Science and Technology links (August 31st 2019)

  1. The Conboy laboratory in Berkeley is responsible for some of the best work in aging research. In 2005, they showed that by connecting the blood vessels of an old and a young mice, they could rejuvenate the old mice (via a process called parabiosis). This earlier work showed that there are probably “aging factors” in one’s blood. Of course, this suggests that old people could benefit from blood transfusion coming from younger people, but that is not expected to be effective. In their latest paper, the Conboy lab shows that by inhibiting something called ALK5 and by increasing oxytocin, they could rejuvenate old mice.

    Alk5i plus OT quickly and robustly enhanced neurogenesis, reduced neuro-inflammation, improved cognitive performance, and rejuvenated livers and muscle in old mice. Summarily, simultaneously re-normalizing two pathways that change with age in opposite ways (up vs. down) synergistically reverses multiple symptoms of aging.

    This looks like a major breakthrough. The authors find that the treatment (which is relatively mild in dosage) reduces the number of senescent cells which might reduce inflammation. Senescent cells are old cells that will not die and they cause all sorts of problems as we age.

  2. If you want to motivate teachers to improve student scores with bonuses, you might think to give the bonuses at the end of the year. Yet it is more effective to give the bonus at the start of the year and collect it back if the students did not meet the required targets. Also it is better to reward students for completing tasks (e.g., homeworks) rather than for achieving good results.
  3. The pharmaceutical industry has a surprisingly high carbon footprint, larger than that of the automotive industry.

Published by

Daniel Lemire

A computer science professor at the University of Quebec (TELUQ).

3 thoughts on “Science and Technology links (August 31st 2019)”

  1. Just want to note that automotive industry != transportation industry. The article suggests that the global footprint of the pharma and the automotive industries both is in the ballpark of 50 millions of tonnes of CO2 per year. The total global emissions are ~ 30 billion metric tonnes per year. Thus, combined, the pharma and the automotive industries represent ~ 0.3% of total emissions.

    Also, it’s not clear whether they included the emissions associated with producing component parts and materials for automobiles, such as steel.

  2. increasing oxytocin

    This seems to support the grandmother hypothesis – that women live far past menopause so they can help their children at parenting.

    Perhaps instead of getting face lifts, old women should cuddle more babies!

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