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Adolescent Mental Health

A previously unidentified group of adolescents at risk of psychopathology and suicidal behavior may have been uncovered thanks to a new study conducted in collaboration between 12 European countries and the United States. Led by principal investigator Danuta Wasserman at NASP, Karolinska Institutet had more than 12,000 adolescents participate in the study by filling out a questionnaire designed to assess behaviors and psychiatric symptoms.

The study identified both ‘high risk’ and ‘low risk’ groups, however, it also uncovered a third category, which the investigators termed the ‘invisible risk’ group. This ‘invisible risk’ group was characterized by high media use, sedentary behavior, and a reduced amount of sleep. The study revealed that this group had similar levels of suicidal thoughts, anxiety, sub threshold depression, and depression, as was also observed in the ‘high’ risk group. Almost 30 percent of adolescents who took part in this study fell into the ‘invisible risk’ group.

In contrast to the ‘high’ risk group which exhibited more easily identifiable behaviors like drug and alcohol use, the ‘invisible risk’ group exhibited behaviors that are not usually associated with mental health problems, and therefore have the potential to be easily overlooked.

Vladimir Carli, Christina W. Hoven, Camilla Wasserman, Flaminia Chiesa, Guia Guffanti, Marco Sarchiapone, Alan Apter, Judit Balazs, Romuald Brunner, Paul Corcoran, Doina Cosman, Christian Haring, Miriam Iosue, Michael Kaess, Jean Pierre Kahn, Helen Keeley, Vita Postuvan, Pilar Saiz, Airi Varnik & Danuta Wasserman “A newly identified group of adolescents at “invisible” risk for psychopathology and suicidal behavior: findings from the SEYLE study” World Psychiatry, 2014;13:78-86, online 3 February 2014.


Personalized Nutrition

A project currently underway, called food4me, aims to gather scientific and consumer information in an effort to compile data and create a personalized approach to nutrition. Volunteers will have their food intake recorded and blood samples taken, in addition to genetic analysis. Based on the information obtained, while also taking into account personal food preferences, the participants will have their nutritional intake planned out for them.

Personalized nutrition has the potential to take into account personal physiologic characteristics such as blood levels of fatty acids, glucose, cholesterol, or even vitamins. A personal diet also has the potential to accommodate for genetic traits that affect weight control or even uptake and absorption of nutrients.

The fundamental question that the study aims to address is “how can we best use our current understanding of food, genes and physical traits to design healthier diets tailored for each individual?”

Further information is available from: Last Accessed: Feb 3, 2014


Skin Grafts

Researchers at the Tissue Biology Research Institute at the University Children’s Hospital in Zurich have successfully engineered skin grafts that, for the first time, contain functional blood vessels and lymphatic drainage.

Used to treat severe burns, a functional, full thickness skin needs to be grafted in order for a wound to heal properly. One of the major challenges in engineering skin in the laboratory has been the inclusion of cell types other than skin cells.

In preclinical animal studies conducted by the group, the engineered blood and lymphatic capillaries connected with the animals’ own capillaries and became functional, collecting and draining tissue fluid. Clinical trials are planned to assess whether the same technique will be successful in humans.

Daniela Marino, Joachim Luginbühl, Simonetta Scola, Martin Meuli, Ernst Reichmann. Bioengineering Dermo-Epidermal Skin Grafts with Blood and Lymphatic Capillaries. Science Translational Medicine. January 29, 2104. DOI: 10.1126/scitranslmed.3006894


Anti-Smoking Campaign ‘Stoptober’

A recent study analyzed the public health anti-smoking initiative ‘Stoptober’ in England, UK. Stoptober was designed by the Department of Health in collaboration with UCL professor of Health Psychology Robert West. It is a campaign which has fostered a social movement that sets an attainable goal of quitting smoking for 28 days, encouraging smokers to make a change.

The study of Stoptober assessed smoking quit rates between 2007 and 2012 inEngland during Stoptober (October) compared with other months in the year. The researchers found that 50 percent more people (approximately 350,000) attempted to quit smoking during Stoptober when compared to other months.

Stoptober differs from other anti-smoking initiatives in that, rather than focusing on the negative health effects of smoking, Stoptober creates a positive association popularized through mass media. Creating positive momentum has been a successful component of Stoptober.

Brown, J., Kotz, D., Michie, S., Stapleton, J., Walmsley, M. & West, R. (2013) How effective and cost-effective was the national mass media smoking cessation campaign ‘Stoptober’? in ‘Drug and Alcohol Dependence’.



Written by Deborah Tallarigo, PhD

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