A glimmer of hope for curing addiction, epilepsy, and memory diseases have surfaced thanks to research by the Johns Hopkins researchers.
They have discovered a new biochemical mechanism for memory storage, one that may have a connection with addictive behavior.
Previously, the long-term changes in connection were thought to only involve a fast form of electrical signaling in the brain, electrical blips lasting about one-hundredth of a second. Now, neuroscience professor David Linden, Ph.D., and his colleagues have shown another, much slower form of electrical signaling lasting about a second can also be persistently changed by experience.
They simulated natural brain activity by applying short electrical jolts to slices of rat brain and measuring the current flowing across the cells. After repeated jolting, the strength of the slow nerve signals had dramatically decreased and remained at a low intensity for 30 minutes after electrical jolts ceased.
These slow signals are produced by a nerve cell receptor called mGluR1, which has been associated with behaviors such as addiction and epilepsy. “Both of these conditions also involve long-term changes in the function of nerve connections,” says Linden. “So in addition to furthering our basic understanding of memory storage, our work suggests that drugs designed to alter mGluR1 are promising candidates for the treatment of addiction, epilepsy, and diseases of memory.”
How much your brains cells are connected to each other pretty much dictates how powerful your memory is, the more wired it is, the more retentive your memory will be. I just wonder if “memory enhancing” milk formulas both for infants, children and aging people work on this principle.
But because of this new find, medicines, medical techniques, even genetic engineering could then take advantage of the mGluR1 and its functions in the brain to help treat epilepsy, prevent addiction and really improve our memory.
Do you have allergies?
It’s a big bummer to see great food, especially the ones that really whet your appetite being served at the party or even at your own home but hold back on yourself with much regret because you are allergic to that food or a certain ingredient of it.
Often times, some people find out too late into the course of the meal about this and things well, just spiral down from there. To verify allergies, blood tests have been devised and now have become the most commonly used methods of determining allergies.
However, a stern word of caution comes from the Johan Hopkins Children’s Center. Food allergy blood tests are sometimes unreliable.
Blood tests are becoming an increasingly popular tool in the diagnosis of food allergies, but a study led by scientists at Johns Hopkins Children’s Center reports that some tests are more accurate than others and that too-heavy reliance on blood tests alone to predict allergic reactions may not be a good idea.
Unlike food challenge testing — in which people thought to have a food allergy are fed small amounts under a doctor’s supervision to directly measure an actual allergic reaction — blood tests measure IgE antibodies, immune system chemicals involved in allergic reactions.
In a study of the three most common commercial tests, the Johns Hopkins research concluded that “some tests are more accurate than others.”
In the study, researchers sent patient blood samples with already-known levels of antibodies to either soy or peanut to labs using the three most popular systems.
They discovered substantial differences in the tests’ ability to detect the antibodies, as well as to accurately measure the amount of antibodies, according to a report in the July 15 issue of Annals of Asthma, Allergy & Immunology.
This is not to say that blood tests are now to be avoided, but we are being warned not to rely on them too much. So the next time you worry about a loved one’s or a friend’s allergies, conducting food challenges or skin testing will give you results that are more reliable and accurate.