Life Lines by Dr. Dolittle

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Archive for June 2017

Having pets can reduce the risk of developing allergies and obesity

  A recent study published in Microbiome from researchers at the University of Alberta shows that babies from families with pets had nearly two-fold increases in the amount of two specific microbes in their guts, Ruminococcus and Oscillospira. These particular microbes are associated with reduced risks of developing childhood allergies as well as obesity. According to study author Dr. Anita Kozyrskyj, “There’s definitely a critical window of time when gut immunity and […]

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Snakes to the rescue! Novel antiplatelet found in venom

  Platelets are important in the formation of blood clots. For this reason, antiplatelet medications are commonly prescribed for people at risk of developing blood clots, or who have already developed one. Many of the medications that are currently on the market to treat blood clots come with a risk for excessive bleeding and reduced platelet numbers. Researchers have now discovered an effective antiplatelet protein in snake venom that is not associated excessive bleeding. […]

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Zebrafish as models for human disease and drug development

  Who would have thought tiny fish could lead to big advances in medicine? Zebrafish (Danio rerio) and mammals have similar anatomy and physiology of the brain, eyes, gut, and cardiovascular systems. Some of the reasons why these fish are good models to understand cardiovascular physiology were recently explored in a new article published in Physiological Reviews. Animal models are used in research that seeks to understand both normal physiological mechanisms as […]

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How bird eggs got their shape

  Ever wonder why bird eggs are shaped the way they are and what drives the variations in egg shapes across species? I never really wondered that either until I saw an article in Science that explained a possible reason…then I just HAD to know. Some theories had been proposed suggesting that their shape prevented eggs from rolling out of nests or otherwise sustaining damage, and so on. According to the new study, […]

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Kea “laughter” is contagious too

  Most of us have heard the phrase: Laughter is contagious. When we hear other people laughing, we often smile even if we have no idea why they are laughing. Dr. Sophie Scott from the University College of London and her colleagues played both positive sounds (like laughter) and negative sounds (like retching or screaming) to subjects and found the sounds activated the premotor cortical region of the brain. This area of […]

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Oh, the many things estrogens can do…in males

I came across an article published in Physiological Reviews with a title so irresistible (Estrogens in Male Physiology), I just had to read it. While I knew that males have estrogen, this article impressed me with the numerous things estrogens are associated with, some of which were new to me and highlight how important estrogens are to male reproductive and non-reproductive physiology. As early as the 1930’s researchers discovered that stallions had high […]

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