Posts tagged with "cancer"

Brain Cancer illustrated by Mina Tocalini for 360 MAGAZINE.

Cancer Discovery Reveals Key Process in Tumor Formation

A discovery from the University of Virginia School of Medicine may open the door to an entirely new approach to treating cancer: by disrupting a vital condensation process inside cancer cells.

Researchers led by Hao Jiang, PhD, of UVA’s Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics, discovered that cancer cells are exceptionally dependent on the proper condensation of a particular protein, AKAP95, during tumor formation. Blocking this process halted the cancer cells in their tracks.

“It is now clear that biomolecular condensation is a fundamental mechanism that underlies numerous biological processes in normal physiology and also in human disease including cancer,” said Jiang, of UVA’s Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics and the UVA Cancer Center. “Our work reveals a new level of regulation – how liquid-like the condensates are can affect their activity in cancer control.”

Cancer and Condensation

The process of “biomolecular condensation” inside our cells is an area of great interest for scientists. In essence, our cells use condensation to create little compartments for important biological processes. You might think of these compartments as virtual mixing bowls that cells manufacture as needed.

It has been largely unclear if this condensation process is important in cancer. Jiang and his team showed that both the formation of the condensates and their material properties are important for cancer, and their work suggests that disrupting condensation or changing the condensate properties may offer a new treatment strategy.

The researchers’ lab experiments show that the AKAP95 protein gets condensed in cells, and cancer cells become heavily reliant on it. For that to happen, the condensed proteins, which are liquid-like, must be just the right consistency. Hardening them, for example, significantly impaired tumor formation, Jiang and his team discovered. Disrupting the condensation process halted cancer formation entirely.

A treatment based on the discovery might take a similar approach. Disrupting the condensation of AKAP95, the research suggests, could prevent cancer from hijacking our cells.

While much more work needs to be done to determine the possibility of developing a treatment based on the discovery, Jiang is happy to have shed light on tumor formation and to have provided cancer researchers a new avenue to explore.

“I was completely enthralled by this mechanism, as I had never learned or thought of such a seemingly simple principle of molecular organization in textbooks, previous classes or training, but it actually makes great sense and has such a profound impact on almost all basic cellular activities. My lab is thus very interested in how biomolecular condensation regulates gene expression on various levels, especially in the context of cancer,” Jiang said. “Further studies in this field will likely provide us unconventional strategies in cancer treatment.”

Findings Published

The researchers have published their findings in the scientific journal Nature Cell Biology. The research team consisted of Wei Li, Jing Hu, Bi Shi, Francesco Palomba, Michelle A. Digman, Enrico Gratton and Jiang.

The research was supported by startup funds from UVA and the University of Alabama at Birmingham, along with Department of Defense Breast Cancer Research Program Breakthrough Award BC190343. The work used the confocal microscopy system at UVA’s Keck Center that was supported by National Institutes of Health grant OD016446.

Jiang was supported by the American Society of Hematology Scholar Award, the American Cancer Society Research Scholar Award (RSG-15-166-01-DMC) and the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society Scholar Award (1354-19). Palomba and Digman were supported in part by National Science Foundation grant MCB-1615701. Digman and Gratton were supported by NIH grant P41-GM103540.

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Twist Out Cancer

Twist Out Cancer will host its Brushes With Cancer program Sept. 25.

The program will be held in Warren, Michigan, at GM‘s Design Center and will kick off with a virtual art exhibition. Brushes With Cancer takes cancer survivors, battlers and caretakers and pairs them with artists who are able to depict the struggles, emotionally and physically, faced by those with cancer.

For the 2020 event, all 25 people affected by cancer and all 23 artists are employed by GM Design, and their story-inspired art will be on display virtually.

After the event, the art will remain on display until Oct. 30 and will then be auctioned off to the highest bidder with proceeds going right back to Twist Out Cancer to provide psychosocial support to those in a face-to-face fight with cancer.

Jenna Benn Shersher, the CEO of Twist Out Cancer, said 2019’s event was a smash success and that Twist Out Cancer was honored to be working with GM Design for the 2020 program.

