LAB REPORT

Natural plant compound found to prevent tooth decay, and other health news

PUBLISHED : Monday, 25 May, 2015, 6:06am
UPDATED : Monday, 25 May, 2015, 6:06am

Obese mums weaken baby's immune system

Babies born to obese mothers have compromised immune systems very early in life, putting such children at risk for potential diseases such as heart disease and asthma, finds a new study by the School of Medicine at the University of California, Riverside. The researchers analysed umbilical cord blood samples of infants born to 39 mothers - 11 lean, 14 overweight and 14 obese - in Portland, Oregon. Compared to babies born to lean mothers, those born to obese mothers were unable to respond to bacterial antigens and showed a reduction in a type of white blood cell called CD4 T-cells. "Both of these changes could result in compromised responses to infection and vaccination," says lead researcher Ilhem Messaoudi, an associate professor of biomedical sciences. Cells (eosinophils) that play a role in allergic response and asthma pathogenesis were also significantly reduced in babies born to obese mothers.

Mexican-American women drink to a longer life

Drinking chamomile tea was linked with a decreased risk of death from all causes in a new study involving elderly Mexican-American women published online in The Gerontologist. Chamomile is widely used as a herbal remedy in Mexico and among Mexican-Americans. The University of Texas study examined a seven-year period during which researchers tracked the cause of death in more than 1,600 Mexican-American women and men aged over 65 from five Southwestern states in the US. Fourteen per cent of study subjects drank chamomile tea. The data showed that consuming chamomile was associated with a 29 per cent decreased risk of death from all causes among women compared with non-users, even after adjusting for demographics, health conditions and behaviour. This effect was not present in men. It is unclear, however, how chamomile use is associated with decreased mortality.

Natural plant chemicals fight tooth decay

A natural plant compound related to a chemical found in liquorice root has shown in a new University of Edinburgh study to act against harmful mouth bacteria and prevent tooth decay. Known as trans-chalcone, the compound blocks the action of a key enzyme that allows the bacteria to thrive in oral cavities. Plaque is formed when bacteria attach themselves to teeth and construct a protective biological layer known as a biofilm. The researchers found that blocking the activity of the enzyme prevents bacteria forming a biofilm around themselves, thus stopping plaque formation. Lead researcher Dr Dominic Campopiano of the University's School of Chemistry, says: "We are expanding our study to include similar natural products and investigate if they can be incorporated into consumer products. This exciting discovery highlights the potential of this class of natural products in food and healthcare technologies."