At a time when COVID-19 appears to be receding in much of Georgia, it’s worth revisiting the start of the pandemic in early 2020. Emory virologist Anne Piantadosi and colleagues have a paper in Viral Evolution on the earliest SARS-CoV-2 genetic sequences detected in Georgia.
Analyzing relationships between those virus sequences and samples from other states and countries can give us an idea about where the first COVID-19 infections in Georgia came from. We can draw Read more
Drug abuse researchers are using the social media site Reddit as a window into the experiences of people living with opioid addiction.
Abeed Sarker in Emory's Department of Biomedical Informatics has a paper in Clinical Toxicology focusing on the phenomenon of “precipitated withdrawal,” in collaboration with emergency medicine specialists from Penn, Rutgers and Mt Sinai.
Precipitated withdrawal is a more intense form of withdrawal that can occur when someone who was using opioids starts medication-assisted treatment Read more
The big news out of CROI (Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections) was a report of a third person being cured of HIV infection, this time using umbilical cord blood for a hematopoetic stem cell transplant. Emory’s Carlos del Rio gave a nice overview of the achievement for NPR this morning.
As del Rio explains, the field of HIV cure research took off over the last decade after Timothy Brown, known as “the Berlin patient,” Read more
Consider this: Alzheimerâ€™s is a uniquely human disorder. But why? Why donâ€™t nonhuman primates, such as monkeys, get Alzheimerâ€™s disease. Monkeys form the senile plaques that are identical to the plaques found in humans. So do other animals.
â€œYet, despite the fact that nonhuman primates make this protein that we know is very important in the pathogenesis of Alzheimerâ€™s disease, they donâ€™t develop the full disease,â€ says Lary Walker, PhD. Walker is an associate professor at Yerkes National Primate Research Center.
â€œThey donâ€™t develop the tangles we associate with Alzheimerâ€™s disease, the neuronal loss, the shrinkage of the brain, and they donâ€™t get demented in the sense that humans do,â€ says Walker.
When our bodies make a protein, the protein tends to fold into a functional form. But when it comes to Alzheimerâ€™s disease, some proteins misfold, becoming sticky and then combining with one another. In their collective form, the proteins can then form plaques or tangles, the two types of lesions associated with Alzheimerâ€™s disease.
And for some unknown reason, people who have plaques usually go on to form tangles. But people who have tangles donâ€™t always go on to form plaques. No one is sure why. But thatâ€™s what researcher Walker wants to find out.
To listen to Walkerâ€™s own words about Alzheimerâ€™s disease, access Emoryâ€™s new Sound Science podcast.
A study published in the May 17, 2010, issue of the journal Pediatrics found that one type of pesticide commonly used on fruits and vegetables may be contributing to attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD, in children.
The study measured the levels of pesticide byproducts in the urine of 1,139 children from across the United States. Children with the highest concentration of pesticides in their urine were more likely to have symptoms of ADHD.
Barr says while the study doesnâ€™t prove causality between pesticide exposures and ADHD, it does shed light on how even low level daily exposures to pesticides could potentially impact cognitive health.
â€œIt seems very plausible that low-level daily exposures to pesticides can produce some subtle effects like ADHD or other neurological delays,â€ she says.
Barr notes that additional research is needed to confirm a connection to pesticides and ADHD, but says there are tips for limiting your exposure to commonly used pesticides.
â€œWeâ€™ve done studies here at Emory and also at CDC that have indicated that if you use organic food or if you wash your food properly prior to preparation, you can reduce the levels of these metabolites in your urine.Â Eat as much organic produce as possible, or wash your fruits and vegetables very well and that likely could decrease the chances of your children developing ADHD,â€ says Barr.
Young, who is world-renowned for his work on the role of neuropeptides in regulating social behavior, uses voles to investigate the neurobiological and genetic mechanisms underlying social behavior. Using the monogamous prairie vole (vs. the promiscuous meadow vole) as a model organism, Young and his research team identified the oxytocin and vasopressin receptors as key mediators of social bonding and attachment. In addition, they are examining the consequences of social bond disruption as a model of social loss-induced depression.
This work has important implications for developing novel treatment strategies for psychiatric disorders associated with social cognitive deficits, including autism spectrum disorders and schizophrenia.
View of MR/PET scanner from front, with Ciprian Catana of MGH and Larry Byars of Siemens
The scanner is one of four world-wide and one of two in the United States, and permits simultaneous MR (magnetic resonance) and PET (positron emission tomography) imaging in human subjects. This provides the advantage of being able to combine the anatomical information from MR with the biochemical/metabolic information from PET. Potential applications include functional brain mapping and the study of neurodegenerative diseases, drug addiction and brain cancer.
Thursday’s event brought together leaders of the three other MR/PET programs in Boston, JÃ¼lich and TÃ¼bingen, the Siemens engineers who designed the device, and the Atlanta research community to explore the possibilities of the technology.
The drugs now available to treat Alzheimer’s address the symptoms of the disease — memory problems — rather than the underlying mechanism of neurodegeneration.
But what if something could do both? Here’s a tantalizing prospect, hinted at by a long-running thread of brain research: compounds that boost the function of certain acetylcholine circuits in the brain might also modify production of toxic beta-amyloid protein.
The possibility grows out of the properties of certain receptors for the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, called “muscarinic acetylcholine receptors.” Acetylcholine is a major transmitter of signals in the brain, and there are several varieties of receptors, or receiver dishes for the signals, on brain cells.