Researchers have had success with a vaccine that could ultimately slow down advanced Alzheimer’s disease in humans. The team from Sydney University have published – PLoS ONE – details of a study which shows the vaccine slows one type of dementia by stopping neuro-fibre tangling. Associate Professor Lars Ittner from Sydney University – Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s Disease Laboratory says the study was conducted on mice that were already developing the condition. Ittner said it was the first time researchers had proved a vaccine that targeted the tau protien in mice that had already developed the disease. Ittner says that their approach was different, until now most research has targeted the tau protiens in younger animals, prior to the onset of Alzheimer’s disease. ”What we attempted to do was to work with older mice with a lot of damage. Because in people, by the time they realise their symptoms are Alzheimer’s disease, a lot of damage has already been done.” said Ittner. The researchers say their novel approach worked, producing some of the most improved results so far recorded in mice with advanced dementia. READ MORE
High levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere may have less of an impact on the rate of global warming than previously feared, a new study suggests. Associate Professor Schmittner notes that many previous studies only looked at periods spanning from 1850 to today, thus not taking into account a fully integrated palaeoclimate data on a global scale. The authors of the study stress that global warming is real and that increases in atmospheric CO2, which has doubled from pre-industrial standards, will have multiple serious impacts. But more severe estimates that predict temperatures could rise up to an average of 10 degrees Celsius are unlikely, the researchers report in the journal Science. The new study suggests temperatures will rise on average 2.3 degrees under the same conditions. Scientists have long struggled to quantify climate sensitivity, or how the Earth will respond to projected increases in carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas. READ MORE
A new study suggests that Autism starts in the womb, researchers have found a remarkable 67 per cent increase in the total number of brain cells in the prefrontal cortex of new born babies with ASD. Children with autism appear to have too many cells in a key area of the brain needed for communication and emotional development, say US researchers. Their findings help explain why young children with autism often develop brains that are larger or heavier than normal. Dr Eric Courchesne says the finding of excess brain cells in the prefrontal cortex explains brain overgrowth in autism, and hints at why brain function in this area is disrupted. Courchesne, of the University of California San Diego Autism Center of Excellence, and colleagues, have also found dozens of genes that may raise the risk of autism. But genetic causes only explain 10 per cent to 20 per cent of cases, and recent studies have pointed to environmental factors, possibly in the womb, as a potential trigger. The team found excess brain cells in each child with autism they studied, says Courchesne. And the brains of the autistic children also weighed more than those of typically developing children of the same age.