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Assisted Cycle Therapy (ACT) Did Not Improve Depression in Older Adults with Down Syndrome

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The purpose of this study was to examine the influence of Assisted Cycling Therapy (ACT) on depression in older adults with Down Syndrome (DS). We predicted that older adults with Down Syndrome would see an improvement in their depressive symptoms

The purpose of this study was to examine the influence of Assisted Cycling Therapy (ACT) on depression in older adults with Down Syndrome (DS). We predicted that older adults with Down Syndrome would see an improvement in their depressive symptoms after ACT and Voluntary Cycling (VC). However, we predicted there would be a greater improvement in depressive symptoms after ACT in comparison to VC. Depression was measured using a modified version of the Children's Depression Inventory 2 (CDI 2) due to the low mental age of our participant population. Twenty-one older adults with DS were randomly assigned to one of three interventions, which took place over an eight-week period of time. Eleven older adults with DS completed the ACT intervention, which is stationary cycling on a recumbent bicycle with the assistance of a motor to maintain a cadence at least 35% greater than the rate of voluntary cycling. Nine participants completed the voluntary cycling intervention, where they cycled at a cadence of their choosing. One participant composed our no cycling control group. No intervention group reached results that achieved a conventional level of significance. However, there was a trend for depression to increase after 8 weeks throughout all three intervention groups. We did see a slightly slower regression of depression in the ACT group than the VC and control. Our results were discussed with respect to social and cognitive factors relevant to older adults with DS and the subjective nature of the CDI2. This study brings attention to the lack of accurate measures and standardized research methods created for populations with intellectual disabilities in regards to research.

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2018-05

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Best Practices for Undergraduate Mental Health Support for Study Abroad

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This paper describes a mixed methods investigation of undergraduate mental health support practices at Arizona State University (ASU), as well as an outside look at peer and other leading institutions. Methods employed in this study include: ASU undergraduate student survey

This paper describes a mixed methods investigation of undergraduate mental health support practices at Arizona State University (ASU), as well as an outside look at peer and other leading institutions. Methods employed in this study include: ASU undergraduate student survey to assess perception of resources provided by ASU and the likelihood to disclose physical and mental health conditions, key informant interviews to understand ASU mental health support from the perspective of those who implement support measures, participant observation of study abroad events that provide resources to prospective and pre-departure students, and a document review of the study abroad website from peer and other institutions. The target population of this study is undergraduate students who participate or plan to participate in study abroad programs across the United States. The sample population for the undergraduate student survey is undergraduate students at ASU, as well as sixteen institutions for the document review. Significant findings from the research include student concerns about financial and academic barriers to study abroad, as well as a greater likelihood to disclose physical health conditions rather than mental health conditions due to fear of stigma or of being a burden to program coordinators. Additionally, it was found that there is a separation between available resources and student awareness and use of these resources. ASU can work to remedy this disconnect by explicitly presenting easily accessible resource information on the website and in pre-departure materials, as well as addressing mental health awareness abroad in an inclusive manner towards all students in addition to those with pre-existing mental health conditions. Overall, more work should be done to fulfill the vision of comprehensive mental health support at ASU.

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2018-05

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The Future of Mental Health Treatment in the Criminal Justice System: A Restorative Approach

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It is a tragic reality that many individuals in the criminal justice system suffer from a mental illness. As a result, both mental health programs and mental health courts have been developed in response to the increasing number of individuals

