Analysis of blood plasma could help identify diagnostic and prognostic biomarkers for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, according to new research. The work sheds further light on a pathway involved in disease progression and appears to rule out an environmental neurotoxin as playing a role in ALS. “Early diagnosis is important, but we are in dire need of quantitative markers for monitoring progression and the efficacy of therapeutic intervention. Since disruptions in metabolism are hallmark features of ALS, we wanted to investigate metabolite markers as an avenue for biomarker discovery,” says Michael Bereman, associate professor of biological sciences at North Carolina State University and corresponding author of the paper.
The anaesthetic drug ketamine has been shown, in low doses, to have a rapid effect on difficult-to-treat depression. Researchers at Karolinska Institutet report that they have identified a key target for the drug: specific serotonin receptors in the brain. The findings give hope for new, effective antidepressants. “In this, the largest PET study of its kind in the world, we wanted to look at not only the magnitude of the effect but also if ketamine acts via serotonin 1B receptors.
A joint venture of the University of Vienna and the Medical University of Vienna, and the TU Wien (Vienna) allows researchers to look deep into organs and nervous systems of animals, ranging from squids and worms to fish and salamanders. Analyses of individual cells in the context of whole organs or tissues is becoming increasingly important in biology. A standard approach so far was to cut larger tissues into thin layers, study each of these sections, and then piece the information again together into a 3D model.
Using modern nanoscale microscopic techniques, plus clever experiments in living cells and fruit flies, Scripps Research Institute scientists have demonstrated in a new study how clusters of lipids in the cell membrane serve as a missing go-between in a two-part mechanism of anesthesia’s effect on consciousness. Temporary exposure to anesthesia causes the lipid clusters to move from an ordered state, to a disordered one, and then back again, leading to a multitude of subsequent effects that ultimately cause changes in consciousness.
We know little about the life of Alcmaeon of Croton: We can be pretty sure he hailed from the coastal city of Croton (present day Crotone), in the far south of Italy, and had a father named Peirithous; he may have been a student of Pythagoras. We don’t know when he was born or when he died; only that he was active in the 5th century B.C. But we know he was fascinated by the human body, and was willing to challenge some of the established dogmas of his day.
Although evidence exists for the healing power of love, only recently has science turned its attention to providing a physiological explanation for love. The study of love in this context offers insight into many important topics, including the biological basis of interpersonal relationships and why and how disruptions in social bonds have such pervasive consequences for behavior and physiology. Some of the answers will be found in our growing knowledge of the neurobiological and endocrinological mechanisms of social behavior and interpersonal engagement.
When people are highly confident in a decision, they take in information that confirms their decision, but fail to process information which contradicts it, finds a brain imaging study from University College London. The finding helps to explain the neural processes that contribute to the confirmation bias entrenched in most people’s thought processes. “We were interested in the cognitive and neural mechanisms causing people to ignore information that contradicts their beliefs, a phenomenon known as confirmation bias.
As the Covid-19 crisis has unfolded, billions of people in the world have learned just what the word “lockdown” means. As the days stretched into weeks and even months, sleep was one of the rare escapes from confinement – but maybe not even then. Ask around and you will probably find that others in your circle of friends and family feel the same way: while locked down, our dreams can seem more intense, and even more troubling.