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Aerobic Exercise Supports Brain Function Even in Young Adults

Aerobic Exercise Supports Brain Function Even in Young Adults

Previous studies have shown that aerobic exercise benefits cognitive functioning in older people, but new research suggests that different forms of regular aerobic exercise can also improve cognitive processes in people as young as 20 years of age. The studies, headed by a team at Columbia University, also found that the level of positive effects of exercise on thinking skills such as executive function, increased with increasing age. Executive function is a set of thinking skills that we use in our everyday lives, and includes our ability to regulate our own behavior, pay attention, organize, and achieve goals.

“As people age, there can be a decline in thinking skills, however, our study shows that getting regular exercise may help slow or even prevent such decline,” commented Yaakov Stern, PhD, chief of cognitive neuroscience in the department of neurology, Columbia University, a faculty member at the Taub Institute, and lead author of the team’s published paper in Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology. “We found that all participants who exercised not only showed improvements in executive function but also increased the thickness in an area of the outer layer of their brain.”

The Columbia University team and colleagues at Nathan Kline Institute for Psychiatric Research, New York State Psychiatric Institute, and Columbia Presbyterian Medical Centre, reported their findings in a paper titled, “Effect of aerobic exercise on cognition in younger adults.”

Most studies evaluating the effects of controlled aerobic exercise on cognition have focused on adults aged 55 years or older, and have reported benefits in areas including attention processing speed, executive function, memory, and working memory, the authors explained. To broaden the scope of the study and evaluate the effects aerobic exercise on different aspects of cognitive function in much younger individuals Stern and co-lead Richard P. Sloan, PhD, the Nathaniel Wharton professor of behavioral medicine in the department of psychiatry, headed a randomized, controlled trial in participants aged 20–67 years.

“We hypothesized that aerobic exercise would have cognitive benefits even in this younger age range, but that age might moderate the nature or degree of the benefit,” the researchers explained. The trial included 132 adults in the 20–67 years age range, who were all below median aerobic capacity at the start of the study. The participants were then randomized to undertake either an aerobic exercise training program over 6 months, or a 6-month control program of stretching and core-strengthening exercises.

Both exercise groups worked out 4 times per week with trained coaches at a fitness center. The aerobic exercise participants were given the freedom to choose their preferred form of effective workout, which included walking on a treadmill, cycling on a stationary bike, or using an elliptical trainer. The aerobic exercise subjects all wore heart rate monitors, and worked up to training at 75% of their maximum heart rate. The control group undertook a program of stretching and toning that targeted flexibility and core strength.

Participants were all tested for cognitive parameters including executive function, processing speed, language, attention, and episodic memory, before the exercise programs were initiated, and then at 12 weeks and at 24 weeks. They also underwent MRI brain scans to look for any changes in brain structure. Ninety-four of the 132 subjects completed the full 6-month program.

The results showed that aerobic exercise was linked with increased executive function thinking skills across all the age ranges, when compared with test scores in the control group. By the end of the 6-month intervention, individuals who did aerobic exercise increased their executive function test scores by 0.5 points, which was statistically significant when compared with the 0.25-point improvement shown by the stretching and toning group. At 40 years of age, the improvement in thinking skills was 0.28 standard deviation units higher among those who did aerobic exercise, compared with those who did stretching and toning. At age 60 years, the difference was 0.596 standard deviation units higher, the researchers reported.

“Since a difference of 0.5 standard deviations is equivalent to 20 years of age-related difference in performance on these tests, the people who exercised were testing as if they were about 10 years younger at age 40 and about 20 years younger at age 60,” said Stern, who is also professor of neuropsychology in the departments of neurology and psychiatry and a member of the Gertrude H. Sergievsky Center and the Taub Institute for Research on Alzheimer’s Disease and the Aging Brain at Columbia University Irving Medical Center.

“Exercise function usually peaks at around 30 years of age, he noted. “Since thinking skills at the start of the study were poorer for participants who were older, our findings suggest that aerobic exercise is more likely to improve age-related declines in thinking skills rather than improve performance in those without a decline.”

In contrast, there was no evidence that aerobic exercise improved cognitive parameters including processing speed, language, attention, or episodic memory at any age, possibly due to the small size of the study population, the authors pointed out. Prior studies have found that exercise can benefit these areas of cognition in the over-55s, and Stern said that a larger trial may have enough power to detect such changes in younger adults, or it may be that exercise affects younger and older people differently.

