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  • March 23, 2017
  • 04:02 AM
  • 44 views

Congenital cytomegalovirus (CMV) infection and autism continued

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

I wanted to briefly talk about the paper by Francesca Garofoli and colleagues [1] on congenital cytomegalovirus (CMV) infection and autism not because it contains any novel data (see here), but because it reminds us that the potential 'pathways' to a diagnosis of autism are multiple and not necessarily 'pre-programmed' as per the 'it's all genetic' arguments that frequently figure in various domains.Congenital CMV infection refers to the transmission of CMV - "a common virus that belongs to the ........ Read more »

  • March 22, 2017
  • 12:55 PM
  • 42 views

Pollination Mystery Unlocked by Stirling Bee Researchers

by beredim in Strange Animals





Bees latch on to similarly-sized nectarless flowers to unpick pollen - like keys fitting into locks, according to a new study by researchers at the University of Stirling.

The research shows the right size of bee is needed to properly pollinate a flower. The bee fits tightly with the flower's anthers, to vibrate and release the pollen sealed within.



"We found that a pollinator's size, ... Read more »

  • March 22, 2017
  • 05:38 AM
  • 47 views

Break a leg!

by Jente Ottenburghs in Evolutionary Stories

What to do when your prey refuses to be swallowed? Eurasian Spoonbills (Platalea leucordia) in Hungary have a solution…... Read more »

  • March 22, 2017
  • 04:08 AM
  • 46 views

On genotype and environmental exposure patterns

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

I was rather interested to read the paper by Michela Traglia and colleagues [1] (open-access available here) concluding that: "maternal and fetal genetic make-up are important determinants of mid-gestational maternal circulating levels of some environmental organohalogens." Interested because, in these days of gene-environment interactions being applied to just about everything, the detail that is missing - which genes might potentially be linked to which environmental factors - has not yet........ Read more »

  • March 21, 2017
  • 10:04 AM
  • 71 views

The Weirdest Animals on Earth: 12 Amazing Facts About Platypuses

by Miss Behavior in The Scorpion and the Frog

What IS that? A photo by Stefan Kraft at Wikimedia Commons.1. Platypuses are so strange, that when British scientists first encountered one, they thought it was a joke: A Governor of New South Wales, Australia, sent a platypus pelt and sketch to British scientists in 1798. Even in their first published scientific description of the species, biologists thought that this duck-beaked, beaver-bodied, web-footed specimen may be some Frankenstein-like creation stitched together as a hoax. But this is ........ Read more »

Scheich, H., Langner, G., Tidemann, C., Coles, R., & Guppy, A. (1986) Electroreception and electrolocation in platypus. Nature, 319(6052), 401-402. DOI: 10.1038/319401a0  

Warren, W., Hillier, L., Marshall Graves, J., Birney, E., Ponting, C., Grützner, F., Belov, K., Miller, W., Clarke, L., Chinwalla, A.... (2008) Genome analysis of the platypus reveals unique signatures of evolution. Nature, 453(7192), 175-183. DOI: 10.1038/nature06936  

  • March 21, 2017
  • 03:57 AM
  • 67 views

PACE trial recovery data and chronic fatigue syndrome - a reply

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

I'd encourage readers interested in the background to the response paper by Michael Sharpe and colleagues [1] to have a look at a previous blogging occasion when the topic of the PACE trial, chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) and 'recovery' were discussed (see here).Suffice to say that this latest paper is a reply to one published by Carolyn Wilshire and colleagues [2] who concluded that: "The claim that patients [with CFS] can recover as a result of CBT [cognitive behaviour therapy] ........ Read more »

M Sharpe, T Chalder, AL Johnson, KA Goldsmith, & PD White. (2017) Do more people recover from chronic fatigue syndrome with cognitive behaviour therapy or graded exercise therapy than with other treatments?. Fatigue: Biomedicine, Health , 1-5. info:/10.1080/21641846.2017.1288629

  • March 20, 2017
  • 04:58 AM
  • 75 views

Moroccan flic-flac spider (Cebrennus rechenbergi)

by beredim in Strange Animals





Meet the Moroccan flic-flac spider (Cebrennus rechenbergi), a truly unique spider that when provoked or threatened escapes by doubling its normal walking speed using forward or backward flips similar to acrobatic flic-flac movements used by gymnasts.


