Today’s picture for invisible illness is a personal one. This is one of about 30 notes that my friend has received since using her handicapped placard. I’m going to say this to you, have you ever seen someone get out of a car parked in a handicapped space and said to yourself “they look too young or they don’t look disabled.” I’m going to go with yes you have, because we all have at one time. I can’t remember doing it, but before I understood the difficulties of invisible illness when I was younger I probably did. Let me ask you this though, when you had that thought was it because you knew with 100% certainty that they weren’t handicapped or did you assume that because of their age and/or not seeing a cane, walker or wheelchair? All I’m asking is that we stop and think when we someone need a mobility aid, park in a handicapped space or say they are disabled that we remember this “DISABILITY HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH AGE OR APPEARNACE.” #spoonie #invisibleillness #disability #chronicillness #rheumatoidarthritis #lupus #fibromyalgia #myofascialpainsyndrome

An important reminder for those of you who might be judgmental of people you perceive as able-bodied who have STATE ISSUED handicap placards.  ~Mod Pluto

My mom has rheumatoid arthritis, and let me tell you it can be just… difficult for her. She gets it in her hands and ankles. Sometimes her feet and legs hurt so badly she can’t get out of bed. Her feet swell up. She gets these red bumps on her elbows. It’s really hard to watch sometimes because she’s just in so much pain all the time. She has a lot of medical problems, honestly. She jokes that she’s always the youngest person at her cardiologist haha.

She doesn’t have a handicap placard, but sometimes when I see her limp around the house I wish she did so going to the store could be easier.

Just from looking at my mom you would never assume she has RA. So yes, please be respectful to people with these problems, they deeply affect the person’s life.



I made an animated infographic about muscles! You can check out the full version here or get the poster here :)

Go check out the full version it is seriously neat. 



Planets of Our Solar System

Our solar system officially has eight planets and one star: the Sun. The discovery of an object larger than Pluto in 2005 rekindled the debate over whether such objects, belonging to the Kuiper Belt – a collection of icy bodies located beyond Neptune – should be called planets. Pluto and other large members of the Kuiper Belt are now considered “dwarf planets.”

Planet facts:

The Liberals screamed and cried that Gillard didn’t have  a mandate to put in a carbon tax and now The Liberals are doing the same thing except with universities fees and they can’t understand why everyone is pissed.




What exactly is going on inside of a depressed person? We look at the scientific basis for depression, and shed light on the fact that it is a disease with biological, psychological, and social implications.

We can see it in our biology, in our genes and in our actions. For those who are depressed, it’s not simply something they can ‘get over’ and ‘be more positive about’. If you know somebody who is suffering, please be compassionate and know that depression is a serious illness and requires genuine recovery/help. 

A neat short video on looking at the research about depression and how it may be caused and theories behind how treatments may work


» I’m in the mood for some science

I am going to be posting mostly science stuff over the next day or two from blogs on tumblr to news to youtube because well Science is cool and I want to try and post more diverse posts on SSOJ instead of the same topics that seem to just go round and round all the time. 



The Origin of Humans Is Surprisingly Complicated

Human family tree used to be a scraggly thing. With relatively few fossils to work from, scientists’ best guess was that they could all be assigned to just two lineages, one of which went extinct and the other of which ultimately gave rise to us. Discoveries made over the past few decades have revealed a far more luxuriant tree, however—one abounding with branches and twigs that eventually petered out. This newfound diversity paints a much more interesting picture of our origins but makes sorting our ancestors from the evolutionary dead ends all the more challenging.

Source: Scientific American


New stem cell-based screen reveals promising drug for Lou Gehrig’s disease

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also called Lou Gehrig’s disease, is a fatal disease that causes motor neurons, which are responsible for controlling muscles, to die. A study published by Cell Press on April 18th in Cell Stem Cell has revealed a novel stem-cell-based approach to screen for effective treatments, which are sorely lacking. Applying this method to motor neurons derived from stem cells taken from an ALS mouse model and human patients, the researchers discovered a promising compound that promotes the survival of motor neurons, paving the way for better treatments for the devastating disease.

"We carried out a small molecule screen using stem-cell-derived ALS motor neurons for the first time," says senior study author Lee Rubin of Harvard University. "And we believe that we have demonstrated the potential value of an entirely new system by which potential ALS therapeutics can be discovered."

Patients with ALS lose the ability to move their limbs and body and usually die from respiratory failure within 3 to 5 years. There is only one approved treatment, but it prolongs life by only a few months and does not significantly improve symptoms. In the past year, two other compounds—olesoxime and dexpramipexole—failed in phase III clinical trials, even though they worked well in a mouse model of ALS. These compounds might have failed because they had not been specifically tested on motor neurons from rodent models of ALS or from human patients prior to the clinical trials.

