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Studies Find Consistent Molecular Architecture Of The Human Brain Across Individuals

Source: JNenad Sestan, MD, PhD, Yale University Department of Neurobiology and Kavli Institute for Neuroscience, via NIH

Human brains have a consistent molecular architecture despite all the other genetic differences across individuals and ethnicities, according to two studies that recorded when and where genes turn on and off in multiple brain regions throughout life.

Despite individual and ethnic genetic diversity, the human prefrontal cortex shows a consistent molecular architecture, as shown in this picture. The vertical span of color-coded areas is about the same, indicating that our brains all share the same tissue at a molecular level, despite distinct DNA differences on the horizontal axis. Each dot represents a comparison between two individuals.

The research appeared in the Journal Nature and was described by the National Institutes of Health in a press release.

The first study focused on Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at ACP Internist*

The Human Genome Turns 10

The human genome has been around for a bit more than ten years, but on February 15, 2001, the first complete human genome sequence was published. This was nothing short of a revolution within medicine. Since then, great advancements have been made in our understanding of genetics and its associations with human traits and diseases.

Nature is celebrating this tenth birthday with a special titled “Human Genome at Ten.” In it, multiple papers reflect on what we learned and discovered, what is still unknown, and what we can expect for the near future. Best of all, Nature has packaged the special in a free iPad app for everyone to read, which features interactive graphs, videos, and audio commentaries.

Nature special: The Human Genome at Ten…

iTunes link: Nature Human Genome Special Edition…

*This blog post was originally published at Medgadget*

Synthetic Blood Via Artificial Cells And Platelets From Stem Cells

There’s hema­tology news, times two (at least):

1. Progress in devel­oping syn­thetic red blood cells

A University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill research group has created hydrogel par­ticles that mimic the size, shape and flex­i­bility of red blood cells (RBCs). The researchers used PRINT® (Particle Replication in Non-wetting Templates) tech­nology to gen­erate the fake RBCs, which are said to have a rel­a­tively long half-life. The findings were reported on-line yes­terday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) (abstract available, sub­scription required for full text). According to a PR-ish but inter­esting post on Futurity, a website put forth by a con­sortium of major research uni­ver­sities, tests of the par­ticles’ ability to perform func­tions such as trans­porting oxygen or car­rying ther­a­peutic drugs have not yet been conducted.

Developing com­petent, arti­ficial RBCs is a hematologist’s holy grail of sorts, because with that you might alle­viate anemia without the risks of transfusion.

2. Progress in using human stem cells to gen­erate lots of platelets

In an exciting paper pub­lished today in Cell Research, inves­ti­gators stim­u­lated human embryonic stem cells to become platelet-producing cells, called megakary­ocytes. According to the article (open-text at Nature PG), the platelets were pro­duced in abun­dance, appeared typical and clotted appro­pri­ately in response to stimuli in vitro. The researchers injected them into mice, used high-speed video microscopy for imaging, and demon­strated that the stem cell-derived human platelets con­tributed to clot for­mation in mice, in vivo (i.e., they seem to work). Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Medical Lessons*

Quackademic Medicine Infiltrates The New England Journal Of Medicine

One of the things that disturbs me the most about where medicine is going is the infiltration of quackery into academic medicine. So prevalent is this unfortunate phenomenon that Doctor RW even coined a truly apt term for it: Quackademic medicine.

In essence, pseudoscientific and even prescientific ideas are rapidly being “integrated” with science-based medicine, or, as I tend to view it, quackery is being “integrated” with scientific medicine, to the gradual erosion of scientific standards in medicine. No quackery is too quacky, it seems. Even homeopathy and naturopathy can seemingly find their way into academic medical centers. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Science-Based Medicine*

Latest Interviews

IDEA Labs: Medical Students Take The Lead In Healthcare Innovation

It’s no secret that doctors are disappointed with the way that the U.S. healthcare system is evolving. Most feel helpless about improving their work conditions or solving technical problems in patient care. Fortunately one young medical student was undeterred by the mountain of disappointment carried by his senior clinician mentors…

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How To Be A Successful Patient: Young Doctors Offer Some Advice

I am proud to be a part of the American Resident Project an initiative that promotes the writing of medical students residents and new physicians as they explore ideas for transforming American health care delivery. I recently had the opportunity to interview three of the writing fellows about how to…

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Latest Book Reviews

Book Review: Is Empathy Learned By Faking It Till It’s Real?

I m often asked to do book reviews on my blog and I rarely agree to them. This is because it takes me a long time to read a book and then if I don t enjoy it I figure the author would rather me remain silent than publish my…

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The Spirit Of The Place: Samuel Shem’s New Book May Depress You

When I was in medical school I read Samuel Shem s House Of God as a right of passage. At the time I found it to be a cynical yet eerily accurate portrayal of the underbelly of academic medicine. I gained comfort from its gallows humor and it made me…

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Eat To Save Your Life: Another Half-True Diet Book

I am hesitant to review diet books because they are so often a tangled mess of fact and fiction. Teasing out their truth from falsehood is about as exhausting as delousing a long-haired elementary school student. However after being approached by the authors’ PR agency with the promise of a…

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