“We have worked hand-in-hand with employees at GM Design during this unprecedented time to continue our program virtually, which is offering our Inspirations and Artists the same transformational experience our participants have come to expect over the past eight years,” Shersher said. “As Twist Out Cancer has grown, we continue to bring our impactful programming to new cities and new audiences around the world and are thrilled with the start of this new program.”

Virtual events will also be held in Austin Oct. 25 and in Chicago Nov. 14. Twist Out Cancer also encourages anyone to bring an event to their hometown by contacting Amelia Hanrahan at amelia@twistoutcancer.org.

To purchase tickets for the event on Sept. 25, you can click right here.

Brain Cancer illustrated by Mina Tocalini for 360 MAGAZINE.

Brain Cancer Gene Identified

Scientists have identified an oncogene (a cancer-causing gene) responsible for glioblastoma, the deadliest brain tumor. The discovery offers a promising new treatment target for a cancer that is always fatal.

The researchers say the oncogene is essential to the survival of the cancer cells. Without it, the cancer cells die. Scientists have already developed many targeted therapies for other cancers with a similar “oncogene addiction.”

“Glioblastoma is one of the most deadly cancers. Unfortunately, there is no effective treatment option for the disease. The current standard option, radiation plus temozolomide, which displayed a 2.5-month better survival rate, was hailed as a great success. Clearly, better understanding and new therapeutic targets are urgently needed,” said researcher Hui Li, PhD, of the University of Virginia School of Medicine. “The novel oncogene we discovered promises to be an Achilles’ heel of glioblastoma, with its specific targeting potentially an effective approach for the treatment of the disease.”

Targeting Glioblastoma

Oncogenes are naturally occurring genes that spiral out of control and cause cancer. The oncogene Li and his colleagues identified, AVIL, normally helps cells maintain their size and shape. But the gene can be shifted into overdrive by a variety of factors, the researchers found. This causes cancer cells to form and spread.

Blocking the gene’s activity completely destroyed glioblastoma cells in lab mice but had no effect on healthy cells. This suggests targeting the gene could be an effective treatment option.

“AVIL is overexpressed in 100% of glioblastoma cells and clinical samples, and is expressed at even higher level in so-called glioblastoma stem cells, but hardly expressed in normal cells and tissues,” said Li, of UVA’s Department of Pathology. “Silencing the gene wiped out glioblastoma cells in culture and prevented animal xenografts, while having no effect on normal control cells. Clinically, high AVIL expression correlates with worse patient outcome. These findings and classic transformation assays proved AVIL being a bona fide oncogene.”

Identifying Oncogenes

Identifying an oncogene, as Li and his colleagues have done, is an important step toward developing a treatment. But identifying oncogenes is very difficult. The environment inside cells is so complex that it’s hard to determine cause-and-effect.

Li and his team weren’t even working on glioblastoma when they first caught the scent that led to the discovery. Instead, they were studying a rare childhood cancer called rhabdomyosarcoma. (Childhood cancers typically are easier to understand and involve fewer mutations than adult cancers.)

During their research, the scientists discovered an abnormality in the AVIL gene. That prompted them to examine adult cancers to see if the gene could be contributing there. And it was. The researchers concluded the gene plays a “critical role” in glioblastoma, they report in a new scientific paper outlining their findings.

Li and his team believe their approach can be used to discover other oncogenes – hopefully leading to new treatments for a variety of cancers.

“In this day and age, many people thought that all the significant oncogenes have been discovered, Here we uncovered a novel, powerful oncogene and elucidated its signaling pathways, all starting from studying a structure variant in pediatric cancer. In the past, numerous significant discoveries in cancer also stemmed from studying pediatric tumors,” Li said. “We believe this is a strategy that can be applied to find novel players in other adult cancers.”

Glioblastoma Findings Published

The researchers have published their findings in the scientific journal Nature Communications. The research team consisted of Zhongqiu Xie, Pawel Ł. Janczyk, Ying Zhang, Aiqun Liu, Xinrui Shi, Sandeep Singh, Loryn Facemire, Kristopher Kubow, Zi Li, Yuemeng Jia, Dorothy Schafer, James W. Mandell, Roger Abounader and Li.

