Aspirin and the Battle Against Cancer

aspirin

Have a headache? Take aspirin. Have inflammation, a fever, pain, or want to prevent a stroke/heart attack? Take an aspirin. It would seem that Aspirin is an extraordinary drug that we have created. Apparently researchers are now seeing that there are other uses that this magical white pill can due: stopping initial tumor cancer cells. Thats right, there needs to be more work and studies done but it would seem that there is more that this drug can do. It may be able to play a major role in cancer therapies within the feasible future.

Everyone responds differently to everything, and for some too much aspirin can be disastrous. However researchers are looking into making a genetic test to see who may be able to benefit in the long-term use of aspirin.

So originally scientist found that aspirin treats prostaglandins which are a hormonelike substance which can cause inflammation, trigger pain, fever, and blood clotting. You don’t want to suppress these all the time because obviously fevers have an important role in our immune system, likewise with some of these other symptoms, however they realized that by turning down the prostaglandin count with aspirin, it prevents lots of heart attacks and tumors. Another way is that it boost a molecule called resolvins which help stop inflammation.

Rather recently they found that aspirin stops metastasize, meaning cancer cells ability to spread throughout the body which is incredibly significant. Typically tumor cells need a blood source and the malignant cells usually cross walls via nearby blood vessels and enter the bloodstream to not get detected by the immune system. The tumor cells also seem to need platelets and use a chemical to allow them to surround the malignant cells so they act as a shield and way to breakout of blood vessels.

It would seem that aspirin stops platelet cells from combining to tumor cells which therefore they cant travel through the body and create a secondary tumor. They believe it targets a certain set of genes or the nuclei of blood cels but they still aren’t quite sure. They are conducting more test, however this is significant because you can give people controlled amounts of aspirin and will more than likely see effects. This drug is truly interesting and hopefully with further research the science community will make full use of it when tackling cancers.

 

 

 

 

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Dr. Sahota

Sahota.jpgToday I wanted to talk and mention a little about a man who is quite interesting. Almost now around two months ago it was my pleasure to conduct an interview with a Rutgers researcher named Amrik Sahota.

Dr. Sahota is very extraordinary and he is in a field that seems to be overlooked. He was born and raised in England where he graduated with both his BA, and MA in genetics/ molecular biology. He came to America and did some post graduate work to obtain a doctorate. Prior to coming to Rutgers, Dr. Sahota actually worked at a hospital to gain some experience and more hands on with people, and he actually taught at another university. Upon coming to Rutgers, he taught a higher level genetics and molecular biology class, but has recently stopped. He has stopped because he is also heavily in the field of research which is what fascinated me about him.

While he may do some clinical work such as diagnosing people with illness, conducting them on how to use medicine, and counseling, his main focus is working in the lab which is something I want to do. He is specialized and mostly works with Kidney disorders such as urinary tract stone diseases and is looking for means to cure them with a drug. He is currently working with mice and evaluating new approaches to Cystinuria therapy and understanding more what exactly the relationship between stone type and pathology, and in what ways this may affect an individual. By looking at genes and the coding of certain genes that may be inherited and cause a kidney problem, his team has developed a drug and it is currently undergoing early clinical trials to see if the drug is acceptable and safe for humans.

Medieval Medicinal Practices?

medieval

Although very hard to believe today, there was actually a time where medicine wasn’t exactly practical and not necessarily beneficial. This time period we like to call it now as the Dark Ages, or the Medieval time period aging around 5th century to the mid 15th century. During this time period medicine wasn’t really effective, and a lot of plagues and disease spread easily due to the lack of technology and knowledge of bacteria, viruses parasites, and other pathogens that can effect the human body. This time was very dark because the people living in this time period didn’t have any means of treating and fighting off disease so if you were infected, you either got better or you died.

However, since Alexander Fleming’s discovery in the 1930’s, it has been a rather golden age in medicine because we are treating illnesses that we couldn’t before. Unfortunately it would seem as if we may soon be heading back to another dark age in human history. That is because by the means of evolution, there are now antibiotic resistant microbes. These microbes are resistant to current antibiotic treatments and are not treatable. This is problematic because the drug industry is pushing out newer drugs slower than the bacteria becoming resistant to them. It is estimated that 700,000 people die yearly now but that could jump to more than 10million by 250.

