Biosensors are powerful tools in synthetic biology for engineering metabolic pathways or controlling synthetic and native genetic circuits in bacteria. Scientists have had difficulty developing a method to engineer "designer" biosensor proteins that can precisely sense and report the presence of specific molecules, which has so far limited the number and variety of biosensor designs able to precisely regulate cell metabolism, cell biology, and synthetic gene circuits.
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Taylor, N., Garruss, A., Moretti, R., Chan, S., Arbing, M., Cascio, D., Rogers, J., Isaacs, F., Kosuri, S., Baker, D.... (2015) Engineering an allosteric transcription factor to respond to new ligands. Nature Methods, 13(2), 177-183. DOI: 10.1038/nmeth.3696
A new agent of the tick-borne illness known as Lyme disease has emerged in the upper Midwest. The bacterium is genetically related to Borrelia burgdorferi, until now believed to be the only cause of Lyme disease in the United States. The name proposed for the bacterium is Borrelia mayonii because the work was conducted at the Mayo Clinic. B. mayonii has not been detected in patients outside of the Midwest (so far). The findings are described in The Lancet Infectious Disea........ Read more »
Pritt BS, Mead PS, Johnson DK, Neitzel DF, Respicio-Kingry LB, Davis JP, Schiffman E, Sloan LM, Schriefer ME, Replogle AJ.... (2016) Identification of a novel pathogenic Borrelia species causing Lyme borreliosis with unusually high spirochaetaemia: a descriptive study. The Lancet. Infectious diseases. PMID: 26856777
For Valentine's Day: the fascinating experiments that led to the invention of the defibrillator and CPR - truly a tale from the “heart”!... Read more »
Furman S. (2002) Early history of cardiac pacing and defibrillation. Indian pacing and electrophysiology journal, 2(1), 2-3. PMID: 17006571
Bresadola, M. (1998) Medicine and science in the life of Luigi Galvani (1737–1798). Brain Research Bulletin, 46(5), 367-380. DOI: 10.1016/S0361-9230(98)00023-9
"CFS [chronic fatigue syndrome] affected 1.9% of 16-year-olds in a UK birth cohort and was positively associated with higher family adversity. Gender was a risk factor at age 16 years but not at age 13 years or in 16-year-olds without high levels of depressive symptoms."So said the findings reported by Simon Collin and colleagues  which also gained some media interest as per an entry on the BBC news website for example (see here). Based on data generated by the Children of the ........ Read more »
The age at which an adolescent begins using marijuana may affect typical brain development, according to researchers at the Center for BrainHealth at The University of Texas at Dallas. In a paper recently published, scientists describe how marijuana use, and the age at which use is initiated, may adversely alter brain structures that underlie higher order thinking.
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Filbey, F., McQueeny, T., DeWitt, S., & Mishra, V. (2015) Preliminary findings demonstrating latent effects of early adolescent marijuana use onset on cortical architecture. Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience, 16-22. DOI: 10.1016/j.dcn.2015.10.001
Accessing TCGA cancer data has been approached in a variety of ways. This week’s tip of the week highlights a web-based portal for improved access to the data in different ways. The Stanford Cancer Genome Atlas Clinical Explorer is aimed at helping identify clinically relevant genes in the cancer data sets. They note that the data […]... Read more »
Lee, H., Palm, J., Grimes, S., & Ji, H. (2015) The Cancer Genome Atlas Clinical Explorer: a web and mobile interface for identifying clinical–genomic driver associations. Genome Medicine, 7(1). DOI: 10.1186/s13073-015-0226-3
A recreational runner with motion control running shoes was less likely to sustain an injury than a runner wearing standard running shoes. Runners with pronated feet may benefit the most from a motion control running shoe.... Read more »
Malisoux, L., Chambon, N., Delattre, N., Gueguen, N., Urhausen, A., & Theisen, D. (2016) Injury risk in runners using standard or motion control shoes: a randomised controlled trial with participant and assessor blinding. British Journal of Sports Medicine. DOI: 10.1136/bjsports-2015-095031
Two papers provide some blogging fodder today. The first is from Agnieszka Rynkiewicz and colleagues  (open-access available here) who introduces a concept that many people with an interest in autism might have considered: a 'female camouflage effect' in autism. The second paper is by C Ellie Wilson and colleagues  and continues the idea that sex/gender differences present in autism might have some important implications for diagnostic evaluation.Both these papers entertain ........ Read more »
Rynkiewicz, A., Schuller, B., Marchi, E., Piana, S., Camurri, A., Lassalle, A., & Baron-Cohen, S. (2016) An investigation of the ‘female camouflage effect’ in autism using a computerized ADOS-2 and a test of sex/gender differences. Molecular Autism, 7(1). DOI: 10.1186/s13229-016-0073-0
Wilson CE, Murphy CM, McAlonan G, Robertson DM, Spain D, Hayward H, Woodhouse E, Deeley PQ, Gillan N, Ohlsen JC.... (2016) Does sex influence the diagnostic evaluation of autism spectrum disorder in adults?. Autism : the international journal of research and practice. PMID: 26802113
Newly developed paperclip sized, mind control device can be placed in the brain, and can be used to help the people with paralysis to walk again.
