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How hand amputation, reattachment, affects brain: First-of-its-kind study

Researchers have found evidence of specific neurochemical changes associated with lower neuronal health in these brain regions. Further, they report that some of these changes in the brain may persist in individuals who receive hand transplants, despite their recovered hand function.

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Brain images reveal roots of kids' increasing cognitive control

As children age into adolescence and on into young adulthood, they show dramatic improvements in their ability to control impulses, stay organized, and make decisions. Those 'executive functions' of the brain are key factors in determining outcomes, including educational success, drug use, and psychiatric illness. Now, researchers have mapped the changes in the network organization of the brain that underlie those improvements in executive function.

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Open-access genetic screening for hereditary breast cancer is feasible and effective

Micrograph showing a lymph node invaded by ductal breast carcinoma, with extension of the tumour beyond the lymph node. Credit: Nephron/Wikipedia Ashkenazi Jewish women are known to have a predisposition to the inherited breast cancers BRCA1 and BRCA2, but currently genetic testing in this group is limited to women affected by breast and ovarian cancers and those who are unaffected but have a family history of the disease. Ms Sari Lieberman, a genetic counsellor at the Shaare Zedek Medical Centre, Jerusalem, Israel, will tell the annual conference of the European Society of Human Genetics tomorrow (Sunday) that offering open-access BRCA testing to Ashkenazi women unaffected by cancer, regardless of their family history, enables the identification of carriers who would otherwise have been missed. Carrying one of the mutations for the BRCA genes means that women affected have a 50-80% risk of developing breast cancer and a 20-50% risk for ovarian cancer.

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Century-old drug as potential new approach to autism

In a small, randomized Phase I/II clinical trial (SAT1), researchers say a 100-year-old drug called suramin, originally developed to treat African sleeping sickness, was safely administered to children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), who subsequently displayed measurable, but transient, improvement in core symptoms of autism.

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Study sweetens connection between cancer and sugar

In a new study, scientists at The University of Texas at Dallas have found that some types of cancers have more of a sweet tooth than others. "It has been suspected that many cancer cells are heavily dependent on sugar as their energy supply, but it turns out that one specific type—squamous cell carcinoma—is remarkably more dependent," said Dr. Jung-whan "Jay" Kim, assistant professor of biological sciences and senior author of the study...



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Marmoset monkeys learn to call the same way human infants learn to babble

Human social groups have a strange tendency to share responsibility for taking care of infants; parents, older siblings, and other adult relatives all help to nurture babies. The only other primates that take care of infants this way are marmosets, a group of small, highly social monkeys from South America. In another striking parallel to humans, infant marmosets also benefit from frequent feedback while learning their vocal calls. A baby's babbles start to sound like speech more quickly if they get frequent vocal feedback from adults. Princeton University researchers have found the same type of feedback speeds the vocal development of infant marmoset monkeys, in the first evidence of such learning in nonhuman primates...

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Dramatic shift in gut microbes and their metabolites seen after weight loss surgery

Obesity, already a global epidemic, is on the rise. Over one third of the U.S. population is currently afflicted, according to the Centers for Disease Control and the monetary costs alone are approaching $150 billion dollars annually. Causes of the epidemic include changing diets and greater sedentism, though environmental factors may also contribute. A new study compares the two most common surgical therapies for obesity, known as Roux-en-Y gastric bypass (RYGB), and laparoscopic adjustable gastric banding (LAGB). The results demonstrate that RYGB—the more aggressive of the two surgeries— produces profound changes in the composition of microbial communities in the gut, with the resulting gut flora distinct from both obese and normal weight patients. The results are likely due to the dramatic reorganization of the gut caused by RYGB surgery, which increases microbial diversity. The new research paves the way for new diagnostics and therapies for obesity.

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Bouldering (a type of rock climbing) envisioned as new treatment for depression

A growing body of research suggests that bouldering, a form of rock climbing, can help build muscle and endurance while reducing stress—and a new study co-led by a University of Arizona doctoral student of psychology suggests that the activity also may be used to effectively treat symptoms of depression. UA researcher Eva-Maria Stelzer and Katharina Luttenberger of the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg led a team that involved more than 100 individuals in a bouldering intervention in Germany, where some hospitals have begun to use climbing as a therapeutic treatment.

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Cannabis derivative cannabidiol reduces seizures in severe epilepsy disorder

After years of anecdotal claims about its benefits, the cannabis derivative cannabidiol reduced seizure frequency by 39 percent for patients with Dravet syndrome - a rare, severe form of epilepsy - in the first large-scale randomized clinical trial for the compound. The findings were published online May 24 in the New England Journal of Medicine. "Cannabidiol should not be viewed as a panacea for epilepsy, but for patients with especially severe forms who have not responded to numerous medications, these results provide hope that we may soon have another treatment option," says lead investigator Orrin Devinsky, MD, professor of neurology, neurosurgery, and psychiatry and director of the Comprehensive Epilepsy Center at NYU Langone Medical Center. "We still need more research, but this new trial provides more evidence than we have ever had of cannabidiol's effectiveness as a medication for treatment-resistant epilepsy."

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Wasted nutrients: The result of widespread food waste

The extent of food waste in America is a cause for serious concern. It is estimated that around 1,217 calories per person per day are squandered. A new study in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics looks beyond the caloric value of food waste and focuses on the nutritional value of the food we throw away. Investigators found that discarded food contains large amounts of key nutrients like vitamin D, fiber, and potassium that could help people get the food they need to meet their daily recommended intake. In 2014, 14% of American households suffered from food insecurity and an additional 5% experienced a shortage of resources that forced them to skip meals or reduce their food consumption. Across the population, Americans are not getting the recommended intakes of certain nutrients including dietary fiber; calcium; potassium; and vitamins A, C, D, and E. At the same time, Americans continue to waste food at an alarming rate throughout the food supply chain. It's estimated that 31-40% of the post-harvest food supply is discarded. This study was the first to demonstrate the substantial amount of nutrients, including many under-consumed nutrients, wasted due to food discarded at the retail and consumer levels of the U.S. food supply. Quantifying the loss can motivate related investments and support the case for registered dietitian nutritionist engagement with these efforts. The estimates can additionally serve as a baseline for tracking intervention impacts.

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