Post List

Biology posts

(Modify Search »)

  • October 3, 2015
  • 02:21 PM

Can exercise be replaced with a pill?

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Everyone knows that exercise improves health, and ongoing research continues to uncover increasingly detailed information on its benefits for metabolism, circulation, and improved functioning of organs such as the heart, brain, and liver. With this knowledge in hand, scientists may be better equipped to develop “exercise pills” that could mimic at least some of the beneficial effects of physical exercise on the body. But a review of current development efforts ponders whether such pills will........ Read more »

Laher, & et al. (2015) Exercise Pills: At the Starting Line?. Trends in Pharmacological Sciences. info:/

  • October 3, 2015
  • 03:39 AM

One more time... the interpregnancy interval and risk of offspring autism

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"Children born after an IPI [interpregnancy interval] of <12 months or ≥72 months had a 2- to 3-fold increased ASD [autism spectrum disorder] risk compared with children born after an interval of 36 to 47 months."So said the study results published by Ousseny Zerbo and colleagues [1] looking at the increasingly interesting area of the autism research landscape: the interpregnancy interval (the time from the birth of an index child to the next conception/pregnancy of........ Read more »

Zerbo, O., Yoshida, C., Gunderson, E., Dorward, K., & Croen, L. (2015) Interpregnancy Interval and Risk of Autism Spectrum Disorders. PEDIATRICS. DOI: 10.1542/peds.2015-1099  

  • October 2, 2015
  • 07:47 PM

High-fructose diet slows recovery from brain injury

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Well bad news for those of us who have a sweet tooth, a diet high in processed fructose sabotages rat brains’ ability to heal after head trauma, UCLA neuroscientists report. While this doesn’t necessarily translate to humans quite yet, it should still raise a few eyebrows given the results from the study.... Read more »

Rahul Agrawal, Emily Noble1, Laurent Vergnes, Zhe Ying1, Karen Reue, & Fernando Gomez-Pinilla. (2015) Dietary fructose aggravates the pathobiology of traumatic brain injury by influencing energy homeostasis and plasticity. Journal of Cerebral Blood Flow . info:/10.1177/0271678X15606719

  • October 2, 2015
  • 12:35 PM

Poop on a Stick Tests Penguins' Sense of Smell

by Elizabeth Preston in Inkfish

Who doesn't enjoy waking to a pleasant smell wafting past? Unfortunately for them, the penguins in a recent study woke up not to pancakes frying nearby, but to less appetizing aromas—for example, feces on a stick. But scientists promise the experiment taught them valuable lessons about a penguin's capabilities. Besides, they let the birds go right back to sleep.

"Research into the sense of smell in birds has a bit of a dubious history," says Gregory Cunningham, a biologist at St. John F........ Read more »

  • October 2, 2015
  • 02:37 AM

ADHD primes for psychosis and/or schizophrenia?

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

My efforts turn once again to Taiwan today and the results reported by Yu-Chiau Shyu and colleagues [1] that: "Compared to the control group, the ADHD [attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder] group showed significantly increased risk of developing any psychotic disorder... and schizophrenia."As per the multitude of other instances where Taiwan is mentioned as a research powerhouse, the source data for the Shyu findings was the Taiwan National Health Insurance Research Database&n........ Read more »

  • October 1, 2015
  • 02:41 PM

Coincidence or conspiracy? Studies investigate conspiracist thinking

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

In pop culture, conspiracy believers — like FBI agent Fox Mulder on The X Files or professor Robert Langdon in The Da Vinci Code — tend to reject the notion of coincidence or chance; even the most random-seeming events are thought to result from some sort of intention or design. And researchers have suggested that such a bias against randomness may explain real-world conspiracy beliefs. But new research from psychological scientists shows no evidence for a link between conspiracist thinking ........ Read more »

  • October 1, 2015
  • 09:00 AM

Into The Fire: Sun Protection From A To B

by Julia van Rensburg in The 'Scope

Jessica Alba's company has been charged with two lawsuits citing ineffective protection by her Honest Company sunscreen. The failure of the sunscreen highlights a need for better education regarding sunscreen use and sun exposure.... Read more »

Shah P, & He YY. (2015) Molecular regulation of UV-induced DNA repair. Photochemistry and photobiology, 91(2), 254-64. PMID: 25534312  

Narayanan DL, Saladi RN, & Fox JL. (2010) Ultraviolet radiation and skin cancer. International journal of dermatology, 49(9), 978-86. PMID: 20883261  

