272 CNO STAFF TEST 12 SEP 2020

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In This Issue:

  1. In cell studies, seaweed extract outperforms remdesivir in blocking COVID-19 virus
  2. Buckwheat enhances the production of a protein that supports the longevity
  3. Prescribed CBD could help people quit cannabis
  4. Low plasma 25(OH) vitamin D level associated with increased risk of COVID-19 infection
  5. Aerobic exercise could have the final say on fatty livers
  6. Easy to overdose on paracetamol if you're selenium deficient, says research
  7. An easier way to go veggie: Vitamin B12 can be produced during dough fermentation
  8. Absorbed plant MIR2911 in honeysuckle decoction inhibits SARS-CoV-2 replication
  9. Consumption of a blueberry enriched diet by women for six weeks alters determinants of human muscle progenitor cell function
  10. Vitamin D twice a day may keep vertigo away
  11. Gluten in wheat: What has changed during 120 years of breeding?
  12. New approach to treating osteoarthritis advances
  13. Lipoic acid supplements help some obese but otherwise healthy people lose weight
  14. Cashew shell compound appears to mend damaged nerves
  15. How protein protects against fatty liver
  16. Multivitamin, mineral supplement linked to less-severe, shorter-lasting illness symptoms
  17. How vitamin C could help over 50s retain muscle mass
  18. Common cold combats influenza
  19. Study: Vitamin D deficiency may raise risk of getting COVID-19
  20. Broccoli and Brussels sprouts a cut above for blood vessel health
  21. COVID has likely tripled depression rate: BU study
  22. New York and California may have already achieved herd immunity -- Ben-Gurion U. researcher
  23. Probiotics may help manage childhood obesity

In cell studies, seaweed extract outperforms remdesivir in blocking COVID-19 virus

Heparin, a common anitcoagulent, could also form basis of a viral trap for SARS-CoV-2

RENSSELAER POLYTECHNIC INSTITUTE

TROY, N.Y. -- In a test of antiviral effectiveness against the virus that causes COVID-19, an extract from edible seaweeds substantially outperformed remdesivir, the current standard antiviral used to combat the disease. Heparin, a common blood thinner, and a heparin variant stripped of its anticoagulant properties, performed on par with remdesivir in inhibiting SARS-CoV-2 infection in mammalian cells.

Published online today in Cell Discovery, the research is the latest example of a decoy strategy researchers from the Center for Biotechnology and Interdisciplinary Studies (CBIS) at Rensselear Polytechnic Institute are developing against viruses like the novel coronavirus that spawned the current global health crisis.

The spike protein on the surface of SARS-CoV-2 latches onto the ACE-2 receptor, a molecule on the surface of human cells. Once secured, the virus inserts its own genetic material into the cell, hijacking the cellular machinery to produce replica viruses. But the virus could just as easily be persuaded to lock onto a decoy molecule that offers a similar fit. The neutralized virus would be trapped and eventually degrade naturally.

Previous research has shown this decoy technique works in trapping other viruses, including dengue, Zika, and influenza A. To hear the researchers discuss their findings, watch this video.

"We're learning how to block viral infection, and that is knowledge we are going to need if we want to rapidly confront pandemics," said Jonathan Dordick, the lead researcher and a professor of chemical and biological engineering at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. "The reality is that we don't have great antivirals. To protect ourselves against future pandemics, we are going to need an arsenal of approaches that we can quickly adapt to emerging viruses."

The Cell Discovery paper tests antiviral activity in three variants of heparin (heparin, trisulfated heparin, and a non-anticoagulant low molecular weight heparin) and two fucoidans (RPI-27 and RPI-28) extracted from seaweed. All five compounds are long chains of sugar molecules known as sulfated polysaccharides, a structural conformation that the results of a binding study published earlier this month in Antiviral Research suggested as an effective decoy.

The researchers performed a dose response study known as an EC50 -- shorthand for the effective concentration of the compound that inhibits 50% of viral infectivity -- with each of the five compounds on mammalian cells. For the results of an EC50, which are given in a molar concentration, a lower value signals a more potent compound.

RPI-27 yielded an EC50 value of approximately 83 nanomolar, while a similar previously published and independent in vitro test of remdesivir on the same mammalian cells yielded an EC50 of 770 nanomolar. Heparin yielded an EC50 of 2.1 micromolar, or about one-third as active as remdesivir, and a non-anticoagulant analog of heparin yielded an EC50 of 5.0 micromolar, about one-fifth as active as remdesivir.

A separate test found no cellular toxicity in any of the compounds, even at the highest concentrations tested.

"What interests us is a new way of getting at infection," said Robert Linhardt, a Rensselaer professor of chemistry and chemical biology who is collaborating with Dordick to develop the decoy strategy. "The current thinking is that the COVID-19 infection starts in the nose, and either of these substances could be the basis for a nasal spray. If you could simply treat the infection early, or even treat before you have the infection, you would have a way of blocking it before it enters the body."

Dordick added that compounds from seaweed "could serve as a basis for an oral delivery approach to address potential gastrointestinal infection."

In studying SARS-CoV-2 sequencing data, Dordick and Linhardt recognized several motifs on the structure of the spike protein that promised a fit compatible with heparin, a result borne out in the binding study. The spike protein is heavily encrusted in glycans, an adaptation that protects it from human enzymes which could degrade it, and prepares it to bind with a specific receptor on the cell surface.

"It's a very complicated mechanism that we quite frankly don't know all the details about, but we're getting more information," said Dordick. "One thing that's become clear with this study is that the larger the molecule, the better the fit. The more successful compounds are the larger sulfated polysaccharides that offer a greater number of sites on the molecules to trap the virus."

Molecular modeling based on the binding study revealed sites on the spike protein where the heparin was able to interact, raising the prospects for similar sulfated polysaccharides.

"This exciting research by Professors Dordick and Linhardt is among several ongoing research efforts at CBIS, as well as elsewhere at Rensselaer, to tackle the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic through novel therapeutic approaches and the repurposing of existing drugs," said CBIS Director Deepak Vashishth.

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"Sulfated polysaccharides effectively inhibit SARS-CoV-2 in vitro" was published in Cell Discovery with the support of the National Research Foundation of Korea. At Rensselaer, Dordick and Linhardt were joined in the research by Paul S. Kwon, Seok-Joon Kwon, Weihua Jin, Fuming Zhang, and Keith Fraser, and by researchers at the Korea Research Institute of Bioscience and Biotechnology in Cheongju, Republic of Korea, and Zhejiang University of Technology in Hangzhou, China.

NEWS RELEASE 22-JUL-2020

Buckwheat enhances the production of a protein that supports the longevity

SIBERIAN FEDERAL UNIVERSITY

A healthy low-calorie diet that contains plant products can help us improve the level of sirtuin 1 (SIRT1) protein production that is known to increase life expectancy. A team of scientists from Krasnoyarsk conducted an experiment to see how buckwheat affected the health of rats. The only known method to optimize the level of this protein is a calorie restriction. But why will healthy people be subjected to calorie restriction without any medical emergency? According to the researchers, a buckwheat-based diet helps to increase the level of SIRT1 protein that protects all the cells of the body and enhances longevity. In the same time, there is no need to starve. The results of the study were published in the Journal of Cereal Science.

With increased stress levels and wide availability of junk food, today we have to take special care about our health. Vitamins and amino acids are precursors of important regulatory and building molecules in our bodies, and a diet rich in them can help keep one's digestive system healthy and support it in case of any health issues. On the contrary, an unbalanced diet or overeating can cause various diseases, including cancers.

SIRT1 is a protein that senses nutrient status of cells. When SIRT1 levels in a cell are intentionally increased, its aging process slows down, and its stress resistance improves. However, the excess of SIRT1 in the organs and tissues of a living being is a sign of hunger which may lead to anemia and other negative effects.

A team of biologists from the School of Fundamental Biology and Biotechnology of Siberian Federal University added 30% buckwheat (which is rich in nutrients) to the diet of rats and studied its impact on their health. The animals were divided into three groups with eight rats in each. The first (control) group got a regular amount of feed; in the second (calorie restriction group) the portions were reduced by 30%, and the third (experimental) group got regular feed with the addition of ground buckwheat that amounted up to 30% of the total feed weight. Buckwheat contains dietary fiber that could be only partially digested by humans and rats. In view of that, the scientists calculated the daily feed volume for the third group for it to have the same nutritional value as the diet of the second group.

After eight weeks of the experiment, samples were taken from the blood, liver, kidneys, and stomach of the animals to measure the content of SIRT1. To do so, the scientists used molecules that produce a colored substance after linking with SIRT1. Moreover, the team monitored the weight of the rats in the course of the experiment. The animals from the third group gained more weight than the ones from the second group, even though both groups consumed an equal amount of calories. This observation indicates that buckwheat ensures proper growth and development in the long run. Though the highest level of SIRT1 production was registered in the calorie restriction group. However, this effect was achieved at the cost of lowering body and organ weights. In the experimental group the levels of the protein were higher than in the control group, but no weight loss was observed.

"The results of the study show that a diet that includes buckwheat has the effect of calorie restriction, because this grain contains a lot of indigestible fiber. Buckwheat is a low calorie product, and when added to a diet, it increases the production of SIRT1. This protein, in turn, protects the cells of the digestive system without causing hunger and loss of growth in animals. We believe that other plant products, such as grain, vegetables, fruit, or nuts, have similar effect on SIRT1 production and on the health in general. If you want a healthy and long life, eat more of them", said Shubhra Pande, the author of the research and the Post-doctoral fellow of the Department of Biophysics at the School of Fundamental Biology and Biotechnology of Siberian Federal University.

