Posts

January 02, 2015

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7:28 PM | HIV vaccines may make things worse
Despite what conspiracy theorists say, there is no cure for HIV. Not that people aren’t feverously working hard to find one, it is just really hard to do. To illustrate that point researchers have found that vaccines designed to protect against HIV can backfire and lead to increased rates of infection. This unfortunate effect has been […]

Carnathan DG, Wetzel KS, Yu J, Lee ST, Johnson BA, Paiardini M, Yan J, Morrow MP, Sardesai NY, Weiner DB & Ertl HC (2014). Activated CD4+CCR5+ T cells in the rectum predict increased SIV acquisition in SIVGag/Tat-vaccinated rhesus macaques., Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, PMID: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25550504

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1:00 PM | New Year’s Special: Flies in Space (and other news from 2014)
Fruit fly researchers published thousands of papers in 2014, and several of them were picked up by the media. I even reviewed a couple of these popular stories on this blog. In April, the Seghal lab published a paper showing that sleep loss in young flies led to abnormal brain development and behavioral deficits in […]

Baudier K.M., Nirali Patel, Katherine L. Diangelus, Sean O'Donnell & Daniel R. Marenda (2014). Erythritol, a Non-Nutritive Sugar Alcohol Sweetener and the Main Component of Truvia®, Is a Palatable Ingested Insecticide, PLoS ONE, 9 (6) e98949. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0098949

Taylor K., Michael D. George, Rachel Morgan, Tangi Smallwood, Ann S. Hammonds, Patrick M. Fuller, Perot Saelao, Jeff Alley, Charles A. Fuller & Deborah A. Kimbrell & (2014). Toll Mediated Infection Response Is Altered by Gravity and Spaceflight in Drosophila, PLoS ONE, 9 (1) e86485. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0086485

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8:19 AM | Vitamin D and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome continued
Hello again and a very warm welcome back to Questioning Answers in 2015. The year, according to a popular sequel, we were all supposed to be benefiting from hoverboards and wearing self-drying clothes. It didn't quite work out like that (although there are still 52 weeks left for such dreams to come to fruition).When we got adopted by a bald guy, I thought this would be more like Annie.We start the new blogging year with a few comments on a rather interesting, if disappointing, set of results […]

Witham MD, Adams F, McSwiggan S, Kennedy G, Kabir G, Belch JJ & Khan F (2014). Effect of intermittent vitamin D3 on vascular function and symptoms in chronic fatigue syndrome - A randomised controlled trial., Nutrition, metabolism, and cardiovascular diseases : NMCD, PMID: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25455721

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January 01, 2015

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6:27 PM | New cancer treatment targets telomeres
Cancer, right now we don’t have much to fight it besides the standard surgery or chemo, neither of which is a great option. Well now scientists have targeted telomeres with a small molecule called 6-thiodG that takes advantage of the cell’s ‘biological clock’ to kill cancer cells and shrink tumor growth. Ideally this new technique will help […]

Mender I, Gryaznov S, Dikmen ZG, Wright WE & Shay JW (2014). Induction of Telomere Dysfunction Mediated by the Telomerase Substrate Precursor 6-Thio-2'-Deoxyguanosine., Cancer discovery, PMID: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25516420

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December 31, 2014

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6:48 PM | A surprising discovery about fast food portion sizes
Since the noticeable expansion of most of the worlds waistlines, people have come to lay the blame (amongst other things) almost squarely on fast food and ever increasing portion sizes. While the world and it’s leaders are dealing with this mysterious problem by trying to help push fast food chains in the direction of change, it might […]

Urban LE, Roberts SB, Fierstein JL, Gary CE and Lichtenstein AH. (2014). Temporal Trends in Fast-Food Restaurant Energy, Sodium, Saturated Fat and Trans Fat Content in the United States, 1996-2013, Preventing Chronic Disease , Other:

Urban LE, Roberts SB, Fierstein JL, Gary CE, Lichtenstein AH, (2014). Sodium, Saturated Fat and Trans Fat Content Per 1,000 Kilocalories: Temporal Trends in Fast-Food Restaurants, United States, 2000-2013, Preventing Chronic Disease , Other:

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2:18 PM | The Pine Marten of the Mourne Mountains
The Mourne Mountains situated in the south eastern corner of Northern Ireland are a granite mountain range. The area is popular with tourists, hillwalkers and those interested in wildlife. The Pine Marten One of the more elusive mammals present in the region is the pine marten, a species that has increased in range over the last 30 […]

O’Mahony, D., Turner, P. & O’Reilly, C. (2014). Pine marten (Martes martes) abundance in an insular mountainous region using non-invasive techniques, European Journal of Wildlife Research, DOI: 10.1007/s10344-014-0878-0

Sheehy, E., O’Meara, D., O’Reilly, C., Smart, A. & Lawton, C. (2013). A non-invasive approach to determining pine marten abundance and predation, European Journal of Wildlife Research, 60 (2) 223-236. DOI: 10.1007/s10344-013-0771-2

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2:18 PM | The Pine Marten of the Mourne Mountains
The Mourne Mountains situated in the south eastern corner of Northern Ireland are a granite mountain range. The area is popular with tourists, hillwalkers and those interested in wildlife. The Pine Marten One of the more elusive mammals present in the region is the pine marten, a species that has increased in range over the last 30 […]

O’Mahony, D., Turner, P. & O’Reilly, C. (2014). Pine marten (Martes martes) abundance in an insular mountainous region using non-invasive techniques, European Journal of Wildlife Research, DOI: 10.1007/s10344-014-0878-0

Sheehy, E., O’Meara, D., O’Reilly, C., Smart, A. & Lawton, C. (2013). A non-invasive approach to determining pine marten abundance and predation, European Journal of Wildlife Research, 60 (2) 223-236. DOI: 10.1007/s10344-013-0771-2

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1:00 PM | It May Be A New Year, But It’s The Same Old Brain
Biology concepts – learning, habit, long term potentiation, neural plasticity50% of Americans will make at least one New Year resolution, but a quarter of them won’t even make it one week before relapsing. However, those who write down a resolution are much more likely to make changes than those who don’t make a specific demand of themselves.I swear, this year I’m going to get these posts written a month in advance. Really, I mean it this time. I know I said the same […]

Wang, L., Li, F., Wang, D., Xie, K., Wang, D., Shen, X. & Tsien, J. (2011). NMDA Receptors in Dopaminergic Neurons Are Crucial for Habit Learning, Neuron, 72 (6) 1055-1066. DOI: 10.1016/j.neuron.2011.10.019

Wang, W., Dever, D., Lowe, J., Storey, G., Bhansali, A., Eck, E., Nitulescu, I., Weimer, J. & Bamford, N. (2012). Regulation of prefrontal excitatory neurotransmission by dopamine in the nucleus accumbens core, The Journal of Physiology, 590 (16) 3743-3769. DOI: 10.1113/jphysiol.2012.235200

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Editor's Pick

December 30, 2014

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10:50 PM | Severe Lyme arthritis: Gagging on GAGs
Janis Weis' group has been mapping genetic variants that make laboratory mice prone to severe Lyme arthritis.  One of these variants is described in a paper that appeared in The Journal of Clinical Investigation earlier this year.  The affected gene encodes the enzyme β-glucuronidase, which carries out a critical function in the lysosome. β-glucuronidase cooperates with other degradative enzymes in the lysosome to break down glycosaminoglycans (GAGs) into their individual […]

Bramwell KK, Ma Y, Weis JH, Chen X, Zachary JF, Teuscher C & Weis JJ (2014). Lysosomal β-glucuronidase regulates Lyme and rheumatoid arthritis severity., The Journal of Clinical Investigation, 124 (1) 311-320. PMID: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24334460

Bramwell KK, Teuscher C & Weis JJ (2014). Forward genetic approaches for elucidation of novel regulators of Lyme arthritis severity., Frontiers in Cellular and Infection Microbiology, 4 76. PMID: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24926442

