Scientists discover genes involved in the life extension of fruit flies

A group of Russian geneticists studied the Drosophila melanogaster, also called “fruit fly,” a model organism widely used in the research world as its genome is very well known and contains genes related to 40% of human diseases.

Moreover other characteristics, like the duration of the life of only a couple of months and the fact that this insect has two sexes, unlike other creatures like the nematodes, push more and more the researchers to use them during the experiments in order then to make correlations with the human beings. It is also the case of this study, published in Scientific Reports, which analyzed the genetic activity of the fruit fly to better understand the biology underlying the aging of its longevity.

Specifically, they used a Drosophila strain bred with the partially suppressed E (z) gene. It is a gene that influences the activity of other genes. The flies with this mutated gene show a considerably longer lifespan than the others and present greater resistance to adverse environmental conditions.

The researchers not only confirmed the positive effect of this mutation that allows fruit flies to extend their lives by 22-23% but they also discovered a positive effect on fertility as Alexey Moskalev, one of the authors of the study, explains: “It is known that in Drosophila, the extension of lifespan induced by mutation is often associated with reduced reproduction. But in our case, we have seen an increase in mutant female fertility in all age groups.”

They then discovered 239 genes involved in the mutation as well as in the midge’s metabolism as the scientist himself explains: “We found that the mutation triggers a global alteration of metabolism. It affects carbohydrate metabolism, lipid metabolism and nucleotide metabolism, as well as the activity of the immune response genes and protein synthesis.”

Important information that could be useful for further research regarding the extension of the life of these flies and in general concerns aging and metabolism linked to human longevity.

Posted in Scientific News | Comments Off on Scientists discover genes involved in the life extension of fruit flies

Mini human liver created in the laboratory to simulate diseases and study them

Miniature cultured human liver labs were created by a group of researchers from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. The “mini livers” could help to simulate the progressions of various liver diseases and therefore to test their therapies.

The researchers transformed genetically modified human skin cells into 3D liver tissue in “stripped” mouse livers of their own cells. Real functional 3D mini livers have therefore blossomed in the laboratory with lots of blood vessels and structural features of a normal human liver.

Researchers have already managed to mimic in particular non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. This condition sees the accumulation of fatty parts in the liver, a condition which in turn leads to very serious diseases such as cirrhosis or liver failure.

This is the first time that genetically modified human “mini livers” are created, as recalled by Alejandro Soto-Gutierrez, professor of pathology in Pittsburgh and senior author of the study. This is an important result because very often the experiments that are carried out on animals, mainly on mice, even if promising, do not turn out to be effective in clinical studies on humans.

This is because, of course, “mice are not human,” as Soto-Gutierrez himself recalls. There are some important differences between us and them, including mutations that predispose us to specific diseases, which is not possible to study in mice.

Posted in Scientific News | Comments Off on Mini human liver created in the laboratory to simulate diseases and study them

Injecting three hormones under the skin causes weight loss in the obese

During some experiments, researchers at Imperial College London noticed a reduction in body weight and glucose levels in obese patients with diabetes in about four weeks. The reduction took place thanks to the injection of a particular mix of hormones.

According to researchers at Imperial College, the procedure known as “gastric bypass,” sometimes very effective for reducing excess weight, is efficient because it causes a greater production of three specific hormones by the cells of the small intestine and colon.

It is a combination of hormones called “GOP” which reduces appetite and causes a loss of weight, also improving the body’s ability to use absorbed sugar in foods, which is very important for diabetics.

Based on this notion, the researchers injected a mix of three hormones into patients: peptide 1 similar to glucagon (GLP-1), oxintomodulin (OXM) and peptide YY (PYY). This combination mimicked the combination of hormones whose increased production occurs after the aforementioned surgery.

Patients received this treatment for four weeks. The injection took place through a special pump that slowly introduced the mix into the body, under the skin, for 12 hours a day. At the same time, patients followed a diet prescribed by a dietitian.

According to Tricia Tan, a professor at Imperial College and the lead author of the study, the results have shown promise and show significant improvements in patient health in just four weeks. The same researcher in the press release adds: “Compared to other methods the treatment is non-invasive and has reduced glucose levels to almost normal levels in our patients.”

The results of the study were published in Diabetes Care.

Posted in Scientific News | Comments Off on Injecting three hormones under the skin causes weight loss in the obese

New fabric allows you to control electronic devices through clothes

A new garment fabric that “allows users to control electronic devices through clothing” was developed by a group of researchers at Purdue University.

The same researchers underline the importance of this study as it is the first time that an efficient technique is shown to create a self-feeding fabric that can contain sensors or even displays using simple embroideries without resorting to the expensive processes that are necessary today to insert electronics or sensors of any kind in clothes, as reported by Ramses Martinez, professor at Purdue and one of the authors of the study which appeared in Advanced Functional Materials.

The fabrics created by Purdue scientists can in fact be resistant to water, and therefore to rain, and can be antibacterial as well as breathable but at the same time they can collect energy from the user himself to feed the electronics embedded in the fabric.

The technology is based on the omniphobic triboelectric nanogenerators (RF-TENG) thanks to which it was possible to incorporate tiny electronic components into the garment.

“It’s like having a wearable remote control that also keeps odors, rain, stains and bacteria away from the user,” the researchers report.

Posted in Scientific News | Comments Off on New fabric allows you to control electronic devices through clothes

Mass of a huge supermassive black hole calculated with precision by astronomers

What happens in a black hole? It is not yet known whether the theories are different. For the moment we have to settle for studying what happens in the “sphere of influence” of a black hole, ie the inner region closest to the “edge” of the black hole itself which is not part of the event horizon, that area beyond the which also the light can no longer leave.

