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Mother’s gut microbes could be linked to autismlike disorders in children

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Presence of certain bacteria in pregnant mice lead to abnormal brain wiring and autismlike behaviors in offspring
A scanning electron micrograph of micrboes from human feces.
In mothers, gut microbes such as the ones shown here could influence the neurodevelopment of offspring. Magnification is 26,500x.
Credit: David Scharf/Science Source

We share our bodies with a microbial zoo. For every human cell in our bodies, there is about one bacterial cell, according to some estimates. And scientists continue to find ways in which the biology of these microorganisms influences our own.

Now, in a pair of papers that could provide insight into the mechanisms behind autism, researchers report that the presence of certain bacteria in the guts of pregnant mice promotes abnormal brain development in their offspring. These affected animals display behaviors that resemble those seen in people with autism spectrum disorders.

Neuroscientists have long noticed a correlation between viral infections in pregnant women and an increased likelihood their children will develop autism, schizophrenia, and other neurodevelopmental disorders. Scientists have replicated this connection in mice. Scientists can simulate a viral infection in pregnant mice by injecting the animals with a synthetic double-stranded RNA called poly(I:C), which resembles the genetic material of some viruses. The offspring of mice receiving poly(I:C) exhibit abnormal social and repetitive behaviors, such as ignoring new cage mates and repeatedly digging.

Gloria B. Choi of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Jun R. Huh of the University of Massachusetts Medical School have been studying this phenomenon in mice. In a previous study, the team found that a certain type of immune cell called a T helper 17 (TH17) cell was involved. The normal role of these cells is to fight off invading bacteria and fungi.

In one of the new papers, Huh and Choi report that the mothers produce these cells only when there are segmented filamentous bacteria in their guts (Nature 2017, DOI: 10.1038/nature23910). For example, pregnant mice treated with the antibiotic vancomycin lacked these microbes in their intestines, had few TH17 cells, and did not produce abnormally behaving offspring when injected with poly(I:C).

Huh, currently at Harvard Medical School, says that these microbes trigger the animals’ immune systems to produce TH17 cells. The poly(I:C) then stimulates the cells to release an immune-signaling molecule that somehow causes abnormal brain development in the fetuses.

The second paper from Choi and Huh pinpoints the part of the offsprings’ brains that develops incorrectly (Nature 2017, DOI: 10.1038/nature23909). This brain region, which is part of the somatosensory cortex, “tells an animal where its body parts are and how their positions change as a result of movement,” Choi says.

The team found that affected mice had increased neuronal activity in this region. When the scientists used a technique to decrease the firing of neurons in the area, the animals’ behavior became more normal. Meanwhile, when the team used the same technique in normal mice to increase this region’s activity, the animals started to display abnormal behaviors seen in affected mice.

To determine if gut microbes have a similar effect on neurodevelopment in people, Huh thinks scientists need to study pregnant women before and after they give birth. Such an analysis could correlate the composition of the women’s gut flora and activity of their immune systems while pregnant with the likelihood their children develop autism or other disorders.

If such a connection is found in people, researchers could investigate ways to reduce the risk of improper neurodevelopment by tweaking the composition of pregnant women’s gut flora, writes Craig M. Powell of the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in a perspective accompanying the two papers. But even if no such connection exists in people, Powell continues, “these papers still provide valuable insights by revealing the complexity of the interactions between gut bacteria, the immune system, and brain development.”


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    • Од Ромејац,
      It continues to be a deeply disturbing mystery that parents continue to willingly march their children down to the local library for the purposes of having a grown man dressed in the misogynist equivalent of blackface to read a story and perform for them.
      Not only are drag queen storytime events absurd, immoral, and highly inappropriate for children at face value, they have been repeatedly proven to be dangerous venues for predators to sexually groom young children, all while library staff and parents lovingly affirm the whole thing in the name of “tolerance.”
      Even after such events have turned out to feature convicted sex offenders and performers who allow children to lay on top of them, it seems no scandal is too disgusting to keep parents from bringing their children to these disgusting events.
      Perhaps this one will.
      According to a Facebook post from the Child Protection League (CPL), a pair of drag queens, using the stage names “Sasha Sosa” and “Gemini Valentine,” was invited to indoctrinate children story hours in branches of the Hennepin County Library in Hennepin County, Minnesota earlier this month.
      In the post, CPL attached a damning, yet mercifully blurred photo in which “Sosa” apparently flashes his crotch to a room full of preschoolers at the Ridgedale Hennepin County Library on October 17th.
      How on earth can any parent sit through such a thing without scooping up their child and fleeing from the scene? To say nothing of alerting authorities!  If this man had flashed a child in the grocery store, he’d be in handcuffs, but because this took place in an “educational” environment, it is somehow acceptable to these sick people!
      In another photo, “Valentine” is seen preparing to read to a group of small children at the Hopkins Hennepin County public library on October 5th, wearing a disgustingly revealing spandex leotard that would not be appropriate for any man, woman, or beast to wear…anywhere.

