Tag Archives: species

Most common gene mutation in human pigmentation in Mediterranean countries linked to increased skin cancer

This mutation, called "V60L," is at present the most common among people from Mediterranean regions such as Spain, Portugal, Italy and Israel. It is present in about 10-20% of the population, according to the study carried out by researchers at the Universitat Jaume I and the University of the Basque Country performed on over 1,000 individuals from different areas of Spain. …

Explaining cancer to better prevent it

Understanding the disease at source Cancer is the abnormal and disordered production in the body of cells, known as "malignant." During evolution, living beings have put in place natural mechanisms to control this unwanted proliferation and prevent too frequent development of these tumours. Scientists at the Centre for ecological and evolutionary research (Creec) in Montpellier, are studying how natural selection has designed this resistance to cancer in various species. A yet unexplained paradox To understand how the body’s defences are used, scientists have examined a paradox, known as "Peto’s paradox," named after the biologist who discovered it in the 1970’s. The larger an animal, the more cells it has and the greater the risk of contracting a cancer. …

Scientists say new study shows pig health hurt by GMO feed

Pigs fed a diet of only genetically modified grain showed markedly higher stomach inflammation than pigs who dined on conventional feed, according to a new study by a team of Australian scientists and U.S. researchers. The study adds to an intensifying public debate over the impact of genetically modified crops, which are widely used by U.S. and Latin American farmers and in many other countries around the world. The study was published in the June issue of the peer-reviewed Journal of Organic Systems by researchers from Australia who worked with two veterinarians and a farmer in Iowa to study the U.S. pigs. Lead researcher Judy Carman is an epidemiologist and biochemist and director of the Institute of Health and Environmental Research in Adelaide, Australia. The study was conducted over 22.7 weeks using 168 newly weaned pigs in a commercial U.S. piggery. One group of 84 ate a diet that incorporated genetically modified (GM) soy and corn, and the other group of 84 pigs ate an equivalent non-GM diet. The corn and soy feed was obtained from commercial suppliers, the study said, and the pigs were reared under identical housing and feeding conditions. The pigs were then slaughtered roughly five months later and autopsied by veterinarians who were not informed which pigs were fed on the GM diet and which were from the control group. Researchers said there were no differences seen between pigs fed the GM and non-GM diets for feed intake, weight gain, mortality, and routine blood biochemistry measurements. But those pigs that ate the GM diet had a higher rate of severe stomach inflammation - 32 percent of GM-fed pigs compared to 12 percent of non-GM-fed pigs. The inflammation was worse in GM-fed males compared to non-GM fed males by a factor of 4.0, and GM-fed females compared to non-GM-fed females by a factor of 2.2. As well, GM-fed pigs had uteri that were 25 percent heavier than non-GM fed pigs, the study said. The researchers said more long-term animal feeding studies need to be done. Biotech seeds are genetically altered to grow into plants that tolerate treatments of herbicide and resist pests, making producing crops easier for farmers. Some critics have argued for years that the DNA changes made to the transgenic plants engineer novel proteins that can be causing the digestive problems in animals and possibly in humans. The companies that develop these transgenic crops, using DNA from other bacteria and other species, assert they are more than proven safe over their use since 1996. CropLife International, a global federation representing the plant science industry, said more than 150 scientific studies have been done on animals fed biotech crops and to date, there is no scientific evidence of any detrimental impact.source : http://www.foxnews.com/health/2013/06/12/scientists-say-new-study-shows-pig-health-hurt-by-gmo-feed/

