Posts

December 18, 2014

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9:13 PM | Test Drive: The 2016 Toyota Mirai Is Remarkably Unremarkable (And That’s A Good Thing)
Toyota's hydrogen fuel-cell vehicle has an easy, comfortable driving demeanor that belies its amazing complexity underneath.
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10:08 AM | Autistic traits in adults with epilepsy
"Increased autistic characteristics found in adults with epilepsy without an ASD [autism spectrum disorder] diagnosis suggest that epilepsy syndromes may incorporate behavioral aspects of autism in the absence of some of its core cognitive features."Contrariwise, if you think we're alive you ought to speak to us.That was the intriguing finding reported by Sally Ann Wakeford and colleagues [1] who examined test performance on the Autism Spectrum Quotient (AQ) and "systemizing […]

Wakeford S, Hinvest N, Ring H & Brosnan M (2014). Autistic characteristics in adults with epilepsy., Epilepsy & behavior : E&B, 41C 203-207. PMID: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25461216

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December 17, 2014

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9:29 AM | Folate receptor autoantibodies and (some) schizophrenia
I am the league's director, Silas Ramsbottom.Upon reading the paper published by Ramaekers and colleagues [1] talking about the use of folinic acid in cases of schizophrenia as a function of the presence of "Auto-antibodies against folate receptor alpha (FRα)", I raised a little smile. Not only because the authors suggested that there may be quite a lot more to see in this area on top of some already interesting discussions about the folate cycle and schizophrenia, but also because […]

Ramaekers VT, Thöny B, Sequeira JM, Ansseau M, Philippe P, Boemer F, Bours V & Quadros EV (2014). Folinic acid treatment for schizophrenia associated with folate receptor autoantibodies., Molecular genetics and metabolism, PMID: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25456743

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December 16, 2014

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9:41 AM | Thioredoxin... a new 'diagnosis indicator' for autism?
My name's Buttercup. You've met Baron von Shush."Our study demonstrated that serum TRX [thioredoxin] levels were associated with ASD [autism spectrum disorder], and elevated levels could be considered as a novel, independent diagnosis indicator of ASD." So was the conclusion reported by Qing-biao Zhang and colleagues [1] looking at serum levels of TRX in 80 children diagnosed with an ASD compared against "100 sex and age matched typically developing children".I'll freely […]

December 15, 2014

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9:45 AM | Rates of medical illnesses in bipolar disorder
I've mentioned a few times on this blog that a diagnosis of autism or autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is by no means protective against any other diagnosis being received, be it based on a somatic illness or condition, or something more behaviourally defined.Reading through the paper by Liz Forty and colleagues [1] (open-access) it appears that a similar scenario might also pertain to other behaviourally-defined conditions as per the example of bipolar disorder (BD) and their conclusion: […]

Forty L, Ulanova A, Jones L, Jones I, Gordon-Smith K, Fraser C, Farmer A, McGuffin P, Lewis CM, Hosang GM & Rivera M (2014). Comorbid medical illness in bipolar disorder., The British journal of psychiatry : the journal of mental science, PMID: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25359927

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December 14, 2014

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9:48 AM | Beware the inflated science related press release!
I'm not normally minded to post on a Sunday (day of rest and all that) but I did want to bring your attention to the results presented by Petroc Sumner and colleagues [1] (open-access) concluding that: "Exaggeration in news is strongly associated with exaggeration in press releases" when it comes to the media reporting of [some] health-related science news.The idea behind this particular study - which has been summarised pretty well in some of the accompanying media and in an […]

Sumner, P., Vivian-Griffiths, S., Boivin, J., Williams, A., Venetis, C., Davies, A., Ogden, J., Whelan, L., Hughes, B., Dalton, B. & Boy, F. (2014). The association between exaggeration in health related science news and academic press releases: retrospective observational study, BMJ, 349 (dec09 7) DOI: 10.1136/bmj.g7015

