Saturday, February 18, 2012

Just 40 hours of video gaming 'can cure cataracts', claims psychologist

What rubbish! When the lens of your eye goes cloudy instead of clear you have to replace it. What this woman may have done is to teach people to make better use of what vision they have left

Playing video games could improve the vision of people born with cataracts, according to new research.

Surgery and contact lenses do not always work - and people experience visual difficulties into adulthood. However, some of these effects can be reversed if the individual follows a short course of 'game therapy'.

Doctor Maurer, of McMaster University in Canada, said: 'After playing an action video game for just 40 hours over four weeks, the patients were better at seeing small print, the direction of moving dots, and the identity of faces.' Psychologist Daphne Maurer has researched how vision develops in individuals born with cataracts in both eyes.

Previous research found that a 40-hour 'course' of video gaming could be used to treat 'lazy eye' or amblyopia, a brain disorder in which the vision in one eye fails to develop properly. 'Those improvements tell us that the adult brain is still plastic enough to be trained to overcome sensory deficiencies,' says Maurer.

Dr Maurer is internationally known for her work on "synaesthetes" - a condition that makes people's brains link different senses.

Dr Maurer is due to present her findings at the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Vancouver, in a session called The Effects of Early Experience on Lifelong Functioning: Commitment and Resilience.


Aspirin may have a role in stopping the spread of cancers

This is early-stage research so should be treated with caution

THE humble aspirin may be a powerful weapon against cancerous tumours. Melbourne scientists have discovered how non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as aspirin prevent tumours spreading.

The breakthrough by Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre researchers paves the way for new treatments to halt cancer in its tracks.

Co-lead author Dr Tara Karnezis said tumours secreted proteins and compounds called growth factors attracting blood and lymphatic vessels to their vicinity, allowing the cancer to flourish and spread. These growth factors also encouraged lymphatic vessels - or "supply lines" - to widen, which enabled the spread of cancer, Dr Karnezis said.

"But a group of drugs reverse the widening of the supply line and make it hard for the tumour to spread - at the end of the day that's what kills people," he said.

"This discovery unlocks a range of potentially powerful new therapies to target this pathway in lymphatic vessels, effectively tightening a tumour's supply lines and restricting the transport of cancer cells to the rest of the body."

While oncologists may include aspirin in patients' treatment, this discovery enabled the development of better and more efficient drugs, she said. While the benefits of non-steroid anti-inflammatories on cancer were known, the biological processes involved had never been fully understood.

This breakthrough would create new directions for research and management of cancer patients. "I hope this information is one bit of the puzzle that will lead to a cure for cancer," Dr Karnezis said.

The research is published in the journal Cancer Cell.


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