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A new study suggests smoking, high blood pressure, diabetes and being overweight in middle age may cause brain shrinkage and lead to cognitive problems up to a decade later. The study is published in the August 2, 2011, print issue of Neurology®, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

“These factors appeared to cause the brain to lose volume, to develop lesions secondary to presumed vascular injury, and also appeared to affect its ability to plan and make decisions as quickly as 10 years later. A different pattern of association was observed for each of the factors,” said study author Charles DeCarli, MD, with the University of California at Davis in Sacramento and a Fellow of the American Academy of Neurology. “Our findings provide evidence that identifying these risk factors early in people of middle age could be useful in screening people for at-risk dementia and encouraging people to make changes to their lifestyle before it’s too late.”

The study involved 1,352 people without dementia from the Framingham Offspring Study with an average age of 54.

Participants had body mass and waist circumference measures taken and were given blood pressure, cholesterol and diabetes tests. They also underwent brain MRI scans over the span of a decade, the first starting about seven years after the initial risk factor exam. Participants with stroke and dementia at baseline were excluded, and between the first and last MRI exams, 19 people had a stroke and two developed dementia.

The study found that people with  developed white matter hyperintensities, or small areas of vascular brain damage, at a faster rate than those with normal  readings and had a more rapid worsening of scores on tests of executive function, or planning and decision making, corresponding to five and eight years of chronological aging respectively.

People with diabetes in middle age lost brain volume in the hippocampus (measured indirectly using a surrogate marker) at a faster rate than those without. Smokers lost brain volume overall and in the hippocampus at a faster rate than nonsmokers and were also more likely to have a rapid increase in white matter hyperintensities.

People who were obese at  were more likely to be in the top 25 percent of those with the faster rate of decline in scores on tests of executive function, DeCarli said. People with a high waist-to-hip ratio were more likely to be in the top 25 percent of those with faster decrease in their  volume.

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A) A schematic cross-section of a mouse brain showing the distribution of CRHR1 gene activity and the associated neurotransmitter specificity. B) A glutamatergic neuron of the hippocampus. Credit: MPI of PsychiatryControl of fear in the brain decoded

 

 

 

 

When healthy people are faced with threatening situations, they react with a suitable behavioural response and do not descend into a state of either panic or indifference, as is the case, for example, with patients who suffer from anxiety. With the help of genetic studies on mice, scientists from the Max Planck Institute of Psychiatry have discovered two opposing neuronal regulatory circuits for the generation and elimination of fear. Both are controlled by the stress-inducing messenger substance corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH) and its type 1 receptor (CRHR1). The availability of these factors in neurons that release glutamate in brain areas of the limbic system activates a neuronal network which causes anxiety behaviour. Conversely, in dopamine-releasing neurons in the mid-brain, these factors give rise to behaviour that reduces fear. Because disorders of the stress factors may be observed in many patients with affective illnesses, the scientists suspect that the pathological alteration of the CRHR1-dependent regulatory circuits may be at the root of such emotional maladies.

An organism’s response to stress is one of the key strategies essential to its survival in dealing with environmental factors. A balanced  is of particular importance here and is subject to a highly complex molecular regulation system. Corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH), which is released in the brain and places the organism in a state of alert, is a central molecular factor of the. In addition to its effect as a hormonal messenger substance, it also controls the activity of neurons through binding to its receptors.

Many patients with  and depression display an altered hormonal stress response and have increased volumes of CRH in the brain. To investigate the underlying pathological processes, the research team working with Jan Deussing at the Max Planck Institute of Psychiatry carried out studies on the system. This enabled them to selectively deactivate an important factor, for example the CRH type 1 receptor, in certain cells, and thus establish the locations where the receptor is normally active and identify its function.

Using immunohistochemical methods and a series of transgenic mouse lines, the researchers succeeded in mapping the gene activity of the type 1 CRH receptor in the mouse brain in detail for the first time. Interestingly, a specific activity pattern emerged in different neuron groups which release different neuronal messenger substances. In regions of the forebrain (cortex, hippocampus, thalamus, septum), CRHR1 is detectable in glutamatergic and GABAergic neurons. As the , these regions are linked and, as the current study shows, trigger fear-inducing behaviour in glutamatergic neurons.

