Health journal

3d printed patch can help mend a broken heart


People living in areas that restrict trans fats in foods had fewer hospitalizations for heart attack and stroke compared to residents in areas without restrictions, according to a new study conducted by researchers at the University of Chicago Medicine and Yale School of Medicine.

"The results are impressive, given that the study focused on trans fatty acid bans in restaurants, as opposed to complete bans that included food bought in stores," said senior author Tamar S. Polonsky, MD, MSCI, a general cardiologist and assistant professor of medicine at the University of Chicago. "If we enact a more complete restriction on trans fatty acids, it could mean even more widespread benefits for people long term."

Trans fatty acids, or trans fats, are commonly found in fried foods, chips, crackers and baked goods. Eating even minimal amounts is linked to a greater risk of cardiovascular disease, the leading cause of death worldwide. Some communities -- most notably New York City -- have eliminated the use of trans fats in restaurants and eateries in recent years.

To study the impact of restricting trans fats, researchers compared outcomes for people living in New York counties with and without the restrictions. Using data from the state department of health and census estimates between 2002 and 2013, the researchers focused on hospital admissions for heart attack and stroke.

They found that three or more years after the restrictions were implemented, people living in areas with the bans had significantly fewer hospitalizations for heart attack and stroke when compared to similar urban areas where no limits existed. The decline for the combined conditions was 6.2 percent.

"It is a pretty substantial decline," said lead author Eric Brandt, MD, a clinical fellow in cardiovascular medicine at Yale School of Medicine. "Our study highlights the power of public policy to impact the cardiovascular health of a population."

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved a nationwide ban on partially hydrogenated oil in foods, which effectively will eliminate dietary trans fat when it goes into effect in 2018.

Current FDA labeling guidelines allow up to 0.49 grams of trans fat per serving to be labeled as 0 grams. According to lead author Brandt, this leaves consumers with the burden to scour labels for hidden trans fats.

"With the upcoming FDA regulation, people need not be so vigilant," he said.

Other study authors are Rebecca Myerson and Marcelo Coca Perraillon.

The study was published April 12 in JAMA Cardiology.

Researchers discover new variant on notorious resistance gene


Head injuries can harm hundreds of genes in the brain in a way that increases people's risk for a wide range of neurological and psychiatric disorders, UCLA life scientists report.

The researchers identified for the first time master genes that they believe control hundreds of other genes which are linked to Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, post-traumatic stress disorder, stroke, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, autism, depression, schizophrenia and other disorders.

Knowing what the master genes are could give scientists targets for new pharmaceuticals to treat brain diseases. Eventually, scientists might even be able to learn how to re-modify damaged genes to reduce the risk for diseases, and the finding could help researchers identify chemical compounds and foods that fight disease by repairing those genes.

"We believe these master genes are responsible for traumatic brain injury adversely triggering changes in many other genes," said Xia Yang, a senior author of the study and a UCLA associate professor of integrative biology and physiology.

Genes have the potential to become any of several types of proteins, and traumatic brain injury can damage the master genes, which can then lead to damage of other genes.

That process can happen in a couple of ways, said Yang, who is a member of UCLA's Institute for Quantitative and Computational Biosciences. One is that the injury can ultimately lead the genes to produce proteins of irregular forms. Another is to change the number of expressed copies of a gene in each cell. Either change can prevent a gene from working properly. If a gene turns into the wrong form of protein, it could lead to Alzheimer's disease, for example.