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Letters to the Editor Issue 292

by Letters(more info)

listed in letters to the editor, originally published in issue 292 - February 2024

61% of Gen Xs and 43% of Millennials have High Cholesterol 

Last month, new analysis from London Medical Laboratory revealed that over half of Brits have high cholesterol levels. Shocking new research reveals 67% of 50-59-year-olds have high cholesterol and UK 30-somethings have higher levels than 80-year-olds.

London Medical Laboratory released new analysis last month revealing that over half of Brits (54%) have high cholesterol. Further analysis of the latest research reveals a staggering 61% of Generation Xs (currently 42-58-year-olds) and 43% of Millennials (currently 27-42-year-olds) are at risk of blocked arteries.

Dr Avinash Hari Narayanan (MBChB), Clinical Lead at London Medical Laboratory, says: 

“Historically, it’s always been older people who were believed to have high cholesterol, with levels peaking in their 60s and 70s. Thanks to Our Future Health’s major new research programme, we now know that millions of far younger people are most at risk.

“High cholesterol is a major underlying cause of cardiovascular disease (CVD), the leading cause of death worldwide, often leading to heart attacks and strokes. In England, high cholesterol leads to over 7% of all deaths.

“It’s likely that fast foods and home food deliveries are playing a big role in pushing up LDL (“bad”) cholesterol levels among Gen Xs and Millennials. These age groups have been brought up in the era of microwave meals and Deliveroo food deliveries. Older Brits, in contrast, are less in the habit of ordering super-fast foods high in saturated fats, which means their cholesterol levels are proportionately lower than many younger age groups. Only 39% of over-80s have high cholesterol, as opposed to 67% of 50-somethings. That’s a shocking reversal of historical trends.

“It’s also surprising that fewer Brits in their 60s (63%) have higher cholesterol than those in their 50s. It means Britain’s so-called Generation X (people born between 1965–1980) are now at higher risk of blocked arteries than Baby Boomers, the post-war generation bought up on fewer high-fat foods.

Here's the full results showing the prevalence of high cholesterol by age:

  • 20-29: 27%
  • 30-39: 43%
  • 40-49: 57%
  • 50-59: 67%
  • 60-69: 63%
  • 70-79: 48%
  • 80 and over: 39%

“It now appears that anyone of any age eating too many processed foods containing saturated fat is in danger of having high cholesterol levels. Foods partially responsible for increasing LDL (low-density lipoprotein) levels, traditionally known as “bad” cholesterol, include:

  • Red meat, including beef, pork and lamb, as well as processed meats such as sausage;
  • Full-fat dairy, including cream, whole milk and butter;
  • Baked goods and sweets;
  • Fried foods;
  • Tropical oils such as palm oil and coconut oil.

“Clearly, there is an urgent need for increased cholesterol level testing to rapidly identify who is at risk, across all age groups. With GP surgeries extremely busy at this time of year, it’s important to recognise that there are alternatives. The most common options are finger-prick cholesterol blood tests, which can be taken at home or at many local community pharmacies.

“London Medical Laboratory’s revolutionary and convenient home finger-prick Cholesterol Profile test measures total cholesterol, LDL “bad cholesterol”, HDL “good” cholesterol, non-HDL (a newly adopted, more accurate, measure) and other key markers. It can be taken at home through the post, or at one of the many drop-in clinics that offer these tests across London and nationwide in over 95 selected pharmacies and health stores. For full details, see:

Further Information

London Medical Laboratory’s Clinical Lead, Dr Avinash Hari Narayanan, is available to supply exclusive written comment or for interview. To contact Dr Hari Narayanan, or for more information, please email London Medical Laboratory’s Head of Public Relations, David Jinks M.I.L.T., at



Brain Scan Technology Takes A Major Step Forward

Advanced MRI scanners being developed by University of California Berkeley will allow doctors and scientists to see the brain in greater detail than ever before which could lead to ground breaking treatments for brain disorders such as degenerative diseases, schizophrenia and developmental disorders, including autism spectrum disorders.

 Two Scottish companies have been instrumental in the development of the equipment used in the NextGen 7T scanner for the university, Wideblue and MR Coiltech, both based in Glasgow.  Wideblue is a leading medical device product consultancy and MR Coiltech is a world leader in high-density MRI head coil development.

