Understanding the Power of Honey Through Its Proteins

Honey is a culinary staple that can be found in kitchens around the world. Humans have used honey throughout history, and its long shelf life and medicinal properties make it a unique, multipurpose natural product. Although it seems that a lot is known about the sweet substance, surprisingly little is known about its proteins. Now, researchers report in ACS’ Journal of Natural Products new data on honey proteins that could lead to new medicinal applications.

The European honeybee, Apis mellifera Linnaeus, creates its signature product by collecting nectar from various plants and taking it back to the hive, where it is “ripened” and turned into a viscous, sugary substance. Honey is a highly valued food product and has been touted as a natural remedy for wounds, respiratory infections and other ailments. Because of its economic importance, the product has been a target of counterfeiters, who sometimes add pollens or other substances to misrepresent the country of origin or the plant that the honey was made from. Thus, many studies have been conducted on the chemical makeup of honey, though not much has been done to identify its proteins. That’s mostly because the proteins are present in tiny amounts, making analysis difficult. So, Tomas Erban and colleagues took on this challenge by conducting a proteomic analysis of several honeys.

The researchers analyzed the proteomes of thirteen different honeys, most of which came from the Czech Republic. Using mass spectrometry, the team identified known and previously unreported proteins and determined their amounts in each sample. The samples contained a similar ratio of proteins, though the total amount of protein varied. The researchers also found proteins previously unreported in honey, such as hymenopaectin, which plays a role in the sweet substance’s antimicrobial properties. In addition, the results shed new light on various allergens that are present, and this knowledge could facilitate further investigations into the treatment of honey and bee allergies.

Source: American Chemical Society

Dutch Apple Pancake


4 Golden Delicious apples, halved, cored, and cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices
3 tablespoons honey or maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 eggs and 2 egg whites
1/2 cup non-fat milk
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (essence)
1 tablespoon grated orange zest
1/4 cup all-purpose (plain) flour
1/4 cup whole wheat (wholemeal) flour
1 tablespoon confectioners’ (icing) sugar
4 lemon wedges


  1. Preheat an oven to 425°F (220°C). Coat two 9-inch pie pans with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. Coat a large nonstick frying pan with nonstick cooking spray and place over medium heat. Add the apple slices and cook, stirring and tossing every 2-3 minutes, until they have softened slightly and are browned in spots, about 10 minutes.
  3. Add the honey or syrup, cinnamon, and nutmeg and continue cooking, stirring frequently, until the apples are tender and the honey coats them in a syrupy glaze, about 5 minutes.
  4. In a bowl, beat the eggs and egg whites, milk, oil, vanilla, and orange zest until blended. Add the all-purpose flour and whole wheat flour and beat until completely smooth.
  5. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans. Top each with an equal amount of the apple slices.
  6. Bake in the oven until golden brown and puffed, about 20 minutes.
  7. Remove from the oven and dust with the confectioners’ sugar. Cut each pancake in half and serve immediately. Pass the lemon wedges at the table.

Makes 4 servings.

Source: Mayo Clinic

New Sweet Celebrating the New Daiwa Era in Japan

Daiwa New Year Commemorative Parfait (令和元年記念パフェ)

The new parfait is available for a limited time period at stores of Shiseido Parlour for 1,728 yen (tax included).

New Type of Dementia Identified

“Form of dementia that ‘mimics’ Alzheimer’s symptoms discovered,” reports The Guardian.

An international team of researchers has proposed a name for a type of brain disease that causes dementia symptoms: Limbic-predominant Age-related TDP-43 Encephalopathy, or LATE.

The name brings together previously identified conditions linked to a protein that damages regions of the brain.

The damage causes memory and thinking problems, similar to those seen in Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia.

Alzheimer’s disease is thought to be caused by an accumulation of 2 types of protein, tau and amyloid beta, in the brain.

LATE is thought to be caused by another protein, TDP-43, which is usually present in the centre of nerve cells, but may change form and spread into the body of nerve cells as people get older.

It’s thought to affect around 20% of adults over 80. Some people may have both types of disease.

At present LATE can only be diagnosed by examining brain tissues after death.

Researchers say it may explain why some recent trials of treatments for Alzheimer’s disease have been unsuccessful.

They say treatments may have effectively treated the proteins that cause damage in Alzheimer’s disease, but LATE may have continued, masking any improvements to Alzheimer’s symptoms.

They’re calling for research to find markers that allow LATE to be diagnosed before death so clinical studies on its causes and potential treatments can begin.

But understanding of this condition is still in the early stages and as experts say, it’s not something that could be currently diagnosed in the clinic.

Why is this in the news?

A group of researchers working in this area came together to publish a consensus report in the peer-reviewed journal Brain.

It’s open access, so you can read the report for free online.

The researchers come from 22 universities and research institutes in the US, the UK, Sweden, Australia, Austria and Japan.

