Helping Bones Heal Faster

A team at the University of Illinois and the University of Pennsylvania created a new technique which uses flexible implantable bone stabilizing plates and stem cells to assist in faster healing of bone defects and large breaks. This new technique allows stem cells which are applied to break sites to experience a level of mechanical stress which they also do in developing embryos.

The forces used can help encourage stem cells to differentiate into bone and cartilage in addition to encouraging other cells within bones to regenerate. Stem cells require environmental cues to be able to differentiate into cells which make up unique tissues. Stem cells which give rise to cartilage and bone are subject to mechanical type forces during healing and development.

As a bone heals, stem cells in the bone marrow close to the break site initially become cartilage cells and at a later time bone cells. This ultimately knits the bone together. When large gaps occur between deformed and broken bones, applying more stem cells to the break sites can assist in the bones healing faster. This is achieved by either stimulating bone formation by neighboring cells or by actively participating in the regenerative process.

However, to use stem cells for the purpose of bone regeneration, they have to be delivered to the broken and defect site and then differentiate appropriately to begin repair stimulation. The team developed a unique preparation of the stem cells which can be handled and also manipulated easily for implantation and also supports the events of cellular differentiation which occur in the development of embryonic bone.

In the preparation process, stem cells are first cultured so they will link to each other to form either plugs or sheets. This preparation also contains gelatin microparticles which are loaded with growth factors which will help these stem cells differentiate. The plugs or sheets can be manipulated and then implanted which reduces the tendency of cells drifting away. These materials are called condensates.

In earlier studies, the team employed condensates in rodent models to help heal defects in the skull. They noticed the condensates remained in place and were then able to improve the extent and rate of bone regeneration.

Recently, the researchers teamed up with an assistant professor of orthopedic surgery and bioengineering at Penn Medicine to take their idea a step further. They have developed a unique and flexible fixator. Fixators are typically stiff metal bars or plates which are used to stabilize bones at their break sites. This type of fixator minimizes the degree of mechanical stress breaks will experience during the healing process.

The new flexible fixator would allow the stem cells in the condensates to experience the compressive forces which are critical to stimulating enhanced bone and cartilage formation. The team used a rat model to see how the mechanical forces would present within defects of the bone which affected the ability of the condensates to contribute to bone regeneration.

When they used condensate sheets together with the flexible fixator in rats with a femur defect, they observed there was enhanced healing and the bones actually had better mechanical function compared to control rats which received condensates and the traditional stiff fixators.

Other techniques and devices that could be developed from this new research could also help in the way physical therapy is employed after injury. The findings support the emerging paradigm called regenerative rehabilitation which is a concept that marries principles from regenerative medicine and physical therapy. The goal is to understand how mechanical stimuli influences the behavior of cells to achieve better patient outcomes without additional devices and drugs.

To view the original scientific study click below

Recapitulating bone development for tissue regeneration through engineered mesenchymal condensations and mechanical cues.

Losing Weight with Coffee

A new discovery by scientists at the University of Nottingham indicates drinking a cup of coffee can actually stimulate brown fat. Brown fat is the body’s fat fighting defense which just might be the key to tackling diabetes and obesity.

The study published in Scientific Reports, is one of the first ones to be tested in humans in an effort to discover components which might have a direct effect on the functions of brown fat. This important part of the body plays a significant role in how fast we burn calories as energy.

BAT (brown fat tissue) is one of the two types of fat that is found in some mammals and humans. It was initially attributed only to hibernating mammals and babies. It has been discovered in recent years that adults too can have brown fat with its main function being generating body fat by burning calories. This is different from white fat which is a result of excess calorie storage. People that have a lower body mass index thus have a higher amount of the brown fat.

Professor Michael Symonds who co directed the study says that brown fat works in different ways than other types of fat in the body. It produces heat by burning fat and sugar often as a response to cold. By increasing its activity, blood sugar control is improved in addition to the improvement of blood lipid levels and the extra calories that are burned help with weight loss. However, until this study no one has been able to find an acceptable way to stimulate brown fat activity in humans.

