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  • July 1, 2015
  • 02:19 PM
  • 0 views

New epigenetic mechanism revealed in brain cells

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

For decades, researchers in the genetics field have theorized that the protein spools around which DNA is wound, histones, remain constant in the brain, never changing after development in the womb. Now, researchers from the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai have discovered that histones are steadily replaced in brain cells throughout life – a process which helps to switch genes on and off.... Read more »

Maze, I., Wenderski, W., Noh, K., Bagot, R., Tzavaras, N., Purushothaman, I., Elsässer, S., Guo, Y., Ionete, C., Hurd, Y.... (2015) Critical Role of Histone Turnover in Neuronal Transcription and Plasticity. Neuron, 87(1), 77-94. DOI: 10.1016/j.neuron.2015.06.014  

  • July 1, 2015
  • 02:16 PM
  • 0 views

Ethics in research: how to improve the integrity of scientists in their work

by SciELO in SciELO in Perspective

Scientific activity as a social enterprise must maintain its credibility. The Transparency and Openness Promotion (TOP) Guidelines are presented as a recent and innovative initiative for scientific journals, and as one of the ways to guard this social value. … Read More →... Read more »

Alberts, B., Cicerone, R., Fienberg, S., Kamb, A., McNutt, M., Nerem, R., Schekman, R., Shiffrin, R., Stodden, V., Suresh, S.... (2015) Self-correction in science at work. Science, 348(6242), 1420-1422. DOI: 10.1126/science.aab3847  

Nosek, B., Alter, G., Banks, G., Borsboom, D., Bowman, S., Breckler, S., Buck, S., Chambers, C., Chin, G., Christensen, G.... (2015) Promoting an open research culture. Science, 348(6242), 1422-1425. DOI: 10.1126/science.aab2374  

  • July 1, 2015
  • 09:39 AM
  • 5 views

Video Tip of the Week: MorphoGraphX, morphogenesis in 4D

by Mary in OpenHelix

This week’s Video Tip of the Week covers a different aspect of bioinformatics than some of our other tips. But having been trained as a cell biologist, I do consider imaging software as an important part of the crucial software ecosystem. Also, since it’s a holiday week and traffic may be light in the US, […]... Read more »

Barbier de Reuille, P., Routier-Kierzkowska, A., Kierzkowski, D., Bassel, G., Schüpbach, T., Tauriello, G., Bajpai, N., Strauss, S., Weber, A., Kiss, A.... (2015) MorphoGraphX: A platform for quantifying morphogenesis in 4D. eLife. DOI: 10.7554/eLife.05864  

  • July 1, 2015
  • 08:30 AM
  • 10 views

Thinking Asymmetrically About Hormones

by Mark Lasbury in As Many Exceptions As Rules

Your endocrine glands are stimulated or suppressed by hormones. They in turn dump hormones into the blood. Blood goes everywhere equally. So why is your left adrenal gland bigger than your right? And why is the size difference larger in domesticated foxes as opposed to wild foxes? For that matter, why is the size of the right lobe of your thyroid gland depend on which hand you use to write!?... Read more »

Trut LN, Prasolova LA, Kharlamova AV, & Plyusnina IZ. (2002) Directional left-sided asymmetry of adrenals in experimentally domesticated animals. Bulletin of experimental biology and medicine, 133(5), 506-9. PMID: 12420075  

Hojaij, F., Vanderlei, F., Plopper, C., Rodrigues, C., Jácomo, A., Cernea, C., Oliveira, L., Marchi, L., & Brandão, L. (2011) Parathyroid gland anatomical distribution and relation to anthropometric and demographic parameters: a cadaveric study. Anatomical Science International, 86(4), 204-212. DOI: 10.1007/s12565-011-0111-0  

  • July 1, 2015
  • 06:24 AM
  • 17 views

Offspring autism risk and advancing parental age (differences)