“Limitations of this study include its relatively small sample size, which reduces power to see significant effects,” the researchers acknowledged. “It is possible that we would have been able to see effects in other cognitive domains with a larger sample size. It will be important for future studies to assess the sustainability of exercise effects over periods of time beyond the duration of the trial.”

Interestingly, brain imaging at the start of the study and at week 24 suggested that aerobic exercise training was also associated with structural changes in particular regions of the brain. “We also demonstrated that aerobic exercise was associated with increased cortical thickness in the left caudal middle frontal area,” the authors wrote. “This effect did not differ by age, and extends an observation typically noted in older adults to a younger age range …Thus, our findings suggest that exercise may improve brain health across ages 20–67.”

The finding that the benefits of aerobic exercise extend to much younger individuals than has been demonstrated in previous studies could be important from a public health perspective, the team concluded. “These findings have strong public health implications and allow the recommendation of a feasible, flexible intervention for cognitive and brain health for adults of all ages.”

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Source: Genengnews

Genome sequencing of baboon species provides new understanding of evolutionary diversification

Genome sequencing of baboon species provides new understanding of evolutionary diversification
Rapidly increasing efforts to generate whole genome sequences for many vertebrate species are providing a significantly improved understanding of the biological differences among animals across the tree of life. In a new study published in Science Advances, an international multi-institutional research team, led by the Human Genome Sequencing Center at Baylor College of Medicine, reports novel results describing the genome sequences and evolutionary history of six Papio baboon species. This work sheds new light on the fundamental biological processes that generate new species and has implications for the origin of our own species, Homo sapiens.


Leukemia Prematurely Ages Bone Marrow Cells

Leukemia Prematurely Ages Bone Marrow Cells

Scientists from the University of East Anglia (UEA) say that leukemia promotes premature aging in healthy bone marrow cells. Their study (“Acute myeloid leukemia induces pro-tumoral p16INK4a driven senescence in the bone marrow microenvironment”), published in Blood, shows that healthy bone marrow cells were prematurely aged by cancer cells around them.

It is well known that aging promotes cancer development. But this is the first time that the reverse has been shown to be true. The aged bone marrow cells accelerated the growth and development of the leukemia, creating a vicious cycle that fuels the disease.

The study identified the mechanism by which this process of premature aging occurs in the bone marrow of leukemia patients and highlights the potential impact this could have on future treatments.

“Acute myeloid leukemia (AML) is an age-related disease that is highly dependent on the bone marrow microenvironment. With increasing age, tissues accumulate senescent cells, characterized by an irreversible arrest of cell proliferation and the secretion of a set of pro-inflammatory cytokines, chemokines, and growth factors, collectively known as the senescence-associated secretory phenotype (SASP). Here, we report that AML blasts induce a senescent phenotype in the stromal cells within the bone marrow microenvironment. We report that the bone marrow stromal cell senescence is driven by p16INK4a expression. The p16INK4a-expressing senescent stromal cells then feedback to promote AML blast survival and proliferation via the SASP. Importantly, selective elimination of p16INK4a-positive senescent bone marrow stromal cells in vivo improved the survival of mice with leukemia,” wrote the investigators.

“Next, we find that the leukemia-driven senescent tumor microenvironment is caused by AML induced NOX2-derived superoxide. Finally, using the p16-3MR mouse model we show that by targeting NOX2 we reduced bone marrow stromal cell senescence and consequently reduced AML proliferation. Together, these data identify leukemia generated NOX2 derived superoxide as a driver of pro-tumoral p16INK4a-dependent senescence in bone marrow stromal cells. Our findings reveal the importance of a senescent microenvironment for the pathophysiology of leukemia. These data now open the door to investigate drugs which specifically target the ‘benign’ senescent cells that surround and support AML.”

The research was led by Stuart Rushworth, PhD, from UEA’s Norwich Medical School, in collaboration with the Earlham Institute and the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital and the Buck Institute for Research on Aging in California.

“Our results provide evidence that cancer causes aging. We have clearly shown that the cancer cell itself drives the aging process in the neighboring noncancer cells,” said Rushworth. “Our research reveals that leukemia uses this biological phenomenon to its advantage to accelerate the disease.”

