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  • October 6, 2015
  • 06:00 AM

Deadlier than Darth: Death by worm-star

by socgenmicro in Microbe Post

If you happen to be a nematode, worm-stars are probably your worst nightmare. One minute, you’re swimming around minding your own business. The next, you’ve been sucked into a wildly thrashing mass of your peers, all stuck to each other … Continue reading →... Read more »

  • October 6, 2015
  • 04:37 AM

Prenatal hormone involvement in autism risk?

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

The findings reported by Gayle Windham and colleagues [1] caught my eye recently and their observations based on the examination of mid-pregnancy serum hormone and protein markers for some 2500 mothers of children diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) compared with 600,000 controls.Detailing results based on: "Second trimester levels of unconjugated estriol (uE3), human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), and maternal serum alpha-fetoprotein (MSAFP)", researchers reported that their results........ Read more »

  • October 5, 2015
  • 06:48 PM

Gut bacteria population, diversity linked to anorexia nervosa

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Researchers at the UNC School of Medicine found that people with anorexia nervosa have very different microbial communities residing inside their guts compared to healthy individuals and that this bacterial imbalance is associated with some of the psychological symptoms related to the eating disorder.... Read more »

Kleiman, S., Watson, H., Bulik-Sullivan, E., Huh, E., Tarantino, L., Bulik, C., & Carroll, I. (2015) The Intestinal Microbiota in Acute Anorexia Nervosa and During Renourishment. Psychosomatic Medicine, 1. DOI: 10.1097/PSY.0000000000000247  

  • October 5, 2015
  • 04:12 PM

Weird colours of bones and teeth

by Rosin Cerate in Rosin Cerate

I like making lists about living things. Colour is a great starting point for such lists, whether they're about body parts infected by microbes or the origins of science words. For this post, I'm going to look at how bones and teeth can take on a bunch of strange colours.The bones of the eastern fox squirrel (Sciurus niger), a resident of trees dotting the eastern parts of Canada and the US, glow pink if you shine an ultraviolet light on them. This weirdness is due to uroporphyrin I, an int........ Read more »

  • October 5, 2015
  • 12:50 PM

This Month in Blastocystis Research (SEP 2015)

by Christen Rune Stensvold in Blastocystis Parasite Blog

Slightly delayed, the "This Month" post is mainly on Blastocystis survyes, detection and host specificity.... Read more »

Stensvold CR, Suresh GK, Tan KS, Thompson RC, Traub RJ, Viscogliosi E, Yoshikawa H, & Clark CG. (2007) Terminology for Blastocystis subtypes--a consensus. Trends in parasitology, 23(3), 93-6. PMID: 17241816  

Wang W, Cuttell L, Bielefeldt-Ohmann H, Inpankaew T, Owen H, & Traub RJ. (2013) Diversity of Blastocystis subtypes in dogs in different geographical settings. Parasites , 215. PMID: 23883734  

  • October 5, 2015
  • 02:34 AM

The ASQ-3 and autism screening: has the UK already started?

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

'Can Screening with the Ages and Stages Questionnaire Detect Autism?' was the research question posed and partially answered in the paper by Sarah Hardy and colleagues [1] recently.Drawing on data from a very healthy sized cohort (~2800 toddlers) who were "screened with the ASQ-3 [Ages and Stages Questionnaire] and M-CHAT-R across 20 pediatric sites" in the United States, researchers suggested that there may be more to see when it comes to the use of ASQ-3 and the complicated topic of ........ Read more »

Hardy S, Haisley L, Manning C, & Fein D. (2015) Can Screening with the Ages and Stages Questionnaire Detect Autism?. Journal of developmental and behavioral pediatrics : JDBP, 36(7), 536-43. PMID: 26348972  

  • October 4, 2015
  • 09:51 PM

Saving brains: malaria in pregnancy leads to cognitive deficits in offspring

by Betty Zou in Eat, Read, Science

A new study in PLoS Pathogens uses an experimental malaria in pregnancy model to show that malaria during pregnancy induces learning and memory impairments and depressive-like behaviour in offspring. The researchers show that the deficits are dependent on complement activation and provide the first evidence for a causal link between malaria in pregnancy, complement activation and neurodevelopment.... Read more »

