Tag Archives | cells

Single-celled sniper uses one eye to hunt

This single-celled organism can point its eye in different directions and it may use it to hunt prey. It also has a unique piston mechanism, but its use is still unclear.

Michael Le Page via New Scientist:

It is perhaps the most extraordinary eye in the living world – so extraordinary that no one believed the biologist who first described it more than a century ago.

Now it appears that the tiny owner of this eye uses it to catch invisible prey by detecting polarised light. This suggestion is also likely to be greeted with disbelief, for the eye belongs to a single-celled organism called Erythropsidinium. It has no nerves, let alone a brain. So how could it “see” its prey?

Fernando Gómez of the University of São Paulo, Brazil, thinks it can. “Erythropsidinium is a sniper,” he told New Scientist. “It is waiting to see the prey, and it shoots in that direction.”

Erythropsidinium belongs to a group of single-celled planktonic organisms known as dinoflagellates.

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Mouse Heart Made to Beat Again with Human Cells

Happy-Valentine-s-Day-Mouse-9780061804328Dr. Herbert West was unavailable for comment at the time of publication.

Via E! Science News:

For the first time, a mouse heart was able to contract and beat again after its own cells were stripped and replaced with human heart precursor cells, said scientists from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. The findings, reported online today in Nature Communications, show the promise that regenerating a functional organ by placing human induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells — which could be personalized for the recipient — in a three-dimensional scaffold could have for transplantation, drug testing models and understanding heart development.

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Aging Brains Made Youthful?

Photo: Mieciu K2 (CC)

Photo: Mieciu K2 (CC)

Can we restore our “mental sketch pads” by renewing how our brain holds memory on the neurological level? The National Geographic reports:

You can’t teach an old brain new tricks—but you can restore its ability to remember the old ones, a new study in monkeys suggests.

Chemicals given to rhesus macaques blocked a brain molecule that slows the firing of the brain’s nerve cells, or neurons, as we age—prompting those nerve cells to act young again.

“It’s our first glimpse of what’s going on physiologically that’s causing age-related cognitive decline,” said study leader Amy Arnsten, a neurobiologist at Yale University.

“We all assumed, given there’s a lot of architectural changes in aged brains … that we were stuck with it,” Arnsten said.

But with the new results, “the hopeful thing is that the neurochemical environment still makes a big difference, and we might be able to remediate some of these things.”

[Continues at National Geographic]

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