NOX2, an enzyme usually involved in the body’s response to infection, was shown to be present in AML cells, and this was found to be responsible for creating the aging conditions. The research team established that the NOX2 enzyme generates superoxide which drives the aging process.

By inhibiting NOX2, researchers showed the reduction in aged neighboring non-malignant cells resulted in slower cancer growth.

According to Rushworth, “It was not previously known that leukemia induces aging of the local noncancer environment. We hope that this biological function can be exploited in the future, paving the way for new drugs.”

The post Leukemia Prematurely Ages Bone Marrow Cells appeared first on GEN – Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology News.

Source: Genengnews

Biosciences MSc Analytical Development Vacancy @ Syngene

Biosciences MSc Analytical Development Vacancy @ Syngene

Analytical Development Vacancy Syngene is hiring msc biological sciences/ biosciences/ biology candidates for Senior Research Associate position which can be applied for online. Senior Research Associate jobs for biosciences candidates. Check the details on the positions available, the job description, the key responsibilities, work experience, functional experience all below: Position: Senior Research Associate- Analytical Development […]

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Source: Biotecnika

Biochem & Molecular Biology Research Associate Vacancy @ Syngene

Biochem & Molecular Biology Research Associate Vacancy @ Syngene

Research Associate Vacancy Syngene Syngene is hiring msc biochemistry and molecular biology candidates for Senior Research Associate position which can be applied for online. Senior Research Associate jobs for biochem & molecular biology candidates. Check the details on the positions available, the job description, the key responsibilities, work experience, functional experience all below: Job Title: […]

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Source: Biotecnika

CRISPR Gene Editing Could Make Gluten Safe for Celiacs

CRISPR Gene Editing Could Make Gluten Safe for Celiacs

A Dutch research group is using the gene editing tool CRISPR-Cas9 to modify wheat gluten, letting people with celiac disease eat gluten without experiencing debilitating symptoms.  

In celiac disease, the immune system attacks gluten, causing damage to the intestine. This forces sufferers to stick to expensive gluten-free versions of foods such as bread, which can have a lower quality without the structural properties of gluten.

Researchers from Wageningen University and Research aimed to solve this problem by using CRISPR-Cas9. They hoped to remove specific parts of the antigens in gluten that the immune system reacts to, called epitopes, to make the gluten safe to eat.

It sounds very simple, but, in fact, wheat is a crop with a very complex genome,” Jan Schaart, one of the researchers involved in the project, told me. “There are six copies of each chromosome, for example. That means that, if you want to change a gene, you have to change all six copies. To make it even more complex, each chromosome doesn’t have just one copy of the gene, but multiple — up to even 50.

CRISPR wageningen netherlands gluten wheat flour

So far, the group has managed to mutate wheat strains to lack particular gluten epitopes. The researchers have also established new methods for checking which genes have been modified, and which need removing. “This is the first prototype,” Schaart said. “This can be the subject of another round of mutagenesis as soon as we have a picture of how the genes are modified so far.

The group is looking for funding and collaborations to develop this project further, possibly developing a fully safe form of wheat within a decade.

The decision by the EU to restrict gene editing last July will make it difficult for products like these to access the market in the future. Schaart told me that the major benefits of gene editing are being ignored by the regulators in spite of deregulating a less efficient method: blasting plants with radiation to generate mutations.

We have to see what time will bring,” he said. “Examples like this wheat gluten project are the only way of showing people that CRISPR-Cas9 is bringing good things to society.

By making gene editing easier than classic methods, CRISPR-Cas9 and its variations are being used to change agricultural and industrial biotechnology in countries outside of the EU. For example, gene-edited mushrooms that are resistant to browning were exempted from US market regulations in 2016. The position of the EU against the commercialization of gene-edited organisms could well cause Europe’s innovation to lag behind other countries. 

Images from Shutterstock

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Source: Labiotech

MSc Food Science / Biochem & Biotech JRF Post @ SKUAST

MSc Food Science / Biochem & Biotech JRF Post @ SKUAST

SKUAST JRF Jobs Msc candidates with a background in food science/ biochemistry and biotechnology are encouraged to apply for a junior research fellow position at SKUAST. SRF positions for msc candidates. Msc biosciences post at SKUAST. Biotech junior research fellow jobs. Biosciences research fellow jobs at SKUAST, check details below: This job expires in : […]

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Source: Biotecnika