Connect with us

News

‘This is Us’ Promotes family discussions on Alzheimer’s 

Published

on

Hit television drama series ‘This is Us’ has got it’s audience talking after displaying a compelling narrative about Alzheimer’s disease.

According to new research led by the University of Pittsburgh School of Public Health, viewers of the drama thought that it helped to reduce some stigma that surrounds dementia.

Viewers also saw it as motivational, helping them to start family discussions on topics surrounding dementia.

The Pitt study is the first of its kind, as it will examine a television drama narrative about Alzheimer’s, using both survey and focus group results to determine its influence on viewers.

Results from the study suggest that entertainment narratives have the power to make a positive impact on those affected by Alzheimer’s.

It also highlights the importance of the partnerships between public health agencies and the entertainment industry to address health issues.

Lead author of the study, Beth Hoffman says: “Given that the average U.S. adult spends about 2,000 hours watching primetime television per year, but only an hour with a health care professional. 

“It’s critical for clinicians and public health professionals to understand how television narratives impact health decisions.

“Our findings demonstrate that the entertainment industry need not shy away from complex topics.

“About 9 million U.S. adults have lived experience with Alzheimer’s disease and caregiving, and our work found that the storyline on ‘This Is Us’ helped them feel seen.”

‘This is Us’ follows the lives of a fictional family, the Pearson’s, with the primary focus on the mother, Rebecca and her triplets, Kate, Kevin and Randall.

In the fourth season, Rebecca experiences memory decline, which is diagnosed as mild cognitive impairment likely due to Alzheimer’s disease.

Randall and Kevin become torn over Randall’s insistence that Rebecca moves across the country to participate in a clinical trial for Alzheimer’s disease.

The narrative for the series was developed alongside Hollywood, Health and Society, which is a free resource programme for the entertainment industry, providing fact based information for TV storylines on health, safety and security.

The ‘This is Us’ writers me with the society regularly over the course of three seasons to help them ensure the topic was portrayed accurately and authentically.

This included the writers’ room briefings, script reviews and conversations between Mandy More, who plays Rebecca and Alzheimer’s disease experts.

Kate Langrall Folb, director of Hollywood, Health and Society says: “We were honored to work with ‘This Is Us’ to inform this storyline and many others throughout the show’s six-year run.

“We know from decades of research that viewers learn from what they see on TV. 

“That’s why it’s so essential for shows to accurately portray the complexities of living with and caring for those affected by diseases like Alzheimer’s.”

Following the finale of season four, Hoffman and her research team administered an online survey to more than 700 viewers, before conducting follow-up focus groups with a dozen of those participants.

The ‘mixed methods’ approach, which was guided by Jessica Burke, allows scientists to better understand the numerical data gained from broad surveys through follow-up discussions.

Responses from the survey display how strongly viewers identified with both Kevin and Randall.

This indicates that they could see both sides of different positions on treatment and care of someone with Alzheimer’s disease.

Respondents also showed high levels of support for medical research, whilst also expressing the desire to respect the decision of the affected family member on whether to participate in a clinical trial.

Over 43 per cent of the respondents had a friend or close relative that had been diagnosed with either dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.

The discussions between the focus group furthered these discoveries. 

An example of this is viewers emphasising with Randall’s belief of clinical trial would save Rebecca’s life, whilst they also recognised this as being overly optimistic, meaning they ultimately support Kevin’s desire not to override their mother’s decision on participation.

The focus group also came to the conclusion that the disagreements between Kevin and Randall over their mothers health, would encourage viewers to have family discussions about advanced care planning.

Dan Fogelman, creator, showrunner and writer of ‘This is Us’ says: “Obviously it is rewarding to hear that our show has had a positive influence on perception and understanding of Alzheimer’s disease.

“Our incredible writers took great care to get the details right here, as multiple members of our staff had been directly touched by the disease.

“I’d be remiss if I didn’t add that we couldn’t have attacked the storyline without help from Hollywood, Health & Society, a guiding force with any medical-based research we needed.”

I’m Andrew Nealen, former sports broadcast journalist, who was now turned to reporting on all things age tech, with being new to age tech I’m enjoying learning more and more with every interview and feature.

News

Evening exercise benefits elderly hypertensives

Published

on

Evening exercise benefits elderly hypertensives

A study conducted at the University of São Paulo with 23 volunteers found that aerobic exercise performed in the evening benefits elderly hypertensives more than morning exercise.

Aerobic training is known to regulate blood pressure more effectively when practiced in the evening than in the morning.

