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First UK Patient Receives Stem Cell Treatment That Cures Blindness

A patient in the UK has become the first person to receive an experimental treatment using stem cells which could in the future cure the eyesight of millions of people.

The woman, who has age related macular degeneration had a successful operation by doctors at Moorfields Eye Hosptial last month. Doctors will not know if the operation will work and she has regained eye_1819937bher sight until December. If she does it could be a massive step is saving sight in millions of people.

The transplant itself contains eye cells, called retinal pigment epithelium, which were created using stem cell research and were grown in a lab. The cells then form a patch that can be placed behind th
e retina during surgery.

If the operation proves a success and the patient regains her sight the potential for this stem cell research could be huge. Although the first patients have the “wet” form of macular degenerative condition the doctors believe that this operation could be used on those who suffer from the “dry” form which is the majority of the sufferers in the United Kingdom.

Stem Cells have moved from drawing board to human trials with incredible speed say scientists. The first embryonic stem cell was grown in 1989. Using them in eyes was always going to have a big advantage over other prospects, because it is possible to transplant them without an attack by the immune system, as would happen in other parts of the body. Most people who have any sort of transplant have to take drugs that suppress the immune system for the rest of their lives.

Stem Cells are believed to be the way forward and if this operation proves to be a success then we are taking a huge step in medical science as well as researching more on the use of stem cells.


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What Happens When Your Body Is On Sugar?

It’s in the papers almost every day. How bad sugar is and how much we should have in our daily diets. But what does it actually do to our bodies? A video published by the University of California explains what happens with glucose and the more dangerous fructose sugars with Kimber Stanhope explaining what is happening when we intake sugar.

To get these facts she gave two groups of volunteers two different diets; one group was fed pasta, bread or rice, while the other group was given a sugary beverage like Cola. In the video she explains what happens next within the video. First she looks at the effects of glucose which is found in pretty much in all the grains we eat. When glucose enters the body it slowly gets processed by the enzymes of the intestine but is then transferred to the liver through a vein known as the portal vein. When it reaches the liver, the liver will take the energy it needs from the glucose provided and no more. Once its collected the energy it needs it will the move on to another area of the body which needs glucose.

Fructose is very different. First it is processed in the intestines and then moved onto the liver much like glucose. However the liver will take more fructose than it needs even if it’s energy levels are high. Because of this fructose is not passed around the body but is instead stored as fat. This then starts a vicious cycle, contributing to all the diseases we know to make up metabolic syndrome.

The fat from the liver will often be transferred to the blood causing higher cholesterol and triglyceride’s; this means an increased likelihood of developing cardiovascular disease. The liver fat also affects the way insulin works making the body more inclined to develop diabetes. When the insulin is not working correctly it leads to more fat in the liver.

To stop this vicious cycle from starting in the first place cut down on the beverages and foods high in fructose and save them for special occasions and not part of your day to day diet.


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Scientists Have Discovered The Body’s “Chemical Calendar”

Scientists have discovered how the body can track each season during the year with a ‘chemical calendar’. The scientists, posting their report in Current Biology, discovered various different cells that could exist in a ‘summer’ or ‘winter’ state.

They used a longer day to switch the cells into summer mode and the complete opposite when the nights draw in to enter winter mode. The annual body clock controls various things in nature including when animals breed and hibernate. Humans may be altering their immune system with the annual clock.

Teams from the Universities of Edinburgh and Manchester analysed the brains of sheep at different points of the year. Within the sheep brains they found a cluster of over 17,000 “calendar cells” within the pituitary gland which sits at the base of the brain releasing hormones that control processes within the body. The research team has said that the cells have a similar “binary system” to a computer that can exist in one of two s

Four_seasonstates producing ‘winter chemicals’ or ‘summer’ ones. And the proportion of the calendar cells in each state changes throughout the year to mark the passage of time.

Prof. Andrew Loudon from the University of Manchester said “It looks like there’s a short period of the year in the middle of winter and the middle of summer when they are all in one state or the other.”

It is still not clear how the body knows when the season is spring or autumn when some of the calendar cells are still in winter mode and other’s are in a summer state. The annual clock is known as the Circannual Rhythm and is the longer-term cousin of the circadian or daily rhythm which keeps you awake at the right time of the day.

This annual pattern triggers stages of nature throughout the year including hibernations, migrations and mating seasons and explains why lambs are always born within the spring season. The daily and the annual body clocks are controlled by light.The sleep hormone melatonin is produced more within the winter season as the days are darker.

Prof. Loudon said “We’ve known for some time that melatonin is critical for these long-term rhythms, but how it works and where it works had not been clear until now.” 

His colleague in this research, Prof. Dave Burt from the University of Edinburgh, added: “The seasonal clock found in sheep is likely to be the same in all vertebrates, or at least contains the same parts. The next step is to understand how our cells record the passage of time.”

Although humans do not have a particular mating season there are signs within the research that we are influenced by the seasons.

An earlier study led by the University of Cambridge showed human genes involved with immunity became active in the cold and winter seasons. In the study they suggested that it could help fight off winter viruses like flu but may make other conditions worsen such as arthritis.