A team of researchers led by UNSW Australia scientists has discovered how connections between brain cells are destroyed in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease – work that opens up a new avenue for research on possible treatments for the degenerative brain condition.... Read more »
Leshchyns’ka, I., Liew, H., Shepherd, C., Halliday, G., Stevens, C., Ke, Y., Ittner, L., & Sytnyk, V. (2015) Aβ-dependent reduction of NCAM2-mediated synaptic adhesion contributes to synapse loss in Alzheimer’s disease. Nature Communications, 8836. DOI: 10.1038/ncomms9836
Professor Meiering and her colleagues were able to incorporate both structure and function into the design process by using bioinformatics to leverage information from nature. They then analyzed what they made and measured how long it took for the folded, functional protein to unfold and breakdown... Read more »
Broom A, Ma SM, Xia K, Rafalia H, Trainor K, Colón W, Gosavi S, & Meiering EM. (2015) Designed protein reveals structural determinants of extreme kinetic stability. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 112(47), 14605-10. PMID: 26554002
Tumour biomarkers are measurable changes in cancer cells that could be used to improve available therapies. The identification of early biomarkers could increase early diagnosis rates and provide insight into tumour biology including aggressiveness. In addition tumour subtype-specific biomarkers could help identify the treatments most likely to be effective and also be used to measure response. The search for biomarkers in renal cell carcinoma (RCC) is an active field, with various types of potential biomarker reported (reviewed in Mickley et al., 2015).... Read more »
Mickley A, Kovaleva O, Kzhyshkowska J, & Gratchev A. (2015) Molecular and immunologic markers of kidney cancer-potential applications in predictive, preventive and personalized medicine. The EPMA journal, 20. PMID: 26500709
"Premature mortality was markedly increased in ASD [autism spectrum disorder] owing to a multitude of medical conditions."So said the study by Tatja Hirvikoski and colleagues  and findings that although making uncomfortable reading, highlight how we have some way to go when it comes to addressing important health inequalities as and when a label of autism or ASD is given.Drawing on Swedish data including over 27,000 people diagnosed with an ASD between 1987 and 2009 compared against population information for some 2.6 million "gender-, age- and county of residence-matched controls", researchers examined the frequency of all-cause and cause-specific mortality rates across the groups. During their observation period some 0.9% of controls died compared with 2.6% of those on the autism spectrum. As per the opening sentence, this difference was described as "markedly increased" by the authors. Other important details are also provided as per the idea that gender and "general intellectual ability" might be moderating factors when it comes to the mortality patterns described with autism in mind.Realising that behind every statistic is a person and a family and a wider social group, I was not surprised by the Hirvikoski findings. Increased rates of early mortality when discussed in the context of autism have been talked about before on this blog (see here). In that previous case it was the findings reported by Deborah Bilder and colleagues  as the headline paper and their results based on data from the 1980s Utah/UCLA autism epidemiologic study. Then, as this time, "the presence of comorbid medical conditions and intellectual disability" played their part.There is an obvious need for continued need for research in this important area. Preferential screening is also perhaps implied based on the known over-representation of conditions like epilepsy or seizures disorder(s) when it comes to autism (see here) and onwards the potential for states such as SUDEP. Indeed, recognising that a diagnosis of autism may place someone at elevated risk of various medical comorbidity (see here) really needs to be talked about a lot more as per what seems to be happening when it comes to schizophrenia (see here) in the context of health inequalities leading to early mortality.Just before I go, I'd also like to refer you back to a post I wrote previously talking about 'issues' with screening and diagnosing certain medical comorbidity (see here) with autism in mind and how attending physicians might need to show a little medical creativity to ensure that diagnosis is both timely and accurate...--------- Hirvikoski T. et al. Premature mortality in autism spectrum disorder. Br J Psychiatry. 2015 Nov 5. Bilder D. et al. Excess mortality and causes of death in autism spectrum disorders: a follow up of the 1980s Utah/UCLA autism epidemiologic study. J Autism Dev Disord. 2013 May;43(5):1196-204.----------Hirvikoski T, Mittendorfer-Rutz E, Boman M, Larsson H, Lichtenstein P, & Bölte S (2015). Premature mortality in autism spectrum disorder. The British journal of psychiatry : the journal of mental science PMID: 26541693... Read more »
