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  • December 3, 2016
  • 04:23 AM
  • 39 views

Parent-mediated interventions for young children with autism meta-analysed

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

Do not mess with  Lois.Today I'm posting on the topic of the paper by Rose Nevill and colleagues [1] concluding: "that while most outcome domains of parent-delivered intervention are associated with small effects, the quality of research is improving."Parent-mediated interventions in relation to autism have been covered on this blog quite recently (see here) accompanied by that 'super-parenting' headline fail. Such approaches work on the idea that helping parents to "develop strategies........ Read more »

  • December 2, 2016
  • 01:40 PM
  • 47 views

Parkour Athletes Teach Scientists about Swinging Apes

by Elizabeth Preston in Inkfish



"I was at a conference, and a colleague was talking about the locomotion of great apes in the trees," says Lewis Halsey, a physiologist at the University of Roehampton in London. The colleague mentioned that it's tough to measure how these animals use energy. That's when Halsey had an epiphany. "I was working with parkour athletes on another project," he says, studying how much energy the athletes used while jumping and climbing around a city. Why not use these human athletes to stand in........ Read more »

  • December 2, 2016
  • 07:48 AM
  • 49 views

Case studies: BHD syndrome associated with pulmonary malformation and with lung neoplasm

by Joana Guedes in BHD Research Blog

Matsutani et al. (2016) reported for the first time BHD syndrome accompanied by pulmonary arteriovenous malformation. The patient, a young male with no significant medical history, presented with chest pain. Chest X-ray and CT revealed emphysematous changes in both lungs and a tumour with pleural fluid. A thoracoscopy revealed dark red pleural fluid and multiple cysts in the lung. The tumour lesion was resected and identified as a non-malignant intrapulmonary hematoma caused by a significant hae........ Read more »

Matsutani, N., Dejima, H., Takahashi, Y., Uehara, H., Iinuma, H., Tanaka, F., & Kawamura, M. (2016) Birt-Hogg-Dube syndrome accompanied by pulmonary arteriovenous malformation. Journal of Thoracic Disease, 8(10). DOI: 10.21037/jtd.2016.09.68  

Gunji-Niitsu, Y., Kumasaka, T., Kitamura, S., Hoshika, Y., Hayashi, T., Tokuda, H., Morita, R., Kobayashi, E., Mitani, K., Kikkawa, M.... (2016) Benign clear cell “sugar” tumor of the lung in a patient with Birt-Hogg-Dubé syndrome: a case report. BMC Medical Genetics, 17(1). DOI: 10.1186/s12881-016-0350-y  

  • December 2, 2016
  • 06:18 AM
  • 48 views

Friday Fellow: Indian shot

by Piter Boll in Earthling Nature

by Piter Kehoma Boll Today’s Friday Fellow may not seem to be such an astonishing plant, but it has its peculiarities, some of them quite interesting. Commonly known as Indian shot, African arrowroot, purple arrowroot, and many other names, it … Continue reading →... Read more »

  • December 2, 2016
  • 03:18 AM
  • 59 views

The prebiotic galactooligosaccharide (B-GOS) and autism: just add to poo(p)

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

Yes, it is childish but...With all the continued chatter on a possible role for the collected gut microbiota - those wee beasties that inhabit our deepest, darkest recesses - in relation to some autism (see here for example), the paper by Roberta Grimaldi and colleagues [1] (open-access available here) provides yet more potentially important information.So, poo(p) samples were the starring material in the paper - "obtained from three non-autistic children and three autistic child donors"- and sp........ Read more »

  • December 1, 2016
  • 02:57 AM
  • 69 views

Dietary fibre deficiency and gut barrier integrity

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"Dietary fiber deprivation, together with a fiber-deprived, mucus-eroding microbiota, promotes greater epithelial access and lethal colitis by the mucosal pathogen, Citrobacter rodentium."So said the findings reported by Mahesh Desai and colleagues [1] meriting an editorial in the publishing journal [2] as the sentiments of 'eating your greens' applies to some rather interesting [mouse] findings.Fibre (UK spelling) comes in various different forms typically categorised as soluble and insoluble d........ Read more »

Desai MS, Seekatz AM, Koropatkin NM, Kamada N, Hickey CA, Wolter M, Pudlo NA, Kitamoto S, Terrapon N, Muller A.... (2016) A Dietary Fiber-Deprived Gut Microbiota Degrades the Colonic Mucus Barrier and Enhances Pathogen Susceptibility. Cell, 167(5), 1339-2147483647. PMID: 27863247  

  • November 30, 2016
  • 07:00 AM
  • 68 views

A Better Model System for Ovarian Cancer: Patient-derived tumor xenografts (PDXs) are suitable for epigenetic methylome-based cancer research

by Tushar Tomar in EpiBeat

Ovarian cancer is the most lethal gynecologic malignancy. After epigenomic analysis of patient tumors, aberrant DNA methylation patterns are universally observed in the most abundant histological subtype of ovarian cancer, high-grade serous ovarian cancer (HGSOC). These epigenetic modifications like DNA methylation are known to frequently affect gene regulation involved in cancer-related processes. Since epigenetic alterations are reversible in nature, these changes have emerged as attractive ta........ Read more »

