Amanda McBrien

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Posts by Amanda McBrien

C. elegans roundworm

Aging Eggs

C. elegans Roundworm

The aging process is, and always will be fascinating to us.  It’s role in an organism’s ability to reproduce is currently being studied in worms at Princeton University. The microscopic roundworm C. elegans lives for about 21 days.  For the first nine of these days, hundreds of eggs are fertilized producing an abundance of offspring!  After day nine, the many remaining eggs won’t be used, as their quality is poor and they cannot produce viable embryos.  A process similar to this takes place in humans.  Women experience a sharp decline in fertility in their late 30’s. In worms and in humans More >


Taste Receptors in Lungs

There are bitter taste receptors lining the smooth muscle that surrounds airway passages   that lead to the lungs.  These are the same receptors found on the tongue.  It is well known that the ability to taste bitter has evolutionary benefits.  For example, bitter tasting toxins can be detected in foods, and thereby avoided or at least regulated; meaning you won’t eat too much of something that tastes really bad!

Interestingly enough, inhalable toxins can be detected in airways, just like they would be on the tongue. The airway response to detection is what’s most interesting.  One school of thought is that More >


Viral Influence

Viruses come and go, but there are some that just seem to come back every year, like the adenovirus that causes the common cold.  Because it mutates so quickly, we’re infected by different adenoviruses each year.  Another common viral ailment is gastroenteritis, which can be caused by the astrovirus, norovirus or rotavirus.  Growing up, the “stomach flu” seemed to move through the members of our household annually.  When one person began to vomit, it was only a matter of time before the next victim fell, until everyone had been wiped out…..except my Dad.  He just never got the stomach flu! More >