Fortunately, it would seem that there is a new movement in science who focus and look at older medicinal treatments such as in the Medieval Age and are working together to make new remedies. A team recently conducted a study with a 1,000 year old recipe called Bald’s eyesalve which they believed was used to help infection of the eyelash follicle. In their study, it would seem that it turned out to be a potent antistaphyloccal agent that killed bacterium and killed MRSA in mouse models.

This is extremely significant because this suggest that there may be hidden unknown more natural methods of treating illness than we previously thought. This also will push digging and looking further into Premodern European medicine and ancient Chinese medicines because these tend to be overlooked and many have their superstitions about them. As of now the team seems to have a database of other medicinal recipes that they are looking to try and hopefully they will be effective as with Bald’s eyesalve so we can avoid another Dark Age.

The Gut Microbiome

gut microbiome
People today are always trying to figure out how they can be healthier and try to do so much to help themselves. That is why people go on vegetarian or vegan diets, take omega 3 fish oils, certain vitamins and minerals to fill in their dietary requirements. But what if I told you while yes this is good, more can be done at a smaller level. How small? Microscopically small. Yes you read that correctly, microbes play a big part in your life more than your probably realize.

In recent years there has been a trend on gut microbiome and how that may impact health. A notable well known science writer for the Atlantic even recently wrote a book called,  I contain Multitudes- the Microbes within us and a Grander view of life where he even talks about this topic and various ways how out gut bacteria affect us.  In a recent study researchers looked at babies and how their newborn gut biome may have a part with some later in early child development aspects such as weather or not they will have asthma, certain allergies,  and even immune health.

They did find that certain types of rare bacteria that may have not been introduced into their gut environment had they received other bacteria from their mother tripled the risk for asthma. These same microbes that live with us symbiotically, ultimately help us with a lot more than just that.

There is research being looked into that they help with digestion, immune system development, and even there may be links of brain development. We have only begun to scratch the surface, but one thing is for sure is that you can help your gut microbiome and Dr. Christiane Northrup discusses this further. Hopefully next time think twice about what you are putting into your bodies because you and our small friends need the right nutrients.microbiomefood

Ed Young and His book

 

i containEd Yong is quite a young renowned science writer who blogs and writes science articles in The Atlantic. He writes and covers a multitude of science topics that can range from how the government and politics sees science to the tiny, naked to the human eye, microscopic organisms that live inside of us.

On that last note, he recently published a new book in 2017 called, I contain Multitudes-the Microbes within us and a Grander view of life. This book is rather quite interesting in the aspect that Ed Yong tries to show us how we are more connected at a microscopic level than we think. First Ed Yong wants to get rid of the generalization that modern society has depicted of microscopic organisms, that they are “bad and dangerous”.

Through the chapters of the book, he shows us like the evolutionary history and talks about how we got to where we are today. Then then within each chapter there is some sort of significance that can be related back to you, the reader. For example one chapter states how your first gut bacterium and immunity can be traced from your mother because through vaginal births, you get a swab of her when you first come out. And he talks about studies where that those babies who came out via C-section may lack certain microbes that are crucial in early life. He also tells us some stories and snippets of what he got from interviewing well renowned doctors and researchers.

Ultimately Ed Yong is trying to change some misconceptions on microbes and he wants the general public to have and view a bigger picture about life. This read is particular good because he simplifies terminology for those who may not be familiar in the science field, he relates it back to the reader, and he even gives tips on what we can do.  You can now find his book on Amazon on your preferred platform ranging from $10.99 to $33.99. This book is an amazing read and I hope that you check it out. Ed and Tardigarde

Finding Elusive Cells

HIV is very elusive and devastating retrovirus. First globally recognized as a problem in the 1980’s, physicians worldwide have been trying to figure out and find a cure/vaccine to this virus, but unfortunately to no prevail. Part of the problem is that the cells that they infect and stay undetected in evade the body for a long time until it is too late. These cells are called T-cells which are a type of lymphocyte that that plays a central role in cell-mediated immunity.

