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  • June 30, 2015
  • 08:12 PM
  • 2 views

Mongolian on the market

by Gegentuul Baioud in Language on the Move

Last week when I saw in my friends’ Wechat group an advertisement for delicately made Mongolian yurts, I thought of an article I had read earlier written by Mongolian scholar Naran Bilik. In his paper about urbanized Mongolians Bilik writes: … Continue reading →... Read more »

  • June 30, 2015
  • 03:28 PM
  • 9 views

Molecular bits of living things with fun names

by Rosin Cerate in Rosin Cerate

Most of the fancy words used by life science folks are dry but effective. However, every once in a while a researcher will discover a new gene or small molecule and decide to gift it with a fun and creative name.The bacterium Photorhabdus luminescens has a gene called makes caterpillars floppy (mcf), which encodes a toxin that causes caterpillars to go all floppy like before it kills them. P. luminescens is a super interesting little bug. It hangs out in the gut of a worm that infects insects, helping the worm to kill and digest its host. It's bioluminescent and may produce antibiotics, and apparently managed to get inside the wounds of soldiers fighting in the American Civil War and make them glow.The bacterium Proteus mirabilis, which can cause urinary tract infections, has a gene named zapA (one of the researchers who found this gene was a Zappa fan). The gene encodes a protein that helps the bacterium change how it moves around, contributing to its ability to cause disease.Tigger, roo, pogo, mariner, gypsy, hobo, and Jordan (discovered in 1993) are specialized pieces of DNA called transposons capable of bouncing/travelling/jumping around the genome of an organism.The cabbage looper, a moth that in its caterpillar form eats several important crops, has a gene named bagheera controlling its eye colour. While adults normally have gray-brown eyes, a mutation in the gene causes them to change to yellow.In 1983, a sheep was born with particularly well defined muscles in its hindquarters. This was subsequently determined to be the result of it possessing a particular variant of a gene named callipyge (from Greek calli-, beautiful; -pyge buttocks).Vertebrates have a gene called Sonic hedgehog (Shh), which is named after the video game character and encodes a protein secreted by cells so they can communicate with one another. The protein is involved in ensuring that we develop properly in the womb (e.g. that our brain is put together the right way). It also regulates angiogenesis and the division and migration of cells in adult bodies, and thus can have a role in cancer development. Sonic hedgehog is related to the hedgehog gene (hh), which was discovered earlier in fruit flies. Altering the hh gene in fly embryos causes them to become covered with small spikes as they develop, such that they look a bit like a really gross tiny hedgehog.Robotnikinin is a small molecule that can bind to Shh protein and disrupt its function. It's named after Dr. Ivo "Eggman" Robotnik, noted foe of Sonic.Pikachurin is a protein found in the retina of the eye. It's named after Pikachu and is necessary for normal vision, having a role in ensuring the proper transfer of rapid electrical signals between the eye and the brain.The stargazer gene in mice encodes a brain protein named stargazin. A mutant version of the gene apparently causes mice to develop a specific form of epilepsy where they stagger around with their heads twitching toward the sky.Beefy meaty peptide (BMP) (aka delicious peptide) is a specific chain of eight amino acids that was at one point thought to be responsible