Post List

  • August 19, 2011
  • 08:54 AM

Is ecstasy ‘being developed to treat blood cancers’? Not quite…

by Cancer Research UK in Cancer Research UK - Science Update

Here are a few thoughts on this morning’s headlines about ecstasy and cancer. (In case you missed them, they’re based on research from Birmingham, published in the New Investigational Drugs journal, in which researchers report that they’ve ‘redesigned’ the molecular structure of ecstasy to make it more effective at killing lab-grown blood cancer cells). Many [...]... Read more »

  • August 19, 2011
  • 08:16 AM

Normal in development, abnormal in cancer

by Bruce Lieberman in Beaker

It’s an amazing and frightening thought: some of the same genetic signaling that shapes the development of an embryo also drives the spread of cancer. But that’s what a new study by Dr. Sara Courtneidge’s lab suggests. Dr. Courtneidge’s lab primarily studies cancer metastasis—the spread of cancer from a tumor to another part of the [...]... Read more »

Murphy DA, Diaz B, Bromann PA, Tsai JH, Kawakami Y, Maurer J, Stewart RA, Izpisúa-Belmonte JC, & Courtneidge SA. (2011) A Src-Tks5 Pathway Is Required for Neural Crest Cell Migration during Embryonic Development. PloS one, 6(7). PMID: 21799874  

  • August 19, 2011
  • 07:58 AM

The curious case of the reversed pronoun

by Jon Brock in Cracking the Enigma

“You made a circle”, exclaimed Ethan proudly as he looked up from his drawing. “You did make a circle”, his mum acknowledged, ignoring the fact that, not for the first time, Ethan had reversed the pronoun, saying “you” when he should have said “I”. Ethan was one of six children from Providence, Rhode Island taking part in a study of child language development. Every couple of weeks, a researcher from Brown University would visit him and his mum at home, record, and then transcribe their conversations in painstaking detail. The transcriptions would show that Ethan was a prolific reverser of pronouns; frequently saying “you” when he meant “I” and “your” instead of “my” or “mine”. This curious habit began as soon as pronouns entered his vocabulary and he was still reversing pronouns when, just before his third birthday, the study came to an end.

"In solving a problem of this sort, the grand thing is to be able to reason backward."
Ethan’s language skills were otherwise exceptionally good. When assessed at 18 months, his scores put him in the top 1% for children his age. However, some years after the study finished, it transpired that Ethan had Asperger syndrome. Pronoun reversal is common amongst children on the autism spectrum. Leo Kanner noted as much in the first systematic description of autism and, to this day, it is considered an important marker when conferring an autism diagnosis. But the underlying cause of this highly specific problem remains something of a mystery. Ethan’s diagnosis made sense of his pronoun reversal, but it didn’t exactly explain it.While pronoun reversal is relatively common in autism, it certainly isn’t unique to the disorder. Deaf children in particular are prone to reversal, despite the fact that in many sign languages, pronouns simply involve pointing to the person in question. And while most typically developing children appear to have little difficulty with pronouns, there have also been several case reports of children who go through a prolonged phase of pronoun reversal. By coincidence, Naima, one of the five other children in the Providence study, was one such child. Aware of the serendipitous nature of their data, two of the researchers, Karen Evans and Katherine Demuth, returned to their transcriptions. Forensically re-examining the evidence, they tried to work out why the two children had encountered such difficulties with pronouns. The results of their enquiries provide some intriguing insights into the multiple challenges facing both typically and atypically developing linguists.The pronoun problemPersonal pronouns represent an unusual problem for the young language learner. Most words they encounter will have a constant reference, at least within the context of the ongoing conversation. “Mummy” will refer to their own mother. “Dog” will refer to the animal that is sat on the carpet right in front of them. But the meanings of “I” and “you” change, depending on who it is that is speaking. My “you” is your “me”.

