Stem Cells in Premature Babies’ Urine

A potential new source has been found for stem cells.

Stem cells are the cellular putty from which all tissues in our body are made. They can be hard to come by though. Embryos provide a great source of stem cells that can change into a whole manner of tissues, but they involve the destruction of an embryo.

As noted in the New Scientist article, scientists have been able to find other sources of stem cells at later stages of development, but this may be a better source than any previously found.

Peanut Allergy Prevention Persists Even After a Year of Avoidance

In what is surely good news in regards to peanut allergies, we’re learning that early exposure to peanuts can help prevent later allergic reactions, and this protection persists even after a year of avoiding peanuts.peanut photo

The LEAP-On study was an extension of the ITN’s landmark LEAP Study (Learning Early About Peanut Allergy), which demonstrated that regular peanut consumption begun in early infancy and continued until age 5 reduced the rate of peanut allergy in at-risk infants by 80% compared to non-peanut-consumers. LEAP was the first large, well-controlled study to conclusively show the benefits of early peanut consumption in this population, changing previous notions about peanut allergy prevention.

Photo by EuroMagic

Isopropyl Alcohol Nasal Inhalation for Nausea

I’m rather interested in this trial on Isopropyl Alcohol Nasal Inhalation for Nausea in the emergency department:

Of 84 recruited patients, 80 (95.2%) completed the study. Thirty-seven (46.3%) received nasally inhaled isopropyl alcohol and 43 (53.8%) received nasally inhaled normal saline solution. At 10 minutes postintervention, median nausea verbal numeric response scale score was 3 in the isopropyl alcohol arm versus 6 in the placebo arm, for an effect size of 3 (95% confidence interval 2 to 4).

nausea photo

Photo by Evil Erin

Geckos, Chameleons Preserved in Amber

amber fossils photoA dozen geckos and chameleons have been discovered perfectly preserved in amber from the Cretaceous period:

The lizards, discovered in private amber collections on loan to the American Museum of Natural History and Harvard University, are immaculate and unusually diverse. As such they suggest that major lizard groups were already established at that time. The specimens will now go on display at the Houston Museum of Natural Science.

Photo by Ervins Strauhmanis

Soccer Star Brandi Chastain to Donate Brain to Science

Hoping to help scientists better understand the effects of repeated head trauma, US soccer star Brandi Chastain has stated she will donate her brain to science.

“Hopefully, what can be learned is, can doctors and scientists and neuroscientists look at the brain of someone like me, who has been playing soccer a majority of my life, and really dissect the brain and say, ‘Here’s where we see it beginning?’ Could we then use that information to help say that before the age of 14, it’s not a good idea to head the ball?'” Chastain told USA Today.


The Zika Virus

Scientists have known about the Zika Virus for over half a century:

The virus was first identified in rhesus monkeys in Uganda in 1947, and in humans in 1952 in Uganda and Tanzania. In 2015, Zika outbreaks were confirmed in Brazil and Colombia.

Normally spread by mosquito bite, the virus can also be sexually transmitted. While the virus is most known for flu-like symptoms and conjunctivitis, we now know it can also lead to increased incidence of microcephaly (a smaller than expected head) in fetuses:

Ultrasonographic examination that was performed at 29 weeks of gestation showed the first signs of fetal anomalies, and she was referred to the Department of Perinatology. At that time, she also noticed reduced fetal movements. Ultrasonography that was performed at 32 weeks of gestation confirmed intrauterine growth retardation (estimated third percentile of fetal weight) with normal amniotic fluid, a placenta measuring 3.5 cm in thickness (normal size) with numerous calcifications, a head circumference below the second percentile for gestation (microcephaly), moderate ventriculomegaly, and a transcerebellar diameter below the second percentile.

Because of this increased risk of birth defects, Zika has been declared an international health emergency by the World Health Organization. Pregnant women are being warned against travel to areas where the virus is more common.

Sexy Zombie Frogs

frog photo
Photo by cluczkow

From Science magazine comes news of a fungus which turns frogs into sexy zombies. And what, exactly, does it mean for a frog to be a sexy zombie? Well, “A fungal disease that has killed amphibians worldwide may be spreading by making the mating calls of infected males more attractive to females.”

The fungus, known as Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd), causes disruptions of the immune system, destroys skin, and causes heart failure. And while there is evidence of some frog species adapting to the 40,000 year old fungus, others are being killed off due to lack of defenses. For more details on the fungus and its impact on amphibians, see the full article at Science magazine’s web site.