Life Lines by Dr. Dolittle

Sponsored by the American Physiological Society

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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Surviving environmental challenges

Red tides happen when dinoflagellate algae populations increase and turn the water a shade of red due their red pigments. These algae consume oxygen in the water and release carbon dioxide and other acidic products that make the surrounding water acidic and hypoxic. These events are becoming more common with climate change. In fact, the most recent event off the coast of Sothern California occurred in 2020 and resulted in […]

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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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Anti-aging Vaccine

Scientists have created a vaccine that slows aging, at least in mice. Their findings were recently published in Nature Aging. As we age, the ability for the body to get rid of damaged cells declines, which can lead to inflammation and a host of diseases like cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, as well as atherosclerosis. The vaccine works by triggering the immune system to create antibodies against a specific protein associated with […]

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Exploring the tree of life

Dr. Yan Wong (University of Oxford) and Dr. James Rosindell (Imperial College of London) have created the most comprehensive tree of life to date. Their tree, a culmination of over 10 years of research (image above, from OneZoom.org), is an exquisite interactive tool that can be used to decipher genetic connections between more than 2 million species. Each tiny leaf represents a single species and clicking on the leaf will […]

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Why sharks should be afraid of leopard seals

Leopard seals in New Zealand have a dangerous appetite. Although the animals were known to eat penguins and other seals, researchers only recently discovered that sharks were on the menu as well, which was really surprising. They made this discovery while analyzing fecal samples collected from more than 100 leopard seals. Leopard seals appear to have joined a growing list of animals (orcas, giant octopus) that dine on what we […]

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Arizona Physiological Society’s annual conference: Part 2

Arizona’s physiologists met in October to talk about Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, urbanization, the evolution of walking and vocalizations, snow leopards, and diet. Here are the highlights… Oral Presentations: Graduate student Luke Endicott from the Arizona College of Medicine at Midwestern University, working with R. Potter and Dr. C.R. Olson presented their research exploring how zebra finches learn to sing and the importance of vitamin A in this process. Does […]

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