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  • May 27, 2015
  • 03:52 PM
  • 5 views

Expanding the code of life with new ‘letters’

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

The DNA encoding all life on Earth is made of four building blocks called nucleotides, commonly known as “letters,” that line up in pairs and twist into a double helix. Now, two groups of scientists are reporting for the first time that two new nucleotides can do the same thing — raising the possibility that entirely new proteins could be created for medical uses.... Read more »

Georgiadis, M., Singh, I., Kellett, W., Hoshika, S., Benner, S., & Richards, N. (2015) Structural Basis for a Six Nucleotide Genetic Alphabet. Journal of the American Chemical Society, 2147483647. DOI: 10.1021/jacs.5b03482  

Zhang, L., Yang, Z., Sefah, K., Bradley, K., Hoshika, S., Kim, M., Kim, H., Zhu, G., Jiménez, E., Cansiz, S.... (2015) Evolution of Functional Six-Nucleotide DNA. Journal of the American Chemical Society. DOI: 10.1021/jacs.5b02251  

  • May 27, 2015
  • 09:40 AM
  • 8 views

Video Tip of the Week: PANDA (Pathway AND Annotation) Explorer for lists of genes

by Mary in OpenHelix

This week’s Video Tip of the Week demonstrates PANDA, a tool for generating and examining annotations that are available for a list of genes, and evaluating them in the context of pathways. Two great tastes that taste great together, you know? So have a look at how PANDA can help you and your team to […]... Read more »

  • May 27, 2015
  • 08:00 AM
  • 13 views

Hermit Houses And Fiddler Claws

by Mark Lasbury in As Many Exceptions As Rules

Fiddler crabs are an evolutionary marvel. Their major claw is huge, it plays a role in mate selection, but not just in the way you’d think.
Some species are right-clawed and some can have the major claw on either side, but if they lose one and grow it back, the major claw might switch sides! The new major claw isn’t as good for fighting, so he fakes being strong and tries to win without fighting.
... Read more »

Backwell, P., Matsumasa, M., Double, M., Roberts, A., Murai, M., Keogh, J., & Jennions, M. (2007) What are the consequences of being left-clawed in a predominantly right-clawed fiddler crab?. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 274(1626), 2723-2729. DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2007.0666  

  • May 27, 2015
  • 03:08 AM
  • 21 views

Predicting the onset of schizophrenia?

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"A lower level of inflammatory response indicated by PTX3 [pentraxin-3] might be implicated in developing schizophrenia."That was the primary conclusion reported by Natalya Weber and colleagues [1] (open-access here) who "tested preonset serum specimens from 160 US military service members who were later diagnosed with schizophrenia or bipolar disorder and 160 matched controls without psychiatric disorders."PTX-3 by the way, is a compound of some note when it comes to the concept of in........ Read more »

Weber NS, Larsen RA, Yolken RH, Cowan DN, Boivin MR, & Niebuhr DW. (2015) Predictors of the Onset of Schizophrenia in US Military Personnel. The Journal of nervous and mental disease, 203(5), 319-24. PMID: 25919381  

  • May 26, 2015
  • 01:38 PM
  • 34 views

Babies can think before they can speak

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Two pennies can be considered the same — both are pennies, just as two elephants can be considered the same, as both are elephants. Despite the vast difference between pennies and elephants, we easily notice the common relation of sameness that holds for both pairs. Analogical ability — the ability to see common relations between objects, events or ideas — is a key skill that underlies human intelligence and differentiates humans from other apes.... Read more »

  • May 26, 2015
  • 01:30 PM
  • 27 views

Researchers find essential fats for brain growth

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

New research has proved that certain special fats found in blood are essential for human brain growth and function. The two studies showed that mutations in the protein Mfsd2a causes impaired brain development in humans. Mfsd2a is the transporter in the brain for a special type of fat called lysophosphatidylcholines (LPCs) — composed of essential fatty acids like omega-3. These studies show, for the first time, the crucial role of these fats in human brain growth and function.... Read more »

