THIS IS YOUR BRAIN ON SNACKS—BRAIN STIMULATION AFFECTS CRAVING AND CONSUMPTION
From the FMS Global News Desk of Jeanne Hambleton Released: 15-Sep-2014 Source Wolters Kluwer Health: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins Citations Psychosomatic Medicine
Newswise — Magnetic stimulation of a brain area involved in “executive function” affects cravings for and consumption of calorie-dense snack foods, reports a study in the September issue of Psychosomatic Medicine: Journal of Biobehavioral Medicine, the official journal of the American Psychosomatic Society. The journal is published by Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, a part of Wolters Kluwer Health.
After stimulation of the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC), young women experience increased cravings for high-calorie snacks—and eat more of those foods when given the opportunity, according to the study by researchers at University of Waterloo, Ont., Canada.
“These findings shed a light on the role of the DLPFC in food cravings (specifically reward anticipation), the consumption of appealing high caloric foods, and the relation between self-control and food consumption,” the researchers write. The senior author was Peter Hall, PhD.
Brain Stimulation Affects Cravings and Consumption for ‘Appetitive’ Snacks
The study included 21 healthy young women, selected because they reported strong and frequent cravings for chocolate and potato chips. Such “appetitive,” calorie-dense snack foods are often implicated in the development of obesity.
The women were shown pictures of these foods to stimulate cravings. The researchers then applied a type of magnetic stimulation, called continuous theta-burst stimulation, to decrease activity in the DLPFC. Previous studies have suggested that DLPFC activity plays a role in regulating food cravings.
After theta-burst stimulation, the women reported stronger food cravings—specifically for “appetitive” milk chocolate and potato chips. During a subsequent “taste test,” they consumed more of these foods, rather than alternative, less-appetitive foods (dark chocolate and soda crackers).
Stimulation to weaken DLPFC activity was also associated with lower performance on a test of inhibitory control strength (the Stroop test). Decreased DLPFC activity appeared to be associated with increased “reward sensitivity”—it made the participants “more sensitive to the rewarding properties of palatable high caloric foods,” the researchers write.
Weak Executive Function May Contribute to Obesity Risk
The results highlight the role of executive function in governing “dietary self-restraint,” the researchers believe. Executive function, which involves the DLPFC, refers to a set of cognitive functions that enable “top-down” control of action, emotion, and thought.
At the “basic neurobiological level,” the study provides direct evidence that the DLPFC is involved in one specific aspect of food cravings: reward anticipation. People with weak executive function may lack the dietary self-control necessary to regulate snack food consumption in “the modern obesogenic environment.” Faced with constant cues and opportunities to consume energy-dense foods, such individuals may be more likely to become overweight or obese.
The results suggest that interventions aimed at enhancing or preserving DLPFC function may help to prevent obesity and related diseases. In conditions such as type 2 diabetes, where healthy dietary habits are essential for effective disease control, “Interventions focused on enhancing DLPFC activity, through aerobic exercise or other means, may result in increased dietary self-control and subsequently improve disease management,” Dr Hall and coauthors add.
About Psychosomatic Medicine
Psychosomatic Medicine, Journal of Biobehavioral Medicine, founded in 1939, is the official peer-reviewed journal of the American Psychosomatic Society. It publishes experimental and clinical studies dealing with various aspects of the relationships among social, psychological, and behavioral factors and bodily processes in humans and animals. Psychosomatic Medicine, Journal of Biobehavioral Medicine is an international, interdisciplinary journal devoted to experimental and clinical investigation in behavioral biology, psychiatry, psychology, physiology, anthropology, and clinical medicine. The print journal is published nine times a year; most articles are published online ahead of print.
About the American Psychosomatic Society
The mission of the American Psychosomatic Society is to promote and advance the scientific understanding and multidisciplinary integration of biological, psychological, behavioral and social factors in human health and disease, and to foster the dissemination and application of this understanding in education and health care.
The American Psychosomatic Society is a worldwide community of scholars and clinicians dedicated to the scientific understanding of the interaction of mind, brain, body and social context in promoting health. The organization is devoted to biopsychosocial research and integrated clinical care, and to providing a forum via its website, Annual Meeting and journal, Psychosomatic Medicine, for sharing this research. Its members are from around the world, including specialists from all medical and health-related disciplines, the behavioral sciences, and the social sciences.
About Wolters Kluwer Health
Wolters Kluwer Health is a leading global provider of information, business intelligence and point-of-care solutions for the healthcare industry. Serving more than 150 countries worldwide, clinicians rely on Wolters Kluwer Health’s market leading information-enabled tools and software solutions throughout their professional careers from training to research to practice. Major brands include Health Language®, Lexicomp®, Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Medicom®, Medknow, Ovid®, Pharmacy OneSource®, ProVation® Medical and UpToDate®.
