If you’re overweight, you may be at greater risk for stress-related diseases like type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancer, according to a new study by Brandeis Univ.
It’s long known that psychological stress can trigger biological responses similar to the effects of illness or injury, including inflammation. While normal inflammation is an important part of our body’s healing response, runaway inflammation can contribute to chronic and life-threatening diseases.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2014/09/obesity-stress-pack-double-punch-health
Roasted Peanuts Are More Dangerous than Raw
Dry roasted peanuts are more likely to trigger an allergic reaction than raw peanuts, suggests an Oxford Univ. study involving mice. The researchers say that specific chemical changes caused by the high temperatures of the dry roasting process are recognized by the body’s immune system, “priming” the body to set off an allergic immune response the next time it sees any peanuts.
The results might explain the difference in the number of people with peanut allergies in the Western world compared to populations in East Asia, the researchers say. In the West, where roasted and dry-roasted peanuts are common, there are far more people with peanut allergies than in the East, where peanuts are more often eaten raw, boiled or fried. Numbers of people with other food allergies show no such difference.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2014/09/roasted-peanuts-are-more-dangerous-raw
Blood Test May Help Gauge Psychosis Risk
A study led by Univ. of North Carolina at Chapel Hill researchers represents an important step forward in the accurate diagnosis of people who are experiencing the earliest stages of psychosis.
Psychosis includes hallucinations or delusions that define the development of severe mental disorders such as schizophrenia. Schizophrenia emerges in late adolescence and early adulthood and affects about one in every 100 people. In severe cases, the impact on a young person can be a life compromised, and the burden on family members can be almost as severe.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2014/09/blood-test-may-help-gauge-psychosis-risk
Your Heartbeat Isn’t Steady, and That’s Good
Although the heart beats out a very familiar “lub-dub” pattern that speeds up or slows down as our activity increases or decreases, the pattern itself isn’t as regular as you might think. In fact, the amount of time between heartbeats can vary even at a “constant” heart rate — and that variability, doctors have found, is a good thing.
Reduced heart rate variability (HRV) has been found to be predictive of a number of illnesses, such as congestive heart failure and inflammation. For athletes, a drop in HRV has also been linked to fatigue and overtraining. However, the underlying physiological mechanisms that control HRV — and exactly why this variation is important for good health — are still a bit of a mystery.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2014/09/your-heartbeat-isnt-steady-and-thats-good
Shellfish such as mussels and barnacles secrete very sticky proteins that help them cling to rocks or ship hulls, even underwater. Inspired by these natural adhesives, a team of MIT engineers has designed new materials that could be used to repair ships or help heal wounds and surgical incisions.
To create their new waterproof adhesives, the MIT researchers engineered bacteria to produce a hybrid material that incorporates naturally sticky mussel proteins as well as a bacterial protein found in biofilms — slimy layers formed by bacteria growing on a surface. When combined, these proteins form even stronger underwater adhesives than those secreted by mussels.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2014/09/man-made-proteins-stick-glue-even-underwater
Scientists have found that birds display superior judgment of their body width compared to humans. This discovery came from research intended to help design autonomous aircraft navigation systems.
A Univ. of Queensland (UQ) study has found that budgerigars can fly between gaps almost as narrow as their outstretched wingspan rather than taking evasive measures such as tucking in their wings.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2014/09/birds-know-their-size-more-precisely-humans
Declining Wind May Change Predator-prey Balance
Bent and tossed by the wind, a field of soybean plants presents a challenge for an Asian lady bug on the hunt for aphids. But what if the air — and the soybeans — were still?
Rising temperatures and shifting precipitation patterns may get the lion’s share of our climate change attention, but predators may want to give some thought to wind, according to a Univ. of Wisconsin-Madison zoologist’s study, which is among the first to demonstrate the way “global stilling” may alter predator-prey relationships.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2014/09/declining-wind-may-change-predator-prey-balance
FDA to Tweak Food Safety Rules
The government said Friday it will rewrite sweeping new food safety rules after farmers complained that earlier proposals could hurt business. New proposals by the Food and Drug Administration would make it easier for farmers to meet water quality standards and allow farmers to harvest crops sooner after using raw manure as fertilizer.
