Life Lines by Dr. Dolittle

Sponsored by the American Physiological Society

New cancer diagnostic tool

Scientists have come up with a truly unique tool to try to detect cancer – ants. Yes, ants. Ants are known for their strong sense of smell, which helps them locate food pretty well. Interestingly, some forms of cancer can alter the smell of urine and ants may be able to detect those changes. Their findings on the potential use of ants as “bio-detectors” of cancer were published in the […]

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The complex interplay between pathogens and our immune system

I read an interesting review article explaining how cells evolved the ability to kill off pathogens and, in turn, how pathogens evade death. It is kind of like a perpetual game of ‘cat and mouse’ in which the interaction between animals and pathogens drives the evolution of host defenses against infections while at the same time driving the evolution of pathogen strategies to avoid detection. According to the review article, […]

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Hummingbirds can choose how deep to sleep

Could you imagine drinking a can of soda every minute just to support your high metabolism? Amazingly, that is the equivalent to how much sugar a hummingbird needs to support their rapid wingbeats during flight. In fact, hummingbird flight muscles are the fastest on record, allowing the birds to flap their wings at a rate of up to 200 beats per second! That explains why they are always at my […]

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On the road to developing artificial odorant sensors for noses

Almost all animals have some ability to detect smells their environment and there are countless odorant molecules and combinations of molecules in the environment that our systems are challenged with identifying. The sense of smell is important in many biological processes such as finding food, mates, and detecting threats. Scents may also conjure up memories and affect our emotions. About 5% of the population either has no (anosmia) or very […]

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Considering a cranberry side dish for Thanksgiving? New study shows regular consumption may lower cholesterol and prevent memory loss

Okay, I’ll admit this blog entry has nothing really to do with comparative physiology. I just happen to really like eating cranberry sauce at Thanksgiving and was curious about the benefits of eating cranberries more often. Like many other berries, cranberries are a super-fruit rich in polyphenols and antioxidants that are associated with protecting brain health with aging. On their own they are rather bitter due to the high amounts […]

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Hypoxia gives alligators a big heart: Q&A with Dr. Dane Crossley, University of North Texas

We recently interviewed Dr. Dane Crossley, Professor of Physiology in the College of Biological Sciences at the University of North Texas about the research his laboratory presented at the recent APS Intersociety meeting, Comparative Physiology: From Organisms to Omics in an Uncertain World. The title of his presentation was, “A large heart: How does developmental hypoxia affect individual cardiomyocyte performance in the American alligator, Alligator mississippiensis.” Thank you for taking time […]

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Migratory birds create their own water to prevent dehydration

Migratory birds are amazingly adapted for long-distance flights and can switch the fuels they rely on to support their endurance activities. Unlike humans that burn mainly carbohydrates for endurance exercise, avian flight is fueled mainly by fats and some proteins. In a recent study published in the American Journal of Physiology – Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology researchers examined how white-throated sparrows (Zonotrichia albicollis) prepared for migration. By altering the […]

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One reason why fish and mammals lose their appetite during stress

I don’t know about you, but sometimes I lose my appetite when I am really stressed. The endocrine system is responsible for controlling our stress responses and involves three main endocrine glands – the hypothalamus, pituitary, and adrenal gland. Hence, the stress pathway is often referred to as the “HPA axis”. When we are stressed, the hypothalamus releases a hormone called corticotropin releasing factor (CRF), which triggers the release of […]

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Arizona physiologists gathered recently for their annual meeting

The Arizona Physiological Society, a chapter of the American Physiological Society, hosted their 15th annual scientific meeting this past weekend! Here are some highlights… The Keynote Address was presented by Dr. Harold D Schultz, Professor in the Department of Cellular and Integrative Physiology at the University of Nebraska. His talk focused on the physiology of heart failure and how the nervous system regulates blood pressure. This year’s Arizona Distinguished Physiologist […]

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Physiology in the Midlands

Fall is an exciting time as many of the chapters of the American Physiological Society host regional conferences. The Midlands Society of Physiological Sciences hosted their annual meeting earlier this month. Here are some highlights from their meeting. Symposia highlights: The meeting was kicked off by a Keynote Lecture presented by Dr. David A Kass from Johns Hopkins University who presented his research on obesity and heart failure. Here is […]

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