The current study is the first one to show that something like coffee can have a direct effect on brown fat functions. Since obesity is a major health concern, the potential implications of the studies results could be big. This also includes potential help for the growing diabetes epidemic.

The researchers began with a series of stem cell studies as a way to see if caffeine could stimulate brown fat. When they found the correct dose, they moved to studies in humans to see if the earlier results would be similar.

They used a thermal imaging technique that had previously been pioneered to follow the body’s reserves of brown fat. This non invasive technique enabled them to find brown fat and then assess its ability to produce heat.

From previous research the team knew that brown fat is mostly located in the region of the neck. They were able to image a person right after they had a cup of coffee to see if the brown fat got hotter.

The imaging results were positive and the team now needs to ascertain whether the caffeine is one of the coffee ingredients which is acting as the resulting stimulus or if there is a different component helping with activating the brown fat.

The team is now looking at caffeine supplements for testing to see if the effect is similar. Once they have confirmed which component activated the stimulus, it could potentially be employed as part of a weight management treatment or as part of a glucose regulation treatment to help prevent the development of diabetes.

To view the original scientific study click below

Caffeine exposure induces browning features in adipose tissue in vitro and in vivo.

Heavily Processed Foods and Health Issues

A new small scale controlled research trial, the first of its kind, has linked consumption of ultra processed foods to overeating and weight gain. People who eat these kinds of foods typically eat more calories when compared to eating a minimally processed diet.

Observational studies previously conducted looked at large groups of people had indicated associations between health problems and diets high in processed foods. However, these studies randomly instructed people to consume specific foods and then measured results. Researchers could not say for sure if the processed foods were problematic on their own or people had a variety of health problems due to other reasons.

The study conducted at the NIH’s National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, involved 20 adult volunteers. This was the first randomized controlled trial to examine effects of an ultra processed foods diet which are defined by the NOVA classification system. Ultra processed foods are foods that have ingredients predominantly found in industrial food manufacturing. This includes foods such as high fructose corn syrup, hydrogenated oils, emulsifiers and flavoring agents.

The people involved in the study were healthy volunteers and included 10 male and 10 female participants. They were all admitted to the NIH Clinical Center for one continuous month. In random order for two weeks, they were provided with meals made up of minimally processed foods or ultra processed foods.

An ultra processed breakfast would have included bagel with cream cheese and turkey bacon. The unprocessed breakfast would have included oatmeal with walnuts bananas and skim milk. The difference between the two diets is very subtle on the surface as both diets included eggs, beans, cereals and pastas. However, the unprocessed foods included ingredients that were fresher with no added preservatives or additives and included unrefined ingredients and whole foods.

Both diets had the same quantities of sugars, calories, fiber, fat and carbohydrates. Participants were allowed to eat as much or as little as they preferred during an hour long period. Although the current study involved just 20 adults, the results from the tightly controlled experiment indicated a consistent and clear difference between the two diets.

The research team measured changes in the participant’s appetite, insulin sensitivity, glucose and a variety of other physical and metabolic factors.

People on the ultra processed diet consumed about 500 calories more per day then was consumed on the unprocessed diet. It was observed that they also ate faster on the processed diet and gained weight. They lost weight on the unprocessed diet. On average, participants gained 2 pounds during the ultra processed diet period and lost about the same amount of weight when on the unprocessed diet.

The research team isn’t quite sure why people tended to eat more with the ultra processed foods as the tastiness of the processed and unprocessed food items were rated by the participants as the same. One thought is the way unprocessed, whole foods interact with hormones that can help suppress appetite so people tend to pay more attention to the natural cues when they are full. Another thought is that people tend to eat processed foods faster which doesn’t allow our body to register when we are full even when we have overeaten.

Processed foods have been linked to increased cancer risk and shorter life spans. Too much fat, too much sugar and too much salt have long been identified as culprits responsible for expanding waistlines and soaring obesity rates.

Calories add up over time which can lead to weight gain which can lead to serious health problems. Studies such as this help researchers understand the role of nutrition in health and can help people choose foods that are both accessible and nutritious.

