Tag: PLoS ONE

Foiled From Within: Gut Bacteria Can Decrease Drug Effectiveness

By Douglas Main | October 18, 2011 4:54 pm

Statins are widely prescribed to reduce levels of LDL, the “bad cholesterol,” a vital goal in stemming and preventing cardiovascular disease. But they don’t work for everybody, often for inexplicable reasons. Researchers now think some of the blame rests with gut bacteria, that influential yet mysterious group that occupies our bowels and outnumbers our cells 10 to one. In a study published this month in PLoS One, researchers took blood samples from 944 study participants prior to and after six weeks of treatment with a statin called simvastatin. They measured the levels of various bile acids, many of which are produced by gut bacteria and help metabolize fat by acting like detergents, allowing cholesterol to be dissolved and transported in the blood. The researchers found that people whose LDL levels dropped the most had significant quantities of three bile acids produced by a particular type of gut bacteria. Those who responded least to the statins had significantly higher levels of five different bile acids from different gut flora. The researchers hypothesize that bile acids present in the non-responders compete with simvastatin for transporters that ferry both chemicals to the liver, where the drug has its effect.

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CATEGORIZED UNDER: Health & Medicine

Police Dogs Can Tell Identical Twins Apart By Scent

By Veronique Greenwood | June 17, 2011 1:29 pm

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What’s the News: You might think that identical twins have an advantage when it comes to crime—with the same DNA, who could tell them apart? But new research with a squad of scent-trained Czech police dogs reveals that even identical twins have their own individual smells, even if they live in the same house and eat the same food.

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CATEGORIZED UNDER: Health & Medicine, Living World
MORE ABOUT: forensics, PLoS ONE, scent, twins

Crowdsourced Project Shows Some Snail Shells Lightening in Warming World

By Veronique Greenwood | April 29, 2011 1:46 pm

What’s the News: British scientists searching for signs of climate change in banded snail shells have completed one of the largest evolutionary studies ever, a massive survey across 15 European countries. Their research associates? More than 6,000 snail-hunting volunteers.

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CATEGORIZED UNDER: Environment, Living World

Contagious Chimp Yawns Seem to Point to Human-Like Empathy

By Valerie Ross | April 7, 2011 3:37 pm

What’s the News: Chimpanzees, like people, can “catch” yawns from others. But not all yawns are created equal, it seems; chimps are more likely to catch yawns from a chimp they know than from a stranger, a new study found. (You can see a video of it here.) This supports the idea that it’s empathy—rather than just everybody needing a nap—that makes yawns contagious.

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CATEGORIZED UNDER: Human Origins, Living World
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