from the world's big
What Is Autism?
Early in his career, Dr. Wigler developed methods for engineering animal cells with his collaborators at Columbia University, Richard Axel and Saul Silverstein. These methods are the basis for many discoveries in genetics, and the means for producing medicines used to treat heart disease, cancer, and strokes. Dr. Wigler continued his genetic explorations, and in the early 1980s isolated the first human cancer genes. In the mid 80s, Dr. Wigler and his collaborators demonstrated conservation of cellular pathways in humans and yeast, thereby providing deep insights into the function of the cancer genes.
In the early 1990s, Drs. Wigler and Clark Still developed a method for building vast chemically indexed libraries of compounds, an approach that is still in use for drug discovery. During the same period, Wigler’s group developed the concept and applications of representational analysis, RDA, which led to identifying new cancer genes and viruses. He later enhanced this concept through use of microarrays, a method now widely used commercially for genetic typing.
Dr. Wigler’s research is presently focused on the genomics of cancer and genetic disorders. He expects this work will eventually improve the targeting of cancer treatment and lead to early detection tests for cancer. His studies in human genetics led to the discovery of a vast source of genetic variability known as copy number variation (CNV), and to the breakthrough that spontaneous germline mutation is likely to be a contributing factor in autism. His genetic theories and methods suggest to new approaches to understand many other cognitive and physical abnormalities.
For his fundamental contributions to biomedical research, Dr. Wigler is a recipient of numerous awards and honors and is a member of the National Academy of Science and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
Question: What is autism?\r\n\r\n
Michael Wigler: Well, there are a triad of \r\nbehaviors that\r\nare the earmarks of autism. The\r\ninclude difficulty in social interactions, delay in the development of \r\nspeech\r\nand communication. And those are\r\ndistinguishable and repetitive behaviors, almost obsessive-like \r\nbehaviors.\r\n\r\n
The recognition of this triad as a condition we \r\ncall autism\r\nbegan only in the late ‘30s, and as the diagnostic criteria began to be \r\nmore\r\nwidely applied, more and more children were being called autistic. And the definition, I think, I mean,\r\nwhen people now talk about autism spectrum disorders where a child has \r\nvarying\r\ndegrees of these abnormalities. It\r\nis not, in fact, an extremely well-defined disorder. It\r\n has sloppy boundaries to normal behavior. We all\r\n know people that are awkward\r\nsocially, there are many people who learn language late in life, and we \r\nall may\r\nknow people that have stutters, or have obsessive behaviors, or even \r\nhang\r\nwringing. So there is something of\r\na continuum of all three of these things. \r\nThat’s not a condition whose boundaries are well-defined. Yet, if you meet a child with autism,\r\nyou can generally say that there is something profoundly wrong here.\r\n\r\n
But it’s a hard disorder to define better than \r\nthat. And probably the reason it’s harder to\r\ndefine better than that is that the number of genes involved. The number of underlying causes that\r\ncan create this triad is very great. \r\nFor example, the syndrome itself is enormously varied. And if you have listened to somebody\r\nwho studies autistic children—children with autism, you’ll frequently \r\nhear them\r\nsay that each child that they see is different than the next. It’s not really a syndrome in the way\r\nthat Down syndrome is a syndrome. \r\nThere are a variety of genetic disorders that are frequently—you \r\ncan\r\nalmost tell that the children who have these disorders have the same \r\nunderlying\r\ncause, because they’ll actually look alike. It’s \r\nnot just Down syndrome that has that property, Progeria\r\nhas that property. There are a\r\nnumber of childhood disorders where\r\nthe children who have these disorders actually look alike.\r\n\r\n
That’s not the case in autism. Each\r\n child has—is sort of wonderfully different than the\r\nnext child, so there’s a huge amount of variability. And\r\n I think this has confounded the general public because\r\nit appears that the rate of autism has been going up so dramatically. In fact, I think that’s mainly due to\r\nincreased diagnosis.