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

Parental age at offspring conception/birth in relation to offspring autism risk has been a recurrent theme in autism research circles for quite a few years now. I've covered it more than once on this blog (see here for example) and the various suggestions that advancing parental age in particular, might elevate the risk of offspring autism.Set in this context, the paper by Sven Sandin and colleagues [1] (open-access) (a name not unfamiliar to this blog) adds to the research evidence based on their analysis of some 5.7 million children born between 1985 - 2004 resident in one of five countries (Denmark, Israel, Norway, Sweden and Western Australia). Including data on some 30,000 children diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD): "Parental ages, sex and birth year were obtained from birth or civil registers."After quite a bit of statistical modelling and controlling for various potentially confounding variables, several findings were reported pertinent to the authors' data being "the strongest evidence to date supporting the hypothesis that advanced parental ages at the time of birth are independently associated with risk for ASD in the offspring." Outside of "no support for any modification by the sex of the child" researchers also noted a "combined parental age effect" whereby there "was a joint effect of maternal and paternal age with increasing risk of ASD for couples with increasing differences in parental ages."A few of the finer details of this study have been covered elsewhere (see here). I'll draw your attention to one or two statistics unearthed during the study:"relative to fathers aged 20–29 years, fathers 50 years or older had a statistically significantly increased risk for offspring with ASD (RR=1.66 95% CI:1.49–1.85)","Relative to mothers aged 20–29 years, mothers younger than 20 years had a statistically significantly increased risk for offspring with ASD (RR=1.18 95% CI:1.08–1.29)" and the "lowest risk corresponded to couples that generated the majority of births, specifically, 29–39-year-old fathers and 25–35-year-old mothers." Those estimates of relative risk (RR) statistics translate into an estimated 66% increased risk for offspring autism if a dad was over 50 years old compared with a dad in their 20s, an 18% increased risk for offspring autism for teen mums compared to 20-something mums and the lowest statistical risk of offspring autism being reported when dads conceive in their 30s coupled with a mid-20 to mid-30 year old mum. The authors also note that "Similar patterns of association, but with slightly higher RRs for the highest parental ages, were evident for AD [autistic disorder]" so completing the message about older parental ages at conception and differing parental ages being relevant across the autism spectrum.Accepting that this was a huge study in terms of participant numbers and spanning different geographical locations, the authors rightly offer a few words of caution about their methods and data. So: "we lack information about potentially confounding variables such as SES [socio-economic status] and parental psychiatric history" is something to keep in mind [2]. Further: "We cannot rule out the possibility that other factors associated with parental age (for example, length of marriage or partnership, obstetric complications, gestational age and birth weight) have an important role in explaining our results" and "We did not have individual level information on co-morbid ID [intellectual disability] in ASD cases." I'd also suggest that given the growing emphasis on autism or ASD not existing in some sort of diagnostic vacuum (see here) one might reasonably ask whether other comorbidity outside of ID might also play a role in risk estimates.As to the possible mechanism(s) of effect, well, the authors go through the usual older parents - older sperm and eggs mantra although perhaps bypassing an emerging area outside of just de novo mutations based on the role of epigenetic mechanisms (see here). They do suggest that the 'difference in parental age' factor might suggest "that the increase in risk is not attributable to advancing parental age per se, and that the risk increase cannot be explained solely by an accumulation of point mutations or other genomic alterations in the parents" but say little more on the basis of their collected data.I might be wrong but I also didn't seem too much in the way of discussion of how parental nutrition might impact on offspring autism risk as per the proposed factor from other work by authors on the Sandin paper in relation to the inter-pregnancy interval (IPI) and autism risk (see here and see here). Although the idea that parental age might affect autism offspring risk, I'd be minded to suggest that this is only the first stage in a journey towards elucidating the particular mechanisms of any effect.Music: The Pixies - Gigantic.----------[1] Sandin S. et al. Autism risk associated with parental age and with increasing difference in age between the parents. Mol Psychiatry. 2015 Jun 9.[2] Lehti V. et al. Maternal socio-economic status based on occupation and autism spectrum disorders: A national case-control study. Nord J Psychiatry. 2015 Mar 3:1-8.----------Sandin S, Schendel D, Magnusson P, Hultman C, Surén P, Susser E, Grønborg T, Gissler M, Gunnes N, Gross R, Henning M, Bresnahan M, Sourander A, Hornig M, Carter K, Francis R, Parner E, Leonard H, Rosanoff M, Stoltenberg C, & Reichenberg A (2015). Autism risk associated with parental age and with increasing difference in age between the parents. Molecular psychiatry PMID: 26055426... Read more »

