Life Lines by Dr. Dolittle

Sponsored by the American Physiological Society

Illnesses and Injuries

What do ‘peeps’ and ‘yo-yos’ have to do with diving?

Until now I had assumed that a “peep” was that squishy sugar-covered marshmallow treat that we enjoyed as kids and a “yo-yo” was a toy on a string. As it turns out, peep and yo-yo are also term used to described types of diving patterns. A square dive is one in which there are no excursions to the surface, known as a “peep”, except at the end of the dive, of course. This is in contrast […]

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Cancer resistance developing in Tasmanian devils

Tasmanian devils are rather large carnivorous marsupials. By large, I mean the world’s largest. In only 2 decades, the population of Tasmanian devils have declined by about 85%, landing these animals on the endangered species list. The cause: an infectious cancer called devil facial tumor disease (DFTD). As the name implies, this cancer causes facial tumors that grow so large, the victims starve to death in as little as 6 […]

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Drug increases blood flow to the brain – Implications for stroke?

Researchers from Friedrich Schiller University (Jena, Germany) and Heinrich-Heine-University (Düsseldorf, Germany) teamed up to test whether a heart failure medication that is currently being tested might also improve blood flow in the brain. Their findings were published last month in the American Journal of Physiology, Heart and Circulatory Physiology. According to the study authors, the small blood vessels in the brains of sheep closely resemble those in the human brain. Using imaging techniques, they […]

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Frigatebirds and lambs

I was checking out the award-winning American Physiological Society’s I Spy Physiology blog and came across a couple of really interesting posts about animals: “If Only Birds Could Compete in the Summer Games” This post reported a study of how frigatebirds manage to sleep during flights out at sea that can last for weeks. By measuring brain activity, the research team found that the birds were capable of actual sleep, during which time both […]

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Physiology 2016

I am very excited to report that the American Physiological Society in partnership with The Physiological Society held a joint meeting from July 29-31 in Dublin, Ireland. The keynote lectures were given by Dr. Jerry Friedman from Rockefeller University and Dr. W Jon Lederer from the University of Maryland.   Dr. Friedman spoke about his research on obesity and how genetic factors might play a role. In fact, his team was […]

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Secret to safer stem cell therapy or cure for cancer?

Researchers trying to find cures for cancer find naked mole rats rather interesting. Not only are these animals long-lived by rodent standards, they are also resistant to the development of cancer. By long-lived, we are talking up to 30 years! A team of researchers from Hokkaido University and Keio University in Japan have now isolated stem cells from the skin of naked mole rats and induced them to revert back to pluripotent stem […]

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Keeping arteries healthy, lessons from seals?

Heart rate decreases during diving in seals and other animals. Thus the ascending aorta becomes very important during diving as it helps to maintain blood pressure during prolonged dives. A new study published in the American Journal of Physiology – Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology was designed to examine the ascending aorta of hooded seals (Cystophora cristata) and the tiny blood vessels that supply nutrients to it, called the vasa vasorum. The […]

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What does nitric oxide have to do with a fever?

New research published in the American Journal of Physiology Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology shows that bacterial infections increase the production of nitric oxide in chicks, which is similar to what happens in rodents. The increase in nitric oxide is thought to be related to the development of fever. In fact, when nitric oxide production was blocked, thermogenesis was inhibited and infected chicks began to huddle more to increase body temperature. Source: […]

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Limb regeneration in brittle stars

A new study published in Frontiers in Zoology examined the developmental process involved in regulating limb regeneration in brittle stars (Amphiura filiformis) following amputation of an arm. Limb regeneration is a multi-stage process involving initial healing and repair of the wounded site, initial growth of the limb followed by development of more complex layers of cells until ultimately the limb has been fully regenerated. Understanding this process in brittle stars may lead to […]

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