Sweet Serotonin

The Dorsal Raphe Nucleus, or DRN, is an area of the brain located along the midline of the brainstem, which is found towards the back of your brain. The DRN contains the largest number of serotonin-containing neurons, called serotonergic neurons, in the brain. You may recognize serotonin from the drug advertisements on TV, as it is a popular target for treating depression. Unsurprisingly, serotonin is … Continue reading Sweet Serotonin

Biologists and Physicists Work Together to Image Subcellular Interactions Like Never Before

Antibiotics, while life-saving, can also wreak havoc on healthy systems. The drugs work by attacking the protein-synthesizing center (ribosomes) in bacteria. When the ribosomes in human cells are mistaken for bacterial ribosomes, antibiotics can cause a range of side effects from nausea to kidney failure. To understand what conditions cause healthy cells to be attacked, scientists are implementing novel imagining techniques to study interactions between … Continue reading Biologists and Physicists Work Together to Image Subcellular Interactions Like Never Before

Why Mosquitoes Like You The Most

Carrying diseases such as malaria, West Nile virus and yellow fever, a few species of mosquitoes are responsible for more than one million deaths each year. Certain species of mosquitoes actually prefer feeding on humans, and even show preferences between people. A common wives’ tale suggests to kids that mosquitoes prefer sweeter blood (“eat more veggies!”). However, there is no scientific evidence supporting changing your … Continue reading Why Mosquitoes Like You The Most

Zombie genes help eradicate elephant cancer in early stages

Let’s consider a paradox of probabilities. If all cells have the same risk of becoming cancerous, then the likelihood of developing cancer is proportional to the number of cells in an animal. This argument generally holds true for the incidence of cancer and body size for individuals within a given species. However, when comparing across different animal species, there is no constant proportionality between body … Continue reading Zombie genes help eradicate elephant cancer in early stages

Clearing Out the Junk: Healthy lifestyle choices boost brain waste disposal

by Benjamin Andreone figures by Nick Lue An apple a day keeps the doctor away, right? From packing in nutrients with a veggie-rich diet, to keeping off body fat through daily exercise, we have been taught our whole lives that healthy lifestyle choices are good for our bodies.  What has been more mysterious, however, is how these same choices affect our minds. Researchers from the … Continue reading Clearing Out the Junk: Healthy lifestyle choices boost brain waste disposal

World’s first clinical trial to treat Parkinson’s disease with stem cells

Researchers from Kyoto University in Japan started a clinical trial this month to treat Parkinson’s disease with reprogrammed stem cells. This follows the successful restoration of brain cell function in monkeys using these stem cells reported last year. Parkinson’s disease is characterized by the loss of a specific type of neuron in the brain, called dopaminergic neurons, which make the essential neurotransmitter dopamine. The reduced … Continue reading World’s first clinical trial to treat Parkinson’s disease with stem cells

Heat waves hurt your brain: the argument for window AC units

As our planet warms, the effects of heat on the human body will become important information. The human body is capable of dealing with heat, but reprieves are needed to allow our systems to rest, else our bodies become over-stressed. This reprieve often comes in the form of night, when temperatures typically  cool. During heat waves, nights remain toasty, and reprieves only exist for those … Continue reading Heat waves hurt your brain: the argument for window AC units

Less of the Same: Rebooting the antibiotic pipeline

by Francesca Tomasi figures by Aparna Nathan Too Much of a Good Thing? Ninety years ago, Alexander Fleming happened upon the chemical compound penicillin and sparked a medical revolution. It was a serendipitous occasion – Fleming had been growing plates of bacteria in his lab when he noticed some mold growing on one of them. Just some classic contamination, he probably thought, ready to discard … Continue reading Less of the Same: Rebooting the antibiotic pipeline

Bacteria snatch up foreign material using specialized arm-like structures

In order to adapt to their environments, it is important that bacteria be able to mix up their genetic code. One way that bacteria do this is by taking up bits of free-floating foreign DNA that can be released by other kinds of bacteria into their environments when they die. This process is called ‘transformation.’ The pieces of DNA can occasionally encode components that make … Continue reading Bacteria snatch up foreign material using specialized arm-like structures