Sandin S, Schendel D, Magnusson P, Hultman C, Surén P, Susser E, Grønborg T, Gissler M, Gunnes N, Gross R.... (2015) Autism risk associated with parental age and with increasing difference in age between the parents. Molecular psychiatry. PMID: 26055426  

  • July 1, 2015
  • 01:43 AM
  • 29 views

Technologies and Generations

by Aurametrix team in Health Technologies

Children no longer obey their parents; every man wants to write a book and the end of the world is evidently approaching. So said a clay tablet inscribed almost 5 thousand years ago. But the world still stands, although we do go through golden and dark ages and societies rise and fall. Technology's golden age is now. or so we hope. How are current generations influenced by it and how will they shape the future world? Even as they age, Baby Boomers embrace emerging technologies such as smartphones and social networking. They will be the driving and demanding force behind innovation in healthcare. In the past, they drove economy by spending and borrowing, boosting housing and stock prices, increasing demand for products and services. Then the bubble burst. America's neglected middle child, Generation X is now the quiet driving force behind enterprise, media and information consumption. Xers endured lots of destruction, but were able to adapt and sparked a renaissance of entrepreneurship. They bring to the table a significant amount of buying power, but are less eager to spend money. Nielsen poll suggests they prefer a good deal over a social statement with their purchase.Millennial Generation, alternatively dubbed the Net Generation, Generation Y (or Why?), Echo-boomers, Nexters, and Digital Natives is now the largest generation in U.S history. Fueled by immigration, they outgrew the outsized Baby Boomer population and continue to grow.  Raised on a steady diet of video games, in a world where almost everything can be done with an app, fanned by economic slowdown, they are choosing to live differently and embrace the sharing economy. Since the second world war, purchases of new cars and suburban houses have propelled economic recoveries. Millennials may have lost interest in both, spending on smartphones instead. "The cheapest generation" burdened by student loans is renting instead of buying. They are demanding better integration of technology into public services, prefer healthy, natural, socially and environmentally conscious products.Perhaps auto brands and home builders just need to leverage mobile and environmental sustainability to attract this generation? Manufacturers do think so trying to turn cars into "giant docking stations with wheels". Tesla is one example of a brand adapting to millennials - and it's the top automotive stock among this generation. What about smart residences? Companies are betting on the Internet of Things - embedding objects we interact with in daily lives with electronics, software, sensors and connectivity. One-in-four Millennials (23%) already installed at least one of these products in their homes, compared to 12% of the total population. But building a true "smart home" - like the one owned by the Jetson's  -  integrating and managing multiple devices, and dealing with their eminent malfunctions needs a a lot of patience. Perhaps companies like IOTAS - creating smart homes for today's renters  - have taken the right first step? In the coming years, current generations will serve as a testbed for emerging technology concepts. Millennials will continue to drive the growth in the Internet of Things, connected cars and wearables markets. Generation Z will inherit technology rigorously honed through human testing. What will be their signature product and signature means of communication? We'll know soon enough.No doubt, we live in interesting timesJoin our conference "The Rise of the Millenials – Emerging Disruptive Trends". It will take place on September 19th 2015, at the Intel Auditorium in Santa Clara. REFERENCESPutre L (2013). The march of the Millenials. Your hospital staff in 2025: the same, only different. Hospitals & health networks / AHA, 87 (9) PMID: 24260968The “Not so Young” Millennial Consumer http://www.ijac.org.uk/images/frontImages/gallery/Vol._3_No._5/4.pdf“Americans and their gadgets” (2010) ... Read more »

Costanza, D., Badger, J., Fraser, R., Severt, J., & Gade, P. (2012) Generational Differences in Work-Related Attitudes: A Meta-analysis. Journal of Business and Psychology, 27(4), 375-394. DOI: 10.1007/s10869-012-9259-4  

Becton, J., Walker, H., & Jones-Farmer, A. (2014) Generational differences in workplace behavior. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 44(3), 175-189. DOI: 10.1111/jasp.12208  

