Researchers in Canada are reporting that proteins found in a common garden pea show promise as a natural food additive or new dietary supplement for fighting high blood pressure and chronic kidney disease (CKD). Those potentially life-threatening conditions affect millions of people worldwide. The study, which was presented March 22 at the American Chemical Society’s 237th National Meeting, is the first reporting that a natural food product can relieve symptoms of CKD. Peas long have been recognized as nutritional superstars, with healthful amounts of protein, dietary fiber, and 1) ___ wrapped in a low-fat, cholesterol-free package. The new research focuses on the yellow garden pea, a mainstay pea variety enjoyed as a veggie side-dish and used as an ingredient in dozens of recipes around the world. In people with high blood pressure, this particular protein could potentially delay or prevent the onset of kidney damage. For people who already have kidney disease, this 2) ___ may help them maintain normal blood pressure levels so they can live longer. High blood pressure, or 3) ___, is a major risk factor for CKD, a condition that has been affecting an increasing number of people in the US and other countries. Estimates suggest that 13% of American adults, about 26 million people, have chronic kidney disease, up from 10%, or about 20 million people, in the 1990s. CKD is difficult to treat, and may progress to end-stage kidney disease that requires kidney dialysis or a kidney transplant. That situation is fostering a search for new ways of treating CKD and preserving 4) ___ function. Working with University of Manitoba colleague Harold Aukema, Ph.D., Rotimi Aluko PhD, purified a mixture of small proteins, called pea protein hydrolysate, from the yellow garden pea. They fed small daily doses of the protein mixture to laboratory rats with polycystic kidney disease, a severe form of kidney disease used as a model for research on CKD. At the end of 8 weeks, the protein-fed rats with kidney disease showed a 20% drop in blood pressure when compared to diseased rats on a normal diet. This is significant because a majority of CKD patients actually die from 5) ___ complications that arise from the high blood pressure associated with kidney malfunction. In both rats and humans with polycystic kidney disease, the condition causes urine output to be severely reduced and the kidneys are unable to properly remove dangerous 6) ___. The study showed that their pea extract caused a 30% boost in 7) ___ production in the diseased rats, bringing their urine to within normal levels. There were no obvious adverse side effects from the pea protein, which is a huge improvement. Based on those promising results, the researchers plan to test the protein extract in humans with mild hypertension within the next year. Scientists do not know exactly how the pea extract works. However, it appears to boost production of cyclooxygenase-1 (COX-1), a protein that boosts kidney function. They point out that eating yellow peas in their natural state won’t produce the same potential health benefits as the purified protein extract. The potentially beneficial proteins exist in an inactive state in natural peas, and must be activated by treatment with special 8) ___. The pea extract does have a very welcome social advantage over fresh peas; it won’t give you gas, because the purified proteins don’t contain the complex plant-sugars found in fresh beans that are known to trigger flatulence. If studies continue to show promise, it is estimated that the extract could hit the consumer market within the next two to three years. The extract could be made into a soluble powder that can be added to foods and beverages or it could be developed into a pill, the scientists say.

1) vitamins; 2) protein; 3) hypertension; 4) kidney; 5) cardiovascular; 6) toxins; 7) urine; 8) enzymes

