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Alzheimer's drugs could prevent blood vessel damage caused by type 2 diabetes and obesity – new research

People who suffer from a combination of type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and obesity have a condition known as “metabolic syndrome”. This condition causes the blood vessels to stiffen. When the arteries are stiff or become blocked, there’s a reduced flow of oxygenated blood that’s able to reach the body’s tissues and vital organs. This puts a person at increased risk of heart attack or stroke. But in order to prevent further harm to patients with metabolic syndrome, it’s key to understand what causes damage to the blood vessels – and how this can be treated. Our latest research has identified a previously unknown mechanism by which metabolic syndrome is able to cause blood vessel damage. But, we also found a way to reverse this damage. Our study looked at both mice and human tissue samples. In both groups, we found that if a subject was obese and had type 2 diabetes, their blood vessels overproduced an enzyme called BACE1. This triggers a biochemical reaction that creates a protein called beta amyloid. Levels of BACE1 are increased by excessive blood lipids (fats) and glucose (sugar), which are characteristic of the metabolic syndrome. In humans, raised levels of beta amyloid are associated with damage to the surface lining (endothelium) of blood vessels. Damage to the endothelium disrupts the normal functioning of the blood vessels, leading to high blood pressure and atherosclerosis – the build up of plaque along the walls of the blood vessels. This build up of plaque can harden over time, narrowing the arteries and making it harder for oxygenated blood to move through the arteries. This can lead to severe complications, including heart attack, stroke or death. Our research also showed that beta amyloid alters the chemical environment inside the blood vessels, causing them to stiffen. Importantly we showed this process was also found in obese people with type 2 diabetes. They had more BACE1 in their blood vessels and higher levels of beta amyloid in their blood, compared to lean people without diabetes. This work builds on our previous findings that showed raised levels of the BACE1 enzyme is linked with obesity and type 2 diabetes. But perhaps the most promising finding from our latest study was that this process could be targeted by drugs. Repurposing drugs The pharmaceutical industry and researchers have been interested in BACE1 for a number of years because of the role it plays in the development of another major illness. As BACE1 generates beta amyloid, these aggregate together and form amyloid plaques in the brain, which are characteristic of Alzheimer’s disease. Drug companies have developed a number of candidate drugs to inhibit the activity of BACE1. But those trials have so far failed to produce any evidence that these interventions would halt or slow the onset of Alzheimer’s disease. Intriguingly, our study suggests these drugs could potentially be repurposed in order to target the over-activity of BACE1 – and beta amyloid production – in the blood vessels of people with obesity and type 2 diabetes. Current treatments for vascular complications are aimed at improving the underlying components of the metabolic syndrome. Statins, insulin sensitisers, and anti-obesity drugs all have beneficial effects, but unfortunately they don’t work for everyone and adherence of these drugs are low. Currently this leaves invasive surgery as the only option remaining. View photos Mice with obesity and type 2 diabetes were given a compound that stopped beta amyloid production. Janson George/ Shutterstock More Story continues The Conversation More

'First to 50!' Keir Starmer challenges Boris Johnson to a press-up competition after THAT Mail on Sunday picture - as the PM launches anti-obesity drive warning Britons are 'significantly fatter' than the rest of Europe

