A remarkable coral reef appears to be thriving in the murky waters of the northern Persian Gulf, despite seemingly harsh environmental conditions.... Read more »
Pohl T, Al-Muqdadi SW, Ali MH, Fawzi NA, Ehrlich H, & Merkel B. (2014) Discovery of a living coral reef in the coastal waters of Iraq. Scientific Reports, 4250. PMID: 24603901
Unable to display content. Adobe Flash is required. When I was doing my Ph.D. in the ancient days of the Sanger Method sequencing and reading in the results with one hand on the keyboard and reading the GATCs on the read (and going to the lab in the snow uphill both ways), my purpose for […]... Read more »
Conow, C., Fielder, D., Ovadia, Y., & Libeskind-Hadas, R. (2010) Jane: a new tool for the cophylogeny reconstruction problem. Algorithms for Molecular Biology, 5(1), 16. DOI: 10.1186/1748-7188-5-16
Benefits Sprinting and Jumping: New Evidence I began distance running at the age of 12 and have kept with it for decades now. Running at a mellow pace has helped me unwind, de-stress and keep my sanity through turbulent times. Until I started CrossFit about five years ago. While I miss the runners high there […]The post New Evidence on the Benefits of Sprinting for Long-Term Health and Fitness appeared first on WODMasters.... Read more »
Gast U, Belavý DL, Armbrecht G, Kusy K, Lexy H, Rawer R, Rittweger J, Winwood K, Zieliński J, & Felsenberg D. (2013) Bone density and neuromuscular function in older competitive athletes depend on running distance. Osteoporosis international : a journal established as result of cooperation between the European Foundation for Osteoporosis and the National Osteoporosis Foundation of the USA, 24(7), 2033-42. PMID: 23242430
An estimated three to five million cases of severe flu infection are reported each year. This isn’t the same as the “I can’t come to work today, I’ve got ‘flu’…” type of illness (often caused by the common cold), but … Continue reading →... Read more »
Lees WD, Moss DS, & Shepherd AJ. (2014) Evolution in the influenza A H3 stalk - a challenge for broad-spectrum vaccines?. The Journal of general virology, 95(Pt 2), 317-24. PMID: 24187015
I love a lot of things that are rings, especially donuts. Turns out, though, that ring chromosomes are terrible news. A recent paper shows the loss of ring chromosomes when cells are reprogrammed, suggesting possible ‘chromosome therapy’ through cell reprogramming. Ring chromosomes form when the two arms of a chromosome fuse, and are sometimes associated with large terminal deletions. These ring chromosomes lead to birth defects, mental disabilities, and growth retardation. Unfortunately, there are no treatments for ring chromosome disorders due the severity of the aberrations. In a recent study, Bershteyn and colleagues generated induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) from cells of a Miller Dieker Syndrome patient with large deletions on ring chromosome 17. The induced stem cells lost the ring chromosome and duplicated the normal homologous chromosome through a mechanism called compensatory uniparental disomy. The images above show two karyotypes—one with the ring chromosome 17 (left, inset), and one without (right).Bershteyn, M., Hayashi, Y., Desachy, G., Hsiao, E., Sami, S., Tsang, K., Weiss, L., Kriegstein, A., Yamanaka, S., & Wynshaw-Boris, A. (2014). Cell-autonomous correction of ring chromosomes in human induced pluripotent stem cells Nature, 507 (7490), 99-103 DOI: 10.1038/nature12923Adapted by permission from Macmillan Publishers Ltd, copyright ©2014 ... Read more »
Bershteyn, M., Hayashi, Y., Desachy, G., Hsiao, E., Sami, S., Tsang, K., Weiss, L., Kriegstein, A., Yamanaka, S., & Wynshaw-Boris, A. (2014) Cell-autonomous correction of ring chromosomes in human induced pluripotent stem cells. Nature, 507(7490), 99-103. DOI: 10.1038/nature12923
Why do we say that spicy foods are “hot?” The painful sensation and sting of chili peppers in the mouth is likened to the burn from a heated source. This is much closer to the truth than just a verbal similarity. The capsaicin of chili peppers serve to protect the seeds from killing by Fusarium fungi; the evolutionary pressure of fungal pathogens drives higher capsaicin levels. Other studies indicate that plant growth conditions also affect capsaicin levels. Higher growth temperatures result in higher capsaicin levels in many chilies. But in jalapenos, the higher temperatures inhibit capsaicin production.