  • July 1, 2015
  • 12:05 AM
  • 14 views

The Power of the Mind May not be as Well Utilized as it could be

by Kyle Harris in Sports Medicine Research (SMR): In the Lab & In the Field

Of 1283 survey respondents, only 27% of athletes reported using mental skills such as goal setting, positive self-talk, imagery, and relaxation. Of the 249 respondents who used mental skills 72% reported they felt it helped expedite their recovery process.... Read more »

Arvinen-Barrow M, Clement D, Hamson-Utley JJ, Zakrajsek RA, Lee SM, Kamphoff C, Lintunen T, Hemmings B, & Martin SB. (2015) Athletes' use of mental skills during sport injury rehabilitation. Journal of Sport Rehabilitation, 24(2), 189-97. PMID: 25996227  

  • June 30, 2015
  • 11:14 PM
  • 16 views

Surface matters: using earth-abundant materials to split water for energy storage

by Jonathan Trinastic in Goodnight Earth

Scientists have developed a new way to grow hematite as an electrode in solar water-splitting devices to greatly improve efficiency!... Read more »

Jang, J., Du, C., Ye, Y., Lin, Y., Yao, X., Thorne, J., Liu, E., McMahon, G., Zhu, J., Javey, A.... (2015) Enabling unassisted solar water splitting by iron oxide and silicon. Nature Communications, 7447. DOI: 10.1038/ncomms8447  

  • June 30, 2015
  • 08:12 PM
  • 10 views

Mongolian on the market

by Gegentuul Baioud in Language on the Move

Last week when I saw in my friends’ Wechat group an advertisement for delicately made Mongolian yurts, I thought of an article I had read earlier written by Mongolian scholar Naran Bilik. In his paper about urbanized Mongolians Bilik writes: … Continue reading →... Read more »

