Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Gimli gobblers - Mercury scientists to conduct unique human experiment next week

01.11.2004


A world-leading team of Canadian scientists thinks that diet may play a critical role in limiting the body’s absorption of the toxic heavy metal mercury, and they’re lining up to test the idea on themselves.



The scientists from the NSERC-funded Collaborative Mercury Research Network (COMERN) have identified dramatic differences in the extent to which mercury from eating fish is absorbed by people in a variety of small Canadian communities.

Since 2000, COMERN researchers have been working closely with communities in the Lac St-Pierre (on the shore of the St. Lawrence east of Montreal) and Abititi regions of Quebec, island communities in the Bay of Fundy, and Innu communities in Labrador, examining their exposure to mercury through the fish they eat.


The research has revealed a mysterious anomaly. Hair or blood samples of individuals in the communities with the highest mercury exposure actually revealed the lowest body mercury levels. "There’s a huge discrepancy between mercury exposure and the extent to which it’s absorbed by people in these various communities," says Dr. Marc Lucotte, a biologist at the Université du Québec à Montréal and the lead researcher in COMERN.

What’s responsible for this significant difference in uptake?

"We suspect there is something different in the food in some communities and that this is preventing individuals from absorbing mercury," says Dr. Lucotte.

That something, the researchers suspect, could be simply old fashioned tea. Tea-drinking Japanese communities known to be exposed to high levels of mercury through fish consumption have also shown unusually low levels of absorption. Tea is known to be a strong chelating agent – it contains particles called flavonoids which bind with heavy metals to prevent their absorption by the body. To test this tea theory the researchers are rolling out the dinner plates and rolling up their sleeves.

At COMERN’s annual general meeting next week in Gimli, Manitoba, 60 mercury researchers will participate in a unique experiment. For three days, half the experimental group will eat two meals a day of local Lake Winnipeg fish washed down with six cups of black tea. The other half will eat the fish but drink no tea. Participants will provide blood samples for mercury level testing at the beginning and end of the conference. (Dr. Lucotte stresses that the Lake Winnipeg fish were chosen for the experiment only because COMERN encourages the eating of local foods and that these fish contain only average amounts of mercury.)

Along with the important scientific evidence the experiment could reveal, Dr. Lucotte says that the Gimli tea-and-fish experiment is a crucial part of grounding the researchers in the type of participatory, community-based research they’re conducting.

"Being guinea pigs like this takes us back to our roots," says Dr. Lucotte. "It’s important for us to remember that we’re not just working on a hypothetical story, we’re working with real people and real passions. And that we ourselves can be exposed to mercury in our diets and must make choices about this."

He expects the results of the Gimli experiment to be available by January, 2005.

Mike Paterson | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.uqam.ca

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht MRI contrast agent locates and distinguishes aggressive from slow-growing breast cancer
25.09.2017 | Case Western Reserve University

nachricht Investigators may unlock mystery of how staph cells dodge the body's immune system
22.09.2017 | Cedars-Sinai Medical Center

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: LaserTAB: More efficient and precise contacts thanks to human-robot collaboration

At the productronica trade fair in Munich this November, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT will be presenting Laser-Based Tape-Automated Bonding, LaserTAB for short. The experts from Aachen will be demonstrating how new battery cells and power electronics can be micro-welded more efficiently and precisely than ever before thanks to new optics and robot support.

Fraunhofer ILT from Aachen relies on a clever combination of robotics and a laser scanner with new optics as well as process monitoring, which it has developed...

Im Focus: The pyrenoid is a carbon-fixing liquid droplet

Plants and algae use the enzyme Rubisco to fix carbon dioxide, removing it from the atmosphere and converting it into biomass. Algae have figured out a way to increase the efficiency of carbon fixation. They gather most of their Rubisco into a ball-shaped microcompartment called the pyrenoid, which they flood with a high local concentration of carbon dioxide. A team of scientists at Princeton University, the Carnegie Institution for Science, Stanford University and the Max Plank Institute of Biochemistry have unravelled the mysteries of how the pyrenoid is assembled. These insights can help to engineer crops that remove more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere while producing more food.

A warming planet

Im Focus: Highly precise wiring in the Cerebral Cortex

Our brains house extremely complex neuronal circuits, whose detailed structures are still largely unknown. This is especially true for the so-called cerebral cortex of mammals, where among other things vision, thoughts or spatial orientation are being computed. Here the rules by which nerve cells are connected to each other are only partly understood. A team of scientists around Moritz Helmstaedter at the Frankfiurt Max Planck Institute for Brain Research and Helene Schmidt (Humboldt University in Berlin) have now discovered a surprisingly precise nerve cell connectivity pattern in the part of the cerebral cortex that is responsible for orienting the individual animal or human in space.

The researchers report online in Nature (Schmidt et al., 2017. Axonal synapse sorting in medial entorhinal cortex, DOI: 10.1038/nature24005) that synapses in...

Im Focus: Tiny lasers from a gallery of whispers

New technique promises tunable laser devices

Whispering gallery mode (WGM) resonators are used to make tiny micro-lasers, sensors, switches, routers and other devices. These tiny structures rely on a...

Im Focus: Ultrafast snapshots of relaxing electrons in solids

Using ultrafast flashes of laser and x-ray radiation, scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (Garching, Germany) took snapshots of the briefest electron motion inside a solid material to date. The electron motion lasted only 750 billionths of the billionth of a second before it fainted, setting a new record of human capability to capture ultrafast processes inside solids!

When x-rays shine onto solid materials or large molecules, an electron is pushed away from its original place near the nucleus of the atom, leaving a hole...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

“Lasers in Composites Symposium” in Aachen – from Science to Application

19.09.2017 | Event News

I-ESA 2018 – Call for Papers

12.09.2017 | Event News

EMBO at Basel Life, a new conference on current and emerging life science research

06.09.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

An international team of physicists a coherent amplification effect in laser excited dielectrics

25.09.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

LaserTAB: More efficient and precise contacts thanks to human-robot collaboration

25.09.2017 | Trade Fair News

Highest-energy cosmic rays have extragalactic origin

25.09.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>