By Julie Robert
Muscle malfunctions may be as simple as a slight strain after exercise or as serious as heart failure and muscular dystrophy. A new technique developed at McGill now makes it possible to look much more closely at how sarcomeres, the basic building blocks within all skeletal and cardiac muscles, work together. It’s a discovery that should advance research into a wide range of muscle malfunctions.
Talk about finicky work
By Tom Ulrich from the Broad Institute
Too much fear can be dangerous for species’ survival. In fact, fear alone, even in the absence of a live predator, can lead to species’ extinction if the population size is small enough suggests a recent study from McGill and Guelph universities. To read: “How fear alone can cause animal extinction”
Before they have the wing span to actually permit them to fly, young guillemots (also known as murres) leap hundreds of metres off towering cliffs and flutter down towards the sea, guided by their fathers. Scientists have long wondered why these tiny chicks make this remarkable leap, hoping to avoid the rocks below them, in what seems an unlikely survival strategy for a species.
Does the biological clock in cancer cells influence tumour growth? Yes, according to a study conducted by Nicolas Cermakian, a professor in McGill University’s Department of Psychiatry.
Published in the journal BMC Biology, these results show for the first time that directly targeting the biological clock in a cancerous tumour has an impact on its development.
One of the big mysteries in the scientific world is how the ice sheets of Antarctica formed so rapidly about 34 million years ago, at the boundary between the Eocene and Oligocene epochs.
There are 2 competing theories:
The first explanation is based on global climate change: Scientists have shown that atmospheric carbon dioxide levels declined steadily since the beginning of the Cenozoic Era, 66 million years ago. Once CO2 dropped below a critical threshold, cooler global temperatures allowed the ice sheets of Antarctica to form.
Despite ongoing global pollution, researchers have discovered that levels of mercury in seabirds off the coast of B.C. have remained relatively stable over the past 50 years. Surprisingly, mercury in seabirds is now actually slightly lower. This might appear to be good news, but unfortunately it is due to a decline in fish stocks near the surface which has forced seabirds to change their diet, and in the process to feed in areas low in bacteria (known as sulfate-reducing bacteria) which act to control the levels of mercury in their bodies.
Researchers have linked a debilitating neurological disease in children to mutations in a gene that regulates neuronal development through control of protein movement within neuronal cells.
By Shawn Hayward, Montreal Neurological Institute
Researchers at the Montreal Neurological Institute of McGill University are playing key roles in uncovering the mechanisms underlying ALS and will share in $3.9 million, part of $4.5 million in research funding announced on Nov. 23 by the ALS Society of Canada in partnership with Brain Canada.
Scientists have identified a gene in the French-Canadian population that predisposes them to the development of intracranial aneurysm (IA), a potentially life threatening neurological condition that is responsible for approximately 500,000 deaths worldwide per year, half of which occur in people less than 50 years of age.
Using genetic analysis, the team of researchers found rare variations of one gene, RNF213, that appeared more frequently in IA patients than in the control group. Both patients and the control group came from French-Canadian families.
To the naked eye, ancient rocks may look completely inhospitable, but in reality, they can sustain an entire ecosystem of microbial communities in their fracture waters isolated from sunlight for millions, if not billions, of years. New scientific findings discovered the essential energy source to sustain the life kilometres below Earth’s surface with implications for life not only on our planet but also on Mars.
Each year, about 500,000 North Americans get dental implants. If you are one of them, and are preparing to have an implant, it might be a good idea to start taking beta blockers, medication that controls high blood pressure, for a while. And to stop taking heartburn pills.
A body of research from McGill led-teams indicates that in order to raise the odds that dental implants will attach properly, there are clear benefits to taking certain common medications and avoiding others.
Bone cell growth, healing and death
There is widespread worry today about the health effects of just about everything around us -- from the food we eat and water we drink, to the plastics we use and medications we take. A journalist’s task of sorting through all the latest studies and reporting the findings in a responsible fashion is more critical than ever.