NEWS RELEASE 28-JUL-2020

Prescribed CBD could help people quit cannabis

UNIVERSITY OF BATH

 

    

Results from the first-ever randomised clinical trial of CBD for cannabis use disorder suggests that prescribed doses of the non-intoxicating constituent part of the cannabis plant could help people kick the habit.

 

In the MRC-funded trial, published in the Lancet Psychiatry (embargo - Tuesday 28 July 23:30 UK time; 18:30 Eastern Time), researchers administered CBD or placebo to 82 volunteers who were motivated to quit using cannabis but had previously failed to do so.

 

They measured the effects of the drug on levels of cannabis use both during a four-week treatment period and up to six months follow-up.

 

As this was the first clinical trial to assess CBD for reducing cannabis use, they tested three different doses of CBD in an adaptive design to find out which doses might be most effective:

 

- In the first stage of the trial, 48 volunteers received either placebo or CBD at doses of 200mg, 400mg or 800mg. The researchers found that the lowest dose of 200mg CBD was ineffective and so they dropped it from the trial.

- In the second stage of the trial, the researchers recruited an additional 34 volunteers to receive either placebo, 400mg or 800mg CBD. At the end of the trial, they found consistent evidence that CBD at 400mg or 800mg was more effective than placebo at reducing cannabis use.

 

Their results showed that participants treated with CBD showed lower levels of cannabis in their urine and an increased number of days abstinent compared to those treated with placebo.

 

CBD was well tolerated at all doses and there were no increases in side effects compared to placebo. 94% of the volunteers completed treatment. Importantly, the doses of CBD tested were significantly higher than CBD products purchased online or from the High Street (typically 25mg per day).

 

All participants in the trial met a clinical diagnosis of cannabis use disorder, indicating a problematic pattern of cannabis use which had created significant impairment and distress for the individual. All participants had previously failed to quit cannabis use at least once and took part in the trial as part of a cessation attempt.

 

Lead author Dr Tom Freeman, Director of the Addiction and Mental Health Group within the Department of Psychology at the University of Bath explains: "The results from our trial open up a novel therapeutic strategy for managing problematic cannabis use in clinical settings. As we highlight, CBD at daily oral doses of 400mg and 800mg has potential to address the substantial and currently unmet clinical need for a pharmacological treatment of cannabis use disorders.

 

"Whilst it may seem counterintuitive to treat problematic cannabis use with CBD - a constituent part of the cannabis plant - THC and CBD have contrasting effects on our own endogenous cannabinoid system. Unlike THC, CBD does not produce intoxicating or rewarding effects and it shows potential for a treating several other medical disorders."

 

Cannabis is now the primary drug cited by first-time clients presenting at addiction services across Europe, with the number of people entering treatment increasing by 76% over the past decade. The increase in treatment for cannabis problems has occurred alongside an increase in concentrations of THC, the intoxicating component of cannabis. Daily use of cannabis with high THC concentrations is associated with a five-times increased risk of psychosis.

 

At present there are no recommended pharmacotherapies to help people with problematic cannabis use to quit. In demonstrating how CBD could be a promising treatment strategy, this trial adds to existing research on the potential medicinal uses of CBD, including the treatment of severe childhood epilepsy syndromes and psychosis. Importantly, treatment with CBD does not include any of the intoxicating constituent of cannabis (THC) which might carry a risk of adverse effects.

 

Professor Valerie Curran, senior author and Director of the Clinical Psychopharmacology Unit at University College London, UK, said: "Our findings indicate that CBD doses ranging from 400mg to 800mg daily have the potential to reduce cannabis use in clinical settings, but higher doses are unlikely to bring any additional benefit. Larger studies are needed to determine the magnitude of the benefits of daily CBD for reducing cannabis use."

 

NEWS RELEASE 26-JUL-2020

Low plasma 25(OH) vitamin D level associated with increased risk of COVID-19 infection

BAR-ILAN UNIVERSITY

Vitamin D is recognized as an important co-factor in several physiological processes linked with bone and calcium metabolism, and also in diverse non-skeletal outcomes, including autoimmune diseases, cardiovascular diseases, type 2 diabetes, obesity and cognitive decline, and infections. In particular, the pronounced impact of vitamin D metabolites on the immune system response, and on the development of COVID-19 infection by the novel SARS CoV-2 virus, has been previously described in a few studies worldwide.

The collaborative group of scientists from the Leumit Health Services (LHS) and the Azrieli Faculty of Medicine of Bar-Ilan University aimed to determine associations of low plasma 25(OH)D with the risk of COVID-19 infection and hospitalization. Using the real-world data and Israeli cohort of 782 COVID-19 positive patients and 7,025 COVID-19 negative patients, the groups identified that low plasma vitamin D level appears to be an independent risk factor for COVID-19 infection and hospitalization. The research was just published in The FEBS Journal.

"The main finding of our study was the significant association of low plasma vitamin D level with the likelihood of COVID-19 infection among patients who were tested for COVID-19, even after adjustment for age, gender, socio-economic status and chronic, mental and physical disorders," said Dr. Eugene Merzon, Head of the Department of Managed Care and leading researcher of the LHS group. "Furthermore, low vitamin D level was associated with the risk of hospitalization due to COVID-19 infection, although this association wasn't significant after adjustment for other confounders," he added. "Our finding is in agreement with the results of previous studies in the field. Reduced risk of acute respiratory tract infection following vitamin D supplementation has been reported," said Dr. Ilan Green, Head of the LHS Research Institute.

"According to our analysis, persons that were COVID-19 positive were older than non-infected persons. Interestingly, the two-peak distributions for age groups were demonstrated to confer increased risk for COVID-19: around ages 25 and 50 years old," said Dr. Milana Frenkel-Morgenstern, the leader of the Azrieli Faculty of Medicine research group. "The first peak may be explained by high social gathering habits at the young age. The peak at age 50 years may be explained by continued social habits, in conjunction with various chronic diseases," Dr. Frenkel-Morgenstern continued.

"Surprisingly, chronic medical conditions, like dementia, cardiovascular disease, and chronic lung disease that were considered to be very risky in previous studies, were not found as increasing the rate of infection in our study," noted Prof. Shlomo Vinker, LHS Chief Medical Officer. "However, this finding is highly biased by the severe social contacts restrictions that were imposed on all the population during the COVID-19 outbreak. Therefore, we assume that following the Israeli Ministry of Health instructions, patients with chronic medical conditions significantly reduced their social contacts. This might indeed minimize the risk of COVID-19 infection in that group of patients," explained Prof. Vinker.

Dr. Dmitry Tworowski and Dr. Alessandro Gorohovski. from the Frenkel-Morgenstern laboratory at Bar-Ilan University's Azrieli Faculty of Medicine, suggest that the study will have a very significant impact. "The main strength of our study is its being large, real-world, and population-based," they explained. Now researchers are planning to evaluate factors associated with mortality due to COVID-19 in Israel. "We are willing to find associations to the COVID-19 clinical outcomes (for example, pre-infection glycemic control of COVID-19 patients) to make the assessment of mortality risk due to COVID-19 infection in Israel," said Dr. Eugene Merzon.

NEWS RELEASE 29-JUL-2020

Aerobic exercise could have the final say on fatty livers

TRINITY COLLEGE DUBLIN

A new study from Trinity College Dublin highlights that fitness may be a more important clinical endpoint for improvement in patients with fatty liver diseases during exercise trials, rather than weight loss. The findings have been published today (Tuesday, 28th July 2020) in the medical journal Alimentary Pharmacology and Therapeutics.

Metabolic associated fatty liver disease (MAFLD) is a condition characterised by a build up of fat in the liver. The liver is central to a suite of vital processes in the body including digestion, blood clotting and energy production.

If left untreated, MAFLD can lead to serious complications like liver fibrosis (scarring), cirrhosis, liver failure and liver cancer, as well as cardiovascular and metabolic issues. Risk factors for developing MAFLD include type 2 diabetes and obesity. The global estimated prevalence of MAFLD is 25%, making it the leading cause of chronic liver disease worldwide, and is quickly becoming the leading cause of cirrhosis and liver cancer in liver transplant candidates in the western world.

Up to now, due to the lack of approved pharmacological interventions, treatment has been a combination of prescribed weight loss and physical activity, with a weight loss target of 7-10% being the primary treatment endpoint. There is some evidence that exercise training alone without significant weight loss can reduce liver fat content (assessed using non-invasive methodologies such as transient elastography and ultrasound) in MAFLD patients. However, the independent effects of exercise alone on biopsy-measured outcomes (the gold standard for diagnosing and assessing MAFLD) have been unknown.

This new study highlights that increased fitness, the result of aerobic exercise participation, may be a more important clinical endpoint for improvement in MAFLD patients during exercise trials, rather than weight loss.

In Ireland and worldwide, MAFLD is a silent epidemic. In Ireland, there is currently no national screening programme for the disease, so the true prevalence in Ireland is unknown. However, St James's Hospital, Dublin, where the study took place, now has over 1000 patients on their own database, with the numbers growing year on year.

The Trinity study is the first to demonstrate significant improvements in biopsy-measured liver outcomes in a MAFLD cohort following an exercise-only intervention, without clinically significant weight loss. The study also demonstrates that improvements in biopsy-measured liver outcomes were significantly related to improvements in fitness levels. The study also found however, that when patients were followed up longitudinally, none of the benefits of the exercise intervention were sustained.

