Our regular weekly roundup of brain science news starts off with a story written by Lisa Sanders, M.D., in the New York Times. It concerns an unusual case of migraine that turned out to be something else, and underlines the need for looking beyond obvious diagnoses.
Intervention with an antioxidant early in the Parkinson’s disease may break a newly identified toxic cascade that leads to neuronal degeneration. The Northwestern Medicine scientists behind the study also found that mouse models of Parkinson’s didn’t have the same abnormalities they found in human Parkinson’s neurons, highlighting the importance of studying human neurons to develop new therapies.
More evidence came out his week supporting a strong association between gut bacteria and multiple sclerosis, with researchers at UC San Francisco identifying specific gut microbes linked with multiple sclerosis in human patients. Since the microbiome is very malleable, the one of the authors notes, it would be relatively easy to alter it in an adult who has MS or is susceptible - something you cannot do with genetic approaches.
Balancing that hopeful MS news, an article in Multiple Sclerosis News Today says that the plethora of Multiple Sclerosis apps appearing may not be all for the good of the MS community, citing privacy concerns, among others.
The highest viewed story of the week on sciencebeta was the news that a team of scientists have laid out a potential mechanism behind the phenomenon of severe immune reaction during pregnancy— known as Maternal Immune Activation - increasing the risk of neurodevelopmental disorders like autism. If the results, from a mouse model, also hold true in human studies, the findings may provide a potential way to mitigate the risk of autism.
More autism spectrum disorder news comes from a letter in the New England Journal of Medicine by three University of California, San Diego scientists. The correspondence suggests that an improved understanding of the perceived link between adverse reactions to vaccinations and autism could help doctors better address concerns about vaccination. Their data showed no significant difference between rates of vaccination among children with and those without autism, but that the rate of vaccination among full biologic infant siblings of children with autism spectrum disorder was 83.1%, as compared with 97.0% among low-risk infants.
Lastly, an interview with Alix Generous, a female diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder, made interesting video viewing. See below.
Image: MRC NIMR, Wellcome Images