Orchid Helps Insect Get a Grip– White Egret Orchid Evolved Feather-Like Fringe Petal to Support Pollinator Hawkmoth

The wild orchid Habenaria radiata’s pure white petals resemble a white egret in flight (hence its common name white egret orchid). H. radiata has been loved by people since ancient times, but the adaptive significance of the flower’s characteristic jagged shape has been unclear until now. A multi-institutional research group has been working for three years to solve this mystery by conducting field experiments in which the feather-like fringe was removed, and detailed behavioral observations of the orchid’s pollinators.

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Famine & Disease Drove Evolution of Lactose Tolerance in Europe

Prehistoric people in Europe were consuming milk thousands of years before humans evolved the genetic trait allowing us to digest the milk sugar lactose as adults, finds a new study. The research, published on July27, 2022 in Nature, mapped pre-historic patterns of milk use over the last 9,000 years, offering new insights into milk consumption and the evolution of lactose tolerance. The article is titled “Dairying, Diseases and the Evolution of Lactase Persistence In Europe.” Until now, it was widely assumed that lactose tolerance emerged because it allowed people to consume more milk and dairy products. But this new research, led by scientists from the University of Bristol and University College London (UCL) alongside collaborators from 20 other countries, shows that famine and exposure to infectious disease best explains the evolution of our ability to consume milk and other non-fermented dairy products.

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Prehistoric Roots of “Cold Sore” Virus (HSV-1) Traced Through Ancient Herpes DNA; Flourishing of Virus May Have Coincided with Advent of New Cultural Practice Imported from the East: Romantic and Sexual Kissing

Ancient genomes from the herpes virus that commonly causes lip sores–and currently infects some 3.7 billion people globally–have been uncovered and sequenced for the first time by an international team of scientists led by ones at the University of Cambridge. The latest research suggests that the HSV-1 virus strain behind facial herpes as we know it today arose approximately five thousand years ago, in the wake of vast Bronze Age migrations into Europe from the Steppe grasslands of Eurasia, and associated population booms that drove rates of transmission. Herpes has a history stretching back millions of years, and forms of the virus infect species from bats to coral. Despite its contemporary prevalence among humans, however, scientists say that ancient examples of HSV-1 were surprisingly hard to find.

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Novel Drug Promotes Nervous System Repair in Animal Models of Stroke; May Be “Substantial Breakthrough”

Dr. Agnes (Yu) Luo
A ground-breaking new study from University of Cincinnati (UC) scientists and collaborators shows promise that a new drug may help repair damage caused by strokes. Researchers from UC and Case Western Reserve University published the preclinical study in the journal Cell Reports July 26, 2022. The article is titled “Inhibition of CSPG Receptor PTPσ Promotes Migration of Newly Born Neuroblasts, Axonal Sprouting, and Recovery from Stroke.” Currently, there are no FDA-approved drugs to repair the damage caused by a stroke. The study found that a drug called NVG-291-R enables nervous system repair and significant functional recovery in an animal model of severe ischemic stroke. Genetic deletion of the molecular target of the drug also shows similar effect on neural stem cells.  

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Oldest DNA from Domesticated American Horse Lends Credence to Shipwreck Folklore

An abandoned Caribbean colony unearthed centuries after it had been forgotten and a case of mistaken identity in the archaeological record have conspired to rewrite the history of a barrier island off the Virginia and Maryland coasts. These seemingly unrelated threads were woven together when Nicolas Delsol, PhD, a postdoctoral researcher at the Florida Museum of Natural History, set out to analyze ancient DNA recovered from cow bones found in archaeological sites. Dr. Delsol wanted to understand how cattle were domesticated in the Americas, and the genetic information preserved in centuries-old teeth held the answer. But they also held a surprise. “It was a serendipitous finding,” he said. “I was sequencing mitochondrial DNA from fossil cow teeth for my PhD and realized something was very different with one of the specimens when I analyzed the sequences.”

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Extracellular Vesicles and Exosomes Will Be Highlighted During 13th Annual Meeting on Skin Challenges 2022 in November

Endorsed by the International Society of Microbiota (ISM), and headed by Professor Jean Krutmann, IUF–Leibniz Research Institute for Environmental Medicine, Leibniz, Germany, the 13th International Conference on Skin Ageing & Challenges 2022will be held on 16-18 November16-18, 2022 at the Faculty of Pharmacy of the University of Lisbon, Portugal, and online. Skin Aging & Challenges 2022 will discuss the recent advances and therapeutical strategies in skin aging. A special session will be dedicated to Exosomes, Extracellular Vesicles, & Skin Aging. This session aims to point up and clarify the roles of extracellular vesicles in the aging microenvironment and age-related diseases. The therapeutic and anti-aging potential of extracellular vesicles derived from different sources, such as stem cells and commensal bacteria, will also be addressed.

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DNA Recombinations of Repeat Elements Are Widespread in Human Genomes and Are Implicated in Both Development and Disease

Scientists from the RIKEN Center for Integrative Medical Sciences in Japan in collaboration with other researchers from around the world have discovered that recombinations of specific genomic sequences that are repeated millions of times in the genome of each of our cells are pervasively found in both normal and in disease states. Identifying the mechanisms that lead to this myriad of recombinations involving DNA sequences that were once considered as “junk,” may be crucial to understanding how our cells develop and what can make them unhealthy.  

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Researchers Discover Gene That Promotes Muscle Strength During Exercise

Researchers have identified a gene that promotes muscle strength when switched on by physical activity, unlocking the potential for the development of therapeutic treatments to mimic some of the benefits of working out. Published on July 25, 2020 in Cell Metabolism, the University of Melbourne-led study showed how different types of exercise change the molecules in our muscles, resulting in the discovery of the new C18ORF25 gene that is activated with all types of exercise and responsible for promoting muscle strength. Animals without C18ORF25 have poor exercise performance and weaker muscles. The article is titled “Phosphoproteomics of Three Exercise Modalities Identifies Canonical Signaling and C18ORF25 As an AMPK Substrate Regulating Skeletal Muscle Function.”

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Discovering Disease Secrets by Analyzing Exosomes Isolated from Tears

Going to the doctor might make you want to cry, and according to a new study, doctors could someday put those tears to good use. In an ACS Nano article published July 20, 2022, researchers report a nanomembrane system that harvests and purifies tiny vesicles called exosomes from tears, allowing researchers to quickly analyze them for disease biomarkers. Dubbed “iTEARS,” the platform could enable more efficient and less invasive molecular diagnoses for many diseases and conditions, without relying solely on symptoms. The open-access article is titled “Discovering the Secret of Diseases by Incorporated Tear Exosomes Analysis Via Rapid-Isolation System: iTEARS.”

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Unique Origin of Neutrophil’s Chemical Messaging System Involves Nucleus-Derived Exosomes

Neutrophil nucleus with forming buds and exosomes. (Credit: Subhash Arya).

Inside all of us is an army of cells called neutrophils, primed and ready to take out any invader, be it bacteria in a wound or viruses entering our airways. As the first line of defense for the immune system, neutrophils attack and call in reinforcements in a coordinated effort to prevent infection. “Neutrophils are the fastest immune cells in your body, able to migrate one cell length per minute,” said Carole Parent, PhD, of the University of Michigan (U-M) Medical School Department of Pharmacology and Cell and Developmental Biology. The rapid response of neutrophils to a site of invasion is made possible through a chemical messaging system called chemotaxis. New research from Dr. Parent and her colleagues at the U-M Medical School and the U-M Life Sciences Institute explains the precise and surprising way these chemicals are generated.

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