HEALTH NOTES: Pill made from peonies could ease arthritis pain and slow down destruction of cartilage

A drug made from garden flowers could transform treatment of arthritis.

Called APPA, the pill is based on anti-inflammatory compounds found in peonies – flowers that brighten up flowerbeds in late spring and summer. 

In animal tests, APPA eased pain and slowed destruction of cartilage, the body’s built-in shock absorber which keeps joints healthy. 

Now researchers at Liverpool University are to test it on 14 patients. 

Professor Robert Moots, who is leading the trial, says: ‘APPA has the potential to be a game-changing treatment.’

 

Shoppers are more likely to buy food with nostalgic labels that remind them of their childhood, research shows. 

Scientists compared how likely volunteers were to purchase items with sentimental descriptions, such as ‘Grandma’s home-made apple pie’ and with products with simple details, like ‘delicious apple pie’. 

Products that evoked memories of childhood were associated with comfort and security and so were more popular. 

 

A syringe in a wristband could administer lifesaving injections to people with allergies. 

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‘The idea came from me, because I suffer peanut allergies,’ says inventor Justin Tang at Rice University in Texas, who sometimes forgets to carry his adrenaline-loaded EpiPen device with him.

The plan is to develop a version that can sense when an allergic reaction is happening and automatically inject the hormone – in case the patient is already too ill to do it themselves.

 

Scientists hope genes from whales might hold answer to cancer

Could humpback whales hold the key to beating cancer?

Scientists have long been puzzled as to why whales, the world’s largest mammals, rarely get the disease despite living into old age and their high percentage of body fat – two of the biggest risk factors in humans.

Now DNA analysis by scientists from North Arizona University, published in Molecular Biology And Evolution, show the giant beasts lack many of the genetic mutations that trigger cancer in humans.

They also appear to have greater numbers of genes that help to suppress the growth of tumours.

Researchers hope that whales’ cancer-busting genetic secrets could be used to develop new treatments to spare humans from the potentially fatal disease.