One epilepsy patient reported a flushing in his chest and described a feeling of determinedness, like getting ready to drive through a storm. A second reported similar feelings, a response scientists involved in the study called “the will to persevere.” Both patients were reacting to an electric current delivered through an electrode implanted in the brain — put there to try to find the source of their seizures — which happened to stimulate one of the key nodes of a brain circuit known as the “salience network.”In a rare study involving direct brain stimulation, Michael Greicius, a neurologist at Stanford University, and collaborators say they have uncovered direct evidence that a brain region known as the anterior midcingulate cortex and its surrounding network play a central role in motivation and a readiness to act. The theory had been based on indirect data — until now. “It was a fortuitous opportunity, providing a rare piece of data that we can’t get from any other setting,” Greicius said. “It’s nice to have a human lend this first-person insight into what it feels like to have your salience network stimulated.”
PENN STATE (US) — Participation in a creative storytelling program helps improve the perceptions medical students have of patients affected by dementia.
Daniel George, assistant professor of humanities at Penn State College of Medicine, tested the effects of the TimeSlips storytelling program in an elective course he teaches at the college. Fourth-year medical students worked with patients at Country Meadows, an assisted living community, who are affected by advanced dementia.
Medical students commonly perceive persons with dementia as being challenging to work with. “We currently lack effective drugs for dementia, and there’s a sense that these are cases where students can’t do much to benefit the patient,” George says.
“The perception is that they’re hard to extract information from, you don’t know if that information is reliable, and there are often other complicated medical issues to deal with.”
TimeSlips is a non-pharmacological approach to dementia care that uses creative storytelling in a group setting and encourages participants to use their imagination rather than focusing on their inability to remember chronologically.
The hormone has the ability to boost activity in the brain area linked to social behavior and could thus lead to more effective treatment
For children with autism, a dose of oxytocin — the so-called "love hormone" — seems to fine-tune the activity in brain areas linked to social interactions, according to a new study.
Although the hormone didn't change children's social skills in the study, its boosting effect on the brain's social areas suggests that using oxytocin nasal sprays immediately before behavioral therapies could boost the effects of those treatments, the researchers said.
"Oxytocin temporarily normalized brain regions responsible for the social deficits seen in children with autism," said study researcher Ilanit Gordon, a neuroscientist at Yale University in New Haven, Conn.
The study involved 17 children and teens with autism spectrum disorders who underwent two sessions of brain imaging as they performed a task related to social behavior. In each session, the participants received either oxytocin nasal spray or a placebo, and were asked to judge the mental states of people based on a picture of their eyes.
The results showed that, compared with placebo sessions, when children received oxytocin they showed greater activity in the "social brain," which includes regions that process social information and are linked to reward, social perception and emotional awareness.
Engineer immune cells to recognise tumour cells they would otherwise overlook and they call a halt to cancers we thought were incurable
"THE results are holding up very nicely." Cancer researcher Michel Sadelain is admirably understated about the success of a treatment developed in his lab at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York.
In March, he announced that five people with a type of blood cancer called acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL) were in remission following treatment with genetically engineered immune cells from their own blood. One person's tumours disappeared in just eight days.
Sadelain has now told New Scientist that a further 11 people have been treated, almost all of them with the same outcome. Several trials for other cancers are also showing promise.
What has changed is that researchers are finding ways to train the body's own immune system to kill cancer cells. Until now, the most common methods of attacking cancer use drugs or radiation, which have major side effects and are blunt instruments to say the least.
The latest techniques involve genetically engineering immune T-cells to target and kill cancer cells, while leaving healthy cells relatively unscathed.
Despite what TV and the movies might have us believe, getting a needle into a vein isn't always a straightforward procedure. It can sometimes take multiple attempts, much to the discomfort of the patient. Now, however, Evena Medical's new Eyes-On Glasses reportedly let nurses see patients' veins in real time, right through their skin.
The glasses can be worn over existing eyewear, and incorporate "multi-spectral 3D imaging" (multiple spectra of projected light) to make veins show up when viewed via the glasses' dual cameras. Users see the patient's skin as it really is through the glasses' clear lens, but with an image of the veins as processed by the cameras overlaid on top.