      Gemini Valentine" adult drag performer read to preschoolers at the Hopkins Hennepin County public library on Oct 5.
      Please note: These photos have not been edited, blurred or altered in any way.
      According to CPL, both men appear to only be 18 or 19 years old and both are frequent performers at strip clubs, apparently making them a natural choice for children’s entertainers to the library board. As we have been reporting for years, a consistent theme of such events is to feature entertainers who normally frequent erotic adult clubs. 
      While the library appears to have canceled two of their upcoming story time events, a sign posted at the library states that they will be rescheduled soon.
      In a comment on their post, CPL added that “The Hennepin County Library does no formal background checks on these men either,” which, as we’ve previously reported, is a common failure among libraries who host these vile events on top of their affinity for inviting male strippers to participate. 
      Another comment from a Facebook user claimed that the individual called Hennepin County Library and spoke with the assistant to the library’s interim director, Janet Mills, who said that if the person wanted to “rent a room at the library and invite children to watch me have sex with a horse,” they would be allowed to “as long as the horse did not kick or harm anyone.” Obviously we cannot verify this story, and we can only pray it’s a joke. 
      Folks, these story hours are harming children. No child has the psychological fortitude to withstand seeing a drag queen’s crotch without trauma. No child can be left unscathed by the blatant sexual grooming these events were obviously designed for. No child is immune to the inevitable damage caused by exposure to such debauchery.
      We need to fight this with everything we’ve got. 
      Call the Hennepin County Library and respectfully demand that they permanently cancel these vile events. Call your own local library and let them know that you will not tolerate a drag queen story time in your city. Sign our petition to send a clear message to the American Library Association, who fully endorses these grooming sessions, that parents do not want public libraries to corrupt and confuse their children for the sake of the progressive agenda.
      If even the parents of these poor children won’t protect them from these predators, it’s up to us. What kind of world are we going to leave behind if we don’t do something to stop the dangerous trajectory we are on? 
      Drag Queen Flashes His Crotch to Children During Library Storytime ⋆ Activist Mommy
      ACTIVISTMOMMY.COM If even the parents of these poor children won’t protect them from these predators, it’s up to us. What kind of world are we going to leave behind if we don’t do something to stop the dangerous...  
    • Од Ronald,
      atWith A Bang, CONTRIBUTOR GROUPEthanSiegel, CONTRIBUTORNov 1, 201710:093 National Fusion Research Institute, Korea
      The plasma in the center of this fusion reactor is so hot it [+] The United States spends more on military spending than the next ten nations combined: an estimated $600 billion annually. Meanwhile, the entire budgets of NASA and the National Science Foundation, combined, is only ~$25 billion, or about 4% of our military budget. Many astronomers, astrophysicists, engineers, and scientists of all persuasions dream of the benefits that mild increases to their budgets could bring, but these are tiny, incremental dreams.
      What if we truly reached for the stars? What if we dreamed of a day where we invested in peaceful research for the betterment of humanity as much as we invested in war, defense, and the military? If our space and science budgets went up to $600 billion, either in lieu of or in addition to whatever we spent on the military, what we could accomplish would be tremendous. Here are five possibilities of what we could do with just a single year’s worth of military-level spending.
      PPPL management, Princeton University, the Department of Energy, from the FIRE project
      A fusion device based on magnetically confined plasma. Hot [+]  
      1.) The ultimate energy breakthrough: a net-energy-producing nuclear fusion reactor. While there are multiple different methods we have for achieving nuclear fusion, the most promising avenue is through magnetic confinement. An international consortium, known as ITER, was begun as far back as the Reagan-Gorbachev era, and construction is finally set to be complete in 2019, after a total investment of around €20 billion. After that, it will take another decade to get the plasma running successfully, and then in the 2030s, it can push past the breakeven point, fusing deuterium and tritium together.
      Yet in many ways, the only thing preventing fusion power from permeating through our world today is this up-front investment with an incredible long-term payoff. For the cost of the military’s budget for just a single year, we could not only achieve nuclear fusion, we could learn to scale it and revolutionize how we deal with power and energy on Earth. It’s the ultimate holy grail for energy, and the greatest barrier to its success isn’t physics, but a lack of investment.
          NASA/Viking 1
      Mars, along with its thin atmosphere, as photographed from [+] 2.) At least four separate human colonies on Mars. Humans on Mars? The only thing stopping us is funding, and this has been true since the 1990s. With a sustained investment of between $50 and $150 billion total over 10 years, we could land a slew of equipment on the Martian surface, then a crew of human beings, who would stay for anywhere from 6 to 18 months before returning home. Even at the maximum end of that, we could set up four separate, independent colonies on another planet for the cost of just one year of US military spending. The only reason we haven’t done so already is funding.