  • May 26, 2015
  • 05:08 AM
  • 32 views

Health and adults on the autism spectrum

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"Nearly all medical conditions were significantly more common in adults with autism, including immune conditions, gastrointestinal and sleep disorders, seizure, obesity, dyslipidemia, hypertension, and diabetes."So said the study results from Lisa Croen and colleagues [1] who set out to "describe the frequency of psychiatric and medical conditions among a large, diverse, insured population of adults with autism in the United States." Said participant group was derived from the interrogation of d........ Read more »

Croen LA, Zerbo O, Qian Y, Massolo ML, Rich S, Sidney S, & Kripke C. (2015) The health status of adults on the autism spectrum. Autism : the international journal of research and practice. PMID: 25911091  

  • May 25, 2015
  • 09:59 PM
  • 37 views

How houseflies resist the toxic effects of DDT

by Rosin Cerate in Rosin Cerate

Alright, it's insecticide day here at Rosin Cerate, and I've decided to look back at a classic.DDT is a synthetic organochloride insecticide, meaning that we have to manufacture it by reacting chemicals together, it consists of hydrogen, carbon, and chlorine atoms, and it's good at killing many annoying invertebrates including flies, lice, and mosquitoes.While it's useful in that it can kill insects, three key properties of DDT enable it to cause serious ecological problems: (1) it's often not e........ Read more »

  • May 25, 2015
  • 02:42 AM
  • 47 views

Ginkgo biloba for ADHD?

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

I approach the paper by Fereshteh Shakibaei and colleagues [1] with some degree of caution save any suggestions that I am somehow 'promoting' the herb Ginkgo biloba for attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or anything else. I'm not, but I am interested in the results of their placebo-controlled trial suggesting that "The G. biloba is an effective complementary treatment for ADHD" and their subsequent calls for further research into this potentially promising intervention.As ........ Read more »

  • May 24, 2015
  • 04:12 PM
  • 56 views

This is your brain, on video games

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

A new study shows that while video game players (VGPs) exhibit more efficient visual attention abilities, they are also much more likely to use navigation strategies that rely on the brain’s reward system (the caudate nucleus) and not the brain’s spatial memory system (the hippocampus). Past research has shown that people who use caudate nucleus-dependent navigation strategies have decreased grey matter and lower functional brain activity in the hippocampus.... Read more »

West, G., Drisdelle, B., Konishi, K., Jackson, J., Jolicoeur, P., & Bohbot, V. (2015) Habitual action video game playing is associated with caudate nucleus-dependent navigational strategies. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 282(1808), 20142952-20142952. DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2014.2952  

  • May 24, 2015
  • 06:44 AM
  • 57 views

fMRI of the Amygdala: All In Vein?

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic_Discover

Neuroscientists might need to rethink much of what's known about the amygdala, a small brain region that's been the focus of a lot of research. That's according to a new paper just published in Scientific Reports: fMRI measurements of amygdala activation are confounded by stimulus correlated signal fluctuation in nearby veins draining distant brain regions.



The amygdala is believed to be involved in emotion, especially negative emotions such as fear. Much of the evidence for this comes fr... Read more »

  • May 23, 2015
  • 10:04 PM
  • 60 views

Combining drugs with different penetration profiles can accelerate development of multidrug resistance

by Betty Zou in Eat, Read, Science

One strategy to prevent multidrug resistance from developing is combination therapy, when two or more drugs with unique modes of action are taken together to treat an infection. In a paper published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, a team of mathematicians and biologists led by Dr. Pleuni Pennings at San Francisco State University examined how differences in drug penetrance can impact the effectiveness of combination therapy and subsequent emergence of multidrug ........ Read more »

Moreno-Gamez, S., Hill, A., Rosenbloom, D., Petrov, D., Nowak, M., & Pennings, P. (2015) Imperfect drug penetration leads to spatial monotherapy and rapid evolution of multidrug resistance. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 201424184. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1424184112  

  • May 23, 2015
  • 03:59 PM
  • 66 views

Omega-3 as an intervention for childhood behavioral problems

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

We don’t usually think of a child’s behavior as a diet issue, but if new findings hold true, then that might be the very case. In a new study, researchers suggest that omega-3, a fatty acid commonly found in fish oil, may have long-term neurodevelopmental effects that ultimately reduce antisocial and aggressive behavior problems in children.... Read more »