The first of four studies on the special relationship between sleep and depression suggests that when antidepressants and insomnia therapy are used together, recovery happens faster.
Curing insomnia in people with depression could double their chance of a full recovery, scientists are reporting. The findings, based on an insomnia treatment that uses talk therapy rather than drugs, are the first to emerge from a series of closely watched studies of sleep and depression to be released in the coming year.
The new report affirms the results of a smaller pilot study, giving scientists confidence that the effects of the insomnia treatment are real. If the figures continue to hold up, the advance will be the most significant in the treatment of depression since the introduction of Prozac in 1987.
Depression is the most common mental disorder, affecting some 18 million Americans in any given year, according to government figures, and more than half of them also have insomnia.
Researchers at the Cardiovascular Research Center at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai have successfully tested a powerful gene therapy, delivered directly into the heart, to reverse heart failure.
Height has its perks, but research shows short people might win out in one big way: they might have less risk of cancer and longer lives than tall people.
In many areas of life, tall people seem to get all the benefits. On average, they earn more money. They are more successful at work. Taller people are just more, er, highly regarded than their shorter counterparts.
But research is showing that short people might win out in one big way: they might be less prone to cancer, and even have longer lives, than tall people. Although the jury is still out on how much height affects longevity, it shows no signs of stopping our cultural preference for taller people.
A nose growing from a forehead. An ear sprouting on an arm. These startling images represent a revolutionary approach to surgical reconstruction.
Images of a nose implanted on a man's forehead have been all over the Internet, like ads for some creepy horror film you probably don't want to see. Almost as jarring are pictures of an ear protruding from a woman's inner arm.
They're not from some horror movie—they're real science. The nose-on-the-forehead photo depicts a nose repair in progress in China. The photo of the ear on an arm was published in the September 19 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine. Such surgeries are examples of new approaches to standard reconstructive techniques that may cost patients a few months of psychological discomfort but will eventually allow their facial features to be repaired.
Patrick Byrne, director of facial plastic and reconstructive surgery at Johns Hopkins Health Care and Surgery Center in Green Spring Station, Maryland, believes his innovative ear reconstruction pictured in the NEJM was one of the first performed in the world. Growing noses on foreheads or ears on arms before transplanting them to the conventional locations is based on surgical reconstruction techniques going back hundreds of years. But modern-day applications are truly revolutionary, as Byrne explained in an interview with National Geographic News.
Photo: flickr/scott You know that you've wondered about it: how much of a workout is a roll in the hay? Well, so did these scientists, and to find out they
“Objective: To determine energy expenditure in kilocalories (kcal) during sexual activity in young healthy couples in their natural environment and compare it to a session of endurance exercise.
Methods: The study population consisted of twenty one heterosexual couples (age: 22.6 ± 2.8 years old) from the Montreal region. Free living energy expenditure during sexual activity and the endurance exercise was measured using the portable mini SenseWear armband.Perceived energy expenditure, perception of effort, fatigue and pleasure were also assessed after sexual activity. All participants completed a 30 min endurance exercise session on a treadmill at a moderate intensity.
Results: Mean energy expenditure during sexual activity was 101 kCal or 4.2 kCal/min in men and 69.1 kCal or 3.1 kCal/min in women. In addition, mean intensity was 6.0 METS in men and 5.6 METS in women, which represents a moderate intensity. Moreover, the energy expenditure and intensity during the 30 min exercise session in men was 276 kCal or 9.2 kCal/min and 8.5 METS, respectively and in women 213 kCal or 7.1 kCal/min and 8.4 METS, respectively. Interestingly, the highest range value achieved by men for absolute energy expenditure can potentially be higher than that of the mean energy expenditure of the 30 min exercise session (i.e. 306.1 vs. 276 kCal, respectively) whereas this was not observed in women. Finally, perceived energy expenditure during sexual activity was similar in men (100 kCal) and in women (76.2 kCal) when compared to measured energy expenditure.
Conclusion: The present study indicates that energy expenditure during sexual activity appears to be approximately 85 kCal or 3.6 kCal/min and seems to be performed at a moderate intensity (5.8 METS) in young healthy men and women. These results suggest that sexual activity may potentially be considered, at times, as a significant exercise.”
