Fortnightly Medical News Round-Up

This week’s medical news round-up is all about the human brain, perhaps the most mysterious, complex, and fascinating part of what makes homo sapiens, homo sapiens.

Leonardo da Vinci had ADHD?

Mona Lisa painting

A professor from the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience at King’s College London argues that the great artist and inventor Leonardo da Vinci likely had ADHD. This would explain why da Vinci couldn’t finish many of his works.

According to the paper’s author, Professor Catani, da Vinci was said to be a procrastinator since his childhood. He shared many other characteristics of the condition, such as working day and night interspersed with short cycles of sleep, jumping from task to task, and being left-handed and possibly dyslexia.

So even though having a kid with ADHD can be frustrating when you can’t get them to finish their homework, remember that ADHD doesn’t mean a low IQ or less success!

Science could change the way you see your memories.

Collection of Gray Scale Photos

What if science could alter your relationship with a painful memory? Scientists have discovered that by stimulating memory cells in the top area of the hippocampus, negative emotions associated with traumatic memories can be lessened. Meanwhile, stimulating memory cells at the bottom of the hippocampus can make bad memories even worse.

This study was done on mice which, though similar to humans in many ways, are still very much a very different species. So we have a long way to go until we can, well, control other people’s memories. However, this is an important finding for those who suffer from mental disorders like post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Treat your gut to treat anxiety.

person in red jacket making heart illustration

A review of studies published in the scientific journal General Psychiatry suggests that patients with anxiety symptoms may find relief by regulating gut organisms with probiotics and non-probiotic supplements and food.

Scientists found that out of the 21 studies they reviewed, 11 showed that regulating intestinal microorganisms had a positive effect on anxiety symptoms. However, other studies suggested this doesn’t work.

Non-probiotic interventions, such as adjusting diet rather than taking a probiotics supplement, were more effective. The scientists involved think this is the case because diet changes have a larger impact on gut bacteria.

It’s true; augmented reality (AR) influences how we behave.

woman wearing black VR goggles

Halfway between total fiction and reality, augmented reality (AR) is when computer-generated content is “layered” on top of the real, existing environment. Scientists have found that after people were exposed to AR, their way of interacting with the real, physical environment changed even after removing the AR device.

For example, subjects performed more poorly on tasks when they had an avatar watching them in the augmented reality. Furthermore, a vast majority of subjects chose to sit in a seat next to the avatar when they took off their device, as opposed to sitting in the seat the avatar once sat.

More than a Pokemon-catching game, AR has great potential for practical use in our hyper-connected world. For example, the research leader suggested AR could be used to hold meaningful meetings between professionals on different sides of the planet, which is a lot more environmentally-friendly (as well as convenient)!

Being a dog person is coded into your genes!

Close-Up Photo of Woman Kissing A Dog

Are you a dog person or a cat person (or a hamster or fish person)? If you’re a doggo fan, this may be coded into your genes!

Scientists found that identical twins were more likely to both own a dog or not own a dog when compared to non-identical twins. This suggests that the propensity to own a dog has a genetic component.

Many studies have claimed positive health effects from owning a dog, but the finding that some people have a more genetic propensity towards owning a dog may someday partly explain the positive impact of dogs on human health.

A woman in a saree is reading a newspaper and sitting next to one on a curb.

Fortnightly Medical News Round-Up: Scientific Turnabouts against Health Concerns

Over the past two weeks, science has made a few discoveries that could prove to be significant counters against a number of health concerns.

To learn more, take a look at some of the highlights!

Sunscreen does not seem to affect vitamin D production as previously thought.

Two hands are shown against a bright yellow background, where one hand is applying sunscreen to the other.

Many of us worry about our vitamin D intake. And for good reason! Vitamin D is not easily found in food sources, and the majority of it is probably gained through sunlight. But the benefits of getting vitamin D are critical for our bodies. After all, this vitamin helps the body build and maintain healthy bones.

But because this vitamin comes to us mainly through sunlight, there have been concerns about how sunscreen might impact vitamin D intake. No one wants to get sunburnt, and skin cancer is equally undesirable, if not more so. But does protecting ourselves with sunscreen negatively impact how much vitamin D we get?

Luckily, science has an answer that will be music to most, if not all, ears! According to the British Journal of Dermatology, there is little to no impact. Even if you put on sunscreen with a low ultraviolet A protection factor, you’ll still get vitamin D. But it’s good to note that you’ll get even more vitamin D using a sunscreen with a high ultraviolet A protection factor.