for the taste of red meat. However, BMP was subsequently shown to not be appreciably present in cooked beef and to have a strong acidic and astringent taste. Bummer.Fortunately, there's at least one other food reference to be had. Sushi domains are repeating sequences of amino acids found in some proteins that fold in such a way that they resemble the food (look at figure 8).Diablo, sickle, grim, and reaper are proteins that promote apoptosis, aka programmed cell death.Not sure what Jane Austen would have made of it, but darcin is a protein pheromone found in the urine of male mice that causes females to be sexually attracted to male urinary scent.Finally, there are oodles of silly yet appropriate names for genes found in Arabidopsis plants, fruit flies, and zebrafish. This is largely due to the widespread use of these organisms as models for all sorts of genetic investigations. Some of my favourites:Arabidopsis genesbubble-bath (bub) controls the number of vesicles present within plant cells; plants with certain mutations in this gene have so many vesicles that their cells appear to be full of bubbles (look at J and K of this figure)crabs claw (crc) and knuckles (knu) are involved in flower and silique development; mutations can result in a claw- (compare figure 1 A and C) or knuckle-like (look at C) appearance to their seed capsulespoltergeist helps to maintain stem cell populations in plant roots and shoots; mutations in the gene don't visibly alter plants unless they also have mutations in a second gene (like a ghost, the effects of this gene can't be detected under normal conditions)superman also regulates flower development; mutations can result in flowers with extra stamenskryptonite initiates a pathway by which expression of superman is inhibited by its transformation into clark kent (by DNA methylation)time for coffee contributes to the ability of plants to synchronize their actions with the changing availability of light throughout each 24 hour rotation of the earth, specifically regulating gene expression late at night when coffee would help a person stay awakeFruit fly genesbruchpilot apparently means crash pilot in German; mutants are bad at flyingcouch potato is involved in nervous system development and function; some mutants won't fly unless proddedfuzzy onions mediates the fusion of mitochondria in sperm cells; mutants are sterile and their unfused mitochondria have an onion-like and fuzzy appearance (look at E)ken and barbie mutants don't develop external genitaliamaggie mutants stop developing as larvae, kenny mutants have crappy immune systems and so tend to die youngcheap date mutants are sensitive to alcohol, lush mutants are strongly attracted to alcohol, hangover is required for the development of alcohol tolerance, ether-a-gogo mutants shake their legs when under the effects of etherbagpipe is required for the development of the fly midgut (incidentally, koza and zampogna are related genes found in frogs), concertina and saxophone regulate embryo development such that their mutation causes embryos to develop weirdly and vaguely resemble these instruments (this is totally a guess on my part)arleekin, valient, tungus, and many others are involved with long-term memory (named after Pavlov's dogs)tinman mutants don't grow a heart, the lungs of breathless mutants fail to develop properlyhamlet regulates the development of IIB cells, capulet is involved in the creation of egg cells, malvolio is required for normal sense of taste (mutants, like the Twelfth Night character, "taste with a distempered appetite"), prospero influences the fate of certain developing cellsZebrafish genesdrac... Read more »

