Stress shortens children’s telomeres

WIKIMEDIA, ASAKO NAKAMURA ET AL.Researchers from Pennsylvania State University have found that a stressful home life is associated with shorter telomeres in a group of nine-year-old boys, and presented evidence to suggest the effects of that stress may be tied to genetic variants. Their work was published in PNAS this week (April 7).

“This study demonstrated this type of differential sensitivity to stress, based on genotype, with telomere shortening early in life,” Elissa Epel from the University of California, San Francisco, who was not involved in the research, told The Scientist by e-mail. “Although the sample is quite small, the data fits theory, and we should pay attention to this alarming story and extend it to other large samples when possible.”

Key osmotic channel component

WIKIMEDIA, POLARLYSThe Scripps Research Institute scientists have identified a protein that may be a key piece of volume-regulated...

While there have been plenty of candidate VRAC proteins over the years, this study is the “first report about one molecule that’s likely forming an ion channel that is mediating this current,” said Jorg Grandl from Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, who was not involved in the work.

Amoeba nibbles cells to death

KATHERINE RALSTONThe intestinal parasite Entamoeba histolytica destroys host cells first by nibbling them through a process called trogocytosis, investigators from the University of Virginia showed in Nature this week (April 9).

“I have focused my professional career on studying this parasite, and I hadn’t appreciated it [this behavior], nor had anyone else in the field,” study leader William Petri, Jr., told The Scientist.

More news:

Liking Amphetamine Linked to Reduced Risk of Mental Disorders
People who report having enjoyed amphetamine are more likely to have gene variants associated with protection against attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder and schizophrenia, a study shows.

News from AACR:

Epigenetic Cancer Therapy Clears Phase I
Investigational drug that inhibits proteins involved with epigenetic regulation shows activity against certain blood cancers in an early-stage clinical trial.

Obesity Complicates Colorectal Cancer
Study finds that prediagnosis obesity is predictive of poor prognosis, even among patients who have a molecular marker associated with better disease outcome.

Other news in life science:

Researchers Regrow Mouse Thymus
A simple genetic formula coaxes a shrunken mouse thymus to regenerate. 

Predicting MRSA Toxicity
Comparative genomic study shows that researchers can use genetic signatures to predict the toxicity of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus isolates.

Lab-Grown Muscle Self-Repairs
Implanted into mice, lab-reared muscle made from stem cells can heal itself after an injury.

Recession Boosts STEM Enrollment
Undergraduate students are more likely to enroll in engineering and biology since the last economic downturn, a survey finds.

News of interest elsewhere:

As expected, the RIKEN Center for Developmental Biology researcher found guilty of fraud with regard to her stimulus-triggered acquisition of pluripotency (STAP) work said she will appeal her institution’s ruling. During a press conference held in Tokyo this week, Haruko Obokata apologized for problems she has caused for her colleagues in the stem-cell field, ScienceInsider reported, but said that the STAP method is valid. Obokata blamed her own carelessness for the falsification and fabrication charges related to two Nature papers, and told reporters that she had personally created STAP cells more than 200 times.

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