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Rural microbes could boost city dwellers’ health, study finds

Rural microbes could boost city dwellers’ health, study finds

The greater prevalence of asthma, allergies and other chronic inflammatory disorders among people of lower socioeconomic status might be due in part to their reduced exposure to the microbes that thrive in rural environments, according to a new scientific paper co-authored by a University of Colorado Boulder researcher. The article, published in the journal Clinical & Experimental Immunology , argues that people living in urban centers who have less access to green spaces may be more apt to have chronic inflammation, a condition caused by immune system dysfunction Continue reading

Pollutants from coal-burning stoves strongly associated with miscarriages in Mongolia

Pollutants from coal-burning stoves strongly associated with miscarriages in Mongolia

Burning coal for domestic heating may contribute to early fetal death according to a new study by experts from The Saban Research Institute of Children’s Hospital Los Angeles and Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia — the coldest capital city in the world. In a paper published today in the journal BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth , researchers report “alarmingly strong statistical correlations” between seasonal ambient air pollutants and pregnancy loss in Ulaanbaatar (UB), Mongolia. Continue reading

Some astronauts at risk for cognitive impairment, animal studies suggest

Some astronauts at risk for cognitive impairment, animal studies suggest

Johns Hopkins scientists report that rats exposed to high-energy particles, simulating conditions astronauts would face on a long-term deep space mission, show lapses in attention and slower reaction times, even when the radiation exposure is in extremely low dose ranges. The cognitive impairments — which affected a large subset, but far from all, of the animals — appear to be linked to protein changes in the brain, the scientists say. The findings, if found to hold true in humans, suggest it may be possible to develop a biological marker to predict sensitivity to radiation’s effects on the human brain before deployment to deep space Continue reading

New patenting guidelines needed for biotechnology

New patenting guidelines needed for biotechnology

Biotechnology scientists must be aware of the broad patent landscape and push for new patent and licensing guidelines, according to a new paper from Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy. Published in the current issue of the journal Regenerative Medicine , the paper is based on the June 2013 U.S Continue reading

Fat metabolism in animals altered to prevent most common type of heart disease

Fat metabolism in animals altered to prevent most common type of heart disease

Working with mice and rabbits, Johns Hopkins scientists have found a way to block abnormal cholesterol production, transport and breakdown, successfully preventing the development of atherosclerosis, the main cause of heart attacks and strokes and the number-one cause of death among humans. The condition develops when fat builds inside blood vessels over time and renders them stiff, narrowed and hardened, greatly reducing their ability to feed oxygen-rich blood to the heart muscle and the brain. In a series of experiments, described April 7 in the journal Circulation , the Johns Hopkins team says it identified and halted the action of a single molecular culprit responsible for a range of biological glitches that affect the body’s ability to properly use, transport and purge itself of cholesterol — the fatty substance that accumulates inside vessels and fuels heart disease Continue reading

Regulating legal marijuana could be guided by lessons from alcohol, tobacco, study says

Regulating legal marijuana could be guided by lessons from alcohol, tobacco, study says

As U.S. policymakers consider ways to ease prohibitions on marijuana, the public health approaches used to regulate alcohol and tobacco over the past century may provide valuable lessons, according to new RAND Corporation research. Recent ballot initiatives that legalized marijuana in Colorado and Washington for recreational uses are unprecedented. Continue reading

A protein required for integrity of induced pluripotent stem cells

A protein required for integrity of induced pluripotent stem cells

Cell reprogramming converts specialised cells such as nerve cells or skin cells towards an embryonic stem cell state. This reversal in the evolutionary development of cells also requires a reversal in the biology of telomeres, the structures that protect the ends of chromosomes; whilst under normal conditions telomeres shorten over time, during cell reprogramming they follow the opposite strategy and increase in length. A study published today in the journal Stem Cell Reports , from the Cell Publishing Group, reveals that the SIRT1 protein is needed to lengthen and maintain telomeres during cell reprogramming Continue reading

Researchers rethink ‘natural’ habitat for wildlife

Researchers rethink ‘natural’ habitat for wildlife

Protecting wildlife while feeding a world population predicted to reach 9 billion by 2050 will require a holistic approach to conservation that considers human-altered landscapes such as farmland, according to Stanford researchers. Continue reading

Researchers rethink ‘natural’ habitat for wildlife

Researchers rethink ‘natural’ habitat for wildlife

Protecting wildlife while feeding a world population predicted to reach 9 billion by 2050 will require a holistic approach to conservation that considers human-altered landscapes such as farmland, according to Stanford researchers. Continue reading

Finding turns neuroanatomy on its head: Researchers present new view of myelin

Finding turns neuroanatomy on its head: Researchers present new view of myelin

Harvard neuroscientists have made a discovery that turns 160 years of neuroanatomy on its head. Myelin, the electrical insulating material long known to be essential for the fast transmission of impulses along the axons of nerve cells, is not as ubiquitous as thought, according to a new work lead by Professor Paola Arlotta of the Harvard Stem Cell Institute (HSCI) and the University’s Department of Stem Cell and Regenerative Biology, in collaboration with Professor Jeff Lichtman, of Harvard’s Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology. “Myelin is a relatively recent invention during evolution,” says Arlotta. Continue reading