Wolters Kluwer Health is part of Wolters Kluwer, a market-leading global information services company. Wolters Kluwer had 2013 annual revenues of €3.6 billion ($4.7 billion), employs approximately 19,000 people worldwide, and maintains operations in over 40 countries across Europe, North America, Asia Pacific, and Latin America.maintains operations in over 40 countries across Europe, North America, Asia Pacific, and Latin America. Wolters Kluwer is headquartered in Alphen aan den Rijn, the Netherlands. Its shares are quoted on Euronext Amsterdam (WKL) and are included in the AEX and Euronext 100 indices. Wolters Kluwer has a sponsored Level 1 American Depositary Receipt program. The ADRs are traded on the over-the-counter market in the U.S. (WTKWY).
OUR MICROBES ARE A RICH SOURCE OF DRUGS, UCSF RESEARCHERS DISCOVER
From FMS Global News Desk of Jeanne Hambleton Embargoed: 11-Sep-2014 Mohamed Donia, UCSF Source University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) Citations Cell, September 11, 2014
Newswise — Bacteria that normally live in and upon us have genetic blueprints that enable them to make thousands of molecules that act like drugs, and some of these molecules might serve as the basis for new human therapeutics, according to UC San Francisco researchers who report their new discoveries in the September 11, 2014 issue of Cell.
The scientists purified and solved the structure of one of the molecules they identified, an antibiotic they named lactocillin, which is made by a common bacterial species, Lactobacillus gasseri, found in the microbial community within the vagina. The antibiotic is closely related to others already being tested clinically by pharmaceutical companies. Lactocillin kills several vaginal bacterial pathogens, but spares species known to harmlessly dwell in the vagina.
A scientific team led by UCSF microbiome expert Michael Fischbach, PhD, identified more than 3,000 clusters of bacterial genes at different body sites that contain the blueprints for cellular factories that make drug-like molecules. One of the molecules discovered based on gene-cluster identification, an antibiotic the researchers named lactocillin, is assembled by enzymes encoded by genes within the circular DNA plasmid of the bacterium, Lactobacillus gasseri, a common resident of the vagina. Lactocillin kills pathogenic bacteria that are found in the vagina, the researchers discovered.
This example suggests that there may be an important role for many naturally occurring drugs – made by our own microbes — in maintaining human health, said the senior author of the study, Michael Fischbach, PhD, an assistant professor of bioengineering with the UCSF School of Pharmacy, who has established a career discovering interesting molecules made by microbes.
“We used to think that drugs were developed by drug companies, approved by the FDA, and prescribed by physicians, but we now think there are many drugs of equal potency and specificity being produced by the human microbiota,” Fischbach said.
About a third of all medicines used in the clinic are derived from microbes and plants, Fischbach said. These include antibiotics like penicillin, numerous drugs used in cancer chemotherapy, and cholesterol-lowering drugs. Although those who prospect for drugs from microbes have been combing the depths of the oceans and probing exotic soils around the globe, only now have scientists begun to look within our own bodies.
There are hundreds of bacterial species associated with each of us, and thousands of distinct strains among them. We do not all harbor the same species, and different species are found at different body sites.
Through research funded by the National Institutes of Health’s Human Microbiome Project and other studies, scientists in recent years have begun to describe the microbiomes – ecosystems made up of many microbial species – found in the gut, skin, nasal passages, mouth and vagina.
They have started to identify microbiomes in which species diversity and abundance differ from the normal range in ways that are associated with disease risks. However, the identification of molecules that govern interactions between microbes and their human hosts has lagged; only a handful have been identified, Fischbach said.
By developing new data-analysis software and putting it to work on an extensive genetic database developed from human-associated bacterial samples collected as part of the ongoing Human Microbiome Project, Fischbach’s lab team identified clusters of bacterial genes that are switched-on in a coordinated way to guide the production of molecules that are biologically active in humans.
Like language-translation programs, the mathematical algorithm Fischbach’s team developed, called ClusterFinder, uses machine-learning principals to draw conclusions from new data, based on what is already known — in this case previously identified relationships between gene clusters in soil and marine bacterial species and the molecules they produce.
Using ClusterFinder, Fischbach’s team for the first time systematically analyzed genomes from microbiome species and data on gene activity from human samples to identify 3,118 distinct clusters of bacterial genes that are found in various human body sites. The gene clusters his team identified encode enzymes that serve as molecular factories to produce specific drug-like molecules that fit into known classes of pharmaceuticals.