To address this problem, Rubin and his team took advantage of recent advances in the ability to generate a large number of motor neurons from stem cells in a dish. They derived motor neurons from stem cells taken from human patients and mouse stem cells carrying an ALS-causing mutation. Using their stem-cell-based screen, they searched for small molecules that could improve the survival of motor neurons exposed to conditions that usually cause cell death. After testing about 5,000 compounds, they found that kenpaullone strongly enhanced the survival of these motor neurons and was more effective than either olesoxime or dexpramipexole.

"We have shown that there may be value in testing compounds before clinical trials on human ALS motor neurons as an addition, or as an alternative, to simply testing them in mouse disease models," Rubin says. "Moreover, we believe that the stem-cell-based method by which we discovered a new ALS drug target might be used broadly in drug discovery for other diseases."

Image: The c-Jun-mediated cell death pathway (marked by red nuclei that are positive for phospho-cjun) is activated in stem cell-derived motor neurons (green) exposed to trophic factor withdrawal (upper left panel). C-Jun activation and cell death are blocked by kenpaullone, an inhibitor GSK-3 and HGK (MAP4K4) kinases (lower right panel; kenpaullone structure superimposed). Credit: Cell Stem Cell, Yang et al.


Reinventing drug discovery

Promising drug target for ALS

Cambridge, MA, April 18, 2013 - Using a new stem-cell based drug screening technology with the potential to reinvent and greatly reduce the cost of the way new pharmaceuticals are developed, Harvard Stem Cell Institute (HSCI) researchers have found a compound more effective in protecting the neurons killed in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) – Lou Gehrig’s disease – than two drugs that failed in human clinical trials after hundreds of millions of dollars had been invested in them.

The new stem cell screening technique developed by Lee Rubin, a member of HSCI’s Executive Committee and a professor in Harvard’s Department of Stem Cell and Regenerative Biology, successfully predicted that the two drugs that eventually failed in the third and final stage of human testing would, in fact, fail.

"It’s a deep, dark secret of drug discovery that very few drugs have been tested on human-diseased cells before being tested in a live person," said Rubin, who heads HSCI’s program in translational medicine.

"We were interested in the notion that we can use stem cells to correct that situation."

Rubin’s model is built on an earlier proof-of-concept developed by HSCI Principal Faculty member Kevin Eggan, who demonstrated that it was possible to move a neuron-based disease into a laboratory dish using stem cells carrying the genes of patients with the disease.

In a paper published today in the journal Cell Stem Cell, Rubin lays out how he and his colleagues applied their new method of stem cell-based drug discovery to ALS. The disease is associated with the progressive death of motor neurons, which pass information between the brain and the muscles. As cells die, people with ALS experience weakness in their limbs followed by rapid paralysis and respiratory failure. The disease typically strikes later in life. Ten percent of cases are genetically predisposed, but for most patients there is no known trigger.

Rubin’s lab began by first studying the disease in mice, growing billions of motor neurons from mouse embryonic stem cells, half normal and half with a genetic mutation known to cause ALS.

Investigators starved the cells of nutrients and then screened five thousand drug-like molecules to find any that would keep the motor neurons alive.

Several hits were identified, but the molecule that best prolonged the life of both normal and ALS motor neurons was kenpaullone, previously known for blocking the action of an enzyme (GSK-3) that switches on and off several cellular processes, including cell growth and death. “Shockingly, this molecule keeps cells alive better than the standard culture medium that everybody keeps motor neurons in,” Rubin said.

Kenpaullone proved effective in several follow-up experiments that put mouse motor neurons in situations of certain death. Neuron survival increased in the presence of the molecule whether the cells were programmed to die or placed in a toxic environment.

After further investigation, Rubin’s lab discovered kenpaullone’s potency comes from its ability to also inhibit HGK – an enzyme that sets off a chain of reactions that leads to motor neuron death. This enzyme was not previously known to be important in motor neurons or associated with ALS, marking the discovery of a new drug target for the disease.

"I think that stem-cell screens will discover new compounds that have never been discovered before by other methods," Rubin said. "I’m excited to think that someday one of them might actually be good enough to go into the clinic."

To find out if kenpaullone works in diseased human cells, Rubin’s lab exposed patient motor neurons and motor neurons grown from human embryonic stem cells to the molecule, as well as two drugs that did well in mice but failed in phase III human clinical trials for ALS. Once again, kenpaullone increased the rate of neuron survival, while one drug saw little response, and the other drug failed to keep any cells alive.

According to Rubin, before kenpaullone could be used as a drug, it would need a substantial molecular makeover to make it better able to target cells and find its way into the spinal cord so it can access motor neurons.

"This is kind of a proof of principle on the do-ability of the whole thing," he said. "I think it’s possible to use this method to discover new drug targets and to prevalidate compounds on real human disease cells before putting them in the clinic."

In the meantime, Rubin’s next steps will be to continue searching for better drug-like compounds that can inhibit HGK and thus enhance motor neuron survival. He believes that the new information that comes out of this research will be useful to academia and the pharmaceutical industry.

"These kinds of exploratory screens are hard to fund, so being part of the HSCI" – which provided some of the funding – "has been absolutely essential," Rubin said.

