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  • February 9, 2015
  • 04:34 PM
  • 259 views

Help on the horizon for treatment resistant depression

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Depression is like a kick while you’re already down. Sometimes there is no real reason for it, sometimes it is triggered by some serious life issues, but clinical depression always has very real neurological roots. Unfortunately, while we know that certain areas of the brain are smaller in a depressed person, we don’t know why or what effect it has on a person. Worse, SSRI’s the “gold standard” for depression can have no — or worse ill — effects on the person taking the drugs.... Read more »

Benjamin D. Sachs, Jason R. Ni, & Marc G. Caron. (2015) Brain 5-HT deficiency increases stress vulnerability and impairs antidepressant responses following psychosocial stress. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. info:/10.1073/pnas.1416866112

  • February 9, 2015
  • 09:22 AM
  • 357 views

Literature and Philosophy in the Laboratory Meeting

by Jalees Rehman in The Next Regeneration

Research institutions in the life sciences engage in two types of regular scientific meet-ups: scientific seminars and lab meetings. The structure of scientific seminars is fairly standard. Speakers give Powerpoint presentations (typically 45 to 55 minutes long) which provide the necessary scientific background, summarize their group's recent published scientific work and then (hopefully) present newer, unpublished data. Lab meetings are a rather different affair. The purpose of a lab meeting is to share the scientific work-in-progress with one's peers within a research group and also to update the laboratory heads. Lab meetings are usually less formal than seminars, and all members of a research group are encouraged to critique the presented scientific data and work-in-progress. There is no need to provide much background information because the audience of peers is already well-acquainted with the subject and it is not uncommon to show raw, unprocessed data and images in order to solicit constructive criticism and guidance from lab members and mentors on how to interpret the data. This enables peer review in real-time, so that, hopefully, major errors and flaws can be averted and newer ideas incorporated into the ongoing experiments.
... Read more »

  • February 8, 2015
  • 03:11 PM
  • 260 views

‘Virtual virus’ unfolds the flu on a CPU

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

The flu virus can be pretty nasty — it’s quick to evolve — which means yearly flu shots are needed and then it’s only a guess to which strain will be the most prevalent. Well new research aims to change all that, by combining experimental data from X-ray crystallography, NMR spectroscopy, cryoelectron microscopy and lipidomics (the study of cellular lipid networks), researchers have built a complete model of the outer envelope of an influenza A virion for the first time. So would that make it a computer virus, virus?... Read more »

Reddy, T., Shorthouse, D., Parton, D., Jefferys, E., Fowler, P., Chavent, M., Baaden, M., & Sansom, M. (2015) Nothing to Sneeze at: A Full-Scale Computational Model of the Human Influenza Virion. Biophysical Journal, 108(2), 31. DOI: 10.1016/j.bpj.2014.11.195  

  • February 7, 2015
  • 09:21 PM
  • 418 views

Misinformation and selective coverage change perception of outbreaks, but can be corrected by presenting the facts

by Austin Bouck in Fur, Farm, & Fork

While it’s not an animal product, the Listeriosis outbreak recently traced to apples is just as relevant to the food industry as a whole as any other food-borne illness outbreak. While I was looking for more information on the outbreak, I came across this gem* of an article posted on cnn.com.... Read more »

  • February 7, 2015
  • 03:37 PM
  • 245 views

Anorexia, it’s in your genes

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

No one likes to talk about eating disorders — specifically anorexia nervosa — despite the increased prevalence in both men and women. Like depression people tend to think that you can “just get over it” or some other nonsense. However new research is shedding light on the truth behind anorexia, much like with depression, there is a biological component involved. Simply put, it gets written into your genes.... Read more »

Howard Steiger Et al. (2015) DNA methylation in individuals with Anorexia Nervosa and in matched normal-eater controls: A genome-wide study. International Journal of Eating Disorders. info:/10.1002/eat.19378

  • February 6, 2015
  • 04:51 PM
  • 270 views

Scientists find a way to treat hormone deficiency from an unlikely source

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Science has helped us to live longer and in some cases much fuller lives. Unfortunately for some with serious medical conditions, they may lead a long life, but a life of what? To that end a group of researchers set out to help people with hormone deficiencies and the team has developed a potential new therapy based on an unlikely model: immune molecules from cows.... Read more »

Liu Tao, Yan Liu, Ying Wang, Haiqun Jia, Mingchao Kang, Xiaozhou Luo, Dawna Caballero, Jose Gonzalez, Lance Sherwood, & Vanessa Nunez. (2015) Functional human antibody CDR fusions as long-acting therapeutic endocrine agonists. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 112(5), 1356-1361. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1423668112  

  • February 6, 2015
  • 08:34 AM
  • 440 views

Why do we have music? Can one trace the origins of musicality?

by Henkjan Honing in Music Matters

Why do we have music? And what enables us to perceive, appreciate and make music? The search for a possible answer to these and other questions forms the backdrop to a soon-to-be released theme issue of Philosophical Transactions, which deals with the subject of musicality. An initiative of Henkjan Honing, professor of Music Cognition at the University of Amsterdam (UvA), this theme issue will see Honing and fellow researchers present their most important empirical results and offer a joint research agenda with which to identify the biological and cognitive basis of musicality. ... Read more »