It is a capital mistake to theorize before you have all the evidence.
In Naima’s case, it seems that she simply failed to grasp this concept, thinking that “you” was really just another name for herself. It wasn’t that she sometimes got it right and sometimes got it wrong. Between the ages of 19 and 28 months, virtually every time she used “you” or “your”, she was actually referring to herself, sometimes with amusing results:Naima: "I think you peed in your diaper."Mother: "Just now?"Naima: "I think you did."Then, all of a sudden, something clicked. In Naima’s final two sessions at 29 and 30 months, every single pronoun was used correctly. But why did she make this mistake in the first place? And what happened for the penny to drop?Are you experienced?Yuriko Oshima-Takane, a psychologist at McGill University in Montreal, has argued that children can only deduce the principles of pronoun use by listening in on other people’s conversations. Pronoun reversers, she suggests, are children who, for one reason or another, have missed out on this vital linguistic experience.Naima appears to be a perfect illustration of this theory. She was an only child at the time of the study and spent most of her time alone with either her mother or her father. As a result, most of the speech she heard was directed at her. This in turn meant that almost every time she heard the word “you” it referred to her. It would be perfectly understandable if she thought of "you” as simply another name for herself.Evans and Demuth note that the abrupt end of Naima’s pronoun reversal coincided with a family holiday. They speculate that the time spent with both mum and dad is what gave her the learning experience necessary to finally grasp the concept of “you”.Oshima-Takane suggests a similar explanation for the high rates of pronoun reversal in deaf and autistic children. For deaf kids, having to rely on visual communication or poor quality auditory input makes it much more difficult to follow other people’s conversations. For autistic kids, the argument goes, the problem is more that they are disinterested in other people and so fail to pay attention to their conversations. Like Naima, both groups of children will only learn from speech that directly engages them and will mistakenly jump to the conclusion that “you” only ever refers to themselves.

One should always look for a possible alternative, and provide against it.
So could this explain Ethan’s difficulties? Evans and Demuth suggest not, pointing out that, although he often used “you” to refer to himself, he used it appropriately on enough occasions to demonstrate that he’d grasped the concept.The trail led elsewhere. Say it againKanner’s explanation for pronoun reversal in autism came from another observation - that children with autism often repeat entire phrases verbatim, inappropriately and out of context. This so-called ‘echolalia’ would lead to reversals as the pronouns are repeated exactly as heard. British child psychiatrist, Michael Rutter g... Read more »

  • August 19, 2011
  • 07:02 AM

Simple Jury Persuasion: Be concrete and be seen as truthful

by Rita Handrich in The Jury Room

It’s really about avoiding ‘lawyerese’. That sort of language makes you sound fancy but fails to make you likeable or helpful to jurors hearing your case. And that’s really what you want. Sometimes clients will marvel that we are able to extract so much information from focus group participants, and they ask us why we [...]

Related posts:Simple Jury Persuasion: Stand up straight but avoid gesturing with your hands in front of the jury!
Simple Jury Persuasion: Don’t confuse argument with persuasion
Simple Jury Persuasion: When does the expert witness need to be prepared?
... Read more »

  • August 19, 2011
  • 06:59 AM

The Importance of Taxon Sampling: An Example from the Snout Butterflies (Lepidoptera: Libytheinae)

by Marc in Teaching Biology

Continuing from yesterday’s theme of injecting some personal remarks (and to make it 3 posts in a row on butterflies, for no particular reason), I want to note something about this Wahlberg et al. (2005) tree (opens in a new window/tab!) that I reprinted in each of the posts, specifically to point out a supposedly [...]... Read more »

Wahlberg, N., Braby, M., Brower, A., de Jong, R., Lee, M., Nylin, S., Pierce, N., Sperling, F., Vila, R., Warren, A.... (2005) Synergistic effects of combining morphological and molecular data in resolving the phylogeny of butterflies and skippers. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 272(1572), 1577-1586. DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2005.3124  

  • August 19, 2011
  • 04:23 AM

Familial multiple discoid fibromas

by Joana Guedes in BHD Research Blog

In 1985, Starink et al. described patients with hereditary multiple trichodiscomas, a skin condition which was proposed to be distinct from Birt-Hogg-Dubé syndrome. However, trichodiscomas are firm, skin-coloured flat or dome-shaped papules, and their similarity to fibrofolliculomas has meant that … Continue reading →... Read more »

