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  • September 3, 2014
  • 04:25 PM
  • 135 views

HIV and Dementia

by Gabriel in Lunatic Laboratories

With the introduction of combination antiretroviral therapy (or cART) during the mid-90s, the life expectancy of HIV patients has significantly improved. An unfortunate side effect of this is that long-term complications are becoming more relevant: almost every second HIV patient is affected by neurocognitive disorders, which can lead to dementia. It has not as yet been fully understood how these disorders occur, but new research is shining a light on the culprit.... Read more »

  • September 3, 2014
  • 04:36 AM
  • 102 views

An observation-based classifier for rapid detection of autism risk

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"Keep clear of the moors"Among the many researchers and research groups admired on this blog for their contribution to the world of autism research, the name Dennis Wall is fast becoming a real favourite. Aside from mention of the words 'systems biology' in his profile at Stanford University, I'm particularly interested in the way the Wall research group are looking at trying to apply machine-learning approaches to things like autism assessment.I've covered a few of their past research reports w........ Read more »

M Duda, J A Kosmicki, & D P Wall. (2014) Testing the accuracy of an observation-based classifier for rapid detection of autism risk. Translational Psychiatry. info:/10.1038/tp.2014.65

  • September 2, 2014
  • 12:52 PM
  • 145 views

Epigenetics: Taking Control of the Music

by Gabriel in Lunatic Laboratories

When I try to explain epigenetics to someone, I like to use the musician metaphor. Your genes are the sheet music and how your body reads those genes, that is your body acting like a musician, making those notes it’s own. This is even more evident when you realize that all human cells contain essentially the same DNA sequence. Up until now we've had to be the audience to this genetic symphony, but new research is helping scientists take control of the music.... Read more »

Müller-Ott K, Erdel F, Matveeva A, Mallm JP, Rademacher A, Hahn M, Bauer C, Zhang Q, Kaltofen S, Schotta G.... (2014) Specificity, propagation, and memory of pericentric heterochromatin. Molecular systems biology, 10(8), 746. PMID: 25134515  

  • September 2, 2014
  • 08:00 AM
  • 138 views

The Anti-Vaccine Movement Is A Preventable Disease

by Mark E. Lasbury in The 'Scope

Yet another study that attempts to make a link between vaccines and autism has been withdrawn by the publishers. Data from the CDC was re-analysed, and low and behold, a link between vaccine timing and autism was drawn, but only for African-American boys. The problems with this paper and the anti-vaccine movement in general are discussed.... Read more »

  • September 2, 2014
  • 04:33 AM
  • 128 views

The epigenetics of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome?

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"These data are consistent with evidence of multisystem dysregulation in CFS [Chronic Fatigue Syndrome] and implicate the involvement of DNA modifications in CFS pathology". So said the paper by Wilfred de Vega and colleagues [1] (open-access here) which, I think, represents a bit of a first for CFS with their examination of the possible role of epigenetic modifications in relation to the condition(s) [2].Ladies first @ Wikipedia I have to say that I was really quite excited ........ Read more »

  • September 1, 2014
  • 02:12 PM
  • 122 views

Assemblages: 50 Years Later, We Know Nothing About Them

by Gabriel in Lunatic Laboratories

You would think we learn about every part of a cell in biology, but we really don't. Case in point, about 50 years ago, electron microscopy revealed the presence of tiny blob-like structures that form inside cells, move around and disappear. The reason you probably haven't heard of these structures is because scientists really don't know what they do even 50 years later. Although they do have an idea about them, these shifting cloud-like collections of proteins are believed to be crucial to the ........ Read more »

  • September 1, 2014
  • 12:00 PM
  • 61 views

Generalised Anxiety Disorder: Something On Your Mind?

by Robb Hollis in Antisense Science

We can all get a little het-up about things, whether it’s something big like moving cities or something smaller like getting ready for a first date!But imagine how difficult life would be if we were to become excessively worried about even minor things?... Read more »

Katzman, M., & Tsirgielis, D. (2011) Treatment Approaches to Generalized Anxiety Disorder. International Journal of Clinical Reviews. DOI: 10.5275/ijcr.2011.08.09  

Gosselin P, & Laberge B. (2003) [Etiological factors of generalized anxiety disorder]. L'Encephale, 29(4 Pt 1), 351-61. PMID: 14615705  

  • September 1, 2014
  • 08:28 AM
  • 119 views

Tracking the Daily Microbiome

by Stephanie Swift in mmmbitesizescience

Humans are essentially 90% bacteria. These bacteria pepper our skin and hang out in our digestive tracts, helping to break down complex carbohydrates and keeping bad bugs in check. We know how the human microbiome (our collection of bacteria) gets … Continue reading →... Read more »

David LA, Materna AC, Friedman J, Campos-Baptista MI, Blackburn MC, Perrotta A, Erdman SE, & Alm EJ. (2014) Host lifestyle affects human microbiota on daily timescales. Genome biology, 15(7). PMID: 25146375  

  • September 1, 2014
  • 03:32 AM
  • 114 views

Lithium for mood disorder symptoms in autism?

