Cranberries can treat herpes

Alpine cranberries have significant biological activity that can help to combat herpes virus type II (HSV-2) infection, one of the most common viral infections in humans, writes Emma Dorey in Chemistry & Industry.

Researchers at the Kaohsiung Medical University in Taiwan isolated a compound called proanthocyanidin A-1 from the evergreen shrub, also known as Vaccinium vitis-idaea, lingonberry or partridgeberry. Chun-Ching Lin and his team found that the compound significantly suppressed HSV-2 infection in vitro without any toxic effect.

Although in experiments the compound did not reduce the infectivity of the virus, it did reduce the effects of the infection by preventing viral attachment and penetration, and disturbed the late stage of infection. The research is published in the Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture (doi: 10.1002/jsfa.1958).

Also in Chemistry & Industry: Social Stress Triggers Peer-Pressure Gene

Resisting peer-pressure and temptation is harder for some people than others because of their genes, reports Marina Murphy in Chemistry & Industry magazine.

The gene responsible is the A1 form of the D2 dopamine receptor gene, which has previously been associated with alcoholism and even been referred to as an alcoholism gene. But researcher Ross young of the Queensland University of Technology in Australia says: “This is not an ‘alcoholism’ gene …Our results show that it is related to difficulties in resisting temptation in social situations or when socially pressurised, in particular.”

‘The gene is triggered when you feel a bit of social anxiety and discomfort, or if you are pressurised by others to use a substance,’ says Young. And the tendency to give into temptation applies to more than just alcohol and drugs. “It does apply more broadly,” he says. “Other activities that are rewarding and are ‘tagged’ as such also apply”. This is crucial to behaviours that have survival value such as eating or sexual activity. As such this gene has been described as a ‘reward gene’.

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