Science Friday on the Kellogg brothers - this was a fascinating period with considerable interest in exercise and fitness taking place at the same time. The revival of the Olympics was part of the movement. The show focuses on the Kellogg brothers and John Harvey Kellogg in particular. An odd duck to say the least.
The Swedish biologist Kirsty Spalding and others have found that your fat-storage cells persist for about a decade, which is good news for people who struggle to lose weight. It was long thought that starvation merely deflates fat cells rather than killing them off, leaving them to fill up again like grocery bags when a dieter tires of feeling hungry. But if you can stick to a healthy regimen for long enough, it seems that you can help to stabilize your weight by outliving some of your fat cells.
Your bones and muscles are constantly remodeled. About 3 percent of the dense outermost layers of your skeleton and up to a quarter of the porous bone in the knobby parts of your limb joints are recycled every year, and experts calculate an average life cycle of a decade or so for your skeleton as a whole. The muscle cells between your ribs live for about fifteen years, according to Nicholas Wade, and the collagen cores of your tendons are essentially permanent once they finish developing during your late teens.
But Thomas seemed to be lacking all the Rh antigens. If this suspicion proved correct, it would make his blood type Rhnull – one of the rarest in the world, and a phenomenal discovery for the hospital haematologists.
Rhnull blood was first described in 1961, in an Aboriginal Australian woman. Until then, doctors had assumed that an embryo missing all Rh blood cell antigens would not survive, let alone grow into a normal, thriving adult. By 2010, nearly five decades later, some 43 people with Rhnull blood had been reported worldwide.
Hardly able to believe what she was seeing, Dr Marie-José Stelling, then head of the haematology and immunohaematology laboratory at the University Hospital of Geneva, sent Thomas’ blood for analysis in Amsterdam and then in Paris. The results confirmed her findings: Thomas had Rhnull blood. And with that, he had instantly become infinitely precious to medicine and science.
Researchers seeking to unravel the mysteries of the physiological role of the intriguingly complex Rh system are keen to get hold of Rhnull blood, as it offers the perfect ‘knockout’ system. Rare negative blood is so sought after for research that even though all samples stored in blood banks are anonymised, there have been cases where scientists have tried to track down and approach individual donors directly to ask for blood.
And because Rhnull blood can be considered ‘universal’ blood for anyone with rare blood types within the Rh system, its life-saving capability is enormous. As such, it’s also highly prized by doctors – although it will be given to patients only in extreme circumstances, and after very careful consideration, because it may be nigh on impossible to replace. “It’s the golden blood,” says Dr Thierry Peyrard, the current Director of the National Immunohematology Reference Laboratory in Paris.
"Our findings, for the first time, suggest that males and females respond to high-fat diets differently," said Deborah Clegg of the Cedar-Sinai Diabetes And Obesity Research Institute in Los Angeles. "The data would suggest that is probably 'ok' for females to occasionally have a high-fat meal, where it is not recommended for males.
"The way we treat patients and provide dietary and nutritional advice should be altered. We might be less concerned about an occasional hamburger for women, but for men, we might more strongly encourage avoidance, especially if they have pre-existing diseases such as heart disease or type 2 diabetes."
Earlier data from Clegg's team and others had suggested that inflammation in the brain is tied to overeating, blood sugar imbalances, and increased inflammation in other parts of the body, including fat tissue. Those effects can be triggered, in males in particular, by short-term exposure to a high-fat diet.
The researchers say they were initially shocked to discover that male and female brains differ in their fatty acid composition. When they manipulated male mouse brains to have the fatty acid profile of females, they found that those animals were protected from the ill effects of a diet high in fat.
When males with average male brains entered an inflammatory state after eating diets high in fat, they also suffered from reduced cardiac function in a way that female animals in the study did not. Those sex differences in the brain's response to fat are related to differences between females and males in estrogen and estrogen receptor status.
Now, a team of biologists at Ruhr University Bochum in Germany has found that our skin is bristling with olfactory receptors. “More than 15 of the olfactory receptors that exist in the nose are also found in human skin cells,” said the lead researcher, Dr. Hanns Hatt. Not only that, but exposing one of these receptors (colorfully named OR2AT4) to a synthetic sandalwood odor known as Sandalore sets off a cascade of molecular signals that appears to induce healing in injured tissue.
In a series of human tests, skin abrasions healed 30 percent faster in the presence of Sandalore, a finding the scientists think could lead to cosmetic products for aging skin and to new treatments to promote recovery after physical trauma.
The presence of scent receptors outside the nose may seem odd at first, but as Dr. Hatt and others have observed, odor receptors are among the most evolutionarily ancient chemical sensors in the body, capable of detecting a multitude of compounds, not solely those drifting through the air.
“If you think of olfactory receptors as specialized chemical detectors, instead of as receptors in your nose that detect smell, then it makes a lot of sense for them to be in other places,” said Jennifer Pluznick, an assistant professor of physiology at Johns Hopkins University