We're a little crazy, about science!

Archive for July, 2014

Mitochondria and Anti Aging

I’m sure you can all relate, you go to fix the sink and in the process you build a new kitchen on accident. Anyone… no? Well that is sort of what happened to researchers recently, while developing a new cancer drug, they discovered that mice lacking a specific protein live longer lives with fewer age-related illnesses. The mice, which were bred to lack the TRAP-1 protein, demonstrated less age related tissue degeneration, obesity, and spontaneous tumor formation when compared to normal mice. Pretty awesome if you think about the fact that the findings could change how scientists view the metabolic networks within cells.



Suicide, it might be in the blood


I tried to kill myself, more than once in fact. It was a troubling time for me and as a former active duty Marine that might not be too surprising for people to hear. I’m not proud of it and with where I am now, it seems like a pretty solid decision to stay alive, honestly if it wasn’t for my brothers in arms I might not even be typing this now. Unfortunately the statistic for suicide in the military is high enough that no one would have been shocked. Typically the “treatment” is therapy and medications, I say “treatment” in parentheses because you would have to know something was wrong first. But what if suicide was more than just in your head? What if it was in your blood too?


Can’t Handle the Stress? Blame your Brain

dont freak out

Do you rise to the occasion, or do you fold under the pressure? No matter which side of the fence you’re, you can thank [or blame] your brain. Some people can deal with stressful situations better than others, and while you might suspect it is genetic, even identical twins show differences in how they respond.


A New Hepatitis C Treatment offers Hope


Well this might seem weird, but today is world hepatitis day. I guess I should qualify weird with the fact that it’s only weird because no one really knows. What better day than to share some new news coming out of labs regarding the fight against hepatitis and what news it is! Researchers have cured 93 percent of patients with Hepatitis C in 12 weeks. Better still was well tolerated by patients. But that isn’t the only surprise so read on and find out!


Holy Grail of Battery Design: A lithium anode


Technology has been racing forward at an ever increasing rate. Unfortunately, anyone who owns a smartphone will tell you that the battery life doesn’t match the advancements. That is probably why engineers across the globe have been racing to design smaller, cheaper and more efficient rechargeable batteries to meet the power storage needs of everything from handheld gadgets to the new emerging electric cars. But a new breakthrough is about to [hopefully] change all that, a stable lithium anode.


Save the Neurons: Fighting the Effects of Parkinsons

Photo credit goes to the The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research

Photo credit goes to: the The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research

Possibly one of the most famous cases of parkinson’s is Michael J. Fox. More than just the “shakes” parkinson’s can cause a whole host of other problems mentally and physically [things like lack of sleep, smell, and mood]. But now an experimental anti-inflammatory drug ,funded by the foundation with is namesake has been shown to protect vulnerable neurons and reduce motor deficits, at least in a rat model of Parkinson’s disease.


Fighting the Obesity Epidemic with X-box [No, not that one]

Despite all the efforts, people are losing the war on obesity. There is probably a number of factors involved, genetics, underlying medical problems, most of all diet, but in any case we are living in a world that is slightly heavier than our historical counterparts. Maybe that’s why so many researchers are trying to find an easy way for people to better regulate their weight. Thankfully that goal is one step closer because researchers have found a protein that controls when genes are switched on or off, one that plays a key role in specific areas of the brain to regulate metabolism.


Salmon and Spinal Cod Regeneration, er… Cord

spinal injury

Fish might not be the first thing you think about when we talk spinal cord injury but that is exactly what scientists are doing. Don’t ask where they got the idea, but a therapy combining salmon fibrin [a protein that acts as a scaffolding] injections into the spinal cord and injections of a gene inhibitor into the brain restored voluntary motor function impaired by spinal cord injury.


Background TV and Children don’t Mix


Coming from a, to put it gently, very broken home, my babysitter was the television. Yep, so now that you are feeling nice and awkward let’s talk television. New research, which was expanded from previous research by the same team shows that, if you are a parent, you should limit not just the television watching habits of your children but also the background television exposure.


Voyager has hit interstellar space…. maybe?

intersteller space

Poor Voyager, he just can’t catch a break. We’ve said it’s hit interstellar space more times than we want to admit and in 2012, the Voyager mission team announced that the Voyager 1 spacecraft had passed into interstellar space [confirmed late 2013], traveling further from Earth than any other man-made object.


