Sunday, October 07, 2012

Wound-Healing Bandage, Male Ornamentation, Novelty Seeking in Bees

NEW BLOOD VESSELS FOR OLD. Any kind of tissue that can be wounded has blood vessels. One of the challenges in medicine is recreating or redirecting intricate vascular networks, sometimes from scratch. This January a bimolecular engineer and a computer engineer at the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana together announced the development of a bandage that "stamps" the desired pattern of blood vessels onto skin, muscle, or bone. The bandage contains living cells that deliver growth factors in a defined pattern. According to the report in Advanced Materials, within a week the pattern of the stamp takes the form of newly generated blood vessels.

STAG WALKS INTO A BAR. Ever wonder why some male animals have bigger horns or other sexual ornamentation than others of their species? Working with rhinocerous beetles, zoologists led by a researcher at Montana State University demonstrated that male animals’ ornaments are insulin-dependent. According to a study published in  August 2012 issue of Science, growth to gargantuan size reflects excellent nutritional status in any male showing them off. If so, obviously “hunky” male animals are also probably strong and have good endurance. It’s probably an attractive quality to females hoping to mate.

BORN TO BE WILD. Every motorcycle movie ever made suggests that some humans are more adventuresome than others. Apparently, it's true of honey bees, as well. Some consistently “take it on the road” to new territory. According to a March 2012 study in Science, there are massive genetic differences that set territorially bold honeybees apart from their fellows. At least a few relate to the molecular pathways implicated in novelty-seeking in humans.

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