A BRAIN Initiative first: New tool can switch behavior ‘on’ and ‘off’

first_img“This new chemogenetic tool will show us how brain circuits can be more effectively targeted to treat human disease, ” said Bryan L. Roth, MD, PhD, the Michael Hooker Distinguished Professor of Protein Therapeutics and Translational Proteomics at the UNC School of Medicine. “The problem facing medical science is that although most approved drugs target these brain receptors, it remains unclear how to selectively modulate specific kinds of receptors to effectively treat disease.”Roth addressed this problem by inventing a technology he dubbed “DREADDs” – Designer Receptor Exclusively Activated by a Designer Drug.The first-generation DREADD technology was developed in 2007.Essentially, in lab experiments, Roth’s team altered the chemical structure of G protein-coupled receptors so that the receptors expressed synthetic proteins when reintroduced into a mouse. This way, the mutated receptor could only be activated or inhibited by a specific synthesized drug-like compound. The receptor became like a lock; the synthetic drug became the only key that fit the lock. Depending on what Roth’s team wanted to study, they could lock or unlock the specific brain circuits and behaviors associated with that one receptor.This DREADD technology – also known as chemogenetics – is now used by hundreds of labs worldwide. It helped revolutionize our understanding of how brain circuits control normal and abnormal behavior, emotions, perception, pain sensation, memory, and many other processes. DREADDs have been used to improve the function of insulin-producing cells in mice as a way of treating diabetes. DREADD technology has also helped scientists treat epileptic seizures in mice.But scientists could use this first DREADD to only manipulate a single receptor in one direction – excite the receptor or inhibit it.Last year, Roth and UNC colleagues Thomas Kash, PhD, and Jian Jin, PhD, received a $2.84-million NIH BRAIN Initiative grant to develop the next generation of DREADDs.Today in the journal Neuron, UNC and NIH researchers revealed the first fruit of that grant – a new chemogenetic technology they have named KORD (k-opioid receptor DREADD). This new tool, co-invented by Roth and Eyal Vardy, PhD, a former UNC postdoctoral fellow, can target two different kinds of receptors on the same neuron sequentially. This allowed them to study the function of two kinds of receptors as they relate to each other.In the Neuron paper, Roth’s team explain how they modified the receptors in the lab, packaged the receptors in an viral vector, and injected them into mice so that the synthetic receptors were expressed only in certain kinds of neurons in specific parts of the brain.Then they administered the synthetic drug-like compound to demonstrate how neuronal signaling could be manipulated to turn the same neurons ‘on’ and ‘off’ and thereby turning ‘on’ and ‘off’ specific behaviors in mice.In one type of experiment, the NIH lab of Michael Krashes, PhD, was able to turn ‘on’ and ‘off’ voracious feeding behavior in mice. In another type of experiment, UNC researchers were able to turn ‘on’ and ‘off’ behaviors similar to those induced by drugs such as cocaine and amphetamines.Elliot Robinson, an MD/PhD student at UNC and co-first author of the Neuron paper, said, “These experiments have validated KORD as a new tool for researchers interested in controlling the function of specific populations of cells while also highlighting their therapeutic potential.”Reid Johnson, UNC graduate student and paper co-author, said, “Using genetically modified mice, we can now tease apart the interactions between seemingly disparate neuronal systems in a logical fashion.”Roth added, “We are now sharing KORD and other DREADD technology freely with other scientists, and it is likely that new uses for these technologies will appear in the near future.” LinkedIn Researchers at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) have perfected a noninvasive “chemogenetic” technique that allows them to switch off a specific behavior in mice – such as voracious eating – and then switch it back on. The method works by targeting two different cell surface receptors of neurons that are responsible for triggering the specific chemical signals that control brain function and complex behaviors.When this complex signaling system goes awry, the results can lead to a plethora of diseases, including schizophrenia, depression, Alzheimer’s Disease, Parkinson’s Disease, eating disorders, and epilepsy. Cell surface receptors also play roles in cancers, diabetes, digestive conditions, and other diseases. This new technique could be modified to study them, as well.This is the first technology to stem from the initial set of NIH BRAIN Initiative grants to create new cutting-edge research tools to improve our understanding of the brain. Share Share on Facebookcenter_img Email Share on Twitter Pinterestlast_img read more

