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Monday, April 27, 2009

A Nose for Disease

Writer Claire Thomas of ScienceNOW Daily News has written an article entitled "A Nose for Disease". This article discusses new research into the recent discovery that some animals have been found to not only detect diseases on their body of their owners (even cancer!).

According to Thomas, In 2008, " Scientists have previously identified a number of mouse smell receptors, cell-surface proteins in the animals' noses that pick up everything from the fragrance of food to the scent of fear," Neurogeneticist Ivan Rodriguez of the University of Geneva in Switzerland and colleagues wondered whether there might be additional such receptors that respond to a disease "scent," perhaps by detecting chemicals associated with bacteria and inflammation.The researchers scoured the already deciphered mouse genome, looking for genes that might encode additional receptor proteins in its olfactory system, the sensory cells that connect the nose to the brain. They found genes for five new receptors, all of which belong to a known family of proteins called formyl peptide receptors (FPRs)."

These scientists wondered if the "newly identified FDR's on olfactory cells do the same thing, detecting pathogens but those outside the body on another animal? The scientists discovered that " some of the chemicals sparked a "smell response" in the neurons".

The neurons possessing the newfound FPR receptors reside within a part of the olfactory system at the base of the brain that also sniffs out sexual signaling chemicals called pheromones. This area--the vomeronasal organ--is linked directly to the brain's emotional center, the amygdala."

"This makes a lot of sense," says Rodriguez. When a mouse detects a nearby mate, or danger, in the form of disease, it needs to trigger a quick reaction, whether it's an attempt to reproduce or to avoid a nearby sick animal, he says.

Rodriguez's team also found disease-smelling receptors in gerbils and rats, but he thinks it's unlikely they'll be discovered in human noses. There's no evidence that we have FPRs anywhere but in our immune system, he says.

"The results are "very exciting, if not a major breakthrough," says neuroscientist and smell expert Pierre Marie Lledo of the Pasteur Institute in Paris. The discovery will open "new field of research" into the molecular basis of sniffing out disease, says Marie-Christine Broillet, a specialist in olfaction from the University of Lausanne in Switzerland."


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Thoughts worth thinking about

"Our subconscious minds have no sense of humor, play no jokes and cannot tell the difference between reality and an imagined thought or image. What we continually think about eventually will manifest in our lives."-Sidney Madwed

Laws alone can not secure freedom of expression; in order that every woman and man present their views without penalty, there must be spirit of tolerance in the entire population.- Albert Einstein Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around. - Leo Buscaglia

A person's true wealth is the good he or she does in the world. - Mohammed

Our task must be to free ourselves... by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature and its beauty. -Albert Einstein

The best way to find yourself, is to lose yourself in the service of others. - Ghandi

The unselfish effort to bring cheer to others will be the beginning of a happier life for ourselves. - Helen Keller

Aim for success, not perfection. Never give up your right to be wrong, because then you will lose the ability to learn new things and move forward with your life. Remember that fear always lurks behind perfectionism. Confronting your fears and allowing yourself the right to be human can, paradoxically, make yourself a happier and more productive person. - Dr. David M. Burns

Life is as dear to a mute creature as it is to man. Just as one wants happiness and fears pain, just as one wants to live and not die, so do other creatures. -His Holiness The Dalai Lama

Mankind's true moral test, its fundamental test (which lies deeply buried from view), consists of its attitude towards those who are at its mercy: animals. And in this respect mankind has suffered a fundamental debacle, a debacle so fundamental that all others stem from it. -

Milan Kundera, The Unbearable Lightness of Being

The worst sin towards our fellow creatures is not to hate them, but to be indifferent to them. That's the essence of inhumanity. -George Bernard Shaw

Ego's trick is to make us lose sight of our interdependence. That kind of ego-thought gives us a perfect justification to look out only for ourselves. But that is far from the truth. In reality we all depend on each other and we have to help each other. The husband has to help his wife, the wife has to help the husband, the mother has to help her children, and the children are supposed to help the parents too, whether they want to or not.-Gehlek Rinpoche Source: "The Best Buddhist Writing 2005 pg. 165

The hostile attitude of conquering nature ignores the basic interdependence of all things and events---that the world beyond the skin is actually an extension of our own bodies---and will end in destroying the very environment from which we emerge and upon which our whole life depends.