People with early-onset dementia are often misdiagnosed as having depression. Research has now identified what may actually be happening in such cases: a profound loss of ability to experience pleasure. The loss is related to degeneration of ‘hedonic hotspots’ in the brain where pleasure mechanisms are concentrated, University of Sydney-led research1 shows. The study revealed marked degeneration, or atrophy, of grey matter in frontal and striatal areas of the brain related to diminished reward-seeking, in patients with frontotemporal dementia (FTD).
Two small proteins made by the M. tuberculosis bacteria mediate secretion of it’s toxin by pore formation in the membranes that envelop the bacteria, new research1 shows. Six years ago, Michael Niederweis, Ph.D., described the first toxin ever found for the deadly pathogen Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Scanning electron micrograph of Mycobacterium tuberculosis bacteria, which cause TB. Credit: NIAID The toxin, tuberculosis necrotizing toxin, or TNT, became the founding member of a novel class of previously unrecognized toxins present in more than 600 bacterial and fungal species, as determined by protein sequence similarity.
Exposure to phthalates, a class of chemicals widely used in packaging and consumer products, is known to interfere with normal hormone function and development in human and animal studies. Now researchers have found evidence1 linking pregnant women’s exposure to phthalates to altered cognitive outcomes in their infants. Most of the findings involved slower information processing among infants with higher phthalate exposure levels, with males more likely to be affected depending on the chemical involved and the order of information presented to the infants.
Extreme repetitive behaviors such as hand-flapping, body-rocking, skin-picking, and sniffing are common to a number of brain disorders including autism, schizophrenia, Huntington’s disease, and drug addiction. These behaviors, termed stereotypies, are also apparent in animal models of drug addiction and autism. In a new study1, researchers at the McGovern Institute for Brain Research have identified genes that are activated in the brain prior to the initiation of these severe repetitive behaviors.
Antibodies against SARS-CoV-2 wane at different rates, lasting for days in some people, while remaining in others for decades, according to machine learning prediction research. A new study1 shows that the severity of the infection could be a deciding factor in having longer-lasting antibodies. People with low levels of neutralizing antibodies may still be protected from COVID-19 if they have a robust T-cell immunity. The key message from this study is that the longevity of functional neutralizing antibodies against SARS-CoV-2 can vary greatly and it is important to monitor this at an individual level.
For people whose bodies age more quickly than others, the cumulative effects show up as early as midlife, when signs of dementia and physical frailty begin to emerge, a study led by Duke researchers found. The results of the study1 suggests that identifying and treating the diseases of old age should begin by the time people celebrate their 45th birthday, before the problems escalate, degrade quality of life, and impose huge personal and societal costs.
A significant share of dementia deaths in England and Wales may be because of socioeconomic deprivation, new research led by Queen Mary University of London suggests. The study1 also found that socioeconomic deprivation was linked with younger age at death with dementia, and poorer access to accurate diagnosis. The research looked at mortality data from the Office for National Statistics for England and Wales and found that in 2017, 14,837 excess dementia deaths were attributable to deprivation, equating to 21.
A genetic engineering strategy has been utilized to reduce levels of tau protein in an animal model of Alzheimer’s disease, say investigators at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) and Sangamo Therapeutics Inc. The results could lead to a potentially promising treatment for patients with this devastating illness. The strategy, as described in the study1, involves a gene regulation technology called zinc finger protein transcription factors (ZFP-TFs), which are DNA-binding proteins that can be harnessed to target and affect the expression of specified genes.