  • June 30, 2015
  • 02:56 PM
  • 8 views

Women’s faces get redder at ovulation, but human eyes can’t pick up on it

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Previous studies have shown that men find female faces more attractive when the women are ovulating, but the visual clues that allow this are unclear. Now, new research investigating whether it might be to do with subtle changes in skin colour has shown that women’s faces do increase in redness during ovulation, but the levels of change are just under the detectable range of the human eye.... Read more »

Hannah Rowland, & Robert Burriss. (2015) Women’s faces get redder at ovulation, but human eyes can’t pick up on it. PLOS ONE. info:/

  • June 30, 2015
  • 12:55 PM
  • 10 views

Bipolar Disorder: Novel Clinical Trials II

by William Yates, M.D. in Brain Posts

This is the second post reviewing recent novel trials for the treatment of bipolar disorder.Again, for my sources I am using are clinicaltrials.gov and PubMed.Clicking on the study title will take you to the clinicaltrials.gov site for more detailed protocol information.Allopurinol Maintenance Study for Bipolar DisorderThis completed study examined the effect of 300 to 600 mg per day of allopurinol on mania prevention. Allopurinol is a drug used primarily for the treatment of gout or kidney stones. The drug lowers serum levels of uric acid. Uric acid in elevated in mania and potentially has a contribution role in mania. A small international randomized placebo-controlled study of allopurinol found significant improvements in acute mania. Quetiapine Alone Versus Quetiapine Plus Lithium for ManiaPhysicians have a variety of drug choices in the treatment of the manic phase of bipolar disorder. In this study, manic subjects were randomized to 600 to 800 mg of quetiapine with or without lithium dosed from 500 mg to 2000 mg per day. The study was conducted in China and the results showed that quetiapine alone was as effective as quetiapine plus lithium in reducing symptoms of mania.Internet-Based Interventions for Bipolar DisorderThis study is currently recruiting subjects between the ages of 21 to 65 years of age with a diagnosis of bipolar I, II or NOS. Subjects are randomized to one of three arms including: 1.) moderated discussion board, 2.) moderated discussion board plus psychoeducation or 3.) moderated discussion board, psychoeducation and interactive psychosocial tools. The study is sponsored by the VA Palo Alto System and primary outcome measures include assessment of depression and mania symptoms.Bipolar Depression Treatment with Deep Brain Repetitive Transcranial Magnetic StimulationThis study is currently recruiting subjects in Brazil and is sponsored by the University of Sao Paulo. The study uses a type of coil that is felt to be able to reach deeper areas of the brain felt to be important in mood regulation. Subjects must meet depression criteria at entry and the primary outcome measure is the Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression.Citations below are provided for more information on the treatments in the above studies. Readers can access abstracts by clicking on the link in the citation.Photo of giraffe from the Cincinnati Zoo is from the author's files.Follow the author on Twitter: @WRY999Jahangard, L., Soroush, S., Haghighi, M., Ghaleiha, A., Bajoghli, H., Holsboer-Trachsler, E., & Brand, S. (2013). In a double-blind, randomized and placebo-controlled trial, adjuvant allopurinol improved symptoms of mania in in-patients suffering from bipolar disorder Pharmacopsychiatry, 46 (06) DOI: 10.1055/s-0033-1353345Lauder S, Chester A, Castle D, Dodd S, Gliddon E, Berk L, Chamberlain J, Klein B, Gilbert M, Austin DW, & Berk M (2015). A randomized head to head trial of MoodSwings.net.au: an Internet based self-help program for bipolar disorder. Journal of affective disorders, 171, 13-21 PMID: 25282145Rapinesi C, Bersani FS, Kotzalidis GD, Imperatori C, Del Casale A, Di Pietro S, Ferri VR, Serata D, Raccah RN, Zangen A, Angeletti G, & Girardi P (2015). Maintenance Deep Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation Sessions are Associated with Reduced Depressive Relapses in Patients with Unipolar or Bipolar Depression. Frontiers in neurology, 6 PMID: 25709596... Read more »

  • June 30, 2015
  • 12:32 PM
  • 9 views

Omega-3 supplements and antioxidants may help with preclinical Alzheimer’s disease

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Here’s more evidence that fish oil supplementation and antioxidants might be beneficial for at least some people facing Alzheimer’s disease. A new report describes the findings of a very small study in which people with mild clinical impairment, such as those in the very early stages of the disease, saw clearance of the hallmark amyloid-beta protein and reduced inflammation in neurological tissues. Although the findings involved just 12 patients over the course of 4 to 17 months, the findings suggest further clinical study of this relatively inexpensive and plentiful supplement should be conducted.... Read more »

Fiala M, Halder RC, Sagong B, Ross O, Sayre J, Porter V, & Bredesen DE. (2015) ω-3 Supplementation increases amyloid-β phagocytosis and resolvin D1 in patients with minor cognitive impairment. FASEB journal : official publication of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology. PMID: 25805829  

  • June 30, 2015
  • 06:06 AM
  • 15 views

Newly Found Galaxies Hold Clues About Universe Creation

by Elisabeth Buhl Thubron in United Academics

With gravitational lensing, researchers have located population III stars in far galaxies.... Read more »

Rydberg, C., Zackrisson, E., Zitrin, A., Guaita, L., Melinder, J., Asadi, S., Gonzalez, J., Östlin, G., & Ström, T. (2015) A SEARCH FOR POPULATION III GALAXIES IN CLASH. I. SINGLY IMAGED CANDIDATES AT HIGH REDSHIFT. The Astrophysical Journal, 804(1), 13. DOI: 10.1088/0004-637X/804/1/13  

  • June 30, 2015
  • 05:14 AM
  • 19 views

Did Parkinson's Disease Influence Hitler?

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic_Discover

A new paper from a group of American neurologists makes the case that Hitler suffered from Parkinson's disease for much of his life, and that some of his most fateful decisions were influenced by the neurological disorder.



The article is by Raghav Gupta and colleagues and it appears in World Neurosurgery - a journal with an interesting political history of its own.

