Posts

January 24, 2015

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2:39 PM | Urban Legends In The World of Clinical Trials
Ethnographer Jill A. Fisher offers a fascinating look at the rumors and urban legends that circulate among the volunteers who get paid to take part in medical research: Stopped hearts, amputated toes and NASA Fisher visited six clinical trial facilities across the USA. All of these facilities were exclusively devoted to running phase I trials, testing new drugs to see if they are safe in humans. She spent a total of 450 hours in the field, getting to know the 'guinea pigs', and the staf

Fisher JA (2015). Stopped hearts, amputated toes and NASA: contemporary legends among healthy volunteers in US phase I clinical trials., Sociology of health & illness, 37 (1) 127-42. PMID: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25601069

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7:00 AM | An approach towards ethics: primate sociality
Moral decision making is one of the major torrents in human behavior. It often overrides other ways of making judgments, it generates conflicting sets of cultural values and is reinforced by them. Such conflicts might even occur in the head of some unfortunate individual, which makes the process really creative. On the other hand ethical […]

Wlodarski, R. & Dunbar, R.I. (2013). Examining the possible functions of kissing in romantic relationships., Archives of Sexual Behavior, 42 (8) 1415-23. PMID: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24114390

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12:16 AM | Mothers don’t speak clearly to their babies
People have a distinctive way of talking to babies and small children: We speak more slowly, using a sing-song voice, and tend to use cutesy words like “tummy”. While we might be inclined to think that we talk this way because it is easier for children to understand, new research suggests that, surprisingly, mothers may actually […]

Andrew Martin, Thomas Schatz, Maarten Versteegh, Kouki Miyazawa, Reiko Mazuka, Emmanuel Dupoux, and Alejandrina Cristia. (2015). Kouki Miyazawa, Reiko Mazuka, Emmanuel Dupoux, and Alejandrina Cristia. Mothers Speak Less Clearly to Infants Than to Adults: A Comprehensive Test of the Hyperarticulation Hypothesis., Psychological Science, Other:

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January 23, 2015

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8:25 PM | Exotic Pets: Emerging Risk Factor for Salmonellosis in Children
The increasing trend of having exotic reptiles as pets may lead to an increase in reptile associated infections such as Salmonellosis, especially in the children in the household.

Murphy D & Oshin F (2014). Reptile-associated salmonellosis in children aged under 5 years in South West England., Archives of disease in childhood, PMID: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25538189

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6:53 PM | First Partially Successful Vaccine Developed Against Prion Disease in Deer
The first partially successful vaccine against a prion disease (Chronic Wasting Disease in white tailed deer) is good news, but the journey has just begun.

Goñi, F., Mathiason, C., Yim, L., Wong, K., Hayes-Klug, J., Nalls, A., Peyser, D., Estevez, V., Denkers, N., Xu, J. & Osborn, D. (2015). Mucosal immunization with an attenuated Salmonella vaccine partially protects white-tailed deer from chronic wasting disease, Vaccine, 33 (5) 726-733. DOI: 10.1016/j.vaccine.2014.11.035

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January 22, 2015

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10:50 PM | Belief’s effect on biochemistry in cases of addiction
Ever wonder what makes people susceptible to addiction? Think about it, some people can stop addictive painkillers without a problem and others, well others are not so lucky. So the big question is are there more than biophysical factors at play in addiction? A new study shows that cognitive beliefs play a significant role in a […]

Gu, X., Lohrenz, T., Salas, R., Baldwin, P., Soltani, A., Kirk, U., Cinciripini, P. & Montague, P. (2015). Belief about nicotine selectively modulates value and reward prediction error signals in smokers, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 201416639. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1416639112

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7:06 PM | Black Tar Heroin: Lower HIV Transmission vs Higher Bacterial Infections?
The rise of street-cut, unsanitary preparations of Black Tar Heroin has allegedly reduced HIV transmission but at the cost of higher numbers of fatal, bacterial infections, notably botulism, clusters of which have been regularly identified in California.

Ciccarone, D. & Bourgois, P. (2003). Explaining the Geographical Variation of HIV Among Injection Drug Users in the United States, Substance Use & Misuse, 38 (14) 2049-2063. DOI: 10.1081/JA-120025125

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6:58 PM | Magnetic domains get a DUI for driving under the influence of DMI
claimtoken-54c26d19d7aea This Week’s Pick of the Past article took a retrospective look at the excitement that magnetic bubble memory caused in the 1970s.  The basic... The post Magnetic domains get a DUI for driving under the influence of DMI appeared first on Spin and Tonic.