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No differences between lonely and nonlonely people’s attention to negative social info

first_imgShare on Twitter The main purpose of their study was to look at differences between lonely people and nonlonely people to see if they showed differences in how much they pay attention to negative social cues.  Two groups of female students who attended college in the Netherlands were included in this study, including 25 nonlonely and 25 lonely participants.  The UCLA Loneliness Scale was translated into a Dutch version to group the study participants.  This is a 20 item questionnaire that measures how lonely people feel with questions like “How often do you feel left out?” (p.4).Then, the students were given 4 different sets of computer images and told to simply view them like they would TV.  Each set of images contained either social (involving humans) or nonsocial (not involving humans) information including faces, interactions between people, or pictures of random objects.  The women’s eye tracking was measured during each of the 4 sets of images in order to track how much they paid attention to negative social information like angry faces or a robbery negative nonsocial information like a dirty bucket.Results showed that, despite the expectation that differences would be found, there were no significant differences between the lonely and nonlonely participants in the how much they paid visual attention to negative information.  The researchers concluded that this may have occurred because lonely people may pay more attention to negative social information at other times during social interactions such as after they have just witnessed a negative social interaction and not during.Other reasons given for their lack of findings were that perhaps only certain kinds of lonely people pay more attention to negative information than do nonlonely (e.g., children who are still developing social skills) or that lonely people may only pay more attention to negative social information than do nonlonely people during certain situations (e.g., if they are being socially rejected). Share on Facebook Pinterest Researchers from the Netherlands recently examined loneliness to see if it affected how much attention people pay to negative social information like sad or angry faces.  The findings of this study were released in April 2015 in PLoS ONE.  Their findings showed no differences between lonely and nonlonely people in terms of how much attention they give to negative information that they view.Loneliness was defined as “a negative emotional response to a discrepancy between the desired and actual quality or quantity of interpersonal relationships” (p.2).  Previous research has shown that it is highly linked to both depression and social anxiety, and can have negative health consequences like higher disease and death rates.  And there is existing evidence to show that loneliness does impact how a person processes social information.For example, it has been shown that such people have more negative perceptions about social interactions and expectations about how they are viewed by others.  Therefore, the researchers felt that it was important to further study loneliness and its related behaviors, specifically how environmental information is processed.center_img Email LinkedIn Sharelast_img read more

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Study: Psychedelic drug psilocybin helps depressed patients ‘re-connect’ to the world

first_imgShare on Twitter Share on Facebook Share “Although many of us think of psychedelics as dangerous drugs, it’s time for a rethink,” explained the study’s corresponding author, Rosalind Watts of Imperial College London. “When used carefully in clinical research settings, psychedelics have been reported to have a profoundly beneficial effect on many people’s lives. They are non-toxic, non- addictive, have very few side effects, and could potentially offer relief for people suffering from a range of psychological difficulties.”In the current qualitative study, which was published in the Journal of Humanistic Psychology, researchers interviewed patients from a clinical trial of psilocybin for treatment-resistant depression. (The initial results of the clinical trial were published in The Lancet.)“Working in a community mental health team, I realised that conventional mental health treatments (antidepressants, CBT) were not working for many people. I also watched my best friend struggle with depression for many years,” Watts told PsyPost.“When she told me she was going to do an ayahuasca ceremony in Peru, I knew nothing about psychedelic therapy research, and thought it was a terrible idea. But she came back home with a sparkle in her eye that I hadn’t seen for years, and told me that the depression had finally lifted. So I thought to myself ‘this looks promising, let’s find out more.’”A number of themes emerged after the researchers questioned 6 women and 13 men who had undergone psychedelic therapy 6 months prior.First, the participants described depression as a state of disconnection, which was reversed with psilocybin. Secondly, the psychedelic treatment helped them confront, process, and accept painful memories and thoughts. Thirdly, they described previous depression treatments as reinforcing the disconnection and avoidance they felt — while psilocybin worked in the opposite way.“The reset switch had been pressed so everything could run properly, thoughts could run more freely, all these networks could work again. It unlocked certain parts which were restricted before,” one participant explained.“I got a wider perspective, I stepped back. It helped me appreciate that the world is a big place that there’s a lot more going on than just the minor things that were going on in my head,” another participant told the researchers.A third remarked: “My previous treatments, talking therapy and meds, were next to useless, utterly useless. My experience of psilocybin has been very positive. I believe there is an unknown physiological and neurochemical change in me, I am absolutely convinced of that.”Or as another participante summed it up: “Now there’s a greater sense of ‘we’re all in the same boat’; less unease.”There were no serious adverse events reported during the psilocybin sessions. But a few participants had troubling psychological experiences which resolved themselves before the session was over. A few participants also wished they had received more psychotherapy following the drug session.“The psychedelic experience is not to be taken lightly,” Watts explained. “Participants in our study found psilocybin therapy to be preferable to other treatments they had tried, but that does not mean it was easy. Many of them had experiences of deep grief, sadness and fear, and relied upon the support of their ‘guides’ to enable them to fully accept and process these emotions. If any psychologists are interested in volunteering as a ‘guide’ they can get in touch at ros.watts@yahoo.co.uk.”“It’s very early days: the sample sizes are small, and we need to determine the role of placebo effects. Randomized control trials in the United States (John Hopkins, NYU) have started to address the question about placebo effects with similar promising findings. Upcoming randomized control trials in Europe will continue to investigate.”The study, “Patients’ Accounts of Increased “Connectedness” and “Acceptance” After Psilocybin for Treatment-Resistant Depression“, was also co-authored by Camilla Day, Jacob Krzanowski, David Nutt and Robin Carhart-Harris.Listen to Rosalind Watts discuss psilocybin treatment below: LinkedIncenter_img Email Pinterest New research sheds light on how psilocybin could help people overcome depressive symptoms. The psychedelic drug appears to promote a change from disconnection to connection and a change from avoidance to acceptance.Psilocybin is the primary mind-altering substance in psychedelic “magic” mushrooms. The drug can profoundly alter the way a person experiences the world by producing changes in mood, sensory perception, time perception, and sense of self.Scientists have recently starting re-examining at whether psilocybin can be used in the treatment of mental illnesses — and the initial results are promising.last_img read more