These capsaicin molecules bind to the TRPV1 ion channel expressed on nociceptive neurons to activate them and stimulate a feeling of heat and pain. But this is not the only activating signal for TRPV1. High heat itself is an activator of the ion channel, and in this capacity the channel acts in many systems. But the channel doesn’t know the difference between noxious heat and capsaicin – activation is activation, so both activators induce a pain response.
... Read more »
González-Zamora A, Sierra-Campos E, Luna-Ortega JG, Pérez-Morales R, Rodríguez Ortiz JC, & García-Hernández JL. (2013) Characterization of different Capsicum varieties by evaluation of their capsaicinoids content by high performance liquid chromatography, determination of pungency and effect of high temperature. Molecules (Basel, Switzerland), 18(11), 13471-86. PMID: 24184818
Researchers developed a technique by which they can forecast if a person is capable of developing dementia in two to three years.This study will help to design and develop a drug that might delay or prevent the onset of disease symptoms in those individuals that are at risk.... Read more »
Mapstone, M., Cheema, A., Fiandaca, M., Zhong, X., Mhyre, T., MacArthur, L., Hall, W., Fisher, S., Peterson, D., Haley, J.... (2014) Plasma phospholipids identify antecedent memory impairment in older adults. Nature Medicine. DOI: 10.1038/nm.3466
Professor Rod DunbarCreditAuckland researchers have discovered new cells with stem cell properties in human skin, opening the door to a range of new treatments for skin diseases and unhealed wounds.The scientists, Professor Rod Dunbar, Dr Vaughan Feisst, Dr Anna Brooks and Jenni Chen, are members of the Maurice Wilkins Centre for Molecular Biodiscovery, and the research was carried out in the School of Biological Sciences at the University of Auckland.They identified mesenchymal progenitor cells (MPCs) in the dermis, the middle layer of skin, and discovered that these could turn themselves into fat cells. This signals that they can probably become other types of cells that repair and regenerate tissue, like similar stem cells found in fat and bone marrow."Nobody has identified these cells before, so this opens the door to advances in both skin healing and skin diseases. Every time you find new cells with stem cell-like properties, you know you’re onto something that could have major implicationsIt’s a really exciting discovery. We try to avoid getting too carried away about our results because we’re constitutionally cautious - but this discovery is a pretty fundamental finding." said Professor Dunbar.Read More... Read more »
Feisst, V., Brooks, A., Chen, C., & Dunbar, P. (2014) Characterization of Mesenchymal Progenitor Cell Populations Directly Derived from Human Dermis. Stem Cells and Development, 23(6), 631-642. DOI: 10.1089/scd.2013.0207
Alzheimer's disease is the most widespread degenerative neurological disorder in the world. Over five million Americans live with it, and one in three senior citizens will die with the disease or a similar form of dementia. While memory loss is a common symptom of Alzheimer's, other behavioral manifestations — depression, loss of inhibition, delusions, agitation, anxiety, and aggression — can be even more challenging for victims and their families to live with.Today, Professor Daniel Offen and Dr. Adi Shruster from the Tel Aviv University's Sackler School of Medicine announced that they have discovered that by reestablishing a population of new cells in the part of the brain associated with behaviour, some symptoms of Alzheimer's disease significantly decreased or were reversed altogether.Read More... Read more »
Shruster, A., & Offen, D. (2014) Targeting neurogenesis ameliorates danger assessment in a mouse model of Alzheimer's disease. Behavioural Brain Research, 193-201. DOI: 10.1016/j.bbr.2013.12.028
The sizable amount of data generated by high throughput cell biology is increasing the demand on traditional computational tools in bioinformatics to handle large input datasets. Large sequence data sets create intractable search spaces that are beyond the scope of many conventional algorithms. One way to address this problem is to transform large sequence data sets to the constituent parts that characterize the features of interest (e.g. transcription factor binding sites, miRNA sites, etc.) of the problem. ... Read more »
Sumedha S. Gunewardena. (2014) Optimum-time, Optimum-space, Algorithms for k-mer Analysis of Whole Genome Sequences. JOURNAL OF BIOINFORMATICS AND COMPARATIVE GENOMICS, 1(1), 1-12. info:/JBCG 1: 101
