Caterpillars could hold the secret to new treatment for osteoarthritis

A substance from a fungus that infects caterpillars could offer new treatment hope for sufferers of osteoarthritis according to new research.

Cordycepin is an active compound isolated from the caterpillar fungus Cordyceps militaris and has proved to be effective in treating osteoarthritis by blocking inflammation in a new way, through reducing a process called polyadenylation. The research was undertaken by scientists from the University of Nottingham and supported by funding from Versus Arthritis. The findings have been published today in Scientific Reports.

Dr. Cornelia De Moor from the University of Nottingham’s School of Pharmacy led the study and said: “The natural compound cordycepin is derived from a caterpillar fungus which is famous in the Far East for its medicinal properties. In this paper we show that orally administrated cordycepin reduces pain and halts disease progression in animal models of osteoarthritis. Intriguingly, it does this by a different mechanism than any other known anti-inflammatory painkiller, through affecting the last step of making a messenger RNA, polyadenylation. This means that medicines derived from cordycepin may help patients for whom other treatments have failed. We hope that cordycepin will prove to be the founder of a new class of pain killer, the polyadenylation inhibitors. There is a long way to go before a cordycepin derived medicine reaches patients, but our work is very promising we are very excited about the prospects.”

Full story at Medical Xpress

Study: Light Physical Activity Could Help to Lower Risk of Coronary and Cardiovascular Problems

No one doubts the positive health effects of regular moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA), but now researchers are finding that even light physical activity can reduce the risk of coronary heart disease and cardiovascular disease. The latest findings, focused on women age 65 and older, echo revised US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) activity guidelines strongly supported by APTA.

The recent study, published in JAMA Network Open, asked 5,861 women with an average age of 78.5 years to wear a hip accelerometer for a week to establish PA rates, and then tracked rates of later coronary heart disease (CHD) and cardiovascular disease (CVD) for nearly 5 years. Researchers were particularly interested in the effect of light physical activity (PA)—between 1.6 and 2.9 metabolic equivalent tasks (METs)—on the risk of experiencing CVD and CHD.

Researchers divided the participants into 4 groups based on the average amount of time spent per day in light PA: 36-236 minutes, 235-285 minutes, 286-333 minutes, and 334-617 minutes. They also tracked rates of MVPA, as well as demographic, educational, and health information including the presence of chronic conditions, alcohol consumption, smoker or nonsmoker status, and use of antihypertensive and antilipidemic medications. The population studied was a mix of white (48%), black (33.5%), and Hispanic (17.6%) women.

Full story at APTA

New Device Uses Eye Movements To Measure Concussions In Patients

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Bella Adkins is a gymnast and cheerleader, but then a concussion from snowboarding put her on the sidelines.

“When I came home, I was like, I think I need to get checked out. I could tell something was wrong,” said Bella. “Any light or sound that was loud or bright really affected me. I can’t really focus on one thing without my mind going somewhere else.”

She was crushed.

“I can’t even go to, like, the cheerleading games, because it’s really loud and all the bright lights,” she said.

Her pediatrician recommended physical therapy, and Bella came to River Therapies.

It’s currently the only place in the Pittsburgh area using a new device called the I-PAS. It uses eye movements to give the therapist an objective measure of impairment and progress.

Full story at KDKA Pittsburgh

Pulled muscle in chest: Symptoms and treatment

The terms pulled muscle and muscle strain refer to an injury that involves an overstretched or torn muscle. A person with a muscle strain in the chest may experience sudden, sharp pain in this area.

Although uncomfortable, a strained chest muscle is usually a minor injury that tends to heal within days or weeks.

In this article, we outline the causes of a strained chest muscle, along with possible treatments. We also explain how to differentiate the symptoms from those of other causes of chest pain.

Full story at Medical News Today

LAMPREYS CAN REGENERATE SEVERED SPINES MORE THAN ONCE

The study opens up a new path for identifying pro-regenerative molecules and potential therapeutic targets for human spinal cord injury.

Spontaneous recovery from spinal cord injury is almost unheard of in humans and other mammals, but many vertebrates fare better. The eel-like lamprey, for instance, can fully regenerate its spinal cord even after being severed—within three months the lamprey is swimming, burrowing, and flipping around again, as if nothing had happened.

“We’ve determined that central nervous system regeneration in lampreys is resilient and robust after multiple injuries. The regeneration is nearly identical to the first time, both anatomically and functionally,” says senior author Jennifer Morgan, director of the University of Chicago-affiliated Marine Biological Laboratory’s Eugene Bell Center for Regenerative Biology and Tissue Engineering.

