#science

New Study Says That Transgender People's Brain's Work Like Those Of Their Preferred Gender Identity

A new study says that the brain waves of transgender people matches their gender identity and not their biological sex.

Belgian neurologist Julie Bakker of the University of Liege is in headlines because of new information she’s released.

Bakker conducted a study in which her team used MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) tests to examine the brains of participants. The brain was exposed to a steroid. Then, the gray and white matter was measured by using a technique called tensor imaging.

As for the participants, transgender men and women in their childhood and in their teens were tested. So too were cis-gender men and women of the same age (who acted as the controls).

The results found that 160 participants with gender dysphoria, the medical term for experiencing discomfort or distress because one’s biological sex does not fit their gender identity aka being transgender, had similar brain structures and neurological patterns as people of their aligning gender identity.

On top of that, the study found that those differences were detectable during childhood.

Bakker presented these findings at this years meeting of the annual European Society of Endocrinology gathering, according to the Telegraph.

While some may fear that this scientific finding will get in the way of a person’s right to choose over their gender identity, Bakker and her colleagues say this could open doors for new medical possibilities for transgender people.

For instance, when children feel that they are transgender, they either go through psychotherapy or take hormones to have puberty delayed until they are older and everyone’s sure it isn’t a phase.

This research could help make gender dysphoria detectable.

As Bakker said after the presentation:

 “Although more research is needed, we now have evidence that sexual differentiation of the brain differs in young people with GD, as they show functional brain characteristics that are typical of their desired gender.”

“We will then be better equipped to support these young people, instead of just sending them to a psychiatrist and hoping that their distress will disappear spontaneously.”

h/t: Telegraph

Crystal Meth Use Accelerates HIV Even With Medication, Study Shows

Many have long assumed use of stimulants like crystal methamphetamine can accelerate HIV progression. Thanks to a new study published in the journal Brain, Behavior and Immunity there is scientific evidence to back that up. 

Adam Carrico, Ph. D., associate professor of Public Health Sciences and Psychology at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, was lead author on the study, "Recent Stimulant Use and Leukocyte Gene Expression in Methamphetamine Users with Treated HIV Infection."

"Stimulant use may accelerate HIV disease progression through biological and behavioral pathways," says Carrico. "But if we can identify the biological pathways, then we can develop new approaches to optimize the health of active stimulant users who are living with HIV."

The study was a collaboration between researchers at the University of California San Francisco, University of California Los Angeles, and New York University, and involved studying changes in gene expression of samples from 55 HIV-positive, meth-using men receiving effective anti-retroviral therapy.

"We found a differential expression of 32 genes and perturbation of 168 pathways in recent stimulant users, including genes previously associated with the HIV reservoir, immune activation, and inflammation," says Carrico. "Anti-retroviral therapy is often successful in suppressing HIV in the blood, however, the virus typically remains in reservoirs, such as the lymph nodes and inside some immune cells."

Carrico believes these findings could be helpful in finding a cure for the virus. “Maybe these pathways can help us to understand how we can ‘wake up’ the virus and pull it out of hiding; some of these pathways could become targets for potential biomedical treatments targeting the HIV reservoir,” he says.

"We are now testing behavioral interventions in San Francisco and Miami that are designed to reduce stimulant use in people living with HIV," Carrico says. "Hopefully, decreasing the use of stimulants like methamphetamine will allow for better control of the HIV viral load and could even directly improve the immune system."

For further information, check out this press release about the study:  https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2018-05/uomm-urf050418.php