Stem cells that have been specifically developed for use as clinical therapies are fit for use in patients, an independent study of their genetic make-up suggests. The research – which focused on human embryonic stem cells – paves the way for clinical trials of cell therapies to treat conditions such as Parkinson’s disease, age-related degeneration of the eyes and spinal cord injury.... Read more »
Canham, M., Van Deusen, A., Brison, D., De Sousa, P., Downie, J., Devito, L., Hewitt, Z., Ilic, D., Kimber, S., Moore, H.... (2015) The Molecular Karyotype of 25 Clinical-Grade Human Embryonic Stem Cell Lines. Scientific Reports, 17258. DOI: 10.1038/srep17258
Be the highlight of Thanksgiving dinner conversation after you learn these fascinating facts about turkeys!... Read more »
Russo, E., Scicchitano, F., Citraro, R., Aiello, R., Camastra, C., Mainardi, P., Chimirri, S., Perucca, E., Donato, G., & De Sarro, G. (2012) Protective activity of α-lactoalbumin (ALAC), a whey protein rich in tryptophan, in rodent models of epileptogenesis. Neuroscience, 282-288. DOI: 10.1016/j.neuroscience.2012.09.021
Bruce KR, Steiger H, Young SN, Kin NM, Israël M, & Lévesque M. (2009) Impact of acute tryptophan depletion on mood and eating-related urges in bulimic and nonbulimic women. Journal of psychiatry , 34(5), 376-82. PMID: 19721848
Chocolate agar refers to two very different foods, only one of which actually contains chocolate. Both are prepared using agar, a mixture obtained by boiling certain types of algae to release a sugar called agarose that forms a gel when it cools. Thus agar (also called agar agar) can be used to make jelly desserts, flavours of which include coffee-coconut and, you guessed it, chocolate. It's basically a vegan form of Jell-O (which contains gelatin derived from animal bits).The second type of chocolate agar is also a jelly-like substance, but it's prepared by adding blood (usually obtained from sheep, pigs, goats, or cows) to melted agar, slowly heating it until the blood turns a chocolate brown colour, and then pouring the appetizing mixture into dishes to cool and form a gel. The blood is heated to break open the red blood cells that are found within it. This is important because red blood cells contain delicious factors (e.g. NAD, hemin) that certain bacteria are unable to synthesize on their own but still require for growth. These same bacteria are really bad at breaking into red blood cells, and so will not grow well on agar made with unheated blood.Bacteria that specifically grow well on chocolate agar include Haemophilus influenzae (so named because it was thought at the time to be responsible for influenza, which is actually caused by a virus) and Neisseria meningitidis. Both of these bacteria are found hanging out innocuously in the throats of many healthy people, but can cause potentially life-threatening illnesses such as pneumonia and meningitis in individuals with a compromised immune system or who are otherwise susceptible to infection. Other bacteria that grow well on chocolate agar are responsible for sexually transmitted infections, such as Haemophilus ducreyi (chancroid) and Neisseria gonorrhoeae (gonorrhea). The common theme here is bacteria that like to eat chocolate agar have a longstanding relationship with human beings, and likely lost their ability to make a number of necessary growth factors (found within red blood cells) because they could just grab them from the person they were residing in.ReferencesKoch ML. 1948. Pancreatic digest chocolate blood agar for the isolation of the gonococcus. Journal of Bacteriology 56(1):83-87. [Full text]Leifson E. 1932. Types of bacteria on blood and chocolate agar and the immediate cause of these types. Journal of Bacteriology 24(6):473-487. [Full text]Stephens DS. 2009. Biology and pathogenesis of the evolutionarily successful, obligate human bacterium Neisseria meningitidis. Vaccine 27(Suppl 2):B71-B77. [Full text]Tatusov RL, Mushegian AR, Bork P, Brown NP, Hayes WS, Borodovsky M, Rudd KE, Koonin EV. 1996. Metabolism and evolution of Haemophilus influenzae deduced from a whole-genome comparison with Escherichia coli. Current Biology 6(3):279-291.... Read more »
Stephens D. (2009) Biology and pathogenesis of the evolutionarily successful, obligate human bacterium Neisseria meningitidis. Vaccine, 27(Suppl 2). DOI: 10.1016/j.vaccine.2009.04.070
MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Isaac Yi Kim, MD, PhD Acting Chief and Associate Professor, Division of Urology Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School Chief, Section of Urologic Oncology and Young Suk “Joseph” Kwon, MD Post-doctoral fellow Section of Urologic Oncology Rutgers Cancer … Continue reading →
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Isaac Yi Kim, MD, PhD, & Young Suk "Joseph" Kwon,. (2015) Can Active Surveillance Be Extended To Some Men With Elevated PSAs?. MedicalResearch.com. info:/
MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Karina Birgitta Berg MD Department of Ophthalmology Oslo University Hospital Oslo, Norway Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Berg: Neovascular age-related macular degeneration (nAMD) has been the leading … Continue reading →
The post LUCAS: Lucentis Compared to Avastin Treat and Extend Study For Macular Degeneration appeared first on MedicalResearch.com.