The new study reveals that the genus-level analysis commonly used to identify bacteria within human microbiomes is not detailed enough to predict which drug-like molecules the bacteria make, Fischbach said. Individual species, and different strains within each species, differ in the molecules they produce.
“We need to learn what these molecules are and what they are doing,” Fischbach said. “This could represent a pool of molecules with many tantalizing candidates for drug therapy.
“It’s been clear for several years that variations and changes in the human microbiome have interesting effects on the human host, and now we can begin to determine why this is true on a molecular level.”
UCSF postdoctoral fellow Mohamed S. Donia, PhD, designed and conducted key experiments and took the lead in drafting the newly published study. Other co-authors include UCSF postdoctoral fellow Peter Cimermancic, PhD; postdoctoral fellow Christopher J. Schulze, PhD, from Stanford University; associate professor Roger G. Linington, PhD, from UC Santa Cruz; chemistry lecturer Laura C. Wieland Brown, PhD, from Indiana University; John Martin and Makedonka Mitreva, PhD, assistant professor, from Washington University, St. Louis; and Jon Clardy, PhD, professor at Harvard Medical School.
The research was funded by the National Institutes of Health, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, the W.M. Keck Foundation, the David and Lucile Packard Foundation and the UCSF Program for Breakthrough Biomedical Research. Fischbach is on the scientific advisory boards of NGM Biopharmaceuticals and Warp Drive Bio.
UCSF is the nation’s leading university exclusively focused on health. Now celebrating the 150th anniversary of its founding as a medical college, UCSF is dedicated to transforming health worldwide through advanced biomedical research, graduate-level education in the life sciences and health professions, and excellence in patient care. It includes top-ranked graduate schools of dentistry, medicine, nursing and pharmacy; a graduate division with world-renowned programs in the biological sciences, a preeminent biomedical research enterprise and two top-tier hospitals, UCSF Medical Center and UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital San Francisco.
SCIENTISTS REPORT FIRST SEMIAQUATIC DINOSAUR, SPINOSAURUS
Massive predator was more than 9 feet longer than largest Tyrannosaurusrex
From FMS Global News Desk of Jeanne Hambleton Released: 11-Sep-2014 Source: University of Chicago
Newswise — Scientists are unveiling what appears to be the first truly semiaquatic dinosaur, Spinosaurus aegyptiacus. New fossils of the massive Cretaceous-era predator reveal it adapted to life in the water some 95 million years ago, providing the most compelling evidence to date of a dinosaur able to live and hunt in an aquatic environment. The fossils also indicate that Spinosaurus was the largest known predatory dinosaur to roam the Earth, measuring more than nine feet longer than the world’s largest Tyrannosaurus rex specimen.
These findings, to be published Sept. 11 in the journal Science online at the Science Express website, are also featured in the October National Geographic magazine cover story available online Sept. 11. In addition, Spinosaurus will be the subject of a new exhibition at the National Geographic Museum, opening Sept. 12, as well as a National Geographic/NOVA special airing on PBS Nov. 5 at 9 p.m.
An international research team — including paleontologists Nizar Ibrahim and Paul Sereno from the University of Chicago; Cristiano Dal Sasso and Simone Maganuco from the Natural History Museum in Milan, Italy; and Samir Zouhri from the Université Hassan II Casablanca in Morocco — found that Spinosaurus developed a variety of previously unknown aquatic adaptations.
The researchers came to their conclusions after analyzing new fossils uncovered in the Moroccan Sahara and a partial Spinosaurus skull and other remains housed in museum collections around the world as well as historical records and images from the first reported Spinosaurus discovery in Egypt more than 100 years ago. According to lead author Ibrahim, a 2014 National Geographic Emerging Explorer, “Working on this animal was like studying an alien from outer space; it’s unlike any other dinosaur I have ever seen.”
The aquatic adaptations of Spinosaurus differ significantly from earlier members of the spinosaurid family that lived on land but were known to eat fish. These adaptations include:
- Small nostrils located in the middle of the skull. The small size and placement of the nostrils farther back on the skull allowed Spinosaurus to breathe when part of its head was in water.
- Neurovascular openings at the end of the snout. Similar openings on crocodile and alligator snouts contain pressure receptors that enable them to sense movement in water. It’s likely these openings served a comparable function in Spinosaurus.
- Giant, slanted teeth that interlocked at the front of the snout. The conical shape and location of the teeth were well-suited for catching fish.
- A long neck and trunk that shifted the dinosaur’s center of mass forward. This made walking on two legs on land nearly impossible, but facilitated movement in water.
- Powerful forelimbs with curved, blade-like claws. These claws were ideal for hooking or slicing slippery prey.