Not so long ago I talked about the paper from Smith and colleagues  on autism and obstacles to medical [comorbidity] diagnosis and treatment (see here). Aside from the need for professionals to overcome the issue of "a lack of expressive speech" as an impediment to undertaking a thorough medical work-up when presented with a person with autism, an important theme of that paper was the requirement to see beyond autism as being the 'reason' for every single behaviour or issue that affects a person. It's not.Indeed, the paper by Megan Tudor and colleagues  which makes up the material for today's post, adds to that message with their report on pain as being a predictor of sleep problems for some children/young adults with autism. Once again, my thanks go to Natasa for providing the full-text version of the paper for my blogging consumption (yum!).The long-and-short of the Tudor paper was as follows:Take two issues which have cropped up in the autism research literature more than once - sleeping issues and pain - and aim to examine "pain-related behaviors as a predictor of sleep problems in youth with parent-reported ASD using standardized parent-report measurement of both variables".Mothers of a sample of 62 children/young adults drawn from a larger study  [note to authors, your date is wrong for this reference] were questioned using several measures including the NCCPC-R (see here) and the CSHQ  (open-access) looking at pain and sleep respectively. I should also note that questionnaires were completed on-line and participants received a financial incentive to complete [a large chunk of] questionnaires.Results: parent-reported participant pain levels according to NCCPC-R scores "was high compared to normative information for this measure". Sleep issues were similarly elevated in the sample, particularly parasomnias. The discussion notes that pain scores were gathered across a slightly different timespan to the normative data (1 week retrospective report for the study vs. 2-hour observation period for the normative data) so one perhaps need to be a little cautious about this.Some regression analysis for scores on the two instruments revealed some potentially important results. So higher pain scores "predicted higher scores on CSHQ Total Sleep Disturbance" although with an R-squared value of 0.22 this is not necessarily a straight-forward connection. Specific sleep problems including sleep duration, parasomnias and sleep-disorder breathing were also reported as being accompanied by a previous weeks pain-related behaviours and may well have had some very individual behaviours linked to them e.g. "problems with sleep duration were predicted by social communication of pain, such as comfort-seeking and being difficult to pacify" and "Parasomnias were predicted by facial communication of pain, such as grimacing or brow furrowing".The authors conclude that whilst there is more to do in this area of investigation (including the important use of control groups) their results should serve as a marker for healthcare professionals when dealing with children with autism who also present with sleeping issues. To quote: "how pain and sleep problems relate to one another and may affect children's daytime functioning...". This may have some far-reaching effects in terms of how sleep issues are traditionally managed when it comes to autism and other developmental disorders.Going back to the my starting paragraph about autism not being to blame for every single behavioural manifestation noted among cases, I can't help but ask the question: why were parent-reported indicators of pain-related behaviours seemingly elevated in this sample? As far as I know - and I am just an outsider looking in - autism is not necessarily defined as a painful condition. Indeed, even the authors point to the possibility of a "high threshold for pain"  described in the DSM-IV TR diagnostic schedule for autism. Certainly if it was shown that autism 'is a painful condition', it would perhaps change some of the dialogue noted in Dr Insel's Four Kingdoms of Autism.I do have a few theories about this notion of pain and autism however so bear with me. Tudor and colleagues allude to one of them insofar as discussions about "ongoing mild digestive discomfort" and "severe inflammatory bowel disease" with both issues having cropped up before on this blog previously. Thinking back to the paper by Kushak and colleagues  discussed in this post on lactase enzymes and autism, there is the suggestion that lactose intolerance (related to the sugar found in milk and dairy produce) "may contribute to abdominal discomfort, pain and observed aberrant behavior". With autism and inflammatory bowel disease in mind, the Walker paper  published a while back (discussed in this post) springs to mind.Of course, I don't claim that every expression of pain noted in autism is necessarily one of being related to gastrointestinal (GI) function or dysfunction but one could certainly look to rule these issues out if