Research Briefs 280907

Early Alzheimer's marker found
A brain marker that could help in the early diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease has been identified by US researchers. The team studied 13 patients with mild Alzheimer's and 28 healthy controls. Using functional magnetic resonance imaging, the researchers set out to identify brain regions that change during a memory task. This identified increases in impaired deactivation of the posteromedial cortices (PMC), which is an area recently implicated with personal memory. The researchers concluded that deactivation in the PMC might represent a novel sensitive marker for early Alzheimer's disease (Radiology Online 2007).

Breath testing hope for blood sugar
Breath testing may provide an effective, non-invasive method for monitoring blood sugar levels in diabetes, according to US research. For the study, breath analysis testing was conducted on 10 children with type-1 diabetes. The researchers took air samples during a hyperglycaemic state and at stages as they increased the children's blood insulin levels. Analysis of the samples revealed that levels of methyl nitrate content in exhaled breath were 10 times higher in the diabetic children during hyperglycaemia than when they had normal glucose levels (PNAS Online 2007).

Families help teens become fit
Multicomponent interventions that include both school and family have the potential to improve levels of physical activity among adolescents, according to UK research findings. For the study, the researchers conducted a literature review that identified 57 physical education studies. Thirty-three of these studies were aimed at children and 24 were aimed at adolescents. Limited evidence was found for interventions targeting children. But for adolescents, activities with family or community involvement were found to have an impact on improving levels of physical activity (BMJ Online 2007).

Choline in asthma therapy
Choline, an essential nutrient grouped within the vitamin B complex, could be used as an alternative therapy for asthma, according to Indian research. They found that choline treatment could inhibit the development of airway hyperresponsiveness and eosinophilic inflammation in the lungs. Choline was also found to reduce the amount of mucus production and prevent airway obstruction in the mice (Eur Resp J Online 2007).

A spoonful of honey
A spoonful of honey a day may help to keep the mind sharp and fight against dementia, suggests research from New Zealand. For the study, researchers fed rats on a honey-rich diet and then set them loose in a maze. In comparison with rats on a normal diet, the honey-fed rats were found to be less anxious and spent more time exploring new sections of the maze. This suggests better spatial memory. The researchers, who presented their findings earlier this month at the Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour meeting in Newcastle, propose that humans could also benefit from a diet rich in honey.

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