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  • July 25, 2016
  • 03:38 PM
  • 27 views

Embryonic gene Nanog reverses aging in adult stem cells

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

The fountain of youth may reside in an embryonic stem cell gene named Nanog. In a series of experiments, the gene kicked into action dormant cellular processes that are key to preventing weak bones, clogged arteries and other telltale signs of growing old. The findings also show promise in counteracting premature aging disorders such as Hutchinson-Gilford progeria syndrome.

... Read more »

  • July 25, 2016
  • 03:37 AM
  • 42 views

Risk of cancer in mums of children with autism

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

I very carefully approach the findings reported by Jennifer Fairthorne and colleagues [1] today detailing "the occurrence of hospital admissions and treatment/services for cancer in mothers of children with ASD [autism spectrum disorder] with or without ID [intellectual disability] compared with other mothers." Appreciating that families touched by autism probably have enough on their plate without additional talk about the 'big C', I do however think that this kind of r........ Read more »

  • July 24, 2016
  • 03:29 PM
  • 62 views

Researchers temporarily turn off brain area to better understand function

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Capitalizing on experimental genetic techniques, researchers have demonstrated that temporarily turning off an area of the brain changes patterns of activity across much of the remaining brain. The research suggests that alterations in the functional connectivity of the brain in humans may be used to determine the sites of pathology in complex disorders such as schizophrenia and autism.

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  • July 23, 2016
  • 05:30 PM
  • 66 views

Brain activity and response to food cues differ in severely obese women

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

The brain's reward centers in severely obese women continue to respond to food cues even after they've eaten and are no longer hungry, in contrast to their lean counterparts. The study compared attitudes and the brain activity of 15 severely obese women (those with a body mass index greater than 35) and 15 lean women (those with a BMI under 25).

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Puzziferri, N., Zigman, J., Thomas, B., Mihalakos, P., Gallagher, R., Lutter, M., Carmody, T., Lu, H., & Tamminga, C. (2016) Brain imaging demonstrates a reduced neural impact of eating in obesity. Obesity, 24(4), 829-836. DOI: 10.1002/oby.21424  

  • July 23, 2016
  • 04:17 AM
  • 86 views

On probiotics and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

Granted, I am taking a slight departure from the material typically discussed on this blog by introducing the paper by Yan Zhang and colleagues [1] who reported the findings of a meta-analysis examining "the efficacy of different probiotic types, doses and treatment durations in IBS [irritable bowel syndrome] patients diagnosed by Rome III criteria via a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials (RCTs)." The results however - "Probiotics are an effective pharmacological t........ Read more »

  • July 22, 2016
  • 03:01 AM
  • 88 views

Surgery for "chronic idiopathic constipation" and autism

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

I can't profess to be an expert on the techniques called sigmoidectomy and appendicostomy so won't even try and pretend that I am. From what I gather from Dr Google, the latter is a surgical technique generally performed to "help deliver enemas more easily" to relieve constipation, whilst the former involves the surgical removal of some or all of the sigmoid colon. Both are only generally indicated when traditional methods of treating constipation for example, fail.The reason I'm briefly ta........ Read more »

De La Torre L, Cogley K, Calisto J, Nace G, & Correa C. (2016) Primary sigmoidectomy and appendicostomy for chronic idiopathic constipation. Pediatric surgery international. PMID: 27372298  

  • July 21, 2016
  • 02:59 AM
  • 109 views

Sensory processing issues are present throughout the autism spectrum

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

I want to make an initial point about the paper by Corentin Gonthier and colleagues [1] and their research findings titled: 'Sensory Processing in Low-Functioning Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder: Distinct Sensory Profiles and Their Relationships with Behavioral Dysfunction', I'm not a great fan of the use of the term 'functioning' when it comes to autism. Yes, I know what message it's trying to convey in terms of 'severity' of autism and/or accompanying learning (intellectual) disabili........ Read more »

  • July 20, 2016
  • 02:55 AM
  • 105 views

Autism 'disclosure cards' and negative judgements?

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

I have to say that I initially felt slightly uncomfortable reading the study results published by Jillian Austin and colleagues [1] providing "preliminary validation for the use of autism disclosure cards in buffering negative judgment." Uncomfortable because, despite the fact that it is human nature for people to stop, stare and perhaps question something when it seems 'out of the ordinary', the idea that when children with autism specifically 'misbehave' in a public place their parents need to........ Read more »

  • July 19, 2016
  • 04:08 PM
  • 98 views

Protein found to bolster growth of damaged muscle tissue

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Biologists have found that a protein that plays a key role in the lives of stem cells can bolster the growth of damaged muscle tissue, a step that could potentially contribute to treatments for muscle degeneration caused by old age and diseases such as muscular dystrophy. The results show that a particular type of protein called integrin is present on the stem cell surface and used by stem cells to interact with, or "sense" their surroundings.

... Read more »

  • July 19, 2016
  • 02:51 AM
  • 114 views

1 in 3 people with CFS might benefit from methylphenidate?

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

I'm cautious about the findings reported by Daniel Blockmans & Philippe Persoons [1] talking about how long-term use of the stimulant medication methylphenidate (MPH) might be something to consider for at least some people diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS). Cautious because the sole use of a questionnaire looking "for possible improvement of concentration difficulties and fatigue" following the use of MPH on this research occasion is not exactly a top tier scientific method...Non........ Read more »

  • July 18, 2016
  • 03:20 PM
  • 136 views

Secrets of the human brain unlocked

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Human intelligence is being defined and measured for the first time ever. Researchers have been recently undertaken to quantify the brain's dynamic functions, and identify how different parts of the brain interact with each other at different times - namely, to discover how intellect works.