Given the prominence of the ALS Ice bucket challenge I thought I would find some science posts about ALS also known as Motor Neuron Disease (MND) 

I highly recommend following neurophogenesis because their blog has some awesome science and research news and you should go check the blog out. It is full of sciency goodness


» What you’re really saying when you’re against self diagnosis:






1. Everyone should be assumed neurotypical and should be forced to act neurotypical, until proven otherwise.

2. Everyone who has been unable to get diagnosed for any reason should suffer in silence.

Not… That’s not what anybody is saying. They’re saying if you think you have a mental illness you should go get a professional diagnosis and help if you need it.

if you get a professional diagnosis you can actually get the help you need and don’t have to suffer as much. 

~ Mulan

There are so many issues with self diagnosis.

Firstly you can’t be classified as having a mental illness unless you get it diagnosed by a professional, this is because mental illnesses are complex and vary in different people and in different age groups. Symptoms can overlap between disorders and unless you are a professional and have professional diagnostic tools you cannot possible diagnoses yourself or someone else. Even if you are professional you are not allowed to diagnose yourself either, you can’t treat or diagnose close family or friends either.  

Those symptom checklists or online tests like the ones on beyond blue are not meant to give you a diagnosis and can’t accurately give you a for certain diagnosis as the user does not have the professional knowledge to interpret the results. Many are there for guide as to if you should seek medical help for themselves or a loved one. Not to post on tumblr about being neurotypical.

If you feel your symptoms fall into that category than SEEK HELP. They are tools to use as a guide to then seek help from the professionals.

Self diagnosis does nothing to treat said illness. Just like physical illness mental illnesses need assessment and treatment. That cannot happen if you are self ascribing yourself using webMD. These conditions are serious and require specialized therapy or medications to treat them. Many mental illnesses have overlapping symptoms and many people can suffer from multiple conditions. ie. anxiety and depression. There are common symptoms between anxiety, depression and bipolar disorder but each disorder requires a different type and class of medication and a different approach in therapy treatment. The lay person simply does not have the knowledge to know how to treat themselves that is why the professionals spent so many years at university. 

I don’t think anyone is saying anyone should suffer in silence but only the professionals can diagnose and treat mental illness just as the same is with physical illnesses only a doctor can tell you what it is and give you the right medications for it. Mental illness is no different. These online tools are only a guide and if you are taking them then it is sign that you probably need to seek help from somewhere because all the self diagnosis in the world is not going to be able to help you get better.


As a future counselor myself I am very against this trend.  We psychologists and therapists work hard and study hard not to help ourselves, but to help you. We become the experts so we can help others when they can’t help themselves. I’m not saying people can’t research and try to get an idea of what might be wrong with them, but don’t take an online quiz or two and then tell everyone you have such-and-such. We spend crazy amounts of money and time making sure we know everything we can about psychology. It’s difficult. It is no cake-walk. Not just anyone can do it. 

I think people get confused about validation of feelings, in a sense. When I say I don’t believe in self-diagnosis, I’m not saying, “No, you don’t know what you’re talking about. You can’t understand your own feelings.” That is disrespectful, rude, and pretty dumb to say. But what I am trying to say is, just like with medicine, lots of symptoms are common across different afflictions. I’m trying to say, “Don’t jump the gun, because if you diagnose yourself and/or try to treat yourself without professional help, you might end up hurting yourself more.”

Not everyone can get help, this is true. But if you needed, for instance, surgery, you’re not likely to try and operate on yourself, because that would cause you more harm than good in the long run. A doctor knows the intricacies of the body, just like a psychologist knows the intricacies of the mind. 

I know it’s hard for lots of people to find psychological help, and lots of people don’t have money. Though I do know of a few options, there are cases where those options are nonexistent for people even still. And in cases like that, even though it makes me sad to do so, I’m still going to say to not self-diagnose. What Mercury says is absolutely right. Even if you do self-diagnose, that’s literally not helping you. Like at all. Because you still don’t know how to treat yourself, so you have nowhere to go with your findings. Plus, if you misdiagnose yourself, that can make things even worse.

If you think you have a mental illness, don’t just diagnose yourself and think that’s gonna solve the problem. You’ve got to get help!

I can also testify that it is no cake walk. I have my undergraduate degree in psychology and even the theory on knowing some of the fine distinctions between disorders can be hard enough on a theoretical level.

I think the point on validation of feelings is an excellent point and it might be closer to what some the tumblrites are thinking. Understanding yourself and how you feel is important and it is important to the professionals too it is crucial to being able to get correct diagnosis and in terms of treatment. Self diagnosis is not going to help long term, having a label alone is not going to fix the problem. It is the same as knowing you have broken arm is not going to mend it. 

While every countries health care system is different. In Australia where I am I paid nothing for a set of counselling sessions and depending on need you can get more for little to no cost through medicare and working with your GP for a health care plan. But also check locally for support services that might be able to be more affordable option.

I can’t stress enough how important it is to SEEK HELP. Don’t stay silent.