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The relationship between the heart and exercise.

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A recent study published in Nature Communications identifies a link between exercise and the heart’s ability to regenerate new muscle cells under normal conditions and after a heart attack.

The research, which was conducted on groups of mice, could have dramatic implications for “public health, physical education, and the rehabilitation of cardiac patients.”



The first study authors are Ana Vujic, Ph.D., who works in the Harvard Department of Stem Cell and Regenerative Biology in Cambridge, MA, and Dr. Carolin Lerchenmüller, of Harvard Medical School (HMS), also in Cambridge, and the Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.

According to previous research, our hearts have very little capacity to regenerate themselves.

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Vujic explains, “We wanted to know whether there was a natural way to enhance the regenerative capacity of heart muscle cells. So, we decided to test the one intervention we already know to be safe and inexpensive: exercise.”

They found that heart muscle cells in a young adult heart only renew 1 percent every year and this would continue to decrease with age. Therefore, any interventions that increase new heart cell formation could have the potential to prevent heart failure in the future.

The effects of exercise on heart cells

In the new study, researchers used two groups of healthy mice to test the effects of exercise on the heart. One group of mice had voluntary access to a treadmill, and the other group did not and remained sedentary.

The mice with the treadmill ran around 5 kilometers each day. The scientists were able to measure heart regeneration in the mice by tracking the newly made DNA as the cells divided. By doing this, they could see where new cells were being produced in the heart muscles.

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Health & Lifestyle

Sickle cell may get solution soon – scientists.

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Scientists in the U.S. have unveiled results of a small clinical trial that could mean an effective “cure” for sickle cell anemia, the painful and debilitating disease that inflicts many millions of people across the globe, mostly of African heritage and including some 100,000 African Americans in the U.S.



Researchers at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) say they have used gene therapy techniques to add a “corrected” gene for healthy red blood cells into the bodies of nine test patients, replacing their diseased red blood cells caused by sickle cell anemia and effectively ridding them of signs of the disease.

NIH Director Francis Collins described the trial results as seemingly “spectacular”.

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“When you look at their blood counts and their blood smears, it looks like they don’t have it anymore,” Collins said on Monday (March 11) from his office at the NIH in Bethesda, Maryland, just outside Washington, D.C.

Sickle cell disease is an inherited blood disorder that causes protein crystals to form inside red blood cells, changing their shape from a flat disk into a crescent or sickle shape that then clogs up the small blood vessels and results in terrible episodes of pain and organ damage.

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But they believe the basic premise of introducing a corrected gene into the body holds promise for Africa provided a simpler, cheaper and less toxic delivery system than bone marrow transplant and the accompanying chemotherapy can be found.

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Health & Lifestyle

DR Congo: Armed men attack Ebola treatment centre again.

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Armed men have once again attacked an Ebola treatment centre in North Kivu, the restive east of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), killing a policeman and wounding a health worker, according to local authorities.



The facility, located at Butembo in North Kivu province, only resumed operations last week after a previous assault by gunmen had forced its closure.

Saturday’s attack was successfully repelled by security forces, Sylvain Kanyamanda, identified by the Reuters and Associated Press news agencies as Butembo’s mayor, said.

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“Because of previous attacks, a security system was already in place and attackers were quickly confronted by the police officers guarding the …centre,” he told Reuters, adding that the attackers belonged to the Mai-Mai rebel group.

The health worker was shot and being treated in hospital.

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