MUSC Researchers Uncover New Seafood Concern

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A toxin found in seafood may pose an even more serious threat to human health than previously believed, according to new research from the Medical University of South Carolina.

The study published this month in the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology demonstrated that domoic acid causes kidney damage in mice. While domoic acid has already been linked with brain damage – sea lions who feast on sardines and anchovies with high levels of domoic acid “go crazy and die,” MUSC associate professor Michael Janech is quoted as saying in a release announcing the study’s results – the researchers say the kidney is the more sensitive organ in this case: They documented kidney damage at concentrations 100 times lower than the level associated with brain damage.

Although the findings have not yet been extended to humans, the researchers are calling on the Food and Drug Administration to revisit its domoic acid standards, which are based on brain damage concerns. Continue reading

Four U.S. Vegetable Lab Findings on Melons and Collard Greens

sweettatersIn 1937, a year after the U.S. Vegetable Laboratory opened in Charleston, the News & Courier ran a story about goings-on at the facility, explaining “the exact purpose and duties of the station are not usually quite clear to the average person.” Nearly 80 years later, that observation still holds.

But while perceptions of the Savannah Highway lab — and Clemson University’s neighboring Coastal Research and Education Center, which focuses on regional agriculture — haven’t changed much, the nature of the resident scientists’ work has evolved dramatically.

The lab’s staff scientists continue to puzzle out responses to crop threats posed by pests and diseases, but now they’re doing so with the aid of state-of-the-art equipment, such as gene sequencers. (Although they’re not opposed to low-tech solutions: A team working to fight off fruit rot grows its trial phytophthora in rice saturated with V8 juice.)

“Agriculture is a science-driven industry,” supervisory research geneticist Mark Farnham says, contextualizing the lab’s contributions to a sector that’s worth $34 billion in South Carolina alone. Continue reading