Date:
April 18, 2018

Source:
École Polytechnique Fédérale De Lausanne

Summary:
Scientists have examined a slice from a meteorite that contains large diamonds formed at high pressure. The study shows that the parent body from which the meteorite came was a planetary embryo of a size between Mercury to Mars.

 

Meteorite sample.
Credit: © 2018 EPFL / Hillary Sanctuary

 

 

Using transmission electron microscopy, EPFL scientists have examined a slice from a meteorite that contains large diamonds formed at high pressure. The study shows that the parent body from which the meteorite came was a planetary embryo of a size between Mercury to Mars. The discovery is published in Nature Communications.

On October 7, 2008, an asteroid entered Earth’s atmosphere and exploded 37 km above the Nubian Desert in Sudan. The asteroid, now known as “2008 TC3,” was just over four meters in diameter. When it exploded in the atmosphere, it scattered multiple fragments across the desert. Only fifty fragments, ranging in size from 1-10 cm, were collected, for a total mass of 4.5 kg. Over time, the fragments were gathered and catalogued for study into a collection named Almahata Sitta (Arabic for “Station Six,” after a nearby train station between Wadi Halfa and Khartoum).

The Almahata Sitta meteorites are mostly ureilites, a rare type of stony meteorite that often contains clusters of nano-sized diamonds. Current thinking is that these tiny diamonds can form in three ways: enormous pressure shockwaves from high-energy collisions between the meteorite “parent body” and other space objects; deposition by chemical vapor; or, finally, the “normal” static pressure inside the parent body, like most diamonds on Earth.

The unanswered question, so far, has been the planetary origin of 2008 TC3 ureilites. Now, scientists at Philippe Gillet’s lab at EPFL, with colleagues in France and Germany, have studied large diamonds (100-microns in diameter) in some of the Almahata Sitta meteorites and discovered that the asteroid came from a planetary “embryo” whose size is between Mercury to Mars.

The researchers studied the diamond samples using a combination of advanced transmission electron microscopy techniques at EPFL’s Interdisciplinary Centre for Electron Microscopy. The analysis of the data showed that the diamonds had chromite, phosphate, and iron-nickel sulfides embedded in them — what scientists refer to as “inclusions.” These have been known for a long time to exist inside Earth’s diamonds, but are now described for the first time in an extraterrestrial body.

The particular composition and morphology of these materials can only be explained if the pressure under which the diamonds were formed was higher than 20 GPa (giga-Pascals, the unit of pressure). This level of internal pressure can only be explained if the planetary parent body was a Mercury- to Mars-sized planetary “embryo,” depending on the layer in which the diamonds were formed.

Many planetary formation models have predicted that these planetary embryos existed in the first million years of our solar system, and the study offers compelling evidence for their existence. Many planetary embryos were Mars-sized bodies, such as the one that collided with Earth to give rise to the Moon. Other of these went on to form larger planets, or collided with the Sun or were ejected from the solar system altogether. The authors write “This study provides convincing evidence that the ureilite parent body was one such large ‘lost’ planet before it was destroyed by collisions some 4.5 billion years ago.”

Story Source:

Materials provided by École Polytechnique Fédérale De LausanneNote: Content may be edited for style and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Farhang Nabiei, James Badro, Teresa Dennenwaldt, Emad Oveisi, Marco Cantoni, Cécile Hébert, Ahmed El Goresy, Jean-Alix Barrat, Philippe Gillet. A large planetary body inferred from diamond inclusions in a ureilite meteoriteNature Communications, 2018; 9 (1) DOI: 10.1038/s41467-018-03808-6

 

Source: École Polytechnique Fédérale De Lausanne. “Meteorite diamonds tell of a lost planet.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 18 April 2018. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/04/180418144810.htm>.

Date:
April 16, 2018

Source:
University of Bristol

Summary:
It is commonly understood that the dinosaurs disappeared with a bang — wiped out by a great meteorite impact on the Earth 66 million years ago. But their origins have been less understood. In a new study, scientists show that the key expansion of dinosaurs was also triggered by a crisis — a mass extinction that happened 232 million years ago.

 

Dinosaur fossil (stock image).
Credit: © ramirezom / Fotolia

 

 

It is commonly understood that the dinosaurs disappeared with a bang — wiped out by a great meteorite impact on the Earth 66 million years ago.

But their origins have been less understood. In a new study, scientists from MUSE — Museum of Science, Trento, Italy, Universities of Ferrara and Padova, Italy and the University of Bristol show that the key expansion of dinosaurs was also triggered by a crisis — a mass extinction that happened 232 million years ago.

In the new paper, published today in Nature Communications, evidence is provided to match the two events — the mass extinction, called the Carnian Pluvial Episode, and the initial diversification of dinosaurs.

Dinosaurs had originated much earlier, at the beginning of the Triassic Period, some 245 million years ago, but they remained very rare until the shock events in the Carnian 13 million years later.

