Post List

  • February 13, 2016
  • 06:18 PM
  • 20 views

Virus factories and hijacked proteins: How could Zika cause microcephaly?

by Megan Cartwright in Science-Based Writing

There’s something missing from all the coverage of Zika virus, the mosquito-spread flavivirus that’s spread across 26 countries in the Americas since May 2015. While Zika usually doesn’t cause symptoms in adults, the outbreak coincided with a 20- to 40-fold … Continue reading →... Read more »

  • February 13, 2016
  • 03:54 PM
  • 30 views

Where Are My Chocolates?: The Role of Gift Giving on Valentine's Day

by Melissa Chernick in Science Storiented

I think that the day after Valentine’s Day is actually the best. After all, chocolate is 50 percent off. However, using the holiday as an excuse to delve into the myriad of studies that attempt to explain the complexity of human attraction and relationships is pretty fun. Last year I examined moves, specifically some fly dance moves and rather cheesy pick-up lines. Today, I think I’ll explore gift giving.In the field of animal behavior, gift giving (or nuptial gifts) is practically its own s........ Read more »

Rugimbana, R., Donahay, B., Neal, C., & Polonsky, M. (2003) The role of social power relations in gift giving on Valentine's Day. Journal of Consumer Behaviour, 3(1), 63-73. DOI: 10.1002/cb.122  

  • February 13, 2016
  • 03:37 PM
  • 30 views

All the lonely people: Pinpointing loneliness in the brain

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Humans, like all social animals, have a fundamental need for contact with others. This deeply ingrained instinct helps us to survive; it’s much easier to find food, shelter, and other necessities with a group than alone. Deprived of human contact, most people become lonely and emotionally distressed.

... Read more »

Matthews GA, Nieh EH, Vander Weele CM, Halbert SA, Pradhan RV, Yosafat AS, Glober GF, Izadmehr EM, Thomas RE, Lacy GD.... (2016) Dorsal Raphe Dopamine Neurons Represent the Experience of Social Isolation. Cell, 164(4), 617-631. PMID: 26871628  

  • February 13, 2016
  • 05:39 AM
  • 37 views

Winter Brain, Summer Brain: Seasonality in Brain Responses?

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic_Discover

A new paper in PNAS raises the interesting suggestion that our brain function goes through yearly cycles. According to authors Christelle Meyer and colleagues, their findings reveal new evidence of seasonal effects in human cognitive brain function "that could contribute to cognitive changes at specific times of year."

However in my view, the study is too small to be conclusive.



Meyer et al. used fMRI to scan 28 young participants. Each of the volunteers spent 4 1/2 days in a laborator... Read more »

Meyer C, Muto V, Jaspar M, Kussé C, Lambot E, Chellappa SL, Degueldre C, Balteau E, Luxen A, Middleton B.... (2016) Seasonality in human cognitive brain responses. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. PMID: 26858432  

  • February 13, 2016
  • 05:02 AM
  • 37 views

Now we can hear the Universe

by TakFurTheKaffe in Tak Fur The Kaffe

The detection of gravitational waves produced by the collision of two black holes over 1 billion light years away confirms Einstein's vision of our Universe.... Read more »

Abbott, B., Abbott, R., Abbott, T., Abernathy, M., Acernese, F., Ackley, K., Adams, C., Adams, T., Addesso, P., Adhikari, R.... (2016) Observation of Gravitational Waves from a Binary Black Hole Merger. Physical Review Letters, 116(6). DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.116.061102  

  • February 13, 2016
  • 03:12 AM
  • 34 views

Big names coming around to 'neuroinflammation' and autism?

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

I won't keep you too long today as I bring the paper by Adam Young and colleagues [1] (open-access available here) to your attention and some discussions around the concept of inflammation and autism. To quote: "An emerging focus of research into the aetiology of ASC [autism spectrum condition] has suggested neuroinflammation as one candidate underlying [the] biological model."Including one Simon Baron-Cohen on the authorship list, I have to say that I was impressed to see this quite c........ Read more »

  • February 12, 2016
  • 04:33 PM
  • 42 views

Planned Parenthood is disgusting? What does that even mean?

by Tom Rees in Epiphenom

Whatever the ins and outs behind the tragic shootings at Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado, it seems safe to assume that the heated and inflammatory rhetoric that has characterised the debate around abortion in the USA has played a major role. A couple of weeks ago, Planned Parenthood innocently asked Twitter users for one word [Read More...]... Read more »

  • February 12, 2016
  • 02:56 PM
  • 42 views

Stem cell gene therapy could be key to treating Duchenne muscular dystrophy

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Scientists at the UCLA Eli and Edythe Broad Center of Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell Research and Center for Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy at UCLA have developed a new approach that could eventually be used to treat Duchenne muscular dystrophy. The stem cell gene therapy could be applicable for 60 percent of people with Duchenne, which affects approximately 1 in 5,000 boys in the U.S. and is the most common fatal childhood genetic disease.

