Saturday, July 14, 2018

Atlantic science links for a weekend: flying spiders on electrical currents; Alzheimers and herpes connections; and harvesting horseshoe crab blood for blood cleaning may finally end

https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2018/07/the-electric-flight-of-spiders/564437/

https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2018/07/herpes-viruses-alzheimers/564887/
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What amyloid beta normally does in the brain isn’t clear. Robert Moir, a neurologist at the MassGeneral Institute for Neurodegenerative Disease, says that many researchers have cast it as a villainous molecule with no beneficial function.  “It’s just bad, bad, bad,” he says. “But it has become increasingly obvious that this isn’t true.” Moir thinks that amyloid beta has a more heroic role, as a foot soldier of our immune system. It protects neurons from infectious microbes—and from herpes viruses, in particular.

William Eimer, a member of Moir’s team, demonstrated this protection by injecting the common herpes virus HSV–1 into the brains of two kinds of mice: normal rodents and ones that were genetically engineered to produce high levels of amyloid beta in their brains. The latter were better at resisting the viruses. Eimer then got similar results when he injected a different herpes virus, HHV–6, into human cells growing in a dish.
Amyloid beta protects against these viruses by latching onto them in large numbers, imprisoning them in self-assembling cages. That’s typically a good thing, but Moir argues that if the process goes on for too long, it builds up to the problematic plaques of Alzheimer’s. According to him, amyloid beta is still at the heart of the Alzheimer’s story, but it isn’t the villain. “In our model, Alzheimer’s is caused by amyloid beta’s reaction to something else, and most likely some kind of infection” like herpes, he says.
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https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2014/02/the-blood-harvest/284078/

https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2018/05/blood-in-the-water/559229/

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