The research was supported by the National Institutes of Health’s National Cancer Institute, grant CA240601, and Stand Up To Cancer, grant SU2C-AACR-IRG0409.

To keep up with the latest medical research news from UVA, subscribe to the Making of Medicine blog.

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Jane Velez-Mitchell illustration by Mina Tocalini

Meat Causes Cancer

The American Cancer Society’s (ACS) new guidelines for cancer reduction were revealed recently and it’s no surprise that they recommend avoiding or reducing meat intake. The ACS is advising the public to consume far less processed and read meats while shifting to more plant-based whole foods. In the guidelines they do advise consuming nutrient-rich, high in fiber foods like vegetables, whole grains, beans, fruits, and peas. “Eat the rainbow” as we’ve all heard for years. 

These new guidelines follow in line with the World Health Organization (WHO) stance released in 2015 where they famously classified red meats as a Group 2A carcinogen that was “probably carcinogenic to humans”. They referenced studies that lined consistent consumption of red meat to colorectal cancer.   

New Day New Chef: Support and Feed Edition focuses on the organization’s work supplying food to children’s charities, homeless and domestic abuse shelters, food banks, family and senior centers by supporting vegan restaurants in Los Angeles, New York, and Philadelphia. Filmed largely with robotic cameras during the COVID-19 outbreak, the show follows Maggie Baird, (actress, screenwriter, vegan, and mother of musicians Billie Eilish and Finneas, who are also vegan) on her journey to create Support and Feed. Two episodes are now available to stream on Prime Video, with more released weekly. 

Animal Rights Activist & Host of “New Day New Chef: Support and Feed” Jane Velez-Mitchell is the founder and editor of JaneUnChained.com, a multi-platform social media news channel producing thousands of widely shared videos on animal rights and veganism. Jane is the winner of four Genesis Awards from the Humane Society of the United States. For six years she hosted her own show on HLN (CNN Headline News) where she did a weekly animal segment. Velez-Mitchell also reported for the TV show Celebrity Justice, and was a news anchor/reporter at KCAL-TV in LA and WCBS-TV in NY. Jane is active in the LGBTQ community in Los Angeles. Two episodes are now available to stream on Prime Video, with more released weekly. 

Follow New Day New Chef Support and Feed: Facebook | Instagram | Twitter

How To Treat Dog Chemotherapy Side Effects   

Dogs are often called man’s best friend and we can’t ignore the fact that it’s true. Dogs are one of the most popular pets there is and for good reason: They are adorable. Having dogs is like caring for your kids. You want them to be safe and healthy as possible. Keeping them that way is not always a challenge. 

Some of us find it quite easy. You just feed them, give them a bath, put a roof over their heads, and give them love and care. But sometimes, we don’t always know what’s going on with them, right? You don’t know where they’ve been all day. 

It’s also hard to tell if their sick or not, but you’ll notice how they’re energy decreases. Let’s talk about one of the familiar illnesses a dog might face. And the most common is cancer. 

Cancer is a disease known to all of us and it doesn’t only affect us, humans. It also affects our pets. One of the most common cancers in dogs is lymphoma. This happens when lymphocytes (also known as the white blood cells that fight infection)grow out of control. 

Another cause of cancer is usually long exposure in the sun, second-hand smoke, and even chemicals such as pesticides and herbicides. But I didn’t say it’s not treatable. Your furry friend could continue to live a healthy life if you can treat him/her as early as possible. The most familiar treatment is chemotherapy. 

What Is Chemotherapy?

This is usually given to those with cancer, both humans and pets (such as dogs). They are given drug treatments to help them with their illness. I can’t say that it will cure it entirely, but it does help with slowing down cancer (read more).

Chemotherapy is usually prescribed by a doctor or veterinarian. It is proven to be effective and it will make your dog live longer. Turns out, dogs can withstand this treatment better than humans. If your dog has cancer, the most time he/she has is two months, more or less. But if your pet got diagnosed with cancer a little bit earlier, you can save his life. 