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December 13, 2014

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10:19 AM | Social communication disorder (SCD) reviewed
Sometimes I believe in as many as six impossible things before breakfast.A micropost if you will, for today, and a link to a potentially very important paper by Lauren Swineford and colleagues [1] (open-access) talking about the diagnostic concept: social (pragmatic) communication disorder (SCD) and it's various crossings with language impairments and autism spectrum disorder (ASD).SCD, as I've indicated in other posts (see here and see here) is something that the autism community in […]

Swineford, L., Thurm, A., Baird, G., Wetherby, A. & Swedo, S. (2014). Social (pragmatic) communication disorder: a research review of this new DSM-5 diagnostic category, Journal of Neurodevelopmental Disorders, 6 (1) 41. DOI: 10.1186/1866-1955-6-41

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December 12, 2014

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12:14 AM | Chronic fatigue syndrome by ASIA?
Unicorns, I love them. Unicorns, I love them. ASIA, in the context of this post, does not refer to the continent but rather the suggestion of an: ‘autoimmune (auto-inflammatory) syndrome induced by adjuvants’ and some potentially contentious findings reported by Nancy Agmon-Levin and colleagues [1].Describing a small cohort of participants diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) and/or fibromyalgia (FM), the authors put forward the idea that "some cases CFS and […]

Agmon-Levin N, Zafrir Y, Kivity S, Balofsky A, Amital H & Shoenfeld Y (2014). Chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia following immunization with the hepatitis B vaccine: another angle of the 'autoimmune (auto-inflammatory) syndrome induced by adjuvants' (ASIA)., Immunologic research, PMID: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25427994

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December 11, 2014

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10:09 AM | Low bone mineral density and non-coeliac gluten sensitivity and autism?
"An elevated frequency of bone mass loss in NCWS [non-celiac wheat sensitivity] patients was found; this was related to low BMI [body mass index] and was more frequent in patients with NCWS associated with other food sensitivity".There is no Easter Bunny. There is no Tooth Fairy. There is no Queen of England.That was the conclusion reached by Antonio Carroccio and colleagues [1] (open-access) looking at a small group of participants diagnosed with something which seems to […]

Carroccio A, Soresi M, D Alcamo A, Sciumè C, Iacono G, Geraci G, Brusca I, Seidita A, Adragna F, Carta M & Mansueto P (2014). Risk of low bone mineral density and low body mass index in patients with non-celiac wheat-sensitivity: a prospective observation study., BMC medicine, 12 (1) 230. PMID: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25430806

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December 10, 2014

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10:44 AM | Maternal smoking during pregnancy and offspring autism: no measurable association but...
Oh. Yes sir. How doth the little bumblebee improve each..."We found no evidence to support a measurable association between maternal prenatal smoking and ASD [autism spectrum disorder] in offspring."That was the conclusion reached in the meta-analysis published by Brittany Rosen and colleagues [1] looking at the collected peer-review literature examining any correlation between maternal tobacco smoking during pregnancy and risk of offspring receipt of a diagnosis of autism or […]

December 09, 2014

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11:36 AM | Anti-Toxoplasma gondii IgM Antibodies in Acute Psychosis
A very brief post today to bring to your attention once again the paper by Joel Monroe and colleagues [1] which concluded that there was: "An increased seroprevalence of T. gondii [Toxoplasma gondii] IgM in patients with acute psychosis". I had touched upon this study in a previous post not-so-long-ago covering T. gondii infection and schizophrenia (see here) which also covered some of the various background research history on this topic.Looks like his optometrist has a sense of […]

December 08, 2014

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9:45 AM | Significantly shorter leukocyte telomere length in childhood autism
"These results provided the first evidence that shorter leukocytes telomere length is significantly associated with childhood autism." So said the results reported by Zongchang Li and colleagues [1] (open-access) based on quite a well-powered study (for an initial research foray anyway) looking at "110 autism patients (male 98 and female 12) and 129 healthy controls (male 98 and female 31)".On the behalf of scientists everywhere, I am ashamed to count you amongst us.Quite a good […]