... Read more »

  • February 12, 2016
  • 09:20 AM
  • 33 views

The Zika outbreak: a wake-up call about climate change?

by EE Giorgi in CHIMERAS

People are still talking about the Ebola virus and its deadly outbreak in West Africa, and now a new virus is making the headlines: mostly innocuous and fairly unknown until a few weeks ago, the Zika virus is suddenly dominating the news for its putative link with a congenital birth defect that causes babies to be born with abnormally small heads and undeveloped brains. But what is the Zika virus, and how can it be harmless to most people yet cause such harm to an unborn fetus? To answer this qu........ Read more »

Paul Shapshak , Charurut Somboonwit, Brian T. Foley, Sally F. Alrabaa, Todd Wills, John T. Sinnott. (2015) Zika Virus. Global Virology I - Identifying and Investigating Viral Diseases. Springer-Verlag. info:/

  • February 12, 2016
  • 08:48 AM
  • 42 views

Heartbreaking drugs: A Valentine's Day special

by Rosin Cerate in Rosin Cerate

Let's talk about hearts and how they get broken. Literally, with drugs. When we swallow a pill, it's often to help address a problem we're experiencing with a particular body part. An aching head or a sore throat, for example. The pill breaks down in our guts and we absorb the drug into our bloodstream. It travels around our body and eventually ends up at the hurting locale where it works to fix the problem. Unfortunately, sometimes the drug will end up somewhere else and act there to cause an u........ Read more »

  • February 12, 2016
  • 06:34 AM
  • 59 views

Evidence, Shmevidence

by AG McCluskey in Zongo's Cancer Diaries

The world is full of ideas. How does science decide which ideas are good and which are bad...?... Read more »

Scott O. Lilienfeld, Steven Jay Lynn, Rachel J. Ammirati. (2015) Science Versus Pseudoscience. The Encyclopedia of Clinical Psychology. DOI: 10.1002/9781118625392.wbecp572  

AG McCluskey. (2016) Evidence, Shmevidence. Zongo's Cancer Diaries. info:/

  • February 12, 2016
  • 04:16 AM
  • 51 views

Maintained disomic chromosome 17 as a diagnostic marker for BHD-associated chromophobe RCC

by Danielle Stevenson in BHD Research Blog

Renal cell carcinomas (RCCs) can be life-threatening and although mostly sporadic, approximately 5% are associated with genetic conditions such as BHD. Early identification of families carrying cancer-predisposing mutations enables access to regular screening and earlier treatment. However, it can be difficult to distinguish between sporadic and inherited RCC based on standard immunohistological analysis. New research from Kato et al. (2016) assessed whether variability in the chromosomal status........ Read more »

  • February 12, 2016
  • 02:52 AM
  • 58 views

Mitochondrial response to BCKDK-deficiency and 'some' autism

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

I'll admit to being pretty fascinated by the Branched Chain α-Keto acid Dehydrogenase Kinase (BCKDK) gene. As per previous blog entries about this gene (see here and see here) and the important biological step it plays in the metabolism of the branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs), at least one 'form' of autism might be particularly sensitive to issues with it [1]. I take it you've heard of the idea that the autisms (plural) might be a better description of autism? If you haven't, here is a p........ Read more »

Oyarzabal A, Bravo-Alonso I, Sánchez-Aragó M, Rejas MT, Merinero B, García-Cazorla A, Artuch R, Ugarte M, & Rodríguez-Pombo P. (2016) Mitochondrial response to the BCKDK-deficiency: Some clues to understand the positive dietary response in this form of autism. Biochimica et biophysica acta. PMID: 26809120  