The new study shows just when dinosaurs took over by using detailed evidence from rock sequences in the Dolomites, in north Italy — here the dinosaurs are detected from their footprints.

First there were no dinosaur tracks, and then there were many. This marks the moment of their explosion, and the rock successions in the Dolomites are well dated. Comparison with rock successions in Argentina and Brazil, here the first extensive skeletons of dinosaurs occur, show the explosion happened at the same time there as well.

Lead author Dr Massimo Bernardi, Curator at MUSE and Research associate at Bristol’s School of Earth Sciences, said: “We were excited to see that the footprints and skeletons told the same story. We had been studying the footprints in the Dolomites for some time, and it’s amazing how clear cut the change from ‘no dinosaurs’ to ‘all dinosaurs’ was.”

The point of explosion of dinosaurs matches the end of the Carnian Pluvial Episode, a time when climates shuttled from dry to humid and back to dry again.

It was long suspected that this event had caused upheavals among life on land and in the sea, but the details were not clear. Then, in 2015, dating of rock sections and measurement of oxygen and carbon values showed just what had happened.

There were massive eruptions in western Canada, represented today by the great Wrangellia basalts — these drove bursts of global warming, acid rain, and killing on land and in the oceans.

Co-author Piero Gianolla, from the University of Ferrara, added: “We had detected evidence for the climate change in the Dolomites. There were four pulses of warming and climate perturbation, all within a million years or so. This must have led to repeated extinctions.”

Professor Mike Benton, also a co-author, from the University of Bristol, said: “The discovery of the existence of a link between the first diversification of dinosaurs and a global mass extinction is important.

“The extinction didn’t just clear the way for the age of the dinosaurs, but also for the origins of many modern groups, including lizards, crocodiles, turtles, and mammals — key land animals today.”

Story Source:

Materials provided by University of BristolNote: Content may be edited for style and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Massimo Bernardi, Piero Gianolla, Fabio Massimo Petti, Paolo Mietto, Michael J. Benton. Dinosaur diversification linked with the Carnian Pluvial EpisodeNature Communications, 2018; 9 (1) DOI: 10.1038/s41467-018-03996-1

 

Source: University of Bristol. “Dinosaurs ended — and originated — with a bang!.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 16 April 2018. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/04/180416105803.htm>.

Even moderate alcohol drinking linked to heart and circulatory diseases, study finds

Date:
April 13, 2018

Source:
University of Cambridge

Summary:
Regularly drinking more than the recommended UK guidelines for alcohol could take years off your life, according to new research. The study shows that drinking more alcohol is associated with a higher risk of stroke, fatal aneurysm, heart failure and death.

 

Beer (stock image).
Credit: © Amy Laughinghouse / Fotolia

 

 

Regularly drinking more than the recommended UK guidelines for alcohol could take years off your life, according to new research from the University of Cambridge. Part-funded by the British Heart Foundation, the study shows that drinking more alcohol is associated with a higher risk of stroke, fatal aneurysm, heart failure and death.

The authors say their findings challenge the widely held belief that moderate drinking is beneficial to cardiovascular health, and support the UK’s recently lowered guidelines.

The study compared the health and drinking habits of over 600,000 people in 19 countries worldwide and controlled for age, smoking, history of diabetes, level of education and occupation.

The upper safe limit of drinking was about five drinks per week (100g of pure alcohol, 12.5 units or just over five pints of 4% ABV beer or five 175ml glasses of 13% ABV wine). However, drinking above this limit was linked with lower life expectancy. For example, having 10 or more drinks per week was linked with one to two years shorter life expectancy. Having 18 drinks or more per week was linked with four to five years shorter life expectancy.

The research, published today in the Lancet, supports the UK’s recently lowered guidelines, which since 2016 recommend both men and women should drink no more than 14 units of alcohol each week. This equates to around six pints of beer or six glasses of wine a week.

However, the worldwide study carries implications for countries across the world, where alcohol guidelines vary substantially.

The researchers also looked at the association between alcohol consumption and different types of cardiovascular disease. Alcohol consumption was associated with a higher risk of stroke, heart failure, fatal aortic aneurysms, fatal hypertensive disease and heart failure and there were no clear thresholds where drinking less did not have a benefit.

By contrast, alcohol consumption was associated with a slightly lower risk of non-fatal heart attacks.

The authors note that the different relationships between alcohol intake and various types of cardiovascular disease may relate to alcohol’s elevating effects on blood pressure and on factors related to elevated high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C) (also known as ‘good’ cholesterol). They stress that the lower risk of non-fatal heart attack must be considered in the context of the increased risk of several other serious and often fatal cardiovascular diseases.

The study focused on current drinkers to reduce the risk of bias caused by those who abstain from alcohol due to poor health. However, the study used self-reported alcohol consumption and relied on observational data, so no firm conclusions can me made about cause and effect. The study did not look at the effect of alcohol consumption over the life-course or account for people who may have reduced their consumption due to health complications.

