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Cures for hangover, diabetes, coughs, superbugs

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Honey CREDIT: Jessica Gavin

*New research shows honey more effective than antibiotics for curing coughs, colds
*Insect wings inspire new ways to defeat drug-resistant disease causing micro organisms
*Cheap medicine containing L-cysteine can alleviate dreaded nausea, headaches, anxiety
*Created insulin-making cells that escape disease’s attacks can be transplanted into patients

Scientists have made four major advances in search cures for hangover, diabetes, coughs and colds and drug resistant germs.

New researches showed that honey is more effective than antibiotics for curing coughs and colds as insect wings inspired new ways to defeat drug-resistant germs.

Also, scientists claim cheap drug containing L-cysteine can alleviate dreaded nausea, headaches and anxiety. They have also created insulin-making pancreatic cells that escape disease’s attacks, can be transplanted into patients

Honey has long been a folk remedy for an irritating cough, sore throats and the common cold. But research now showed that honey is more effective at treating these ailments than antibiotics or over-the-counter medication.

Experts at Oxford University, United Kingdom (U.K.), said doctors should tell patients to have a spoonful of honey rather than prescribing antibiotics, which can fuel antimicrobial resistance.

They reviewed studies, which compared the effectiveness of honey against cough suppressants, antihistamines and painkillers when treating upper respiratory tract infection (URTI) symptoms – which include a cough and cold.

Overall, honey was found to be ‘superior’ at relieving coughs, sore throats and congestion – and unlike other medications it had no harmful side effects.

Honey was on average 36 per cent more effective at reducing cough frequency than common medications and it cut cough severity by 44 per cent more.

The study was published in the British Medical Journal.

Not all old wives’ tales stand up to scientific scrutiny. But a spoonful of honey really does seem to relieve a cough.

This is firstly because it contains hydrogen peroxide, which gives it anti-microbial properties. Due to this, it has been used in traditional medicine as a topical antibiotic for centuries.

And secondly, because it is thick and sticky, honey has a soothing effect on the throat that can reduce irritation and help relieve a dry, tickly cough.

In addition to eating it straight out of the jar with a spoon, honey can be served with lemon in tea.

There was also evidence honey reduces the time it takes to recover from URTIs by up to two days.

“Honey was associated with a significantly greater reduction in combined symptom score, cough frequency and cough severity,” the study in the British Medical Journal said.

Meanwhile, scientists have revealed how nanomaterials inspired by insect wings are able to destroy bacteria on contact.

The wings of cicadas and dragonflies are natural bacteria killers, a phenomenon that has spurred researchers searching for ways to defeat drug-resistant superbugs.

New anti-bacterial surfaces are being developed, featuring different nano-patterns that mimic the deadly action of insect wings, but scientists are only beginning to unravel the mysteries of how they work.

In a review published in Nature Reviews Microbiology, researchers have detailed exactly how these patterns destroy bacteria — stretching, slicing or tearing them apart.

Lead author, RMIT University’s Distinguished Professor Elena Ivanova, said finding non-chemical ways of killing bacteria was critical, with more than 700,000 people dying each year due to drug-resistant bacterial infection.

The wings of cicadas and dragonflies are covered in tiny nano-pillars, which were the first nano-patterns developed by scientists aiming to imitate their bactericidal effects.

Since then, they’ve also precisely engineered other nano-shapes like sheets and wires, all designed to physically damage bacteria cells.

Bacteria that land on these nanostructures find themselves pulled, stretched or sliced apart, rupturing the bacterial cell membrane and eventually killing them.

Ginger CREDIT: DiabetesUK

The new review for the first time categorises the different ways these surface nano-patterns deliver the necessary mechanical forces to burst the cell membrane.

The researchers said producing nanostructured surfaces in large volumes cost-effectively, so they could be used in medical or industrial applications, remained a challenge.

Meanwhile, scientists claim to have found a cure for hangovers in the form of a pill, which can be bought for as little as 15p (N75).

It contains a chemical called L-cysteine, one of many amino acids already present in the body and also used to extend the shelf life of bread.

Researchers tested the tablet on a group of men who were ordered to drink alcohol for several hours on six different occasions.

Men given the pill reported fewer hangover symptoms of nausea, headache, stress and anxiety compared to men given a placebo, results showed.

The researchers claim that if the pill helps to reduce stress and anxiety, people are less likely to drink again to brush off the hangover — otherwise known as ‘hair of the dog’.

L-cysteine tablets can be bought online for around £15 ($20)/N7,700 for a pack of 100 — the equivalent of 15p (20 cents)/N75 per capsule.

L-cysteine — often sold as a dietary supplement — is deemed important for its role in making proteins within the body, and boosting other metabolic functions.

It can be made naturally in the body and is also found in high-protein foods, such as chicken, turkey, cheese, eggs and seeds.

The Institute of Chemical Technology in Mumbai found pears, lime, cheese, tomato, cucumber, black tea and green tea boosted enzymes alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH) and aldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH).

These have the ability to wipe out acetaldehyde, which builds up when you drink alcohol.

The following boosted one enzyme: buttermilk, probiotic drink; wheat; mace, turmeric, ginger; and coconut water, dates, cocoa.

The following foods were found to decrease the activity of both enzymes, and therefore are best to be avoided when you have a hangover: milk; oats, peanuts, millet, sorghum, maize; pepper, cloves, nutmeg, cumin, cinnamon, cassia; vitamin C, coffee, eggs, commercial anti-hangover product.

The study, published in the journal Alcohol and Alcoholism, recruited two dozen volunteers who were aged between 21 and 60.

According to the study results, L-cysteine was found to have reduced or eliminated hangover symptoms of nausea, headache, stress and anxiety to a “statistically significant level”.

The scientists noted that all L-cysteine tablets contained other vitamins, like B1 and C. They could not rule out that these had some sort of effect.

Meanwhile, researchers claim clusters of insulin-producing pancreatic cells that can be given to type 1 diabetics could be the first step towards a cure.

From stem cells, a team at the Salk Institute in La Jolla, California, United States (U.S.), created beta-like cells that produce insulin in response to glucose.

When these cells were transplanted into diabetic mice, controlled blood glucose and the rodents didn’t need to be given immunosuppressive drugs.

The treatment is experimental and in early stages of testing, but scientists believe that its powerful effect could be a game-changer in the treatment of diabetes.

For the new study, published in Nature, the team focused on how to grow these beta-like cells in an environment similar to the human pancreas.

They found another protein-coding gene, WNT4, turns on a switch that allows the beta-like cells to attain their fully functional state that mimic islets in the pancreas.

To prevent immune rejection, they used the protein PD-L1, which keeps immune cells from attacking non-harmful cells in the body.

“By expressing PD-L1, which acts as an immune blocker, the transplanted organoids are able to hide from the immune system,” said first author Dr. Eiji Yoshihara, a former staff scientist at the Salk Institute.

When these completed clusters were transplanted into diabetic mice, they controlled blood glucose control and were not attacked by the immune system.

The team hopes to conduct more experiments in mice and prove that it’s safe for humans as well.

“We now have a product that could potentially be used in patients without requiring any kind of device,” Evans said.


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