Results of images produced by the University using the scanners have been published in the prestigious peer reviewed journal Nature Methods.  The paper reports that the innovative design of the RF head coils helps achieve a tenfold better resolution for functional MRI brain imaging.  This means that scientists can see functional MRI features at an isotropic resolution of 0.4mm across compared to the 2-3mm which is achieved by standard MRI.  The scanner can reach this much higher resolution by using 128 sensor coils compared to 32 in a standard MRI scanner.  The advanced scanner records up to 10 times more detail than current 7T scanners and over 50 times more detail than current 3T scanners commonly used in hospitals world-wide.

The lead researcher at Berkeley, David Feinberg, said:

"The NextGen 7T scanner is a new tool that allows us to look at the brain circuitry underlying different diseases of the brain with higher spatial resolution in fMRI, diffusion and structural imaging, and therefore to perform human neuroscience research at higher granularity. This puts UC Berkeley at the forefront of human neuroimaging research,"

He added:  "The ultra-high resolution scanner will allow research on underlying changes in brain circuitry in a multitude of brain disorders, including degenerative diseases, schizophrenia and developmental disorders, including autism spectrum disorder."

Wideblue were responsible for the detailed mechanical design to fit up to 96 Radio Frequency (RF) sensor coils into the space normally occupied by 32 RF sensor coils found in standard MRI scanners.  The electronics were designed by MR Coiltech and the equipment was assembled and tested at MR Coiltech's premises at the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital in Glasgow.

Dr Shajan Gunanmony, CEO, MR Coiltech said "We are delighted with the design work undertaken by Wideblue. This is a very complex 3D advanced electronics product and achieving 96 channels within such a small space was a real challenge. The resulting image quality obtained with our product at the University of Berkeley speak for themselves and are the forefront of research anywhere in the world".

Further Information:

For a more detailed report please see Nature Methods: )

Source and Media Enquiries

Mike Reynolds <>




HKBU-Led Research Develops Novel Drug Delivery System for Gouteng Compound for Alzheimer’s Disease Treatment

A research team led by Hong Kong Baptist University (HKBU) has developed a novel drug delivery system for Alzheimer’s disease (AD). The researchers have engineered exosomes, extracellular vesicles released by cells, to effectively carry the bioactive compound Corynoxine-B extracted from the Chinese herbal medicine Gouteng to the brain of mice with AD. As Corynoxine-B can induce autophagy, a process that maintains the health of cells, this new drug delivery system using exosomes can improve cognitive function and movement while reducing the symptoms of AD.

The research findings have been published in the international academic journal Nature-Signal Transduction and Targeted Therapy.[1]

Bioactive Compound of Gouteng can Treat AD

AD is the most common type of dementia in which the brain cells degenerate and die, characterised by a build-up of amyloid-beta and phospho-tau protein in the brain, resulting in the decline of the brain’s cognitive functions. Currently more than 55 million people worldwide are dementia patients. In Hong Kong more than 100,000 elderly suffer from dementia and the number is anticipated to soar to more than 330,000 by 2039.

At present there is no curative treatment for AD. Available treatments can only delay the disease’s progression and improve symptoms. HKBU’s previous research projects found that Corynoxine-B, a bioactive compound of Gouteng, is effective in treating AD. However, the blood-brain barrier which protects the brain from potentially harmful substances in the bloodstream affects its uptake in brain.

Exosomes Serve as Drug Carriers

To tackle this problem, a research team comprising Professor Li Min, Associate Dean (Teaching and Learning) of Chinese Medicine, and Dr Ashok Iyaswamy, Research Assistant Professor of the Teaching and Research Division at the School of Chinese Medicine at HKBU, along with other local, mainland and overseas scientists, have developed a novel approach to deliver Corynoxine-B to the brain using exosomes.

Exosomes are extracellular vesicles released by cells which can transport molecules between cells like nanocarriers. Recent studies have shown that they could be utilised as vehicles for drug delivery. To examine whether exosomes are effective drug carriers for AD, the researchers manipulated the neuronal cells in mice to overexpress an adaptor protein Fe65 on the surface of exosomes released by these cells. Fe65 is involved in the processing of amyloid-beta precursor protein (APP), which plays a crucial role in the development of AD.