Unlike dogs who had aged, it will more likely lead to death, sad but true. The average time a dog has when it undergoes chemotherapy is 10-12 months or maybe more. There are a lot of bright sides to this but your furry friend will have to face a little pain. You just have to be there for them and care for them properly. 

Even though the doses given to a dog that is on chemotherapy is much lower than what is given to humans, they will still experience the side effects. The side effects will often occur 3-5 days after they are given the therapy, but this will pass. Let me provide you some info about the side effects and these are the following:

  • Vomiting
  • Loss of Appetite
  • Diarrhea
  • Allergic Reaction
  • Urine Color (this shouldn’t make you worry, it is normal.)

Those were just a few types of side effects and all of it will just pass. If you think your pet needs medication to lessen the side effects, first consult a doctor or veterinarian. But you could lessen your pet’s suffering by giving them CBD or Cannabidiol

What Is Cannabidiol?

This is very popular for it gives benefits to those who require its natural remedy. It comes from one of the many chemical substances known as cannabinoids that are from the marijuana plant (Cannabis Sativa).

CBD is known for the benefits it provides for your body and this helps with your pets too! People suggest that using CBD can be very helpful during the treatment of cancer. It’s not proven to be effective in treating cancer but it helps manage the side effects that we talked about earlier. 

The treatment often causes inflammations and that causes pain to your dog. But, with CBD you can help your pet with its suffering. According to this website, https://www.holistapet.com/testimonials-item/using-it-for-chemotherapy-side-effects/, it helps with the loss of appetite, it provides pain relief and may reduce nausea (but this comes from a different compound other than CBD). To make sure, you should ask if it’s advisable but to lessen your doubts, it is legal. 

They use CBD to treat the side effects of our precious fur babies. They can help you in treating your pet and making them feel better! There will always come a challenging phase in their lives and we can’t always protect them from illnesses. 

Just like cancer, it brings them suffering and you must do what you can to make them feel better and relieve them from the pain they are feeling. CBD is recommended. So, if it works for others it might work for you too! Don’t wait for your pet’s last moments, instead, make the moments last longer! 

Grab the opportunity to make them feel better and I hope I’ve provided you with the information you were looking for on how to treat your dog’s chemotherapy side effects!

Regaining Control in Uncertain Times: Advice from a Doctor/Cancer Survivor

As a doctor and entrepreneur, I spent most of my life seeking control – obsessively studying, planning, and working to guarantee my success. That’s why I wanted to be an entrepreneur in the first place – I wanted to be my own boss, in charge of my own fate. Despite my success, in 2013, I would lose every semblance of control in my life. In 2013, I was diagnosed with cancer.

My cancer diagnosis came with many emotions: anger, anxiety, uncertainty, depression. I felt alone and hopeless, like everything I had worked so hard for suddenly didn’t matter. I just had to “wait and see” if the chemotherapy worked; how sick I would be; if I could have a family one day; if I would ever have my regular life back.

In many ways, I see similarities between the way my cancer diagnosis impacted my life and how the current Coronavirus pandemic is affecting us all. Life as you know it has suddenly stopped. You don’t know when it will return to normal, and you may feel like you have completely lost control of your life.

Even though the unknowns of cancer treatment terrified me, certain strategies gave me a “sense” of control – and often times, that was enough. I hope that you can employ these strategies in the coming days and weeks to regain control in these uncertain times.

Exercise

Although chemotherapy prevented intense workouts, simply walking regularly released feel-good endorphins in my brain, and it’s something I had control over. Similarly, a self-imposed routine may help you cope with the uncertainty of the Coronavirus pandemic. Even though gyms are closed, consider doing body-weight workouts at home, YouTube fitness tutorials, or walking/running outside.

Breathe

You can also change your breathing patterns voluntarily, resulting in various powerful effects. For example, if you feel a wave of panic approaching, try taking deeper breaths using your diaphragm, which will cause your heart rate to slow and your body to relax.