It is a tragic reality that many individuals in the criminal justice system suffer from a mental illness. As a result, both mental health programs and mental health courts have been developed in response to the increasing number of individuals in the criminal justice system that are suffering from a mental illness. The first objective of this review is to discuss the background on mental illness as it relates to the criminal justice population, and to understand the common causes of incarceration amongst the mentally ill, including the deinstitutionalization movement of the 1960s, the unavailability of intermediate and long-term hospitalization in state hospitals, more formal and rigid criteria for civil commitment, a lack of adequate support systems and access to mental health treatment in the community, and the high recidivism rates by these types of offenders. Considering these causes, another objective of this review is to compare and contrast the United States' first mental health courts, including those in Broward County, Florida, King County, Washington, San Bernardino, California, and Anchorage, Alaska, by ultimately focusing on the origins of each court, the stages of intervention, methods of entry, competency evaluations, treatment approaches, and disposition of charges. From there, this review considers the differences between the courts and proceeds with a synthesis of the common and recurring themes between them, and then ends with recommendations specific to the mental health court system on practices that can be implemented or altered in order to encourage a more effective form of justice for the mentally ill, and a discussion of the policy solutions that have already been proposed to address the problem.

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2018-05

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The Effects of Human Hairless Gene Overexpression on U87 MG Glioblastoma Cell Function

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Glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) is an aggressive malignant brain tumor with a median prognosis of 14 months. Human hairless protein (HR) is a 130 kDa nuclear transcription factor that plays a critical role in skin and hair function but was found

Glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) is an aggressive malignant brain tumor with a median prognosis of 14 months. Human hairless protein (HR) is a 130 kDa nuclear transcription factor that plays a critical role in skin and hair function but was found to be highly expressed in neural tissue as well. The expression of HR in GBM tumor cells is significantly decreased compared to the normal brain tissue and low levels of HR expression is associated with shortened patient survival. We have recently reported that HR is a DNA binding phosphoprotein, which binds to p53 protein and p53 responsive element (p53RE) in vitro and in intact cells. We hypothesized that HR can regulate p53 downstream target genes, and consequently affects cellular function and activity. To test the hypothesis, we overexpressed HR in normal human embryonic kidney HEK293 and GBM U87MG cell lines and characterized these cells by analyzing p53 target gene expression, viability, cell-cycle arrest, and apoptosis. The results revealed that the overexpressed HR not only regulates p53-mediated target gene expression, but also significantly inhibit cell viability, induced early apoptosis, and G2/M cell cycle arrest in U87MG cells, compared to mock groups. Translating the knowledge gained from this research on the connections between HR and GBM could aid in identifying novel therapies to circumvent GBM progression or improve clinical outcome.

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2018-05

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Parental Stress in Raising a Child with ADHD

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This paper investigates how stress in parents is affected by their child's Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). The purpose of this paper is to identify common stressors for parents of children with ADHD, as well as to determine what parents need from

This paper investigates how stress in parents is affected by their child's Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). The purpose of this paper is to identify common stressors for parents of children with ADHD, as well as to determine what parents need from healthcare providers to mediate this stress. A survey was developed to identify sources of stress, consequences of parental stress, parental coping methods, resources provided by their healthcare provider that have been helpful, along with what they feel that they need from their healthcare providers in order to better support themselves and their family. Participants were composed of members of Facebook support groups for parents of children with ADHD. Major findings of this study include: parents experience the most stress when dealing with their child's oppositional and aggressive behaviors; parents frequently experience disruption in their marital relationship; and parents perceive that they receive little health care resources that are helpful for themselves, their child, and their family overall.

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2018-05

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Synthesis of Bexarotene Analogs for the Treatment of Breast Cancer

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Bexarotene is a synthetic analog of 9-cis-retinoic acid and ligand for the retinoid X receptor which has a history of clinical success in the treatment of T-cell lymphoma. Bexarotene has also shown potential for treating a variety of other cancers,

