Normal and Sickled Red Blood Cells

Malaria Mystery: SOLVED

Normal and Sickled Red Blood Cells

While scientists have long known that carriers for Sickle Cell Trait are more resistant to Malaria infection, the mechanism by which protection is conferred has not been well understood—until now.  Scientists at Heidelberg University used an electron microscope to observe what happens when the parasite that causes Malaria in humans, Plasmodium falciparum, infects red blood cells containing both healthy and mutant hemoglobin.

Scientists noticed that in red blood cells with healthy hemoglobin, the parasite hijacks the actin cytoskeleton to transport its own “adhesin” protein to the cell membrane.  The adhesin, also called Plasmodium falciparum Erythrocyte Membrane Protein 1 More >

Doctor and Patient

Cancer Overtreatment. When the solution is worse than the problem.

We often focus on cancers that are lethal, and especially those that can’t be treated, and for obvious reasons. This week, the National Institutes of Health addressed a different concern- that sometimes a cancer that isn’t life threatening is best left alone. In this case, it is prostate cancer, which affects about 30 to 40 percent of men over 50. About 240,000 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer a year, and over 30,000 die of the disease – so it is far from being rare or harmless for many. However, over half of prostate cancers are localized and many will More >

Pony with Pangare markings

Ancient cave paintings, fact or fiction? Prehistoric Horse DNA Holds the Key

Pony with Pangare markings

Before the dawn of the written language, prehistoric humans began recording events from their daily lives and environment on the walls of their local caves.  Now many of these cave paintings are treasured, priceless works of ancient history and art.  Many different animals are represented in these paintings and about a third of them are horses. [1] 

There has been much speculation about exactly which horse breeds existed when the painting of cave walls began about 25,000 years ago.  Some of the types predicted included bays, grays and horses with dun colored coats with pangaré markings (tan coat with More >

Tiger Swallowtail

The Secrets of Butterflies

Butterflies are a timeless symbol of beauty and serenity, with their sweet graceful fluttering is enjoyed by people around the globe.  But to “non-people,” or hungry animals, they are more often a source of food.  Butterflies have almost no chance against birds and other faster predators. They tend to be slow flyers and many have vibrant colors that stand out in contrast to the flowers they choose to collect nectar from. 

So why have they not succumbed to the pressures of natural selection?  They are much tougher than they appear.  Butterflies have three dominant defense mechanisms that have kept them safe More >