Unfortunately, ultra processed foods can be hard to restrict. It takes more money and time to prepare less processed foods. Telling people to eat healthier alone might not be effective for some people without access to healthier food choices. The sheer convenience of prepackaged, processed foods has advantages in terms of convenience and shelf life which keeps people buying and consuming them. And another factor between processed and unprocessed foods is price. The foods included in the recent study were priced at about $106 per week for the ultra processed foods and $151 per week for the unprocessed foods.

The team now needs to figure out what specific aspect of the ultra processed diet affects people’s consumption behavior which led to weight gain. Their next step is to design additional studies with a reformulated ultra processed diet to see if any changes can make the diet effect on intake of calories and body weight disappear. Slight differences in protein levels between the unprocessed and ultra processed diets could possibly explain as much as ½ the difference in calorie consumption.

To view the original scientific study click below

Ultra-Processed Diets Cause Excess Calorie Intake and Weight Gain: An Inpatient Randomized Controlled Trial of Ad Libitum Food Intake.

Good News for Night Owls

night owlA simple tweak to a night owls sleeping patterns could help with sleep/wake timings, better eating habits, improved morning performance, and a decrease in stress and depression. Night owls are people with late waking and sleep habits.

New studies conducted by the Universities of Birmingham and Surrey in the U.K. and Monash University in Australia, have shown that over a period of three weeks it was possible to shift night owls circadian rhythm. The good news is this occurred using practical and non pharmacological interventions.

Participants in the study showed they were able to bring forward their own sleep and wake timings by two hours with no negative effects on sleep duration. Additionally, they reported decreased feelings of stress and depression and also decreases in daytime sleepiness.

The research highlights the ability of simple non pharmacological interventions to phase advance those who are night owls and reduce elements of sleepiness and mental health. And they were able to manipulate peak performances in the real world.

The study included 22 healthy adults who had an average bedtime of 2:30 a.m. and a wake up time of 10:15 a.m. For the three week period, the participants were asked to wake up 2 to 3 hours before their normal wake up time and also maximize outdoor light throughout the morning. They were also asked to go to bed 2 to 3 hours before their normal bedtime and limit their light exposure during the evening. They were instructed to keep both sleep and wake times during both free and work days. They were to have breakfast as soon as possible after waking up, eat their lunch at the same time each day, and refrain from consuming dinner after 7:00 p.m.

The studies results highlighted an increase in physical (grip strength) and cognitive (reaction time) performance during morning hours when tiredness is typically high in night owls. The study also showed a shift in peak performance time from evening to afternoon. They also noted an increase in the number of days breakfast was consumed and better well being.

By engaging in simple new routines, night owls could see their body clock adjusted which leads to overall mental and physical health. Circadian misalignment and insufficient levels of sleep can disrupt many body processes putting individuals at increased risk for cancer, diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.

Night owls seem to be more compromised than morning larks due to having to fit to school and work schedules that are not in sync with their preferred patterns. The team now wants to understand how habitual sleep patterns relate to the brain, how this also links to mental well being and if interventions can lead to long term changes.

To view the original scientific study click below

Resetting the late timing of ‘night owls’ has a positive impact on mental health and performance.

Oral Health and Alzheimer’s

weightA new study conducted by researchers at the University of Bergen, Norway, have discovered a significant connection between good oral health and Alzheimer’s Disease. They determined that gingivitis has a very decisive role in whether someone develops this disease or not.

What they discovered by DNA based proof is that bacteria which cause gingivitis can actually move from the mouth to the brain. This bacteria then produces a protein that will destroy nerve cells in the brain which leads to memory loss and ultimately Alzheimer’s.

The bacteria is not what actually causes Alzheimer’s on its own. It is the presence of the bacteria that substantially raises the risk for developing this disease. Additionally this bacteria is also implicated in the more rapid progression of the disease.

However, there is good news. There are things that a person can do to slow down Alzheimer’s. Brushing and using floss is important in preventing gingivitis. If someone already has established gingivitis and they have Alzheimer’s in their family, the need is especially important for regular visits and cleanings at the dentist.

The research team examined 53 people with Alzheimer’s. They discovered the enzyme in 96% of the cases. This knowledge now gives scientists and researchers a possible new approach for studying and attacking the disease.

