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  • October 6, 2014
  • 03:55 PM
  • 252 views

Orange Corn Aims to Fight Vitamin A Deficiency

by Gabriel in Lunatic Laboratories

GMO food is still a hot button topic, honestly for no other reason than fear. Sure Monsanto is a big evil corporation, but the science is only as bad as what you do with it. In the modern fortified world we don’t think about vitamin deficiency or the horrible things that come with it, however vitamin A deficiency is a huge problem in developing countries. To combat this researchers have identified a set of genes that can be used to naturally boost the provitamin A content of corn kernels, a finding that could help combat vitamin A deficiency and macular degeneration in the elderly.... Read more »

  • September 29, 2014
  • 06:07 PM
  • 243 views

Cat and Dogs: seeking solutions with sniffing canines and science

by Cobb & Hecht in Do You Believe In Dog?

Hi Mia and Julie,  First of all, I LOVE your blog! After meeting at SPARCS this past summer (summer for us in North America.. I take it summer is just beginning in Australia!), I’ve followed it closely.  You do amazing things for the promotion of  canine science. Serious love. A bit of background for the readers: I’m currently doing my PhD at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia in Canada, under the supervision of Dr. Simon Gadbois. Dr. Gadbois has an amazing amount of knowledge and experience in the science of sniffing (just check out Gadbois & Reeve, 2014 link below!).  He’s trained sniffer dogs for the conservation of ribbon snakes and wood turtles, to track coyotes, and to detect invasive pests in lumber. He and I have taken on a different type of project and are studying the intricacies of biomedical detection dogs, specifically, the very interesting phenomenon of Diabetic Alert Dogs.  Cat Reeve at #SPARCS2014 where she won the 'Best Emerging Researcher' prize I say interesting because there’s anecdotal evidence suggesting that some dogs alert their owners to hypoglycemic events (low blood sugar). In 2008, Deborah Wells published a series of case studies where dogs were reported as signalling (barking, licking, pawing etc. the individual) while their owners were awake, while they were sleeping, and even when their owners were in a different room with the door closed! And this is with no previous training!  Isn’t this fantastic! Severe hypoglycemic events can be extremely dangerous for individuals with diabetes. If not treated, they can lead to seizures, comas, and even death. The fact that dogs may be able to alert an individual before a serious hypoglycemic event means less worry about hypoglycaemia unawareness, and blood sugar dropping over night when individuals are unconscious.Given that dogs are signalling through closed doors, it is assumed that the dogs smell something that alerts them to a change in the physiology of their owner (as opposed to behavioural cues, as is believed to be the case with seizure alert dogs). There are many companies that have taken advantage of this supposed ability, and have trained Diabetic Alert Dogs (DADs) to sell to individuals with diabetes.  In my own searches, I have found no company that publicly provides information as to how they train their dogs. However, according to recent studies (see Gonder-Frederick et al., 2013 and Rooney et al., 2011 below) these trained DADs dogs contribute greatly to the families of individuals’ with diabetes; they signal consistently and, consequently, significantly reduce the number of hypoglycemic events an individual experiences. Now, if it is in fact an olfactory cue that dogs use to identify a drop in blood sugar in their owners, one would expect that if you presented one of these trained DADs with the “scent” of hypoglycemia without the individual present (just like having the owner with diabetes on the other side of a door), the dog would still signal.  Dehlinger and colleagues recently tested three DADs in a lab setting, presenting the dogs with human biological samples that were obtained identically to the way the samples used to train the dogs were obtained. In this study, none of the three dogs could pick out a ... Read more »

  • September 28, 2014
  • 03:37 PM
  • 229 views

The Genetic Evolutionary Arms Race

by Gabriel in Lunatic Laboratories

Genes are tricky little buggers, the stuff that makes us up has fought the test of time to make it to where we are today. It is thought that our genes changed in an attempt to outpace other life, albeit random changes.That might only be half right however, new findings suggest that there is an evolutionary arms race going on within the genome against, of all things, itself. This inherent competition of primates drove the evolution of complex regulatory networks that orchestrate the activity of genes in every cell of our bodies... Read more »