Journal

Exercise and focused breathing are two techniques that worked for me, but it’s also important to remember what activities made you feel the best. Try journaling how different activities make you feel – more/less anxious, more/less in control, etc. This way, you can continue doing things that make you feel good, even when the Coronavirus is a distant memory.

Sometimes, challenging times are the kickstart you need to pursue a better life. After my cancer diagnosis, I completely transformed my stress-filled, unhealthy lifestyle. I overcame cancer, and I owe it all to positive lifestyle changes. If you are ready to start your journey to better health, check out my book “From Doctor to Patient.”

About Dr. Diva Nagula

Dr. Diva Nagula is a board-certified osteopathic physician with extensive knowledge and training in Integrative and Functional Medicine. He was diagnosed and treated for Stage 4 non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. After several years of treatment, he remains in complete remission.
You can purchase his book here.

rice university, 360 MAGAZINE, health, study, leukemia

Cocktail proves toxic to leukemia cells

Rice University, MD Anderson research points toward better personalized therapy

A combination of drugs that affect mitochondria — the power plants inside cells — may become the best weapons yet to fight acute myeloid leukemia, according to Rice University researchers.

A study led by Rice bioscientist Natasha Kirienko and postdoctoral researcher Svetlana Panina found that mitocans, anti-cancer drugs that target mitochondria, are particularly adept at killing leukemia cells, especially when combined with a glycolytic inhibitor, while leaving healthy blood cells in the same sample largely unaffected.

Their open access paper, a collaboration with the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, appears in the Nature journal Cell Death & Disease. The research could lead to new ways to personalize treatment for patients with leukemia.
“We started with the idea of finding an underlying connection between types of cancer and their sensitivity to specific kinds of chemotherapeutics, mitochondria-targeting drugs,” Kirienko said. “Our bioinformatic analysis, which included 60 cell lines from nine different cancer types, showed that leukemia cells are particularly sensitive to mitochondrial damage.”

The researchers exposed the cell lines to multiple known mitocan molecules. They found low doses of a mitocan/glycolytic inhibitor cocktail killed all of the leukemia cell lines they tested at concentrations lower than what was necessary to kill healthy cells. Conversely, they reported that solid tumor cells, like ovarian cancers, proved highly resistant to mitocans. Glioblastoma cells were sensitive to mitocans, but unfortunately more resistant than healthy blood cells.

In their best experimental results, 86% of targeted leukemia cells were killed, compared to only 30% of healthy blood cells. “A number of drugs currently used in the clinic have some cancer preference, but here we’re talking about a five-fold difference in survival,” Kirienko said.
The researchers also showed a significant correlation between how efficiently mitochondria can turn energy from incoming oxygen into useful adenosine triphosphate (ATP) and how resistant they are to treatment.

“The more efficient they are, the more resistant they will be to mitochondria-targeting drugs,” Kirienko said. “If this holds true, doctors can perform a relatively simple test of this specific parameter of mitochondrial health from a patient’s sample and predict whether the treatment would be effective.”
Panina said computational models led them to think the glycolysis pathway could be enlisted to help mitocans. “Glycolysis also provides ATP, so targeting that will decrease energy as well as block the precursor for energy production in mitochondria, which mitocans will exacerbate further,” she said. “It led us to believe this combination would have a synergistic effect.

“Cancer cells are usually more metabolically active than normal cells, so we predicted that they be might be more sensitive to this combined strike, and they are,” Panina said.

Kirienko said a presentation of the research she and Panina gave at MD Anderson’s recent Metabolism in Cancer Symposium drew a large response. “People were very interested, and they immediately started asking, ‘Did you test my favorite drug or combination?’ and ‘Are you going to test it in a wider panel of cancers?’”

That work is well underway, Panina said. “We’re currently doing high-throughput screening of these potential synergistic drug combinations against leukemia cells,” she said. “We’ve gone through 36 combinations so far, building landscapes for each one.”
“And we found some that are more effective than what’s reported in this paper,” Kirienko added. “But we’ve also found some that are antagonistic — two drugs that negate each other’s effects — so it’s also important to know what therapeutic cocktails should not go together.”

