Scientists at Arizona State University have discovered that older honey bees effectively reverse brain aging when they take on nest responsibilities typically handled by much younger bees.
While current research on human age-related dementia focuses on potential new drug treatments, researchers say these findings suggest that social interventions may be used to slow or treat age-related dementia.
In a study published in the scientific journal Experimental Gerontology, a team of scientists from ASU and the Norwegian University of Life Sciences, presented findings that show that tricking older, foraging bees into doing social tasks inside the nest causes changes in the molecular structure of their brains.
"We knew from previous research that when bees stay in the nest and take care of larvae – the bee babies – they remain mentally competent for as long as we observe them," said Gro Amdam, an associate professor in ASU's School of Life Sciences, in a statement.
"However, after a period of nursing, bees fly out gathering food and begin aging very quickly.
“After just two weeks, foraging bees have worn wings, hairless bodies, and more importantly, lose brain function – basically measured as the ability to learn new things.
"We wanted to find out if there was plasticity in this aging pattern so we asked the question, 'What would happen if we asked the foraging bees to take care of larval babies again?"
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During experiments, scientists removed all of the younger nurse bees from the nest - leaving only the queen and babies. When the older, foraging bees returned to the nest, activity diminished for several days.
Then, some of the old bees returned to searching for food, while others cared for the nest and larvae. Researchers discovered that after 10 days, about 50% of the older bees caring for the nest and larvae had significantly improved their ability to learn new things.
Amdam's international team not only saw a recovery in the bees' ability to learn, they discovered a change in proteins in the bees' brains.
When comparing the brains of the bees that improved relative to those that did not, two proteins noticeably changed.
They found Prx6, a protein also found in humans that can help protect against dementia – including diseases such as Alzheimer's – and they discovered a second and documented "chaperone" protein that protects other proteins from being damaged when brain or other tissues are exposed to cell-level stress.
In general, researchers are interested in creating a drug that could help people maintain brain function, yet they may be facing up to 30 years of basic research and trials.
"Maybe social interventions – changing how you deal with your surroundings – is something we can do today to help our brains stay younger," said Amdam. "Since the proteins being researched in people are the same proteins bees have, these proteins may be able to spontaneously respond to specific social experiences."
Amdam suggests further studies are needed on mammals such as rats in order investigate whether the same molecular changes that the bees experience might be socially inducible in people.
Snail Slime Cream
Carefully collected snail's slime is a potent anti-ageing ingredient that helps reduce scars, stretch marks and acne, as well as smoothing out wrinkles. The rich snail secretion is packed with regenerative compounds. Now this anti-ageing treatment isn't as unusual as it sounds, as it's already a staple beauty product in Britain's <a href="http://www.hollandandbarrett.com/pages/product_detail.asp?pid=869&searchterm=snail&rdcnt=1" target="_hplink">Holland and Barrett</a>.
Rendered from from the fat of an emu bird, emu oil is a lesser known anti-ageing oil that has been used for centuries in the Aboriginal communities for its healing powers. Mixed with eucalyptus oil, it containing bundles of vitamin E and A, the oil's antioxidants help repair wounds and thickens skin against ageing. The cream also soaks moisture into the skin, which avoids dehydrated, saggy looking skin.
Definitely not one for vegetarian beauty fans, but pigs trotters are a popular anti-ageing solution in Japan, as the trotters are a great source of collagen - the vital ingredient for boosting elasticity in the skin.
Bee Sting Venom
The bee sting venom facial doesn't involve a her of bees pricking your face, but instead, the venom from the sting is transferred into a gel and then rubbed on the face as part of an intensive facial. According to researchers in South Korea, the venom helps prevent the skin from sun damage and restores collagen production.
Spermine is a powerful antioxidant in human sperm and some beauty goers swear by its anti-ageing super powers. This treatment first surfaced in New York where the 'cream' is applied over the skin and then ultrasound and infrared light is used to penetrate through the skins lipid barrier. It's believed this 'sperm facial' leaves the skin looking blemish and wrinkle-free. And you don't have to have the treatment done in a salon, as a Norwegian company, Bioforskning, sell sperm-based products.
Breast Milk Soap
Breast milk soap claims to be a great alternative to ordinary soap as it doesn't dry up the skin and is good for reducing the appearance of facial scarring and wrinkles. However, the only snag is - it's best to make the soap yourself if you're breastfeeding. The ingredients? Olive oil, palm oil, coconut oil, heat-treated breast milk, and purified water.
Possibly the wackiest of them all - the 'Face Slimmer', originates from Japan but is (unsurprisingly) yet to take off in the UK. This rubbery-looking mouthpiece, created by cosmetic company Glim, is designed to keep the facial muscles pert by keeping the cheeks and mouth stretched in a permanent 'trout pout' position. The mouth guard comes with various face exercise ideas to keep the dreaded sagging jowls away. Image: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/cool3c" target="_hplink">Flickr/ cool3c</a>
A treatment developed by British biomedical company <a href="http://www.intercytex.com/" target="_hplink">Intercytex</a>, created an anti-ageing treatment using microscopic skin cells from babies' foreskins. This unusual treatment is believed to rejuvenate and restructure ageing and damaged skin, by repopulating the lower layers of skin with millions of healthy skin cells from the foreskin that are packed of collagen and human dermal fibroblasts.
This alternative and somewhat painful-looking anti-ageing massage is designed to stimulate the blood flow, creating a youthful glow. The 'platza' treatment involves the bare back being thwarted with a 'broom' made of oak-leaf branches. The harsh brushing technique is also said to help tone up muscles and invigorate sluggish energy levels.
It's long been known that the placenta has great nutritional benefits (who can forget the '<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2012/01/24/midwife-sells-placenta-pills-to-new-mothers_n_1227327.html" target="_hplink">placenta pills</a>') but it is also available in a face cream too. Skincare company <a href="http://www.lanocreme.com/en/Placenta/Default.aspx" target="_hplink">Lanocrème</a> sell a range of placenta-based creams that promise to nourish the skin using its 56 bio-stimulant proteins that help encourage skin replenishment.