Untreatable childhood brain cancer could soon become treatable.

A young girl is on a swing in a wooded area.

For years, the childhood brain cancer diffuse intrinsic pontine gliomas (DIPG) has been considered terminal. There are radiation therapy and experimental chemotherapy treatments available for the condition, but neither is considered to be a full-on cure. Most of the time, children who end up with DIPG are expected to only live nine to 12 months after their diagnosis.

But the academic journal Communications Biology has recently published a study indicating that there may soon be hope for those with DIPG. They have discovered a new drug that will be able to target a weakness found in DIPG, which could prove to be an effective and important treatment in the future.

Virtual reality technology could assist people with dementia.

A black virtual reality headset is sitting on a glass head mannequin.

Like DIPG, there is no cure for dementia. Instead, people who have the condition gradually lose their grasp of their cognitive abilities until they’re eventually unable to handle everyday tasks on their own.

It’s a tragic condition to have, and while science has yet to find a potential cure, there may be a new form of help for those with dementia. As noted by a study under the academic publication Proceedings of the SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, providing eight dementia patients with virtual reality (VR) headsets offered a number of benefits, such as:

  • Helping them recall old memories through a stimuli that patients might not experience outside of VR
  • Giving their caregivers more information about their lives before care
  • Improving their social interactions with caregivers
  • Lifting their mood and motivation

The study was quite small, so it’s not known if these benefits would transfer to most dementia patients. But it does show how much better off the lives of dementia patients could be.

Avocados may help counter weight gain.

An avocado split in half rests on a granite surface.

Trying to lose weight can be incredibly difficult. Unfortunately, your body is built to keep starvation a non-issue, but not obesity. So once you lose weight, your body tries to resist further weight loss by lowering your resting metabolic weight.

It sounds like an impossible situation. However, the academic journal Nutrients notes that replacing avocados with carbohydrates could promote hunger suppression and meal satisfaction. So your weight loss could get a bit easier if you start looking to add avocado to your diet!

There’s sure to be more helpful discoveries like these, so look forward to more intellectually nourishing news in a fortnight!

Fortnightly Medical News Round-Up: Scientific Proof You’re Actually Super Tired, Less Invasive HPV Testing, and More

Another fortnight, another round of exciting medical news. Here are some hand-picked highlights from the last two weeks.

We may soon be able to diagnose chronic fatigue syndrome using a blood test.

People tired of being told they’re not tired, who are tired of being tired, may soon have tangible scientific proof of their condition.

Scientists used an electrical current to test immune cells and plasma in blood samples. When the blood samples were stimulated with stress using salt, the electrical current was also affected. Larger changes in the current indicated stressed cells, which was a distinguishing feature in the chronic fatigue patients. The study tested 40 subjects — 20 with chronic fatigue syndrome and 20 without — and accurately flagged all 20 subjects with the condition without flagging the other 20.

People who complain of chronic fatigue syndrome symptoms are often stigmatized by both peers and medical professionals. Doctors may dismiss their concerns as merely imaginary if their bloodwork comes back otherwise normal. Hopefully, new testing methods can soon reduce this stigma. It may even open doors for research into a chronic fatigue-battling drug.

Urine testing may be as effective as pap smears for cervical screenings.

Pap smears aren’t fun, and many women fail to get the necessary screenings done because of the discomfort and embarrassment involved. This is a concern for doctors because the precancerous stage of cervical cancer can be detected as many as five to 10 years before the cancerous stage, allowing for earlier treatment.

Fortunately, UK scientists have found that urine testing may be just as effective as cervical smears to detect high-risk HPV, the virus responsible for causing cervical cancer. The scientists hope that the availability of urine testing may allow more women to participate in regular cervical screening.

Getting screened for HPV regularly is an important part of women’s healthcare. Soon, you may soon be spared the stirrups and the speculum and be able to get a diagnosis in a painless, private way instead.

Morning calisthenics can improve brain power in older adults the rest of the day.

If you’ve ever wondered why your grandparents like to wake up at the break of dawn and do tai chi or go for a brisk walk in the dark, this peculiar habit of theirs may be helping them keep their brains sharp.

A study led by the Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute and The University of Western Australia found that in older Australians, moderate intensity exercise in the morning improves decision-making throughout the day when compared with prolonged sitting. They also discovered that frequent, light walking breaks throughout an eight-hour day of sitting can improve memory when compared to sitting without breaks.

