Scientists discover novel drug target for pancreatic cancer

Scientists at Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute have uncovered a novel drug target, a protein called PPP1R1B, that stops the deadly spread of pancreatic cancer, called metastasis, when inhibited in mice. Published in Gastroenterology, the findings are a first step toward a potential treatment for one of the deadliest cancers known today.

“Our study uncovers a protein, called PPP1R1B, that is completely new to pancreatic cancer researchers and that drives tumor metastasis, the major reason the cancer is so lethal,” says Anindya Bagchi, Ph.D., associate professor in the Tumor Initiation and Maintenance Program at Sanford Burnham Prebys and senior author of the study. “With this proof-of-concept data, we can start drug screens that identify an inhibitor of PPP1R1B, which, if successful, may help more people survive pancreatic cancer.”

Pancreatic cancer is one of the deadliest cancers: Fewer than 10% of people with this type of cancer remain alive five years later. The tumor is difficult to detect because symptoms often don’t appear until the disease has already metastasized. However, if the tumor is contained in the pancreas, the five-year survival rate increases to nearly 40%, according to the American Cancer Society. For unknown reasons, pancreatic cancer is on the rise and predicted to become the second-leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the U.S. by 2030.

A surprising finding

In the study, the scientists set out to understand how pancreatic cancer responds to oxygen deprivation (hypoxia). Cancer researchers have long wondered how pancreatic cancers are able to thrive in such a harsh environment—and speculated that increased production of hypoxia inducible factor 1 alpha (HIF1A), a gene triggered by hypoxia, can stimulate tumor growth. Drugs that inhibit HIF1A are being explored for many hypoxic cancers, but until now the protein’s role in pancreatic cancer was unclear—presenting a hurdle to clinical trials evaluating these potentially promising drugs.

As a first step, the scientists created mice with pancreatic tumors that do not produce HIF1A. They expected that removing this protein would be beneficial and allow the mice to become cancer free. However, to their surprise, these mice had more aggressive tumors—with more invasion into nearby organs, greater metastasis and shorter survival times.

“Our original hypothesis was that if we remove HIF1A, a supposed driver of tumor survival, growth should be delayed or we should be curing the cancer,” says Bagchi. “Instead, we got the exact opposite results. When we saw this, we knew that we may have hit something really interesting, and needed to nail down exactly why we are seeing this effect.”

New drug target revealed

Digging deeper, the scientists discovered that these mice had increased levels of a protein called PPP1R1B. When they removed the gene that codes for this protein, the mice had fewer metastases—suggesting that a drug that inhibits the protein would stop pancreatic cancer from spreading.

“Our data also showed that tumor samples from people with metastatic pancreatic cancer had increased levels of PPP1R1B, adding further evidence that the protein has therapeutic potential,” says Ashutosh Tiwari, Ph.D., postdoctoral associate in the Bagchi lab at Sanford Burnham Prebys and first and co-lead author of the study. “Elevated levels of PPP1R1B have also been found in colon, lung and prostate cancers, and might also be seen in other hypoxic tumors, so an inhibitor may have benefits beyond pancreatic cancer.”

Next, the scientists plan to start drug screens that seek to identify compounds that inhibit PPP1R1B. These activities will take place at the Institute’s Conrad Prebys Center for Chemical Genomics, one of the most advanced drug discovery centers in the nonprofit world.

“The path to a successful treatment for pancreatic cancer begins with a strong scientific understanding of what is driving the tumor’s growth and aggressiveness,” says Lynn Matrisian, Ph.D., chief science officer at the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network (PanCAN), who wasn’t involved in the study. “This study has uncovered a promising drug target that, following additional research, may one day result in a treatment that helps more people fight the world’s toughest cancer.”

A team effort

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How to lose visceral fat – the ‘most important’ way to get rid of your belly fat

Visceral fat can be extremely harmful in large quantities, and it raises your chances of developing a number of conditions. But, doing aerobic exercises may help to get rid of your belly fat.

Visceral fat is more commonly known as belly fat, and it tends to wrap around your internal organs.

It’s considered a serious health problem to be carrying too much visceral fat.

That’s because the fat cells produce inflammatory markers and hormones, that increases the risk of chronic diseases.

One of the best ways to reduce your belly fat is to regularly do aerobic exercises.

Aerobic exercises are arguably the most important thing you can do to get rid of your visceral fat, according to John Hopkins Medicine.

It helps to raise your heart rate, which forces the body to use energy.

The body subsequently uses fat as a way to fuel your exercise, starting with excess visceral fat around your organs.

