What We Can Learn from Bees About Aging

This here is a story about bees, notoriously hard workers. Older bees, that is, which go and take on responsibilities usually doled out to the younger, stronger bees. When you look at the effects on the brains of these older bees, a picture emerges that could have huge effects for people. Another health breakthrough for dementia, anyone? Continue reading

The Body’s Protein Cleaning Machine

When Dr. Avram Hershko, 74, a biochemist at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa and a winner of the 2004 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, was recently asked to name the most important fact of his life, he answered: “That I love my six grandchildren. For two, three days every week, I take them to dance class, sport and school. I am completely in their lives.” Continue reading

Include Watercress in Your Diet

Watercress arrests cancer growth as effectively as—if not better than—conventional cancer treatments… without all the side effects.

In September of last year, scientists from the Cancer Research Centre at Southampton General Hospital’s School of Medicine in the U.K. unveiled astounding findings about watercress.

Watercress is a member of the cruciferous (or cabbage) family of vegetables, all of which contain well-known cancer-fighting compounds. Now, this recent study shows that watercress can actually reduce levels of an important growth factor that spurs tumor development.  Essentially, compounds in watercress halt a process called angiogenesis— Continue reading

Time for Enzymes

Health begins with healthy digestion, and healthy digestion depends on enzymes. You need a reliable supply of enzymes to ensure adequate digestion, absorption and use of food nutrients. Enzymes can also protect you against aging, chronic illness, infections, stress and fatigue.

Enzymes are the most exciting of the micronutrients. These specialized proteins enhance vital chemical reactions throughout your body. The actions of enzymes were just starting to be discovered in the 1800s when researchers learned that stomach secretions can digest meat Continue reading

East Asian Mushroom Doubles Life Expectancy of Cancer Patients

There’s hope for liver cancer patients. And it doesn’t come in the form of toxic chemicals or invasive surgery…which kill you before the cancer does.

This remedy is an all-natural compound. It boosts the immune system and can double your survival rate after surgery. And if you don’t have liver cancer, it can keep you from getting it.

Telemedicine, East Asian Mushroom, Life Expectancy, cancer patients,Dr. Suwanna Cowawintaweewat is a molecular researcher at Thammasat University in Thailand. She has a PhD in biomedical sciences.

Dr. Cowawintaweewat recently studied the impact of the compound on advanced liver cancer. The results appeared in the Asian Pacific Journal of Allergy and Immunology.

A Better Solution Continue reading

Scavenger Cells Accomplices to Viruses

Mucosal epithelia are well-protected against pathogenic germs. However, individual viruses, such as the HI virus, still manage to enter the body via the mucous membrane somehow. Cell biologists from the University of Zurich have now identified a new infection mechanism, demonstrating that the viruses use the body’s own scavenger cells for the infection. The new findings are important for cancer-gene therapy and the development of anti-viral medication.

Mucosal epithelia do not have any receptors on the outer membrane for the absorption of viruses like hepatitis C, herpes, the adenovirus or polio, and are thus well-protected against pathogenic germs. However, certain viruses, such as the human immunodeficiency virus HIV, still manage to enter the body via the mucous membrane. Just how this infiltration occurs on a molecular level has been a mystery. Continue reading

Milk from ‘Spider Goats’ Could Produce Ligament Replacement Material

What’s stronger than Kevlar, stretchier than nylon, and a natural material that has long intrigued scientists and engineers because of its potential medical applications? The strongest of the six types of spider silk, referred to as “dragline” silk, is used for outer circles of a web, or for repelling from ceiling to floor.

In the early ‘90s molecular biologist Randolph Lewis and his colleagues at University of Wyoming in Laramie identified the two proteins that make up the strong silk, but the large size of the proteins made the attempts to mass-produce the silk from spiders unsuccessful. Cannibalistic spiders also aren’t the ideal animal to farm commercially for the quantities needed, so the researchers have experimented with inserting the silk-producing genes into the genome of animals including cows, hamsters, and most recently, goats. Continue reading

Salk Scientists Say: It’s not an Apple a Day after all – It’s Strawberries

A recent study from scientists at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies suggests that a strawberry a day (or more accurately, 37 of them) could keep not just one doctor away, but an entire fleet of them, including the neurologist, the endocrinologist, and maybe even the oncologist.