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Study finds adults who skip or delay breakfast are more likely to have a mood disorder

first_imgPinterest Share on Facebook Email Share on Twitter LinkedIncenter_img Delaying or skipping breakfast is associated with a higher likelihood of mood disorder among adults, according to a new study published in the journal Psychological Medicine.“Mood disorders such as depression can have a big impact on individuals, their friends and family, and broader society. It is important to consider different factors that could contribute to mental disorders, to identify ways to prevent or treat ill health,” said study author Johanna Wilson, a PhD candidate at the University of Tasmania.“Research has shown that a healthy diet is linked to a lower risk of depression. We were interested to know if when people ate during the day was linked to a higher or lower risk of having depression.” Share The researchers analysed data from the Australian Childhood Determinants of Adult Health (CDAH) study, which started in 1985 when the participants were between 7 and 15 years old.As part of the longitudinal study, more than 1,000 participants reported at what times they had eaten the previous day when they were 26-36 years old, and again five years later when they were 31-41 years old. The participants also completed an assessment of mood disorders, such as depression, dysthymia, and bipolar disorder.The researchers found that those who indicated that they had skipped or delayed breakfast were more likely to experience a mood disorder compared to those with a more conventional eating schedule of breakfast, lunch and dinner.“Our study highlights that when you eat may be important for your health, not just what and how much you eat. We found that people who tended to skip or delay breakfast and consume a larger proportion of their daily food intake later in the day were more likely to have a mood disorder,” Wilson told PsyPost.“This may be due to hormonal and circadian effects of eating at a certain time, but it could also be due to whether someone is a morning or evening type person, known as chronotype.”The findings are in line with a previous study, which found that breakfast skippers were at greater risk of depression than those who ate breakfast.Of course, just because someone skips breakfast doesn’t mean they’re necessarily going to develop a mood disorder. “As with many epidemiological studies, the results are more generalisable to a population rather than to individuals,” Wilson said.It is also unclear if skipping breakfast increases the risk of mood disorders or if mood disorders increase the likelihood of skipping breakfast. “These relationships may be bidirectional, and a pre-existing preference for certain eating patterns due to chronobiological traits of the individual should be considered,” the researchers explained.“There is a limit on the number of things we can measure and these unmeasured factors could explain the associations that we observed. Future studies that identify things like chronotype traits could be useful in determining the influence of time-of-day eating on mood disorders,” Wilson added.The study, “An eating pattern characterised by skipped or delayed breakfast is associated with mood disorders among an Australian adult cohort“, was authored by J. E. Wilson, L. Blizzard, S. L. Gall, C. G. Magnussen, W. H. Oddy, T. Dwyer, K. Sanderson, A. J. Venn and K. J. Smith.last_img read more

