Biomedicine & Biotech

While you were out barefoot skiing this summer, we were holding down the fort in steamy Manhattan, defending evidence-based science and medicine and debunking hype. (But we're not complaining; that's what we do!) So, in case you missed it, here are the top 10 most popular articles we published this summer.
Severe droughts can wreak havoc on coastal marshes, which typically provide habitats for many species, like mammals, amphibians and birds. But researchers from the University of Florida suggest one factor that can help these areas recover more quickly is the presence of mussels clumped on the roots of marsh grasses.
When biologists think of evolution, we tend to be biased toward those instances in which an organism gains some new ability, such as when a bacterium acquires a new antibiotic resistance gene. But a new paper warns that this is far too narrow a view. The authors contend that gene loss, and the loss-of-function that generally accompanies it, may play a large and overlooked role in evolution.
A drop in T-cell production may mean that astronauts are at least temporarily immunocompromised by space flight. To those of you who are eager for a trip to Mars, add "immunosuppression" to your list of concerns.
Parasitism evolved at least 223 times, far more than the previous estimate of 60. It arose more times in certain phyla (e.g., arthropods, nematodes, flatworms, and mollusks) than in others. Today, about half of all animal species are parasitic.
Dehydration can be dangerous for the elderly, since their thirst mechanisms and kidneys may not be as well tuned in to the body's status as compared to those of younger people. But the current urine tests don't accurately reflect what's happening in the body, according to a recent study.
Statins, those drugs widely used to lower blood cholesterol levels may have an added benefit for pregnant women. In a small study, researchers have found that women with an increased risk of preeclampsia, and their babies, can benefit from timely treatment with statins.
A colder temperature slows down a viral-infected cell's ability to commit suicide.
NRDC ceaselessly drones on about minute quantities of "endocrine disrupting chemicals" in our bodies. But THC from marijuana affects all sorts of hormonal systems, and you get plenty of it from smoking a joint. Not a word from the group on that. Are they stonewalling?
Nature gives us one incredible surprise after another. If you're a bird lover and have been admiring bluebirds, jays, or barn swallows, you're really seeing a brown bird. Here's how they trick you.
Credit: Shutterstock 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.
For those 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 chemically similar to the active compound in marijuana, and known to generally reduce the activity of neurons -- play a role in how the brain controls this fundamental process.