The best types of aerobic exercises including jogging, swimming and cycling.

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“Exercise is the key to fighting deep belly fat,” said the university.

“Add aerobic exercise as part of your way of life. This may be the most important thing you can do.

“It reduces the fat around your belly. Keep in mind that moderate exercise works the best.

“Check with your doctor before you start a new exercise plan. See your doctor first if you have not exercised before.”

You can use the ‘talk test’ to reveal whether you’re exercising hard enough to lose your belly fat, it added.

While exercising, you should be able to talk relatively comfortably.

But, you shouldn’t be able to sing at the top of your voice – that’s a sign that you’re working too hard.

You’re aiming for a “moderate” intensity workout, which will work all of the body’s muscles for a prolonged period of time.

Visceral fat starts to cause health problems straight away.

It increases your risk of developing serious, long-term life-threatening medical conditions, including heart disease, high blood pressure, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, and strokes.

You should consider speaking to a doctor if your waist is more than 40 inches for men, or 35 inches for women.

Your GP will discuss the health risks of belly fat, as well as some lifestyle changes to get rid of it.

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Covid-19 pandemic: Proportion of youth infected with virus triples in five months, says WHO

Young people who are hitting nightclubs and beaches are leading a rise in fresh coronavirus cases across the world, with the proportion of those aged 15 to 24 who are infected rising three-fold in about five months, the World Health Organization said.

An analysis by the WHO of 6 million infections between Feb. 24 and July 12 found that the share of people aged 15-24 years rose to 15% from 4.5%.

Apart from the United States which leads a global tally with 4.8 million total cases, European countries including Spain, Germany and France, and Asian countries such as Japan, have said that many of the newly infected are young people.

“Younger people tend to be less vigilant about masking and social distancing,” Neysa Ernst, nurse manager at Johns Hopkins Hospital’s biocontainment unit in Baltimore, Maryland told Reuters in an email.

“Travel increases your chances of getting and spreading COVID-19,” she said, adding young people are more likely to go to work in the community, to a beach or the pub, or to buy groceries.

The surge in new cases, a so-called second wave of infections, has prompted some countries to impose new curbs on travel even as companies race to find a vaccine for the fast-spreading virus that has claimed more than 680,000 lives and upended economies.

Even countries such as Vietnam, widely praised for its mitigation efforts since the coronavirus appeared in late January, are battling new clusters of infection.

Among those aged 5-14 years, about 4.6% were infected, up from 0.8%, between Feb. 24 and July 12, the WHO said, at a time when testing has risen and public health experts are concerned that reopening of schools may lead to a surge in cases.

Anthony Fauci, the leading U.S. expert on infectious diseases, urged young people last month to continue to socially distance, wear masks and avoid crowds, and cautioned that asymptomatic people could spread the virus, too.

Indeed, health experts in several countries have urged similar measures as they report that infected youth show few symptoms.

“We’ve said this before and we’ll say it again: young people are not invincible,” WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a news briefing in Geneva last week.

“Young people can be infected; young people can die; and young people can transmit the virus to others.”

Last month, Tokyo officials said they would conduct coronavirus testing in the city’s nightlife districts, and instructed nightclubs to provide customers with enough space with good ventilation and to ask them to avoid speaking loudly.

In France last month, authorities shut down a bar where people breached hygiene rules and caused an outbreak.

(This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text. Only the headline has been changed.)

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Easy to overdose on paracetamol if you’re selenium deficient, says research

A lack of the mineral selenium in the diet puts people at risk of paracetamol overdose, even when the painkiller is taken at levels claimed to be safe on the packaging, according to collaborative research emerging from the University of Bath and Southwest University in China.

Paracetamol (also called Tylenol) is best known for relieving mild pain and fever, and is a leading cause of liver failure when taken at dangerous levels. For adults, the recommended maximum daily dosage is 4g (amounting to two 500mg tablets taken four times). However, the team from Bath and Chongqing has found that the micronutrient selenium affects the speed at which the painkiller is flushed from the body. As a result, taking 4g of the medication in a given day can be dangerous for people with low levels of selenium in their bodies.

“People with a selenium deficiency can struggle to eliminate the drug fast enough to keep their livers healthy,” explained Dr. Charareh Pourzand who led the collaborative research from the University of Bath’s Department of Pharmacy and Pharmacology. “They can overdose even when they follow dosage guidelines.”

