Using high doses of green tea extract supplements for weight loss become increasingly popular, but at the same time potential liver toxicity has become a serious concern. In the last decade, dozens of people have been diagnosed with the condition. However, it’s been found that drinking green tea in the weeks before taking supplements likely reduces risk, according to researchers. Researchers gave mice high doses of the green tea polyphenol epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG). The dosage was equivalent to the amount of the polyphenol found in some dietary supplements taken by humans. The research data showed that dietary pre-treatment with the green tea polyphenol protects mice from liver toxicity caused by subsequent high oral doses of the same compound, explained Josh Lambert, associate professor of food science. He suggested that the research has relevance to people who are taking or are considering taking supplements containing green tea extract. There are some daring people who drink surprisingly large amounts of green tea, according to Lambert, as much as 10-20 cups a day, but liver toxicity has never been reported in that perspective. "No person can sit down and drink 16 cups of green tea all at once," he said. "However if you take a supplement you can get that type of green tea extract dose, so there is some indication that the dosage form has an influence on the potential to cause liver toxicity."
Are we ready for hypoallergenic parks? Sounds like an oxymoron, right? Well, this dream could soon become a reality thanks to research published in the American Society of Agronomy. The researchers hope their efforts will lead to “fantastic urban green spaces that don't cause allergic reactions for 30 percent of the city's population”. Professor Paloma Carinanos’ team specifically studies the city of Granada, Spain. This city's climate and layout is like that of many cities in the Mediterranean area, which has the highest occurrence of pollen allergies in the world. The researchers hope their efforts will lead to fantastic urban green spaces that don't cause allergic reactions for 30% of the city's population. To research team lead by Carinanos began by classifying the trees in Granada's ten largest green spaces. They grouped the trees into three categories. Then they recorded the type of pollination, the length of the pollination period, and the potential for causing allergies for each tree. The researchers used all of this information to calculate if the green space was negatively affecting air quality and causing allergies. What the researchers found was surprising. Many of the most common trees in Granada were among the trees causing unhealthy or hazardous air quality. The researchers hope to use this research as a tool for planning and preventing allergies in open spaces, to make sure that the public can enjoy the great outdoors without being struck by allergies, watery eyes and runny noses.
Designer drugs make up a larger proportion of the illegal drug market and although they don’t have a specific definition, it's a term that’s used to describe illegal and abused drugs such as ketamine, fentanyl, LSD, PCP, quaaludes, methcathinone, and amphetamine derivatives such as ecstasy and cocaine. Chemists are continually trying to solve the growing problem of designer drugs – whose regulation is elusive because they involve ever-changing formulas. This is one of the topics which has been discussed at a session at the 250th ACS National Meeting & Exposition this summer in Boston U.S.A. “It is relatively simple to take a drug that has a known psychoactive effect and change one substituent group to make it into another drug that is not yet classified as illegal but provides the same or similar psychoactive high”, explainsWilliam Hoffmann, a postdoctoral student at West Virginia University’s forensic and investigative science department. Hoffmann and his colleagues have been using mass spectrometry to differentiate between similar drugs to define illegal from legal drugs. Another topic that was discussed was bath salts. “Bath salts” are synthetic analogues of the naturally-occurring cathinone, an amphetamine-like stimulant found naturally in the khat plant. These drugs have been linked to paranoia, hallucinatory delirium, psychotic and violent behaviour, as well as deaths. Scientific research aims to develop and optimise a rapid, simple and reliable laboratory test that can analyse commonly abused synthetic cathinones in saliva and the scientists hope that such technology will be widely available soon.
The flu virus mutates every year and there are many different strains of flu virus. If you are in the “at risk” group of people you’re required to take a flu shot every year / every flu season. This can be very cumbersome, so scientists are working on developing a universal flu vaccine that would be active against all strains of the virus and you wouldn’t need inoculations every year. Promising research published in Science Express journal, demonstrates how the team of scientists at the Crucell Vaccine Institute at the Janssen Center of Excellence for Immunoprophylaxis in the Netherlands (and other research centres in the US), have extracted different antigens from most flu virus and placed them in the vaccine to mimic the flu virus and stimulate the immune response to produce antibodies in defence, and also keep in memory different types of flu virus, so in the future, dealing with the virus is easier and less burdensome on the victim. Final results of the study have developed two different flu vaccines which could potentially offer broader protection against a variety of flu strains than current vaccines. But since this has only been tested on animals, we’ll have to wait and see the response in humans in future research.
Today, a new Meningitis B vaccine has been released for babies at age two, four and 12 months old. Every year, 1761 cases are diagnosed in the UK. Meningitis is the acute inflammation of the protective membranes covering the brain and spinal cord, known as the meninges. The inflammation may be caused by infection with Meningococcal bacteria, which is carried harmlessly in the nose or throat by approximately 1 in 10 people. Meningitis can be life-threatening because of the inflammation's proximity to the brain and spinal cord; therefore, is a serious medical emergency. After years of discussions and plenty of research, the Meningitis B vaccine will be available for children from September 2015. Campaigners said it could prevent up to 4,000 cases by 2025, but warned that parents should also be aware of meningitis symptoms. Finally, a catch-up programme will be available for babies born since May who have missed the first jabs. This vaccination has been delayed before, due to cost disputes which have, thankfully, been resolved. References:    
This Christmas, kids will be expecting something bigger and a million times better than the latest new toy or piece of tech, instead they'll be expecting an invisibility cloak! (Okay, maybe not this year, but very soon indeed.) Scientists in the University of California - San Diego are working on making a cloaking device that is "both thin and does not alter the brightness of light around a hidden object." They've basically created an invisibility "carpet" which doesn't change the brightness of light around an object sitting on a flat surface by mimicking the reflection of light off the flat surface, which thereforecancels the overall distortion of light caused by the object's shape - making the observer think that there's a flat surface.Commenting on their research, Dr Hsu explains "By changing the height of each dielectric particle, we were able to control the reflection of light at each point on the cloak." Dr Hsu continues on to say "Our computer simulations show how our cloaking device would behave in reality. We were able to demonstrate that a thin cloak designed with cylinder-shaped dielectric particles can help us significantly reduce the object's shadow." Every day science is advancing almost making sci-fi movies become real-life.
The invisible man.
The reflection pattern from an uncloaked object on a flat surface (top) compared to the reflection pattern of the same object covered with the cloaking device (bottom), which effectively mimics the reflection from a completely flat surface.
Credit: Li-Yi Hsu/Jacobs School of Engineering/UC San Diego