Blood doping is the practice of boosting the number of red blood cells (RBCs) in the circulation in order to enhance athletic performance. Because they carry oxygen from the lungs to the 1) ___, more RBCs in the blood can improve an athlete’s aerobic capacity (VO2 max) and endurance. In 1993, U.S. Special Forces commanders at Fort Bragg started experimenting with blood doping. Special forces operators would provide two units of whole blood, from which red blood cells would be extracted and concentrated. Twenty-four hours before a mission, a small amount of RBCs would be infused back into the soldier. It was believed that the procedure would increase the soldiers’ endurance and alertness. The term blood doping originally meant doping with blood, i.e. the transfusion of RBCs. There are two possible types of transfusion: homologous and 2) ___. In a homologous transfusion, RBCs from a compatible donor are harvested, concentrated and then transfused. In an autologous transfusion, the athlete’s own RBCs are harvested well in advance of competition and then re-introduced before a critical event. Both types of transfusion can be dangerous because of the risk of 3) ___ and the potential toxicity of improperly stored blood. In athletic competitions, from a logistical standpoint, either type of transfusion requires the athlete to surreptitiously transport frozen RBCs, thaw and re-infuse them, and then dispose of the medical paraphernalia. In the late 1980s, an entirely new form of blood doping involved the hormone erythropoietin (EPO). EPO is a naturally-occurring growth factor that stimulates the creation of RBCs. Recombinant EPO is a pharmaceutical product for the treatment of anemia resulting from renal failure or 4) ___ chemotherapy. Pharmaceutical EPO can boost hematocrit for six weeks or longer. Excessive use of the EPO can cause polycythemia, a condition where the level of RBCs in the blood is abnormally high. This causes the blood to be more 5) ___ than normal, a condition that strains the heart. Some elite athletes who died of heart failure – usually during sleep, when heart rate is naturally low – were found to have unnaturally high RBCs. The simple act of increasing the number of RBCs in the blood stream makes blood thicker which can also make it clot more readily. This can increase in the chances of heart attack, stroke, and pulmonary 6) ___. Blood contamination during preparation or storage can lead to sepsis. A test for detecting homologous blood transfusions has been in use since 2000. The test is based on a technique known as fluorescent-activated cell sorting. By examining markers on the surface of blood cells, it can be determined whether blood from more than one person is present in an athlete’s blood. In 2000 a test was developed to detect pharmaceutical EPO by distinguishing it from the nearly-identical natural hormone normally present in an athlete’s 7) ___. The test method relies on scientific techniques known as gel electrophoresis and isoelectric focusing. Although the test has been widely applied, especially among cyclists and triathletes, it is controversial. The principal criticism has been toward the ability of the test to distinguish pharmaceutical EPO from other proteins that may normally be present in the urine of an athlete after strenuous exercise.

1) muscles; 2) autologous; 3) infection; 4) cancer; 5) viscous; 6) embolism; 7) urine

Researchers at Barts and The London School of Medicine have discovered that drinking just 500 ml of beetroot juice a day can significantly reduce blood pressure. The study could have major implications for the treatment of 1) ___ disease. Research reveals that it is the ingestion of dietary nitrate contained within beetroot juice and similarly in green, leafy vegetables – which results ultimately in decreased blood pressure. Previously the protective effects of vegetable-rich diets had been attributed to their 2) ___ vitamin content. The research team found that in healthy volunteers, blood pressure was reduced within just 1 hour of ingesting beetroot juice, with a peak drop occurring 3-4 hours after ingestion. Some degree of reduction continued to be observed until up to 24 hours after ingestion. Researchers showed that the decrease in blood pressure was due to the 3) ___ formation of nitrite from the dietary nitrate in the juice. The nitrate in the juice is converted in saliva, by 4) ___ on the tongue, into nitrite. This nitrite-containing saliva is swallowed, and in the acidic environment of the stomach is either converted into nitric oxide or re-enters the circulation as 5) ___. The peak time of reduction in blood pressure correlated with the appearance and peak levels of nitrite in the circulation, an effect that was absent in a second group of volunteers who refrained from swallowing their saliva during, and for 3 hours following, beetroot ingestion. More than 25% of the world’s adult population is hypertensive, and it has been estimated that this figure will increase to 29% by 2025. In addition, hypertension causes around 50% of coronary heart disease, and approximately 75% of strokes. In demonstrating that nitrate is likely to underlie the cardio-protective effect of a vegetable-rich diet, the research highlights the potential of a natural, low cost approach for the treatment of cardiovascular disease — a condition that kills over 110,000 people in England every year. The team stated that “Our research suggests that drinking beetroot juice, or consuming other nitrate-rich vegetables, might be a simple way to maintain a healthy cardiovascular system, and might also be an additional approach that one could take in the modern day battle against rising blood pressure”. The paper, “Acute blood pressure lowering, vasoprotective and anti-platelet properties of dietary nitrate via bioconversion to nitrite,” was published online in Hypertension.