A huge amount of Paracetamol is consumed around the world, with an average person in the UK popping 70 tablets (or 35 grams) every year. Dr. Pourzand said: “For most people, paracetamol is safe up to the stated dose. But if you are frail, malnourished or elderly, your levels of selenium are likely to be somewhat depleted, and for these people I think it’s a bad idea to take paracetamol at the maximum level currently considered safe.”

It is thought that insufficient selenium intake affects up to 1 billion people worldwide—or one in seven of the globe’s population. It may be tempting to boost selenium levels through supplements, but based on the results of this study, Dr. Pourzand advises against this course of action, as an excess of the micronutrient can be just as dangerous to the body as a deficiency.

“There is a rather limited dose range for the beneficial effects of selenium,” she said. “Both mild selenium deprivation in the body and excess supplementation increase the severity of liver injury after you’ve taken paracetamol.”

She added: “This study shows that the link between selenium status in the diet and paracetamol toxicity is very important. I hope people pay attention to these findings, given everyone has paracetamol in their home. And now with people falling ill with COVID-19, paracetamol is being taken more than ever.”

Selenium helps maintain a healthy redox balance in the body within antioxidant enzymes called selenoproteins (selenium-containing proteins). Redox balance describes the mechanism by which each cell maintains a subtle balance between antioxidant and pro-oxidant levels (where some atoms gain electrons and others lose them, becoming free radicals). When the body’s selenium levels fall out of the beneficial range, antioxidant enzyme activities are decreased and too many free radicals are formed in liver—the main organ where paracetamol is metabolized. This results in damage both to an individual’s DNA and to their proteins.

Dr. Pourzand emphasizes the importance of a good diet in keeping selenium levels within the recommended range. “A healthy, balanced diet is especially important if you take paracetamol on a regular basis, for instance for chronic pain,” she said.

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High cholesterol symptoms: The sexual sign your ‘bad’ cholesterol levels could be too high

High cholesterol levels can be troublesome as it means there is too much ‘bad’ cholesterol floating in the blood and this could pose serious health complications. Knowing the warning signs and correcting one’s diet are some ways to reduce your risk and if you suffer with erectile dysfunction it could be due to high levels of cholesterol.

Shamir Patel, founder of Chemist 4 U said: “A symptom of high cholesterol can be erectile dysfunction, caused by the lack of blood flow.

“Another symptom may be yellowy growths under the skin of their eyelids – called xanthelasma.

“This is fatty material containing lipids, or fats, including cholesterol, and usually appear symmetrically between your eyes and nose.

“However, each of these symptoms can be other health conditions, which is why it’s so important to test your cholesterol on a regular basis.

“Call your GP if you are concerned, who can discuss your concerns.

“There are also home testing kits if you would prefer.” 

Too much bad cholesterol (also known as LDL) in the bloodstream creates arterial plaque that damages and blocks blood flow, said Boston Medical Group.

It added: “These blockages will result in inadequate circulation of blood throughout the system including the penis and genital area.

“As a result, erection problems occur. 

“The side effects of high cholesterol in men can lead to erectile dysfunction.

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“The higher your LDL levels the more likely to develop erection problems and severe cases lead to impotence.

“Also, high cholesterol can make the body more difficult to produce the necessary chemicals to create an erection. 

“High cholesterol affects the body’s ability to properly release nitric oxide into the bloodstream.

“This prevents the proper relaxation of penile tissues to cause erectile engorgement.

High cholesterol and erectile dysfunction could be an underlying cause of another health problem.

However, these problems are reversible.

High cholesterol affects testosterone production.

Testosterone is a hormone responsible for the secondary sex characteristics of men. 

High cholesterol limits blood flow to the testicles and as a result, may damage their ability to produce testosterone.

Patel added: “People with high cholesterol often don’t realise that they have it, as there are no glaringly obvious symptoms.

“However, it can be a serious health condition, because it can block your blood vessels and put you at risk of heart problems and strokes.

“Therefore, it’s important to understand and recognise the warning signs that your cholesterol may be too high.

“Firstly, consider the main risk factors: do you do little exercise, smoke, eat fatty food and drink alcohol?

“Does your family have a history of high cholesterol? If you tick a number of these factors, it puts you in the risk category, and you should keep an eye on yourself.”

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Immunization programs yield high ‘return on investment,’ saving hundreds of billions of dollars

Immunization programs offered in low- and middle-income countries provide a high “return on investment” in terms of the economic costs of diseases that are prevented and the values of lives that would have been lost, according to a new study led by scientists at the International Vaccine Access Center based at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

The researchers, who report their findings in the August issue of Health Affairs, analyzed recent data on immunization programs aimed at preventing 10 infectious diseases in 94 low- and middle-income countries. The research team generated estimates for the economic cost of illnesses and broader losses due to disability and premature death that would occur without the programs, comparing those costs to the costs of the programs themselves.

