Is zinc the missing link for osteoarthritis therapies?

Lyra Nara Blog

Osteoarthritis is a leading cause of disability, characterized by the destruction of cartilage tissue in joints, but there is a lack of effective therapies because the underlying molecular causes have been unclear. A study published by Cell Press February 13th in the journal Cell reveals that osteoarthritis-related tissue damage is caused by a molecular pathway that is involved in regulating and responding to zinc levels inside of cartilage cells. A protein called ZIP8 transports zinc inside these cells, setting off a cascade of molecular events that result in the destruction of cartilage tissue in mice. The findings could lead to a new generation of therapies for osteoarthritis.

“No evidence available to date clearly indicated that zinc plays a causal role in osteoarthritis,” says senior study author Jang-Soo Chun of the Gwangju Institute of Science and Technology. “In our study, we revealed the entire series of molecular events in the osteoarthritis…

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Eatable water globe replaces plastic bottle

Lyra Nara Blog

Water bubbles are the latest solution to combat plastic water bottle waste. This water–bag is biodegradable and edible. 

Ooho 620

Although the Ooho looks a lot like a water balloon, it’s not meant to be thrown. This water bubble is the latest solution to the growing pile of plastic waste. By packaging water in a compostable and even eatable membrane the plastic bottle becomes redundant.

The designers of the Ooho, Rodrigo Garcia Gonzalez from Spain, and Pierre Paslier and Guillaume Couche from France, won the Lexus Design Award in 2014. The water bowl is formed by a process called ‘spherification’, a technique also used in molecular cooking to naturally create a barrier around a liquid – a sort of membrane. The chemistry process in which algae reacts with calcium exist in nature too, like with egg yolks and caviar. The membrane of an Ooho consists of brown algae and calcium carbonate.


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Why fish oils work swimmingly against diabetes

Lyra Nara Blog

Researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine have identified the molecular mechanism that makes omega-3 fatty acids so effective in reducing chronic inflammation and insulin resistance. The discovery could lead to development of a simple dietary remedy for many of the more than 23 million Americans suffering from diabetes and other conditions.

Writing in the advance online edition of the September 3 issue of the journal Cell,Jerrold Olefsky, MD, and colleagues identified a key receptor on macrophages abundantly found in obese body fat. Obesity and diabetes are closely correlated. The scientists say omega-3 fatty acids activate this macrophage receptor, resulting in broad anti-inflammatory effects and improved systemic insulin sensitivity.

Macrophages are specialized white blood cells that engulf and digest cellular debris and pathogens. Part of this immune system response involves the macrophages secreting cytokines and other proteins that cause inflammation, a method for destroying cells and…

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Organics Powerful African Ingredients

Lyra Nara Blog

» Africa’s Gold Tree Butter: Even more healing than shea butter, this rare butter is high in stigmasterol and ingredients that take away inflammation fast. It is particularly beneficial in healing cracks of the feet when nothing else will do the job.

» African Potato: Used by traditional healers for thousands of years, this tuber is considered a miracle drug by many natives. Delivering anti-inflammatory properties from its naturally occurring sterols and sterolins, African potato is effective in reducing inflammation due to sun exposure, rashes, eczema, and other inflammatory conditions.

» Argan Oil: One of the rarest, most exotic oils in the world, the golden oil of argan is found only in a small region of Morocco. A close relative to the shea tree, the argan fruit kernel produces rich, anti-aging oil high in anti-oxidant vitamin E, polyunsaturates and fatty acids.

» Baobab: Referred to as the Tree of Life and growing over a thousand years old, there…

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Gold nanoparticles help target, quantify breast cancer gene segments in a living cell

Lyra Nara Blog

Gold nanoparticles help target, quantify breast cancer gene segments in a living cell

A single gold nanoparticle, or monomer, appears green when illuminated (top left), while a pair of gold nanoparticles bound to an mRNA splice variant, or dimer, appears reddish (top right). Monomers and dimers also scatter light differently, as shown in the graph above. Credit: Purdue University image / Joseph Irudayaraj

Purdue University researchers have developed a way to detect and measure cancer levels in a living cell by using tiny gold particles with tails of synthetic DNA. A team led by Joseph Irudayaraj, professor of agricultural and biological engineering, used gold nanoparticles to target and bind to fragments of genetic material known as BRCA1 messenger RNA splice variants, which can indicate the presence and stage of breast cancer. The number of these mRNA splice variants in a cell can be determined by examining the specific signal that light produces when it interacts with the gold nanoparticles.

