Life Lines by Dr. Dolittle

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Illnesses and Injuries

EB 2022: Seals, seals, and more seals

Several posters at EB 2022 in Philadelphia this month were focused on understanding the remarkable physiology of diving seals. Although we may think of the image below when we picture seals, they really are quite the athletes in water. Kaitlin Allen (a graduate student working in the laboratory of Dr. José Pablo Vázquez-Medina at the University of California Berkeley) presented her research on Northern elephant seals and how these animals […]

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EB 2022: Modeling human diseases and healthy aging

I sat through a very interesting session at this year’s Experimental Biology conference called, “The Power of Comparative Models for Accelerating Translational Healthspan Research: Underutilized Lab Animals, Companion Pets, Old World Monkeys, and Pumas.” While the title seems to capture the general idea of the symposium, I thought I would share a bit more information about the presenters and their exciting research. Dr. Karyn Hamilton from Colorado State University presented […]

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Stranger than science fiction: treefrogs that freeze and live to tell the story

Today we have a guest blog written by Elizabeth Evans (pictured above), a graduate student at the University of Dayton working in the laboratory of Dr. Carissa Krane. She presented her research on freeze tolerance today at the 2022 Experimental Biology conference in Philadelphia. She wrote the award-winning blog entry below which earned the 2022 Dr. Dolittle Travel Award to attend the conference. Congratulations Elizabeth!! Stranger than science fiction: treefrogs […]

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Understanding genetic factors contributing to COPD

According to a study published in the American Journal of Physiology – Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology, we have a lot in common with fruit flies when it comes to the layer of cells that line our airways. So much so, that researchers claim Drosophila melanogaster are important models for lung diseases such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). COPD is a debilitating disease that claimed the lives of over […]

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Tips to avoiding blood clots and improving blood storage for transfusions

Hibernating mammals are amazing! How in the world do they prevent blood clots when they not only reduce their body temperature but also their blood flow during hibernation? That question is precisely what a new study published in Physiological Genomics examined.   Typically, cold temperatures are known to activate the process of blood clotting by stimulating platelets. Platelets are sticky cells without a nucleus that circulate in the blood. When […]

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Regenerating Lost Limbs

When most animals lose a limb, it is lost forever. However, several animals such as salamanders and lizards are known to regrow lost limbs. In a new study, researchers have been able to regenerate a lost limb in adult African clawed frogs, Xenopus laevis, which is a species that normally does not regrow lost limbs. Regeneration was achieved by applying a wearable silicon bioreactor cap called a BioDome containing a […]

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More on the uniqueness of humans when it comes to heart disease…

With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, heart-themed items seem to be everywhere. It is no surprise that I started thinking more and more about how humans are unique from other animals when it comes to heart disease. In my last entry, we talked about a few genetic variants that protect some humans from heart disease as well as the observation that many carnivores do not develop atherosclerosis, even when […]

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Preventing Atherosclerosis

Researchers have identified variants in the B4GALT1 gene of Amish people that are associated with low levels of LDL (i.e. “bad”) cholesterol and fibrinogen, a gene involved in blood clotting. In fact, people with variants in this gene are 35% less likely to be diagnosed with heart disease. When the variant was expressed in mice, the animals had similar decreases in LDL cholesterol and fibrinogen. Researchers are hoping to create […]

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Combating kidney stones

If you have ever had a pet with kidney stones, you know that diet can be a major contributing factor to their formation. This is why veterinarians often recommend providing animals with foods higher in water content and switching to a diet that promotes a healthy urine pH (not too basic, not too acidic).   Did you know that bottlenose dolphins can develop kidney stones too? The particular kind of […]

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And a Happy New….Kidney!

Spiny mice (Acomys cahirinus) are amazing animals. For starters, they are reportedly one of the only known species to date, in addition to primates, that menstruate (McKenna et al., 2021). They are also capable of regenerating skin tissue, complete with hair follicles and blood vessels without scarring, after an injury (Siefert et al., 2012). This is an important skill for animals that escape predators by shedding their skin. Add to […]

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