Rogue stem cells may fuel brain & colon cancers

Without populations of adults stem cells in our tissues we’d be screwed. There would be no way to heal after injury or disease. But they come at a price, stem cells can mutate, lose their off switch or go astray, replicating fast and integrating into the circulatory system, they can form a cluster of cells that are business for themselves, one that can fool the body’s immune system. After all, the cells making it up are natives. Usually the owner won’t know what’s going on until they feel a lump or get a scan, then the battle is on. A new three-pronged study sheds light on the fascinating and deadly phenamenon: [Read more…]

What we’re losing with cuts to planetary exploration

Yesterday’s WH budget proposal for NASA, with deep cuts to future planetary science to the whopping tune of $300 million , didn’t exactly come as a shock. That’s the news reporters have been hearing and writing about for weeks. But if those changes are implemented it comes at a price. In this case, the price could be postponing the single greatest scientific discovery ever made. [Read more…]

New Alzheimer’s drug spurs hope among the desperate

If there’s a more inhuman neurological disease than Alzheimer’s, I don’t want to know about it. Because the big “A” is bad enough. Stealing away precious memories and bodily functions alike, leaving behind a confused, amnesiac husk of a person when they should be enjoying the fruits of their labor and grandchildren. It’s not surprising a new study showing dramatic results in mice has spurred hope for some victims on the brink of no return: [Read more…]

Ancient Antarctic lake said to be reached: samples coming this year

Schematic of subglacial lake in Antarctica, image courtesy RT, click for more info

Russian researchers working feverishly at the height of Antarctica’s brief summer say they have successfully pierced the ancient vault of a sub-glacial lake sealed under ice for millions of years. But it’ll be awhile before we know the answer to the big question, can microbial life of some kind still exist in the alien environment of Lake Vostok? [Read more…]

Race to Antarctica’s hidden lake

Ice cores drilled at Vostok. Vostok Station is seen in the background. Image courtesy of the Wiki, click for more info on Lake Vostok

I took a few days off from, well, everything. In hope that my shoulder would heal up a bit  — it has been quite sore following a routine injury almost two weeks ago.  I can report it has improved a tad, many thanks to those who humored my prior complaints, and I look forward to a more active blogging schedule and especially a semblance of life without constant pain. Couldn’t a merciful Creator have come up with a better system than intractable pain?

Meanwhile, science marches on, far to the south, [Read more…]

This week in science

I haven’t written much about HIV/AIDS denialism. It’s pseudo-science through and through, as lousy and underhanded as creationists are with the evidence for evolution or climate change deniars are with thermometer readings. They are sometimes allied with antivaxxers and other forms of quackery, but generally don’t neatly fit across the traditional left-right US political axis. Regardless, in some circles the shit hit the proverbial fan this week: [Read more…]