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Lab bits -- August 2006

Kansas University Medical Center, believes that to truly understand embryonic stem cells, you must first understand what gave rise to those cells: the egg. At the MBL, he uses both imaging and molecular analysis as he studies starfish and sea urchins to see how eggs are built and maintained. Molecules in egg cells may seem randomly distributed, but in fact scientists know there is a specific organization that is important for embryo development. But little is known how the egg got to be that way in the first place. Albertini also studies various crab species to understand the effects of the environment, such as toxins, on developing eggs. His research could lead to better understanding of infertility, ovarian cancer, birth defects related to the mother's age, and the derivation of embryonic stem cells.

The hidden dangers of food preservatives

Food manufacturers are trying to prolong the shelf life of goods such as wine, dried fruit, potatoes for French fries and even local anesthetics such as lidocaine, by adding sulfite. However, they may be causing a lethal lung constriction in a specific subset of people. Why these people respond this way and how sulfite causes this constriction is unknown. Dr. Antoinette Steinacker, researcher at the Institute of Neurobiology at the University of Puerto Rico, uses the white mouse to study just how sulfite causes the bronchial constriction. Her research could also contribute to restrictions from the FDA on the inclusion of sulfites in food and medicines.

Common ground for nerves, eggs, and flu

An electrical signal zips along a nerve cell. When it reaches the end, it triggers small packages of neurotransmitters to fuse with the membrane. The packages, called vesicles, release the neurotransmitters into the space between nerve cells, where they can pass the signal on to the next nerve cell. Joshua Zimmerberg, chief of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development's
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Contact: Gina Hebert
ghebert@mbl.edu
508-289-7725
Marine Biological Laboratory
3-Aug-2006


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7. ACS news service Weekly PressPac -- August 16, 2006
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