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Botox injections could be used to treat stomach cancer


New research has revealed that Botox injections could play a role in treating stomach cancer; the anti-wrinkle treatment slows tumour growth by blocking nerve signals that stimulate the cancer stem cells. Lab tests have shown that the toxin has proven to be ‘highly effective’ at suppressing the cancer in mice; early clinical trials are set to launch in Norway soon, following the promising results of the study.

Lead researcher Dr Timothy Wang, from Columbia University Medical Centre in New York, said that the study was designed to help the team ‘understand more about the role of nerves in the initiation and growth of cancer, by focusing on stomach cancer.’

The scientists found that ‘blocking the nerve signals makes the cancer cells more vulnerable – it removes one of the key factors that regulate their growth.’ Co-author Professor Duan Chen, of the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, called the effects of the toxin ‘remarkable’ and added that the researchers themselves were surprised and excited by the results of their experiments with Botox. He added ‘We believe this treatment is a good treatment because it can be used locally and it targets the cancer stem cells. The Botox can be injected through gastroscopy (a thin tube inserted into the stomach down the throat) and it only requires the patient to stay in the hospital for a few hours.’

Could Botox injections help you lose weight?


Anti-wrinkle treatment Botox could be used as a way of tackling obesity and new trials are currently being carried out on patients in Norway. The toxin is injected into the stomach walls to slow the speed that food travels through the stomach; in theory, this should leave patients feeling fuller for longer, so less food is ingested. Initial studies with animals suggested that this could reduce weight by up to a third in as little as five weeks.

Compared to other types of obesity treatment, such as gastric bands, Botox has fewer side-effects and is cheaper than surgery. The treatment aims to reduce muscle contractions in the stomach and trials at Trondheim University Hospital in Norway involved inserting an endoscope (a tube with a camera on the end) into the patient’s mouth and through to the stomach; the Botox is then injected into the stomach wall with a needle that goes down the tube. Researchers suggest that this could reduce the speed of food through the stomach by up to 50%.

Previous studies by the Catholic University in Rome, where Botox was tested on rats, showed that rodents who were administered Botox injections ate half as much food and lost 8.2% of their body weight when compared to rats that were given a placebo injection. In another study, Botox was injected into the vagus nerve inside the stomach, which makes the brain think the body is full by passing nerve messages as food travels through the organ; the toxin paralyses this muscle and animals that were treated in this way ate less, losing 20 to 30% of their body weight in over five weeks.

Tooth loss could cause memory problems


New research has suggested that losing our teeth could actually cause memory loss, due to sensory impulses that are fed to the brain from the jaw bone as the teeth chew on food; these impulses feed the area of the brain that forms and retrieves memories. People who have suffered tooth loss transmit fewer signals to the region called the hippocampus, which inhibits memory; the two conditions are thought to be ‘uniquely and significantly’ linked, according to recent tests.

During tests, older people who still had most of their teeth had on average a 4% better memory than those without; these results could also be down to the chewing action, which increases blood flow to the brain. The study was carried out by universities in Norway and Sweden, it included 273 participants aged between 55 and 80; the results were published online by the European Journal of Oral Sciences. Participants underwent a series of memory tests to see if the number of teeth they had lost would affect recall.

The author’s hypothesis suggested that tooth loss would alter the brains episodic memory, recall, and recognition; the results were found to be in line with this idea. The study stated that ‘Alone, number of natural teeth could account for 20% of the variance in episodic recall, 15% of the variance in episodic recognition, and 14% of the variance in semantic memory.’ It was also suggested that dental implant could ‘restore sensory input to some extent’, although they would not be as effective as natural teeth.

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