C. rechenbergi is a species of huntsman spider indigenous to Morocco and can be found in the sand dunes of the Erg Chebbi desert . The spider ... Read more »

Ralf Simon King. (2013) BiLBIQ: A Biologically Inspired Robot with Walking and Rolling Locomotion. Biosystems . info:/10.1007/978-3-642-34682-8

  • March 20, 2017
  • 04:13 AM
  • 84 views

ALSPAC says no to cat ownership - psychosis risk hypothesis but...

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"While pregnant women should continue to avoid handling soiled cat litter, given possible T. gondii exposure, our study strongly indicates that cat ownership in pregnancy or early childhood does not confer an increased risk of later adolescent PEs [psychotic experiences]."So said the findings reported by Francesca Solmi and colleagues [1] (open-access) who brought a smile to any reader of the title of their paper: "Curiosity killed the cat: no evidence of an association between cat ownershi........ Read more »

  • March 18, 2017
  • 04:58 AM
  • 98 views

HSV-2 gestational infection and offspring autism risk

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"In our cohort, high levels of antibodies to herpes simplex virus 2 at midpregnancy were associated with an elevated risk of autism spectrum disorder in male offspring. These findings provide support for the hypothesis that gestational infection may contribute to the pathogenesis of autism spectrum disorder and have the potential to drive new efforts to monitor women more closely for cryptic gestational infection and to implement suppressive therapy during pregnancy."That was the conclusion reac........ Read more »

Milada Mahic, Siri Mjaaland, Hege Marie Bøvelstad, Nina Gunnes, Ezra Susser, Michaeline Bresnahan, Anne-Siri Øyen, Bruce Levin, Xiaoyu Che, Deborah Hirtz.... (2017) Maternal Immunoreactivity to Herpes Simplex Virus 2 and Risk of Autism Spectrum Disorder in Male Offspring. mSphere. info:/10.1128/mSphere.00016-17

  • March 17, 2017
  • 07:00 AM
  • 110 views

Friday Fellow: Pliable Brachionus

by Piter Boll in Earthling Nature

by Piter Kehoma Boll Charles Darwin had already noticed that small animals, such as those found in zooplankton, are widely distributed around the world, even those that are found in small ponds of freshwater. This seemed to go against the … Continue reading →... Read more »

  • March 17, 2017
  • 03:39 AM
  • 100 views

Fatty acids and autism meta-analysed yet again (with a different result?)

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

OK I'm a little confused right now.Not so long ago I talked about the paper from Horvath and colleagues [1] (see here) concluding that "the limited data currently available suggest that ω-3 FA [omega-3 fatty acid] supplementation does not enhance the performance of children with ASD [autism spectrum disorder]." Such a conclusion was based on the application of a systematic review and meta-analysis of the available peer-reviewed literature up to August 2016.Now however, another sy........ Read more »

  • March 16, 2017
  • 03:44 AM
  • 142 views

Autoimmune disease(s) and ADHD: birds of a feather?

