Posts

October 20, 2014

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2:25 PM | Stunning New Gorilla Documentary Brings DiCaprio and Netflix Together
Lionardo DiCaprio, the American film-star and outspoken environmentalist, has teamed up with online streaming giant Netflix to release one of this year’s most exciting documentaries: VIRUNGA.  Director Orlando von Einsiedel spent 11 months in the Democratic Republic of Congo in 2011 and 2012, filming the rangers in Virunga National Park who watch over the park’s rare…
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8:36 AM | Reasons for visiting ER by those with autism
ER - Emergency Room - or as we call it here in Blighty Accident & Emergency (A & E), is never a particularly desirable place to visit given the emphasis on illness or injury of yourself or loved one. That being said, staff there do a sterling job sometimes under very stressful circumstances, responding to all-manner of complaints, some of which are life-threatening.The paper by Dorothea Iannuzzi and colleagues [1] sought to identify some of the medical reasons why ER […]

Iannuzzi DA, Cheng ER, Broder-Fingert S & Bauman ML (2014). Brief Report: Emergency Department Utilization by Individuals with Autism., Journal of autism and developmental disorders, PMID: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25261249

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October 18, 2014

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9:47 PM | Rapa Expedition: Polynesian Words of Inspiration
In anticipation of Pristine Seas crew's arrival at Rapa Iti, team member Poema du Prel from Tahiti shares her reflections on the mission, and words of inspiration in two languages from her spiritual grandfather.
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9:30 AM | More epigenetics, EN-2 and autism... the plot thickens
I don't mind admitting that I was to some extent 'winging it' with my previous post on epigenetics and Engrailed-2 (EN-2) as a consequence of the findings reported by Jill James and colleagues [1] with autism in mind. Although an avid follower of the science of epigenetics when (cautiously) applied to autism, I am by no means any authority on the subject matter particularly when it comes to the nitty-gritty details. You can probably therefore expect similar things in my latest […]

James SJ, Shpyleva S, Melnyk S, Pavliv O & Pogribny IP (2014). Elevated 5-hydroxymethylcytosine in the Engrailed-2 (EN-2) promoter is associated with increased gene expression and decreased MeCP2 binding in autism cerebellum., Translational psychiatry, 4 PMID: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25290267

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October 17, 2014

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7:05 PM | Eat More, Go Faster!
Paul Rose muses on the differences between ancient navigation and his own modern equipment and methods on the Pristine Seas expedition to Rapa.
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5:12 PM | Report Estimates Enormous Economic Value of Living Elephants
When a young elephant dies at the hands of an ivory poacher, according to a recent report, the commercial loss to the tourism industry is more than $1.6 million–­–the amount the animal would have contributed to the economy had it lived a full and happy life.
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9:22 AM | Altered ghrelin levels in boys with autism
"Honey, it's the '90s, remember?"Saudi Arabia and autism research? It must be at least one author from the research tag-team that is Mostafa and Al-Ayadhi.Indeed, in today's post it is Laila Al-Ayadhi featured on the paper by Felwah S. Al-Zaid and colleagues [1] (open-access) who concluded on: "a potential role for the hormone ghrelin in the pathogenesis of autism".Ghrelin, by the way, is often called the 'hunger hormone' as a result of its effects in relation to energy homoeostasis. […]

Al-Zaid FS, Alhader AA & Al-Ayadhi LY (2014). Altered ghrelin levels in boys with autism: a novel finding associated with hormonal dysregulation., Scientific reports, 4 6478. PMID: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25257829

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October 16, 2014

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7:54 PM | When Doctors and Nurses Work Together
A group of doctors and nurses at Yale-New Haven Hospital has been quietly working to change the culture of “defensive medicine” that so many have come to accept as inevitable.
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3:39 PM | Rapa Expedition: Here Be Monsters!
As we kick off our new expedition to the tiny island of Rapa in French Polynesia, we’re really don't know exactly what we'll find. It’s the purest form of exploration, enhanced by sheer curiosity and excitement—the very reason that we are ocean explorers.
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8:59 AM | MicroRNAs and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
"No one User wrote me! I'm worth millions of their man-years!"Not so long ago I posted an entry talking about microRNAs and autism (see here). As well as including some rather interesting, if preliminary findings, that particular piece of work also served to introduce yet another layer of complexity to our genome and its expression: microRNAs.I was therefore always going to be more than a little intrigued by the results published by Ekua Brenu and colleagues [1] and their observations on […]

Brenu EW, Ashton KJ, Batovska J, Staines DR & Marshall-Gradisnik SM (2014). High-Throughput Sequencing of Plasma MicroRNA in Chronic Fatigue Syndrome/Myalgic Encephalomyelitis., PloS one, 9 (9) PMID: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25238588

