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 >
Alzheimer’s disease (AD) steals memories and disrupts lives of 5.4 million Americans (according to Alzheimer’s Foundation statistics) and 26.6 million people worldwide. Moreover AD is predicted to affect 1 in 85 people globally by 2050! AD still cannot be cured and is degenerative, so the sufferer relies on others for assistance, placing a great burden on the caregiver, who are mostly spouses or close relatives.
Now a new study conducted by a group Harvard, Boston University, The University of Alberta, The University of Arizona, and The Chopra Foundation ascribe AD memory loss to disruption of microtubules by zinc imbalance (March 23 More >
A major concern for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is the association of zoonotic viruses with the importation of wildlife products. Diseases from zoonotic transmissions can spread globally and pose a threat to human health. DNA technology can be used to help identify the the types of wildlife imported and the pathogens that they carry, giving us an idea of potential health risks associated with wildlife importation.
George Amato, the director of the American Museum of Natural History’s Sackler Institute for Comparative Genomics, worked with the CDC by using DNA barcoding to identify imported bushmeat at U.S. international More >
Bioinformatics is a relatively new field and as such, many people aren’t exactly sure what “bioinformatics” really is.
The NIH Biomedical Information Science and Technology Initiative defines bioinformatics as:
“Research, development, or application of computational tools and approaches for expanding the use of biological, medical, behavioral or health data, including those to acquire, store, organize, archive, analyze, or visualize such data.”
Still confused? Don’t fret, most people are when they hear that definition. I usually like to tell people:
“Bioinformatics combines the latest technology with biological research.”
Over the past decade or so, and even prior, computers have become an integral part of every industry. Biological More >
Man versus machine…which one is the winner? This is definitely a question for the modern world, as people have competed with current technology, namely computers.
Are there ways the computer has out-shined the human mind? Perhaps. But I think the better question is, can computers ever catch up to our incredible brains? I don’t think so.
I was reminded of this the other day when I read an article from “Nature News” regarding an online game called, “Phylo”, created by computational biologists at McGill University in Montreal, Canada. People who played this game were able to more accurately solve problems that computers More >
For the last decade or so, progressive cancer treatments involved taking samples of tumors, testing the cells to determine the genetic makeup, and then prescribing medicines targeted to specific mutations. There are many benefits to this approach, but it doesn’t always work.
It turns out that tumors aren’t uniform; they are mosaics of cells that can be genetically very different. A recent paper in the New England Journal of Medicine showed that a cell in one area may not be the same as a call in another area (a phenomenon called “intratumor heterogeneity”). So More >
Mobile chunks of DNA that walk their way from one position in the genome to another may affect neurological diseases and could have subtle influences on normal brain function and behavior, according to a recent study in Nature.
Alu is an example of a so-called “jumping gene” – a transposable DNA sequence that “reproduces” by copying itself and inserting into new locations throughout the genome. Alu elements are classified as SINEs, or Short INterspersed Elements. All Alus are approximately 300 bp in length and derive their name from a single recognition site for the restriction enzyme AluI located near the middle of the Alu More >
When someone mentions cholesterol many will say, how is your HDL? Cholesterol travels through the blood attached to lipoproteins. From a health prospective we try to maintain the good cholesterol (High density lipoproteins or HDL) and decrease the bad cholesterol (Low density lipoproteins or LDL). The HDL aids the body in removal of bad cholesterol in the blood whereas LDL causes build up of plaque within arteries restricting blood flow and hardening of the arteries that may result in heart disease. Control of cholesterol levels is through a number of ways such as low cholesterol diets, weight loss and drugs.
Cholesterol More >
There was a great deal of excitement last week as intriguing findings published in Nature yield clues into the mystery of autism. Autism, or more correctly put Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) are defects in neural development that manifest themselves early in childhood as affected children have difficulties in socialization and language skills. Like any childhood disease autism is unimaginably frustrating for the millions of parents and relatives that have to find the best way to cope with a child who will have unexpected needs. Even more frustrating perhaps is the unanswered questions surrounding the cause of the disease and the More >
Within the human body we have 60,000 miles of blood vessels. We have three types of cells in the blood, red, white, and platelets. Red blood cells transport oxygen throughout the body while white blood cells help protect us against infection. Platelets are involved in clotting. When you get a cut your vessels send out signals calling for for platelets and proteins to help in clotting. In addition, white blood cells also come to the rescue. A blood clot is a group of chemicals and cells that work together to stop the flow of blood in a small area. All More >