An aphrodisiac for single-celled organisms, a new therapy may lead to stronger bones and why screening for prostate cancer really makes a difference.
(Science, 9/5/2017, Emma Yasinski)
Millions of people, with and without diabetes, live with osteoporosis. Thankfully, researchers have found an unexpected benefit with the compound 2,4,6-trinitrophenol (TNP) – it leads to stronger bones. TNP is often used to study obesity and diabetes and has shown that in mice the therapy can promote the formation of new bone. That’s in contrast to many diabetes drugs currently in wide use that leave patients’ bones weaker. If TNP has similar effects in humans, it may even be able to stimulate bone growth after fractures or prevent bone loss due to aging or disuse.
(Nature, 9/6/2017, Bruno Martin)
Oysters. Chocolate. Figs. These are just examples of well-known aphrodisiacs. But researchers have stumbled on a surprising aphrodisiac for a single-celled organism: a protein secreted by a bacterium. They suggest it’s the first time that bacteria have been found to have a hand in controlling the sexual behavior of eukaryotes — the domain of life that includes fungi, plants and animals. The organism involved belongs to the choanoflagellates: sperm-like creatures that are among the closest living single-celled relatives of animals. Biologists study them to understand how unicellular organisms evolved to become the earliest multicellular animals. Choanoflagellates usually divide asexually. Until now, scientists had only managed to coax them into mating by withholding their food.
(LabRoots, 9/6/2017, Xuan Pham)
New results from two eminent prostate cancer screening trials show that prostate-specific antigen (PSA) tests do make a difference in lowering death risk. A team of investigators from the University of Michigan and the National Cancer Institute reviewed the two critical PSA screening studies that informed the USPSTF guidelines: the European Randomized Study of Screening for Prostate Cancer (ERSPC), and the Prostate, Lung, Colorectal, and Ovarian Cancer Screening Trial (PLCO). Using a mathematical model to account for differences in implementation compliance, and practice settings, the researchers found no evidence that the effects of screening compared to no screening differed between ERSPC and PLCO and inferred that screening could significantly reduce prostate cancer deaths. So men – perhaps it’s time to schedule a prostate screening exam with your doctor!
—Compiled by Social Media Specialist Jillian Scola