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Spheres of cells reveal which drugs can enter brains

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A new method reveals which drugs can cross the cellular barrier that separates the brain from the bloodstream1.

The blood-brain barrier protects the brain from foreign invaders. But it also blocks out many chemical compounds, creating a major hurdle for drug development. Treatments for autism and other psychiatric conditions need to cross from the blood into the brain in a reliable way.

Researchers can use synthetic systems to model the blood-brain barrier in laboratory dishes. But these models are expensive to assemble, limiting the number of drugs that researchers can screen at a time.

The new method offers an inexpensive way to screen several compounds at once. It involves co-culturing the three types of cells that form the blood-brain barrier: endothelial cells, which line the inside of blood vessels; pericytes, which surround the endothelial cells; and astrocytes, which support the healthy functioning of neurons. Human cell lines for all three cell types are commercially available.

After 12 hours in culture, the cells organize into tiny spheres. Endothelial cells and pericytes form the outside of the spheres, and astrocytes make up the interior.

The method was described 6 June in Nature Communications.

Test run:

Researchers exposed the spheres to a peptide known to cross the blood-brain barrier, called angiopep-2. They tagged the peptide with a fluorescent marker. When they looked under a microscope, they saw a fluorescent signal deep inside, indicating that the peptide had crossed into the sphere. Another peptide known not to cross the barrier did not permeate the spheres.

The team tested 16 fluorescently tagged peptides that were assumed to cross the blood-brain barrier based on their size, water solubility and electric charge. Only five of the peptides readily passed into the spheres. One of the five disrupted the structure of the spheres, so the researchers eliminated from it from further study.

They injected the remaining four peptides into mice and then inspected the animals’ brains for a fluorescent signal. All four peptides accumulated in the brain.

The peptide that permeated the spheres most readily was not the most abundant in mouse brain tissue. Still, the technique could help scientists narrow the search for drug candidates to test in animal models, the researchers say.

The post Spheres of cells reveal which drugs can enter brains appeared first on Spectrum | Autism Research News.

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synapsecracklepop
27 days ago
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Sounds exciting.
Atlanta
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Questionnaires can be a good predictor of survival rates in multiple sclerosis

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The way in which patients with multiple sclerosis answer questionnaires could help to predict their survival rate from the disease, a study has found.
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sarcozona
67 days ago
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In which doctors learn that patients who feel like shit are doing worse than those who feel just not so great.
synapsecracklepop
70 days ago
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The kind of headline that makes me hesitate: "Do I really want to know what this says?"

*clicks and reads*

"Yep, kind of wish I hadn't read that."
Atlanta
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Loss of spinal nerve fibres not the only cause of disability in multiple sclerosis

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It is commonly thought that in MS, the loss of axons (nerve fibres) contributes to the chronic disability found in many patients.
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synapsecracklepop
115 days ago
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Damn. "In spinal cord trauma, people with less than 10% of their spinal cord axons may still be able to have useful lower limb movement, but in MS, patients with as much as 40% of their axons retained, as shown in our study, are almost invariably wheelchair bound."
Atlanta
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I’m Not Mean, I Just Have Resting Bitch Personality

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Can’t I be nice and you also leave me alone?

Image: Surian Soosay

I don’t have Resting Bitch Face, but I have always looked more upset than I am. When I was five I was diagnosed with a lazy eye, and though I was told I “grew out of it,” I’m not sure my eyes are quite…even. It’s not that one of my eyes is different, it’s that they’re not exactly the same. To add to that, I’m nearsighted. For many years—specifically the years in high school when it was not cool to wear glasses—I was in denial of this fact. So I would dutifully wear my thin oval-shaped glasses during Algebra 2/Trig H class so I could see the board, and as soon as it was time to walk between classes I would squint my way down the hall, scowling more deeply in order to see the faces of those walking towards me. When I was in college, one of my TAs said he saw me walking down the street but resisted the temptation to say hello because I looked like I was brooding. I have Resting Brood Face.

I also suffer from a more complicated affliction, which I am happy to explain, called Resting Bitch Personality. I SEEM like a bitch, but I’m not. The only thing I resent more than small talk is the social expectation of having it. I will ice out even the most talkative hairdresser. I will ice out my own family. “I’m not going to talk just because you WANT me to, in this moment!” I’m a rigid motherfucker, but I’m not a bitch.

