Archive for November, 2011
Before the dawn of the written language, prehistoric humans began recording events from their daily lives and environment on the walls of their local caves. Now many of these cave paintings are treasured, priceless works of ancient history and art. Many different animals are represented in these paintings and about a third of them are horses. 
There has been much speculation about exactly which horse breeds existed when the painting of cave walls began about 25,000 years ago. Some of the types predicted included bays, grays and horses with dun colored coats with pangaré markings (tan coat with More >
How is drug development moving along? Well, this is a very good question for we are still plagued by some elusive diseases, cancer for example. There have been many drugs developed targeting proteins involved in disease states some of which have proven to be quite effective. However today the steam engine for identifying drug targets to proteins involved in disease is becoming ever more difficult. Apparently over the past decade or so, the number of new drugs targeted toward disease has declined. This is primarily due to the fact that developing new medicine has become more difficult to do. It More >
One of the biggest challenges facing cancer researchers is that the disease varies so much from person to person. Even the same type of cancer – lung, brain, breast, colon, and so on – can be subtly different. This means that a therapy that works well in one patient may have no effect in another.
So researchers in the UK brought in the big guns – bioinformatics.
Cancer Research UK has set up seven British centers to start collecting 9,000 tumor samples from a wide range of cancer patients to create a DNA database. Researchers will extract DNA from these tumors and More >
In 1994, there were more than 2.2 million serious medical cases, and over 100,000 deaths from negative reactions to prescribed drugs. (NCBI) These numbers have made adverse drug reactions one of the leading causes of hospitalization and deaths in the US. Currently, there is no easy way to determine how a patient is going to respond to a medication, so pharmaceutical companies are relying on a “one size fits all” policy. But as we can see with the amount of hospitalizations and deaths each year, there has to be a better way. One area that is shedding hope on this More >
There are a number of various types of bacteria that naturally exist in our bodies and help us in different ways. Unfortunately, bacteria get a bad reputation. Most people are unaware of how important these organisms are. It is estimated that in a healthy person, there are about ten times as many bacteria cells as human cells! Fluctuations in the level of these bacterial cells can lead to problems such as digestive issues, skin problems, obesity, and more. It is important to think about the way bacteria cells function and evolve when we consider our own health.
If an individual becomes More >
Many of us have seen the variety of shows lately on TV that highlight a behavior known as compulsive hoarding. Shows like “Hoarders” and “Hoarding: Buried Alive” give insight into the severity of this condition. On the shows, there is a person living in conditions that are, in no other words, unlivable. Things such as newspapers, magazines, clothes, boxes, knick-knacks, and food are piled in every available space in the home making walking through the home hazardous.
So what exactly is this condition that is being portrayed on these TV shows? Compulsive Hoarding is an anxiety disorder that affects as many More >
Butterflies are a timeless symbol of beauty and serenity, with their sweet graceful fluttering is enjoyed by people around the globe. But to “non-people,” or hungry animals, they are more often a source of food. Butterflies have almost no chance against birds and other faster predators. They tend to be slow flyers and many have vibrant colors that stand out in contrast to the flowers they choose to collect nectar from.
So why have they not succumbed to the pressures of natural selection? They are much tougher than they appear. Butterflies have three dominant defense mechanisms that have kept them safe More >
As many of you know and I have discussed before, cancer therapies have to target cancer cells while minimizing damage to normal cells. This is very difficult, in part because cancer cells are, although altered, still human cells. Synthetic biology is a new field that engineers biological systems for different applications. One interesting area where synthetic biology is now being applied is to cancer therapies. One advantage is that it may be possible to engineer sensors that can differentiate normal cells from tumor cells.
Early approaches have used engineering to create bacteria that specifically invade tumor cells. In one approach, bacteria More >
How many species exist on Earth? Well, no one really knows exactly, but there are some reasonable estimates. One figure, estimated by the Census of Marine Life Scientists, is posited to be at 8.7 million based on taxonomic methodology. Of this 8.7 million, at least 85% of the species on land and in sea still have yet to be identified and cataloged. It is amazing to think that we only know about 15% of the life found on Earth. There remains much to be discovered.
Recently, researchers at the Smithsonian used the method of DNA barcoding to identify 168 crab species More >