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Evolution designed by parasites

(University of Chicago Press Journals) In ‘Invisible Designers: Brain Evolution Through the Lens of Parasite Manipulation,’ published in the September 2019 issue of The Quarterly Review of Biology, Marco Del Giudice explores an overlooked aspect of the relationship between parasites and their hosts by systematically discussing the ways in which parasitic behavior manipulation may encourage the evolution of mechanisms in the host’s nervous and endocrine systems.

Here’s how early humans evaded immunodeficiency viruses

The cryoEM structure of a simian immunodeficiency virus protein bound to primate proteins shows how a mutation in early humans allowed our ancestors to escape infection while monkeys and apes did not. SIV’s Nef protein forms a solid link between two primate proteins, tetherin and AP-2, forcing the destruction of tetherin, which normally prevents new SIV virions from budding off. A mutation in human tetherin disrupted binding, thwarting SIV budding — until HIV evolved a work-around.

Scorpion toxin that targets ‘wasabi receptor’ may help solve mystery of chronic pain

Researchers have discovered a scorpion toxin that targets the ‘wasabi receptor,’ a chemical-sensing protein found in nerve cells that’s responsible for the sinus-jolting sting of wasabi. Because the toxin triggers a pain response, scientists think it can be used as a tool for studying chronic pain and inflammation, and may eventually lead to the development of new kinds of non-opioid pain relievers.

The benefits of quitting smoking and 5 natural ways to kick the habit

At this point, we are all aware of the dangers of cigarette smoking and how beneficial it is to health to quit smoking. Despite all the information currently available about the health effects of smoking, about 14% of us still…

Materials that can revolutionize how light is harnessed for solar energy

Scientists have designed organic molecules capable of generating two excitons per photon of light, a process called singlet fission. The excitons can live for much longer than those generated from their inorganic counterparts, which leads to an amplification of electricity generated per photon that is absorbed by a solar cell.

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Cell biology: New proteomics technique gives insights into ubiquitin signaling

Researchers have developed a new approach to understand intricate changes that control how proteins function in our cells in health and disease. The new proteomics technique called ‘ubiquitin clipping’ allows researchers to create high-definition maps of how proteins are modified by a process called ubiquitination.

Mosquito ‘spit glands’ hold key to curbing malaria, study shows

Mosquitoes can harbor thousands of malaria-causing parasites in their bodies, yet while slurping blood from a victim, they transmit just a tiny fraction of them. In an effort to define precisely the location of the parasite bottleneck, scientists say they have discovered that the parasites are stopped by a roadblock along the escape route in the insect’s spit glands, a barrier that could potentially serve as a novel target for preventing or reducing malarial infection.

Why more boomers are going bankrupt

According to a disturbing article in the paywalled Financial Times, more and more older people are showing up in American bankruptcy courts than ever before. The culprits are vanishing pensions, soaring healthcare costs and tens of thousands of dollars in…