The FDA proposed the revised rules Friday, and the final rules are due next fall. The FDA has been haggling over how to write them for four years since Congress passed a food safety law in 2010. Regulators say it has been a challenge to balance the need for tighter food safety standards in the wake of major outbreaks in spinach, eggs, peanuts and cantaloupe along with the needs of farmers who are new to such regulations.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2014/09/fda-tweak-food-safety-rules
Communal Nesting Confuses Paternity, Reduces Infanticide
It is a cruel world out there, particularly for young animals born into social groups where infanticide occurs. This dark side of evolution is revealed when adults – often males – kill offspring to promote their own genes being passed on, by reducing competition for resources or making females become sexually receptive more quickly.
This behavior proves expensive for females, who have evolved strategies to avoid this fate. One strategy is to join forces with other females to physically ward off killer males. A more interesting strategy is to mate with several males, known as “polyandry,” so fathers can’t distinguish their young from others’, which means they avoid killing pups so that they don’t accidently kill their own.
Now, researchers at the Univ. of Zurich have found a new type of infanticide counter-strategy: mothers can achieve paternity confusion even if they don’t mate with multiple males, through nesting with other females, which they call “socially mediated polyandry.” And such a strategy might be happening close to home, in the unassuming house mouse.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2014/09/communal-nesting-confuses-paternity-reduces
Researchers Locate Rat’s Confidence in Brain
Our desire to persist along a chosen path is almost entirely determined by our confidence in the decision: when you are confident that your choice is correct, you are willing to stick it out for a lot longer.
Confidence determines much of our path through life, but what is it? Most people would describe it as an emotion or a feeling. In contrast, scientists at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL) have found that confidence is actually a measureable quantity, and not reserved just for humans. The team, led by CSHL Associate Prof. Adam Kepecs, has identified a brain region in rats whose function is required for the animals to express confidence in their decisions.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2014/09/researchers-locate-rats-confidence-brain
Stress Literally Tears You Apart
Chronic stress can lead to behavioral problems. A team from EPFL’s Brain Mind Institute has discovered an important synaptic mechanism: the activation of a cleaving enzyme, leading to these problems.
Why is it that when people are too stressed they are often grouchy, grumpy, nasty, distracted or forgetful? Researchers from the Brain Mind Institute (BMI) at EPFL have just highlighted a fundamental synaptic mechanism that explains the relationship between chronic stress and the loss of social skills and cognitive impairment. When triggered by stress, an enzyme attacks a synaptic regulatory molecule in the brain.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2014/09/stress-literally-tears-you-apart
Today in Lab History: September 19, 1915- Elizabeth Stern Shankman
Elizabeth Stern Shankman was a Canadian-born American, born Sept. 19, 1915, who was one of the first pathologists to work on the progression of a cell from normality to cancerous. Her breakthrough studies of cervical cancers changed the disease from fatal to one of the most easily diagnosed and treatable. Her studies showed that a normal cell advanced through 250 distinct stages before becoming cancerous and thus is the most easily diagnosed of all cancers.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2012/09/today-lab-history-elizabeth-stern-shankman
Corn Yields Depend on Nutrient Balance
Ensuring that corn absorbs the right balance of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium is crucial to increasing global yields, a Purdue and Kansas State Univ. study finds.
A review of data from more than 150 studies from the U.S. and other regions showed that high yields were linked to production systems in which corn plants took up key nutrients at specific ratios — nitrogen and phosphorus at a ratio of five to one and nitrogen and potassium at a ratio of one to one. These nutrient uptake ratios were associated with high yields regardless of the region where the corn was grown.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2014/09/corn-yields-depend-nutrient-balance
Plant Engineered for Better Photosynthesis
A genetically engineered tobacco plant, developed with two genes from blue-green algae, or cyanobacteria, holds promise for improving the yields of many food crops.
Plants photosynthesize – convert carbon dioxide, water and light into oxygen and sucrose, a sugar used for energy and for building new plant tissue – but cyanobacteria can perform photosynthesis significantly more quickly than many crops can.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2014/09/plant-engineered-better-photosynthesis
Wild Berry Extract May Boost Cancer Drug
A wild berry native to North America may strengthen the effectiveness of a chemotherapy drug commonly used to treat pancreatic cancer, reveals research published online in the Journal of Clinical Pathology.
The study by researchers at King’s College Hospital and the Univ. of Southampton suggests that adding nutraceuticals to chemotherapy cycles may improve the effectiveness of conventional drugs, particularly in hard to treat cancers, such as pancreatic cancer.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2014/09/wild-berry-extract-may-boost-cancer-drug