Biology and Biotech

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By now most folks are aware that the class of drugs called statins can lower levels of blood cholesterol by their action on the liver and thus help prevent heart attacks. But they may be able to do more than that. In addition to their effectiveness lowering cholesterol, statins have anti-inflammatory effects. And a small, new, study demonstrated the efficacy of one statin in preventing the negative consequences of antiphospholipid syndrome (APS...

Last year, a team of researchers led by Ellen Foxman and Akiko Iwasaki of Yale University provided supporting evidence for the popular notion that being in cold weather makes a person more susceptible to catching cold. They showed that mouse cells do not respond well to rhinovirus, a cause of the common cold, when incubated at temperatures lower than normal body temperature. In particular, mouse cells secreted less and were less responsive to interferon-β, a type of antiviral defense molecule. Thus, their research demonstrated a plausible molecular mechanism to explain the phenomenon.

Now, the researchers are back with yet more evidence. This time, they...

NRDC members going to work? Photo credit: hightimes.com

The Natural Resources Defense Council never shuts up about common trace chemicals that it claims will disrupt your endocrine system. But, it is strangely silent when it comes to a REAL disruptor — marijuana.

Are people there just too stoned to notice?

Go to the NRDC website. Search "endocrine disruptors." You will find 103 articles that rant about all the chemicals that they say are screwing with our hormones.

Here are some of the usual suspects: BPA (surprise), a bunch...

I'm a big fan of birds. If you watch them for long enough, you will see more than their colors, sizes and shapes. They also have distinct personalities.

Some of them are also "tricky." They fool you into thinking that they are a beautiful blue color, but this is just an illusion. (More on that later.)

Black-capped chickadees are fearless. They will eat out of your hand if you stand still. Catbirds don't scare easily either, and they are rather inquisitive. If you leave your door open, it is not impossible that you will find a catbird sitting on your kitchen counter. I found this out the hard way. (Getting it out of there was rather challenging.)

Northern Cardinals are both timid and polite. It does not take much more than the sound of a cotton ball falling on a...

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You never think it can happen to you, until it does. I just spent the greater part of this morning being gently ridiculed by my colleagues here at the American Council on Science and Health. Why? One word: Zika.

I was in Jamaica last week to attend the wedding of a dear friend. I’d previously lived there for five years while I was pursuing my medical degree. Since I once lived there, I still consider myself a local when I visit, and like some local people do, my comfort level overruled my judgment. And now I have Zika.

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Life is about navigating the familiar and the unfamiliar. We take comfort in driving home the same way each day while we go on vacation to new places. These are habitual versus goal-oriented behaviors.

For people with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, the unfamiliar can be paralyzing and they need more ritual and routine to offset the chaos of the outside world. A new study examined how endocannabinoids -- natural messengers in the body that are chemically similar to the active compound in marijuana and known to...

Protein Androgen Receptor forms aggregatesthat damage muscle and motor neuron cells in Kennedy's Disease. Credit: B. Eftekharzadeh, IRB BarcelonaProtein Androgen Receptor forms aggregates that damage muscle and motor neuron cells in Kennedy's Disease. Credit: B. Eftekharzadeh, Institute for Research in Biomedicine Barcelona

Kennedy’s disease is a degenerative neuromuscular disease that leads to progressive muscle wastage, affects only men while appearing between 40 and 50 years of age.

In individuals with this disease, muscle cells and motor neurons die over the years because they...

Sharon Stone, Muhammad Ali, Diana Ross at Muhammad Ali's Celebrity Fight Night XIII ,JW Marriott Desert Ridge Resort & Spa, Phoenix, AZ, March 24, 2007 Image ID:181657619 Copyright: Everett Collection Editorial Credit: Everett Collection / Shutterstock.comSharon Stone, Muhammad Ali, Diana Ross at Muhammad Ali's Celebrity Fight Night XIII ,JW Marriott Desert Ridge Resort & Spa, Phoenix, AZ, March 24, 2007. Editorial Credit:...
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After he conquered chess, child prodigy Josh Waitzkin (whose life was featured in the movie Searching for Bobby Fischer) then became a Tai Chi Push Hands world champion, a story that he tells in The Art of Learning. In the book, Waitzkin discusses how he carefully observed his opponents and took advantage of them in brief moments of vulnerability, such as when they blinked. It seems that, perhaps unbeknownst to him, he...

While consumers in the United States have come to embrace the introduction of genetically-modified products, papaya-loving Hawaiians had less of a choice when an agricultural crisis struck the state in the 1990s.

A tiny insect culprit -- the aphid -- endangered the crop, but scientific advances set the stage for the "SunUp" and "Rainbow" papayas, named for their skin color, to become the first commercialized GM fruits in the United States. Even now farmers there flinch when they hear that word, "aphid."

In the 1950s, swarms of these small but formidable bugs swept the Hawaiian island of Oahu -- then the state's major papaya producer. As the aphids fed on the island's papaya fields, they transferred the now infamous "papaya ringspot virus" -- or PRV -- to the plants. When...