The study also found that levels of brain-derived neurotropic growth factor were elevated for eight hours in the subjects that exercised. This protein is important to the survival and growth of neurons that transmit information in the brain.

Obesity and emotional issues may develop as early as age seven.

Adults who assume children lead stress-free lives may need to listen to their kids more carefully. Presented at the European Congress on Obesity (taking place April 28 to May 1), a study found that children who were obese at age seven were at higher risk of emotional issues at age 11, which then predicted a higher body mass index at age 14.

The study was quite comprehensive, using data from 17,215 children born in the UK participating in the Millennium Cohort Study. The researchers adjusted for factors like gender, ethnicity, and socioeconomic status, but they did admit that the study has certain flaws, such as basing data on parental reporting, not the child’s own reporting.

Stay tuned for more health and wellness news!

The title "Fortnightly Medical News Round-Up: Serving Up Food for Thought" is overtop a table covered in breakfast foods and a newspaper.

Fortnightly Medical News Round-Up: Serving Up Food for Thought

Hungry to learn more about the latest medical news?

Then, join me as I tuck into some of the most recent juicy details.

A plant-based diet may help you fight against gingivitis.

Vibrant, veiny green leaves from a cabbage are in full view.

Ever wanted to keep your teeth nice and healthy? Well, recent research indicates that you might be able to do just that by changing your diet!

This research comes directly from a randomized trial published by the Journal of Clinical Periodontology. During the four-week trial, researchers took 30 participants and split them into two groups. One group kept their original diet. And the other group changed their diet to one low in processed carbohydrates and animal proteins, but rich in omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin C, vitamin D, antioxidants, plant nitrates (i.e., plant chemicals), and fibres. Both groups were subjected to interdental cleaning, and at the end of the trial, researchers discovered that the group with the changed diet were able to significantly reduce gingivitis.

So, consider taking on a similar diet! Your teeth might thank you.

For more information about the studied plant-based diet, click here.

Breast milk could impact how childhood obesity is handled.

A baby in a bear-head-shaped hat is holding on to their mother's shoulder.

If you’re a mother to a newborn baby, you’re probably more interested in protecting the weight and diet of your child.

Well, science has something for you too. From The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, a study was recently published on breastfeeding children. The study focused on differences between mothers under 25 kg/m2 who were breastfeeding and mothers who were breastfeeding while over 25 kg/m2. And researchers soon discovered mothers with obesity who breastfed their children were providing those children with different metabolism substances that may make the children more prone to childhood obesity.

While this study only shows the possibility of a connection between breastfeeding and childhood obesity, it could be an important one to be aware of as you care for your baby. But before you take any extreme measures, talk with your doctor. They’ll have a better idea if there is a great risk to you and your baby.

You can also take the time to learn a bit more about breastfeeding and childhood obesity by clicking here to read directly from The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition’s study.

Eggs are the breakfast of champions for diabetics.

Several eggs are on a tray frying over a fire next to some frying bacon.

Another study from The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition indicates that eggs might actually benefit people who have type 2 diabetes. More specifically, research from the study shows that if type 2 diabetics eat a breakfast high in fat and low in carbohydrates, they seem to have better control over their blood sugar levels for the rest of the day.

Luckily, eggs fit the bill for a high-fat, low-carb meal. So, if you happen to have type 2 diabetes, consider making your morning meal more eggcellent.

To learn more about the impact of such a meal, take a look at the study’s summary here.

Seasoning your food with salt may be unhealthy, but you might still be able to keep the taste.

A salt shaker is in the foreground against the background of a dining place.

If you’re looking for a way to season your breakfast, afternoon, or dinner meals, salt might be one item you think about. More specifically, you probably think of the most common blend of salt: sodium chloride. While it certainly can create a savory flavor, consuming too much sodium chloride can be problematic. If enough excess sodium chloride is consumed, you can end up stiffening your blood vessels, which can eventually lead to high blood pressure, heart attacks, and strokes.

But science is here to offer a solution!

As part of a study in the Journal of Food Science, researchers looked at different salt blends to see how they could keep the salty flavor while lowering the amount of sodium chloride. So far, the most optimal blend of salt that they found consisted of 96.4% sodium chloride, 1.6% potassium chloride, and 2% calcium chloride. But they may very well find an even better blend at some point in the future.

