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  • February 27, 2015
  • 07:04 PM
  • 13 views

ME/CFS is real: confirmation if it is needed...

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"Scientists discover robust evidence that chronic fatigue syndrome is a biological illness" went the title of the press release for the study by Mady Hornig and colleagues [1] (open-access) detailing an immune 'signature' and also possible staging of the illness.I couldn't help but wince at some of the media headlines reporting on this study as 'proof' that chronic fatigue syndrome / myalgic encephalomyelitis (CFS/ME) is a real illness. As I've indicated before on this blog (see here) anyon........ Read more »

Mady Hornig, José G. Montoya, Nancy G. Klimas, Susan Levine, Donna Felsenstein, Lucinda Bateman, Daniel L. Peterson, C. Gunnar Gottschalk, Andrew F. Schultz, Xiaoyu Che.... (2015) Distinct plasma immune signatures in ME/CFS are present early in the course of illness. Science Advances, 1(1). info:/http://dx.doi.org/10.1126/sciadv.1400121

  • February 27, 2015
  • 05:23 PM
  • 11 views

New compounds protect nerves from the damage of MS

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Autoimmune diseases are tough to live with, frankly we don’t really understand the reasons they start at all, how to treat them, or even where to start in forming a cure. Well there might be some good news — as far as a treatment goes anyway — a newly characterized group of pharmacological compounds block both the inflammation and nerve cell damage seen in mouse models of multiple sclerosis.... Read more »

Haines, J., Herbin, O., de la Hera, B., Vidaurre, O., Moy, G., Sun, Q., Fung, H., Albrecht, S., Alexandropoulos, K., McCauley, D.... (2015) Nuclear export inhibitors avert progression in preclinical models of inflammatory demyelination. Nature Neuroscience. DOI: 10.1038/nn.3953  

  • February 27, 2015
  • 12:02 PM
  • 21 views

Good News, Northerners: Birds from Harsher Climates Are Smarter

by Elizabeth Preston in Inkfish



You won't see a chickadee shoveling out a parking space and claiming it with a folding chair, no matter how good your binoculars are. But birds, too, have to be resourceful when they live in inhospitable climates. Travel just 600 meters up a mountain, and you'll find chickadees vastly more clever than their peers living a more comfortable life below.

How do you test the cleverness of birds? Using tubes with tasty worms inside, naturally. Biologists don't like to call animals "smart," thou... Read more »

  • February 27, 2015
  • 04:37 AM
  • 28 views

Hyperprolactinemia and risperidone use in autism

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

The findings reported by Yaowaluck Hongkaew and colleagues [1] (open-access) on prolactin levels being "positively and significantly associated with risperidone dose" in cases of children and adolescents diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is the point of discussion today.Prolactin by the way, is the hormone most commonly associated with stimulating breast development and milk production in women. To quote from the US National Institute of Health (NIH) entry on prolactin: "There is ........ Read more »

Hongkaew Y, Ngamsamut N, Puangpetch A, Vanwong N, Srisawasdi P, Chamnanphon M, Chamkrachchangpada B, Tan-Kam T, Limsila P, & Sukasem C. (2015) Hyperprolactinemia in Thai children and adolescents with autism spectrum disorder treated with risperidone. Neuropsychiatric disease and treatment, 191-6. PMID: 25653528  

  • February 26, 2015
  • 03:04 PM
  • 67 views

Dr. Frankenstein might be impressed, the human head transplant

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Sure it sounds like something from the book Frankenstein, but Sergio Canavero of the Turin Advanced Neuromodulation Group has made it known that he intends to announce at this summer’s American Academy of Neurological and Orthopedic Surgeons meeting, that he believes he has put together a group of techniques that should make it possible to attach a human donor body to a head.... Read more »