Gupta et al. note that
The possibility of Hitler suffering from Parkinson's has long been the subject of debate... [a res... Read more »

  • June 30, 2015
  • 05:06 AM
  • 16 views

Low glycemic index diet reduces symptoms of mouse autism

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

A quote to begin: "Overall, the manuscript supports the idea that ASD [autism spectrum disorder] results from gene–environment interactions and that in the presence of a genetic predisposition to ASD, diet can make a large difference in the expression of the condition."The manuscript in question was by Antonio Currais and colleagues [1] reporting some rather interesting results based on the 'dangermouse' that is the BTBR mouse model of autism. Researchers from the Salk Institute for Biological Studies showed that "the dietary glycemic index has a significant impact on the ASD phenotype." The dietary glycemic index (GI) by the way, is concerned with how particular foods / foodgroups affect blood glucose levels and the crux of the research was to see what happened to pregnant mice when fed either a high GI or low GI diet in terms of offspring outcomes. Offspring also followed the same diet diet post weaning.To quote from the paper and some associated media: "The two groups of animals consumed the same number of calories and were identical in weight. But mice that ate a high-glycemic index diet showed all of the expected behavioral symptoms of autism. Their social interactions were impaired, they repeated actions that served no apparent purpose, and they groomed extensively."Various other differences were present across the different dieting mice as per the findings that: "diet modulates plasma metabolites, neuroinflammation and brain markers of neurogenesis in a manner that is highly reflective of ASD in humans." This included the finding that "the brains of the high-glycemic index diet mice appeared to have greater numbers of activated microglia, the resident immune cells of the brain" and various inflammation-related genes being more readily expressed in comparison to the low-glycemic index diet mice. Microglia and autism remains a complex topic (see here) but with the advent of recent research findings [2] complete with headlines such as ''Missing link' between brain and immune system discovered' I dare say that we'll be hearing more about this is times to come.The compound doublecortin also receives a mention in the Currais results as per the suggestion that those mice living on the high-glycemic diet had less of the stuff and the significance of this finding given the link between doublecortin and neurogenesis for example [3]. Bearing in mind the BTBR mouse model of autism might already be more prone to reductions in the levels of doublecortin [4] it might be useful to see how this finding pans out when applied to real people in the real world."The new study found that the diet might directly influence the ecosystem of bacteria in the gut." It perhaps goes without saying that any sort of dietary change is likely to affect the composition of those trillions of wee beasties that call our gastrointestinal (GI) tract home. This also applies to mice and probably every other type of animal. "'We were really surprised when we found molecules in the blood that others had reported could only be generated by gut bacteria,' Maher says. 'There were big differences in some of these compounds between the two diets.'" Metabolites of gut bacteria found in general circulation... does this imply intestinal permeability (leaky gut) might be part and parcel of any effect? If so, would that perhaps also tie into the findings reported by Elaine Hsaio and colleagues a while back on leaky mice guts, gut bacteria and autism? Add in also the idea that high glycemic index foods tend to include things like wheat and various other grains and we start to get something looking rather familiar to autism research that may well show some relationship [5]."The group plans to analyze the gut bacteria, and its potential link with features of autism, more directly. They also hope to better understand the role of inflammation in the ability to generate new neurons." I'm very much looking forward to seeing these results, bearing in mind that mice are mice not people [6] and autism (or rather the autisms) is/are [a] very complicated condition(s).Music: The Jesus And Mary Chain - Just Like Honey.----------[1] Currais A. et al. Dietary glycemic index modulates the behavioral and biochemical abnormalities associated with autism spectrum disorder. Molecular Psychiatry. 2015. June 9.[2] Louveau A. et al. Structural and functional features of central nervous system lymphatic vessels. Nature. 2015 Jun 1.[3] Couillard-Despres S. et al. Doublecortin expression levels in adult brain reflect neurogenesis. Eur J Neurosci. 2005 Jan;21(1):1-14.[4] Stephenson DT. et al. Histopathologic characterization of the BTBR mouse model of autistic-like behavior reveals selective changes in neurodevelopmental proteins and adult hippocampal neurogenesis. Mol Autism. 2011 May 16;2(1):7.[5] Lammers KM. et al. Gliadin induces an increase in intestinal permeability and zonulin release by binding to the chemokine receptor CXCR3. Gastroenterology. 2008 Jul;135(1):194-204.e3.[6] Wong AH. & Josselyn SA. Caution When Diagnosing Your Mouse with Schizophrenia: The Use and Misuse of Model Animals for Understanding Psychiatric Disorders. Biol Psychiatry. 2015 May 6. pii: S0006-3223(15)00361-3.----------Currais A, Farrokhi C, Dargusch R, Goujon-Svrzic M, & Maher P (2015). Dietary glycemic index modulates the behavioral and biochemical abnormalities associated with autism spectrum disorder. Molecular psychiatry PMID: 26055422... Read more »