Bexarotene is a synthetic analog of 9-cis-retinoic acid and ligand for the retinoid X receptor which has a history of clinical success in the treatment of T-cell lymphoma. Bexarotene has also shown potential for treating a variety of other cancers, which we seek to explore in this project. The potential of bexarotene lies in its unique mechanisms and wide application, however, it has shown limited effectiveness thus far in the treatment of breast and lung cancer, with moderate levels of efficacy and symptoms such as cutaneous toxicity, hyperlipidemia, and hypothyroidism. For this project several analogs of bexarotene were synthesized with the intentions of making a more potent ligand that can be used to treat these carcinomas while minimizing harmful side effects. We were successful in synthesizing a large variety of analogs over the span of roughly two years, including iso-chroman derivatives of bexarotene and NEt-TMN, in addition to a new series of analogs of the reported NEt-TMN derivative. These analogs were analyzed via melting point determination and nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy to confirm the molecular structure and determine purity, and it is our intent to continue with further testing of these compounds to determine their effectiveness as well as the side effects they are likely to cause with levels of toxicity. Recent studies suggest that continuing the analysis of these compounds and other rexinoids like the ones described herein is a worthwhile endeavor as similar rexinoids have shown in numerous assays to be more potent and less toxic in the treatment of cancers when compared with bexarotene.

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2019-05

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Remote Presence in Nature through Virtual Reality: A Pilot Study on the Mental Well-Being of Older Adults

Description

By 2030, the number of people above the age of 65 is projected to outnumber those under the age of 18 for the first time in United States history. With a growing older population, it is predicted that the amount

By 2030, the number of people above the age of 65 is projected to outnumber those under the age of 18 for the first time in United States history. With a growing older population, it is predicted that the amount of people moving into nursing homes and care facilities will also increase. However, a pressing problem is the high prevalence of depression and anxiety among elderly people residing in institutionalized living arrangements. With drugs and antidepressants less effective at treating patients with both dementia and depression, there is a need for more non-pharmacological interventions geared toward improving older adults’ mental well-being. In response, the potential therapeutic effect of exploring virtual nature through EcoRift—which provides dynamic and realistic 360-degree audio and visual environments—on older adults’ mental well-being was examined in this study. Ten individuals (3 men and 7 women) aged 50 and above were recruited and each participant experienced the virtual nature sojourns for 15 minutes once a week, for a total of three weeks. Pre- and post- virtual reality (VR) survey questionnaires were implemented to gauge the participants’ emotional response, including overall well-being and level of relaxation. Physiological measures such as heart rate and blood pressure were also taken before and after the VR experience. Findings show that immersion in nature through virtual reality improves older adults’ mental well-being by eliciting a transient sense of relaxation, peacefulness, and happiness. Further studies need to be performed in order to validate EcoRift’s effect on physiology; however, preliminary data suggests that immersive virtual nature also acts to decrease blood pressure. Overall, EcoRift shows to be a promising tool for bridging access to remote natural environments and may be a mentally beneficial activity for patients isolated in hospitals, hospices, and nursing homes.

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2019-05

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Synthesis and Characterization of LD2 Peptide Analogs to Inhibit Focal Adhesion Kinase in Cancer

Description

In cancer, various genetic and epigenetic alterations cause cancer cells to hyperproliferate and to bypass the survival and migration mechanisms that typically regulate healthy cells. The focal adhesion kinase (FAK) gene produces FAK, a protein that has been implicated in

In cancer, various genetic and epigenetic alterations cause cancer cells to hyperproliferate and to bypass the survival and migration mechanisms that typically regulate healthy cells. The focal adhesion kinase (FAK) gene produces FAK, a protein that has been implicated in tumor progression in various cancers. Compared with normal tissue counterparts, FAK is overexpressed in many cancers. FAK is therefore a promising cancer drug target due to its demonstrated role in cancer invasion and metastasis and inhibition of FAK is important to achieve an optimal tumor response. Small molecule FAK inhibitors have been shown to decrease tumor growth and metastasis in several preclinical trials. However, these inhibitors focus narrowly on the enzymatic portion of FAK and neglect its scaffolding function, leaving FAK’s scaffolding of oncogenic drivers intact. Paxillin, a major focal adhesion-associated protein, binds to FAK, enabling it to localize to focal adhesions, and this is essential for FAK’s activation and function. Therefore, disrupting the protein-protein interaction between FAK and paxillin has been hypothesized to prevent tumor progression. The binding of FAK to paxillin at its focal adhesion targeting (FAT) domain is mediated by two highly conserved leucine-rich sequences, the leucine-aspartic acid (LD) motifs LD2 and LD4. The purpose of this project was to develop novel stapled LD2 peptide analogs that target the protein-protein interaction of FAT to LD2. Peptide stapling was performed to enhance the pharmacological performance of the LD2 peptide analogs. Based on the native LD2 peptide sequence, stapled LD2 peptide analogs were developed with the intent to improve efficacy of cell permeability, while maintaining or improving FAK binding. The LD2 peptide analogs were characterized via surface plasmon resonance, fluorescence polarization, immunofluorescence, and circular dichroism spectroscopy. Successful LD2 stapled peptide analogs can be therapeutically relevant inhibitors of the FAT-LD2 protein-protein interaction in cancer and have the potential for greater efficacy in FAK inhibition, proteolytic resistance, and cell permeability, which is key in preventing tumor progression in cancer.

