But turning up the temperature can have a down side: in about one in 25 infants or small children, high fever can trigger fever-induced (febrile) seizures. While the seizures themselves are generally harmless, a prolonged fever resulting from infection or heatstroke of over 108°F (42°C) can eventually lead to respiratory distress, cognitive dysfunction, brain damage or death.
New research by scientists at the University of Toronto Mississauga and Queen’s University has shown that genetic variation in the foraging gene results in different tolerance for heat stress, and demonstrates how the use of specific drugs can replicate this effect in fruit flies and locusts. While the findings are at an early stage, the researchers suggest that since this genetic pathway is found in other organisms, it could lead to ways to rapidly protect the brain from extremely high fevers in mammals, including humans. The new study appears in the August 22 issue of the journal PLoS ONE, the online, open-access journal from the Public Library of Science.
“Our research suggests that manipulation of a single gene or genetic pathway will be sufficient to rapidly protect the nervous system from damage due to extreme heat stress,” says senior researcher, Professor Marla B. Sokolowski, who holds a Canada Research Chair in Genetics.
In their research, post-doctoral fellow Ken Dawson-Scully and Sokolowski demonstrate that the foraging gene, responsible for a protein called PKG, protects against heat-induced neural failure in fruit flies and locusts. When they increased the temperature by 5°C per minute (starting from 22°C and rising to 42°C), they found that fruit flies with a lower level of PKG experienced neural failure at much higher temperatures than those with higher levels of PKG.
Using drugs that interact with the PKG molecule, the researchers showed it is possible to induce an extremely rapid protection of neural function during heat stress. Queen's biologists Gary Armstrong and Mel Robertson exposed locusts to increasing heat while monitoring the neural circuit that controls breathing. At approximately 30°C (about three minutes before expected neural failure), the researchers injected the locusts with a PKG inhibitor. Compared to locusts who received a placebo injection, the treated locusts showed a rapid and significant protection of their neural circuitry.
“During heat trauma to the brain, there exists a window of opportunity between the time of occurrence of neural dysfunction and eventual brain damage or death,” says Dawson-Scully. “Manipulation of the PKG pathway during this period should increase an individual’s chance of survival.”
Andrew Hyde | alfa
New study from the University of Halle: How climate change alters plant growth
12.01.2018 | Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg
Disarray in the brain
18.12.2017 | Universität zu Lübeck
On the way to an intelligent laboratory, physicists from Innsbruck and Vienna present an artificial agent that autonomously designs quantum experiments. In initial experiments, the system has independently (re)discovered experimental techniques that are nowadays standard in modern quantum optical laboratories. This shows how machines could play a more creative role in research in the future.
We carry smartphones in our pockets, the streets are dotted with semi-autonomous cars, but in the research laboratory experiments are still being designed by...
What enables electrons to be transferred swiftly, for example during photosynthesis? An interdisciplinary team of researchers has worked out the details of how...
For the first time, scientists have precisely measured the effective electrical charge of a single molecule in solution. This fundamental insight of an SNSF Professor could also pave the way for future medical diagnostics.
Electrical charge is one of the key properties that allows molecules to interact. Life itself depends on this phenomenon: many biological processes involve...
At the JEC World Composite Show in Paris in March 2018, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT will be focusing on the latest trends and innovations in laser machining of composites. Among other things, researchers at the booth shared with the Aachen Center for Integrative Lightweight Production (AZL) will demonstrate how lasers can be used for joining, structuring, cutting and drilling composite materials.
No other industry has attracted as much public attention to composite materials as the automotive industry, which along with the aerospace industry is a driver...
Scientists at Tokyo Institute of Technology (Tokyo Tech) and Tohoku University have developed high-quality GFO epitaxial films and systematically investigated their ferroelectric and ferromagnetic properties. They also demonstrated the room-temperature magnetocapacitance effects of these GFO thin films.
Multiferroic materials show magnetically driven ferroelectricity. They are attracting increasing attention because of their fascinating properties such as...
08.01.2018 | Event News
11.12.2017 | Event News
08.12.2017 | Event News
19.01.2018 | Materials Sciences
19.01.2018 | Health and Medicine
19.01.2018 | Physics and Astronomy