This is not to say that I’m silent all the time or never make conversation. I just prefer it to be on my terms, and not yours. When you ask me a question I feel put on the spot. I hate the expectation of performance. I resent that you have to announce to a house full of relatives your plans for the evening: “I think I shall now retire to my bedroom, goodnight to all!” As if you owe anyone an account of your every move.

I come off as an ice-cold bitch in public, but not because I hate everyone, but because I believe in some sort of false bubble of privacy—that I am walking through my life as the protagonist. I realize that makes me selfish, but I would argue that I’m also passive: I often feel as though I am watching my life rather than living it. So when you speak to me or look at me, I lose track of the footage. I believe you are not supposed to talk to or look at strangers in a public bathroom, and I believe retail salespeople are sociopaths.

But I wouldn’t say I’m an introvert. I love attention, I love being right, I love performing when I know I’m good. When I’m On, I’m On. Maybe it’s a younger-sibling thing—I’m sort of always waiting to see what other people do first. I’m very comfortable watching other people, and uncomfortable with the idea of them watching me. Anyway I just wanted you to know that I’m not ACTUALLY a bitch, I just seem like one. Please do not diagnose me in the comments, I already have enough problems. Thank you.


I’m Not Mean, I Just Have Resting Bitch Personality was originally published in The Hairpin on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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synapsecracklepop
147 days ago
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"The only thing I resent more than small talk is the social expectation of having it." Normal people will read this piece and think it's satire, but *I* know the truth. (It is The Truth.)
Atlanta
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1 public comment
tscheld
147 days ago
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I have recently been saying that I am not unfriendly, I'm just not friendly.

“Welcome Them”—An Interview with Alisa Bowman on RAISING THE TRANSGENDER CHILD

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As Janet Mock recently explained in the New York Times, “Young People Get Trans Rights. It’s Adults Who Don’t.” At this regressive moment in history, as the Trump administration rescinds legal protections for trans youth, it’s important to remember that culture continues to march forward. More and more trans kids across the country are living as their true selves at home and at school, and increasing numbers of parents and educators are realizing they need to learn how best to support the trans kids in their lives. Raising the Transgender Child, a new parenting guidebook by Alisa Bowman and Dr. Michele Angello, is going to make that a whole lot easier.

This practical and super readable book breaks down the issues for everyone, from those who are only just learning the word “transgender” and want to know, “What’s the difference between LGB, LGBT, LGBTI, and LGBTQQIP2SAA?” to those who are knee-deep in navigating the legal and healthcare systems to get their child’s transition-related healthcare costs covered by insurance and may turn straight to the chapter outlining “Seven Ways to Avoid Going Broke.” It’s also packed with statistics from the latest research illustrating the devastating costs of refusing to affirm a child’s gender identity, for the next time that conservative uncle tries to argue that your child will “grow out of it.”

“This wonderful book arrives at exactly the right moment, providing parents, families, and educators with an invaluable resource for raising a trans child with wisdom and love,” says Jennifer Finney Boylan, author of She’s Not There and Stuck in the Middle with You.

I spoke with Alisa Bowman about her personal reasons for writing the book, and how other parents are responding. – Rachel Aimee

MUTHA: What made you want to write this book?

ALISA BOWMAN: This book began one day over coffee with my literary agent. I casually mentioned that my son was transgender. At the time, Caitlyn Jenner had just come out, and my agent leaned toward me and fired off dozens of questions. She was genuinely curious and wanted to learn. I was genuinely generous and offered as many answers as I could.

On my way out of the coffee house, a young man tapped me on the shoulder and said, “I couldn’t help but overhear…” I thought he was about to lecture me and tell me I was raising my child wrong. Instead he said, “I’m trans. I think you are a wonderful mother.” Then he handed me his business card and said, “If you ever need ANYTHING, please reach out.”

We marveled at how small this world can be. Then we parted ways.

Several weeks later, my agent emailed, saying she thought the world needed a guide for parents like me.

Just the idea of it made my stomach turn. At the time, my son was in the closet. He looked like any boy. Most people had no idea that he had ovaries and a vagina.

I told her that, though I could see the need for it, I could not pen a book like this. It was just too dangerous.

But she persisted.

