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Why some always have a runny nose

Ever noticed how some people always seem to falling prey to cold, be it summers or winters? It may be genetic, and now a leading science writer, Jennifer Ackerman, busts some other common myths about cold in her book ‘Ah-Choo’.

Vitamin C won’t stop a cold: Studies have shown that there’s no evidence that vitamin C prevents cold. The only time it might help is if you’re engaged in extreme physical exercise or exposed to extreme physical cold.

You can’t catch a cold by kissing: A kiss won’t give you a cold. The largest family of viruses causing colds are rhinoviruses, and these rarely enter our bodies through the mouth, according to research at the University of Wisconsin Medical School.

Estimates suggest that it takes as much as 8,000 times as much virus to cause infection by way of saliva than by other routes. So kissing or sharing drinks is unlikely to spread a rhinovirus.

Green mucus isn’t a sign of bacterial infection: green mucus is not a sign of bacterial infection, but a sign the immune system is working properly. As the body recruits more and more virus-fighting white blood cells to the nose, the colour of the mucus changes from clear to yellow to green. The greener the colour the more robust the immune response.

Blowing your nose hard doesn’t help: The stuffy, blocked feeling that stifles breathing during a cold is not the product of excess mucus, but swelling blood vessels in the nasal passages. But colds exaggerate the asymmetry of rhythm — completely closing one nasal passage. So the urge to blow forcefully is increased, though it doesn’t relieve the stuffy feeling.

Butterflies cure themselves with medicinal plants

Experts have discovered that Monarch butterflies can cure themselves and their offspring of disease by using medicinal plants. The disease is caused by a protozoan parasite called Ophryocystis elektroscirrha. The parasite invades the gut of the caterpillars and then persists when the caterpillars become adult monarchs.

“We have shown that some species of milkweed, the larva’s food plants, can reduce parasite infection in the monarchs,” said project leader Jaap de Roode in eScience Commons.

“And we have also found that infected female butterflies prefer to lay their eggs on plants that will make their offspring less sick, suggesting that monarchs have evolved the ability to medicate their offspring.”

Scientists reveal new clues to origin of diabetes

Scientists have identified events inside insulin-producing pancreatic cells that set the stage for a neonatal form of non-autoimmune Type 1 diabetes, and may play a role in Type 2 diabetes as well.

The study from the University of Michigan scientists has pointed a potential target for drugs to protect normally functioning proteins essential for producing insulin. The shows that certain insulin gene mutations involved in neonatal diabetes cause a portion of the proinsulin proteins in the pancreas’ beta cells to misfold.

Proinsulin proteins are the precursors of insulin, which the body needs to regulate blood sugar levels. Crucially, the misfolded mutant proteins cause normal proinsulin proteins in beta cells to misfold as well, the scientists found in studies of mouse and rat beta cells.

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