Friday, May 11, 2007

New drug for diabetics

A diabetes drug based on the saliva of an endangered lizard goes on sale today. Byetta is a synthetic version of a chemical that helps the Gila monster to survive despite its peculiar eating pattern. An adult Gila, named after the Gila river in North America, may eat only three to four times a year, consuming a third of its bodyweight in food each time.

To metabolise such monstrous meals, the colourful lizard secretes a hormone-like molecule called exendin-4. This primes the lizard to receive the incoming nutrients by stimulating insulin secretion, among other effects. The functions of exendin-4 are very similar to those of a human hormone called glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1). This hormone triggers the production of insulin in response to raised blood sugar.

In type 2 diabetes, the beta cells that produce insulin may fail to respond adequately to changes in blood glucose concentrations after a meal. Byetta, developed by Eli Lilly, the American pharmaceuticals group, is designed to correct this defect in cases of type 2 diabetes that cannot be adequately controlled by dietary changes or by the use of other drugs, such as metformin. It stimulates the beta cells, suppresses the secretion of glucagen (a hormone that has the opposite action to insulin) and slows the emptying of food from the stomach. It lasts much longer in the body than GLP-1.

In trials, half the patients given Byetta with metformin achieved good glucose control, and the combination also helped them to lose weight.


What a crock!

Do I really need to comment on this? Don't we all start moving our eyes at a great rate as soon as we get out of bed? We even move them when we are dreaming, in fact

Moving your eyes from side to side for 30 seconds every morning can boost memory by up to 10 per cent, a study suggests. Students who took part in the eye exercise tests found that their memory recall was boosted by a spot of eye jiggling. The exercises work, it is thought, because the eye movements cause the two hemispheres of the brain to interact more efficiently with each other.

Research led by Andrew Parker of Manchester Metropolitan University, identified the potential exam revision technique while studying false recall. “This could be important in situations where we feel uncertain, unclear or maybe even just confused about what we may have done or said,” he said. “It may help someone recall an important piece of information for an exam or for a shopping list.”

He presented 102 university students with recordings of a male voice reading 20 lists of 15 words. The subjects were then handed a list of words and asked to pick out those that they had just heard. On average, the students who had moved their eyes from side to side performed 10 per cent better than the rest. Up and down eye movement was of no use at all to recall. Contained within the lists were “lure” words that were not in the spoken list but were similar to some of those that were. Students who had moved eyes sideways were 15 per cent better at ignoring the misleading words.

Dr Parker said: “Our work shows that true memory can be improved and false memory reduced. One reason for this is that bilateral eye movements may improve our ability to monitor the source of our memories. He said that people are often confused over whether a memory is real or imagined, such as whether a bill was paid or a door locked. “The problem is to determine the source of one’s memory — real or imagined. Bilateral eye movements may help us to determine accurately the source of our memory,” he said.

He came up with the idea of testing students and getting them to move their eyes after previous research indicated that some memories are dependent on the level of activity between the brain’s two hemispheres. The researchers, who published their findings in the journal Brain and Cognition, anticipated a reduction in false memory but were taken aback to find that the eye movements assisted recall of true memories. “The effects are so counter-intuitive,” Dr Parker said. “That such a straightforward experimental manipulation can bring about enhanced memory for studied information and lower the number of memory errors is quite exciting.”

More work has to be done to establish in what contexts the technique will be effective and whether it really will help in an exam. But he added: “If one does forget something then it will do no harm to try moving one’s eyes from side to side — to see if it does make a difference.”



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.


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