Monthly Archives: July 2017

Short-lived wedding happiness for couples with young couples

A new study confirms that cannabinoids, which are a class of active chemicals in cannabis, can successfully kill leukemia cells. They also find that the combination of chemicals and the order in which they are given is important. The findings will, no doubt, open the door to more effective treatments.

Cannabinoids, also known as phytocannabinoids, act as cannabinoid receptors in the brain. The most well known of these chemicals, and one of the most psychoactive, is tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).

To date, there have been more than 100 cannabinoids identified, all with different properties and chemical profiles.

And, over recent years, the potential anti-cancer effects of cannabinoids have come into focus.

Laboratory and animal studies have demonstrated that certain cannabinoids inhibit tumor growthby promoting cell death, reducing cell growth, and blocking the development of blood vessels that supply the tumor.

For instance, cannabinoid delta-9-THC can damage or kill liver cancer cells. Similarly, cannabidiol is effective against estrogen receptor positive and estrogen receptor negative breast cancer cells, without damaging healthy tissue.

Cannabinoids and leukemia

A number of cannabinoids have also been shown to successfully fight leukemia cells. Leukemia is a cancer of bone marrow and other blood-forming organs.

Earlier research found that some of these chemicals, when used in combination, become even more potent killers of cancerous cells.

A new study, published recently in the International Journal of Oncology, explored these combinations in more depth. They also looked at the potential use of cannabinoids in conjunction with the existing chemotherapy drugs cytarabine and vincristine.

The researchers were led by Dr. Wai Liu at St George’s, University of London in the United Kingdom. Studying cancer cells in the laboratory, the team tested various combinations of cannabinoids and chemotherapy drugs to find the most effective groupings. They also tried to understand whether or not the order that the chemicals were given in would make a difference to success rates.

They found that cannabidiol and THC, when used alone, killed leukemia cells. However, when used in conjunction, their potency was significantly improved; the whole is more than the sum of the parts.

They also showed that an initial dose of chemotherapy followed by cannabinoids improved overall outcomes against the leukemia cells. Combining chemotherapy with cannabinoids provided better results than giving chemotherapy alone, or the combination of cannabidiol and THC. However, this increased potency was only seen if the cannabinoids were given after the chemotherapy, and not the other way around.

Marital bliss short-lived for spouses with younger partners

There are many factors that can put strain on a marriage – money worries, work stress, the demands of a new baby, to name a few. A new study finds that a large age gap between partners may also take its toll.

Researchers found that while both men and women initially report greater marital satisfaction with a significantly younger spouse, this satisfaction may soon dwindle.

Study authors Wang-Sheng Lee, of the Department of Economics at Deakin University in Australia, and Terra McKinnish, of the Department of Economics at the University of Colorado in Denver, recently published their results in the Journal of Population Economics.

As per a 2013 report from the United States Census Bureau, around 10 percent of heterosexual couples and 21 percent of same-sex couples in the U.S. have a partner who is at least 10 years older.

Talking to Medical News Today, Lee said that there has been little research conducted on how large age gaps between married couples influence marital satisfaction.

He said, “When we found a longitudinal data set that allowed us to examine the evolution of marital satisfaction over time for both men and women in the same marriage, we thought it would be very interesting to do the analysis to see what we find.”

Younger vs. older spouses

The team’s findings came from an analysis of 19,914 individuals from more than 7,600 households in Australia, all of whom completed the Household, Income and Labor Dynamics in Australia survey.

The researchers analyzed 13 years of data from married couples, assessing how age gaps between spouses affected their marital satisfaction over time.

In the early years of marriage, the data revealed that men with younger spouses reported greater marital satisfaction, while marital satisfaction was lower for men with older spouses.

“We were not very surprised to find men being more satisfied with younger wives, given the popular ‘half your age plus seven’ rule that often comes up in male conversation,” Lee told MNT.

However, the researchers say that they were surprised to find that women also reported greater marital satisfaction with younger spouses in the early years of marriage, compared with women whose spouses were older.

Lee said, “This is contrary to what previous studies using data on preferences from speed dating studies have found. However, with more gender equality and ‘toyboy’ relationships on the increase since the 1980s, this was also not completely unexpected. It is just that women have been strategic and not been more explicit in stating their preferences.”

