Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Eating bats linked to neurological disease

26.05.2003


Flying fox feeding on cycad seeds (courtesy of Dr. Merlin Tuttle, Bat Conservation International)


Maybe you really are what you eat. This would solve the long-time mystery of why so many of Guam’s Chamorro people – up to a third per village -- suffered a devastating neurological disease. A new study suggests that they gorged on flying fox bats that in turn had feasted on neurotoxin-laden cycad seeds.

"Through the consumption of cycad-fed flying foxes, the Chamorro people may have unwittingly ingested large quantities of cycad neurotoxins," say Clark Monson of the University of Hawaii, Honolulu, Sandra Banack of California State University, Fullerton, and Paul Cox of the National Tropical Botanical Garden in Kalaheo, Hawaii, in the June issue of Conservation Biology.

Guam’s indigenous Chamorro people historically had a high incidence of a neurological disease with similarities to Lou Gehrig’s, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases. Called ALS-PDC (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis-Parkinsonian dementia complex), the disease’s symptoms range from muscle weakness and paralysis to dementia. The rate of ALS-PDC has been as much as 100 times higher in Guam’s Chamorro people than in the continental U.S.



Monson and his colleagues hypothesized that the answer might be another thing unique to Guam’s Chamorro people: they love to eat the local flying foxes. These bats, which have a three-foot wing span, are served at Chamorro weddings, village fiestas and religious events. The preparation is simple: wash and boil whole, and then eat the entire bat -- wings, brains, fur and all.

Eating too many of these flying foxes could be dangerous because they like to eat cycad seeds, which contain a neurotoxin called BMAA (beta-methylamino L-alanine). The bats are probably neurotoxin-rich because studies have shown that when rats ingest BMAA, most (90%) of it stays in their bodies rather than being excreted.

Several lines of evidence support the link between eating these bats and contracting the neurological disease. Previous studies have shown that Chamorro populations outside of Guam do not have higher incidences of the disease, suggesting that it is caused by an environmental factor. In addition, the disease is three times more common in men than in women, and men like to eat the entire bat while women tend to eat only the breast meat. Finally, the incidence of the disease rose after people began hunting flying foxes for commercial trade and then dropped as the bat population fell.

Eating wildlife has threatened people’s health in other cases. Thousands of people in Kyushu, Japan, who ate mercury-contaminated fish suffered neurological problems, birth defects or even death. And people living in the Faroe Islands eat whale meat and have high levels of mercury and PCBs.

Eating wild animals that have not been commercially traded for a long time may be particularly risky because they could have unknown health risks. "We urge caution in the consumption of recently commercialized wildlife species," say Monson and his colleagues.

Clark Monson | Society for Conservation Biology
Further information:
http://conbio.net/scb
http://www.conbio.org/SCB/Services/Tips/2003-6-June.cfm#A2

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Human skin is an important source of ammonia emissions
27.05.2020 | Max-Planck-Institut für Chemie

nachricht Biotechnology: Triggered by light, a novel way to switch on an enzyme
27.05.2020 | Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Biotechnology: Triggered by light, a novel way to switch on an enzyme

In living cells, enzymes drive biochemical metabolic processes enabling reactions to take place efficiently. It is this very ability which allows them to be used as catalysts in biotechnology, for example to create chemical products such as pharmaceutics. Researchers now identified an enzyme that, when illuminated with blue light, becomes catalytically active and initiates a reaction that was previously unknown in enzymatics. The study was published in "Nature Communications".

Enzymes: they are the central drivers for biochemical metabolic processes in every living cell, enabling reactions to take place efficiently. It is this very...

Im Focus: New double-contrast technique picks up small tumors on MRI

Early detection of tumors is extremely important in treating cancer. A new technique developed by researchers at the University of California, Davis offers a significant advance in using magnetic resonance imaging to pick out even very small tumors from normal tissue. The work is published May 25 in the journal Nature Nanotechnology.

researchers at the University of California, Davis offers a significant advance in using magnetic resonance imaging to pick out even very small tumors from...

Im Focus: I-call - When microimplants communicate with each other / Innovation driver digitization - "Smart Health“

Microelectronics as a key technology enables numerous innovations in the field of intelligent medical technology. The Fraunhofer Institute for Biomedical Engineering IBMT coordinates the BMBF cooperative project "I-call" realizing the first electronic system for ultrasound-based, safe and interference-resistant data transmission between implants in the human body.

When microelectronic systems are used for medical applications, they have to meet high requirements in terms of biocompatibility, reliability, energy...

Im Focus: When predictions of theoretical chemists become reality

Thomas Heine, Professor of Theoretical Chemistry at TU Dresden, together with his team, first predicted a topological 2D polymer in 2019. Only one year later, an international team led by Italian researchers was able to synthesize these materials and experimentally prove their topological properties. For the renowned journal Nature Materials, this was the occasion to invite Thomas Heine to a News and Views article, which was published this week. Under the title "Making 2D Topological Polymers a reality" Prof. Heine describes how his theory became a reality.

Ultrathin materials are extremely interesting as building blocks for next generation nano electronic devices, as it is much easier to make circuits and other...

Im Focus: Rolling into the deep

Scientists took a leukocyte as the blueprint and developed a microrobot that has the size, shape and moving capabilities of a white blood cell. Simulating a blood vessel in a laboratory setting, they succeeded in magnetically navigating the ball-shaped microroller through this dynamic and dense environment. The drug-delivery vehicle withstood the simulated blood flow, pushing the developments in targeted drug delivery a step further: inside the body, there is no better access route to all tissues and organs than the circulatory system. A robot that could actually travel through this finely woven web would revolutionize the minimally-invasive treatment of illnesses.

A team of scientists from the Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems (MPI-IS) in Stuttgart invented a tiny microrobot that resembles a white blood cell...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Dresden Nexus Conference 2020: Same Time, Virtual Format, Registration Opened

19.05.2020 | Event News

Aachen Machine Tool Colloquium AWK'21 will take place on June 10 and 11, 2021

07.04.2020 | Event News

International Coral Reef Symposium in Bremen Postponed by a Year

06.04.2020 | Event News

 
Latest News

New 5G switch provides 50 times more energy efficiency than currently exists

27.05.2020 | Information Technology

Return of the Blob: Surprise link found to edge turbulence in fusion plasma

27.05.2020 | Physics and Astronomy

Upwards with the “bubble shuttle”: How sea floor microbes get involved with methane reduction in the water column

27.05.2020 | Earth Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>