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  • December 22, 2010
  • 01:33 PM

Echinacea not as helpful as once thought?

by Science Exploiter in Science Exploits

To anyone shopping at a natural health food store, echinacea will certainly make its way to their 'to buy' list.  Along with the likes of St. John's Wort and fish oil, it has become a staple of the natural health movement.  While previous studies have shown a benefit to the supplement, recent research calls these claims into question.  The study, funded by the NIH and the National Center for Complimentary and Alternative Medicine, found an average duration of sickness of 7.03 days........ Read more »

Bruce Barrett, MD, PhD, Roger Brown, PhD, Dave Rakel, MD, Marlon Mundt, PhD, Kerry Bone, Dip Phyto, Shari Barlow, BA, & Tola Ewers, MS. (2010) Echinacea for Treating the Common Cold, randomized trial. Annals of Internal Medicine, 153(12), 769-777. info:/

  • December 22, 2010
  • 12:41 PM

Am I lactose intolerant?

by Aaron Berdanier in Biological Posteriors

Lactose intolerance is a common condition; 70% of humans experience lactose intolerance worldwide, with abdominal discomfort, bloating, gas, and diarrhea coming from the consumption of dairy products. I have a hunch that I might be lactose intolerant, but I do not know, so I'm going to learn a little bit about lactose intolerance and do a study to assess the correlation between my eating habits and abdominal issues.... Read more »

Burger, J., Kirchner, M., Bramanti, B., Haak, W., & Thomas, M. (2007) Absence of the lactase-persistence-associated allele in early Neolithic Europeans. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 104(10), 3736-3741. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.0607187104  

Swagerty DL Jr, Walling AD, & Klein RM. (2002) Lactose intolerance. American family physician, 65(9), 1845-50. PMID: 12018807  

  • December 22, 2010
  • 12:02 PM

New place, new view, slow reactions and the origins of life

by The Curious Wavefunction in The Curious Wavefunction

I have been unable to blog for the past few days because I was busy moving to Chapel Hill for a postdoc at UNC Chapel Hill. I am very excited about this move and my upcoming research which is going to involve protein design and folding. Regular blogging will resume soon. Until then, happy holidays, and I will leave you with the following interesting paper published by a group from my new institution.One of the abiding puzzles in the origin of life is to explain how life arose in the relatively s........ Read more »

  • December 22, 2010
  • 11:55 AM

Eugene Goldwasser & The Unforeseen Legacy of Epo

by Rob Mitchum in ScienceLife

When Eugene Goldwasser launched the project that would become his life’s work, he thought it would only take a matter of months. Since the early 20th century, biologists had predicted that a hormone they named erythropoietin must exist to promote the production of red blood cells when the body was running low. But in 1955, [...]... Read more »

Goldwasser E. (1996) Erythropoietin: a somewhat personal history. Perspectives in biology and medicine, 40(1), 18-32. PMID: 8946758  

  • December 22, 2010
  • 11:21 AM

Happy Christmas Lectures 2010

by Duncan Hull in O'Really?

As Tom Lehrer once sang on his winterval carol: “Christmas time is here, by golly, Disapproval would be folly, Deck the halls with hunks of holly, Fill the cup and don’t say ‘when.’ Kill the turkeys, ducks and chickens, Mix the punch, drag out the Dickens, Even though the prospect sickens, Brother, here we go [...]... Read more »

  • December 22, 2010
  • 09:27 AM

Reindeer in Britain: ecology, conservation and welfare outside their native range

by davesbrain in Dave Hubble's ecology spot

Known as caribou in North America, reindeer (Rangifer tarandus) were once widespread in Europe reaching as far south as Spain, but are now mainly found in Norway and parts of Russia, in some cases being found wild alongside domesticated herds. Whilst their bones occur frequently in prehistoric middens, the last reliable record in Britain was approximately 8,300 years ago after which they disappeared (later records are uncertain), probably due to climate change, although hunting pressure may have........ Read more »

Hughes, J., Albon, S., Irvine, R., & Woodin, S. (2008) Is there a cost of parasites to caribou?. Parasitology, 136(02), 253-265. DOI: 10.1017/S0031182008005246  

  • December 22, 2010
  • 06:00 AM

Trespassing Viruses Will Be Killed on Contact

by Sharon Neufeldt in I Can Has Science?

