The years hadn’t been kind to the lonely lock of Jane Austen’s hair on display in a Hampshire museum. Light had bleached it to a straw color; only the shadowed underside remained its original brown. A few tiny flakes of … Continue reading →... Read more »
Swift JA. (1972) Scanning electron microscope study of Jane Austen's hair. Nature, 238(5360), 161-2. PMID: 4558459
There are two types of fat we humans have — white and brown — unfortunately only one of them is “good fat” and it is unfortunately not the one we tend to produce. Well new research shows that brown fat tissue, the body’s “good fat,” communicates with the brain through sensory nerves, possibly sharing information that is important for fighting human obesity, such as how much fat we have and how much fat we’ve lost.... Read more »
Garretson JT, Teubner BJ, Grove KL, Vazdarjanova A, Ryu V, & Bartness TJ. (2015) Peroxisome Proliferator-Activated Receptor γ Controls Ingestive Behavior, Agouti-Related Protein, and Neuropeptide Y mRNA in the Arcuate Hypothalamus. The Journal of neuroscience, 35(11), 4571-81. PMID: 25788674
Two scientific studies are expected to form the basis of new international recommendations for the treatment of medical abortions and miscarriages. One of the studies shows that it is possible to replace the clinical follow-up examinations recommended today with medical abortions that include a home pregnancy test. The other study shows that midwives can safely and effectively treat failed abortions and miscarriages in rural districts of Uganda.... Read more »
Oppegaard, K., Qvigstad, E., Fiala, C., Heikinheimo, O., Benson, L., & Gemzell-Danielsson, K. (2015) Clinical follow-up compared with self-assessment of outcome after medical abortion: a multicentre, non-inferiority, randomised, controlled trial. The Lancet, 385(9969), 698-704. DOI: 10.1016/S0140-6736(14)61054-0
Dr Marie Klingberg-Allvin, PhD, Amanda Cleeve, MSc, Susan Atuhairwe, MSc, Nazarius Mbona Tumwesigye, PhD, Prof Elisabeth Faxelid, PhD, Josaphat Byamugisha, PhD, & Prof Kristina Gemzell-Danielsson, PhD. (2015) Comparison of treatment of incomplete abortion with misoprostol by physicians and midwives at district level in Uganda: a randomised controlled equivalence trial. The Lancet. DOI: http://dx.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(14)61935-8
Would Mozart have become a great composer had his family not encouraged his musical career? Irma Järvelä is a clinical geneticist at the University of Helsinki, Finland, who investigates the molecular genetics of musical traits. After devoting 25 years of her career to the identification of genes and mutations involved in human diseases, she now works in close collaboration with bioinformaticians and music educators to study the influence of genes and the cultural environment in music percepti........ Read more »
Kanduri Chakravarthi, Minna Ahvenainen, Anju K. Philips, Liisa Ukkola-Vuoti, Harri Lähdesmäki, & Irma Järvelä. (2015) The effect of listening to music on human transcriptome. PeerJ. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7717/peerj.830
Kanduri Chakravarthi, Minna Ahvenainen, Anju K. Philips, Harri Lähdesmäki, & Irma Järvelä. (2015) The effect of music performance on the transcriptome of professional musicians. Scientific Reports, 9506. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/srep09506
Music performance is known to induce structural and functional changes to the human brain and enhance cognition. However, the molecular mechanisms underlying music performance have been so far unexplored. A Finnish research group has now investigated the effect of music performance (in a 2 hr concert) on the gene expression profiles of professional musicians from Tapiola Sinfonietta (a professional orchestra) and Sibelius-Academy (a music university).... Read more »
Kanduri, C., Kuusi, T., Ahvenainen, M., Philips, A., Lähdesmäki, H., & Järvelä, I. (2015) The effect of music performance on the transcriptome of professional musicians. Scientific Reports, 9506. DOI: 10.1038/srep09506
by Guest Contributor in PLOS Biologue
This continues our series of blog posts from PLOS Genetics about our monthly issue images. Author Kerstin Lindblad-Toh discusses February’s issue image from Tonomura et al Author: Kerstin Lindblad-TOH, Professor Uppsala University, Co-Director SciLifeLab Sweden and Director of Vertebrate Genome Biology, … Continue reading »... Read more »
Tonomura, N., Elvers, I., Thomas, R., Megquier, K., Turner-Maier, J., Howald, C., Sarver, A., Swofford, R., Frantz, A., Ito, D.... (2015) Genome-wide Association Study Identifies Shared Risk Loci Common to Two Malignancies in Golden Retrievers. PLOS Genetics, 11(2). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pgen.1004922
Is it cool or existentially disturbing to think that your personal brain quirks might come from the toys you played with as a toddler?
In a study published earlier this month, psychologists asked 6,588 American synesthetes what colors they associate with each letter of the alphabet. Then they compared these associations to a certain vintage set of Fisher-Price alphabet magnets. They found that at least 6% of their synesthetes had improbably close matches to the colors of the magnets.
