Posts tagged muscles
Animal Control offers prevention tips
The Boulder Police Department’s Animal Control Unit is notifying dog owners about potential Parvovirus (also called Parvo) among some dogs in the city.
At least six puppies have tested positive for the virus, and one has died. The others are undergoing veterinary treatment. The infected dogs were in the area of 9th and Canyon, near the library and municipal building.
Boulder’s Animal Control Unit says vaccinated dogs are at a very low risk of contracting the disease. If your dog is not current on vaccinations, there is a higher risk of exposure. Talk to your veterinarian if you have concerns or questions about whether your pet is current on shots.
Parvovirus is a serious viral disease. It is extremely contagious and the risk of exposure is a year-round issue. Parvo is most often an intestinal disease, but the virus can also infect the heart muscles. Sometimes an infected dog doesn’t show any symptoms of the virus, although it generally presents itself quickly (sometimes as soon as 12 hours) after a dog has been exposed.
Signs of intestinal Parvo include:
- Loss of appetite
- Diarrhea (usually bloody and foul-smelling
- Intussusception– this is when a section of the animal’s intestinal tract telescopes into itself. This is an emergency which requires immediate veterinary attention.
There is no cure for Parvovirus. Veterinarians can give fluids orally if the infection is mild, or subcutaneously (under the skin) if dehydration is more extreme. Anti-vomiting medications, antibiotics and blood/plasma transfusions are also used in treatment.
Parvo is spread by dog-to-dog contact and contact with contaminated feces. People can carry the virus on their hands and clothes if they pet an infected dog or touch the leash or collar of an infected dog. The virus can also be carried on the bottoms of shoes if a person steps on feces or contaminated dirt, and can be transmitted from shoes to homes, workplaces and other areas.
The virus can remain “live” for up to seven months, so it’s important to properly disinfect areas which may have been exposed to the virus. Household bleach is the best disinfectant for surfaces like countertops and floors, or the bottoms of shoes. The dilution formula is one part bleach to 30 parts water. (Be careful with fabrics). Never, ever use the bleach solution on an animal. For people who are sensitive to the smell of bleach, there are commercially-available Parvovirus disinfectants which don’t smell as strong.
The best way to prevent your dog from becoming infected with Parvovirus is to vaccinate against the disease. Talk to your veterinarian if you have questions or need recommendations for your pet.
CU-BOULDER PYTHON STUDY MAY HAVE
IMPLICATIONS FOR HUMAN HEART HEALTH
A surprising new University of Colorado Boulder study shows that huge amounts of fatty acids circulating in the bloodstreams of feeding pythons promote healthy heart growth, results that may have implications for treating human heart disease.
CU-Boulder Professor Leslie Leinwand and her research team found the amount of triglycerides — the main constituent of natural fats and oils — in the blood of Burmese pythons one day after eating increased by more than fiftyfold. Despite the massive amount of fatty acids in the python bloodstream there was no evidence of fat deposition in the heart, and the researchers also saw an increase in the activity of a key enzyme known to protect the heart from damage.
After identifying the chemical make-up of blood plasma in fed pythons, the CU-Boulder researchers injected fasting pythons with either “fed python” blood plasma or a reconstituted fatty acid mixture they developed to mimic such plasma. In both cases, the pythons showed increased heart growth and indicators of cardiac health. The team took the experiments a step further by injecting mice with either fed python plasma or the fatty acid mixture, with the same results.
“We found that a combination of fatty acids can induce beneficial heart growth in living organisms,” said CU-Boulder postdoctoral researcher Cecilia Riquelme, first author on the Science paper. “Now we are trying to understand the molecular mechanisms behind the process in hopes that the results might lead to new therapies to improve heart disease conditions in humans.”
The paper is being published in the Oct. 28 issue of the journal Science. In addition to Leinwand and Riquelme, the authors include CU postdoctoral researcher Brooke Harrison, CU graduate student Jason Magida, CU undergraduate Christopher Wall, Hiberna Corp. researcher Thomas Marr and University of Alabama Tuscaloosa Professor Stephen Secor.
Previous studies have shown that the hearts of Burmese pythons can grow in mass by 40 percent within 24 to 72 hours after a large meal, and that metabolism immediately after swallowing prey can shoot up by fortyfold. As big around as telephone poles, adult Burmese pythons can swallow prey as large as deer, have been known to reach a length of 27 feet and are able to fast for up to a year with few ill effects.
There are good and bad types of heart growth, said Leinwand, who is an expert in genetic heart diseases including hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, the leading cause of sudden death in young athletes. While cardiac diseases can cause human heart muscle to thicken and decrease the size of heart chambers and heart function because the organ is working harder to pump blood, heart enlargement from exercise is beneficial.
“Well-conditioned athletes like Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps and cyclist Lance Armstrong have huge hearts,” said Leinwand, a professor in the molecular, cellular and developmental biology department and chief scientific officer of CU’s Biofrontiers Institute. “But there are many people who are unable to exercise because of existing heart disease, so it would be nice to develop some kind of a treatment to promote the beneficial growth of heart cells.”