“This is a simple yet…

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Guidelines based on life cycle assessment for solvent selection during the process design and evaluation of treatment alternatives

Guidelines based on life cycle assessment for solvent selection during the process design and evaluation of treatment alternatives

Green Chem., 2014, Advance Article
DOI: 10.1039/C3GC42513D, Paper
Antonio Amelio, Giuseppe Genduso, Steven Vreysen, Patricia Luis, Bart Van der Bruggen
This work allows the gathering of information during the process design to assist in the choice of the solvent and technology to use.
The aim of this paper is to develop guidelines in order to assist in decision making with respect to treatment options of waste solvents, and more importantly for the choice of solvent in the design of the process a priori, from an environmental point of view based on the composition of a mixture. Life cycle assessment (LCA) was used to evaluate two treatment alternatives: continuous distillation and incineration. The software Ecosolvent® v.1.0.1 was used to perform the LCA, considering two scenarios (the best and worst scenarios) and five environmental indicators: Eco-indicator 99, UBP-97, global warming potential, cumulative energy demand and CO2-balance. From the results, it can be concluded that the environmental impact originating from the production of the solvents is the main issue to consider for the selection of distillation or incineration as the treatment method during the process design. In general, those solvents with a low impact during their production stage were found to be candidates for incineration. Moreover, those compounds that yield a great environmental burden during the production step should be always recovered in order to minimize the total impact. A series of charts is presented as guidelines to select the most environmentally favorable alternative for mixtures of solvents, and to select which solvent to use considering the environmental effects that are produced. Regarding the information given by the different indicators, it was observed that all the studied indicators lead to the same conclusions for the evaluated mixtures with some exceptions for UBP-97.

Immunity and Herbs

Ayurvedic Herbal Teas

Immunity and Herbs

Modes of boosting the immune system by herbs & spices are discussed in this review by Sultan et al.

The activation and suppression of specialized cells could lead to improvement in immune responses and the body’s defence system.  This review highlights the importance of, amongst others,  green tea (Camellia sinensis), ginger (Zingiber officinale) and licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra) as natural immune boosters.


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Natural compound from green tomatoes stimulates muscle growth and endurance

Lyra Nara Blog

As unlikely as it sounds, green tomatoes may hold the answer to bigger, stronger muscles. Using a screening method that previously identified a compound in apple peel as a muscle-boosting agent, a team of University of Iowa scientists has now discovered that tomatidine, a compound from green tomatoes, is even more potent for building muscle and protecting against muscle atrophy.

Muscle atrophy, or wasting, is caused by aging and a variety of illnesses and injuries, including cancer, heart failure, and orthopedic injuries, to name a few. It makes people weak and fatigued, impairs physical activity and quality of life, and predisposes people to falls and fractures. The condition affects more than 50 million Americans annually, including 30 million people over age 60, and often forces people into nursing homes or rehabilitation facilities.

“Muscle atrophy causes many problems for people, their families, and the health care system in general,” says Christopher…

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Apigenin: this chemical breaks the immortality of cancer cells

New Drug Approvals

parsley apigenin
Apigenin, which abounds in particular parsley, have protective effects against cancer. Indeed, a U.S. study showed that apigenin alters the process of gene regulation in cancer cells, which has the effect of making them sensitive to the new process of cell death. Credits: H. Zell
Apigenin, a very natural chemical compound present in the Mediterranean diet, breaks immortality of cancer cells. A result obtained by researchers at the Ohio State University (USA).
Apigenin is found in many fruits and vegetables, but parsleycelery and chamomile tea are the most common sources

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