Medical News Roundup: Evaluating the Keto Diet, A Game That Detects Alzheimer’s Disease, and More

Here are the top stories covered by DocWire News this week in the Homepage section. In this week’s edition, learn why the keto diet has received mixed reviews, how a new smartphone game might detect preclinical Alzheimer’s disease, how much the rate of cardiovascular disease and heart failure has risen in the US, and how a computational technique can be used in treating cancer.

The ketogenic diet, more commonly referred to as simply “keto”, has met with mixed reviews regarding its efficacy. A recent study published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise examined the effects of a short-term keto diet in male endurance athletes. Participants underwent either a high-carbohydrate diet or an iso-energetic low-carbohydrate, high-fat diet before running to exhaustion. The ketogenic diet participants maintained efficiency at < 60% VO2max, but efficiency suffered at > 70% VO2max. Moreover, another study, published The Journal of Physiology, found that endurance performance could suffer on the keto diet compared to one that provides the body with a higher amount of carbohydrates. According to David L. Katz, MD, MPH, FACPM, FACP, FACLM, founder and president of the True Health Initiative, “there are no long-term human studies of the keto diet, and no free-living, healthy human population lives this way. We thus have no evidence that the diet can be maintained, that it fosters health over time, or even that it is safe.”

A new smartphone game called Sea Hero Quest (SHQ) can potentially detect preclinical Alzheimer’s disease (AD), according to a study published in PNAS. In this study, researchers aggregated big data from (n=27,108) people from the UK (aged 50 to 75) who played the SHQ game to distinguish whether special navigation information can be used as a benchmark to identify people at high risk for developing preclinical AD. According to the findings of this study, using big-data spatial navigation benchmarks from SQH, researchers were able to discern between individuals at high-risk for developing preclinical AD versus those at low-risk. According to the study’s authors, these findings could be “the steppingstone for individualized diagnostics and outcome measures of cognitive symptoms in preclinical AD.”

The rate of cardiovascular disease (CVD) and heart failure (HF) is on the rise in the US, specifically among adults ages 34 to 65, according to researchers who published their findings in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology. In this study, the researchers sought to evaluate national trends in HF-related CVD as it pertains to race and age by acquiring mortality rates from multiple cause of death files using the CDC’s Wide-Ranging Online Data for Epidemiologic Research. Results indicated an increase in mortality through 2017 (59.3 [95% CI, 58.9 to 59.6] per 100,000; P<0.05). Moreover, the study found that blacks were a higher risk for HF than whites. “We’re seeing an increase in the prevalence and morbidity associated with HF,” said Dr. Eric Adler, cardiologist and professor of medicine at the University of California, San Diego. “Why is that the case? I think it’s largely public health issues.”

A new computational technique called CIBERSORTx can effectively analyze the RNA of individuals cells taken from whole-tissue samples or data sets, according to researchers who published their study in Nature Biotechnology. “What CIBERSORTx does is let us not just tell how much apple there is in the smoothie, but how many are Granny Smiths, how many are Red Delicious, how many are still green and how many are bruised,” Alizadeh said. “Similarly, starting with a mix of RNA barcodes from a tumor can give us insights into the mix of cell types and their perturbed cell states in these tumors, and how we might be able to address these defects for cancer therapy.”