The study is unique in that it used repeat biopsies in MAFLD patients during an exercise-only intervention. Only two previous studies have been conducted using repeat biopsies in exercise-only trials, but these studies had significant methodological limitations. These studies used low-intensity resistance exercise and lacked exercise supervision, which may have led to non-significant changes on liver biopsy outcomes. This study is also the first to relate improvements on liver biopsies with improvements in fitness, suggesting a potential interrelationship between the two outcomes.

Dr Philip O'Gorman, Department of Physiotherapy, Trinity College said:

"The benefits of exercise training on both liver and cardiometabolic outcomes for these patients is very clear. Our findings suggest that there is an urgent need to better transition exercise into the community setting for these patients as the benefits of exercise intervention were not sustained longitudinally. This study clearly demonstrates the clinical benefit of exercise in MAFLD in as little as 12 weeks and shows the clinical benefit of improving cardiorespiratory fitness, which is increasingly being considered a 'clinical vital sign.'

Worryingly, there is little to no exercise referral systems in place within hospital departments and beyond throughout the healthcare system in Ireland. However, as our results have shown, the lack of sustainability of the benefits of exercise in MAFLD is concerning and there is an urgent unmet need to enable patients to continually engage in exercise therapy in the community setting. A systems-based approach whereby clinicians can refer patients to exercise specialists in the community is required for long-term benefits of exercise to be sustained."

NEWS RELEASE 4-AUG-2020

Easy to overdose on paracetamol if you're selenium deficient, says research

People low on selenium are at risk of paracetamol overdose, even when they follow dosage recommendations, according to research involving the University of Bath in the UK.

UNIVERSITY OF BATH

A lack of the mineral selenium in the diet puts people at risk of paracetamol overdose, even when the painkiller is taken at levels claimed to be safe on the packaging, according to collaborative research emerging from the University of Bath and Southwest University in China.

Paracetamol (also called Tylenol) is best known for relieving mild pain and fever, and is a leading cause of liver failure when taken at dangerous levels. For adults, the recommended maximum daily dosage is 4g (amounting to two 500mg tablets taken four times). However, the team from Bath and Chongqing has found that the micronutrient selenium affects the speed at which the painkiller is flushed from the body. As a result, taking 4g of the medication in a given day can be dangerous for people with low levels of selenium in their bodies.

"People with a selenium deficiency can struggle to eliminate the drug fast enough to keep their livers healthy," explained Dr Charareh Pourzand who led the collaborative research from the University of Bath's Department of Pharmacy and Pharmacology. "They can overdose even when they follow dosage guidelines."

A huge amount of Paracetamol is consumed around the world, with an average person in the UK popping 70 tablets (or 35 grams) every year. Dr Pourzand said: "For most people, paracetamol is safe up to the stated dose. But if you are frail, malnourished or elderly, your levels of selenium are likely to be somewhat depleted, and for these people I think it's a bad idea to take paracetamol at the maximum level currently considered safe."

It is thought that insufficient selenium intake affects up to 1 billion people worldwide - or one in seven of the globe's population. It may be tempting to boost selenium levels through supplements, but based on the results of this study, Dr Pourzand advises against this course of action, as an excess of the micronutrient can be just as dangerous to the body as a deficiency.

"There is a rather limited dose range for the beneficial effects of selenium," she said. "Both mild selenium deprivation in the body and excess supplementation increase the severity of liver injury after you've taken paracetamol."

She added: "This study shows that the link between selenium status in the diet and paracetamol toxicity is very important. I hope people pay attention to these findings, given everyone has paracetamol in their home. And now with people falling ill with Covid-19, paracetamol is being taken more than ever."

Selenium helps maintain a healthy redox balance in the body within antioxidant enzymes called selenoproteins (selenium-containing proteins). Redox balance describes the mechanism by which each cell maintains a subtle balance between antioxidant and pro-oxidant levels (where some atoms gain electrons and others lose them, becoming free radicals). When the body's selenium levels fall out of the beneficial range, antioxidant enzyme activities are decreased and too many free radicals are formed in liver - the main organ where paracetamol is metabolised. This results in damage both to an individual's DNA and to their proteins.

Dr Pourzand emphasises the importance of a good diet in keeping selenium levels within the recommended range. "A healthy, balanced diet is especially important if you take paracetamol on a regular basis, for instance for chronic pain," she said.

Within the human diet, selenium is obtained from both animal and plant sources. Particularly rich sources include Brazil and cashew nuts, oily fish, eggs, brown rice, sunflower seeds, mushrooms, cottage cheese, lentils and meat. However, there is growing concern that pesticides are affecting levels of selenium in the soil. Countries with particularly low levels of the mineral in their soil include the UK, Scandinavia, New Zealand and northeast regions of China and South Atlantic states in the USA.

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This study, published in the journal Antioxidants & Redox Signaling, was part of a China-UK consortium initiative led by Dr Pourzand and Professor Jun Lu from the College of Pharmaceutical Sciences of Southwest University in Chongqing. Other active members of the consortium who co-authored this study were Dr Matthew Lloyd from Bath's Department of Pharmacy and Pharmacology and Professor Julia Li Zhong from the College of Bioengineering of the University of Chongqing.

NEWS RELEASE 4-AUG-2020

An easier way to go veggie: Vitamin B12 can be produced during dough fermentation

UNIVERSITY OF HELSINKI

Vitamin B12 is an essential micronutrient that is needed for functions such as maintaining the nervous system and forming blood cells. However, B12 is mainly found in food of animal origin. Those who consume only small amounts of animal products or are vegan must therefore take B12 in the form of pills or eat food to which industrially produced B12 has been added.

"In situ fortification of B12 via fermentation could be a more cost-effective alternative. And as a commonly consumed staple food, grains are excellent vehicles for enrichment with micronutrients," explains Chong Xie from the Faculty of Agriculture and Forestry, University of Helsinki, about the background of his doctoral dissertation.

Xie used 11 different grain-based materials and fermented them with Propionibacterium freudenreichii - the only B12-producing micro-organism accepted for food products.

Propionibacterium freudenreichii, the essential microbe in Emmental cheese, produced nutritionally significant amounts of vitamin B12 in most of the fermented grain materials. During the three-day fermentation process, rice bran and buckwheat bran had the highest B12 production. The addition of Lactobacillus brevis was able to dominate indigenous microbes during fermentation and greatly improved microbial safety during the fermentation process.

NEWS RELEASE 5-AUG-2020

Absorbed plant MIR2911 in honeysuckle decoction inhibits SARS-CoV-2 replication

A practicable and reliable therapeutic strategy to treat SARS-CoV-2 infection

NANJING UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF LIFE SCIENCES

In a new study in Cell Discovery, Chen-Yu Zhang's group at Nanjing University and two other groups from Wuhan Institute of Virology and the Second Hospital of Nanjing present a novel finding that absorbed miRNA MIR2911 in honeysuckle decoction (HD) can directly target SARS-CoV-2 genes and inhibit viral replication. Drinking of HD accelerate the negative conversion of COVID-19 patients.

The search for clinically effective therapy for Covid-19 has not been successful to date. Many broad spectrum anti-viral agents have failed the test. In previous studies, Zhang's group has demonstrated that a plant microRNA, MIR2911, which is enriched in HD, could directly target influenza A viruses (IAV) including H1N1, H5N1 and H7N9. Drinking of HD can prevent IAV infection and reduce H5N1-induced mice death. They have also revealed that absorbed exogenous miRNAs (including MIR2911 in HD) can be packaged into exosomes, released to circulation, and then delivered into recipient cells as functional secreted miRNAs.

In the current study, they report that MIR2911 in HD can also suppress SARS-CoV-2 infection. The SARS-CoV-2 genome has up to 28 binding sites of MIR2911 which were confirmed by the classic luciferase assay. Cellular-exosomal-MIR2911 at 13.2 pM concentration (cellular exosomes were collected from culture medium of HEK293T cells transfected with synthetic MIR2911 or control ncRNA) inhibited 93% virus replication, indicating that exosomal MIR2911 directly and sufficiently inhibits SARS-CoV-2 replication.

The MIR2911 concentration in HD was about 52.5 pM (10.5 pmol/200 ml/30 g dried honeysuckle). Serum levels of MIR2911 in heathy volunteers two hours after drinking 200 ml HD were about 0.67 pM. The antiviral function of exosomes with/without MIR2911 collected from the same donor before and after drinking HD were assessed. Exosomes containing MIR2911 (MIR2911 levels: nondetectable before drinking; 57.9 fM after drinking) significantly inhibited virus replication.

A clinical study further confirmed the anti-viral effect of MIR2911 from HD. Patients who already received routine antiviral therapy were divided into two groups, one group received additionally MIR2911 in HD (10.5 pmol/200 ml/30 g dried honeysuckle/day, MIR2911+), the other group receive normal traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) mixture (sequenced to be free of MIR2911-). The time taken to become SARS-CoV-2 PCR-negative (TTN) significantly favored patients treated with HD-MIR2911 (median 4.0 vs 12.0 days, HR 0.11, 95% CI 0.025-0.46, P=0.0028), indicating that MIR2911 in HD accelerates the negative conversion of infected patients.

1) This study demonstrated that absorbed plant MIR2911 in honeysuckle decoction inhibits SARS-CoV-2 replication and accelerates the negative conversion of infected patients.

2) It provides a practicable and reliable therapeutic strategy to treat SARS-CoV-2 infection.

