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Wasp venom offers hope against lung diseases

The Kashmir Monitor

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MIT engineers have developed new antimicrobial peptides, which can combat bacteria causing respiratory and other infections, based on a naturally occurring peptide produced by a South American wasp. The venom of insects such as wasps and bees is full of compounds that can kill bacteria. Unfortunately, many of these compounds are also toxic for humans, making it impossible to use them as antibiotic drugs.

However, in a study over mice, the team repurposed a toxin normally found in Polybia paulista — a South American wasp — to create variants of the peptide that are potent against bacteria but non-toxic to human cells.

They found that their strongest peptide could completely eliminate Pseudomonas aeruginosa — a strain of bacteria that causes respiratory and urinary tract infections and is resistant to most antibiotics.

 

“We’ve repurposed a toxic molecule into one that is a viable molecule to treat infections,” said Cesar de la Fuente-Nunez, postdoctoral researcher at MIT. “By systematically analysing the structure and function of these peptides, we’ve been able to tune their properties and activity,” Fuente-Nunez added.

The peptide, reported in the journal Nature Communications Biology, is small enough— only 12 amino acids — that the researchers believed it would be feasible to create some variants of the peptide and test them to see if they might become more potent against microbes and less harmful to humans. The team tested the peptides against seven strains of bacteria and two of fungus, making it possible to correlate their structure and physicochemical properties with their antimicrobial potency.

To measure the peptides’ toxicity, the researchers exposed them to human embryonic kidney cells grown in a lab dish. In mice infected with Pseudomonas aeruginosa, the team found that several of the peptides could reduce the infection and could eliminate it completely. “After four days, that compound can completely clear the infection, and that was quite surprising and exciting because we don’t typically see that with other experimental antimicrobials or other antibiotics that we’ve tested in the past with this particular mouse model,” Fuente-Nunez noted.


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Health

6 Warning Signs of Protein Deficiency

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The list containing all the roles and functions of protein can be a really long one. This nutrient is necessary for building and repairing muscles and other tissues in the body such as the blood, cartilages, bones and skin. It is also important for the production of hormones or chemicals that regulate an assortment of bodily processes. Without sufficient amounts of protein in the diet or even in supplement form, it can be hard for anyone to attain optimal health.

It doesn’t come as a surprise why a lot of vegans, weight-watchers and others who are on restrictive diets to suffer from the various symptoms of protein deficiency.

By consuming foods that contain little or no protein, the body has no choice but to utilize protein that’s already in it, causing wasting of the tissues where protein is stored, such as in the muscles.

 

These are some of the warning signs you will observe if you are suffering from protein deficiency:

Swollen cheeks

This is not caused by excess fat as you might suspect, but by the inflammation of the salivary glands. This condition usually takes place if there’s an ongoing protein-carbohydrate imbalance within you.

Puffy eyes

Edema is the reason for this, a condition wherein excessive fluid collect in the tissues. This happens because protein is one of the various components that factor in your body’s fluid balance.

Bloated hands

Again, this has something to do with the pooling of water in the tissues, known in the medical world as edema. There’s an assortment of health conditions that lead to edema, and one of them is protein deficiency.

Thinning hair

This condition may be brought about by a handful of things. One of them is not having enough protein in the diet. This doesn’t really come as a surprise as your hair is mostly made up of protein.

Excessive skin dryness

Not getting enough protein can cause the skin to end up really dry and flaky, and even develop rashes. Protein deficiency makes you more prone to getting sunburned too.

Lethargy or brain fog

Your energy and cognitive functioning are also affected when protein deficiency strikes. As mentioned earlier, protein is vital for the normal production of hormones. Some of these hormones have something to do with stress, energy production and mental alertness.

To avoid these problems, it’s important to get sufficient amounts of protein daily. There is a simple formula for calculating how much protein you need to consume everyday: your weight in pounds / 2 = daily protein requirement in grams.

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Health

Common protein form linked to cardiac, metabolic diseases: Study

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A form of protein, clusterin, has been associated with many different facets of cardiometabolic syndrome risk through its actions in the liver, suggests a new research study.

In addition, it is linked to increased cardiovascular disease risk and mortality, high blood pressure, harmful cholesterol levels and fatty liver disease.

Cardiometabolic syndrome (CMS) is a cluster of conditions that increase a person’s risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes. These conditions include high blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess body fat around the waist and abnormal cholesterol or triglyceride levels.

 

“Our goal was to discover new factors produced by the cells in fat tissue that have an impact on cardiometabolic disease.

In particular, we wanted to identify those important to maintaining the framework of fat tissue, called the extracellular matrix, which becomes dysfunctional in obesity,” said David Bradley, Assistant Professor at The Ohio State University in the US.For the study, the team included a small group of 54 obese and 18 lean patients.

The findings, published in the journal, Diabetes Care, showed that clusterin, which is overproduced from the fat cells of obese patients, is strongly related to insulin resistance, said the study.

Insulin resistance is a major cause of Type-2 Diabetes, and patients with obesity commonly have both metabolic and cardiovascular complications. “Fat cells increase clusterin production as they enlarge in obesity.

Clusterin may be a biomarker of disease, as well as a therapeutic target to potentially prevent this disease,” said lead researcher Willa Hsueh, Professor at the varsity. “This collaborative research is shedding new light on the importance of clusterin on ‘cardiometabolic syndrome’, which may eventually lead to developing new treatments for this life-threatening combination of diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity,” said K. Craig Kent, dean at the varsity.

CMS, which affects about 25 per cent of the world’s population, is now recognised as a disease entity by the World Health Organization and the American Society of Endocrinology. Further translational research involving mouse models is needed to learn more about how clusterin impacts each of the CMS components and whether administrating clusterin-inhibiting antibodies inhibits CMS, the study noted.

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Health

Drinking orange juice daily may keep strokes at bay

The Kashmir Monitor

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Drinking orange juice daily may cut your risk of deadly strokes by almost a quarter, suggests a study. The study, published in the British Journal of Nutrition, showed that people who consumed the juice each day saw a reduction in the risk of a brain clot by 24 per cent, the Daily Mail reported.

Further, the rates of heart disease were also reduced in regular drinkers, who were 12 to 13 per cent less likely to suffer with damaged arteries.Fresh fruit juices have long been thought of as healthy.

But consumers in recent years have been put off by warnings over their high sugar content.Advertise With Us The researchers noted that the health benefits in terms of stroke prevention could outweigh the risks from sugar content. “We found a favourable association with pure fruit juice consumption,” said researchers from the Netherlands National Institute for Public Health.

 

It’s not just orange juice that has this benefit, other fruit juices also appear to cut the risk, they noted. Juice is thought to contain many of the naturally-occurring plant substances found in whole fruit that can protect blood vessels against disease. However, the team said despite the obvious benefits of juice, they would still recommend eating whole fruit as well, as there are more studies confirming its benefits. For the study, the team examined nearly 35,000 men and women aged between 20 and 70 years.

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