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The Humanion UK Online Daily
 
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Poetry of Neurology

We are more than our neurons or their combinations, co-relations, conjunctions, functions and interactions, that are conducted through their gap junctions, synapses or action potentials. We are more than the cells, tissues, organs, systems, DNAs, RNAs, genes etc and their ultimate unification into a whole mechanism and system of magnificence. We are an infinity unfolding itself in the name of the human mind which, through the physiology of what on appearance is a human physique, it becomes, dreams, imagines, creates, loves and does human: the most astonishing of all things, that we find on this Universe. All we have to do is to look at its unity off the billion plus expressions of its self and wonder about its endless expressive diversity off the same self in billion plus instances to realise that this human mind is magnificent a thing for the purpose of which the neurology is given to it as the most sophisticated, most elaborately engineered, most complexity-strewn an architecture, a most awe-inspiring bio-chemico-genetico-mechanism, that we humans will ever see in this Universe; nothing else will ever surpass this magnificence.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And it all begins with the book of genome, that has already been written, that will have all the tools to keep on writing the future of a human physiology and with that begins the human life and soon the Cardiology is formed and follows neurology: the duo or the two in one or the one in two: for they, neither ends nor begins alone but, rather, both just clasp, grasp, sew, knit, cut, run, crisscross, bind, bend, blend and flow in, out, between and through the human physiology in such an 'infinity of subtle, intricate and sublime artistry', that the entire creation of this Universe does not have a parallel to show next to it. And with this Cardiology and Neurology the human becomes more than a physiology: it becomes a human mind and that has not been written out, unlike the genome, which has been, and, here is, where the entire life of this human mind is, as if it has got infinity of white papers bundled into a beautiful blank book, that no one can know how to write but that human mind alone does and this is where humanity is, this is what humanity is and this is how humanity is and this why we publish The Humanion to write a Beautiful Book out of those blank white pages of that book, where genome alone can never write a single word unless The Sanctum Mayakardium and The High Neuranium join forces to make 'one': the one, that is exactly like the heart with two atria; or the one, that is exactly like the brain with two hemispheres: it is two in one and one in two. And here is to this awe, to Humanity

 

New Study Finds: Former Professional Footballers Had an Approximately Three and a Half Times Higher Rate of Death Due to Neuro-degenerative Disease Than Expected

 

 

 

|| Monday: October 21: 2019: University of Glasgow News || ά. A new Study, led by the University of Glasgow, has shown the first major insights into lifelong health outcomes in former professional footballers. The findings of the Study have been published today in The New England Journal of Medicine.

In the Study, funded by the Football Association:FA and the Professional Footballers’ Association:PFA, the researchers compared the causes of death of 7,676 former Scottish male professional football players, who were born between 1900 and 1976 against those of more than 23,000 matched individuals from the general population.

Led by Dr Willie Stewart, Consultant Neuro-pathologist, who is an honorary Clinical Associate Professor at the University of Glasgow, the FIELD Study found that former professional footballers had an approximately three and a half times higher rate of death due to neuro-degenerative disease than expected.

Dr Stewart, said, “This is the largest Study to date, looking in this detail at the incidence of neuro-degenerative disease in any sport, not just professional footballers. A strength of our study design is that we could look in detail at rates of different neuro-degenerative disease sub-types.

This analysis revealed that risk ranged from a five-fold increase in Alzheimer’s Disease, through an approximately four-fold increase in Motor Neurone Disease, to a two-fold Parkinson’s Disease in former professional footballers, compared to population controls.”

Although, footballers had higher risk of death from neuro-degenerative disease, they were less likely to die of other common diseases, such as, heart disease and some cancers, including, Lung Cancer. Reflecting these findings, the Study found that deaths in former footballers were lower than expected up to age 70 and higher than expected over that age.

Dr Stewart said, “An important aspect of this work has been the ability to look across a range of health outcomes in former professional footballers. This allows us to build a more complete picture of health in this population.

Our data show that, while former footballers had higher dementia rates, they had lower rates of death due to other major diseases. As such, whilst every effort must be made to identify the factors contributing to the increased risk of neuro-degenerative disease to allow this risk to be reduced, there are, also, wider potential health benefits of playing football to be considered.”

The association between contact sport participation and neuro-degenerative disease has been subject to debate in recent years. Post-mortem studies have identified a specific dementia pathology, linked to exposure to brain injury, known as, Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy:CTE, in a high proportion of brains of former contact sports athletes, including, former footballers in parallel studies led by Dr Stewart.

However, until this Study, it was not clear whether there was any evidence of an increase in neuro-degenerative disease rate in former footballers. Mr Greg Clarke, FA Chairman, said, "This is the most comprehensive Study ever commissioned into neuro-degenerative disease in former professional footballers. We welcome its findings and thank Dr Willie Stewart for diligently leading this important research.