  • October 4, 2015
  • 01:39 PM

Brain networking: behind the cognitive control of thoughts

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

The human brain does not come with an operating manual. However, a group of scientists have developed a way to convert structural brain imaging techniques into “wiring diagrams” of connections between brain regions. Three researchers from UCSB’s Department of Psychological & Brain Sciences — Michael Miller, Scott Grafton and Matt Cieslak — used the structure of neural networks to reveal the fundamental rules that govern which parts of the brain are most able to exert cognitive control ........ Read more »

Gu, S., Pasqualetti, F., Cieslak, M., Telesford, Q., Yu, A., Kahn, A., Medaglia, J., Vettel, J., Miller, M., Grafton, S.... (2015) Controllability of structural brain networks. Nature Communications, 8414. DOI: 10.1038/ncomms9414  

  • October 3, 2015
  • 02:21 PM

Can exercise be replaced with a pill?

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Everyone knows that exercise improves health, and ongoing research continues to uncover increasingly detailed information on its benefits for metabolism, circulation, and improved functioning of organs such as the heart, brain, and liver. With this knowledge in hand, scientists may be better equipped to develop “exercise pills” that could mimic at least some of the beneficial effects of physical exercise on the body. But a review of current development efforts ponders whether such pills will........ Read more »

Laher, & et al. (2015) Exercise Pills: At the Starting Line?. Trends in Pharmacological Sciences. info:/

  • October 3, 2015
  • 03:39 AM

One more time... the interpregnancy interval and risk of offspring autism

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"Children born after an IPI [interpregnancy interval] of <12 months or ≥72 months had a 2- to 3-fold increased ASD [autism spectrum disorder] risk compared with children born after an interval of 36 to 47 months."So said the study results published by Ousseny Zerbo and colleagues [1] looking at the increasingly interesting area of the autism research landscape: the interpregnancy interval (the time from the birth of an index child to the next conception/pregnancy of........ Read more »

Zerbo, O., Yoshida, C., Gunderson, E., Dorward, K., & Croen, L. (2015) Interpregnancy Interval and Risk of Autism Spectrum Disorders. PEDIATRICS. DOI: 10.1542/peds.2015-1099  

  • October 2, 2015
  • 07:47 PM

High-fructose diet slows recovery from brain injury

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Well bad news for those of us who have a sweet tooth, a diet high in processed fructose sabotages rat brains’ ability to heal after head trauma, UCLA neuroscientists report. While this doesn’t necessarily translate to humans quite yet, it should still raise a few eyebrows given the results from the study.... Read more »

Rahul Agrawal, Emily Noble1, Laurent Vergnes, Zhe Ying1, Karen Reue, & Fernando Gomez-Pinilla. (2015) Dietary fructose aggravates the pathobiology of traumatic brain injury by influencing energy homeostasis and plasticity. Journal of Cerebral Blood Flow . info:/10.1177/0271678X15606719

  • October 2, 2015
  • 12:35 PM

Poop on a Stick Tests Penguins' Sense of Smell

by Elizabeth Preston in Inkfish

Who doesn't enjoy waking to a pleasant smell wafting past? Unfortunately for them, the penguins in a recent study woke up not to pancakes frying nearby, but to less appetizing aromas—for example, feces on a stick. But scientists promise the experiment taught them valuable lessons about a penguin's capabilities. Besides, they let the birds go right back to sleep.

"Research into the sense of smell in birds has a bit of a dubious history," says Gregory Cunningham, a biologist at St. John F........ Read more »

  • October 2, 2015
  • 02:37 AM

ADHD primes for psychosis and/or schizophrenia?