A new drug that will block the harmful enzymes from the bacteria has been developed. Testing of the drug should occur within the next year.

To view the original scientific study click below

Porphyromonas gingivalis in Alzheimer’s disease brains: Evidence for disease causation and treatment with small-molecule inhibitors.

Body Parts Respond Differently Day and Night

It has been suspected that our body’s various circadian clocks are able to operate independently from our central clock located in the hypothalamus of the brain. At the University of California, Irvine, scientists have found a way to test the theory.

The study included specially bred mice for the purpose of analyzing the body’s network of internal clocks which regulate metabolism. The team figured out how to disable the entire circadian system of the lab mice then jump start their individual clocks. For the experiment, the team activated clocks located in the inside of the skin or liver.

Their results were quite surprising as no one realized the skin or liver could be directly affected by light. Even though all other body clocks were shutdown including the central brain clock, the skin and liver knew what time it was. The organs responded to changes of light as day turned into night. The organs also maintained critical functions. In the case of the liver, this organ prepared to digest food prior to mealtime and convert glucose to energy.

The liver’s circadian clock was still able to detect light presumably through signals from other organs. When the mice were then subjected to constant darkness, the liver’s clock stopped functioning.

Through this study, the team can begin deciphering metabolic pathways which control circadian rhythms, the aging process, and overall well being. In previous studies, scientists examined how circadian clocks could be rewired through factors such as diet, sleep deprivation, and exercise.

Through further studies, the scientists plan to phase in other internal clocks so they can see how different organs communicate with each other. Further experiments could reveal ways to make human internal clocks less misaligned due to modern lifestyles. Exposure to television, computers and cellphone light before bed can scramble internal clocks.

To view the original scientific study click below.

Circadian clocks: Body parts respond to day and night independently from brain, studies show

Shake Up Your Protein Choices

New research has revealed that there are potential side effects and ongoing ramifications from long term protein intake or from certain types of amino acids. There has long been popularity and attention paid to consumption of proteins, however less attention has been paid to looking at its possible problems.

Amino acids have been touted by the bodybuilding and fitness communities for the muscle building benefits gained from their consumption. From lean mass promoting snack bars to ultra bulk protein powders, there certainly is no shortage of protein products.

The recent study led by academics at the University of Sydney’s Charles Perkins Centre, suggests that while these protein products deliver muscle building benefits, excessive consumption of branched chain amino acids (BCAAs) may actually reduce lifespan, lead to weight gain, and negatively impact mood.

BCAAs are known for adding muscle mass, but the new science says people could pay for it later. The research team investigated how the complex role nutrition plays in mediating various aspects of reproduction, appetite, aging, and metabolic health.

What they found was that diets high in protein and low in carbs are shown to benefit reproduction function, however can have detrimental effects on health in mid late life and can also lead to shortened lifespan. They also note that BCAAs can influence mood which can lead to overeating.

The team examined the impacts that BCAAs and other essential amino acids had on the body composition and health of mice. Results from supplementation of BCAAs showed high levels of BCAAs in the blood of the mice which competed with the amino acid tryptophan for transport to the brain.

Tryptophan is the sole precursor for serotonin which is known as the happiness chemical. It typically enhances mood and plays a role in promoting sleep. And it does more than this which is the problem. The BCAAs lowered serotonin levels in the brain which in turn is a potent signal for increased appetite. This serotonin decrease due to the BCAA intake resulted in massive overeating in the study mice who became very obese and lived shorter lives.

The mice were fed double the amount of BCAAs, 200%, the standard amount, 100%, half the amount, 50%, or one fifth, 20% for life. The mice fed 200% increased their food intake which resulted in obesity and shorter lifespan.

The new research has shown that amino acid balance is very important and it is best to vary sources of protein to make sure there is the best amino acid balance. BCAA’s are essential amino acids containing isoleucine, valine and leucine, however over comsuming them may have negative consequences. Dairy and red meat contain the most BCAA’s with fish, eggs, and chicken also fairly high so these foods are better eaten in moderation. Whey protein found in many fitness protein products contains high levels of BCAA’s so is better avoided.