Jacobs, Greenberg, Nguyen, Haeussler, Ewing, Katzman, Paten, Salama . (2014) An evolutionary arms race betweenKRAB zinc-finger genes ZNF91/93 and SVA/L1 retrotransposons. Nature. info:/10.1038/nature13760

  • September 26, 2014
  • 02:15 PM
  • 291 views

“GMO” Foods (Once Again) Proven Safe

by Gabriel in Lunatic Laboratories

GMO, I shudder every time I hear someone talk about the “dangers”. It’s one of the new buzzwords that doesn’t actually mean anything, but still manages to scare people. Well a new scientific review reports that the performance and health of food-producing animals consuming genetically engineered feed, first introduced 18 years ago, has been comparable to that of animals consuming non-GE feed. Not that this will stop people from spreading fear, but it’s a start.... Read more »

  • September 17, 2014
  • 04:36 AM
  • 208 views

A talking powered smartphone? The chin strap that makes electricity from chewing

by Stuart Farrimond in Guru: Science Blog

Mouths – where would we be without them? We use our jaws for so many essential tasks: eating food, chewing gum, yawning when we are tired from a hard day’s work and, oh let’s not forget, talking. Most of us […]The post A talking powered smartphone? The chin strap that makes electricity from chewing appeared first on Guru Magazine.... Read more »

  • September 16, 2014
  • 01:20 PM
  • 242 views

GM plants with modified 'eskimo1' gene have increased 'drought tolerance'

by This Science is Crazy! in This Science Is Crazy!

New study uses siRNA and 35S promoter to regulate multiple genes including ESK1 to improve drought tolerance in Arabidopsis... Read more »

  • September 13, 2014
  • 01:13 PM
  • 239 views

Need a Kidney? Lab Grown Kidneys Coming Soon!

by Gabriel in Lunatic Laboratories

Stem cells offered the promise of having a patents own organ grown to replace a failing or damaged one. Unfortunately the road to that future has been paved with seemingly insurmountable challenges. Thankfully now we are one step closer, researchers have addressed a major challenge in the quest to build replacement kidneys in the lab. Working with human-sized pig kidneys, the scientists developed the most successful method to date to keep blood vessels in the new organs open and flowing with blood.... Read more »

In Kap Ko,, Mehran Abolbashari,, Jennifer Huling,, Cheil Kim,, Sayed-Hadi Mirmalek-Sani,, Mahmoudreza Moradi,, Giuseppe Orlando,, John D. Jackson,, Tamer Aboushwareb,, Shay Soker,.... (2014) Enhanced re-endothelialization of acellular kidney scaffolds for whole organ engineering via antibody conjugation of vasculatures. Technology . info:/10.1142/S2339547814500228

  • September 10, 2014
  • 04:18 PM
  • 219 views

Blind Date Resumee

by Olga Vovk in Milchstraße

Sometimes, the employer is even in a bigger need than the job seeker. And the most used instrument which can bring these two together is a resume.... Read more »

Mark Wilson. (2012) How To Redesign Your Resume For A Recruiter’s 6-Second Attention Span. fastcodesign.com. info:/

  • September 8, 2014
  • 06:07 PM
  • 237 views

Genes Smash! An Oxytricha trifallax story

by Gabriel in Lunatic Laboratories

In DNA mutation is often a bad thing. It’s sort of like building a car, there are far more wrong ways to one together than there are right ways. Still, mutation happens often which brings with it good (and more often bad) things. Usually mutation is spontaneous, it has no real rhyme or reason (in a broad sense) and while it brings things like cancers, it also can bring amazingly beneficial traits too.... Read more »

Chen X, Bracht JR, Goldman AD, Dolzhenko E, Clay DM, Swart EC, Perlman DH, Doak TG, Stuart A, Amemiya CT.... (2014) The Architecture of a Scrambled Genome Reveals Massive Levels of Genomic Rearrangement during Development. Cell, 158(5), 1187-98. PMID: 25171416  

