Are you ready to reverse biological aging????  Wouldn’t that just be so amazing?  Well, here you go:

Has a small trial stumbled upon a way to reverse biological aging? was reported by Maria Cohut for MedicalNewsToday.com, 9/12/19.  In a small clinical trial, scientists were looking for a means to restore the thymus — the gland that forms and releases key immune cells. By doing so, they actually managed to reverse various aspects of biological aging. 

The thymus gland, located between the lungs, is the organ within which T cells — a critical population of immune cells — mature.  This gland also has a peculiarity. After a person reaches puberty, it begins a process of involution, which means that it becomes less and less active and starts to shrink in size gradually.  Studies have shown that thymic involution affects the size of immune cell populations related to it, possibly causing changes to biological mechanisms when people reach their 60s.

Prof. Steve Horvath from the University of California, Los Angeles School of Public Health and colleagues initially set out to see if they could restore function in the aging thymus.  In the study paper they recently published in the journal Aging Cell, they explain that “[t]hymic involution leads to the depletion of critical immune cell populations, […] and is linked to age‐related increases in cancer incidence, infectious disease, autoimmune conditions, generalized inflammation, atherosclerosis, and all‐cause mortality.”

Previous studies — some conducted in animals, and others with the participation of individuals with HIV — have uncovered evidence that rhGH could help restore thymus function, as well as immune system effectiveness.  To the regimen of rhGH, the researchers then gradually added the steroid hormone dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) and then metformin, a drug that helps increase insulin sensitivity.

The researchers found that they were correct in thinking that the rhGH, DHEA, and metformin combination could restore the thymus gland later in life. They also discovered that the intervention had “turned back” the biological age clocks of the participants. The investigators write: “Although, on average, trial volunteer epigenetic ages were lower than their chronological ages at baseline, epigenetic age was nevertheless significantly decreased by treatment […], with a mean change in [the difference between the epigenetic age and chronological age] after 12 months of about 2.5 years.”

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Could gut microbes be the key to overcoming muscle loss in older age? was published by Catharine Paddock, PhD, for MedicalNewsToday.com, 13 September 2019.  New research in mice suggests that gut microbes have a role in regulating muscle mass and function.

Scientists at Nanyang Technological University (NTU) in Singapore led the international study, which features in a recent Science Translational Medicine paper. They compared strength and movement in mice as they underwent a series of exercises in the laboratory. Some of the mice were germ-free and had no gut microbes or microbiota, while the rest were normal, healthy mice that had gut microbes.

The researchers found that the mice without gut microbes had weaker skeletal muscles and produced less energy than the mice with gut microbes.  In addition, the team found that transplanting gut microbes from normal mice into germ-free mice increased muscle mass and strength in the latter. This intervention also led to partial restoration of muscle growth and function in the previously germ-free mice.

“These results,” says senior study author Sven Pettersson, a professor in the Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine at NTU, “further strengthen the growing evidence of gut microbes acting as crucial gatekeepers to human health, and provide new insight into muscle mass maintenance with respect to aging.”

Read more:  Could gut microbes be the key to overcoming muscle loss in older age?


Here’s a topic that is difficult:  hearing loss.  I’ve heard the most people would rather have a root canal than hearing aids!  Here’s why this is important for those with T1 diabetes:

  • In a 2008 study conducted by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), diabetic participants were found to be more than twice as likely to have mild to moderate hearing loss than those without the disease. The occurrence of high-frequency hearing loss was more prevalent in diabetics (54%) than in non-diabetics (32%).
  • An additional study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism in 2012 supported NIH’s previous findings. This study analyzed results from 13 studies involving more than 20,000 participants. The study concluded that diabetics were more likely to have hearing loss than those without the disease, regardless of their age.

Hearing aids lower the chance of dementia, depression, and falling was written by Robby Berman for MedicalNewsToday.com, 11 September 2019.  A new study finds that hearing devices benefit older adults in multiple ways, from physical safety to brain health.

