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April 21, 2011

Chinese scientists creating cows that produce human milk

They aren't quite there yet. But they are working on it and may be close. Chinese Scientists Clone Cows With “Humanized” Milk | Singularity Hub
This very moment, grazing in the fields of the State Key Laboratory of Agrobiotechnology in Beijing, China is a particular heard of about 300 cows. Each one is a clone, and each one produces milk that contains proteins normally found in human milk. The cows are part of a vision belonging to Ning Li, SKYLAB’s director, to put “human-like milk” onto supermarket shelves–and into baby bottles–all over the world. As published in the Public Library of Science One, the cows were cloned by somatic cell nuclear transfer–the same method Ian Wilmut used to clone Dolly–in which the nucleus of a somatic (body) cell is transferred into an egg that has had its nucleus removed. Prior to inserting the somatic nucleus into the enucleated egg, Dr. Li’s group infected it with a virus carrying the human gene for lysozyme. Lysozyme is an enzyme found in large quantities in human breast milk that can lyse–or split open–the cell walls of harmful bacteria in the gut. In addition to its antibacterial effects, lysozyme works to boost the body’s immune response to infection. The immunological benefits imparted by lysozyme is an important reason why breast milk is so healthy for developing babies. It’s absent in most of the baby formulas commonly-used to supplement or substitute breast milk.

April 20, 2011

Scientists estimate half of all supermarket meat contains staph

Staph in meat: Are US cattle and poultry over-drugged? - CSMonitor.com
A new report, saying that risky forms of Staph bacteria are showing up in supermarkets at "unexpectedly high rates," is raising concerns about whether the US meat and poultry industries are relying too heavily on antibiotic drugs. Nearly half of meat and poultry samples in the nationwide study — 47 percent — were contaminated with Staphylococcus aureus, a bacteria that medical experts link to various human diseases. Of that amount, more than half the bacteria were resistant to at least three classes of antibiotics, according to the study by the Translational Genomics Research Institute in Phoenix. The group said its findings raise concerns that widespread use of antibiotics in animal feed makes industrial farms breeding grounds for drug-resistant bacteria that can move from animals to humans.

Each human has one of only three gut ecosystems

Each human has one of only three gut ecosystems - life - 20 April 2011 - New Scientist
You're probably the member of a club you didn't even know existed. According to research published this week, we all have one of three ecosystems of bugs in our guts. New Scientist explores what this surprising discovery means, and how our internal fauna might affect our everyday lives. Why might the types of bugs we carry be important? We think of our bodies as our own, but actually only a tenth of our cells are human. The rest are all hitch-hikers, mainly harmless bacteria that have evolved with us. There are 100,000 billion of these bacteria in our guts, where they play a crucial role in our health by helping to break down food and convert it into energy, and by excluding bacteria that are harmful to us. Some are even said to make us happier. In exchange, we provide shelter and a share of our food. The types of bugs that call us home could explain differences in our ability to digest food and resist disease, and how we react to drugs.

April 19, 2011

OKCupid presents Ten Charts About Sex

I seriously love when the OKCupid nerds get into their statistics. 10 Charts About Sex -- OkTrends Below is a chart correlating certain profile words with whether a user of OKCupid likes rough or gentle sex. 9 more charts at the link, including one about Napoleon's failed attack on Moscow.

Sexists literally see beautiful women as objects

Aggregating | Sexy Women are [Literally] Seen as Objects, Studies Find
A study by Princeton psychologists hooked up men to an fMRI machine. After being hooked up, these men were shown pictures of both men and women. Some were scantily clothed; some were not. The results showed that images of people activated the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC), which is highly involved in social cognition (e.g., recognizing human faces, when separating one person from another). The exception was when men high in sexism viewed pictures of sexually dressed women. These pictures did not activate the mPFC for sexist males. This suggests that these men’s brains did not perceive these women as fully human.