  • June 30, 2015
  • 03:28 PM
  • 19 views

Molecular bits of living things with fun names

by Rosin Cerate in Rosin Cerate

Most of the fancy words used by life science folks are dry but effective. However, every once in a while a researcher will discover a new gene or small molecule and decide to gift it with a fun and creative name.The bacterium Photorhabdus luminescens has a gene called makes caterpillars floppy (mcf), which encodes a toxin that causes caterpillars to go all floppy like before it kills them. P. luminescens is a super interesting little bug. It hangs out in the gut of a worm that infects insects, helping the worm to kill and digest its host. It's bioluminescent and may produce antibiotics, and apparently managed to get inside the wounds of soldiers fighting in the American Civil War and make them glow.The bacterium Proteus mirabilis, which can cause urinary tract infections, has a gene named zapA (one of the researchers who found this gene was a Zappa fan). The gene encodes a protein that helps the bacterium change how it moves around, contributing to its ability to cause disease.Tigger, roo, pogo, mariner, gypsy, hobo, and Jordan (discovered in 1993) are specialized pieces of DNA called transposons capable of bouncing/travelling/jumping around the genome of an organism.The cabbage looper, a moth that in its caterpillar form eats several important crops, has a gene named bagheera controlling its eye colour. While adults normally have gray-brown eyes, a mutation in the gene causes them to change to yellow.In 1983, a sheep was born with particularly well defined muscles in its hindquarters. This was subsequently determined to be the result of it possessing a particular variant of a gene named callipyge (from Greek calli-, beautiful; -pyge buttocks).Vertebrates have a gene called Sonic hedgehog (Shh), which is named after the video game character and encodes a protein secreted by cells so they can communicate with one another. The protein is involved in ensuring that we develop properly in the womb (e.g. that our brain is put together the right way). It also regulates angiogenesis and the division and migration of cells in adult bodies, and thus can have a role in cancer development. Sonic hedgehog is related to the hedgehog gene (hh), which was discovered earlier in fruit flies. Altering the hh gene in fly embryos causes them to become covered with small spikes as they develop, such that they look a bit like a really gross tiny hedgehog.Robotnikinin is a small molecule that can bind to Shh protein and disrupt its function. It's named after Dr. Ivo "Eggman" Robotnik, noted foe of Sonic.Pikachurin is a protein found in the retina of the eye. It's named after Pikachu and is necessary for normal vision, having a role in ensuring the proper transfer of rapid electrical signals between the eye and the brain.The stargazer gene in mice encodes a brain protein named stargazin. A mutant version of the gene apparently causes mice to develop a specific form of epilepsy where they stagger around with their heads twitching toward the sky.Beefy meaty peptide (BMP) (aka delicious peptide) is a specific chain of eight amino acids that was at one point thought to be responsible for the taste of red meat. However, BMP was subsequently shown to not be appreciably present in cooked beef and to have a strong acidic and astringent taste. Bummer.Fortunately, there's at least one other food reference to be had. Sushi domains are repeating sequences of amino acids found in some proteins that fold in such a way that they resemble the food (look at figure 8).Diablo, sickle, grim, and reaper are proteins that promote apoptosis, aka programmed cell death.Not sure what Jane Austen would have made of it, but darcin is a protein pheromone found in the urine of male mice that causes females to be sexually attracted to male urinary scent.Finally, there are oodles of silly yet appropriate names for genes found in Arabidopsis plants, fruit flies, and zebrafish. This is largely due to the widespread use of these organisms as models for all sorts of genetic investigations. Some of my favourites:Arabidopsis genesbubble-bath (bub) controls the number of vesicles present within plant cells; plants with certain mutations in this gene have so many vesicles that their cells appear to be full of bubbles (look at J and K of this figure)crabs claw (crc) and knuckles (knu) are involved in flower and silique development; mutations can result in a claw- (compare figure 1 A and C) or knuckle-like (look at C) appearance to their seed capsulespoltergeist helps to maintain stem cell populations in plant roots and shoots; mutations in the gene don't visibly alter plants unless they also have mutations in a second gene (like a ghost, the effects of this gene can't be detected under normal conditions)superman also regulates flower development; mutations can result in flowers with extra stamenskryptonite initiates a pathway by which expression of superman is inhibited by its transformation into clark kent (by DNA methylation)time for coffee contributes to the ability of plants to synchronize their actions with the changing availability of light throughout each 24 hour rotation of the earth, specifically regulating gene expression late at night when coffee would help a person stay awakeFruit fly genesbruchpilot apparently means crash pilot in German; mutants are bad at flyingcouch potato is involved in nervous system development and function; some mutants won't fly unless proddedfuzzy onions mediates the fusion of mitochondria in sperm cells; mutants are sterile and their unfused mitochondria have an onion-like and fuzzy appearance (look at E)ken and barbie mutants don't develop external genitaliamaggie mutants stop developing as larvae, kenny mutants have crappy immune systems and so tend to die youngcheap date mutants are sensitive to alcohol, lush mutants are strongly attracted to alcohol, hangover is required for the development of alcohol tolerance, ether-a-gogo mutants shake their legs when under the effects of etherbagpipe is required for the development of the fly midgut (incidentally, koza and zampogna are related genes found in frogs), concertina and saxophone regulate embryo development such that their mutation causes embryos to develop weirdly and vaguely resemble these instruments (this is totally a guess on my part)arleekin, valient, tungus, and many others are involved with long-term memory (named after Pavlov's dogs)tinman mutants don't grow a heart, the lungs of breathless mutants fail to develop properlyhamlet regulates the development of IIB cells, capulet is involved in the creation of egg cells, malvolio is required for normal sense of taste (mutants, like the Twelfth Night character, "taste with a distempered appetite"), prospero influences the fate of certain developing cellsZebrafish genesdrac... Read more »

  • June 30, 2015
  • 02:56 PM
  • 30 views

Women’s faces get redder at ovulation, but human eyes can’t pick up on it

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Previous studies have shown that men find female faces more attractive when the women are ovulating, but the visual clues that allow this are unclear. Now, new research investigating whether it might be to do with subtle changes in skin colour has shown that women’s faces do increase in redness during ovulation, but the levels of change are just under the detectable range of the human eye.... Read more »

Hannah Rowland, & Robert Burriss. (2015) Women’s faces get redder at ovulation, but human eyes can’t pick up on it. PLOS ONE. info:/