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

Modern classroom? @ Wikipedia The paper published by Matthew Siegel and colleagues [1] talking about some preliminary observations on the use of lithium where symptoms of mood disorder might be present in cases of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) caught my eye recently. Concluding that: "lithium may be a medication of interest for those who exhibit two or more mood disorder symptoms, particularly mania or euphoria/elevated mood" the sentiments of more research-to-do in this area presents........ Read more »

Siegel M, Beresford CA, Bunker M, Verdi M, Vishnevetsky D, Karlsson C, Teer O, Stedman A, & Smith KA. (2014) Preliminary Investigation of Lithium for Mood Disorder Symptoms in Children and Adolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Journal of child and adolescent psychopharmacology. PMID: 25093602  

  • August 31, 2014
  • 05:34 PM
  • 93 views

Mushroom extracts might prevent dental cavities

by Valerie Ashton in The Molecular Scribe

Recently published research suggests red camphor mushroom extracts might prevent the proliferation of bacteria that cause dental cavities and gum disease.... Read more »

  • August 31, 2014
  • 05:20 PM
  • 128 views

Heroin’s Anthrax Problem

by Rebecca Kreston in BODY HORRORS

Anthrax is a deadly disease with high rates of morbidity and mortality. Because it is, thankfully, also quite rare, it is relatively easy to track its whereabouts and going-ons when an outbreak occurs. Typically, outbreaks of anthrax have been traced to groups of people involved in high-risk activities involving grazing animals and their byproducts: anthrax favors shepherds, butchers, wool-sorters, leather workers, and even the odd drum-playing hippies. In 2009, however, an outbreak upended this........ Read more »

  • August 31, 2014
  • 02:38 PM
  • 133 views

New Synthetic Amino Acid for a New Class of Drugs

by Gabriel in Lunatic Laboratories

Creating new drug molecules is challenging, developing drugs that are highly effective against a target, but with minimal (or no) toxicity and side-effects to the patient can be an exercise in futility. These drug properties are directly conferred by the 3D structure of the drug molecule. So ideally, the drug should have a shape that is perfectly complementary to a disease-causing target, so that it binds it with high specificity.With that, scientists have developed a synthetic amino acid that c........ Read more »

Chen S. Gopalakrishnan R, Schaer T, Marger F, Hovius R, Bertrand D, Pojer F, Heinis C. (2014) Di-thiol amino acids can structurally shape and enhance the ligand-binding properties of polypeptides. Nature Chemistry. info:/10.1038/nchem.2043

  • August 30, 2014
  • 02:23 PM
  • 123 views

Predictor of Sudden Death helps identify ICD candidates

by Gabriel in Lunatic Laboratories

New guidelines for patients with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) identify candidates for implantable cardioverter defibrillators (ICDs). These devices help protect patients from arrhythmias (an irregular heartbeat) which can limit blood flow to vital organs, like the brain for example. Identifying which pacents would benefit from an ICD has been difficult. But the new guidelines, which were recently published, will help determine the patients most likely to benefit from ICDs by testing to see ........ Read more »

Perry M. Elliott, (Chairperson) (UK)*, Aris Anastasakis, (Greece), Michael A. Borger, (Germany), Martin Borggrefe, (Germany), Franco Cecchi, (Italy), Philippe Charron, (France), Albert Alain Hagege, (France), Antoine Lafont, (France), Giuseppe Limongelli,. (2014) 2014 ESC Guidelines on diagnosis and management of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy The Task Force for the Diagnosis and Management of Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy of the European Society of Cardiology (ESC). European Heart Journal . info:/10.1093/eurheartj/ehu284

  • August 30, 2014
  • 03:34 AM
  • 119 views

Under-recognised co-occurring conditions in autism

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

A brief post to direct you to the paper by Nicolaidis and colleagues [1] talking about primary care for adults on the autism spectrum and mention of an issue quite important to this blog: "the recognition of associated conditions"."When 900 years old you reach, look as good you will not".Alongside the announcement of what seems like an interesting workshop organised by the US IACC (Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee) titled: "IACC Workshop on Under-Recognized Co-Occurring Condit........ Read more »

Nicolaidis C, Kripke CC, & Raymaker D. (2014) Primary Care for Adults on the Autism Spectrum. The Medical clinics of North America, 98(5), 1169-1191. PMID: 25134878  

  • August 30, 2014
  • 03:31 AM
  • 73 views

Neurobiological Basis of Music Therapy

by Vivek Misra in The UberBrain

The basic and one of oldest socio-cognitive domains of Human species is music. Listening to music regularly helps to keep the neurons and synapses more active. Depending on the way sound waves are heard or pronounced, they have an impact in the way neurological (brain and nerve) system work in the human body. Neurological studies have identified that music is a valuable tool for evaluating the brain system [1]. Its observed that while listening to music, different parts of the brain are involved........ Read more »