3) This is the first time that exosomes with/without MIR2911 collected from the same donor before and after drinking HD were used to assess absorbed dietary miRNA function, further supporting that absorbed dietary miRNA plays the important role of cross-kingdom regulation in human consumer.

4) The data that MIR2911 (~60 fM) in exosomes significantly inhibits virus replication not only confirms the extra-high antiviral activity of MIR2911 (compared to that of remdesivir: 3.7 μM and Chloroquine: 10 μM) but also provides a novel and the most similar condition in vivo to assess the efficacy of potential drugs in vitro.

"We wished we could provide really useful information to help stop the pandemic in the darkest hour". Chen-Yu Zhang said. "The focus of this study is to demonstrate that absorbed plant MIR2911 in honeysuckle decoction inhibits SARS-CoV-2 replication sufficiently. On the other hand, in the study titled "Decreased HD-MIR2911 absorption in human subjects with the SIDT1 polymorphism fails to inhibit SARS-CoV-2 replication", we have shown that synthetic MIR2911, cellular-exosomal MIR2911 and serum-exosomal MIR2911 directly inhibited SARS-CoV-2 S-protein expression and SARS-CoV-2 replication. More importantly, decreased HD-MIR2911 absorption resulted in non-inhibitory effect on replication, indicating that MIR2911in HD is necessary to suppress SARS-CoV-2. Therefore, we propose medical doctors and scientists from all over the world to carry out HD-MIR2911 clinic trails in order to help treating SARS-CoV-2 infection." Zhang added.

NEWS RELEASE 5-AUG-2020

Consumption of a blueberry enriched diet by women for six weeks alters determinants of human muscle progenitor cell function

PADILLACRT

FOLSOM, Calif. - August 5, 2020 - A new research study, published in the Journal of Nutrition, investigated how serum from subjects consuming a diet enriched with blueberries would affect the cells responsible for muscle growth and repair. The emerging study, "Consumption of a blueberry enriched diet by women for six weeks alters determinants of human muscle progenitor cell function," was conducted at Cornell University.

The study was conducted over six weeks with 22 women, 12 aged 25-40 and 10 aged 60-75. For the blueberry-enriched diet, participants consumed the equivalent of 1.75 cups of fresh blueberries/day, given as freeze-dried blueberries (19 g in the morning and 19 g in the evening), along with their regular diet. Participants were also asked to avoid other foods rich in polyphenols and anthocyanins. Serum was obtained from the participants 1.5 hours after consuming the morning dose of blueberries. The researchers then investigated how the serum would affect muscle progenitor cell function through proliferation or cell number, capacity to manage oxidative stress and oxygen consumption rate or metabolism.

The results showed the six-week blueberry-enriched serum obtained from the women aged 25-40 increased human muscle progenitor cell numbers in culture. There was also a trend toward a lower percentage of dead human muscle progenitor cells, suggesting a resistance to oxidative stress, as well as increased oxygen consumption of the cells. There were no beneficial effects seen in the muscle progenitor cells treated with serum from participants aged 60-75 who consumed the blueberry enriched diet.

"The consequences associated with the deterioration of skeletal muscle are a loss of mobility, decreased quality of life, and ultimately, loss of independence. Currently, research on dietary interventions to support skeletal muscle regeneration in humans is limited. This preliminary study of muscle progenitor cell function paves the way for future studies to develop clinical interventions," said Anna Thalacker-Mercer, Ph.D., the study's lead investigator. "While the results cannot be generalized to all populations, this study is an important step in translating findings from cell culture and rodent studies to a potential dietary therapy for improving muscle regeneration after injury and during the aging process."

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), muscles lose strength, flexibility, and endurance over time. Muscle mass decreases three to five percent every decade after 30 years of age, and that rate increases over age 60. Therefore, strategies to improve muscle progenitor cell proliferation and lower oxidative stress may also benefit muscle regeneration during the aging process.

Research on the role that blueberries may play in promoting good health is ongoing across multiple areas, including cardiovascular health, diabetes management, brain health, exercise and the gut microbiome.

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The research was funded by the U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council (USHBC). The USHBC had no role in study design, data collection, data analysis, data interpretation or writing of the study. For more information on blueberry nutrition research, health information and recipes visit blueberrycouncil.org.

About the U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council

The U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council is an agriculture promotion group, representing blueberry growers and packers in North and South America who market their blueberries in the United States and overseas, and works to promote the growth and well-being of the entire blueberry industry. The blueberry industry is committed to providing blueberries that are grown, harvested, packed and shipped in clean, safe environments.

Learn more at blueberrycouncil.org.

NEWS RELEASE 5-AUG-2020

Vitamin D twice a day may keep vertigo away

AMERICAN ACADEMY OF NEUROLOGY

MINNEAPOLIS - Taking vitamin D and calcium twice a day may reduce your chances of getting vertigo again, according to a study published in the August 5, 2020, online issue of Neurology®, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

"Our study suggests that for people with benign paroxysmal positional vertigo, taking a supplement of vitamin D and calcium is a simple, low-risk way to prevent vertigo from recurring," said Ji-Soo Kim, M.D., Ph.D., of Seoul National University College of Medicine in Korea. "It is especially effective if you have low vitamin D levels to begin with."

Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo happens when a change in head position gives you a sudden spinning sensation. It's one of the most common types of vertigo. Treatment includes a doctor performing a series of head movements that shift particles in the ears that cause the vertigo, but the condition tends to recur frequently. About 86% of people with this form of vertigo find that it interrupts their daily life or causes them to miss days at work.

The study looked at 957 people in Korea with benign paroxysmal positional vertigo who were treated successfully with the head movements. The participants were separated into two groups, intervention and observation.

The 445 people in the intervention group had their vitamin D levels taken at the start of the study. The 348 people with vitamin D levels below 20 nanograms per milliliter (ng/mL) were started on supplements with 400 international units of vitamin D and 500 milligrams of calcium twice daily, while those with vitamin D levels equal to or greater than 20 ng/mL were not given supplements.

The 512 people in the observation group did not have their vitamin D levels monitored and they did not get supplements.

Those in the intervention group who took the supplements had a lower recurrence rate for vertigo episodes after an average of one year than those in the observation group. People taking supplements had an average recurrence rate of 0.83 times per person-year, compared to 1.10 times per person-year for those in the observation group, or a 24% reduction in the annual recurrence rate.

There appeared to be greater benefit for those who were more deficient in vitamin D at the start of the study. Those who started with vitamin D levels lower than 10 ng/mL saw a 45% reduction in annual recurrence rate, while those starting with vitamin D levels at 10 to 20 ng/mL saw only a 14% reduction. A total of 38% of the people in the interventional group had another episode of vertigo, compared to 47% of those in the observation group.

"Our results are exciting because so far, going to the doctor to have them perform head movements has been the main way we treat benign paroxysmal positional vertigo," said Kim. "Our study suggests an inexpensive, low-risk treatment like vitamin D and calcium tablets may be effective at preventing this common, and commonly recurring, disorder."

A limitation of the study is that a large number of participants did not complete the entire study, with more people assigned to take the supplements dropping out of the study than in the observation group.

NEWS RELEASE 11-AUG-2020

Gluten in wheat: What has changed during 120 years of breeding?

Modern wheat is off the hook?

LEIBNIZ-INSTITUT FÜR LEBENSMITTEL-SYSTEMBIOLOGIE AN DER TU MÜNCHEN

In recent years, the number of people affected by coeliac disease, wheat allergy or gluten or wheat sensitivity has risen sharply. But why is this the case? Could it be that modern wheat varieties contain more immunoreactive protein than in the past? Results from a study by the Leibniz-Institute for Food Systems Biology at the Technical University of Munich and the Leibniz Institute of Plant Genetics and Crop Plant Research are helping to answer this question.

Wheat grains contain about 70 percent starch. Their protein content is usually 10 to 12 percent. Gluten accounts for the lion's share of proteins, at around 75 to 80 percent. Gluten is a compound mixture of different protein molecules. These can be roughly divided into two subgroups: "gliadins" and "glutenins".

It has long been known that wheat proteins can trigger disorders such as coeliac disease or wheat allergies. Approximately 1 or 0.5 percent of the adult population is affected worldwide. In addition, non-celiac gluten sensitivity (NCGS) is becoming increasingly important in the western world.

"Many people fear that modern wheat varieties contain more immunoreactive proteins than in the past and that this is the cause of the increased incidence of wheat-related disorders," says Darina Pronin from the Leibniz-Institute for Food Systems Biology, who was significantly involved in the study as part of her doctoral thesis. Where gluten is concerned, the protein group of gliadins in particular is suspected of causing undesired immune reactions, explains the food chemist.

60 wheat varieties from the period 1891 - 2010 analyzed

But how big are the differences between old and new wheat varieties really? In order to help clarify this, Katharina Scherf and her team at the Leibniz-Institute for Food Systems Biology investigated the protein content of 60 preferred wheat varieties from the period between 1891 and 2010. This was made possible by the Leibniz Institute of Plant Genetics and Crop Plant Research. It has an extensive seed archive. From the archive, the researchers selected five leading wheat varieties for each decade of the 120 years examined. In order to generate comparable samples, they cultivated the different varieties in 2015, 2016 and 2017 under the same geographical and climatic conditions.

Analyses by the team of scientists show that, overall, modern wheat varieties contain slightly less protein than old ones. In contrast, the gluten content has remained constant over the last 120 years, although the composition of the gluten has changed slightly. While the proportion of critically viewed gliadins fell by around 18 percent, the proportion of glutenins rose by around 25 percent. In addition, the researchers observed that higher precipitation in the year of the harvest was accompanied by a higher gluten content in the samples.

