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Archive - Sep 29, 2014

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Dolphins Are Attracted to Magnets

Dolphins are indeed sensitive to magnetic stimuli, as they behave differently when swimming near magnetized objects. So say Dr. Dorothee Kremers and her colleagues at the Ethos unit of the Université de Rennes in France, in a study published online on September 30, 2014 in the journal Naturwissenschaften – The Science of Nature. The research, conducted in the delphinarium of Planète Sauvage in France, provides experimental behavioral proof that these marine animals are magnetoreceptive. Magnetoreception implies the ability to perceive a magnetic field. It is supposed to play an important role in how some land and aquatic species orientate and navigate themselves. Some observations of the migration routes of free-ranging cetaceans, such as whales, dolphins, and porpoises, and their stranding sites have suggested that they may also be sensitive to geomagnetic fields. Because experimental evidence in this regard has been lacking, Dr. Kremers and her colleagues set out to study the behavior of six bottlenose dolphins in the delphinarium of Planète Sauvage in Port-Saint-Père. This outdoor facility consists of four pools, covering 2,000 square meters of water surface. The scientists watched the animals’ spontaneous reaction to a barrel containing a strongly magnetized block or a demagnetized one. Except from this characteristic, the blocks were identical in form and density. The barrels were therefore indistinguishable as far as echolocation was concerned, the method by which dolphins locate objects by bouncing sound waves off them. During the experimental sessions, the animals were free to swim in and out of the pool where the barrel was installed. All six dolphins were studied simultaneously, while all group members were free to interact at any time with the barrel during a given session.

Zone in with Zon--Oligonucleotide Therapeutics & Nanomedicine--Feel the Heat!

Dr. Gerald Zon’s latest “Zone in with Zon” blog post, dated September 29, 2014, focuses on nanomedicine and was triggered by consideration of the upcoming Oligonucleotide Therapeutics Society (OTS) annual meeting on October 12-15, 2014 in San Diego, Californiaq and an intriguing scheduled presentation by Professor Weihong Tan—an extraordinarily prolific researcher at the University of Florida—entitled “DNA-based molecular medicine and nanomedicine.” First, Dr. Zon attempts to define nanomedicine, but runs into the problem that multiple different definitions exist in the literature. After considerable research, he comes up with a relevant list of key nanomedicine comments provided in an editorial in the International Journal of Nanomedicine (IJM): (a) “Although defining a term such as nanomedicine may sound simple, by comparing several main funding agencies from around the world, one quickly realizes that a uniform international definition of nanomedicine does not currently exist. This is typical of a new field, but can be problematic to those trying to understand the field, make significant contributions to it, and especially in how the public views nanomedicine.” (b) “[In NIH’s 2006] Roadmap for Medical Research in Nanomedicine, [it] is defined as ‘an offshoot of nanotechnology [that] refers to highly specific medical interventions at the molecular scale for curing disease or repairing damaged tissues, such as bone, muscle, or nerve.’” (c) “[N]anomedicine emerged from nanotechnology which is generally defined by the creation and use of materials at the level of molecules and atoms (sometimes specifically less than 100 nm, other times this dimension is more diffuse and confusing).” Dr. Zon seizes upon this last point, a size-based definition, as being particularly pertinent. Dr.