Scientific discoveries this week: 11/2/12

Morris, Minnesota – Obesity may have broader consequences to those who are perfectly healthy than many realize, according to a new study conducted by researchers at the University of Minnesota. The study involved long haul truck drivers working for Schneider National, a large trucking company. The study examined a group of drivers working for the company by recording their height and weight at the beginning of their period of employment. With that information, the researchers calculated the Body Mass Index (BMI) of each driver. The BMI is used as an indicator of obesity, as it compares the overall size and weight of a person to what they would weigh if they had very little fat. By tracking the number and severity of accidents this group of drivers was involved in, the researchers were able to categorize the accident data by the BMI of each of the drivers. The results showed that those drivers that were over the obesity BMI level of 30 were much more likely to have accidents than those who were in the lower BMI group.

Hinxton, United Kingdom – The controversial cure for an exceedingly unpleasant bacterial imbalance, diarrhea, may no longer be required, according to a new study by microbiologists at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute in Hinxton, U.K. Currently, the most effective way to restore the bacterial balance of a sick person’s intestines is to insert a tube into his or her stomach and pump in filtered fecal matter. This re-introduces the bacteria that the human gut needs to digest food. This treatment is highly controversial both because many consider it disgusting and because it poses a significant risk of infecting the patient with dangerous pathogens. The researchers working on the study set out to determine which microbes in the fecal matter treatment were actually curing the problem. By experimenting with many different combinations of the roughly 18 bacteria varieties contained in the fecal culture, they found one combination of six different bacterium that cured the diarrhea in mice. If these bacteria can be made into a cocktail that can be administered to patients, then it would eliminate the need for the fecal matter treatment and antibiotics.

New York, New York – Antiretroviral (ARV) drugs are effective for pushing Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) into remission, but they are expensive, require the infected to use them every day, and when treatment is stopped, the virus rapidly takes over the body. Faced with this less-than-ideal situation, immunologists at Rockefeller University in New York City have begun studying the efficacy of antibodies against HIV. In the past, antibodies have been used to attack one portion of the HIV protein casing. This method had some effect, but the HIV cell would simply adapt and continue to grow. This new study examines just how strong the antibodies can be made, and what effect they have when administered en masse. The researchers administered ten different antibodies simultaneously to a group of mice with HIV and watched the reaction. In most cases, the HIV proteins broke down and the HIV cells were severely damaged. This gives the researchers hope that the study could be expanded to include humans, and that an effective cure may eventually be found for HIV.

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil – It is impossible to get enough energy to grow a big brain unless you eat processed, cooked food, according to a new study conducted by a neuroscientist at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro in Brazil. The energy requirements of growing a larger brain than primates would apparently require humans to spend nine hours a day eating, if all food were raw and unprocessed. By comparing the energy requirements of the brains of primates and humans, the researchers involved in the study found that primates have about one third as many neurons as an average human, which translates to significantly lower energy requirements to fuel the brain. This has lead many to wonder how primates evolved into humans if the energy was not available to do so. According to a separate study conducted in the 1990s, the evolution was facilitated by primates learning to cook. They began cooking their meats and tuberous vegetables, which allowed them to eat more meats and in turn fueled the growth of their brains. The study also found that animals in general grew much faster and bigger when they were fed cooked meats and vegetables.

Copyright © 2020 The Oredigger Newspaper. All Rights Reserved.