Science Briefs: ‘Rotten egg gas’ therapy, healthier hot dogs, and prehistoric birds

July 14, 2014 

SPORTS TEN-USOPEN 4 ND

Reinventing hot dogs: Scientists report progress in a low-fat version using olive oil, not pork back-fat, as a bulking agent.

KATHY KMONICEK — MCT

‘Rotten egg gas’ key to therapies

It may smell of flatulence and have a reputation for being highly toxic, but when used in the right tiny dosage, hydrogen sulfide is now being found to offer potential health benefits in a range of issues, from diabetes to stroke, heart attacks and dementia. A new compound (AP39), designed and made at Britain’s University of Exeter, could hold the key to future therapies, by targeting delivery of very small amounts of the substance to key places inside cells.

The compound protects mitochondria – the “powerhouse” of cells, which drive energy production in blood vessel cells. Preventing or reversing mitochondrial damage is a key strategy for treatments of a variety of conditions such as stroke, heart failure, diabetes and arthritis, dementia and aging. Mitochondria determine whether cells live or die, and they regulate inflammation.

The study was published in the journal Medicinal Chemistry Communications.. exeter.ac.uk

Researchers create low-fat hot dog

Many backyard cooks are turning to more healthful alternatives to their savored but fatty hot dogs. But low fat can sometimes mean low satisfaction. Now researchers are reporting progress toward addressing the texture problem in low-fat wieners that are made with olive oil rather than pork fat. Their study was published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

Ana Herrero and colleagues note that hot-dog consumers have come to expect just the right amount of chewiness and springiness, among other things, from their beloved summer fare. But traditional hot dogs come with a large dose of pork back-fat. To build a more healthful frankfurter, Herrero’s team has developed olive oil “bulking agents” to replace the saturated animal fat. The substitutes contain 55 percent olive oil, which contains more healthful unsaturated fats, and could reduce the calories by more than a third.

They also found that regardless of ingredients, all the franks, including those made with pork fat, responded similarly to cold conditions for nearly three months – long enough to last through the entire summer. acs.org

Challenge to dinosaur ancestry of birds

The re-examination of a sparrow-sized fossil from China challenges the commonly held belief that birds evolved from ground-dwelling theropod dinosaurs that gained the ability to fly. The birdlike fossil is actually not a dinosaur, as previously thought, but much rather the remains of a tiny tree-climbing animal that could glide, say American researchers Stephen Czerkas of the Dinosaur Museum in Blanding, Utah, and Alan Feduccia of the University of North Carolina. The study appears in the Journal of Ornithology.

The fossil of the Scansoriopteryx (which means “climbing wing”) previously classified it as a coelurosaurian theropod dinosaur, from which many experts believe flying dinosaurs and later birds evolved. The research duo used advanced 3D microscopy, high-resolution photography and low-angle lighting to reveal structures not clearly visible before.

Czerkas and Feduccia say Scansoriopteryx unequivocally lacks the fundamental structural skeletal features to classify it as a dinosaur. They also believe that dinosaurs are not the primitive ancestors of birds, and that Scansoriopteryx should rather be seen as an early bird whose ancestors are to be found among tree-climbing archosaurs that lived well before dinosaurs. springer.com

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