  • September 5, 2014
  • 01:56 PM
  • 259 views

Artificial Cells: They’re alive!!

by Gabriel in Lunatic Laboratories

Frankenstein’s monster was (in the story) a scientific marvel that could not be matched. Growing up with the story, the idea of creating life where there was none was a feat that I had once thought was going to always be science fiction. Maybe this is why I was so surprised when I found out that scientists, using only a few ingredients, have successfully implemented a minimalistic model of the cell that can change its shape and move on its own.... Read more »

Keber, F., Loiseau, E., Sanchez, T., DeCamp, S., Giomi, L., Bowick, M., Marchetti, M., Dogic, Z., & Bausch, A. (2014) Topology and dynamics of active nematic vesicles. Science, 345(6201), 1135-1139. DOI: 10.1126/science.1254784  

  • September 3, 2014
  • 08:01 AM
  • 251 views

The Kanisza Triangle: You Can’t Believe Your Eyes

by Rebecca A. Zarate in United Academics

How does the brain decide what the larger, gestalt picture is? From this demonstration, Kok and De Lange concluded it is “an interactive process between higher-order visual areas and V1, wherein activity in V1 is modulated in a highly specific way according to the perceptual hypothesis provided by higher-order areas.” In essence, higher areas of the brain (top-down processes) are making gestalt type guesses, expectations, and assumptions that affect what your senses perceive... Read more »

  • September 2, 2014
  • 12:52 PM
  • 243 views

Epigenetics: Taking Control of the Music

by Gabriel in Lunatic Laboratories

When I try to explain epigenetics to someone, I like to use the musician metaphor. Your genes are the sheet music and how your body reads those genes, that is your body acting like a musician, making those notes it’s own. This is even more evident when you realize that all human cells contain essentially the same DNA sequence. Up until now we've had to be the audience to this genetic symphony, but new research is helping scientists take control of the music.... Read more »

Müller-Ott K, Erdel F, Matveeva A, Mallm JP, Rademacher A, Hahn M, Bauer C, Zhang Q, Kaltofen S, Schotta G.... (2014) Specificity, propagation, and memory of pericentric heterochromatin. Molecular systems biology, 10(8), 746. PMID: 25134515  

  • September 1, 2014
  • 02:12 PM
  • 202 views

Assemblages: 50 Years Later, We Know Nothing About Them

by Gabriel in Lunatic Laboratories

You would think we learn about every part of a cell in biology, but we really don't. Case in point, about 50 years ago, electron microscopy revealed the presence of tiny blob-like structures that form inside cells, move around and disappear. The reason you probably haven't heard of these structures is because scientists really don't know what they do even 50 years later. Although they do have an idea about them, these shifting cloud-like collections of proteins are believed to be crucial to the life of a cell, and will ideally offer a new approach to disease treatment.... Read more »

  • August 31, 2014
  • 11:31 PM
  • 251 views

August lives up to its definition: respected and impressive

by Cobb & Hecht in Do You Believe In Dog?

The things we noticed in and around canine science over the past two weeks, Storified in one neat location for your convenience:[View the story "Do You Believe in Dog? [16-31 August 2014]" on Storify] Further reading:Feuerbacher E.N. (2014). Shut up and pet me! Domestic dogs (Canis lupus familiaris) prefer petting to vocal praise in concurrent and single-alternative choice procedures, Behavioural Processes, DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.beproc.2014.08.019 Gygax L. (2014). The A to Z of statistics for testing cognitive judgement bias, Animal Behaviour, 95 59-69. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.anbehav.2014.06.013 Arnott E.R., Claire M. Wade & Paul D. McGreevy (2014). Environmental Factors Associated with Success Rates of Australian Stock Herding Dogs, PLoS ONE, 9 (8) e104457. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0104457 © Do You Believe in Dog? 2014© Do You Believe in Dog? 2014... Read more »