So, look forward to new and improved salt with the same flavor, but with less of a negative impact on your health!

Take a look at more of the salty details here.

Fortnightly Medical News Round-Up: Newfound Scientific Advantages

From Skrillex ruining the days and nights for mosquitoes to birth control you can wear on your ears, plenty of exciting stuff has been happening in the medical world lately. Let’s check out some stories.

Electronic music repels mosquitoes.

brown mosquito

Remember this one for your summer camping trip! According to one study, it turns out that blasting electronic music — in this particular study, Skrillex’s “Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites” — reduced feeding behavior in the female Aedes aegypti mosquito. The study also noted that adult mosquitoes kept in an environment with music copulated less.

Why does music like that of Skrillex affect mosquitoes? Well, it appears that sound disrupts the low-frequency vibrations insects use to communicate with each other. This is an exciting finding, given how most of us vehemently hate getting bit by mosquitoes. It’s also exciting that the particular species studied, Aedes aegypti, carries the dengue virus. This virus can cause dengue fever in humans, a flu-like illness with no known treatment. So playing Skrillex could be a literal life-saver.

For more information, take a look at the original abstract here.

Midnight toilet trips are linked to hypertension.

Do you frequently get up in the middle of the night to visit the bathroom? If so, you might want to get your blood pressure checked out.

Scientists in Japan, a country with a relatively high salt intake, have found a link between nocturia — the need to urinate at night — and high blood pressure. However, the researchers did note that although getting up to urinate at night meant subjects had a 40% higher chance of having hypertension, it didn’t mean there was a causal effect between the two. But it’s good to know that previous studies have associated high salt intake with nocturia. So if you have been dealing with frequent midnight toilet trips, you may want to consider cutting down on the ramen noodles.

You can check out the original press release for this news here.

High-tech pajamas could help you sleep better.

Toddler Sleeping While Sucking Pacifier

When was the last time you had a good night’s sleep? Like most people in the helter-skelter modern world, you probably don’t get enough quality sleep. Well, a new technology aims to help you change that.

The Phyjama contains textile patches of sensors that can monitor a sleeper’s heartbeat, breathing, and sleep position. This data can give both ordinary sleepy Joes and medical professionals valuable, unobtrusive insight into sleeping habits. The team of inventors estimates that the Phyjama can be available to buy within two years. And it’s not super expensive either; it could cost between $100 and $200.

See the original press release about this exciting new product here. This research will be presented at the American Chemical Society meeting.

The future could soon include fashionable, wearable birth control.

Woman in Silver Framed Eyeglasses and Red Top

You may soon be able to go out stylish and safe thanks to wearable birth control. Scientists are testing a transdermal patch that can be attached to earrings and worn by women. This patch can be attached to the backs of jewelry pieces like earrings where it will then release the contraceptive through the skin.

Transdermal patches for other medical purposes have been around for some time, but they have never been incorporated into jewelry. Scientists are hoping that by doing so, contraception would be more appealing and discreet for women. This technology may also be useful in areas where long-term birth control devices like implants and IUDs are harder to access.

Learn more about this product here.

The future might also even let you grow babies from outside your body!

white land animal

If you’re wondering if we can grow babies outside our bodies and save on some labor pains, we’re not there just yet. But scientists are a step closer now. As a result, we are better able to support extremely premature babies on the border of viability (i.e., 21–24 weeks). Scientists have even been able to create an artificial womb that has successfully maintained preterm lamb fetuses at an age equivalent to 24 weeks of human gestation.

This technology is being hailed as a four-minute mile break in the field, and you can learn more about it here.

A man is reading a newspaper behind a street fruit stand and next to a scale for fruit with the title "Fortnightly Medical News Round-Up" next to him.

Fortnightly Medical News Round-Up: From Electrical Bandages to an Experimental Blood Test

Let’s dive into the wonderful world of medical science once again.

It’s that time! Join me as I take a look at the latest medical news.

A study shows how electrical bandages can heal chronic wounds faster.

A hand is shown against a black background with a bandage covering the palm.

Paving the way for better chronic wound care, electrical bandages have come to be known for their great healing properties. But what about them makes them so great? To find out, we need to dive a little deeper into what defines this type of bandage and what defines a chronic wound.

What is an electrical bandage?

Belonging to a particular type of therapy called electroceuticals, electrical bandages are meant to treat chronic wounds.

How?