- A small pelvis and short hind legs with muscular thighs. As in the earliest whales, these adaptations were for paddling in water and differ markedly from other predatory dinosaurs that used two legs to move on land.
- Particularly dense bones lacking the marrow cavities typical to predatory dinosaurs. Similar adaptations, which enable buoyancy control, are seen in modern aquatic animals like king penguins.
- Strong, long-boned feet and long, flat claws. Unlike other predators, Spinosaurus had feet similar to some shorebirds that stand on or move across soft surfaces rather than perch. In fact, Spinosaurus may have had webbed feet for walking on soft mud or paddling.
- Loosely connected bones in the dinosaur’s tail. These bones enabled its tail to bend in a wave-like fashion, similar to tails that help propel some bony fish.
- Enormous dorsal spines covered in skin that created a gigantic “sail” on the dinosaur’s back. The tall, thin, blade-shaped spines were anchored by muscles and composed of dense bone with few blood vessels. This suggests the sail was meant for display and not to trap heat or store fat. The sail would have been visible even when the animal entered the water.
More than a century ago, German paleontologist Ernst Freiherr Stromer von Reichenbach first discovered evidence of Spinosaurus in the Egyptian Sahara. Sadly, all of Stromer’s fossils were destroyed during the April 1944 Allied bombing of Munich, Germany. Ibrahim, however, was able to track down Stromer’s surviving notes, sketches and photos in archives and at the Stromer family castle in Bavaria to supplement Stromer’s surviving publications.
The new Spinosaurus fossils were discovered in the Moroccan Sahara along desert cliffs known as the Kem Kem beds. This area was once a large river system, stretching from present-day Morocco to Egypt. At the time, a variety of aquatic life populated the system, including large sharks, coelacanths, lungfish and crocodile-like creatures, along with giant flying reptiles and predatory dinosaurs.
The most important of the new fossils, a partial skeleton uncovered by a local fossil hunter, was spirited out of the country. As a result, critical information about the context of the find was seemingly lost, and locating the local fossil hunter in Morocco was nearly impossible. Remarked Ibrahim, “It was like searching for a needle in a desert.” After an exhaustive search, Ibrahim finally found the man and confirmed the site of his original discovery.
To unlock the mysteries of Spinosaurus, the team created a digital model of the skeleton with funding provided by the National Geographic Society. The researchers CT scanned all of the new fossils, which will be repatriated to Morocco, complementing them with digital recreations of Stromer’s specimens. Missing bones were modeled based on known elements of related dinosaurs.
According to Maganuco, “We relied upon cutting-edge technology to examine, analyze and piece together a variety of fossils. For a project of this complexity, traditional methods would not have been nearly as accurate.”
The researchers then used the digital model to create an anatomically precise, life-size 3-D replica of the Spinosaurus skeleton. After it was mounted, the researchers measured Spinosaurus from head to tail, confirming their calculation that the new skeleton was longer than the largest documented Tyrannosaurus by more than 9 feet.
According to Sereno, head of the University of Chicago’s Fossil Lab, “What surprised us even more than the dinosaur’s size were its unusual proportions. We see limb proportions like this in early whales, not predatory dinosaurs.”
Added Dal Sasso, “In the last two decades, several finds demonstrated that certain dinosaurs gave origins to birds. Spinosaurus represents an equally bizarre evolutionary process, revealing that predatory dinosaurs adapted to a semiaquatic life and invaded river systems in Cretaceous North Africa.”
The life-size skeletal replica will be the centerpiece of a new exhibition at the National Geographic Museum in Washington, D.C., titled “Spinosaurus: Lost Giant of the Cretaceous.” The exhibition, which runs from Sept. 12, 2014, to April 12, 2015, brings to life the story of Spinosaurus, from Stromer’s original discoveries to the dedicated effort of the international research team working to unlock its secrets.
Flesh rendering of Spinosaurus aegyptiacus, 50 feet in length.The average double decker bus is just over 36 feet in length, The Spinosaurus with two men lying top to toe in a straight line, should give you some idea of the size if the semi-acquatic dinosaur.
The global search to uncover the Spinosaurus skeleton and its mysteries will also be featured in a National Geographic/NOVA special, “Bigger Than T.rex,” airing on PBS Nov. 5, 2014, at 9 p.m.
Other authors of the Science paper are David Martill, University of Portsmouth, United Kingdom; Matteo Fabbri, University of Bristol, United Kingdom; Nathan Myhrvold, Intellectual Ventures; and Dawid Iurino, Sapienza Università di Roma in Italy. Important contributors to the making of the digital Spinosaurus include Tyler Keillor, Lauren Conroy and Erin Fitzgerald of the Fossil Lab at the University of Chicago.