When Crazy becomes a Crime


My friend has a glass eye, you would never notice and unless you knew the story you might not think anything of it. His older brother did it. Yes, you read that correctly, in a schizophrenic rage he gouged out his eye and almost killed him. He never held what happened against his older brother, he was sick, how could he? At least that was his logic. The courts didn’t agree, he would not be allowed to visit his brother while he resided in prison, even ten years [and several appeals] after the fact. Unfortunately he isn’t alone, new research has linked tighter Medicaid policies governing antipsychotic drugs with increased incarceration rates for schizophrenic individuals.


Optical Cables, from Thin Air!


It’s a project that would make Tesla proud. Just imagine being able to instantaneously run an optical cable or fiber to any point on earth, or even into space. That’s what researchers are trying to do. Did I mention it was instantaneous and involved no connection other than the air around us? Well if you are as excited as I am, then you should read on! If not, two words, laser weapons!!


Autism and Parents: Reducing stress


Raising an autistic child can be a gift. Unfortunately it can also be challenging and stressful. Let’s be real, it’s stressful just being a parent, throw in a disability that most new parents don’t understand all that well and it can be down-right depression inducing. Not because your child fall is the Autistic spectrum, but because you don’t know what that means or how to best help your child. Then it should be unsurprising that, according to a new study, peer-led interventions that target parental well-being can significantly reduce stress, depression and anxiety in mothers of children with disabilities.


Antiretrovirals and Pregnancy Risk


Don’t drink when you are pregnant, we all know that you aren’t supposed to do that. We also know you shouldn’t smoke, use drugs, and should talk to your Doctor about what medications you are taking while pregnant. So then what about when your husband is HIV positive and you want to get pregnant, are antiretrovirals safe to be using while a woman is pregnant? As it turns out, there is no real research on it, and the answer might be a little harder to get at.


HIV and Hepatitis C: A New Treatment Coming Soon!!


The old saying it could always be worse might not sound like it would apply to HIV patients. Then again if you had HIV and hepatitis C, that would probably be worse. Apparently not only it is a “thing”, but it happens often because of how both spread [blood-borne]. A multicenter team of researchers report that in a phase III clinical trial, a combination drug therapy cures chronic hepatitis C in the majority of patients co-infected with both HIV and hepatitis C.


Unraveling the Connections of the Brain

brain hat

Yes it’s a brain hat, and yes I do want one!!

The brain is complex, heck if it wasn’t then we wouldn’t be smart enough to figure out how it works. I guess it’s one of those stupid catch-22 type things. Still, little is known about how the brain forms connections and the process that is behind all that. Thankfully new research provides an important glimpse into the processes that establish connections between nerve cells in the brain. These connections [also known as synapses] allow nerve cells to transmit and process information involved in thinking and moving the body. Sounds simple enough, but the formation is quite complex.


The Brain, Down Syndrome, and Antibiotics

At first glance the title might sound a little weird. But if that is the case then you probably want to read this. Researchers  have identified a group of cells in the brain that they say plays an important role in the abnormal neuron development in Down syndrome. After developing a new model for studying the syndrome using patient-derived stem cells [over other models]. As the title alluded to, the scientists also found that applying an inexpensive antibiotic to the cells appears to correct many abnormalities in the interaction between the cells and developing neurons.


A New way to Fight HIV, Using your Genome!


Outsmarting something as “simple” as a virus doesn’t seem like much of a challenge. If only you could set it down to take the SAT’s or something. Unfortunately, in the body fighting HIV is more like guerrilla warfare, you take the big losses for a small win. This is no way to wage a war, but HIV is smart. It mutates and sidesteps anything we’ve been able to throw at it. We don’t have a cure, or a vaccine, but we do have scientists trying. However, new research has made a crucial jump to throwing a curveball at HIV and with it, a possible cure.


The Mediterranean Diet and Cognitive Decline


The Mediterranean diet, it may have broad health benefits [let’s face it we can’t seem to escape the push for it here in the US], but a new study suggests that it doesn’t impart the same health benefits for everyone. In fact, new research shows that its impact on cognitive decline differs among race-specific populations.