Keir Starmer challenged Boris Johnson to a press-up competition today after the PM demonstrated his prowess on the Downing Street carpet during an interview. The Labour leader joked that they should have a contest as he confirmed that he can also pass the strength test. Asked by Piers Morgan on GMB whether he could do a press-up, Sir Keir replied: 'I can, I was thinking of PMQs this week maybe question one should be first to 50!' The banter came as Mr Johnson again dismissed 'complete nonsense' rumours he is struggling to recover from coronavirus. The premier has also heralded a government anti-obesity drive, warning that Britons are 'significantly fatter' than the rest of Europe. Only the population of Malta is more overweight, according to Mr Johnson. He insisted the issues were costing lives and leaving the the NHS with huge bills, but refused to be drawn on whether he would now back state intervention such as higher taxes, banning BOGOF deals on unhealthy food, and a 9am watershed on junk food ads. Speaking to Times Radio, Mr Johnson also dismissed 'complete nonsense' speculation that he is struggling to recover from the effects of coronavirus, saying that he had lost weight but was not 'wraith-like'. Boris Johnson showed off his press-up prowess in an interview with the Mail on Sunday, saying he was 'as fit as a butcher's dog' before doing press-ups in his office. +4 Boris Johnson showed off his press-up prowess in an interview with the Mail on Sunday, saying he was 'as fit as a butcher's dog' before doing press-ups in his office. Asked by Piers Morgan on GMB whether he could do a press-up, Sir Keir Starmer replied: 'I can, I was thinking of PMQs this week maybe question one should be first to 50!' +4 Asked by Piers Morgan on GMB whether he could do a press-up, Sir Keir Starmer replied: 'I can, I was thinking of PMQs this week maybe question one should be first to 50!' Boris Johnson (pictured on a visit to a contruction site in west London today) said the UK had worse problems than the rest of Europe, with only the population of Malta more overweight +4 Boris Johnson (pictured on a visit to a contruction site in west London today) said the UK had worse problems than the rest of Europe, with only the population of Malta more overweight RELATED ARTICLES Previous 1 Next Labour's Keir Starmer OVERTAKES Boris Johnson to become the... Minister whose wealthy wife 'indulges his little hobby of... SHARE THIS ARTICLE Share Efforts to crack down on Britons' excess weight have been given new impetus after it emerged that fat people are more at risk of death and serious ill health from Covid. Officials are drawing up plans that include greater use of bariatric surgery - such as gastric bands - as part of a wider fitness programme that includes diet advice and family exercise plans. Other measures being mooted include bans on buy-one-get-one-free deals, free drinks refills in restaurants and mandatory calorie counts on food menus. In an interview this morning, Mr Johnson admitted that he had taken a 'very libertarian stance' in the past on issues such as the sugar tax. But he stressed that the effects of obesity cannot be 'ignored'. 'Compare I'm afraid this wonderful country of ours to other European countries, we are significantly fatter than most others - apart from the Maltese for some reason,' he said. 'It is an issue.... Everybody knows that this is a tough one.' Mr Johnson added: 'I think it matters and I don't think politicians can treat is as irrelevant.' Mr Johnson has been spotted in recent weeks running in London - including at Buckingham Palace, and in an interview with the Mail on Sunday he declared he was 'as fit as a butcher's dog' before doing press-ups in his office. Bizarrely he appeared this morning to have forgotten about the demonstration of physical prowess. Mr Johnson, who was admitted to intensive care with the virus, said the experience had given him an 'even deeper love and admiration for the NHS and everything they can do'. He said: 'I'm also conscious that many thousands of people tragically were not so lucky, and my job now is to get our whole country bouncing back to health, building back to health.' He has been spotted in recent weeks running in London (above) - including at Buckingham Palace after the Queen gave him special permission +4 He has been spotted in recent weeks running in London (above) - including at Buckingham Palace after the Queen gave him special permission Studies have shown that being obese may double the risk of needing hospital treatment for the coronavirus. British scientists trawled through data for more than 428,000 people who were part of the UK Biobank in May. Some 340 of those tested positive for COVID-19 in hospital - one of the only places to access a test in the UK - amid the pandemic. Being overweight or obese increased the risk of ending up in hospital with the killer infection by 1.6-fold and 2.3-fold, respectively. And for every BMI increase of four-and-a-half units, the risk of dying from COVID-19 rose by about 25 per cent, Glasgow University experts said. Obesity leads to conditions such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease, both of which are known to make patients more vulnerable to COVID-19. But extra fat may also lead to inflammation within the body, heavily linked to grave complications. An overproduction of inflammatory markers results in what has been described as a 'cytokine storm', which can be deadly for coronavirus patients. Other scientists have suggested fat cells harbour vital immune cells needed to fight the infection, or make large amounts of a protein used by the virus to latch on to human cells. The findings uncovered several other risk factors for hospitalisation with COVID-19, including smoking, being of BAME background and sleep apnoea. Mr Johnson has been spotted running in and aroudn Downing Street in recent weeks, with the Queen opening up the grounds of her London home to help his recovery from coronavirus and improve his fitness.

