what's the buzz

Fungal infections can be deadly for humans

The common notion about ‘fungus’ is that they are something that smells or looks disgusting, but ask David Perlin, executive director of the Public Health Research Institute at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, and the response will be far more somber- because he knows how deadly fungi can be.

“More than a million people around the world are blind because of fungal infections of the eye,” Perlin points out, “and half of the world’s 350,000 asthma-related deaths each year stem from fungal infection that could be treated effectively with drugs.”

In addition, fungal infections can complicate the recoveries of organ recipients. They also are the stuff of vaginal yeast infections, which strike nearly three quarters of American women at least once in their lifetimes according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Fungi are neither bacteria nor viruses. Their biology is different from both, with a cell nucleus and other internal structures that distinguish them from their infectious distant cousins.

But as Perlin is eager to tell anyone who will listen, they are just as big a threat to life and health.

The research said that while people know well what a bacterium or a virus can do, we need to start thinking of fungi in the same terms, and part of that is becoming more aware that fungi are all around us in the environment.

As he works in his lab on Rutgers’ health sciences campus in Newark to unlock the many mysteries of fungal infection, Perlin is also trying passionately to improve the world’s often disorganized approach to dealing with this deadly problem. (ANI)
Why smoking is so terribly addictive

Researchers have tried to explain how nicotine exploits the body’s cellular machinery to promote addiction.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, nicotine activates receptors known as nAChRs and, remarkably, unlike most other drugs of abuse, it acts as a “pharmacological chaperone” to stabilize assembly of its receptors within the Endoplasmic Reticulum (ER) and increase their abundance at the cell surface (up-regulation).

Up-regulation of nAChRs plays a major role in nicotine addiction and, possibly, in the decreased susceptibility of smokers to Parkinson’s disease.

Receptors containing an alpha6 subunit (alpha6* nAChRs) are abundant in several specific brain regions. Researchers from the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena used mice expressing alpha6 labeled with a fluorescent protein to show that exposure to nicotine—at a level comparable to that in human smokers—up-regulated alpha6* nAChRs in these areas of the brain.
How steroid use in humans affects sexual behavior

Researchers have suggested that a new breakthrough could help reveal how steroid use in humans affects sexual behaviors and how hormones regulate the different components of speech in humans.

The following suggestion is an outcome of a study which found that introducing testosterone in select areas of a male canary’s brain can affect its ability to successfully attract and mate with a female through birdsong.

Graduate student and lead author Beau Alward along with senior author Gregory F Ball, vice dean for science and research infrastructure and professor in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences in the Zanvyl Krieger School of Arts and Sciences, found that when male canaries received testosterone in a specific area in the brain, the frequency of the song increased.

However, the quality of songs sung did not change in comparison to the male birds that received testosterone throughout the brain.

Comments (+)