease, in a study with major implications for understanding the causes of the disease.

The international team, which involved a research team led by Kevin Morgan, Professor of Human Genomics and Molecular Genetics at The University of Nottingham, used data from more than 25,000 people to link a rare variant of the TREM2 gene — which is known to play a role in the immune system — to a higher risk of Alzheimer's.

The discovery is the first so-called 'Goldilocks' variant associated with Alzheimer's Disease, because it's prevalence is 'just right — it's common enough to be identified in large populations but rare enough to point to a genetic mutation that potentially could have a significant role in identifying risk factors for the disease.

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Research shows women with migraines did not appear to experience a decline in cognitive ability

Women with migraines did not appear to experience a decline in cognitive ability over time compared to those who didn’t have them, according to a nine-year follow up study funded by the National Institutes of Health.

The study also showed that women with migraine had a higher likelihood of having brain changes that appeared as bright spots on magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), a type of imaging commonly used to evaluate tissues of the body.

"The fact that there is no evidence of cognitive loss among these women is good news," said Linda Porter, Ph.D., pain health science policy advisor in the Office of the Director at the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), which provided funding for the study. "We’ve known for a while that women with migraine tend to have these brain changes as seen on MRI. This nine-year study is the first of its kind to provide long-term follow-up looking for associated risk."

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The use of helmets by skiers and snowboarders decreases the risk and severity of head injuries and saves lives

The use of helmets by skiers and snowboarders decreases the risk and severity of head injuries and saves lives, new Johns Hopkins-led research suggests. The findings debunk long-held beliefs by some that the use of helmets gives athletes a false sense of security and promotes dangerous behavior that might increase injuries.

"There really is a great case to be made for wearing helmets," says Adil H. Haider, M.D., M.P.H., an associate professor of surgery at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and the leader of the study published in the November issue of the Journal of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery. "By increasing awareness and giving people scientific proof, we hope behavior changes will follow."

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Research finds increased life expectency with leisure-time physical activity

Leisure-time physical activity is associated with longer life expectancy, even at relatively low levels of activity and regardless of body weight, according to a study by a team of researchers led by the National Cancer Institute (NCI), part of the National Institutes of Health. The study, which found that people who engaged in leisure-time physical activity had life expectancy gains of as much as 4.5 years, appeared Nov. 6, 2012, in PLoS Medicine.

In order to determine the number of years of life gained from leisure-time physical activity in adulthood, which translates directly to an increase in life expectancy, researchers examined data on more than 650,000 adults. These people, mostly age 40 and older, took part in one of six population-based studies that were designed to evaluate various aspects of cancer risk.

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New bacteria Lactococcus lactis and Lactobacillus casei to fight against intestinal inflammation

This protection is provided by a human protein, Elafin, which is artificially introduced into dairy produce bacteria (Lactococcus lactis and Lactobacillus casei). In time, this discovery could be useful for individuals suffering from chronic inflammatory diseases such as Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis. The results of this research were published in the Science Translational Medicine review on 31 October 2012.

In France, nearly 200,000 individuals suffer from chronic inflammatory bowel disease, known as IBD, (specifically Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis). The occurrence rate of this type of disease continues to rise (8,000 new cases diagnosed per year). During inflammatory outbreaks, IBDs are chiefly characterised by abdominal pain, frequent diarrhoea (sometimes with bleeding) or even disorders in the anal area (fissure, abscesses). These symptoms mean that taboos are associated with these diseases.

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Heart-related deaths increase in winter regardless of climate

LOS ANGELES, Nov. 6, 2012 — No matter what climate you live in, you’re more likely to die of heart-related issues in the winter, according to research presented at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions 2012.

“This was surprising because climate was thought to be the primary determinant of seasonal variation in death rates,” said Bryan Schwartz, M.D., lead author of the study.

Researchers at Good Samaritan Hospital in Los Angeles analyzed 2005-08 death certificate data from seven U.S. locations with different climates: Los Angeles County, Calif.; Texas; Arizona; Georgia; Washington; Pennsylvania and Massachusetts.

In all areas, total and “circulatory” deaths rose an average 26 percent to 36 percent from the summer low to the winter peak over four years. Circulatory deaths include fatal heart attack, heart failure, cardiovascular disease and stroke.

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