Environmental conditions are more relevant than the variety

"Surprisingly, environmental conditions such as precipitation had an even greater influence on protein composition than changes caused by breeding. In addition, at least on the protein level, we have not found any evidence that the immunoreactive potential of wheat has changed as a result of the cultivation factors," explains Katharina Scherf, who is now continuing her research as a professor at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT). However, Scherf also points out that not all protein types contained in wheat have been investigated with regard to their physiological effects. Therefore, there is still a lot of research to be done.

NEWS RELEASE 10-AUG-2020

Aspirin may accelerate progression of advanced cancers in older adults

MASSACHUSETTS GENERAL HOSPITAL

 

    

Results from a recent clinical trial indicate that for older adults with advanced cancer, initiating aspirin may increase their risk of disease progression and early death.

 

The study, which was conducted by a binational team led by researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), the Berman Center in Minnesota, and Monash University in Australia, is published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

 

Compelling evidence from clinical trials that included predominantly middle-aged adults demonstrates that aspirin may reduce the risk of developing cancer, especially colorectal cancer. Information is lacking for older adults, however.

 

To provide insights, investigators designed and initiated the ASPirin in Reducing Events in the Elderly (ASPREE) trial, the first randomized double-blind placebo-controlled trial of daily low-dose aspirin (100 mg) in otherwise healthy older adults. The study included 19,114 Australian and U.S. community-dwelling participants aged 70+ years (U.S. minorities 65+ years) without cardiovascular disease, dementia, or physical disability at the start of the study. Participants were randomized to aspirin or placebo and followed for a median of 4.7 years.

 

In October 2018, the investigators published a very surprising and concerning report showing an association between aspirin use and an elevated risk of death, primarily due to cancer. The current report now provides a more comprehensive analysis of the cancer-related effects of aspirin in the ASPREE participants. "We conducted this study as a more detailed examination of the effect of aspirin on the development of cancer as well as death from cancer," explained senior author Andrew T. Chan, MD, MPH, Chief of the Clinical and Translational Epidemiology Unit at MGH, Director of Epidemiology at the MGH Cancer Center, and a Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School.

 

Dr. Chan and his colleagues reported that 981 participants who were taking aspirin and 952 who were taking placebo developed cancer. There was no statistically significant difference between the groups for developing cancer overall or for developing specific types of cancer. Aspirin was associated with a 19% higher risk of being diagnosed with cancer that had spread (or metastasized) and a 22% higher risk of being diagnosed with stage 4, or advanced, cancer, however. Also, among participants who were diagnosed with advanced cancer, those taking aspirin had a higher risk of dying during follow-up than those taking placebo.

 

"Deaths were particularly high among those on aspirin who were diagnosed with advanced solid cancers, suggesting a possible adverse effect of aspirin on the growth of cancers once they have already developed in older adults," said Dr. Chan. He added that the findings suggest the possibility that aspirin might act differently, at the cellular or molecular level, in older people, which requires further study.

 

Notably, the vast majority of the study participants did not previously take aspirin before age 70. "Although these results suggest that we should be cautious about starting aspirin therapy in otherwise healthy older adults, this does not mean that individuals who are already taking aspirin--particularly if they began taking it at a younger age--should stop their aspirin regimen," Dr. Chan added.

NEWS RELEASE 10-AUG-2020

New approach to treating osteoarthritis advances

NYU LANGONE HEALTH / NYU SCHOOL OF MEDICINE

The study results revolve around the long-established idea that machines within animal and human cells turn the sugars, fats, and proteins we eat into energy used by the body's millions of cells. The molecule most used to store that energy is called adenosine triphosphate, or ATP. Along with this central role in metabolism, adenosine also helps signal other cells and serves as a building block of genetic material, and so is central to the growth of human tissue.

Previous research had shown that maintaining supplies of adenosine, known to nourish the chondrocyte cells that make cartilage, also prevented osteoarthritis in similar animal models of the disease.

In the new NYU Grossman School of Medicine-led study, researchers injected adenosine into the joints of rodents whose limbs had been damaged by inflammation resulting from either traumatic injury, such as a torn ligament, or from massive weight gain placing pressure on joints. The biological damage in these cases is similar, researchers say, to that sustained in human osteoarthritis.

Publishing online in the journal Scientific Reports on Aug. 10, the study rodents received eight weekly injections of adenosine, which prompted regrowth rates of cartilage tissue between 50 percent and 35 percent as measured by standard laboratory scores.

"Our latest study shows that replenishing adenosine stores by injection works well as a treatment for osteoarthritis in animal models of the disease, and with no apparent side effects," says lead study author Carmen Corciulo, PhD, a postdoctoral fellow at NYU Langone.

Corciulo says it is too soon to use this experimental model as a therapy in people. Clinical trials must await a test drug that can be safely stored for days if not weeks, and experiments in larger mammals.

Study senior investigator Bruce Cronstein, MD, the Dr. Paul R. Esserman Professor of Medicine at NYU Langone Health, says the team's research is important because the few existing drug therapies for osteoarthritis, such as acetaminophen and COX-2 inhibitor drugs, including naproxen and ibuprofen, only numb joint pain, or like hyaluronic acid, just lubricate its tissues. None stall disease progression or reverse the damage. Painkillers, such as opioids, are often prescribed, but are also highly addictive, he cautions.

"People with osteoarthritis desperately need more treatment options with fewer side effects, and our research advances that effort," says Cronstein, who also serves as the director of the Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI). He noted that other experimental medications are being developed elsewhere, including parathyroid hormone to stimulate bone growth, WNT inhibitor drugs to block the bone and cartilage degradation, and growth factor chemicals to promote cartilage growth.

Cronstein, Corciulo, and NYU Grossman School of Medicine have a patent application pending for the use of adenosine and other agents that help with its binding to chondrocytes, called A2A receptor agonists, for the treatment of osteoarthritis.

Among the study's other key findings was that a cell-signaling pathway, known as transforming growth factor beta (TGF-beta) and involved in many forms of tissue growth, death and differentiation, was highly active in cartilage tissue damaged by osteoarthritis, as well as in cartilage tissue undergoing repair after being treated with adenosine. Additional testing in lab-grown chondrocytes from people with osteoarthritis showed different chemical profiles of TGF-beta signaling during breakdown than during growth, providing the first evidence that the pathway switched function in the presence of adenosine (from assisting in cartilage breakdown to encouraging its repair.)

Developing treatments to halt or slow the disease is important, Cronstein says, because well over 100 million people worldwide are estimated to have osteoarthritis, which is tied to aging, especially in women. This figure, he says, is only expected to grow as more people live longer and obesity rates climb.

"Right now, the only way to stop osteoarthritis is to have affected joints surgically replaced, which not only comes with pain and risk of infection, but is also quite costly," says Cronstein. "If new therapies can delay or prevent disease onset and progression, then fewer joint replacements will save people from a lot of pain and expense."

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NEWS RELEASE 12-AUG-2020

Lipoic acid supplements help some obese but otherwise healthy people lose weight

OREGON STATE UNIVERSITY

CORVALLIS, Ore. - A compound given as a dietary supplement to overweight but otherwise healthy people in a clinical trial caused many of the patients to slim down, research by Oregon State University and Oregon Health & Science University showed.

The research, published in the Journal of Nutrition, analyzed the effects of 24 weeks of daily, 600-milligram doses of lipoic acid supplements on 31 people, with a similarly sized control group receiving a placebo.

"The data clearly showed a loss in body weight and body fat in people taking lipoic acid supplements," said Balz Frei, director emeritus of OSU's Linus Pauling Institute and one of the scientists on the study. "Particularly in women and in the heaviest participants."

Produced by both plants and animals, lipoic acid sets up shop in cells' mitochondria, where it's normally attached to proteins involved in energy and amino acid metabolism. A specialized, medium-chain fatty acid, it's unique in having two sulfur atoms at one end of the chain, allowing for the transfer of electrons from other sources.

The body generally produces enough lipoic acid to supply the enzymes whose proper function requires it. When taken as a dietary supplement, lipoic acid displays additional properties that might be unrelated to the function in the mitochondria. They include the stimulation of glucose metabolism, antioxidant defenses and anti-inflammatory responses - making it a possible complementary treatment for people with diabetes, heart disease and age-related cognitive decline.

"Scientists have been researching the potential health benefits of lipoic acid supplements for decades, including how it might enhance healthy aging and mitigate cardiovascular disease," said Alexander Michels, another Linus Pauling Institute scientist involved with the study. "In both rodent models and small-scale human clinical trials, researchers at the LPI have demonstrated the beneficial effects of lipoic acid on oxidative stress, lipid metabolism and circadian rhythm."

The OSU/OHSU project addressed two issues commonly ignored by previous human trials, said Tory Hagen, a professor of biochemistry and biophysics in the OSU College of Science and the study's corresponding author.

"Many existing clinical studies using lipoic acid have focused on volunteers with pre-existing conditions like diabetes, making it difficult to determine if lipoic acid supplements simply act as a disease treatment or have other beneficial health effects," said Hagen, principal investigator and Helen P. Rumbel Professor for Healthy Aging Research at the institute. "Another issue is the formulation of the supplement. Many previous studies have used the S form of lipoic acid, which is a product of industrial synthesis and not found in nature. We only used the R form of lipoic acid - the form found in the body naturally."

Contrary to what was expected by the researchers, decreased levels of triglycerides - a type of fat, or lipid, found in the blood - were not seen in all the participants taking lipoic acid.

