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We're a little crazy, about science!

Archive for November, 2015

Novel insights into genetic cause of autoimmune diseases

Novel insights into genetic cause of autoimmune diseases

A collaboration between researchers at the Babraham Institute and the University of Manchester has mapped the physical connections occurring in the genome to shed light on the parts of the genome involved in autoimmune diseases. Using a new technique, called Capture Hi-C, the team revealed novel insights into how changes in the genetic sequence have a biological effect and increase the risk of disease.

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Mental health risk for new dads

Mental health risk for new dads

Researchers have found anxiety around the arrival of a new baby is just as common as postnatal depression, and the risks for men are nearly as high as for women. Mental health researcher Dr Liana Leach reviewed 43 separate studies and found anxiety before and after a child arrives is just as prevalent as depression, affecting around one in ten men, around half the rate for women.

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The silence of the genes, an epigenetic tale

The silence of the genes

Research led by Dr. Keiji Tanimoto from the University of Tsukuba, Japan, has brought us closer to understanding the mechanisms underlying the phenomenon of genomic imprinting. In this intriguing event, one copy of a gene is ‘turned off’, or silenced, depending on whether it was derived from the mother or the father.

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Synapse discovery could lead to new treatments for Alzheimer’s disease

Synapse discovery could lead to new treatments for Alzheimer's disease

A team of researchers led by UNSW Australia scientists has discovered how connections between brain cells are destroyed in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease – work that opens up a new avenue for research on possible treatments for the degenerative brain condition.

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Stem cell study paves the way for patient therapies

Stem cell study paves the way for patient therapies

Stem cells that have been specifically developed for use as clinical therapies are fit for use in patients, an independent study of their genetic make-up suggests. The research – which focused on human embryonic stem cells – paves the way for clinical trials of cell therapies to treat conditions such as Parkinson’s disease, age-related degeneration of the eyes and spinal cord injury.

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Closing the loop on an HIV escape mechanism

Closing the loop on an HIV escape mechanism

Nearly 37 million people worldwide are living with HIV. When the virus destroys so many immune cells that the body can’t fight off infection, AIDS will develop. The disease took the lives of more than a million people last year.

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Insights into protein structure could change the future of biomedicine

New insights into protein structure could change the future of biomedicine

New insights into protein structure could change the future of biomedicine

Researchers at the University of Waterloo have discovered a new way to create designer proteins that have the potential to transform biotechnology and personalized medicines.

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Dopamine measurements reveal insights into how we learn

First-of-kind dopamine measurements in human brain reveal insights into how we learn

First-of-kind dopamine measurements in human brain reveal insights into how we learn

Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute scientists have reported measurements of dopamine release with unprecedented temporal precision in the brains of people with Parkinson’s disease. The measurements, collected during brain surgery as the conscious patients played an investment game, demonstrate how rapid dopamine release encodes information crucial for human choice.

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Neuroscience and the search for happiness

he search for happiness: Using MRI to find where happiness happens

Exercising, meditating, scouring self-help books… we go out of our way to be happy, but do we really know what happiness is? Wataru Sato and his team at Kyoto University have found an answer from a neurological perspective.

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The mysterious fungus that has major health consequences

U of T research sheds new light on mysterious fungus that has major health consequences

U of T research sheds new light on mysterious fungus that has major health consequences

Researchers at the University of Toronto examined fungi in the mucus of patients with cystic fibrosis and discovered how one particularly cunning fungal species has evolved to defend itself against neighbouring bacteria. A regular resident of our microbiome – and especially ubiquitous in the lungs of cystic fibrosis patients -the Candida albicans fungus is an “opportunistic pathogen.”

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Inflammation linked to weakened reward circuits in depression

Inflammation linked to weakened reward circuits in depression

Inflammation linked to weakened reward circuits in depression

About one third of people with depression have high levels of inflammation markers in their blood. New research indicates that persistent inflammation affects the brain in ways that are connected with stubborn symptoms of depression, such as anhedonia, the inability to experience pleasure.

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Yin and yang of serotonin neurons in mood regulation

Yin and yang of serotonin neurons in mood regulation

Low levels of serotonin in the brain are known to play a role in depression and anxiety, and it is customary to treat these disorders with medications that increase the amount of this neurotransmitter. However, a new study carried out by researchers suggests that this approach may be too simple. It appears that neighboring serotonin-producing brainstem regions exert different and sometimes opposing effects on behavior.

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Master switch for brain development

Master switch for brain development

Scientists at the Institute of Molecular Biology (IMB) in Mainz have unraveled a complex regulatory mechanism that explains how a single gene can drive the formation of brain cells. The research is an important step towards a better understanding of how the brain develops. It also harbors potential for regenerative medicine.

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What’s in a name? More than you think…

What's in a name? More than you think...

What’s in a name? In the case of the usernames of video gamers, a remarkable amount of information about their real world personalities, according to research. Analysis of anonymised data from one of the world’s most popular computer games by scientists in the Department of Psychology at York also revealed information about their ages.

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Strongest evidence yet of a link between breakfast and educational outcomes

Study provides strongest evidence yet of a link between breakfast quality and educational outcomes

A direct and positive link between pupils’ breakfast quality and consumption, and their educational attainment, has for the first time been demonstrated in a ground-breaking new study carried out by public health experts at Cardiff University. The study of 5000 9-11 year-olds from more than 100 primary schools sought to examine the link between breakfast consumption and quality and subsequent attainment in Key Stage 2 Teacher Assessments* 6-18 months later.