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October 15, 2014

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9:16 AM | Hookworm infection and microchallenge for coeliac disease?
I'm getting rather baffled by some of the literature appearing with the autoimmune condition coeliac (celiac) disease in mind. The paper by Kalliokoski and colleagues [1] started the bafflement ball rolling with their suggestion that: "administration of IgA-deficient celiac disease patient serum or total IgG induces both deterioration of the intestinal mucosa and clinical features of celiac disease in mice". Then came the paper from Namatovu and colleagues [2] who concluded that: […]

Croese J, Giacomin P, Navarro S, Clouston A, McCann L, Dougall A, Ferreira I, Susianto A, O'Rourke P, Howlett M & McCarthy J (2014). Experimental hookworm infection and gluten microchallenge promote tolerance in celiac disease., The Journal of allergy and clinical immunology, PMID: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25248819

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October 14, 2014

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5:46 PM | PLOS Medicine’s Big Food Series: Shining a Spotlight on Industry’s Influence on Health
PLOS Medicine Deputy Editor, Paul Simpson, reflects on the PLOS Medicine Series on Big Food, which was published in 2012. ‘The Food Industry is Ripe for Scrutiny’ is the clarion call of the lead editorial that announced PLOS Medicine’s Big … Continue reading »The post PLOS Medicine’s Big Food Series: Shining a Spotlight on Industry’s Influence on Health appeared first on Speaking of Medicine.
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11:10 AM | Prenatal genetic testing and autism: a delicate subject
I realise that the paper by Lei-Shih Chen and colleagues [1] covers a most sensitive topic when it comes to the autism spectrum, exploring: "the attitudes toward PGT [prenatal genetic testing] and termination decisions of 42 parents of children with ASD [autism spectrum disorder]". Indeed, this is not the first time that this research group has looked at this area of autism research [2] and it seems like they will be talking about it further too (see here).I chose to discuss the most […]

Chen LS, Xu L, Dhar SU, Li M, Talwar D & Jung E (2014). Autism Spectrum Disorders: A Qualitative Study of Attitudes toward Prenatal Genetic Testing and Termination Decisions of Affected Pregnancies., Clinical genetics, PMID: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25251361

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October 13, 2014

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9:30 PM | Yes folks... broccoli chemical impacts on autism presentation
Please do not adjust your set. Broccoli, or least a chemical found in broccoli called sulforaphane has, under placebo-controlled, double-blind experimental conditions, been reported to impact on the presentation of autism according to the paper by Kanwaljit Singh and colleagues [1] (open-access).Eat your greens @ Fir0002/FlagstaffotosI had to do a bit of a double-take myself when I first read about these results (see here). Indeed, even the authors themselves seemed to be a […]

Kanwaljit Singh, Susan L. Connors, Eric A. Macklin, Kirby D. Smith, Jed W. Fahey, Paul Talalay & Andrew W. Zimmerman (2014). Sulforaphane treatment of autism spectrum disorder (ASD), PNAS, Other:

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8:46 AM | Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy (CBT) for anxiety in autism
I'll readily admit that despite having a tinge of psychology running through my research career, I'm not overly enthused about the impact of the discipline on the autism spectrum down the years. I'm not necessarily just talking about the Freudian effect which set autism research back decades and shamefully added needless worry and stigma to those on the spectrum and their loved ones, but also the grand over-arching psychological theories which seemed, for example, to completely miss the […]

Ung D, Selles R, Small BJ & Storch EA (2014). A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy for Anxiety in Youth with High-Functioning Autism Spectrum Disorders., Child psychiatry and human development, PMID: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25246292

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October 11, 2014

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4:06 PM | Efficacy of foetal stem cell transplantation in autism...
The recent news that researchers might be one step closer to 'curing' type 1 diabetes following the publication of the paper by Pagliuca and colleagues [1] brought back into focus how stem cell therapy might hold some promise for all manner of conditions. The idea that researchers could generate "hundreds of millions of glucose-responsive β cells from hPSC [human pluripotent stem cells] in vitro" still faces a few challenges, including overcoming the immune assault central to the […]

Bradstreet JJ, Sych N, Antonucci N, Klunnik M, Ivankova O, Matyashchuk I, Demchuk M & Siniscalco D (2014). Efficacy of fetal stem cell transplantation in autism spectrum disorders: an open-labeled pilot study., Cell transplantation, PMID: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25302490

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8:48 AM | Yet more air pollution and autism risk research
Air pollution and autism risk. It's a topic which has cropped up a few times on this blog (see here and see here and see here) with the majority of the research (but not all) suggesting that there may be something to see when it comes to such a correlation.Enter then the paper by Amy Kalkbrenner and colleagues [1] to proceedings, and their conclusion: "Our study adds to previous work in California showing a relation between traffic-related air pollution and autism, and adds similar findings in […]

