One million people who have non-body odour gene still use deodorant

Researchers have found that two per cent of the population have a genetic variant that means they do not suffer from under arm body odour yet more three quarters of them continue to use scents.

The ‘cultural norm’ in Britain is to use deodorant every day whether body odour is a problem or not, the researchers said. Where as elsewhere in the world most people with the genetic variant are aware that they do not smell and do not use deodorant, they said.

One million people may be using deodorant needlessly, a study has suggested, as they have a gene that means they do not produce body odour. via One million people who have non-body odour gene still use deodorant: study – Telegraph.


Gut Bugs Could Explain Obesity-Cancer Link

Why does obesity raise the risk of developing cancer? A new study suggests that the wrong mix of gut bacteria could be to blame. Researchers report that obese mice carry altered communities of intestinal bugs, which produce DNA-damaging acid that leave the mice more susceptible to liver cancer. The findings hint that bacteria help drive cancer development and may eventually help scientists better predict and prevent the disease.

Obesity increases the odds of falling victim to certain types of cancer, including colorectal and liver tumors, but scientists haven’t been able to identify the mechanism behind this link. They’ve suspected that our gut microbiota—the complex community of trillions of microbes living in our intestines—play a role. After all, gut bugs have been linked to other diseases, including inflammatory bowel disease, allergies, and even heart disease, and are known to differ between lean and obese individuals.

via Gut Bugs Could Explain Obesity-Cancer Link – ScienceNOW.

Mechanics of Throwing

The ability to throw an object with great speed and accuracy is a uniquely human adaptation, one that Harvard researchers say played a key role in our evolution. In a paper published June 26 in Nature, a research team led by Neil Roach, who recently received his Ph.D. from Harvard, and Daniel Lieberman, the Edwin M. Lerner II Professor of Biological Sciences find that a suite of changes to the human body enabled early humans to throw — a skill that became critical to hunting, and helped our ancestors become part-time carnivores, and which later paved the way for a host of later adaptations, including increases in brain size and migration out of Africa.

Mechanics of Throwing – YouTube.

Migraine study opens door to research into a cure

A major study into the causes of migraine could offer hope for sufferers, experts believe.Scientists at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute say they have identified five regions of DNA containing genes linked to the onset of migraine.Studying these could “open new doors” to understanding the causes, the Cambridgeshire-based team says.About 14% of adults are affected by the condition – usually an intense headache at the front or one side of the head.It is difficult to study because, between episodes, people are otherwise healthy.The team compared DNA samples from more than 100,000 people, including those affected and healthy patients.

Woman in pain

via BBC News – Migraine study opens door to research into a cure.

Geneticist Adam Rutherford: by ‘controlling living systems,’ synthetic biology will change the world

As first books go, Dr. Adam Rutherford probably couldn’t have chosen a vaster topic: an investigation into both the origins of life itself, and the incredible potential of its man-made future. In Creation: How Science is Reinventing Itself, Rutherford offers a historical account of biology’s biggest breakthroughs, before introducing readers to what he perceives as the next one on that list: synthetic biology, loosely defined as the radical engineering of new or novel life forms.

Fortunately for readers, Rutherford is uniquely suited to write such a tome. A geneticist by training, Rutherford contributes regular science columns to The Guardian and recently ended an 11-year stint as an editor at Nature to host a new, weekly BBC show, Inside Science. We caught up with Rutherford, who resides in the UK, to talk about scientists playing God, the Supreme Court’s gene patent ruling… and his love affair with monochromatic clothing.

via Geneticist Adam Rutherford: by ‘controlling living systems,’ synthetic biology will change the world | The Verge.

New implant helps boy hear for first time

The surprise on 3-year-old Grayson Clamp’s face in the video is priceless. His mouth opens wide as he points to the person in front of him speaking.

It was the first time Grayson had heard sound. He was born without a cochlear nerve, which connects the brain stem to audio waves in the outside world. His parents had him fitted for a cochlear implant at a young age, but the device didn’t help.

Last month, Grayson became the first child in the United States to receive an auditory brain stem implant.

