Health & Wellness


Mutant Mouse Gene Offers Clues to Hearing Loss

A mutation in mice that mimics progressive hearing loss in humans has been identified by European researchers.

They found that mice with a mutation in a gene called Oblivion had problems with the function of hair cells in the inner ear. In mice with one mutant copy of the Oblivion gene, ear hair cells showed some initial function but later degenerated. In mice with two mutant copies of the gene, the ear hair cells were damaged at birth.

"When we mapped the mutation to the mouse genome, we quickly found a probable cause for hearing loss," study senior author Karen Steel, of the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute in Cambridge, U.K., said in an institute news release.

Memory Loss Tied to Brain's White Matter

MIT team says cognition suffers as nervous system network decays with aging

The "white matter" that connects the regions of the brain may have more of a role in memory and cognitive loss than previously believed, a new study says.

By comparing brain scans of groups of healthy young and old adults, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) neuroscientists discovered a relationship between loss of memory and cognitive performance in older people and the deterioration of the white matter in the parts of their brains related to those functions.

The Three Biggest Conservative Myths on Health Care

Before President-elect Obama can institute his health care reform agenda, Congress must address some unfinished business from the Bush era.

Federal Members of Advisory Committee Block Vaccine-Autism Research, Defy Wishes of Its Own Scientists, Autism Community, and Congress

SafeMinds Withdraws Support for Autism Research Strategic Plan, Asks Daschle to Investigate.

In a highly unusual departure from procedure, government representatives to the Federal Interagency Autism Advisory Committee (IACC) voted this week against conducting studies on vaccine-autism research despite approval of the same studies at their prior meeting. The research was supported by numerous autism organizations and requested by IACC's scientific work groups and Congress. The maneuver to re-vote on the vaccine-autism studies was initiated by the IACC's representative from the CDC and pushed through by the IACC Chair, Dr. Tom Insel, Director of the National Institute of Mental Health of NIH.

Bush Moves to Okay Toxic Teflon Pollution in Tap Water

Washington, D.C. - In its final days, the Bush administration appears poised to issue an emergency health advisory for tap water polluted with the toxic Teflon chemical PFOA (perfluorooctanoic acid) effectively allowing a significant level of pollution and discouraging cleanup of PFOA contamination in tap water in at least 9 states, according to an analysis by Environmental Working Group (EWG).

The level of permissible PFOA contamination under the administration's guidance would be 10 times higher than that allowed by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, whose commissioner, Lisa Jackson has been tapped by incoming President Obama to run the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). If the Bush administration advisory is allowed to stand, it could result in blood levels of PFOA in people nearly 10 times higher than the current average amounts.

US: The horror of Georgia psychiatric hospitals

Georgia promised the federal government Thursday it will make dramatic improvements in its state psychiatric hospitals - and that it will spend what's necessary to protect patients from harm.

The pledge, signed late in the day by Gov. Sonny Perdue, commits the state to a five-year plan of correcting deficiencies that caused hundreds of patient injuries and illnesses and dozens of deaths.

In reaching a settlement agreement with the U.S. Justice Department, the state did not admit wrongdoing.

Comment: With the horrid military budget and the corrupt bail outs it is beyond criminal that money cannot be found to help those who are truly in need!


How the brain generates delusions

People with certain types of brain disorders can suffer from delusions, which are erroneous beliefs in objects or situations that remain fixed in the mind despite evidence they are incorrect. Delusions make it hard for people to function with any normalcy in the real world and confound the doctors and therapists who are trying to help them.

Research published this week in the journal Neurology makes an important observation about the brains of people with neurological disorders, such as those with brain damage from strokes and Alzheimer's disease who suffer delusions, and suggests a novel theory for why delusions occur and persist.

A Link Between Autism and Testosterone?

Autism Ultrasound
© Getty Images
A British researcher claims his study may lead to early screening for autism via amniocentesis.
A researcher who describes autism as a condition of the "extreme male brain" says fetuses exposed in the womb to high levels of the male hormone testosterone are more likely than others to develop autistic traits as children.

Simon Baron-Cohen, director of Cambridge University's Autism Research Centre, has shown in past research that men are more likely than women to score low on tests of empathy but high on tests of "systemizing" - recognizing rules and patterns - characteristics that, in the extreme, define autism. That's what led Baron-Cohen to regard the disorder - which is about three to four times as prevalent in boys as in girls - as one of the extreme male brain and to search for a link to male hormones.

Scientists Discover Gene Responsible for Brain's Aging

Will scientists one day be able to slow the aging of the brain and prevent diseases such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's? Absolutely - once the genetic coding associated with neuronal degeneration has been unraveled.

According to a new study published in The Journal of Neuroscience, a research team from the Université de Montréal, Maisonneuve-Rosemont Hospital and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory has taken a giant step in this direction by identifying a gene that controls the normal and pathological aging of neurons in the central nervous system: Bmi1.

The primary risk factor for diseases such as macular degeneration, Parkinson's and Alzheimer's is age. Although many researchers have sought to better understand the genetics and pathophysiology of these diseases, few studies have focused on the basic molecular mechanisms that control neuronal aging.

DVD teach autistic kids what a smile means

baron-cohen autism
© AP Photo/Brian Harris
September 2008 file photo of Professor Simon Baron-Cohen photographed in the Great Court at Trinity College, Cambridge England. For the past three years, Professor Baron-Cohen has been working on a cartoon series that new research shows is dramatically effective in helping children with autism understand and recognise emotions. The DVD 'The Transporters' goes on sale in United States on January 12.
London - It wasn't until Jude met Jenny that the 3-year-old autistic boy understood what happy people look like.

Jenny, a green tram with a human face, had a furrowed brow when her wheel buckled and she got stuck on a track. But after being rescued by friends, she smiled broadly - and that's when something clicked for little Jude Baines.

"It was revelatory," his mother, Caron Freeborn told AP Television News in Cambridge, England. Before watching the video, Jude didn't understand what emotions were and never noticed the expressions on people's faces, even those of his parents or younger brother.

Jenny's adventures are part of a DVD for autistic children released this week in the United States called The Transporters.

The DVD teaches autistic children how to recognize emotions like happiness, anger and sadness through the exploits of vehicles including a train, a ferry, and a cable car.