Current Event Summaries by Jennifer C.

5 Responses to Current Event Summaries by Jennifer C.

  1. Jennifer C. says:

    Title: Pico-World of Molecular Bioscavengers, Mops and Sponges Being Designed
    URL: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/09/130905203020.htm
    Author(s): Leila Gray
    Published by: Science Daily
    Date: September 5, 2013

    Article Summary: Scientists have now successfully created a computer-designed protein that can unite with three different steroids, digitoxigenin, progesterone, and B-estradiol. This is a major advancement towards making proteins to use in synthetic biology. Christine E. Tinberg and Sagar D. Khare led the study and were directed by the University of Washington’s professor of biochemistry, David Baker. They published a paper regarding their research in an online issue of Nature. The researchers were able to beat previous hurdles in their research, including problems with differences between their computer plans and the actual molecules’ structures. Their findings create many new possibilities including the use of the binding proteins in medical, industrial, and environmental fields.

    Personal Reaction: I believe that their research will be very important to the future of medicine. Although the proteins currently only bind to three different steroids, with further research they could bind themselves to specific diseased molecules. This would be helpful all over the world. It could detect certain illnesses in people earlier on in their lives and potentially save them. I am impressed with the researchers’ perseverance to overcome their problems in their earlier tries at creating the molecules. It is frustrating when certain things don’t work out the way that they are supposed to, but the researchers were able to find a solution to their problem.

  2. Jennifer C. says:

    Title: Molecular Beacons Light Path to Cardiac Muscle Repair
    Author(s): Science Daily
    Published by: Science Daily
    Date: September 5, 2013
    URL: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/09/130905142839.htm

    Article Summary: Many cardiology researchers have been working on creating pure cardiac muscle cells from stem cells. If the entire population of cells is not pure, then there is the possibility of a tumor forming. Researchers from Emory and Georgia Tech have created a way to purify cardiac muscle cells using molecular beacons, which become fluorescent when they find cells with certain genes that are turned on. The purified cells can be used to heal injured parts of the heart inside patients who had heart attacks or heart failures. In addition, the method of purification could potentially be used to purify other cells created from stem cells. They used embryonic stem cells or induced pluripotent stem cells in their experiment with the damaged hearts of mice. The results showed that the cells improved the heart’s pumping power in the mice that received cells, and the pumping power of the mice that did not get cells went down. The researcher’s next goal is enhancing the retention of the cells.

    Personal Reaction: I am very excited about the researchers’ results. Heart attacks and heart failure has become an increasing problem in the world. However the results of their work show that there could be a way to heal the hearts of the patients. This also has the potential to help numerous other people in the world. Many people play sports, and they often get injured. With the molecular beacon method of purifying cells, doctors could help athletes with damaged brain cells or other types of cells. I commend these researchers and everyone in the medical field for their hard work in helping save the lives of other people. This article is related to a subject that we have learned a little bit about in school. In chapter one, we read a brief preview about the cellular basis of life and how most multicellular organisms have cells that perform different functions, which is related to this article because it is about cells that function in the heart.

  3. Jennifer C. says:

    Title: Look at What I’m Saying: Engineers Show Brain Depends on Vision to Hear
    Author(s): Science Daily
    Published by: Science Daily
    Date: September 4, 2013
    URL: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/09/130904203532.htm

    Article Summary: Bioengineers from the University of Utah have discovered that people’s hearing is linked to their vision. The brain uses both sight and sound when it processes speech. If the two senses tell the brain slightly different things, then sight overrules sound. This is called the McGurk effect. The bioengineers did an experiment with four epileptic adults and recorded the electrical signals in their brains. The adults saw and heard videos of a mouth that said either “ba,” “va,” “ga,” or “tha.” If the video and audio matched, then they heard and saw that syllable. If the motion of the mouth in the video and the audio was obviously different, then they correctly heard the syllable on the audio. However, if the video showed a syllable that was close to the audio like “ba” and “va,” then the patients heard “ba,” when the audio was actually “va.” The last video demonstrated the McGurk effect. The researchers determined that when the syllables obviously did not match, then the brain activity for the sound increased, but when the McGurk effect video was watched, then the brain activity resembled what the person saw.

    Personal Reaction: I thought that this article was very intriguing. It is always interesting to learn new things about how the human body works or a phenomenon that ignores the general rules of how things should work. I especially enjoy learning about irregularities like the McGurk effect. There is a part of the experiment that I am wondering about. I am curious about the reason why epileptic adults were tested and not adults without any medical conditions. This article is related to the theme of biology and society from chapter one of our textbook. It is related because their research in biology could be used to discover new information about mental illnesses that people have involving the brain.

  4. Jennifer C. says:

    Title: Important Mechanism Underlying Alzheimer’s Disease Discovered
    Author(s): Science Daily
    Published by: Science Daily
    Date: September 6, 2013
    URL: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/09/130906101047.htm

    Article Summary: Alzheimer’s disease is predicted to affect as many as 106 million people by 2050. However, researchers from Salk Institute and the Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute have identified an important mechanism behind the disease’s progression. In 2009, researchers discovered that Alpha-7 nicotinic receptors bind with amyloid beta proteins and create effects in mice similar to the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease, but they did not know why the binding was harmful. The researchers recently discovered that the binding of the two proteins causes the release of extra glutamate, which is essential for learning and storing memories. Then extrasynaptic-N-methyl-D-aspartate receptors are activated, which reduces synaptic function. This leads to the memory loss and confusion that is linked with Alzheimer’s. Fortunately, there is a drug being developed that may stop the entry of the eNMDARs.

    Personal Reaction: My first reaction to the article was shock because I never knew that so many people would be affected by Alzheimer’s disease within a few decades. Then I was glad to know that the researchers had figured out the cause of the memory loss and confusion. I hope that the drug is successful because it would help so many people. I would be really sad if my parents would not be able to remember me because they have Alzheimer’s. This drug could help people with Alzheimer’s to remember their family and friends. This article is related to our textbook because the article is about modern biology and how it can help people in our society. Biology and society is one of the ten themes we learned about in chapter one.

  5. Jennifer C. says:

    Title: Giant Prehistoric Elephant Slaughtered by Early Humans
    URL: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/09/130919085710.htm
    Author(s): Science Daily
    Published by: Science Daily
    Date: September 19, 2013

    Article Summary: In 2003, Dr. Francis Wenban-Smith found a site with the remains of an extinct straight-tusked elephant in Ebbsfleet. Along with the elephant remains, flint tools, rabbits, beavers, and extinct species of the lion and the rhinoceros were found and determined to be from about 420,000 years ago. Dr. Wenban-Smith analyzed the flint artifacts surrounding the elephant, and he concluded that the flint tools were mostly likely used to kill the elephant for its meat. The elephant remains, along with various others found in Europe, show that the early hominins were able to work together to hunt large mammals because the elephants were all large males in their prime. This discovery is very unique in Britain because only a few other elephant remains have been found, and none of them have shown similar evidence of humans taking advantage of the elephants.

    Personal Reaction: I think it is amazing that the remains of an elephant and other animals have been preserved for about 420,000 years. It is also interesting to learn that the humans from 420,000 years ago were capable of working together to kill the elephant. They were also smart enough to make flint tools to hunt animals. This article is related to two themes we learned about in chapter one. It is related to energy and life because the early humans probably hunted and killed the elephant for food. It is also related to evolution because the humans who hunted the elephant are related to modern humans, and the discovery of flint tools near the elephant give us more information about the hominins.

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