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Delicious morsels of science, delivered straight to your brainbox.

Stephanie Swift
55 posts

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  • September 1, 2014
  • 08:28 AM
  • 176 views

Tracking the Daily Microbiome

by Stephanie Swift in mmmbitesizescience

Humans are essentially 90% bacteria. These bacteria pepper our skin and hang out in our digestive tracts, helping to break down complex carbohydrates and keeping bad bugs in check. We know how the human microbiome (our collection of bacteria) gets … Continue reading →... Read more »

David LA, Materna AC, Friedman J, Campos-Baptista MI, Blackburn MC, Perrotta A, Erdman SE, & Alm EJ. (2014) Host lifestyle affects human microbiota on daily timescales. Genome biology, 15(7). PMID: 25146375  

  • July 28, 2014
  • 07:45 AM
  • 162 views

Plastic bags responsible for outrageous lack of cute pink piglets

by Stephanie Swift in mmmbitesizescience

Most of us now subscribe to the idea that plastic bags are bad for the environment. Hence, droves of people turn up at their local supermarket with a sturdy jute bag in tow. Now, there’s evidence that the items that … Continue reading →... Read more »

  • June 16, 2014
  • 07:58 AM
  • 240 views

The science behind FIFA’s footballs

by Stephanie Swift in mmmbitesizescience

Lovers and haters of the World Cup alike can’t fail to be amazed by the skills of some professional footballers. Like David Beckham or Cristiano Ronaldo. But while some footballers have been blessed by biology, it’s not just the combined … Continue reading →... Read more »

  • May 5, 2014
  • 08:28 AM
  • 262 views

Watching it Burn: Soil Microbes vs. Wildfires

by Stephanie Swift in mmmbitesizescience

Wildfires can devastate ecosystems across the world. In 2012, over 67,000 wildfires raced across more than 9 million acres of land in the US alone. Fuelled by wind and parched vegetation, wildfires burn through everything in their path: plants don’t … Continue reading →... Read more »

  • April 21, 2014
  • 08:28 AM
  • 313 views

Swimming with Viruses

by Stephanie Swift in mmmbitesizescience

You can find viruses everywhere: in the soil, in the clouds and in animals. According to scientists from the University of Oldenburg in Germany, there are also a ridiculous number of viruses buried at sea, in the sediments of the … Continue reading →... Read more »

  • February 14, 2014
  • 08:07 AM
  • 243 views

More evidence that red wine and aspirin protect against cancer

by Stephanie Swift in mmmbitesizescience

Cancer is a disease of genes. DNA mutations mess with the genetic content of a cell, enabling it to escape the normal controls that restrict their growth. Now, a team of scientists led by Delphine Lissa and Guido Kroemer at … Continue reading →... Read more »

Lissaa, D., Senovillaa, L., Rello-Varona, S., Vitalee, I., Michauda, M., Pietrocola, F., Boilèvea, A., Obrist, F., Bordenave, C, Garcia, P.... (2014) Resveratrol and aspirin eliminate tetraploid cells for anticancer chemoprevention. PNAS. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1318440111  

  • February 3, 2014
  • 08:28 AM
  • 242 views

Bright Night Lights: Tracking Light Pollution from Space

by Stephanie Swift in mmmbitesizescience

The creep and sprawl of artificial urban lighting is probably the most pervasive technological innovation of the 20th century. Keeping track of how artificial light is changing Europe’s nightscape is important, since more light is typically associated with greater economic … Continue reading →... Read more »

  • January 17, 2014
  • 08:28 AM
  • 442 views

Where in the body do our emotions lie?

by Stephanie Swift in mmmbitesizescience

Emotions are strange things, bursting over us as we react to life’s joys and challenges. While they might be thought of as ethereal entities with no fixed form or function, emotions actually produce very tangible physical reactions throughout the body. … Continue reading →... Read more »

Nummenmaa L, Glerean E, Hari R, & Hietanen JK. (2013) Bodily maps of emotions. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. PMID: 24379370  

