What's the buzz

Breast cancer cure closer to reality

 A team of researchers has discovered that breast stem cells and their ‘daughters’ have a much longer lifespan than previously thought, and are active in puberty and throughout life.

The longevity of breast stem cells and their daughters means that they could harbour genetic defects or damage that progress to cancer decades later, potentially shifting back the timeline of breast cancer development.

The finding by the researchers from Melbourne’s Walter and Eliza Hall Institute is also integral to identifying the ‘cells of origin’ of breast cancer and the ongoing quest to develop new treatments and diagnostics for breast cancer.

In a project led by Dr Anne Rios and Dr Nai Yang Fu that tracked normal breast stem cells and their development the team has discovered that breast stem cells actively maintain breast tissue for most of the life of the individual and contribute to all major stages of breast development.

Professor Lindeman said discovering the long lifespan and programming of breast stem cells would have implications for identifying the cells of origin of breast cancers.

Tropical temperatures ‘doubled’ carbon emissions

A study has shown that a one degree rise in tropical temperature leads to around two billion extra tonnes of carbon being released per year into the atmosphere from tropical ecosystems, compared with the same tropical warming in the 1960s and 1970s.

Researchers have said that the tropical carbon cycle has become twice as sensitive to temperature variations over the last half century.

Professor Pierre Friedlingstein and Professor Peter Cox, from the University of Exeter, collaborated with an international team of researchers from China, Germany, France and the USA, to produce the new study.

Research published last year by Professors Cox and Friedlingstein showed that these variations in atmospheric carbon dioxide can reveal the sensitivity of tropical ecosystems to future climate change.

Taken together, these studies suggest that the sensitivity of tropical ecosystems to climate change has increased substantially in recent decades.

Professor Cox, from the College of Engineering, Mathematics and Physical Sciences said, “The year-to-year variation in carbon dioxide concentration is a very useful way to monitor how tropical ecosystems are responding to climate.”

Mothers do favour daughters more!

A new study has revealed that mothers favour daughters more than boys when it comes to Holstein dairy cows and how much milk they produce for their offspring.
Researchers at Kansas State University and Harvard University studied 2.39 million lactation records from 1.49 million dairy cows and found that cows produce significantly more milk for daughters than for sons across lactation.

Barry Bradford, associate professor in K-State’s Department of Animal Sciences and Industry, said the study provide the first direct evidence that the sex of a gestating fetus can influence milk production.

The researcher said that one possible explanation is that a daughter is able to let her mom know, in advance, that she expects to receive more milk than her brothers.
In addition, the researchers found that the sex of the fetus a cow is carrying can enhance or diminish the production of milk during an established lactation and that the sex of the fetus gestated in the first pregnancy has persistent consequences for milk production on the second lactation.

One of the researchers said that the study could have implications for humans.
The team also found that the percent fat and protein in milk did not differ between cows that gestated a son or daughter, so the quality of milk was the same.

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