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  • October 4, 2016
  • 05:36 PM
  • 234 views

Revising the meaning of 'prion'

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

A team of scientists are redefining what it means to be a prion--a type of protein that can pass heritable traits from cell to cell by its structure instead of by DNA. Although prions are infamous for causing Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, fatal familial insomnia, and bovine spongiform encephalopathy, commonly known as mad cow's disease, the present study indicates that prions identified in yeast, and possibly in plants, and other organisms may be beneficial.

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Chakrabortee, S., Byers, J., Jones, S., Garcia, D., Bhullar, B., Chang, A., She, R., Lee, L., Fremin, B., Lindquist, S.... (2016) Intrinsically Disordered Proteins Drive Emergence and Inheritance of Biological Traits. Cell. DOI: 10.1016/j.cell.2016.09.017  

  • October 4, 2016
  • 04:34 AM
  • 233 views

Humour training for autism - is it needed and is it useful?

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

Can we and should we formally 'teach' humour to people diagnosed on the autism spectrum? Indeed, do we actually need to?Yes said the results of the study published by Ching-Lin Wu and colleagues [1] although I personally am not so impressed.Discussing how their results "supported the effectiveness of the 15-hour training" regime, Wu et al report that for a small group of adolescents diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) "and average intelligence" moves to implement "a humor-knowl........ Read more »

  • October 3, 2016
  • 01:54 PM
  • 251 views

For women, caffeine could be ally in warding off dementia

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Among a group of older women, self-reported caffeine consumption of more than 261 mg per day was associated with a 36 percent reduction in the risk of incident dementia over 10 years of follow-up. This level is equivalent to two to three 8-oz cups of coffee per day, five to six 8-oz cups of black tea, or seven to eight 12-ounce cans of cola.

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Driscoll, I., Shumaker, S., Snively, B., Margolis, K., Manson, J., Vitolins, M., Rossom, R., & Espeland, M. (2016) Relationships Between Caffeine Intake and Risk for Probable Dementia or Global Cognitive Impairment: The Women’s Health Initiative Memory Study. The Journals of Gerontology Series A: Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences. DOI: 10.1093/gerona/glw078  

  • October 3, 2016
  • 10:56 AM
  • 287 views

Robin Williams and Lewy Body Disease

by William Yates, M.D. in Brain Posts

In a post last week, I highlighted a recent study examining clinical issues in the diagnosis of Lewy body dementia (LBD).This study examined differentiating clinical and neuropsychological factors between LBD, Alzheimer's dementia and Parkinson's disease.You can access this post by clicking HERE.This topic received significant attention following the description of comedian Robin Williams' last years by his wife in the journal Neurology.Robin Williams suffered from LBD and like many, his diagnos........ Read more »

Williams SS. (2016) The terrorist inside my husband's brain. Neurology, 87(13), 1308-1311. info:/

  • October 3, 2016
  • 03:05 AM
  • 224 views

The physical health of adults with autism

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

Another short post today opening with the conclusion reached in the paper by Andrew Cashin and colleagues [1]: "From the findings, it can be stated with confidence that people with ASD [autism spectrum disorder] have a high rate of comorbidity and increased risk for chronic disease."Yes, not new news to many that physical health is generally 'under-rated' when it comes to adult autism (see here and see here for examples). The question remains however: what are we all going to........ Read more »

  • October 1, 2016
  • 04:46 AM
  • 281 views

One of the best articles to discuss suicide risk and autism so far...

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

I'm cheating a little bit today as minus too much critical commentary or discussion, I'm drawing your attention to the paper by Tony Salvatore and colleagues [1] (open-access) on a most important topic: suicide risk and autism.Written by authors who between them seem to know quite a bit about autism and also managing suicide prevention particularly under crisis conditions, I reckon this review article is one of the best we have so far in this area. I say that on the basis that not only are estim........ Read more »

Chang, B., Franklin, J., Ribeiro, J., Fox, K., Bentley, K., Kleiman, E., & Nock, M. (2016) Biological risk factors for suicidal behaviors: a meta-analysis. Translational Psychiatry, 6(9). DOI: 10.1038/tp.2016.165  

  • September 30, 2016
  • 03:14 PM
  • 270 views

Omega-3 fatty acid stops known trigger of lupus

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

A team of researchers has found that consuming an omega-3 fatty acid called DHA, or docosahexaenoic acid, can stop a known trigger of lupus and potentially other autoimmune disorders. DHA can be found in fatty, cold-water fish and is produced by the algae that fish eat and store in their bodies. It can be found in fish oil supplements as well, used by more than 30 million Americans.