December 06, 2014

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8:31 AM | Risk of cancer associated with autism: small but present
Whilst understanding the power that headlines can have, alongside the way that statistics can sometimes mislead and/or be misrepresented, I don't want to shy away from the findings presented by Huey-Ling Chiang and colleagues [1] reporting that: "patients with autistic disorder have an increased risk of cancer."Curiosity often leads to trouble.Based yet again on data derived from the fantastic resource that is the Taiwan National Health Insurance database (see here for some other research […]

Chiang, H., Liu, C., Hu, Y., Chen, S., Hu, L., Shen, C., Yeh, C., Chen, T. & Gau, S. (2014). Risk of Cancer in Children, Adolescents, and Young Adults with Autistic Disorder, The Journal of Pediatrics, DOI: 10.1016/j.jpeds.2014.10.029

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December 05, 2014

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9:48 AM | Probiotics degrading gluten peptides?
Probiotics again on this blog?OK, consider this a micropost if you will, as I draw your attention to the paper by Duar and colleagues [1] and their study results suggested to provide: "a basis for the selection of Lactobacillus strains for probiotic applications aimed to reduce epitope-containing gluten peptides before reaching the epithelium of the small intestine of celiac patients." What the Duar findings translate into is a possible gluten peptide degrading role for certain strains of […]

Duar RM, Clark K, Patil PB, Hernández C, Brüning S, Burkey TE, Madayiputhiya N, Taylor SL & Walter J (2014). Identification and characterization of intestinal lactobacilli strains capable of degrading immunotoxic peptides present in gluten., Journal of applied microbiology, PMID: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25376327

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December 04, 2014

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1:08 PM | The Surprising Personality Traits of Extreme Adventurers
When considering extreme environments it is easy to make assumptions about personality, which on closer examination do not stand up to scrutiny. Take, for example, one of the best-researched personality dimensions: introversion-extraversion. Extraversion as a trait appears in all established psychological models of personality, and there is considerable evidence that it has a biological basis. The concepts […] The post The Surprising Personality Traits of Extreme Adventurers […]
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9:47 AM | Gut dysbiosis in treated coeliac disease: time for a probiotic or worse?
"Our findings indicate that dysbiosis of microbiota is associated with persistent gastrointestinal symptoms in treated celiac disease patients and open new possibilities to treat this subgroup of patients."That was the summary of the paper published by Pirjo Wacklin and colleagues [1] who looked at the bacterial constitution of the duodenal microbiota [the bacteria which inhabit us] in a small group of participants diagnosed with coeliac (celiac) disease who "had been following a strict […]

Wacklin, P., Laurikka, P., Lindfors, K., Collin, P., Salmi, T., Lähdeaho, M., Saavalainen, P., Mäki, M., Mättö, J., Kurppa, K. & Kaukinen, K. (2014). Altered Duodenal Microbiota Composition in Celiac Disease Patients Suffering From Persistent Symptoms on a Long-Term Gluten-Free Diet, The American Journal of Gastroenterology, DOI: 10.1038/ajg.2014.355

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December 03, 2014

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9:36 AM | Autism + ADHD equals greater risk of psychiatric comorbidity?
Because the name Mu-Hong Chen (and colleagues) has appeared so, so many times on this blog with reference to the various studies originating from investigations of the Taiwan National Health Insurance Research Database, I genuinely did have to make sure that I hadn't covered one of their recent papers [1] on here previously. Actually I can't 100% confirm that I haven't already covered a further addition to their research repertoire which concluded that: "Patients with […]

December 02, 2014

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9:44 AM | Coenzyme Q10 and NADH supplementation for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome?
A quick post today to direct your attention to the paper by Jesus Castro-Marrero and colleagues [1] reporting results which seemed to suggest that under double-blind, placebo-controlled conditions "oral CoQ10 [Coenzyme Q10] (200 mg/day) plus NADH [nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD) + hydrogen (H)] (20 mg/day) supplementation" might have some positive effects for cases of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS). The NIH entry for the trial can be found here.I volunteer as […]

