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Posts

April 16, 2014

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8:46 PM | Here Today, Dugong Tomorrow!
The Pristine Seas dive team battles rough seas in this update from the expedition team in Mozambique.
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8:46 PM | Here Today, Dugong Tomorrow!
The Pristine Seas dive team battles rough seas in this update from the expedition team in Mozambique.
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5:54 AM | Joined by HDAC (inhibitors)
I'm treading quite carefully with this post which came about following my [non-expert] reading of the paper abstract from Anand Venkatraman and colleagues [1] on a potential downside to the use of HDAC (histone deacetylase) inhibitors for treating spinocerebellar ataxia type 1 (SCA1), a progressive disease affecting movement and other knock-on functions. This follows other work suggesting that certain HDAC inhibitors might offer some important new lines of investigation when it […]

Venkatraman A, Hu YS, Didonna A, Cvetanovic M, Krbanjevic A, Bilesimo P & Opal P (2014). The histone deacetylase HDAC3 is essential for Purkinje cell function, potentially complicating the use of HDAC inhibitors in SCA1., Human molecular genetics, PMID:

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April 15, 2014

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2:30 AM | We have Minions!
A couple of years ago, Oxford Nanopore made a big scientific splash when they announced they had developed a new DNA sequencing technology that would revolutionize genomics. Their MinION devices were the size of a USB stick, but were supposedly capable of sequencing long reads from single DNA molecules. After two years of wondering whether these devices were mythical, I can now tell you they actually exist. Together with Mike Gillings, we received five Minions in the mail today as part of a […]

April 14, 2014

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10:59 PM | Diving Through Kelp With a Beautiful Giant
The Pristine Seas scientists explore a deep underwater kelp forest near Zavora Point in Mozambique, and are surprised by a giant-sized visitor during their surveys.
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10:59 PM | Diving Through Kelp With a Beautiful Giant
The Pristine Seas scientists explore a deep underwater kelp forest near Zavora Point in Mozambique, and are surprised by a giant-sized visitor during their surveys.
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7:58 AM | Neurology of inflammatory bowel diseases
The paper by Ben-Or and colleagues [1] talking about a neurologic profile present in a small participant cohort of children and adolescents diagnosed with an inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) caught my eye recently. Their findings reporting that over two-thirds of their paediatric participant group diagnosed with IBD also "exhibited neurologic manifestations" provides some compelling preliminary evidence for further investigation in this area.Outside of reports of headache and dizziness, the […]

Ben-Or O, Zelnik N, Shaoul R, Pacht A & Lerner A (2014). The Neurologic Profile of Children and Adolescents With Inflammatory Bowel Disease., Journal of child neurology, PMID:

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April 11, 2014

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10:25 PM | Dad's obesity and risk of offspring autism
In this post I'm talking about the paper by Pål Surén and colleagues [1] and their suggestion that "paternal obesity is an independent risk factor for ASDs [autism spectrum disorders] in children". I do so not with the intent of stigmatising parents and specifically parents with weight issues, which tend to be present for many more reasons than just food and exercise (see here), but merely to highlight how parental physical health may show some relationship to […]

Suren, P., Gunnes, N., Roth, C., Bresnahan, M., Hornig, M., Hirtz, D., Lie, K., Lipkin, W., Magnus, P., Reichborn-Kjennerud, T. & Schjolberg, S. (2014). Parental Obesity and Risk of Autism Spectrum Disorder, PEDIATRICS, DOI:

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April 10, 2014

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9:17 AM | New science-to-policy Centre of Excellence unveiled
A new centre of Excellence was launched in Stellenbosch last week focussing on Science and Research Policy. I wrote an article about it for SciBraai: http://scibraai.co.za/new-science-to-policy-centre-of-excellence-unveiled/Filed under: News, Published Articles
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7:56 AM | Gluten exposure and "feelings of depression"?
Could exposure to dietary gluten affect a person's moods or emotional state?Well, if the paper by Simone Peters and colleagues [1] (open-access here) is to be believed the answer may very well be yes, at least in some cases, as they report a link between gluten consumption and feelings of depression under [short-term] experimental conditions. If replicated, such a finding may have profound consequences for how we view our relationship between food and mental health and wellbeing.Bread […]

Peters SL, Biesiekierski JR, Yelland GW, Muir JG & Gibson PR (2014). Randomised clinical trial: gluten may cause depression in subjects with non-coeliac gluten sensitivity - an exploratory randomised clinical study., Alimentary pharmacology & therapeutics, PMID:

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6:36 AM | Racing up the Best Seller's List
Currently #285,426 on Amazon's best seller list (how the hell did it get that high?) is our new book on Molecular Methods in Environmental Microbiology. Andy and I would like to thank all our contributors for their hard work and their patience, as this book took a long time to see the light of day. I now remember why it was over a decade since I last edited a book.