  • June 29, 2015
  • 07:55 PM
  • 24 views

You may already be beating cancer

by Angela Reisetter in Steeped in Science

A look at living with disease close at hand, using a couple different papers. Living with Risk.... Read more »

  • June 29, 2015
  • 03:26 PM
  • 30 views

How your brain knows it’s summer

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Researchers led by Toru Takumi at the RIKEN Brain Science Institute in Japan have discovered a key mechanism underlying how animals keep track of the seasons. The study shows how circadian clock machinery in the brain encodes seasonal changes in daylight duration through GABA activity along with changes in the amount of chloride located inside certain neurons.... Read more »

Myung J, Hong S, DeWoskin D, Schutter E, Forger, DB, and Takumi T. (2015) GABA-mediated repulsive coupling between circadian clock neurons in the SCN encodes seasonal time. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. info:/10.1073/pnas.1421200112

  • June 29, 2015
  • 01:51 PM
  • 28 views

The fear you experience playing video games is real, and you enjoy it

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

With the advent of video games, a frequently asked question has been whether we get as engrossed in them emotionally as we do when we see a scary movie. The answer is yes and many game players enjoy the fear caused by the zombies, disfigured humans and darkness they often encounter, the researchers found.... Read more »

  • June 29, 2015
  • 08:00 AM
  • 37 views

Stand and Deliver: We Think Better on Our Feet — Literally

by Jeremiah Stanghini in Jeremiah Stanghini

Did you see the post from ScienceDaily a couple of months ago? As it turns out, we think better when we’re on our feet. Maybe more importantly though, given how much we tend to sit throughout the day, standing is a good way to … Continue reading →... Read more »

Dornhecker, M., Blake, J., Benden, M., Zhao, H., & Wendel, M. (2015) The effect of stand-biased desks on academic engagement: an exploratory study. International Journal of Health Promotion and Education, 1-10. DOI: 10.1080/14635240.2015.1029641  

  • June 29, 2015
  • 06:49 AM
  • 31 views

Cancer Breakthrough: New Devise Optomizes Lymphoma Treatment

by Agnese Mariotti in United Academics

CIVO tests cancer drugs in human lymphomas in only 72 hours.... Read more »

Klinghoffer, R., Bahrami, S., Hatton, B., Frazier, J., Moreno-Gonzalez, A., Strand, A., Kerwin, W., Casalini, J., Thirstrup, D., You, S.... (2015) A technology platform to assess multiple cancer agents simultaneously within a patient's tumor. Science Translational Medicine, 7(284), 284-284. DOI: 10.1126/scitranslmed.aaa7489  

  • June 29, 2015
  • 04:57 AM
  • 44 views

Fermented foods and social anxiety?