T... Read more »
Witthoft, N., Winawer, J., & Eagleman, D. (2015) Prevalence of Learned Grapheme-Color Pairings in a Large Online Sample of Synesthetes. PLOS ONE, 10(3). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0118996
A quote to begin: "acute inflammation can lead to decreases in the ability to accurately and reliably comprehend emotional information from others."It comes from the article published by Mona Moieni and colleagues  who examined a concept familiar to many people with a connection to autism either personally or professionally: Theory of Mind (ToM). Rather interestingly, Moieni et al "examined whether exposure to an experimental inflammatory challenge led to changes in ToM." Inflammato........ Read more »
Moieni M, Irwin MR, Jevtic I, Breen EC, & Eisenberger NI. (2015) Inflammation impairs social cognitive processing: a randomized controlled trial of endotoxin. Brain, behavior, and immunity. PMID: 25770082
The actin cytoskeleton at the leading edge of a crawling cell has been a source of both scientific fascination and stunning images for biologists. Today’s image is from a paper that sheds light on how that complex structure is generated. The outermost region of a crawling cell’s cortex is called the lamellipodium, and it depends on a complex actin cytoskeleton for its structure and rapid dynamics. The generation of branched actin filaments at lamellipodia requires the activity of the ........ Read more »
Henson, J., Yeterian, M., Weeks, R., Medrano, A., Brown, B., Geist, H., Pais, M., Oldenbourg, R., & Shuster, C. (2015) Arp2/3 complex inhibition radically alters lamellipodial actin architecture, suspended cell shape, and the cell spreading process. Molecular Biology of the Cell, 26(5), 887-900. DOI: 10.1091/mbc.E14-07-1244
We hear in the media all the time, obesity is effecting our health. In most cases when we talk obesity we are talking about heart disease, sedentary activity, or chronic overeating. But what if a high-fat diet — regardless of obesity — has more than just an affect on your waistline? What if the consumption of fatty foods can change your behavior and your brain?... Read more »
Bruce-Keller, A., Salbaum, J., Luo, M., Blanchard, E., Taylor, C., Welsh, D., & Berthoud, H. (2015) Obese-type Gut Microbiota Induce Neurobehavioral Changes in the Absence of Obesity. Biological Psychiatry, 77(7), 607-615. DOI: 10.1016/j.biopsych.2014.07.012
This week’s highlighted question is from the Bioinformatics discussion area at Reddit. There are a range of topics discussed in that subreddit, and some of the tool-specific ones are very helpful in learning about new software. What are some of the best multiple alignment editors that allow for manual editing? Cross-platform/open-source would be preferred. –AtlasAnimated […]... Read more »
Larsson A. (2014) AliView: a fast and lightweight alignment viewer and editor for large datasets. Bioinformatics, 30(22), 3276-3278. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/bioinformatics/btu531
Actress Angelina Jolie has parts of her body surgically removed in an effort to avoid cancer. Brave or crazy?
... Read more »
James, C., Quinn, J., Mullan, P., Johnston, P., & Harkin, D. (2007) BRCA1, a Potential Predictive Biomarker in the Treatment of Breast Cancer. The Oncologist, 12(2), 142-150. DOI: 10.1634/theoncologist.12-2-142
King, M. (2003) Breast and Ovarian Cancer Risks Due to Inherited Mutations in BRCA1 and BRCA2. Science, 302(5645), 643-646. DOI: 10.1126/science.1088759
When I finished my PhD 15 years ago, the neurosciences defined the main function of brains in terms of processing input to compute output: “brain function is ultimately best understood in terms of input/output transformations and how they are produced” […] ↓ Read the rest of this entry...... Read more »
Gordus, A., Pokala, N., Levy, S., Flavell, S., & Bargmann, C. (2015) Feedback from Network States Generates Variability in a Probabilistic Olfactory Circuit. Cell. DOI: 10.1016/j.cell.2015.02.018
Published at the same time and in the same journal as the 'MoBa does bowel issues in autism' paper from Bresnahan and colleagues , the study results from Jean-Paul Selten et al  reporting that "A diagnosis of ASD [autism spectrum disorder] is associated with a substantially increased risk for NAPD [nonaffective psychotic disorder] and BD [bipolar disorder]" has, at the time of writing this post, received little or no press attention in comparison despite ........ Read more »
Selten JP, Lundberg M, Rai D, & Magnusson C. (2015) Risks for Nonaffective Psychotic Disorder and Bipolar Disorder in Young People With Autism Spectrum Disorder: A Population-Based Study. JAMA psychiatry. PMID: 25806797
Furans are coffee’s dirty little secret. Although we can thank them for the pleasant aroma and delicious flavour of freshly brewed coffee, furans have been labelled as a possible human carcinogen (cause of cancer) in disguise by food safety agencies. How many are in there
depends on how you like your cup of Joe.... Read more »