Using a model that factors in treatment costs, lost wages, and productivity losses, the researchers estimate that the costs averted by implementing these immunization programs will amount to $681.9 billion for 2011-20 and $828.5 billion for the next decade. This estimated net benefit is about 26 times the immunization programs’ costs during 2011-20, and about 20 times their costs for the next ten years, 2021-30.

A second analysis based on the imputed monetary values of lives that will be saved by the immunization programs suggested net-benefit vs. cost ratios for the two decades of more than 50 to 1.

“This analysis shows that immunization programs now have and will continue to have a high return on investment,” says study senior author Bryan Patenaude, ScD, an assistant professor in the Bloomberg School’s Department of International Health. “It also helps put immunization program investments in perspective alongside investments such as education programs and infrastructure investments that might not otherwise seem comparable.”

The new study was conducted under the auspices the Decade of Vaccine Economics project based at the Bloomberg School’s International Vaccine Access Center. DOVE’s research provides economic evidence on vaccines that can be used by organizations such as Gavi, the international public health organization that sponsors immunization programs in low- and middle-income countries worldwide.

“The goal here was to show the return on ‘investment’ in economic or monetary terms, not just in terms of health impact,” says Patenaude. “Framing health investments in economic terms can help organizations and governments compare them to other social investments in an explicit and concrete way.”

For their analysis, the researchers analyzed Gavi’s data and other available data on the costs of immunization programs in 94 low- and middle-income countries against the meningitis-causing Haemophilus influenzae type b and Neisseria meningitidis serotype A; the pneumonia-causing Streptococcus pneumoniae; hepatitis B virus; human papillomavirus; Japanese encephalitis virus; measles virus; rotavirus; rubella virus (German measles); and yellow fever virus.

In the analysis, the costs of these programs will amount to an estimated $25.2 billion for 2011-20 and $39.9 billion in 2021-30 for the 94 low- and middle-income countries. Gavi hosts immunization programs, or has done so in the recent past, in most of the countries covered by the analysis.

The researchers compared these estimated costs to the estimated economic costs of illnesses in the scenario in which there were no immunizations against these pathogens. To do this they used two models. The first was a Cost of Illness model with estimates for cost items such as treatment of disease, lost caregiver wages, and productivity loss due to disability or premature death. The COI model yielded the estimated averted costs of $681.9 billion for 2011-20 and $828.5 billion for the following decade.

The second model, a Value of Statistical Life (VSL) model, was based on the estimated value of a saved life—a calculation derived from estimates of people’s willingness to spend money to reduce their risk of death. Based on this model the averted costs will be $1.31 trillion and $2.1 trillion for the two decades, respectively.

The estimated return on investment, the ratio between the net savings obtained by the programs and their cost, was therefore, for the 2011-20 decade, 26.1 using the COI model and 51.0 using the VSL model. For the 2021-30 decade, those figures were 19.8 and 52.2, respectively.

“Obviously, regardless of the approach you take to estimate benefits, immunization programs are a great value in terms of return on investment and have significant benefits over time,” says Patenaude.

The researchers bundled the estimates for the 10 pathogens together because Gavi typically offers programs with similarly bundled immunizations. But the investigators noted that measles virus was the largest driver of estimated disease-related costs.

“With some countries transitioning away from donor support, these findings can be used to advocate for sustained immunization financing,” says Elizabeth Watts, research associate at the International Vaccine Access Center and co-first author of the study.

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Less than half of people in England understand current lockdown rules

Under half (45%) of people in England report having a “broad understanding” of the current lockdown rules, compared to 90% across the UK during the strict lockdown period, finds UCL’s COVID-19 Social Study.

Levels in Scotland and Wales have also fallen but are higher than those in England, with reported levels of understanding at 75% and 61% respectively. Complete understanding has fallen even further, with only 14% of adults in England reporting understanding the rules completely as lockdown eased, compared to 18% in Wales and 27% in Scotland.

Launched in the week before lockdown started, this ongoing study is funded by the Nuffield Foundation with additional support from Wellcome and UK Research and Innovation (UKRI). It is the UK’s largest study into how adults are feeling about the lockdown, government advice and overall wellbeing and mental health with over 70,000 participants who have been followed across the last 19 weeks.