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

Stumbling across a headline that reads: 'Study Finds Decreased Social Anxiety Among Young Adults Who Eat Fermented Foods' was bound to pique my blogging interest. When I eventually tracked down the source paper behind the headline I became more and more intrigued as today I bring to your attention the study findings reported by Matthew Hilimire and colleagues [1].Implementing "a cross-sectional approach to determine whether consumption of fermented foods likely to contain probiotics interacts with neuroticism to predict social anxiety symptoms" researchers asked over 700 students - psychology students - to self-report on "fermented food consumption, neuroticism, and social anxiety." Fermented foods by the way, cover a range of foods "that contain probiotics" including yogurt and sauerkraut (a particular favourite of mine). Researchers also enquired about various other variables such as fruit and vegetable intake and the amount of exercise taken over the past 30 days.Bearing in mind that this was a study based on self-report and that psychology students might not be entirely representative of the population in general, the results of an "interaction model, controlling for demographics, general consumption of healthful foods, and exercise frequency" did seem to suggest that there may be more to see when it comes fermented food consumption and social anxiety: "Fermented foods should be further investigated as an intervention for social anxiety."I'm not falling hook, line and sinker for these results - correlation is not the same as causation - despite my continuing interest in the science of psychobacteriomics (my word creation) and the idea that those trillions of wee beasties that inhabit our deepest, darkest [gut] recesses might be doing so much more than just helping to digest food and making the odd nutrient or two. I do however think that we need to dedicate quite a few more resources to the idea that psychology and behaviour might not be solely rooted in the grey-pink matter floating in our skull [2] as recent news articles seem to imply.Finally, and without wishing to make too many sweeping generalisations from the Hilimire results, I did think about whether such findings may be particularly 'useful' for certain groups of people where social anxiety might be over-represented. Autism is an obvious label given the suggestion that at least a quarter of those on the autism spectrum might also fulfil the diagnostic criteria for social anxiety disorder (see here). That such anxiety might also have knock-on effects to the presentation of more core autism symptoms (see here) is also noteworthy bearing in mind that a diet rich in fermented foods might not be for everyone and that social anxiety with or without autism is bound to be a very complicated process.We await further research in this area.Music: The Flaming Lips - Do You Realize??----------[1] Hilimire MR. et al. Fermented foods, neuroticism, and social anxiety: An interaction model. Psychiatry Res. 2015; 228: 203-208.[2] Dinan TG. et al. Collective unconscious: how gut microbes shape human behavior. J Psychiatr Res. 2015 Apr;63:1-9.----------Hilimire MR, DeVylder JE, & Forestell CA (2015). Fermented foods, neuroticism, and social anxiety: An interaction model. Psychiatry research, 228 (2), 203-8 PMID: 25998000... Read more »

Hilimire MR, DeVylder JE, & Forestell CA. (2015) Fermented foods, neuroticism, and social anxiety: An interaction model. Psychiatry research, 228(2), 203-8. PMID: 25998000  

  • June 28, 2015
  • 03:10 PM
  • 36 views

Blood & Fog: The Military's Germ Warfare Tests in San Francisco

by Rebecca Kreston in BODY HORRORS

The Nuremberg Code was drafted in 1947 following the appalling revelations of human experimentation committed in Nazi concentration camps. The overarching goal of the Code was to establish a set of rules for the ethical conduct of research using human subjects, guaranteeing that the rights and welfare of such participants would be protected. Two important principles guide and define this Code: the concept of voluntary, informed consent and that no experiment shall be conducted in which "there is... Read more »

WHEAT RP, ZUCKERMAN A, & RANTZ LA. (1951) Infection due to chromobacteria; report of 11 cases. A.M.A. archives of internal medicine, 88(4), 461-6. PMID: 14867953  

  • June 28, 2015
  • 01:34 PM
  • 42 views

Pharma Make The Most of A Negative Result

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic_Discover

A misleading piece of statistical rhetoric has appeared in a paper about an experimental antidepressant treatment. The study is published in the Journal of Affective Disorders. JAD is a respectable mid-ranked psychiatry journal - yet on this occasion they seem to have dropped the ball badly.



The study examined whether the drug armodafinil (Nuvigil) improved mood in people with bipolar disorder who were in a depressive episode. In a double-blind trial, 462 patients were randomized to treat... Read more »

  • June 28, 2015
  • 12:58 PM
  • 48 views

Rare neurons enable mental flexibility

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Behavioral flexibility — the ability to change strategy when the rules change — is controlled by specific neurons in the brain, Researchers have confirmed. Cholinergic interneurons are rare — they make up just one to two percent of the neurons in the striatum, a key part of the brain involved with higher-level decision-making. Scientists have suspected they play a role in changing strategies, and researchers at OIST recently confirmed this with experiments.... Read more »

Aoki, S., Liu, A., Zucca, A., Zucca, S., & Wickens, J. (2015) Role of Striatal Cholinergic Interneurons in Set-Shifting in the Rat. Journal of Neuroscience, 35(25), 9424-9431. DOI: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.0490-15.2015  