Kalkbrenner AE, Windham GC, Serre ML, Akita Y, Wang X, Hoffman K, Thayer BP & Daniels JL (2014). Particulate Matter Exposure, Prenatal and Postnatal Windows of Susceptibility, and Autism Spectrum Disorders., Epidemiology (Cambridge, Mass.), PMID: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25286049

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October 10, 2014

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8:40 AM | Vitamin D supplement improves autistic behaviours?
I don't want to get too ahead of myself with this post talking about the paper by Feiyong Jia and colleagues [1] (open-access) who concluded: "Vitamin D supplementation may be effective in ameliorating the autistic behavioral problems in children with autism spectrum disorders [ASDs]".The idea however that issues with vitamin D seemingly present in quite a few cases of ASD [2] (see here too) but not all [3] might actually have more direct consequences for behavioural presentation […]

贾, �. (2014). Vitamin D Supplementation Improves Autistic Symptoms in a Child with Autism Spectrum Disorder, Asian Case Reports in Pediatrics, 02 (03) 21-24. DOI: 10.12677/ACRP.2014.23005

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2:14 AM | PhD scholarships available
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October 09, 2014

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8:41 AM | Physical activity and fitness levels and autism
Although at present having to be slightly more cautious following some recent surgery (general anaesthetic is awesome by the way!), I normally consider myself to be quite an active person. Through previous discussions on this blog covering topics on the positive effects of walking (see here) and the physical+ benefits of the martial arts (see here) I'd like to think that there are quite a few ways and means that the population at large can easily increase their daily physical activity levels. […]

Tyler, K., MacDonald, M. & Menear, K. (2014). Physical Activity and Physical Fitness of School-Aged Children and Youth with Autism Spectrum Disorders, Autism Research and Treatment, 2014 1-6. DOI: 10.1155/2014/312163

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October 08, 2014

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8:34 AM | Alcohol and autism
I tread very carefully with this post today looking at some of the peer-reviewed research on the topic of alcohol use (and abuse) and autism without wishing to stigmatise nor generalise.I was brought to this important topic as a result of the recent paper by Tabata and colleagues [1] who discussed three case reports of alcoholism associated with a diagnosis of autism. For each person described in that report, a common theme describing alcohol being used as a means to "reduce anxiety" related to […]

Tabata K, Yoshida T & Naoe J (2014). Three cases of alcoholism with autism spectrum disorder., Alcohol and alcoholism (Oxford, Oxfordshire), 49 Suppl 1 PMID: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25221235

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2:23 AM | I have the grey hairs to prove it
Macquarie University has apparently noticed the grey hairs I'm starting to get, they announced last week that I am one of six new Distinguished Professors. On top of that, on the same day, the Macquarie University Research Excellence Awards were presented, and Karl Hassan and I won the Research Excellence Prize in Science and Engineering. They made 90 second videos summaries for each of the research projects nominated for an award. Here's the video for our project on identification of a new […]
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12:18 AM | Yeast 2.0 on the radio
I was interviewed on 2SER this morning on the topic of yeast 2.0, biofuels and beer.Transcript and podcast can be found here.Louise Brown came along for moral support and snapped this action shot of the back of my head:

October 07, 2014

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9:02 AM | Infection during pregnancy and offspring autism risk
The paper by Lee and colleagues [1] forms the starting material for today's blog post looking at hospitalisation for infection during pregnancy as potentially being a risk factor for receipt of a subsequent diagnosis for autism in offspring."Chaos is what killed the dinosaurs, darling"Based on data derived from one of those very useful Scandinavian health registries, authors observed "approximately a 30% increase in ASD [autism spectrum disorder] risk associated with any inpatient […]

Lee BK, Magnusson C, Gardner RM, Blomström S, Newschaffer CJ, Burstyn I, Karlsson H & Dalman C (2014). Maternal hospitalization with infection during pregnancy and risk of autism spectrum disorders., Brain, behavior, and immunity, PMID: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25218900

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October 06, 2014

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8:36 AM | Correcting vitamin D levels improves fatigue severity?
I was interested to read the paper by Satyajeet Roy and colleagues [1] (open-access here) concluding that: "Normalization of vitamin D levels with ergocalciferol therapy significantly improves the severity of... fatigue symptoms". Ergocalciferol by the way, means vitamin D2, which is distinct from cholecalciferol (vitamin D3), the seemingly more desirable form of vitamin D supplementation (see here)."It's beyond my control"The Roy paper is open-access but a few details might be […]

Roy S, Sherman A, Monari-Sparks MJ, Schweiker O & Hunter K (2014). Correction of Low Vitamin D Improves Fatigue: Effect of Correction of Low Vitamin D in Fatigue Study (EViDiF Study)., North American journal of medical sciences, 6 (8) 396-402. PMID: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25210673

