Saturday, November 24, 2007

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An Indonesian fisherman who feared that he would be killed by tree-like growths covering his body has been given hope of recovery by an American doctor - and Vitamin A.
Dede, now 35, baffled medical experts when warty "roots" began growing out of his arms and feet after he cut his knee in a teenage accident. The welts spread across his body unchecked and soon he was left unable to carry out everyday household tasks.
Sacked from his job and deserted by his wife, Dede has been raising his two children - now in their late teens - in poverty, resigned to the fact that local doctors had no cure for his condition.
To make ends meet he even joined a local "freak show", parading in front of a paying audience alongside victims of other peculiar diseases.

... But now an American dermatology expert who flew out to Dede's home village south of the capital Jakarta claims to have identified his condition, and proposed a treatment that could transform his life.

After testing samples of the lesions and Dede's blood, Dr Anthony Gaspari of the University of Maryland concluded that his affliction is caused by the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV), a fairly common infection that usually causes small warts to develop on sufferers.

Uh-huh, image and likeness of God right there, yeah? Suckers. I'm glad - and exceedingly impressed - he's so cool about it though. Seems like a nice guy under all that.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Paging Harry Hamlin ...

Claw from 8-foot-long scorpion (now extinct) discovered.

Nowadays arthropods such as spiders and crabs are considered to be small animals but the discovery of a 390 million year old giant fossil claw, published today in the Royal Society journal Biology Letters, shows that they were much bigger than previously thought.

The claw - found in Germany from a sea scorpion (eurypterid) Jaekelopterus rhananine - is 46cm long. This would mean that the scorpion's body was 2.5 metres long making it the largest arthropod ever to have evolved.


If your tastes run to the formalized and hyper-academic:

The fossil record has yielded various gigantic arthropods, in contrast to their diminutive proportions today. The recent discovery of a 46cm long claw (chelicera) of the pterygotid eurypterid (‘sea scorpion’) Jaekelopterus rhenaniae, from the Early Devonian Willwerath Lagerstätte of Germany, reveals that this form attained a body length of approximately 2.5m—almost half a metre longer than previous estimates of the group, and the largest arthropod ever to have evolved. Gigantism in Late Palaeozoic arthropods is generally attributed to elevated atmospheric oxygen levels, but while this may be applicable to Carboniferous terrestrial taxa, gigantism among aquatic taxa is much more widespread and may be attributed to other extrinsic factors, including environmental resources, predation and competition. A phylogenetic analysis of the pterygotid clade reveals that Jaekelopterus is sister-taxon to the genus Acutiramus, and is among the most derived members of the pterygotids, in contrast to earlier suggestions

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Twice the mice is twice as nice.

Supermurines succcessfully bred in the lab.

Case Western Reserve University researchers have bred a line of "mighty mice" (PEPCK-Cmus mice) that have the capability of running five to six kilometers at a speed of 20 meters per minute on a treadmill for up to six hours before stopping.

"They are metabolically similar to Lance Armstrong biking up the Pyrenees; they utilize mainly fatty acids for energy and produce very little lactic acid," said Richard W. Hanson, the Leonard and Jean Skeggs Professor of Biochemistry at Case Western Reserve and the senior author of the cover article that appeared in the Journal of Biological Chemistry, entitled "Over Expression of the Cytosolic Form of Phosphoenolpyruvate Carboxykinase (GTP) in Skeletal Muscle Repatterns Energy Metabolism in the Mouse."

The term you want to keep in mind is "PEPCK-C Enzyme". Remember it because you'll be (no doubt illegally) injecting the stuff same day real soon now.

If the youtube embed doesn't work for you, there's a quicktime version. God help us all.