1) cardiovascular; 2) antioxidant; 3) chemical; 4) bacteria; 5) nitrite; 6) pressure

A new theory has been proposed of how Alzheimer’s disease kills 1) ___ cells. It is hypothesized that a chemical mechanism that naturally prunes away unwanted brain cells during early brain development somehow gets hijacked in Alzheimer’s disease. Amyloid precursor protein (APP) which a key building block in brain 2) ___ found in Alzheimer’s disease, is the driving force behind this process. It is known that APP is a negative factor in Alzheimer’s, but it has been unclear how it participates. One theory is that somehow this self-destruction mechanism gets switched on in Alzheimer’s disease and starts killing healthy brain cells. The finding provides new clues about potential treatments for Alzheimer’s, a disease that gets worse over time and is marked by 3) ___ loss, confusion and eventually the inability to care for oneself. The researchers made the Alzheimer’s connection by accident while studying a process of nerve cell self-destruction that occurs as a part of normal embryonic development. When the brain and spinal cord are being formed, excess nerve cells are generated that have to be removed to refine the pattern of nerve cell 4) ___. They discovered a biochemical mechanism that activates when nerve cells are pruned back. A key component of this self-destruction program was none other than APP, this bad actor in Alzheimer’s disease. In Alzheimer’s disease, 5) ___ snip APP into beta amyloid pieces, which form the basis of beta amyloid plaques that are thought to be toxic. Many companies are working on drugs to remove beta amyloid from the brain, but so far have had little success in altering the course of the disease. The current theory suggests targeting APP and other components of this mechanism may help. In tests on human 6) ___ cells, the team showed it was able to interfere with the mechanism and block the degeneration of nerve cells. The researchers now plan to see if they can disrupt this mechanism in adult brain cells. The key question is, if we interfere with it, can we halt the progression of the disease?. There is no cure for Alzheimer’s, and current drugs merely delay symptoms. Alzheimer?s disease affects 5.2 million people in the US and 26 million globally.


1) brain; 2) plaques; 3) memory; 4) connections; 5) enzymes; 6) embryonic

Patients with spinal cord injuries will be first 1) ___ to receive repair cells derived from embryonic stem cells. The first ever clinical trial using stem cells derived from embryonic stem cells (ESCs) received the go-ahead, from the FDA on January 23, 2009. Geron Corporation, a company based in Menlo Park, California, hopes to mend the spines of patients paralyzed from the chest down by 2) ___ injury sites with stem cells that restore connections and repair damage. This marks the beginning of what is potentially a new chapter in medical therapeutics, one that reaches beyond pills to a new level of healing: the restoration of organ and tissue function achieved by the injection of healthy replacement cells. The trial had been “on clinical hold” for years over concerns that the cells could form 3) ___, but the FDA is now satisfied that this risk is low enough to allow the trial to proceed. Ethical concerns have also dogged the trial, because obtaining the cell lines involved destruction of embryos. US president, George Bush, had prevented research using such cells for eight years. The new president, Barack Obama, promised in his inaugural address to “restore science to its rightful place”, so approval of the trial could be an early sign that he will lift all of the previous restrictions on stem-cell research, first imposed in 2001. Hundreds of trials are already under way around the world with stem cells derived from adult or 4) ___ tissue, but these cells are limited in the types of tissue they can turn into and repair. The spine repair trial could open up a new era in medicine because embryonic stem cells are the only type that generate all 200 or so 5) ___ of the body. Geron says that the main objective is to prove the cells are 6) ___, especially given the FDA’s earlier misgivings over the cancer risk. But for one year after treatment, the company will also look closely for any recovery of function and movement in the lower 7) ___ lost through the injury. In all, the patients will be monitored for 15 years. If the cells appear safe, it could open the floodgates for a host of other trials using cells originally derived from ESCs. Geron itself has developed such cells for treating heart attacks, diabetes, bone damage, arthritis, liver failure and 8) ___.

ANSWERS: 1) humans; 2) injecting; 3) tumors; 4) fetal; 5) tissues; 6) safe; 7) body; 8) cancer

Researchers at Oregon Health & Science University’s School of Dentistry have discovered that the nerve cells controlling heart rate and blood pressure synthesize a 1) ___ known to be critically important for proper nervous system growth. The finding could someday play a significant role in the prevention of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) and high blood pressure. According to the National Institutes of Health, SIDS is the leading cause of 2) ___ in children between 1 month and 1 year of age. About one in three adults in the US has high blood pressure. The new discovery was published in the January 2008 issue of the Journal of Neurochemistry. The discovery sheds light on how the nerve supply to the cardiovascular system is established during development. Someday, this discovery may help us to better understand 3) ___ developmental disorders such as SIDS. Changes in blood pressure are signaled to the 4) ___ by nerve cells called baroreceptors. The OHSU study shows that baroreceptors make a molecule called Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF), which belongs to the family of neurotrophins that play a critical role in the development and plasticity of other 5) ___ cells. Studies suggest that developmental abnormalities in nerve pathways that control the cardiovascular and respiratory system may result in SIDS. The research team found that the stimulation of baroreceptors, as experienced during an increase in blood 6) ___, leads to the release of BDNF. The study also discovered that BDNF is present at the central end of baroreceptors in the brainstem. In fact, BDNF is likely to play the most important role at the central end of baroreceptors, where they connect to second-order neurons in the blood-pressure control pathway. BDNF has previously been shown to play an important role in establishing neuronal connections in other parts of the 7) ___ system, but this is the first time it has been considered a factor in the blood pressure control system. Studies under way, indicate that levels of BDNF in cardiorespiratory nerve cells increase dramatically when blood pressure rises. This suggests a direct role of BDNF in 8) ___ of blood pressure.

