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Fruit fly disease results from dual mutations

Though nuclear DNA is more commonly studied than mitochondrial DNA, concurrent mutations in both can result in unique diseases. In a study published last month in the journal PLOS Genetics, researchers from Brown and Indiana University examined a fruit fly disease resulting from mutations in both sets of genes.

To conduct the study, the researchers combined genetic material that had mitochondrial or nuclear mutations. Though neither “simw 501” mitochondrial DNA nor “Oregon R” nuclear DNA individually caused harm to the fruit flies, the combination of the two mutations resulted in problems with development, energy and reproduction, according to a University press release.

The study “has relevance to human disease, but it’s also relevant to all organisms because these two genomes are in all animals and all plants,” said David Rand, the study’s senior author and professor of biology, in the release. “This coevolution of mitochondrial and nuclear genes has been going on for millions of years in millions of organisms and is going on in human populations today.”


Injuries on the rise among older motorcyclists

Older motorcyclists are more prone to injury than younger cyclists and generally suffer more severe injuries, according to research by Tracy Jackson GS and Michael Mello, associate professor of emergency medicine.

The findings were published online in the journal Injury Prevention last week.

Efforts to reduce these injuries are important because recent years have seen a dramatic increase in older motorcyclists — defined as those aged 60 and above — on the road, according to a press release from the journal.

To conduct the study, the authors examined the number of motorcycle injuries nationwide that required emergency care from 2001 to 2008. During that time, injury rates increased among all age groups, though the increase was highest for older groups.

Older motorcyclists were also significantly more likely to suffer chest and rib fractures and brain damage, the study found.

The authors speculated that decreased bone strength, reduced chest elasticity and other age-associated body changes may be responsible for the increased severity of injury, according to the press release.


Parental methamphetamine use linked to child behavioral problems

Children who are exposed to methamphetamine prior to birth are more likely to suffer behavioral problems by age 5, according to a study by researchers at Alpert Medical School.

The study, published online in the American Journal of Orthopsychiatry last month, also examined the role of home environments. For both children who had been prenatally exposed to methamphetamine and children who had not been exposed, the study found that if the primary caregiver suffered from stress, the child was more likely to have behavioral problems.

These findings can be used to identify risk factors for behavioral problems in early childhood and may help identify prevention strategies, the authors wrote in the study. Methamphetamine usage in the U.S. has increased significantly in recent years, making it a particularly important risk factor to consider, the authors wrote.


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