Genetics & Molecular Biology

Could organs explanted from other mammals save human lives someday? A new study shows that genetically modified pig hearts developed by US and Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitaet (LMU) in Munich researchers can survive for more than up to 2½ years when transplanted into baboons.

The salivary gland secretes saliva that helps us chew and swallow the food we eat while the pancreas secretes digestive juices that enable our bodies to break down the fat, protein, and carbohydrates in the food.

Secretions like these are important in countless activities that keep our bodies running day and night. A new study uncovers a previously mysterious process that makes these secretions possible - and it involves calcium, which is sure to set off a new supplement fad among the Dr. Oz, Mark Hyman, Joe Mercola sect.  

Houston, we have a problem.  Well, you have a problem

The Houston Museum of Natural Science (Twitter: @HMNS) is sponsoring an event that slams science, denigrates technology, and gifts its credibility to a non-scientific movement.

The substance that provides energy to many of the cells in our bodies, Adenosine triphosphate (ATP), may also be able to power the next generation of supercomputers, according to an article in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), which they describe a model of a biological computer that they have created that is able to process information very quickly and accurately using parallel networks in the same way that massive electronic super computers do.

Except that the model bio supercomputer they have created is a whole lot smaller than current supercomputers, uses much less energy, and uses proteins present in all living cells to function.
A study of mutant fruit flies discovered that homosexual behavior in groups can be altered by their environment. Specifically, they have shown that the sexual preferences of male fruit flies with a mutant version of a gene can vary depending on whether the flies are reared in groups or alone.

The neurons that express the fruitless (fru) gene "basically govern the whole aspect of male sexual behavior," explains Tohoku University neurogenetics professor Daisuke Yamamoto. Normal male fruit flies tap the abdomen of a female to get a whiff of her sex pheromones before pursuing her to mate. In contrast, males with a mutant version of the fru gene show no interest in females; instead, they set off in vigorous pursuit of other males.
The most desirable cotton is distinguished by having extra-long staple fibers (Egyptian, Pima) and such cotton commands a price premium. But as the cotton moves around the world, and through the fabric value chain, there is the potential for it to be diluted with or fraudulently replaced with lower price, lower quality materials.

Hijacking a Conference's Credibility

Scientists have developed a new approach that could eventually be used to treat Duchenne muscular dystrophy, using CRISPR/Cas9 to correct genetic mutations that cause the disease.

A genome-wide association study has identified genetic variants associated with being a morning person. The authors identified 15 locations in DNA (loci) associated with "morningness."

Fat is back, at least in some sense. It has just been replaced with polyunsaturated fats in the minds of nutritionists. 

Studies on low-fat, high-carbohydrate diets and the recently popular fad called the Mediterranean diet have shown similar results in weight loss but are mixed when it comes to cholesterol, mostly because nutritional epidemiology relies on people remembering what they ate. To try and augment those, studies are done with animals, and they can provide some guidance but are often misused (what food hasn't been found to be a carcinogen in rats by now?). Still, that is what we have and they can at least provide some guidance on what works best for improved health. Then studies can be done with people.