Watch this video

via New implant helps boy hear for first time –

Genes Get in Your Eye

Using mouse eyes as a setting for directed evolution, scientists have created a new version of the gene therapy vector adeno-associated virus (AAV) that can deliver genes deep into the retina, according to a paper published online today (June 12) in Science Translational Medicine. Such a vector could improve therapeutic gene delivery to target cells and lead to safer and less invasive gene therapy treatments.

“This is a beautifully planned, executed, and powerfully presented paper,” said Jean Bennett, a professor of ophthalmology at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, who was not involved in the study. “It shows the results of a very clever system to evolve AAV to target cells in the retina efficiently from an intravitreal injection.”

via Genes Get in Your Eye | The Scientist Magazine®.

Study Finds Sharp Drop in HPV Infections in Girls –

The prevalence of dangerous strains of the human papillomavirus — the most common sexually transmitted infection in the United States and a principal cause of cervical cancer — has dropped by half among teenage girls in the last decade, a striking measure of success for a vaccine that was introduced only in 2006, federal health officials said on Wednesday.

via Study Finds Sharp Drop in HPV Infections in Girls –

Image of the Day: HIV

False-colored scanning electron micrograph of HIV particles (yellow) infecting a human H9 T cell (blue, turquoise)

Image of the Day: HIV | The Scientist Magazine®.

Lifespan-Extending Drug Given Late in Life Reverses Age-Related Heart Disease in Mice

Elderly mice suffering from age-related heart disease saw a significant improvement in cardiac function after being treated with the FDA-approved drug rapamycin for just three months. The research, led by a team of scientists at the Buck Institute for Research on Aging, shows how rapamycin impacts mammalian tissues, providing functional insights and possible benefits for a drug that has been shown to extend the lifespan of mice as much as 14 percent. There are implications for human health in the research appearing online in Aging Cell: heart disease is the leading cause of death in the U.S., claiming nearly 600,000 lives per year.

Rapamycin is an immunosuppressant drug which can be used to help prevent organ rejection after transplantation. It is also included in treatment regimens for some cancers. In this study, rapamycin was added to the diets of mice that were 24 months old – the human equivalent of 70 to 75 years of age. Similar to humans,  the aged mice exhibited enlarged hearts, a general thickening of the heart wall and a reduced efficiency in the hearts ability to pump blood.

via Lifespan-Extending Drug Given Late in Life Reverses Age-Related Heart Disease in Mice | The Buck Institute for Research on Aging.

First Fluorescent Protein Identified in a Vertebrate Animal

The Japanese freshwater eel (Anguilla japonica) has more to offer biologists than a tasty sushi snack. Its muscle fibers produce the first fluorescent protein identified in a vertebrate, researchers report in Cell.

Fluorescent proteins are as standard a tool for cell biologists as wrenches are for mechanics. They do not produce light themselves, but glow when illuminated. The 2008 Nobel Prize in Chemistry was awarded for the discovery and development of such molecules, which are used to tag proteins or to track how genes are expressed. The molecules have been engineered to produce light in a variety of hues and brightnesses, but those discovered until now in nature all came from non-vertebrates, mainly microbes, jellyfish, and coralseel

When blue light is shone on it, this eel glows green — and the molecule that lets it do the trick is unlike any other found in living organisms.Image: AKIKO KUMAGAI & ATSUSHI MIYAWAKI

via First Fluorescent Protein Identified in a Vertebrate Animal: Scientific American.

Dad’s Life Stress Exposure Can Affect Offspring Brain

Sperm doesn’t appear to forget anything. Stress felt by dad—whether as a preadolescent or adult—leaves a lasting impression on his sperm that gives sons and daughters a blunted reaction to stress, a response linked to several mental disorders. The findings, published in a new preclinical study in the Journal of Neuroscience by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania, point to a never-before-seen epigenetic link to stress-related diseases such as anxiety and depression passed from father to child.

While environmental challenges, like diet, drug abuse, and chronic stress, felt by mothers during pregnancy have been shown to affect offspring neurodevelopment and increase the risk for certain diseases, dad’s influence on his children are less well understood. The effects of lifelong exposures to dad on children are even more out of reach.

via Dad’s Life Stress Exposure Can Affect Offspring Brain Development | Neuroscience News.