Dr Angela Wood, from the University of Cambridge, lead author of the study said: “If you already drink alcohol, drinking less may help you live longer and lower your risk of several cardiovascular conditions.

“Alcohol consumption is associated with a slightly lower risk of non-fatal heart attacks but this must be balanced against the higher risk associated with other serious — and potentially fatal — cardiovascular diseases.”

Victoria Taylor, Senior dietician at the British Heart Foundation, which part-funded the study, said: “This powerful study may make sobering reading for countries that have set their recommendations at higher levels than the UK, but this does seem to broadly reinforce government guidelines for the UK.

“This doesn’t mean we should rest on our laurels, many people in the UK regularly drink over what’s recommended. We should always remember that alcohol guidelines should act as a limit, not a target, and try to drink well below this threshold.”

The study was funded by the UK Medical Research Council, British Heart Foundation, National Institute for Health Research, European Union Framework 7, and European Research Council.

Story Source:

Materials provided by University of Cambridge. The original story is licensed under a Creative Commons License. Adapted from a press release by British Heart Foundation. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Angela M Wood et al. Risk thresholds for alcohol consumption: combined analysis of individual-participant data for 599 912 current drinkers in 83 prospective studiesThe Lancet, 2018; 391 (10129): 1513 DOI: 10.1016/S0140-6736(18)30134-X

 

Source: University of Cambridge. “Consuming more than five drinks a week could shorten your life: Even moderate alcohol drinking linked to heart and circulatory diseases, study finds.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 13 April 2018. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/04/180413121952.htm>.

World Orphan Drug Congress

 

Target Health has extensive experience in Orphan and Rare Diseases including FDA approvals and multiple Orphan Drug Designations.

 

For those attending the World Orphan Drug Congress, April 25-27 at the Gaylord National Harbor Hotel in Oxon Hill, MD, please reach out to Warren Pearlson, Target’s Director of Business Development who will be attending. Warren can meet with you to discuss our Regulatory Strategy and Services in the Orphan space, and delineate how our Full-Service eCRO, supported by Target Health’s paperless eSource EDC software platform, enables efficient and cost-effective Clinical Trials.

 

For more information about Target Health contact Warren Pearlson (212-681-2100 ext. 165). For additional information about software tools for paperless clinical trials, please also feel free to contact Dr. Jules T. Mitchel. The Target Health software tools are designed to partner with both CROs and Sponsors. Please visit the Target Health Website.

 

Joyce Hays, Founder and Editor in Chief of On Target

Jules Mitchel, Editor

 

QUIZ

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Older Adults Grow Just as Many New Brain Cells as Young People

red: frontal lobe; orange: parietal lobe; yellow: occipital lobe; green: temporal lobe; blue: cerebellum; black: brainstem

 

Graphic credit: By Original concept by w:User:Washington Irving. Current shape by w:User:Mateuszica. Color modified by w:User:Hdante. Text labels by w:User:SAE1962. SVG by User:King of Hearts. – PNG on English Wikipedia, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=2221053

 

Researchers show for the first time that healthy older men and women can generate just as many new brain cells as 1) ___ people. There has been controversy over whether adult humans grow new neurons, and some research has previously suggested that the adult brain was hard-wired and that adults did not grow new 2) ___. This study, which appeared in the journal Cell Stem Cell on April 5, 2018, counters that notion. According to the authors the findings may suggest that many senior citizens remain more cognitively and emotionally intact than commonly believed. Results showed that older people have similar ability to make thousands of hippocampal new neurons from progenitor 3) ___ as younger people do. The study also found equivalent volumes of the hippocampus (a brain structure used for emotion and cognition) across ages. Nevertheless, older individuals had less vascularization and maybe less ability of new neurons to make connections.

 

For the study, the authors autopsied hippocampi from 28 previously healthy individuals aged 14-79 who had died suddenly. This is the first time it was possible to look at newly formed neurons and the state of blood vessels within the entire human hippocampus soon after 4) ___. The researchers had determined that study subjects were not cognitively impaired and had not suffered from depression or taken antidepressants, which the authors had previously found could impact the production of new brain cells. In rodents and primates, the ability to generate new hippocampal cells declines with 5) ___. Waning production of neurons and an overall shrinking of the dentate gyrus, part of the hippocampus thought to help form new episodic memories, was believed to occur in aging humans as well.

 

The authors from Columbia University and New York State Psychiatric Institute found that even the oldest brains they studied produced new brain cells. While they found similar numbers of intermediate neural progenitors and thousands of immature neurons, older individuals form fewer new 6) ___ vessels within brain structures and possess a smaller pool of progenitor cells — descendants of stem cells that are more constrained in their capacity to differentiate and self-renew. The authors surmised that reduced cognitive-emotional resilience in old age may be caused by this smaller pool of neural stem cells, the decline in vascularization, and reduced cell-to-cell connectivity within the hippocampus. The authors hypothesized that it is possible that ongoing hippocampal neurogenesis sustains human-specific cognitive function throughout 7) ___ and that declines may be linked to compromised cognitive-emotional resilience.

