Research Roundup (Spring ’15, Week 3)

Every week our Research Editors highlight a few of the latest headlines in science news and explain why these pieces are interesting and applicable to our classes at UC San Diego. If you find an engaging science article, share it with us on our Facebook page and your highlight may just be featured!

Artificial Sweeteners May Change Our Gut Bacteria in Dangerous Ways | Scientific American

Scientists are concerned that artificial sweeteners may cause unforeseen health problems. In a study of mice, researchers found that artificial sweeteners might lead to obesity and diabetes. This is because the bacteria in the gut were affected, changing how the subjects converted food to energy. Artificial sweeteners may increase the growth of bacteria that are more efficient at converting food into fat. This study suggests that there may be a similar effect in humans, although this has not yet been proven.

If you are interested in metabolic pathways, consider taking Metabolic Biochemistry (BIBC 102).

Jasmine Chau | Sr. Research Editor

A Hug a Day Keeps the Doctor Away | Scientific American

Research shows that hugging and feeling connected to other people help prevent stress-induced illness. Social support, or the perception of meaningful relationships, also plays a big role in preventing illness for both the person giving emotional support and the person receiving it. Other studies show that those with coronary artery disease who do not have this social support system have lower survival rates. Scientists suggest that mental and emotional health are important factors for maintaining physical health.

If you are interested in the immune system, consider taking Immunology (BICD 140).

Jasmine Chau | Sr. Research Editor

Investigators discover mechanism responsible for tumor invasion in brain cancer | Science Daily

Neuro-oncology researchers have identified the transcription factor Id4 as a suppressor of tumor cell invasion in glioblastoma. Glioblastoma is the most deadly form of brain tumors, as it invades normal brain tissue with individually moving cells, which makes complete surgical removal of the tumor impossible. The therapeutic targets revealed in this study will be examined further to potentially characterize them as drug targets for therapeutic treatment.

If you’re interested in cancer studies, consider taking Biology of Cancer (BIMM 134).

Neil Srinivas | Jr. Research Editor

Novel therapeutic procedure helps stroke patient recover three-dimensional vision | Science Daily

Impaired vision is one of the most common consequences of a stroke, and in rare cases, patients may even lose their ability to perceive depth. Such patients see the world around them as a flat, two-dimensional picture, which makes it impossible for them to accurately judge distances. Researchers studied a patient with this particular type of visual dysfunction and developed the first effective treatment regime after identifying the area of the brain that, when damaged, may cause loss of binocular depth perception. The procedure could be used by future therapists to treat stroke patients suffering from similar forms of visual impairment.

If you’re interested in neurological diseases, consider taking Diseases of the Nervous System (BIPN 150).

Neil Srinivas | Jr. Research Editor