  • December 23, 2013
  • 08:28 AM
  • 417 views

Antibiotics release death sugars that help bad bugs to grow

by Stephanie Swift in mmmbitesizescience

In the 1940’s, antibiotics were hailed as wonder drugs. “Syphilis is now curable!”, ran the posters. Yet in modern times, several dark sides of these drugs have come to light. The widespread overuse of antibiotic therapy has driven the emergence … Continue reading →... Read more »

Ng KM, Ferreyra JA, Higginbottom SK, Lynch JB, Kashyap PC, Gopinath S, Naidu N, Choudhury B, Weimer BC, Monack DM.... (2013) Microbiota-liberated host sugars facilitate post-antibiotic expansion of enteric pathogens. Nature, 502(7469), 96-9. PMID: 23995682  

  • November 19, 2013
  • 08:28 AM
  • 486 views

Chilly temperatures help cancers grow

by Stephanie Swift in mmmbitesizescience

At low temperatures, the human body has a hard time. As the cold sets in, blood vessels constrict to maintain heat and some body parts – like fingers and toes – begin to suffer. Metabolism ramps up to fight the … Continue reading →... Read more »

Kokolusa, KM, Capitanoa, ML, Leea, CT, Enga, JWL, Waighta, JD, Hylandera, BL, Sexton, S, Hong, CC, Gordon, CJ, Abrams, SI.... (2013) Baseline tumor growth and immune control in laboratory mice are significantly influenced by subthermoneutral housing temperature. PNAS. info:/10.1073/pnas.1304291110

  • November 9, 2013
  • 08:28 AM
  • 255 views

Creepy crawly centipedes are a source of new high-strength painkillers

by Stephanie Swift in mmmbitesizescience

I’m dreading the day I get knocked up, since I know that my incredibly low pain threshold will have trouble dealing with the crazy horror that is childbirth. That’s why I was overjoyed to hear of some new research from … Continue reading →... Read more »

Yang S, Xiao Y, Kang D, Liu J, Li Y, Undheim EA, Klint JK, Rong M, Lai R, & King GF. (2013) Discovery of a selective NaV1.7 inhibitor from centipede venom with analgesic efficacy exceeding morphine in rodent pain models. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 110(43), 17534-9. PMID: 24082113  

  • November 2, 2013
  • 01:01 PM
  • 314 views

Pumping out Petrol with Bioengineered Bugs

by Stephanie Swift in mmmbitesizescience

One of the terribly tricky questions in this ol’ world of ours is how to sustain a species that likes to extract toxic crude oil from the ground and use it in a way that’s disturbingly damaging to the environment … Continue reading →... Read more »

Choi YJ, & Lee SY. (2013) Microbial production of short-chain alkanes. Nature, 502(7472), 571-4. PMID: 24077097  

  • October 19, 2013
  • 09:28 AM
  • 246 views

“Grape-like aromas” keep mosquitoes at bay

by Stephanie Swift in mmmbitesizescience

The mosquito is my dad’s nemesis in the insect world. He will go to extraordinary lengths to secure his person from mosquito attack, roaming the corridors on night patrols and jamming mosquito repellent devices into every possible plug socket. Such … Continue reading →... Read more »

Kain, P, Boyle, SM, Tharadra, SK, Guda, T, Pham, C, Dahanukar, A, & Ray, A. (2013) Odour receptors and neurons for DEET and new insect repellents. Nature. info:/24089210

  • October 5, 2013
  • 09:28 AM
  • 367 views

How to: boost resistance to tuberculosis

by Stephanie Swift in mmmbitesizescience

Most kiddies receive the very effective Bacille Calmette-Guérin (BCG) vaccine against tuberculosis during childhood, but as they grow up, the protection afforded by this vaccine wanes. Since cases of adult TB are on the rise, receiving an immune upgrade would … Continue reading →... Read more »

  • September 7, 2013
  • 08:28 AM
  • 476 views

The fairly depressing picture of pesticide pollution in British rivers

by Stephanie Swift in mmmbitesizescience

Lots of pesticides – such as the organochlorine insecticide, DDT – that were widely used in the fairly recent past are now banned after having serious effects on the health of humans and other species. Yet old and new pollution … Continue reading →... Read more »

