Week in Review: August 24–28

Effects of fish oil, lard on the gut microbiome and inflammation; toward understanding intercellular mitochondrial transfer; epigenome engineering; shorter titles garner more citations?

Tracy Vence
Aug 28, 2015

Dietary fat, gut microbes, and inflammation

R. CAESAR ET AL./CELL METABOLISM The type of fat a mouse consumes can affect the animal’s gut microbiome and in turn spur inflammation in fat tissue, a team led by investigators at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden has found. The team’s results were published in Cell Metabolism this week (August 27).

“We know that fat itself can act as inflammatory inducers in certain immune cells, we can’t ignore that fact,” said Vanessa Leone, a postdoc studying host-microbe interactions at the University of Chicago who was not involved in the study. “It’s just that diet-induce microbes also play a role, and they together work to increase that inflammation even higher and make it even worse.”

“It will be important to confirm these findings in humans using long-term dietary interventions wherein food intake is carefully controlled,” Peter Turnbaugh, a professor of microbiology and immunology...

Organelle transplants

WIKIMEDIA, LOUISA HOWARDSome damaged cells get by with a little mitochondria from their friends. The process, called intercellular mitochondrial transfer, has been well-documented over the last 10 years. But why—and how—do damaged cells acquire these donor organelles?

“The basic mechanisms are not really clear,” said Jahar Bhattacharya, who studies cellular physiology at Columbia University. Xiang Wang of the University of Bergen in Norway agreed: “At this point we don’t know how this is happening.”

Researchers who spoke with The Scientist emphasized that understanding the mechanisms will be key for moving certain proposed mitochondrial replacement-based therapies forward.

Opinions:

Engineering the Epigenome
The use of targetable chromatin modifiers has ushered in a new era of functional epigenomics.

Making Progress by Slowing Down
Academic research could be strengthened by thinking more and doing less.

Other news in life science:

Study: Short Headlines Get More Citations
Scientific journals that publish papers with snappier titles accrue more citations per paper, according to a report.

Some Grad Students Regain Health Insurance
The University of Missouri returns subsidies for health benefits; New Mexico State University takes them away, offering a raise in return.

Hope for Universal Flu Vax?
Two studies point to the possibility that a single vaccine could protect against every strain of flu virus.

Censored Professor Quits
Alice Dreger is resigning from the faculty of Northwestern University, claiming that the administration censored her work in a faculty journal.

Interested in reading more?

Week in Review: August 24–28

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