Peretz, I., & Zatorre, R. (2005) Brain Organization for Music Processing. Annual Review of Psychology, 56(1), 89-114. DOI: 10.1146/annurev.psych.56.091103.070225  

Patton, J., Routh, D., & Stinard, T. (2013) Where do children study? Behavioral observations. Bulletin of the Psychonomic Society, 24(6), 439-440. DOI: 10.3758/BF03330575  

Chan AS, Ho YC, & Cheung MC. (1998) Music training improves verbal memory. Nature, 396(6707), 128. PMID: 9823892  

TSANG, C., TRAINOR, L., SANTESSO, D., TASKER, S., & SCHMIDT, L. (2006) Frontal EEG Responses as a Function of Affective Musical Features. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 930(1), 439-442. DOI: 10.1111/j.1749-6632.2001.tb05764.x  

Luu P, Tucker DM, & Makeig S. (2004) Frontal midline theta and the error-related negativity: neurophysiological mechanisms of action regulation. Clinical neurophysiology : official journal of the International Federation of Clinical Neurophysiology, 115(8), 1821-35. PMID: 15261861  

Koelsch S. (2010) Towards a neural basis of music-evoked emotions. Trends in cognitive sciences, 14(3), 131-7. PMID: 20153242  

  • August 29, 2014
  • 03:10 PM
  • 123 views

The Ever Mutating Ebola Virus

by Gabriel in Lunatic Laboratories

Ebola has a nasty reputation for the way it damages the body. It's rightfully earned when you look at the death rate. But when you look at the actual details of an Ebola infection, a surprising fact surfaces: The virus isn't what ends up killing you, it's your own immune system. Sure they are trying different ways to outsmart the virus, but it's mutating... quickly. In fact, scientists have rapidly sequenced and analyzed more than 99 Ebola virus genomes. The hope it to better understand the enem........ Read more »

Gire, S., Goba, A., Andersen, K., Sealfon, R., Park, D., Kanneh, L., Jalloh, S., Momoh, M., Fullah, M., Dudas, G.... (2014) Genomic surveillance elucidates Ebola virus origin and transmission during the 2014 outbreak. Science. DOI: 10.1126/science.1259657  

  • August 29, 2014
  • 09:25 AM
  • 153 views

The Friday Five for 8/29/14

by Bill Sullivan in The 'Scope

5 of the hottest science news stories this week include a lab-grown thymus, big Alzheimer’s news, and how to make the perfect pizza.... Read more »

  • August 29, 2014
  • 03:52 AM
  • 165 views

Oxytocin and autism: the hype?

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

Consider some excerpts from two recent papers looking at oxytocin (OXT) - the "love hormone"(!) - and the autism spectrum disorders (ASDs)...“It’s not the years, honey. It’s the mileage”"These findings indicate that dysregulated OXT biology is not uniquely associated with ASD social phenotypes as widely theorized, but instead variation in OXT biology contributes to important individual differences in human social functioning, including the severe social impairments which characterize ASD........ Read more »

Parker, K., Garner, J., Libove, R., Hyde, S., Hornbeak, K., Carson, D., Liao, C., Phillips, J., Hallmayer, J., & Hardan, A. (2014) Plasma oxytocin concentrations and OXTR polymorphisms predict social impairments in children with and without autism spectrum disorder. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1402236111  

Guastella AJ, Gray KM, Rinehart NJ, Alvares GA, Tonge BJ, Hickie IB, Keating CM, Cacciotti-Saija C, & Einfeld SL. (2014) The effects of a course of intranasal oxytocin on social behaviors in youth diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders: a randomized controlled trial. Journal of child psychology and psychiatry, and allied disciplines. PMID: 25087908  

  • August 28, 2014
  • 04:53 PM
  • 234 views

This is your Brain. This is your Brain on Drugs

by Gabriel in Lunatic Laboratories

Drugs are bad for the brain. That is (excuse the horrible pun) a no-brainer, but while scientists have seen the after effect drugs have on the brain, we have never seen how they affect the blood flow to the brain. That is of course, until now. A new method for measuring and imaging how quickly blood flows in the brain could help doctors and researchers better understand how drug abuse affects the brain and they are currently testing this new method as we speak.... Read more »

  • August 28, 2014
  • 12:52 PM
  • 206 views

The Things Living on your Toothbrush…

by Gabriel in Lunatic Laboratories

Did you remember to brush? I hope you did, but you may be throwing away your toothbrush soon. Get ready for your daily amount of gross, because have I got a scientific discovery that will make you rethink your dental hygiene. Researchers have found that “solid-head” power toothbrushes have up to 3,000 times less bacteria when compared to “hollow-head” toothbrushes.[…]... Read more »

Morris DW, Goldschmidt M, Keene H, & Cron SG. (2014) Microbial contamination of power toothbrushes: a comparison of solid-head versus hollow-head designs. Journal of dental hygiene : JDH / American Dental Hygienists' Association, 88(4), 237-42. PMID: 25134956  

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