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How the Brain Regulates Growth and Age at Puberty?

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Scientists have now explained how, over the last century, humans have grown taller and reached sexual maturity earlier. Scientists have identified how the MC3R receptor in the brain senses the nutritional situation of the body, regulates puberty and growth rate in children, and promotes lean muscle mass. The research was published in the scientific journal Nature. The average height climbed by roughly 10 cm in the United Kingdom and up to 20 cm in other countries during the twentieth century. While scientists have long speculated that this phenomena could be linked to improved food security for pregnant women and children, the exact mechanism by which the body perceives its nutritional status and converts that information into growth and sexual maturation has remained a mystery.

The hormones leptin, produced in adipose (fat) cells, and insulin, released in response to changes in blood sugar levels, were already known to send messages to the brain to reflect the body’s nutritional situation. These hormones act on a tiny set of neurons that create signals termed melanocortins in the hypothalamus, a portion of the brain. Melanocortins bind to a number of different receptors, two of which are found in the brain. The melanocortin 4 receptor (MC4R), for example, has been found to regulate hunger, and a loss of MC4R leads in obesity; however, the MC4R system does not regulate the influence of diet on puberty growth and timing.

Now, a study led by researchers from the University of Cambridge‘s MRC Metabolic Diseases Unit and MRC Epidemiology Unit (both part of the Wellcome-MRC Institute of Metabolic Science) has discovered a role for the brain’s other melanocortin receptor, known as the melanocortin 3 receptor, with collaborators from Queen Mary University of London, University of Bristol, University of Michigan, and Vanderbilt University (MC3R). They discovered that the MC3R system regulates the release of critical hormones that regulate growth and sexual development in response to dietary signals.

To demonstrate the link in humans, the researchers looked for persons with naturally occurring genetic mutations that affect the function of the MC3R in the UK Biobank’s half-million volunteers. They studied a group of a few thousand people who had various mutations in the MC3R gene and discovered that they were on average shorter and entered puberty later than those who did not have the mutation. They found 812 women with the identical mutation in one of their two copies of the MC3R gene, for example. The receptor’s capacity to function was only partially harmed by this mutation. Despite this minor effect, women who carried the mutation were 4.7 months older at puberty on average than those who did not.

People with MC3R mutations were shorter and had less lean tissue, such as muscle, but it had no effect on how much fat they carried. They analysed over 6,000 participants from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC) to validate these findings in children, and found six children with MC3R mutations. Throughout childhood, the six children were shorter and had reduced lean mass and weight, indicating that this influence begins early in life. Only one of the two copies of the gene was mutated in all of the persons identified in these studies. Finding mutations in both copies of the gene is extremely rare, but the researchers were able to identify 1 individual with a very harmful mutation in both copies of the gene in another cohort of the Genes and Health project. This person was exceedingly short and did not reach puberty until he was 20 years old.

The researchers conducted investigations in mice to confirm that the MC3R pathway operates across species since the same phenomena linking adequate nutritional body storage to reproductive maturity is evident throughout the animal kingdom. Dr. Roger Cone’s study at the University of Michigan, which had previously proven a role for the MC3R in the control of growth and lean mass in mice, discovered that whereas normal mice shut off their reproductive cycle when they went without food, mice without the MC3R did not. This proved that MC3R is an important component of how the nutritional condition regulates the generation of sex hormones.

Professor Sir Stephen O’Rahilly, a senior author on the study and Director of the University of Cambridge’s MRC Metabolic Diseases Unit, said: “This finding demonstrates how the brain can detect nutrients and use that information to make subconscious decisions that affect our growth and sexual development. The discovery of the brain route that converts nutrients into growth and puberty addresses a century-long riddle for scientists: the global phenomena of increasing height and decreasing age at puberty.

“Our findings have obvious practical implications for MC3R mutation testing in children with substantial growth and pubertal development deficits.

“This study could have a broader impact than only infant development and reproductive health. The loss of lean mass, especially muscle, is linked to a variety of chronic conditions, resulting in frailty. Simple dietary supplements, such as protein-rich drinks, have little effect on this. The discovery that the MC3R pathway’s activity affects a person’s lean mass suggests that future study should look into whether medications that specifically activate the MC3R can assist patients redirect calories into muscle and other lean tissues, perhaps enhancing their physical function.”

Professor John Perry, a senior author on the paper from the University of Cambridge’s MRC Epidemiology Unit, said: “Human genetics has never been more intriguing. We can now comprehend fundamental biological processes that have remained obscure until now by analysing the DNA sequences of vast numbers of research participants. We will continue to find new insights and understand the mechanisms behind human growth and metabolic disorders by integrating these research with work in cellular and animal models.”

The National Institute for Health Research, the UK Medical Research Council, and Wellcome financed the study.

Dr. Rob Buckle, Chief Science Officer of the Medical Research Council, one of the research’s funders, said: “These findings have the potential to pave the way for future management of growth and puberty disorders, as well as improvements in the health of those suffering from frailty due to chronic conditions. This research demonstrates the importance of long-term investments in large UK population cohorts and multidisciplinary research to uncover the causes of human health and disease.”

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What Is Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)?

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Only slightly different from Attention Deficit Disorder, ADHD is chiefly denoted by a failure to concentrate, with classroom educators having to time and again redirect and prompt these students when they have to carry out regular, daily tasks. Again, it is very difficult for the students, their classmates, and teachers to cope with the constant need to be hyperactive, as exhibited by children with ADHD, as this detracts from the full classroom experience.

Assistive technology continues to find ways to help solve this challenge and help children struggling with ADHD learn satisfactorily at their own pace.

