Aging

Biological clocks are the body's complex network of internal oscillators that regulate daily activity/rest cycles and other important aspects of physiology, including body temperature, heart rate and food intake. Besides sleep disorders, research in this field may eventually help treat the negative effects of shift work, aging and jet lag.

Biologists at the University of Virginia have discovered a switching mechanism in the eye that plays a key role in regulating the sleep/wake cycles in mammals.

The new finding demonstrates that light receptor cells in the eye are central to setting the rhythms of the brain's primary timekeeper, the suprachiasmatic nuclei, which regulates activity and rest cycles.

The NHS and private healthcare are not providing good enough basic care to a large portion of the population in England, especially older and frailer people, according to a study published on bmj.com today.

Overall, only 62% of the care recommended for older adults is actually received, conclude the authors.

The large-scale independent study of quality of care involved 8 688 people aged 50 and over and looked at 13 different health conditions including heart disease, diabetes, stroke, depression and osteoarthritis.

As people age, their cells become less efficient at getting rid of damaged protein, resulting in a buildup of toxic material that is especially pronounced in Alzheimer's, Parkinson's disease, and other neurodegenerative disorders.

Scientists at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University have prevented this age-related decline in an entire organ — the liver — and shown that, as a result, the livers of older animals functioned as well as they did when the animals were much younger.

These findings suggest that therapies for boosting protein clearance might help stave off some of the declines in function that accompany old age.

Sleep-disordered breathing (also known as sleep apnea) is associated with an increased risk of death, according to new results from the Wisconsin Sleep Cohort, an 18-year observational study supported by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) of the National Institutes of Health.

Researchers found that adults (ages 30 to 60) with sleep-disordered breathing at the start of the study were two to three times more likely to die from any cause compared to those who did not have sleep-disordered breathing. The risk of death was linked to the severity of sleep-disordered breathing and was not attributable to age, gender, body mass index (an indicator of overweight or obesity), or cardiovascular health status.

With respect to binge-drinking, “shot-gunning” a beer involves inserting a hole in the beer can and drinking it FAST. The game is so popular that a shotgun beer opener is even available to interested enthusiasts through the "liquorsnob" website. Similarly, too much of this kind of consumption may eventually lead to a hole in the heart.

Drinking more than one or two drinks per day for women and men, respectively, excessive drinking, as defined in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Dietary Guidelines, may cause a debilitating condition involving the heart known as “metabolic syndrome.”

Researchers at Yale School of Medicine have found the brain's appetite center uses fat for fuel by involving oxygen free radicals—molecules associated with aging and neurodegeneration. The findings suggest that antioxidants could play a role in weight control.

The study's lead authors were Sabrina Diano and Tamas Horvath, who are an associate professor and professor, respectively, in the Departments of Obstetrics, Gynecology & Reproductive Sciences and Neurobiology. Horvath is also chair of the Section of Comparative Medicine.

"In contrast to the accepted view, the brain does use fat as fuel," said Horvath. "Our study shows that the minute-by-minute control of appetite is regulated by free radicals, implying that if you interfere with free radicals, you may affect eating and satiety."

According to research conducted by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention one in three Americans age 65 and older fall. Recent findings by experts at the University of Tel Aviv, Israel, found that Ritalin improves cognitive impairments in seniors, which may greatly contribute to a decrease in falls.

The findings may be a step into the treatment of falls within the senior population, but Prof. Jeffrey M. Hausdorff, of Sackler School of Medicine at Tel Aviv University isn’t counting chickens before they hatch. “While the notion of treating fall risk with a pill is an intriguing concept it is not likely to be a silver bullet solution, and it is still too early to recommend Ritalin on a wide scale basis,” he said.

In 2005, the CDC analyzed 16,000 deaths in the elderly population in which unintentional falls were the fundamental cause of death making it among the top ten leading causes of death in senior citizens, a statistic that holds true today.

A new discovery contradicts the prevailing theory that aging is a buildup of tissue damage akin to rust in some metals, and implies science might eventually halt or even reverse the ravages of age.

Specific genetic instructions drive aging in worms, report researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine.

The researchers examined the regulation of aging in C. elegans, a millimeter-long nematode worm whose simple body and small number of genes make it a useful tool for biologists. The worms age rapidly: their maximum life span is about two weeks.

According to a study conducted at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, older people who did endurance exercise training for about a year ended up with metabolically much younger hearts. The researchers also showed that by one metabolic measure, women benefited more than men from the training.

The researchers measured heart metabolism in sedentary older people both at rest and during administration of dobutamine, a drug that makes the heart race as if a person were exercising vigorously. At the start of the study, they found that in response to the increased energy demands produced by dobutamine, the hearts of the study subjects didn't increase their uptake of energy in the form of glucose (blood sugar).

A group of scientists who set out to study sex pheromones in a tiny worm found that the same family of pheromones also controls a stage in the worms' life cycle, the long-lived dauer larva. The findings in Nature represent the first time that reproduction and lifespan have been linked through so-called small molecules.

Where scientists once focused on DNA and proteins as the major players in an organism's biology, they are now realizing that smaller, but more structurally diverse chemicals - simply called "small molecules" - are a significant part of a living thing's biology. "They're as important to biology as the genes are," says Frank Schroeder, last author of the paper and a scientist at the Boyce Thompson Institute.