IImagine being an astronomer in a world where the telescope was banned. This effectively happened in the 1600s when, for over 100 years, the Catholic Church prohibited access to knowledge of the heavens in a vain attempt to stop scientists proving that the earth was not the center of the universe. ‘Surely similar censorship could never happen today,’ I hear you say—but it does in relation to the use of drugs to study the brain. Scientists and doctors are banned from studying many hundreds of drugs because of outdated United Nations charters dating back to the 1960s and 1970s. Some of the banned drugs include cannabis, psychedelics and MDMA (now widely known as ecstasy).
Scientists launch company to develop the therapeutic potential of gene-snipping enzymes
Instead of taking prescription pills to treat their ailments, patients may one day opt for genetic 'surgery' — using an innovative gene-editing technology to snip out harmful mutations and swap in healthy DNA.
The system, called CRISPR (Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats), has exploded in popularity in the past year, with genetic engineers, neuroscientists and even plant biologists viewing it as a highly efficient and precise research tool. Now, the gene-editing system has spun out a biotechnology company that is attracting attention from investors as well.
Editas Medicine, based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, announced its launch on 25 November with an initial $43 million venture capital investment. The company, founded by five leading CRISPR researchers, aims to develop therapies that directly modify disease-related genes.
Most who have tried it would agree that dieting is a generally unpleasant, and an oftentimes ineffective way to lose weight in the long-term. The biggest hurdle for many is the constant hunger that comes from a change in their regular diet.
This week, health authorities in New Zealand announced that the tightly quarantined island nation — the only place I’ve ever been where you get x-rayed on the way into the country as well as leaving it — has experienced its first case, and first death, from a strain of totally drug-resistant bacteria. From the New Zealand Herald:
In January, while he was teaching English in Vietnam, (Brian) Pool suffered a brain hemorrhage and was operated on in a Vietnamese hospital.
He was flown to Wellington Hospital where tests found he was carrying the strain of bacterium known as KPC-Oxa 48 – an organism that rejects every kind of antibiotic.
Wellington Hospital clinical microbiologist Mark Jones (said): “Nothing would touch it. Absolutely nothing. It’s the first one that we’ve ever seen that is resistant to every single antibiotic known.”
Pool’s death is an appalling tragedy. But it is also a lesson, twice over: It illustrates that antibiotic resistance can spread anywhere, no matter the defenses we put up — and it demonstrates that we are on the verge of entering a new era in history. Jones, the doctor who treated Pool, says in the story linked above: “This man was in the post-antibiotic era.”
“Post-antibiotic era” is a phrase that gets tossed around a lot these days, most of the time without people stopping to consider what it might really mean. A year ago, I started wondering what life would be like, if we really didn’t have antibiotics any more. I was commissioned and edited by got research support from (editing to make clear that they didn’t give me a grant; they don’t do that) the fantastic Food and Environment Reporting Network, and today Medium publishes our 4,000-word report, “Imagining a Post-Antibiotics Future” — a view from the far side of the antibiotic miracle.
If we really lost antibiotics to advancing drug resistance — and trust me, we’re not far off — here’s what we would lose. Not just the ability to treat infectious disease; that’s obvious.
But also: The ability to treat cancer, and to transplant organs, because doing those successfully relies on suppressing the immune system and willingly making ourselves vulnerable to infection. Any treatment that relies on a permanent port into the bloodstream — for instance, kidney dialysis. Any major open-cavity surgery, on the heart, the lungs, the abdomen. Any surgery on a part of the body that already harbors a population of bacteria: the guts, the bladder, the genitals. Implantable devices: new hips, new knees, new heart valves. Cosmetic plastic surgery. Liposuction. Tattoos.
Certain brain areas are enlarged and white-matter tracts were better connected in people with larger social networks
SAN DIEGO — Being a social butterfly just might change your brain: In people with a large network of friends and excellent social skills, certain brain regions are bigger and better connected than in people with fewer friends, a new study finds.
The research, presented here Tuesday (Nov. 12) at the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience, suggests a connection between social interactions and brain structure.