Petit, D., Seem, P., Tillette, M., Mansell, R. & Cowburn, R. (2015). Two-dimensional control of field-driven magnetic bubble movement using Dzyaloshinskii–Moriya interactions, Applied Physics Letters, 106 (2) 22402. DOI: 10.1063/1.4905600

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6:58 PM | Magnetic domains get a DUI for driving under the influence of DMI
claimtoken-54c26d19d7aea This Week’s Pick of the Past article took a retrospective look at the excitement that magnetic bubble memory caused in the 1970s.  The basic... The post Magnetic domains get a DUI for driving under the influence of DMI appeared first on Spin and Tonic.

Petit, D., Seem, P., Tillette, M., Mansell, R. & Cowburn, R. (2015). Two-dimensional control of field-driven magnetic bubble movement using Dzyaloshinskii–Moriya interactions, Applied Physics Letters, 106 (2) 22402. DOI: 10.1063/1.4905600

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5:45 PM | Double public goods games and acid-mediated tumor invasion
Although I’ve spent more time thinking about pairwise games, I’ve recently expanded my horizons to more serious considerations of public-goods games. They crop up frequently when we are modeling agents at the cellular level, since interacts are often indirect through production of some sort of common extra-cellular signal. Unlike the trivial to characterize two strategy […]

Peña, J., Lehmann, L. & Nöldeke, G. (2014). Gains from switching and evolutionary stability in multi-player matrix games., Journal of Theoretical Biology, 346 23-33. PMID: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24380778

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12:36 PM | Wolf to dog
Why were dogs domesticated so early? How was it done? A recent paper (citation below) looks at how much of dog behaviour might have been already in the wolf with no effort needed to produce it in the dog. All that may have been needed was to have the wolf lose its fear of man […]

Range, F. & Virányi, Z. (2015). Tracking the evolutionary origins of dog-human cooperation: the “Canine Cooperation Hypothesis”, Frontiers in Psychology, 5 DOI: 10.3389/fpsyg.2014.01582

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11:22 AM | At-risk kids avoiding an autism diagnosis?
The paper from Jonathan Green and colleagues [1] (open-access) discussing results based on a "two-site, two-arm assessor-blinded randomised controlled trial of families with an infant at familial high risk of autism aged 7–10 months, testing the adapted Video Interaction to Promote Positive Parenting (iBASIS-VIPP) versus no intervention" caught quite a few eyes recently. With accompanying media headlines such as 'Parents May Be Able to Lower Kids’ Autism Risk' you can imagine the […]

Jonathan Green, Tony Charman, Andrew Pickles, Ming W Wan, Mayada Elsabbagh, Vicky Slonims, Carol Taylor, Janet McNally, Rhonda Booth, Teodora Gliga & Emily J H Jones (2015). Parent-mediated intervention versus no intervention for infants at high risk of autism: a parallel, single-blind, randomised trial, The Lancet Psychiatry, Other:

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9:45 AM | Experts and autism screening triage
Whilst hopefully using the word 'triage' in the right way in the title of this post, I want to briefly talk today about the paper by Terisa Gabrielsen and colleagues [1] (full-text version here) and their observation that when it came to "brief but highly focused observations", a group of psychologists (well, two of them) "with toddler and autism expertise" missed over a third of cases of children who required additional examination/screening for autism or autistic traits.I am […]

Terisa P. Gabrielsen, Megan Farley, Leslie Speer, Michele Villalobos, Courtney N. Baker & Judith Miller (2015). Identifying Autism in a Brief Observation, Pediatrics, Other:

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January 21, 2015

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8:56 PM | Fish, mercury, and pregnancy: Good news for seafood lovers
People freak out when they hear mercury is in something and sometimes for good reasons. In vaccinations for example a very small amount of ethyl-mercury WAS used as a preservative in vaccines, people got scared so now it is not used in most vaccines. Methylmercury* however is found in seafood and larger fish in particular (in much, […]

Gutiérrez, F. & Leon, L. (2000). Elemental Mercury Embolism to the Lung, New England Journal of Medicine, 342 (24) 1791-1791. DOI: 10.1056/NEJM200006153422405