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  • September 30, 2016
  • 03:08 AM
  • 256 views

Injury risk and ADHD

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"The results indicate that there is an elevated injury risk among Swedish schoolchildren with ADHD [attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder] but not for children with ASD [autism spectrum disorder]."So went the findings reported by Carl Bonander and colleagues [1] providing yet more important data on how a diagnosis of ADHD might be something that confers quite a bit of additional risk for all-manner of different negative outcomes.I've hinted at this important topic before as per........ Read more »

  • September 29, 2016
  • 01:36 PM
  • 255 views

Children could point the way to new HIV treatments

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Children with HIV who can resist the disease progressing could point the way to new treatments for HIV infection that are more widely applicable to infected adults and children alike, an international team of researchers has found.


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Muenchhoff, M., Adland, E., Karimanzira, O., Crowther, C., Pace, M., Csala, A., Leitman, E., Moonsamy, A., McGregor, C., Hurst, J.... (2016) Nonprogressing HIV-infected children share fundamental immunological features of nonpathogenic SIV infection. Science Translational Medicine, 8(358), 358-358. DOI: 10.1126/scitranslmed.aag1048  

  • September 29, 2016
  • 06:58 AM
  • 258 views

The Adult Psychiatric Morbidity Survey (APMS) 2014 and autism

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

They've finally arrived. The results of the English Adult Psychiatric Morbidity Survey 2014 have been published by NHS Digital (yes, our Nation's healthcare services has a digital arm) and when it comes to autism (adult autism 18 years+), some rather peculiar statistics have been produced.OK, for those who want/need a quick heads-up on all-things Adult Psychiatric Morbidity Survey (APMS), I'll refer you to a previous post I wrote covering this prevalence survey with autism in mind........ Read more »

Brugha TS, McManus S, Smith J, Scott FJ, Meltzer H, Purdon S, Berney T, Tantam D, Robinson J, Radley J.... (2012) Validating two survey methods for identifying cases of autism spectrum disorder among adults in the community. Psychological medicine, 42(3), 647-56. PMID: 21798110  

  • September 29, 2016
  • 03:06 AM
  • 262 views

On "socially successful elementary school-aged children with autism"

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"School-based interventions should address malleable factors such as the number of peer connections and received friendships that predict the best social outcomes for children with ASD [autism spectrum disorder]."So said the study findings reported by Jill Locke and colleagues [1] looking at "the stable (unlikely to change) and malleable (changeable) characteristics of socially successful children with ASD."Mindful that the phrase 'socially successful children' is perhaps not one that I'm p........ Read more »

Locke J, Williams J, Shih W, & Kasari C. (2016) Characteristics of socially successful elementary school-aged children with autism. Journal of child psychology and psychiatry, and allied disciplines. PMID: 27620949  

  • September 28, 2016
  • 01:51 PM
  • 251 views

Research team may have observed building blocks of memories in the brain

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

A team of researchers has observed what they believe are the building blocks of memories in a mouse brain. In their paper, the researchers describe how they caused certain neurons to become illuminated when they fired, allowing them to watch in real time as memories were made and then later as they were replayed while the mouse was sitting idle.

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Malvache, A., Reichinnek, S., Villette, V., Haimerl, C., & Cossart, R. (2016) Awake hippocampal reactivations project onto orthogonal neuronal assemblies. Science, 353(6305), 1280-1283. DOI: 10.1126/science.aaf3319  

  • September 28, 2016
  • 11:10 AM
  • 260 views

Lewy Body Versus Alzheimer's Dementias and Parkinson's

by William Yates, M.D. in Brain Posts

One clinical challenge is making an accurate diagnosis in patients with dementia.Alzheimer's disease is typically the predominant diagnosis in dementia. However a significant number of patients will present with dementia due to Lewy Body disease, Parkinson's dementia,  frontotemporal dementia or vascular dementia.A recent study helps clinicians to distinguish Lewy Body  from Alzheimer's dementia and Parkinson's disease.Douglas Scharre and collegues from Ohio State University conducted ........ Read more »

Scharre, D., Chang, S., Nagaraja, H., Park, A., Adeli, A., Agrawal, P., Kloos, A., Kegelmeyer, D., Linder, S., Fritz, N.... (2016) Paired Studies Comparing Clinical Profiles of Lewy Body Dementia with Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s Diseases. Journal of Alzheimer's Disease, 1-10. DOI: 10.3233/JAD-160384  

