Life Lines by Dr. Dolittle

Sponsored by the American Physiological Society

Illnesses and Injuries

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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Beware of freezing hearts

Thirteen-lined ground squirrels (Ictidomys tridecemlineatus) are really cute when they hibernate (above). During torpor bouts, their body temperature decreases to a few degrees Celsius and their metabolism drops by as much as 95% with heart rates ranging from only 3-10 beats per minute. These bouts of torpor are interrupted by periodic arousals every couple of weeks during which their metabolism increases as body temperature elevates to 37 degrees Celsius. What is so fascinating is […]

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Wound healing with fish

Researchers in China have discovered that collagen isolated from the skin of tilapia effectively reduce wound healing time in mice. The usefulness of collagen, a major structural protein found in connective tissues, in wound healing has been known. Using fish proteins instead of typical mammalian sources reduces the risk for potential pathogens. Dr. Jiao Sun (Shanghai Jiaotong University School of Medicine) and colleagues isolated collagen from the skin of tilapia […]

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Centipede venom blocks pain more effectively than morphine

Researchers from the Chinese Academy of Sciences and The University of Queensland have discovered a venom from centipedes capable of blocking pain more effectively than morphine! According to the study authors, centipedes have appeared in the fossil records as far back as 430 million years. They are also one of the first land-dwelling creatures to use venom to incapacitate their prey as shown in the image above of a Chinese […]

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Bee Sting Therapy for Multiple Sclerosis

I’m really afraid of bees. I’ve only been stung once, and after 2 seconds of pure torture, I thought the end of the world was approaching. Now I’m reading that there might be a way to use bee venom to help individuals with multiple sclerosis and arthritis… by voluntarily being stung! It sounds crazy, but it’s been shown to help some individuals. This video from National Geographic (https://youtu.be/p245IE6_qf8) shows the […]

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