While You Were at the Bench: Week 44

The hole in the ozone layer over Antartica reached its smallest maximal size in the last two decades.  NASA and NOA scientists believe the warmer temperatures in the Antartic this year helped reduce the damage to the ozone layer caused by chlorofluorocarbons.

Researchers have engineered a macromolecule that not only inhibits the IgE-Fc Receptor but also dissociates preformed ligand-receptor complexes. This could lead to a new class of fast-acting medication for acute allergic reactions.

Researchers at Stanford University have created the first all carbon solar cell.  While they acknowledge the efficiency (< 1%) is considerably lower than commercially available photovoltaic solar cells, the carbon-based thin film technique can dramatically reduce the cost associated with solar cells.

We already know that redhead, fair skinned individuals are more susceptible to melanoma caused by ultraviolet radiation.  However, new research in ginger mice suggests redheads might develop melanoma through a mechanism of oxidative damage without exposure to the sun.

Researchers at UC Santa Barbara have discovered that Notch signaling is essential for determining cell fate during embryogenesis in C. elegans.  Blocking this signal could lead to new ways of “growing” replacement organs for humans.

And in an update to a former post, the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) is being delayeddue to a complicated contract process.  The first scheduled energy producing experiments aren’t scheduled until 2027 or 2028.

A great place to go for a run.

Researchers in Montreal have shown that middle-aged, overweight individuals who exercised four days a week for four months not only lost weight, but also improved their cognitive function.  Now, put down that plate of poutine, visit, and hit the gym.

Have a great weekend!

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While You Were at the Bench: Week 41

And the Nobel Goes To…….

Physiology or Medicine: Sir John B.  Gurdon and Shinya Yamanaka for the discovery that mature cells can be reprogrammed to become pluripotent

Chemistry:  Robert J. Lefkowitz and Brian K. Kobilka for studies of G-protein coupled receptors.

Physics:  Serge Haroche and David J. Wineland for ground-breaking experimental methods that enable measuring and manipulation of individual quantum systems.

A big congratulations to all the recipients….now go enjoy that warm, sunny December Swedish weather.

Researcher’s at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts have reported a link between dietary intake of Mercury during pregnancy and increased susceptibility to ADHD in their children.  Sources of Mercury include Tuna, Swordfish, and Shark thus making it difficult for pregnant women to obtain the health benefits of fish without simultaneously increasing levels of environmental toxins to their unborn child.

Doctors at the University of California, San Francisco, implanted human CNS stem cells into four young boys suffering from Pelizaeus-Merzbacher disease; a disease where myelin does not form leading to severe developmental set backs.  A year later, myelination was increased, motor function improved in 3 out of 4 boys, and no signs of tumorigenesis was observed, which paves the way for larger clinical trials to treat this disease.

University of Washington researchers have proposed a concept to contain the million-degree plasma necessary for creating a fusion reaction.  This is a critical component for building the international tokamak nuclear fusion reactor located in Cadarache, France.

Researchers at Weizmann Institute of Science have experimentally observed quantum effects in chemical reactions by merging beams of excited atoms at 0.01 Kelvins.  At these ultra low temperatures, atomic bond formation proceeds faster than expected, which may help to explain interstellar chemical reactions.

The first ever historical evidence of predator behavior in spiders was captured in a 110-million-year-old piece of burmese amber.  Great, I can sleep easier knowing that spiders will never evolve beyond creepy status.

By analyzing mitochondrial DNA from bones of the extinct New Zealand moa, researchers have determined that the half-life of DNA is 521 years.  Scratch “cloned dinosaur” off my Christmas list :(

Have a great weekend.  I’ll be enjoying mine in New Orleans for the Society of Neuroscience annual meeting.  Looking forward to seeing you there.

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