Post List

  • December 17, 2009
  • 11:22 AM

Don't Try This At Home

by Brian Koberlein in Upon Reflection

Electricity plays a central role in our modern lives. It lights our homes, starts our cars, and runs the computer from which you read this journal. It's hard to believe that not long ago we knew almost nothing about this...... Read more »

  • December 17, 2009
  • 10:11 AM

Caring for children with autism: Avoiding time pressure for better mental health?

by Nestor Lopez-Duran PhD in Child-Psych

Caring for children with autism, especially those with severe autism, is often extremely challenging for the entire family. Some children with autism require continuous monitoring throughout their childhoods and beyond, and the costs associated with the most common interventions and assessments can place major strains on the family’s resources. While some studies have found that mothers of children with [...]... Read more »

  • December 17, 2009
  • 09:35 AM

Mendel gets complicated

by Kent in Uncommon Ground

One of the principles we teach in introductory biology is that in diploids the relationship between genotype and phenotype depends only on the alleles that an individual carries, not on the parent from which it inherited those alleles. For example,...... Read more »

Kong, A., Steinthorsdottir, V., Masson, G., Thorleifsson, G., Sulem, P., Besenbacher, S., Jonasdottir, A., Sigurdsson, A., Kristinsson, K., Jonasdottir, A.... (2009) Parental origin of sequence variants associated with complex diseases. Nature, 462(7275), 868-874. DOI: 10.1038/nature08625  

  • December 17, 2009
  • 06:45 AM

Climate change, overfishing: together catastrophic for shallow reefs

by Rob Goldstein in Conservation Maven

... Read more »

  • December 17, 2009
  • 06:26 AM

The ever-changing world of dendritic spines

by kubke in Building Blogs of Science

Santiago Ramón y Cajal originally described spines in the dendrites of neurons in the cerebellum back in the late 19th century, but it wasn’t until the mid 1950’s with the development of the electron microscope that these structures were shown to be synaptic structures. Although it has been known that the number of dendritic spines [...]... Read more »

  • December 17, 2009
  • 05:30 AM

(Podcast) Obesity's dangerous. Period.

by Yoni Freedhoff in Weighty Matters

Why?Not sure.But Dr. Jennifer Kuk and Dr. Chris Arden from my undergraduate Alma mater York University in Toronto recently published a paper that looked at 6,011 adults and then subdivided them into those who were "metabolically normal" and obese and "metabolically abnormal" and obese and then followed those individuals' mortality rates over the course of 10 years.The results?Obesity doesn't generally occur in the absence of metabolic abnormalities (only about 6% of the obese folks fall into thi........ Read more »

  • December 16, 2009
  • 09:51 PM

Parastie competition enhances host survival

by Marc Cadotte in The EEB and flow

Contracting a parasite is bad. But is getting colonized by multiple parasitic species worse? This is an interesting and important question. The host is a resource, which can support a limited number of parasitic individuals, and so how does competition affect parasitic species and host mortality?This was the premise of a recent paper by Oliver Balmer and colleagues, studying trypanosome infection of mice hosts. They engineered two transgeneic strains of the protozoan parasite, Trypanosoma brucei........ Read more »

  • December 16, 2009
  • 09:51 PM

A single residue dictates a fold

by Michael Clarkson in Conformational Flux

Anfinsen's dogma — that the amino acid sequence of a protein uniquely determines its structure — naturally leads one to the idea that identity between amino acid sequences means identity between structures. This has proven to be a successful paradigm: sequence similarity reliably predicts structural and functional similarity. Evidence accruing in recent years, however, suggests that for small proteins, at least, this assumption may not be entirely safe. Adding to this view, in a........ Read more »

Alexander, P., He, Y., Chen, Y., Orban, J., & Bryan, P. (2009) From the Cover: A minimal sequence code for switching protein structure and function. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 106(50), 21149-21154. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.0906408106  

  • December 16, 2009
  • 07:56 PM

say, how far away is that black hole?

by Greg Fish in weird things

Trying to pin down the distance between our planet and a nearby black hole is a very tricky business. By virtue of being pinpoints of self-gravitating energy, black holes are usually about the size of a big city and very hard to observe directly. Their small size is also what makes it so difficult to [...]... Read more »