Access to healthcare has also fallen during the lockdown, with one in 10 people across the UK reporting being unable to see or speak with a GP about their physical health, one in 20 unable to speak to a professional about their mental health, and one in five not telling a GP about symptoms of an illness when they usually would have done (even when appointments to see GPs were available). Groups who faced the most barriers included younger adults, women, individuals from BAME backgrounds, and people with physical and mental health conditions.

People with a diagnosed mental health condition were significantly more likely to have not spoken to a mental health professional when they usually would have done, with a fifth reported not being able to access professional mental health support during lockdown.

Lead author, Dr. Daisy Fancourt (UCL Epidemiology & Health Care) said: “Our study shows that as lockdown measures have eased at different rates in each nation of the UK, levels of understanding around what is and isn’t permissible have dropped, especially amongst younger adults. This could possibly reflect difficulties in applying the rules to more complex life scenarios amongst younger adults, or may be reflective of the different amounts of time spent following the news on COVID-19 amongst different age groups. The general drop-off in understanding could be due to unclear messaging from the government, or a reduction in interest and engagement from people, especially with the cessation of the daily Downing Street coronavirus briefing in late June.”

Depression and anxiety levels, life satisfaction, and happiness have all shown improvements across every socio-demographic subgroup examined, and loneliness levels have also decreased further, showing the first clear pattern of decrease in 19 weeks. However there has been little change in people reporting major or minor stress due to catching COVID-19, unemployment, finance, or getting food.

Cheryl Lloyd, education program head at the Nuffield Foundation said: “With concerns growing over a second wave of COVID-19 it is concerning that many people in England report not understanding the current government guidance. As another Nuffield-funded study by the Reuters Institute has shown, people are less likely to access news about COVID-19 on a daily basis now that lockdown has eased. With the rules changing regularly, this may be a factor in the public not understanding the government guidance.”

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Connie Culp, the First Patient in the U.S. to Receive a Face Transplant, Dies at 57


Connie Culp, who made history as the first person to receive a face transplant in the United States, has died, the Cleveland Clinic confirmed. She was 57.

Culp died on Thursday evening, according to WKYC. Her cause of death remains unknown.

"We are saddened by the loss of Connie Culp, the first face transplant recipient in the U.S. She was an inspiration to all of us at Cleveland Clinic," the Cleveland Clinic, where Culp had her 2008 surgery, tweeted on Friday.

Dr. Frank Papay, who was a part of Culp's surgical team, also included a special message in Culp's memory.

"Connie was an incredibly brave, vibrant woman and an inspiration to many," the chair of Cleveland Clinic's Dermatology and Plastic Surgery Institute wrote. "Her strength was evident in the fact that she had been the longest-living face transplant to date. She was a great pioneer and her decision to undergo a sometimes-daunting procedure is an enduring gift for all of humanity."

In 2004, Culp's husband, Thomas Culp, pointed a shotgun at her and pulled the trigger, leaving her horribly disfigured. According to Today, Culp's husband was later sent to jail for seven years.

Thirty corrective surgeries later, Culp became the first person in the U.S. — and only the fourth in the world — to receive a near-total face transplant.

During a 22-hour operation at the Cleveland Clinic, eight surgeons replaced 80 percent of Culp’s face, giving her a new nose, upper lip, palate and front teeth, all from the same donor and she later received a prosthetic right eye.

Culp told PEOPLE in 2011 that her new face “made [her] feel stronger” and “more positive about who [she was].”

After her transplant, Culp got a divorce, moved into a new apartment, and began speaking to other victims of domestic abuse and violence.

As a pioneer in medical science, Culp encouraged others who underwent surgery. Following her transplant, about 40 other face transplants have been performed around the world — three of which were at the Cleveland Clinic, Today reported.

"Thinking about Connie is thinking about someone who's not giving up," Dr. Maria Siemionow, who led Culpo's surgery, told Today. "And I'll not give up."

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How to live longer: Why drinking this tea could boost your life expectancy

Lemongrass, also called citronella, is a tall plant that can be used as a tea. Steeped in hot water, it leaves a lemony aroma and a refreshing citrus flavour in the mouth. Here’s how it could boost your life expectancy.

Cited in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry, lemongrass contains several antioxidants.

Antioxidants can help scavenge free radicals in your body that can cause disease.

According to the Department of Oral Medicine and Radiology at ACPM Dental College, in India, lemongrass showed antimicrobial properties.

In addition, researchers from the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Centre identified two compounds in lemongrass that are thought to be responsible for its anti-inflammatory benefits: citral and geranial.

