Atkins-style diet bad for women trying to conceive

A moderately high protein diet could reduce a woman’s chances of becoming pregnant, according to new research presented at the 20th annual conference of the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology on Monday 28 June. Researchers from the USA have found that a diet containing 25% protein disrupted the normal genetic imprinting pattern in mice embryos at a very early stage in their development. The diet also adversely affected subsequent embryo implantation in the womb and foetal development.

Noah’s modern ark: The role of ART in conserving endangered species

Killer whales, giant pandas, cheetahs and black-footed ferrets are just some of the endangered species that are benefiting from advances in reproductive technology, the 20th annual conference of the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology will hear today. But, whereas in humans the focus of assisted reproductive technology (ART) is on producing a baby, amongst wildlife conservationists the focus is on the much more basic aim of simply understanding the fundamentals of reproduction in different species.

Kaposi’s sarcoma virus ‘reprograms’ blood vessel cells

Blood-vessel-lining cells that are infected with the virus that causes the skin tumor Kaposi’s sarcoma (KS) appear to transform into the type of cells that usually line lymphatic vessels. The report from researchers at the Cutaneous Biology Research Center (CBRC) at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) will appear in an upcoming issue of Nature Genetics and is being released online today.

Triple therapy fights type 2 diabetes without weight gain

Type 2 diabetics who take two drugs in combination with insulin can effectively regulate their blood-sugar levels without the common side effect of weight gain, according to a new study by researchers. It’s the first study to analyze the safety and effectiveness of triple therapy using insulin, metformin and a drug in the thiazolidinedione family.

Docs find treatment for intractable hiccups

Dr. Bryan R. Payne, and Dr. Robert Tiel, neurosurgeons at LSU Health Sciences Center in New Orleans have discovered a new approach to treating medically intractable hiccups. They implanted a Vagus Nerve Stimulator in a Texas man to stop the hiccups which have severely disrupted Shane Shafer’s life following a stroke he had two years ago. This is the first reported case of its kind. When Dr. Payne activated the implant following the surgery, Shafer’s hiccups stopped, and they have not as yet returned.

Underground carbon dioxide storage reduces emissions

A new approach that is one of the first to successfully store carbon dioxide underground may have huge implications for global warming and the oil industry, says a University of Alberta researcher. Dr. Ben Rostron is part of an extensive team working on the $28 million International Energy Agency Weyburn CO2 Monitoring and Storage Project–the largest of its kind–that has safely buried the greenhouse gas and reduced emissions from entering the atmosphere.

Natural selection at work in genetic variation to taste

A genetic variation seen worldwide in which people either taste or do not taste a bitter, synthetic compound called PTC has been preserved by natural selection, researchers have reported. Phenylthiocarbamide (PTC) is not found in nature, but the ability to taste it correlates strongly with the ability to taste other bitter substances that occur naturally, especially toxins. Eons ago, the ability to discern bitter tastes developed as an evolutionary mechanism to protect early humans from eating poisonous plants.

Security checkpoints get a checkup

Airline passengers don’t seem to think of security as a superhuman task – that extra step on the way to their gates is more of a bother than anything else. What fliers don’t realize, though, is that scanning a confusing background for any of a nearly infinite variety of threats, like security screeners do, actually pushes the limits of human perception.

Abrupt climate change theory gets big boost

A paper published this week in the journal Science supports the hypothesis that heat transfer by ocean currents — rather than global heating or cooling — may have been responsible for the global temperature patterns associated with the abrupt climate changes seen in the North Atlantic during the past 80,000 years.
Authored by the University of Bremen’s Frank Lamy and colleagues, the paper provides new evidence that Southern Hemisphere climate may not have changed in step with Northern Hemisphere climate. Though these new measurements of ocean surface temperature off Chile are consistent with information from Antarctic ice core samples, they still contradict measurements made on land in the Southern Hemisphere — suggesting additional research will be needed to resolve the issue.

New insight into cancer metastasis

Scientists know a great deal about how tumors originate and develop, but relatively little about how cancer manages to metastasize and invade distant tissues and organs. Now, a team of researchers led by Whitehead Member Robert Weinberg has discovered that tumors spread by reactivating and commandeering a ”sleeper” protein that should have been shut off permanently in early embryo development.