Life Science

Researchers at the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative at Scripps Research Institute have discovered that cows can produce antibodies that effectively neutralize HIV. Thus far, developing an effective vaccine for HIV has been hampered by the ability of the virus to mutate. Some people who have been infected with the virus for a period of years develop antibodies that are…

Dr. Michael Tobler and Dr. Zach Culumber at Kansas State University examined 112 species of live-bearing fish (Poeciliidae) and have made some interesting discoveries about their evolution. Their analyses included information on body shape, fin size, where the species are found and information on global climate. What they discovered is that the evolution of female fish is…

The mitral valve is located between the left atrium and left ventricle of the heart where it serves an important role in preventing backflow of blood into the left atrium as the ventricle contracts. Mitral valve prolapse, a condition that occurs in humans, is characterized by regurgitation of blood into the left atrium, which receives blood from the lungs.…

Dinosaur eating insects!

Giant insects can eat tiny dinosaurs. In this case, the giant insects are praying mantis, and the dinosaurs are hummingbirds and other small birds. In some cases, maybe most cases, this involves small birds like hummingbirds being taken at nectar sites (natural or otherwise) by introduced species of praying mantis in the US. Here’s the…

  Preeclampsia is a serious complication that develops in about 5-8% of pregnant women. It is characterized by elevated blood pressure and is typically accompanied by excess protein in the urine (a sign of kidney problems). Symptoms often (but not always) return to normal after delivery of the baby. Elabela is a recently discovered micropeptide secreted by the placenta in…

Humans are not the only primates that spontaneously develop hypertension. A new study published in the American Journal of Physiology – Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology, examined the development of spontaneous hypertension in African Green Monkeys (Chlorocebus aethiops sabaeus; aka: vervets). The team measured blood pressure in 424 adult monkeys and found that 37% had…

People talk about resurrecting the Mammoth, the Dodo, the Quagga, or the Tasmanian devil, or any number of extinct (or mostly extinct) creatures. I’m all for that. I suggest removing cattle farming in Nebraska, Wyoming, Montana and adjoining areas of Canada, and repopulating the region with extinct megafauna. That would just be cool. There are…

Living a languorous life and occasionally nibbling on a jellyfish has its virtues.

Surfactant is a lipoprotein substance that is secreted by special cells located in the alveoli of our lungs. The alveoli are the grape-like structures where gas exchange happens. Without surfactant, these alveoli would collapse and prevent gas exchange. Babies born prematurely often suffer from respiratory distress syndrome because their lungs do not make enough surfactant. Now…