  • February 26, 2015
  • 02:43 AM
  • 53 views

Carnitine and autism continued

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

The paper from everyone's favourite Saudi - Egyptian autism research tag-team that is Gehan Mostafa and Laila AL-Ayadhi [1] (open-access) on plasma polyunsaturated fatty acids and serum carnitine levels in a cohort of children diagnosed with autism / autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is served up for your reading delight today.Regular readers of this blog might have heard me talk before about the pretty interesting research findings to come from this research partnership (see here and see here........ Read more »

  • February 25, 2015
  • 11:45 PM
  • 50 views

Operationalizing replicator dynamics and partitioning fitness functions

by Artem Kaznatcheev in Evolutionary Games Group

As you know, dear regular reader, I have a rather uneasy relationship with reductionism, especially when doing mathematical modeling in biology. In mathematical oncology, for example, it seems that there is a hope that through our models we can bring a more rigorous mechanistic understanding of cancer, but at the same time there is the […]... Read more »

Archetti, M., Ferraro, D.A., & Christofori, G. (2015) Heterogeneity for IGF-II production maintained by public goods dynamics in neuroendocrine pancreatic cancer. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 112(6), 1833-8. PMID: 25624490  

  • February 25, 2015
  • 11:00 PM
  • 31 views

How whales lost their sense of smell and taste

by Betty Zou in Eat, Read, Science

Whales are very likeable creatures. They are highly intelligent, sentient and social. But without a doubt, they would make terrible chefs and untrustworthy food critics. It seems that somewhere along the evolutionary path, whales lost their sense of smell and much of their sense of taste.
Baleen whales are some of the largest animals in the world and spend most of their time below the water surface, making them difficult to find and even more difficult to study. The group of Japanese researcher........ Read more »

Kishida, T., Thewissen, J., Hayakawa, T., Imai, H., & Agata, K. (2015) Aquatic adaptation and the evolution of smell and taste in whales. Zoological Letters, 1(1). DOI: 10.1186/s40851-014-0002-z  

  • February 25, 2015
  • 03:38 PM
  • 99 views

The food additive that may be promoting obesity and metabolic syndrome

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

People say to avoid processed foods, while I don’t agree with that fully, a new study suggests that a common food additive may be causing problems. Emulsifiers, which are added to most processed foods to aid texture and extend shelf life, can alter the gut microbiota composition and localization to induce intestinal inflammation that promotes the development of inflammatory bowel disease and metabolic syndrome.... Read more »

  • February 25, 2015
  • 09:41 AM
  • 66 views

Video Tip of the Week: CRISPRdirect for editing tools and off-target information

by Mary in OpenHelix

Genome editing strategies are certainly a hot topic of late. We were astonished at the traffic that the animation of the CRISPR/Cas-9 process recently drew to the blog. There’s a huge amount of potential for novel types of studies and interventions in human disease situations–but I’m already seeing applications in agriculture coming along. There’s an […]... Read more »

  • February 25, 2015
  • 08:37 AM
  • 44 views

Should mice be used to study the human gut microbiome?

by Isabel Torres in Science in the clouds

In recent years, the trillions of bacteria living in our guts have risen from obscurity to stardom. Hyped press releases claim that probiotics and faecal transplants might one day treat almost everything, from bowel inflictions to obesity. These studies often involve mice, but are these rodents really a suitable model for microbiome research?The gut microbiome has been associated with an ever-growing list of diseases, including obesity, diabetes and even mental disorders such as anxiet........ Read more »

  • February 25, 2015
  • 08:00 AM
  • 41 views

Mirroring Evolution

by Mark Lasbury in As Many Exceptions As Rules

Heads and symmetric bodies didn’t necessarily evolve at the same time, but we don’t know which was first. Some animals have heads and bilateral bodies, and some have radial bodies and no heads. Are there any in between? Yes, and no, but why would any group of animals lose heads after they had evolved them?... Read more »

  • February 25, 2015
  • 05:31 AM
  • 42 views

Analysing the salivary proteome in autism

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

The paper from Armand Ngounou Wetie and colleagues [1] (open-access here) reporting pilot results from a mass spectrometry based proteomic analysis of saliva in cases of autism or autism spectrum disorder (ASD) compared with asymptomatic controls is served up for your reading delight today. There has already been some media attention about this paper (see here).It's an interesting paper for quite a few reasons; not least the continuing voyage of the analytical technique known as mass spectr........ Read more »

