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Researchers find link between flu, asthma

BY Allison Cerra

BOSTON — Researchers at Children’s Hospital Boston have discovered the reason why influenza may induce asthma attacks among children.

A team led by senior investigator Dale Umets found that the flu can activate a newly recognized group of immune cells called natural helper cells, which prompts asthma attacks to occur. An infection, the team found, stimulates production of a compound called IL-33, which activates natural helper cells, which in turn secrete asthma-inducing compounds.

This discovery also may imply that existing asthma medications aren’t effective enough, especially when a child is diagnosed with the flu or some other viral infection.

"Virtually 100% of asthmatics get worse with a viral infection," Umetsu said. "We really didn’t know how that happened, but now we have an explanation, at least for influenza. Without these cells being activated, infection did not cause airway hyperreactivity, the cardinal feature of asthma. Now we can start to think of this [biological] pathway as a target, IL-33, the natural helper cell itself or the factors it produces."

The findings were published in the journal Nature Immunology.

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Cool Gear introduces new, reusable on-the-go items

BY Allison Cerra

PLYMOUTH, Mass. — Cool Gear has introduced a new set of reusable water bottles, cups and food containers that are designed to keep food and drinks chilled for a long period of time.

The lineup includes:

  • The EZ Freeze Freeze n’ Lock leak-proof, stackable food storage containers with patented nontoxic freezer gel and lids that snap and lock to keep food fresh. They are available in three colors — blue, green and purple — and shapes — circular, rectangular and square;

  • The EZ Freeze Eco 2 Go Gel Chiller reusable double-wall insulated cup with lid and straw featuring the patented nontoxic freezer gel that keeps drinks cooler longer. It is available in 20- and 24-oz. sizes in four colors — blue, green, orange and pink;

  • The redesigned Pure line of on-the-go, 24-oz. water filtration bottles features a sleek new body and is available in four colors — green, blue, pink or orange. Each includes a patented nontoxic freezer stick filtration system that simultaneously cools and purifies up to 150 gallons of water — helping to replace more than 1,100 disposable 16.9-oz. water bottles with each carbon filter, while reducing the odor and taste of chlorine from tap water; and

  • The Design-a-Bottle allows users to create a customized 20-oz. double-wall hydration bottle complete with personal photos, graphics and text by using the Design-a-Bottle feature on Cool Gear’s website.

Cool Gear products can be found nationwide in such retailers as Target, Walmart, Safeway, Kroger, CVS and more.

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Consumers opt to spend more on Father’s Day gifts

BY Allison Cerra

WASHINGTON — Consumers will show their love for Dad this year by spending more on Father’s Day gifts than in the prior year, according to the National Retail Federation.

According to NRF’s Consumer Intentions and Actions Father’s Day survey, conducted by BIGresearch, U.S. consumers will spend an average of $106.49, up from $94.32 last year and the most in the survey’s eight-year history. What’s more, the spending gap between Mother’s Day and Father’s Day substantially has narrowed.

Total Father’s Day spending is projected to reach $11.1 billion among consumers ages 18 years and older.

“Spending on Dad has taken a backseat for the past few years, but some kids and wives are planning to make up for lost time this Father’s Day,” said NRF president and CEO Matthew Shay. “Shoppers seem to be more excited when it comes to gift giving, an encouraging sign for retailers — and dads — everywhere.”

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