ANSWERS: 1) molecule; 2) death; 3) cardiorespiratory; 4) brain; 5) nerve; 6) pressure; 7) nervous; 8) regulation

A new study using a single compound to increase the lifespan of obese mice, found that the drug reversed nearly all of the changes in gene expression patterns found in mice on high calorie diets–some of which are associated with diabetes, heart disease, and other significant diseases related to obesity. The research, led by investigators at Harvard Medical School and the National Institute on Aging, is the first time that the small 1) ___, resveratrol has been shown to offer survival benefits in a mammal. Mice are much closer evolutionarily to humans than any previous model organism treated by this molecule, which offers hope that similar impacts might be seen in humans without negative side-effects. After six months, resveratrol essentially prevented most of the negative effects of the high calorie diet in mice. Resveratrol is found in red wines and produced by a variety of plants when put under stress. Since 2003, resveratrol has been shown to extend the lifespan of worms and flies by nearly 30%, and fish by almost 60%. It has also been shown to protect against Huntington’s disease in two different animal models (worms and mice).”The healthspan benefits we saw in the obese mice treated with resveratrol, such as increased insulin sensitivity, decreased glucose levels, healthier heart and liver tissues, are positive clinical 2) ___ and may mean we can stave off in humans, age-related diseases such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and 3) ___, but only time and more research will tell,” says Harvards David Sinclair MD, who is also a co-founder of Sirtris, a company which is currently in a phase 1b trial in humans with diabetes using an enhanced, proprietary formulation of 4) ___. [Harvard has license and equity interests with Sirtris, which is not a public company.] Investigators identified resveratrol while looking for compounds that activate Sir2, an 5) ___ linked to lifespan extension in yeast and other lower organisms. “The median lifespan increase, in mice, we are seeing is about 15% at this point,” says Sinclair. “We won’t have final lifespan numbers until all of the mice pass away, and this particular strain of mouse generally lives for two-and-a-half-years. So we are around five months from having final numbers, but there is no question that we are seeing increased longevity. The team also found that the HCR fed mice had a much higher 6) ___ of life, outperforming the HC fed mice on motor skill tests. “The mice on resveratrol have not just been living longer,” says Sinclair. “They are also living more active, better lives. Their motor skills actually show improvement as they grow older.” Mice on a rotarod also showed improved motor function with age over its HC fed counterparts. Researchers watched how well the mice did walking on a rotarod, similar to walking on a log in the water, a common measure of balance and motor coordination. “We made a striking observation,” says Sinclair. “Resveratrol opposed the effects of high caloric intake in 144 out of 153 significantly altered pathways. In terms of gene expression and pathway comparison, the resveratrol fed group was more similar to the standard diet fed group than the high calorie group. “The research team found that levels of PGC-1alpha were three-fold lower in the HCR fed mice than in the HC mice, consistent with what would be expected when SIRT1 was being activated by resveratrol. This work demonstrates that there may be tremendous 7) ___ benefits to unlocking the secrets behind the genes that control our longevity.