Researchers who conducted a study of elderly patients at the University of São Paulo’s School of Physical Education and Sports (EEFE-USP) in Brazil concluded that evening exercise is better for blood pressure regulation thanks to improved cardiovascular control by the autonomic nervous system via a mechanism known as baroreflex sensitivity.

Leandro Campos de Brito, first author of the article, commented: “There are multiple mechanisms to regulate blood pressure, and although morning training was beneficial, only evening training improved short-term control of blood pressure by enhancing baroreflex sensitivity.

“This is important because baroreflex control has a positive effect on blood pressure regulation, and there aren’t any medications to modulate the mechanism.”

In the study, 23 elderly patients diagnosed and treated for hypertension were randomly allocated into two groups: morning training and evening training. Both groups trained for ten weeks on a stationary bicycle at moderate intensity, with three 45-minute sessions per week.

Key cardiovascular parameters were analysed, such as systolic and diastolic blood pressure, and heart rate after ten minutes’ rest. The data was collected before and at least three days after the volunteers completed the ten weeks of training.

The researchers also monitored mechanisms pertaining to the autonomic nervous system, which controls breathing, heart rate, blood pressure, digestion, and other involuntary bodily functions, such as muscle sympathetic nerve activity, which regulates peripheral blood flow via contraction and relaxation of blood vessels in muscle tissue, and sympathetic baroreflex sensitivity, assessing control of blood pressure via alterations to muscle sympathetic nerve activity.

In the evening training group, all four parameters analysed were found to improve: systolic and diastolic blood pressure, sympathetic baroreflex sensitivity, and muscle sympathetic nerve activity. In the morning training group, no improvements were detected in muscle sympathetic nerve activity, systolic blood pressure or sympathetic baroreflex sensitivity.

“Evening training was more effective in terms of improving cardiovascular autonomic regulation and lowering blood pressure. This can be partly explained as due to an improvement in baroreflex sensitivity and a reduction of muscle sympathetic nerve activity, which increased in the evening. For now, all we know is that baroreflex control is the decisive factor, from the cardiovascular standpoint at least, to make evening training more beneficial than morning training, since it induces the other benefits analysed. However, much remains to be done in this regard in order to obtain a better understanding of the mechanisms involved,” said Brito, who is currently a professor at Oregon Health & Science University’s Oregon Institute of Occupational Health Sciences in the United States, and continues to investigate the topic via circadian rhythm studies.

Baroreflex sensitivity regulates each heartbeat interval and controls autonomic activity throughout the organism.

“It’s a mechanism that involves sensitive fibres and deformations in the walls of arteries in specific places, such as the aortic arch and carotid body. When blood pressure falls, this region warns the brain region that controls the autonomic nervous system, which in turn signals the heart to beat faster and tells the arteries to contract more strongly. If blood pressure rises, it warns the heart to beat more slowly and tells the arteries to contract less. In other words, it modulates arterial pressure beat by beat,” Brito explained.

In previous studies, the EEFE-USP research group showed that evening aerobic training reduced blood pressure more effectively than morning training in hypertensive men (read more at: agencia.fapesp.br/34194), and that the more effective response to evening training in terms of blood pressure control was accompanied by a greater reduction in systemic vascular resistance and systolic pressure variability (read more at: agencia.fapesp.br/37432).

“Replication of the results obtained in previous studies and in different groups of hypertensive patients, associated with the use of more precise techniques to evaluate the main outcomes, has strengthened our conclusion that aerobic exercise performed in the evening is more beneficial to the autonomic nervous system in patients with hypertension. This can be especially important for those with resistance to treatment with medication,” Brito said.

Continue Reading

News

Revolutionising cancer treatment: intracellular protein delivery using hybrid nanotubes

Published

on

Revolutionising cancer treatment: intracellular protein delivery using hybrid nanotubes

A new hybrid nanotube stamp system has been developed which revolutionises precision medicine with high efficiency and cell viability rates for cancer treatment.

Precision medicine and targeted therapies are gaining traction for their ability to tailor treatments to individual patients while minimising adverse effects. Conventional methods, such as gene transfer techniques, show promise in delivering therapeutic genes directly to cells to address various diseases.

However, these methods face significant drawbacks, hindering their efficacy and safety. Intracellular protein delivery offers a promising approach for developing safer, more targeted, and effective therapies. By directly transferring proteins into target cells, this method circumvents issues such as silencing during transcription and translation and the risk of undesirable mutations from DNA insertion. Additionally, intracellular protein delivery allows for precise distribution of therapeutic proteins within target cells without causing toxicity.

