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Cleaning Up Fish Farms
Poison Dart Frogs
Living in the Desert
Koalas, Up Close and Personal
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Fish needs see-through head
Baby Talk
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Blue Jays
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Drilling Deep for Fuel
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Chicken of the Sea
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Of Lice and Old Clothes
Tiger Sharks
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Basking Sharks
Food and Nutrition
In Search of the Perfect French Fry
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A Taste for Cheese
GSAT English Rules
Who vs. That vs. Which
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Black Hole Journey
One ring around them all
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Stalking Plants by Scent
Assembling the Tree of Life
Space and Astronomy
A Great Ball of Fire
Black Holes That Burp
Sounds of Titan
Technology and Engineering
Musclebots Take Some Steps
Reach for the Sky
A Clean Getaway
The Parts of Speech
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Countable and Uncountable Nouns
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Ready, unplug, drive
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A Change in Climate
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Tapeworms and Drug Delivery

It's not easy living inside an intestine. But some creatures are happiest in the warm and juicy confines of other animals' digestive systems. A tapeworm called Hymenolepis diminuta, for instance, can live for years in a rat's intestine, growing up to a foot long. One of the biggest challenges to gut living is all the churning that happens in there. Between meals, the muscles in a mammal's intestine contract rhythmically to flush out waste and bacteria. Somehow, tapeworms manage to slow down the contractions enough to stay inside. They even swim up and down the intestinal tract as food moves through. Now, scientists at the University of Wisconsin think they've discovered one of the tapeworm's secret weapons: a chemical called cyclic guanosine monophosphate, or cGMP. Research by John Oaks and colleagues suggests that cGMP helps slow intestinal contractions. The new work may help scientists develop more effective medicines. Because molecules move more slowly through rat intestines that are infected with tapeworms, the scientists think a dash of cGMP could slow down the movement of pills after they've been swallowed. That would give the body more time to absorb medicine in the pills, letting less go to waste. So, even though the life of a tapeworm might not sound pleasant, studying the icky parasites more might do us some good.E. Sohn

Tapeworms and Drug Delivery
Tapeworms and Drug Delivery

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