Week in Health (13 – 19 Feb 2021)

Health News related to New Immunotherapy for Malignant Brain Tumors; Drinking, Smoking, And Drug Use Linked to Premature Heart Disease; Better Control of Prosthetic Limbs; Regular Caffeine Consumption Affecting Brain Structure; Deep Learning for Better Lung Cancer Treatments; Preventing Sudden Cardiac Death; “Noise” In Our Brain Influencing Our Behavior; Prolonged Sedentary Time - Obesity or Overweight; A Mutation That Provides Superior Resilience to Cold; Coffee and Cardiovascular Diseases; Video Games and Lower Depression Risk


Note: None of the news bits (and cover picture) given here are written/owned by NewAnced's authors. The links on each of the news bits will redirect to the news source. Content given under each headline is a basic gist and not the full story.

1. New Immunotherapy Target Discovered for Malignant Brain Tumors


Source: Dana-Farber Cancer Institute 15 Feb 2021


Scientists say they have discovered a potential new target for immunotherapy of malignant brain tumors, which so far have resisted the ground-breaking cancer treatment based on harnessing the body’s immune system. Study of T cells from glioma tumors identifies a pathway that inhibits immune response. Blocking the pathway in an animal model stimulated T cell killing of brain tumor cells. The inhibitory pathway was also found in several other cancer types.

2. Drinking, Smoking, And Drug Use Linked to Premature Heart Disease in The Young


Source: BMJ 15 Feb 2021


Recreational drinking, smoking, and drug use is linked to premature heart disease in young people, particularly younger women, finds research. Those who regularly use 4 or more substances are 9 times as likely to be affected, the findings indicate.

3. New Surgery May Enable Better Control of Prosthetic Limbs


Source: Massachusetts Institute of Technology 15 Feb 2021


Researchers have invented a new type of amputation surgery that can help amputees to better control their residual muscles and sense where their “phantom limb” is in space. This restored sense of proprioception should translate to better control of prosthetic limbs, as well as a reduction of limb pain, the researchers say.


Original written by: Anne Trafton

4. Regular Caffeine Consumption Affects Brain Structure


Source: University of Basel 15 Feb 2021


Coffee, cola or an energy drink: caffeine is the world’s most widely consumed psychoactive substance. Researchers have now shown in a study that regular caffeine intake can change the gray matter of the brain. However, the effect appears to be temporary.

5. Deep Learning May Help Doctors Choose Better Lung Cancer Treatments


Source: Penn State 16 Feb 2021


In a study, researchers report that they developed a deep learning model that, in certain conditions, was more than 71% accurate in predicting survival expectancy of lung cancer patients, significantly better than traditional machine learning models that the team tested. The other machine learning models the team tested had about a 61% accuracy rate.


Original written by: Matt Swayne

6. New Possibilities to Prevent Sudden Cardiac Death


Source: Florida State University 17 Feb 2021


A leading cause of SCD in young athletes is arrhythmogenic cardiomyopathy (ACM), a genetic disease in which healthy heart muscle is replaced over time by scar tissue (fibrosis) and fat. Researchers have now developed a better understanding of the pathological characteristics behind the disease, as well as promising avenues for prevention.


Original written by: Doug Carlson

7. How The “Noise” In Our Brain Influences Our Behavior


Source: Max Planck Institute for Human Development 17 Feb 2021


The brain’s neural activity is irregular, changing from one moment to the next. To date, this apparent “noise” has been thought to be due to random natural variations or measurement error. However, researchers have shown that this neural variability may provide a unique window into brain function. In a new article, the authors argue that researchers need to focus more on neural variability to fully understand how behavior emerges from the brain.

8. Study Links Prolonged Sedentary Time to Distractibility in Adults with Obesity or Overweight


Source: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, News Bureau 17 Feb 2021


Scientists used accelerometers to track daily activity levels for a week in 89 adults with obesity or overweight and, in a series of tests, measured their ability to multitask and maintain their attention despite distractions. The study revealed that individuals who spent more sedentary time in bouts lasting 20 minutes or more were less able to overcome distractions.


Original written by: Diana Yates

9. One in Five Has A Mutation That Provides Superior Resilience to Cold


Source: Karolinska Institutet 17 Feb 2021


Almost one in five people lacks the protein α-actinin-3 in their muscle fibre. Researchers now show that more of the skeletal muscle of these individuals comprises slow-twitch muscle fibres, which are more durable and energy-efficient and provide better tolerance to low temperatures than fast-twitch muscle fibres.


10. Déjà Brew? Another Shot for Lovers of Coffee


Source: University of South Australia 18 Feb 2021


In a world first genetic study, researchers found that that long-term, heavy coffee consumption – six or more cups a day – can increase the amount of lipids (fats) in your blood to significantly heighten your risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD). Importantly, this correlation is both positive and dose-dependent, meaning that the more coffee you drink, the greater the risk of CVD.

11. Boys Who Play Video Games Have Lower Depression Risk


Source: University College London 19 Feb 2021


Boys who regularly play video games at age 11 are less likely to develop depressive symptoms three years later, finds a new study. The study also found that girls who spend more time on social media appear to develop more depressive symptoms. Taken together, the findings demonstrate how different types of screen time can positively or negatively influence young people’s mental health, and may also impact boys and girls differently.


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