They do so with the help of a device that’s attached to them. When the bandage is applied to a chronic wound, this device emits electrical impulses. These impulses then eliminate the bacteria found in the chronic wound.

What is a chronic wound?

So, electrical bandages are great at cleansing chronic wounds from infection. But what exactly are chronic wounds?

These types of wounds are typically non-healing ones. The reason for this is that they usually have skin infections coupled with biofilms. And these biofilms form from small groups of microorganisms, which can also include bacteria. These groups are usually held together by fat and protein substances. And both these groups and substances can end up creating a protective barrier for the bacteria.

This protective barrier makes it difficult for traditional treatments like antibiotics to heal chronic wounds. But that isn’t the case for electrical bandages.

Why?

No one’s sure. But researchers at The Ohio State University have discovered new clues that may explain why these bandages have better luck at healing chronic wounds.

When using an electrical device with silk, the university researchers found that the two items created the antimicrobial chemical hypochlorous acid. This chemical was shown to penetrate the biofilm barrier and kill the bacteria inside without harming the healthy skin nearby.

To learn more, you can take a look at a plain English summary here and read through the original study here.

Pregnant women at risk for late preterm delivery may have a new cost-effective treatment.

A pregnant women in all black is standing against a white background.

For years, it has been standard to treat women with prenatal steroids if they were at risk of giving birth before their 34 weeks of pregnancy. After all, this treatment helps fetal lungs mature quickly enough to survive the birth.

Despite the benefit this treatment offers babies, researchers did not initially consider it necessary for women who were going to give birth to their babies during the later part of their preterm stage. But the Maternal-Fetal Medicine Units Network conducted a 2016 randomized trial that proved that there might be a benefit to doing otherwise.

After analyzing this past trial, the journal JAMA Pediatrics has found even more evidence to support that study’s findings. The journal’s analysis showed that late preterm babies from mothers who had been given the prenatal steroid betamethasone had fewer complications with their lungs. And they also had less of a need for respiratory treatments.

With such benefits, women who give birth to late preterm babies could see their medical costs go down.

For more specific information on the benefits of betamethasone, see the original study here. You can also see a plain English version here.

UC Berkeley neurobiologists develop a therapy that could improve sight and delay vision loss.

An open eye is staring.

Over 3.4 million Americans at the age of 40-years-old or older have to deal with vision difficulties. It’s a tough situation to be in that could lead to minor instances of needing to hold reading materials at a farther distance or more severe cases of losing vision entirely.

Sadly, there’s no cure for vision difficulties. But, luckily, neurobiologists at UC Berkeley believe they have discovered a therapy that can at least help.

Conducting a study on mice, the neurobiologists have found that the mice’s eyes, and presumably human eyes as well, have an issue with noise similar to how our ears deal with tinnitus. This noise reduces how well the mice with the genetic condition retinitis pigmentosa can see.

The neurobiologists believe that there may be a drug candidate that could reduce this visual noise to clarify the remaining vision so that people with age-related macular degeneration and other related poor vision conditions can prolong their useful vision and even delay total blindness.

The neurobiologists’ study summary can be seen here.

People unable to take typical cholesterol-lowering drugs may finally have an alternative.

A person in doctor's attire is holding the hand of someone offscreen over a white counter with a folder.

It’s well-known that typical cholesterol-lowering drugs, also known as statins, have side effects that not everyone can tolerate. More specifically, side effects like muscle pain or bad interactions with other medications can pose too great a problem for some. So cholesterol-lowering medications like rosuvastatin aren’t always ideal.

To counter this issue, the New England Journal of Medicine has tested the effectiveness and efficiency of bempedoic acid — a new oral medication that has yet to be approved in Europe. According to the journal’s findings, this medication works like typical statin medications. So, like those medications, bempedoic acid can block an enzyme key to the body’s cholesterol production. And it does so effectively. But unlike your average statin, this medication was shown to be tolerated by most patients.

The medication isn’t out just yet, but when it does come out, if your well-being depends upon it and you live in the United States, you might want to consider checking to see if it’s available at an online international and Canadian pharmacy referral service like Canada Med Pharmacy. This service helps Americans connect with licensed pharmacies from outside the United States, where prescriptions are often offered at more affordable rates.

To find out more about bempedoic acid and its findings, read the New England Journal of Medicine’s research summary here.

An experimental blood test makes it easier to diagnose fibromyalgia.

A needle is taking out a vial of blood.