Pancewicz S, Popko J, Rutkowski R, Knaś M, Grygorczuk S, Guszczyn T, Bruczko M, Szajda S, Zajkowska J, Kondrusik M & Sierakowski S (2009). Activity of lysosomal exoglycosidases in serum and synovial fluid in patients with chronic Lyme and rheumatoid arthritis., Scandinavian Journal of Infectious Diseases, 41 (8) 584-589. PMID: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19513935

Jiang D, Liang J, Fan J, Yu S, Chen S, Luo Y, Prestwich GD, Mascarenhas MM, Garg HG, Quinn DA & Homer RJ (2005). Regulation of lung injury and repair by Toll-like receptors and hyaluronan., Nature Medicine, 11 (11) 1173-1179. PMID: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16244651

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6:07 PM | Steak raises cancer risk and now we know why
Some of you may remember a recent study showing why red meat is bad for the heart, while now there is a study showing why steak — or in particular red meats — raise the risk of cancer. To be clear, I am still very much a red meat eater and this is no way […]

Samraj, A., Pearce, O., Läubli, H., Crittenden, A., Bergfeld, A., Banda, K., Gregg, C., Bingman, A., Secrest, P., Diaz, S. & Varki, N. (2014). A red meat-derived glycan promotes inflammation and cancer progression, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 201417508. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1417508112

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5:04 PM | Margaret Oakley Dayhoff, going on #ThatOtherShirt.
I’ve been a fan of Margaret Oakley Dayhoff for a long time. One of the most popular posts on this blog is the one linked in this tweet below. I can tell when students have been assigned a project to read up on her, because suddenly I see an influx of hits to the page. […]

Strasser B. (2011). The Experimenter's Museum: GenBank, Natural History, and the Moral Economies of Biomedicine, Isis, 102 (1) 60-96. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1086/658657

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3:21 PM | 9 Weird and Interesting Facts about Caecilians
There are about 200 species of caecilians (pronounced ‘seh-SILL-yuns’) but it's highly unlikely you have or will ever encounter one.  Why? Because they live underground, burrowing through loose soil and ground litter with their long, snake-like bodies. Read on to learn 9 weird and interesting facts about these unusual creatures. Bombay caecilian (Ichthyophis bombayensis) Credit - Wikicommons

Mohun, S., Davies, W., Bowmaker, J., Pisani, D., Himstedt, W., Gower, D., Hunt, D. & Wilkinson, M. (2010). Identification and characterization of visual pigments in caecilians (Amphibia: Gymnophiona), an order of limbless vertebrates with rudimentary eyes, Journal of Experimental Biology, 213 (20) 3586-3592. DOI: 10.1242/jeb.045914

Kupfer, A., Müller, H., Antoniazzi, M., Jared, C., Greven, H., Nussbaum, R. & Wilkinson, M. (2006). Parental investment by skin feeding in a caecilian amphibian, Nature, 440 (7086) 926-929. DOI: 10.1038/nature04403

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9:42 AM | 2014 autism research review on Questioning Answers
I like warm hugs...Time flies doesn't it? And here we are yet again at the end of another research year and a time to reflect on the blogging highlights of 2014 on Questioning Answers. Once again the question is: are we any further forward when it comes to the autism spectrum, it's aetiology, nature and improving quality of life for those on the spectrum?Once again, I'm going to be optimistic and say 'yes' in some respects we are, as autism research continues at a pace. The caveat being […]

Masi A, Quintana DS, Glozier N, Lloyd AR, Hickie IB & Guastella AJ (2014). Cytokine aberrations in autism spectrum disorder: a systematic review and meta-analysis., Molecular psychiatry, PMID: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24934179

Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network Surveillance Year 2010 Principal Investigators & Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) (2014). Prevalence of autism spectrum disorder among children aged 8 years - autism and developmental disabilities monitoring network, 11 sites, United States, 2010., Morbidity and mortality weekly report. Surveillance summaries (Washington, D.C. : 2002), 63 (2) 1-21. PMID: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24670961

Goh S, Dong Z, Zhang Y, DiMauro S & Peterson BS (2014). Mitochondrial dysfunction as a neurobiological subtype of autism spectrum disorder: evidence from brain imaging., JAMA psychiatry, 71 (6) 665-71. PMID: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24718932