Researchers from the University of Melbourne have developed a “REVOLUTIONARY” device, a “bionic spinal cord” that can be implanted in a blood vessel in the brain and can help patients of spinal cord injuries to move and walk without any outside assista........ Read more »
Oxley, T., Opie, N., John, S., Rind, G., Ronayne, S., Wheeler, T., Judy, J., McDonald, A., Dornom, A., Lovell, T.... (2016) Minimally invasive endovascular stent-electrode array for high-fidelity, chronic recordings of cortical neural activity. Nature Biotechnology. DOI: 10.1038/nbt.3428
Human and animal movements generate slight neural signals from their brain cells. These signals obtained using a neural interface are essential for realizing brain-machine interfaces (BMI). Such neural recording systems using wires to connect the implanted device to an external device can cause infections through the opening in the skull. One method of solving this issue is to develop a wireless neural interface that is fully implantable on the brain.
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Okabe, K., Jeewan, H., Yamagiwa, S., Kawano, T., Ishida, M., & Akita, I. (2015) Co-Design Method and Wafer-Level Packaging Technique of Thin-Film Flexible Antenna and Silicon CMOS Rectifier Chips for Wireless-Powered Neural Interface Systems. Sensors, 15(12), 31821-31832. DOI: 10.3390/s151229885
I have to thank Dr Malav Trivedi for bringing my attention to some recent findings reported by Yiting Zhang and colleagues (including Malav)  (open-access) suggesting that: "levels of vitamin B12, especially its MeCbl [methylcobalamin] form, decrease with age in frontal cortex of control human subjects."Further, researchers reported: "abnormally lower total Cbl [cobalamin] and MeCbl levels in subjects with autism and schizophrenia, as compared to age-matched cont........ Read more »
Zhang Y, Hodgson NW, Trivedi MS, Abdolmaleky HM, Fournier M, Cuenod M, Do KQ, & Deth RC. (2016) Decreased Brain Levels of Vitamin B12 in Aging, Autism and Schizophrenia. PloS one, 11(1). PMID: 26799654
Not so long ago, there was a hope in the research community that common genetic variation, i.e. variants present at minor allele frequencies >5% in human populations, might explain most or all of the heritability of common complex disease. That would have been convenient, because such variants can be genotyped with precise, inexpensive, high-density SNP […]... Read more »
Fritsche LG, Igl W, Bailey JN, Grassmann F, Sengupta S, Bragg-Gresham JL, Burdon KP, Hebbring SJ, Wen C, Gorski M.... (2016) A large genome-wide association study of age-related macular degeneration highlights contributions of rare and common variants. Nature genetics, 48(2), 134-43. PMID: 26691988
The title of this quite brief post refers to an important finding detailed by Derek Nord and colleagues  who, when analysing data from the "2008–09 National Core Indicators Adult Consumer Survey", concluded that there were some important inequalities when it came to employment rates for those diagnosed on the autism spectrum.Employment rates and work opportunities for people diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a hot topic at the moment. The Nord findings build upon report af........ Read more »
Nord, D., Stancliffe, R., Nye-Lengerman, K., & Hewitt, A. (2016) Employment in the community for people with and without autism: A comparative analysis. Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders, 11-16. DOI: 10.1016/j.rasd.2015.12.013
There may be a genetic connection between some mental health disorders and type 2 diabetes. In a new report, scientists show that a gene called “DISC1,” which is believed to play a role in mental health disorders, such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and some forms of depression, influences the function of pancreatic beta cells which produce insulin to maintain normal blood glucose levels.
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Jurczyk A, Nowosielska A, Przewozniak N, Aryee KE, DiIorio P, Blodgett D, Yang C, Campbell-Thompson M, Atkinson M, Shultz L.... (2016) Beyond the brain: disrupted in schizophrenia 1 regulates pancreatic β-cell function via glycogen synthase kinase-3β. FASEB journal : official publication of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology, 30(2), 983-93. PMID: 26546129
Plasticity of the brain, what does that even mean? Well the good news is that it isn’t just a marketing ploy, the brain needs to be “plastic” because we need to be able to adapt. Frankly speaking, the brain still has a lot to learn about itself. Scientists at the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute have made a key finding of the striking differences in how the brain’s cells can change through experience.