Starink TM, Houweling AC, van Doorn MB, Leter EM, Jaspars EH, van Moorselaar RJ, Postmus PE, Johannesma PC, van Waesberghe JH, Ploeger MH.... (2011) Familial multiple discoid fibromas: A look-alike of Birt-Hogg-Dubé syndrome not linked to the FLCN locus. Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology. PMID: 21794948  

Starink TM, Kisch LS, & Meijer CJ. (1985) Familial multiple trichodiscomas. A clinicopathologic study. Archives of dermatology, 121(7), 888-91. PMID: 4015134  

  • August 19, 2011
  • 04:00 AM

Quackademic medicine invades Cancer

by Orac in Respectful Insolence

I don't know if I should thank Peter Lipson or condemn him.

What am I talking about? Yesterday, Peter sent me a brain-meltingly bad study in so-called "complementary and alternative medicine" that shows me just how bad a study can be and be accepted into what I used to consider a reasonably good journal. I say "used to consider," because the fact that this journal accepted a study this ludicrously bad indicates to me that peer review at the journal is so broken that I now wonder about what else I've read at that journal that I should now discount as being so unreliable as to be not worth taking seriously. Maybe everything. I don't know. What I do know is that seldom have I seen such a blatant example of quackademic medicine in action, and, worse, seldom have I seen such a bad study in such a good cancer journal.

No doubt at this point, some of you are thinking that I'm being way too harsh on the editors of this journal for having accepted such a steamy, stinky turd of a paper. I expect that you'll come around to my way of thinking after I describe the paper. In fact, I fully expect that some of you will come to the conclusion that I didn't go far enough after you take a look at this paper. So let's dig in, shall we? The journal is Cancer, which is the official journal of the American Cancer Society and has an impact factor of 5.131, which is, as we say, not too shabby. The investigators are from the Samueli Institute, the University of California San Diego, the RAND Corporation, and Healing Light Center Church, and the paper is Complementary Medicine for Fatigue and Cortisol Variability in Breast Cancer Survivors A Randomized Controlled Trial. It's about as perfect an example of what Harriet Hall refers to as "Tooth Fairy Science" as I've ever seen. Read the rest of this post... | Read the comments on this post...... Read more »

Jain, S., Pavlik, D., Distefan, J., Bruyere, R., Acer, J., Garcia, R., Coulter, I., Ives, J., Roesch, S., Jonas, W.... (2011) Complementary medicine for fatigue and cortisol variability in breast cancer survivors. Cancer. DOI: 10.1002/cncr.26345  

  • August 19, 2011
  • 03:40 AM

The Ethics of Forgetfulness Drugs

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic

Drugs that could modify or erase memories could soon be possible. We shouldn't rush to judge them unethical, says a Nature opinion piece by Adam Kolber, of the Neuroethics & Law Blog.

The idea of a pill that could make you forget something, or that could modify the emotional charge of a past experience, does seem rather disturbing.

Yet experiments on animals have gone a long to revealing the molecular mechanisms behind the formation and maintanence of memory traces. Much of the early work focussed on dangerously toxic drugs but recently more targeted approaches have appeared.

Kolber argues that we should not shy away from research in this area or brand the whole idea unethical. Rather we should consider the costs and benefits on a case-by-case basis.
The fears about pharmaceutical memory manipulation are overblown. Thoughtful regulation may some day be appropriate but excessive hand-wringing now over the ethics of tampering with memory could stall research into preventing post-traumatic stress in millions of people. Delay could also hinder people who are already debilitated by harrowing memories from being offered the best hope yet of reclaiming their lives. He says that
Given the close connection between memory and a sense of self, some bioethicists...worry that giving people too much power to alter their life stories could ultimately weaken their sense of identity and make their lives less genuine.

These arguments are not persuasive. Some memories, such as those of rescue workers who clean up scenes of mass destruction, may have no redeeming value. Drugs may speed up the healing process more effectively than counselling, arguably making patients more true to themselves than they would be if a traumatic experience were to dominate their lives.This is a complex issue. I can see his point, although I'm not sure the rescue worker example is the best one. A rescue worker, at least a professional one, has chosen to do that kind of work. The experiences that are part of that job are ones they decided to have - or at least that they knew were a realistic possibility - and that may be an expression of their identity.

