Brain scans show potential to diagnose autism in infancy

Children with autism tend to be diagnosed around age 4, after a child begins to socialize and speak. But the earlier a child is diagnosed, the better. Early-intervention speech and behavioral therapy programs have shown promise at reducing symptoms. Now, new research shows such a diagnosis could be predicted as early as one year old — based on scans of infants’ brains.

Diagnosing autism very early in a child’s life might mean better interventions and outcomes. On average, children aren’t diagnosed with autism until they are four years old — once their brain has begun to expand, and once they begin behaving differently than neurotypical children — though some are diagnosed as early as their second birthday, Pletcher noted.

“Our findings are pre-symptomatic, certainly pre-consolidation of the diagnosis,” said Dr. Joseph Piven, who leads the eight-center Infant Brain Imaging Study Network, which did the research. “That’s a giant step in the field.”

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40 Years Later, Lucy Discoverer Don Johanson Adds to Human Origin Story

Paleoanthropologist Donald Johanson, Virginia M. Ullman Chair in Human Origins at Arizona State University and founding director of the Institute of Human Origins, delivered the second annual Patrusky Lecture on October 19, 2014 during New Horizons in Science, a program of research briefings presented annually by the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing. The way Johanson sees it, the nature of humanness is one of the biggest questions there is — not just for our past, but for our future as well.

“I’m convinced that understanding our evolutionary journey is going to play a role in our future, our future survival as well as the survival of all creatures on this planet,” he said. “We know we have a united past, we know that we are the same species, we know we have inherited the same capabilities. And I think hopefully this is going to lead to a world in which we’re more responsible to the natural world — the natural world that ultimately was our creator on this planet. …

“I think it’s time for this species, the most powerful, the most destructive and at the same time the most creative species on planet Earth — Homo sapiens — to stop acting as if there was some other place for us to move to.”

Read the NBC News article

Examining metabolic therapy for brain cancer

Metabolic oncology is a relatively new area of cancer research and has the potential to offer new insights into cancer cells’ molecular flexibility, new biomarkers and even targeted therapies. “Metabolism” in this context refers to the metabolic activity inside cancer cells, not the rate at which the body processes energy from food.
Cancer cells are hungry. To feed their rapid growth and division, their metabolism changes. Moreover, they use sugar (glucose) in a different way to normal cells.

The animation below, created by Nature Reviews Drug Discovery, explores the key aspects of the altered metabolism in cancer cells and explains how these can be exploited for the development of new anticancer strategies.

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‘Fat but fit’ a gross exaggeration, says new study

Medical | UIG | Getty Images Man measures waist with measuring tape

Medical research has previously suggested that obesity can have little impact on a person’s chances of contracting various harmful diseases if they are otherwise medically healthy. However, the latest research, which tracked obese but “metabolically healthy” people, found that they continued to be at higher risk of developing diabetes and heart-related diseases later in life.

Dr Rishi Caleyachetty, who led the research, said the new research indicates that health professionals need to change their approach to obesity cases.”This is the largest prospective study of the association between metabolically health obesity and cardiovascular disease events.

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