22 May 2019

Upset ‘body clocks’ may be driving heart disease epidemic

by Anne Crawford

A Monash University researcher is warning that circadian rhythm disturbance –  disruptions to our ‘body clock’ – may be a common factor behind the global diabetes, obesity and heart disease epidemics.
Professor Paul Zimmet AO

Professor Paul Zimmet AO said studies suggest circadian disturbance may be a feature of the cluster of heart disease risk factors including obesity, elevated blood pressure, high blood sugar levels (prediabetes and diabetes) and blood cholesterol collectively called the Metabolic Syndrome.

“There’s a clear clinical situation in about 30 to 40 percent of adult Australians where a number of important cardiovascular disease risk factors come together,” Professor Zimmet said. “And people who have these risk factors are more likely to get co-morbidities such as sleep apnoea, depression, fatty liver disease and cognitive disability,” he said.

“No-one’s proposed that all of the things we’re talking about – both the cardiometabolic ones plus the co-morbidities – are linked together by disturbed circadian rhythm. We’re proposing that ‘Metabolic Syndrome’ be renamed ‘Circadian Syndrome’.”

Rare neurological case raises alerts for clinicians

When a man in his late fifties was referred to neurologist Professor Owen White in August 2016 with double vision, facial weakness and an unsteady gait, it appeared he had suffered something akin to a stroke. The reality was even more sinister. A concerted effort by medical teams to pinpoint the mysterious condition as the man’s health progressively failed eventually led to the diagnosis of an exceptionally rare disease – and some lessons for those involved and clinicians beyond. A paper documenting this unusual case appeared recently in the Journal of Clinical Neuroscience.

by Anne Crawford

The patient had originally been diagnosed in hospital with neurological symptoms including double vision, difficulty balancing and stuttering. An MRI scan showed an abnormality in the pons, part of the back of the brain.

However, the man didn’t follow the normal history of stroke. Multiple investigations failed to find an answer to fluctuating, persistent and evolving symptoms.

“Clinically he looked like patients with myasthenia gravis, an immune condition where an antibody is created which blocks conduction from the nerve to muscle. He had changed cranial nerve signs which is always unusual except in myasthenia gravis,” Professor White said.

Broccoli! The bitter brassica delivering a sweet health reward

by Anne Crawford

Broccoli, love it or hate it, is well-known as a food that has a host of vitamins, minerals and fibre beneficial to our health in general. Evidence is mounting too that it may have properties to help fight cancer, boost immunity, counter inflammation and even help children with autism.

A team led by Dr Tom Karagiannis from Monash University’s Department of Diabetes has published a review of clinical trials worldwide testing the benefits of the active ingredient sulforaphane. Sulforaphane is produced in the body from a naturally occurring compound called glucoraphanin, found in cruciferous vegetables including cauliflower, cabbage, bok choy and broccoli. The highest concentration is found in broccoli sprouts.

“We looked at more than 100 clinical trials done into sulforaphane and how effective it was in different types of disease,” Dr Karagiannis said. “In the last couple of years, research has increased exponentially on this compound,” he said.

The review, published in Clinical Nutrition last month, is part of a body of work by Dr Karagiannis with the ultimate aim of developing a pharmaceutical-grade sulforaphane preparation for clinical use in inflammatory conditions.

CCS Recent Publications: 3rd May - 19th May

Prof. Paul Zimmet's article calling for recognition
of a new syndrome has been published this month.
Recent publications for Central Clinical School feature affiliated authors in the following departments:

  • Melbourne Sexual Health Centre
  • Neuroscience
  • MAPrc
  • AIRMed
  • NTRI
  • Anaesthesia and Perioperative Medicine
  • Peninsula Clinical School
  • Obesity Research and Education
  • Diabetes
  • Surgery
  • Gastroenterology
  • ACBD

Translational Research Symposium Speaker Spotlight: Associate Professor Kathryn Holt

PLEAA/Prof Kathryn Holt
UPDATE: A/Prof Kat Holt will no longer be speaking at the symposium.  Dr Kelly Wyres will be speaking instead.

Monash University's 5th annual Translational Research Symposium is being hosted by its three metropolitan clinical schools on 21 June 2019. The symposium will host a diverse group of medical researchers presenting their work into translational research. RSVP here.

Associate Professor Kathryn Holt is a group leader in the Department of Infectious Diseases at Central Clinical School and Alfred Health.
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