Altaki, M., Santos, F., & Galceran, M. (2011) Occurrence of furan in coffee from Spanish market: Contribution of brewing and roasting. Food Chemistry, 126(4), 1527-1532. DOI: 10.1016/j.foodchem.2010.11.134
Pavesi Arisseto, A., Vicente, E., Soares Ueno, M., Verdiani Tfouni, S., & De Figueiredo Toledo, M. (2011) Furan Levels in Coffee As Influenced by Species, Roast Degree, and Brewing Procedures. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 59(7), 3118-3124. DOI: 10.1021/jf104868g
Guenther, H., Hoenicke, K., Biesterveld, S., Gerhard-Rieben, E., & Lantz, I. (2010) Furan in coffee: pilot studies on formation during roasting and losses during production steps and consumer handling. Food Additives , 27(3), 283-290. DOI: 10.1080/19440040903317505
Can we recognize if people around us are stressed, anxious or fearful without observing their facial expressions, body language and actions or hearing their voice and messages? Can we understand if we are stressed ourselves without assessing our heart rate, blood pressure, noticing dry throat, sweating, drops or surges in energy? Yes, we can - by using our nose - as humans, too, recognize and transmit their emotions through chemical senses.When we are stressed or panic we become more sensit........ Read more »
Haegler, K., Zernecke, R., Kleemann, A., Albrecht, J., Pollatos, O., Brückmann, H., & Wiesmann, M. (2010) No fear no risk! Human risk behavior is affected by chemosensory anxiety signals. Neuropsychologia, 48(13), 3901-3908. DOI: 10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2010.09.019
Dowlaty N, Yoon A, & Galassetti P. (2013) Monitoring states of altered carbohydrate metabolism via breath analysis: are times ripe for transition from potential to reality?. Current opinion in clinical nutrition and metabolic care, 16(4), 466-72. PMID: 23739629
Alzheimer’s disease, it slowly takes things away from the person without giving anything back. Right now there is no cure and at best we can slow the progression in some cases. Time is always a factor and no two cases are the same. However, new treatments are in the works and a new study has revealed that a single dose of an immunotherapy reverses memory problems in an animal model of Alzheimer’s disease.... Read more »
Castillo-Carranza, D., Guerrero-Munoz, M., Sengupta, U., Hernandez, C., Barrett, A., Dineley, K., & Kayed, R. (2015) Tau Immunotherapy Modulates Both Pathological Tau and Upstream Amyloid Pathology in an Alzheimer's Disease Mouse Model. Journal of Neuroscience, 35(12), 4857-4868. DOI: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.4989-14.2015
'MoBa' in the title of this post, refers to the Norwegian Mother and Child Cohort Study and a handy resource which has already impacted on autism research (see here for example).Now MoBa has turned its epidemiological clout to an issue which less and less is encountering scientific resistance: are gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms over-represented when it comes to a diagnosis of autism? Further, when do such bowel issues start to present?The answer, shown in the paper by Michaeline B........ Read more »
Bresnahan, M., Hornig, M., Schultz, A., Gunnes, N., Hirtz, D., Lie, K., Magnus, P., Reichborn-Kjennerud, T., Roth, C., Schjølberg, S.... (2015) Association of Maternal Report of Infant and Toddler Gastrointestinal Symptoms With Autism. JAMA Psychiatry. DOI: 10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2014.3034
The blood-brain barrier, the thorn in the side of medicine. It makes using drugs directed for the brain ineffective at best and unusable at worst. This barrier runs inside almost all vessels in the brain and protects it from elements circulating in the blood that may be toxic to the brain. This barrier means that currently 98% of therapeutic molecules are also unable to cross to the brain. However, researchers now say magnetic nanoparticles can open the blood-brain barrier and deliver molecules ........ Read more »
Tabatabaei, S., Girouard, H., Carret, A., & Martel, S. (2015) Remote control of the permeability of the blood–brain barrier by magnetic heating of nanoparticles: A proof of concept for brain drug delivery. Journal of Controlled Release, 49-57. DOI: 10.1016/j.jconrel.2015.02.027
This week’s tip isn’t about a specific tool–but a really interesting look at how a tool was used in the context of some general public outreach messaging. Recently I posted about Aquaria, a new tool available to let biologists explore protein structures, mutations, and domains in user-friendly ways. But an interesting example of how the […]... Read more »
O'Donoghue Seán I, Maria Kalemanov, Christian Stolte, Benjamin Wellmann, Vivian Ho, Manfred Roos, Nelson Perdigão, Fabian A Buske, Julian Heinrich, & Burkhard Rost. (2015) Aquaria: simplifying discovery and insight from protein structures. Nature Methods, 12(2), 98-99. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/nmeth.3258
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