  • June 30, 2015
  • 12:55 PM
  • 27 views

Bipolar Disorder: Novel Clinical Trials II

by William Yates, M.D. in Brain Posts

This is the second post reviewing recent novel trials for the treatment of bipolar disorder.Again, for my sources I am using are clinicaltrials.gov and PubMed.Clicking on the study title will take you to the clinicaltrials.gov site for more detailed protocol information.Allopurinol Maintenance Study for Bipolar DisorderThis completed study examined the effect of 300 to 600 mg per day of allopurinol on mania prevention. Allopurinol is a drug used primarily for the treatment of gout or kidney stones. The drug lowers serum levels of uric acid. Uric acid in elevated in mania and potentially has a contribution role in mania. A small international randomized placebo-controlled study of allopurinol found significant improvements in acute mania. Quetiapine Alone Versus Quetiapine Plus Lithium for ManiaPhysicians have a variety of drug choices in the treatment of the manic phase of bipolar disorder. In this study, manic subjects were randomized to 600 to 800 mg of quetiapine with or without lithium dosed from 500 mg to 2000 mg per day. The study was conducted in China and the results showed that quetiapine alone was as effective as quetiapine plus lithium in reducing symptoms of mania.Internet-Based Interventions for Bipolar DisorderThis study is currently recruiting subjects between the ages of 21 to 65 years of age with a diagnosis of bipolar I, II or NOS. Subjects are randomized to one of three arms including: 1.) moderated discussion board, 2.) moderated discussion board plus psychoeducation or 3.) moderated discussion board, psychoeducation and interactive psychosocial tools. The study is sponsored by the VA Palo Alto System and primary outcome measures include assessment of depression and mania symptoms.Bipolar Depression Treatment with Deep Brain Repetitive Transcranial Magnetic StimulationThis study is currently recruiting subjects in Brazil and is sponsored by the University of Sao Paulo. The study uses a type of coil that is felt to be able to reach deeper areas of the brain felt to be important in mood regulation. Subjects must meet depression criteria at entry and the primary outcome measure is the Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression.Citations below are provided for more information on the treatments in the above studies. Readers can access abstracts by clicking on the link in the citation.Photo of giraffe from the Cincinnati Zoo is from the author's files.Follow the author on Twitter: @WRY999Jahangard, L., Soroush, S., Haghighi, M., Ghaleiha, A., Bajoghli, H., Holsboer-Trachsler, E., & Brand, S. (2013). In a double-blind, randomized and placebo-controlled trial, adjuvant allopurinol improved symptoms of mania in in-patients suffering from bipolar disorder Pharmacopsychiatry, 46 (06) DOI: 10.1055/s-0033-1353345Lauder S, Chester A, Castle D, Dodd S, Gliddon E, Berk L, Chamberlain J, Klein B, Gilbert M, Austin DW, & Berk M (2015). A randomized head to head trial of MoodSwings.net.au: an Internet based self-help program for bipolar disorder. Journal of affective disorders, 171, 13-21 PMID: 25282145Rapinesi C, Bersani FS, Kotzalidis GD, Imperatori C, Del Casale A, Di Pietro S, Ferri VR, Serata D, Raccah RN, Zangen A, Angeletti G, & Girardi P (2015). Maintenance Deep Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation Sessions are Associated with Reduced Depressive Relapses in Patients with Unipolar or Bipolar Depression. Frontiers in neurology, 6 PMID: 25709596... Read more »

  • June 30, 2015
  • 12:32 PM
  • 21 views

Omega-3 supplements and antioxidants may help with preclinical Alzheimer’s disease

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Here’s more evidence that fish oil supplementation and antioxidants might be beneficial for at least some people facing Alzheimer’s disease. A new report describes the findings of a very small study in which people with mild clinical impairment, such as those in the very early stages of the disease, saw clearance of the hallmark amyloid-beta protein and reduced inflammation in neurological tissues. Although the findings involved just 12 patients over the course of 4 to 17 months, the findings suggest further clinical study of this relatively inexpensive and plentiful supplement should be conducted.... Read more »