Hepatitis A and B

 This 3D medical animation describes Hepatitis A and B. This animation begins by showing a healthy liver and explaining its function. The animation then goes on to explain the causes of Hepatitis A and B, how these viruses may be transmitted, the effects the virus can have on the liver as well as possible treatments.

via Hepatitis A and B – YouTube.

Mental block: scientists discover a way to alter memory

A series of studies conducted by an Iowa State University research team shows that it is possible to manipulate an existing memory simply by suggesting new or different information. The key is timing and recall of that memory, said Jason Chan, an assistant professor of psychology at Iowa State.

“If you reactivate a memory by retrieving it, that memory becomes susceptible to changes again. And if at that time you give people new contradictory information, that can make the original memory much harder to retrieve later,” Chan said.

One of the major findings from the studies, published in the latest issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, is the impact on declarative memory – a memory that can be consciously recalled and verbally described, such as what you did last weekend. The effects are powerful because people are retrieving memory and then incorporating new information. Chan and Jessica LaPaglia, a graduate student at Iowa State, tested the impact of new information when presented at different time intervals after the retrieval of the original memory.

via Mental block: Iowa State professor discovers way to alter memory – News Service – Iowa State University.

Compulsive no more

By activating a brain circuit that controls compulsive behavior, MIT neuroscientists have shown that they can block a compulsive behavior in mice — a result that could help researchers develop new treatments for diseases such as obsessive-compulsive disorder OCD and Tourette’s syndrome.


MIT neuroscientists used light to control the activity of neurons involved in compulsive behavior.


via Compulsive no more – MIT News Office.

An unforgettable life

In 1953, a young man named Henry Molaison underwent an experimental operation that doctors hoped would control his frequent epileptic seizures. When the surgeon could not locate the origin of Molaison’s seizures, he removed a structure known as the hippocampus from both sides of his brain.

Soon after the surgery, Molaison’s doctors realized that the procedure had had a dramatic and unintended consequence: Molaison could no longer form new memories. This tragic loss for Molaison and his family turned him into one of the most important patients in the history of neuroscience. In fact, his case answered more questions about how memory works than the entire previous century of research, writes Suzanne Corkin, MIT professor of neuroscience emerita, in her new book, “Permanent Present Tense.”

via An unforgettable life – MIT News Office.

A step closer to artificial livers

Prometheus, the mythological figure who stole fire from the gods, was punished for this theft by being bound to a rock. Each day, an eagle swept down and fed on his liver, which then grew back to be eaten again the next day.

Modern scientists know there is a grain of truth to the tale, says MIT engineer Sangeeta Bhatia: The liver can indeed regenerate itself if part of it is removed. However, researchers trying to exploit that ability in hopes of producing artificial liver tissue for transplantation have repeatedly been stymied: Mature liver cells, known as hepatocytes, quickly lose their normal function when removed from the body.

via A step closer to artificial livers – MIT News Office.

Brain makes its own version of Valium

Researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine have found that a naturally occurring protein secreted only in discrete areas of the mammalian brain may act as a Valium-like brake on certain types of epileptic seizures.

The protein is known as diazepam binding inhibitor, or DBI. It calms the rhythms of a key brain circuit and so could prove valuable in developing novel, less side-effect-prone therapies not only for epilepsy but possibly for anxiety and sleep disorders, too. The researchers’ discoveries were published May 30 in Neuron.

“This is one of the most exciting findings we have had in many years,” said John Huguenard, PhD, professor of neurology and neurological sciences and the study’s senior author. “Our results show for the first time that a nucleus deep in the middle of the brain generates a small protein product, or peptide, that acts just like benzodiazepines.” This drug class includes not only the anti-anxiety compound Valium (generic name diazepam), first marketed in 1965, but its predecessor Librium, discovered in 1955, and the more recently developed sleep aid Halcyon.

via Brain makes its own version of Valium, scientists discover- Office of Communications & Public Affairs – Stanford University School of Medicine.