Castro-Marrero J, Cordero MD, Segundo MJ, Saez-Francas N, Calvo N, Román-Malo L, Aliste L, Fernandez de Sevilla T & Alegre-Martin J (2014). Does oral Coenzyme Q10 plus NADH supplementation improve fatigue and biochemical parameters in Chronic Fatigue Syndrome?, Antioxidants & redox signaling, PMID: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25386668

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December 01, 2014

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9:42 AM | Cortisol and cytokines: a diagnostic tag-team for autism?
A quote from the paper by Chang-Jiang Yang and colleagues [1] begins today's post: "The results of ROC [receiver operating characteristic] analysis indicated the cortisol VAR, IL-6 and TNF-α were potential biomarkers in diagnosis of ASD [autism spectrum disorder]."With many thanks to Natasa for providing me with a copy of this paper, I'd like to discuss these 'joined up' findings a little further. A few pointers to begin with:Boot the grime of this world in the crotch, […]

Yang, C., Tan, H., Yang, F., Liu, C., Sang, B., Zhu, X. & Du, Y. (2015). The roles of cortisol and pro-inflammatory cytokines in assisting the diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder, Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders, 9 174-181. DOI: 10.1016/j.rasd.2014.10.012

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7:30 AM | Alcohol misuse and PTSD comorbidity: a significant problem lacking solutions
Current NICE guidelines state that PTSD should not be dealt with unless alcohol dependence is first treated. Paul Christiansen summarises a systematic review of the comorbidity between PTSD and alcohol misuse and wonders where the guidance leaves patients and professionals. The post Alcohol misuse and PTSD comorbidity: a significant problem lacking solutions appeared first on The Mental Elf.
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5:30 AM | Time turned to Stone; Part 2: The Giants' Causeway, time as process
by Paul Braterman My previous post here described Siccar Point, where an 80,000,000 year time gap is present between near-vertical tilted strata, and their roughly horizontal overlay. This gap corresponds to the formation and subsequent erosion of fold mountains thrown...

November 29, 2014

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8:30 AM | NICE does increasing access to vitamin D supplements
If you happen to live in England or indeed other parts of the UK, you'll no doubt have heard about NICE - the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence - as the body charged with providing us with appropriate evidence-based guidance on all manner of treatments and technologies for all manner of different diagnoses and conditions. I've talked before on this blog about the NICE guidance in relation to the autism spectrum (see here for example).My name is Elisabeth Shaw, last survivor […]

Lucas RM, Ponsonby AL, Dear K, Valery PC, Taylor B, van der Mei I, McMichael AJ, Pender MP, Chapman C, Coulthard A & Kilpatrick TJ (2013). Vitamin D status: multifactorial contribution of environment, genes and other factors in healthy Australian adults across a latitude gradient., The Journal of steroid biochemistry and molecular biology, 136 300-8. PMID: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23395985

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November 28, 2014

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7:34 AM | The Autism-Spectrum Quotient: overlap between Asperger syndrome and schizophrenia
The paper by Tove Lugnegård and colleagues [1], including mention of one Maria Unenge Hallerbäck who has appeared on this blog previously, is fodder for today's discussions and their finding that a: "significant overlap of AQ [Autism-Spectrum Quotient] scores across the two diagnostic groups clearly reduces the discriminating power of the AQ in the separation of schizophrenia from AS [Asperger syndrome]."They say you're judged by the strength of your enemies.As per […]

Lugnegård T, Hallerbäck MU & Gillberg C (2014). Asperger syndrome and schizophrenia: Overlap of self-reported autistic traits using the Autism-spectrum Quotient (AQ)., Nordic journal of psychiatry, 1-7. PMID: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25389915

