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  • November 26, 2015
  • 04:37 PM

Stem cell study paves the way for patient therapies

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Stem cells that have been specifically developed for use as clinical therapies are fit for use in patients, an independent study of their genetic make-up suggests. The research – which focused on human embryonic stem cells – paves the way for clinical trials of cell therapies to treat conditions such as Parkinson’s disease, age-related degeneration of the eyes and spinal cord injury.... Read more »

Canham, M., Van Deusen, A., Brison, D., De Sousa, P., Downie, J., Devito, L., Hewitt, Z., Ilic, D., Kimber, S., Moore, H.... (2015) The Molecular Karyotype of 25 Clinical-Grade Human Embryonic Stem Cell Lines. Scientific Reports, 17258. DOI: 10.1038/srep17258  

  • November 26, 2015
  • 01:25 PM

Gobble Up Some Facts About Turkeys

by Bill Sullivan in The 'Scope

Be the highlight of Thanksgiving dinner conversation after you learn these fascinating facts about turkeys!... Read more »

  • November 26, 2015
  • 08:16 AM

Chocolate agar: Enjoyed by people and meningitis-causing bacteria alike

by Rosin Cerate in Rosin Cerate

Chocolate agar refers to two very different foods, only one of which actually contains chocolate. Both are prepared using agar, a mixture obtained by boiling certain types of algae to release a sugar called agarose that forms a gel when it cools. Thus agar (also called agar agar) can be used to make jelly desserts, flavours of which include coffee-coconut and, you guessed it, chocolate. It's basically a vegan form of Jell-O (which contains gelatin derived from animal bits).The second type of cho........ Read more »

  • November 26, 2015
  • 04:59 AM

The continued rise of autism research metabolomics

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

For anyone that has followed this blog down the years you'll probably have noticed that I'm quite a big fan of the inclusion of the science of metabolomics on to the autism research menu (see here for example).Looking at the myriad of chemical footprints left behind by an almost incomprehensible number of cellular processes, metabolomics offers some real promise to autism in terms of teasing apart phenotypes and as a valuable partner to other -omics sciences in ascertaining the relevance or not ........ Read more »

Dieme B, Mavel S, Blasco H, Tripi G, Bonnet-Brilhault F, Malvy J, Bocca C, Andres CR, Nadal-Desbarats L, & Emond P. (2015) Metabolomics study of urine in autism spectrum disorders using a multiplatform analytical methodology. Journal of proteome research. PMID: 26538324  

  • November 25, 2015
  • 07:40 PM

Closing the loop on an HIV escape mechanism

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Nearly 37 million people worldwide are living with HIV. When the virus destroys so many immune cells that the body can’t fight off infection, AIDS will develop. The disease took the lives of more than a million people last year.... Read more »

Lu, M., Hou, G., Zhang, H., Suiter, C., Ahn, J., Byeon, I., Perilla, J., Langmead, C., Hung, I., Gor'kov, P.... (2015) Dynamic allostery governs cyclophilin A–HIV capsid interplay. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 201516920. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1516920112  

  • November 25, 2015
  • 09:50 AM

Video Tip of the Week: iDigBio for access to historical specimens and more

by Mary in OpenHelix

Usually for Thanksgiving week posting is light. In the past, we’ve all done turkey breeding and genomics, cranberry genome, and some people have included apples, potatoes, and more. But another key aspect of the holiday is to remember the past and thank those who came before. And as I was watching this video that crossed my […]... Read more »

Nelson, G., Sweeney, P., Wallace, L., Rabeler, R., Allard, D., Brown, H., Carter, J., Denslow, M., Ellwood, E., Germain-Aubrey, C.... (2015) Digitization Workflows for Flat Sheets and Packets of Plants, Algae, and Fungi. Applications in Plant Sciences, 3(9), 1500065. DOI: 10.3732/apps.1500065  

Jolley-Rogers, G., Varghese, T., Harvey, P., dos Remedios, N., & Miller, J. (2014) PhyloJIVE: Integrating biodiversity data with the Tree of Life. Bioinformatics, 30(9), 1308-1309. DOI: 10.1093/bioinformatics/btu024  

  • November 25, 2015
  • 04:41 AM

Data Diving for Genomics Treasure

by Björn Brembs in

This is a post written jointly by Nelson Lau from Brandeis and me, Björn Brembs. In contrast to Nelson’s guest post, which focused on the open data aspect of our collaboration, this one describes the science behind our paper and […] ↓ Read the rest of this entry...... Read more »