Fiala M, Halder RC, Sagong B, Ross O, Sayre J, Porter V, & Bredesen DE. (2015) ω-3 Supplementation increases amyloid-β phagocytosis and resolvin D1 in patients with minor cognitive impairment. FASEB journal : official publication of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology. PMID: 25805829  

  • June 30, 2015
  • 06:06 AM
  • 30 views

Newly Found Galaxies Hold Clues About Universe Creation

by Elisabeth Buhl Thubron in United Academics

With gravitational lensing, researchers have located population III stars in far galaxies.... Read more »

Rydberg, C., Zackrisson, E., Zitrin, A., Guaita, L., Melinder, J., Asadi, S., Gonzalez, J., Östlin, G., & Ström, T. (2015) A SEARCH FOR POPULATION III GALAXIES IN CLASH. I. SINGLY IMAGED CANDIDATES AT HIGH REDSHIFT. The Astrophysical Journal, 804(1), 13. DOI: 10.1088/0004-637X/804/1/13  

  • June 30, 2015
  • 05:14 AM
  • 38 views

Did Parkinson's Disease Influence Hitler?

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic_Discover

A new paper from a group of American neurologists makes the case that Hitler suffered from Parkinson's disease for much of his life, and that some of his most fateful decisions were influenced by the neurological disorder.



The article is by Raghav Gupta and colleagues and it appears in World Neurosurgery - a journal with an interesting political history of its own.

Gupta et al. note that
The possibility of Hitler suffering from Parkinson's has long been the subject of debate... [a res... Read more »

  • June 30, 2015
  • 05:06 AM
  • 30 views

Low glycemic index diet reduces symptoms of mouse autism

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

A quote to begin: "Overall, the manuscript supports the idea that ASD [autism spectrum disorder] results from gene–environment interactions and that in the presence of a genetic predisposition to ASD, diet can make a large difference in the expression of the condition."The manuscript in question was by Antonio Currais and colleagues [1] reporting some rather interesting results based on the 'dangermouse' that is the BTBR mouse model of autism. Researchers from the Salk Institute for Biological Studies showed that "the dietary glycemic index has a significant impact on the ASD phenotype." The dietary glycemic index (GI) by the way, is concerned with how particular foods / foodgroups affect blood glucose levels and the crux of the research was to see what happened to pregnant mice when fed either a high GI or low GI diet in terms of offspring outcomes. Offspring also followed the same diet diet post weaning.To quote from the paper and some associated media: "The two groups of animals consumed the same number of calories and were identical in weight. But mice that ate a high-glycemic index diet showed all of the expected behavioral symptoms of autism. Their social interactions were impaired, they repeated actions that served no apparent purpose, and they groomed extensively."Various other differences were present across the different dieting mice as per the findings that: "diet modulates plasma metabolites, neuroinflammation and brain markers of neurogenesis in a manner that is highly reflective of ASD in humans." This included the finding that "the brains of the high-glycemic index diet mice appeared to have greater numbers of activated microglia, the resident immune cells of the brain" and various inflammation-related genes being more readily expressed in comparison to the low-glycemic index diet mice. Microglia and autism remains a complex topic (see here) but with the advent of recent research findings [2] complete with headlines such as ''Missing link' between brain and immune system discovered' I dare say that we'll be hearing more about this is times to come.The compound doublecortin also receives a mention in the Currais results as per the suggestion that those mice living on the high-glycemic diet had less of the stuff and the significance of this finding given the link between doublecortin and neurogenesis for example [3]. Bearing in mind the BTBR mouse model of autism might already be more prone to reductions in the levels of doublecortin [4] it might be useful to see how this finding pans out when applied to real people in the real world."The new study found that the diet might directly influence the ecosystem of bacteria in the gut." It perhaps goes without saying that any sort of dietary change is likely to affect the composition of those trillions of wee beasties that call our gastrointestinal (GI) tract home. This also applies to mice and probably every other type of animal. "'We were really surprised when we found molecules in the blood that others had reported could only be generated by gut bacteria,' Maher says. 'There were big differences in some of these compounds between the two diets.'" Metabolites of gut bacteria found in general circulation... does this imply intestinal permeability (leaky gut) might be part and parcel of any effect? If so, would that perhaps also tie into the findings reported by Elaine Hsaio and colleagues a while back on leaky mice guts, gut bacteria and autism? Add in also the idea that high glycemic index foods tend to include things like wheat and various other grains and we start to get something looking rather familiar to autism research that may well show some relationship [5]."The group plans to analyze the gut bacteria, and its potential link with features of autism, more directly. They also hope to better understand the role of inflammation in the ability to generate new neurons." I'm very much looking forward to seeing these results, bearing in mind that mice are mice not people [6] and autism (or rather the autisms) is/are [a] very complicated condition(s).Music: The Jesus And Mary Chain - Just Like Honey.----------[1] Currais A. et al. Dietary glycemic index modulates the behavioral and biochemical abnormalities associated with autism spectrum disorder. Molecular Psychiatry. 2015. June 9.[2] Louveau A. et al. Structural and functional features of central nervous system lymphatic vessels. Nature. 2015 Jun 1.[3] Couillard-Despres S. et al. Doublecortin expression levels in adult brain reflect neurogenesis. Eur J Neurosci. 2005 Jan;21(1):1-14.[4] Stephenson DT. et al. Histopathologic characterization of the BTBR mouse model of autistic-like behavior reveals selective changes in neurodevelopmental proteins and adult hippocampal neurogenesis. Mol Autism. 2011 May 16;2(1):7.[5] Lammers KM. et al. Gliadin induces an increase in intestinal permeability and zonulin release by binding to the chemokine receptor CXCR3. Gastroenterology. 2008 Jul;135(1):194-204.e3.[6] Wong AH. & Josselyn SA. Caution When Diagnosing Your Mouse with Schizophrenia: The Use and Misuse of Model Animals for Understanding Psychiatric Disorders. Biol Psychiatry. 2015 May 6. pii: S0006-3223(15)00361-3.----------Currais A, Farrokhi C, Dargusch R, Goujon-Svrzic M, & Maher P (2015). Dietary glycemic index modulates the behavioral and biochemical abnormalities associated with autism spectrum disorder. Molecular psychiatry PMID: 26055422... Read more »