In regions of the midbrain (substantia nigra, ventral tegmental area), CRHR1 arises in dopamine-releasing neurons. The functional examination of the mice gave rise to the fairly sensational discovery that the stress hormone CRH actually reduces fear through its receptors in this part of the brain. These neurons demonstrably trigger the direct release of dopamine in regions of the forebrain and hence cause behaviour that overcomes fear.

The opposing effects of the fear-generating and fear-eliminating effect of the CRH/CRHR1 was demonstrated for the first time by this study and prompted the re-evaluation of the use of CRH-receptor antagonists as anxiolytic and antidepressant drugs. The authors speculate that the over-activity of the CRH system in patients with mood disorders is not general but probably limited to certain regulatory circuits in the brain, thus causing imbalanced emotional behaviour. “The use of CRH-receptor 1 antagonists could be particularly useful in patients in who one of these systems is out of sync,” says research group leader Jan Deussing.

A man browses pictures of Japanese porn star Maria Ozawa on a websitePornography dealers can start registering on the industry‘s own exclusive .xxx web domain on Wednesday following its approval by an international regulatory body earlier this

 

 

The Florida-based ICM Registry, which provides the management and supporting infrastructure for the domain name, has touted its benefits for the industry, customers and those who prefer to avoid online adult content.

“.xxx registrations begin with a 50 day Sunrise period that gives businesses both inside and outside of the adult industry an exclusive timeframe to register or exempt themselves,” it said.

“Running concurrently, Sunrise A registers interest from the sponsored adult community, while Sunrise B has been specifically designed for companies outside the adult industry” to protect their intellectual property, it said.

The domain, approved by the California-based  () earlier this year, will take its place alongside the better-known .com, .gov, .edu and .net.

ICM Registry said the McAfee  will scan the domain for  on a daily basis, making the websites safer for users, and that having pornography sites concentrated in one place will allow people to more easily chose whether to visit them.

year, the domain operator said.

With diabetes, untreated depression can lead to serious eye disease

With diabetes, untreated depression can lead to serious eye disease

 

 

Patients with diabetes who also suffer from depression are more likely to develop a serious complication known as diabetic retinopathy, a disease that damages the eye’s retina, a five-year study 

Diabetic retinopathy occurs when  is not properly managed and is now the leading cause of blindness in patients between 25 and 74 years old, according to the study appearing online in the journal General Hospital Psychiatry.

“Our study controlled for obesity, smoking, sedentary lifestyle and HbA1c levels, and still found that  was associated with an increased risk of retinopathy,” said co-author Wayne Katon, M.D.

HbA1c is a blood test that measures a person’s average blood sugar levels over several months.

Katon is the director of health services and psychiatric epidemiology at the University of Washington Medical School, in Seattle. He and his colleagues studied 2,359 patients with diabetes enrolled in the Pathways Epidemiologic Study and assessed their levels of depression using the Patient Health Questionnaire-9 (PHQ-9), a self-reported survey of depression symptoms.

Over the five-year follow-up period, 22.9 percent of the patients who had PHQ-9 scores that ranked as “major depression” developed , compared with 19.7 percent of the patients without depression. With a five-point increase on the PHQ-9 score, patients’ risk of having diabetic retinopathy increased by up to 15 percent.

“Our findings suggested that psychobiologic changes associated with depression such as increased cortisol levels and activity of blood-clotting factors may be linked to the development of retinopathy,” Katon said.

“There is no question that the burden of depression among patients with diabetes is very high and that depression is a risk factor for worse outcomes in patients with diabetes, as was seen in this study,” said Todd Brown, M.D., an assistant professor of medicine at the division of endocrinology and metabolism at Johns Hopkins University.

He added that multiple explanations might account for these findings—some related to biological changes and some due to behavioral social issues, such as decreased physical activity and poorer utilization of health care.

“The big question with all of this is whether identifying and treating depression in patients with diabetes will change clinical outcomes,” Brown said. “And currently, there are no universal recommendations for depression screening among patients with diabetes.”