Morgan’s lab has been focusing on the descending neurons, which originate in the brain and send motor signals down to the spinal cord. Some of these descending neurons regenerate after central nervous system injury in lamprey, while others die.

Full story at futurity.org

FRAILTY A KEY RISK FACTOR FOR DEMENTIA

Researchers at Dalhousie University have found that frailty, more so than amyloid plaques and tangles in the brain, is a key risk factor for developing Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia.

PhD candidate Lindsay Wallace, lead author, and her supervisor Dr. Kenneth Rockwood, are optimistic their findings will be influential, as they were published this week in Lancet Neurology — one of the highest-impact journals in the field.

This study is the first to examine amyloid plaques and tangles in post-mortem brain tissues, in relation to both the subjects’ frailty index and the severity of their dementia symptoms when they were alive. The frailty index is a score of relative frailty based on the accumulation of deficits in physical health and ability to function.

Full story at Dalhousie University News

Children with cerebral palsy to benefit from ‘artificial muscles’

A team of researchers from the University of Delaware has received nearly $200,000 in start-up funding to develop a motorized ankle foot device for children with cerebral palsy (CP) that includes a novel artificial muscle.

The brace is the first lower extremity device designed to correct alignment or provide support using soft muscle-like “smart materials,” known as dielectric elastomer actuators, that contract in response to electric current.

Made from off-the-shelf elastic materials, these artificial muscles closely mimic the function of the body’s skeletal muscle and can help children with CP that struggle to complete a range of motion under their own power. The device is lightweight, compact and noiseless, too, reducing the size of the orthosis needed while increasing the wearer’s degree of freedom in movement — a vast improvement over heavier, more rigid technologies.

Full story at news-medical.net

Magic-themed Therapy May Help Hand and Arm Function in Children with Unilateral Cerebral Palsy, Study Says

A type of intensive therapy that asks children with unilateral cerebral palsy (CP) to learn and practice magic tricks may help improve their hand and arm function and enhance their ability to do everyday tasks, a study reports.

The study, “Upper Limb Function of Children with Unilateral Cerebral Palsy After a Magic-Themed HABIT: A Pre-Post-Study with 3- and 6-Month Follow-Up,” was published in the Journal of Physical & Occupational Therapy in Pediatrics.

Children with unilateral CP have movement limitations mainly on one side of the body, affecting their ability to perform daily activities that require the use and coordination of both hands.

Hand-arm bimanual intensive therapy, or HABIT, is based on the principles of motor learning theory and neuroplasticity through structured, playful, and activity-based tasks involving two hands. HABIT includes motor learning principles of task selection, a structured practice of grading tasks, feedback, and home practice. In this way, children are engaged in fun activities and supportive environments that are different from typical therapy.

Full story at Cerebral Palsy News Today

Systematic Review: LBP Studies Make the Case for Early Physical Therapy

Authors of a new systematic review of 11 studies on low back pain (LBP) have found that despite sometimes-wide variation in research design, a picture of the value of early physical therapy for the condition is emerging—and the results are encouraging.

According to the review, e-published ahead of print in the Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, evidence supports the cost-effectiveness and better patient outcomes of early physical therapy over later physical therapy for LBP, and even points to a correlation between early physical therapy and lower rates of opioid prescription overall. As for utilization and costs associated with early physical therapy versus so-called “usual care” (UC)? Early treatment by a physical therapist (PT) adhering to APTA guidelines could make a positive difference there as well, authors say, but that’s a harder question to answer definitively until studies become more uniform in terminology and design.

Full story at APTA

Shedding light on spinal cord injuries

Thousands of people worldwide suffer severe spinal cord injuries each year, but little is known about why these injuries often continue to deteriorate long after the initial damage occurs.

Yi Ren, a professor of biomedical sciences at the Florida State University College of Medicine, is making progress in understanding why such significant harm is inflicted in the weeks and months after a spinal injury. In a study published today in the journal Nature Neuroscience, Ren explained how a natural immune system response may contribute to additional injury.

When spinal cord damage occurs, the endothelial cells that line blood vessels are activated to remove potentially harmful material, like myelin debris, from the site of the injury. However, Ren and her team discovered that this process may be responsible for causing further harm.

“The consequences of the effort of endothelial cells to clear myelin debris is often severe, contributing to post-traumatic degeneration of the spinal cord and to the functional disabilities often associated with spinal cord injuries,” said Ren, whose team conducted the study over a period of five years.

Full story at Science Daily