The whole game must recognise that this is only the start of our understanding and there are many questions, that still need to be answered. It is important that the global football family now unites to find the answers and provide a greater understanding of this complex issue. The FA is committed to doing all it can to make that happen."

Mr Gordon Taylor, PFA Chief Executive, said, “These findings are a matter of considerable importance to our members. We are grateful to Dr Willie Stewart and his team for their work.

The PFA co-funded FIELD, alongside the FA. It is now incumbent on football globally to come together to address this issue in a comprehensive and united manner. Research must continue to answer more specific questions about what needs to be done to identify and reduce risk factors.

Our members; well-being is of paramount importance to us and we are committed to representing their voice as this conversation opens up across football’s stakeholders.”

The Paper: Neurodegenerative disease mortality in former professional soccer players: Published in The New England Journal of Medicine.

Readmore:::ω.

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New Study Finds: Cannabidiol or CBD Reduces the Impairments of Brain Functions Caused by Cannabis

 

 

|| Sunday: April 28: 2019: UCL News || ά. The more cannabidiol:CBD in a strain of cannabis, the lower the impairment to brain function, according to a new UCL-led brain imaging Study. The Research, published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology, is the first Study, using functional magnetic resonance imaging:fMRI to gauge how different strains of cannabis impact brain function.  “Over the last two decades, rates of addiction and psychosis, linked to cannabis, have been on the rise, while at the same time, stronger strains of cannabis with more THC and less CBD have become increasingly common.” said the Study’s Lead Author, Dr Matt Wall, UCL Clinical Psychopharmacology Unit and Invicro.

“We have now found that CBD appears to buffer the user against some of the acute effects of THC on the brain.” There is growing evidence that THC is implicated in addiction and cannabis-induced psychosis. CBD, on the other hand, is being researched for a range of therapeutic functions but, the interplay between THC and CBD is not yet well-known. In the present Study, the researchers monitored brain activity at rest in 17 people after taking different strains of cannabis. The two strains have equal levels of tetrahydrocannabinol:THC but, one of them, also, has high levels of CBD while the other strain, a high-strength cannabis, commonly, known as, skunk, contained negligible levels of CBD.

Both strains are comparable to the different strains of cannabis in common usage. The researchers found that the low-CBD strain impaired functional connectivity in the brain’s default mode, particularly, in the posterior cingulate area and salience networks, while the high-CBD strain caused only a minimal disruption to these regions, suggesting that the CBD counteracts some of THC’s harmful effects.

The salience network supports other brain networks and determines what sensory or emotional inputs we pay attention to and disruptions of the network have, previously, been implicated in addiction and psychosis.

The researchers, also, found that the THC-induced disruption of functional connectivity in the posterior cingulate was strongly correlated with participants’ reports of subjective experiences, such as, feeling more ‘stoned’ or ‘high’, suggesting that the brain area, may be, central to driving cannabis’ subjective effects. This relationship between the posterior cingulate and subjective effects was, also, blocked by CBD.

The researchers say that their findings add to evidence that cannabis strains with greater CBD content, may be, less harmful, suggesting that CBD content of cannabis should perhaps be regulated in jurisdictions where it’s legal. “As cannabis is becoming legal in more parts of the world, people buying cannabis should be able to make an informed decision about their choice of cannabis strain and be aware of the relative risks.” said Dr Wall.

The findings, also, provide insight into why CBD holds potential for medicinal uses.  “If, CBD can restore disruption to the salience network, this could be a neuro-protective mechanism to explain its potential to treat disorders of salience, such as, psychosis and addiction.” said Senior Author Professor Val Curran, UCL Clinical Psychopharmacology Unit.

The Study involved researchers at UCL, Invicro, King’s College London, Imperial College London and the University of Bath and was supported by Drug Science, Channel 4 Television and the Beckley Foundation.:::ω.

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New Research Finds: Background Noise Strongly Impairs Children’s Ability to Concentrate

 

 

 

|| February 25: 2019: Aalto University News: Tiina Aulanko-Jokirinne Writing || ά. A new brain-imaging Study compared the cocktail party effect between adults and children. The Study sought to understand how children cope the often noisy surroundings, in which, they grow and learn. Neuro-scientists of Aalto University in Finland and Erasme Hospital in Belgium compared brain activities of adults and children during the so-called ‘cocktail party effect,’ that is the ability to pay attention to a single speaker in a noisy environment.

Compared with adults, the children's brain activity followed less reliably the speaker's voice, especially, when the background noise was high. “Children’s ability to concentrate on their teacher is disrupted in a noisy environment, such as, in a noisy class room and this, may, affect their learning.’’ says Mr Veikko Jousmäki, a Senior Researcher at the University. Published in the Journal of Neuro-science, the Study compared adults with children, aged six to nine years. The researchers used magneto-encephalography:MEG to follow the brain activity while the subjects were asked to focus on one speaker’s voice in the background noise.