Soon a publisher was interested. I talked the publisher into allowing me to use a pen name. But then August of 2016 happened. That’s when things got personal. That’s when a high school student went before our district’s school board and she told them that she didn’t want transgender students in the locker room with her. Her story went viral. Soon people were commenting on Facebook about kids like mine being freaks and perverts and mentally ill.

I knew my son was none of those things.

I also knew something else: it was time to stop being so silent.

Three weeks later, my son and I went before the school board, and we brought an entire loving community with us. A video of my son’s speech soon went viral, and we were inundated with requests for interviews. What shocked me more than anything was how many people stood up for us once they realized it was safe to do so. That’s when I asked our publisher to put my real name on the book rather than have me write under a pen name.

MUTHA: That’s an amazing story. As you discuss in the book, many parents think they are protecting their children by preventing them from expressing their true gender identity, but the research shows the opposite. What advice do you have for these parents?

ALISA BOWMAN: I used to be one of the parents in the former category. I wanted my son to “just” be a masculine girl rather than a transgender boy. In other words, I would hear myself wishing, “Can’t she just be a masculine girl?” and “Can’t she just be a lesbian?”

My reasoning was that society was more accepting of masculine women than society was of men with ovaries and, therefore, he’d be happier and safer as a result. But I was wrong. By trying to force an identity onto my son, I didn’t see him for who he truly was – and that was a lot more harmful than accepting him and helping him to find his way, even in a world that may or may not accept him.

We’ve all probably experienced milder versions of what transgender people experience, and those experiences can help us to empathize with what it’s like to be told you are “wrong.” Perhaps, for example, you were told that you were crazy for loving a particular song or movie. Or maybe, your parents strongly encouraged you to go into a STEM profession, even though you loved the arts. Or maybe you were told to dress a certain way. When our families, friends and society attempt to define us without our input or permission, it’s annoying and frustrating and anxiety producing. So just imagine how it would feel if society was telling you that you were wrong about how you perceived and expressed your gender, perhaps going as far to tell you that you were going to go to Hell for it. Imagine how it would feel if you felt your parent’s love was conditional on you behaving in a way that didn’t reflect who you really were. Imagine how stressful it would be to go through the world pretending to be someone you knew you weren’t. That’s the experience of transgender youth who are not accepted by their families, and it’s partly what is driving the very high rates of depression, anxiety and suicide among transgender people.

MUTHA: What kind of response has the book gotten from parents?

ALISA BOWMAN: During a recent book signing, I was heartened to meet several parents who had been raising transgender children near me. We didn’t know one another and probably would have never met if not for the book events. And had we never met, they would have felt as if they were all alone – with no other families like theirs in the area. I literally watched the expressions on their faces change from fear to comfort, and that made every bit of this process so worth it for me.

MUTHA: What are the most useful things that parents (not just parents of trans kids but all parents) can do to support gender diverse kids and their families?

ALISA BOWMAN: Affirm. Affirm. Affirm. Use the name someone asks you to use, even if it’s not technically their legal name. Use the pronouns they ask you to use, even if it feels awkward at first. Welcome them into gendered spaces. Believe them when they tell you who they are, and make every effort to treat them as their identified gender.

And talk to your own children about gender. Help them to be the kid who sticks up for someone who is being bullied. Talk to them about the importance of kindness, compassion, and love. The bullies of the world are pretty rare, but people who stand by and do nothing as those bullies accomplish their dirty work are very common. Teach your child what to do so they are not scared into silence, but rather courageous enough stand up for the most vulnerable among us.

Alisa Bowman

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synapsecracklepop
152 days ago
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"The bullies of the world are pretty rare, but people who stand by and do nothing as those bullies accomplish their dirty work are very common."
Atlanta
ChristianDiscer
152 days ago
Rare? The "left" are boldly getting worse. https://youtu.be/uvOzGVj18zU
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Needed ASAP: Older Children of LGBTQ Parents for SCOTUS Amicus Brief

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Time-sensitive action alert: Older children of LGBTQ parents are needed to lend their voices to an amicus brief for the U. S. Supreme Court in a case seeking to overturn an Arkansas decision that...

Read the rest of this post at Mombian (www.mombian.com).
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synapsecracklepop
216 days ago
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Atlanta
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