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October 04, 2014

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8:57 AM | The gut-brain axis and schizophrenia
A micropost to direct your attention to the recent paper by Katlyn Nemani and colleagues [1] titled: 'Schizophrenia and the gut-brain axis'. Mentioning words like that, I couldn't resist offering a little exposure to this review and opinion piece, drawing on what seems to be some renewed research interest in work started by pioneers such as the late Curt Dohan [2].The usual triad of gastrointestinal (GI) variables - gut barrier, gut bacteria and gut immune function - are mentioned in the […]

Nemani, K., Ghomi, R., McCormick, B. & Fan, X. (2014). Schizophrenia and the gut–brain axis, Progress in Neuro-Psychopharmacology and Biological Psychiatry, DOI: 10.1016/j.pnpbp.2014.08.018

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October 03, 2014

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9:10 AM | S100B and schizophrenia meta-analysed
I don't know if it's just me but this year (2014) I seem to be covering a lot more meta-analysis papers on this blog. I assume that's because of the increasing volume of peer-reviewed research being created year-on-year leading to greater volumes of research fodder for such grand reviews. Whatever the reason(s), there are some really interesting conclusions being reached in that literature as per the meta-analysis by Aleksovska and colleagues [1] (open-access) focusing on S100B […]

Aleksovska K, Leoncini E, Bonassi S, Cesario A, Boccia S & Frustaci A (2014). Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Circulating S100B Blood Levels in Schizophrenia., PloS one, 9 (9) PMID: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25202915

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October 02, 2014

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12:03 PM | Coeliac disease risk not affected by early feeding practices
I'd like to bring three papers to your attention, all united by their discussion of coeliac (celiac) disease, that most classic of autoimmune conditions in the most part managed by the use of a lifelong gluten-free diet.First up are the papers by Elena Lionetti and colleagues [1] and Sabine Vriezinga and colleagues [2] which unfortunately pour cold water on the notion that the risk of developing coeliac disease (CD) can be somehow mitigated via the use of either the early or delayed […]

Lionetti E, Castellaneta S, Francavilla R, Pulvirenti A, Tonutti E, Amarri S, Barbato M, Barbera C, Barera G, Bellantoni A & Castellano E (2014). Introduction of Gluten, HLA Status, and the Risk of Celiac Disease in Children., The New England journal of medicine, 371 (14) 1295-1303. PMID: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25271602

Vriezinga SL, Auricchio R, Bravi E, Castillejo G, Chmielewska A, Crespo Escobar P, Kolaček S, Koletzko S, Korponay-Szabo IR, Mummert E & Polanco I (2014). Randomized Feeding Intervention in Infants at High Risk for Celiac Disease., The New England journal of medicine, 371 (14) 1304-1315. PMID: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25271603

Elfström P, Sundström J & Ludvigsson JF (2014). Systematic review with meta-analysis: associations between coeliac disease and type 1 diabetes., Alimentary pharmacology & therapeutics, PMID: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25270960

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8:57 AM | Volatile organic compounds and autism
As harsh as the phrase volatile organic compounds (VOCs) might appear at first glance, all this refers to is a class of compounds containing carbon which have a tendency to evaporate at room temperature assuming normal air pressure. VOCs have been associated with pollutants as per their inclusion in various literature on the topic of things like indoor air pollution (see here) and the fact that just about everything around us in the modern home or office is likely to release VOCs. Whilst not […]

Cozzolino R, De Magistris L, Saggese P, Stocchero M, Martignetti A, Di Stasio M, Malorni A, Marotta R, Boscaino F & Malorni L & (2014). Use of solid-phase microextraction coupled to gas chromatography-mass spectrometry for determination of urinary volatile organic compounds in autistic children compared with healthy controls., Analytical and bioanalytical chemistry, 406 (19) 4649-62. PMID: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24828982

Kalkbrenner AE, Schmidt RJ & Penlesky AC (2014). Environmental Chemical Exposures and Autism Spectrum Disorders: A Review of the Epidemiological Evidence., Current problems in pediatric and adolescent health care, PMID: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25199954

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October 01, 2014

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9:11 AM | Maternal complement C1q and offspring psychosis
"In conclusion, exposure to maternal C1q activity during pregnancy may be a risk factor for the development of schizophrenia and psychosis in offspring". That was the primary observation made by Emily Severance and colleagues [1] at Johns Hopkins, extending their scientific interest in immune system involvement being potentially linked to psychiatry [2]."Serve the public trust, protect the innocent, uphold the law"I've already talked about Dr Severance's previous research forays into complement […]

Emily G. Severance, Kristin L. Gressitt, Stephen L. Buka, Tyrone D. Cannon & Robert H. Yolken (2014). Maternal complement C1q and increased odds for psychosis in adult offspring, Schizophrenia Research, Other:

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