Category Archives: Science

A study led by researchers at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles demonstrates what lead investigator Bradley Peterson, MD, calls “a critical mass of evidence” of a common underlying lifelong vulnerability in both children and adults who stutter. They discovered that regional cerebral blood flow is reduced in the Broca’s area — the region in the frontal lobe of the brain linked to speech production — in persons who stutter. More severe stuttering is associated with even greater reductions in blood flow to this region.

Scientists at the University of Bonn have shown in mice that excess pounds can simply be melted away by converting unwanted white fat cells into energy-consuming brown slimming cells. Can this interesting approach also be used to combat obesity? In a recent study, the university researchers show why the inflammatory responses that often occur in overweight people block this kind of fat cell conversion. However, there may be a starting point to bypass this inhibition. The results have now been published in the scientific journal Cell Reports.

A new study from the George Washington University’s Center for the Advanced Study of Human Paleobiology (CASHP) found that whereas brain size evolved at different rates for different species, especially during the evolution of Homo, the genus that includes humans, chewing teeth tended to evolve at more similar rates. The finding suggests that our brains and teeth did not evolve in lock step and were likely influenced by different ecological and behavioral factors.

In a survey of almost 2,000 people who said they had had a past negative experience when taking psilocybin-containing “magic mushrooms,” Johns Hopkins researchers say that more than 10 percent believed their worst “bad trip” had put themselves or others in harm’s way, and a substantial majority called their most distressing episode one of the top 10 biggest challenges of their lives. Despite the difficulty, however, most of the respondents still reported the experience to be “meaningful” or “worthwhile,” with half of these positive responses claiming it as one of the top most valuable experiences in their life.

One of the main reasons cancer remains difficult to treat is that cancer cells have developed a multitude of mechanisms that allow them to evade destruction by the immune system. One of these escape mechanisms involves a type of immune cell called myeloid-derived suppressor cells (MDSCs). A recent study led by Sharon Evans, PhD, Professor of Oncology and Immunology at Roswell Park Cancer Institute, provides new insight into how MDSCs enable tumor cells to circumvent immune attack and offer the potential for improving cancer immunotherapy. The research has been published today in the journal eLife.

One of the most profound changes in the life of an organism is what Antonio Giraldez calls “embryonic puberty”: the stage when an early embryo stops taking instructions from its mother on how to develop and activates its own genome to kick out those instructions instead. This critical stage, called the maternal-to-zygote transition, happens in all embryos, from sea anemones to humans. Yet how it is regulated in the embryo is not yet known.