Scientists Have Identified The Chemical That Suppresses Unwanted Thoughts in The Brain

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Most of us know the feeling of being unable to distract ourselves from a particular thought, however much we might want to. Now, scientists might have found the reason why.

In a study carried out at the University of Cambridge, participants were given pairs of words to associate with one another. The words were unrelated in order to ensure that pre-existing associations didn’t have any influence.

Participants were then given a word and either a green or a red signal. If it was the former, they would try to recall the other half of the pairing, and if it was the latter, they would try to deliberately suppress the associated term from their mind.

While this test was being carried out, participants’ brains were monitored using functional magnetic resonance imaging, a technique that monitors changes in blood flow, as well as magnetic resonance spectroscopy, which tracks chemical changes.

Participants with the highest concentrations of a chemical known as GABA in their hippocampus were best at suppressing the unwanted thoughts. GABA is the brain’s primary inhibiting neurotransmitter, stifling the activities of other cells when it’s released.

“What’s exciting about this is that now we’re getting very specific,” said Michael Anderson, who led the study, in an interview with the BBC.

“Before, we could only say ‘this part of the brain acts on that part’, but now we can say which neurotransmitters are likely to be important.”

A difficulty with or an inability to break free from intrusive and unwanted thoughts are a reality both for neurotypical people and also for those with various types of mental illness.

Conditions ranging from obsessive-compulsive disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder to depression and schizophrenia all count this type of behavior among their symptoms.

As such, there are hopes that these findings could offer further insight into the chemical basis of these disorders. At present, much of the research into treatment methods has centered around helping the prefrontal cortex to function normally.

However, Anderson believes that figuring out a way to promote GABA activity in the hippocampus could actually offer more positive results.

This article was originally published by Futurism. Read the original article.

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USFDA clears first 7T magnetic resonance imaging device

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U.S. Food and Drug Administration cleared the first seven tesla (7T) magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) device, more than doubling the static magnetic field strength available for use in the United States. The Magnetom Terra is the first 7T MRI system cleared for clinical use in the United States.

“The overall image quality of MRI improves with higher magnetic field strength,” stated Robert Ochs, Ph.D., director of the Division of Radiological Health in the FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health. “The added field strength allows for better visualization of smaller structures and subtle pathologies that may improve disease diagnosis.”

MRI is a medical imaging procedure that creates images of the internal structures of the body. MRI scanners use strong magnetic fields and radio waves (radiofrequency energy) to generate images. The signal comes mainly from the protons in fat and water molecules in the body. When interpreted by a trained physician, images from an MRI scan provide information that may be useful in determining a diagnosis. MRI scanners come in different magnet field strengths measured in tesla or “T.” Before today’s clearance, clinical MRI systems were available in field strengths of 3T and below.

The FDA reviewed the Magnetom Terra through the 510(k) premarket clearance pathway. A 510(k) is a premarket submission made to the FDA to demonstrate that a new device is substantially equivalent to a legally marketed predicate device.

The FDA based its clearance on comparison to a predicate device and acquisition of sample clinical images. The agency reviewed the safety of the radiofrequency subsystem through computational modeling, simulations and rigorous experimental validation. The manufacturer also provided data from a comparative study of 35 healthy patients that compared images of the patients using the 7T device and images using the 3T device. Board-certified radiologists reviewed the images and confirmed that the images acquired on the 7T device were of diagnostic quality and, in some cases, an improvement over imaging at the 3T.

The Magnetom Terra is for patients who weigh more than 66 pounds, and is limited to examinations of the head, arms and legs (extremities).

The FDA granted clearance of Magnetom Terra system to Siemens Medical Solutions Inc.

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These Simple, Science-Backed Exercises You Can Do at Home Have Huge Health Benefits

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Most of us probably know exercising is associated with a smaller risk of premature death, but a new study has found that doesn’t have to happen in a CrossFit box, a ninja warrior studio, or even a gym.

Body weight-bearing exercises such as sit-ups and push-ups staved off death just as much as other forms of weight-bearing exercise.

Our study recruited just over 80,000 adults over 30 years living in England and Scotland between 1994 and 2008, who were followed up for an average of nine years.

At the end of the followup period, we calculated their risk of death according to their strength-promoting exercise and how much they did.

What we found

Those who reported participation in any strength-promoting exercise (including gym workouts) averaged about 60 minutes a week and those who reported any own body weight exercises averaged 50 minutes a week.