Riquelme said once the CU team confirmed that something in the blood plasma of pythons was inducing positive cardiac growth, they began looking for the right “signal” by analyzing proteins, lipids, nucleic acids and peptides present in the fed plasma. The team used a technique known as gas chromatography to analyze both fasted and fed python plasma blood, eventually identifying a highly complex composition of circulating fatty acids with distinct patterns of abundance over the course of the digestive process.
In the mouse experiments led by Harrison, the animals were hooked up to “mini-pumps” that delivered low doses of the fatty acid mixture over a period of a week. Not only did the mouse hearts show significant growth in the major part of the heart that pumps blood, the heart muscle cell size increased, there was no increase in heart fibrosis — which makes the heart muscle more stiff and can be a sign of disease — and there were no alterations in the liver or in the skeletal muscles, he said.
“It was remarkable that the fatty acids identified in the plasma-fed pythons could actually stimulate healthy heart growth in mice,” said Harrison. The team also tested the fed python plasma and the fatty acid mixture on cultured rat heart cells, with the same positive results, Harrison said.
The CU-led team also identified the activation of signaling pathways in the cells of fed python plasma, which serve as traffic lights of sorts, said Leinwand. “We are trying to understand how to make those signals tell individual heart cells whether they are going down a road that has pathological consequences, like disease, or beneficial consequences, like exercise,” she said.
The prey of Burmese pythons can be up to 100 percent of the constricting snake’s body mass, said Leinwand, who holds a Marsico Endowed Chair of Excellence at CU-Boulder. “When a python eats, something extraordinary happens. Its metabolism increases by more than fortyfold and the size of its organs increase significantly in mass by building new tissue, which is broken back down during the digestion process.”
The three key fatty acids in the fed python plasma turned out to be myristic acid, palmitic acid and palmitoleic acid. The enzyme that showed increased activity in the python hearts during feeding episodes, known as superoxide dismutase, is a well-known “cardio-protective” enzyme in many organisms, including humans, said Leinwand.
The new Science study grew out of a project Leinwand began in 2006 when she was named a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Professor and awarded a four-year, $1 million undergraduate education grant from the Chevy Chase, Md.-based institute. As part of the award Leinwand initiated the Python Project, an undergraduate laboratory research program designed to focus on the heart biology of constricting snakes like pythons thought to have relevance to human disease.
Undergraduates contributed substantially to the underpinnings of the new python study both by their genetic studies and by caring for the lab pythons, said Leinwand. While scientists know a great deal about the genomes of standard lab animal models like fruit flies, worms and mice, relatively little was known about pythons. “We have had to do a lot of difficult groundwork using molecular genetics tools in order to undertake this research,” said Leinwand.
CU-Boulder already had a laboratory snake facility in place, which contributed to the success of the project, she said.
“The fact that the python study involved faculty, postdoctoral researchers, a graduate student and an undergraduate, Christopher Wall, shows the project was a team effort,” said Leinwand. “Chris is a good example of how the University of Colorado provides an incredible educational research environment for undergraduates.” Wall is now a graduate student at the University of California, San Diego.
Hiberna Corp., a Boulder-based company developing drugs based on natural models of extreme metabolic regulation, signed an exclusive agreement with CU’s Technology Transfer Office in 2008, licensing technology developed by Leinwand based on the natural ability of pythons to dramatically increase their heart size and metabolism.
Directed by Nobel laureate and CU Distinguished Professor Tom Cech, the Biofrontiers Institute was formed to advance human health and welfare by exploring critical areas of biology and translating new knowledge into practical applications. The institute is educating a new generation of interdisciplinary scientists to work together on solutions to complex biomedical challenges and to expand Colorado’s leadership in biotechnology. For more information on the Biofrontiers Institute visit http://cimb.colorado.edu/.
An ancient, bipedal hominid sporting a set of powerful jaws and huge molars that earned it the nickname “Nutcracker Man” likely didn’t crack nuts at all, preferring instead to slurp up vast quantities of grasses and sedges, says a new study.
The hominid, known as Paranthropus boisei, ranged across the African landscape more than 1 million years ago and lived side-by-side with direct ancestors of humans, said University of Colorado Boulder anthropology Professor Matt Sponheimer, a study co-author. It was long assumed Paranthropus boisei favored nuts, seeds and hard fruit because of its huge jaws, powerful jaw muscles and the biggest and flattest molars of any known hominid in the anthropological record, he said.
In the last several years, research on the wear marks of teeth from Paranthropus boisei by other research teams has indicated it likely was eating items like soft fruit and grasses, said Sponheimer. That evidence, combined with the new study that measured the carbon isotopes embedded in fossil teeth to infer diet, indicates the rugged jaw and large, flat tooth structure may have been just the ticket for Paranthropus boisei to mow down and swallow huge amounts of grasses or sedges at a single sitting, he said.