April 08, 2014

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3:52 PM | Out of the Deep Freeze: Captain America, the Winter Soldier and the Wood Frog
“Put him back on ice…” — Evil Hydra scientist Arnim Zola speaking about Bucky Barnes in Captain America: The Winter Soldier There’s a great convergence of activities occurring right now. The Major... -- Read more on ScientificAmerican.com
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10:28 AM | Can we fund clinical trials with the crowd?
Crowd-funding has progressed from a novelty a few years ago, to a genuine way to launch your product today. Recently, it has even been used to fund medical research and clinical trials, once considered the preserve of Big Pharma.  What is wrong with the status quo? Developing a drug is a mind-bogglingly expensive endeavour, justified […]
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7:35 AM | Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and various factors
The paper by Kate Lievesley and colleagues [1] documenting various "predisposing, precipitating and perpetuating factors in Chronic Fatigue Syndrome in children and adolescents" caught my eye recently. Based on a review of the research literature around the topic of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) [in childhood], the authors set about detailing some of the important factors linked to the condition and in doing so, highlighted how physiology and psychology might combine when […]

Lievesley, K., Rimes, K. & Chalder, T. (2014). A review of the predisposing, precipitating and perpetuating factors in Chronic Fatigue Syndrome in children and adolescents, Clinical Psychology Review, DOI:

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12:33 AM | An Octopus Bite and a Visit From Mozambique’s Youngest Ocean Explorers
A group of young local underwater enthusiasts called the Nemos Pequenos inspire the Pristine Seas team with their interest and excitement, and an esteemed scientist is bitten by an octopus, in this update from Mozambique.
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12:33 AM | An Octopus Bite and a Visit From Mozambique’s Youngest Ocean Explorers
A group of young local underwater enthusiasts called the Nemos Pequenos inspire the Pristine Seas team with their interest and excitement, and an esteemed scientist is bitten by an octopus, in this update from Mozambique.

April 07, 2014

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11:35 PM | Bad Weather, Weird Parrot Fish Fact, and More
Bad weather puts the pressure on the team to get the day's underwater surveys done, but there's still time to relate a weird-but-true fact about where sand comes from.
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11:35 PM | Bad Weather, Weird Parrot Fish Fact, and More
Bad weather puts the pressure on the team to get the day's underwater surveys done, but there's still time to relate a weird-but-true fact about where sand comes from.

April 06, 2014

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6:47 AM | Vitamin D deficiency and more and risk of ADHD
"Vitamin D – could it stop 'modern’ diseases?" was one of the headlines I read quite recently as more pressure is being applied on the sunshine vitamin to perform when it comes to our health and welbeing. Indeed, not so long ago I posted an entry updating where we're at when it comes to the 'sunshine' vitamin D and the autism spectrum conditions. The conclusion buried in that post was that whilst there is some interesting work potentially linking vitamin D and autism, there is still […]

Bener A & Kamal M (2013). Predict attention deficit hyperactivity disorder? Evidence -based medicine., Global journal of health science, 6 (2) 47-57. PMID:

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April 03, 2014

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7:45 PM | Singing Mozambican Fishermen Are the Perfect Alarm Clock
Shortly after dawn a small fleet of local fishing dhows sailed close to our anchorage, and as the men brought in the nets their happy work song was the most perfect alarm clock and an ideal start to the expedition’s first day of diving.
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7:45 PM | Singing Mozambican Fishermen Are the Perfect Alarm Clock
Shortly after dawn a small fleet of local fishing dhows sailed close to our anchorage, and as the men brought in the nets their happy work song was the most perfect alarm clock and an ideal start to the expedition’s first day of diving.
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4:11 PM | The Hospital-Dependent Patient
Some fragile survivors of intensive, expensive treatments are like a house of cards, their health collapsing under even a minor stress.
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10:12 AM | Baby Baboon’s Dramatic Encounter with Lions Ends With a Heroic Twist
Witness this remarkable interaction between a baby baboon, a lioness, and the heroic acts of the father baboon that follow.
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10:12 AM | Baby Baboon’s Dramatic Encounter with Lions Ends With a Heroic Twist
Witness this remarkable interaction between a baby baboon, a lioness, and the heroic acts of the father baboon that follow.
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8:20 AM | New life for naltrexone and autism?
During the very earliest days of the life of this blog I posted about the opiate antagonist naltrexone (ReVia®) and some research on its history with autism in mind; in particular, the various emerging speculations on low dose naltrexone (LDN) (see here). Today I'm following up that entry based on the results of a systematic review by Ashok Roy and colleagues [1] on the value (or not) of naltrexone for "attenuating the core symptoms of autism spectrum conditions in […]

Roy A, Roy M, Deb S, Unwin G & Roy A (2014). Are opioid antagonists effective in attenuating the core symptoms of autism spectrum conditions in children: a systematic review., Journal of intellectual disability research : JIDR, PMID:

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April 02, 2014

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10:22 AM | Scientific ink slinger for hire – enquire within
As of April 1st, I have cut loose from the ties of salaried employment and dived into the exciting world of freelance writing. Crazy, I know. Since it’s only been a day, I’m not going to tell you about the experience so far. This is, in fact, a publicity exercise.  First, let me tell you that […]
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8:21 AM | World Autism Awareness Day and the CDC estimates
As designated by the United Nations General Assembly in 2007 (see here), today, Wednesday 2nd April 2014, is World Autism Awareness Day (#WAAD).If you haven't already clicked the link to the UN statement above, I'd encourage you to do so and read over the articles included in the resolution.Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon offers some wise words about the meaning of today in his annual address: "World Autism Awareness Day is about more than generating understanding; it is a call to action. I urge […]

March 31, 2014

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6:12 PM | Lack of Math / Statistics – what to do?
Nice article on how students realize they suck at math / statistics, but don’t know what to do about it.. it ultimately falls on the universities and advisors to provide this training.. and they are currently failing!  While this article focuses on … Continue reading →
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10:29 AM | Kenya Elephant Census Reveals Photos of Illegal Charcoal Production
The Great Elephant Census in Kenya is now potentially revealing a shocking emergence of illegal coal production in Tsavo region.
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10:29 AM | Kenya Elephant Census Reveals Photos of Illegal Charcoal Production
The Great Elephant Census in Kenya is now potentially revealing a shocking emergence of illegal coal production in Tsavo region.
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