  • May 23, 2015
  • 03:53 AM
  • 79 views

Psychological morbidity of coeliac disease

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"Anxiety, depression and fatigue are common complaints in patients with untreated celiac disease and contribute to lower quality of life."That was one of the conclusions reached in the paper by Fabiana Zingone and colleagues [1] (open-access available here) following their review of the research literature "on psychological morbidity of celiac disease." Celiac (coeliac) disease (CD), by the way, is the autoimmune condition classically treated via the use of a gluten-free diet (GFD). Readers........ Read more »

Zingone F, Swift GL, Card TR, Sanders DS, Ludvigsson JF, & Bai JC. (2015) Psychological morbidity of celiac disease: A review of the literature. United European gastroenterology journal, 3(2), 136-45. PMID: 25922673  

  • May 22, 2015
  • 03:11 PM
  • 82 views

Air pollution is causing your baby problems, but breastfeeding can help

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Aitana Lertxundi has conducted her research work within the framework of the INma (Childhood and Environment) programme led by Jesús Ibarluzea of the Department of Health of the Government of the Basque Autonomous Community (region). The aim is to assess how exposure to environmental pollution during pregnancy affects health and also to examine the role of diet in physical and neurobehavioural development in infancy. The study focusses on the repercussions on motor and mental development during........ Read more »

  • May 22, 2015
  • 03:02 PM
  • 94 views

Are infections making you stupid?

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

New research shows that infections can impair your cognitive ability measured on an IQ scale. The study is the largest of its kind to date, and it shows a clear correlation between infection levels and impaired cognition. Anyone can suffer from an infection, for example in their stomach, urinary tract or skin. However, a new Danish study shows that a patient’s distress does not necessarily end once the infection has been treated.... Read more »

  • May 22, 2015
  • 04:07 AM
  • 89 views

Clinical trials for rare diseases – finding and keeping patients

by Danielle Stevenson in BHD Research Blog

International Clinical Trial day (May 20th) celebrates the medical advances as a result of clinical trials. Clinical trials are essential to ensure drug safety and efficacy, and the recent increase in the development of orphan drugs has led to an increase in rare disease clinical trials. The nature of rare diseases creates specific challenges for clinical trial design and patient recruitment.... Read more »

  • May 22, 2015
  • 02:24 AM
  • 94 views

Early Start Denver Model (ESDM) and autism: 2 year outcomes

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"These results provide evidence that gains from early intensive intervention are maintained 2 years later. Notably, core autism symptoms improved in the ESDM [Early Start Denver Model] group over the follow-up period relative to the COM [community-intervention-as-usual] group."Those were some of the conclusions reported in amongst the potentially very important results from Annette Estes and colleagues [1] looking at "the sustained effects of early intervention" followin........ Read more »

Annette Estes, Jeffrey Munson, Sally J. Rogers, Jessica Greenson, Jamie Winter, & Geraldine Dawson. (2015) Long-Term Outcomes of Early Intervention in 6-Year-Old Children With Autism Spectrum Disorder. J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry. info:/10.1016/j.jaac.2015.04.005

  • May 21, 2015
  • 05:43 PM
  • 103 views

E-cigarettes don’t help smokers stop smoking (or smoke less)

by Megan Cartwright in Science-Based Writing

Electronic cigarettes don’t help people quit smoking or even smoke less. This conclusion – which further squashes hopes that e-cigarettes might enable America’s 42 million smokers to quit – comes from one of the largest studies of e-cigarette users to … Continue reading →... Read more »

Al-Delaimy WK, Myers MG, Leas EC, Strong DR, & Hofstetter CR. (2015) E-cigarette use in the past and quitting behavior in the future: a population-based study. American journal of public health, 105(6), 1213-9. PMID: 25880947  

  • May 21, 2015
  • 10:22 AM
  • 84 views

Social Contagion: When Fish Go with the Flow

by Bernadeta Dadonaite in The Question Gene

How contagious behaviour spreads in schooling fish... Read more »

Rosenthal SB, Twomey CR, Hartnett AT, Wu HS, & Couzin ID. (2015) Revealing the hidden networks of interaction in mobile animal groups allows prediction of complex behavioral contagion. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 112(15), 4690-5. PMID: 25825752  

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