Life Lines

Archives for May, 2012

As a follow up to the blog on heart disease in chimpanzees, a reader asked if chimpanzees ever develop congestive heart failure. The answer is yes, this is a common cause of death in these animals. However, the pathology differs from humans. For humans, heart disease usually results from coronary artery atherosclerosis, which blocks the blood…

On a recent visit to The American Physiological Society’s website, I found this amazing story on regeneration that I thought you might enjoy: This summer’s action film, “The Amazing Spider-Man™,” is another match-up between the superhero and his nemesis the Lizard. Moviegoers and comic book fans alike will recall that the villain, AKA  Dr. Curt Connors,…

The 10 winning images from the inaugural Bio-Art competition hosted by the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB) were announced last week. Here are my favorites:    Closely related species of electric fish with recordings of their electric organ discharge. This organ is used for communication and prey location, similar to echolocation used…

Empathetic Rats?

I find myself wondering why a rat would choose to liberate a cagemate when they have the opportunity to enjoy a goldmine of chocolates if they would just leave the other rat locked up.  Dr. Peggy Mason, a neuroscientist, and psychologists Inbal Ben-Ami Bartal and Jean Decety conducted a study in which they placed pairs of rats…

Slow metabolism = long life

Image: Researcher Hans Roy opening a core sample, photo by Bo Barker Jørgensen, © Science / AAAS I was amazed to find out that there are bacteria in the ocean floor that have metabolisms roughly 10,000 times slower than those living at the surface of the seabed. This extremely slow lifestyle may allow them to…

Heart disease in chimpanzees

Image: Jill Moyse (left) and Maureen Leahy (right) monitoring Keo, a 54-year-old chimpanzee in the Lincoln Park Zoo. (AP Photo/M. Spencer Green) Dr. Kathryn Gamble, the chief veterinarian at the Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago, has been studying heart disease in captive chimpanzees. Over one third of deaths in these animals are related to heart…

Fish respond to fear by secreting chemicals (pheromones) designed to warn other fish of danger. To date, some of the components of this so called “Schreckstoff” (meaning fear stuff) have been identified. These include hypoxanthine-3-N-oxide (H3NO), polysaccharides, oligosaccharides, and glycosaminoglycans (GAGs). Researchers in Singapore have now identified chondroitin sulfate, a complex sugar molecule, as one…

New research at Emory University may be able to provide that information. Researchers Andrew Brooks, Gregory Berns, and Mark Spivak have been studying the brains of dogs using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRIs). What is unique about this work is they have been able to train two dogs, Callie and McKenzie, to enter a fMRI…

Nature’s Cures

Image: PopSci Researchers have been finding treatments for various conditions in what might be considered by many to be the least expected place: venoms. These toxic substances can cause reactions ranging from mildly annoying to deadly depending on the animal. But in small doses or in purified forms, these toxins are just the right medicine…

Congratulations Class of 2012!

Congratulations to all of the graduates of 2012! -Dr. Dolittle