Life Lines by Dr. Dolittle

Sponsored by the American Physiological Society

“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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Stem cell implant regrows axons in monkeys with spinal cord injury

  A new study published yesterday in Nature Medicine, presents research showing that grafting human neural stem cells into the spine of rhesus monkeys with recent spinal cord injuries improves the animal’s ability to grasp oranges. The researchers found that grafted stem cells matured into neurons (image below) that began connecting with the monkey’s existing neurons. This was the first time this type of research was performed in primates and may thus […]

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Individuality in woodpeckers

Animals, like people, have unique sounds that allow them to recognize individuals. For example, you can hear a great spotted woodpecker calling in the first portion of this YouTube video below. In another YouTube video, we see a great spotted woodpecker doing what woodpeckers do best…pecking at wood. Woodpeckers peck (i.e. drum) to ward off rivals as well as attract mates. In a new study published in PLoS ONE, researchers examined […]

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Very high intensity exercise: hovering

I just read an interesting review published in Physiology of flight energetics and fuel use in nectar feeding hummingbirds and bats. While flight is considered pretty high intensity exercise, hovering flight is even more demanding. Hummingbirds and nectar feeding bats are really tiny and thus have very high metabolisms to maintain body heat. Some of these animals are also migratory, which is an even greater energy demand. Remarkably, they sustain […]

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Drosophila help researchers understand rare genetic disorder

Barth Syndrome is a rare genetic disorder that affects mainly males. It is characterized by impaired lipid metabolism, muscle weakness, growth delays, cardiomyopathy, and low numbers of neutrophils in the blood, which renders patients with the condition more susceptible to infections. There is no known cure for Barth Syndrome. In the past, patients with Barth syndrome often died by the age of three from infections or heart failure (Barth Syndrome […]

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