 

The authors feel future research on the aging brain will continue to explore how neural cell proliferation, maturation, and survival are regulated by hormones, transcription factors, and other inter-cellular pathways. Other researchers are focusing on brain evolution and have suggested that there are specific genes that control the size of the human brain. These genes continue to play a role in brain evolution, implying that the brain is continuing to evolve.

 

The study began with the researchers assessing 214 genes that are involved in brain development. These genes were obtained from humans, macaques, rats and mice. The authors noted points in the DNA sequences that caused protein alterations. These DNA changes were then scaled to the evolutionary time that it took for those changes to occur. The data showed the genes in the human brain evolved much faster than those of the other species. Once this genomic evidence was acquired, the authors decided to find the specific gene or genes that allowed for or even controlled this rapid 8) ___. Two genes were found to control the size of the human brain as it develops. These genes are Microcephalin and Abnormal Spindle-like Microcephaly (ASPM). The researchers at the University of Chicago were able to determine that under the pressures of selection, both of these genes showed significant DNA sequence changes.

 

Earlier studies displayed that Microcephalin experienced rapid evolution along the primate lineage which eventually led to the emergence of Homo sapiens. After the emergence of humans, Microcephalin seems to have shown a slower evolution rate. On the contrary, ASPM showed its most rapid evolution in the later years of human evolution once the divergence between chimpanzees and humans had already occurred. Each of the gene sequences went through specific changes that led to the evolution of 9) ___ from ancestral relatives. In order to determine these alterations, the authors used DNA sequences from multiple primates then compared and contrasted the sequences with those of humans. Following this step, the researchers statistically analyzed the key differences between the primate and human DNA to come to the conclusion, that the differences were due to natural selection. The changes in DNA sequences of these 10) ___ accumulated to bring about a competitive advantage and higher fitness that humans possess in relation to other primates. This comparative advantage is coupled with a larger brain size which ultimately allows the human mind to have a higher cognitive awareness.

 

Sources and Researchers: Maura Boldrini, Camille A. Fulmore, Alexandria N. Tartt, Laika R. Simeon, Ina Pavlova, Verica Poposka, Gorazd B. Rosoklija, Aleksandar Stankov, Victoria Arango, Andrew J. Dwork, Ren? Hen, J. John Mann. Human Hippocampal Neurogenesis Persists throughout Aging. Cell Stem Cell, 2018; 22 (4): 589 DOI: 10.1016/j.stem.2018.03.015. Cell Press. “Older adults grow just as many new brain cells as young people.“ ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 5 April 2018. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/04/180405223413.htm; Wikipedia

 

ANSWERS: 1) younger; 2) neurons; 3) cells; 4) death; 5) age; 6) blood; 7) life; 8) evolution; 9) humans; 10) genes

 

Phrenology

An 1883 phrenology chart

 

Graphic credit: From People’s Cyclopedia of Universal Knowledge (1883). Transferred from en.wikipedia Original uploader was Whbonney at en.wikipedia, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=6693422

 

Phrenology is a pseudo medicine primarily focused on measurements of the human skull, based on the concept that the brain is the organ of the mind, and that certain brain areas have localized, specific functions or modules. Although both of those ideas have a basis in reality, phrenology extrapolated beyond empirical knowledge in a way that departed from science. Developed by German physician Franz Joseph Gall in 1796, the discipline was very popular in the 19th century, especially from about 1810 until 1840. The principal British center for phrenology was Edinburgh, where the Edinburgh Phrenological Society was established in 1820. Although now regarded as an obsolete amalgamation of primitive neuroanatomy with moral philosophy, phrenological thinking was influential in 19th-century psychiatry. Gall’s assumption that character, thoughts, and emotions are located in specific parts of the brain is considered an important historical advance toward neuropsychology.

 

Phrenologists believe that the human mind has a set of various mental faculties, each one represented in a different area of the brain. For example, the faculty of “philoprogenitiveness“, from the Greek for “love of offspring“, was located centrally at the back of the head (see illustration of the chart from Webster’s Academic Dictionary).

These areas were said to be proportional to a person’s propensities. The importance of an organ was derived from relative size compared to other organs. It was believed that the cranial skull – like a glove on the hand -accommodates to the different sizes of these areas of the brain, so that a person’s capacity for a given personality trait could be determined simply by measuring the area of the skull that overlies the corresponding area of the brain. Phrenology, which focuses on personality and character, is distinct from craniometry, which is the study of skull size, weight and shape, and physiognomy, the study of facial features. Phrenology is a process that involves observing and/or feeling the skull to determine an individual’s psychological attributes. Franz Joseph Gall believed that the brain was made up of 27 individual organs that determined personality, the first 19 of these ?organs’ he believed to exist in other animal species. Phrenologists would run their fingertips and palms over the skulls of their patients to feel for enlargements or indentations. The phrenologist would often take measurements with a tape measure of the overall head size and more rarely employ a craniometer, a special version of a caliper. In general, instruments to measure sizes of cranium continued to be used after the mainstream phrenology had ended. The phrenologists put emphasis on using drawings of individuals with particular traits, to determine the character of the person and thus many phrenology books show pictures of subjects. From absolute and relative sizes of the skull the phrenologist would assess the character and temperament of the patient.