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The rise of do-it-yourself biology

The rise of do-it-yourself biology: A look at the Baltimore Underground Science Space

The Wilson Center’s Synthetic Biology Project has released a short documentary on the growth of the do-it-yourself biology (DIYbio) movement as seen through a community DIYbio lab in Baltimore, Maryland.

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3-D printing aids in understanding food enjoyment

3-D printing aids in understanding food enjoyment

Tasting food relies on food volatiles moving from the back of the mouth to the nasal cavity, but researchers have wondered why airflow doesn’t carry them in the other direction, into the lungs. Now a team of engineers, using a 3D printed model of the human airway from nostril to trachea, has determined that the shape of the airway preferentially transfers volatiles to the nasal cavity and allows humans to enjoy the smell of good food.

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Not so happy old age?

Not so happy old age?

Not so happy old age?

The notion that older people are happier than younger people is being challenged following a recent study led by a University of Bradford lecturer. In fact it suggests that people get more depressed from age 65 onwards. The study, led by psychology lecturer Dr Helena Chui, builds on a 15-year project observing over 2,000 older Australians living in the Adelaide area.

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It’s music to my eyes

It's music to my eyes

Swan lake
Image credit goes to: The one and only Lora Zombie (Yes again).

When people are listening to music, their emotional reactions to the music are reflected in changes in their pupil size. Researchers from the University of Vienna and the University of Innsbruck, Austria, are the first to show that both the emotional content of the music and the listeners’ personal involvement with music influence pupil dilation. This study demonstrates that pupil size measurement can be effectively used to probe listeners’ reactions to music.

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A protein-RNA structure hints at how viruses commandeer human proteins

A protein-RNA structure hints at how viruses commandeer human proteins

Researchers at Case Western Reserve University and the University of Michigan have produced the first image of an important human protein as it binds with ribonucleic acid (RNA), a discovery that could offer clues to how some viruses, including HIV, control expression of their genetic material. That information could lead to new strategies to block viruses from replicating, thereby limiting or halting infection.

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New vaccine could prevent high cholesterol

New vaccine could prevent high cholesterol
New vaccine could prevent high cholesterol

Time to pug out…
Image credit goes to: (Once again) the talented and creative Lora Zombie

A new cholesterol-lowering vaccine leads to reductions in ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol in mice and macaques, according to research. The authors of the study, from the University of New Mexico and the National Institutes of health in the United States, say the vaccine has the potential to be a more powerful treatment than statins alone.

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One energy drink may increase heart disease risk in young adults

One energy drink may increase heart disease risk in young adults

New research shows that drinking one 16-ounce energy drink can increase blood pressure and stress hormone responses significantly. This raises the concern that these response changes could increase the risk of cardiovascular events.

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The connection between masculinity, energy drink use, and sleep problems

Connections discovered between masculinity, energy drink use, and sleep problems

Connections discovered between masculinity, energy drink use, and sleep problems

Energy drinks have grown in popularity for many Americans, but there is growing concern about the health risks of consuming them in large quantities. Because men are the main consumers of energy drinks, a research team lead by Dr. Ronald F. Levant, a professor of psychology at The University of Akron, set out to study a possible link between masculinity, expectations about the benefits of consuming energy drinks, how those expectations affect energy drink use, and the impact on sleep.

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The first line of defense? Think Mucus

Mucus -- the first line of defense

By licking a wound it heals faster — this is not simply popular belief, but scientifically proven. Our saliva consists of water and mucus, among other things, and the mucus plays an important role. It stimulates white blood cells to build a good defense against invaders, according to a group of researchers at Lund University in Sweden together with colleagues from Copenhagen and Odense in Denmark.

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Cancer survivors less likely to receive callbacks from potential employers

Cancer survivors less likely to receive callbacks from potential employers

Cancer survivors less likely to receive callbacks from potential employers

Job applicants who are cancer survivors are less likely to receive callbacks from potential retail employers than those who did not disclose their health history, according to a recent study by Rice University and Penn State University researchers.

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Adults’ happiness on the decline

Adults' happiness on the decline

Adults' happiness on the decline

Are you less happy than your parents were at the same age? It may not be all in your head. Researchers led by San Diego State University professor Jean M. Twenge found adults over age 30 are not as happy as they used to be, but teens and young adults are happier than ever. Researchers analyzed data from four nationally representative samples of 1.3 million Americans ages 13 to 96 taken from 1972 to 2014.

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Brain’s immune system could be harnessed to fight Alzheimer’s

Brain's immune system could be harnessed to fight Alzheimer's

A new study suggests that the brain’s immune system could potentially be harnessed to help clear the amyloid plaques that are a hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease.

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Lipid helps keep algae and brain fluid moving

Lipid helps keep algae and brain fluid moving

The same lipid that helps algae swim toward the light also appears to enable one type of brain cell to keep cerebrospinal fluid moving, researchers report.

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Predicting what side effects you’ll experience from a drug

Researchers are on their way to predicting what side effects you'll experience from a drug

Researchers at the University of California, San Diego have developed a model that could be used to predict a drug’s side effects on different patients. The proof of concept study is aimed at determining how different individuals will respond to a drug treatment and could help assess whether a drug is suitable for a particular patient based on measurements taken from the patient’s blood.

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Kids meals, toys, and TV advertising: A triple threat to child health

Kids meals, toys, and TV advertising: A triple threat to child health

Image credit goes to the one and only: Laura Zombie

Fast food companies advertise children’s meals on TV with ads that feature toy premiums, and it has been suggested that the use of these toy premiums may prompt children to request eating at fast food restaurants. In a new study, researchers found that the more children watched television channels that aired ads for children’s fast food meals, the more frequently their families visited those fast food restaurants.

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