For 50 years, public health experts have believed people living in cities were more likely to develop asthma. New research has found that in children, at least, there is no difference in the incidence of the disease in urban, suburban, and rural residents. Race, ethnicity, and income appear to play a bigger part. Read more here.
The vapors of e-cigarettes impair the immune responses in mice. Public health researchers found that the alternatives to tobacco compromised the immune systems of the lab animals' lungs and generated some of the same dangerous chemicals found in standard nicotine cigarettes. Read more here.
Elsewhere at Hopkins …
HUNTING IN DARK CORNERS
One aspect of HIV infection that has made it hard to cure is the virus's ability to go dormant by mutating and finding places to hide from the immune system. Medical researchers recently trained killer T cells to spot cells infected with the mutant HIV and destroy them. Read more here.
PIGLETS AND WHISKERS
Nursing researchers found that giving piglets to women in rural areas of the Democratic Republic of Congo not only increased household incomes but reduced symptoms of depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. Read more here.
Scientists tickling the whiskers of mice watched as proteins in their brains changed position, helping to form memories of the experience. This is believed to be the first time anyone has succeeded in observing receptor proteins at work forming memories in a living brain. Read more here.
WHEN BRAINS GO BAD
Researchers studying a protein implicated in autism have found a connection to a deadly brain cancer. The protein, NHE9, is blocked from functioning normally in certain types of autism, but when it's overactive it increases the lethality of glioblastomas. Read more here.
Why venom from the Costa Rican coral snake is so lethal is no longer a mystery. Neuroscientists have discovered that the venom activates a type of nerve cell protein, leading to deadly seizures. The finding could have implications for understanding epilepsy, schizophrenia, and chronic pain. Read more here.
Autopsies of the brains of Iraq and Afghanistan combat veterans who survived blasts from improvised explosive devices have revealed swollen and broken nerve fibers in regions that control executive function. The injuries, in veterans who died of causes unrelated to the IED explosions, differed from those suffered in car crashes, drug overdoses, or collision sports such as football. Read more here.
WHO YOU CALLING LIGHTWEIGHT?
Compared to chimpanzees and extinct ancestral hominids such as Neanderthals, modern humans have strikingly lightweight skeletons. Scientists using CT scans and microtomography now say this evolutionary change took place only about 12,000 years ago. The change may be linked to a shift from foraging to agriculture. Read more here.
GIVE ME THREE OF THOSE
New business research notes that when presented with an array of items implied to be scarce, consumers tend to narrow their choices to their favorites. When items are presented as abundant, consumers spread their choices out more and select a wider array. The authors of the study theorized that scarcity induced a mild sort of psychological arousal in the research subjects. Read more here.