Investigations conducted in the Salk Institute’s Cellular Neurobiology Laboratory (CNL) will appear in the June 27, 2011, issue of PLoS ONE. The report explains that fisetin, a naturally-occurring flavonoid found most abundantly in strawberries and to a lesser extent in other fruits and vegetables, lessens complications of diabetes. Previously, the lab showed that fisetin promoted survival of neurons grown in culture and enhanced memory in healthy mice. That fisetin can target multiple organs strongly suggests that a single drug could be used to mitigate numerous medical complications.

“This manuscript describes for the first time a drug that prevents both kidney and brain complications Continue reading

Study Demonstrates Molecular effects of Meth in Fruit Flies

A new study in fruit flies offers a broad view of the potent and sometimes devastating molecular events that occur throughout the body as a result of methamphetamine exposure.

The study, described in the journal PLoS ONE, tracks changes in the expression of genes and proteins in fruit flies (Drosophila melanogaster) exposed to meth.

Unlike most studies of meth, which focus on the brain, the new analysis looked at molecular changes throughout the body, said University of Illinois entomology professor Barry Pittendrigh, who led the research.

“One of the great things about working with fruit flies is that because they’re small, we  Continue reading

Penguin DNA May Reset the Molecular Clock

(SYDNEY) – Scientists use the “molecular clock”—an estimated rate of DNA mutation—to date key events such as migrations and the divergence of species. But just how accurately the clock keeps time has long been debated. A new study of living and ancient Antarctic penguins, like those on Ross Island at left, suggests that DNA mutates six times faster than predicted. That could mean that some species—such as chimps and humans—could have split off from each other much more recently in time than previously thought. The finding should help improve the dating of relatively recent events, including when people domesticated various crops and animals, and when major human migrations occurred.

To use the molecular clock, scientists estimate the rate of mutation in DNA, estimating that the mutations occur in a steady, clocklike manner. For example, if a gene accumulates changes at a rate of five every 1 million years, 25 mutations in a genetic sequence would mean that the sequences had diverged 5 million years ago. The technique has been used to estimate when humans separated from the other great apes, to estimate the arrival of people in the Americas, and to create evolutionary trees for many species. Molecular clocks are usually calibrated by using the age of a known species from the fossil record. But scientists disagree about the speed or rate at which mutations occur and under what circumstances the rate is influenced by natural selection or other factors.

To see just how accurate molecular dating is, David Lambert, an evolutionary biologist at Griffith University in Queensland, Australia, and colleagues looked at Adélie penguins. These Antarctic birds may be the best species yet for building an accurate clock, the team argues, because scientists can study the genetic sequences of both living and ancient members of the species. The penguins generally return each year to the same nesting ground; thus, each rookery can have layers of bones dating far back in time. Indeed, the birds have nested at some rookeries for 44,000 years. “You can take blood samples from the living penguins and then literally collect the bones of their ancestors” in the ground below, says Lambert, because the penguins usually return to their natal colony to mate. Other studies usually can only compare genes from organisms separated in time by millions of years.

Using modern blood and ancient bone samples, the researchers extracted the entire mitochondrial genome from 12 modern and eight ancient penguins, including two that were dated to 44,000 years ago using radiocarbon methods. They then compared the mitochondrial DNA of the living penguins with the ancient ones to determine the number of mutations that had occurred. Because they had radiocarbon dates for the ages of the ancient penguins, the scientists could accurately measure the bird’s average mutation rate, ultimately calculating that its mitochondrial genome had evolved at a rate two-to-six times faster than previously estimated.

The team’s findings, reported in this month’s issue of Trends in Genetics, support similar results for faster clocks in mitochondrial sequences in cattle. But in this new study, the researchers succeeded in calculating the rate of mutation within almost the entire mitochondrial genome, providing “more conclusive evidence,” for a rapidly ticking clock, says Dee Denver, an evolutionary biologist at Oregon State University in Corvallis and one of the paper’s co-authors. They also focused on a region of the genome that is known to not be influenced by natural selection, they write in the paper. Thus, they say that the resulting clock is not merely a reflection of penguin evolutionary history and can be applied to other species.

“It’s novel and groundbreaking work,” says Mark Hauber, an evolutionary biologist at Hunter College in New York City, who was not affiliated with the study. “It’s a significant discovery,” adds Elizabeth Matisoo-Smith, a biological anthropologist at Otago School of Medical Sciences in Dunedin, New Zealand, who expects it will help resolve several discrepancies between genetic data and the archaeological record, such as the peopling of the Pacific Islands and the Americas. However, the penguins’ rapid clock “should be confirmed on a wide diversity of species” before being adopted as the new standard, says Robert Wayne, an evolutionary geneticist at the University of California, Los Angeles.