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Vol. LX, No. 14
July 11, 2008

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Common Spice Curries Favor in Research on Diabetes, Obesity

An Asian spice used in many curries is already known to reduce inflammation, heal wounds and relieve pain. Now scientists funded in part by NICHD want to know if turmeric can ward off obesity and type 2 diabetes. Based on blood-glucose levels and glucose and insulin tolerance tests, turmeric-treated mice were shown to be less susceptible to developing type 2 diabetes. Turmeric-fed obese mice showed significantly reduced inflammation in fat tissue and liver. Researchers believe curcumin—the anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant ingredient in turmeric—lessens insulin resistance and prevents type 2 diabetes in these models by dampening the inflammatory response provoked by obesity. The findings were presented recently at ENDO 2008, the Endocrine Society’s annual meeting.

ACCORD Finds Reducing Blood Sugar Levels Doesn’t Reduce Heart Attacks or Strokes

The ACCORD study evaluated the effects of intensively targeting blood sugar control. The strategy does not reduce cardiovascular events, according to results.
The ACCORD study evaluated the effects of intensively targeting blood sugar control. The strategy does not reduce cardiovascular events, according to results.

The strategy to get blood sugar to near-normal levels does not reduce cardiovascular events, according to results of the ACCORD trial. In fact, the strategy seems to increase death in people with diabetes at high risk, researchers reported in the June 12 New England Journal of Medicine. The ACCORD (Action to Control Cardiovascular Risk in Diabetes) trial was conducted at 77 sites nationwide and in Canada. It randomly assigned 10,251 participants to standard or intensive blood sugar treatment goals. Therapy in both groups included patient education, counseling and treatment with FDA-approved diabetes medications. ACCORD evaluated the effects of intensively targeting blood sugar control among adults with established diabetes, high blood sugar levels and pre-existing heart disease or at least two cardiovascular disease risk factors in addition to diabetes. The intensive strategy group had a 22 percent higher risk of death. The increased risk began 1 to 2 years after the strategy started to aggressively lower blood sugar levels. Researchers caution that the results might not apply to patients who are at lower risk of cardiovascular disease.

Novel Diarrhea Treatment Could Reduce Disorder in Children, Travelers

A novel compound that might lead to an inexpensive, easy-to-take treatment for acute diarrhea has been discovered by NIGMS-funded scientists at the University of Texas Health Science Center. The development could reduce diarrhea-related deaths among children in developing countries. Results of pre-clinical tests are reported in the June 16 online edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The compound—a pyridopyrimidine derivative— targets acute secretory diarrhea caused by E. coli and other enterotoxigenic strains of bacteria, which produce toxins that stimulate the linings of the intestines, causing them to secrete excessive fluid, thereby producing diarrhea. During pre-clinical tests, the compound was associated with a significant reduction in intestinal fluid secretion in an animal model of bacterial diarrhea. It was also linked to reduced fluid build-up during lab tests on human colon cells. It caused significant decrease in fluid secretion without apparent toxicity. While the research looks promising as a preventive or therapy in Third World diarrheal disease and travelers’ diarrhea, scientists say much work remains to be done to move into clinical trials.

Tune-Deaf People May Hear a Sour Note Unconsciously

People with tune deafness can’t tell when a musician accidentally strikes the wrong note in a song, but their brains can. Tune-deaf people are unable to perceive pitch, reproduce melodies or identify deviations in a melody. They may, however, be able to detect a wrong note unconsciously, NIDCD researchers have found in a study published in the June 11 issue of the online journal PLoS ONE. Tune deafness is an auditory processing disorder in which a person with normal hearing has trouble distinguishing notes in a melody. It is a commonly occurring phenomenon that is largely inherited. Studying this disorder could enable scientists to use genetic research tools to better understand the differences between conscious and unconscious thought. Neuroscientists have long been baffled by what separates consciousness from unconsciousness. Other sensory disorders have been identified in which the brain perceives a stimulus outside of conscious awareness. However, because these disorders are typically caused by brain damage, data are inconsistent from one patient to the next. “The prevalence of tune deafness is surprisingly high—perhaps as much as 2 percent of the population is tune deaf—and it exists in an otherwise normal, uninjured brain,” said Dr. James Battey, NIDCD director. “These factors, combined with the fact that tune deafness is largely genetic in origin, now raise the possibility of using tune deafness as a new way to study consciousness.” An online version of the Distorted Tunes Test scientists use can be found at—

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