A group of researchers led by Professor Takeo Miyake at Waseda University, Japan in collaboration with the Mikawa Group at the RIKEN Institute have now developed a hybrid nanotube stamp system for intracellular delivery of proteins. This innovative technique enables the simultaneous delivery of diverse cargoes, including calcein dye, lactate oxidase (LOx) enzyme, and ubiquitin (UQ) protein, directly into adhesive cells for cancer treatment.

The researchers explored the therapeutic potential of delivering LOx enzyme for cancer treatment. “Through our innovative stamp system, we successfully delivered LOx into both healthy mesenchymal stem cells (MSC) and cancerous HeLa cells. While MSC cells remained unaffected, we observed significant cell death in HeLa cancer cells following LOx treatment with viabilities decreasing over time. Our findings highlight the promising efficacy of intracellularly delivered LOx in selectively targeting and killing cancer cells, while sparing healthy cells, offering a targeted therapeutic strategy for cancer treatment,” explains Miyake.

Finally, the team successfully delivered 15N isotope-labeled UQ proteins into HeLa cells using the HyNT stamp system. This delivery allowed for the analysis of complex protein structures and interactions within the cells. In addition, optical and fluorescence imaging confirmed the presence of delivered UQ in HeLa cells, and nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy matched the intracellular UQ protein concentration with that of a solution containing 15N-labeled UQ. These results demonstrate the effectiveness of the stamp system in delivering target proteins for subsequent analysis.

The results demonstrate the remarkable capability of the HyNT stamp system in delivering LOx and UQ into a substantial number of adhesive cells, as required for regenerative medicine applications. The system achieved a notably high delivery efficiency of 89.9%, indicating its effectiveness in transporting therapeutic proteins into the target cells with precision. Moreover, the cell viability rate of 97.1% highlights the system’s ability to maintain the health and integrity of the treated cells throughout the delivery process.

The HyNT stamp system offers transformative potential in intracellular protein delivery, with applications spanning from cancer treatment to molecular analysis. Beyond medicine, its versatility extends to agriculture and food industries, promising advancements in crop production and food product development. With precise cell manipulation and efficient delivery, the HyNT stamp system is poised to revolutionize biomedical research, clinical practice, and diverse industries, paving the way for personalized interventions and shaping the future of modern medicine.

Continue Reading

News

Heat waves damage humans’ vital organs, shows new study

Published

on

Researchers from the University of California, Irvine have found evidence of the molecular causes of the damaging impact heat stress causes on the gut, liver and brain in the elderly.

The researchers suggest these findings point to the potential of developing precise prognostic and therapeutic interventions.

These organs have a complex and multidirectional communication system that touches everything from our gastrointestinal tract to the nervous system. Whether it is our brain affecting hunger or the liver influencing mental health, understanding the gut-liver-brain communication or “axis” is crucial to protecting human health.

Their study, which was conducted on mouse models, is published in the journal Scientific Reports, a Nature Portfolio journal. It is one of the first to fill the knowledge gap on the effects of heat stress on a molecular level of this crucial biological conversation.

“Inflammation in the brain and spine contributes to cognitive decline, compromises the ability to form new neurons and exacerbates age-related diseases,” said corresponding author, Saurabh Chatterjee, a professor of environmental & occupational health at the UC Irvine Program in Public Health. “By investigating the effects of heat stress on the gut-liver-brain crosstalk, we can better protect our increasingly vulnerable aging population.”

Using RNA analysis and bioinformatics to analyse elderly, heat-stressed mice, Chatterjee and his team found evidence of heat stress-affected genes in the brain and liver. A significant increase in the production of ORM2, a liver-produced protein, was observed in the heat-stressed mice. The control group of unstressed mice did not show a change, providing proof of organ dysfunction in the heat-stressed mice.

Researchers believe that increased secretion of ORM2 is a coping mechanism that may be due to gut inflammation and imbalance. In addition, ORM2 may impact the brain through a leaky blood-brain barrier, emphasizing intricate multi-organ crosstalk.

Additionally, the study shows the potential to use ORM2 for targeted biomarker interventions to prevent liver disease in heat exposure. This observation advances molecular insights into the pathophysiology of adverse heat events and will serve as a foundation for future research.

“Our findings have the potential to be used for the development of prognostic and therapeutic markers for precise interventions,” said Chatterjee. “In a dynamically changing global landscape, the imminent threat of climate change is evident in rising temperatures, raising concerns about intermittent heat waves. Our heating planet is undoubtedly leading to acute and chronic heat stress that harms the health of our aging population.”

Continue Reading

Trending