  • October 1, 2015
  • 08:00 AM

How to Catch a Virus: Targeted Capture for Viral Sequencing

by Daniel Koboldt in Massgenomics

Metagenomic profiling, also called metagenomic shotgun sequencing (MSS) represents a powerful application made possible by the digital nature of next-gen sequencing technologies. In it, one basically sequences a sample isolate obtained from somewhere — a shovelful of dirt, a scoop of plankton, or anything else that contains living organisms. MSS has proven particularly useful to […]... Read more »

  • October 1, 2015
  • 04:35 AM

Immune endophenotypes in paediatric autism

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

Today I'm serving up the paper by Milo Careaga and colleagues [1] for your blogging delight, who concluded that: "Children with ASD [autism spectrum disorder] may be phenotypically characterized based upon their immune profile." Further that there may be: "several possible immune subphenotypes within the ASD population that correlate with more severe behavioral impairments."With many thanks to Natasa for the paper, participants - 50 boys with a median age of 3.2 years diagnosed wi........ Read more »

Milo Careaga, Sally Rogers, Robin L. Hansen, David G. Amaral, Judy Van de Water, & Paul Ashwood. (2015) Immune endophenotypes in children with autism spectrum disorder. Biological Psychiatry. info:/10.1016/j.biopsych.2015.08.036

  • September 30, 2015
  • 10:09 PM

Scientists identify key receptor as potential target for treatment of autism

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Scientists from the Florida campus of The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) have uncovered a significant–and potentially treatable–relationship between a chemical that helps transmit signals in the brain and genetic mutations present in a subset of individuals with autism spectrum disorder. The new research findings focus on the role that the neurotransmitter serotonin plays in the development of social behavior.... Read more »

  • September 30, 2015
  • 04:46 PM

A bacterium that loves hot water, eating sugar, and bending itself into balls

by Rosin Cerate in Rosin Cerate

Dictyoglomus thermophilum is a bacterium found in hot springs all over the world. It specifically enjoys aquatic places where there isn't any oxygen, it's not acidic, and the temperature is between 73 and 78 degrees Celsius (thermophilum = heat-loving). Turns out a hot spring is actually a pretty okay place for a strict anaerobe (organism poisoned by oxygen) to hang out, in part because hot water contains less dissolved oxygen. Hot springs also tend to contain lots of energy-rich organic matter ........ Read more »

Hoppert M, Valdez M, Enseleit M, Theilmann W, Valerius O, Braus GH, Föst C, & Liebl W. (2012) Structure-functional analysis of the Dictyoglomus cell envelope. Systematic and Applied Microbiology, 35(5), 279-90. PMID: 22824581  

  • September 30, 2015
  • 09:38 AM

Video Tip of the Week: Global Biotic Interactions database, GloBI

by Mary in OpenHelix

And now for something completely different. Typically we highlight software that’s nucleotide or amino acid sequence related in some way. But this software is on a whole ‘nother level. It looks at interactions between species. This week we highlight GloBI, the Global Biotic Interactions database. Before you start thinking of Bambi and butterflies, though, consider […]... Read more »

  • September 30, 2015
  • 07:55 AM

Twins of Different Seasons

by Mark Lasbury in As Many Exceptions As Rules

Twins are born near the same time, that’s one of the things that makes them twins. But do they have to be born close to one another? The record is twins born 104 days apart. The key is to get the twins past 25 weeks so the lungs will be mature enough, but if one twin is delivered, the second might be subjected to delayed interval delivery to give the lungs longer to grow.... Read more »

Reinhard, J., Reichenbach, L., Ernst, T., Reitter, A., Antwerpen, I., Herrmann, E., Schlösser, R., & Louwen, F. (2012) Delayed interval delivery in twin and triplet pregnancies: 6 years of experience in one perinatal center. Journal of Perinatal Medicine, 40(5). DOI: 10.1515/jpm-2011-0267  

Padilla-Iserte, P., Vila-Vives, J., Ferri, B., Gómez-Portero, R., Diago, V., & Perales-Marín, A. (2014) Delayed Interval Delivery of the Second Twin: Obstetric Management, Neonatal Outcomes, and 2-Year Follow-Up. The Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology of India, 64(5), 344-348. DOI: 10.1007/s13224-014-0544-1  

Lewi, L., Devlieger, R., De Catte, L., & Deprest, J. (2014) Growth discordance. Best Practice , 28(2), 295-303. DOI: 10.1016/j.bpobgyn.2013.12.003  

  • September 30, 2015
  • 02:53 AM

Regular exercise and motor skills training for autism?

