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Full Version: Biology News, Pt. 2
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Please remember that this is about science, and not about philosophy or religion issues. Those who wish to discuss the later two have an entire section devoted to just that.
Isn't science itself a philosophy? Every university I know of offers a course in "Philosophy of Science." Such things as the Scientific Method are rooted in philosophical assumptions that universal constants can be relied on to remain constant, and not change arbitrarily from moment to moment, so that experimental results are repeatable. As a matter of history, the Scientific Method was devised during an era when all scientists were Creationists and believed that God is the One who ordained and maintains all natural laws. This is why they believed the Scientific Method was possible. If we cannot talk about this, then we cannot talk about science, period.

You are just unwilling to entertain alternatives to mainstream thought that you are unable to refute, and therefore try to avoid.
As the fight against cancer continues, we are finding more natural things that can help us combat it.

Does Saffron Fight Cancer? A Plausible Biological Mechanism

Quote:Crocetin: Saffron’s Anti-Cancer Component

New research from a team of scientists based mostly in Italy suggests that saffron -- a spice used in some Asian, Indian, and Mediterranean dishes -- may have an intrinsic ability to fight cancer. Specifically, they examined a component of the spice called crocetin, which they synthesized in their laboratory.

The team found that crocetin could block the proliferation of two types of human cancer (cervical carcinoma and lung carcinoma) cells in a test tube, but it did not inhibit the growth of normal lung cells.

The mechanism of action seems to involve inhibiting an enzyme that is particularly active in cancer cells. By its very nature, cancer cells are hungry for energy and raw materials. To satisfy this need, cancer cells hijack a metabolic process that our cells use when the oxygen supply is low.

During intense exercise, for instance, muscle cells consume more oxygen than the bloodstream can provide. To produce energy under these anaerobic (“oxygen-free”) conditions, muscle cells produce energy through fermentation, which produces lactic acid (“lactate”).

Cancer, too, can switch over to produce lactate. Unlike muscle cells, however, cancer will generate lactate even if oxygen is plentiful. Worse, they use the lactate as a precursor to synthesize biomolecules for making more cancer cells. This hijacking of our fermentative metabolic pathway is known as the Warburg effect.

There might be an Achilles’ heel. An enzyme, called lactate dehydrogenase, is necessary to produce lactate. This enzyme is over-active in cancer cells, and the authors showed that crocetin can inhibit it. That’s why crocetin blocked cancer cells from growing. (It should be noted, though, that some synthetic inhibitors of this enzyme are far more effective than crocetin.)
While genetic engineering may have its positive uses, if not applied with care and foresight, it can have dangerous consequences that may even go beyond humans.

With genetic morph, a weird type of anthrax has emerged—and it’s on a rampage
It’s killing wildlife in African rainforests and may wipe out some chimp populations.

Quote:After getting ahold of the genetic blueprints for molecular weapons, relatively harmless bacteria transformed into one that can cause anthrax—in places and animals where the original anthrax bacteria doesn’t. And it’s wreaking havoc.

Using data collected over a 26-year period, researchers found that this strange version of anthrax is running rampant in tropical rainforest habitats of Sub-Saharan Africa, killing off broad swaths of mammals. In fact, researchers estimated this week in Nature that this "rainforest anthrax" could wipe out chimpanzee populations in the Côte d’Ivoire’s Taï National Park within the next 150 years. It’s currently associated with nearly 40 percent of all chimp deaths there. And researchers are just getting started on understanding risks to humans, which have so far been thought to be low.
Here is something that is guaranteed to drive Islamists epileptic.   S5

New life for pig-to-human transplants: Gene-editing technologies have breathed life into the languishing field of xenotransplantation.

I wonder how many Saudis, or other followers of Islam, would be willing to travel out of country and have their aged hearts/lungs, or livers, replaced with an 'unclean' organ belonging to a pig?  But more importantly, I wonder how many of these people would acknowledge this to other Islamists in their own country?  S13

[Image: pig-organs-graphic-online.jpg]
Here's something I didn't know.

Chiasmocleis ventrimaculata. - "The frog is known to have a mutualistic relationship with the burrowing tarantula Xenesthis immanis.[3] The tarantula provides the frog protection from predators and a food source from insects feeding on the remains of its prey. The frog's foraging protects the tarantula's eggs from ants. This mutualism between microhylids and large spiders is common and occurs in various parts of the world."

[Image: HreVdith.jpg]
We've known for years that ants keep aphids as "pets," virtually farming them. But this about giant tarantulas and tiny frogs is astounding.