Three people were killed and two police officers were injured in a gun fight in Brooklyn Monday evening — the latest bloodshed in a violent holiday weekend in New York City that saw at least 48 people shot.

An exchange of gunfire between two men broke out in Brooklyn’s Crown Heights neighborhood around 9 p.m. Monday, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said at a news conference.

Officers patrolling the nearby West Indian Parade and Carnival, the site of an earlier shooting Monday, responded to the scene.

“The officers were fired upon and returned fire,” Bloomberg said.

Police identified the gunmen, who both died in the shooting, as Eusi Randy Johnson, 29, and Leroy Webster, 32. Johnson died after Webster shot him in the neck, while Webster was killed by police, Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said.

The dispute started as a fistfight in a hallway, then spilled into the street as it escalated, Bloomberg said. It was not clear what the disagreement was over, the mayor said.

A bullet Webster fired “struck an innocent 56-year-old woman sitting on her stoop two doors down,” Bloomberg said. The woman’s name was Denise Gay and her daughter was at her side when she died, the mayor said.

After rushing to the scene, officer Omar Medina “was hit by bullet fragments in his left arm and chest,” Bloomberg said.

He was taken to a nearby hospital and was in stable condition, police said. A second officer, Avichaim Dicken, received a graze wound on his elbow.

Webster had a lengthy criminal record that included arrests for assault, drugs and guns, Kelly said.

The gun battle comes during a holiday weekend marred by shootings, with 33 people shot on Sunday alone.

New camouflage technology from BAE hides war machines

 

 

 

BAE Systems says it has a camouflage system that can render battle machines like tanks invisible or even seen as other objects in the immediate environment to protect against attack. The ‘cloak’ applied to a tank, which is BAE’s illustrated object to showcase its Adaptiv technology, can enable the tank to blend into the environment undetected or to look like another object entirely, avoiding night vision surveillance equipment and infrared targeting by aircraft. In so doing, the Adaptiv technology can mask the vehicle’s infrared signature.

The Adaptiv cloak consists of a sheet of hexagonal hand-sized patches, or as BAE calls them, pixels. Their thermo electric material can switch temperatures quickly. On-board thermal cameras are what drive the panels, picking up whatever scenery is around and then showing that image on the vehicle. Around 1,000 of these panels can cover a small tank.

BAE field-tested its technology on a Swedish CV90 tank made to blend into the scenery without detection. Alternatively, the pixels can protect gear by manipulating their appearance.  can be made to look like cars, large rocks, trucks,or cows, for example.

The Swedish Defence Materiel Administration (FMV), helped fund BAE’s project; use of the infra-red spectrum in warfare has been an important focus for them.

BAE estimates that the technology could be ready for production in two years. Later this month BAE will demonstrate the technology on a CV90 tank at the UK Defense and Security Equipment International exhibition from September 13 to 16. According to reports, research about the Adaptiv approach has been submitted to Britain’s Ministry of Defence.

Since the days when infantry men marched in confidence wearing helmets with hanging leaves, technology has come a long way and has a way to go in the use of  in the face of modern weapons. BAE sees its Adaptiv technology as a breakthrough, however. Past attempts have entailed excessive power requirements and that’s where Adaptiv stands out. Adaptiv project manager Pader Sjolund in a statement said Adaptiv panels in contrast consume relatively little power. “Our panels can be made so strong that they provide useful armor protection and consume relatively low levels of electricity,” he said.

No doubt developments and ideas to address camouflage for warfare will continue in and outside BAE Systems. “Invisibility cloaks” is a topic of research that has been explored for some time. In 2006, Sir John Pendry at Imperial College London, led a group that focused on a “transformation optics” technique that involves the design of materials that steer light around objects, making them disappear from view.

Many Americans suffer from diabetes and hypertension and, according to a study by researchers at the University of Michigan Kellogg Eye Center, these individuals may have an increased risk of developing open-angle glaucoma (OAG).