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

I approach the study results presented by Serge Brand and colleagues [1] (open-access available here) with some caution given the preliminary nature of the findings suggesting that: "regular AET [aerobic exercise training] and MST [motor skill training] impact positively on sleep, MSs, and mood among children with ASD [autism spectrum disorder]." The caution is due to the fact that the Brand results report on an uncontrolled pilot study (we've all done them) and included only........ Read more »

  • September 29, 2015
  • 04:50 PM

Border barrier biology!

by Rosin Cerate in Rosin Cerate

All around the world, barriers can be found at borders. We're talking a structure (e.g. a wall) or set of fortifications (e.g. fences with guard towers and minefields) built to control the movement of people across a human-created line. While modern border barriers are typically used to combat some combination of illegal immigration, drug smuggling, and terrorism, classically they were constructed as a defence against invasion.Hadrian's Wall, built by the Romans across what is now northern ........ Read more »

  • September 29, 2015
  • 02:37 PM

Scientists to bypass brain damage by re-encoding memories

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Researchers at USC and Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center have developed a brain prosthesis that is designed to help individuals suffering from memory loss. The prosthesis, which includes a small array of electrodes implanted into the brain, has performed well in laboratory testing in animals and is currently being evaluated in human patients.... Read more »

  • September 29, 2015
  • 01:40 PM

How Sheep Are like an Avalanche

by Elizabeth Preston in Inkfish

Sheep are rarely dangerous to skiers, but otherwise they have a lot in common with avalanches. That's what physicists say after mathematically modeling the ungulates' behavior (and staying well out of their path).

Francesco Ginelli, who researches complex systems at the University of Aberdeen in Scotland, had already studied flocks of birds and schools of fish. But he was curious to learn what was different about the movement of sheep or other grazers. Animals like these have a simple goa... Read more »

Ginelli, F., Peruani, F., Pillot, M., Chaté, H., Theraulaz, G., & Bon, R. (2015) Intermittent collective dynamics emerge from conflicting imperatives in sheep herds. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 201503749. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1503749112  

  • September 29, 2015
  • 05:26 AM

Herpes simplex virus (HSV) infection and cognitive ability

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

So: "our findings indicate that infection with HSV-1 [Herpes simplex virus] is associated with reduced cognitive functioning in healthy individuals."That was the conclusion reached in the study by Eyal Fruchter and colleagues [1] who based on a "representative, random sample of 612 soldiers before active duty in the Israeli military (Israeli defense force — IDF)" looked at cognitive functioning and language abilities as a function of HSV status ("62.2% HSV positive (n = 381) and 38.8%........ Read more »

  • September 28, 2015
  • 07:22 PM

Connecting Alzheimer’s disease and the immune system

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

The role of the immune system in Alzheimer’s disease is a hot topic, but exactly how the two are connected and what interventions could help lower risk remain a mystery. In a new study, researchers in the Ann Romney Center for Neurologic Diseases at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) investigate how genetic risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease may influence a key type of immune cell. Their results lay the groundwork for designing better therapeutic strategies and better prediction tools fo........ Read more »

Chan, G., White, C., Winn, P., Cimpean, M., Replogle, J., Glick, L., Cuerdon, N., Ryan, K., Johnson, K., Schneider, J.... (2015) CD33 modulates TREM2: convergence of Alzheimer loci. Nature Neuroscience. DOI: 10.1038/nn.4126  

  • September 28, 2015
  • 12:48 PM

What Animals Contageously Yawn?

by Miss Behavior in The Scorpion and the Frog

Does this sight make you want to yawn? A yawning Japanese macaque by Daisuke Tashiro at Wikimedia Commons.Do you think it would make other animals want to yawn? Many animals yawn spontaneously, but yawning in response to sensing or thinking about someone else doing it may be a completely different thing. Contagious yawning requires a sense of social connection and emotional empathy that not all species share. So far, scientists have found experimental evidence of contagious yawning in humans, ch........ Read more »

join us!

Do you write about peer-reviewed research in your blog? Use to make it easy for your readers — and others from around the world — to find your serious posts about academic research.

If you don't have a blog, you can still use our site to learn about fascinating developments in cutting-edge research from around the world.

Register Now

Research Blogging is powered by SMG Technology.

To learn more, visit