J. C. A. Miller-Jones, P. G. Jonker, V. Dhawan, W. Brisken, M. P. Rupen, G. Nelemans, & E. Gallo. (2009) The first accurate parallax distance to a black hole. ApJ Letters. arXiv: 0910.5253v1

  • December 16, 2009
  • 04:38 PM

On cancer genomes

by iayork in Mystery Rays from Outer Space

We’re just dipping our toes into the oceans of information from large-scale genome sequencing. We’re at the point now where sequencing a human genome is, not routine, but not extraordinary. The most recent examples of this are two groups who sequenced the genome of a cancer (one group did a lung cancer, the [...]... Read more »

Pleasance, E., Stephens, P., O’Meara, S., McBride, D., Meynert, A., Jones, D., Lin, M., Beare, D., Lau, K., Greenman, C.... (2009) A small-cell lung cancer genome with complex signatures of tobacco exposure. Nature. DOI: 10.1038/nature08629  

Pleasance, E., Cheetham, R., Stephens, P., McBride, D., Humphray, S., Greenman, C., Varela, I., Lin, M., Ordóñez, G., Bignell, G.... (2009) A comprehensive catalogue of somatic mutations from a human cancer genome. Nature. DOI: 10.1038/nature08658  

  • December 16, 2009
  • 04:08 PM

Atypical Antipsychotics For Depression: Now With "Considerable Evidence"

by CL Psych in Clinical Psychology & Psychiatry

I've been wanting to write about this for months. Here goes. We know that antipsychotics are the new panacea for all things mental health-related, including depression (1, 2, 3). But critics kept pointing to a pesky lack of evidence that such treatments actually worked. Bristol-Myers Squibb, manufacturer of Abilify, has been running a disinformation campaign in medical journals to tout its drug as an antidepressant. Their attempts to paint a positive picture of Abilify's antidepressant prop........ Read more »

  • December 16, 2009
  • 03:45 PM

Cutting down on TV also cuts down calories

by Jacob Aron in Just A Theory

People restricted to watching half their usual amount of television burned more calories in a three-week period, according to a study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine. Researchers at the University of Vermont found that while cutting back on television didn’t affect the amount of food people ate, it did mean they were more [...]... Read more »

  • December 16, 2009
  • 03:03 PM

Can a CT scan give you cancer?

by Avril in Understanding Cancer

Can a CT scan give you cancer?  Yes, occasionally. A research study published on the 14th of December 2009  looked at whether CT scans increase your risk of cancer, this was covered in the Press and Journal “CT scans may increase risk of cancer“.  CT scans (also known as CAT scans) use X-rays (a form [...]... Read more »

Smith-Bindman, R., Lipson, J., Marcus, R., Kim, K., Mahesh, M., Gould, R., Berrington de Gonzalez, A., & Miglioretti, D. (2009) Radiation Dose Associated With Common Computed Tomography Examinations and the Associated Lifetime Attributable Risk of Cancer. Archives of Internal Medicine, 169(22), 2078-2086. DOI: 10.1001/archinternmed.2009.427  

  • December 16, 2009
  • 01:12 PM

Breaking the Chain of Early Whale Evolution

by Laelaps in Laelaps

A comparison of the third molars from three species of Pakicetus as viewed from the back. (From Cooper et al., 2009)

Crack open just about any recent popular overview of evolution (namely Why Evolution is True, The Greatest Show on Earth, and Evolution: What the Fossils Say and Why it Matters) and somewhere inside you will find a string of skeletal whales. Starting with either Indohyus or Pakicetus, the illustration will feature a graded series of forms that connect modern whales with thei........ Read more »

  • December 16, 2009
  • 01:05 PM

Scientists wrestling with DNA repair find a new role for SUMO

by Cancer Research UK in Cancer Research UK - Science Update

Despite their heavyweight name, SUMO proteins are a family of small proteins found in our cells, which, by sticking to other proteins, can regulate all sorts of cellular goings-on.
For example, sticking a SUMO protein onto another protein can shuttle it to a different location in the cell, or alter how it works.
And there’s tantalising evidence [...]... Read more »

Morris, J., Boutell, C., Keppler, M., Densham, R., Weekes, D., Alamshah, A., Butler, L., Galanty, Y., Pangon, L., Kiuchi, T.... (2009) The SUMO modification pathway is involved in the BRCA1 response to genotoxic stress. Nature, 462(7275), 886-890. DOI: 10.1038/nature08593  