Honing, H., ten Cate, C., Peretz, I., & Trehub, S. (2015) Without it no music: cognition, biology and evolution of musicality. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 370(1664), 20140088-20140088. DOI: 10.1098/rstb.2014.0088  

Gingras, B., Honing, H., Peretz, I., Trainor, L., & Fisher, S. (2015) Defining the biological bases of individual differences in musicality. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 370(1664), 20140092-20140092. DOI: 10.1098/rstb.2014.0092  

Fitch, W. (2015) Four principles of bio-musicology. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 370(1664), 20140091-20140091. DOI: 10.1098/rstb.2014.0091  

Hoeschele, M., Merchant, H., Kikuchi, Y., Hattori, Y., & ten Cate, C. (2015) Searching for the origins of musicality across species. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 370(1664), 20140094-20140094. DOI: 10.1098/rstb.2014.0094  

  • February 5, 2015
  • 05:17 PM
  • 269 views

Meditation might mean more gray matter in later years

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Since 1970, life expectancy around the world has risen dramatically, with people living more than 10 years longer. That’s the good news. The bad news is that starting when people are in their mid-to-late-20s, the brain begins to wither — its volume and weight begin to decrease. As this occurs, the brain can begin to lose some of its functional abilities.... Read more »

  • February 4, 2015
  • 07:55 PM
  • 214 views

Study shows children and birds learn alike

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Your child is your pride and joy — and why not, every parent should be a proud one, even if your child might be bird brained. Or maybe birds are baby brained? In any case, a new study has found that pigeons can categorize and name both natural and manmade objects–and not just a few objects. These birds categorized 128 photographs into 16 categories, and they did so simultaneously.... Read more »

  • February 4, 2015
  • 07:04 PM
  • 307 views

How to keep the lights on when the fossil fuels are gone

by Jonathan Trinastic in Goodnight Earth

My second guest post at the Eyes on Environment blog at Nature's Scitable network. Check out how policy and technology will help integrate renewables into the electrical grid.... Read more »

  • February 4, 2015
  • 03:22 PM
  • 241 views

Researchers discover viral ‘Enigma machine’

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Antibiotics are for infections, vaccines are for viruses, and unfortunately both bacteria AND viruses mutate. So when someone has AIDS for example it is hard to fight since a vaccine would be hard to produce given how rapidly it evolves. Well now researchers may be one step closer to solving the problem since they have cracked a code that governs infections by a major group of viruses which includes the common cold and polio.... Read more »

Patel, N., Dykeman, E., Coutts, R., Lomonossoff, G., Rowlands, D., Phillips, S., Ranson, N., Twarock, R., Tuma, R., & Stockley, P. (2015) Revealing the density of encoded functions in a viral RNA. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 201420812. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1420812112  

  • February 4, 2015
  • 12:00 PM
  • 41 views

Intracranial EEG and Mental Time Travel

by knowingneurons in Knowing Neurons

A familiar progression of chords blares out of your speakers as the red lights of the surrounding traffic fade into the memory of a dark stage illuminated by pulsing neon lights.  You replace your current discomfort (horrendous traffic!) with the memory of the last concert you attended – reliving the percussive sensory experience and feeling the … Continue reading →... Read more »

  • February 3, 2015
  • 01:17 PM
  • 207 views

Scientists find the genetic trigger for immune system response

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Mitochondria are the “powerhouse of the cell.” We all learn in biology that they have seemingly one function in the body, converting food and oxygen into energy. Well that might not be the case anymore; the thousands of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) molecules present in each cell have been identified in an unexpected relationship with the innate immune response.... Read more »

West AP, Khoury-Hanold W, Staron M, Tal MC, Pineda CM, Lang SM, Bestwick M, Duguay BA, Raimundo N, MacDuff DA.... (2015) Mitochondrial DNA stress primes the antiviral innate immune response. Nature. PMID: 25642965  

  • February 3, 2015
  • 11:54 AM
  • 318 views

How to Unboil an Egg

by Viputheshwar Sitaraman in Draw Science

How to unboil an egg...and why it matters: Scientists have discovered how to refold proteins easily; this could change the face of protein synthesis!... Read more »

Yuan, T., Ormonde, C., Kudlacek, S., Kunche, S., Smith, J., Brown, W., Pugliese, K., Olsen, T., Iftikhar, M., Raston, C.... (2015) Shear-Stress-Mediated Refolding of Proteins from Aggregates and Inclusion Bodies. ChemBioChem. DOI: 10.1002/cbic.201402427  

  • February 2, 2015
  • 07:19 PM
  • 334 views

We can predict the chaos in climate change only so well

by Jonathan Trinastic in Goodnight Earth

New analysis in Nature shows that differences in actual and modeled temperature trends are due to natural variability in Earth's climate over short timescales. Read the details here!... Read more »

