Life Lines by Dr. Dolittle

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Nature’s Solutions

Tardigrades are not so tolerant after all

…at least when it comes to dealing with warming temperatures. In contrast to their reputation for being able to withstand almost any extreme environment (radiation, cold, drought, vaccuum of space), researchers at the University of Copenhagen have found that tardigrades may have an Achilles heal. They appear intolerant of sustained increases in temperature.  Study author Dr. Ricardo Neves was quoted in Science Daily, “The specimens used in this study were […]

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Bee sting therapy – revisited

Bee sting therapy has been getting a lot of buzz lately. I have received a lot of questions about applications of so-called apitherapy to conditions other than multiple sclerosis, which we discussed awhile back. Let’s review the more recent evidence… While the practice of apitherapy dates back 5000+ years, only recently has this potential therapy been scientifically investigated. According to a recent review, bee venom has several peptides as well […]

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Regenerating limbs…and heads

Mandy M. Schofield, Christian A. Okafor, and Jack D. Shepard from Towson University presented an interesting poster at the 6th annual Greater Washington DC Area Physiological Society on how planarians are a useful “Model Organism for Investigation and Education.” Planarians are indeed very interesting little animals. They have remarkable abilities to regenerate as shown in this YouTube video: Aside from this impressive ability and its application to limb regeneration, planaria […]

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Understanding cardiomyopathy through drosophila

Courtney Petersen presented her research at the 6th annual Greater Washington DC Area Physiological Society conference today. This research was conducted with Dr. Matthew Wolf at the University of Virginia School of Medicine and Dr. Jeremy Smyth at the Uniformed Services University in Bethesda, Maryland. Courtney’s research was focused on cardiomyopathy, which is a disease of the heart’s muscle that can make it harder for the heart to pump blood […]

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Importance of retaining sodium for land vertebrates

Peter Fuller from the Hudson Institute of Medical Research, gave an interesting talk this morning at the 9th Aldosterone and ENaC in Health and Disease: The Kidney and Beyond Conference. His talk focuses on the evolution of the mineralocorticoid receptor in vertebrates. For animals living on land, the receptor responds mainly to the hormone aldosterone. The receptor can also bind the stress hormone cortisol and the sex hormone progesterone, although progesterone binding inhibits the receptor. […]

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Evolving to thrive on land

Scientists Xueping Wang, Deidra M. Balchak, Clayton Gentilcore, Nathan L. Clark, and Ossama B. Kashlan from the University of Pittsburgh are presenting their research today on how sodium channels evolved as animals moved onto land at the 9th Aldosterone and ENaC in Health and Disease: The Kidney and Beyond Conference in Colorado. Sodium channels found in epithelial cells (ENaCs) are very important in regulating salt and water balance especially in the […]

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Researchers from around the world are discussing salt regulation and its role in hypertension and other diseases

The American Physiological Society is currently hosting the 9th Aldosterone and ENaC in Health and Disease: The Kidney and Beyond Conference in Estes Park, Colorado (October 2-6, 2019). The conference is geared towards researchers who are interested in epithelial sodium channels (ENaC) as well as the hormone aldosterone and their roles in kidney function and blood pressure regulation. Epithelial cells are found throughout the body (see table below) and are really important in […]

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Adapting (or not) to increasing temperatures

Birds are not the only animals experiencing massive declines in populations. Rising temperatures and heat waves, in particular, have been blamed for killing humans and animals. In fact, a new review article published in Physiology mentioned that globally, heat is “a significant natural killer of humans, with the first decade of the 21st Century seeing a 23-fold increase in human casualties from heat waves compared with the 1990s.” If current predictions hold true, […]

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Ohio talks about physiology and disease

Researchers from around the state of Ohio met today at the 34th annual Ohio Physiological Society meeting to discuss their research. Although many of the presentations were not on comparative physiology topics, I found some particularly interesting and thought I would share them with you anyway. Here goes: Dr. Katherine Vest and her research team (Kierra Ware, Yu Zhang, Thomas Whitlow) from the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine presented their research on […]

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Remarkable hypoxia and cold tolerance of rodents native to the Tibetan plateau

The plateau zokor (Eospalax baileyi) is an underground dwelling rodent species native to the Tibetan plateau (2000-4200 meters in elevation). A new study published in the American Journal of Physiology – Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology explored how these animals were adapted to extract oxygen from an environment with very low levels (83-88% of atmospheric). Hemoglobin molecules found in red blood cells are responsible for binding oxygen and transporting it to tissues […]

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