Alkema NG, Wisman GB, van der Zee AG, van Vugt MA, & de Jong S. (2016) Studying platinum sensitivity and resistance in high-grade serous ovarian cancer: Different models for different questions. Drug resistance updates : reviews and commentaries in antimicrobial and anticancer chemotherapy, 55-69. PMID: 26830315  

Hidalgo M, Amant F, Biankin AV, Budinská E, Byrne AT, Caldas C, Clarke RB, de Jong S, Jonkers J, Mælandsmo GM.... (2014) Patient-derived xenograft models: an emerging platform for translational cancer research. Cancer discovery, 4(9), 998-1013. PMID: 25185190  

  • November 30, 2016
  • 03:10 AM
  • 76 views

Restless leg syndrome in parents of children with autism

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

The findings reported by Maureen Russell and colleagues [1] provide some blogging fodder today and the observation that: "Biological caregivers of children with ASD [autism spectrum disorder] demonstrated a high prevalence of RLS [Restless Legs Syndrome] symptoms and poorer mental health."OK, I know some people might be asking 'just what is Restless Legs Syndrome'? It is a recognised condition complete with 'disease' title (Willis-Ekbom disease). Symptoms, as the name suggests, centre ........ Read more »

Russell M, Baldwin C, McClain D, Matthews N, Smith C, & Quan SF. (2016) Symptoms of Restless Legs Syndrome in Biological Caregivers of Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders. Journal of clinical sleep medicine : JCSM : official publication of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. PMID: 27855729  

  • November 30, 2016
  • 02:00 AM
  • 70 views

Chemical games and the origin of life from prebiotic RNA

by Eric Bolo in Evolutionary Games Group

From bacteria to vertebrates, life — as we know it today — relies on complex molecular interactions, the intricacies of which science has not fully untangled. But for all its complexity, life always requires two essential abilities. Organisms need to preserve their genetic information and reproduce. In our own cells, these tasks are assigned to […]... Read more »

Yeates JA, Hilbe C, Zwick M, Nowak MA, & Lehman N. (2016) Dynamics of prebiotic RNA reproduction illuminated by chemical game theory. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 113(18), 5030-5. PMID: 27091972  

  • November 29, 2016
  • 05:24 AM
  • 91 views

Publication bias and autism research

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

The title of the paper by Konstantin Mechler and colleagues - "Defining the hidden evidence in autism research. Forty per cent of rigorously designed clinical trials remain unpublished - a cross-sectional analysis" [1] - provides some discussion today. Drawing on the ideas that publication bias and/or the so-called 'file-drawer problem' - terms that refer to the non-publication of study results potentially skewing the collected scientific opinion in a particular area - might also exten........ Read more »

  • November 29, 2016
  • 02:32 AM
  • 102 views

New Groin Flashing Frog Discovered

by beredim in Strange Animals





Researchers recently announced the discovery of a frog whose groin flashes orange to scare away predators! The species was discovered in Australia.

When biologist Simon Clulow spotted a frog with an unusual marble pattern on its belly, he knew it could be a new species. If that turned to be true, it would be very surprising as the sighting took place on land close to an airport and not some ... Read more »

  • November 28, 2016
  • 03:23 AM
  • 106 views

On moving off the autism spectrum

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

The paper by Nahit Motavalli Mukaddes and colleagues [1] provides some important, if small-scale, information when it comes to that still controversial term - optimal outcome - with the diagnosis of autism in mind. Optimal outcome basically refers to a particular 'type' of autism whereby following a definite diagnosis of autism or autism spectrum disorder (ASD), a later re-evaluation of signs and symptoms reveals that diagnostic thresholds are subsequently not reached and/or exceeded a........ Read more »

  • November 27, 2016
  • 04:16 PM
  • 90 views

Interview with Tunca Doğan, OMA Visiting Fellow 2016

by Christophe Dessimoz in Open Reading Frame

Note: the “Life in the Lab” series features interviews of interns and visitors. This post is by our second 2016 OMA Visiting Fellow Tunca Doğan, who spent a month with us earlier this year. You can follow Tunca on Twitter at @tuncadogan. —Christophe



Please introduce yourself in a few sentences.

My name is Tunca Doğan. I received my PhD in 2013 with a thesis study in the fields of bioinformatics and computational biology where we developed methods for the clustering........ Read more »

  • November 26, 2016
  • 04:33 AM
  • 116 views

Acetylation focus over methylation in autism epigenetics?

