UF is teeming with brilliant people working on cutting-edge technology that saves lives, reveals mysteries and solves problems. We’re here to share the latest in UF’s advancements, research and studies.

 

Batty and Beautiful  

What makes moths beautiful may make them stick around longer.

A joint study by UF and Boise State University shows that luna moths spin their long distinctive hind tails to disrupt the sonar of their predator — bats.

The study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, may have laid the foundations for continued sonar research in the military, said study co-author Akito Kawahara, assistant curator of Lepidoptera at the Florida Museum of Natural History.

Scientists aren’t sure just how many species use similar acoustic deflection strategies, but visual strategies — like fake eye spots and vivid colors — are common. Scientists tracked the predatory behavior of bats using ultrasonic microphones and high-speed infrared cameras, said Kawahara. The study showed that bats attacked the hind tails of luna moths 55 percent of the time. These tailed moths had a 47 percent higher survival advantage.

 

Be light hearted

Sedentary behavior is deadlier than ever, according to the results of a new UF study.

The study, published in the Journal of the American Heart Association, showed that with every 25 to 30 minutes spent sedentary, participants had a 1 percent increase in the likelihood of a cardiovascular event. However, for every 20 minutes the participants spent doing light activity, they faced a 1 percent decrease in cardiovascular risk. The UF Health study showed participants spent about 77 percent of their waking hours in sedentary behavior, such as sitting on the couch, at a desk or lying down.

More than 1,100 people between the ages of 74 and 84 participated in the Lifestyle Interventions and Independence for Elders study. They wore accelerometers to measure how often they moved throughout the day. UF researchers compared this to predicted risk of coronary events like heart attacks.

The predicted risk range covered 10 years, and participants’ risk ranged from 4.2 to 21.6 percent, averaging about 13 percent.

 

Growing Pains

Baby boomers need to think about future living arrangements for themselves or parents, as it is not always best to be where you’re most comfortable.

Stephen Golant, a UF researcher who studies housing needs for older Americans, wrote “Aging in the Right Place,” where he argues that staying independent at home isn’t always best. Older people sometimes become emotionally attached to their homes, so they don’t realize they’re missing the activities and features needed to age successfully.

The biggest issue is for moderate-income elders, who are ineligible to apply for the services offered to low-income people yet can’t afford the services offered by the private sector.

It is important to plan ahead, Golant said, and not wait for a crisis to make decisions. 

 

Insurance and Reassurance

A new UF Health study shows brain tumor patients with private insurance may be better off.

According to a study published in the journal Neurosurgery on Feb. 18, brain tumor patients with Medicaid or no insurance are more likely to stay hospitalized for longer periods of time. They develop more medical complications and are less likely to benefit from early detection of brain tumors than their privately insured counterparts.

It may be due to the amount of time a patient waits to see a doctor after symptoms start to show, said Kristopher Hooten, a resident in the UF College of Medicine and lead author of the study.

“When private-insurance patients start to have a problem, it gets picked up really fast,” Hooten said. “They go to a primary doctor, who makes a quick referral to a neurologist or neurosurgeon.”

People who lack insurance or use Medicaid sometimes have to wait before going to an emergency room until symptoms become severe, affecting their overall outcome.

 

To Feast or Fast

UF Health researchers have found that intermittent fasting causes a slight increase in SIRT3, a protein that promotes longevity.

A study of mice has shown that fasting can extend lifespan and improve age-related diseases. But fasting every day, whether it entails skipping meals or decreasing calories, can be difficult to maintain. 

“People don’t want to just under-eat for their whole lives,” said Martin Wegman, a student at the UF College of Medicine and one of the co-authors of the study. “We started thinking about the concept of intermittent fasting.”

According to the study, along with increased SIRT3, occasional fasting decreased insulin levels, meaning intermittent fasting could help prevent diabetes.

The study measured changes in the weight, blood pressure, heart rate, glucose levels, cholesterol and protective cell response genes in participants over 10 weeks.