ADHD has three subtypes: predominantly attentive, predominantly hyperactive/impulsive, and combined. Students with ADHD have a hard time keeping their grades up or even using a grading calculator.

The symptoms of ADHD in kids are well-defined, and they’re generally noticeable before the age of six. They happen in more than one situation, such as at school and at home.

The main symptoms of inattentiveness include:

Getting easily distracted and having a short attention span
Making careless mistakes such as in schoolwork
Losing things or appearing forgetful
Appearing to be unable to follow instructions or listen to
Being unable to continue tasks that are time-consuming and tedious
Having difficulty organizing tasks
Constantly changing task or activity

The major signs of hyperactivity and impulsiveness include:

Constantly fidgeting
Being unable to sit still, particularly in quiet or calm surroundings
Excessive physical movement
Being unable to focus on tasks
Acting without thinking
Being unable to wait their turn
No or little sense of danger
Interrupting conversations

These symptoms can cause substantial problems in a kid’s life, such as poor social interaction with other kids and adults, underachievement at school, and problems with discipline. Students with ADHD would have a hard time using a high school GPA calculator.

The signs of ADHD are harder to define in adults. Since ADHD is a developmental disorder, it’s believed that it can’t develop in adults without it first occurring in childhood. But it’s known that signs of ADHD often persist from childhood into an individual’s teenage years and then adulthood.

According to some specialists, the signs associated with ADHD in adults include:

Lack of attention to detail and carelessness
Poor organizational skills
Continually starting new tasks before completing old ones
Continually losing or misplacing things
Inability to prioritize or focus
Edginess and restlessness
Inability to deal with stress
Speaking out of turn and trouble keeping quiet
Irritability, mood swings, and a quick temper
Extreme impatience

I hope we did a good job explaining the ins and outs of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. If you have any questions, comments or concerns, feel free to leave them below. We will be sure to get back to you in a timely manner.

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Omicron Updates: WHO Advises Not to Impose Blanket Travel Bans

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World Health Organization issued a warning on Tuesday (November 30) to countries not to impose blanket travel bans in response to the new Omicron coronavirus variety, as governments and scientists attempted to determine how effective current immunizations would be against the strain.

After the head of manufacturer Moderna warned existing COVID-19 vaccinations might be less effective against the Omicron version, financial markets plummeted, but they quickly recovered after further comforting comments from European officials.

BioNTech’s CEO seemed cautiously optimistic, suggesting that BioNTech and Pfizer’s vaccine will likely provide good protection against severe Omicron disease.

According to the WHO, blanket travel bans would not curb the spread of the new type but would impose a “severe burden” on people’s lives and livelihoods.

If evidence merited, it urged governments to take steps such as screening or quarantining overseas passengers.

People who are ill or at a higher risk of acquiring severe COVID-19, such as those aged 60 and up, should postpone travel, according to the WHO.

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Secretary-General, said he recognized the worries regarding Omicron.

“I am equally worried that certain member states are implementing blunt, blanket policies that are neither evidence-based nor successful on their own, and which will further exacerbate imbalances,” he added.

Emer Cooke, executive director of the European Medicines Agency (EMA), told the European Parliament that existing vaccines will continue to protect people.

The cases of Omicron so far confirmed in ten European Union nations, according to Andrea Ammon, chair of the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), were mild or without symptoms, but in younger age groups.

After it was discovered in southern Africa and publicized on November 25, news of Omicron’s appearance wiped about US$2 trillion off world stocks on Friday.

Moderna CEO Stephane Bancel told the Financial Times, “I think there is no planet where (effectiveness) is at the same level…as we had with Delta.”

Border closures have already hampered economic recovery, and as winter approaches, regions of Europe are experiencing the fourth wave of diseases.

To South Africa’s chagrin, many of the new travel restrictions have concentrated on restricting flights to and from southern Africa.

On Tuesday, Japan verified its first incidence of the novel type in a Namibian visitor. A person with Omicron had attended a large shopping district in Sydney while most likely infectious, according to Australia.

In reaction to the new variation, both the United Kingdom and the United States have pushed their booster programs. International entrants will be required to self-isolate until a PCR test yields a negative result, according to London.

The over-60s, who are thought to be the most vulnerable to COVID-19, will be required to get vaccinated, according to Greece.

On Monday, Australia postponed the reopening of its international crossings by two weeks, less than 36 hours before overseas students and skilled migrants were scheduled to return.

However, with new measures to halt transmission in Germany, a current hotspot of the previous important variety, Delta, the seven-day average infection rate declined somewhat for the first time in three weeks.

According to sources, chancellor-in-waiting Olaf Scholz supports making COVID-19 vaccine mandatory and prohibiting the unvaccinated from non-essential stores.

Austria, which enforced its fourth full lockdown last week in response to an outbreak of illnesses, also saw a decrease.

France, on the other hand, experienced its highest daily infection rate since April.

Border frontline personnel who may come into contact with tourists from Omicron-affected areas are subjected to weekly PCR tests.

As part of its response to the Omicron strain, Singapore will improve COVID-19 testing processes for all travelers. Omicron was already spreading in the Netherlands, according to the Dutch health authority, where intensive care beds are running scarce and precautions such as restrictions on hospitality have yet to take effect.

The ban on southern African travelers has brought attention to the inequity in vaccination delivery, which may have given the virus greater opportunities to mutate.

On Tuesday, the passenger liner Europa docked in Cape Town, marking the formal start of the first cruise ship season in South Africa’s major tourist destination since the pandemic.

Many passengers were anticipated to fly home immediately once Omicron was detected while they were at sea.

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