 

Gall’s list of the “brain organs“ was specific. An enlarged organ meant that the patient used that particular “organ“ extensively. The number – and more detailed meanings – of organs were added later by other phrenologists. The 27 areas varied in function, from sense of color, to religiosity, to being combative or destructive. Each of the 27 “brain organs“ was located under a specific area of the skull. As a phrenologist felt the skull, he would use his knowledge of the shapes of heads and organ positions to determine the overall natural strengths and weaknesses of an individual. Phrenologists believed the head revealed natural tendencies but not absolute limitations or strengths of character. The first phrenological chart gave the names of the organs described by Gall; it was a single sheet, and sold for a cent. Later charts were more expansive.

 

Historically, among the first to identify the brain as the major controlling center for the body were Hippocrates and his followers, inaugurating a major change in thinking from Egyptian, biblical and early Greek views, which based bodily primacy of control on the heart. This belief was supported by the Greek physician Galen, who concluded that mental activity occurred in the brain rather than the heart, contending that the brain, a cold, moist organ formed of sperm, was the seat of the animal soul – one of three “souls“ found in the body, each associated with a principal organ. The Swiss pastor Johann Kaspar Lavater (1741-1801) introduced the idea that physiognomy related to the specific character traits of individuals, rather than general types, in his Physiognomische Fragmente, published between 1775 and 1778. His work was translated into English and published in 1832 as The Pocket Lavater, or, The Science of Physiognomy. He believed that thoughts of the mind and passions of the soul were connected with an individual’s external frame. Of the forehead, When the forehead is perfectly perpendicular, from the hair to the eyebrows, it denotes an utter deficiency of understanding.

 

In 1796 the German physician Franz Joseph Gall (1758-1828) began lecturing on organology: the isolation of mental faculties and later cranioscopy which involved reading the skull’s shape as it pertained to the individual. It was Gall’s collaborator Johann Gaspar Spurzheim who would popularize the term “phrenology“. In 1809 Gall began writing his principal work, The Anatomy and Physiology of the Nervous System in General, and of the Brain in Particular, with Observations upon the possibility of ascertaining the several Intellectual and Moral Dispositions of Man and Animal, by the configuration of their Heads. It was not published until 1819. In the introduction to this main work, Gall makes the following statement in regard to his doctrinal principles, which comprise the intellectual basis of phrenology:

 

The Brain is the organ of the mind

 

1. The brain is not a homogenous unity, but an aggregate of mental organs with specific functions

2. The cerebral organs are topographically localized

3. Other things being equal, the relative size of any particular mental organ is indicative of the power or strength of that organ

4. Since the skull ossifies over the brain during infant development, external craniological means could be used to diagnose the internal states of the mental characters

 

Through careful observation and extensive experimentation, Gall believed he had established a relationship between aspects of character, called faculties, with precise organs in the brain. Johann Spurzheim was Gall’s most important collaborator. He worked as Gall’s anatomist until 1813 when for unknown reasons they had a permanent falling out. Publishing under his own name Spurzheim successfully disseminated phrenology throughout the United Kingdom during his lecture tours through 1814 and 1815 and the United States in 1832 where he would eventually die. Gall was more concerned with creating a physical science, so it was through Spurzheim that phrenology was first spread throughout Europe and America. Phrenology, while not universally accepted, was hardly a fringe phenomenon of the era. George Combe would become the chief promoter of phrenology throughout the English-speaking world after he viewed a brain dissection by Spurzheim, convincing him of phrenology’s merits.

 

The popularization of phrenology in the middle and working classes was due in part to the idea that scientific knowledge was important and an indication of sophistication and modernity. Cheap and plentiful pamphlets, as well as the growing popularity of scientific lectures as entertainment, also helped spread phrenology to the masses. Combe created a system of philosophy of the human mind that became popular with the masses because of its simplified principles and wide range of social applications that were in harmony with the liberal Victorian world view. George Combe’s book On the Constitution of Man and its Relationship to External Objects sold over 200, 000 copies through nine editions. Combe also devoted a large portion of his book to reconciling religion and phrenology, which had long been a sticking point. Another reason for its popularity was that phrenology balanced between free will and determinism. A person’s inherent faculties were clear, and no faculty was viewed as evil, though the abuse of a faculty was. Phrenology allowed for self-improvement and upward mobility, while providing fodder for attacks on aristocratic privilege. Phrenology also had wide appeal because of its being a reformist philosophy not a radical one. Phrenology was not limited to the common people, and both Queen Victoria and Prince Albert invited George Combe to read the heads of their children.