Participation in either gym workouts or own body weight exercises reduced the risk of early death by about 20 percent. Cancer-related deaths also decreased by 24-27 percent, but there was little evidence more was better.

We also compared the risk of those who met the recommendation of two sessions of strength-promoting exercise per week, with those who met the recommendation of 150 minutes of aerobic physical activity such as walking (or 75 minutes more intense, such as running) per week.

Compared to being inactive, meeting either guideline was associated with a 16-18% reduction in risk of early death.

But the results on cancer death risk told us a very different story. Those who met only the strength-promoting guideline by doing body weight exercises had a 31 percent lower risk of death from cancer.

Those who met only the aerobic exercise guideline had no reduction in risk of cancer death.

On the other hand, reducing the risk of death from heart disease was only associated with aerobic physical activity (21 percent reduction).

Interpreting the results

Given this research is observational, there’s always a chance the relationship between exercise and early death could be due to other causes. Perhaps the people who exercised more were also just generally healthier in other ways.

To reduce the possibility of alternative explanations, we adjusted our results for age, sex, health status, obesity, other lifestyle behaviours (smoking, alcohol, diet), education level, mental health, and participation in other physical activity such as domestic activities, walking and aerobic exercise.

People with chronic diseases are less likely to exercise, and more likely to die early. Therefore we excluded from the results all participants who had heart disease or cancer, as well as those who died in the first two years of the followup (because their death was most likely caused by something they had prior to the study commencing).

Other studies have examined the relationship between strength promoting exercise and early death. An American study found lifting weights or doing callisthenics was associated with a 31 percent decrease in risk of death from any cause, which is consistent with our results.

But contrary to our results, the same study found no association with cancer death risk.

Another study among cancer survivors showed lifting weights, but not aerobic activities, was associated with a 33 percent lower risk of death from any cause.

What it all means

Our study suggests exercise that promotes muscular strength has unique health benefits and is at least as important for health as walking, cycling, and other aerobic activities.

We shouldn’t forget the most important principle for choosing an activity is being able to incorporate it into your routine and stick to it long term. The simplicity of body weight exercises makes them a very attractive option: they are inexpensive and require little skill and no equipment.

Plus we now know they yield comparable benefits to similar gym-based activities. This is important given gyms can be daunting or unaffordable for many people.

So in addition to doing enough moderate to vigorous intensity aerobic activity, good old fashioned push-ups or chin-ups at home, in the park, in the yard, or even in the office could be an excellent option.

For most people two to three sessions a week would be sufficient for general health.

The ConversationThe American College of Sports Medicine recommends 2-4 sets of 8-15 repetitions of each strength promoting exercise with 2-3 minutes rest between sets.

As with any physical activity, the most important principle here is a little is better than nothing, and gradually build up from little to enough.

Emmanuel Stamatakis, Associate Professor; Physical Activity, Lifestyle, and Health Behaviours, University of Sydney.

This article was originally published by The Conversation. Read the original article.

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USFDA approves new treatment for adults with mantle cell lymphoma

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The U.S. Food and Drug Administration granted accelerated approval to Calquence (acalabrutinib) for the treatment of adults with mantle cell lymphoma who have received at least one prior therapy. “Mantle cell lymphoma is a particularly aggressive cancer,” said Richard Pazdur, M.D., director of the FDA’s Oncology Center of Excellence and acting director of the Office of Hematology and Oncology Products in the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. “For patients who have not responded to treatment or have relapsed, Calquence provides a new treatment option that has shown high rates of response for some patients in initial studies.”

Mantle cell lymphoma is a rare and fast-growing type of non-Hodgkin lymphoma and, according to the National Cancer Institute at the National Institutes of Health, represents 3 to 10 percent of all non-Hodgkin lymphoma cases in the U.S. Mantle cell lymphoma is a cancer of the lymph system, which is part of the body’s immune system and is made up of lymph tissue, lymph nodes, the spleen, thymus, tonsils and bone marrow. By the time mantle cell lymphoma is diagnosed, it usually has spread to the lymph nodes, bone marrow and other organs.

Calquence is a kinase inhibitor that works by blocking an enzyme needed by the cancer to multiply and spread.

Calquence was approved using the Accelerated Approval pathway, under which the FDA may approve drugs for serious conditions where there is unmet medical need and a drug is shown to have certain effects that are reasonably likely to predict a clinical benefit to patients. Further study is required to verify and describe anticipated clinical benefits of Calquence and the sponsor is currently conducting this trial.