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Saez, I., & Friedlander, M. (2016) Role of GABAA-Mediated Inhibition and Functional Assortment of Synapses onto Individual Layer 4 Neurons in Regulating Plasticity Expression in Visual Cortex. PLOS ONE, 11(2). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0147642
The Eatles are cleaning the skull of a domestic dog. Come read about osteoporosis research in the Organ Lab at Indiana University School of Medicine... Read more »
Allen MR, Territo PR, Lin C, Persohn S, Jiang L, Riley AA, McCarthy BP, Newman CL, Burr DB, & Hutchins GD. (2015) In Vivo UTE-MRI Reveals Positive Effects of Raloxifene on Skeletal-Bound Water in Skeletally Mature Beagle Dogs. Journal of bone and mineral research : the official journal of the American Society for Bone and Mineral Research, 30(8), 1441-4. PMID: 25644867
Allen MR, McNerny EM, Organ JM, & Wallace JM. (2015) True Gold or Pyrite: A Review of Reference Point Indentation for Assessing Bone Mechanical Properties In Vivo. Journal of bone and mineral research : the official journal of the American Society for Bone and Mineral Research, 30(9), 1539-50. PMID: 26235703
Aref M, Gallant MA, Organ JM, Wallace JM, Newman CL, Burr DB, Brown DM, & Allen MR. (2013) In vivo reference point indentation reveals positive effects of raloxifene on mechanical properties following 6 months of treatment in skeletally mature beagle dogs. Bone, 56(2), 449-53. PMID: 23871851
Skoglund P, Ersmark E, Palkopoulou E, & Dalén L. (2015) Ancient wolf genome reveals an early divergence of domestic dog ancestors and admixture into high-latitude breeds. Current biology : CB, 25(11), 1515-9. PMID: 26004765
"The primary finding from the study was evidence of an improvement in several objective sleep parameters in participants in whom the increased colonization of lactic acid producing organisms was resolved after antibiotic treatment."Those were the words written by Melinda Jackson and colleagues  (open-access) who, during an open-label trial, looked at whether administration of an antibiotic (erythromycin 400 mg) over the course of 6 days might have some important effects on elements of sleep i........ Read more »
Jackson ML, Butt H, Ball M, Lewis DP, & Bruck D. (2015) Sleep quality and the treatment of intestinal microbiota imbalance in Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: A pilot study. Sleep Science (Sao Paulo, Brazil), 8(3), 124-33. PMID: 26779319
Underwater sound linked to human activity could alter the behaviour of seabed creatures that play a vital role in marine ecosystems, according to new research from the University of Southampton. The study found that exposure to sounds that resemble shipping traffic and offshore construction activities results in behavioural responses in certain invertebrate species that live in the marine sediment.
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Solan, M., Hauton, C., Godbold, J., Wood, C., Leighton, T., & White, P. (2016) Anthropogenic sources of underwater sound can modify how sediment-dwelling invertebrates mediate ecosystem properties. Scientific Reports, 20540. DOI: 10.1038/srep20540
Hepatocellular carcinomas (HCCs) are the third leading cause of cancer deaths globally; frequently diagnosed only in the advanced stages and aggressive in nature. Although enhanced mTOR activity has a key role in HCC tumourigenesis, the EVOLVE-1 clinical trial of mTOR inhibitor everolimus found no associated improvement in overall survival (Zhu et al., 2014). However, everolimus is an effective treatment for tuberous sclerosis complex (TSC) manifestations, a rare disease associated with mutation........ Read more »
Huynh H, Hao HX, Chan SL, Chen D, Ong R, Soo KC, Pochanard P, Yang D, Ruddy D, Liu M.... (2015) Loss of Tuberous Sclerosis Complex 2 (TSC2) Is Frequent in Hepatocellular Carcinoma and Predicts Response to mTORC1 Inhibitor Everolimus. Molecular cancer therapeutics, 14(5), 1224-35. PMID: 25724664
"Vitamin D deficiency might contribute to the aetiology of ASD [autism spectrum disorder]. Supplementation of vitamin D3, which is a safe and cost-effective form of treatment, may significantly improve the outcome of some children with ASD, especially younger children."More big words have appeared from a research group who seem to be particularly interested in how vitamin D (the sunshine vitamin/hormone) might have some important links to at least some cases of autism. The findings thi........ Read more »
Feng J, Shan L, Du L, Wang B, Li H, Wang W, Wang T, Dong H, Yue X, Xu Z.... (2016) Clinical improvement following vitamin D3 supplementation in Autism Spectrum Disorder. Nutritional neuroscience. PMID: 26783092
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