  • June 28, 2015
  • 10:11 AM
  • 33 views

Cellular Senescence in Regeneration

by Max_Yun in the Node

Salamanders are remarkable organisms. Following the amputation or loss of complex structures such as parts of their eyes, hearts and brains, tails -including the spinal cord-, jaws and even full limbs, they are able to set up a regeneration programme which leads to the exact replacement of the missing structure, even as adults. As such, […]... Read more »

Eguchi, G., Eguchi, Y., Nakamura, K., Yadav, M., Millán, J., & Tsonis, P. (2011) Regenerative capacity in newts is not altered by repeated regeneration and ageing. Nature Communications, 384. DOI: 10.1038/ncomms1389  

van Deursen, J. (2014) The role of senescent cells in ageing. Nature, 509(7501), 439-446. DOI: 10.1038/nature13193  

Sousa-Victor, P., Gutarra, S., García-Prat, L., Rodriguez-Ubreva, J., Ortet, L., Ruiz-Bonilla, V., Jardí, M., Ballestar, E., González, S., Serrano, A.... (2014) Geriatric muscle stem cells switch reversible quiescence into senescence. Nature, 506(7488), 316-321. DOI: 10.1038/nature13013  

Yun, M., Gates, P., & Brockes, J. (2013) Regulation of p53 is critical for vertebrate limb regeneration. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 110(43), 17392-17397. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1310519110  

Muñoz-Espín D, Cañamero M, Maraver A, Gómez-López G, Contreras J, Murillo-Cuesta S, Rodríguez-Baeza A, Varela-Nieto I, Ruberte J, Collado M.... (2013) Programmed cell senescence during mammalian embryonic development. Cell, 155(5), 1104-1118. PMID: 24238962  

Storer, M., Mas, A., Robert-Moreno, A., Pecoraro, M., Ortells, M., Di Giacomo, V., Yosef, R., Pilpel, N., Krizhanovsky, V., Sharpe, J.... (2013) Senescence Is a Developmental Mechanism that Contributes to Embryonic Growth and Patterning. Cell, 155(5), 1119-1130. DOI: 10.1016/j.cell.2013.10.041  

Demaria, M., Ohtani, N., Youssef, S., Rodier, F., Toussaint, W., Mitchell, J., Laberge, R., Vijg, J., Van Steeg, H., Dollé, M.... (2014) An Essential Role for Senescent Cells in Optimal Wound Healing through Secretion of PDGF-AA. Developmental Cell, 31(6), 722-733. DOI: 10.1016/j.devcel.2014.11.012  

  • June 28, 2015
  • 03:33 AM
  • 78 views

What personality features do heroes and psychopaths have in common?

by Scott McGreal in Eye on Psych

The search for a positive face of psychopathy prompted a study examining whether psychopaths and heroes share certain personality traits. Both psychopathy and heroism were correlated with a history of antisocial behavior, but the reasons for this remain unclear. Heroes might have more mature personalities than psychopaths, in spite of what features they may have in common. ... Read more »

  • June 28, 2015
  • 03:05 AM
  • 45 views

Who Will Pay for All the New DBS Implants?

