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Ion Channel Makes African Naked Mole-Rat Insensitive To Acid-Induced Pain
2011-12-21 04:54:27

Researchers of the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine (MDC) Berlin-Buch have found out why the African naked mole-rat (Heterocephalus glaber), one of the world´s most unusual mammals, feels no pain when exposed to acid. African naked mole-rats live densely packed in narrow dark burrows where ambient carbon dioxide (CO2) levels are very high. In body tissues, CO2 is converted into acid, which continuously activates pain sensors. However, naked mole-rats are an...

2011-12-13 11:48:56

Drawing on X-ray crystallography and experimental data, as well as a software suite for predicting and designing protein structures, a UC Davis School of Medicine researcher has developed an algorithm that predicts what has been impossible to generate in the laboratory: the conformational changes in voltage-gated sodium channels when they are at rest or actively transmitting a signal in muscle and nerve cells. Structural modeling of the voltage-sensing mechanism is important because it...

2011-12-01 01:19:21

The most poisonous substance on Earth – already used medically in small doses to treat certain nerve disorders and facial wrinkles – could be re-engineered for an expanded role in helping millions of people with rheumatoid arthritis, asthma, psoriasis and other diseases, scientists are reporting. Their study appears in ACS' journal Biochemistry. Edwin Chapman and colleagues explain that toxins, or poisons, produced by Clostridium botulinum bacteria, cause of a rare but severe...

Brain Makes Memories Rhythmically
2011-10-04 04:55:18

The brain learns through changes in the strength of its synapses -- the connections between neurons -- in response to stimuli. Now, in a discovery that challenges conventional wisdom on the brain mechanisms of learning, UCLA neuro-physicists have found there is an optimal brain "rhythm," or frequency, for changing synaptic strength. And further, like stations on a radio dial, each synapse is tuned to a different optimal frequency for learning. The findings, which provide a grand-unified...

2011-09-09 13:29:04

Ion channels ensure the heart keeps time The heartbeat is the result of rhythmic contractions of the heart muscle, which are in turn regulated by electrical signals called action potentials. Action potentials result from the controlled flow of ions into heart muscle cells (depolarization) through channels in their membranes, and are followed by a compensating reverse ion current (repolarization), which restores the original state. If the duration of the repolarization phase is not just...

2011-07-20 02:09:12

By altering the genetic makeup of normally "unexcitable" cells, Duke University bioengineers have turned them into cells capable of generating and passing electrical current. This proof-of-concept advance could have broad implications in treating diseases of the nervous system or the heart, since these tissues rely on cells with the ability to communicate with adjacent cells in order to function properly. This communication is achieved through the passage of electrical impulses, known as...

2011-05-18 00:10:16

An essential component of animal nervous systems"”sodium channels"”evolved prior to the evolution of those systems, researchers from The University of Texas at Austin have discovered. "The first nervous systems appeared in jellyfish-like animals six hundred million years ago or so," says Harold Zakon, professor of neurobiology, "and it was thought that sodium channels evolved around that time. We have now discovered that sodium channels were around well before nervous systems...

2011-03-14 15:08:05

Did you know that heart attacks can give you mathematics? That statement appears on the web site of James Keener, who works in the mathematics of cardiology. This area has many problems that are ripe for unified attack by mathematicians, clinicians, and biomedical engineers. In an article to appear in the April 2011 issue of the Notices of the American Mathematical Society, John W. Cain, a mathematician at Virginia Commonwealth University, presents a survey of six ongoing Challenge Problems...

2011-02-18 12:31:04

Findings challenge conventional wisdom of how neurons operate Neurons are complicated, but the basic functional concept is that synapses transmit electrical signals to the dendrites and cell body (input), and axons carry signals away (output). In one of many surprise findings, Northwestern University scientists have discovered that axons can operate in reverse: they can send signals to the cell body, too. It also turns out axons can talk to each other. Before sending signals in reverse, axons...

2011-01-26 20:35:14

New research from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine describes a key molecular mechanism in nerve fibers that ensures the rapid conductance of nervous system impulses. New research from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine describes a key molecular mechanism in nerve fibers that ensures the rapid conductance of nervous system impulses. The findings appear online Jan. 27, 2011 in the journal Neuron. Our hard-wired nerve fibers or...


Word of the Day
attercop
  • A spider.
  • Figuratively, a peevish, testy, ill-natured person.
'Attercop' comes from the Old English 'atorcoppe,' where 'atter' means 'poison, venom' and‎ 'cop' means 'spider.' 'Coppa' is a derivative of 'cop,' top, summit, round head, or 'copp,' cup, vessel, which refers to 'the supposed venomous properties of spiders,' says the OED. 'Copp' is still found in the word 'cobweb.'
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