March 10, 2014
Blood test may detect Alzheimer’s in healthy people
(UPI) – U.S. researchers say they discovered and validated a blood test that can predict with 90 percent accuracy if a healthy person will develop Alzheimer’s. Dr. Howard J. Federoff, professor of neurology and executive vice president for health sciences at Georgetown University Medical Center in Washington, said the test identifies 10 lipids, or fats, in the blood that predict disease onset. It could be ready for use in clinical studies in as few as two years, he added.
March 6, 2014
Dementia death toll may be worse than cancer
(The Telegraph) – The number of people dying from dementia has being vastly underestimated with the disease potentially responsible for more deaths than cancer and heart disease combined, new research suggests. A study from the US has found that Alzheimer’s and dementia is widely under-reported on death certificates and medical records.
New findings on neurogenesis in the spinal cord
(Medical News Today) – Research from Karolinska Institutet in Sweden suggests that the expression of the so called MYC gene is important and necessary for neurogenesis in the spinal cord. The findings are being published in the journal EMBO Reports. The MYC gene encodes the protein with the same name, and has an important role in many cellular processes such as proliferation, metabolism, cell death and the potential of differentiation from immature stem cells to different types of specialized cells. Importantly it is also one of the most frequently activated genes in human cancer.
March 5, 2014
Alzheimer’s in a dish
(Harvard Gazette) – Harvard stem cell scientists have successfully converted skins cells from patients with early onset Alzheimer’s into the types of neurons that are affected by the disease, making it possible for the first time to study this leading form of dementia in living human cells. This may also make it possible to develop therapies more quickly and accurately than before.
March 3, 2014
Brain zap can ‘wake’ nearly-comatose patients
(ABC News) – Researchers in Belgium have found that mild electrical stimulation can temporarily rouse nearly-comatose patients, according to a study from the April issue of Neurology. During the study the patients, all of whom were either minimally conscious or in vegetative state, underwent mild electrical stimulation for 20 minutes at a time. Researchers found that 15 of the minimally conscious patients responded to the stimulation by becoming more responsive and two were even able to communicate nonverbally with researchers. Those in a vegetative state did not show any reaction.
Why men are more likely to have autism: Their brains are more prone to genetic flaws, study finds
(Daily Mail) – Researchers claim to have discovered why autism is more common in boys than girls. A study, published in the American Journal of Human Genetics, suggests girls require more extreme genetic mutations than boys to develop the condition. As a result, it is less likely that they will be pushed over the diagnostic threshold for autism. Study author Dr Sébastien Jacquemont, of the University Hospital of Lausanne in Switzerland, said: ‘This is the first study that convincingly demonstrates a difference at the molecular level between boys and girls referred to the clinic for a developmental disability.
Multiple sclerosis linked to contraceptive pill: Risk could be up to 50% higher in women who take it
(Daily Mail) – Taking the contraceptive Pill may increase a woman’s chance of developing multiple sclerosis, researchers warn. The risk of MS could be up to 50 per cent higher among women on the Pill, according to a new US study. The findings also show young obese women are at greater risk of the disease, probably because they produce higher levels of a hormone known to regulate appetite. Previous research had suggested that oral contraception could cut MS risk, or delay its onset.
February 28, 2014
First soccer player diagnosed with CTE brings up sport’s risk
(ABC News) – The first soccer player to be diagnosed with Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) has drawn attention to the possibility that a sport formerly thought of as “safer” than football or hockey can still result degenerative effects on the neurological system. Patrick Grange died at age 29 in 2012 from a degenerative motor-neuron disease likely related to his amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or ALS, which is commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. After his death, Grange’s brain was found to have signs of the degenerative neurological disorder called CTE.
Phantom limb pain relieved when amputated arm is put back to work (w/ video)
(Medical Xpress) – Max Ortiz Catalan, researcher at Chalmers University of Technology, has developed a new method for the treatment of phantom limb pain (PLP) after an amputation. The method is based on a unique combination of several technologies, and has been initially tested on a patient who has suffered from severe phantom limb pain for 48 years. A case study shows a drastic reduction of pain.
February 27, 2014
New neurons generated in brains, spinal cords of living adult mammals
(Medical News Today) – UT Southwestern Medical Center researchers created new nerve cells in the brains and spinal cords of living mammals without the need for stem cell transplants to replenish lost cells. Although the research indicates it may someday be possible to regenerate neurons from the body’s own cells to repair traumatic brain injury or spinal cord damage or to treat conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease, the researchers stressed that it is too soon to know whether the neurons created in these initial studies resulted in any functional improvements, a goal for future research.
