Category Archives: Science News

I was on CNN – Talking Ebola, Dogs, and Bats

I appeared on CNN last night to help give context to the euthanization of Excalibur, the pet dog of the Spanish nurse who has contracted the ebola virus. My CNN interview is here:

I thought it might be helpful for me to follow up with some more thorough explanations:

Can animals get Ebola?
Yes Absolutely. Ebola affects humans, chimpanzees, and gorillas.

What animal first gave ebola to humans? Continue reading I was on CNN – Talking Ebola, Dogs, and Bats

Wanna live 15 years longer?

Men, cut off your balls.

Lifepans of Korean eunuchs and intact men in three families (Mok, Shin, and Seo). Eunuchs lived longer. Figure reprinted from Min et al. 2012.

In a study published this week in Current Biology, Min and others analyzed historical data on lifespans of men in Korea. Apparently, back in the day, emperors would adopt eunuchs (men castrated before puberty) to live with and work with them. What better way to prevent the staff from sleeping with your family members? Well, it turns out, men without testes live 15 years longer, on average, than men with testes of similar socio-economic status. It seems that testosterone just isn’t that good for you. So, if you want to live longer, just cut your balls off.

A Mother’s Love

Progeria is a rare genetic disease that causes a range of symptoms in children that are usually associated with the elderly. People often say that children with progeria “age rapidly.” They lose their hair, get very skinny, and suffer joint stiffness, kidney failure, and┬ácardiovascular┬áproblems. It’s caused by a mutant gene that produces a protein that is now called progerin. The symptoms don’t appear until the kids are toddlers, and most kids with progeria only live to be 13 or so. It’s very sad.

Leslie Gordon and her son Sam. Credit: The Progeria Research Foundation

When Leslie Gordon’s child was diagnosed with Progeria, she got to work looking for a cure. She got her PhD, and now has a breakthrough paper in PNAS. It’s not a cure, but her experimental drug has showed some exciting preliminary results, including a 50% increase in weight gain compared to pre-therapy. That’s a kick-ass mom. Full story here.