The argument is perhaps more convincing in the case of someone who, quite unexpectedly, suffers an out-of-the-blue trauma. In this case, the trauma has nothing to do with their lives; if it interferes with their ability to function, it might "stop them from being themselves".

Kolber ends by quoting a fascinating story from Time magazine in 2007, which I didn't catch at the time:
Take a scenario recounted by a US doctor in 2007 (ref. 9). The doctor had biopsied a suspected cancer patient and sent a tissue sample to a pathologist while the woman was still in the operating room. Thinking she was completely sedated, the pathologist announced a bleak prognosis over the intercom.

The patient, who had received only local anaesthesia, heard the news and began to shriek, “Oh my God. My kids!” An anaesthesiologist standing by quickly injected her with propofol, a sedative that causes some people to forget what happened a few minutes before they were injected.

When the woman woke up, she had no memory of hearing her prognosis. Kolber A (2011). Neuroethics: Give memory-altering drugs a chance. Nature, 476 (7360), 275-6 PMID: 21850084... Read more »

  • August 19, 2011
  • 12:48 AM

Alligator Diesel

by teofilo in Follow the Energy

The idea of using the fat from farm-raised alligators as a source for biodiesel is fascinating.  The main problem with biodiesel from soy has been the land-use impact, which is huge.  A recent study done by Clint Andrews and colleagues for the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy‘s 2010 Conference on Climate Change, Environment, and Land [...]... Read more »

Ayalasomayajula, S., Subramaniam, R., Gallo, A., Dufreche, S., Zappi, M., & Bajpai, R. (2011) Potential of Alligator Fat as Source of Lipids for Biodiesel Production. Industrial , 2147483647. DOI: 10.1021/ie201000s  

  • August 18, 2011
  • 04:20 PM

Double checking our cosmic tape measure

by Kelly Oakes in Basic Space

In the late 90s there was a race going on between two astronomy collaborations. Both were on the verge of making a discovery that would change the field of cosmology forever, though they may not have realised it at the time.... Read more »

Sternberg A, Gal-Yam A, Simon JD, Leonard DC, Quimby RM, Phillips MM, Morrell N, Thompson IB, Ivans I, Marshall JL.... (2011) Circumstellar material in type Ia supernovae via sodium absorption features. Science (New York, N.Y.), 333(6044), 856-9. PMID: 21836010  

  • August 18, 2011
  • 04:14 PM

Contagious Cancer, Beyond the Devils

by Anne-Marie Hodge in Endless Forms

Few health issues strike a deeper chord of fear than that of cancer--your own body's tissues being hijacked, turning against you and taking over. An estimated 1,596,670 new cancer cases (not including some types of skin cancer, which are not...... Read more »

Rebbeck, C., Thomas, R., Breen, M., Leroi, A., & Burt, A. (2009) ORIGINS AND EVOLUTION OF A TRANSMISSIBLE CANCER. Evolution, 63(9), 2340-2349. DOI: 10.1111/j.1558-5646.2009.00724.x  

  • August 18, 2011
  • 04:00 PM

Nextera technology enables complete sequencing of the CHO cell genome

by epibio in EpiCentral

Chinese hamster ovary (CHO) cells are a workhorse in the production of therapeutic proteins. In a recent publication, Xu et al. report the complete sequencing of the CHO-K1 genome. Using the Nextera™ DNA Sample Prep Kit and the Illumina® HiSeq 2000 sequencer, the researchers at BGI-Shenzen and other institutions generated a draft sequence of approximately 2.45 Gb with 24,383 predicted genes. They report these results as a means of studying glycosylation and viral susceptibility, in an attempt to understand the divergence of genomic sequence information. Even among clones of CHO cells containing engineered or other therapeutic proteins, DNA translocations/rearrangements can occur. Prior to generating this draft sequence, the main tool for analyzing genome-scale changes has largely been limited to the use of expressed sequence tags (ESTs). The study describes how the availability of the CHO genome assists in understanding how protein glycosylation and viral susceptibility affect yields and the quality of production of therapeutic proteins. Based on these insights, the researchers expect enhanced application of CHO cell engineering for protein manufacturing.

