Life Science

What is Biotech?

The biotechnology (biotech) industry is incredibly diverse. Recently, I wrote about the size of the biotech industry, which is, of course, related to how biotechnology is defined. As a strict definition, biotechnology is the use of biology to turn raw materials into useful products. However, the act of developing a biotech product requires many enabling technologies, reagents,…

A new study conducted by Drs. Sara Letzner and Onur Gunturkun (Ruhr-Universitat at Bochum) as well as Dr. Christian Beste (Technische Univeritat at Dresden) shows that pigeons are better than humans when it comes to multitasking. Their findings were published in Current Biology. The findings from the study show that the mammalian cerebral cortex, with all…

The Great Pacific Invasion

When the big tsunami hit Japan in 2011, many objects were washed out to sea. This flotsam provided for a giant “rafting event.” A rafting event is when animals, plants, etc. float across an otherwise uncrossable body of water and end up alive on the other side. With this particular event, I don’t think very…

I just read an interesting paper published in Physiology. Animals periodically undergo periods of food deprivation such as during hibernation, mating, molting and migration. During these period of fasting, they become insulin resistant which helps to preserve glucose stores in the body. In this review, the authors explore the role of the thyroid in regulating…

It wasn’t a mammoth, it was a mastodon. But it was still a big hairy elephant featured at the climax-end of the main exhibit hall in the New York State museum. And it was an exhibit to end all exhibits. The New York State Museum, during its heyday, was world class, and the hall of…

People with diabetes have less sRAGE

  When blood sugar concentrations are elevated, humans run the risk of glucose binding to proteins in the blood and causing the irreversible formation of advanced glycation end products (AGE). Once formed, AGEs can bind to their receptor (RAGE) and stimulate inflammation and oxidative stress. This pathological signaling can be stopped by pieces of the…

Mexican tetra (Astyanax mexicanus) are a fascinating example of divergent evolution. Over time, some of these freshwater river fish washed into caves where they continue to live. With perpetual darkness, these cavefish have lost their ability to see along with their skin pigmentation. Oxygen and food are also hard to come by in the caves.…

Wow. Every person on the planet saw one version or another of this “Octopolis” story and had to send it to me. It was the subject of a Friday Cephalopod a year ago, you know. Apparently, this is the second octopus city discovered, which is interesting — they’re exhibiting more complex social behaviors. However, I…

Through the course of evolution vertebrates have apparently lost their gene-encoded viral defense mechanisms. These ancient defenses allow plants and insects to silence the expression of certain genes by using what is known as RNA interference. This natural defense system can be manipulated to create genetically modified crops that resist certain infections. However, a new…

Friday Cephalopod: we all float down here

Pale, drifting quietly, long grasping arms, cold and anoxic…we all float down here. Yes, I’m going to go see It this evening. It won’t be half as creepy as the reality of the dark deep, though.