Week in Health (27 Feb – 5 Mar 2021)

Health News related to Genetics Behind Eating Disorders, 4D Bioengineering, Vaccine Strategy for Urinary Tract Infections, Measuring Biological Age, Color Blindness-Correcting Contact Lenses, Green Tea Supplements and Children with Down Syndrome, Fighting Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s Disease, The (Robotic) Doctor, Impact of Teenage Screen Use, Functional Recovery After Spinal Cord Injury

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.


*Cover picture credit: MIT News*

1. Deciphering the Genetics Behind Eating Disorders


Source: Université de Genève 1 Mar 2021


By analysing the genome of tens of thousands of people, a team has discovered similarities between the genetic bases of these various eating disorders, and those of other psychiatric disorders. Eating disorders differ in their genetic association with anthropometric traits, like weight, waist circumference or body mass index. Thus, genetic predisposition to certain weight traits may be a distinctive feature of anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa or binge-eating disorder.

2. 4D Bioengineering Materials Bend, Curve Like Natural Tissue


Source: University of Illinois at Chicago 1 Mar 2021


Researchers have developed new 4D hydrogels — 3D materials that have the ability to change shape over time in response to stimuli — that can morph multiple times in a preprogrammed or on-demand manner in response to external trigger signals. The researchers show that these new materials may be used to help develop tissues that more closely resemble their natural counterparts, which are subject to forces that drive movement during their formation.


Original written by: Sharon Parmet

3. Goodbye UTIs: Scientists Develop Vaccine Strategy for Urinary Tract Infections


Source: Duke University Medical Center 1 Mar 2021


In a study, researchers describe a new vaccination strategy that they think could re-program the body to fight off the bacteria that cause urinary tract infections successfully. The strategy, which the team showed to be effective in mouse models, involves re-programming an inadequate immune response that the team identified last year.


Original written by: Sarah Avery

4. New, Highly Precise ‘Clock’ Can Measure Biological Age


Source: University of Cologne 3 Mar 2021


Scientists have developed a method that can determine an organism’s biological age with unprecedented precision. Using the model organism Caenorhabditis elegans, the researchers developed an ‘aging clock’ that reads the biological age of an organism directly from its gene expression, the transcriptome. The researchers expect new insights into how the environment, nutrition, and therapies influence the aging process.

5. Color Blindness-Correcting Contact Lenses


Source: American Chemical Society 3 Mar 2021


Imagine seeing the world in muted shades — gray sky, gray grass. Some people with color blindness see everything this way, though most can’t see specific colors. Tinted glasses can help, but they can’t be used to correct blurry vision. And dyed contact lenses currently in development for the condition are potentially harmful and unstable. Now, researchers report infusing contact lenses with gold nanoparticles to create a safer way to see colors.

6. Green Tea Supplements Modulate Facial Development of Children with Down Syndrome


Source: KU Leuven 3 Mar 2021


A new study adds evidence about the potential benefits of green tea extracts in Down syndrome. The researchers observed that the intake of green tea extracts can reduce facial dysmorphology in children with Down syndrome when taken during the first three years of life. Additional experimental research in mice confirmed the positive effects at low doses. However, they also found that high doses of the extract can disrupt facial and bone development.

7. Drug Target Could Fight Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s Disease


Source: University of Queensland 3 Mar 2021


Neurodegenerative disorders such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease are in the firing line after researchers identified an attractive therapeutic drug target. The team of researchers has isolated and analysed the structure and function of a protein found in the brain’s nerve fibres called SARM1.

8. The (Robotic) Doctor Will See You Now


Source: Massachusetts Institute of Technology 4 Mar 2021


In the era of social distancing, a key question that needs to be answered is how patients will react to a robot entering the exam room. Researchers recently set out to answer that question. In a study performed in the emergency department, the team found that a large majority of patients reported that interacting with a health care provider via a video screen mounted on a robot was similar to an in-person interaction with a health care worker.


Original written by: Anne Trafton

9. Research Identifies Impact of Teenage Screen Use


Source: University of Leicester 5 Mar 2021


Two thirds of children use more than one screen at the same time after school, in the evenings and at weekends as part of increasingly sedentary lifestyles, according to new research. A study of more than 800 adolescent girls between the ages of 11 and 14 identified worrying trends between screen use and lower physical activity – including higher BMI – as well as less sleep.

10. New Potential for Functional Recovery After Spinal Cord Injury


Source: Indiana University School of Medicine 5 Mar 2021


Researchers have successfully reprogrammed a glial cell type in the central nervous system into new neurons to promote recovery after spinal cord injury—revealing an untapped potential to leverage the cell for regenerative medicine. This is the first time scientists have reported modifying a NG2 glia—a type of supporting cell in the central nervous system—into functional neurons after spinal cord injury.


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