Life Lines by Dr. Dolittle

Sponsored by the American Physiological Society

Comparative Physiology @ Experimental Biology

I am printing my posters and planning my schedule for the 2018 Experimental Biology conference, which starts this weekend. This is no doubt the highlight of my year! I am looking forward to the comparative physiology sessions. Judging from the program, I think this is going to be a really exciting conference! This year’s August Krogh Distinguished Lectureship will be given by Dr. Stanley Hillman from Portland State University who […]

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Elephants provide clues to cancer resistance

Cancer risk is associated with how often cells divide because each time DNA replicates, potential errors may occur. Unlike most mammals, elephants are remarkably resistant to cancer given their size. In a new study published in Cell Reports, researchers explored genes that evolved more quickly in elephants than other mammals to try to identify genes responsible for this protection. They identified several accelerated gene pathways in elephants that are important for DNA repair […]

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Understanding stress-induced miscarriage and premature delivery

  Stress during late pregnancy may result in premature delivery or stillbirth. A new study of pregnant Rambouillet cross ewes, published in the American Journal of Physiology – Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology, was designed to understand why lambs succumb to stress late in pregnancy. They found that while arterial blood pressure and heart rates were normal during late gestation (final 2 weeks before birth) in fetuses from pregnant ewes with elevated stress hormones, fetal heart rate and aortic blood pressure declined on the day […]

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Caffeine and memory…wait what was I saying?

Personally, I would have a hard time functioning in the morning without coffee. I think many people might agree as caffeine is the most widely consumed psychoactive stimulant worldwide.  The stimulant effects of caffeine are attributed to its ability to bind to and inhibit adenosine receptors in the body, resulting in increased excitation of neurons: Long term potentiation (LTP) refers to an increase in the strength of connections formed between […]

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Making antibodies faster

Camelids (think llamas, alpacas and of course, camels) produce rather special antibodies that are highly sought after for research and biomedical applications. Nanobodies are small fragments of camelid antibodies that retain the ability to identify specific proteins. Because they are so small, they can bind to segments of proteins that intact or larger antibodies are unable to contact. This is what makes them attractive candidates in the search for new […]

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“Shirley Temple” protein found in platypus milk may help fight drug-resistant bacteria

Platypuses are rather bizarre mammals. For one, they lay eggs and although they feed their young milk, they sweat this milk from glands on their belly. Because the young lap up the milk and they live in burrows, they are exposed to microbes at a very young age. Like many mammals, platypus milk has antibiotic properties to help protect the young. However, the antibiotic protein found in platypus milk appears […]

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Tapeworms treat IBD?

Okay, I realize this is not a comparative physiology topic. But after reading this article, I just had to share it. A new study published in American Journal of Physiology – Gastrointestinal and Liver Physiology presented data suggesting that parasitic worms may help treat or even prevent inflammatory bowl disease (IBD) in children. IBD is a condition characterized by inflammation in the gut that can lead to symptoms such as diarrhea […]

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