What Happens In The Body When We Gain Weight, And Why Is It So Hard To Lose?
In a small study, researchers found that 318 genes worked differently after most subjects had gained even a little weight. In other public health news: hope for fixing brain damage caused by strokes, a look at the mitochondria, and the spread of aid-in-dying laws.
The New York Times:
Big Data Comes To Dieting
At this point in the resolution-heavy month, many of us may be trying to shed pounds, either the ones we added during the holidays or the ones we’ve accumulated stealthily with time. But by the end of the year, most of us won’t have succeeded — and there’s not much established science to tell us why. An ambitious new study published this month in Cell Systems, however, promises to shed some new light, enumerating for the first time the thousands of changes in genes and various biological systems that may occur after even a small amount of weight gain, and which may — or may not — be reversed if the weight is then dropped. (Reynolds, 1/25)
Brain Organoids As Repair Kits For Stroke Damage Inch Closer To Reality
The dream of using brain organoids to repair actual human brains has taken a baby step closer to reality: Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania have coaxed their tiny, three-dimensional organoids to produce functional neurons with long axons and dendrites — the gray and white matter, respectively — plucked them out, and grew them into fat bundles that might be transplanted into a broken brain. The scientists, led by neurosurgeon Isaac Chen, have not taken that final step, according to the draft of their study posted on Thursday to bioRxiv, which publishes papers before they have been peer-reviewed, let alone appeared in a scientific journal. (Begley, 1/25)
The Washington Post:
Mitochondria Heat Up To 122 Degrees Fahrenheit Inside Cells, Study Says
Your body is hot. Depending on the time of day, and where the thermometer is placed, it runs somewhere between 35 to 38 degrees Celsius, or 95 to 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Little organs called mitochondria, slotted into your cells like batteries in a TV clicker, produce most of this body heat. Mitochondria are the powerhouses of the cell, as biologist Philip Siekevitz called them in 1957. They use oxygen and nutrients to create energy and heat. (Guarino, 1/25)
Kaiser Health News:
As Doctors Drop Opposition, Aid-In-Dying Advocates Target Next Battleground States
When the end draws near, Dr. Roger Kligler, a retired physician with incurable, metastatic prostate cancer, wants the option to use a lethal prescription to die peacefully in his sleep. As he fights for the legal right to do that, an influential doctors group in Massachusetts has agreed to stop trying to block the way. Kligler, who lives in Falmouth, Mass., serves as one of the public faces for the national movement supporting medical aid in dying, which allows terminally ill people who are expected to die within six months to request a doctor’s prescription for medication to end their lives. (Bailey, 1/26)