Alzheimer’s Disease International has recently published the World Alzheimer’s Report 2012. The report is titled ‘Overcoming the Stigma of Dementia’. The report is based on a global study of people with Dementia and reveals that 1 in 4 people with Dementia conceal their diagnosis through fear of stigma. The video below explains the results in more detail and also highlights the importance of treating people with Dementia with respect. The proposal that every country should have a National Alzheimer’s Plan is encouraging.
The theme for World Mental Health Day this year is on Depression: A Global Crisis. World Mental Health day has been organised by the World Federation for Mental Health. PsychCentral are organising a blogging event for World Mental Health Day on October 10th 2012. The intention is to coordinate a campaign for raising awareness of Mental Health issues on that day. For those interested the details can be found here.
There is an interesting article on the proposal for a Hoarding disorder being included in DSM-V. As anyone moving house will know, people can accumulate a lot of objects over the course of their life. In hoarding disorder this accumulation becomes excessive and is combined with a number of other difficulties including distress caused by the hoarding and a reluctance to throw things away. The article includes a brief look at some research which distinguishes this from Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. DSM-V is due out in May 2013 when it will become clear if this is recognised as a distinct illness category.
The US Food and Drugs Administration has requested the recall of one strength of a generic antidepressant Budeprion (which is a formulation of Bupropion). This request applies to the American market and specifically to one strength of this preparation. This follows a small study looking at the bioavailability of the compound after administration. The FDA press release includes a recognition of the value of an American public campaign for a review of the medication. This campaign was prompted by letters received by Joe Graedon who received feedback on his website from members of the public. Graedon commissioned an independent study which found a difference in the bioavailability which was then followed by the most recent FDA requested study.
The New York Times has a piece on one man’s strategy for successfully managing the symptoms of Schizophrenia through narratives, medication and psychotherapy.
An American study provided evidence that people with Schizophrenia are more likely to die from cardiovascular disease than people without Schizophrenia. The researchers led by Dr Paul Kurdyak looked at the outcome data for 70, 688 patients that were included. They compared people with Schizophrenia with those without this diagnosis. They found that people with Schizophrenia were 56% more likely to die within 30 days of discharge from hospital and 50% less likely to undergo specific procedures. The researchers suggest that the differences in mortality rates may be due to a number of factors including lifestyle. These types of results are important in informing health campaigns to improve health in people with Schizophrenia by addressing lifestyle risk factors for example.
There is a write-up here of a lecture by Professor Joyce of UCL on the findings from research on cognitive impairment in Schizophrenia. The research suggests that cognitive skills play an important role independent of the positive and negative symptoms that occur in Schizophrenia.
Professor Keith Laws has recently published a meta-analysis on the effects of Gingko Biloba on cognition in a healthy population. He concludes that there is no identified benefit for cognition on the basis of the analysis of the included studies.
There is a PLOS One Genetics study on Neanderthals-Human interbreeding. The research team included Professor Svante Pääbo who first sequenced the Neanderthal genome and concluded that between 1 and 4% of DNA in modern human populations is inherited from Neanderthals. Those findings were challenged recently in another study where the researchers suggested that this DNA could have come from the ancestors humans share with Neanderthals (concestors as evolutionist Professor Richard Dawkins would refer to them). However another study in turn challenged that which due to the peculiarities of how papers were being reviewed was written before the paper challenging the findings but in turn challenged the findings from that paper. The latest study further supports the theory that 1-4% of DNA in modern human populations is inherited from Neanderthals.
For this study the researchers looked at data from the 1000 Genomes Project. In this study, the researchers are sequencing the genomes from ethnic peoples from around the world hoping to better understand variation in genomes. In the PLOS One study, the researchers identified Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms which occurred in Neanderthals and in humans. Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms are essentially single mutations in the human genome. Some of these mutations are linked either because they are close to each other on the same chromosome or for other reasons. The researchers were careful to select SNP’s in humans that occurred with a relatively low frequency. This increased the likelihood that they had originated in the Neanderthal population although other explanations such as genetic drift were also possible.
If SNP’s are linked then with recombination in every generation there is a chance that the linked SNP’s will be separated by the recombination event. The closer they are, the longer it will take for them to be separated. The researchers found that the SNP’s that occurred in humans with low frequency were more likely to have occurred recently than before humans and Neanderthals had diverged. The original divergence must have happened (on the basis of the archaeological and genetic data) over 200,000 years ago. The results did not fit with this ancient population model. Instead they fitted with a more recent admixture or interbreeding event. Indeed by running simulations based on the genetic data from the 1000 Genomes Project and the Neanderthal data they were able to estimate that this admixture occurred between 37,000 and 86,000 years ago. However due to some subtle nuances in the data analysis they were more confident of a lower limit of 47,000 years ago. The researchers also hypothesised about the geographical localisation of the more recent admixture (since fossil evidence of earlier hybridisation has been found at the Skhul and Qafzeh caves.
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