"It is true, and thus the question of whether it is sad or happy has no meaning whatever."
Bernhard Schlink

Science is best when discussed: leave your thoughts and ideas in the comments!!

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Growing Up 

University of Florida researchers have found a way to generate brain cells in culture. This has been something of a 'holy grail' in neuroscience for some time, and its implications could be fantastic: effective treatments for neurodegenerative conditions, such as Alzheimers, Parkinsons, and Schizophrenia would remove a ginormous burden from many people and the health care system in general. The researchers found that brain cells develop from adult stem cells by a process very similar to hemapoiesis, which is a fascinating (if not totally surprising) tidbit.

Japanese researchers have found that children of mothers who were underfed during pregnancy are, somewhat ironically, more prone to obesity. The process is mediated by a larger, earlier spike in the levels of our old friend Leptin, leading to what appears to be a propensity of the offspring's body to conserve energy (i.e., store fat). Judging by my mother's stories about eating ice cream and pickles while pregnant with me, I feel pretty safe that I'm not at risk. The pickles may explain my propensity towards a few other things, though...

More bad news for obesity sufferers today: fat seems to accelerate cellular aging. As measured by telomere length (a metric in which I am not entirely confident) , being overweight corresponded to an additional 8.8 years of aging. The link was even stronger with Leptin levels, a truly intriguing find, and a stern warning for Leptin-based drug makers.

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