 

Joshua D. Stein, M.D., M.S., a glaucoma specialist at Kellogg, led a research team that recently reviewed billing records of more than 2 million people aged 40 and older who were enrolled in a managed care network in the United States and who visited an eye care provider one or more times from 2001 to 2007. The researchers found that people with  alone had a 35 percent increased risk of developing OAG and those with hypertension alone had a 17 percent increased risk. For people with both diabetes and hypertension, there was a 48 percent increased risk of developing OAG, the most common form of glaucoma in the country.

The study focused on the possible associations between various components of—a collection of conditions that includes obesity, hypertension, diabetes, and hyperlipidemia (high cholesterol and high triglyceride levels)—that affects one fifth of the U.S. population. The Kellogg researchers also examined how each component increased or decreased the risk of glaucoma.

While the researchers found that diabetes and hypertension increased the risk of OAG, the study showed that hyperlipidemia actually reduced by 5 percent the risk for developing the disease. Further research is under way to evaluate whether it is the hyperlipidemia itself, the medications used to treat the condition, or both that reduces the risk of glaucoma. Findings from this research may eventually lead to novel treatments for glaucoma.

“Patients who have diabetes and hypertension are already known to be at elevated risk for eye conditions like diabetic retinopathy, a condition that harms the blood vessels in the retina,” says Dr. Stein. “This study and others suggest that, for these patients, an increased likelihood of glaucoma is also a concern.”

Glaucoma is a leading cause of irreversible blindness worldwide. In the United States, more than 2.2 million individuals have this disease. And, as the U.S. population ages, glaucoma diagnoses are expected to increase. Because OAG symptoms usually don’t surface until the disease has progressed, understanding the risks associated with OAG—elevated intraocular pressure, positive family history of glaucoma, increased age and non-white race—will help physicians identify which patients would benefit most from screening and monitoring.

“This study reinforces the importance of regular eye examinations for patients at increased risk of , including those with diabetes and ,” says Dr. Stein. ”

Nearly 86% of Chinese computer users acquire their software illegally most or all of the time

A man uses the internet in Beijing. Almost half of personal computer users around the world get their software illegally, with China‘s massive market the worst culprit, a Business Software Alliance (BSA) survey showed.

 

 

 (BSA) survey showed 47 percent of PC users globally believe there is nothing wrong with using unauthorised copies of .

This includes buying a single licence for multiple installations or downloading programs from peer-to-peer networks, BSA said.

The survey of 15,000  in 32 countries showed Chinese users have the most relaxed attitude to piracy.

As many as 86 percent of computer users in the country acquire their software illegally most or all of the time, the survey showed.

“The survey makes it clear that the global software piracy epidemic is spreading fastest in China, which is now the worlds biggest market for new PCs,” said BSA president and chief executive Robert Holleyman.

The Washington-based BSA is an industry group that works for  and counts among its members some of the world’s biggest, including Apple, Microsoft, Symantec and Adobe.

Pirated software installations cost the industry nearly $59 billion globally last year, a BSA report said in May.

It said in terms of value, China was the world’s second-largest culprit behind the US, installing $7.78 billion of stolen programs last year.

The commercial value of pirate computer software used in the US was estimated at $9.5 billion, the BSA said in the May report.

 

Port Angeles border agent Christian Sanchez says he and his colleagues are "paid to do nothing."

On Washington state‘s remote and wooded Olympic Peninsula, major commotion is usually limited to a log tumbling off an overloaded lumber truck.

But lately the peninsula has been roiled by a noisy debate over the expansion of a Border Patrol station in Port Angeles, a three-hour car and ferry ride away from the U.S.-Canadian land border.

The U.S. Border Patrol is spending nearly $6 million to renovate a Port Angeles building that could house up to 50 of its agents.

Prior to the attacks of September 11, 2001, four agents were stationed in Port Angeles, a city of about 20,000 people some 15 miles across the Strait of Juan de Fuca from Canada.

“It’s not needed, there’s nothing for them to do up here,” said Lois Danks, a local writer and organizer of Stop the Checkpoints, which last month staged a small protest near where the Border Patrol’s new station is being built.

Map of Port Angeles

She says border agents “drive around and hassle people without any reasonable suspicion of anything except for possibly the color of their skin.”

“They park across the street from Hispanic grocery stores and taco stands and watch who comes and goes,” according to Danks.