Co-authors of the paper are postdoctoral fellow Natalia Baran; Marina Konopleva, a physician-scientist and professor in the Department of Leukemia at MD Anderson; and Rice graduate student Fabio Brasil da Costa. Kirienko is an assistant professor of biosciences.
The Cancer Prevention Research Institute of Texas, the Welch Foundation and the National Institutes of Health supported the research.

Read the paper at http://www.nature.com/articles/s41419-019-1851-3.pdf.

This news release can be found online at http://news.rice.edu/2019/10/31/cocktail-proves-toxic-to-leukemia-cells/

Follow Rice News and Media Relations via Twitter @RiceUNews.

Related materials:


Kirienko Lab: http://kirienkolab.rice.edu/index.html
Marina Konopleva: http://faculty.mdanderson.org/profiles/marina_konopleva.html
Rice Department of BioSciences: http://biosciences.rice.edu
Wiess School of Natural Sciences: http://naturalsciences.rice.edu

360 MAGAZINE, Dr. Janet Denlinger, Dr. Rod J. Rohrich , Morgan Hare

AiRS Foundation

The AiRS (Alliance in Reconstructive Surgery) Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit founded by Dr. Janet Denlinger and Morgan Hare, two women whose success in business motivated them to find a way to give back to our community. To that end, they asked Dr. Rod Rohrich, the founding Chairman of the Department of Plastic Surgery at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, to suggest ways he felt they could make a difference. He told them about the issues related to breast reconstruction surgery after mastectomy, and that led to the three of them establishing the AiRS Foundation.

The AiRS Foundation works in partnership with physicians in the United States, providing the resources necessary to make this surgery an option for women who would not otherwise have access to breast reconstruction. AiRS Foundation partners with health care providers, health care centers and other groups to promote this service and teach other professionals and educators to carry on this work while supporting advances in health care research. AiRS Foundation advocates for, educates, and supports breast cancer survivors by raising awareness, building confidence, and restoring dignity through funding and the support of our professional network across the country.

About Morgan Hare:

Morgan Hare has more than 30 years of experience in the cosmetics and skin care industries, and she has held executive marketing and product development positions at national, blue-chip consumer product and retail companies. 

A visionary and results-oriented top sales and marketing executive and corporate officer with profit and loss responsibility as well as international and domestic expertise. Reinvigorating organizations by designing global strategies to secure the growth opportunities, streamline processes, and penetrate new markets.  She consolidates teams to produce cross-functional dialogues and leverage existing resources.  Morgan maintains an updated knowledge base of consumer trends and is a dedicated and personable leader who aligns staff with corporate mission to achieve core objectives.  

She is the Co-Founder and President of Dallas-based Hylaco LLC, parent company of eraclea®, In March 2011, Hylaco launched eraclea, the company’s revolutionary new line of skin care products featuring the patented Hylafusion®. This proprietary ingredient is scientifically designed to maintain the hydration that helps retain the youthful appearance of the skin.

About Dr. Janet Denlinger:

Dr. Janet L. Denlinger is President of the Matrix Biology Institute and Co-Founder and Chief Scientific Officer of Hylaco, LLC.  The Matrix Biology Institute (MBI) is a non-profit research and development organization dedicated to hyaluronan (HA, hyaluronic acid) research and education, and has also developed a special form of HA for use in skin care.  

Her research at the Department of Connective Tissue Research at the Boston Biomedical Research Institute in Boston, MA, was the basis for, viscosupplementation, for the treatment of the symptoms of osteoarthritis. 

While working at the Connective Tissue Laboratory of the University of Paris VIII, she received a Ph. D. degree for her work on the metabolism of hyaluronan in articular and ocular tissues.  Her publications include articles in the areas of ophthalmology, orthopedics, biochemistry and biotechnology.

She was cofounder of Biomatrix, Inc., a biotechnology research, development and manufacturing company in NJ.

About Dr. Rod J. Rohrich:

Dr. Rod J. Rohrich is an internationally known, highly respected and skilled plastic surgeon from Dallas, Texas. He is board certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery and has led most of the key professional organizations in plastic surgery including serving as President of ASPS. 