If only Frodo had known that all he had to do was disguise himself as a frog to get by Shelob! S5
Tolkien thought about that, but didn't think "Frogo" sounded as good as "Frodo"!
It might have worked just as well if he disguised himself as a toad. Then Tolkien could have named his character Tojo. Banzai, Samwise!
Good news for those who have failed to retain all of their hair over the years. S22

UCLA scientists identify a new way to activate stem cells to make hair grow

Quote:UCLA researchers have discovered a new way to activate the stem cells in the hair follicle to make hair grow. The research, led by scientists Heather Christofk and William Lowry, may lead to new drugs that could promote hair growth for people with baldness or alopecia, which is hair loss associated with such factors as hormonal imbalance, stress, aging or chemotherapy treatment.
Now this is really interesting and entirely doable.  What if you could get certain critters to clean up after us, and be rewarded for their work?  Actually in 2007 a student at NYU wrote a thesis on using crows to do just that.   His idea of using a vending machine, which would accept trash and offer a reward of food to the crow actually makes sense.   Crows are actually very smart, easy to train, and would make good helpers under the right conditions.  

Here's some initial training using a vending machine prototype where crows are taught to drop coins into the machine and reap food.

Crow uses a vending machine #3 “Crow box” “Crow kit"

Well, this idea has been taken up by a pair of entrepreneurs from the Netherlands where cigarette butts are a worse problem there than over here in the US. And their solution is The CrowBar, where crows fly come in, and pick up food as a reward for a delivering a cigarette butt.

Welcome to The Crowbar.

[Image: Screen-Shot-2017-10-06-at-11.40.48-796x567.png]

And here's the training setup:

Quote:The first step presents the crow with food and a butt on a tray in the machine. The food is always there, next to the butt, so the crow learns to come back for more.

The second step takes away the food, and only drops it just after the crow arrives. “So the crow gets used to the machine doing things,” Bob says.

“The third step is crucial,” they tell me. In this step, the food is completely removed, leaving only the butt on the tray. The crow, used to getting food only for being there, will start to nose (beak?) around, eventually knocking the butt off the tray into the butt receptacle. The food drops when that happens.

This step is repeated until the crow learns to associate dropping the butt with getting food.

“The fourth step is the only step where humans are involved. When the crow is comfortable with step 3, a person scatters a couple dozen butts around the machine. Now the crow has to find out it can pick up those butts and deposit them in the machine,” Ruben concludes.

Once the butts around the machine are finished, the crow will go looking for butts in the ‘wild’. And presto; A beautiful machine-animal symbiosis to help out humans with a behavioral problem that’s poisoning the environment.
If only we could get crows to attack smokers. "Nevermore!" screech the crows, as they dive for the smokers' eyes.

Just kidding. S5
Interesting use of the "Skinner Box." During WWII, B. F. Skinner used such a contraption to teach pigeons to steer rockets to a selected target. The whole training was done with no human interaction. Skinner demonstrated the technique with a wheeled bomb that followed the directions of a bird pilot by showing it the picture of one of the Generals in the room. The bomb chased him all around until it trapped him in a corner and the button on the front pressed against his chest. It wasn't rigged to actually explode, but there are reports that the General was too elitist to have listened to the talk preceding the demonstration. He may or may not have peed his pants. The idea never made it into use because that General and others weren't willing to trust the targeting of weapons to a bird. Skinner explained he could do the same thing with many birds so that a majority of them had to agree on their piloting.

The cruelty to animals people didn't even need to get involved.

One drawback to this road-cleaning idea is that we would get many fat birds.
This is one of the best defense mechanisms I have ever seen before.  This caterpillar can mimic a snake when it is in danger.

Stick, Snake or caterpillar?
This could be terrible news for the field of medicine.  Growing immunities to any antibiotic has been coming for several decades now, and likely to get a whole lot worse.

‘Antibiotic apocalypse’: doctors sound alarm over drug resistance.  The terrifying prospect that even routine operations will be impossible to perform has been raised by experts alarmed by the rise of drug-resistant genes

Quote:Scientists attending a recent meeting of the American Society for Microbiology reported they had uncovered a highly disturbing trend. They revealed that bacteria containing a gene known as mcr-1 – which confers resistance to the antibiotic colistin – had spread round the world at an alarming rate since its original discovery 18 months earlier. In one area of China, it was found that 25% of hospital patients now carried the gene.

Colistin is known as the “antibiotic of last resort”. In many parts of the world doctors have turned to its use because patients were no longer responding to any other antimicrobial agent. Now resistance to its use is spreading across the globe.