Rahman R, Chirn GW, Kanodia A, Sytnikova YA, Brembs B, Bergman CM, & Lau NC. (2015) Unique transposon landscapes are pervasive across Drosophila melanogaster genomes. Nucleic acids research. PMID: 26578579  

Chirn, G., Rahman, R., Sytnikova, Y., Matts, J., Zeng, M., Gerlach, D., Yu, M., Berger, B., Naramura, M., Kile, B.... (2015) Conserved piRNA Expression from a Distinct Set of piRNA Cluster Loci in Eutherian Mammals. PLOS Genetics, 11(11). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pgen.1005652  

  • November 25, 2015
  • 04:41 AM

The Autism-Spectrum Quotient (AQ) and the media: a few thoughts

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"Are you on the autistic spectrum? Take the test" read a recent media headline.Commenting on the findings reported by Emily Ruzich and colleagues [1], the headline is followed by some pretty bizarre text about how the study "has confirmed that men are more likely to be autistic than women."I have to take some exception to this sentence, as I quote from the Ruzich findings: "In a sample of nearly half a million individuals, we found a moderate effect of sex on AQ [Autism-Spectrum Quotie........ Read more »

  • November 25, 2015
  • 03:45 AM

From linear to nonlinear payoffs in the double public goods game

by Artem Kaznatcheev in Evolutionary Games Group

If you recall, dear reader, around this time last year, Robert Vander Velde, David Basanta, Jacob Scott and I got excited about the Archetti (2013,2014) approach to modeling non-linear public goods in cancer. We’ve been working on this intermittently for the last year, but aim to focus now that I have settled in here at […]... Read more »

  • November 24, 2015
  • 02:52 PM

Insights into protein structure could change the future of biomedicine

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Researchers at the University of Waterloo have discovered a new way to create designer proteins that have the potential to transform biotechnology and personalized medicines.

In a range of experiments Professor Elizabeth Meiering, in collaboration with colleagues from India and the United States, created a protein that can withstand a range of physiological and environmental conditions – a problem that has challenged chemists looking to create super stable, highly functional proteins.... Read more »

Broom, A., Ma, S., Xia, K., Rafalia, H., Trainor, K., Colon, W., Gosavi, S., & Meiering, E. (2015) Designed protein reveals structural determinants of extreme kinetic stability. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1510748112  

  • November 24, 2015
  • 12:10 PM

How Spider Personalities Affect Pest Control

by Elizabeth Preston in Inkfish

They say you can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar. But what about with lazy spiders versus lively ones? When it comes to keeping pests at bay, the personalities of the spiders hunting them are important.

That's what two behavioral ecologists reported after watching bug dramas play out in a sunny hilltop alfalfa patch. Raphaël Royauté of North Dakota State University and Jonathan Pruitt of the University of Pittsburgh were studying the personalities of wolf spiders (Pardosa mi........ Read more »

  • November 24, 2015
  • 06:19 AM

Corn Color Concepts

by Mark Lasbury in As Many Exceptions As Rules

Indian corn isn’t corn, it’s maize. But not all corn is maize, corn is actually an old word that denotes the major crop of any particular region. The colors are most beautiful, including a newly breed variety called Carl’s Glass Gem corn. The spots of color were instrumental in our understanding of DNA and gene movement, but do you think we would be so fast to decorate our houses with it if it were common knowledge how much Indian corn has in common with the causative agents of........ Read more »

  • November 24, 2015
  • 04:33 AM

Secondary conditions impacting on obesity stats in autism?

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"Decision makers, clinicians, and researchers developing interventions for children with ASDs [autism spectrum disorders] should consider how secondary conditions may impact obesity and related activities."That was the conclusion reached in the study by Kathryn Corvey and colleagues [1] looking to: "examine obesity, overweight, physical activity, and sedentary behavior among children and youth with and without ASD using nationally representative data and controlling for secondary ........ Read more »

  • November 23, 2015
  • 07:00 PM

Dopamine measurements reveal insights into how we learn

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute scientists have reported measurements of dopamine release with unprecedented temporal precision in the brains of people with Parkinson’s disease. The measurements, collected during brain surgery as the conscious patients played an investment game, demonstrate how rapid dopamine release encodes information crucial for human choice.... Read more »

Kenneth T. Kishida, Ignacio Saez, Terry Lohrenz, Mark R. Witcher, Adrian W. Laxton, Stephen B. Tatter, Jason P. White, Thomas L. Ellis, Paul E. M. Phillips, & P. Read Montague. (2015) Subsecond dopamine fluctuations in human striatum encode superposed error signals about actual and counterfactual reward. Proceedings of the natural sciences academy of the United States of America. info:/10.1073/pnas.1513619112

  • November 23, 2015
  • 04:33 AM

Does eczema increase the risk of childhood speech disorder?

