Nerve-blocking Antibody Relieves Chronic Low Back Pain

Tanezumab, a monoclonal antibody that inhibits nerve activity, may provide relief to people with chronic low back pain, new research indicates. Chronic low back pain is one of the leading reasons why people seek medical care and the number one cause of disability worldwide. “This demonstration of efficacy is a major breakthrough in the global search to develop non-opioid treatments for chronic pain. There were also improvements in function linked to the reduction in pain severity,” says John Markman, director of the Translational Pain Research Program in neurosurgery department at the University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC) and lead author of the study[1].

Bioelectric Signals Improve Understanding Of Breast Cancer Metastasis

Biologists from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) have identified a distinct mechanism that affects the maintenance and expansion of malignant cells: electric signals in the tumor microenvironment. Metastasis accounts for approximately 90 percent of mortality in breast cancer patients. During the last few decades, there has been significant progress in understanding genetic, molecular and signaling mechanisms underpinning cancer cell migration. All cells can generate bioelectric signals through their plasma membrane, and therefore naturally exist in our bodies.

Air Quality Impacts Early Brain Development

A link between traffic-related air pollution and an increased risk for changes in brain development relevant to neurodevelopmental disorders has been identified by researchers at the University of California, Davis. Their study[1], based on rodent models, agrees with previous epidemiological evidence showing this association. While air pollution has long been a concern for pulmonary and cardiovascular health, it has only been within the past decade that scientists have turned their attention to its effects on the brain, said UC Davis toxicologist Pamela Lein, senior author of the study.

Study Sheds Light On A Classic Visual Illusion

It’s a classic visual illusion: Two gray dots appear on a background that consists of a gradient from light gray to black. Although the two dots are identical, they appear very different based on where they are placed against the background. Scientists who study the brain have been trying to figure out the mechanism behind this illusion, known as simultaneous brightness contrast, for more than 100 years. An MIT-led study[1] now suggests that this phenomenon relies on brightness estimation that takes place before visual information reaches the brain’s visual cortex, possibly within the retina.

Suicide Rate For People With Schizophrenia Spectrum Disorders 170 Times Higher

The suicide rate for people with schizophrenia spectrum disorders (SSD) is 170 times higher than the general population according a new study - a figure the authors call “tragically high.” “What this study teaches is us that although people with SSD are at higher risk for suicide, we can target those at the highest risk with changes in policy and treatment," said lead author Dr. Juveria Zaheer, Clinician Scientist at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) Institute for Mental Health Policy Research.

Are We All OCD Now, With Obsessive Hand-Washing And Technology Addiction?

One of the hallmarks of obsessive-compulsive disorder is contamination fears and excessive hand-washing. Years ago, a patient with severe OCD came to my office wearing gloves and a mask and refused to sit on any of the “contaminated” chairs. Now, these same behaviors are accepted and even encouraged to keep everyone healthy. This new normal in the face of a deadly pandemic has permeated our culture and will continue to influence it.

Neurovascular Function Is Determined By The Neural Metabolic Environment

Blood vessels can sense the metabolic state of neighboring neural cells, recent work in the lab of Asifa Akhtar in Freiburg has shown. The researchers found that the epigenetic regulator MOF is required for equipping neurons with the right metabolic enzymes needed for processing fatty acids. “Something has to tell neural cells that there are nutrients around and they should turn on the programs needed to process them. MOF goes to the DNA and switches on the genetic programs that allow cells to process fatty acids in the brain," explains Bilal Sheikh, lead author of the study[1].

The Places You Go (Or Don't) Can Change Your Personality

The places where we spend time seem to influence our personalities, new research reports[1]. The findings suggest that the places we choose to frequent can affect not only our thinking, feelings, or behavior in the moment, but may actually change our personalities over time. If complying with shelter-in-place orders has made you feel more disorganized or less kind than usual, it may be because that’s what happens when you spend more time at home instead of public spaces, according to a new study.