"The effect of lipoic acid supplements on blood lipids was limited," said Gerd Bobe, another LPI scientist who collaborated on the study. "But people who lost weight on lipoic acid also reduced their blood triglyceride levels - that effect was clear."

Other effects of the lipoic acid supplements were measurable as well.

"By the end of the study, some markers of inflammation declined," Hagen said. "The findings also suggest that lipoic acid supplementation provides a mild reduction in oxidative stress. It is not a perfect panacea, but our results show that lipoic acid supplements can be beneficial."

Identifying which patients will benefit the most from lipoic acid supplementation, and how much they need, is important for both clinical and economic reasons, he added.

"Lipoic acid supplements are often quite expensive," he said. "So understanding how we can maximize benefits with smaller amounts of the supplement is something we are interested in pursuing."

NEWS RELEASE 17-AUG-2020

Cashew shell compound appears to mend damaged nerves

VANDERBILT UNIVERSITY MEDICAL CENTER

In laboratory experiments, a chemical compound found in the shell of the cashew nut promotes the repair of myelin, a team from Vanderbilt University Medical Center reports today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Myelin is a protective sheath surrounding nerves. Damage to this covering -- demyelination -- is a hallmark of multiple sclerosis and related diseases of the central nervous system.

"We see this as an exciting finding, suggesting a new avenue in the search for therapies to correct the ravages of MS and other demyelinating diseases," said the paper's senior author, Subramaniam Sriram, MBBS, William C. Weaver III Professor of Neurology and chief of the Division of Neuroimmunology.

Previous work led by Sriram showed that a protein called interleukin 33, or IL-33, induced myelin formation. IL-33 is, among other things, an immune response regulator, and multiple sclerosis is an autoimmune disorder.

The cashew shell compound is called anacardic acid. Sriram and team grew interested in it because it's known to inhibit an enzyme involved in gene expression called histone acetyltransferase, or HAT, and the team had discovered that whatever inhibits HAT induces production of IL-33.

The report includes a range of new findings that point to potential therapeutic use of anacardic acid for demyelinating diseases:

  • In vitro, the addition of the compound to rat cells most responsible for myelination -- oligodendrocyte precursor cells, or OPCs -- spurred induction of IL-33 and rapidly increased the expression of myelin genes and proteins, including dose-dependent increases in myelin basic protein;
  • In two animal models of demyelination, treatment with the compound increased the relative presence of IL-33-expressing OPCs and led to reduced paralysis;
  • In an animal model of demyelination treated with the compound, dissection and electron microscopy showed dose-dependent increases in myelination.

"These are striking results that clearly urge further study of anarcardic acid for demyelinating diseases," Sriram said.

NEWS RELEASE 20-AUG-2020

Broccoli and Brussels sprouts a cut above for blood vessel health

New research has shown some of our least favourite vegetables could be the most beneficial when it comes to preventing advanced blood vessel disease.

EDITH COWAN UNIVERSITY

New research has shown some of our least favourite vegetables could be the most beneficial when it comes to preventing advanced blood vessel disease.

Published in the British Journal of Nutrition the research has found higher consumption of cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli, Brussels sprouts and cabbage, is associated with less extensive blood vessel disease in older women.

Using data from a cohort of 684 older Western Australian women recruited in 1998, researchers from ECU's School of Medical and Health Sciences and The University of Western Australia found those with a diet comprising more cruciferous vegetables had a lower chance of having extensive build-up of calcium on their aorta, a key marker for structural blood vessel disease.

Blood vessel disease is a condition that affects our blood vessels (arteries and veins) and can reduce the flow of blood circulating around the body. This reduction in blood flow can be due to the build-up of fatty, calcium deposits on the inner walls of our blood vessels, such as the aorta. This build-up of fatty, calcium deposits is the leading cause of having a heart attack or stroke.

Broccoli and Brussels sprouts a cut above

Lead researcher Dr Lauren Blekkenhorst said there was something intriguing about cruciferous vegetables which this study has shed more light on.

"In our previous studies, we identified those with a higher intake of these vegetables had a reduced risk of having a clinical cardiovascular disease event, such as a heart attack or stroke, but we weren't sure why," she said.

"Our findings from this new study provides insight into the potential mechanisms involved."

"We have now found that older women consuming higher amounts of cruciferous vegetables every day have lower odds of having extensive calcification on their aorta," she said.

"One particular constituent found abundantly in cruciferous vegetables is vitamin K which may be involved in inhibiting the calcification process that occurs in our blood vessels."

Eat an extra serve of greens every day

Dr Blekkenhorst said women in this study who consumed more than 45g of cruciferous vegetables every day (e.g. ¼ cup of steamed broccoli or ½ cup of raw cabbage) were 46 percent less likely to have extensive build-up of calcium on their aorta in comparison to those consuming little to no cruciferous vegetables every day.

"That's not to say the only vegetables we should be eating are broccoli, cabbage and Brussels sprouts. We should be eating a wide variety of vegetables every day for overall good health and wellbeing."

Dr Blekkenhorst said it was important to note the study team were very grateful to these Western Australian women, without whom these important findings would not be available for others. While observational in nature this study design is central to progressing human health.

Research welcomed by the Heart Foundation

Heart Foundation Manager, Food and Nutrition, Beth Meertens said the findings were promising and the Heart Foundation would like to see more research in this area.

"This study provides valuable insights into how this group of vegetables might contribute to the health of our arteries and ultimately our heart," Ms Meertens said.

"Heart disease is the single leading cause of death in Australia and poor diet is responsible for the largest proportion of the burden of heart disease, accounting for 65.5 percent of the total burden of heart disease.

"The Heart Foundation recommends that Australians try to include at least five serves of vegetables in their daily diets, along with fruit, seafood, lean meats, dairy and healthy oils found in nuts and seeds. Unfortunately, over 90 percent of Australian adults don't eat this recommended daily intake of vegetables."

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Dr Blekkenhorst and senior author, Associate Professor Joshua Lewis, are both supported in their positions at Edith Cowan University by the National Heart Foundation of Australia.

The team also included researchers from Flinders University, University of Sydney, University of Minnesota, and the Hinda and Arthur Marcus Institute for Aging Research, Hebrew SeniorLife, an affiliate of Harvard Medical School.

'Cruciferous vegetable intake is inversely associated with extensive abdominal aortic calcification in elderly women: a cross-sectional study' is available on the British Journal of Nutrition website.

NEWS RELEASE 18-AUG-2020

How protein protects against fatty liver

DEUTSCHES ZENTRUM FUER DIABETESFORSCHUNG DZD

Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease is the most common chronic liver disease in the world, with sometimes life-threatening consequences. A high-protein, calorie-reduced diet can cause the harmful liver fat to melt away - more effectively than a low-protein diet. A new study by DIfE/DZD researchers published in the journal Liver International shows which molecular and physiological processes are potentially involved.

Causes and consequences of a non-alcoholic fatty liver

Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease is characterized by a build-up of fat in the liver and is often associated with obesity, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and lipid disorders. If left untreated, fatty liver can lead to cirrhosis with life-threatening consequences. The causes of the disease range from an unhealthy lifestyle - that is, eating too many high-fat, high-sugar foods and lack of exercise - to genetic components. Already in previous studies, the research team led by PD Dr. Olga Ramich and Professor Andreas Pfeiffer from the German Institute of Human Nutrition Potsdam-Rehbruecke (DIfE) observed a positive effect of a high-protein diet on liver fat content. "The new results now give us deeper insights into how the high-protein diet works," said Ramich, head of the research group Molecular Nutritional Medicine at DIfE.

High-protein diet is more effective than low-protein diet

For the current study, the research team led by Ramich and Pfeiffer investigated how the protein content of food influences the amount of liver fat in obese people with a non-alcoholic fatty liver. For this, the 19 participants were to follow either a diet with a high or low protein content for three weeks. Subsequently, surgery to treat obesity (bariatric surgery) was carried out and liver samples were collected.

Analysis of the samples showed that a calorie-reduced, high-protein diet decreased liver fat more effectively than a calorie-reduced, low-protein diet: while the liver-fat content in the high-protein group decreased by around 40 percent, the amount of fat in the liver samples of the low-protein group remained unchanged. The study participants in both groups lost a total of around five kilograms. "If the results continue to be confirmed in larger studies, the recommendation for an increased intake of protein together with a healthy low-fat diet as part of an effective fatty liver therapy could find its way into medical practice," said Andreas Pfeiffer, head of the Research Group Clinical Nutrition/DZD at DIfE and the Clinic for Endocrinology in the Charité -- Universitätsmedizin Berlin, Campus Benjamin Franklin.

Molecular fat absorption mechanisms

The researchers assume that the positive effect of the high-protein diet is mainly due to the fact that the uptake, storage and synthesis of fat is suppressed. This is indicated by extensive genetic analyses of the liver samples that Professor Stephan Herzig and his team at Helmholtz Zentrum München conducted. According to these analyses, numerous genes that are responsible for the absorption, storage and synthesis of fat in the liver were less active after the high-protein diet than after the low-protein diet.

Unexpected results

In addition, Olga Ramich's research group, together with the Department of Physiology of Energy Metabolism at DIfE, also investigated the functions of the mitochondria. "Mitochondrial activity was very similar in both groups. That surprised us. We originally assumed that the high-protein diet would increase mitochondrial activity and thus contribute to the degradation of liver fat," said Department Head Professor Susanne Klaus. The researchers were also surprised that the serum levels of Fibroblast Growth Factor 21 (FGF21) were lower after the high-protein diet which reduced liver fat than after the low-protein diet. "FGF21 is known to have beneficial effects on metabolic regulation. Further studies will be necessary to show why the factor was reduced in the actually positively acting high-protein diet," said Ramich. Furthermore, autophagy activity was lower in liver tissue after the high-protein diet compared to the low-protein diet. "Lipid degradation via 'lipophagy', as a special form of autophagy, therefore does not appear to be involved in the breakdown of liver fat in the high-protein diet."