  • February 2, 2015
  • 04:48 PM
  • 275 views

How social norms come into being

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Fifteen years ago, the name “Aiden” was hardly on the radar of Americans with new babies. It ranked a lowly 324th on the Social Security Administration’s list of popular baby names. But less than a decade later, the name became a favorite, soaring into the top 20 for five years and counting. Now, a new study provides a scientific explanation for how social conventions — everything from acceptable baby names to standards of professional conduct — can emerge suddenly, seemingly out of nowhere, with no external forces driving their creation.... Read more »

Damon Centola, & Andrea Baronchelli. (2015) The spontaneous emergence of conventions: An experimental study of cultural evolution . Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. info:/10.1073/pnas.1418838112

  • February 2, 2015
  • 10:12 AM
  • 268 views

Melatonin is Not a Magic Pill

by Miss Behavior in The Scorpion and the Frog

European hamsters showed us that there is more to annual body rhythms than melatonin. Image by Agnieszka Szeląg at Wikimedia Commons.Many animals undergo seasonal physiological changes in order to ensure that their babies are born during a time of more abundant food and milder weather and to help their bodies prepare for harsh winter conditions. In order to precisely time these physiological changes with the seasons, most animals have evolved to respond to the most reliable marker for time of year, photoperiod (the number of hours of daylight in a 24-hour period). In mammals, the hormone melatonin, produced by the pineal gland in the brain, is thought to be essential in this process of annual body rhythms. New research finds that the real story is much more complicated. To learn more about this, read the full article at Accumulating Glitches. Monecke, S., Sage-Ciocca, D., Wollnik, F., & Pevet, P. (2013). Photoperiod Can Entrain Circannual Rhythms in Pinealectomized European Hamsters Journal of Biological Rhythms, 28 (4), 278-290 DOI: 10.1177/0748730413498561 ... Read more »

Monecke, S., Sage-Ciocca, D., Wollnik, F., & Pevet, P. (2013) Photoperiod Can Entrain Circannual Rhythms in Pinealectomized European Hamsters. Journal of Biological Rhythms, 28(4), 278-290. DOI: 10.1177/0748730413498561  

  • February 1, 2015
  • 03:48 PM
  • 280 views

Alternatives to antibiotics in an antibiotic resistant world

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Let’s be honest, we’ve been getting a little fancy with the antibiotics, creating new and more relevant versions of old favorites like penicillin. Truthfully, we are the problem, how many times do we have to drive home the idea that antibiotics are for bacteria, not viruses. It is not all the consumers fault, the Doctors used to hand out antibiotics to placate angry parents of sick children.... Read more »

WHO. (2014) Antimicrobial resistance. World Health Organization . info:other/

Lewis NE, Hixson KK, Conrad TM, Lerman JA, Charusanti P, Polpitiya AD, Adkins JN, Schramm G, Purvine SO, Lopez-Ferrer D.... (2010) Omic data from evolved E. coli are consistent with computed optimal growth from genome-scale models. Molecular systems biology, 390. PMID: 20664636  

Tellería-Orriols JJ, García-Salido A, Varillas D, Serrano-González A, & Casado-Flores J. (2014) TLR2-TLR4/CD14 polymorphisms and predisposition to severe invasive infections by Neisseria meningitidis and Streptococcus pneumoniae. Medicina intensiva / Sociedad Espanola de Medicina Intensiva y Unidades Coronarias, 38(6), 356-62. PMID: 24144680  

Sulakvelidze, A., Alavidze, Z., & Morris, J. (2001) Bacteriophage Therapy. Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy, 45(3), 649-659. DOI: 10.1128/AAC.45.3.649-659.2001  

Reardon, S. (2014) Phage therapy gets revitalized. Nature, 510(7503), 15-16. DOI: 10.1038/510015a  

Matsuzaki, S., Uchiyama, J., Takemura-Uchiyama, I., & Daibata, M. (2014) Perspective: The age of the phage. Nature, 509(7498). DOI: 10.1038/509S9a  

Corie Lok. (2001) Antibiotic resistance switched off. Nature. info:/10.1038/news010322-4

  • January 31, 2015
  • 03:02 PM
  • 448 views

New theory tries to define where black holes don’t exist

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

The quintessential feature of a black hole is its “point of no return,” or what is more technically called its event horizon, yes just like the movie. When anything—a star, a particle, or wayward human—crosses this horizon, the black hole’s massive gravity pulls it in with such force that it is impossible to escape. At least, this is what happens in traditional black hole models based on general relativity. In general, the existence of this event horizon is responsible for most of the strange phenomena associated with black holes.... Read more »

  • January 30, 2015
  • 05:32 PM
  • 341 views

Same sex relationships and stress: A new perspective

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Studies of stress and its effects on health have typically focused on the worries of an individual: money, love, health, work. When we turn our attention on relationship stress, the focus is generally on your typical couple. However, new research studies how minority stress -- which results from being stigmatized and disadvantaged in society -- affects same-sex couples' stress levels and overall health.... Read more »

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