Putting mysterious cellular structures to use, and when brown fat started to warm us up

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Despite not having a known function, cellular “vaults” are on the verge of being harnessed for all kinds of applications, and looking at the evolution of brown fat into a heat-generating organ


First on this week’s show, Managing News Editor John Travis joins host Sarah Crespi to discuss mysterious cellular complexes called “vaults.” First discovered in the 1980s, scientists have yet to uncover the function of these large, common, hollow structures. But now some researchers are looking to use vaults to deliver cancer drugs and viruses for gene therapy.


Next, what can we learn about the evolution of brown fat from opossums? Unlike white fat, which stores energy in many mammals, brown fat cells use ATP to generate heat, helping babies maintain their body temperature and hibernators kick-start their summers. Susanne Keipert, a researcher in the Department of Molecular Biosciences at Stockholm University’s Wenner-Gren Institute, talks about when in evolutionary history brown fat took on this job of burning energy.


Finally, this week we are launching our music refresh! If you are interested in what happened to our music—where it came from and how it’s different (and the same)—stay tuned for a chat with artist Nguyên Khôi Nguyễn.


This week’s episode was produced with help from Podigy.


About the Science Podcast


Authors: Sarah Crespi; John Travis 

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