  • February 11, 2016
  • 03:26 PM
  • 85 views

Religion linked to reduced levels of stress hormones in young American Blacks

by Tom Rees in Epiphenom

Compared with Whites, Black Americans have  high levels of an important stress hormone called cortisol circulating in their bloodstream. No-one really knows why this is, but the differences remain even after you take into account social and psychological factors. It seems likely that simply being black exposes you to a cumulative effect of increased lifetime [Read More...]... Read more »

Assari, S., Moghani Lankarani, M., Malekahmadi, M., Caldwell, C., & Zimmerman, M. (2015) Baseline Religion Involvement Predicts Subsequent Salivary Cortisol Levels Among Male But not Female Black Youth. International Journal of Endocrinology and Metabolism, 13(4). DOI: 10.5812/ijem.31790  

  • February 11, 2016
  • 03:18 PM
  • 66 views

Synthetic biology breakthrough creates biosensors on demand

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Biosensors are powerful tools in synthetic biology for engineering metabolic pathways or controlling synthetic and native genetic circuits in bacteria. Scientists have had difficulty developing a method to engineer "designer" biosensor proteins that can precisely sense and report the presence of specific molecules, which has so far limited the number and variety of biosensor designs able to precisely regulate cell metabolism, cell biology, and synthetic gene circuits.

... Read more »

Taylor, N., Garruss, A., Moretti, R., Chan, S., Arbing, M., Cascio, D., Rogers, J., Isaacs, F., Kosuri, S., Baker, D.... (2015) Engineering an allosteric transcription factor to respond to new ligands. Nature Methods, 13(2), 177-183. DOI: 10.1038/nmeth.3696  

  • February 11, 2016
  • 03:15 PM
  • 65 views

Science Teachers Confused About … Um, Science

by Jenny Ludmer in Rooster's Report

Scientists may be in agreement on the causes of climate change, but the US public is not. We can blame biased news sources all we want for this disconnect, but a new study suggests yet another explanation: our science teachers. Although most are teaching about global warming, many simply aren’t doing it right.... Read more »

Eric Plutzer, Mark McCaffrey, A. Lee Hannah, Joshua Rosenau, Minda Berbeco, & Ann H. Reid. (2016) Climate confusion among U.S. teachers. Science, 351(6274). info:/10.1126/science.aab3907

  • February 11, 2016
  • 02:47 PM
  • 60 views

How a new species of Lyme disease bacteria was discovered

by Microbe Fan in Spirochetes Unwound

A new agent of the tick-borne illness known as Lyme disease has emerged in the upper Midwest.  The bacterium is genetically related to Borrelia burgdorferi, until now believed to be the only cause of Lyme disease in the United States.  The name proposed for the bacterium is Borrelia mayonii because the work was conducted at the Mayo Clinic.  B. mayonii has not been detected in patients outside of the Midwest (so far).  The findings are described in The Lancet Infectious Disea........ Read more »

  • February 11, 2016
  • 12:00 PM
  • 65 views

It's True: The Southwest Is Getting Drier

by Jenny Ludmer in Rooster's Report

Home of tumbleweeds and roadrunners, it’s no surprise that the Southwest is the driest region of the United States. And yet, new research confirms that which many have predicted: it’s getting even dryer. Not only are droughts more common, but they are more intense and longer-lasting too.... Read more »

Prein, A., Holland, G., Rasmussen, R., Clark, M., & Tye, M. (2016) Running dry: The U.S. Southwest's drift into a drier climate state. Geophysical Research Letters. DOI: 10.1002/2015GL066727  

  • February 11, 2016
  • 09:13 AM
  • 60 views

Life amid acidity near a smoldering part of the Arctic

by Rosin Cerate in Rosin Cerate

Way, way up in northwestern Canada (on the lower east side of Cape Bathurst, Northwest Territories), where the mainland meets the Arctic Ocean, a 30 km stretch of seacoast has been smoldering away for hundreds if not thousands of years.The Smoking Hills, named by the explorer John Franklin during one of his early 19th century expeditions to the Canadian Arctic, consist of shale bedrock covered by several meters worth of soil and loose rocks deposited by ancient glaciers and rivers. The land fall........ Read more »

  • February 11, 2016
  • 08:25 AM
  • 64 views

Unbreak My Heart: A Short History Of The Defibrillator and CPR

by Bill Sullivan in The 'Scope

For Valentine's Day: the fascinating experiments that led to the invention of the defibrillator and CPR - truly a tale from the “heart”!... Read more »

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