Week in Health (20 – 26 Feb 2021)

Health News related to Repairing Injured Spinal Cord, Air Pollution and Higher Risk of Disease, Pregnant Women Passing COVID Antibodies to Babies, Effective Treatment for Insomnia, Reversing ALS Neuron Damage, Seeing Schizophrenia and Treating, Identifying Autism Blood Biomarkers, 3D Map for Inner Ear, New Experiences Enhancing Learning – Resetting Brain


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. Scientists Repair Injured Spinal Cord Using Patients’ Own Stem Cells


Source: Yale University 22 Feb 2021


Intravenous injection of bone marrow derived stem cells (MSCs) in patients with spinal cord injuries led to significant improvement in motor functions, researchers report. For more than half of the patients, substantial improvements in key functions — such as ability to walk, or to use their hands — were observed within weeks of stem cell injection, the researchers report. No substantial side effects were reported.


Original written by: Lakshmi Bangalore

2. Air Pollution Puts Children at Higher Risk of Disease in Adulthood


Source: Stanford University 22 Feb 2021


First of its kind study reveals evidence that early exposure to dirty air alters genes in a way that could lead to adult heart disease, among other ailments. The findings could change the way medical experts and parents think about the air children breathe and inform clinical interventions.


Original written by: Rob Jordan

3. Pregnant Women Pass Along Protective COVID Antibodies to their Babies


Source: Weill Cornell Medicine 22 Feb 2021


Antibodies that guard against COVID-19 can transfer from mothers to babies while in the womb, according to a new study. This discovery adds to growing evidence that suggests that pregnant women who generate protective antibodies after contracting the coronavirus often convey some of that natural immunity to their fetuses. The findings also lend support to the idea that vaccinating mothers-to-be may also have benefits for their newborns.

4. Effective Treatment for Insomnia Delivered In A Few Short Phone Calls


Source: University of Washington 22 Feb 2021


In a study involving patients in the Kaiser Permanente Washington system — the Osteoarthritis and Therapy for Sleep, or OATS study — the researchers found that effective treatment for insomnia can be delivered in a few short phone calls. The phone-delivered therapy, which consisted of guided training and education to combat insomnia, also helped reduce fatigue as well as pain associated with osteoarthritis.


Original written by: Jake Ellison

5. ALS Neuron Damage Reversed with New Compound


Source: Northwestern University 22 Feb 2021


Scientists have identified the first compound to repair degenerating brain cells in paralyzing diseases. The new compound targets neurons that initiate voluntary movement. After 60 days of treatment, the diseased brain cells looked like healthy cells. But the researchers say more research is needed before clinical trials can be initiated.


Original written by: Marla Paul

6. Seeing Schizophrenia: X-Rays Shed Light on Neural Differences, Point Toward Treatment


Source: DOE/Argonne National Laboratory 23 Feb 2021


An international research team used the ultrabright X-rays of the Advanced Photon Source to examine neurons in the brains of schizophrenia patients. They collected eight small samples of brain tissue — four from healthy brains and four from those of schizophrenia patients, all collected post-mortem. The team used powerful X-rays and high-resolution optics to capture three-dimensional images of those tissues.


Original written by: Andre Salles

7. Researchers Use Machine Learning to Identify Autism Blood Biomarkers


Source: UT Southwestern Medical Center 24 Feb 2021


Using machine learning tools to analyze hundreds of proteins, researchers have identified a group of biomarkers in blood that could lead to an earlier diagnosis of children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and, in turn, more effective therapies sooner. The identification of nine serum proteins that strongly predict ASD were reported in their study.

8. 3D Map for Inner Ear Created with Advanced X-Ray Technology


Source: Uppsala University 24 Feb 2021


Researchers have created the first 3D map of the hearing nerve showing where the various sound frequencies are captured. Using what is known as synchrotron X-ray imaging, they were able to trace the fine nerve threads and the vibrating auditory organ, the cochlea, and find out exactly how the frequencies of incoming sound are distributed.


Original written by: Åsa Malmberg

9. New Experiences Enhance Learning by Resetting Key Brain Circuit


Source: NIH/National Institute of Mental Health 24 Feb 2021


A study of spatial learning in mice shows that exposure to new experiences dampens established representations in the brain’s hippocampus and prefrontal cortex, allowing the mice to learn new navigation strategies.


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