Health Highlights: Aug. 12, 2007

Sunday, August 12, 2007; 12:00 AM

Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments,compiled by editors ofHealthDay:

'Brain-Drain' of Dangerous Protein May Offer Help for Alzheimer's

Is it possible to "flush" away the buildup of dangerous substances in the brain that cause Alzheimer's disease?

That's what researchers from the University of Rochester (N.Y.) Medical Center have tried on laboratory mice, and the results have indicated that the amyloid protein linked to causing Alzheimer's can be drained away.

According to a university news release, the "brain-drain" method doesn't address the cause of Alzheimer's, which most medical researchers believe is the buildup of a protein in the brain called amyloid-beta. This substance creates the lesions that interrupt a person's memory signals and eventually leads to irreversible dementia.

So, rather than attack the cause of the protein, the researchers found a way to increase the body's ability to absorb amyloid-beta. This causes the brain to "order" levels of the substance in the brain to decline. This was done by using a modified form of soluble low-density lipoprotein receptor-related protein, which helps control the amount of amyloid-beta in the brain.

The result: The levels of amyloid-beta in the brains of the laboratory mice was reduced by 85 to 90 percent. The researchers are now working on adapting their procedure for clinical trial on humans.

The research paper was published online Sunday by the journalNature Medicine.


U.S. Ranks 42nd in Life Expectancy, Statistics Show

While Americans' life span continues to grow, people in the United States might be surprised to learn their longevity rate doesn't even come close to cracking the top 25.

According to a survey done by theAssociated Press, the United States ranks behind most of Europe, Japan and even Jordan and Singapore.

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