 

Phrenology came about at a time when scientific procedures and standards for acceptable evidence were still being codified. In the context of Victorian society, phrenology was a respectable scientific theory. The Phrenological Society of Edinburgh founded by George and Andrew Combe was an example of the credibility of phrenology at the time and included a number of extremely influential social reformers and intellectuals, including the publisher Robert Chambers, the astronomer John Pringle Nichol, the evolutionary environmentalist Hewett Cottrell Watson, and asylum reformer William A.F. Browne. In 1826, out of the 120 members of the Edinburgh society an estimated one third were from a medical background. By the 1840s there were more than 28 phrenological societies in London with over 1000 members. Another important scholar was Luigi Ferrarese, the leading Italian phrenologist. He advocated that governments should embrace phrenology as a scientific means of conquering many social ills, and his Memorie Risguardanti La Dottrina Frenologica (1836), is considered “one of the fundamental 19th century works in the field“.

 

Traditionally the mind had been studied through introspection. Phrenology provided an attractive, biological alternative that attempted to unite all mental phenomena using consistent biological terminology. Gall’s approach prepared the way for studying the mind that would lead to the downfall of his own theories. Phrenology contributed to development of physical anthropology, forensic medicine, knowledge of the nervous system and brain anatomy as well as contributing to applied psychology. John Elliotson was a brilliant but erratic heart specialist who became a phrenologist in the 1840s. He was also a mesmerist and combined the two into something he called phrenomesmerism or phrenomagnatism. Changing behavior through mesmerism eventually won out in Elliotson’s hospital, putting phrenology in a subordinate role. Others amalgamated phrenology and mesmerism as well, such as the practical phrenologists Collyer and Joseph R. Buchanan. The benefits of combining mesmerism and phrenology was that the trance the patient was placed in was supposed to allow for the manipulation of his/her penchants and qualities. For example, if the organ of self-esteem was touched, the subject would take on a haughty expression.

 

Phrenology has been psychology’s great faux pas. – J.C. Flugel (1933)

 

Phrenology was mostly discredited as a scientific theory by the 1840s. This was due only in part to a growing amount of evidence against phrenology. Phrenologists had never been able to agree on the most basic mental organ numbers, going from 27 to over 40, and had difficulty locating the mental organs. Phrenologists relied on cranioscopic readings of the skull to find organ locations. Jean Pierre Flourens’ experiments on the brains of pigeons indicated that the loss of parts of the brain either caused no loss of function, or the loss of a completely different function than what had been attributed to it by phrenology. Flourens’ experiment, while not perfect, seemed to indicate that Gall’s supposed organs were imaginary. Scientists had also become disillusioned with phrenology since its exploitation with the middle and working classes by entrepreneurs. The popularization had resulted in the simplification of phrenology and mixing in it of principles of physiognomy, which had from the start been rejected by Gall as an indicator of personality. Phrenology from its inception was tainted by accusations of promoting materialism and atheism, and being destructive of morality. These were all factors which led to the downfall of phrenology . Recent studies, using modern day technology like Magnetic Resonance Imaging have further disproven phrenology claims.

 

During the early 20th century, a revival of interest in phrenology occurred, partly because of studies of evolution, criminology and anthropology (as pursued by Cesare Lombroso). The most famous British phrenologist of the 20th century was the London psychiatrist Bernard Hollander (1864-1934). His main works, The Mental Function of the Brain (1901) and Scientific Phrenology (1902), are an appraisal of Gall’s teachings. Hollander introduced a quantitative approach to the phrenological diagnosis, defining a method for measuring the skull, and comparing the measurements with statistical averages. In Belgium, Paul Bouts (1900-1999) began studying phrenology from a pedagogical background, using the phrenological analysis to define an individual pedagogy. Combining phrenology with typology and graphology, he coined a global approach known as psychognomy. Bouts, a Roman Catholic priest, became the main promoter of renewed 20th-century interest in phrenology and psychognomy in Belgium. He was also active in Brazil and Canada, where he founded institutes for characterology. His works Psychognomie and Les Grandioses Destinees individuelle et humaine dans la lumiere de la Caracterologie et de l’Evolution cerebro-cranienne are considered standard works in the field. In the latter work, which examines the subject of paleoanthropology, Bouts developed a teleological and orthogenetical view on a perfecting evolution, from the paleo-encephalical skull shapes of prehistoric man, which he considered still prevalent in criminals and savages, towards a higher form of mankind, thus perpetuating phrenology’s problematic racializing of the human frame. Bouts died on March 7, 1999. His work has been continued by the Dutch foundation PPP (Per Pulchritudinem in Pulchritudine), operated by Anette Muller, one of Bouts’ students. During the 1930’s Belgian colonial authorities in Rwanda used phrenology to explain the so-called superiority of Tutsis over Hutus.

 

Is Lack of Sleep a Risk Factor for Alzheimer’s Disease?

