Life Lines by Dr. Dolittle

Sponsored by the American Physiological Society

Scientists discover gene that may protect from hypertension

Giraffes are extreme. Given their long necks, their blood pressure is 2.5 times higher than ours, which ensures that oxygenated blood makes it all the way up to their head. Having high blood pressure, however, is simply a normal characteristic of being a giraffe. A new study published in Science Advances explored the giraffe genome to identify genes that might help protect the cardiovascular system of giraffes by comparing their […]

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Anoxia tolerance in goldfish

The reason mammals are not very good at tolerating hypoxic (i.e. low oxygen) environments, is because the brain relies heavily on oxygen for metabolism. It is so stingy, it uses about 20% of the oxygen in the body to make ATP. Without oxygen, the brain has to rely on glycolysis to make ATP and this process is not good at meeting the energy requirements of the neurons, ultimately resulting in […]

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Towards developing treatments for inflammation

Neutrophils are specialized immune cells that becomes activated in response to foreign particles or microorganisms. Think of them like security guards in your body. As they travel through the blood, their job is to detect and get rid of invading microorganisms. They also help spark inflammation responses to infections. For these reasons, they are known to help maintain homeostasis in the body, but they can also play roles in disease […]

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New research working towards preventing and treating necrotizing enterocolitis in premature babies

Necrotizing enterocolitis is an inflammatory disease of the intestines. New research suggests that premature babies are at risk of necrotizing enterocolitis in part because they have low levels of arachidonic and docosahexanoic acids in their gut, which regulate inflammation. Doctors routinely administer nutritional supplements to premature babies via an intravenous (i.v.) route until the gastrointestinal tract develops and the babies are able to process oral foods. This parenteral nutrition helps […]

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Frogs are teaching researchers about autism

Dr. Helen Willsey at the University of California San Francisco is seeking to understand how autism develops with the help of frogs. Because frogs produce thousands of embryos at the same time, she is able to quickly study the effects of many different gene alterations in the offspring. While the embryos are at the two-cell stage of development, her laboratory alters genes in just one of the cells using CRISPR-Cas9 […]

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Metabolic costs of reproduction, eating, and increasing temperatures

Planarians are rather cute little flatworms, although they tend to wreak havoc in fish tanks. Researchers have long been fascinated by their ability to regenerate body parts when injured with the help of adult stem cells. More recently, they have gained attention for their ability to survive long periods of time without eating by “degrowing”, i.e. getting smaller but still keeping their shape and functions intact. I would shrink too […]

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Could the ocean hold a cure for Covid-19?

In searching for treatments for Covid-19, researchers discovered that a cancer drug called Aplidin (aka: Plitidepsin), originally isolated from Mediterranean sea squirts, was up to 27.5 times more effective at killing the virus in cell cultures than the FDA-approved drug Remdesivir! Importantly, it was also shown to be effective at preventing the virus from replicating in mice. Sources: Youtube KM White, R Rosales, S Yildiz, T Kehrer, L Miorin, E […]

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How exercise training and diet may impact exercise performance

Both diet and exercise training are associated with muscle performance and endurance. Migratory birds undergo intense endurance exercise. In fact, a recent review indicated that flapping flight costs more energy (9 x increase from basal metabolic rate) than required by elite athletes competing in the Tour de France (4.3 x increase from basal metabolic rate) (Butler, 2016). Unlike running animals, migratory birds fuel endurance exercise with fats as opposed to […]

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