one were being assiduous. As per some other potentially important issues, I might also refer you to a post I wrote a while back on self-injurious behaviour (see here) and other areas that one might look at when it comes to pain being potentially present in cases of autism.The final angle that is perhaps worthy of exploration has already been touched upon in the additional reference by Allely  (see here again) in relation to how one of the core aspects of autism might itself have the ability to induce pain: sensory sensitivity. I say core aspect but am referring to the recent inclusion of sensory issues into DSM-V noting that not everywhere in the world has made the shift over the DSM-5. So, things like over sensitivity to sound for example, I assume may register on someone's behaviour and manner, just as issues with the visual modality might also have the ability to induce something like pain (see here). Indeed, migraine might be something else to look at with pain and autism in mind  and not just with the head in mind either . As per previous statements, it all depends on how far one is willing to look into the issue of pain and the potential reasons for its presence...---------- Smith MD. et al. Autism and Obstacles to Medical Diagnosis and Treatment. Focus Autism Other Dev Disabl 2012; 27: 189-195. Tudor ME. et al. Pain as a predictor of sleep problems in youth with autism spectrum disorders. Autism. 2014 Feb 4. [Epub ahead of print] Walsh CE. et al. Predictors of parent stress in a sample of children with ASD: Pain, problem behavior, and parental coping. Res Autism Spec Disorder. 2013; 7: 256-264. Owens JA. et al. The Children's Sleep Habits Questionnaire (CSHQ): psychometric properties of a survey instrument for school-aged childre... Read more »
Tudor ME, Walsh CE, Mulder EC, & Lerner MD. (2014) Pain as a predictor of sleep problems in youth with autism spectrum disorders. Autism : the international journal of research and practice. PMID: 24497628
College athletes who had orthopaedic surgery in high school miss more days of collegiate competition than athletes without a history of orthopaedic surgery. More specifically, athletes with a history of knee surgery were more likely to sustain another knee injury or require surgery while in college.... Read more »
Rugg, C., Wang, D., Sulzicki, P., & Hame, S. (2014) Effects of Prior Knee Surgery on Subsequent Injury, Imaging, and Surgery in NCAA Collegiate Athletes. The American Journal of Sports Medicine. DOI: 10.1177/0363546513519951
Do we do too many 12 lead ECGs on patients who do not have chest pain?
This is something that some people worry about.
Save the electrodes!
Those poor little electrodes are being abused!
Are electrodes being abused?... Read more »
Glickman SW, Shofer FS, Wu MC, Scholer MJ, Ndubuizu A, Peterson ED, Granger CB, Cairns CB, & Glickman LT. (2012) Development and validation of a prioritization rule for obtaining an immediate 12-lead electrocardiogram in the emergency department to identify ST-elevation myocardial infarction. American heart journal, 163(3), 372-82. PMID: 22424007
A new type of consumer has evolved in recent years—the love child of the Couch Potato and the Channel Surfer, raised by streaming devices and nurtured by entire seasons of shows available at the click of a remote. Neuroscience, it turns out, can partially explain the phenomenon of binge-watching TV.... Read more »
Training Characteristics Related to Running Related Injuries... Read more »
Malisoux, L., Urhausen, A., & Theisen, D. (2014) IMPACT OF TRAINING CHARACTERISTICS ON RUNNING-RELATED INJURIES IN RECREATIONAL RUNNERS. British Journal of Sports Medicine, 48(7), 631-632. DOI: 10.1136/bjsports-2014-093494.194
I discuss a recent Science review about data regarding the cold tropical Pacific and its relationship to recent global temperature data.... Read more »
Clement, A., & DiNezio, P. (2014) The Tropical Pacific Ocean--Back in the Driver's Seat?. Science, 343(6174), 976-978. DOI: 10.1126/science.1248115
Researchers at the Vienna University of Technology have succeeded for the first time in creating a diode made of tungsten diselenide. Experiments show that this material may be used to create ultrathin flexible solar cells. Even flexible displays could become possible.... Read more »
Pospischil, A., Furchi, M., & Mueller, T. (2014) Solar-energy conversion and light emission in an atomic monolayer p–n diode. Nature Nanotechnology. DOI: 10.1038/nnano.2014.14
Few areas of biomedical research have benefited more from next-gen sequencing than studies of rare inherited diseases. Rapid, inexpensive exome sequencing in individuals with rare, presumably-monogenic diseases has been hugely successful over the past few years. There’s been a lot of discussion in the NGS community about the analysis burden of the large-scale whole-genome sequencing […]... Read more »