Scientist are trying to find these elusive cells, study and then ultimately kill them. The good news is that recently, scientist may actually be on to making more progress with this disease. On an infected T-cell that is dormant, there  is a receptor called CD32a that is a protein. With this receptor, the protein provides a way to distinguish these sleeper T cells from other immune-system cells.

The receptor provides hope that scientists could target these silent, infected cells and destroy them. One reason why researchers are interested is because of antiviral drugs. These drugs are good because they prevent the virus from spreading throughout the body, and infected immune cells like the T-cell to stop transcribing and replicating the viral DNA. But because there is a small portion of infected T-cells that are dormant, the drugs nor our immune systems detect these cells.

Then arises the problem if the patient stops taking the drug then these cells can become active and the problem then progresses. In 2012, HIV researchers found and attempted a new approach to targeting dormant, infected T cells. This technique was called “shock and kill”, which essentially means they are reactivating/trying to kickstart viral replication in these dormant T-cells. This may be a big red flag because why would you want to “turn on” these infected cells.

But actually it is a good idea because with this theoretically then the viral drugs should work and we shouldn’t have to worry as much. Unfortunately for the most part when testing this, the HIV infected cells were not stimulated enough. This is where CD32a comes into play. When using a fluorescent tagger in gene expression between non-infected and infected T-cells, the infected T-cells showed this gene. Therefore scientist believe, by using an antibody that sticks to CD32a, the researchers then pulled cells expressing the protein out of human blood samples from HIV-infected people. Hopefully following this, then the ultimate goal would be to see if CD32a turns out to be a reliable marker, so it can be used to target drugs to the latent T-cells. T-cells

Bioinformatics to the People

Bioinformatics

 

I recently interviewed my scientist for a research project for school. Dr. Sahota is a Genetics and Molecular Biologist working at Rutgers University. Along from conducting research to figure out diseases with genetics he mentioned that genetic counseling is also what he does.

This is interesting because essentially he takes a look with a patient and looks at their family’s tree history to see if they are pre-disposed to a certain disease. Why this is significant and growing in today’s society is that we believe the key to a lot of or problems is based on genetics and if we could change it or look further into our genes, they will help us discover answers to new medicines and treatments.

One field of science that helps push this forward is bioinformatics: which is the science of collecting, analyzing and storing information such  as genetic codes. Part of the problem when it comes to treating individuals is that some symptoms for certain diseases aren’t so clear as day and night. This is why gene-sequencing technologies help but having a lot of data can cause headaches. Doctors at US Naval Medical Research Unit-6 (NAMRU-6) have recently found a new way to speed up the process sending a sequence of DNA to get analyzed from what took weeks to now you can get in a few hours.

Doctors there developed this new program called EDGE, (Empowering the Development of Genomics Expertise). This new bioinformatics tool hides common microbial-genomics tasks, such as sequencing assemblies and species identification, behind an interface that allows it’s users to create  polished analyses. Some positives that this brings is that the software itself is very cheap to use, and can be bought relatively cheap for $10,000 USD. Users can explore those and other data sets using a free demo hosted on the LANL server, and all one would have to do is download the software and then they can go on to getting the genetic codes quickly.

It’s still in the early works and they need to need to understand what the algorithms are doing, and how different parameters affect their output, however very soon this could be out to the general publics hand for our own use and seeing our own genetic codes.

Full Cryopreservation Becoming a More Feasible Reality?

fry

The Sci-Fi future that we thought was so far away is actually nearing and becoming more of a reality everyday. As seen in the animation show Futurama where our young protagonist Fry get frozen in a container and later he gets thawed out one thousand years later into the future, this type of freezing all though maybe not as long is looming among us. We turn to look at this concept becoming more reliable in the field of medicine when it comes to with organs for organ transplants.

