Interview: Gut bacteria leads to child obesity, says Mexican researcher

Mexican scientists have found evidence that bacteroidetes, firmicutes and other gut bacteria can lead to obesity in children.  “Through a study, we were able to verify that there is an imbalance of bacteria, that is to say that these microbes are abundant in the digestive tract of a child suffering from obesity, compared to minors that are at their ideal weight,” said Jaime Garcia Mena, a scientist at Mexico’s Center for Research and Advanced Studies of the National Polytechnic Institute (CINVESTAV). The findings are part of a study, called the “Genetics of obesity in infancy and adolescence,” that was undertaken to help understand Mexico’s growing problem of obese youngsters.  Garcia, who works in CINVESTAV’s department of genetics and molecular biology, said nutrition plays an important part in regulating gut bacteria and determining weight, with children who consume more meats, simple sugars and starches developing a digestive environment that favors obesity. (Published on XinhuaNet.)

Personalizing Physical Exercise

The beneficial effects of physical activity for the prevention and management of several chronic diseases are widely recognized. Mathematical modeling of the effects of physical exercise in body metabolism and in particular its influence on the control of glucose homeostasis is of primary importance in the development of eHealth monitoring devices for personalized medicine. Formulating a model describing the metabolic responses to a physical exercise session is a challenging task since the effects vary depending on its intensity, duration, modality and are also dependent on the subjects’ physical characteristics (e.g. age, gender, body weight, fitness status). To date, only a few mathematical models have aimed at this specific purpose and none of the existing computational models had been able to provide this level of “personalization.”  

Italian researchers have now developed a whole-body computational model of the effects of a bout of physical exercise on metabolic homeostasis. “Modeling the influence of physical exercise on the control of glucose homeostasis is of primary importance in the understanding of how physical activity prevents disease and improves health outcomes…” stated the study’s lead author, Maria Concetta Palumbo of the National Research Council of Italy. (PLOS Computational Biology)

New Study Provides Insight into Blood Signatures of Inflammation

A new study from Boston University Schools of Medicine (BUSM) and Public Health (BUSPH) has identified patterns of inflammation in the blood and adipose tissue. Researchers found six cytokines (immune cell signaling proteins) signature patterns involving 16 cytokines.  (Inflammation is characterized by an interplay between pro- and anti-inflammatory cytokines.) These findings were validated in cohort studies and are believed to be significant for clinical identification of those at risk for type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Read more.

The National Institute of Health’s “All of Us” Research Program

The NIH (National Institute of Health) is recruiting 1 million people to share their DNA and 10 years of health history.  The massive biobank effort, known as the Precision Medicine Initiative, was first announced by President Obama in his 2015 State of the Union address.  Congress authorized $1.45 billion over 10 years for the project. The initiative is a move toward expanding our understanding of the intimate link between genetics, lifestyle, and the environment.  The program’s long-term goal is to expand access to precision medical care. Most biomedical research to date has been done on non-rural, educated, white males. One of the fundamental goals of the NIH’s research program is to get participants that are underrepresented in biomedical research. To participate in the program, any U.S. resident over 18 can signup at the All of Us Research Program. Official enrollment began May 6, 2018.

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Brain Drain

A previously unrecognized system that drains waste from the brain at a rapid clip has been discovered by neuroscientists at the University of Rochester Medical Center. The highly organized system acts like a series of pipes that piggyback on the brain’s blood vessels, sort of a shadow plumbing system that seems to serve much the same function in the brain as the lymph system does in the rest of the body – to drain away waste products. […more]


Cardiac hypertrophyA ramp swimming exercise murine model was used to investigate the response of cardiac telocytes to exercise-induced cardiac growth. After 4 weeks of swimming training, robust cardiac hypertrophy was induced as indicated by increased ratios of heart weight to body weight and heart weight to tibia length. Moreover, the expression levels of pathological cardiac hypertrophy markers including ANP and BNP were not elevated, confirming that a healthy cardiac hypertrophy model was established after swimming training.