Science and Medicine

Alzheimer’s Drugs May Make Bones Stronger

Two drugs frequently used to treat Alzheimer disease, donepezil and rivastigmine, are known to stimulate a group of neurons in the brain that play a major role in maintaining memory

TThe drugs commonly used to treat memory loss in Alzheimer’s patients can make bones stronger, according to a recent study.

The findings, published in Journal of Bone and Mineral Research and highlighted in Nature Reviews: Endocrinology, could help further research into the idea that bone strength is controlled centrally within the brain.

Two drugs frequently used to treat Alzheimer disease, donepezil and rivastigmine, are known to stimulate a group of neurons in the brain that play a major role in maintaining memory. While these drugs have been widely used in the treatment of AD and other forms of dementia since the mid-1990s, their potential effect on bone biology had not been explored.

Recent research indicated that certain neurons can regulate bone metabolism and that their damage results in weaker bones. But little was known about the potential that increased activity by these neurons might have on bone.

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Out of Asia? New Primate Fossils Pose Origin Riddle

Discovery of a new primate that lived about 37 million years ago in the ancient swamplands of Myanmar.

Researchers agree that our immediate ancestors, the upright walking apes, arose in Africa. But the discovery of a new primate that lived about 37 million years ago in the ancient swamplands of Myanmar bolsters the idea that the deep primate family tree that gave rise to humans is rooted in Asia. If true, the discovery suggests that the ancestors of all monkeys, apes, and humans—known as the anthropoids—arose in Asia and made the arduous journey to the island continent of Africa almost 40 million years ago.

Until 18 years ago, fossils of every suspected early anthropoid were found in Egypt and dated to about 30 million years ago. Then, starting in the 1990s, researchers began discovering the remains of petite primates that lived 37 million to 45 million years ago in China, Myanmar, and other Asian nations. This suggested that anthropoids may have actually arisen in Asia and then migrated to Africa a few million years later. But paleontologists have lacked the fossils to show when and how these anthropoids trekked from Asia to Africa, says paleontologist K. Christopher Beard of the Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

In 2005, Beard and an international team of researchers sifting fossils of early fish, turtle, and ancestral hippo teeth from fossil beds near the village of Nyaungpinle in Myanmar found a molar the size of a kernel of popcorn. The tooth, dated to about 38 million years ago, belonged to a new species of ancient primate, which would have been the size of a small chipmunk. After several more years of arduous fieldwork, the team has collected just four molars of this primitive anthropoid, which they named Afrasia djijidae. “It’s a difficult place to work; it took us 6 years to find four teeth,” says Beard.

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Eating Dark Chocolate Daily Can Protect Your Heart

A daily dose of dark chocolate during a 10-year period could lower the risk of stroke and heart attack

A daily dose of dark chocolate during a 10-year period could lower the risk of stroke and heart attack, a new study finds.

The results suggest dark chocolate could be an inexpensive—and tasty—intervention strategy for people at high risk of cardiovascular disease.

Published in the British Medical Journal, the research shows that dark chocolate’s blood pressure- and cholesterol-lowering qualities could prevent 70 nonfatal and 15 fatal cardiovascular events per 10,000 people during a 10-year period. The study is the first to examine the long-term health benefits of flavanoids, which are found in dark chocolate and known to lower blood pressure and cholesterol.

“We’ve predicted significant health benefits of eating 100 g of dark chocolate every day over a 10-year period,” said Ella Zomer, a PhD student at Monash University.That’s about the equivalent of one premium-quality block containing a minimum of 70 percent cocoa.”

Zomer says the findings indicate dark chocolate therapy “could provide an alternative to or be used to complement drug therapeutics in people at high risk of cardiovascular disease.”

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