“Frankly, we didn’t expect to find the primate equivalent of a cow dangling from a remote twig of our family tree,” said Sponheimer.
Published in the May 2 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the study was led by University of Utah Professor Thure Cerling. Other authors included Emma Mbua, Frances Kirera, Fredrick Manthi and Meave Leakey from the National Museums of Kenya, Fredrick Grine from Stony Brook University in New York and Kevin Uno from the University of Utah.
“Fortunately for us, the work of several research groups over the last several years has begun to soften prevailing notions of early hominid diets,” said Sponheimer. “If we had presented our new results at a scientific meeting 20 years ago, we would have been laughed out of the room.”
For the new study, the researchers removed tiny amounts of enamel from 22 Paranthropus boisei teeth collected in central and northern Kenya, each of which contained carbon isotopes absorbed from the types of food eaten during the lifetime of each individual. In tropical environments, virtually all trees and bushes — including fruits and leaves — use the so-called C3 photosynthetic pathway to convert sunlight into energy, while savannah grasses and some sedges use the C4 photosynthetic pathway.
The isotope analysis indicated Paranthropus boisei individuals were much bigger fans of C4 grasses and sedges than C3 trees, shrubs and bushes. The results indicated the collective diet of the 22 individuals averaged about 77 percent grasses and sedges for a period lasting at least 500,000 years, said Sponheimer.
The research team also compared the carbon isotope ratios of Paranthropus teeth with the teeth of other grazing mammals living at the same time and in the same area, including ancestral zebras, hippos, warthogs and pigs. The results indicated those mammals were eating primarily C4 grasses, virtually identical to Paranthropus boisei. “They were eating at the same table,” said Cerling.
Paranthropus was part of a line of close human relatives known as australopithecines that includes the famous 3-million-year-old Ethiopian fossil Lucy, seen by some as the matriarch of modern humans. Roughly 2.5 million years ago, the australopithecines are thought to have split into the genus Homo — which produced modern Homo sapiens — and the genus Paranthropus, that dead-ended, said Sponheimer.
“One key result is that this hominid had a diet fundamentally different from that of all living apes, and, by extension, favored very different environments,” he said. “And having a good idea of where these ancient creatures lived and what they ate helps us understand why some early hominids left descendants and others did not.”
The first skull of a Paranthropus boisei individual was discovered by co-author Meave Leakey’s in-laws, Mary and Louis Leaky, in 1959 in Tanzania.
In 2006, a team led by Sponheimer found that a cousin of Paranthropus boisei known as Paranthropus robustus had a far more diverse diet than once believed, clouding the notion that it was driven to extinction by its picky eating habits. Published in Science magazine, the study showed that Paranthropus robustus had a diverse diet ranging from fruits and nuts to sedges, grasses, seeds and perhaps even animals.
So what led to the end of the line for Paranthropus? It could well have been direct competition with Homo — which was becoming skilled in extensive bone and stone technology — or it could have been a variety of other issues, including a slower reproductive rate for Paranthropus than for Homo, he said.
The new study was funded by the National Science Foundation and the CU-Boulder Dean’s Fund for Excellence.
Rueben’s Burger Bistro in Boulder is a happy place. It’s the kind of place you take your kids on a Friday night before the Buffalo Stampede on Pearl Street. Married couples might meet there on the same night same time for drinks. It is chatty, noisy, friendly, breezy, open and just so doggone American it makes you feel good to go out at night.
We also went to Rueben’s which hosted the nightly Crab talk show during the Fringe Festival in August. Even with all the artists, and performers it still had that approachable friendly vibe.
This is the kind of place where you get a huge fat burger made any way you want it with fries. It is not a chain and is downtown at B-way and Walnut so it is in the heart of Restaurant row. They also serve Mac and cheese anyway you want it so kids love this place. And let’s face it with a lot of downtown upscale restaurants aimed at singles and not families, Reuben’s is definitely a place where you’ll feel comfortable with the kids , yet feel like you have not fallen into a cultural abyss by being forced to endure Red Robin…which is fine…it is just not upscale anddowntown.
They have a big bar too and a wide selection of Belgium beers. We did notice few Martinis being served, but all and all this place was Rockin at 7:00 pm At night they have bands on weekends plus a bunch of TV’s which might as well been off cause people were into each other while we were there.
The decor of the Restaurant is worth noting. It was originally designed as a Mediterranean French restaurant so it’s nice. There is outdoor seating comfy booths and lounges inside. They even have new grass outside some kids and dads were playing on. So Rueben’s is the most wholesome downtown restaurant where you can get a drink, not have to deal with attitude from customers or staff nor see drunk moms trying to get kids to be quiet. You can go to the Kitchen, Med or Brasserie 1010 for that. Rueben himself is a good guy, friendly and has been in the Boulder restaurant biz for 15 years so he knows what he’s doing.