JJ Strain,, Alison J Yeates,, Edwin van Wijngaarden,, Sally W Thurston,, Maria S Mulhern,, Emeir M McSorley,, Gene E Watson,, Tanzy M Love,, Tristram H Smith,, Kelley Yost, & Donald Harrington, (2015). Prenatal exposure to methyl mercury from fish consumption and polyunsaturated fatty acids: associations with child development at 20 mo of age in an observational study in the Republic of Seychelles, The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition , Other:

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5:00 PM | Keeping Memories Fresh by Keeping Glutamate In Check
We are another year older, perhaps a little wiser, and probably more forgetful.  Indeed, making memories is quite a process in the brain: specific synaptic connections are strengthened and new proteins are synthesized.  But as we age, the synapses that make up our memories, such as those in the hippocampus and prefrontal cortex, start to … Continue reading →

Pereira A.C., Yael S. Grossman, Dani Dumitriu, Rachel Waldman, Sophia K. Jannetty, Katina Calakos, William G. Janssen, Bruce S. McEwen & John H. Morrison (2014). Glutamatergic regulation prevents hippocampal-dependent age-related cognitive decline through dendritic spine clustering, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 111 (52) 18733-18738. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1421285111

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1:30 PM | Do Dogs Prefer Petting or Praise?
A new study asks dogs to make the choice.Photo: Felix Rohan / Shutterstock […]

Feuerbacher, E. & Wynne, C. (2015). Shut up and pet me! Domestic dogs (Canis lupus familiaris) prefer petting to vocal praise in concurrent and single-alternative choice procedures, Behavioural Processes, 110 47-59. DOI: 10.1016/j.beproc.2014.08.019

Feuerbacher, E. & Wynne, C. (2012). RELATIVE EFFICACY OF HUMAN SOCIAL INTERACTION AND FOOD AS REINFORCERS FOR DOMESTIC DOGS AND HAND-REARED WOLVES, Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior, 98 (1) 105-129. DOI: 10.1901/jeab.2012.98-105

Fukuzawa, M. & Hayashi, N. (2013). Comparison of 3 different reinforcements of learning in dogs (Canis familiaris), Journal of Veterinary Behavior: Clinical Applications and Research, 8 (4) 221-224. DOI: 10.1016/j.jveb.2013.04.067

OKAMOTO, Y., OHTANI, N., UCHIYAMA, H. & OHTA, M. (2009). The Feeding Behavior of Dogs Correlates with their Responses to Commands, Journal of Veterinary Medical Science, 71 (12) 1617-1621. DOI: 10.1292/jvms.001617

Saito, A. & Shinozuka, K. (2013). Vocal recognition of owners by domestic cats (Felis catus), Animal Cognition, 16 (4) 685-690. DOI: 10.1007/s10071-013-0620-4

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Editor's Pick
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12:45 PM | Evolving A Second Job
Biology concepts – protein moonlighting, undulipodia, evolution, basal body, centriole, GAPDH, intraflagellar transportToday’s post is on a multitasking cell structure. This would make Alton Brown proud, since he hates tools that do only one thing. The University of Miami of Florida football team runs through fire extinguisher blasts when they enter the stadium – maybe Alton can find a second use for his.Alton Brown from Food Network hates a unitasker. He wants all his kitchen […]

Henderson, B. & Martin, A. (2014). Protein moonlighting: a new factor in biology and medicine, Biochemical Society Transactions, 42 (6) 1671-1678. DOI: 10.1042/BST20140273

Kobayashi, T. & Dynlacht, B. (2011). Regulating the transition from centriole to basal body, The Journal of Cell Biology, 193 (3) 435-444. DOI: 10.1083/jcb.201101005

Debec, A., Sullivan, W. & Bettencourt-Dias, M. (2010). Centrioles: active players or passengers during mitosis?, Cellular and Molecular Life Sciences, 67 (13) 2173-2194. DOI: 10.1007/s00018-010-0323-9

Boisvieux-Ulrich E & Sandoz D (1991). Determination of ciliary polarity precedes differentiation in the epithelial cells of quail oviduct., Biology of the cell / under the auspices of the European Cell Biology Organization, 72 (1-2) 3-14. PMID: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1756309