It’s the holiday season, which means it’s time to start thinking about the flu! The flu is notoriously tricky to prevent with vaccines, partly because there are so many strains of influenza virus, and each strain is constantly undergoing genetic … Continue reading →... Read more »

Bryan B. Hsu, Sze Yinn Wong, Paula T. Hammond, Jianzhu Chen, and Alexander M. Klibanov. (2010) Mechanism of inactivation of influenza viruses by immobilized hydrophobic polycations. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. info:/10.1073/pnas.1017012108

  • December 21, 2010
  • 11:14 PM

How Strong Are Your Relationships? Drop a Few Mails Into This Analyzer, and Get an Estimate

by David Berreby in Mind Matters

"Most people are other people," Oscar Wilde wrote. "Their thoughts are someone else's opinions, their lives a mimicry, their passions a quotation." You get the feeling, somehow, that he thought this was a bad thing. Seems likelier that it's just an inevitable fact about a species whose members ...Read More
... Read more »

  • December 21, 2010
  • 10:36 PM

Ergot in the Rye

by Matthew DiLeo in The Scientist Gardener

Stopping at the charity field on the way back from pollinating, I noticed a ripening rye cover crop the next field over - and decided to look for my friend, ergot.*

I couldn't believe my luck! There were little black pods sprouting from rye spikes all over the edge of the field. This is a very exciting creature to a plant pathologist - and one that's had quite an impact on European history...

Ergot is a plant disease caused by Claviceps purpurea, a member of one of my favorite fungal families........ Read more »

  • December 21, 2010
  • 05:00 PM

There are two species of African elephant

by Greg Laden in Greg Laden's Blog

Everyone knows that there are two kinds of elephants in this world: Asian and African. The Asian is the only one that can be trained and the African ones live in harmony with their environment until hunters come by and shoot them. Scratch a little deeper, and the African bush elephant lives by destroying its environment and moving on to new areas, where it destroys that environment, cycling back to the original region over generational time; Both African and Asian elephants can be trained; and........ Read more »

  • December 21, 2010
  • 02:38 PM

DNMT3A Mutations in Acute Myeloid Leukemia – an update

by Sally Church in Pharma Strategy Blog

The current New England Journal of Medicine has an in-depth article on DNMT3A Mutations in Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML).   Many of you will remember the discussion on this topic last month based on the two case studies that the … Continue reading →... Read more »

Ley, T., Ding, L., Walter, M., McLellan, M., Lamprecht, T., Larson, D., Kandoth, C., Payton, J., Baty, J., Welch, J.... (2010) Mutations in Acute Myeloid Leukemia . New England Journal of Medicine, 363(25), 2424-2433. DOI: 10.1056/NEJMoa1005143  

  • December 21, 2010
  • 11:17 AM

Is XMRV a laboratory contaminant?

by Vincent Racaniello in virology blog

Since the first observations that the human retrovirus XMRV is associated with prostate cancer and chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), new studies have been carried out to determine the role of the virus in these diseases. The results have been conflicting: XMRV (and related retroviruses) have been found in some patients, but not in others. Whether laboratory contamination [...]... Read more »

Stephane Hue, Eleanor R Gray, Astrid Gall, Aris Katzourakis, Choon Ping Tan, Charlotte J Houldcroft, Stuart McLaren, Deenan Pillay, Andrew Futreal, Jeremy A Garson.... (2010) Disease-associated XMRV sequences are consistent with laboratory contamination. Retrovirology. info:/

  • December 21, 2010
  • 10:09 AM

Pass the Salad, Please: Many Theropods Ate Plants

by Brian Switek in Dinosaur Tracking

Coelurosaurs were one of the strangest groups of dinosaurs. In addition to the famous predators Tyrannosaurus and Velociraptor, the coelurosaurs included the small, fuzzy Sinosauropteryx; “ostrich-mimics” such as Struthiomimus; the long-necked, sickle-clawed giant Therizinosaurus; the tiny, ant-eating Albertonykus; the bird-beaked oviraptorosaurs like Citipati; and birds. Within the past decade, especially, new discoveries have radically changed [...]... Read more »