Dogs bring swarm of bacteria into your home

Your loyal pooch may be bringing a whole world of bacteria into your home but don't panic. Research suggests that exposure to a wide variety of microbes may be good for us. A new study reveals that homes with dogs have greater bacterial diversity than canine-free dwellings. Dog-related diversity is particularly high on television screens and pillowcases, the researchers found. “When you bring a dog into your house, you are not just bringing a dog, you are also introducing a suite of dog-associated [microbe] taxa directly into your home environment, some of which may have direct or indirect effects on human health,” the researchers wrote today (May 22) in the journal PLOS ONE. [5 Wacky Things That Are Good For You] Microbes around us The microbes in our environment are the subject of increased interest by scientists, thanks to studies revealing how intertwined human lives are with those of the single-celled. Skin microbes, for example, may be key for warding off disease. And the load of microbes living in the human gut may influence everything from immunity to obesity. North Carolina State University biologist Rob Dunn and his colleagues wanted to step back from the body to better understand the microbes in our environment at large. They gave 40 families a home-sampling kit and asked them to swab down nine locations in their houses: a kitchen cutting board, a kitchen counter, a refrigerator shelf, a toilet seat, a pillowcase, a television screen, the main door's exterior handle and the upper trim on both an interior door and on an exterior door. The researchers then examined the microbial DNA from the swabs to detect different families of microscopic tenants living on these surfaces. All told, the 40 homes harbored 7,726 different types of bacteria. The most common were Proteobacteria, Firmicutes and Actinobacteria, all families containing a wide range of species. Types of bacteria tended to differ by location: Kitchen environments (cutting boards, counters and shelves) had similar colonies from home to home, as did frequently touched surfaces (toilet seats, pillowcases, door handles) and rarely cleaned surfaces (door trims and television screens). “This makes sense,” Dunn said in a statement. “Humans have been living in houses for thousands of years, which is sufficient time for organisms to adapt to living in particular parts of houses. We know, for example, that there is a species that only lives in hot-water heaters. We deposit these bacterial hitchhikers in different ways in different places, and they thrive or fail depending on their adaptations.” Bacteria related to human skin were found most frequently on pillowcases and toilet seats as were bacteria commonly found in human feces. Bacteria from leaves and produce were found most often on door trims and also on kitchen surfaces. Bacteria from the soil were found across the home, but were most common on the exterior door trim, the researchers found. Doggie diversity Dunn and his colleagues next looked for variables that would alter bacterial communities from home to home, such as the presence of cats, children, carpet and other factors. The only one they found that made any difference was whether or not the family had a pet dog. Pillowcases and TV screens of dog-owning families had 42 percent and 52 percent more microbial groups, respectively, than pillowcases and TV screens of non-dog-owning families. This extra diversity, unsurprisingly, was made up largely of bacteria known to live on dog fur. (Other factors, such as the level of humidity in a home, could also influence microbe diversity, the researchers wrote, but they were unable to measure those factors in this study.) Dog owners shouldn't ship Fido off to the countryside for fear of nasty bacteria, though. In fact, the family pet may be a boon to health. Previous studies have found that pregnant women who live in homes with dogs are less likely to have children with allergies. Scientists speculate that the reason might be an exposure to greater numbers of microbes that keeps the immune system from turning on the body. “Our study provides evidence to robustly support this assumption,” Dunn and his colleagues wrote. The researchers are planning to process samples from a total of 1,300 homes across the United States to look for geographic differences in microbial roommates. Copyright 2013 LiveScience, a TechMediaNetwork company. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.source : http://www.foxnews.com/health/2013/05/23/dogs-bring-swarm-bacteria-into-your-home/

Swine flu found in elephant seals

The H1N1 virus strain that caused a 2009 swine flu outbreak in humans was detected in northern elephant seals off the coast of central California. Scientists say this is the first time marine mammals have been found to carry the H1N1 flu strain, which originated in pigs. The seals seem to have picked up the virus while at sea, but it's unclear how this happened. “We thought we might find influenza viruses, which have been found before in marine mammals, but we did not expect to find pandemic H1N1,” Tracey Goldstein, an associate professor with the UC Davis One Health Institute and Wildlife Health Center, said in a statement. [10 Deadly Diseases That Hopped Across Species] “H1N1 was circulating in humans in 2009,” Goldstein added. “The seals on land in early 2010 tested negative before they went to sea, but when they returned from sea in spring 2010, they tested positive. So the question is where did it come from?” Contact with humans carrying the virus is unlikely when the elephant seals are at sea, because the creatures spend most of their time looking for food in a remote part of the northeast Pacific Ocean off the continental shelf. Exposure could have occurred through feces dumped out of shipping vessels passing through this area. The researchers noted in their report in the journal PLOS ONE this week that H1N1 has been detected in stool samples of hospital patients. Another possible avenue of transmission might have been contact with aquatic birds, thought to be reservoirs for other flu viruses, the researchers say. Goldstein and colleagues tested nasal swabs from more than 900 Pacific marine mammals from 10 different species from Alaska to California between 2009 and 2011. The elephant seals that were studied had been satellite tagged and tracked so that researchers could tell where they had been before and after they were tested for disease. H1N1 was detected in two northern elephant seals within days of their return to land after they went out to sea to forage for a few months. Antibodies to the virus were found in another 28 elephant seals. None of the seals had any signs of illness, which means marine mammals can be infected with zoonotic pathogens but be asymptomatic, the researchers said. The report recommends that people working with and around marine mammals need to take proper biosafety precautions to prevent exposure to diseases that could be quite harmful in humans, even if they don't cause illness in seals. The new research on marine mammals is part of an effort to understand emerging viruses in animals and people by the Centers of Excellence in Influenza Research and Surveillance program, funded by the National Institutes of Health. “The study of influenza virus infections in unusual hosts, such as elephant seals, is likely to provide us with clues to understand the ability of influenza virus to jump from one host to another and initiate pandemics,” Adolfo Garcia-Sastre, a professor of microbiology, said in a statement. Garcia-Sastre directs of the Global Health and Emerging Pathogens Institute at the Icahn School of Medicine, which collaborated with the team from UC Davis on the study. Copyright 2013 LiveScience, a TechMediaNetwork company. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.source : http://www.foxnews.com/health/2013/05/20/swine-flu-found-in-elephant-seals/

Bacteria-infected mosquitoes may halt malaria

Scientists have infected mosquitoes with a bacteria known as Wolbachia, which sabotages malaria-causing parasites in the bugs, limiting their ability to spread malaria to humans, Science News reported. In the latest study from Michigan State University (MSU), researchers are theorizing that the Wolbachia bacteria would stop the malaria parasite from being spread from an infected bug to a person. Zihyong Xi and his team from MSU injected Wolbachia bacteria into thousands of mosquito embryos that were of the Anopheles stephensi species. In the past, this species has been difficult to infect…