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2019-05

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Building a Culture of Care: Mental Health Awareness for Elementary School Teachers

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This study examines the intersectionality of mental health and education, with an emphasis on resources and awareness for elementary school teachers. It starts with a review of mental health awareness in society, particularly in regard to social stigma and its

This study examines the intersectionality of mental health and education, with an emphasis on resources and awareness for elementary school teachers. It starts with a review of mental health awareness in society, particularly in regard to social stigma and its associated effects. I then discuss the existing resources, teaching methods, and third party interventions which address mental health awareness and care within elementary schools. Within this context, the research supports the strong influence of teachers’ behaviors and perceivable attitudes on students. However, despite the identification of teachers playing a significant role in the availability of mental health resources for students, existing studies rarely addresses the necessity of mental health awareness and care to optimize teacher capacity and counteract occupational stress. The study examines the current approach and challenges of an elementary school that has expressed interest in creating a culture of care, characterized by mental health awareness and resources that support teachers within the school environment. After identifying the key mental health concerns of the school’s stakeholders, I propose a custom program of self-care and mental health awareness to support the current work culture. The study concludes with examination of implementation strategies for the school, as well as implications for future mental health awareness in similar settings.

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2019-05

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Production and functional testing of a recombinant fusion protein immunotherapy for glioblastoma

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Fusion protein immunotherapies such as the bispecific T cell engager (BiTE) have displayed promising potential as cancer treatments capable of engaging the immune system against tumor cells. It has been shown that chlorotoxin, a 36-amino peptide found in the venom

Fusion protein immunotherapies such as the bispecific T cell engager (BiTE) have displayed promising potential as cancer treatments capable of engaging the immune system against tumor cells. It has been shown that chlorotoxin, a 36-amino peptide found in the venom of the deathstalker scorpion (Leiurus quinquestriatus), binds specifically to glioblastoma (GBM) cells without binding healthy tissue, making it an ideal GBM cell binding moiety for a BiTE-like molecule. However, chlorotoxin’s four disulfide bonds pose a folding challenge outside of its natural context and impede production of the recombinant protein in various expression systems, including those relying on bacteria and plants. To overcome this difficulty, we have engineered a truncated chlorotoxin variant (Cltx∆15) that contains just two of the original eight cystine residues, thereby capable of forming only a single disulfide bond while maintaining its ability to bind GBM cells. We further created a BiTE (ACDClx∆15) which tethers Cltx∆15 to a single chain ⍺-CD3 antibody in order to bring T cells into contact with GBM cells. The gene for ACDClx∆15 was cloned into a pET-11a vector for expression in Escherichia coli and isolated from inclusion bodies before purification via affinity chromatography. Immunoblot analyses confirmed that ACDClx∆15 can be expressed in E. coli and purified with high yield and purity; moreover, flow cytometry indicated that ACDClx∆15 is capable of binding GBM cells. These data warrant further investigation into the ability of ACDClx∆15 to activate T cells against GBM cells.

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2019-05