Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Parental touch may reduce social anxiety in children

Amsterdam: Parental touch reduces children’s attention to social threat and increases trust, particularly in socially anxious children. As a result, parental touch may reduce children’s social anxiety. These are the conclusions drawn by Eddie Brummelman from University of Amsterdam (UvA) and Peter Bos from Utrecht University (UU) and their colleagues from their research during NEMO Science Live. Their findings have been published as open access in Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience.

Forming model embryos from stem cells in the lab

Stem cellMaastricht: Scientists from the MERLN Institute, associated with Brightlands, and the Hubrecht Institute (KNAW) have successfully created in the laboratory embryo-like structures from mouse stem cells. These model embryos resemble natural ones to the extent that, for the first time, they implant into the uterus and initiate pregnancy. This radically new method opens the door to understanding the first and hidden processes of life, problems of infertility, or the embryonic origin of diseases. This scientific breakthrough has been published in Nature.

MRI brain scan reveals unexpected choice after smelling freshly baked bread

Wageningen: Wageningen scientists drew an unexpected conclusion after experiments with odours; when smelling bread, test subjects did not choose bread more often. MRI brain scans of the test subjects did show an effect of the smell of bread: the reward system in the brain was activated. But when the test subjects had to choose between standardised images of white bread, brown bread and cookies, the exposure to the bread aroma had varying effects. The aroma of bread turned out to increase the choice for cookies, whereas the smell of warm wood led to a more prominent preference for brown bread.

Odours stimulate brain activity even without functional sense of smell

Wageningen: Despite a diminished or even fully lost sense of smell, the brain continues to react to olfactory stimulation. This was shown in research by the Smell and Taste Centre among 48 patients with a smell disorder. The study indicates that various brain networks respond to odours, not just the olfactory areas in the brain. The research findings were published in the specialist journal Human Brain Mapping. The research results show that various areas in the brain cooperate as a network to sense odours. Besides the olfactory networks, the brain regions involved in sniffing are also active when odours are present in the nose. When sniffing pure air, brain activity occurs in the olfactory regions even without there being any odours in the nose.

Brain matures faster due to childhood stress

Radboud: Stress in early childhood leads to faster maturation of certain brain regions during adolescence. In contrast, stress experienced later in life leads to slower maturation of the adolescent brain. This is the outcome of a long-term study conducted by researchers of Radboud University in which 37 subjects have been monitored for almost 20 years. The findings will be published in Scientific Reports on 15 June.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Pregnancy Drug DES Linked to ADHD in Users’ Grandchildren

Columbia: A study by researchers at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health and Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health reports elevated odds for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in the grandchildren of users of diethylstilbestrol, a synthetic estrogen commonly known as DES which was prescribed between 1938 and 1971 to prevent pregnancy complications. This is the first study to provide evidence of the potential neurodevelopmental consequences of DES use across generations. The findings are published online in JAMA Pediatrics.

A new oral treatment temporarily coats intestine, reduces blood sugar spikes

Harvard: In a recently published paper in Nature Materials, a team of Harvard Medical School researchers at Brigham and Women's Hospital reported results of a preclinical study in which an oral agent was administered to deliver a substance that could temporarily coat the intestine to prevent nutrient contact with the lining in the proximal bowel and avoid post-meal spikes in blood sugar.  

Friday, June 15, 2018

Blood test shows potential for early detection of lung cancer

Dana-Farber: A test that analyzes free-floating DNA in the blood may be able to detect early-stage lung cancer, a preliminary report from the ongoing Circulating Cell-Free Genome Atlas (CCGA) study suggests.
The findings, from one of the first studies to explore whether sequencing blood-borne DNA is a feasible approach to the early cancer detection, will be featured in a press briefing today and presented at the 2018 American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Annual Meeting.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Fringe benefits: drug side effects could treat human hair loss

Manchester: A new drug could ease the distress of men and women who suffer from baldness, according to researchers from The University of Manchester’s Centre for Dermatology Research.
The study from the laboratory of Prof Ralf Paus, is published today (8 May) in the open access journal PLOS Biology. It shows that a drug originally designed as a treatment for osteoporosis has a dramatic stimulatory effect on human hair follicles donated by patients undergoing hair transplantation surgery.

Copying movements could help manage Parkinson's

Manchester: New research by University of Manchester psychologists has revealed that imitation of movement can help people with Parkinson’s. Dr Ellen Poliakoff and Dr Judith Bek, whose paper appears in the print version of the Journal of Neuropsychology today, are on the team of the pioneering Economic and Social Research Council funded study. The study compared the reactions of 23 people with mild to moderate Parkinson’s and 24 people without the condition.