Today’s approval of Calquence was based on data from a single-arm trial that included 124 patients with mantle cell lymphoma who had received at least one prior treatment. The trial measured how many patients experienced complete or partial shrinkage of their tumors after treatment (overall response rate). In the trial, 81 percent of patients had a complete or partial response (40 percent complete response, 41 percent partial response).

Common side effects of Calquence include headache; diarrhea; bruising; fatigue and muscle pain (myalgia); and reduced levels of red blood cells (anemia), platelets (thrombocytopenia) and neutrophils (neutropenia) in the blood.

Serious side effects include bleeding (hemorrhage), infections and irregular heartbeat (atrial fibrillation). Additional cancers, known as second primary malignancies, have occurred in some patients taking Calquence. Women who are breastfeeding should not take Calquence because it may cause harm to a newborn baby.

The FDA granted this application Priority Review and Breakthrough Therapy designations. Calquence also received Orphan Drug designation, which provides incentives to assist and encourage the development of drugs for rare diseases.

The FDA granted the accelerated approval of Calquence to AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals LP.

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A Really Common Medication Has Been Linked to Doubled Risk of Stomach Cancer

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A class of drugs commonly used to treat acid reflux and heartburn has been linked to a greater-than-doubled risk of developing stomach cancer, new research shows.

Proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) are used to suppress acid production in the stomach and are among the most widely sold drugs in the world, but a new study reveals that long-term use of the medicine can increase stomach cancer risks by almost 250 percent.

The risks are associated with a bacterium called Helicobacter pylori, carried by more than half of the world’s population – most often harmlessly, but in a small percentage of people, the bug has been tied to the development of stomach cancer.

Previous research found that people with an ongoing Helicobacter pylori infection taking a PPI stood a greater chance of developing a precursor to stomach cancer, called atrophic gastritis.

While the mechanism for this was unclear, it’s long been considered that eliminating the infection prior to taking PPIs – which have been linked to various adverse effects – might reduce the prospects of getting cancer.

But the new research shows that might not be the case.

“Proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) are an important treatment of Helicobacter pylori infection and have good safety records for short-term use,” says researcher Ian Wong from University College London.

“However, unnecessary long-term use should be avoided.”

Wong and fellow researchers analysed a health database of Hong Kong residents, identifying 63,397 adults treated with a triple-therapy combination to kill the Helicobacter pylori infection – using a PPI and two antibiotics.

Once the infection was eradicated, the subjects were monitored for an average of 7.5 years, during which 3,271 continued to take PPIs (for an average of nearly three years), while 21,729 others used an alternative drug, H2 blockers.

Of the 63,397 people who took the triple-therapy treatment originally, 153 ended up developing stomach cancer – but patients who took PPIs were 2.44 times more likely to get cancer, while those on H2 blockers didn’t show any heightened risk.

What’s more, greater frequency of PPI usage and longer-term treatment with the medication appeared to up the likelihood of developing cancer further.

Daily PPI use was associated with a 4.55 times greater risk of cancer than baseline, and became as high as an 8-fold greater risk if the drugs were taken for more than three years.

The researchers acknowledge that this is only an observational study, so we can’t assume from the data that PPIs are the cause here – but nonetheless, it’s an alarming finding that shows there’s more going on than scientists previously realised.

“Interestingly, the authors found no such correlation between gastric cancer risk and long-term treatment with other anti-suppressive drugs… suggesting that acid-suppression is not the sole factor,” says gastrointestinal infection researcher Richard Ferrero from the Hudson Institute of Medical Research in Australia, who wasn’t involved with the study.

“The work has important clinical implications as PPIs, which are among the top 10 selling generic drugs in the US, are commonly prescribed to treat heartburn.”

Of course, as significant as the increased risk is, we should also bear in mind that the overall risk factor is still low.

Per the study, long-term use of PPIs was only associated with about four additional cases of stomach cancer per 10,000 people per year, which is worth keeping in perspective.

It’ll take more research into PPIs’ long-term effects to better understand why this association is showing up the way it does, but in the meantime, it adds further evidence to suggest that PPIs could be problematic for patients who use them beyond the short term.

“Many observational studies have found adverse effects associated with PPIs,” says pharmacoepidemiologist Stephen Evans from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, who wasn’t part of the research.

“The most plausible explanation for the totality of evidence on this is that those who are given PPIs, and especially those who continue on them long-term, tend to be sicker in a variety of ways than those for whom they are not prescribed.”

The findings are reported in Gut.

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