Child health problems ‘linked to father’s age’
(BBC) – A wide range of disorders and problems in school-age children have been linked to delayed fatherhood in a major study involving millions of people. Increased rates of autism, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, suicide attempts and substance abuse problems were all reported. The study, in JAMA Psychiatry, suggests mutated sperm were to blame.
February 25, 2014
Acetaminophen during pregnancy tied to ADHD
(ABC News) – Taking the over-the-counter pain reliever acetaminophen — the active ingredient in Tylenol — during pregnancy may increase a child’s risk of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder or ADHD, a new Danish study found. The findings, published today in JAMA Pediatrics, may cause women and their doctors to question the pain pill of choice during pregnancy.
February 24, 2014
Epidemiological studies demonstrate that diseases of central nervous system protect against cancer
(News-Medical) – Epidemiological studies demonstrate that diseases of the central nervous system such as Alzheimer, Parkinson and schizophrenia protect against cancer. The most remarkable example is Alzheimer’s disease, which can reduce the risk of suffering from cancer by up to 50%. Various theories have been put forward in an attempt to explain this relationship between diseases at a first glance seem to be so different from the pharmacological, genetic and environmental perspectives. However, the available results were not consistent enough to confirm these models.
February 21, 2014
New cache of fresh neurons found in human brains
(New Scientist) – Brain cell regeneration has been discovered in a new location in human brains. The finding raises hopes that these cells could be used to help people recover after a stroke, or to treat other brain diseases. For years it was unclear whether or not we could generate new brain cells during our lifetime, as the process – neurogenesis – had only been seen in animals. Instead, it was thought that humans, with our large and complex brains, are born with all the required neurons.
Mother of brain-dead Oakland girl says she has ‘hope’
(ABC News) – Weeks after a brain-dead 13-year-old girl was moved to an undisclosed facility following a legal fight between the girl’s family and hospital, her mother is speaking out about their experience and says she has “hope” for her daughter. Nailah Wakfield, who fought to keep her brain-dead daughter Jahi McMath on life support, posted a letter on Facebook to thank supporters and to give an update on her daughter’s condition.
February 19, 2014
(Nature) – Psychologists in the United States are already designing a modified version called the Diagnostic Adaptive Behavior Scale, the first evidence-based, adaptive behaviour test designed specifically for young people with a low IQ. Relevant to the debate over mental dysfunction and the death penalty, it assesses traits such as gullibility and the ability to solve social problems. Properly administered, it could determine awareness for courts better than existing tests of IQ.
Doctors train to spot signs of A.D.H.D. in children
(New York Times) – One in seven children in the United States — and almost 20 percent of all boys — receives a diagnosis of A.D.H.D. by the time they turn 18, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It narrowly trails asthma as the most common long-term medical condition in children. Increasing concern about the handling of the disorder has raised questions about the training doctors receive before diagnosing the condition and prescribing stimulants like Adderall or Concerta, sometimes with little understanding of the risks.
February 18, 2014
First biomarker could help boys at risk of major depression
(Reuters) – British brain scientists have identified the first biomarker, or biological signpost, for clinical depression and say it could help find boys in particular who are at risk of developing the debilitating mental illness. In a study in the Proceedings of the National Academies of Science (PNAS) journal, the team found that teenage boys who have a combination of depressive symptoms and raised levels of the stress hormone cortisol are up to 14 times more likely to develop major depression than those who show neither trait.
February 17, 2014
The dawn of the age of artificial intelligence
(The Atlantic) – The advances we’ve seen in the past few years—cars that drive themselves, useful humanoid robots, speech recognition and synthesis systems, 3D printers, Jeopardy!-champion computers—are not the crowning achievements of the computer era. They’re the warm-up acts. As we move deeper into the second machine age we’ll see more and more such wonders, and they’ll become more and more impressive.
February 14, 2014
Cure for love: Should we take anti-love drugs?
(New Scientist) – Breaking up is hard to do. If drugs could ease the pain, when should we use them, asks neuro-ethicist Brian D. Earp. For your research, how do you define love? We tend to think of love as a phenomenon grounded in ancient neurochemical systems that evolved for our ancestors’ reproductive needs. There is more to our experience of love than brain chemistry, of course, but those brain-level phenomena play a central role.
Protein switch dictates cellular fate: Stem cell or neuron
(Medical Xpress) – Researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine have discovered that a well-known protein has a new function: It acts in a biological circuit to determine whether an immature neural cell remains in a stem-like state or proceeds to become a functional neuron. The findings, published in the February 13 online issue of Cell Reports, more fully illuminate a fundamental but still poorly understood cellular act – and may have significant implications for future development of new therapies for specific neurological disorders, including autism and schizophrenia.