      Wikimedia Commons user Lucas Braun
      Two workers installing a tilt-up photovoltaic array on a [+] 3.) A 2,000 Watt solar power system for every US household. There are lots of revolutionary technologies that are being outfitted with solar power, from transparent windows to shingles to siding. But the cheapest, most efficient solar technology is still the solar panel. Systems that generate approximately 2,000 Watts are now under $5000, and provide an estimated 175-375 kWh per month. With around 125 million households in the United States, a $600 billion budget could provide one of these systems for every household in the country, where the average American uses 920 kWh per month.
      It wouldn’t solve our energy needs, but it would significantly reduce the burden on our electric grid and cut our fossil fuel consumption dramatically. And it would take effect immediately, or at least as quickly as we could produce that many solar panels.
      ILC collaboration
      A hypothetical new accelerator, either a long linear one or [+] 4.) A country-sized particle accelerator 40 times as powerful as the LHC. So, you thought the LHC was fun? It’s achieved proton-proton collisions at 14 TeV of energy in a 27-kilometer-long tunnel, underground, and it’s done so for a total cost of around $10 billion. What could we build for sixty times that amount? Believe it or not, there are only two free parameters that determine how high-in-energy your circular accelerator can make protons go: the strength of the electromagnets used to steer them and the circumference of your ring.
      For $600 billion, we could build a tunnel approximately 1000 kilometers around, and achieve proton-on-proton collisions of over 500 TeV. If our electromagnet technology continues to improve, we might finally crack the PeV (where 1 PeV = 1,000 TeV) frontier. The next step up from a ring this large would be a “Fermitron,” first envisioned by Enrico Fermi, of a particle accelerator the circumference of the entire Earth. If the LHC turns up anything new beyond the Higgs boson, there will be a strong science case for investigating the next level in the energy frontier.
      G. Snyder, STScI /M. Postman, STScI
      A simulated view of the same part of the sky, with the same [+] 5.) A “super-Hubble” over 100 times as powerful as today’s. The Hubble Space Telescope was a revolutionary observatory, and in many ways is still the top dog in the field of astronomy and astrophysics. But at just 2.4 meters in diameter, it’s already reached its maximum resolution. In fact, to see objects ten times as faint, it needs to observe them for 100 times as long! But if we built a space telescope ten times the diameter, at 24 meters, it would not only have ten times the resolution, but would see in just 2 hours what it takes Hubble over a week to see.
      The James Webb Space Telescope, with its segmented design, sunshield, and automated, robotic technology can serve as a proof-of-concept of a mission like this, but the limiting factor is funding. To get the size, image quality, and launch-and-servicing capabilities necessary to make a behemoth like this possible would require a massive investment. For $600 billion, we might be able to get all the way up to a diameter of between 30-and-40 meters, but “100 times as powerful as Hubble” is a very conservative estimate. That, and the technologies we’d develop would be as revolutionary for humanity as anything that came out of the Apollo program.
      Mars One (rendering)
      An illustration of what a human colony on Mars might look [+]  
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      NASA / LUVOIR concept team; Serge Brunier (background)
      The concept design of the LUVOIR space telescope would place [+] The costs of achieving our scientific dreams is, indeed, astronomically high, but the payoffs are even greater. In just a single generation, an investment of this scale in science and technology could transform our world in a way we’ve never seen before. Just a single year’s worth of the military budget — a whopping $600 billion — could more than double our investment in space and basic scientific research for the next 25 years. It would do more than make America great again. It would make the world great in a way that nothing else can; in a way humanity has never seen before.
    • Од Danijela,
      South Kinangop, Kenya, March 1, 2018
      Photo: Facebook     
      A joyous mass Baptism was recently celebrated at the St. Irene Orthodox Mission and Orphanage in central Kenya, reports Fr. Constantinos Eliud.

      The sacrament of holy Baptism was celebrated for 35 children of the orphanage on February 18, after which they all partook of the Holy Body and Blood of Christ. Fr. Constantinos reports that this was the first such mass Baptism in St. Irene’s history. There are now more than 60 baptized children at the orphanage.
      St. Irene’s was founded in 2010 by Fr. Constantinos and his presvytera Teresa Jepchumba. It currently has a population of 140 vulnerable children, 40 of whom are orphans who live entirely at the orphanage. The mission announced in January that it was able to acquire permanent land to house the orphans.
      The mission is among those associated with Orthodox Africa, whose founder, Fr. Silouan (Brown) offered us interview both before and after his missionary trip to Africa in 2016. 11 children were baptized at the St. Barnabas Orphanage and School when Fr. Silouan returned in May 2017.
      Learn how to get involved and help the work and children of St. Irene’s here.
      Also, watch the community’s festive procession on the feast of the Triumph of Orthodoxy:

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