Posts Tagged ‘Cancer’

Zebra’s Stripes, Butterfly’s Wings: How Do Biological Patterns Emerge?

June 23, 2008

A zebra’s stripes, a seashell’s spirals, a butterfly’s wings: these are all examples of patterns in nature. The formation of patterns is a puzzle for mathematicians and biologists alike. How does the delicate design of a butterfly’s wings come from a single fertilized egg? How does pattern emerge out of no pattern?

Using computer models and live cells, researchers at Johns Hopkins have discovered a specific pattern that can direct cell movement and may help us understand how metastatic cancer cells move.

“Pattern formation is a classic problem in embryology,” says Denise Montell, Ph.D., a professor of biological chemistry at Hopkins. “At some point, cells in an embryo must separate into those that will become heart cells, liver cells, blood cells and so on. Although this has been studied for years, there is still a lot we don’t understand.”

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Tasmanian Devils Named Endangered Species

May 21, 2008

The Tasmanian devil, a feisty marsupial that lives only in the Australian island state of Tasmania, was deemed an endangered species this week by the state’s government.

The government had previously classified the creature as vulnerable. But its more critical status comes in response to a fatal epidemic of devil facial tumor disease, which has wiped out large numbers of the animal.

Devil numbers are difficult to estimate, but state government figures suggest the animals may have plummeted from around 150,000 in the mid-1990s to between 20,000 and 50,000 by the end of 2006.

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A Rescued Goat Gets a Chance for a Normal Life

May 2, 2008

They are both amputees: She lost part of her right leg to bone cancer at the age of 10, and he lost part of his left leg four months ago because of an injury he most likely suffered at a Brooklyn slaughterhouse.

Her name is Jenny Brown, and she is a 36-year-old television producer turned animal rights advocate. His name is Albie, and he is a goat of unknown age and breed.

They met last August, after Albie was plucked from Prospect Park and taken to the animal sanctuary Ms. Brown has owned here since 2004. Albie was malnourished and sickly at the time, his mouth covered in sores, his leg and hoof badly infected, Ms. Brown recalled. His injuries seemed to indicate that he had been hogtied before he broke free and made his way to the park.

Ms. Brown said that she tried to save Albie’s leg, treating it with ointments and homeopathic remedies, but that the wound would not heal. In December, Albie’s leg was amputated just above the knee.

He is now awaiting a prosthesis, a very rare indulgence for a farm animal. And the same technician who fitted Ms. Brown with a new artificial leg is also designing Albie’s.

“I’ve been an amputee for most of my life, but I can run a farm, I can wrestle animals, I can carry bales of hay, thanks to modern prosthetics,” Ms. Brown said. “I thought it would be only fair to give Albie the same chance to live a normal life.”

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