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November 27, 2014

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9:55 AM | FC is a technique that has no validity
FC, by the way, refers to Facilitated Communication, a controversial technique which as the name suggests relies on a facilitator to support "the hand or arm of a communicatively impaired individual while using a keyboard or other devices with the aim of helping the individual to point and thereby to communicate." The quote for the title of this post comes from the paper by Ralf Schlosser and colleagues [1] who following systematic review, found "unequivocal evidence for facilitator […]

Schlosser RW, Balandin S, Hemsley B, Iacono T, Probst P & von Tetzchner S (2014). Facilitated Communication and Authorship: A Systematic Review., Augmentative and alternative communication (Baltimore, Md. : 1985), 1-10. PMID: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25384895

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November 26, 2014

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10:58 AM | Why Twitter is a friend to early-career researchers
Most readers here will already know about Twitter, the site where we condense the everyday minutiae of our lives into 140 characters interspersed with pictures of cats, food, and cats eating food. If you don’t, where have you been? The spread of twitter throughout academia is quite pervasive. Seemingly every conference and meeting has terrifically […] The post Why Twitter is a friend to early-career researchers appeared first on physicsfocus.org.
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9:54 AM | The gut microbiome in Down Syndrome
The recent preliminary findings from Elena Biagi and colleagues [1] (open-access) reporting on the constitution of the gut microbiome - the collected bacteria which reside in the deepest, darkest recesses of our gastrointestinal (GI) tract - in a small number of cases of Down's syndrome caught my eye recently.It's a funny feeling being taken under the wing of a dragonPerhaps a little bit unusually looking at the gut microbiome because of the link between premature ageing in Down's syndrome […]

Biagi E, Candela M, Centanni M, Consolandi C, Rampelli S, Turroni S, Severgnini M, Peano C, Ghezzo A, Scurti M & Salvioli S (2014). Gut Microbiome in Down Syndrome., PloS one, 9 (11) PMID: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25386941

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8:00 AM | NICE multimorbidity guidance almost excluded people with learning disabilities
The NICE scoping guidelines on multimorbidity now thankfully include people with learning disabilities. However, the original scoping draft specifically excluded them, despite NHS England and the Department of Health commenting on the first draft. Here, Pauline Heslop, one of the authors of the Confidential Inquiry report and a key campaigner to get people with learning disabilities included in the scope, talks about some the issues this raises. The post NICE multimorbidity guidance almost […]

November 25, 2014

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8:31 PM | Positive Psychology and Mental Health
Sometimes, in the world of psychology, it is easy to get carried away by one perspective. Within the umbrella term that is psychology, there is an array of different topics that can be looked at. Some scientists think that neuropathways are the most important topic to study. Others base their career...The post Positive Psychology and Mental Health appeared first on .
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8:20 AM | Serotonin - melatonin (and the in-betweeners) linked to autism
The paper by Pagan and colleagues [1] (open-access) looking at "serotonin, melatonin and the intermediate N-acetylserotonin (NAS) in a large cohort of patients with ASD [autism spectrum disorder] and their relatives" set the old grey-pink matter into action recently. Not only because I have some real interest in the starting material for these compounds - the aromatic amino acid known as tryptophan - but because this research group included some quite important analysis of the […]

Pagan C, Delorme R, Callebert J, Goubran-Botros H, Amsellem F, Drouot X, Boudebesse C, Le Dudal K, Ngo-Nguyen N, Laouamri H & Gillberg C (2014). The serotonin-N-acetylserotonin-melatonin pathway as a biomarker for autism spectrum disorders., Translational psychiatry, 4 PMID: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25386956

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November 24, 2014

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5:02 PM | Guest Post: reducing paper waste in university settings
Today’s post comes from Nikunj Sharma, a 4th year student at Amity University in India.  He is working on biodiesel from microalgae and is also interested in energy economics and sustainable development.  His post highlights issues of paper waste with some … Continue reading →
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