ANSWERS: 1) molecule; 2) indicators; 3) cancer; 4) resveratrol; 5) enzyme; 6) quality; 7) medical

Although there is currently no stem cellbased treatment for diseases of the 1) ___ system, the field has moved much closer to making this goal a reality. Progress has been driven by major jumps in our understanding of how neuronal subtypes and glia develop in vivo and in vitro. Further research will inform our ability to coax endogenous 2) ___ ___ in the adult nervous system to respond to injury and to transplant the correct type of cell to ameliorate different types of diseases. Just as important, the ability to differentiate subtypes of neurons and glia from embryonic stem cells (ESCs) will allow drug screens to identify neuroprotective drugs, which are currently unavailable. The types of nervous system 3) ___ that represent the best targets for stem cellbased therapies are those that would be improved by the transplant or induced replacement of a limited number of cell types. Parkinsons disease, sensory disorders, and glial diseases fall into this category and could potentially be cured by a cell-replacement therapy. Motor system disorders and spinal cord injuries are more complex, but given their severity and lack of current treatment options, it can be argued that any improvement in function would be of great benefit. There are nervous system disorders that do not currently make good targets for cell 4) ___ therapies because the associated neurodegeneration is too widespread and diffuse. Alzheimers disease is one example, and it is unlikely to be ameliorated by adding more cells to the system. However, Alzheimers research could benefit enormously from disease-specific 5) ___ lines that could be used to study the degeneration of neurons in vitro. The prospect of using stem cells to intervene in 6) ___ disease is promising, but given the complexities of the nervous system, progress will likely continue in measured steps. To move the research toward useful therapies, it is critical that the efficacy of any experiment involving human subjects, and even experiments involving animal procedures, be performed using a double-blind placebo-controlled method. Certainly this increases the cost and the labor of an experiment, but the cost of doing research that is merely tantalizing and not conclusive, or worse, research that raises false hopes, is much higher. When there is a lack of rigorous controls, it is easy to falsely attribute an observed improvement to an incorrect cause. Finally, it is important to have scientific meetings to communicate both positive and negative results, as well as successes and cautionary tales. Despite the 7) ___ differences between neurodegenerative diseases, their eventual stem cell therapies will likely share many features; Information gleaned in one field can drive forward progress in the others..

ANSWERS: 1) nervous; 2) stem cells; 3) diseases; 4) replacement; 5) ESC; 6) neurodegenerative; 7) molecular


A man in Scotland calls his son in London the day before Christmas Eve and says, “I hate to ruin your day, but I have to tell you that your mother and I are divorcing; forty-five years of misery is enough.”

“Dad, what are you talking about?” the son screams.

“We can’t stand the sight of each other any longer,” the father says.

“We’re sick of each other, and I’m sick of talking about this, so you call

your sister in Leeds and tell her.”

Frantic, the son calls his sister, who explodes on the phone. “Like hell

they’re getting divorced,” she shouts, “I’ll take care of this.”

She calls Scotland immediately, and screams at her father, “You are NOT

getting divorced. Don’t do a single thing until I get there. I’m calling my

brother back, and we’ll both be there tomorrow. Until then, don’t do a

Thing, DO YOU HEAR ME?” and hangs up.

The old man hangs up his phone and turns to his wife. “Okay,” he says,

“they’re coming for Christmas and they’re paying their own way.”

Scientists at Karolinska Institutet and Lund University in Sweden have succeeded in inducing people with an amputated arm to experience a prosthetic rubber hand as belonging to their own 1) ___. The results can lead to the development of a new type of touch-sensitive prosthetic hands. The illusion of having a rubber hand was achieved by touching the stump of the amputated arm out of sight of the subject while simultaneously touching the rubber hand in full view of the same subject. This created the illusion that the sensory input was coming from the prosthetic hand rather than from the 2) ___, and that the hand belonged to the subjects own body. The effect was confirmed by the subjects own descriptions of the experience and by their tendency to point to the hand when asked to localize the point of 3) ___. That they experienced the rubber hand as their own was also substantiated physiologically in that they started to sweat when the hand was pricked with a needle. The study, which was carried out at the Red Cross hospital in Stockholm, opens up new opportunities for developing prosthetic hands that can be experienced by wearers as belonging to their own bodies, which would be a great benefit to patients and which is considered an important objective in applied 4) ___ . Well now be looking into the possibilities of developing a 5) ___ hand that can register touch and stimulate the stump to which its attached, says Henrik Ehrsson, one of the researchers involved in the study. If this makes it possible to make a prosthetic sensitive by cheating the brain, it can prove an important step towards better and more practical prosthetic hands than those available today. The study is part of the EUs SmartHand project, which is administered from Lund University. The objective of the SmartHand project is to develop a new type of thought-controlled prosthetic hand with advanced motor and sensory capabilities.

ANSWERS: 1) body; 2) stump; 3) stimulation; 4) neuroscience; 5) prosthetic

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