"We're interested in how your brain is able to allow you to navigate in complex social environments," study researcher MaryAnn Noonan, a neuroscientist at Oxford University, in England, said at a news conference. Basically, "how many friends can your brain handle?" Noonan said.
Scientists still don't understand how the brain manages human behavior in increasingly complex social situations, or what parts of the brain are linked to deviant social behavior associated with conditions like autism and schizophrenia.
Anyone who has left youth behind them knows that bumps and scrapes don't heal as fast as they used to. But that could change with researchers at the Stem Cell Program at Boston Children's Hospital finding a way to regrow hair, cartilage, bone, skin and other soft tissues in a mouse by reactivating a dormant gene called Lin28a. The discovery could lead to new treatments that provide adults with the regenerative powers they possessed when very young.
Lin28 is a gene that is abundant in embryonic stem cells and which functions in all organisms. It is thought to regulate the self-renewal of stem cells with the researchers finding that by promoting the production of certain enzymes in mitochondria, it enhances the metabolism of these cellular power plants that found in most of the cells of living organisms. In this way, Lin28 helps generate the energy needed to stimulate the growth of new tissues.
"We already know that accumulated defects in mitochondrial metabolism can lead to aging in many cells and tissues," says Shyh-Chang Ng. "We are showing the converse – that enhancement of mitochondrial metabolism can boost tissue repair and regeneration, recapturing the remarkable repair capacity of juvenile animals."
The mystery of why wounds heal more quickly in the young compared to the elderly may soon be solved following the discovery of two of the genes involved in tissue regeneration.
Scientists believe that the findings will help to develop new drugs and treatments for faster wound-healing as well as shedding light on the ageing process itself, and what could amount to a genetic "fountain of youth".
Two teams of researchers found separate genes that accelerate tissue regeneration in laboratory mice. Both genes, which are also present in the human genome, are more active in young mice compared to older mice.
The scientists believe that the genes, called Lin28a and IMP1, are designed to be especially active during the foetal stages of development and are gradually turned off as an animal ages - which could explain why wounds take longer to heal in the elderly and how ageing occurs.
One of the teams, led by George Daley of the Boston Children's Hospital and Harvard Medical School, activated the Lin28a gene in adult mice and found that shaved fur on their backs grew back much faster than in ordinary adult mice where the gene had not be artificially boosted.
"It sounds like science fiction, but Lin28a could be part of a healing cocktail that gives adults the superior tissue repair seen in juvenile animals," said Dr Daley, whose study is published in the journal Cell.
The Kinsa thermometer plugs into your iPhone and keeps track of things like temperatures, symptoms, and diagnoses.
Wondering whether the flu is going around in your neighborhood? With the Kinsa smart thermometer, there’s now a way to track that sort of data in real time.
With no batteries, LCD screen, or processor, the Kinsa oral thermometer plugs into and is powered by the headphone jack of your iPhone. This connection allows the accompanying mobile app to collect accurate temperature data (including real-time fluctuations) and add it to your illness history. From there, you can use the app to share your history with physicians and even access tools to manage your illness.
In the Star Trek universe, handheld medical tricorders became standard issue for Starfleet vessels as early as the mid-22nd century. Here in a little place we like to call “reality,” a competition seeks to help deliver such all-in-one health analyzers at least 100 years ahead of schedule. After more than 300 prospective entrants for the Qualcomm Tricorder XPRIZE expressed interest in the competition, organizers on Tuesday will unveil the 34 teams competing for the $10 million prize.
The vast majority—21 teams—hail from the U.S. The U.K. and Canada are represented by three teams apiece, with the rest coming from Greece, India, Poland, Slovenia, South Korea, Taiwan and The Netherlands.
Perhaps the best-known entry is Scanadu, a startup based at NASA-Ames Research Park. The company introduced its Scout monitor a year ago and plans to deliver it to the market by early 2014 for about $150. Scanadu is designing Scout to measure temperature, heart rate, breathing rate and other vital signs after being placed on a patient’s temple for 10 seconds. Most of the other entrants aren’t nearly as far along in terms of development or even making information about their ideas available to the public.