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"A personal history and a maternal history of autoimmune disease were associated with an increased risk of ADHD [attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder]. The previously reported association between type 1 diabetes and ADHD was confirmed. In addition, specific parental autoimmune diseases were associated with ADHD in offspring."So said the study results published by Nielsen and colleagues [1] including "a study population of 983,680 individuals followed from 1995 to 2012." Reliant once aga........ Read more »

  • March 15, 2017
  • 08:30 AM
  • 130 views

CHL1 Hypermethylation in Breast Cancer

by Esperanza Martín Sánchez in EpiBeat

Breast cancer (BC) is the most common cancer among women and one of the leading causes of cancer-related deaths worldwide (1-3). It is a clinically heterogeneous disease, with at least 5 different subtypes (4) and quite variable prognosis, even within a subtype. In spite of early detection programmes, unfortunately 20-30% of early stage cases will eventually experience recurrence and develop distant metastasis. However, currently, there is no acceptable method for monitoring patients who are lik........ Read more »

Martín-Sánchez E, Mendaza S, Ulazia-Garmendia A, Monreal-Santesteban I, Blanco-Luquin I, Córdoba A, Vicente-García F, Pérez-Janices N, Escors D, Megías D.... (2017) CHL1 hypermethylation as a potential biomarker of poor prognosis in breast cancer. Oncotarget. PMID: 28178655  

Stefansson OA, Moran S, Gomez A, Sayols S, Arribas-Jorba C, Sandoval J, Hilmarsdottir H, Olafsdottir E, Tryggvadottir L, Jonasson JG.... (2015) A DNA methylation-based definition of biologically distinct breast cancer subtypes. Molecular oncology, 9(3), 555-68. PMID: 25468711  

He LH, Ma Q, Shi YH, Ge J, Zhao HM, Li SF, & Tong ZS. (2013) CHL1 is involved in human breast tumorigenesis and progression. Biochemical and biophysical research communications, 438(2), 433-8. PMID: 23906755  

Smith RA, Andrews K, Brooks D, DeSantis CE, Fedewa SA, Lortet-Tieulent J, Manassaram-Baptiste D, Brawley OW, & Wender RC. (2016) Cancer screening in the United States, 2016: A review of current American Cancer Society guidelines and current issues in cancer screening. CA: a cancer journal for clinicians, 66(2), 96-114. PMID: 26797525  

Feng W, Shen L, Wen S, Rosen DG, Jelinek J, Hu X, Huan S, Huang M, Liu J, Sahin AA.... (2007) Correlation between CpG methylation profiles and hormone receptor status in breast cancers. Breast cancer research : BCR, 9(4). PMID: 17764565  

Karsli-Ceppioglu S, Dagdemir A, Judes G, Ngollo M, Penault-Llorca F, Pajon A, Bignon YJ, & Bernard-Gallon D. (2014) Epigenetic mechanisms of breast cancer: an update of the current knowledge. Epigenomics, 6(6), 651-64. PMID: 25531258  

Widschwendter M, Siegmund KD, Müller HM, Fiegl H, Marth C, Müller-Holzner E, Jones PA, & Laird PW. (2004) Association of breast cancer DNA methylation profiles with hormone receptor status and response to tamoxifen. Cancer research, 64(11), 3807-13. PMID: 15172987  

Senchenko VN, Krasnov GS, Dmitriev AA, Kudryavtseva AV, Anedchenko EA, Braga EA, Pronina IV, Kondratieva TT, Ivanov SV, Zabarovsky ER.... (2011) Differential expression of CHL1 gene during development of major human cancers. PloS one, 6(3). PMID: 21408220  

  • March 15, 2017
  • 04:08 AM
  • 121 views

The extra-intestinal effects of coeliac disease autoimmunity?

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"In 3.5-year-old children, CDA [coeliac disease autoimmunity] is associated with increased reports of child depression and anxiety, aggressive behavior, and sleep problems when mothers are unaware of their child’s CDA status."So said the findings reported by Laura Smith and colleagues [1] (open-access available here) adding to an emerging body of peer-reviewed research suggesting that the archetypal 'gluten is the baddie' autoimmune condition known as coeliac disease might, when not manag........ Read more »

Smith LB, Lynch KF, Kurppa K, Koletzko S, Krischer J, Liu E, Johnson SB, Agardh D, & TEDDY study group. (2017) Psychological Manifestations of Celiac Disease Autoimmunity in Young Children. Pediatrics. PMID: 28219962  