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Karina Birgitta Berg MD. (2015) LUCAS: Lucentis Compared to Avastin Treat and Extend Study For Macular Degeneration. MedicalResearch.com. info:/
MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Arri Coomarasamy, MBChB, MD, FRCOG Professor of Gynaecology and Reproductive Medicine University of Birmingham Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Professor Coomarasamy: Progesterone is a natural hormone that is essential to … Continue reading →
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Arri Coomarasamy, MBChB, MD, FRCOG. (2015) Progesterone In Early Pregnancy Not Effective in Preventing Miscarriage. MedicalResearch.com. info:/
MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Dr. Andrew Whittle, joint first-author of the paper and a postdoc in the Prof. Vidal-Puig’s lab at the time the research was conducted. Medical Research: What is the background for this study? Dr. Whittle: Antonio Vidal-Puig heads … Continue reading →
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Dr. Andrew Whittle. (2015) Circulating Protein Helps Fat Cells Resist Weight Loss. MedicalResearch.com. info:/
MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Dr. Ole Jakob Storebø Region Zealand, Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Department, Roskilde Region Zealand Psychiatry Psychiatric Research Unit, Slagelse University of Southern Denmark Department of Psychology Faculty of Health Science, Odense Denmark Medical Research: What is the background for … Continue reading →
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Dr. Ole Jakob Storebø. (2015) Cochrane Analysis Reviews Studies of Ritalin For ADHD. MedicalResearch.com. info:/
Around the world many health services are moving towards generic (non-branded) medicines as a way to reduce costs. Where does psychology come into this? Well, we know that, thanks to the placebo effect, people's expectations about a treatment can influence the effects that treatment has on them. We also know, thanks to research conducted over the last decade, that people expect branded medicines to be more effective and to have fewer side effects than their generic counterparts. A new study in Health Psychology is one of the first to explore whether this matters – specifically, it looks at whether a generic painkiller is less effective than its chemically identical branded counterpart. Kate Faasse and her colleagues recruited 87 undergrads, most of them were female, who answered an advert seeking people who suffer frequent headaches (at least one per fortnight). The participants were given four doses of Ibuprofen to use in the coming weeks as and when they suffered a headache, and to keep a diary of the relief the medicine brought them, and any side-effects they experienced. Crucially, two of the doses were branded as Neurofen, while the other two were generic in plain packaging. Unbeknown to the participants, one of the branded doses was actually a placebo, as was one of the generic doses.When it came to the active doses, there was no difference between the branded and generic Ibuprofen – both were equally effective at pain relief and the students reported the same amount of side-effects for each. However, with the placebo doses, the branded medicine was more effective than the generic at pain relief and was associated with fewer side effects than the generic medicine.Although these findings imply that branding makes no difference to an active pain relief medicine, they do show how branding exerts a placebo effect in terms of pain relief and reduced side-effects. This placebo effect was not detectable beyond the actions of the active medicine. But Faasse and her colleagues explained that this branding-related placebo effect could have real-life significance for other types of medicine for which the actions of the drug are less easy for patients to monitor or detect (as compared with pain relief), such as blood pressure medication or anti-depressants, meaning that the patients' beliefs about the drug might be more important. We'll need more research to test this.The researchers said: "The additional placebo effect associated with branding has the potential to enhance medication effectiveness, which may subsequently be lost during a switch to a generic alternative"._________________________________ Faasse, K., Martin, L., Grey, A., Gamble, G., & Petrie, K. (2015). Impact of Brand or Generic Labeling on Medication Effectiveness and Side Effects. Health Psychology DOI: 10.1037/hea0000282 Post written by Christian Jarrett (@psych_writer) for the BPS Research Digest.Our free fortnightly email will keep you up-to-date with all the psychology research we digest: Sign up!