The consensus report:

  • describes the main features and effects of the disease on the brain
  • sets out proposed diagnostic criteria to diagnose and stage LATE in examination of the brain after death
  • sets out what’s known about the clinical effects of the disease
  • considers the possible effect of the disease on public health, now and in the future
  • sets out priorities for research

The working group members say they want to encourage more research into the disease, and hope that the criteria they propose for diagnosing LATE will help to focus and clarify research in the future.

What kind of research was this?

The consensus statement was based on a review of existing studies about TDP-43 brain diseases, Alzheimer’s disease and reports of dementia symptoms with no signs of Alzheimer’s disease.

The working group discussed the research they found and drew up a statement summarising what they thought previous research shows us, how it should be interpreted, and how the disease should be categorised and researched in future.

What’s the difference between LATE and other types of dementia?

Dementia is a syndrome (a group of related symptoms) associated with an ongoing decline of brain functioning.

There are many types of dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease, vascular dementia, dementia with Lewy bodies, and LATE.

Dementia symptoms can include problems with:

  • memory loss
  • thinking speed
  • mental sharpness and quickness
  • language
  • understanding
  • judgement
  • mood
  • movement
  • difficulties carrying out daily activities

The differences between the types of dementia are in the causes. LATE seems to be caused by damage from one type of protein, while Alzheimer’s disease seems to be caused by other types of protein.

Vascular dementia happens when at some point there’s been a lack of oxygen to areas of the brain, causing damage.

But there may sometimes be overlap in conditions and it’s not always possible to give a single, definite cause of a disease. The results in terms of dementia symptoms may be broadly the same.

LATE is thought to mainly affect older people (aged 80 and over) and becomes more likely year on year, but again many people may not just have this one distinct type.

How does LATE affect you?

At present there’s no way to diagnose LATE while someone is still alive, but only by examining the brain at autopsy.

This is actually very similar to Alzheimer’s disease. While brain scans can indicate likely Alzheimer’s, examination of the brain tissue is needed to be sure of the diagnosis.

Nor is it possible to distinguish LATE from Alzheimer’s disease based on the symptoms.

There are no treatments for LATE. The main purpose of the new name and the consensus document is to guide researchers so they can better understand the disease.

Better understanding of the types of diseases that cause dementia may lead to better diagnosis and treatments. But that’s unlikely to happen for several years yet.

Source : NHS

Acetaminophen Safe For Most Older Adults—But May Increase Stroke Risk For Those With Diabetes

Acetaminophen (otherwise known by brand names such as Tylenol) is one of the most widely used pain relievers. Almost 60 years of widespread use have made acetaminophen a household product. It’s distributed over the counter (OTC) in most countries and judged safe by the scientific community. However, acetaminophen is also one of the most common medications involved in overdoses (the medical term for taking more of a medicine than you should) and is the most common cause of drug-induced liver failure.

Surprisingly, we are only now coming to understand how acetaminophen works—and recent research shows that we may need to develop a better understanding of the need for caution when using acetaminophen, especially when it comes to avoiding some of the risks associated with its use. Past research suggests these can range from increased asthma to interactions with other medications or the risk for developing other health concerns (such as kidney toxicity, bone fractures, or blood cancers).

Another important reason to look more carefully at all medications is that our bodies may react to these treatments differently as we age. Older adults experience physical changes as they age including, for example, reduced muscle mass, more fat tissue, changes in body composition, and less fluid in the body systems. Older people may also have multiple chronic conditions and take several different medications. These issues affect many different body functions, and that can raise your risk of having an unwanted reaction to a medication.

For all these reasons, a team of researchers decided to study the safety of acetaminophen in a nursing home setting. Their study was published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

The researchers’ aim was to explore any connection between acetaminophen use, death, and major heart events such as strokes and heart attacks in a large group of older adults living in nursing homes in southwestern France.

The researchers used information from the IQUARE study, which relied on two different questionnaires completed online by nursing home staffers. The researchers looked at deaths, heart attacks, and strokes that took place during the 18 months of the study period.

Of the 5,429 participants in the study, 3,190 were not taking acetaminophen and 2,239 were taking acetaminophen. Participants were around 86 years old and 74 percent were women.

The researchers reported that acetaminophen did not affect the number of heart attacks the participants experienced. There also was no increase in overall deaths.

The researchers found that the number of strokes was about the same in both groups—about 5 percent of the people who took acetaminophen had strokes, while about 4 percent of those who did not take acetaminophen had strokes. However, in participants who had diabetes, there was a slightly higher risk for stroke among people who took acetaminophen.

The researchers concluded that acetaminophen is a safe first choice in pain management for most older adults but should be considered with a bit more caution for older adults with diabetes.

As the population gets older and frailer, studies need to focus on the safety of the drugs these frail older adults commonly use to better our practice, said the researchers.

“My personal message to the people in my everyday practice is that any drug they take may have some form of harmful side effect unknown to them, even those they can buy over the counter. It is always best to check with your health care provider before you take any new medication, and make sure you’re taking the dose that’s right for you,” said study author Philippe Gerard, MD.

Source: Health In Aging

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