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NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS might seem trite, especially as you age. But think again. When you look at them, resolutions are goals. And when you have goals, you have purpose.

Studies in the past have hinted at the benefit of purpose for older adults. But a study published in 2019 actually shows that having purpose may extend your life.

Data from 7,000 Americans ages 51 and 61 explored the relationship between mortality and purpose. Purpose was defined as “a self-organizing life aim that stimulates goals.”

Full article at US News

Four months after treating them, Yasuhiro Shiga, MD, PhD, checked on his rats. Walking into the lab, he carried minimal expectations. Treating spinal cord injuries with stem cells had been tried by many people, many times before, with modest success at best. The endpoint he was specifically there to measure — pain levels — hadn’t seemed to budge in past efforts.

“Well, it doesn’t seem to be working. I don’t see any real change in pain behavior in any of the groups,” said Shiga, a visiting scholar at University of California San Diego School of Medicine, apologetically, as he walked into the office of his supervisor, Wendy Campana, PhD, professor in the Department of Anesthesiology and Program in Neuroscience.

But, to Campana’s surprise, he continued, almost as an after-thought.

“Although … some rats are actually really moving.”

The difference for those rats was this: Before delivering them into the spinal cord injury site, Shiga and Campana had conditioned stem cells with a modified form of tissue-type plasminogen activator (tPA), a drug commonly used to treat non-hemorrhagic stroke.

Full story at Science Daily

There’s new evidence that mind-body interventions can help reduce pain in people who have been taking prescription opioids — and lead to reductions in the drug’s dose.

In a study published this month in JAMA Internal Medicine, researchers reviewed evidence from 60 studies that included about 6,400 participants. They evaluated a range of strategies, including meditation, guided imagery, hypnosis and cognitive behavioral therapy.

“Mindfulness, cognitive behavioral therapy and clinical hypnosis appear to be the most useful for reducing pain,” says study author Eric Garland, a professor at the University of Utah. The reductions in dose were modest overall, he says, but the study is a signal that this approach is beneficial.

Full story at NPR

Nearly 13 million Americans will have dementia by 2040 — nearly twice as many as today, a new report says.

The number of women with dementia is expected to rise from 4.7 million next year to 8.5 million in 2040. The number of men with dementia is projected to increase from 2.6 million to 4.5 million.

Over the next 20 years, the economic impact of Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia will be more than $2 trillion. Women will shoulder more than 80% of those costs, according to a report released Tuesday at the 2019 Milken Institute Future of Health Summit, in Washington, D.C.

“Longer life spans are perhaps one of the greatest success stories of our modern public health system,” said lead author Nora Super, senior director of the Milken Institute Center for the Future of Aging.

Full story at US News

Most people have occasional lapses in memory, such as forgetting a new acquaintance’s name or misplacing the car keys.

Most of the time, this is simply a sign that a person is a bit too busy or is preoccupied. On the other hand, having a consistently poor memory can be problematic for someone.

Many factors play a role in memory loss, including genetics, age, and medical conditions that affect the brain. There are also some manageable risk factors for memory loss, such as diet and lifestyle.

While not all memory loss is preventable, people may be able to take measures to protect the brain against cognitive decline as they age.

Full story at Medical News Today

With its elegant double helix and voluminous genetic script, DNA has become the of darling of nucleic acids. Yet, it is not all powerful. In order for DNA to realize its potential — for genes to become proteins — it must first be transcribed into RNA, a delicate molecule that requires intense care and guidance.

“Gene expression is a lot more complicated than turning on a switch,” says Robert B. Darnell, the Robert and Harriet Heilbrunn Professor. “There’s a whole layer of regulation that alters both the quality and quantity of a protein that’s produced from a gene. And much of it happens at the level of RNA.”

In the brain, RNA’s job as a gene tuner is vital to ensuring that the right proteins are made at the right time; and when this process go awry, the consequences can be serious. Darnell’s lab recently found that the brain’s response to stroke depends on the precise regulation of a subtype of RNA; and they have also learned that mutations affecting gene regulation underlie some cases of autism spectrum disorder.

Full story at Science Daily