Nuts and beans are good sources of BCAA’s because they supply enough, but not too much. Nuts and seeds are rich in the amino acid tryptophan.

To view the original scientific study click below.

Branched-chain amino acids impact health and lifespan indirectly via amino acid balance and appetite control/a>

Immature Cells Can Become Stem Cells

A recent study at the University of Copenhagen has revealed findings that could make it easier to manipulate stem cells for stem cell therapies. These new findings challenge the traditional knowledge of the development of stem cells.

What the findings show is that the destiny of intestinal cells is determined by the cell’s surroundings rather than being predetermined. All developing gut cells have the ability to become stem cells. The research team has discovered that the development of these immature intestinal cells have the same probability for developing into stem cells in the fully developed organ.

The results show that it is really just a matter of being in the right place at the right time. Signals from the cell’s surroundings will determine their fate. Once the signals that are necessary for the immature cell to develop into a stem cell are identified, it will be much easier to manipulate cells in the desired direction.

During life the bodies organs are maintained by stem cells which also repair damage to tissues. As a better understanding of the factors that help determine whether an immature cell develops into a stem cell unfolds, medical professionals will have information that will assist in the development of more stem cells for transplantation and therapy.

The recent study has enabled scientists to gain greater insights into the mechanisms through which cells in the intestines develop into stem cells. So far the scientists say that cells in the gastrointestinal tract have these particular characteristics. However, they do believe this might be a general phenomenon in organ development.

The team discovered their findings through a method for monitoring the development of individual intestinal cells. Through introducing luminescent proteins in these cells using advanced microscopy, they were able to monitor the development of these individual cells.

Following the initial tests, the cells which the team previously believed to be stem cells were only able to explain just a fraction of the growth of the intestines. They concluded along with a collaboration with mathematical statistics experts of the University of Cambridge, that the surprising hypothesis was that all intestinal stem cells have the identical chance of becoming stem cells. Additional tests proved the hypothesis.

The next step for the team is to precisely determine which signals are required for immature cells to develop into the kind of stem cells needed. Through using stem cell therapy and transplantation, it is possible to supplement a person’s own stem cells with healthy new stem cells which can assist in repairing and replacing damaged tissue.

To view the original scientific study click below.

Tracing the origin of adult intestinal stem cells

Aging and the Biological Circuits that Regulate Lipids

weight

Scientists are beginning to understand the very extraordinary and complex biological pathway that connects fat to aging and overall health in humans. A team consisting of biologists from McMaster University are studying worms called C. elegans or nematodes. They have discovered the very delicate balance of too little fat or too much fat and the regulation of lipid production are crucial to healthy living.

Over the past several decades researchers have produced a large body of work that has led to the identification of regulatory networks and genes that affect health span and longevity. Many of the factors appears to be linked to lipids which are important molecules that participate in energy metabolism, cellular signaling and structural compartmentalization.

The role of lipids in aging has been previously poorly understood. New data FROM the recent study of the C. elegans organisms points to the role lipid composition plays in aging due to the fact that several pathways which influence aging also regulate lipid enzymes. Additionally, some of these enzymes may play key roles in pathways that affect the aging process.

The findings from the recent study have been published in PLOS One and indicate a fundamental process of lipid regulation that occurs in the WNT signaling pathway (a group of signal transduction pathways which start with proteins that pass signals into cells through cell surface receptors). This pathway is a heavily studied genetic thoroughfare that when mutated has been directly linked to a variety of cancers.

Nematodes are an ideal model of the human systems. They will reach maturity in less than 72 hours and live no more than three weeks total. This allows scientists to very quickly realize results of experimental manipulations.

The researchers are able to see an entire life history in a relatively short time. They can then ask questions in regards to how genes are functioning in this system and what changes occur as the nematodes are growing and maturing. Bhagwati Gupta who is a professor of biology at McMasters and part of the research team, has been studying nematodes for close to 15 years.

