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The intestinal microbes that “eat” Parkinson’s drugs and make them ineffective have been discovered

Some drugs, once inserted in the human body, do not have the desired effect, or at least not at a sufficient level, because they can be degraded by the microbes present in the body itself. A concrete example comes from the microorganisms of the intestinal microbiome: the latter can interfere with the path that the drugs ingested orally should have through the body. Microbes degrade the drug and interfere with its action.

Further evidence came from a new study by researchers at Harvard University published in Science. The same microbial metabolism that can be very useful, especially with regard to digestion, can also be harmful, as reported by Maini Rekdal, a student of Professor Emily Balskus and the first author of the study. Intestinal microbes can indeed “chew” drugs and this can have dangerous side effects because the drug itself can eventually be toxic, not just less useful.

Researchers are concentrating on levodopa (L-dopa), one of the primary treatments for Parkinson’s disease, identifying which are the bacteria responsible for its degradation. Levodopa, once ingested, must transport dopamine into the brain to alleviate the symptoms of the disease but only 1-5% of this drug can reach the brain. This is because there are various enzymes in the body that already break it down in the intestine. The researchers then introduced another drug, carbidopa, to block this undesirable metabolism that converts levodopa into dopamine already in the intestine but also in this case, although in a variable way from person to person, the body’s metabolism began to degrade also this second drug causing serious and bothersome side effects in many patients.

Scientists have hypothesized that intestinal microbes degrade levodopa but no one was able to identify what they were. Rekdal has succeeded that the bacterium Enterococcus faecalis eats all of the levodopa. The researcher, together with his colleagues, has also already discovered a molecule that inhibits the enzyme that the bacterium uses to degrade the drug. This molecule does not kill bacteria but only interferes with its metabolism by targeting its non-essential enzyme.

The same researchers also discovered a second microorganism, the slow Eggerthella, present in the intestine that acts after the E. faecalis has acted. After the latter transforms the drug into dopamine already in the intestine, this second microorganism performs a new conversion transforming dopamine into meta-tyramine. However, once the enzyme of the slow Eggerthella is inhibited, this second conversion can no longer take place because the drug is no longer transformed into dopamine.

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Pterodactyls were capable of flying as soon as they were born according to a new study

Many paleontologists think that pterodactyls, the well-known winged dinosaurs that lived 150 million years ago, were able to fly only when their bodies reached an adequate level of growth, just like most birds and bats do. However, a new study published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences shows that these extinct reptiles could fly from birth.

This is not a minor feature considering that no other known vertebrate has been or is capable of much. Furthermore, this very discovery clearly changes our understanding of the life of these animals as a whole. The theory that pterodactyls were able to fly only after reaching a certain body size was corroborated by some fossil findings in China that showed underdeveloped wings.

The paleobiologist of the University of Leicester, David Unwin, refutes this hypothesis after analyzing, together with Charles Deeming, a zoologist at the University of Lincoln, precisely these fossils. By comparing this analysis with data relating to prenatal growth, ie that which occurs within the new, of birds and crocodiles, the researchers found that those fossils are related to pterodactyls that are still an early stage of development, very far from the moment of hatching.

Another thing that corroborates the thesis of Unwin and Deeming would be in the fact, according to the researchers, that the pterodactyls notoriously were not facilitated by any parental care given that they had to begin to feed themselves and take care of themselves until the hatching. This is why flying practically just after coming out of the eggs was an almost essential characteristic to escape predators, in particular the other carnivorous dinosaurs.

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Calamari will take advantage of the acidification of the seas and will multiply out of all proportion

There is an animal that could take advantage of climate change, unlike most other species threatened by ongoing global warming. According to new research, which appeared in Conservation Physiology, squid not only will survive with the increasingly pressing acidification of the seas, caused by scientists according to the current global warming, but rather will exploit it to live better and multiply.

In fact, it is even more of a surprise because squid are notoriously very sensitive to changes in acidity so much so that they already live to their limits with regard to the surrounding oxygen. This is because they swim in a way that leads to a high exploitation of energy and this, in turn, to a greater need for oxygen that must flow into their blood. With a greater presence of carbon dioxide in the water, it was therefore thought that the squid would not have gone so well.

Scientists tested the effects of water acidification on two species of tropical squid, the two-colored pygmy squid (Idiosepius pygmaeus) and the Lesson squid (Sepioteuthis lessoniana). After subjecting them to higher levels of CO 2, those thought to be reached by the end of the century, the researchers realized that these two species were not influenced in motor performance, as reported by Blake Spady, researcher of the ARC Center of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, one of the authors of the study, but in fact obtained advantages from the changed environmental conditions.

The reason? According to the researchers, tropical squid have developed particular ionic regulatory epithelia both in the gills and in the skin cells that are very effective in the face of environmental acid changes. Acidification of the waters therefore represents an advantage for them because with higher levels of carbon dioxide in the water the other animal species, and therefore also their prey, showed a net loss in their physical performance.

With this ability to adapt to environmental changes and the already high growth rates of squid, researchers predict their populations will increase significantly over the next few decades. Obviously such a situation will be substantially positive only for squid: alterations of the marine environmental balance of this type, which see clear increases in a few years or decades in the number of specimens of a single species or family, usually do not prove to be positive for all other animals in the food chain.