These summaries of advances released last week show, once again, that health sciences are advancing fast in research laboratories, but the road from laboratory research to clinical options is long.
Therefore, it’s good to hear of studies that suggest simple things that you can do, here and now, to improve your health. The Iowa State University study that links weightlifting to significantly reduced risk of heart attack and stroke (see below) is a good example.
“People may think they need to spend a lot of time lifting weights, but just two sets of bench presses that take less than 5 minutes could be effective,” said Prof. DC Lee. “The results are encouraging, but will people make weightlifting part of their lifestyle? Will they do it and stick with it? That’s the million-dollar question.”
“Muscle is the power plant to burn calories. Building muscle helps move your joints and bones, but also there are metabolic benefits. I don’t think this is well appreciated,” added Lee. “If you build muscle, even if you’re not aerobically active, you burn more energy because you have more muscle. This also helps prevent obesity and provide long-term benefits on various health outcomes.”
Lifting weights reduces the risk of heart attack and stroke. Scientists at Iowa State University have found that lifting weights for less than an hour a week may reduce your risk for a heart attack or stroke by 40 to 70 percent. The results of a study, published in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, show that the benefits of strength training are independent of running, walking, or other aerobic activity. In other words, you do not have to meet the recommended guidelines for aerobic physical activity to lower your risk; weight training alone is enough.
Toward new anti-inflammatory drugs. Researchers from Karolinska Institutet, University of Texas Medical Branch, Uppsala University, and Stockholm University have developed an anti-inflammatory drug molecule with a new mechanism of action. A study published in Science describes how, by inhibiting a certain protein, the researchers were able to reduce the signals that trigger an inflammation. The scientists are now examining whether the findings can lead to new treatments for inflammatory diseases in order to cure or relieve diseases such as sepsis, COPD, and severe asthma.
Drug combination makes cancer disappear in mice with neuroblastoma. Scientists investigating new treatments for neuroblastoma, one of the most common childhood cancers, have found that a combination of two drugs made tumors disappear in mice, making it more effective than any other drugs tested in these animals. The research results (abstract 24) were presented at the 30th EORTC-NCI-AACR Symposium on Molecular Targets and Cancer Therapeutics in Dublin. The scientists are persuaded that the findings are highly significant but warn that it will be some time before the drug combination will be tested in children and, if successful, made available more widely to treat children with this disease, even though both drugs are currently undergoing clinical trial in a range of adult cancers.
New Alzheimer's drug candidates with anti-aging properties. Researchers at Salk Institute have identified a unique subclass of geroprotectors (anti-aging compounds), dubbed geroneuroprotectors (GNPs), which are Alzheimer’s disease drug candidates and slow the aging process in mice. A research paper published in Trends in Pharmacological Sciences indicates that three synthetic drug candidates derived from fisetin (a natural product derived from fruits and vegetables) and curcumin (from the curry spice turmeric) are able to protect neurons from multiple toxicities associated with the aging brain, and reduce the molecular markers of aging, as well as dementia, and extended the median lifespan of mice or flies.
Drug stops deadly eye cancer in human cells and live zebra fish. Johns Hopkins Medicine scientists have found a possible cause for the spreading of the most common eye cancer in children - retinoblastoma - that originates in the retina. By comparing genetic sequences in the eye tumors of children whose cancers spread with tumors that didn't spread, the scientists found a twofold to threefold increase in RNA levels for the gene that codes for activin A receptor type 1C (ACVR1C) in invasive retinoblastoma cells compared to noninvasive cells. The research results, published in Oncogene, indicate that the drug SB505124, which blocks the activin receptor from detecting other growth signals, stops the growth and spread of the eye tumor in zebra fish and human cells.
Synthetic molecule could assist diagnosis and treatment of genetic conditions. Carnegie Mellon University researchers have developed a synthetic molecule that can recognize and bind to double-stranded DNA or RNA under normal physiological conditions. A study published in Communications Chemistry shows that the new synthetic “double-faced” molecules - Janus gamma PNAs - are able to invade a canonical base-paired DNA or RNA double helix at a physiologically relevant ionic strength and temperature. The scientists are persuaded that the new molecule could provide a new platform for developing methods for the diagnosis and treatment of genetic conditions.