1. Finding a solution to antibiotic resistance – it was right under our noses!
Amongst the growing concern for the increase in antibiotic resistance, a new antibiotic has been discovered in the human nose. The study, published in Nature, found the antibiotic (named lugdunin) was highly effective against major pathogens in animal models, including the superbug MRSA.
This is a major breakthrough in the war against the increasing number of superbugs (bacteria that are resistant to multiple drugs). We are in desperate need of new types of antibiotics, however very few are in development due to a number of reasons (for more background, listen to this podcast). This finding could lead to the development of a whole new, much-needed, class of drugs.
2. Could gaming really be the answer to preventing dementia?
A digital speed training exercise has been shown to reduce the risk of developing dementia by 48%. Data presented at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference (AAIC) this week assessed the effect of different brain training exercises on development of dementia in people ages 65 and over across the US. In the control group, 14% of people developed dementia after 10 years, whereas only 8.2% of those who completed 14 gaming sessions (each 60-75 minutes long) developed dementia. Those who trained for longer also saw a greater benefit.
This is a really exciting development in a field which has seen failure after failure of drugs. If the results are further validated in a wider population, this could offer an easy, low-cost and drug-free way to reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and other cognitive disorders in an aging population.
You can try the game for yourself here (it’s harder than it seems!).
3. The effects of hormones on aging
Menopause has been shown to speed up the aging of cells. In a study published in PNAS, researchers measured changes to cellular DNA using an “epigenetic clock” and found that aging of cells was accelerated by 6% in women who had undergone menopause. This aging of cells was decreased in those undergoing hormone replacement therapy. This result was compounded by a separate study, published in Menopause, which found that women who started menopause later in life were more likely to live to the age of 90, as well as other health benefits.
These results shed light on the effect of hormones on biological aging (the age our cells appear, rather than our actual age) and may lead to therapies for aging and age-related diseases; however the risks and potential side-effects of using hormone-based therapies must be carefully weighed.