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UCI MIND scientists discover exercise can reprogram genes

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Contributed by Carl W. Cotman, PhD and Nicole C. Berchtold, PhD It is increasingly recognized that exercise builds brain health. At a fundamental level, brain health and function depend on the expression of the brain’s genes, the building blocks of cells. In a recent paper that appeared in the journal “Neurobiology of Aging” (2019), Drs. Carl Cotman, Nicole Berchtold and coworkers demonstrated that in the brains of healthy older people, exercise reprograms gene expression patterns to a more youthful state, even in cognitively normal people (75-100 yrs old). Genes that were particularly targeted are those that boost cellular energy production and build…

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UCI MIND researchers define pathway required to slow Huntington’s disease progression in mice

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Contributed by Joan Steffan, PhD In a recent paper published in Proceedings of the National Academic of Sciences, colleagues and I show that a critical regulator of the immune system – called kinase IKKbeta – helps slow the onset of Huntington’s disease (HD) in mice, and this may be due to activation of a process called autophagy.  Autophagy helps cells clean out and recycle their ‘trash’. Accumulation of trash can occur as we age and when disease is present, so regular cleaning enabled by autophagy is critical to maintain cellular function. In HD, brain cell autophagy fails, leading to an accumulation of harmful proteins that…

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Commentary on new FDA warning for insomnia medications

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Contributed by Bryce Mander, PhD The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has recently required some sleep medications which are commonly used to treat insomnia to add black box warning labels. The reason for this decision is because there have been reported incidents of individuals engaging in activities that commonly occur during wakefulness during sleep while on these medications, including sleep walking, sleep driving, sleep eating, and sleep cooking. On rare occasions, these symptoms have resulted in serious injuries or life-threatening incidents, which has led to the inclusion of the black box label. The FDA has also issued a contraindication for…

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Does Red Wine Really Help You Live Longer? Dr. Claudia Kawas Comments for TIME

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TIME – April 11, 2019. “Alcohol could be beneficial through biological mechanisms like increasing [healthy] HDL cholesterol, affecting clotting mechanisms and blood platelets, or [having] effects on the vascular system,” says Dr. Claudia Kawas, a professor of neurology at the University of California, Irvine whose research has found that some of the oldest-living adults tend to drink alcohol in moderation.

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Dr. Joshua Grill Discusses ‘Pseudomedicine’ with AARP

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AARP – April 10, 2019. “A common situation is an older adult becoming concerned about their memory and taking a supplement to try to ward off dementia,” says Joshua Grill, director of the Institute for Memory Impairments and Neurological Disorders at the University of California, Irvine. “But in reality, if they saw their doctor, they might find out that another medical condition such as hypothyroidism, or a certain prescription medication, is causing symptoms and can be easily treated. They’re just making things worse.” And if you do have dementia, he adds, you could start a drug treatment to relieve symptoms,…

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