Koboldt DC, Larson DE, Sullivan LS, Bowne SJ, Steinberg KM, Churchill JD, Buhr AC, Nutter N, Pierce EA, Blanton SH.... (2014) Exome-Based Mapping and Variant Prioritization for Inherited Mendelian Disorders. American journal of human genetics. PMID: 24560519
This month I will be focusing on sleep and the brain. The importance of sleep to normal and abnormal brain functioning is receiving increased research attention.A variety of sleep abnormalities have been described in major depression and bipolar affective disorder. Depression has been linked to delayed sleep onset, reduced time to first rapid eye movement (REM) period, reduced sleep efficiency and disruption of the circadian rhythm of sleep.Sleep physiology also varies throughout the lifespan. Puberty produces a delay in the sleep-wake cycle while older age is associated with a earlier sleep-wake cycle and reduced total sleep time.Robillard and colleagues recently published a study designed to tease out the effects of depression on sleep across the life cycle. The key elements of the design of their study included the following components:Subjects: 238 treatment-seeking individuals with a lifetime history of mood disorder ranging in age from 12 to 90 years of ageProcedures: Subjects wore an activity watch (actigraphy) for up to 22 days and completed sleep diaries. Additionally, subjects completed the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale a measure of current severity of depression symptomsOutcome variables: sleep onset time, sleep offset time, total time in bed, total sleep time, time awake after sleep onset and sleep efficiency (time asleep divided by time in bed). Additionally, five circadian rhythm parameters were estimated from the dataData analysis: Outcome variables were examined using two-way ANOVA with depression severity and age category as covariatesThe study found significant differences in the depression-related sleep parameters by age and depression severity:Younger age effects: Depression severity in younger adolescents and younger adults was associated with later sleep onset and offset, longer time in bed, longer time awake after sleep onset and lower sleep efficiencyOlder age effects: Depression severity in older adults was associated with reduced circadian rhythm strengthEffects found in all age groups: Depression severity was associated with disruption of sleep consolidationThe authors note in their discussion that sleep offset (later morning awakening) is associated with age and depression severity and "may be especially sensitive to the additive effects of age and depression". This study is limited to use of actigraphy data and did not include more accurate polysomnography (sleep studies). Additionally, the study did not include a non-depressed control sample. Finally, there is limited description of psychotropic drug use in the sample a potentially confounding factor. Nevertheless, this is an important study that helps tease out the effects of depression compared to the effects of age on sleep. Depression appears to adversely effect sleep function across the life cycle. Sleep function can be a valuable tool for assessment and monitoring treatment in mood disorders.Readers with more interest in this research can access the free full-text article by clicking on the link citation link below.Photo of a red shouldered hawk is from the author's files.Follow the author on Twitter @WRY999Robillard, R., Naismith, S., Smith, K., Rogers, N., White, D., Terpening, Z., Ip, T., Hermens, D., Whitwell, B., Scott, E., & Hickie, I. (2014). Sleep-Wake Cycle in Young and Older Persons with a Lifetime History of Mood Disorders PLoS ONE, 9 (2) DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0087763... Read more »
Robillard, R., Naismith, S., Smith, K., Rogers, N., White, D., Terpening, Z., Ip, T., Hermens, D., Whitwell, B., Scott, E.... (2014) Sleep-Wake Cycle in Young and Older Persons with a Lifetime History of Mood Disorders. PLoS ONE, 9(2). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0087763
You might say the benefit of staying alive is an actual no-brainer: even brainless lifeforms do their best not to die. For the most part, anyway. When they’re under stress, single-celled organisms may opt to cut up their DNA and neatly implode. A new study hints that by committing suicide in this way, an organism […]The post Suicidal Algae Help Their Relatives and Harm Their Rivals appeared first on Inkfish.... Read more »
Durand, P., Choudhury, R., Rashidi, A., & Michod, R. (2014) Programmed death in a unicellular organism has species-specific fitness effects. Biology Letters, 10(2), 20131088-20131088. DOI: 10.1098/rsbl.2013.1088
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