The background noise consisted of the other speakers’ stories and the noise level was modified in different sessions. Without any background noise, the brain accurately tracked the speech stream in both adults and children. When the level of background noise was increased, adults' brains were still able to follow the intended speaker but, children lost this focus rather quickly.

The results imply that the ability to concentrate in a noisy environment develops with age. School children are not yet able to easily pick up the intended speech stream in background noise. The brain recordings agree with previous findings showing that children have difficulties in understanding speech in noisy surroundings.

“Brain recordings allowed us to see how the listener’s auditory cortex was driven by the listened speech stream. When the level of background noise increased, adults’ brains still continued to track the intended speaker’s voice as a coherent stream, whereas children easily lost this focus.” says Mr Jousmäki.

This study is a part of a larger series of experiments, that were started by developing a coherence-based method to follow the relationship between brain signals and the listened natural speech. The same Finnish–Belgian research team demonstrated in 2013 how the right-hemisphere auditory cortex reacts to different rhythms of speech. More recently, this analysis method has been applied to the study of people suffering from autism-spectrum disorders.

“Our next goal is to find out how children could be helped to cope with the often noisy growth and learning environments.” says Mr Jousmäki.

Further information: Veikko Jousmäki: Senior Scientist: Aalto University: email: veikko.jousmaki at aalto.fi: tele: +358 400 952 525

The Paper: Cortical tracking of speech-in-noise develops from childhood to adulthood:::ω.

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A Survey of Contemporary Brain Research Approaches and the Challenges for the Research Communities Seeking to Cure Brain Cancer

 

 

 

|| February 22: 2019: Institute of Cancer Research News: Conor McKeever Writing || ά. Researchers and clinicians from across the world, including, the Chief Executive of the Institute of Cancer Research, Professor Paul Workman and Professor Raj Chopra and Professor Louis Chesler, have come together to set out how future research can finally deliver major progress against brain cancer in both adults and children. Despite many years of excellent research to improve our scientific understanding of cancer and great progress in improving the survival of many types, brain tumours have remained a particularly tough nut to crack.

Only 14 per cent of patients with brain cancer survive for five or more years after being diagnosed, a number, that has improved little over the last 40 years. A key reason for this is that we’re simply not discovering and developing enough innovative new treatments for brain cancers. Indeed, here at the Institute of Cancer Research we released a major Report on drug access in December, which found, among other things, that no new brain cancer drugs at all were licensed by the European Medicines Agency between the years 2000 and 2016. It was to address this lack of progress that, last year, we worked with Cancer Research UK and the University of Cambridge to set up a Children’s Brain Tumour Centre of Excellence, to discover and develop new treatments to tackle brain tumours in children.

We’re pleased that similar collaborative arrangements are now being established to address the equally difficult challenge of curing brain tumours in adults. ICR scientists have worked alongside other world-leading experts in the field, including, clinicians and researchers from six countries, to establish what challenges need to be addressed to ensure more people with brain tumours survive the disease.

The expert panel, convened by Cancer Research UK, has produced a Consensus Paper, highlighting the obstacles to progress, that we need to overcome in brain cancer research and treatment. This Paper has now been published in the journal Nature Reviews Clinical Oncology. Led by Professor Richard Gilbertson, the Director of the Cancer Research UK Children’s Brain Tumour Centre of Excellence at the University of Cambridge and the ICR, the new Position Paper sets out seven key challenges, that, must be, overcome in order to find new cures for brain cancers.

Many of these challenges are, already, the focus of research at the ICR and elsewhere, but the authors emphasise that there is much more work to be done, highlighting several areas for prioritisation. Research at the ICR is underpinned by generous contributions from our supporters. The first challenge is to redesign the research pipeline to make it more favourable to brain cancer research. In particular, the Consensus Statement criticises the disconnect between pre-clinical drug development and rigorous testing in the clinic.

Bridging this gap is something that the ICR has considerable expertise in. The ICR research strategy, developed jointly with the Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust, spells out how the agencies are applying the ‘bench-to-bedside’ approach to tackle cancer’s complexity and ability to adapt and evolve.

We are committed to opening up innovative new approaches to treatment, assessing these as quickly as we can in clinical trials and working to embed new treatment approaches in routine healthcare. We’re dedicated to applying this approach to all areas of our research, to ensure that our research has the greatest benefit to people living with cancer. And we believe our approach is very applicable to brain tumours. The second and third challenges laid out in the Position Paper encourage cancer researchers to use basic neuro-science research to its fullest and to improve our understanding of the microenvironment around brain tumours.