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  • July 18, 2016
  • 02:45 AM
  • 95 views

Reconsidering the Autism-Spectrum Quotient (AQ) for autism screening?

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

A quote to begin: "The AQ's [Autism Spectrum Quotient] utility for screening referrals was limited in this sample. Recommendations supporting the AQ's role in the assessment of adult ASD [autism spectrum disorder], e.g. UK NICE guidelines, may need to be reconsidered."Taken from the paper published by Ashwood and colleagues [1], the findings from this team don't make for great reading if you happen to be a fan of the AQ as a potential screening instrument for adult autism. Indeed,........ Read more »

Ashwood KL, Gillan N, Horder J, Hayward H, Woodhouse E, McEwen FS, Findon J, Eklund H, Spain D, Wilson CE.... (2016) Predicting the diagnosis of autism in adults using the Autism-Spectrum Quotient (AQ) questionnaire. Psychological medicine, 1-10. PMID: 27353452  

  • July 17, 2016
  • 03:08 PM
  • 113 views

Specialized neurons in emotional memory play important role in fear

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Fear memory encoding, the process responsible for persistent reactions to trauma-associated cues, is influenced by a sparse but potent population of inhibitory cells called parvalbumin-interneurons (PV-INs) in the amygdala, according to a new study.

... Read more »

  • July 16, 2016
  • 04:45 PM
  • 128 views

Reopening avenues for attacking ALS

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Researchers have found evidence that bone marrow transplantation may one day be beneficial to a subset of patients suffering from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a fatal neurodegenerative disorder more commonly known as Lou Gehrig's disease.

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Burberry, A., Suzuki, N., Wang, J., Moccia, R., Mordes, D., Stewart, M., Suzuki-Uematsu, S., Ghosh, S., Singh, A., Merkle, F.... (2016) Loss-of-function mutations in the C9ORF72 mouse ortholog cause fatal autoimmune disease. Science Translational Medicine, 8(347), 347-347. DOI: 10.1126/scitranslmed.aaf6038  

  • July 16, 2016
  • 06:48 AM
  • 116 views

Increased microbial translocation in ME/CFS

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"The cause of ME/CFS [myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome] is unknown, but gut dysbiosis could be contributing to some of the symptoms and their severity. Developing therapeutic interventions aimed at reducing local inflammation, restoring gastrointestinal tract immunity and integrity and modifying the intestinal microbiome may ameliorate ME/CFS symptoms in a number of affected patients."Those were the important conclusions reported by Ludovic Giloteaux and colleagues [1........ Read more »

  • July 15, 2016
  • 02:24 PM
  • 155 views

Repeated stimulation treatment can restore movement to paralyzed muscles

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Conducted at the BioMag laboratory at the Helsinki University Hospital, a new patient study could open a new opportunity to rehabilitate patients with spinal cord damage. In a new study which two patients with spinal cord injuries received a form of treatment that combined transcranial magnetic stimulation with simultaneous peripheral nerve stimulation given repeatedly for nearly six months.

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  • July 15, 2016
  • 02:54 AM
  • 143 views

Another study to watch... vitamin D and/or fatty acid supplements for autism

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

Hot on the heels of a recent post about a study to watch for (see here) details of yet another "randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial" have been published in the form of the trial protocol by Hajar Mazahery and colleagues [1].This time around the aim is to "investigate the effect of vitamin D, n-3 LCPUFAs [omega-3 long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids] or a combination of both on core symptoms of ASD [autism spectrum disorder]" and hopefully with it, the generat........ Read more »

  • July 14, 2016
  • 01:27 PM
  • 156 views

Weird stuff found in recreational drugs: Cocaine edition

by Rosin Cerate in Rosin Cerate

This is the fifth and final post in a series on strange substances accidentally or intentionally added to street drugs. When you're done here, check out the posts on alcohol, meth, opioids, and pot/LSD.If a drug is being sold illegally, chances are its sellers have added crap to it in order to make more money. Cocaine is no exception to this deception. Substances added to nose candy because they resemble the drug but otherwise don't mimic or influence its effects include talc powder, flour, corn........ Read more »

  • July 14, 2016
  • 03:09 AM
  • 137 views

Gastrin-releasing peptide and autism?

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"Gastrin-releasing peptide was safe and well tolerated by most subjects and may be effective for core symptoms of autism."So said the results of the study - open trial - by Michele Michelin Becker and colleagues [1] continuing a research theme from this author [2] on the potential need for further scientific scrutiny when it comes to the use of gastrin-releasing peptides (GRP) and autism. Emphasising again that results were based on the use of an open trial (everyone knew what was bein........ Read more »

  • July 13, 2016
  • 10:30 PM
  • 134 views

Modeling influenza at ECMTB/SMB 2016

by Artem Kaznatcheev in Evolutionary Games Group

This week, I am at the University of Nottingham for the joint meeting of the Society of Mathematical Biology and the European Conference on Mathematical and Theoretical Biology — ECMTB/SMB 2016. It is a huge meeting, with over 800 delegates in attendance, 308 half-hour mini-symposium talks, 264 twenty-minute contributed talks, 190 posters, 7 prize talks, […]... Read more »

Gog, J.R., Ballesteros, S., Viboud, C., Simonsen, L., Bjornstad, O.N., Shaman, J., Chao, D.L., Khan, F., & Grenfell, B.T. (2014) Spatial Transmission of 2009 Pandemic Influenza in the US. PLoS Computational Biology, 10(6). PMID: 24921923  

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