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Archive - Jan 22, 2014

Beautiful Life Science Fashion Now Available through Link on BioQuick

BioQuick News has added an exciting new advertiser we would like you to know about. It is “A Slice of Life Scarves” (http://www.asliceoflifescarves.com/), which produces highly artistic fashion products such as scarves and ties that feature images of biological structures observed with light and electron microscopy by their creator, Eve Reaven, Ph.D. Images include such structures as mitochondria, Golgi bodies, the endoplasmic reticulum, hormone secretory granules, actin filaments, and centrioles, all rendered in beautiful artistic patterns by Dr. Reaven. Dr. Reaven earned her Ph.D. in anatomy at the University of Chicago, working in a lab that had one of the first electron microscopes in the United States. Her work over the last several decades has helped elucidate the scavenger receptor pathway responsible for the bulk uptake and utilization of lipoprotein cholesterol by cells. Until her retirement, Dr. Reaven was a career research scientist at the Veteran’s Administration Hospital in Palo Alto, California, and for many years had been a senior research associate in the department of medicine at Stanford University. You can find an ad for “A Slice of Life Scarves” in BioQuick’s right-hand column and if you click on the ad, you will be taken to Dr. Reaven’s site, where you can view her beautiful collection of life science fashion items that are for sale. Once you see these beautiful products we believe you will become a life-time fan of Dr. Reaven’s fabulous work. We also hope that you will be convinced to purchase some of her uniquely magnificent creations. [A Slice of Life Scarves web site]

Some Salamanders Have Unique Torso-Based Jumping Ability, Possible Clue to Engineering Advances

A small, secretive creature with unlikely qualifications for defying gravity may hold the answer to an entirely new way of getting off the ground. Salamanders—or at least several species of the Plethodontidae family—can jump, and humans would like to know a lot more about it. “This particular jump is unique in the world,” said graduate researcher Anthony Hessel, as quoted in a January 21, 2014 press release from Northern Arizona University (NAU). “That’s why I think a lot of people are finding this very interesting.” The NAU student calls the move a “hip-twist jump” that powers a “flat catapult,” describing the biomechanics in language the public can access. But the work has caught the attention of a highly technical crowd. Hessel, who studies muscle physiology and biomechanics, recalled the moment he fully grasped the reach of his findings. An email from a premier journal reached him over the holiday break with the subject line “Science is interested in your work.” The contact arose from his presentation at the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology symposium. There will likely be more who are interested. “It’s a new way to get vertical lift for animals,” Hessel said. “Something that is flat on the ground, that is not pushing directly down on the ground, can still get up in the air. I’d say that hundreds of engineers will now toy with the idea and figure out what cool things can be built from it.” Hessel used high-speed film, a home-built cantilever beam apparatus, some well-established engineering equations, and biomechanical analysis to produce the details of how a slippery little amphibian with short legs can propel itself six to 10 times its body length into the air. The key is that the salamander’s legs don’t provide the push that most creatures would require.

De Novo Schizophrenia Mutations Cluster in Specific Sets of Proteins in Key Brain Pathways

Genetic mutations in people with schizophrenia cluster in specific proteins offering a new window into the disorder, according to a team of scientists from major institutions around the world. In the largest genetic study of its kind, published online on January 22, 2014 in Nature, an international team led by scientists from Cardiff University examined the occurrence of new “de novo” genetic mutations in people with schizophrenia. Their study was entitled, “De Novo Mutations in Schizophrenia Implicate Synaptic Pathways:” lead author: Dr. Menachem Fromer—see link below). Working alongside teams from leading research institutions including the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York, the Broad Institute of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and Harvard and Cambridge Universities, the scientists examined DNA blood samples from 623 schiophrenia sufferers and their parents. The study showed that de novo mutations, which are found in affected individuals, but not their parents, play a role in triggering the disorder but more importantly that they preferentially disrupt specific sets of proteins which have related functions in the brain. These pathways are involved in modulating the strength of connections between nerve cells and play important roles in brain development, learning, memory, and cognition. “We already had evidence from previous work in Cardiff supporting the importance of these pathways but the new findings, together with those from a related study published on the same day in Nature (“A Polygenic Burden of Rare Disruptive Mutations in Schizophrenia;” lead author: Dr.