Galanty, Y., Belotserkovskaya, R., Coates, J., Polo, S., Miller, K., & Jackson, S. (2009) Mammalian SUMO E3-ligases PIAS1 and PIAS4 promote responses to DNA double-strand breaks. Nature, 462(7275), 935-939. DOI: 10.1038/nature08657  

  • December 16, 2009
  • 01:01 PM

Skin and lung cancer genomes are truly groundbreaking

by Cancer Research UK in Cancer Research UK - Science Update

It’s been a bumper week for cancer research. As we report elsewhere, scientists have been delving deep into our cells’ DNA repair mechanisms, and finding out how they tick.
At the opposite end of the spectrum, two more papers published in Nature today look at what happens when DNA repair goes wrong, by mapping DNA damage [...]... Read more »

Pleasance, E., Cheetham, R., Stephens, P., McBride, D., Humphray, S., Greenman, C., Varela, I., Lin, M., Ordóñez, G., Bignell, G.... (2009) A comprehensive catalogue of somatic mutations from a human cancer genome. Nature. DOI: 10.1038/nature08658  

Pleasance, E., Stephens, P., O’Meara, S., McBride, D., Meynert, A., Jones, D., Lin, M., Beare, D., Lau, K., Greenman, C.... (2009) A small-cell lung cancer genome with complex signatures of tobacco exposure. Nature. DOI: 10.1038/nature08629  

Shah, S., Morin, R., Khattra, J., Prentice, L., Pugh, T., Burleigh, A., Delaney, A., Gelmon, K., Guliany, R., Senz, J.... (2009) Mutational evolution in a lobular breast tumour profiled at single nucleotide resolution. Nature, 461(7265), 809-813. DOI: 10.1038/nature08489  

  • December 16, 2009
  • 12:36 PM

Rhinovirus and zinc part 5: Magnesium is not the culprit

by Vincent Racaniello in virology blog

If you have been following the results of my experiments on inhibition of rhinovirus replication by ZnCl2, you know that I’ve been trying to determine why concentrations of the salt higher than 0.1 mM are toxic to HeLa cells. I have found that 0.1 mM ZnCl2 does inhibit rhinovirus plaque formation but not sufficiently to [...]... Read more »

  • December 16, 2009
  • 12:00 PM

Birds may expand the range of Lyme disease and its vector tick

by Katie Kline in EcoTone

Lyme disease (Borrelia burgdorferi) is typically associated with mammals, but birds too can become infected by black-legged ticks (Ixodes scapularis), the principal vector of the pathogen.  Moreover, birds may figure significantly in the range expansion of both the Lyme bacterium and black-legged ticks.  So say Jory Brinkerhoff and colleagues of Yale University in a paper [...]

... Read more »

  • December 16, 2009
  • 11:40 AM

Too Much TV Reduces the Benefits of Physical Activity

by Travis Saunders, MSc in Obesity Panacea

One of my personal interests is the relationship between sedentary time (e.g. the amount of time that we spend sitting) and chronic disease risk. Several interesting papers have come out in the past few years suggesting that spending too much time sitting down is a risk factor for obesity, chronic disease, and even death, independent of physical activity levels. In other words, no matter how physically active you are, the more time you spend sitting, the greater your risk of death and disease......... Read more »

  • December 16, 2009
  • 10:05 AM

Cuckholding crows don't necessarily have fitter chicks

by Jeremy Yoder in Denim and Tweed

Birds are bad at monogamy. There are a number of good evolutionary reasons to cheat on your mate, and it's not clear which one is the most likely explanation. A new study of American crows, however, suggests that, for females, cheating isn't necessarily the best choice [$-a].

Avian infidelity isn't obvious, because many birds are socially monogamous, forming couples for one or more breeding seasons to raise chicks. However, DNA-based paternity testing has overturned this intuition -- a 2002 rev........ Read more »

Griffith, S.C., Owens, I.P.F., & Thuman, K.A. (2002) Extrapair paternity in birds: A review of interspecific variation and adaptive function. Molecular Ecology, 2195-212. info:/10.1046/j.1365-294X.2002.01613.x

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