Epigenetics has been a hot topic in molecular biology for several years and it´s fascinating to see how it is now trending in general news as well. I was reminded of this fact when hearing Fatimah Jackson speak at the American Museum of Natural History´s recent SciCafe. So what is epigenetics? First of all it´s not as simple as the genetic code!
The name is derived from epi- (Greek: επί- over, outside of, around) combined with genetics, literally meaning being “over genetics”. Epigenetics is the study of heritable changes in gene activity which are NOT caused by changes in the DNA sequence. While the idea that More >
I recently enjoyed a truly mind-blowing talk at the New York Academy of Sciences. The Neuroeconomist (yes, he studied Economy and is founding director of Claremont´s Center for Neuroeceonomic Studies) Paul J. Zak spoke about his research on the brain chemical oxytocin (OXT) – the so-called “love hormone” – and how he showed that OXT is the source of love and prosperity, triggering a wide variety of physical and psychological effects More >
Your brain is a complex, highly organized organ. Each mammalian brain is made of approximately 10-15 billion nerve cells, called neurons. And each brain is built of thousands of different types of neurons, called neuronal subtypes. Neurons have the amazing ability to gather and transmit electrochemical signals, the more neurons the faster signals can be transmitted; think of them like the gates and wires in a computer. More >
There is an increasing need for more Americans to improve their health and lifestyle. One growing trend that I see in my hometown of New York City is the building of local farms on rooftops and the increase of organic produce sections in the supermarkets. In an effort to protect our health some of us are choosing more natural and locally grown food over mass-produced, insecticide-ridden crops. And in the realm of medicine, many people are choosing more natural medicines or herbal supplements to support our health. Many common herbal medicines used today are used for a variety of reasons, More >
Today, September 28th, is world rabies day! Rabies is an animal borne viral disease that kills nearly 100 percent of its victims once the infection reaches the brain. But have you ever wondered how this fatal virus can affect the brain, causing victims to become ´rabid´? I was thinking about it in those autumn days when all these pumpkin-spice lattes and fancy Hokkaido soups around the city indicate that Halloween is just around the corner – which is always a good excuse to enjoy classic splatter movies like Shawn of the Dead or the zombie film I Am Legend once again, or More >
Have you ever seen a sick boa constrictor? All of a sudden they start shedding, develop head tremors and secondary infections, twisting up into knots and wasting away. These poor animals may have acquired a fatal infectious disease called inclusion body disease (IBD). The disease can rapidly progress to the nervous system, with behavioral abnormalities such as disorientation, corkscrewing of the head and neck, holding the head in unnatural positions, or rolling onto the back. Affected snakes either die quickly or starve slowly over several years. The disease was first observed in captive snakes More >
Lying dormant in our genomes are millions of jumping genes. Originally discovered by Barbara McClintock, transposons are DNA sequences that can move from one location to another in our DNA. Transposons cause mutations when they jump to new locations, so keeping them from jumping is important. However, although transposons are largely silent, every person probably has a few “rare” sites, found in only a few people in the world, where a transposon has jumped to a new location.
The most expensive bowl of soup I have ever had in my life was a $15 bowl of ramen in the NYC restaurant Ippudo. And this was no ordinary “ramen” you would eat at home as a cash-strapped college student. This was an authentic bowl nuanced with so many rich and hearty flavors of Japanese cuisine.
Little did I know that $15 soup was considered “cheap” compared to other soups that sell for at least $100 a bowl. One such soup is shark fin soup, which is traditionally served in Chinese cuisine during special occasions. One is apt to eat this More >
How often do you moisturize your skin? Every day? Once a month? Well researchers at Northwestern University in Chicago have given a moisturizer the ability to perform RNA interference and regulate genes.
Topical treatments are common for skin cancers like melanoma, as they can be applied directly to the affected cells. But our skin is very effective at blocking toxins getting into our bodies so the challenge was how to cross that barrier.
Again, enter the realm of nanotechnology, a topic I post about regularly.
I recently blogged about harnessing the power of bioinformatics for cancer research. An interested reader, Linda Zabriske, commented that the blogosphere (and government organizations such as the Bureau of Labor Statistics) has been gradually filling with talk about cancer research and its role in our future. Linda’s tool, the Online Graduate Programs, collates some of these articles and ideas and she’s co-written this month’s post with me, reflecting on Online Graduate Education in Biotechnology.
In past decades, the field of biological science and engineering were considered separate and distinct. Biology dealt with the complexities and wonders of humans, animals and plants, More >