Xu, X. et al. (2011). The genomic sequence of the Chinese hamster ovary (CHO)-K1 cell line Nature Biotechnology, 29 (8), 735-741 DOI: 10.1038/nbt.1932... Read more »

  • August 18, 2011
  • 03:47 PM

One Sound, One Synapse: Imaging Synapses in Living Brains

by Nsikan Akpan in That's Basic Science

Live imaging of synapse firing.... Read more »

Chen, X., Leischner, U., Rochefort, N., Nelken, I., & Konnerth, A. (2011) Functional mapping of single spines in cortical neurons in vivo. Nature, 475(7357), 501-505. DOI: 10.1038/nature10193  

  • August 18, 2011
  • 02:47 PM

Active metabolites of JWH-018 may contribute to effects of K2/Spice, etc.

by DrugMonkey in DrugMonkey

A recent paper from Brents et al. (PubMed) presents the data that we've been hearing about for the past several months. I think leigh of the Neurodynamics blog (see posts on THC and cannabimimetic/JWH-018 pharmacology), may have been the first to report seeing these data at a meeting and then I ran across them at CPDD this past June.

As many of you are fully aware by now, the past couple years has witnessed the emergence of broad popular use of "synthetic marijuana" or cannabimimetic products. They have been retailed widely as small (usually 3g) packets of various plant materials sprayed with a growing list of synthetic drugs which all seem to have full agonist properties at the endocannabinoid 1 receptor subtype (CB1). A series created by J. W. Huffman have been commonly reported, thus you will see reference to the compounds themselves, JWH-018, JWH-073, JWH-081, etc. Public health concern has been expressed given that these products can cause dependence similar to that of delta9-THC, are involved in acute-intoxication traummatic incidents and are reported in online forums (see comment threads to the linked blog posts for example) to a lot of weird and scary (for cannabis-experienced users) subjective effects. Abel Pharmboy and I have found the web search traffic to our first posts on K2/Spice, JWH-018, etc to be unrelenting. The DEA took action, placing five of the more commonly identified synthetic cannabinoids on Schedule I, making the products containing them illegal to sell in the headshops, cigar shops and convenience stores that had been providing these products.

Brents and colleagues have examined the pharmacological properties of 6 metabolites of JWH-018 that have previously been reported to occur in the urine of users in "appreciable amounts". To quickly overview, many recreational and therapeutic drugs (not to mention a host of other exogenous compounds that you ingest) are broken down in the body prior to elimination in urine or feces. They are metabolically altered from the parent drug to one or more metabolites which may have pharmacological activity similar to the parent drug, activity that differs from the parent drug or be essentially inactive. Understanding the effects of a drug, therefore, often can be enhanced by determining whether any metabolites are pharmacologically active.

Figure 2This figure from the paper shows the ability of several compounds to displace radiolabeled CP-55,940 (a selective CB1 ligand, i.e., it binds to these receptors) using mouse brain membranes. The Ki values are the lowest concentrations of the test compounds which displace the radiolabeled CP compound. The unlabeled CP is the most effective, achieving displacement at the lowest concentration. JWH-018 competes for the receptor at a lower concentration than does THC, which has been previously reported. The interesting thing here is that three metabolites of JWH-018 are approximately equal to THC and two are even more effective.

The paper also reports the effects of the M1 metabolite in vivo. Back before the endocannabinoid receptors were identified around the early 90s there was no direct pharmacological way to determine if a novel compound was likely to be similar to THC. So behavioral pharmacologists (primarily Billy Martin, Jenny Wiley and colleagues at VCU) came up with the Tetrad Test of likely cannabinoid action. These four items were catalepsy, analgesia, hypomotility and hypothermia. The Brents paper reports on two of these effects in mice.

