Thursday, April 17th, 2014
The protein mechanism that allows a sperm and egg to connect to each other and fertilize to become an embryo has been identified by British scientists. More from Reuters:
Fertilization takes place when an egg cell and a sperm cell recognize one another and fuse to form an embryo. But how they recognize each other in order to hook up had remained a mystery.
Researchers said on Wednesday they have identified a protein on the egg cell’s surface that interacts with another protein on the surface of a sperm cell, allowing the two cells to join.
This protein, dubbed Juno in honor of the ancient Roman goddess of fertility and marriage, and its counterpart in sperm, named Izumo after a Japanese marriage shrine, are essential for reproduction in mammals including people, they said.
This new understanding of the role of these two proteins could help improve the treatment of infertility and guide the development of new contraceptives, the researchers said.
“By identifying this interaction between Juno and Izumo, we now know the identity of the receptor proteins found on the surface of our father’s sperm and our mother’s egg that must interact at the moment at which we were conceived,” said Gavin Wright of the Welcome Trust Sanger Institute in Britain, one of the researchers in the study published in the journal Nature.
The researchers are now screening infertile women to try to determine whether problems with the Juno receptor are to blame.
“It is remarkable that about 20 percent of infertility cases have an unexplained cause,” said Enrica Bianchi of the Sanger Institute, another of the researchers.
“We are now asking whether Juno is involved in these cases of unexplained infertility,” Bianchi added.
Wright said that if defects in the Juno receptor are in fact implicated in human infertility, a simple, non-invasive genetic screening test could be developed to identify affected women.
“This then would allow us to guide the fertility treatment,” Wright said, letting affected women proceed directly to a procedure called intracytoplasmic sperm injection involving direct injection of sperm into an egg obtained from in vitro fertilization.
Image: Sperm and egg, via Shutterstock
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Tuesday, December 10th, 2013
Researchers at the Center for Sustaining Agriculture and Natural Resources at Washington State University have published a study that finds more nutrients–including heart-healthy fatty acids and proteins–in organic milk than in non-organic milk. NBC News has more:
“There’s really no debate around the world — when you feed dairy cows more grass, you improve the fatty acid profile of milk. You also increase the protein level,” [study author Charles] Benbrook says. On the other hand, cows fed a corn-based diet produce milk that’s higher in omega-6 fatty acids.
The reason organic milk is healthier comes down to its ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids, which is lower than in regular milk. A diet containing too many omega-6 fatty acids and not enough omega-3s has been linked to heart disease, as well as cancer, inflammation and autoimmune diseases. That’s because your gut converts omega-6s to arachidonic acid, which can cause inflammation. But the anti-inflammatory powers of omega-3s help to counterbalance that reaction, which is why keeping that ratio low is so important. (An omega-6 to omega-3 ratio of 2.3 to 1 is best for heart health, research suggests.)
“It’s true that both omega 6s and omega 3s are essential – we have to have some of them,” Benbrook says. “But it’s when they get out of balance, the adverse health effects appear to kick in.”
If organic milk is out of your budget, conventional milk is still OK – but choose whole milk, rather than skim or 2 percent. “The heart-healthy fatty acids in milk are part of milk’s overall fat content,” Benbrook says. “This benefit will be reduced about 50 percent when people choose 2 percent fat milk, and by about two-thirds when purchasing skim or low-fat dairy products.”
Even if you don’t consume dairy, Benbrook says the larger message here is to try to cut back on foods that are very high in soybean or corn oil, both of which have high omega-6 to omega-3 ratios – things like fried foods, or chips.
Learn how to make healthy homemade baby food with our guide. Then, check out which 20 snacks kids find irresistible.
Image: Glass of milk, via Shutterstock
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dairy, milk, nutrition, omega-3 fatty acids, organic food, organic milk, organics, protein, whole milk | Categories:
Child Health, Must Read, New Research
Tuesday, July 30th, 2013
McDonald’s CEO Don Thompson is defending his company’s food quality, and its use of its clown mascot, Ronald McDonald. The Huffington Post reports on the interview Thompson gave to Bloomburg TV’s Betty Liu:
“We have tremendously high quality proteins,” he says. “It is all real food,” he continues. “We have always supported high quality food. We support farmers, fresh food.”
Liu brings up kids’ food at McDonald’s and Thompson responds, “We’ve added more fruits, more vegetables, we’ve changed our milks…we’ve done a lot of things.” He also reaffirms that the company will “continue to try to do more.”
Thompson gets defensive though, when it comes to marketing to children. People blame Ronald McDonald for peddling food to children, he claims, but argues that the blame is misguided. Ronald is merely a brand icon that is involved with the company’s charities, he explains. “When is the last time you saw Ronald eating food or marketing to your children? You haven’t seen Ronald do that,” he says.
The CEO gets more personal when he discusses his own children. “I bring my kids to McDonald’s now because the food is high-quality. It’s safe.”
Image: Drive-thru fast food, via Shutterstock
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