A group of scholars is going to use this with the Aracama Large Millimeter / submillimeter Array (ALMA) to study this specific region of influence of the supermassive black hole located in the center of the galaxy NGC 3258. The latter is an elliptical galaxy that is located at a distance of about 100 million light-years from us.

The researchers determined the “weight” of the supermassive black hole: 2.25 billion solar masses. This is the most massive black hole measured with ALMA and one of the most massive but identified.

Researchers have shown that with this telescope it is possible to “map the rotation of gaseous discs around supermassive black holes with extraordinary details,” as reported by Benjamin Boizelle, a researcher at Texas A&M University as well as the principal author of the study published in the Astrophysical Journal.

Thanks to these “extraordinary details,” they calculated the weight of the black hole with a precision of better than 1%, a measurement that is considered as one of the most precise black hole mass measurements ever made for a black hole beyond outside the Milky Way.

The same data also shows that the speed of rotation of the disk around the black hole ranges from one million miles per hour in the outer edge, located at a distance of about 500 light-years from the black hole, up to three million miles per hour in the most central regions, at a distance of just 65 light-years from the black hole.

Posted in Scientific News | Comments Off on Mass of a huge supermassive black hole calculated with precision by astronomers

Blue sharks use hot water swirls to dive into the depths of the sea and feed themselves

An interesting discovery concerning the behavior of blue sharks was carried out by a research group from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) and the Applied Physics Lab of the University of Washington (UW). According to the researchers, these fish use marine vortices, whirling currents that can be generated underwater, to descend into the corpuscular areas of the sea faster, almost accelerating, in order to feed and capture more prey.

In this oceanic layer, according to the researchers, located between 200 and 1000 meters deep, there is the largest fish biomass of any other marine area. The researchers came to this conclusion using locators attached to the body of a dozen blue sharks off the northeastern coast of the United States. The nine-month monitoring showed the scientists that blue sharks used sea vortices with a particular ability to sling hundreds of feet below the surface.

Here they also spent more than an hour looking for food basically composed of small fish or squid and then returning to the surface to warmer waters. Once heated the own body, they returned to accomplish this movement projecting in depth. These movements occurred mostly during the day, as specified by Camrin Braun, UW ocean ecologist and lead author of the study.

It is a behavior similar to that of white sharks that, unlike the blue sharks, are warm-blooded animals.

White sharks use a combination of hot and cold water eddies to dash into twilight areas while blue sharks, cold-blooded animals, rely exclusively on hot water vortices, as Braun explains: “Blue sharks they cannot regulate their body temperature internally to stay warmer than seawater like white sharks do. We think this is why they show a clear preference for hot water vortices – it removes a thermal constraint for deep dives.”

Posted in Scientific News | Comments Off on Blue sharks use hot water swirls to dive into the depths of the sea and feed themselves

Rising sea levels started in the 60s

According to a study conducted by researchers from the University of Siegen, Germany, sea level rise would have started as early as the 60s of the last century. The study, published in Nature Climate Change, made use of various data relating to phenomena such as coastal tides and data from satellites.

In particular since the early 90s of the last century, satellites around the Earth have begun to measure the sea level with extreme precision, as reported by Sönke Dangendorf, researcher at the German University and principal author of the study, who adds: “So far it has not been clear when this acceleration began, in which region it was started and which processes contributed most to it. The answer to these questions was hampered by the fact that before the advent of satellite altimetry in 1992, our knowledge was based mainly on a few hundred tide gauges that record sea level along the coasts of the world and that our available approaches to reconstructing sea levels globally from these measurements were too inaccurate.”

The new approach, based on data relating to tidal registers and those provided by satellites, shows that the acceleration of sea-level rise began already in the 60s when the level itself began to increase by just under a millimeter per year (60 years), an acceleration that then reached more than 3 mm per year today, as reported by Carling Hay, geophysicist at Boston College and another author of the study.

The researchers also found that most of this level rise comes from the southern hemisphere, particularly from the subtropical southeastern marine areas of Australia and New Zealand. In these regions, this acceleration is even five times greater than the global average.

This differentiation, according to the same researchers, is due to the changing winds strongly influencing sea levels. They move northward from the warm masses of the ocean waters and control the absorption of heat by the underlying ocean, as Dangendorf explains: “When the westerly winds of the southern hemisphere intensify, more heat is pumped from the atmosphere into the ocean, leading to an expansion of the water column and therefore to an increase in the global sea level.”

Posted in Scientific News | Comments Off on Rising sea levels started in the 60s

Chips without fats as tasty as normal ones thanks to a new discovery

French fries, those found at the supermarket, are one of the most popular snacks ever by the public but bad luck has it that they are characterized by a non-negligible fat content.

There are also “modified” versions with a smaller quantity of fats but this characteristic is usually obtained at the expense of the vegetable oil content, an essential element that gives the flavor to the fries themselves and provides that crunching sensation in the mouth so loved.

A group of researchers, led by Stefan Baier (researcher at PepsiCo during the study) and by Jason Stokes of the University of Queensland have therefore developed a technique to analyze the physical characteristics of the chips from the moment they are placed in the mouth until ingestion. Specifically, they analyzed the chips during four phases: the first bite, grinding by the teeth, bolus formation and swallowing.

They then collected various data including the one related to the oil content in each of the four phases. They then used this information to design low-fat chips covered with a thin layer of oil which in turn contained a small amount of emulsifier. This special “Recipe” made the potato chip more similar to the normal one, which is the one with fat, at least according to the participants in the tasting tests.

This potato chip is characterized by only 0.5% more oil than oil or fat-free chips.

Needless to say, this discovery could be used to market fats without fats that have the same taste and the same crunchiness as normal ones.

Posted in Scientific News | Comments Off on Chips without fats as tasty as normal ones thanks to a new discovery