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December 29, 2014

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6:27 PM | Estrogen worsens allergic reactions
Are you a woman? Do you find yourself allergic to everything, but water (and sometimes that is up for debate)? Worse, does your husband, boyfriend, or male friend seem to be impervious to any sort of allergy? Well I have good news and bad news, the good news is it isn’t you — or him. The […]

Hox, V., Desai, A., Bandara, G., Gilfillan, A., Metcalfe, D. & Olivera, A. (2014). Estrogen increases the severity of anaphylaxis in female mice through enhanced endothelial nitric oxide synthase expression and nitric oxide production, Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, DOI: 10.1016/j.jaci.2014.11.003

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6:11 PM | Smartphone Apps for the Treatment of Eating Disorders
As of January 2014, over 50% of adults in the United States own a smartphone; unsurprisingly, there has been a growth in the number of mobile applications (apps) aimed at providing health care services for various mental (and physical) health problems, including eating disorders. The purpose of mobile health technologies is to utilize the functionality of smartphones to deliver a wide range of health services, including providing psychoeducation, treatment services and/or recovery […]

Juarascio AS, Manasse SM, Goldstein SP, Forman EM & Butryn ML (2014). Review of Smartphone Applications for the Treatment of Eating Disorders., European eating disorders review : the journal of the Eating Disorders Association, PMID: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25303148

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5:10 PM | 8 Weird Animal Penises
Penis, the primary sexual organ that male and hermaphrodite animals use to inseminate sexually receptive mates (usually females and hermaphrodites respectively) during sex. Almost all species use some variation of the organ to transfer sperm into females' eggs in order to create more offsprings. However, thanks to evolution, some species have come up with some really remarkable and weird

McCracken, K. (2000). The 20-cm Spiny Penis of the Argentine Lake Duck (Oxyura vittata), The Auk, 117 (3) 820. DOI: 10.1642/0004-8038(2000)117[0820:TCSPOT]2.0.CO;2

Sueur, J., Mackie, D. & Windmill, J. (2011). So Small, So Loud: Extremely High Sound Pressure Level from a Pygmy Aquatic Insect (Corixidae, Micronectinae), PLoS ONE, 6 (6) DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0021089

Yoshizawa, K., Ferreira, R., Kamimura, Y. & Lienhard, C. (2014). Female Penis, Male Vagina, and Their Correlated Evolution in a Cave Insect, Current Biology, 24 (9) 1006-1010. DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2014.03.022

Engh, A., Van Horn, R., Szykman, M., Holekamp, K. & Boydston, E. (2007). Courtship and mating in free-living spotted hyenas, Behaviour, 144 (7) 815-846. DOI: 10.1163/156853907781476418

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3:42 PM | Echo-location in humans
We can echo-locate but it is only possible to master well if blind. This is because, to be well done, echolocation uses parts of the visual cortex. A few years ago Thaler et al published the details (see citation below). Here is their description of this natural ability. “The enormous potential of this ‘natural’ echolocation […]

Thaler, L., Arnott, S. & Goodale, M. (2011). Neural Correlates of Natural Human Echolocation in Early and Late Blind Echolocation Experts, PLoS ONE, 6 (5) DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0020162

Buckingham, G., Milne, J., Byrne, C. & Goodale, M. (2014). The Size-Weight Illusion Induced Through Human Echolocation, Psychological Science, DOI: 10.1177/0956797614561267

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10:48 AM | Very long chain acyl-CoA dehydrogenase (VLCAD) deficiency and autism?
I started this blogging year (2014) with a post talking about the need for further research consideration for a possible role of inborn errors of metabolism in relation to the presentation of at least some autism (see here). It is therefore timely that I (almost) end this year's blogging odyssey with reference to the paper by Amy Brown and colleagues [1] and their suggestion that although: "VLCAD deficiency does not have a significant impact on cognitive or motor skills" there may still be […]

Brown A, Crowe L, Andresen BS, Anderson V & Boneh A (2014). Neurodevelopmental profiles of children with very long chain acyl-CoA dehydrogenase deficiency diagnosed by newborn screening., Molecular genetics and metabolism, PMID: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25456746

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