Dr Rohrich was the founding chair/distinguished teaching professor of the Department of Plastic Surgery at the University of Texas-Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas. He chaired the Residency Review Committee for Plastic Surgery which oversees all the accredited plastic surgery training programs in the USA.  He served as a Director and Chair of the Oral Exam of the American Board of Plastic Surgery, the group that awards board certification to plastic surgeons. He has received numerous honors and awards including the Plastic Surgery Foundation Distinguished Service Award three times. 

He has authored hundreds of innovative academic publications in the field.  He serves as Editor-in-Chief of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery and PRS Global Open. Dr. Rohrich has performed philanthropic work as a Dallas civic leader and established the Rod J. Rohrich, M.D. Foundation to support medical students in his native North Dakota. He also established the University of Michigan Rod J. Rohrich, MD Family Visiting Professor Lectureship to advance plastic surgery education. 

The Couch Potato Gene

Regular physical activity is a crucial part of living a healthy lifestyle. However, a majority of American adults spend their waking hours sitting, which leads to a variety of health issues such as obesity, cardiovascular disease and cancer.

Now, a researcher from the University of Missouri has identified a specific gene related to physical inactivity in rats that could potentially play a role in sedentary behavior in humans as well.

“Previous research has shown us that genes play some role in physical inactivity,” said Frank Booth, a professor in the MU College of Veterinary Medicine. “As inactivity leads to chronic disease, we wanted to identify which genes were involved and discovered one in particular, the Protein Kinase Inhibitor Alpha gene, that played a significant role.”

In 2009, Booth took 80 male rats and bred them with 80 female rats. He then placed the rats in voluntary running wheels, similar to those sold in pet stores, and tracked which rats ran the most and least. Over the past decade, Booth selectively bred the highly active rats with each other as well as the “lazy” rats with each other to determine if there is a difference in their genetic makeup. Booth found that the Protein Kinase Inhibitor Alpha gene was significantly less present in the “lazy” rats.

“What makes gene therapy difficult is that most chronic diseases are not caused by just one gene,” Booth said. “For example, there are more than 150 gene variations involved in type 2 diabetes. However, this study is paving the way for future research to identify other genes that might be involved in physical inactivity in humans as well.”

According to government data, costs associated with physical inactivity total $138 billion and account for more than 11% of total health care expenditures. In addition to the financial benefits of a more physically active society, Booth says a better understanding of genetic makeup could help public health officials see physical inactivity as a crucial priority to address.

“Physical inactivity contributes to more than 40 chronic diseases,” Booth said. “Rather than focusing on ways to treat chronic diseases after they have already developed, understanding the contributing factors to physical inactivity could help prevent those chronic diseases from occurring in the first place.”

10 Ways to Monitor Your Drinking this Cinco de Mayo

1. Don’t drink on an empty stomach. Savor your meal before you start drinking an alcoholic beverage.

2. Do not overeat and Sip your drink. Enjoy your beverage.

3. Avoid binging. The definition of binging is 5 drinks or more in less than 4-5 hours.

4. Keep your consumption of drinks as low as possible – not more than 3 drinks for a man and 2 for a woman.

5. Alcoholic beverages are similar in alcohol content. One beer is equivalent to a glass of wine or a shot of liquor.

6. Find a driver. Don’t drive after drinking. It is hard to judge your blood alcohol level and its effects on your cognitive ability and reflexes.

7. If you are a diabetic or hypertensive, suffering from a heart or liver condition, take your daily medications, and check with your doctor to avoid alcohol interactions with your medications.

8. If you are going to use Tylenol, don’t exceed more than 3 grams in one day. Be aware that a lot of headache medicines or pain killers contain acetaminophen (Tylenol), so avoid accidental overdosing.

9. Don’t mix alcohol with other recreational drugs.

10. Space your beverages to allow your body the ability to metabolize what you ingested and avoid intoxication.

Savor, Sip and Space

Curated by Dr. Tarek Hassanein of Southern California Liver Centers