More Horror from Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill

oil platform

Deepwater Horizon, it was a technological feat to get oil that deep in the water. Then the spill occurred, when it happened I honestly think more people were in shock than angry. We had never dealt with an oil spill like that before, much less one in the heart of such a huge fishing community. Louisiana business suffered and probably continues to suffer from the spill and the tons of oil that were spilled. Frankly the people in charge freaked out and just did everything they could to clean it up as quickly as possible. That unfortunately included the use of lots and lots of dispersants [chemicals to break up oil so nature can degrade and break down the oil more quickly].


Schizophrenia and Autism: A New Connection

AutismAutism and Schizophrenia, at first glance there probably isn’t a whole lot in common other than they are disorders that fall in that lovely book the DCM-5. The brain is a complex thing, so I guess it shouldn’t be a surprise that certain forms of Autism and Schizophrenia [don’t ask me why I capitalize them, I don’t know] share a link in what at first glance seems to be an unlikely culprit.


Schizophrenic Noise and Schizophrenic Voices


Hear that voice? What, is there more than one? Is this real, or fake? How do you know? That is how schizophrenia works: auditory hallucinations, confusion, inability to tell what is real and what is not. Schizophrenia isn’t something a person can simply ignore. You can’t get rid of that voice, or even the voices on your own. But what causes this problem? That was the question researchers wanted to tackle.


New ways to test for Alzheimers


Accurately diagnosing alzheimer’s is not an easy thing to do. In fact most of the time people aren’t diagnosed until very late in the progression of the disease, long after serious damage to the brain has been done. Biological markers of Alzheimer’s disease may be able to detect it at an earlier stage. For example, using brain PET imaging in conjunction with a specialized chemical that binds to beta-amyloid protein, the buildup of the protein as plaques in the brain can be revealed years before symptoms appear. But as with anything that requires any sort of imaging techniques, these scans can be expensive and are not available everywhere. That is all about to change thanks to four new studies that aim to help offer multiple ways to test for alzheimers much earlier than we can currently test.


Infant once thought Cured of HIV tests Positive

I hate doing sad posts, it’s not my thing. But this is a big deal so I thought I would share it, the child known as the “Mississippi baby” — whom for those of you who don’t know is an infant whom had been treated directly after birth and was cured of HIV which was reported as a case study of a prolonged remission of HIV infection in The New England Journal of Medicine last fall — now has detectable levels of HIV. Even after more than two years of not taking antiretroviral therapy without evidence of virus, according to the pediatric HIV specialist and researchers involved in the case.


Antioxidants can Accelerate Cancer, ya really!

Oh rly?

Oxidative stress on the body caused by free radicals, billed as a bad thing. Fruits, veggies and just about anything with the word healthy in the title is “jam packed” with antioxidants. But they don’t provide the health benefit the are billed to have, that’s because oxidative stress isn’t a bad thing for the body in some cases. Now researchers have shown that antioxidants can accelerate cancer and we also know why.


Change your Genes with Stem Cells!


So researchers for the first time were evaluating the safety and reliability of the existing targeted gene correction technologies and in the process they successfully developed a new method of gene editing, TALEN-HDAdV [which I will explain later]. This new breakthrough could significantly increased gene-correction efficiency in human induced pluripotent stem cell [hiPSC]. You would have to guess that this is probably the science equivalent of finding a new function on your smartphone, while trying to work your microwave.


Don’t Listen to the Voices: Understanding Consciousness


There is a voice in my head. Don’t worry it’s mine… I think [a story for another time I’m sure], but why is my voice inside my head? What causes me to hear myself while I type these very words, or even better you to hear them in your voice as you read them? Consciousness is a complex and very confusing thing. I think therefore I am? Science has had trouble cracking that nut and philosophy just won’t cut it in the realm of neuroscience.


Lose Weight, Live Longer. Simple, Right?

It's funny because it's true.

It’s funny because it’s true.

Suprise! Really this shouldn’t come as a shock, but adults with extreme obesity have increased risks of dying at a younger age from cancer and other complications like stroke, diabetes, heart disease, and kidney and liver diseases, according to results of an analysis of data pooled from 20 large studies of people from three countries. The study found that people with class III obesity [or extreme, as defined as a BMI of greater than 40] had a dramatic reduction in life expectancy compared with people of normal weight.


Skin Cells and Skin… smells?!


