The News – 19 September 2014

Overview

  • The study, published in the journal, Pharmaceutical Biology, looks at how the three major active components in pomegranate interfere with the delivery of drugs via proteins known as solute carrier transporters.
  • A Danish study has provided support for a controversial theory that says autism spectrum disorders and schizophrenia are opposite ends of a spectrum, with normal brain function somewhere in between.
  • The Australian Antarctic Division (AAD), based in Hobart, is calling on citizen scientists to scour thousands of online photographs from the comfort of their armchairs.


Stories Discussed
News on Health Professional Radio. Today is the 19th September 2014. Read by Rebecca Foster.

http://www.abc.net.au/science/articles/2014/09/18/4070162.htm

If you are about to take your daily dose of medicine with a salad replete with pomegranate seeds and juice, then think again.

Consuming the exotic fruit as a food, juice or extract in herbal medicines can interfere with the body’s uptake of pharmaceutical drugs, an Australian study has found.

The finding underscores the complex relationship between pharmaceutical drugs and food, says co-author Dr Fanfan Zhou, from the Faculty of Pharmacy at the University of Sydney.

And it highlights the need for further research into the interactions between drugs and foods, she believes.

The study, published in the journal, Pharmaceutical Biology , looks at how the three major active components in pomegranate interfere with the delivery of drugs via proteins known as solute carrier transporters.

Pomegranate is also widely consumed in herbal medicines as it is known to have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects.

More recently scientific studies have also shown pomegranate to have potential antidiabetic properties.

However, co-administration of these three compounds with other drugs have been reported to be problematic possibly due to drug and food interactions, which lead to altered performance of the drugs in body.

The most likely impact is that it will inhibit the drug molecules from going into the cells as they are competing with the pomegranate components for the same transporters, she adds.

Zhou says users of Chinese medicines in particular need to be aware that traditional medicines can impact on pharmaceutical medicines.

http://www.abc.net.au/science/articles/2014/09/17/4088824.htm

A Danish study has provided support for a controversial theory that says autism spectrum disorders and schizophrenia are opposite ends of a spectrum, with normal brain function somewhere in between.

The ‘Imprinted Brain Theory’ postulates that these mental disorders are a result of a ‘battle of the sexes’, with epigenetic effects subtly controlling certain genes, expressed as a baby develops, to favour the survival of either the mother or the father’s genes.

Published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B, the study has found relationships between a baby’s size and its risk of getting schizophrenia or autism, which fit with the theory.

The theory concerns ‘imprinted’ genes. These genes are very unusual because they are expressed differently depending on whether they come from the mother or the father. This contrasts with the vast majority of genes for which parental origin makes no difference to their activity.

“There are about 70-80 genes that are thought to be genetically imprinted in humans.” says Dr Sean Byars, lead author of the Danish study who is now at the University of Melbourne.

Byars’ study looked at data for nearly 1.8 million Danish babies born between 1978 and 2009 and correlated birth weight and length with whether or not the children later developed autism or schizophrenia.

They found that small babies had a significantly higher risk of schizophrenia later in life while large babies were at higher risk of getting autism.

Small babies and schizophrenia were both compatible with imprinting that favoured the mother’s genes while large babies and autism fitted with imprinting that was more in the father’s interest.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-09-17/volunteers-sought-for-armchair-penguin-count/5751520

A call has gone out for people to help count penguins for a new study, but there is no requirement to travel to a remote icy continent.

The Australian Antarctic Division (AAD), based in Hobart, is calling on citizen scientists to scour thousands of online photographs from the comfort of their armchairs.

Researchers at Oxford University in the UK have scanned 200,000 photographs, many taken by AAD staff, as part of the project.

Volunteers will identify adults, chicks and eggs in the photos, eventually helping researchers develop an algorithm so computers can automatically count individual penguins in an image.

The information will help scientists in understanding their behaviour, breeding success and the impact of predators.

It may also help in detecting how environmental changes and human activity impact penguin numbers, and spot the early warning signs of any problem that could lead to a decline.

AAD’s Colin Southwell said it could also provide information about the potential impact of fisheries.

“So we’re asking non-scientists through their interest to contribute to the work.”

Volunteer counter Jenni Klaus said: “I saw it on Twitter and I’ve always been interested in science but I haven’t done a science degree or anything.

“There are adorable chicks in some of the photos and you can never get too tired of looking at penguins.”

“Most people are interested in Antarctica. Most people are interested in penguins, and it’s fun,” Dr Southwell said.

The researchers hope to eventually have volunteers counting other seabirds in the Antarctic and Arctic.

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