Ngounou Wetie AG, Wormwood KL, Russell S, Ryan JP, Darie CC, & Woods AG. (2015) A Pilot Proteomic Analysis of Salivary Biomarkers in Autism Spectrum Disorder. Autism research : official journal of the International Society for Autism Research. PMID: 25626423  

  • February 24, 2015
  • 04:38 PM
  • 46 views

Move over oil, new pretreatment could cut biofuel costs by 30 percent or more

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Alternative fuels have a few large problems making them horrible options over oil (which is already a horrible choice). However, researchers may have finally eliminated one of those problems, cost. The team has invented a novel pretreatment technology that could cut the cost of biofuels production by about 30 percent or more by dramatically reducing the amount of enzymes needed to breakdown the raw materials that form biofuels.... Read more »

  • February 24, 2015
  • 10:56 AM
  • 48 views

A Few Citizen Scientists Do Most of the Work

by Elizabeth Preston in Inkfish



Nothing turns your internet procrastination time into feelings of goodwill and teamwork like a citizen science project. You can click through a set of penguin photos or moon craters and know that your data are contributing to real science. As more citizens take part, and more researchers discover the joys of free labor, these projects are gaining popularity. But not all citizen scientists pull their weight. In fact, most do nearly nothing.

Henry Sauermann, a management professor at the G........ Read more »

Sauermann, H., & Franzoni, C. (2015) Crowd science user contribution patterns and their implications. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 112(3), 679-684. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1408907112  

  • February 24, 2015
  • 04:38 AM
  • 44 views

Maternal recall vs. medical records: implications for autism research

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

I don't want to dwell too much on the findings reported by Paula Krakowiak and colleagues [1] talking about the accuracy of "maternally-reported diabetes and hypertensive disorders, and reliability of BMI [body mass index] measurements during periconception and pregnancy compared with medical records when mothers are interviewed 2-5 years after delivery" but they are potentially important.With authors such as Krakowiak and Irva Hertz-Picciotto on the paper in question, those who f........ Read more »

  • February 24, 2015
  • 03:11 AM
  • 36 views

Shelf Life: the Olinguito’s Skull

by GrrlScientist in Maniraptora

SUMMARY: Instead of travelling to remote locations in faraway countries, scientists sometimes discover a new species by looking a little more closely at an old specimen in a museum drawer. ... Read more... Read more »

  • February 23, 2015
  • 05:52 PM
  • 36 views

Merging bacteria and solar technology to make biofuel

by This Science is Crazy in This Science Is Crazy!

https://thisscienceiscrazy.wordpress.com/2015/02/23/merging-bacteria-and-solar-technology-to-make-fuel/... Read more »

Torella JP, Gagliardi CJ, Chen JS, Bediako DK, Colón B, Way JC, Silver PA, & Nocera DG. (2015) Efficient solar-to-fuels production from a hybrid microbial-water-splitting catalyst system. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. PMID: 25675518  

  • February 23, 2015
  • 04:21 PM
  • 53 views

Brain waves help memory formation

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Our brains generate a constant hum of activity: As neurons fire, they produce brain waves that oscillate at different frequencies. Long thought to be merely a byproduct of neuron activity, recent studies suggest that these waves may play a critical role in communication between different parts of the brain.... Read more »

  • February 23, 2015
  • 12:48 PM
  • 39 views

Targeted Sequencing of GWAS Loci for Cleft Lip

by Daniel Koboldt in Massgenomics

In the last decade, genome-wide association studies (GWAS) enabled by cheap, high-throughput SNP genotyping have identified thousands of loci that influence disease susceptibility, quantitative traits, and other complex phenotypes. The genetic markers on high-density SNP arrays are carefully chosen to capture (or “tag”) most common haplotypes in human populations. Common SNPs tend to be more […]... Read more »

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