Border Patrol officials deny they target any specific community and say that beyond enforcing immigration laws, they guard the peninsula from drug smuggling and terrorist threats.

Whistle-blower’s accusations

In 1999, Ahmed Ressam was stopped by a customs officer at the Port Angeles ferry crossing trying to bring explosives into the country from Canada. Ressam was later convicted of terrorism charges.

Border Patrol officials say most people who live in Port Angeles and the small towns that dot the peninsula support their efforts.

But recent criticism that further ignited the debate came from an unexpected quarter: one of the station’s own agents.

“There’s nothing to do,” Border Patrol agent Christian Sanchez said during a July event in Washington on government whistle-blowers. “There are no gangs or cross-border activity. I haven’t seen it.”

Sanchez told the Advisory Committee on Transparency, a forum funded by the not-for-profit Sunlight Foundation, he never intended to become a whistle-blower, but decided to speak out publicly after he felt his complaints about the Port Angeles station’s “lack of mission” were being brushed aside by supervisors.

Sanchez told the panel he ran afoul of supervisors for refusing overtime he didn’t feel he was entitled to since, he said, there was so little work to do.

“The taxpayers are paying us all this extra money to do nothing on this peninsula, where it’s a water-based border,” Sanchez said during the panel discussion. “It’s a burden on the taxpayers right now especially with the economy, with Medicare being cut, with the foreclosures.”

Through his attorney, Sanchez turned down CNN’s requests for an interview.

His attorney, Tom Devine of the Government Accountability Project, which specializes in whistle-blower cases, said Sanchez still works at the Port Angeles station but has requested a transfer back to the U.S. border with Mexico, where he had previously patrolled.

Devine said Sanchez feared more reprisals like the kind that he said took place after he began criticizing the Port Angeles station.

“Retaliation has increased,” Sanchez told the panel on whistle-blowers. “My family has been terrorized, vehicles have been driving by, my mail has been opened.”

Henry Rolon, the deputy chief of the Border Patrol sector that oversees the Port Angles station, said he was unable to comment on Sanchez’s case due to an ongoing investigation.

But Rolon rejected Sanchez’s statements that Port Angeles agents are “bored” and “without a mission.”

“Agents in Port Angeles have a very important mission and there’s lots to do,” Rolon said. “You have to go out there, you have to patrol within the community, on the border. Otherwise you are not going to be there when an incident occurs.”

It’s not clear how many incidents are handled specifically by Port Angeles agents, since the agency does not release statistics for individual stations, according to Border Patrol spokesman Rhett Bowlden.

But last year, the Blaine Sector — which includes the Port Angeles station and four major land border crossings — apprehended 673 people and confiscated 1,897 pounds of marijuana, 270 pounds of Ecstasy, 3 pounds of cocaine, and 1 ounce of heroin, Bowlden said. There are currently 327 agents stationed in the sector, including an estimated 40 at Port Angeles.

Clallam County Sheriff Bill Benedict said he sympathized with the Port Angeles border agents because they didn’t have enough to do.

“I know (the Port Angeles section’s) activity. I think they made less than 20 arrests last year,” Benedict said during a May community meeting, the Peninsula Daily News newspaper reported.

“I feel a little sorry for the Border Patrol because it is a very lonely, boring job.”

Michael Cox, head of the Border Patrol agents’ union, rejected that position — pointing out that “it’s a different kind of work environment” from many other jobs.

“You’ve got to investigate, you’ve got to use your brains,” said Cox, president of the Northwest Region for the National Border Council. “We have hundreds of miles to protect.”

Border agent Jose Romero says smugglers and terrorists could easily sneak into the country from nearby Canada.

Going on patrol

Port Angeles’ supervisory agent Jose Romero was eager to show some of those miles of territory during a recent five-hour “ride-along” given to CNN.

The tour started in the Border Patrol’s current headquarters, the cramped basement of the downtown Port Angeles federal building.

“It’s a little tight in here,” Romero said, walking through the warren of empty cubicles with papers stacked high on the desks. If Sanchez was in the office that day, he was nowhere to be seen.

Outside, Romero climbed into an unmarked SUV and headed out onto the peninsula’s one-lane roads.

