Discovered: What makes a cell turn fat, the stomach organism that makes us fat, cocaine is bad for the brain, and debunking anti-vaccination myths.
- What makes a cell a fat cell. This discovery is exciting for two types of people, fat ones and one college junior Adam Reese, who made the discovery. First, let's talk about the fat people. Looking at a particular membrane of cells, Reese and other researchers at the University of Delaware discovered the protein that regulates the cell's future, determining if it will turn into fat or bone. But, it's also exciting for this kid, a mere undergrad, who blew away his adviser. "I didn't really expect it. I expected the data would be the other way around," said Reese's undergraduate research advisor Nohe. "It's very exciting." If the term college junior doesn't describe to you how young this kid is, maybe this video will. Impressive, right? [University of Delaware]
- A stomach dwelling organism that makes us fat. As long as we're on the obesity train, another group of researchers thinks certain stomach bacteria make humans fat. At least that's what happened when they tested their hypothesis with mice. The mice that received gut bacteria from "obesity prone" animals gained more weight. Lots of questions remain, like, how do we get rid of said organisms? Where do they come from? Is it just luck? Our researchers have some ideas: "First, they theorize that obese individuals, when given the opportunity to overeat, may harbor specific gut microbiota profiles that promote excess weight gain. Second, they propose that differences in gut microbes can be related to behavioral changes and increased food intake. Finally, they believe that the mix of microbiota you have may influence your ability to properly sense and respond to a meal," explains the research. Just some ideas for now. [INRA]
- Cocaine is bad for brains. Of course it is. Things that feel good are bad for us. But, here's exactly how. "As we age, we all lose grey matter," explains researcher Dr. Karen Ersche. “However, what we have seen is that chronic cocaine users lose grey matter at a significantly faster rate, which could be a sign of premature ageing. Our findings therefore provide new insight into why the cognitive deficits typically seen in old age have frequently been observed in middle aged chronic users of cocaine," she continues. So, adjust your cocaine use depending on how you feel about your brain's grey matter. [Molecular Psychiatry]
- How to handle parents who refuse to vaccinate their kids. Some parents, for some reason that neither science nor doctors condone (Michele Bachmann? Autism?), refuse to vaccinate their kids. Doctors do not agree with this, with some even firing families for refusing shots. Hoping to fix this issue, doctors have put out a paper debunking some of these anti-vaccine myths, including: Babies' systems aren't ready for the number of vaccines given today, vaccines can cause autoimmune diseases, and Natural immunity is safer and better -- none of which is true. "We want to offer a user-friendly guide for doctors, but also issue a call to action," explains researcher Gregory Poland. Dr. "We can now show that children have died because of under-vaccination and that diseases have spread needlessly because of this trend," he continues. Listen up, parents, get yours kids vaccinated. [Human Immunology]
Image via Shutterstock by Tisch1.