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10:34 AM | Features of autism in childhood epilepsy
"In conclusion, features of ASD [autism spectrum disorder] were common in children with epilepsy regardless of cognitive ability."Whoa, whoa, whoa! Sorry, Blondie. I don't do backstorySo said Colin Reily and colleagues [1] in their paper examining facets of autism in cases of childhood epilepsy. Suggesting also that the Autism Spectrum Screening Questionnaire (ASSQ) might be "a useful screening instrument in this population, and combining parent and teacher forms was […]

Reilly C, Atkinson P, Das KB, Chin RF, Aylett SE, Burch V, Gillberg C, Scott RC & Neville BG (2014). Features of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in childhood epilepsy: A population-based study., Epilepsy & behavior : E&B, 42C 86-92. PMID: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25529303

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4:55 AM | Truthiness of irrelevant detail in explanations from neuroscience to mathematical models
Truthiness is the truth that comes from the gut, not books. Truthiness is preferring propositions that one wishes to be true over those known to be true. Truthiness is a wonderful commentary on the state of politics and media by a fictional character determined to be the best at feeling the news at us. Truthiness […]

Weisberg, D.S., Keil, F.C., Goodstein, J., Rawson, E. & Gray, J.R. (2008). The seductive allure of neuroscience explanations., Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 20 (3) 470-7. PMID: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18004955

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January 20, 2015

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8:01 PM | You can live longer, but not healthier
We all want to live longer and thanks to medical technologies our life expectancies have dramatically increased. Which would be handy if we could actually enjoy the extra years. Unfortunately a study of long-lived mutant C. elegans by scientists shows that the genetically altered worms spend a greater portion of their life in a frail […]

Bansal A, Zhu LJ, Yen K & Tissenbaum HA (2015). Uncoupling lifespan and healthspan in Caenorhabditis elegans longevity mutants., Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, PMID: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25561524

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2:00 PM | Mostly Dead, but Slightly Alive: The Life After Death of Dismembered Remains in Ancient Peru
In the Princess Bride, the deceased body of Westley is brought to Miracle Max in order to bring him back to life. Famously, May says ‘There’s a big difference between mostly dead […]

Tung, T. (2014). Agency, ‘Til Death Do Us Part? Inquiring about the Agency of Dead Bodies from the Ancient Andes, Cambridge Archaeological Journal, 24 (03) 437-452. DOI: 10.1017/S0959774314000614

Arnold, B. (2014). Life After Life: Bioarchaeology and Post-mortem Agency, Cambridge Archaeological Journal, 24 (03) 523-529. DOI: 10.1017/S0959774314000572

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Editor's Pick
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9:56 AM | Autism and low vitamin D at birth
Discussions about vitamin D (the 'sunshine' vitamin/hormone) and autism are not unfamiliar to this blog. Just last year (2014) I covered research talking about the possibility of a connection between vitamin D and [some] autism at least three times (see here and see here and see here), possibly more...but in my game, I'm the bad guy, and I live in the garbage.I wouldn't say that I'm an advocate for everything implied by the correlations being made between vitamin D levels and autism given that […]

Elisabeth Fernell, Susanne Bejerot, Joakim Westerlund, Carmela Miniscalco, Henry Simila, Darryl Eyles, Christopher Gillberg & Mats B Humble (2015). Autism spectrum disorder and low vitamin D at birth: a sibling control study., Molecular Autism, Other:

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4:45 AM | What makes a discipline ‘mathematical’?
While walking to work on Friday, I was catching up on one of my favorite podcasts: The History of Philosophy without any Gaps. To celebrate the podcast’s 200th episode, Peter Adamson was interviewing Jill Kraye and John Marenbon on medieval philosophy. The podcasts was largely concerned with where we should define the temporal boundaries of […]

Sylla, Edith D. (2011). Oxford Calculators, Encyclopedia of Medieval Philosophy, 903-908. DOI: 10.1007/SpringerReference_187789

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12:32 AM | Menage-a-trois no more: new design removes need for conductive additives and polymers in battery electrodes
Battery electrode design has always required a menage-a-trois: an active material or catalyst, a conductive additive, and a polymer binder to keep everyone together.  Unfortunately, constructing batteries this way limits their energy density because it increases material mass and processing steps.  But a … Continue reading →

Kirshenbaum, K., Bock, D., Lee, C., Zhong, Z., Takeuchi, K., Marschilok, A. & Takeuchi, E. (2015). In situ visualization of Li/Ag2VP2O8 batteries revealing rate-dependent discharge mechanism, Science, 347 (6218) 149-154. DOI: 10.1126/science.1257289