  • June 29, 2015
  • 07:55 PM
  • 35 views

You may already be beating cancer

by Angela Reisetter in Steeped in Science

A look at living with disease close at hand, using a couple different papers. Living with Risk.... Read more »

  • June 29, 2015
  • 03:26 PM
  • 44 views

How your brain knows it’s summer

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Researchers led by Toru Takumi at the RIKEN Brain Science Institute in Japan have discovered a key mechanism underlying how animals keep track of the seasons. The study shows how circadian clock machinery in the brain encodes seasonal changes in daylight duration through GABA activity along with changes in the amount of chloride located inside certain neurons.... Read more »

Myung J, Hong S, DeWoskin D, Schutter E, Forger, DB, and Takumi T. (2015) GABA-mediated repulsive coupling between circadian clock neurons in the SCN encodes seasonal time. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. info:/10.1073/pnas.1421200112

  • June 29, 2015
  • 01:51 PM
  • 43 views

The fear you experience playing video games is real, and you enjoy it

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

With the advent of video games, a frequently asked question has been whether we get as engrossed in them emotionally as we do when we see a scary movie. The answer is yes and many game players enjoy the fear caused by the zombies, disfigured humans and darkness they often encounter, the researchers found.... Read more »

  • June 29, 2015
  • 08:00 AM
  • 50 views

Stand and Deliver: We Think Better on Our Feet — Literally

by Jeremiah Stanghini in Jeremiah Stanghini

Did you see the post from ScienceDaily a couple of months ago? As it turns out, we think better when we’re on our feet. Maybe more importantly though, given how much we tend to sit throughout the day, standing is a good way to … Continue reading →... Read more »

Dornhecker, M., Blake, J., Benden, M., Zhao, H., & Wendel, M. (2015) The effect of stand-biased desks on academic engagement: an exploratory study. International Journal of Health Promotion and Education, 1-10. DOI: 10.1080/14635240.2015.1029641  

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