OTTAWA (dpa-AFX) - He who sings, frightens away his ills, said Spanish writer Miguel de Cervantes. That's exactly what a new study, conducted by Iowa State University researchers, has found. In this week's 'Did you know' column, we are presenting interesting findings about the relationship between music therapy and Parkinson's, discovery of a new gene that is responsible for a rare form of hair loss, and the mechanism behind the decreased risk of developing Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's due to coffee consumption.
Rhyme and Reason
Parkinson's disease is the second most common age-related neurodegenerative disorder in the United States after Alzheimer's. Feelings of anger, fear, and anxiety, and difficulty in walking, breathing and swallowing are common in people with Parkinson's.
A pilot study conducted by Iowa State University researchers has found that Parkinson's disease patients who participated in a therapeutic singing class had improvements in mood and motor symptoms, as well as reduced physiological indicators of stress.
The heart rate, blood pressure and cortisol in people with Parkinson's disease in the therapeutic singing group were reduced, although the values were not of statistical significance.
The new findings builds upon the team's previous findings that singing may improve respiratory and swallow control in people with Parkinson's disease.
The researchers are yet to figure out how singing is able to bring about the improvements in the Parkinson's disease patients.
Getting To The Roots
Who doesn't want thick, healthy hair? But not all are lucky. Some face the problem of hair loss and balding. There are a number of reasons for hair loss - say, hereditary, stress, diet, medication, or certain health conditions.
A rare form of hereditary hair loss is Hypotrichosis simplex, in which the affected individuals typically show normal hair at birth, but experience hair loss as they age, ultimately resulting in an almost complete loss of scalp hair by the third decade.
Already a few genes believed to be connected with this rare form of hair loss have been identified - APCDD1, CDSN, KRT74, HR, SNRPE, RPL21, and KRT71.
Now, a team of researchers, led by human geneticists at the University Hospital of Bonn, has identified yet another gene, LSS, that is responsible for Hypotrichosis simplex.
When examining the coding genes of three families that are not related to each other and are of different ancestry, the researchers found that a total of eight relatives had mutations in LSS gene, and all the eight individuals showed the typical symptoms of Hypotrichosis simplex.
The LSS gene encodes lanosterol synthase, or LSS for short, an enzyme that plays a key role in cholesterol metabolism. But in those eight people, the cholesterol blood values were not impacted due to mutations in the LSS gene.
There is an alternative metabolic pathway for cholesterol, which plays an important role in the hair follicle and is not related to blood cholesterol levels,' according to Regina Betz from the University's Institute of Human Genetics at the University Hospital of Bonn.
Scientists are optimistic that the new discovery could contribute to an improved diagnosis of Hypotrichosis simplex.
The findings are published in the journal 'The American Journal of Human Genetics'.
The Secret Revealed
There have been a number of studies examining the association between coffee and its health benefits. Drinking coffee in moderation is said to offer protection against diseases like Parkinson disease, type 2 diabetes, colorectal cancer, and Alzheimer's, to name a few.
A new study by Krembil Brain Institute, part of the Krembil Research Institute, has investigated the mechanism behind the decreased risk of developing Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's due to coffee consumption.
For the study, three different varieties of coffee were used - light roast, dark roast and decaffeinated dark roast. The ability of active components, in the 3 types of coffee extracts, to inhibit the formation of fibrillar aggregates for A? and tau, the two key proteins common in Alzheimer's and Parkinson's, was also assessed.
The researchers identified that one of the components Phenylindane inhibits both A? and tau from clumping. This dual-inhibition may be the mechanism by which coffee is providing neuroprotection, suggests the study.
Phenylindane is formed during the roasting of coffee beans, and higher quantities of this component are found in dark roast coffees.
This is the first study to have investigated how phenylindanes interact with the proteins that are responsible for Alzheimer's and Parkinson's, according to Ross Mancini, a research fellow in medicinal chemistry.
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