The Health News – 9 May 2016

Overview:
• Social pressures are forcing people to cut back on their sleep, contributing to a “global sleep crisis”, the research is based on data collected through the free smartphone app Entrain, launched in 2014 to help users fight jetlag.

• Singer Janet Jackson’s pregnancy on the verge of turning 50 is an unrealistic benchmark for most women, said Dr Vamsee Thalluri of Adelaide firm Repromed.

• Dr Gabrielle Briggs, a post-doctoral researcher with the University of Newcastle, based at John Hunter Hospital’s trauma unit in New South Wales, is studying the effects of a blood-based protein on the regeneration of stem cells after trauma is hopeful her findings could pave the way for better treatments.

News on Health Professional Radio. Today is the  9th of May 2016. Read by Rebecca Foster. Health News

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-05-07/scientists-using-smartphone-app-warn-of-global-sleep-crisis/7393490

Social pressures are forcing people to cut back on their sleep, contributing to a “global sleep crisis”, according to new research collected through a smartphone app.

The app allowed scientists from the University of Michigan to track sleep patterns around the world — gathering data about how age, gender and the amount of natural light to which people are exposed affect sleep patterns in 100 countries.

The findings have given researchers a better understanding of how cultural pressures can override biological rhythms.

“The effects of society on sleep remain largely unquantified,” said the study, published in the journal Science Advances.

“We find that social pressures weaken and or conceal biological drives in the evening, leading individuals to delay their bedtime and shorten their sleep.”

The study found lack of sleep is mostly affected by the time people go to bed — and that age is the main factor in determining the amount of sleep people get.

Middle-aged men get the least amount of sleep — less than the recommended seven to eight hours — and women sleep 30 minutes longer than men on average.

The research is based on data collected through the free smartphone app Entrain, launched in 2014 to help users fight jetlag.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-05-07/janet-jackson-pregnant-near-age-50-unrealistic-for-other-women/7392112

Singer Janet Jackson’s pregnancy on the verge of turning 50 is an unrealistic benchmark for most women, an Australian fertility expert has warned.

Dr Vamsee Thalluri of Adelaide firm Repromed said reporting of celebrity pregnancies could sometimes give women unrealistic expectations.

“It’s rarely mentioned that for the most part many celebrities who fall pregnant after the age of 43 have done so via IVF using donor eggs,” he said.

“This can often give older women who are hoping for the same outcome an unrealistic expectation of what’s achievable.”

Dr Thalluri said a woman of 40 had a 7 per cent chance of falling pregnant and one-in-two eggs was likely to be genetically abnormal.

By 44 it became “nearly impossible” to fall pregnant, he said, as it required significant fertility treatment using donated eggs.

Dr Thalluri hoped women understood the challenges of giving birth as they got older.

Victorian Reproductive Treatment Authority chief executive Louise Johnson said misconceptions could become emotionally damaging.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-05-04/newcastle-scientist-discovering-healing-power-blood-protein/7383726

A researcher studying the effects of a blood-based protein on the regeneration of stem cells after trauma is hopeful her findings could pave the way for better treatments.

Dr Gabrielle Briggs, a post-doctoral researcher with the University of Newcastle, based at John Hunter Hospital’s trauma unit in New South Wales, is studying the role growth differentiation factor 11 (GDF11), a protein, plays in boosting stem cell counts after they have been activated to repair body trauma.

“We’ve found that it is doing something, it’s changing with trauma,” Dr Briggs said.

“If [GDF11] does increase your stem cell numbers, we could have a huge thing on our hands. It could be a way of boosting the healing process.

“We’re still in the process of finding out all the specifics of exactly what it’s doing, but we believe that if it is playing a role in trauma, that this could be a potential therapy in the future.”

Scientists have previously discovered the benefits of young blood in boosting the healing process in animals, particularly regarding the qualities of GDF11.

Dr Briggs said her research took that knowledge further by conducting studies in a clinical setting and focusing on trauma patients’ stem cells.

“Stem cells can be specialised stem cells that turn into the white blood cells that circulate around our body, or they might turn into bone, or muscle, or fat tissue,” Dr Briggs said.

“When you have some sort of injury, like in a trauma where you have huge injuries and you really need to recover fast from that to aid your survival … the stem cells in your tissues start to change into muscle, bone, whatever happens to be injured.

“The stems cells need to make more of themselves.

“As you age, you’re not able to repair as well, your tissue starts to age and it is thought that your stem cell numbers get lower, and you’re not able to really get what remains to regenerate your tissue.

“It’s been found fairly recently that young blood has these rejuvenating properties. It’s thought that it might be due to the stem cells, but no one really knows at this point.”

Dr Briggs said her study of GDF11’s stem cell-replenishing capacity in a trauma setting was unique, especially because her lab was next door to the surgery theatres at John Hunter Hospital.

That means she can receive fresher tissue samples quickly.

Dr Briggs said she was surprised by the preliminary results that showed GDF11 could boost the regeneration of stem cells.

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