During one of the first few days of lecture, Professor Latto was talking about getting in the habit of perusing scientific news sites, and mentioned that, "If you want to be really nerdy, you can even make Science Daily your home page." I thought this was an awesome idea! I've really enjoyed keeping up with lots of the latest scientific news this quarter. Here are two of the most interesting things I've read about in the last week.
Newly Discovered Hormone Reduces Obesity and Mimics Effects of Exercise
Recently, scientists at the USC school of Gerontology (the study of aging) discovered a hormone that acts mainly on muscle tissues, restoring insulin sensitivity, fighting weight gain, and promoting metabolic homeostasis. What I thought was most fascinating about this hormone is that it comes from mitochondrial DNA, as opposed to DNA from the nucleus. This is fascinating, as it fundamentally changes scientists’ idea of the role of mitochondria in the human cell. Previously, signaling molecules in the mitochondria were thought to be nuclear-encoded proteins that just reside in the mitochondria, but the discovery of this hormone marks a new class of signaling molecules.
The main authors of the study have said this presents immense potential for new diabetes treatment. Even though the hormone has only been tested on lab mice, the molecular mechanisms underlying its action are seen in all mammals. Obviously there could be unforeseen side effects, but it seems quite promising. Clinical trials with humans are expected to begin within the next few years.
To see the Science Daily article, see http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/03/150303183407.htm and to see the full scientific paper, see http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1550413115000613
Something You’ve Probably Never Thought About While Shaking Someone’s Hand
Have you ever thought about why we shake hands? I sure haven’t, but scientists at Duke University recently discovered a fascinating scientific explanation behind this ancient custom. Humans shake hands to check out each other’s odors through complex chemical signaling. The researchers proved that handshakes transfer body odors by testing gloves of experimenters after handshakes. They then filmed nearly 300 volunteers before and after being greeted by an experimenter, and found that those who shook hands sniffed their hands more than twice as much afterward. However, after the volunteers shook hands with an experimenter of the opposite gender, the increased sniffing was with the left hand (the non-shaking hand). They even measured nasal airflow in the volunteers to prove that the increased movement of hands toward the face wasn’t just random. This blew my mind. The next time you shake someone’s hand remember to think about this!
The Science Daily article can be found at http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/03/150303105922.htm and the scientific paper can be found at http://elifesciences.org/content/4/e05154