Yoshitsugu Kobayashi and Jun-Chang Lü. (2003) A new ornithomimid dinosaur with gregarious habits from the Late Cretaceous of China. Acta Palaeontologica Polonica, 48(2), 235-259. info:/

  • December 21, 2010
  • 09:05 AM

Under the mistletoe, coevolution is about s and m

by Jeremy Yoder in Denim and Tweed

Plants and plant products, from sprigs of holly to pine boughs, have been traditional winter holiday decorations since before Christmas became Christmas. Nowadays, if we don't resort to plastic imitations, we deck our halls with garlands from a nursery and a tree from a farm. But seasonal decorations have natural histories apart from mantelpieces and door frames—ecological roles and, yes, coevolutionary interactions with other species.

.flickr-photo { }.flickr-frameright { float: right; text........ Read more »

  • December 21, 2010
  • 05:30 AM

Excitable motility

by Becky in It Takes 30

We’ve talked before about the puzzle of how cells like neutrophils figure out how to follow a shallow gradient of attractive chemicals.  In a recent paper (Xiong et al, 2010.  Cells navigate with a local-excitation, global-inhibition excitable network.  PNAS, PMID 20864631) the Devreotes and Iglesias labs describe a new model of how chemotaxis might work.  [...]... Read more »

Xiong Y, Huang CH, Iglesias PA, & Devreotes PN. (2010) Cells navigate with a local-excitation, global-inhibition-biased excitable network. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 107(40), 17079-86. PMID: 20864631  

  • December 20, 2010
  • 02:56 PM

XMRV - Innocent on All Counts?

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic

A bombshell has just gone off in the continuing debate over XMRV, the virus that may or may not cause chronic fatigue syndrome. Actually, 4 bombshells. A set of papers out today in Retrovirology (1,2,3,4) claim that many previous studies claiming to have found the virus haven't actually been detecting XMRV at all.Here's the rub. XMRV is a retrovirus, a class of bugs that includes HIV. Retroviruses are composed of RNA, but they can insert themselves into the genetic material of host cells as DNA......... Read more »

Robert A Smith. (2010) Contamination of clinical specimens with MLV-encoding nucleic acids: implications for XMRV and other candidate human retroviruses. Retrovirology. info:/10.1186/1742-4690-7-112

  • December 20, 2010
  • 01:31 PM

repost: Megarachne, the giant spider that wasn’t

by Laelaps in Laelaps

Author’s Note: A few weeks ago, over at Dinosaur Tracking, I wrote about a revision to a classic story from Australia’s prehistory printed in Cretaceous Research. Large, three-toed tracks at the 100 million-year-old Lark Quarry tracksite were thought to have been made by a rapacious, predatory dinosaur that frightened a gaggle of smaller dinosaurs into [...]... Read more »

  • December 20, 2010
  • 11:01 AM

The Disease Advantage of Chimpness

by Rob Mitchum in ScienceLife

Within the primate family, relatives are not treated equally by disease. While AIDS, malaria, and cancer kill millions of humans each year around the world, non-human primates largely shrug these diseases off. For example, chimpanzees can be infected with a form of HIV (called Simian Immunodeficiency Virus, or SIV, in their case), but the disease [...]... Read more »

  • December 20, 2010
  • 10:18 AM

The Kem Kem Beds: A Paradise For Predators?

by Brian Switek in Dinosaur Tracking

Ninety-five million years ago, in what is now southeastern Morocco, giant predators ruled the land. The reddish Cretaceous rock of these arid localities—called the Kem Kem Beds—has yielded the remains of the theropods Deltadromeus, Carcharodontosaurus (seen in Mark Hallett’s exquisite painting “Thunder Across the Delta“), Spinosaurus and several other, poorly-known species. In fact, based on [...]... Read more »

  • December 20, 2010
  • 09:11 AM

The flightless Kiwi

by beredim in Strange Animals

Kiwi are flightless birds endemic to New Zealand, in the genus Apteryx and family Apterygidae. The post contains extensive information, images, videos and interesting facts about all 5 surviving species.... Read more »

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