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Using an antioxidant to reverse inflammation in the brain caused by a high-fat diet greatly improves symptoms related to obesity and type II diabetes, a new study from New Zealand's University of Otago suggests. The research, which appears in the leading international journal Diabetes, was led by Dr Alex Tups of the University's Centre for Neuroendocrinology and Department of Physiology. Dr Tups and an international team investigated whether directly stopping inflammatory processes in the brain's hypothalamus could help lower blood sugar levels and reduce insulin resistance.

Data from a late-breaking abstract presented at the International Liver CongressTM 2014 identifies a new compound, SBEL1, that has the ability to inhibit hepatitis C virus (HCV) activity in cells at several points in the virus' lifecycle. SBEL1 is a compound isolated from Chinese herbal medicines that was found to inhibit HCV activity by approximately 90%. SBEL1 is extracted from a herb found in certain regions of Taiwan and Southern China. In Chinese medicine, it is used to treat sore throats and inflammations. The function of SBEL1 within the plant is unknown and its role and origins are currently being investigated.

Traditional Chinese herbal medicines hold promise for slowing the progression from prediabetes to an official diabetes diagnosis, according to new research accepted for publication in the Endocrine Society's Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism (JCEM). Prediabetes is diagnosed an individual has developed elevated blood sugar levels, but glucose levels have not yet risen to the point of developing type 2 diabetes. People who are prediabetic face a heightened risk of developing type 2 diabetes as well as heart disease and stroke. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 79 million American adults age 20 years or older have prediabetes.

A compound derived from a traditional Chinese herbal medicine has been found effective at alleviating pain, pointing the way to a new nonaddictive analgesic for acute inflammatory and nerve pain, according to UC Irvine pharmacology researchers. Working with Chinese scientists, Olivier Civelli and his UC Irvine colleagues isolated a compound called dehydrocorybulbine (DHCB) from the roots of the Corydalis yanhusuo plant. In tests on rodents, DHCB proved to diminish both inflammatory pain, which is associated with tissue damage and the infiltration of immune cells, and injury-induced neuropathic pain, which is caused by damage to the nervous system. This is important because there are no current adequate treatments for neuropathic pain.

Taking a page from Chinese herbal medicine, Scottsdale Healthcare and the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) today initiated the first-in-human clinical trial for pancreatic cancer patients using a compound derived from a plant known as "Thunder God vine." The first patient to participate in this clinical trial received treatment today at Scottsdale Healthcare's Virginia G. Piper Cancer Center Clinical Trials, a partnership of Scottsdale Healthcare and TGen.