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Faasse, K., Martin, L., Grey, A., Gamble, G., & Petrie, K. (2015) Impact of Brand or Generic Labeling on Medication Effectiveness and Side Effects. Health Psychology. DOI: 10.1037/hea0000282
For anyone that has followed this blog down the years you'll probably have noticed that I'm quite a big fan of the inclusion of the science of metabolomics on to the autism research menu (see here for example).Looking at the myriad of chemical footprints left behind by an almost incomprehensible number of cellular processes, metabolomics offers some real promise to autism in terms of teasing apart phenotypes and as a valuable partner to other -omics sciences in ascertaining the relevance or not of specific biological pathways. All of this set within the context of the plural autisms and the important role of comorbidity (see here).It is therefore with metabolomics again in mind that I bring to your attention the paper by Binta Dieme and colleagues  who weren't joking when they talk about a "multiplatform analytical methodology" with autism in mind. That multiplatform approach included "1H- and 1 H-13C-NMR-based approaches and LC-HRMS-based approaches (ESI+ and ESI- on a HILIC and C18 chromatography column)." If all that sounds like gibberish, the watchwords are NMR - Nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy - and LC-HRMS - Liquid chromatography–high resolution mass spectrometry - two of the gold-standard analytical techniques for detecting and identifying compounds of interest in this realm of biology. Some of the other details such as HILIC columns are all to do with how one goes about separating out the individual components of a complicated biological medium like urine as well as some further details about what the authors did to detect them. I might add that this authorship group have some previous form in this area of the autism research landscape (see here).Based on the analysis of urine samples initially from 22 children with autism and 24 not-autism controls (a training group), researchers talked about the results they obtained from the various metabolomic approaches employed including processing of results by OPLS-DA (orthogonal partial least squares discriminant analysis). I don't want to bore you with the ins-and-outs of what OPLS-DA means (yeah, as if I know!) but suffice to say its all about how one classifies the multitude of data one generates via such analytical methods. This data and analyses were then used to generate a set of compounds (pattern of compounds) potentially predictive of whether or not it could classify a urine sample from someone with autism from a urine sample from someone without autism. Samples from a separate group of participants - "8 autistic children and 8 controls" - were used to 'test' the predictions generated. The authors report that the OPLS-DA model generated "showed an enhanced performance... compared to each analytical modality model, as well as a better predictive capacity (AUC=0.91, p-value 0.006)." AUC by the way, refers to area under the curve and is a term associated with a ROC (receiver operating characteristic). In this respect, the Dieme paper seemed to do pretty well at classifying samples according to autism or not-autism status bearing in mind the relatively small participant group numbers.Just in case you're not confused enough, there are a few other details about the Dieme paper and findings that are worthy of comment. So: "Metabolites that are most significantly different between autistic and control children (p<0.05) are indoxyl sulfate, N-〈-Acetyl-L-arginine, methyl guanidine and phenylacetylglutamine." Indoxyl sulfate is a particularly interesting compound for quite a few reasons. Not only is the source material for this compound one of the those oh-so-interesting aromatic amino acids, tryptophan (y'know serotonin, melatonin and all that jazz) but the compound itself is described as a uremic toxin . Without wishing to make connections where none may exist, uremic compounds in relation to autism have been discussed before on this blog as per the Elaine Hsiao findings on bacteria and leaky gut in a mouse model of autism (see here) and some chatter about p-cresol and autism (see here and see here). If there is an overlapping factor potentially uniting these findings, it would have to be a possible role for those trillions of wee beasties that call our gut home - the gut microbiome. I might also briefly mention the arginine finding too in relation to a related tryptophan observation for some autism... BH4 (see here).As I mentioned at the start of this post I am a fan of this area of research area and its potential for furthering knowledge about autism. Larger datasets and perhaps a focus outside of just zooming in on the label of autism are perhaps elements that are needed to aid investigations in this area, alongside a more general combinatorial -omic initiative with a systems biology slant (see here).Music and I've played this before but here it is again... Weapon Of Choice by Fatboy Slim (a favourite video of my brood).