Special fats proven essential for brain growth

Certain special fats found in blood are essential for human brain growth and function, new research suggests. New published studies show that mutations in the protein Mfsd2a causes impaired brain development in humans. Mfsd2a is the transporter in the brain for a special type of fat called lysophosphatidylcholines (LPCs) — composed of essential fatty acids like omega-3. —> Read More

Location matters in the lowland Amazon

You know the old saying: Location, location, location? It turns out that it applies to the Amazon rainforest, too. New work illustrates a hidden tapestry of chemical variation across the lowland Peruvian Amazon, with plants in different areas producing an array of chemicals that changes across the region’s topography. —> Read More

An Intriguing Find About Sun Exposure Exposes The Need For An ‘After Hours’ Sunscreen

Looking forward to getting some sun during the long weekend? You may already know that sun rays bring UV radiation, which damages skin cells and will eventually lead to skin cancer for two million Americans every year. But if you still aren’t convinced to slather on sunscreen or wear a hat, consider this: radiation continues to damage your skin on a molecular level for hours after initial sun exposure.

Through a series of experiments with both mice and human skin cells, dermatology professor Douglas Brash of the Yale School of Medicine found that sun damage chemically changes DNA in melanocytes — the type of skin cells that produce melanin, which gives your skin pigment and protects it from sun damage by absorbing sun rays — for two to four hours after UV exposure is over. He’s hopeful that in addition to reminding people about the dangers of UV radiation exposure, his research paves the way for the development of an “after hours” product that can halt DNA damage after your day in the sun is over.

In the short term, people should still “wear sunscreen, wear a hat, and don’t go out between 10 [a.m.] and 2 [p.m.],” Brash told The Huffington Post. “Longer term, we may be able to put on a second sunscreen after we leave the beach and take care of the rest of the problem that the first sunscreen didn’t solve.”

In his study, Brash exposed mice, mice cells and human cells to varying amounts of UV radiation to approximate a “just-noticeable sunburn” — that point at which a slight reddening on the skin is visible after unprotected sun exposure — and observed damage in the melanin-producing cells’ DNA. What was surprising to Brash is that this damage continued to be replicated in the subsequent —> Read More

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