Life Lines by Dr. Dolittle

Sponsored by the American Physiological Society

Nature’s Solutions

It’s shark week!! Let’s talk about the spiny dogfish

I am so excited it is finally Shark Week on Discovery Channel! I look forward to this week every year. In honor of Shark Week, I found a neat study published in the American Journal of Physiology – Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology examining the rectal gland of the spiny dogfish shark (Squalus acanthias). This gland is very important as it allows the animals to get rid of salt (sodium […]

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Llamas to the rescue?

A couple years back, we talked about how nanobodies created by camelids, such as alpacas and llamas, may lead to the discovery of new disease-fighting drugs. Aptly named, nanobodies are tiny pieces of antibodies that can bind to target proteins more easily than larger antibodies. Researchers in labs around the world are now exploring llama nanobodies for the treatment of Covid-19. Check out the video below released this month by […]

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Cholesterol levels in tissues change during hypoxia in naked mole rats

Naked mole rats are rather famous from a physiological perspective for their amazing ability to live in hypoxic conditions. They do so in part by reducing their metabolic rate. In fact, researchers at the University of Ottawa in Canada showed that reducing environmental oxygen levels to 11% resulted in a 34% decrease in the animal’s metabolic rate. Studies of hypoxia-tolerant goldfish show that the animals respond to hypoxia challenges by […]

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Exploring how temperature impacts the characteristics of animals

We are delighted to speak with Dr. Casey Mueller who is currently an Assistant Professor at California State University San Marcos. Dr. Mueller is a member of the Comparative and Evolutionary Physiology section of the American Physiological Society and was scheduled to present her research at the 2020 Experimental Biology conference last month. Unfortunately, the conference was cancelled due to Covid-19. Her researchappears in the May issue of the FASEB […]

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What’s the buzz about bees?

We are excited to share the following interview with Dr. Lizzette Cambron, an NSF Graduate Fellow working in Dr. Kendra Greenlee’s laboratory at North Dakota State University. Dr. Cambron was scheduled to present her research at the 2020 Experimental Biology conference last month in a Comparative and Evolutionary Physiology session hosted by the American Physiological Society. As with many conferences, the meeting was cancelled due to Covid-19.  She has agreed […]

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Physiology of diving animals: how do they deal with hypoxia?

Dr. Jose Pablo Vazquez-Medina (pictured at right), a comparative physiologist at the University of California – Berkeley, was scheduled to present several ongoing studies from his lab at the Experimental Biology conference last month. Dr. Vazquez-Medina is a member of the Comparative and Evolutionary Physiology section of the American Physiological Society. Although the conference was cancelled due to Covid-19, Dr. Vazquez-Medina has agreed to share his research with us.   […]

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Dolphins can develop similar neurological diseases as humans

I am pretty sure most people would agree that dolphins are pretty smart. But did you know that they may develop similar neurological conditions as humans? I read an interesting article published in Drug Target Review exploring how dolphins that have washed up on beaches may help us understand neurological diseases like Alzheimer’s as well as responses to viral infections. For example, Dolphin morbillivirus (DMV) is a virus similar to […]

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Role of phoenixin-20 in regulating appetite and glucose metabolism

Phoenixin-20 is a small peptide that has been detected in mammals, birds, amphibians and fish. Studies have shown that it can modify reproductive processes in female mammals and fish. In addition, it has been shown in mammalian studies to act as a pain reducer and modulator of food intake. In a new study published in the American Journal of Physiology – Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology, researchers explored whether phoenixin-20 has […]

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Evolution of pain resistance

Could you imagine eating a pile of chile peppers or spicy hot mustard and not feeling any pain? The ability to sense pain is physiologically quite important as it alerts us to potentially dangerous or poisonous chemicals. Many plants (stinging nettles, pungent bulbs, hot chilies) and animals (stinging ants, scorpions, snakes) produce noxious chemicals to protect themselves from predators. In turn, some predators have evolved resistance to these chemicals. An […]

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The key to the fountain of youth?

I just read an interesting article on the physiology of long-lived species that was published in Physiology. Some animals seem to have discovered the secret to the fountain of youth. Take the long-lived naked mole rat (Heterocephalus glaber) for example. These animals are able to maintain juvenile traits across their lifespan by growing slowly, having low levels of hormones responsible for development and delaying the onset of sexual maturity. Dwarf […]

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