---------- Dieme B. et al. Metabolomics study of urine in autism spectrum disorders using a multiplatform analytical methodology. J Proteome Res. 2015 Nov 5. Vanholder R. et al. The uremic toxicity of indoxyl sulfate and p-cresyl sulfate: a systematic review. J Am Soc Nephrol. 2014 Sep;25(9):1897-907.----------Dieme B, Mavel S, Blasco H, Tripi G, Bonnet-Brilhault F, Malvy J, Bocca C, Andres CR, Nadal-Desbarats L, & Emond P (2015). Metabolomics study of urine in autism spectrum disorders using a multiplatform analytical methodology. Journal of proteome research PMID: 26538324... Read more »
Dieme B, Mavel S, Blasco H, Tripi G, Bonnet-Brilhault F, Malvy J, Bocca C, Andres CR, Nadal-Desbarats L, & Emond P. (2015) Metabolomics study of urine in autism spectrum disorders using a multiplatform analytical methodology. Journal of proteome research. PMID: 26538324
Nearly 37 million people worldwide are living with HIV. When the virus destroys so many immune cells that the body can’t fight off infection, AIDS will develop. The disease took the lives of more than a million people last year.... Read more »
Lu, M., Hou, G., Zhang, H., Suiter, C., Ahn, J., Byeon, I., Perilla, J., Langmead, C., Hung, I., Gor'kov, P.... (2015) Dynamic allostery governs cyclophilin A–HIV capsid interplay. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 201516920. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1516920112
MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Anup Das Medical Scientist Training Program Department of Health Management and Policy University of Michigan, Ann Arbor Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: The Centers for Medicare & … Continue reading →
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Anup Das. (2015) Skilled Nursing and Readmissions Drive Up Post Hospital Discharge Spending. MedicalResearch.com. info:/
MedicalResearch.com Interview Grant S Schulert MD, PhD Clinical Fellow, Division of Rheumatology Cincinnati Childrens Hospital Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Schulert: Influenza infection causes millions of illnesses annually, but most of … Continue reading →
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Grant S Schubert MD, PhD. (2015) Genetic Links To Fatal Inflammatory Flu Reaction Discovered. MedicalResearch.com. info:/
The peer review of research proposals (grants) aims to judge the merit of projects and researchers and enable the best to be contemplated. The director of an institution in the United Kingdom shared on Twitter his struggle in evaluating the numerous proposals received and started a discussion forum from which ideas and suggestions emerged. … Read More →... Read more »
MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Dr. Ffion C Davies Consultant in Emergency Medicine & Paediatric Lead University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust Leicester Royal Infirmary Leicester UK Medical Research: What is the background for this study? Dr. Davies: This study is from … Continue reading →
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Dr. Ffion C Davies. (2015) Young Children Most Likely To Severe Injury and Death From Abuse. MedicalResearch.com. info:/
This is not a study that has a valid control group to determine if there is any benefit from ventilation. There is no group that does not receive ventilations, so it is like a study of one type of blood-letting vs. another type of blood-letting with the researchers taking for granted that blood-letting does improve outcomes. That is not a problem if blood-letting actually improves outcomes.
Should we take it for granted that blood-letting improves outcomes and that the only hypothesis worth studying is which brand to choose?... Read more »
Nichol, G., Leroux, B., Wang, H., Callaway, C., Sopko, G., Weisfeldt, M., Stiell, I., Morrison, L., Aufderheide, T., Cheskes, S.... (2015) Trial of Continuous or Interrupted Chest Compressions during CPR. New England Journal of Medicine, 2147483647. DOI: 10.1056/NEJMoa1509139
Alldredge BK,, Gelb AM,, Isaacs SM,, Corry MD,, Allen F,, Ulrich S,, Gottwald MD,, O’Neil N,, Neuhaus JM,, Segal MR,.... (2001) A Comparison of Lorazepam, Diazepam, and Placebo for the Treatment of Out-of-Hospital Status Epilepticus. New England Journal of Medicine, 345(25), 1860-1860. DOI: 10.1056/NEJM200112203452521
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