By doing so, they observed more exosomes containing Fe65 were released by the neuronal cells. These engineered exosomes showed a good ability to migrate towards the neuronal cells with APP overexpressed in AD models. These findings suggest that the presence of Fe65 on the surface of exosomes enhanced their ability to specifically target and interact with the neuronal cells with elevated levels of APP, which is a characteristic feature of AD.

Reduction of Accumulated Amyloid-Beta Protein

Corynoxine-B is a natural inducer of autophagy which plays a crucial role in maintaining neuronal health. The research team loaded it into the engineered exosomes and injected it to the mice with AD to evaluate its potential as a therapeutic agent for the disease. Results show that engineered exosomes loaded with Corynoxine-B could enhance autophagy in mice, and were able to cross the blood-brain barrier to deliver Corynoxine-B to the brain, resulting in a 30% reduction of accumulated amyloid-beta protein.

In addition, various behavioural tests including the rotarod test, open field test, contextual fear conditioning test, and Morris’s water maze test conducted on mice with AD showed that the application of engineered exosomes loaded with Corynoxine-B resulted in 25% recovery of the cognitive and locomotor behaviour.

Professor Li Min said: “Our study suggests that exosomes could be a promising new way to deliver drugs to the brain and treat AD. More research is needed, but this study provides hope that a cure for AD may be possible in the future. We hope that this research project will ultimately be beneficial to the elderly, individuals at high risk of neurodegeneration and neurodegenerative disease patients.”


  1. Iyaswamy, A., Thakur, A., Guan, XJ. et al. Fe65-engineered neuronal exosomes encapsulating corynoxine-B ameliorate cognition and pathology of Alzheimer’s disease. Sig Transduct Target Ther 8: 404. 2023.

Media Enquiries:

Christina Wu, Communication and Public Relations Office, HKBU



Preclinical Study on use of Mushroom Nutrition Addressing CNS Morbidities Induced by Bacterial Sepsis.

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Bacterial sepsis induces the production of excessive pro-inflammatory cytokines and oxidative stress, resulting in tissue injury and hyper inflammation. Patients recovering from sepsis have increased rates of central nervous system (CNS) morbidities, which are linked to long-term cognitive impairment, such as neurodegenerative pathologies.

This paper focuses on the tissue injury and hyper inflammation observed in the acute phase of sepsis and on the development of long-term neuroinflammation associated with septicaemia. Here we evaluate the effects of Coriolus versicolor administration as a novel approach to treat polymicrobial sepsis. Rats underwent cecal ligation and perforation (CLP), and Coriolus versicolor (200 mg/kg in saline)was administered daily by gavage. Survival was monitored, and tissues from vital organs that easily succumb to infection were harvested after 72 h to evaluate the histological changes. Twenty-eight days after CLP, behaviour analyses were performed, and serum and brain (hippocampus) samples were harvested at four weeks from surgery. Coriolus versicolor increased survival and reduced acute tissue injury. Indeed, it reduced the release of pro-inflammatory cytokines in the bloodstream, leading to a reduced chronic inflammation. In the hippocampus, Coriolus versicolor administration restored tight junction expressions, reduce cytokines accumulation and glia activation. It also reduced toll-like receptor 4 (TLR4) and neuronal nitric oxide synthase (nNOS) and the NLR family pyrin domain containing 3 (NLRP3) inflammasome components expression.


Ramona D'Amico, Mario Tomasello, Daniela Impellizzeri, Marika Cordaro, Rosalba Siracusa, Livia Interdonato, Ali Saber Abdelhameed, Roberta Fusco, Vittorio Calabrese , Salvatore Cuzzocrea, Rosanna Di Paola. Mechanism of Action of Natural Compounds in Peripheral Multiorgan Dysfunction and Hippocampal Neuroinflammation Induced by Sepsis. Antioxidants (Basel) . Mar 3 2023. 12(3):635. doi:10.3390/antiox12030635  

Further Information

The Coriolus versicolor used on this study was provided by Mycology Research Laboratories

"Mycology Research Laboratories" <>

Mycology Research Labs


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