by The Neurocritic in The Neurocritic

Recently, Science and Nature had news features on big BRAIN funding for the development of deep brain stimulation technologies. The ultimate aim of this research is to treat and correct malfunctioning neural circuits in psychiatric and neurological disorders. Both pieces raised ethical issues, focused on device manufacturers and potential military applications, respectively.A different ethical concern, not mentioned in either article, is who will have access to these new devices, and who is going to pay the medical costs once they hit the market. DBS for movement disorders is a test case, because Medicare (U.S.) approved coverage for Parkinson's disease (PD) and essential tremor in 2003. Which is good, given that unilateral surgery costs about $50,000.Willis et al. (2014) examined Medicare records for 657,000 PD patients and found striking racial disparities. The odds of receiving DBS in white PD patients were five times higher than for African Americans, and 1.8 times higher than for Asians. And living in a neighborhood with high socioeconomic status was associated with 1.4-fold higher odds of receiving DBS. Out-of-pocket costs for Medicare patients receiving DBS are over $2,000 per year, which is quite a lot of money for low-income senior citizens.Aaron Saenz raised a similar issue regarding the cost of the DEKA prosthetic arm (aka "Luke"):But if you're not a veteran, neither DARPA project may really help you much. The Luke Arm is slated to cost $100,000+.... That's well beyond the means of most amputees if they do not have the insurance coverage provided by the Veteran's Administration. ... As most amputees are not veterans, I think that the Luke Arm has a good chance of being priced out of a large market share. The availability of qualified neurosurgeons, even in affluent areas, will be another problem once future indications are FDA-approved (or even trialed).The situation in one Canadian province (British Columbia, with a population of 4.6 million) is instructive. An article in the Vancouver Sun noted that in March 2013, only one neurosurgeon was qualified to perform DBS surgeries for Parkinson's disease (or for dystonia). This resulted in a three year waiting list. Imagine, all these eligible patients with Parkinson's have to endure their current condition (and worse) for years longer, instead of having a vastly improved quality of life. Funding, doctors needed if brain stimulation surgery to expand in B.C.:... “But here’s the problem: We already have a waiting list of almost three years, from the time family doctors first put in the referral to the DBS clinic. And I’m the only one in B.C. doing this. So we really aren’t able to do more than 40 cases a year,” [Dr. Christopher Honey] said.. . ....The health authority allocates funding of $1.1 million annually, which includes the cost of the $20,000 devices, and $14,000 for each battery replacement. On average, batteries need to be replaced every three years.. . .To reduce wait times, the budget would have to increase and a Honey clone would have to be trained and hired.Back in the U.S., Rossi et al. (2014) called out Medicare for curbing medical progress: Devices for DBS have been approved by the FDA for use in treating Parkinson disease, essential tremor, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and dystonia,2 but expanding DBS use to include new indications has proven difficult—specifically because of the high cost of DBS devices and generally because of disincentives for device manufacturers to sponsor studies when disease populations are small and the potential for a return on investment is not clear. In many of these cases, Medicare coverage will determine whether a study will proceed. ... Ultimately, uncertain Medicare coverage coupled with the lack of economic incentives for industry sponsorship could limit investigators’ freedom of inquiry and ability to conduct clinical trials for new uses of DBS therapy. But the question remains, where is all this health care money supposed to come from?The device manufacturers aren't off the hook, either, but BRAIN is trying to reel them in. NIH recently sponsored a two-day workshop, BRAIN Initiative Program for Industry Partnerships to Facilitate Early Access Neuromodulation and Recording Devices for Human Clinical Studies [agenda PDF]. The purpose was to:Bring together stakeholders and interested parties to disseminate information on opportunities for research using latest-generation devices for CNS neuromodulation and interfacing with the brain in humans.Describe the proposed NIH framework for facilitating and lowering the cost of new studies using these devices.Discuss regulatory and intellectual property considerations.Solicit recommendations for data coordination and access. The Program Goals [PDF]:...we hope to spur human research bridging the “valley of death” that has been a barrier to translating pre-clinical research into therapeutic outcomes. We expect the new framework will allow academic researchers to test innovative ideas for new therapies, or to address scientific unknowns regarding mechanisms of disease or device action, which will facilitate the creation of solid business cases by industry and venture capital for the larger clinical trials required to take these ideas to market.To advance these goals, NIH is pursuing general agreements (Memoranda of Understanding, MOUs) with device manufacturers to set up a framework for this funding program. In the MOUs, we expect each company to specify the capabilities of their devices, along with information, support and any other concessions they are willing to provide to researchers. In other words, it's a public/private partnership to advance the goal of having all depressed Americans implanted with the CyberNeuroTron WritBit device by 2035 (just kidding!!).But seriously... before touting the impending clinical relevance of a study in rodents, basic scientists and bureaucrats alike should listen to patients with the current generation of DBS devices. Participants in the halted BROADEN Trial for refractory depression reported outcomes ranging from “...the side effects caused by the device were, at times, worse than the depression itself” to “I feel like I have a second chance at life.”What do you do with a medical device that causes ... Read more »

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