News Round-Up: May 2010 – 4th Edition

  • The insertion of artificially-synthesised DNA into a bacterial cell with subsequent establishment of viability has been widely reported in the media (see here, here, here, here and here) and will lead to substantial debate about the ethical implications as well as leading to a vast array of applications. An interesting soundbite from Venter’s presentation is

This is the first self-replicating species that we’ve had on the planet whose parent is a computer

  • One research group has identified a novel pathway involving amyloid plaque mediated excitotoxic cell death in a model of Alzheimer’s Disease which may lead to new therapeutic approaches.
  • There is evidence that build up of Amyloid Beta leads to cataracts in people with Down Syndrome as well as being associated with early onset of Alzheimer’s Disease.
  • One group has identified details of Lithium mediated anti-inflammatory pathways which may contribute to an understanding of Lithium’s mechanism(s) of action.
  • The authors of this study have called for psychiatrists to be included in ‘disaster first-response’ teams on the basis of their findings.
  • A JAMA paper outlines details of a successful suicide reduction program in people with depression. In this population, the suicide rate was reduced by 75% and over a 2.5 year period was 0.
  • A group of physicists have predicted that the magnetic fields associated with ball lightning would be sufficient to stimulate phosphenes, visual experiences secondary to cortical activation which would likely influence the perception of lightning.

Psychiatry 2.0

  • There’s an interesting piece on falling at ABC Therapeutics.
  • In this AJNR post there are useful links to articles on neuroimaging in autism, the development of the cerebral sulci and gyri as well as the neurosurgical uses of Diffuse Tensor Imaging.
  • Stephanie Allen links to online neuroscience videos in this post.
  • Dr Shock links to a video of Richard Dawkins speaking on ageing genes.
  • At the Neuropathology blog there is a look at a phase II study in which Nerve Growth Factor is being injected into the Basal Nucleus of Meynert in subjects with Alzheimer’s Disease.
  • There is a very interesting article on a social media tool for sharing scientific research data – My Experiment – discussed at ‘O’Really‘ and the blogger has been involved in the production of the videos.
  • There is a look at Telehealth at the Singularity Hub.
  • A study finding Thalamic D2 receptor density associations with creativity is covered at Nou Stuff.
  • At Corpus Callosum there is a brief piece on how average hours of TV watching exceeds average hours of working per week in US research.
  • The American Society of Human Genetics has produced an important position paper on genetic ancestry and this is discussed at the Genetic Genealogist blog. An excerpt reads:-

‘Leadership of the human-genetics community, diverse in its interests and its own identities, should develop mechanisms for promoting thoughtful and rigorous use of genetic ancestry estimation in academic research….Leadership of the human-genetics community, diverse in its interests and its own identities, should develop mechanisms for promoting thoughtful and rigorous use of genetic ancestry estimation in academic research’

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