Recorded April 12, 2010
The genetics professor describes one of the world’s most complex and controversial disorders.
Sallie Krawcheck and Bob Kulhan will be talking money, jobs, and how the pandemic will disproportionally affect women's finances.
Health officials in China reported that a man was infected with bubonic plague, the infectious disease that caused the Black Death.
- The case was reported in the city of Bayannur, which has issued a level-three plague prevention warning.
- Modern antibiotics can effectively treat bubonic plague, which spreads mainly by fleas.
- Chinese health officials are also monitoring a newly discovered type of swine flu that has the potential to develop into a pandemic virus.
Bacteria under microscope
needpix.com<p>Today, bubonic plague can be treated effectively with antibiotics.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"Unlike in the 14th century, we now have an understanding of how this disease is transmitted," Dr. Shanthi Kappagoda, an infectious disease physician at Stanford Health Care, told <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health-news/seriously-dont-worry-about-the-plague#Heres-how-the-plague-spreads" target="_blank">Healthline</a>. "We know how to prevent it — avoid handling sick or dead animals in areas where there is transmission. We are also able to treat patients who are infected with effective antibiotics, and can give antibiotics to people who may have been exposed to the bacteria [and] prevent them [from] getting sick."</p>
This plague patient is displaying a swollen, ruptured inguinal lymph node, or buboe.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention<p>Still, hundreds of people develop bubonic plague every year. In the U.S., a handful of cases occur annually, particularly in New Mexico, Arizona and Colorado, <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/plague/faq/index.html" target="_blank">where habitats allow the bacteria to spread more easily among wild rodent populations</a>. But these cases are incredibly rare, mainly because you need to be in close contact with rodents in order to get infected. And though plague can spread from human to human, this <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health-news/seriously-dont-worry-about-the-plague#Heres-how-the-plague-spreads" target="_blank">only occurs with pneumonic plague</a>, and transmission is also very rare.</p>
A new swine flu in China<p>Last week, researchers in China also reported another public health concern: a new virus that has "all the essential hallmarks" of a pandemic virus.<br></p><p>In a paper published in the <a href="https://www.pnas.org/content/early/2020/06/23/1921186117" target="_blank">Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences</a>, researchers say the virus was discovered in pigs in China, and it descended from the H1N1 virus, commonly called "swine flu." That virus was able to transmit from human to human, and it killed an estimated 151,700 to 575,400 people worldwide from 2009 to 2010, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.</p>There's no evidence showing that the new virus can spread from person to person. But the researchers did find that 10 percent of swine workers had been infected by the virus, called G4 reassortant EA H1N1. This level of infectivity raises concerns, because it "greatly enhances the opportunity for virus adaptation in humans and raises concerns for the possible generation of pandemic viruses," the researchers wrote.
The word "learning" opens up space for more people, places, and ideas.
- The terms 'education' and 'learning' are often used interchangeably, but there is a cultural connotation to the former that can be limiting. Education naturally links to schooling, which is only one form of learning.
- Gregg Behr, founder and co-chair of Remake Learning, believes that this small word shift opens up the possibilities in terms of how and where learning can happen. It also becomes a more inclusive practice, welcoming in a larger, more diverse group of thinkers.
- Post-COVID, the way we think about what learning looks like will inevitably change, so it's crucial to adjust and begin building the necessary support systems today.
Scientists uncovered the secrets of what drove some of the world's last remaining woolly mammoths to extinction.
Every summer, children on the Alaskan island of St Paul cool down in Lake Hill, a crater lake in an extinct volcano – unaware of the mysteries that lie beneath.
The coronavirus pandemic has brought out the perception of selfishness among many.
- Selfish behavior has been analyzed by philosophers and psychologists for centuries.
- New research shows people may be wired for altruistic behavior and get more benefits from it.
- Crisis times tend to increase self-centered acts.