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Tiny microscopic worms, invisible to the naked eye, are helping scientists to better understand an extraordinarily complex biological pathway that connects fat to overall health and aging in humans.
A team of biologists from McMaster University studying these worms called C. elegans, or nematodes, has found that the regulation of lipid production, and the delicate balance of too much or too little fat, is crucial to healthy living.
Findings - Online - Journal - PLoS - One
The findings, published online in the journal PLoS One, point to a fundamental process of lipid regulation that happens in the WNT signalling pathway, a widely-studied genetic thoroughfare that, when mutated, is directly linked to a variety of cancers.
The nematodes provide an ideal model of human systems, say scientists, they reach maturity in less than 72 hours, living no more than three weeks in total, allows researchers to obtain results of experimental manipulations relatively quickly.
Life - History - Month - Questions - Genes
"We get to see the entire life history in less than a month and then we can ask questions about how genes are functioning within this system and what changes are taking place as the animals are growing and maturing," says Bhagwati Gupta, a professor of biology at McMaster, whose lab has been studying nematodes for almost 15 years.
Gupta and his team—co-authors Avijit Mallick and Ayush Ranawade, both Ph.D. candidates—were puzzled and intrigued when they initially discovered that nematodes carrying...
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