Essential gene for male fertility found

A gene that belongs to a family of genes implicated in heart disease has been found to be essential for male fertility but has no impact on female fertility, researchers at U of T, along with colleagues in New York and Japan, have discovered.

Chemical Keeps Pancreatic Islet Cells Healthier During Freezing

Researchers at Duke University Medical Center have shown that a novel chemical permits greater amount of insulin-producing islet cells to survive freezing intact. Additionally, the researchers reported, these cells appear to be better able to secrete insulin in response to glucose after they are thawed, in contrast to currently available techniques. The discovery could represent an important step forward in making islet cell transplants a viable treatment option for patients with diabetes, they said.

High levels of hormones may reduce asthma severity and improve lung function

Progesterone and estrogen appear to have a positive effect on lung function and reduce the symptoms of asthma, according to a report published by University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health (GSPH) researchers in the March issue of Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, the scientific journal of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. “We found that women’s lung function and asthma symptoms improve when estrogen and progesterone levels are raised, both naturally during certain times in the menstrual cycle and with the administration of oral contraceptives or hormone replacement therapy,” said one of the study’s lead researchers.

Extrasolar meteors hint at distant planet formation

Candian astronomers say that detecting microscopic meteors from other solar systems could provide clues about the formation of planets like Earth. Dust streams from our sun’s stellar neighbours consist of tiny grains of pulverized rock ejected from a disk of dust and debris that commonly surrounds young stars, says Joseph Weingartner, a post-doctoral fellow at the University of Toronto’s Canadian Institute for Theoretical Astrophysics. According to Professor Norman Murray, associate director of CITA and co-author of the study, “if we can detect these grains and trace them back to the star system that they came from, we’d have very good evidence of planet formation going on in that system.” Weingartner presented the study Jan. 6 at the American Astronomical Society meeting in Seattle, Wash.

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