The same organisation identified lemongrass to contain anticancer properties too.

They stated: “Lab studies showed that lemongrass can lower blood pressure, and has anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and anticancer properties.”

Supporting the claim that lemongrass reduces blood pressure are the researchers from the University of Swabi, Pakistan.

For their experiment, they recruited 72 male volunteers who were either given lemongrass or green tea to drink.

Those who drank the lemongrass tea showed a decline in systolic and diastolic blood pressure.

Systolic blood pressure measures the amount of force the blood hits the artery walls while the heart is beating.

The diastolic blood pressure measures the amount of force the blood hits the artery walls in between heart beats.

Combining these health benefits from drinking lemongrass tea would help to increase somebody’s life expectancy.

This makes sense, as high blood pressure puts a person at increased risk of a heart attack.

Additionally, cancer cells can be deadly and excess inflammation is linked to disease.

In order to reap the benefits of lemongrass, it’s possible to drink it as a tea.

How to make lemongrass tea

Pour one cup of boiling water over one to three teaspoons of fresh or dried lemongrass.

Steep for at least five minutes, then strain the tea. It can either be enjoyed hot or iced.

For iced lemongrass tea, simply add a few ice cubes to the cup. Most natural food stores sell loose lemongrass tea or lemongrass tea bags.

Side effects

Although lemongrass tea is considered safe, some people may be allergic to it.

An allergic reaction would result in a rash, itching, difficulty breathing or a rapid heart rate.

Should you experience an adverse reaction (and it’s very rare), do call the emergency services.

As with any beverage, drinking a healthy tea can only do so much for a person’s health.

Of course there is research outlining the benefits of sipping on lemongrass tea, but it’ll need to be paired with other healthy life decisions.

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Botox injections may reduce depression, study finds

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People who received Botox (botulinum toxin) injections for certain conditions reported less depression less often compared to patients who did not receive the injections for similar diagnoses, according to a study published Thursday in the journal Scientific Reports.

“For years, clinicians have observed that Botox injected for cosmetic reasons seems to ease depression for their patients,” said Ruben Abagyan, Ph.D., professor of pharmacy and one of the lead researchers of the study, in a statement.

“It’s been thought that easing severe frown lines in the forehead region disrupts a feedback loop that reinforces negative emotions. But we’ve found here that the mechanism may be more complex because it doesn’t really matter where the Botox is injected," the author stated in a news release.

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The research team at Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences at University of California San Diego combed through the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)’s Adverse Effect Reporting System (FAERS) database to see the side effects reported by nearly 40,000 people who received Botox injections for various reasons, according to a news release by the university.

The treatments were not just in the forehead but included several different sites, including the neck, limbs and forehead. The release stated the researchers used an algorithm to find significant statistical differences between patients who used Botox and those who did not for the same issue.

The treatments were not just in the forehead but included several different sites, including the neck, limbs, and forehead. (iStock)

The researchers found depression was reported 40 to 88 percent less often by Botox users for six of the eight conditions and injection sites, according to the release.

“This finding is exciting because it supports a new treatment to affect mood and fight depression, one of the common and dangerous mental illnesses — and it’s based on a very large body of statistical data, rather than limited-scale observations,” Tigran Makunts, PharmD, one of the researchers in the study, stated in the release.

More research is needed to determine how Botox potentially acts as an antidepressant, according to the study. The researchers have a few theories that need further investigation. For instance, Botox being absorbed systemically to the central nervous system, which is involved in mood or emotions, they hypothesized, or possibly Botox indirectly affecting a person’s depression because the Botox helped relieve an underlying chronic condition that may have been a contributing factor to the patient’s depression.

Health experts say Botox is commonly used not only for cosmetic reasons, such as combatting wrinkles but also for muscle spasms, tight muscles, migraines, temporomandibular joint dysfunction, as well as other conditions including excessive sweating and bladder conditions.

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The FAERS data used in this study was not exclusively gathered for the purpose of investigating the link between Botox and depression, according to the news release.  The data represents only a subgroup of Botox users who reported experiencing negative side effects. The authors note they excluded data from patients who were taking antidepressants; however, in some of the cases, the use of medications could have been underreported.

The release stated there is a clinical trial underway that is directly investigating Botox treatment for people with depression, but it is only testing forehead injection sites,. The authors said additional clinical trials are necessary to investigate which site is best to specifically inject to treat depression.

According to the World Health Organization, an estimated more than 264 million people worldwide experience depression.

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