Saturday, March 31, 2007

Alzheimer's tackled by testosterone boost

RESEARCHERS in Perth have made a groundbreaking discovery into the prevention of Alzheimer's disease, after showing that boosting testosterone levels in the body can lower levels of a toxic brain protein linked to the development of the crippling condition. Preliminary results from a clinical trial of West Australian men, presented at the prestigious Royal Society of Medicine in London, show that not only does the use of a testosterone cream lower the protein beta amyloid but importantly it appears to improve memory.

Professor Ralph Martins, of the Sir James McCusker Foundation for Alzheimer's Research at Hollywood Private Hospital, said from London that he was excited by early results from an ongoing trial of healthy men aged 50 to 72 who had a testosterone deficiency and only mild signs of memory loss. They have been treated at Perth's Well Men Centre using a WA-made testosterone cream, and the trial follows an earlier study of guinea pigs which showed the treatment reduced their levels of beta amyloid.

Professor Martins said that it was the first real evidence of cause and effect. "In the past we've shown an association, so when you lower testosterone, you raise beta amyloid levels, and we've also shown an association with people at higher risk of getting Alzheimer's, but we wanted to see what happens in the brain," he said.


Cancer trigger mapped

A DEADLY "active ingredient" in almost all human cancers has been mapped by Australian scientists, bringing the world closer to a potentially life-saving treatment. The breakthrough, published today in the international journal Science, will speed up the global research effort to develop anti-cancer drugs that "switch off" tumour growth.

Cancer researchers at the Children's Medical Research Institute have discovered the composition of an enzyme called telomerase, overactive in almost 90 per cent of cancers. It makes both healthy and cancerous cells immortal and is regarded as one of the most important triggers in cancer. Telomerase was believed to contain a mixture of any of 32 different proteins, but Dr Scott Cohen and his team found only two were involved. "We discovered it was a really simple composition," Dr Cohen said. "All these researchers studying it can really focus now, and that should boost the productivity of research into new drugs, which is very exciting."

The team made the finding by growing cancer cells to collect the hard-to-find enzyme, then purified it down and used a $1 million telescope to work out what it contained. "The next step is to define its shape, if you can do that you can pretty effectively design drugs to very specifically target telomerase, turn it off and stop the cancer growth," Dr Cohen said. The researchers say it is one of the biggest achievements in the telomerase field since the enzyme was discovered by former Melbourne researcher Elizabeth Blackburn in the 1980s.



Just some problems with the "Obesity" war:

1). It tries to impose behavior change on everybody -- when most of those targeted are not obese and hence have no reason to change their behaviour. It is a form of punishing the innocent and the guilty alike. (It is also typical of Leftist thinking: Scorning the individual and capable of dealing with large groups only).

2). The longevity research all leads to the conclusion that it is people of MIDDLING weight who live longest -- not slim people. So the "epidemic" of obesity is in fact largely an "epidemic" of living longer.

3). It is total calorie intake that makes you fat -- not where you get your calories. Policies that attack only the source of the calories (e.g. "junk food") without addressing total calorie intake are hence pissing into the wind. People involuntarily deprived of their preferred calorie intake from one source are highly likely to seek and find their calories elsewhere.

4). So-called junk food is perfectly nutritious. A big Mac meal comprises meat, bread, salad and potatoes -- which is a mainstream Western diet. If that is bad then we are all in big trouble.

5). Food warriors demonize salt and fat. But we need a daily salt intake to counter salt-loss through perspiration and the research shows that people on salt-restricted diets die SOONER. And Eskimos eat huge amounts of fat with no apparent ill-effects. And the average home-cooked roast dinner has LOTS of fat. Will we ban roast dinners?

6). The foods restricted are often no more calorific than those permitted -- such as milk and fruit-juice drinks.

7). Tendency to weight is mostly genetic and is therefore not readily susceptible to voluntary behaviour change.

8). And when are we going to ban cheese? Cheese is a concentrated calorie bomb and has lots of that wicked animal fat in it too. Wouldn't we all be better off without it? And what about butter and margarine? They are just about pure fat. Surely they should be treated as contraband in kids' lunchboxes! [/sarcasm].

Trans fats:

For one summary of the weak science behind the "trans-fat" hysteria, see here. Trans fats have only a temporary effect on blood chemistry and the evidence of lasting harm from them is dubious. By taking extreme groups in trans fats intake, some weak association with coronary heart disease has at times been shown in some sub-populations but extreme group studies are inherently at risk of confounding with other factors and are intrinsically of little interest to the average person.