Scientists may have found a way to stop cancer from metastasizing

Metastasis is the main cause of death in cancer, and current treatments against it are ineffective. But new research may have found a way to slow down, and perhaps even halt, the spread of cancer cells.

Metastasis is the process by which cancer spreads throughout the body. During this process, cancer cells may either invade nearby healthy tissue, penetrate the walls of lymph nodes, or enter the surrounding blood vessels.

But new research may have found a way to control metastasis by inhibiting the migration of cancer cells. Stopping the cells from migrating is key in stopping metastasis.

What enables cancer cells to migrate is a set of protrusions that help them to move. The team of researchers – led by Mostafa El-Sayed, Julius Brown Chair and Regents Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry at Georgia Tech’s School in Atlanta, GA – managed to successfully cut off these protrusions using a special technique.

The findings were published in the journal PNAS.

Breaking cancer cells’ ‘legs’

The long, thin protrusions that help cancer cells to move are called filopodia. They are an extension of a set of “broad, sheet-like” fibers called lamellipodia, which can be found around the edges of the cell.

The suffix “-podia” (or “-podium,” singular) comes from the Greek language and means “something footlike.”

Essentially, lamellipodia and filopodia are tiny “legs” that help healthy cells to move within the tissue. But in cancerous cells, lamellipodia and filopodia are produced in excess.

The researchers used so-called nanorods, made of gold nanoparticles, to obstruct these tiny legs.

With the help of nanotechnology, scientists are able to reduce the size of certain materials to a nanoscale – with “nano” meaning the billionth part of a meter – at which point these materials start to show new chemical and physical properties.

Prof. El-Sayed and colleagues introduced the nanorods locally. The nanorods were covered with a coating of molecules, called RGD peptides, that made them attach to a specific kind of protein called integrin.

A cytoskeleton is the support structure of a cell, responsible for giving it a shape. It also has additional functions, with one of them being to form the filopodia protrusions.

Natural cannabinoid found to play key role in anxiety

Stress-related mood and anxiety disorders affect millions of people in the United States. A new study examines the neurobiology behind these illnesses and finds that controlling a molecule that activates cannabinoid receptors can reduce the symptoms of anxiety.

More than 40 million U.S. adults (or 18 percent of the entire population) live with anxietydisorders, including clinical depression, panic disorders, phobias, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Generalized anxiety disorder affects almost 7 million of these adults, and another 7.7 million are estimated to be affected by PTSD.

Anxiety is usually caused by a variety of factors, which can include genes, family history, personal circumstances, and life events, as well as chemical imbalances in the brain.

A new study – published in the journal Nature Communications – investigates these mental disorders from a neurobiological perspective. Specifically, by using a mouse model, researchers from the Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, TN, examined the brain’s adaptability to stress and found a naturally occurring chemical that may play a key role in the development of PTSD and depression.

The corresponding author of the study is Dr. Sachin Patel, director of the Division of Addiction Psychiatry and James G. Blakemore Professor of Psychiatry at Vanderbilt University.

Studying the link between endocannabinoids and anxiety

Starting off from the premise that stress is a major exacerbating factor in the development of depression and PTSD, Patel and colleagues set out to investigate the neurochemicals involved in stress resilience – namely, the brain’s ability to adapt to the negative effects of stress.

Endocannabinoids are part of the so-called endogenous cannabinoid (or endocannabinoid) system, which consists of endocannabinoids and their receptors. The system is present throughout the human body, and it helps to regulate crucial aspects of our health, such as our immune and nervous systems.

Endocannabinoids are lipids that act as a kind of a neurotransmitter. Mainly, they activate the CB1 and CB2 brain receptors. CB1 can be found in several brain areas, including the neocortex, the hippocampus, the amygdala, the cerebellum, and the hypothalamus. These brain areas are known to be involved in emotional and behavioral reactions, homeostasis, learning, memory, and decision-making.

Patel has previously researched the role of endocannabinoid brain receptors and singled out the CB1 receptor as playing a key role in anxiety. Patel and his team located CB1 receptors in the brain’s amygdala and found that if this receptor is blocked or the gene that encodes it is deleted, anxiety increases.

Additionally, in a separate study, Patel and colleagues demonstrated that the endocannabinoid 2-arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG) also has a critical role in regulating emotional behavior. Using a mouse model, they showed that mice that had a lower quantity of 2-AG were more likely to behave in a way that suggests anxiety and depression, whereas an increased level of the chemical had the opposite effect.