Yeah we all know that your nose smells. Yawn! Boring I know, this isn’t kindergarten this is Loony Labs! Thankfully that isn’t what I have for you [as much as an amazing breakthrough as that really is, or maybe I’m easily entertained]. Anyway let’s just jump right in, your skin smells too! Not in the you need a shower kind of way [although if you haven’t showered in a day or two then you just may fall in that category], but in the it can detect odors kind of way.

All done the same way your nose does it, olfactory receptors. Furthermore, cell proliferation increases and wound healing improves if those receptors are activated. This mechanism constitutes a possible starting point for new drugs and cosmetics [as in the burn healing or other scar inducing kind of way].


Staying up late? You’re going Crazy


All night cram sessions, anyone in college has probably had more than just a few of these [okay maybe only if you are a procrastinator like me]. If you have done anything like that, well then you know how weird you start to feel. Well researchers have now shown that with a “mere” twenty-four hours of sleep deprivation can lead to conditions in healthy persons similar to the symptoms of schizophrenia. The team points out that this effect should be investigated more closely in persons who have to work at night [as anyone who works nights knows how hard that can be on a sleep schedule]. They also recommend that sleep deprivation may serve as a model system for the development of drugs to treat psychosis.


New tool helps Doctors treat Menopause

With the SCOTUS ruling for the Hobby Lobby case [if you have no idea what I am talking about you can read about that anywhere on the net, like here] it may seem like everyone is fighting the war against women’s care at full speed. Thankfully that isn’t the case everywhere, there are still people out there who are trying to make a difference. Introducing the world’s first toolkit is designed for GPs to use with women from the age of 40 to help them decide the best care for dealing with menopause. Thought to be the first of its kind, researchers say the toolkit has the potential to help manage menopausal conditions for women globally.


Breast Cancer… and Cholesterol?!


Cholesterol, it’s bad for the heart. We know LDL bad, HDL good, eat healthier or ruin your arteries. I’m sure most of us have seen the public service announcements [at least here in the states]. But if that wasn’t a good enough reason for people to watch their cholesterol then how about cancer?An association between high blood cholesterol and breast cancer has been found in a study of more than 1 million patients over a 14 year time period in the UK.


Finally! A Definite Cause of Autism: Hint it isn’t Vaccines

autistic child

Autism, not caused by vaccines. In fact I’ve written several posts on the genetic clues to autism, now a new study offers more proof that it is purely genetic [at least in some cases]. This is huge because this is the first actual clear cut cause for certain types of Autism [or more accurately certain types of disorders falling under the Autistic spectrum]. It was a collaboration involving 13 institutions around the world — no easy feat either– and now researchers have broken new ground in understanding what causes autism.

“We finally got a clear cut case of an autism specific gene,” said Raphael Bernier, the lead author, and UW associate professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences and the clinical director of the Autism Center at Seattle Children’s.


Why you Should Not Fear Testosterone Therapy

old couple

Testosterone, to some it’s a bad word, bringing crazy images like “roid rage” and the like. To others with more than just a pop culture understanding it is a lifesaver. In fact, prescriptions for older men in the United States have increased more than three-fold over the past decade. Unfortunately recent studies linking testosterone use with increased risk of heart attack and stroke have caused widespread concern among patients and their families. The validity of those studies [and their methods] have been in question and [yet another] new study aims to help end the confusion. The new U.S.-based study of more than 25,000 older men shows that testosterone therapy does not increase men’s risk for heart attack.

The study examined 25,420 Medicare beneficiaries 66 years or older treated with testosterone for up to eight years. Studies like this one are tough to do so the researchers used public health data to wade through the claims.


Saving the Rainforest and the Consequences


The road to hell is paved with good intentions. This seems even more true when a new study came out that shows, when it comes to fixing deforestation and forest degradation, even good intentions can lead to bad outcomes. I hate to sound like a broken record when it comes to this whole “climate change” stuff, but it really needs to be addressed sometime…


St. Johns Wort and the Dangers of “Alternative” Medicine

alternative medicine

Grapefruit juice, I hate the stuff. But did you know that if you drink as little as 8 oz. of it when you take certain medications it could dramatically increase the effectiveness of the medicine? Sounds like a great thing, sure, until you realize that the dose of medication you are taking is specific to you and that increasing it can have serious side effects and in some cases cause death. This discovery led to the inclusion on the labels of certain medications to be cautions about grapefruit juice [and grapefruit] consumption.