As he drove, Romero pointed out paths leading to marinas, unmarked “logging trails” and small airports.

All were potential smuggling hotspots, Romero explained.

Being a Border Patrol agent on the peninsula involves coordinating with a mishmash of local and Native American tribal police forces, he said.

The Border Patrol’s work on the peninsula sometimes takes on aspects of local police work, according to Romero. Agents often lend their search dogs to police operations and respond to car accidents or when huge logs come flying off timber-hauling rigs, he said.

As the unmarked SUV cut through the thick fog in a wooded area, Romero asked, jokingly, “You’re not scared of vampires?”

He was referring to the nearby logging town of Forks, the setting for the “Twilight” vampire series.

Pulling into a small marina, Romero again turned serious.

Ten miles in front of us — through the haze — was the Canadian coastline. A few vacationers kayaking in bright orange life vests clashed against the deep blue waters.

“Can somebody land here?” Romero asked. “Very possible. Somebody lands in a Zodiac-type boat, watercraft, Jet Ski, they hike it up the road or have a vehicle waiting for them, load it up — whatever contraband it is, human, narcotics,” the Border Patrol agent said.

“And just like that, they are gone.”

Researchers at the Joslin Diabetes Center have shown that an enzyme found in the mitochondria of cells is decreased in the skeletal muscle of those with diabetes, a finding that could lead to the development of drugs to boost the activity of this enzyme in an effort to fight the disease.

A paper in published online today in the , showed that the enzyme, Sirt3, is decreased in the skeletal muscle of humans and animals with  by at least half, compared to those without diabetes and that this may contribute to development of , one of the earliest manifestations of the disease. Sirt3 is found in the , the power producers of cells that convert energy into usable forms.

“Ours is perhaps the first study to understand what is going wrong in the mitochondria of those with diabetes,” said senior author C. Ronald Kahn, M.D., Head of the Joslin Section on Integrative Physiology and Metabolism and the Mary K. Iacocca Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School. “Many studies have shown that the mitochondria don’t work well in those with diabetes. This points to a cause of why they don’t work well.”

Dr. Kahn said the study sought to look at how decreased Sirt3 levels might affect the metabolism of cells, particularly how it could affect  in cells. “We know that one of the hallmarks of early diabetes is insulin resistance in muscle, but we didn’t know what caused it,” he said.

He said the study showed that when Sirt3 levels are low, as they are in the case of diabetes, the mitochondria of the cells are not as efficient in as they should be.

When the mitochondria become inefficient, they generate what are known as reactive  (ROS), chemically reactive molecules containing oxygen, which create insulin resistance in the muscles, he said.

“This is the first time this has been shown,” Dr. Kahn said.

The goal for the future will be to find ways to restore levels of Sirt3 or increase the activity of the existing Sirt3, perhaps with a drug, in a bid to improve insulin resistance in the muscle and improve muscle metabolism, he said.

“It is a new target,” he said.

Dr. Kahn noted that this study is one of the first demonstrations of a single defect that could affect mitochondrial metabolism and insulin signaling in the muscle.

“In further studies we will try to understand what proteins Sirt3 acts on,” he said.

He noted that one of the earliest hallmarks of diabetes is insulin resistance in the. As a result, a drug to boost Sirt3 levels could be useful in the treatment of prediabetes or in those newly diagnosed with the disease, he said.

“Agents which increase Sirt3 activity could, therefore, potentially reverse at least some of the adverse effects of type 2 diabetes,” the paper concludes.

Co-authors included Enxuan Jing, lead author, as well as Brice Emanuelli, Jeremie Boucher and Kevin Lee, all of Joslin; Matthew D. Hirschey and Eric M. Verdin, both of Gladstone Institute of Virology and Immunology and the University of California, San Francisco; and David Lombard, formerly of the Department of Genetics at Harvard Medical School and currently at the Department of Pathology and Institute of Gerontology at the University of Michigan.

Dr. Verdin noted that by “uncovering the multi-faceted role of SIRT3, we are laying important groundwork to better combat this widespread disease at the cellular level.”

Provided by Joslin Diabetes Center

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