The researchers were initially quite intrigued and puzzled when they found nematodes carrying a defective WNT pathway gene showed low lipid levels and died earlier. However, after additional experiments where the worms were fed a high fat component of olive oil which is called oleic acid, the lipid levels in these worms recovered and lived longer.

The results show a novel genetic control of lipid maintenance and the possible connection to lifespan. The researchers are working to understand how this newly discovered genetic mechanism connects lipids to aging.

The team believes the implications could be significant. For instance, the pathway might be manipulated by drugs to restore the fat levels. Or perhaps targeted for improved treatments of lipid related conditions that come with aging and a variety of diseases.

The aging process is complex with things starting to go wrong in a variety of directions. With aging we are more vulnerable to disease, muscles begin to degenerate, genes begin to function poorly, physiology changes occur, metabolic rate decreases, fat accumulation and distribution become abnormal and we beginning eating less.

Because there are such a variety of ways organisms age, researchers want to know how to identify critical processes and factors inside our cells and how they might be manipulated to help us live healthier and longer.

It has been close to 30 years since the single gene mutations were first discovered to affect aging in the nematodes. They have now become a powerhouse for additional studies on the mechanisms that affect healthy aging and longevity. A variety of labs are identifying an increasing number of molecules, genes and regulatory networks which affect aging.

To view the original scientific study click here: PRY-1/Axin signaling regulates lipid metabolism in Caenorhabditis elegans

Fisetin Promotes Health and Longer Lifespan

fruits

Fisetin is a natural compound found in a variety of fruits and vegetables, that has been shown to slow aging and increase lifespan. It also improves memory and brain function, protects against stress, shows anti cancer properties, and improves mood.

Fisetin works by helping to reduce the burden of damaged senescent cells which has been shown to extend lifespan and improve overall health. Scientists who have been studying fisetin believe its benefits perform as well as other antioxidants in making cells more efficient.

Research has discovered that fisetin is a very powerful senolytic which are small molecules that can selectively induce aptosis in senescent cells. Senescent cells are cells that no longer divide as we get older. When cells no longer divide they will become useless and begin accumulating in the body. Some of those malfunction and begin to emit free radicals and cytokines which gradually impairs cellular function and increases aging.

In the laboratory, scientists studied the positive effects of fisetin by studying aging mice. Some were fed their normal diet and others were fed a diet of fisetin rich foods. The mice that ate the fisetin rich foods lived about 10% longer and their bodies performed better even at a very old age.

Fisetin also helps our bodies make more glutathione which is the most powerful anti-oxidant agent in the body. Less oxidation means our cells can make more energy and help us feel better, look better, and improve health.

Fisetin is also one of many polyphenols which are antioxidants that have some unique health benefits. It is thought that polyphenols which are micronutrients found in a variety of plant based foods, can help treat and improve digestive issues, help with weight management difficulties, and help improve overall health.

Clinical trials are currently being conducted to evaluate short term benefits of intermittent treatment with fisetin to see what effect it might have on certain aspects associated with aging such as frailty. This trial is also looking for more information in regards to dosing for future use of fisetin.

Another current clinical trial involves 40 women who are between 70 and 90, are postmenopausal and are all affected by disturbances in their gait. This trial began in 2018 and will conclude in 2020. The goal is to evaluate markers and frailty in addition to looking at insulin resistance and bone resorption.

½ of the women are being given an oral dose of fisetin each day for two days in a row for a period of two months. The other ½ of women are receiving a placebo following the same schedule. With positive results, this study could lead to further development of larger clinical trials with a goal of analyzing effects of fisetin intervention on dysfunctions related to the aging process.

The foods that contain fisetin are favorites…apples, strawberries, grapes, persimmons, onions and cucumbers are some of the most popular. Strawberries have the highest levels of fisetin. Since fisetin is one of a variety of polyphenols, it is also beneficial to include other sources of this compound in your diet. Green tea, coffee, blueberries, dark chocolate and a variety of spices including cloves, star anise, and Mexican oregano are all rich sources of polyphenols. Fisetin is also found in our nutraceutical supplement Senex which contains the best natural senolytic compounds known at this time.

To view the original scientific study click below

Fisetin is a senotherapeutic that extends health and lifespan