As a next step, Ramich and Pfeiffer intend to follow up their findings about the mechanisms involved and thus gain new insights into the mode of action of targeted dietary intervention strategies.

NEWS RELEASE 18-AUG-2020

Multivitamin, mineral supplement linked to less-severe, shorter-lasting illness symptoms

OREGON STATE UNIVERSITY

CORVALLIS, Ore. - Older adults who took a daily multivitamin and mineral supplement with zinc and high amounts of vitamin C in a 12-week study experienced sickness for shorter periods and with less severe symptoms than counterparts in a control group receiving a placebo.

The findings by Oregon State University researchers were published in the journal Nutrients.

The research by scientists at OSU's Linus Pauling Institute involved 42 healthy people ages 55 to 75 and was designed to measure the supplement's effects on certain immune system indicators. It also looked at bloodstream levels of zinc and vitamins C and D while taking the supplement, as these micronutrients are important for proper immune function.

The immune indicators, including white blood cells' ability to kill incoming pathogens, were unaltered in the group receiving the supplement.

The multivitamin group showedimproved vitamin C and zinc status in the blood. Most intriguingly, illness symptoms reported by this group were less severe and went away faster than those experienced by the placebo group.

The same percentage of participants in each group reported symptoms, but days of sickness in the supplement group averaged fewer than three compared to more than six for the placebo group.

"The observed illness differences were striking," said corresponding author Adrian Gombart, professor of biochemistry and biophysics in the OSU College of Science and a principal investigator at the Linus Pauling Institute. "While the study was limited to self-reported illness data and we did not design the study to answer this question, the observed differences suggest that additional larger studies designed for these outcomes are warranted - and, frankly, overdue."

As people get older, the risk of vitamin and mineral deficiencies that contribute to age-related immune system deficiencies rises. Across the United States, Canada and Europe, research suggests more than one-third of older adults are deficient in at least one micronutrient, often more than one.

"That likely contributes to a decline in the immune system, most often characterized by increased levels of inflammation, reduced innate immune function and reduced T-cell function," Gombart said. "Since multiple nutrients support immune function, older adults often benefit from multivitamin and mineral supplements. These are readily available, inexpensive and generally regarded as safe."

The multivitamin supplement used in the study focused on vitamins and minerals typically thought to help immunity. It contained 700 micrograms of vitamin A; 400 international units of vitamin D; 45 milligrams of vitamin E; 6.6 milligrams of vitamin B6; 400 micrograms of folate; 9.6 micrograms of vitamin B12; 1,000 milligrams of vitamin C; 5 milligrams of iron; 0.9 milligrams of copper; 10 milligrams of zinc; and 110 micrograms of selenium.

"Supplementation was associated with significantly increased circulating levels of zinc and vitamin C, and with illness symptoms that were less severe and shorter lasting," Gombart said. "This supports findings that stretch back decades, even to the days of Linus Pauling's work with vitamin C. Our results suggest more and better designed research studies are needed to explore the positive role multivitamin and mineral supplementation might play in bolstering the immune system of older adults."

NEWS RELEASE 26-AUG-2020

How vitamin C could help over 50s retain muscle mass

Peer reviewed - observational study - humans

UNIVERSITY OF EAST ANGLIA

Vitamin C could be the key to better muscles in later life - according to new research from the University of East Anglia (UEA).

A study published today shows that older people who eat plenty of vitamin C - commonly found in citrus fruits, berries and vegetables - have the best skeletal muscle mass.

This is important because people tend to lose skeletal muscle mass as they get older - leading to sarcopenia (a condition characterised by loss of skeletal muscle mass and function), frailty and reduced quality of life.

Lead researcher Prof Ailsa Welch, from UEA's Norwich Medical School said: "As people age, they lose skeletal muscle mass and strength.

"People over 50 lose up to one per cent of their skeletal muscle mass each year, and this loss is thought to affect more than 50 million people worldwide."

"It's a big problem, because it can lead to frailty and other poor outcomes such as sarcopenia, physical disability, type-2 diabetes, reduced quality of life and death."

"We know that Vitamin C consumption is linked with skeletal muscle mass. It helps defend the cells and tissues that make up the body from potentially harmful free radical substances. Unopposed these free radicals can contribute to the destruction of muscle, thus speeding up age-related decline."

"But until now, few studies have investigated the importance of Vitamin C intake for older people. We wanted to find out whether people eating more Vitamin C had more muscle mass than other people."

The research team studied data from more than 13,000 people aged between 42-82 years, who are taking part in the EPIC (European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition) Norfolk Study.

They calculated their skeletal muscle mass and analysed their vitamin C intakes from a seven-day food diary. They also examined the amount of vitamin C in their blood.

Dr Richard Hayhoe, also from UEA's Norwich Medical School, said: "We studied a large sample of older Norfolk residents and found that people with the highest amounts of vitamin C in their diet or blood had the greatest estimated skeletal muscle mass, compared to those with the lowest amounts.

"We are very excited by our findings as they suggest that dietary vitamin C is important for muscle health in older men and women and may be useful for preventing age-related muscle loss.

"This is particularly significant as Vitamin C is readily available in fruits and vegetables, or supplements, so improving intake of this vitamin is relatively straightforward.

"We found that nearly 60 per cent of men and 50 per cent of women participants were not consuming as much Vitamin C as they should, according to the European Food Safety Agency recommendations.

"We're not talking about people needing mega-doses. Eating a citrus fruit, such as an orange, each day and having a vegetable side to a meal will be sufficient for most people."

Common cold combats influenza

YALE UNIVERSITY

As the flu season approaches, a strained public health system may have a surprising ally -- the common cold virus.

Rhinovirus, the most frequent cause of common colds, can prevent the flu virus from infecting airways by jumpstarting the body's antiviral defenses, Yale researchers report Sept. 4 in the journal The Lancet Microbe.

The findings help answer a mystery surrounding the 2009 H1N1 swine flu pandemic: An expected surge in swine flu cases never materialized in Europe during the fall, a period when the common cold becomes widespread.

A Yale team led by Dr. Ellen Foxman studied three years of clinical data from more than 13,000 patients seen at Yale New Haven Hospital with symptoms of respiratory infection. The researchers found that even during months when both viruses were active, if the common cold virus was present, the flu virus was not.

"When we looked at the data, it became clear that very few people had both viruses at the same time," said Foxman, assistant professor of laboratory medicine and immunobiology and senior author of the study.

Foxman stressed that scientists do not know whether the annual seasonal spread of the common cold virus will have a similar impact on infection rates of those exposed to the coronavirus that causes COVID-19.

"It is impossible to predict how two viruses will interact without doing the research," she said.

To test how the rhinovirus and the influenza virus interact, Foxman's lab created human airway tissue from stem cells that give rise to epithelial cells, which line the airways of the lung and are a chief target of respiratory viruses. They found that after the tissue had been exposed to rhinovirus, the influenza virus was unable to infect the tissue.

"The antiviral defenses were already turned on before the flu virus arrived," she said.

The presence of rhinovirus triggered production of the antiviral agent interferon, which is part of the early immune system response to invasion of pathogens, Foxman said.

"The effect lasted for at least five days," she said.

Foxman said her lab has begun to study whether introduction of the cold virus before infection by the COVID-19 virus offers a similar type of protection.

Study: Vitamin D deficiency may raise risk of getting COVID-19

UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO MEDICAL CENTER

In a retrospective study of patients tested for COVID-19, researchers at the University of Chicago Medicine found an association between vitamin D deficiency and the likelihood of becoming infected with the coronavirus.

"Vitamin D is important to the function of the immune system and vitamin D supplements have previously been shown to lower the risk of viral respiratory tract infections," said David Meltzer, MD, PhD, Chief of Hospital Medicine at UChicago Medicine and lead author of the study. "Our statistical analysis suggests this may be true for the COVID-19 infection."

The research team looked at 489 UChicago Medicine patients whose vitamin D level was measured within a year before being tested for COVID-19. Patients who had vitamin D deficiency (< 20ng/ml) that was not treated were almost twice as likely to test positive for the COVID-19 coronavirus compared to patients who had sufficient levels of the vitamin.

The study, Association of Vitamin D Status and Other Clinical Characteristics With COVID-19 Test Results, was published Sept. 3 in JAMA Network Open. Findings were previously reported on medRxiv, a preprint server for the health sciences.

Half of Americans are deficient in Vitamin D, with much higher rates seen in African Americans, Hispanics and individuals living in areas like Chicago where it is difficult to get enough sun exposure in winter.

"Understanding whether treating Vitamin D deficiency changes COVID-19 risk could be of great importance locally, nationally and globally," Meltzer said. "Vitamin D is inexpensive, generally very safe to take, and can be widely scaled."

Meltzer and his team emphasize the importance of experimental studies to determine whether vitamin D supplementation can reduce the risk, and potentially severity, of COVID-19. They also highlight the need for studies of what strategies for vitamin D supplementation may be most appropriate in specific populations. They have initiated several clinical trials at UChicago Medicine and with partners locally.