In the words of England’s chief medical officer, Sally Davies: “The world is facing an antibiotic apocalypse.” Unless action is taken to halt the practices that have allowed antimicrobial resistance to spread and ways are found to develop new types of antibiotics, we could return to the days when routine operations, simple wounds or straightforward infections could pose real threats to life, she warns.
And speaking of drugs, here's one that continual use will produce a positive effect, and help keep cancer away.

An aspirin a day keeps many cancers away, study suggests

Quote:ong-term aspirin use reduces the risk of developing many cancers, a major study has shown.

Chinese researchers followed the progress of more than 600,000 people in the largest study to date looking at the link between cancer and aspirin.

They found that people who had taken the drug every day for an average of seven years were 47 per cent less likely to develop liver or oesophageal cancer and 38 per cent less likely to be diagnosed with gastric cancer.

They were also 34 per cent less likely to develop pancreatic cancer, and had a 24 per cent reduced risk of being diagnosed with colorectal cancer.

"The findings demonstrate that the long-term use of aspirin can reduce the risk of developing many major cancers,” said lead researcher Professor Kelvin Tsoi from the Chinese University of Hong Kong.

"What should be noted is the significance of the results for cancers within the digestive tract, where the reductions in cancer incidence were all very substantial, especially for liver and oesophageal cancer."

Quote:At a glance | Cancer risk reduction with daily aspirin
Cancer Type    Reduced risk
Colorectal            34%
Liver                    47%
Oesophageal    47%
Pancreatic            37%
Gastric            38%
Leukaemia            24%
Lung                    35%
Prostate            14%
Here's some startling information about dogs and children.

Quote:Exposure to Dogs Protects Children from Eczema and Asthma, Study Finds

It turns out that dogs may have more to offer than just excellent companionship. Two studies that were recently presented at the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI) Annual Scientific Meeting found that children exposed to dogs at a young age (even beginning with a mother's exposure during pregnancy) receive protection from allergic eczema as well as asthma.

According to Science Daily, the first study "examined mother-child pairs exposed to a dog. 'Exposure' was defined as keeping one or more dogs indoors for at least one hour daily. 'We found a mother's exposure to dogs before the birth of a child is significantly associated with lower risk of eczema by age 2 years, but this protective effect goes down at age 10,' says allergist Edward M. Zoratti, MD, ACAAI member and a study co-author."

In the second study, children in Baltimore who suffered from asthma were exposed to two different elements from dogs: bacteria that a dog might carry, and the protein, or allergen, that is associated with a dog allergy. The results showed that children with asthma receive a protective effect from non-allergen exposure to dogs, but experience a harmful effect from the allergen on dogs.

It is important for people with allergies to dogs to limit their exposure to the animal, such as keeping the pet out of the bedroom, bathing him at least once per week, and washing hands often. But for those who are not allergic to dogs, man's best friend offers more than just protection from burglars — he can offer protection from eczema and asthma as well.

[Image: des-photos-trop-mignonnes-d-un-b%C3%A9b%...son-09.jpg]
For those of you, who believe that the Yeti(Bigfoot) does exist, the answer may be less mysterious than previously thought.

Are the Yeti Just a Bunch of Bears? Genetics Says "Yes."
Now this is worth paying attention.

Oral sex is causing an oral cancer epidemic in men by outwitting natural defenses

Quote:HPV-related tumors, in contrast, have increased more than 300 percent over the last 20 years. The virus is now found in 70 percent of all new oral cancers.

About 13,200 new HPV oral cancers are diagnosed in U.S. men each year, compared with 3,200 in women, according to federal data. Treatment – surgery, chemotherapy, radiation – can have disfiguring, disabling side effects. About half of late-stage patients die within five years.

Oral HPV infection rates are skewed by gender, just like the resulting cancers. The latest national estimates of this disparity, published in October, come from Deshmukh and his University of Florida colleagues. They used a federal health survey that collected DNA specimens to estimate that 7.3 percent of men and 1.4 percent of women have oral infections with high-risk HPV types. That translates to 7 million men and 1.4 million women.

The chance of oral infection increases for women as well as men who have simultaneous genital HPV infections or a history of many sex partners, but male infection rates still far surpass female rates.

Human Papillomavirus | HPV | Nucleus Health

A good friend of mine, who would screw pile of rocks if he thought there was a snake in there, got HPV oral cancer. The radiation treatments have turned his throat as hard as a rock, he has a difficult time swallowing certain foods. He's nearly choked to death several times.
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