HPV rates are on the rise, how functional MRI scans can help autism patients, and are brain-attacking antibodies the culprit in certain neurological diseases?
(Washington Post, 8/23/2018, Laurie McGinley)
Cancers linked to the human papillomavirus (HPV) have increased significantly over the last 15 years in the United States, with throat cancer now the most common HPV-related malignancy, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported Thursday. More than 43,000 people developed HPV-associated cancer in 2015, compared with about 30,000 in 1999, the CDC said. At the same time, HPV vaccination rates are rising — a trend that could eventually curb the increase in cancer cases. Nearly half of US adolescents ages 13 to 17 in 2017 had received all the recommended doses for HPV vaccination, while two-thirds had received the first dose. For both groups, that was a five-percentage-point increase from the previous year. But the vaccine rate is not rising fast enough, experts say. “The medical community has to accept some blame here,” said Larry Copeland, a gynecologic oncologist at the James Cancer Hospital, the Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center, adding that some patients said the vaccine wasn’t recommended by their doctors. “We have to look in the mirror. Pediatricians, primary-care doctors, come on, let’s get with the program.”
(LabRoots, 8/23/2018, Brenda Kelley Kim)
A recent US National Institutes of Health study of youngsters who had a diagnosed Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) showed that just by a playing a game while undergoing a functional M RI scan, the patients were able to rewire their brains to increase activity in some regions and regulate overall brain function. In young people who have an ASD, the parts of the brain that regulate social behavior are “under-connected” meaning the brain doesn’t use these pathways to convey messages and process information. Getting these areas to activate is difficult because that’s a big part of autism; processing social cues is difficult for these patients. In neurotypical patients, it’s much more spontaneous. The brain just knows what to do. Two areas that make up the “social brain” were targeted in this study. The game involved putting puzzle pieces together on a virtual screen. The subjects, 17 males with autism and 10 without, were asked to imagine the parts in place, and try to get the pieces to appear on the screen and reveal the picture.
(Science News, 8/23/2018, Laura Sanders)
In the past decade, brain-attacking antibodies have been identified as culprits in certain neurological diseases. The details of how antibodies pull off this neuronal hit job, described online Aug. 23 in Neuron, may ultimately lead to better ways to stop the ensuing brain damage. Research on antibodies that target the brain is a “biomedical frontier” that may have implications for a wide range of disorders. Autoantibodies are a type of antibody that mistakenly target a person’s own proteins. One such internal attack comes from autoantibodies that take aim at part of the AMPA receptor, a protein that sits on the outside of nerve cells and detects incoming chemical messages. These autoantibodies interfere with the receptor’s message-sensing job, neurologist Christian Geis of Jena University Hospital in Germany and colleagues found.
—Compiled by Social Media Specialist Jillian Scola