Morrissey CA, Stanton DW, Pereira MG, Newton J, Durance I, Tyler CR, & Ormerod SJ. (2013) Eurasian dipper eggs indicate elevated organohalogenated contaminants in urban rivers. Environmental science , 47(15), 8931-9. PMID: 23819781  

  • August 27, 2013
  • 08:28 AM
  • 361 views

Magnificently Mathematical Mussels

by Stephanie Swift in mmmbitesizescience

Despite the ease with which mussels can be cooked and eaten with chips, harvesting these tiny shelled bivalves from the seashore requires a certain amount of industrious prising. That’s because mussels use multiple thin byssus threads to securely fasten themselves … Continue reading →... Read more »

  • August 9, 2013
  • 08:28 AM
  • 568 views

Particle accelerators: making life better since 1932

by Stephanie Swift in mmmbitesizescience

Atoms form the building blocks of everything that exists in the world, holding chairs, rocks, water and our bodies together in strong, stable structures. But atoms themselves are made up of lots of composite parts, called sub-atomic particles. Such particles … Continue reading →... Read more »

  • August 1, 2013
  • 08:28 AM
  • 261 views

A Marvellous Month of Science

by Stephanie Swift in mmmbitesizescience

Taking vitamin supplements might not be as healthy as you think Antioxidant vitamins, like vitamin C and E, are thought to boost health by reducing the creation of DNA-damaging free radicals that can contribute to the ageing process. In lab … Continue reading →... Read more »

Tian X, Azpurua J, Hine C, Vaidya A, Myakishev-Rempel M, Ablaeva J, Mao Z, Nevo E, Gorbunova V, & Seluanov A. (2013) High-molecular-mass hyaluronan mediates the cancer resistance of the naked mole rat. Nature, 499(7458), 346-9. PMID: 23783513  

Amunts K, Lepage C, Borgeat L, Mohlberg H, Dickscheid T, Rousseau MÉ, Bludau S, Bazin PL, Lewis LB, Oros-Peusquens AM.... (2013) BigBrain: an ultrahigh-resolution 3D human brain model. Science (New York, N.Y.), 340(6139), 1472-5. PMID: 23788795  

  • July 19, 2013
  • 08:28 AM
  • 372 views

Clouds of decoy viruses help cure genetic disease

by Stephanie Swift in mmmbitesizescience

The presence of foreign objects, like viruses, in our bloodstream is usually a bad thing. Evolution has created some extremely efficient immune cells that patrol the blood, seeking out material that should not be there, and shutting it down. Sometimes, … Continue reading →... Read more »

Mingozzi, F., Anguela, X.M., Pavani, G., Chen, Y., Davidson, R.J., Hui, D.J., Yazicioglu, M., Elkouby, L., Hinderer, C.J., Faella, A.... (2013) Overcoming Preexisting Humoral Immunity to AAV Using Capsid Decoys. Science Translational Medicine, 5(194). info:/

  • July 17, 2013
  • 08:28 AM
  • 582 views

Gene therapy using stem cells prevents inherited diseases

by Stephanie Swift in mmmbitesizescience

Originally written for The Conversation. Genetic traits like a bulbous nose or balding give some people reasons to moan about what they inherited from their parents. But more serious genetic flaws can cause debilitating disease. Now, Italian researchers have come … Continue reading →... Read more »

Biffi A, Montini E, Lorioli L, Cesani M, Fumagalli F, Plati T, Baldoli C, Martino S, Calabria A, Canale S.... (2013) Lentiviral Hematopoietic Stem Cell Gene Therapy Benefits Metachromatic Leukodystrophy. Science (New York, N.Y.). PMID: 23845948  

Aiuti A, Biasco L, Scaramuzza S, Ferrua F, Cicalese MP, Baricordi C, Dionisio F, Calabria A, Giannelli S, Castiello MC.... (2013) Lentiviral Hematopoietic Stem Cell Gene Therapy in Patients with Wiskott-Aldrich Syndrome. Science (New York, N.Y.). PMID: 23845947  

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