 

According to an article published online in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. (9 April 2018), losing just one night of sleep led to an immediate increase in beta-amyloid. The study is among the first to demonstrate that sleep may play an important role in human beta-amyloid clearance. Beta-amyloid is a metabolic waste product present in the fluid between brain cells. In Alzheimer’s disease, beta-amyloid proteins clump together to form amyloid plaques, a hallmark of the disease, negatively impacting communication between neurons. While acute sleep deprivation is known to elevate brain beta-amyloid levels in mice, less is known about the impact of sleep deprivation on beta-amyloid accumulation in the human brain.

 

To understand the possible link between beta-amyloid accumulation and sleep, the authors used positron emission tomography (PET) to scan the brains of 20 healthy subjects, ranging in age from 22 to 72, after a night of rested sleep and after sleep deprivation (being awake for about 31 hours). Results showed that beta-amyloid increased about 5% after losing a night of sleep in brain regions including the thalamus and hippocampus, regions especially vulnerable to damage in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease.

 

In Alzheimer’s disease, beta-amyloid is estimated to increase about 43% in affected individuals relative to healthy older adults. However, it is unknown whether the increase in beta-amyloid in the study participants would subside after a night of rest. Interestingly, the study also found that study participants with larger increases in beta-amyloid reported worse mood after sleep deprivation. According to the authors, even though the sample was small, the study demonstrated the negative effect of sleep deprivation on beta-amyloid burden in the human brain and that future studies are needed to assess the generalizability to a larger and more diverse population. It is also important to note that the link between sleep disorders and Alzheimer’s risk is considered by many scientists to be “bidirectional,” since elevated beta-amyloid may also lead to sleep disturbances.

 

Gene Mutations that Cause “Dripping Candle Wax” Bone Disease

 

“Dripping candle wax“ bone disease, is a very rare disorder known as melorheostosis, that causes excess bone formation that resembles dripping candle wax on x-rays. The condition causes pain and bone deformity, which can limit the function of bones. Although there are only about 400 known cases of this disorder worldwide, 15 unrelated adults with the condition from around the globe volunteered to come to the NIH Clinical Center to undergo biopsies of both affected and unaffected bones.in order to uncover a genetic basis of their bone disease. The results, appearing in Nature Communications (11 April 2018), offer potential treatment targets for this rare disease, provide important clues about bone development, and may lead to insights about fracture healing and osteoporosis.

 

The authors compared samples of healthy and affected bone from each participant to look for differences in the exome, the portion of the genome that codes for proteins. By comparing genetic information from both samples in each patient allowed the team to pinpoint even low levels of the mutations. The analysis revealed that 8 of the 15 participants had mutations in the MAP2K1 gene in the affected bone only. MAP2K1 produces the protein MEK1. The gene MAP2K1 has previously been linked to some types of cancerous growths as well as to conditions that lead to abnormal blood vessel formation in the head, face or neck. In melorheostosis, all the identified MAP2K1 mutations affected a region of the MEK1 protein that normally suppresses its activity, thus they cause MEK1 to become overactive. The bone growth is considered benign and does not spread to other parts of the body.

 

According to the authors, this is an exciting study of a very rare bone disorder that not only identified the responsible mutation in half of the patients, but uncovered fundamental information about the role of a cancer-related gene in the metabolic pathways of normal bone. The authors added that further studies on how this pathway works in both normal and mutant bone cells may have broad implications that could benefit a wider population. The reasoning is that while most adults have the problem of weakening bones as they grow older, these patients have the opposite problem as some of their bones are rock hard and still growing.

 

Next Generation Sequencing-Based Tests (NGS)

 

Next generation sequencing (NGS) works by looking at a person’s DNA to detect genomic variations that may determine whether a person has or is at risk of developing a genetic disease and, in certain cases, may help to inform treatment decisions. Unlike traditional diagnostics that typically detect chemical changes associated with a single disease or condition, NGS can look at millions of DNA changes in a single test to help determine the cause of a person’s disease or condition. Availability of these types of tests plays an important role in the advancement of the field of precision medicine.

 

The FDA has finalized two guidances to drive the efficient development of NGS technology. The guidances provide recommendations for designing, developing, and validating tests that use NGS, and will play an important role in the continued advancement of individualized, genetic-based medicine. The first guidance, “Use of Public Human Genetic Variant Databases to Support Clinical Validity for Genetic and Genomic-Based In Vitro Diagnostics,“ describes an approach where test developers may rely on clinical evidence from FDA-recognized public databases to support clinical claims for their tests and help provide assurance of the accurate clinical evaluation of genomic test results. The guidance describes how product developers can use these databases to support the clinical validation of NGS tests that they are developing. These public databases may include resources like ClinGen, which is maintained by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Using FDA-recognized databases will provide test developers with an efficient path for marketing clearance or approval of a new test.