  • March 14, 2017
  • 03:56 AM
  • 128 views

Depression in parents of children with autism

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"Mothers (OR 2.95, 95% CI 2.81-3.09) and fathers (OR 2.41, 95% CI 2.25-2.58) of children with ASD [autism spectrum disorder] were more likely to have a diagnosis of depression than parents of children without ASD."The paper by Cohrs and Leslie [1] is probably not going to win any awards for novelty when it comes to their findings that: "Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) in children can have secondary effects on the child's parents." It does however represent another important piece of evidence........ Read more »

  • March 13, 2017
  • 03:29 AM
  • 141 views

Mitochondria support for mitochondrial activity in [some] autism

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"This study examined the effect of common mitochondrial treatments on specific mitochondrial components in a group of children diagnosed with ASD [autism spectrum disorder], some of which also were diagnosed with co-morbid mitochondrial disease."That was the premise of the study results published by Leanna Delhey and colleagues [1] (open-access available here) and follows previous discussions suggesting that mitochondrial disease might not be totally unfamiliar to at least some autism ........ Read more »

Delhey LM, Nur Kilinc E, Yin L, Slattery JC, Tippett ML, Rose S, Bennuri SC, Kahler SG, Damle S, Legido A.... (2017) The Effect of Mitochondrial Supplements on Mitochondrial Activity in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Journal of clinical medicine, 6(2). PMID: 28208802  

  • March 11, 2017
  • 04:45 PM
  • 131 views

Badass females are unpopular among praying mantids

by Piter Boll in Earthling Nature

by Piter Kehoma Boll One of the most iconic representations of praying mantids is that of a female eating the male after (or during) sex, an unpleasant scenario that starts with a beheading before the poor male even finishes his … Continue reading →... Read more »

  • March 11, 2017
  • 04:19 AM
  • 159 views

B vitamins for schizophrenia?

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

I'd like to briefly draw your attention to the results - systematic review and meta-analysis results - published by Joseph Firth and colleagues [1] observing that "certain vitamin and mineral supplements may reduce psychiatric symptoms in some people with schizophrenia" and specifically that certain B vitamins might be something to consider.Such results come from a research team who are making significant waves in the field of meta-analyses and systematic reviews for all manner of different [imp........ Read more »

  • March 10, 2017
  • 06:05 AM
  • 138 views

Spontaneous Pneumothorax and air travel in BHD Syndrome

by Joana Guedes in BHD Research Blog

Previous studies show that BHD syndrome causes spontaneous pneumothorax (SP) in 24-38% of patients, with a recurrence rate of up to 75% (Toro et al., 2007; Toro et al., 2008; Houweling et al., 2011). A common preventative strategy used following an initial SP in patients with BHD is pleurodesis, however, its efficacy in preventing recurrent episodes is not well known. Due to the pressure changes during air travel, cystic air spaces expand and compress in the thorax possibly leading to cyst ruptu........ Read more »

Gupta N, Kopras EJ, Henske EP, James LE, El-Chemaly S, Veeraraghavan S, Drake MG, & McCormack FX. (2017) Spontaneous Pneumothoraces in Patients with Birt-Hogg-Dubé Syndrome. Annals of the American Thoracic Society. PMID: 28248571  

  • March 10, 2017
  • 02:37 AM
  • 143 views

I would walk 500 miles... or maybe just 8 miles (a day).

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"Desk-bound workers should ‘walk EIGHT miles a day’ to slash risk of heart attacks or stroke" went one headline talking about the findings reported by William Tigbe and colleagues [1]. Drawing on data from over 110 postal workers - "(55 office-workers, 5 women, and 56 walking/delivery-workers, 10 women)" - who wore "activPAL physical activity monitors for seven days", researchers observed some potentially important trends.Alongside wearing their activity monitors, participants were also asse........ Read more »

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