Science Friday: NASA Studies What Happens When Your Brain Can’t Tell Which Way is Up? | Why elephants rarely get cancer

NASA brain

In space, there is no “up” or “down.” That can mess with the human brain and affect the way people move and think in space. An investigation on the International Space Station seeks to understand how the brain changes in space and ways to deal with those changes.

Previous research and first-hand reports suggest that humans have a harder time controlling physical movement and completing mental tasks in microgravity. Astronauts have experienced problems with balance and perceptual illusions – feeling as if, for example, they are switching back and forth between right-side-up and upside down.

The Spaceflight Effects on Neurocognitive Performance: Extent, Longevity, and Neural Bases (NeuroMapping) study is examining changes in both brain structure and function and determining how long it takes to recover after returning from space.

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http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/news/neuromapping


Why elephants rarely get cancer

Why elephants rarely get cancer is a mystery that has stumped scientists for decades. A study led by researchers at Huntsman Cancer Institute (HCI) at the University of Utah and Arizona State University, and including researchers from the Ringling Bros. Center for Elephant Conservation, may have found the answer.

According to the results, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), and determined over the course of several years and a unique collaboration between HCI, Primary Children’s Hospital, Utah’s Hogle Zoo, and the Ringling Bros. Center for Elephant Conservation, elephants have 38 additional modified copies (alleles) of a gene that encodes p53, a well-defined tumor suppressor, as compared to humans, who have only two. Further, elephants may have a more robust mechanism for killing damaged cells that are at risk for becoming cancerous. In isolated elephant cells, this activity is doubled compared to healthy human cells, and five times that of cells from patients with Li-Fraumeni Syndrome, who have only one working copy of p53 and more than a 90 percent lifetime cancer risk in children and adults. The results suggest extra p53 could explain elephants’ enhanced resistance to cancer.

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http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/10/151008131035.htm

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