  • August 29, 2014
  • 03:10 PM
  • 218 views

The Ever Mutating Ebola Virus

by Gabriel in Lunatic Laboratories

Ebola has a nasty reputation for the way it damages the body. It's rightfully earned when you look at the death rate. But when you look at the actual details of an Ebola infection, a surprising fact surfaces: The virus isn't what ends up killing you, it's your own immune system. Sure they are trying different ways to outsmart the virus, but it's mutating... quickly. In fact, scientists have rapidly sequenced and analyzed more than 99 Ebola virus genomes. The hope it to better understand the enemy and possibly outsmart it.... Read more »

Gire, S., Goba, A., Andersen, K., Sealfon, R., Park, D., Kanneh, L., Jalloh, S., Momoh, M., Fullah, M., Dudas, G.... (2014) Genomic surveillance elucidates Ebola virus origin and transmission during the 2014 outbreak. Science. DOI: 10.1126/science.1259657  

  • August 29, 2014
  • 09:25 AM
  • 284 views

The Friday Five for 8/29/14

by Bill Sullivan in The 'Scope

5 of the hottest science news stories this week include a lab-grown thymus, big Alzheimer’s news, and how to make the perfect pizza.... Read more »

  • August 28, 2014
  • 12:52 PM
  • 276 views

The Things Living on your Toothbrush…

by Gabriel in Lunatic Laboratories

Did you remember to brush? I hope you did, but you may be throwing away your toothbrush soon. Get ready for your daily amount of gross, because have I got a scientific discovery that will make you rethink your dental hygiene. Researchers have found that “solid-head” power toothbrushes have up to 3,000 times less bacteria when compared to “hollow-head” toothbrushes.[…]... Read more »

Morris DW, Goldschmidt M, Keene H, & Cron SG. (2014) Microbial contamination of power toothbrushes: a comparison of solid-head versus hollow-head designs. Journal of dental hygiene : JDH / American Dental Hygienists' Association, 88(4), 237-42. PMID: 25134956  

  • August 27, 2014
  • 03:23 PM
  • 275 views

The Learning Brain Unravelled

by Gabriel in Lunatic Laboratories

As an engineer you would think math would come easy to me, it didn’t. Funny thing though, science in general and biology in particular came very easy to me. The big question is why? Why would math, something I need to know how to do for my work and my degree, be so hard to learn? Thankfully science has stepped in to answer the question, at least partially, about why somethings can come so easy to a person and other things (like me and math) take so much longer to pick up.[…]... Read more »

Patrick T. Sadtler,, Kristin M. Quick,, Matthew D. Golub,, Steven M. Chase,, Stephen I. Ryu,, Elizabeth C. Tyler-Kabara,, Byron M. Yu,, & Aaron P. Batista. (2014) Neural constraints on learning. Nature. info:/10.1038/nature13665

  • August 27, 2014
  • 09:46 AM
  • 269 views

Fluid-injection could act as 'trigger' for large earthquakes

by This Science is Crazy! in This Science Is Crazy!

New study investigates whether fluid-injection techniques (such as fracking, solution mining and enhanced geothermal)can generate enough stress to set off large quakes prematurely... Read more »

Mulargia, F., & Bizzarri, A. (2014) Anthropogenic Triggering of Large Earthquakes. Scientific Reports, 6100. DOI: 10.1038/srep06100  

  • August 26, 2014
  • 01:27 PM
  • 345 views

The Holographic Universe [we might Live in!]

by Gabriel in Lunatic Laboratories

Are you feeling a little… flat? Well that might be because you are only in 2 dimensions. I know what you’re thinking, insane! Well first check the name of the business and second, check out the science. In fact, it may seem like a joke, but the math suggests that it could very well be true and with it could come a deeper understanding of the universe. Testing this hypothesis (which was first made in the late 90’s) has been harder to do than you might think, but that has now changed. We are officially checking to see if our universe is a hologram![…]... Read more »

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