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Flu makes late-season statement in parts of Southern Hemisphere

first_img See also: Sep 27, 2010 (CIDRAP News) – Flu activity is showing a late-season flourish in some parts of the Southern Hemisphere, such as Chile, where levels in some areas exceed last year’s pandemic peak, and in parts of Australia, the World Health Organization (WHO) said in its most rent influenza update. Thailand is reporting active transmission of mainly the 2009 H1N1 virus, along with some H3N2 and influenza B strains, according to the WHO. The rise in flu activity is occurring at a time when increasing flu activity isn’t surprising, it added. Sep 26 Indian health ministry weekly flu update New Zealand also had a late start to its flu season, but activity, most of it 2009 H1N1 flu, has dipped below seasonal baselines. The 2009 H1N1 virus is cocirculating in Chile alongside seasonal flu viruses. However, limited data from neighboring Argentina suggests low levels of flu, mainly influenza B, between June and late August. India and Thailand continue to report significant flu activity, the WHO said. Though activity in India has been geographically widespread, with 17 states and territories reporting new cases, activity is stable or declining in all but a few states, suggesting that national activity may have peaked. The 2009 H1N1 virus has been India’s predominant circulating strain. The country is still reporting many cases and deaths, according to the Indian health ministry’s report for the week that ended yesterday. Between Sep 20 and Sep 26, the ministry received 616 reports of lab-confirmed cases, including 93 deaths. States with the highest number of new case for the week were Tamil Nadu (129), Maharashtra (124), and Karnataka (93).center_img Health officials in Australia have reported steady increases in flu activity since late August, though at levels well below the past three influenza seasons, the WHO reported. Activity is widespread in Victoria in South Australia state and West Australia state, where the 2009 H1N1 and influenza B viruses are cocirculating. Meanwhile, southern China, Hong Kong, and to a lesser extent northern China have reported increased circulation of the seasonal influenza A (H3N2) virus. Officials in Hong Kong have linked increased H3N2 detections with a steady rise in doctor’s visits for flulike illness. The WHO said in a Sep 24 update that flu activity in several of Chile’s regions equals or is slightly higher than the country’s 2009 winter pandemic wave, with the disease hitting children under age 15 the hardest, followed by those ages 15 to 64. The country’s health ministry said rising 2009 H1N1 activity was causing officials to consider the possibility of buying more vaccine, the Bangkok Post reported on Sep 24. An official said 20% of people seeking medical care for flulike illnesses were being diagnosed with 2009 H1N1 infections, and he said the country’s 2 million monovalent doses might not be enough to meet rising demand. Sep 24 WHO influenza update Sep 24 Bangkok Post storylast_img read more

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Norgen technology on show at valve world expo 2012

first_imgSubscribe Get instant access to must-read content today!To access hundreds of features, subscribe today! At a time when the world is forced to go digital more than ever before just to stay connected, discover the in-depth content our subscribers receive every month by subscribing to gasworld.Don’t just stay connected, stay at the forefront – join gasworld and become a subscriber to access all of our must-read content online from just $270.last_img

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British Safety Council supporting 9th safety forum

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A-Gas reveals new Rapid Recovery service

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Niacet commissions high purity HCL plant

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High volume of complaints against lawyers as LeO launches

first_imgThe new Legal Ombudsman handled nearly 500 complaints on its launch day yesterday, taking its first call two minutes after opening at 8.30am while its chief executive was appearing on Radio 4’s Today programme. Of 497 potential cases, more than 20 are already being investigated, chief ombudsman Adam Sampson (pictured) said last night. He was unable to say how many complaints were about solicitors, but did reveal that barristers and even a notary had been the subject of calls. The total equates to an annual call volume of 130,000, some 30,000 more than anticipated, though the daily volume is expected to level off following the burst of publicity which has accompanied the launch. Sampson gave an insight into the ombudsman’s proactive way of working at a launch event attended by leading legal figures and media at the organisation’s central Birmingham HQ. One caller complained that his solicitor was unable to attend a key court hearing relating to a property as he was on holiday, putting the client’s house at risk, and that calls to the legal firm seeking alternative representation had proved fruitless. A call to the firm by the ombudsman swiftly resolved the matter, Sampson said. Justice minister Jonathan Djanogly gave the government’s seal of approval for the ombudsman in a speech at last night’s event, paying a visit from the Conservative Party conference taking place nearby. Attorney general Dominic Grieve was also present. The ombudsman has assumed responsibility for handling complaints from the Law Society’s Legal Complaints Service, which will run down its existing caseload over the next few months. Meanwhile, it is understood that the Solicitors Regulation Authority is considering moving into the same refurbished office block as the ombudsman, close to Birmingham’s Victoria Square. The Midlands-based SRA wants to consolidate its operations on to one site.last_img read more

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