Scientists have found another reason for cutting down on air pollution, reports the Telegraph today, this time because it could increase people’s risk of diabetes. According to a study from Germany, children living in areas with high levels of air pollution were more likely to develop insulin resistance by the age of ten.
Co-author Dr Joachim Heinrich said: ‘Whether the air pollution-related increased risk for insulin resistance in school-age has any clinical significance is an open question so far. However, the results of this study support the notion that the development of diabetes in adults might have its origin in early life including environmental exposures.’
Potentially good news for heart health over at the Express, though, which reports that Harvard Medical School researchers have found the hormone GDF-11 reverses signs of cardiac ageing when injected into older mice. Levels of the hormone decline naturally in the heart with age, but mice given the GDF-11 boost developed smaller myocytes and less ventricular wall thickening. The scientists hope it could one day offer a treatment for diastolic heart failure, but not for a while – clinical trials are four to five years away.
Nonetheless, cardiologist Prof Richard Lee said: ‘We are very excited about it because it opens a new window on the most common form of heart failure.’
Finally, could the discovery of a new mosquito-infecting bacteria strain hold the key to preventing malaria? The BBC reports that temporary infection of malaria-carrying Anopheles mosquitoes with the bacteria made them immune to the malaria parasite.
The Wolbachia bacteria strain more commonly infects other insects, in which it often causes changes that boost the female population. Research in Australia has shown that Wolbachia can prevent the spread of Dengue fever by mosquitoes, but the malaria research is at a much earlier stage – for one thing, it has not yet been shown to work in the particular Anopheles mosquito strain that carries malaria in Africa.
Dr Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases in the US, said the study was ‘a proof of concept’ though. He said: ‘If you can get it to survive and proliferate in the environment of mosquitoes in malaria-stricken areas, this could conceivably have an important impact on the control of malaria. I think the potential for this is very important. The implementation will be the challenge.’