Figure 4

Figure 5

These figures show that THC, JWH-018 and the M1 metabolite all reduce locomotor activity and body temperature in the mouse. More importantly, pretreatment with the antagonist AM-251 reverses these effects, providing evidence that it is a selective pharmacological activity at the CB1 receptor.

All in all a nice demonstration that at least one, and likely several, of the metabolites of JWH-018 that have been identified in human users are active. They have pharmacological properties similar to the parent compound and therefore may contribute to the overall effects of the drug.

This means that the next steps will be to determine the distribution and elimination of the metabolites. If they don't get past the blood-brain barrier very well or are very rapidly eliminated from circulation the effects may be unimportant, however some metabolites may last in circulation much longer than the parent. In this latter case, inferences based on the pharmacokinetics of JWH-018 would be an underestimate.

Since there are a host of synthetic cannabinoid compounds being reported in retail products, it will be interesting to see if those result in active metabolites as well.
Brents LK, Reichard EE, Zimmerman SM, Moran JH, Fantegrossi WE, & Prather PL (2011). Phase I Hydroxylated Metabolites of the K2 Synthetic Cannabinoid JWH-018 Retain In Vitro and In Vivo Cannabinoid 1 Receptor Affinity and Activity. PloS one, 6 (7) PMID: 21755008... Read more »

  • August 18, 2011
  • 02:10 PM

I feel terrible – but I can’t explain how it feels!

by Kim Kristiansen in Picture of Pain

Danish Doctor Henriette Poulsen about "the language of pain" based on David Brio's book by the same name. The post discusses communication, mutual understanding, adherence to treatment, DoloTest and more... Read more »

Kim Kristiansen, M.D., & Henriette Poulsen, M.D. (2011) I feel terrible – but I can’t explain how it feels!. Picture of Pain Blog. info:/–-but-i-can’t-explain-how-it-feels/

  • August 18, 2011
  • 02:00 PM

Mirror Neuron Forum - some additional discussion - Part II

by Greg Hickok in Talking Brains

In my answer to Question 1 I suggested that mirror neurons can be viewed analogously to canonical neurons, that is, as a sensory-motor association system involved in action selection, not action understanding. Here is Gallese's response to this suggestion:

According to GH, both classes of neurons instantiate the action-oriented coding typical of the dorsal stream, whereas object and action semantics would be exclusively provided by the ventral stream. However, an exclu- sive action-oriented characterization of the dorsal stream falls short of explaining the functional role exerted by the ventral part of the dorsal stream (the ventro-dorsal stream) that reci- procally connects cortical areas of the inferior parietal lobe to ventral premotor areas (see Gallese, 2000, 2007a, 2007b; see also Rizzolatti & Gallese, 2006; Rizzolatti & Matelli, 2003). The meaning we attribute to objects is not exclusively the out- come of their visual description as instantiated by extra-striate visual areas within the ventral stream. That is, objects are not merely identified and recognized by virtue of their physical ‘‘appearance’’ but also in relation to the effects of the potential interaction with an agent...

Here is the problem with Gallese's counter-argument: it's not an argument at all. He states that my idea "falls short of explaining the functional role exerted by the ventral part of the dorsal stream" which I take to be spelled out in his next statement that "The meaning we attribute to objects is not exclusively the outcome of their visual description..." Gallese is describing his hypothesis, not an observation that needs explanation. Basically what Gallese is saying is that my view falls short of matching what he thinks is going on. The "argument" structure is: GH proposes Function A for the system. VG proposes Function B. Function A does not include Function B. Therefore Function A is wrong. Obviously, this is not an argument and should be disregarded.

What we need instead is to discuss how well the two hypotheses account for the available data. Is there any evidence that suggests that monkeys (remember this question is about MNs in monkeys) fail to understand objects or actions when the dorsal stream is damaged? No. All we have is evidence that cells in the dorsal stream fire both during movements directed at objects and during observation of actions or objects. Correlation does not imply causation as we all know so there is no direct evidence for Gallese's claim. Do we have direct evidence for my claim? Well, object recognition deficits can be induced by disruption of ventral visual areas (e.g., see the classic work by Ungerleider and Mishkin) and while not direct, the fact that the response properties of cells in the ventral stream have the right features for object and action recognition (specificity, invariant to size, etc.) is consistent with my proposal. In other words, there are empirical reasons why the "standard view" of dorsal and ventral stream function in the monkey visual system is what it is.