For a long time, there was no specific way to diagnose fibromyalgia. But now, researchers from The Ohio State University have given us a reasonable way to identify the condition.

According to their study in the Journal of Biological Chemistry, researchers have proven that they can detect fibromyalgia reliably within blood samples. Using the technique vibrational spectroscopy, the researchers measured the level of molecules within each sample and came to discern a clear pattern that set fibromyalgia apart from other conditions.

It’s not a cure, but at the very least, those suffering from fibromyalgia will soon be able to avoid undergoing a number of general tests just to find out what condition they have.

You can see the abstract for the fibromyalgia study here.

Fortnightly Medical News Round-Up: Cancer Breakthroughs, Possible HIV Cure, and More!

We live in a time of incredible scientific breakthroughs.

In this post, let’s take a look at the most interesting recent health findings.

Eli Lilly releases cheaper insulin.

A victory to diabetes patients everywhere, pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly announced that it will release a lower-cost version of its insulin product Humalog®. The lower-cost version of insulin will sell at 50% of the cost of Humalog®.

This news should come as a great boon for Americans. It’s well-known how expensive pharmaceutical drugs are in the United States. Due to the expense, some Americans are even looking abroad to find affordable versions of their medication, such as through licensed international and Canadian pharmacies online.

To fill the need for cheaper medication, Eli Lilly will release Insulin Lispro (the lower-cost version of Humalog®) in vial and pen form. A single vial will cost $137.35 while a five-pack of KwikPens will cost $265.20.

Click here for the original press release.

Second patient in history is tested free of HIV thanks to stem cell treatment.

In an exciting new breakthrough, an HIV-positive patient has been tested free of the virus for 16 months following a bone marrow transplant. The transplanted tissue was from a donor with two copies of a CCR5 gene mutation. This mutation, possessed by about 1% of people of European descent, gives those who have two copies of it resistance to HIV.

However, it’s too soon to say that this patient has been “cured.” Additionally, bone marrow transplants aren’t a practical way to treat HIV in most patients. This particular patient was also suffering from chemotherapy-resistant blood cancer, so they required the transplant anyway. For most people, such a procedure would be too invasive to warrant the risk of a transplant. Instead, most patients respond well to antiretroviral drugs, a far less risky treatment.

Still, this is the second time such a procedure has proved successful. It may prove promising to future medical research into treating HIV, the virus responsible for AIDS.

This study was published in the journal Nature and summarized on the journal’s website.

We get less emotionally sensitive as we get older.

Ever wonder why your teenager is so moody all the time while your baby boomer-aged grandparent seems infinitely relaxed? Science may have just unearthed a clue.

A study published in Journal of Experimental Psychology: General found that during adolescence, our ability to sense anger and fear in others’ faces increases dramatically. As we become older adults, this sensitivity to negative facial expressions decreases. However, our sensitivity to happiness in others’ faces remains the same.

In other words, we get less sensitive to other people’s disapproval. Maybe this is why people have reported feeling the most life satisfaction at age 23 and 69.

You can find the abstract to the original study here.

More muscle mass may mean higher cancer treatment success.

A recent study conducted at Osaka University and published in Scientific Reports found a strong association between sarcopenia and the effectiveness of programmed death inhibitors (PD-1), an anti-cancer drug.

Sarcopenia is the degradation of muscle mass, a condition that can happen to cancer patients. The scientists researched the impact sarcopenia had on patients with advanced non-small cell lung cancer, and they found that those with sarcopenia had significantly less successful reactions to PD-1 inhibitor treatment.

Click here for a plain English summary of the article and here for the original research paper.

Brain region of young adults at risk of drug addiction is markedly different from that of young adults with lower risk.

This study, conducted by researchers at the University of Cambridge and Aarhus University, further supports the progressive claim that drug addiction is not merely a case of weak character. Rather, addiction is strongly associated with innate biological factors.

Impulsivity in young adulthood is strongly associated with the risk of drug addiction. In this study, researchers found another strong association: increased impulsivity in young adults and low levels of myelin in a brain region called the putamen.

Myelin is a sheath that protects a nerve cell’s axis, maximizing nerve conduction efficiency much like the plastic coating of an electrical wire. The putamen is a part of the brain that is a key component of addiction, as it sends dopamine signals that impact impulsivity.

Further research is needed to see if decreased myelination is a reliable predictor of addiction risk. Find a link to the original study here.