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

My efforts turn once again to Taiwan today and the results reported by Yu-Chiau Shyu and colleagues [1] that: "Compared to the control group, the ADHD [attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder] group showed significantly increased risk of developing any psychotic disorder... and schizophrenia."As per the multitude of other instances where Taiwan is mentioned as a research powerhouse, the source data for the Shyu findings was the Taiwan National Health Insurance Research Database&n........ Read more »

  • October 1, 2015
  • 02:41 PM

Coincidence or conspiracy? Studies investigate conspiracist thinking

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

In pop culture, conspiracy believers — like FBI agent Fox Mulder on The X Files or professor Robert Langdon in The Da Vinci Code — tend to reject the notion of coincidence or chance; even the most random-seeming events are thought to result from some sort of intention or design. And researchers have suggested that such a bias against randomness may explain real-world conspiracy beliefs. But new research from psychological scientists shows no evidence for a link between conspiracist thinking ........ Read more »

  • October 1, 2015
  • 09:00 AM

Into The Fire: Sun Protection From A To B

by Julia van Rensburg in The 'Scope

Jessica Alba's company has been charged with two lawsuits citing ineffective protection by her Honest Company sunscreen. The failure of the sunscreen highlights a need for better education regarding sunscreen use and sun exposure.... Read more »

Shah P, & He YY. (2015) Molecular regulation of UV-induced DNA repair. Photochemistry and photobiology, 91(2), 254-64. PMID: 25534312  

Narayanan DL, Saladi RN, & Fox JL. (2010) Ultraviolet radiation and skin cancer. International journal of dermatology, 49(9), 978-86. PMID: 20883261  

  • October 1, 2015
  • 08:00 AM

How to Catch a Virus: Targeted Capture for Viral Sequencing

by Daniel Koboldt in Massgenomics

Metagenomic profiling, also called metagenomic shotgun sequencing (MSS) represents a powerful application made possible by the digital nature of next-gen sequencing technologies. In it, one basically sequences a sample isolate obtained from somewhere — a shovelful of dirt, a scoop of plankton, or anything else that contains living organisms. MSS has proven particularly useful to […]... Read more »

  • October 1, 2015
  • 04:35 AM

Immune endophenotypes in paediatric autism

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

Today I'm serving up the paper by Milo Careaga and colleagues [1] for your blogging delight, who concluded that: "Children with ASD [autism spectrum disorder] may be phenotypically characterized based upon their immune profile." Further that there may be: "several possible immune subphenotypes within the ASD population that correlate with more severe behavioral impairments."With many thanks to Natasa for the paper, participants - 50 boys with a median age of 3.2 years diagnosed wi........ Read more »

Milo Careaga, Sally Rogers, Robin L. Hansen, David G. Amaral, Judy Van de Water, & Paul Ashwood. (2015) Immune endophenotypes in children with autism spectrum disorder. Biological Psychiatry. info:/10.1016/j.biopsych.2015.08.036

  • September 30, 2015
  • 10:09 PM

Scientists identify key receptor as potential target for treatment of autism

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Scientists from the Florida campus of The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) have uncovered a significant–and potentially treatable–relationship between a chemical that helps transmit signals in the brain and genetic mutations present in a subset of individuals with autism spectrum disorder. The new research findings focus on the role that the neurotransmitter serotonin plays in the development of social behavior.... Read more »

  • September 30, 2015
  • 04:46 PM

A bacterium that loves hot water, eating sugar, and bending itself into balls

by Rosin Cerate in Rosin Cerate

Dictyoglomus thermophilum is a bacterium found in hot springs all over the world. It specifically enjoys aquatic places where there isn't any oxygen, it's not acidic, and the temperature is between 73 and 78 degrees Celsius (thermophilum = heat-loving). Turns out a hot spring is actually a pretty okay place for a strict anaerobe (organism poisoned by oxygen) to hang out, in part because hot water contains less dissolved oxygen. Hot springs also tend to contain lots of energy-rich organic matter ........ Read more »

Hoppert M, Valdez M, Enseleit M, Theilmann W, Valerius O, Braus GH, Föst C, & Liebl W. (2012) Structure-functional analysis of the Dictyoglomus cell envelope. Systematic and Applied Microbiology, 35(5), 279-90. PMID: 22824581  

  • September 30, 2015
  • 09:38 AM

Video Tip of the Week: Global Biotic Interactions database, GloBI

by Mary in OpenHelix

And now for something completely different. Typically we highlight software that’s nucleotide or amino acid sequence related in some way. But this software is on a whole ‘nother level. It looks at interactions between species. This week we highlight GloBI, the Global Biotic Interactions database. Before you start thinking of Bambi and butterflies, though, consider […]... Read more »

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