  • September 28, 2016
  • 10:20 AM
  • 250 views

A New Hope For Alzheimer’s Disease Immunotherapy

by Agnese Mariotti in United Academics

For the first time, an antibody was able to target and disrupt the Aβ plaques in the brain.... Read more »

Sevigny, J., Chiao, P., Bussière, T., Weinreb, P., Williams, L., Maier, M., Dunstan, R., Salloway, S., Chen, T., Ling, Y.... (2016) The antibody aducanumab reduces Aβ plaques in Alzheimer’s disease. Nature, 537(7618), 50-56. DOI: 10.1038/nature19323  

  • September 28, 2016
  • 02:55 AM
  • 246 views

Postural tachycardia syndrome and gluten?

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

Please use your full stops wisely.I believe that this is the first time that I've talked about postural tachycardia syndrome (PoTS) on this blog as I bring to your attention some rather intriguing findings reported by Hugo Penny and colleagues [1] on how PoTS and gluten-related disorders might not be unstrange diagnostic bedfellows.PoTS by the way, describes symptoms where standing upright / sitting down induces dizziness, fainting and other symptoms. As well as being quite prevalent in a c........ Read more »

Penny, H., Aziz, I., Ferrar, M., Atkinson, J., Hoggard, N., Hadjivassiliou, M., West, J., & Sanders, D. (2016) Is there a relationship between gluten sensitivity and postural tachycardia syndrome?. European Journal of Gastroenterology , 1. DOI: 10.1097/MEG.0000000000000740  

  • September 27, 2016
  • 02:55 AM
  • 235 views

Neurotensin, intestinal inflammation and autism?

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"Elevated peripheral pro-NT [neurotensin] levels reflect more severe forms of active celiac disease, indicating a potential role of NT in intestinal inflammation."The suggestion, from Caroline Montén and colleagues [1], that the neuropeptide called neurotensin might play a role in paediatric coeliac disease is an interesting one that caught my eye recently. Interesting not only because of the potential implications for the archetypal 'gluten-causing' autoimmune condition cal........ Read more »

Montén C, Torinsson Naluai Å, & Agardh D. (2016) Role of pro-neurotensin as marker of paediatric celiac disease. Clinical and experimental immunology. PMID: 27612962  

  • September 26, 2016
  • 01:35 PM
  • 266 views

Why do more men than women commit suicide?

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Why do more men die when they attempt suicide than women? The answer could lie in four traits, finds scientists. There are over 6,000 British lives lost to suicide each year, and nearly 75 per cent of those are male. However, research has found women are more likely to suffer from depression, and to attempt to take their own life.

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Deshpande, G., Baxi, M., Witte, T., & Robinson, J. (2016) A Neural Basis for the Acquired Capability for Suicide. Frontiers in Psychiatry. DOI: 10.3389/fpsyt.2016.00125  

  • September 26, 2016
  • 02:48 AM
  • 250 views

On HERV-H, autism, ADHD and methylphenidate?

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

Today's post is a bit of a mash-up including two paper: the first from Emanuela  Balestrieri and colleagues [1] (open-access available here) talking about "increased HERV-H [Human Endogenous Retroviruses - H] transcriptional activity in all autistic patients" included in their cohort (author's words not mine) and the second from D'Agati and colleagues [2] (open-access available here) describing "the reduction of HERV-H expression and the significant improvement of ADHD&n........ Read more »

Balestrieri E, Cipriani C, Matteucci C, Capodicasa N, Pilika A, Korca I, Sorrentino R, Argaw-Denboba A, Bucci I, Miele MT.... (2016) Transcriptional activity of human endogenous retrovirus in Albanian children with autism spectrum disorders. The new microbiologica, 39(3), 228-31. PMID: 27602423  

  • September 25, 2016
  • 02:57 PM
  • 262 views

Linking perception to action

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Researchers studying how the brain uses perception of the environment to guide action offer a new understanding of the neural circuits responsible for transforming sensation into movement.

... Read more »

  • September 24, 2016
  • 03:26 AM
  • 270 views

Correcting ophthalmic problems in autism

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

'Does Correction of Strabismus Improve Quality of Life in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder?' went the title of the paper by Pinar Ozer and colleagues [1]. Yes, it may very well do was the answer (but with certain caveats and the requirement for a lot more research in this area).Strabismus, a condition where the eyes don't line up in the same direction, can sometime have some quite noticeable effects on a person's vision and indeed, has been linked to various other non-vision related sympto........ Read more »

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