Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Want to gain weight? Increase your iron level.

At least it works for yeast. As much as we like to believe that humans are unique, even the humble yeast shares many of our genetic pathways.

Drs. Thiele and Geller at Duke University have discovered that if cells are deficient in iron, they respond by shunting the iron from the mitochondria of the cells to other places more critical for life. The cells then make more of their ATP (energy units) from glucose by a much less efficient method -18 times less energy from the same amount of glucose. This can result in lethargy and also poor cognitive development.

A longer summary of this article may be found at Duke scientists show why cells starved of iron burn more glucose

Earlier research by another group showed that at the age of puberty when women begin losing iron due to menstruation, they need to make sure their iron levels are sufficient. This iron anemia seems to be one of the reasons that men overtake women in math ability at that time.

Good news for Parkinson’s Disease!

Autologous adult stem cells were taken from the olfactory nerve in the nose were harvested, multiplied and transplanted into rats which had undergone a surgical procedure which damaged their dopamine-producing neurons on one side of their brains.

Within three weeks, all of the rats showed dramatic improvement in their Parkinson like behaviors. Subsequent tests showed the presence of dopamine in this area of the brain. None of the rats had tumors such as had developed after transplantation with embryonic stem cells.

A longer summary of this article may be found at Adult stem cell findings offer new hope for Parkinson's cure

The original article is from the current issue of the journal Stem Cells.

Monday, June 2, 2008

I'm Proud to Tell You aboutTwo New Novels

Today, a different side of my life. I will continue to post short summaries of some of those science articles which are of particular interest to me, but today, I want to introduce you to my son, John B. Olson, who is not only a scientist (Ph.D. in biochemistry) but is also a gifted writer of fiction. His fourth novel, Fossil Hunter, is now in the book stores.

You have probably heard of the movie, Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed. John wrote Fossil Hunter as a part of that project: to help people understand that Science and religion are not incompatible.

While this mother is bragging, let me tell you about his next book, Shade.

John’s sister and brother and I have been waiting for Melchi and Hailey to come to life for about ten years. Finally it’s happening. Shade will be published this September.

I know of evil in the world, but usually I don’t look in that direction for entertainment. I would not have started reading this book if my son had not written it. But it is so compelling and so well plotted that I dearly love it. There is a clip of it at his web site if you’d like a little preview.