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November 16, 2011 | Los Angeles Times staff and wire reports
Har Gobind Khorana, who rose from poverty in rural India to become a giant of modern biology, winning the Nobel Prize in 1968 for work that helped decipher the genetic code and explain how cells make proteins, died Nov. 9 in Concord, Mass. He was 89. Khorana died of natural causes, according to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he was an emeritus professor of biology and chemistry. Described by colleagues as brilliant and humble, Khorana shared the 1968 Nobel Prize for physiology or medicine with two other scientists, Robert W. Holley of Cornell University and Marshall W. Nirenberg of the National Institutes of Health.
October 18, 2011 | By Rene Lynch, Los Angeles Times/For the Booster Shots blog
Emily Zaler's business card should probably read "mad scientist. " When the personal trainer is not putting clients through their paces up and down the famed Santa Monica stairs or working out herself, she's making a mess in her Los Angeles kitchen. There, she modifies recipes that are normally filled with unhealthy fat, sugar and carbs using her favorite secret ingredient: Whey protein powder. Her recipe catalog includes fudge, blueberry crepes, almond butter cookies, sweet potato muffins and more.
August 24, 2011 | By Melissa Healy, Los Angeles Times
For patients with high levels of so-called bad cholesterol, doctors routinely reach for two remedies: cholesterol-lowering statin drugs and a diet that cuts out foods high in saturated fat, such as ice cream, red meat and butter. But new research has found that when it comes to lowering artery-clogging cholesterol, what you eat may be more important than what you don't eat. Released online Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Assn., the study found that incorporating several cholesterol-lowering foods — such as soy protein and nuts — into a diet can reduce bad cholesterol far more effectively than a diet low in saturated fat. In fact, the authors assert, levels of LDL, the "bad" cholesterol, can drop to half that seen by many patients who take statins, sold under such names as Lipitor, Crestor or Zocor.
August 5, 2011 | By Daniela Hernandez, Los Angeles Times
Vampire bats like it warm: To home in and bite with fanged efficiency, they've developed a temperature sensor to guide them to their prey, a new study has found. All mammals need heat sensors to help them avoid potentially harmful temperatures such as those that would be encountered from a forest fire or dangerously hot water. This is achieved by a protein called TRPV1 that forms a pore — known as an ion channel — in the membranes of cells. TRPV1 detects temperatures higher than 109 degrees Fahrenheit.
July 18, 2011 | By Jeannine Stein, Los Angeles Times / For the Booster Shots blog
Strike another blow for refined carbs: A study released today finds that soy and milk protein supplements may be associated with lower blood pressure more than refined carbohydrate supplements. The study, published online in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Assn. , put 352 adults who were at risk for high blood pressure or who had mild hypertension on various rounds of supplements. The participants were given 40 grams of powdered soy, milk or refined complex carb supplements daily for eight weeks, and had their blood pressure taken at various intervals during the trial.
July 7, 2011 | By Marissa Cevallos, HealthKey / For the Booster Shots blog
A sunburn’s hot and aching soreness is difficult to ease, even after slathering on aloe vera, and especially when tossing and turning at night. Now researchers say they’ve found a protein responsible for this inflammatory pain. Targeting this molecule could eventually lead to new ways to relieve not only soreness from too much time at the beach but also other types of chronic pain. To reach their conclusion, researchers burned tiny patches of skin on human volunteers with UVB light (the type of radiation classically associated with skin cancer)
July 3, 2011 | By Walter Hamilton, Los Angeles Times
The gig : Chemical engineer and biochemist at Caltech in Pasadena. Frances Arnold, 54, specializes in the creation of new proteins, with a focus on renewable energy. She is co-founder of Gevo Inc., a company that develops liquid fuel from plants that can be used as a substitute for gasoline and jet fuel. Early challenge : She arrived at Caltech in 1986 at age 29, focusing her research on developing proteins with potential for use in areas such as medicine and energy. But she struggled early on. "I was completely ignorant of how difficult it was," she said.
June 17, 2011
By all means, let's contribute to the health of children by reducing the amount of sugar they consume. Sugar provides little nutrition and no fiber, just loads of empty calories. Increasingly, it is implicated in the nation's higher obesity and diabetes rates. The sugar we drink seems to be particularly troublesome; various studies have found that sugar in liquid form doesn't make people feel satiated, so they consume yet more calories. The Los Angeles Unified School District's new ban on chocolate milk and other flavored, sweetened milks is one way to reduce such sugar consumption.
June 1, 2011 | By Eryn Brown, Los Angeles Times
To gauge a patient's risk for disease, doctors often look at blood levels of certain proteins or at other "biomarkers" — cholesterol to gauge heart risk, say, or bone density for fracture risk. And every day, more biomarkers are found, and are often described in the news with much fanfare. But a study published Tuesday casts serious doubt on the predictive value of many of them. After reviewing 35 widely cited research reports linking a substance to a disease, the study's authors found that about 85% of the time, the strength of those links didn't hold up when larger, follow-up studies were done.
April 29, 2011 | By Tami Dennis, HealthKey
Take bored consumers, add fresh features to an old standby, and toss in some media attention (the Kate Middleton / royal wedding hoopla would seem to qualify). Whether it's a skirt or a diet, the results are the same -- fad. This time around, the Dukan diet is the must-have of the season. And small wonder. That whole Middleton thing aside, the diet promises weight loss without hunger. It's French, which seems to give it some chic credibility. And the stodgy eat-a-balanced-diet crowd dismisses it out of hand.
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