Dudney, N. & Li, J. (2015). Using all energy in a battery, Science, 347 (6218) 131-132. DOI: 10.1126/science.aaa2870

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January 19, 2015

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8:05 PM | Fear, PTSD, and newly found neural circuits in the brain
People with anxiety disorders, such as post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), often experience prolonged and exaggerated fearfulness. Now, an animal study suggests that this might involve disruption of a gradual shifting of brain circuitry for retrieving fear memories. Researchers have discovered in rats that an old fear memory is recalled by a separate brain pathway […]

Do-Monte HF, Quinones-Laracuente K, Quirk, GJ (2015). A temporal shift in the circuits mediating retrieval of fear memory, Nature, DOI: 10.308/nature14030

Penzo MA, Robert V, Tucciarone J, De Bundel D, Wang M, Van Aeist L, Varvas M, Parada LF, Palmiter R, He M, Huang ZJ, Li B. (2015). The paraventricular thalamus controls a central amygdala fear circuit., Nature, DOI: 10.1038/nature13978

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11:57 AM | Another sensory channel
There is another recent discovery to highlight how little we know about our nervous system. Theories are accepted because we believe we have a handle on the anatomy, physiology, biochemistry and biophysics of the nervous systems. But the ‘facts’ change regularly. This time it is connections between the gut and the brain – a direct […]

Bohórquez, D., Shahid, R., Erdmann, A., Kreger, A., Wang, Y., Calakos, N., Wang, F. & Liddle, R. (2015). Neuroepithelial circuit formed by innervation of sensory enteroendocrine cells, Journal of Clinical Investigation, DOI: 10.1172/JCI78361

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9:28 AM | Taking care of mum following receipt of an offspring autism diagnosis
The commentary by Elizabeth Karp & Alice Kuo [1] recently published in JAMA brought my attention back to the 2014 findings from Emily Feinberg and colleagues [2] (open-access) reporting on: "positive effects of PSE [problem-solving education] in reducing parenting stress and depressive symptoms during the critical postdiagnosis period" - that is, moves to taking care of maternal mental health after a child receives a diagnosis of autism or autism spectrum disorder (ASD).This […]

Feinberg E, Augustyn M, Fitzgerald E, Sandler J, Ferreira-Cesar Suarez Z, Chen N, Cabral H, Beardslee W & Silverstein M (2014). Improving maternal mental health after a child's diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder: results from a randomized clinical trial., JAMA pediatrics, 168 (1) 40-6. PMID: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24217336

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6:14 AM | Interfering With Traumatic Memories of the Boston Marathon Bombings
The Boston Marathon bombings of April 15, 2013 killed three people and injured hundreds of others near the finish line of the iconic footrace. The oldest and most prominent marathon in the world, Boston attracts over 20,000 runners and 500,000 spectators. The terrorist act shocked and traumatized and unified the city.What should the survivors do with their traumatic memories of the event? Many with disabling post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) receive therapy to lessen the impact of the […]

Kredlow MA & Otto MW (2015). Interference with the reconsolidation of trauma-related memories in adults., Depression and anxiety, 32 (1) 32-7. PMID: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25585535

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5:21 AM | Magic Mushroom Users who get High without Drugs
Psychedelic drugs, such as psilocybin have been of interest to psychologists due to their ability to induce altered states of intense well-being and profound personal significance. A recent study asked people, some who were psilocybin users and others who were not, about the best, most wonderful experiences of their lives. Some users said that the most wonderful experience occurred under the influence of psilocybin. Other users, who had their most wonderful experience while not under the […]

Cummins C & Lyke J (2013). Peak experiences of psilocybin users and non-users., Journal of psychoactive drugs, 45 (2) 189-94. PMID: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23909006

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January 18, 2015

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8:06 PM | Stem cells derived from amniotic tissues have immunosuppressive properties
Stem cells derived from human amnion have for some time been considered promising for cell therapies because of their ease of access, ability to differentiate, and absence of ethical issues. Now, a research team has found that stem cells derived from human female amnion also have immunosuppressive activity and that the addition of antibodies to […]

Li J, Koike-Soko C, Sugimoto J, Yoshida T, Okabe M & Nikaido T (2014). Human Amnion-derived Stem Cells have Immunosuppressive Properties on NK cells and Monocytes., Cell transplantation, PMID: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25333453

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