BioBlitz discovers new species

More than two dozen science experts recently took part in a daylong survey of the San Elijo Lagoon Ecological Reserve in which they documented 729 species of plants, birds, fish, invertebrates, insects, reptiles, and mammals. The most significant findings were the discovery of four species of bats and a species of “everlasting” (a flowering plant) not confirmed in the reserve before.

A BioBlitz is a 24-hour inventory of all living organisms in a given area. The BioBlitz at San Elijo Lagoon in May was the first BioBlitz to take place in San Diego North County. A complete inventory of species recorded during the San Elijo Lagoon BioBlitz can be found at


MS treatment near?

Multiple sclerosis (MS) affects an estimated 2.5 million people worldwide. Currently, there are six FDA-approved medications for its treatment. All require injection, and all are expensive and difficult for patients to tolerate.

Now, comes word that a 20-year-old treatment, pioneered by scientists at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) for a rare form of leukemia (hairy cell leukemia), may be on the verge of becoming the first effective oral therapy for MS. The drug is cladribine, currently marketed under the name Leustatin. Data from a two-year Phase III trial of cladribine tablets showed that the drug significantly reduced the relapse rate of MS patients with the relapsing-remitting form of the disease.

Nature’s call

Undergraduate students at UCSD’s Jacobs School of Engineering are studying the fluid dynamics of water in order to build a more comfortable and sanitary urine collection device for space travel.

The project, selected by NASA in a nationwide competitive process, included research time in an ultra low-gravity environment created when an airplane made dramatic rises and drops in altitude. During that period the internal environment of the airplane shifted to nearly zero gravity for 15 to 35 seconds during which the students made observations of fired streams of water. The goal was to mimic the behavior of streams of human urine in zero gravity in order to collect the data necessary to make better space urinals for both women and men.

The Jacobs School students are currently analyzing the data they collected and plan to submit an academic paper after another round of experiments.