The authors explain that, while neuro-science research has given us a strong understanding of the cells, signalling pathways and blood vessels, that exist in the brain in the absence of cancer, this is not translating into a better understanding of the conditions specific to brain cancer. Instead, the two fields seem to be relatively separate and need to be joined up more effectively. More joint research into areas common to neuro-science and cancer, such as, immune dysfunction, seen in both cancer and dementia, would help to drive brain cancer research forward.

This synergy could help researchers to discover and develop new treatments, including, immune-therapies, an area, which the ICR and the Royal Marsden are prioritising. In fact, Professor Raj Chopra, the Head of our Division of Cancer Therapeutics and one of the Authors on the Paper, is leading the ICR’s efforts to discover a new wave of immune-therapies. The fourth challenge laid down in the Consensus Statement is for researchers to create new pre-clinical models of brain tumours. This is, particularly, important, given the rarity of many brain cancers and, therefore, the small number of patients, who can take part in clinical trials.

The ICR is, already, leading the way in the development of new approaches to model cancers in the lab. Last year, research led by Dr Nicola Valeri showed that ‘mini-tumours’, replica tumours grown in the lab from biopsy samples, could help to personalise treatments in a variety of digestive system cancers. And Dr Rachael Natrajan has been using similar techniques to test how a breast tumour’s genetics affect its growth. The next step will be to take this expertise and translate it into brain tumour research.

Challenge five is to improve our drugging of complex cancers. The authors encourage researchers to develop a better understanding of the biology of potential drug targets and to use advanced drug discovery approaches to find treatments, that hit these targets, a strong area of focus for ICR. A better understanding of the biology would, also, allow scientists to see how the disease adapts, evolves and progresses in response to treatment.

The ICR is, again, well positioned for this, as we discover more new cancer drugs than any other academic centre in the world. But, if, we are to rise to this challenge, we can’t and won’t rest on our laurels. We are committed to identifying new drug targets and to discovering innovative approaches to treatment, from adaptive, personalised targeted drug therapy to immune-therapy and precision radio-therapy.  And researchers in our Centre for Evolution and Cancer are finding ways to better understand cancer from an evolutionary perspective, including, using a tumour’s genetic history to predict how it will change in future and, therefore, to anticipate which approaches to treatment are likely to be most effective.

Putting precision medicine into action is the sixth challenge, laid out by the authors. They recommend that we move away from a categorisation of brain tumours, based, purely, on microscopic analysis and, instead, incorporate genomic profiling into brain tumour classification. Many of our researchers are, already, ahead of the game in this respect. Professor Richard Houlston, the Head of our Division of Genetics and Epidemiology, has led major studies into the genetic causes of glioma, gaining unprecedented insights.

Professor Houlston’s team has discovered, for example, that different sets of genes influence a person’s risk of developing the two subtypes of glioma, glioblastoma and non-glioblastoma, showing that what we thought were closely related diseases are, actually, very different. And recent research by Professor Chris Jones and colleagues has shown that, based on their genetic profiles, childhood brain tumours can be divided into 10 different diseases, suggesting that each one should be diagnosed and treated, based on its specific genetic faults. The next step will be to integrate these approaches into clinical trials that allow for the development of precision medicine.

The final challenge is to reduce the intensity and burden of treatment for some patients, in effect, balancing the likelihood of curing the disease with the side-effects of treatment. While the previously discussed challenges are important for long term success, the authors suggest that this one could yield the greatest patient benefit in the immediate future, by reducing the risk of treatment-related side-effects, particularly, in children.

Indeed, the ICR is, already, pioneering such a process in radiotherapy for breast and prostate cancers, with our research showing that a shorter course of treatment, with fewer, stronger doses, is as good as a longer course for treating the disease. In the medium to long term, our ability to make real progress in the treatment of brain tumours will depend very much on making substantial progress in the other six challenges, including, the integration of new and better data into diagnosis and treatment.

But the authors believe that this will be possible. The Consensus Paper gives the example of progress made with medullablastomas, where a breakthrough in understanding their biology led to a series of studies testing reduced doses of radio-therapy. While recognising that the seven challenges are ambitious, the authors of the expert report are optimistic for progress in the future. They believe, it is possible to achieve the changes needed to revolutionise brain tumour therapy but, also, caution that it will require much greater co-ordination and investment, as well as, a critical look at whether the approaches, that underpin brain cancer research today, are still capable of delivering designed outcomes.

The ICR will continue to lead the charge in taking innovative approaches to discovering and developing smarter, kinder treatments and we hope that the publication of this Paper will spur on others to join us and the brain tumour research community to achieve long term survival and eventual cures for adults and children with brain cancers.

::: Conor McKeever is Science Communications Officer at the Institute of Cancer Research London :::ω.

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