The heart is a dynamic muscle that grows and shrinks in response to stressors such as exercise and disease. The secret to its malleability lies in individual cells, which get bigger or smaller depending on the heart’s needs. A new study of mouse hearts reveals a previously unknown mechanism by which heart cells control their size by ramping up or stopping the production of a key factor called PABPC1. The findings, reported in the journal eLife, could assist in the development of therapeutics that promote healthy heart growth and prevent disease.
Corn better used as food than biofuel, study finds
Corn is grown not only for food, it is also an important renewable energy source. Renewable biofuels can come with hidden economic and environmental issues, and the question of whether corn is better utilized as food or as a biofuel has persisted since ethanol came into use. For the first time, researchers at the University of Illinois have quantified and compared these issues in terms of economics of the entire production system to determine if the benefits of biofuel corn outweigh the costs.
Studies link nutrient, academic achievement in pre-adolescent children
Researchers can look into your eyes to determine whether you’re getting your lutein, a pigment found in green leafy vegetables that is known to accumulate in the brain. Two new studies find that children with higher lutein levels in the eye tend to do better than others on tests of cognition and academic achievement, even after accounting for other factors known to influence academic performance such as IQ, gender, body composition and physical fitness.
Researchers sample a DC swamp to study a spineless creature
Its name is Stygobromus hayi, the Hay’s Spring amphipod. It is spineless. It lacks vision. It is an opportunistic feeder, consuming whatever resources are available – perhaps including the remains of its own kind. Now researchers report on a way to survey this aquatic, subterranean creature without threatening its existence, as other studies had done.
Roughly 115 million years ago, when the ancient supercontinent Gondwana was breaking apart, a mushroom fell into a river and began an improbable journey. Its ultimate fate as a mineralized fossil preserved in limestone in northeast Brazil makes it a scientific wonder, scientists report in the journal PLOS ONE.
New research reveals that a species of giant elephant that lived 1.5 million to 100,000 years ago – ranging across Eurasia before it went extinct – is more closely related to today’s African forest elephant than the forest elephant is to its nearest living relative, the African savanna elephant.
Fred A. Kummerow, successful crusader against trans fats, dies at 102
Fred A. Kummerow, a pioneer in the study of dietary contributors to heart disease who led a decades-long crusade to remove trans fats from the food supply, died Wednesday, May 31, at his home in Urbana, Illinois. He was 102.