Sure you could get your science news and recaps from any number of sites way more qualified to science-‘splain than Bitter Empire, but while you’re here anyway catching up on America’s Next Top Model and Most Ridiculous Celebrity Lawsuits, let us save you the click and provide you a modest beakerful of science currently on the burner this week!

1. Shut up and take yer damn blood pressure pills already

An NIH clinical study on the health impacts of aggressively (rawr) using meds to lower high blood pressure has been cut short on account of the results being, well, so damn awesome:1

In the study of more than 9,300 patients with hypertension, using a combination of medicines to reduce systolic pressure to a target of 120 versus 140 cut the rate of heart attacks, strokes and heart failure by almost a third and the risk of death by nearly a quarter.

No science-‘splaining we even need to do for you on that one. So when your Boomer dad with a family history of cardiovascular issues gets salty at joining the ranks of those taking meds daily for managing blood pressure – show him this study, then tell him you love him and want him to be around for a long time to come, and to take the damn blood pressure pills already.

2. Fossils found in frightfully claustrophobic cave lead to a new branch on the human evolutionary tree

Photo Credit: National Geographic

Just about everyone, including your mom, has been reporting on the discovery in South Africa of fossils belonging to what has been dubbed Homo naledi, the newest shirt-tail cousin branching off the human evolutionary tree. And while we predict that last week’s “Foxification of National Geographic2 will result in short order a revision of H. nadeli‘s age from possibly millions of years old to most definitely no more than 6000 years old, for now we highly recommend NatGeo’s3coverage of the story – complete with photos and video of the remains, some claustrophobia-inducing clips from the recovery team squeezing and slithering through the narrow passages and fissures to the chamber where the fossils were found, and the all-women team diminutive enough to slither in to retrieve said fossils remains.

3. It’s like Roomba for cancer cells


The BBC reports that an implant tested in mice shows promise for not only detecting but “sucking up” cancer cells.

Experiments showed that implanting the device in either the abdominal fat or under the skin sucked up cancer cells that had started to circulate in the body.

So maybe more of an inverse Roomba, sort of a black hole that just sits and sucks in the circulating cancer cells. We would call that some doubly good news: not only early detection and Hoovering up of cancer cells, but a useful purpose for abdominal fat!

4. Alzheimer’s Catchable?


Photo credit: Jaunmuktane et al. Nature 525, 247–250 (2015)

Alzheimer’s disease acquired in the usual fashion is already a specter of dread for many of us, whether due to watching loved ones succumb to it or just having Alzheimer’s hit peak mainstream visibility. Now we can add one more possible vector of acquiring Alzheimer’s to our terror watchlist: receiving cadaver-sourced human growth hormone (hGH) extract. While scientists are still working to more definitively narrow down the mechanism by which some individuals who received hGH extract showed unexpected Alzheimer’s brain pathology, the leading theory is that the pathology “had been transmitted by particular hGH extracts that happened to be contaminated with amyloid-β seeds.”

To which we say “yikes.”

5. MRSA Parts I & II

Part I. MRSA (methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus) continues its epic world tour of laughing in the face of humanity’s attempts to defeat it. However, a study out of BYU shows that scientists are hot on the trail of using critters called bacteriophages (viruses that specifically target and murder bacteria) to punch holes in MRSA’s Hulk-like resistance to nearly every damn antibiotic we can throw at it. The BYU study has so far found six different bacteriophages that are effective at zapping MRSA from hard surfaces and fabric (two common ways MRSA makes its way around healthcare facilities).


Part II. Meanwhile elsewhere on the Humans vs. MRSA battlefield, a study out of the Washington University School of Medicine shows that three antibiotics that do bupkis on their own against the diabolical evil Lex Luthor-iness that is MRSA apparently have some kind of Wonder-Twin-Power-activate thing going on when combining their forces against MRSA. And not only does this trifecta of antibiotics pummel the MRSA dead, they appear to do so without inducing the MRSA to become resistant to their deadly combo.

6. Your Love Life Is Functionally That Of A Zebra Finch


A study published this week in PLOS Biology demonstrates, apparently, that the trajectory of your dating and long-term relationship life is pretty much entirely exactly like a zebra finch’s. The upshot? If you want more fertilized eggs, fewer eggs lost or buried, and fewer chicks to die post-hatching, you should hook up for the long run with someone of your choosing in lieu of an arranged marriage.

[Featured image: National Geographic]

[Blood pressure check image via Shutterstock]

  1. to paraphrase sources

  2. Oh Guardian, you’re so delightfully cheeky!

  3. who also helped to fund the expedition

The post This Week’s Bitter Science Round-Up: Blood Pressure, Fossils, And Roomba Cancer Cells appeared first on Bitter Empire.