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

Nativity Kylo?The question posed in the title of this post reflects some interesting data published by Mark Strom & Jonathan Silverberg [1] who reported that: "Pediatric eczema may be associated with increased risk of speech disorder" on the basis of their analysis of data for some 350,000 children "from 19 US [United States] population-based cohorts."Taking into account various variables such as "sociodemographics and comorbid allergic disease" authors determined that among the 19........ Read more »

  • November 21, 2015
  • 05:09 PM

The mysterious fungus that has major health consequences

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Researchers at the University of Toronto examined fungi in the mucus of patients with cystic fibrosis and discovered how one particularly cunning fungal species has evolved to defend itself against neighbouring bacteria. A regular resident of our microbiome – and especially ubiquitous in the lungs of cystic fibrosis patients -the Candida albicans fungus is an “opportunistic pathogen.”
... Read more »

  • November 21, 2015
  • 10:40 AM

Where Are All the Wearables We Want to Wear?

by Aurametrix team in Health Technologies

Millions of years ago our ancestors straightened up and started carrying tools around, instead of dropping them after use. And so technology became a part of daily routine.​As time passed, more useful tools were made than it was feasible to carry or wear over the shoulder. One solution to this problem was monetary exchange, the other was a better technology. Wearables promised to add more convenience than carryables and, ever since humans started to wear clothes some 170,000 years ag........ Read more »

Bouzouggar A, Barton N, Vanhaeren M, d'Errico F, Collcutt S, Higham T, Hodge E, Parfitt S, Rhodes E, Schwenninger JL.... (2007) 82,000-year-old shell beads from North Africa and implications for the origins of modern human behavior. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 104(24), 9964-9. PMID: 17548808  

Sungmee Park, & Jayaraman S. (2014) A transdisciplinary approach to wearables, big data and quality of life. Conference proceedings : .. Annual International Conference of the IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society. IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society. Annual Conference, 4155-8. PMID: 25570907  

  • November 21, 2015
  • 10:37 AM

Microbe-made musical mouthpiece malaise

by Rosin Cerate in Rosin Cerate

When you play a wind-driven musical instrument, be it bagpipe, harmonica, brass, or woodwind, you're potentially doing two things: (1) creating an enjoyable sound, and (2) being exposed to microbes present inside the instrument or its mouthpiece.The latter, which occurs as you breathe in with the mouthpiece close to your mouth, can occasionally result in health problems. These include mouth and throat infections (e.g. cold sores and strep throat), which tend to occur at schools where inadequatel........ Read more »

Cormier Y. (2010) Wind-instruments lung: A foul note. CHEST Journal, 138(3), 467. DOI: 10.1378/chest.10-0868  

  • November 21, 2015
  • 03:26 AM

Subthreshold autism signs in childhood OCD

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

OCD in the title of this post, refers to obsessive compulsive disorder and the intriguing observation put forward by Arildskov and colleagues [1] suggesting that: "Pediatric OCD patients were found to exhibit elevated rates of ASD [autism spectrum disorder] symptoms compared to a norm group of school-age children."Taking advantage of data collected as part of the Nordic Long-term OCD Treatment Study and specifically where "parents of 257 children and adolescent........ Read more »

Arildskov, T., Højgaard, D., Skarphedinsson, G., Thomsen, P., Ivarsson, T., Weidle, B., Melin, K., & Hybel, K. (2015) Subclinical autism spectrum symptoms in pediatric obsessive–compulsive disorder. European Child . DOI: 10.1007/s00787-015-0782-5  

  • November 20, 2015
  • 03:45 PM

Horrible Gulls Are Eating Baby Whales Alive

by Elizabeth Preston in Inkfish

Yes, it's important not to anthropomorphize other species or impose our values on them—but sometimes animals are just horrible. For example, kelp gulls. A few decades ago the birds in one part of Argentina realized that for a tasty snack, they could tear flesh from the backs of whales when they came up for air. Eventually the whales learned to protect themselves somewhat from the gulls. But now the gulls have shifted their attention to the whales' babies, and might be killing them.

Kelp........ Read more »

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