Mechanism behind neuron death in motor neurone disease and frontotemporal dementia discovered

Cambridge: Scientists have identified the molecular mechanism that leads to the death of neurons in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (also known as ALS or motor neurone disease) and a common form of frontotemporal dementia.
"This was a very exciting set of experiments where we were able to apply cutting edge tools from physics, chemistry and neurobiology to understand how the FUS protein normally works in nerve cells, and how it goes wrong in motor neurone disease and dementia"
Peter St George-Hyslop

Brain cholesterol associated with increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease

Cambridge: Researchers have shown how cholesterol – a molecule normally linked with cardiovascular diseases – may also play an important role in the onset and progression of Alzheimer’s disease. 
"The question for us now is not how to eliminate cholesterol from the brain, but about how to control cholesterol’s role in Alzheimer’s disease through the regulation of its interaction with amyloid-beta". Michele Vendruscolo

Six months of Herceptin could be as effective as 12 months for some women

Cambridge: For women with HER2 positive early-stage breast cancer taking Herceptin for six months could be as effective as 12 months in preventing relapse and death, and can reduce side effects, finds new research. 
"We are confident that this will mark the first steps towards a reduction of Herceptin treatment to six months in many women with HER2-positive breast cancer". Helena Earl

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Study explores carbohydrates’ impact on head, neck cancers

Illinois: Consuming high amounts of carbohydrates and various forms of sugar during the year prior to treatment for head and neck cancer may increase patients’ risks of cancer recurrence and mortality, a new study reports. However, eating moderate amounts of fats and starchy foods such as whole grains, potatoes and legumes after treatment could have protective benefits, reducing patients’ risks of disease recurrence and death, said lead author Anna E. Arthur, a professor of food science and human nutrition at the University of Illinois.

Prosthetic arms can provide controlled sensory feedback, study finds

Illinois: Losing an arm doesn’t have to mean losing all sense of touch, thanks to prosthetic arms that stimulate nerves with mild electrical feedback. University of Illinois researchers have developed a control algorithm that regulates the current so a prosthetics user feels steady sensation, even when the electrodes begin to peel off or when sweat builds up.

Study reveals how a neural precursor protein shapes the future of neurons in the cerebral cortex

Harvard: The cerebral cortex—the brain’s epicenter of high-level cognitive functions, such as memory formation, attention, thought, language and consciousness—has fascinated neuroscientists for centuries. Scientists have long known that this command center is organized into six distinct regions, or layers, but how this complex organization arises during development has remained largely a mystery. Now, research led by Harvard Medical School scientists provides some tantalizing new clues into the development of the mammalian cerebral cortex.

Researchers glimpse elusive stem cell in the early embryo

Harvard: Stem cell researchers at Harvard Medical School and Boston Children’s Hospital have, for the first time, profiled a highly elusive kind of stem cell in the early embryo—a cell so fleeting that it makes its entrance and exit within a 12-hour span. They described this “poised pluripotent” cell in the journal Cell Stem Cell on June 1. In mice, poised cells appear 4.75 to 5.25 days after egg and sperm join to form the embryo, right at the time when the embryo stops floating around and implants itself in the uterine wall.

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Autism not linked to eating fish during pregnancy – large new study

The Conversation: Eating fish while you’re pregnant does not increase the chance that your child will be autistic or have autistic traits, our latest study shows. In fact, our study suggests that fish may be beneficial for the development of a healthy nervous system. A possible link between mercury exposure and autism has been the subject of much debate over the years. In pregnancy, mercury travels in the mother’s blood through the placenta and into the foetus, where it acts as a toxin, affecting the development of the foetal nervous system.

How does being overweight affect fertility?

The Conversation: The proportion of Australians who are overweight or obese is at an all-time high. We know excess weight is linked to many adverse health consequences, but there is now growing understanding that it also affects fertility. A fine hormonal balance regulates the menstrual cycle. Overweight and obese women have higher levels of a hormone called leptin, which is produced in fatty tissue. This can disrupt the hormone balance and lead to reduced fertility.

What’s on the horizon for a male contraceptive pill

The Conversation: The female contraceptive pill has helped millions of women take control of their fertility and reproductive health since it became available in 1961. Yet a male equivalent has yet to be fully developed. This effectively leaves men with only two viable contraceptive options: condoms or a vasectomy. The idea of creating a male contraceptive has been around almost as long as the female contraceptive. In theory, targeting the production of sperm should be a simple process. The biology of sperm production and how they swim towards the egg are well understood.