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

The paper by Wenjie Sun and colleagues [1] (open-access) provides the blogging fodder for today's post and although based on the science of epigenetics, the usual suspect - DNA methylation - gives way to another concept: histone acetylation with autism in mind. Before heading into the paper myself, I'll draw your attention to some other write-ups of the study including a hat-tip to Jeff Craig and his piece on the topic (see here).So histone acetylation... I've covered the subject ........ Read more »

Sun, W., Poschmann, J., Cruz-Herrera del Rosario, R., Parikshak, N., Hajan, H., Kumar, V., Ramasamy, R., Belgard, T., Elanggovan, B., Wong, C.... (2016) Histone Acetylome-wide Association Study of Autism Spectrum Disorder. Cell, 167(5), 1385-2147483647. DOI: 10.1016/j.cell.2016.10.031  

  • November 25, 2016
  • 08:00 PM
  • 121 views

Three mechanisms of dark selection for ruxolitinib resistance

by Artem Kaznatcheev in Evolutionary Games Group

Last week I returned from the 6th annual IMO Workshop at the Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa, Florida. As I’ve sketched in an earlier post, my team worked on understanding ruxolitinib resistance in chronic myelomonocytic leukemia (CMML). We developed a suite of integrated multi-scale models for uncovering how resistance arises in CMML with no apparent […]... Read more »

Merlevede, J., Droin, N., Qin, T., Meldi, K., Yoshida, K., Morabito, M., Chautard, E., Auboeuf, D., Fenaux, P., Braun, T.... (2016) Mutation allele burden remains unchanged in chronic myelomonocytic leukaemia responding to hypomethylating agents. Nature Communications, 10767. PMID: 26908133  

  • November 25, 2016
  • 03:48 PM
  • 99 views

When Facing Predators, Male Monkeys Do Whatever Females Tell Them

by Elizabeth Preston in Inkfish



In the forests of West Africa, bands of handsome primates called Diana monkeys roam the tree branches. Each group has just one male and several females with their babies. The tradeoff for his apparently cushy living situation is that the male has to chase off predators. His female companions use specific calls to tell him what kinds of threats are nearby. And he responds to whatever they tell him—even if it goes against his own judgment.



Diana monkeys (Cercopithecus diana) of both sex... Read more »

  • November 25, 2016
  • 06:40 AM
  • 119 views

FLCN haploinsufficiency leads to lung fibroblast dysfunction in patients with BHD syndrome

by Joana Guedes in BHD Research Blog

Birt–Hogg–Dubé syndrome (BHD) is caused by germline mutations in the FLCN gene and characterized by fibrofolliculomas, lung cysts, spontaneous pneumothorax and renal tumours. The stretch hypothesis for pulmonary cyst formation proposes that cysts in BHD arise from defects in cell–cell adhesion, leading to repeated respiration-induced physical stretch-induced stress and, over time, expansion of alveolar spaces particularly in vulnerable regions of lung (Kennedy et al., 20........ Read more »

Hoshika, Y., Takahashi, F., Togo, S., Hashimoto, M., Nara, T., Kobayashi, T., Nurwidya, F., Kataoka, H., Kurihara, M., Kobayashi, E.... (2016) Haploinsufficiency of the gene leads to impaired functions of lung fibroblasts in patients with Birt–Hogg–Dubé syndrome . Physiological Reports, 4(21). DOI: 10.14814/phy2.13025  

  • November 25, 2016
  • 05:00 AM
  • 117 views

Friday Fellow: Persian Carpet Flatworm

by Piter Boll in Earthling Nature

by Piter Kehoma Boll A flatworm again, at last! Not a land planarian, but a flatworm nonetheless. If there is a group of flatworms that may put land planarians in second plan regarding beauty, those are the polyclads. Living in … Continue reading →... Read more »

  • November 25, 2016
  • 02:49 AM
  • 138 views

Screening for coeliac disease in autism

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"The overall CD [coeliac disease or celiac disease depending on where you live] prevalence was 2.62%, which is statistically significant higher to that reported in the Italian paediatric population... If replicated, these data suggest the importance of regular screening for CD in young patients with ASD [autism spectrum disorder]."Those were some of the findings/conclusions reported in the paper by Sara Calderoni and colleagues [1] (open-access) and with them, some ........ Read more »

Calderoni, S., Santocchi, E., Del Bianco, T., Brunori, E., Caponi, L., Paolicchi, A., Fulceri, F., Prosperi, M., Narzisi, A., Cosenza, A.... (2016) Serological screening for Celiac Disease in 382 pre-schoolers with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Italian Journal of Pediatrics, 42(1). DOI: 10.1186/s13052-016-0308-x  

  • November 24, 2016
  • 04:48 AM
  • 146 views

Breastfeeding and autism (or autistic traits) continued?

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"After adjustment for several confounders, longer duration of breastfeeding was independently associated with better cognitive development and with fewer autistic traits."So said the paper by Olivier Boucher and colleagues [1] communicating findings based on the examination of data from "the INMA Project, a Spanish multicenter birth-cohort study" (an initiative that has cropped up on this blog before).Including over 1300 children who were subject to a battery of psychometric and behavioural asse........ Read more »

Boucher O, Julvez J, Guxens M, Arranz E, Ibarluzea J, Sánchez de Miguel M, Fernández-Somoano A, Tardon A, Rebagliato M, Garcia-Esteban R.... (2016) Association between breastfeeding duration and cognitive development, autistic traits and ADHD symptoms: a multicenter study in Spain. Pediatric research. PMID: 27846197  

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