Almost 1 in 4 people in the United States aged 65–74 have disabling hearing loss. In people over 75, the figure is 1 in 2.  Nonetheless, many people who would benefit from wearing a hearing aid do not wear them.  Experts have linked hearing loss to an increased likelihood of dementia, depression and anxiety, walking problems, and falling.  Now, a study in the Journal of American Geriatrics Society finds that using a hearing device makes these problems significantly less likely to occur.

Study lead Elham Mahmoudi, Ph.D., from the University of Michigan, explains:  “We already know that people with hearing loss have more adverse health events and more co-existing conditions, but this study allows us to see the effects of an intervention and look for associations between hearing aids and health outcomes.”

For a fun twist:  Couple celebrates 35th anniversary with unusual gift: His-and-hers hearing aids, as reported by Liane Kupferberg Carter for The Spokesman-Review (Spokane, WA), 1 January 2017. 

https://i2.wp.com/media.spokesman.com/photos/2016/12/30/hearing-aids-5d2df160-c561-11e6-85b5-76616a33048d.jpg?resize=164%2C164&ssl=1My husband, Marc, and I celebrated our 35th anniversary this year. Did we mark the milestone by scuba diving off the Great Barrier Reef? Zip-lining through the rain forest in Costa Rica? Rafting the Colorado River?

Nope, nope and nope.

We got His and Hers hearing aids.

I’m 62; he’s 64. Our lifelong love of rock concerts, cranked-up stereos and bass-heavy boomboxes has taken its toll. For the past year we’ve been having too many Emily Litella moments. Recently we were driving past a row of new houses when Marc said, “Look at all the silver towels.”

I craned my head. “What?” He pointed. “Right there.”

I looked for laundry flapping in the breeze. “Where?”

“There.”

“WHERE?”

Annoyed, he waved at the roofs. “Right there!” he shouted. “Don’t you see the solar panels?”

Oh. Never mind.

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Docs Want Say in How Prior Authorizations Work was written by Joyce Frieden for MedPageToday.com, 12 September 2019. 

Practicing doctors should have input when it comes to deciding how prior authorization processes should work, an expert told members of a House committee on Wednesday.

“Instead of pharmacy benefit managers deciding on how best to administer prior authorizations, have the physicians who are at the point of the spear weigh in,” said Howard Rogers, MD, PhD, of Norwich, Connecticut, speaking on behalf of the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD). “The AAD would love to have seat at the table in terms of defining what’s reasonable in terms of different treatment algorithms, and you would have much greater buy-in from physicians if we could have that sort of collaborative arrangement.” Rogers spoke at a House Small Business Committee hearing on the burdens to physician practices posed by prior authorization and step therapy.

The physicians testifying at the hearing also had other ideas for improving the prior authorization process. “There are Centers of Excellence that are having 90% of their prior authorization denials overturned on appeal” that could be exempt from prior authorizations except for “spot checks,” said Paul Harari, MD, chairman of human oncology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, who was testifying on behalf of the American Society for Radiation Oncology (ASTRO). Public dissemination of the utilization parameters that insurers use also would help, “since often they’re not using national standards,” he said.

Indeed, another study showed that prior authorizations delay care for rheumatology patients. 

Study: Prior Authorizations Delay Care in Rheumatology – Steroid exposure doubled while patients wait for insurers’ approval, in a report by Nancy Walsh for MedPage.com, 12 September 2019. 

Physicians who believe their patients’ health is negatively affected by insurers’ demands for prior authorization, and the delays that often result, will find that opinion vindicated by a new study of rheumatology care: when permission had to be sought from insurers to provide intravenous drugs, average time to begin treatment was longer and patients had twice the corticosteroid exposure, a single-center analysis found.

Among patients who were first denied authorization for infusible medications such as rituximab (Rituxan) and infliximab (Remicade), the time to receiving the infusion was 50 days compared with 27 days for patients were not required to obtain prior authorization (P<0.001), according to Zachary S. Wallace, MD, and colleagues from Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.

Many insurance payers require prior authorization for the use of these drugs, with the goal of holding down drug costs, but such requirements may have unintended consequences such as delays in treatment and greater healthcare utilization during these delays. In addition, for patients with rheumatologic diseases, delays can increase exposure to corticosteroids, with the attendant risks of infection, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.

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