 

The second guidance, “Considerations for Design, Development, and Analytical Validation of Next Generation Sequencing (NGS)-Based In Vitro Diagnostics (IVDs) Intended to Aid in the Diagnosis of Suspected Germline Diseases,“ provides recommendations for designing, developing, and validating NGS-based tests used to diagnose individuals with suspected genetic diseases. It describes what the FDA would look for in premarket submissions to determine a test’s analytical validity, including how well the test detects the presence or absence of a particular genomic change. According to FDA, since information about genetic variants is generally stored in a manner that is not publicly accessible, the release of the FDA’s final guidance should help to provide an even more efficient path to market by encouraging data sharing, as well as the accumulation in public databases of evidence supporting the clinical validity of genomic tests.

 

Issuance of these final guidances is based on extensive feedback from the public and stakeholders who are developing NGS-based technologies, and the guidances serve as a continuation of the FDA’s work creating regulatory efficiencies in the development and review of NGS tests. In 2017, the FDA took several actions to streamline the development and review of a variety of genetic-based tests – authorizing a third-party option for conducting reviews NGS tumor profiling tests and making clearance recommendations to FDA, as well as outlining standardized development criteria for carrier screening tests to allow for their marketing without prior agency review. FDA also established such criteria for genetic health risk tests and proposed to allow their marketing after a one-time agency review. As NGS technologies continue to evolve, the FDA remains dedicated to adapting our regulatory review capabilities and leveraging our authorities to the fullest extent in order to make innovative and accurate testing technologies available to patients as efficiently as possible.

 

Curried Lamb with Peppers, Tomatoes, Almonds, Golden Raisins

Curried Lamb served over my recipe for saffron rice. Jules gives this recipe five stars. He’s been eating it all weekend. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.

 

Here’s the same curried lamb served over my recipe for carrot pancakes, from last week, with a dollop of mango chutney on the side. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.

 

 

Ingredients

 

1/4 cup flour

Pinch Kosher salt

Pinch black pepper

1 teaspoon dried thyme

2 Tablespoons butter

1.5 pounds choice lamb kabob pieces

4 slices Turkey bacon, well chopped

1 onion, chopped

2 scallions, chopped

3 shallots, chopped

1 green pepper, seeded and diced

1 yellow pepper, seeded, then diced

1 jalapeno, seeded, chopped well

1 cup fresh cilantro, well chopped

2 ribs celery, diced

25 fresh garlic cloves, sliced

2 Tablespoons curry powder

1 teaspoon coriander

3 Tablespoons golden raisins +extra for topping

1 28-ounce can Cento tomatoes chopped and their juices

3 Tablespoons slivered almonds, toasted +extra for topping

 

Serve over cooked quinoa, my carrot pancake recipe, noodles, my saffron rice recipe, regular basmati white rice, etc.

 

 

Directions

1. Do all the cutting, slicing chopping, before you do anything else.

Chop everything at the same time on the same cutting board.

©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.

 

Chop the peppers. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.

 

Chopping the turkey bacon. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc .

 

2. Toast the almond slivers.

 

3. In a bowl, combine the flour, salt, black pepper and thyme

4. In a large skillet, melt the butter over medium-high heat until it foams.

 

5. Dredge the lamb pieces in the flour mixture, and fry, until browned on all sides, about 8 minutes. Put lamb on a plate and set aside.

Cut lamb into bite size pieces and dredge in the flour mixture; then brown in a skillet and set aside. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.

 

After browning the lamb, you might want to set it aside in a small bowl lined with paper towel, just to catch the excess oil; or you might not want to catch the excess oil, for the sake of adding the oil later for extra flavor. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.

 

 

6. Over medium heat, cook the turkey bacon, until it gets crisp and with a slotted spoon, remove turkey bacon to a plate and set aside.

Cook the turkey bacon. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.

 

7. Using the baking dish you plan to bring to the table later, add butter, then the onion, pepper, celery, garlic, curry powder and half the golden raisins, and saut? over medium heat until soft and fragrant, about 7 minutes.

Cooking veggies in melted butter, in the baking/serving dish. Use a baking dish with a cover. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.

 

8. Stir in the tomatoes and their juices, bring to a boil and simmer over medium-low heat for 10 minutes.

9. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Stirring in the tomatoes. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.

 

10. Next, add the lamb on top of the tomatoes.

11.   Cover and bake for 35 minutes. Remove the cover and cook for 15 minutes more.

 

Going into oven. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.

 

Just out of the oven and uncovered. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.

 

12. Add the toasted slivered almonds and the golden raisins as garnish, just before serving. Have mango chutney on the table, or your choice.

Just added garnish of toasted almonds and golden raisins. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.

 

Decidedly delicious! ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.

 

This makes a great dish for a dinner party. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.

 

We started dinner with a glass of shiraz and a crisp refreshing salad with baby spinach, arugula, endive, a few thin pieces of radicchio, sliced radishes and fresh local Spring asparagus. Simple dressing of extra virgin olive oil, lemon zest, lemon juice and anchovies mashed with garlic. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.

 

One of our favorite reds was given to us by a dinner guest; it’s Henschke Shiraz from a vineyard in southern Australia. We’ve been drinking it ever since. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.

 

Have a great week everyone!

From Our Table to Yours

Bon Appetit!

 

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