The predictable response from Gallese et al. will be that yes, the ventral stream is good at recognition but this recognition is devoid of true meaning. Again, this is a non-argument in that all it is, is a counter-hypothesis that is not supported empirically in the macaque. This is where the argument slips into human data as we'll see in Gallese's next point. (But I thought there was no reason to assume human and macaque systems would be doing the same thing Vittorio?)

Gallese, V., Gernsbacher, M., Heyes, C., Hickok, G., & Iacoboni, M. (2011). Mirror Neuron Forum Perspectives on Psychological Science, 6 (4), 369-407 DOI: 10.1177/1745691611413392... Read more »

Gallese, V., Gernsbacher, M., Heyes, C., Hickok, G., & Iacoboni, M. (2011) Mirror Neuron Forum. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 6(4), 369-407. DOI: 10.1177/1745691611413392  

  • August 18, 2011
  • 12:00 PM

Breaking news: Student drinkers can’t tell how drunk they are.

by Caspar Addyman in Your Brain on Drugs

Okay, so that is hardly news. But it may surprise you to find that researchers are still discovering new ways in which alcohol makes us stupid. What’s more they’ve found your vodka Red Bull or Irish Coffee more dangerous than you think.... Read more »

  • August 18, 2011
  • 11:59 AM

When a "scientific study" is neither

by PalMD in White Coat Underground

There is quite a bit of art to the practice of medicine: knowing how to get and to give information to a patient, how to create a sense of worry without creating a feeling of panic, how to use the best available science to help them maintain or return to health.  Underlying all of the [...]... Read more »

  • August 18, 2011
  • 11:26 AM

Take it from Mitt Romney: Corporations Are People Too (Even When They're on Trial)

by Persuasion Strategies in Persuasive Litigator

Speaking just before the Ames Straw poll on Republican Presidential contenders, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney faced a heckler. As the unruly crowd member shouted out that taxes should come from corporations, the candidate answered, "corporations are people, my friend." The gaffe-watchers on all sides and in the media immediately pounced, and the statement is now viewed as a flub that might dog a candidate who risks being viewed as a starched-shirt businessman out of touch with working people. But if you look at the full context of the quote, Romney has a point:

"Corporations are people, my friend... of course they are. Everything corporations earn ultimately goes to the people. Where do you think it goes? Whose pockets? Whose pockets? People's pockets. Human beings my friend."

... Read more »

Mike Owen Benediktsson. (2010) The Deviant Organization and the Bad Apple CEO: Ideology and Accountability in Media Coverage of Corporate Scandals . Social Forces, 88(5). info:/

  • August 18, 2011
  • 11:06 AM

New drugs for old?

by Suzanne Elvidge in Genome Engineering

Drug repositioning ‘repurposes’ older drugs for new indications, to cut drug development costs, speed up time to approval, extend drug lifecycles and create new patents, rescue a development candidate that’s not doing well in its original indication, or just create a new indication for a safe and well-studied drug. Discovering a candidate for drug repositioning can be serendipity or it can be through many hours of research and screening. Researchers have put genomic data to work and succeeded in speeding up the process, in two papers published in Science Translational Medicine.... Read more »

Sirota, M., Dudley, J., Kim, J., Chiang, A., Morgan, A., Sweet-Cordero, A., Sage, J., & Butte, A. (2011) Discovery and Preclinical Validation of Drug Indications Using Compendia of Public Gene Expression Data. Science Translational Medicine, 3(96), 96-96. DOI: 10.1126/scitranslmed.3001318  

Dudley, J., Sirota, M., Shenoy, M., Pai, R., Roedder, S., Chiang, A., Morgan, A., Sarwal, M., Pasricha, P., & Butte, A. (2011) Computational Repositioning of the Anticonvulsant Topiramate for Inflammatory Bowel Disease. Science Translational Medicine, 3(96), 96-96. DOI: 10.1126/scitranslmed.3002648  

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