Latest Articles

cYw 2014

Doberman Pinschers Asleep on the Job: Uncovering the Mysteries of Narcolepsy

Narcolepsy is a neurological disorder caused by the brain’s inability to regulate sleep-wake cycles. Working with narcoleptic Doberman Pinschers, researchers discovered that canine narcolepsy is inherited directly from the parents and is an autosomal recessive trait, meaning both parents must pass down the mutated gene for the offspring to develop the disorder. Although there is not yet a cure for human narcolepsy the Doberman Pinscher may provide an important clue to understanding why they both fell asleep…on and off the job.

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The Furry Clue to Treating Jet Lag: How the Degu is Helping Treat an Air Traveler’s Worst Nightmare

Jet lag is caused by the body’s inability to adjust its circadian rhythm to a new time zone. Much of our understanding of jet lag has come from research on the degu, a small rodent that neither flies nor experiences jet lag. This remarkable rodent can reset its circadian rhythm very easily. Orally administered doses of the sleep hormone melatonin have aided the degu in readjusting its sleep schedule, which makes this a possible treatment for humans as well.

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Cardiomyopathy Patients Thank Turkeys This Thanksgiving

Every four in 10,000 people in the United States have dilated cardiomyopathy, a disease that causes the left ventricle of the heart to become enlarged. Turkey hearts can serve as a model for the human heart as it undergoes heart failure and cardiomyopathy because their hearts are very similar. By countering a mutated form of cardiac muscle protein with another form of mutated protein, a heart’s normal condition can be restored.

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Goats and Malaria: Milking the Way to a More Accessible Malaria Vaccine

Malaria is caused by an organism that shifts its shape a lot, so a vaccine is very hard to develop. Malarial merozoite surface proteins, or MSPs, were identified as a viable vaccine for malaria. To mass-produce MSPs, scientists genetically engineered a herd of goats to produce MSPs in their milk. Last year, more goats that produced milk with vaccine were bred in Houston—their purpose is to produce an economic drinkable form of malaria vaccine for third world countries.

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The Deadliest Healer: King Cobra Venom Used in a High-Strength Painkiller

Although it is one of the most powerful painkillers in use, not even morphine can alleviate every pain. For these cases, there were few options other than letting the pain run its course. But now, a new option has arisen. A protein unique to king cobra venom that elicits neurological reactions in mice called ohanin is being used in a painkiller that is 20 times more potent than morphine, and has no observable side effects.

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