Exercise during pregnancy reduces obesity among offspring

When physically fit women exercise during pregnancy they could be setting their children up for better fitness too. That's according to a study published today in Science Advances led by Min Du, professor of animal sciences at Washington State University, and his Ph.D. student Jun Seok Son. They found exercise during pregnancy stimulates the production of brown adipose tissue, commonly known as brown fat, in a developing fetus. Brown fat's primary role in the body is to burn off heat. It is often called good fat. White adipose tissue or white fat, on the other hand, is responsible for obesity and harder to burn off. It is commonly known as bad fat. Du and Son's results show the offspring of physically fit mice that exercised daily during pregnancy not only had a greater proportion of brown fat relative to body weight but also burned white fat off quicker than the offspring of a control group of pregnant mice that did not exercise. This helped prevent obesity and also improved metabolic health. Their study is unique because up to now, the impacts of exercise during pregnancy on fetal development have only been examined in obese mothers. "Previous research has shown that exercise among overweight women during pregnancy protects against metabolic dysfunction and obesity in their offspring," Du said. "This new study shows these benefits may also extend to the offspring of women who are healthy and in shape." As exercise during pregnancy is becoming less common and obesity rates in children are increasing among mothers with various body mass indices, the researchers hope their findings will encourage healthy and fit women to continue living an active lifestyle during pregnancy. "These findings suggest that physical activity during pregnancy for fit women is critical for a newborn's metabolic health," Son said. "We think this research could ultimately help address obesity in the United States and other countries." In the study, healthy maternal mice were assigned either to a sedentary lifestyle or to exercise daily. Their offspring were then subjected to a high energy/caloric diet. Notably, female and male offspring from the experimental group whose mothers had exercised consumed more feed than offspring from the control group. Nonetheless, the experimental group mice showed less weight gain. Additionally, there was an improvement in glucose tolerance in the female and male offspring from the experimental group. Glucose intolerance is a precursor to developing diabetes and other obesity-related diseases later in life. Exercise during pregnancy also stimulated the production of apelin, an exercise-induced hormone, in both mothers and their fetuses. Apelin stimulates brown fat development and improves metabolic health. Du and Son also found administering apelin to the pregnant mice in the control group mimicked some of the beneficial effects of exercise on their offspring. "This suggests that the apelinergic system could be a possible target for developing drugs that help prevent obesity," Du said.

Obesity Linked to Severe Coronavirus Disease, Especially for Younger Patients

Young adults with obesity are more likely to be hospitalized, even if they have no other health problems, studies show. A patient arrived at Elmurst Hospital Center in Queens, N.Y., this month. A patient arrived at Elmurst Hospital Center in Queens, N.Y., this month.Credit...Kathy Willens/Associated Press Roni Caryn Rabin By Roni Caryn Rabin Published April 16, 2020 Updated April 17, 2020, 2:56 p.m. ET Obesity may be one of the most important predictors of severe coronavirus illness, new studies say. It’s an alarming finding for the United States, which has one of the highest obesity rates in the world. Though people with obesity frequently have other medical problems, the new studies point to the condition in and of itself as the most significant risk factor, after only older age, for being hospitalized with Covid-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus. Young adults with obesity appear to be at particular risk, studies show. The research is preliminary, and not peer reviewed, but it buttresses anecdotal reports from doctors who say they have been struck by how many seriously ill younger patients of theirs with obesity are otherwise healthy. No one knows why obesity makes Covid-19 worse, but hypotheses abound. Some coronavirus patients with obesity may already have compromised respiratory function that preceded the infection. Abdominal obesity, more prominent in men, can cause compression of the diaphragm, lungs and chest capacity. Obesity is known to cause chronic, low-grade inflammation and an increase in circulating, pro-inflammatory cytokines, which may play a role in the worst Covid-19 outcomes. ADVERTISEMENT Continue reading the main story Some 42 percent of American adults — nearly 80 million people — live with obesity. That is a prevalence rate far exceeding those of other countries hit hard by the coronavirus, like China and Italy. Obesity is defined by a measure called body mass index, which is based on a formula that divides one’s weight in kilograms by the square of one’s height in meters. Someone who is 5 feet 9 inches tall and weighs 203 pounds would have a B.M.I. of 30, which is considered obese. Thanks for reading The Times. Subscribe to The Times The new findings about obesity risks are bad news for all Americans, but particularly for African-Americans and other people of color, who have higher rates of obesity and are already bearing a disproportionate burden of Covid-19 deaths. High rates of obesity are also prevalent among low-income white Americans, who may also be adversely affected, experts say. More than half of Covid-19 deaths in the United States so far have been in New York and New Jersey, but the new findings mean the coronavirus could exact a steep toll in regions like the South and the Midwest, where obesity is more prevalent than in the Northeast. “If obesity does turn out to be an important risk factor for younger people, and we look at the rest of the United States — where obesity rates are higher than in New York — that will be of great concern,” said Dr. Roy Gulick, chief of infectious diseases at Weill Cornell Medicine. “We may see a lot more younger people being hospitalized.” ADVERTISEMENT Continue reading the main story Dr. Gulick’s review of data from the first 393 Covid-19 patients admitted to NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center and NewYork-Presbyterian Lower Manhattan Hospital identified obesity as a risk factor for admission. He also found that among adults under the age of 54, half live with obesity, though the New York City obesity rate is only 22 percent.

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