NEWS RELEASE 2-SEP-2020

COVID has likely tripled depression rate: BU study

BOSTON UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF MEDICINE

A first-of-its-kind study from the Boston University School of Public Health (BUSPH) finds 27.8% of U.S. adults had depression symptoms as of mid-April, compared to 8.5% before the COVID-19 pandemic.

Published in the journal JAMA Network Open, the study also found that income and savings are the most dramatic predictors of depression symptoms in the time of COVID.

"Depression in the general population after prior large scale traumatic events has been observed to, at most, double," says study senior author Dr. Sandro Galea, Dean and Robert A. Knox Professor at BUSPH, citing examples such as September 11, the Ebola outbreak, and civil unrest in Hong Kong.

"We were surprised to see these results at first, but other studies since conducted suggest similar-scale mental health consequences," Galea says. These studies have mainly been conducted in Asia and focused on specific populations such as healthcare workers and college students (one such study found depression symptoms among half of Chinese healthcare workers who had treated COVID patients).

But the new BUSPH study is the first nationally-representative study in the U.S. to assess the change in depression prevalence before and during COVID using the Patient Health Questionnaire-9 (PHQ 9), the leading self-administered depression screening tool.

The researchers used data from 5,065 respondents to the 2017-2018 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), and 1,441 respondents from the COVID-19 Life Stressors Impact on Mental Health and Well-Being (CLIMB) study, which was conducted from March 31 to April 13, 2020, when 96% of the U.S. population was under stay-at-home advisories or shelter-in-place policies.

Both surveys used the PHQ 9 to assess depression symptoms and gathered the same demographic data, and the 2020 survey also gathered data on COVID-related stressors including job loss, the death of a friend or loved one from COVID, and financial problems.

Across the board, the researchers found an increase in depression symptoms among all demographic groups. Not surprisingly, experiencing more COVID-related stressors was a major predictor of depression symptoms.

However, the biggest demographic difference came down to money. After adjusting for all other demographics, the researchers found that, during COVID, someone with less than $5,000 in savings was 50% more likely to have depression symptoms than someone with more than $5,000.

"Persons who were already at risk before COVID-19, with fewer social and economic resources, were more likely to report probable depression, suggesting that inequity may increase during this time and that health gaps may widen," says study lead author Catherine Ettman, a doctoral student at the Brown University School of Public Health and director of strategic development in the Office of the Dean at BUSPH.

"We would hope that these findings promote creating a society where a robust safety net exists, where people have fair wages, where equitable policies and practices exist, and where families can not only live on their income but can also save money towards the future," she says.

As COVID continues to grip the country, Ettman says, "There may be steps that policymakers can take now to help reduce the impact of COVID-19 stressors on depression, such as eviction moratoria, providing universal health insurance that is not tied to employment, and helping people return to work safely for those able to do so."

At the same time, Ettman says she and her colleagues hope the study findings will also help those who are experiencing depression in this incredibly difficult time see that they are not alone: On the contrary, one in four U.S. adults is probably going through the same thing.

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About the Boston University School of Public Health

Founded in 1976, the Boston University School of Public Health is one of the top five ranked private schools of public health in the world. It offers master's- and doctoral-level education in public health. The faculty in six departments conduct policy-changing public health research around the world, with the mission of improving the health of populations--especially the disadvantaged, underserved, and vulnerable--locally and globally.

NEWS RELEASE 1-SEP-2020

New York and California may have already achieved herd immunity -- Ben-Gurion U. researcher

Ben-Gurion University researcher Dr. Mark last presented findings presented at International Conference on Artificial Intelligence in Medicine (AIME)

AMERICAN ASSOCIATES, BEN-GURION UNIVERSITY OF THE NEGEV

NEW YORK...September 1, 2020 -- Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) data scientist Prof. Mark Last sees the end of the coronavirus peak in Israel and believes that New York and California may have reached herd immunity.

Prof. Last of the BGU Department of Software and Information Systems Engineering, presented these finding virtually at the Artificial Intelligence and the Coronavirus workshop at the International Conference on Artificial Intelligence in Medicine (AIME) on August 26. He has been analyzing health data for the past 20 years.

The findings are based on the SIR Model of Infection Dynamics, which is being used to determine COVID-19 scenarios. In this model, the population is assigned to compartments with labels: S, I or R (Susceptible, Infectious or Recovered). Such models can show how different public health interventions may affect the spread of the epidemic, such as the most efficient technique for issuing a limited number of vaccines in a given population.

In late June, New York State was close to reaching herd immunity, according to the SIR model, which is defined by a disease reproduction number of less than one. Considering a steady decrease in reported mortality rates since then, the basic reproduction number under the current social distancing restrictions was 1.14. The basic reproduction number is the average amount of secondary infections an infected person will cause in a completely susceptible population.

At that time, New York had approximately 400,000 confirmed cases, implying 2.4 million (6x more) actual infections based on the results of serological tests conducted in the state.

Prof. Last says that these are similar to his estimates for California and Israel.

"In California, it appears that herd immunity was reached around July 15 with slightly more than 10% of their population (4.05 million) being infected," he says. "This means that their basic reproduction number R0 under current restrictions is only 1.1.

"In Israel, a further lockdown is not necessary if the current restrictions are maintained and there are no unusual spreading events," Last says. "If we maintain the current restrictions, then my model predicts that we are at the end of this peak, which should tail off at the end of August or the beginning of September. Moreover, according to my calculations, we need 1.16 million people with antibodies in order to achieve herd immunity and we are very close to that number," he says.

"If there is no unusual outbreak because of the return to school or mass indoor gatherings, then the infection rate will start dropping. While another lockdown would certainly reduce infection rates, there is no need at the present time since social and physical distancing is working to lower infection rates."

However, the outlook for COVID-19 patients admitted to intensive care units in Israel for COVID-19 is dire, with an estimated 80% mortality rate, according to Prof. Last's calculations. According to the World Health Organization, the global percentage is currently about 60%. In previous research unconnected to COVID-19, Last revealed that there is an average 20% mortality among all patients admitted to ICUs.

Prof. Last's model is based on the COVID-19 attributed deaths reported by the Israeli Ministry of Health on a daily basis and an estimation of the total number of infected people based on published results of serological tests rather than just on confirmed cases.

"We cannot know the actual number of cases of infection unless we test the entire population every day. Initial serological tests conducted in Israel indicate the ratio of confirmed cases to actual cases is about 1:10. Using those numbers, we now have slightly above one million people with antibodies in Israel and we need at least 1.2 million," he says.

Therefore, he is cautiously optimistic about the COVID-19 epidemic in Israel. "We are heading in the right direction, but it is important not to relax our restrictions or get overconfident," he warns.

NEWS RELEASE 7-SEP-2020

Probiotics may help manage childhood obesity

Conference abstract, observational, people

EUROPEAN SOCIETY OF ENDOCRINOLOGY

Probiotics may help children and adolescents with obesity lose weight when taken alongside a calorie-controlled diet, according to a study being presented at e-ECE 2020. The study found that obese children who were put on a calorie-restricted diet and given probiotics Bifidobacterium breve BR03 and Bifidobacterium breve B632, lost more weight and had improved insulin sensitivity compared with children on a diet only. These findings suggest that probiotic supplements and a calorie-controlled diet may help manage obesity in the younger population and reduce future health risks, such as heart disease and diabetes.

Obesity is a global health concern and can lead to a number of life-threatening conditions, such as diabetes and heart disease. Treatment and prevention is a serious public health challenge, especially in children and adolescents. Bifidobacteria are a group of probiotic bacteria that are part of the natural gut microbiome and help with preventing infection from other bacteria, such as E.coli, and digestion of carbohydrates and dietary fibre. During digestion, they release chemicals called short-chain fatty acids, which play an important role in gut health and controlling hunger. Low numbers of Bifodobacteria may impair digestion, affect food intake and energy expenditure, leading to body weight gain and obesity.

Previous studies suggested that probiotic supplementation with Bifidobacteria could help restore the composition of the gut microbiome, which may aid weight loss and could be a potential approach for obesity management. However, current research uses mixtures of different strains of probiotics and does not examine the effects of administering Bifidobacteria alone.

Dr Flavia Prodam and her team at the University of Piemonte Orientale, aimed to assess the impact of Bifidobacteria probiotic treatment in children and adolescents with obesity on a controlled diet, on weight loss and gut microbiota composition. 100 obese children and adolescents (6-18 years) were put on a calorie-controlled diet and randomly given either probiotics Bifidobacterium breve BR03 and Bifidobacterium breve B632, or a placebo for 8 weeks. Clinical, biochemical and stool sample analyses were carried out to determine the effect of probiotic supplementation on weight gain, gut microbiota and metabolism.

The results suggested that children who had taken probiotics had a reduction in waist circumference, BMI, insulin resistance and E.coli in their gut. These beneficial effects demonstrate the potential of probiotics in helping to treat obesity in children and adolescents, when undergoing dietary restrictions.

"Probiotic supplements are frequently given to people without proper evidence data. These findings start to give evidence of the efficacy and safety of two probiotic strains in treating obesity in a younger population," Dr Prodam comments.

The study suggests that supplementation with probiotics could modify the gut microbiome environment and beneficially affect metabolism, helping obese children or adolescents who are also undergoing a restricted diet to lose weight. However, larger studies over a longer period of time are needed to investigate this.

Dr Prodam explains, "The next step for our research is to identify patients that could benefit from this probiotic treatment, with a view to creating a more personalised weight-loss strategy. We also want to decipher more clearly the role of diet and probiotics on microbiome composition. This could help us to understand how the microbiota is different in young people with obesity."