A glove to treat symptoms of stroke

The most obvious sign someone has survived a stroke is usually some trouble speaking or walking. But another challenge may have an even greater impact on someone’s daily life: Often, stroke survivors lose sensation and muscle control in one arm and hand, making it difficult to dress and feed themselves or handle everyday objects such as a toothbrush or door handle.

Now, doctors and engineers at Stanford and Georgia Tech are working on a novel therapy that could help more stroke survivors regain the ability to control their arms and hands – a vibrating glove that gently stimulates the wearer’s hand for several hours a day.

Caitlyn Seim, a graduate student at Georgia Tech, started the project in the hope that the glove’s stimulation could have some of the same impact as more traditional exercise programs. After developing a prototype, she approached Stanford colleagues Maarten Lansberg, an associate professor of neurology, and Allison Okamura, a professor of mechanical engineering, in order to expand her efforts. With help from a Wu Tsai Neurosciences Institute Neuroscience seed grant, the trio are working to improve on their prototype glove and bring the device closer to clinical testing.

Full story at Medical Xpress

Can blocking a single protein tackle depression, obesity, and pain?

Depression, obesity, and chronic pain are some of the most pressing global health concerns. New research may have found a drug that could one day tackle all of these three conditions.

Almost 40 percent of adults in the United States were living with obesity in 2015–2016. Worldwide, nearly 40 percent of adults are overweight, and 13 percent of them have obesity.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), depression is the leading cause of disability across the globe. In the U.S., over 17 million adults have experienced at least one episode of major depression in their lives.

Full story at Medical News Today

Small changes can go far in preventing childhood obesity

In the United States, the percentage of children and adolescents with obesity has more than tripled since 1970. Today, approximately one in five school-aged children (ages 6 to 19) is obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention—and that figure doesn’t include children who are considered merely overweight and not obese.

According to Dr. Alka Sood, a family medicine physician with Penn State Health Medical Group – Park Avenue in State College, Pennsylvania, children with obesity face physical, social and emotional hurdles while growing up.

“Children with obesity are more likely than their classmates to be teased or bullied and to suffer from low self-esteem, social isolation and depression,” Sood said. “They are at higher risk for other chronic health problems, including asthma, sleep apnea, bone and joint problems, and type 2 diabetes, and are more likely to be obese as adults— resulting in increased risk of heart disease and other serious medical conditions.”

Full story at Medical Xpress

3D-PRINTED TISSUE COULD FIX ATHLETES’ DAMAGED JOINTS

Scientists engineered scaffolds that replicate the physical characteristics of osteochondral tissue—basically, hard bone beneath a compressible layer of cartilage that appears as the smooth surface on the ends of long bones.

Injuries to these bones, from small cracks to pieces that break off, are painful and often stop an athlete’s career in its tracks. Osteochondral injuries can also lead to disabling arthritis.

The gradient nature of cartilage-into-bone and its porosity have made it difficult to reproduce in the lab, but Antonios Mikos, a bioengineer at Rice University and graduate student Sean Bittner used 3D printing to fabricate what they believe will eventually offer a suitable material for implantation.

Full story at futurity.org

Osteoporosis: New tools help pinpoint potential risk genes

A combination of powerful tools has helped scientists identify two new genes that could contribute to osteoporosis through their effect on bone density. The finding could lead to better treatments for the bone-weakening disease.

The study, by researchers at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) in Pennsylvania, highlights the importance of understanding the 3D geography of the genome in locating genes that cause disease.

The team points out that identifying DNA variants, or differences, behind diseases, is not necessarily enough to locate the genes that cause the disease. The variants, for example, could be triggers of genes in other parts of the genome.

Full story at Medical News Today

Letter from the Editor: Looking to the future

At Medical News Today, we pride ourselves on providing you with the latest news in medical research. This month, we’ve gone one step further, taking a deep dive into the future of health technology.

Last week, MNT attended the annual Future Healthcare 2019 Exhibition and Conference, which took place in London in the United Kingdom.

It was an intriguing, eye-opening conference, brimming with healthcare professionals and scientists from across the globe, brought together to talk about the latest technological innovations in healthcare.

One standout innovation for me was a technology called GripAble.

Full story at Medical News Today

Exercise adds up to big brain boosts

Anyone who trains for a marathon knows that individual running workouts add up over time to yield a big improvement in physical fitness. So, it should not be surprising that the cognitive benefits from workouts also accumulate to yield long-term cognitive gains. Yet, until now, there was has been little research to describe and support the underlying neurobiology. In new work being presented this week about the effects of exercise on the brain at the Cognitive Neuroscience Society (CNS) in San Francisco, researchers are finding that brain changes that occur after a single workout are predictive of what happens with sustained physical training over time.

“There is a strong and direct link between physical activity and how your brain works,” says Wendy Suzuki of New York University (NYU), who is chairing a symposium on the topic at CNS. “People still do not link physical health to brain and cognitive health; they think about fitting into a bikini or losing that last pound, not about all the brain systems they are improving and enhancing every time they work out.”

Full story at Medical Xpress

Children’s ball pits full of pathogenic microbes

Researchers at the University of North Georgia found significant microbial colonization in ball pits located across six clinical settings, nine of which were opportunistic pathogens.

The popularity of ball pits has increased since the 1980s when the fun pools were introduced into restaurant chains nationwide. As well as the dirt, feces, vomit or urine that is sometimes visible in the pits, numerous bacterial species have been found including normal human skin bacteria and opportunistic pathogens such as Staphylococcus aureus.

Ball pits are also commonly used in physical therapy clinics to provide stimulation for children with sensory processing disorders or motor impairments. However, national standards or protocols for cleaning these enclosures remain elusive, say study authors Dobrusia Bialonska and colleagues.

Full story at news-medical.net

Where Does Chronic Pain Begin? Scientists Close In on Its Origins

A new study by researchers at The University of Texas at Dallas, UT MD Anderson Cancer Center, UT Health Science Center at Houston and Baylor College of Medicine has produced evidence of the source of chronic pain in humans, revealing several new targets for pain treatment.

The paper — published March 19 in Brain, one of the world’s oldest neurology journals — examined specialized nerve cells clustered near the base of the spine. Researchers took advantage of an exceedingly rare opportunity to study these nerves, called dorsal root ganglia (DRG), removed from cancer patients undergoing surgery at MD Anderson.

The researchers cataloged variations in RNA expression in the dorsal root ganglia cells of patients differing by pain state and sex. Using RNA sequencing, a specialized form of gene sequencing, on those DRG cells yielded a list of promising biochemical pathways for which researchers might be able to devise analgesic drugs.

Full story at utdallas.edu

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