One of the main problems with organ transplants is essentially like with food, organs outside of the body have a certain “Shelf life”. Because of this we are losing many organs and money trying to keep these organs only to have them lost. Part of the problem is when chilling organs the problem isn’t chilling them, but getting them rewarmed to use them in a quick manner because ice particles will form if they aren’t unfrozen fast enough and the organ will be lost. Apparently at the University of Michigan have created an innovative way to help increase the viability of the organs. nano

A solution of silica with iron coated nanoparticles seem to be the answer. Essentially how it works is that they would freeze the organs in a process called vitrification where theoretically the organs would be viable for an eternity and when you need to use them, they would use an electromagnetic field, and through the electromagnet waves the nanoparticles would be excited which is called inductive heating. And since the problem is with getting the whole organ heated, they would have the nanoparticles equally but well dispersed and because of this the whole organ would be heated at the same time.

They scaled this and tested with this up to 50 milliliters which brought back a pig’s artery but that is really far from a whole heart. They are planning to do with Rat kidneys but there is still so much to do. The other problem occurs because since the heart has many valves and chambers, dispersing them equally will be harder than a more compacted organ like a kidney so thats one obstacle they need to get around. Although we are a long way away from freezing full bodies like Fry from Futurama, we are getting closer to a future of  full cryopreservation.

Zika, A new Outlook in Medicine?

zika

Its getting closer and closer to that time again. Its gradually warming and soon our favorite insects will be out and about once more: Mosquitoes….Last year Latin America and eventually parts of the United States were facing quite a vicious outbreak of a virus called Zika. This vector borne virus can be found in infected female mosquitos which go on to bite an individual and infect them with the virus.

This epidemic was becoming quite an epidemic and was part of the scary problem was if a pregnant woman was bitten, her child would experience microcephaly (meaning they would have a significantly smaller than normal head/brain size) which is a very concerning problem. Recently it would seem that the Western Hemisphere has actually come up with some type of vaccination and are actually looking to start with human clinical studies.

While this is really good for that we are trying to make a vaccine, researchers have speculations and wonder if the vaccinations will really help due to they will probably need Zika heavy areas to continue to see if what they are creating actually helps fend off from this nasty virus.  The current vaccine they want to test seems to be  made out of proteins found in mosquito saliva. The product is intended to trigger a human immune system response to the mosquito’s saliva and any viruses mixed with it.  The vaccine is currently going through or have just gone through Phase I trials.

The whole trials are a series of test and regulations to see if its safe before trial on humans and then its release to the whole public to be used. They aren’t quite sure if this whole outbreak last year is going to be yearly or if it was a one time explosion, but they are preparing. Scientist are also tracking the mosquito populations in states such as Texas. The one good thing that will come from this is that we will gain further knowledge and this may be able to help us with future vector borne viruses in the future.

New Evidence to the Fall of an Ancient Latin America Empire

salmonella

The Aztec Empire, one of the most famous and most notable Empires in history especially throughout Latin America. It was dated to have first come about and around through what is now modern day Central America in the country of Mexico. The Empire was founded around 1428 and lasted roughly around a hundred years although this ancient group of people had quite a functional and one could argue a civilized empire. But how could a people who were fairly well adapted around this time have vanished after not being around for quite a century? That’s right you guessed it, it was due to the Europeans.

To be politically correct it was actually impart due to Conquistadors, or the explorers/conquerors for the Spanish Empire were the ones to have utterly crushed this empire, which was roughly estimated with a population to be as high as 25 million versus the small Spanish forces. It wasn’t so much  that the Europeans were better equipped and were more technologically advanced than the Natives that brought the Aztecs to their demise, it was actually due to a much smaller and more dangerous adversary…. a deadly form of Salmonella which came from Europe.

In a pair of recent studies, they have suggested and seemed to have found that from recovered DNA of the stomach bacterium from burials in Mexico which can be traced back to the 1540s, it is said that this caused an epidemic that wiped out up to 80% of the country’s native inhabitants. They traced this and look back to when Hernando Cortés a famous Spanish Conquistador came pretty much after a century helped plummet that population to 1 million. They believe one of the largest of the outbreaks, Cocoliztli killed many people and that in cities/large towns would big huge unmarked graves and dump the dead within them. microbiologistFrom this scientist gathered from using DNA and genetics to sequence DNA from 29 people buried and almost all were linked to Cocoliztli, and further sequencing of short damaged DNA showed and allowed the team to remake two genonmes of Salmonella enterica known as Paratyphi C. It is actually still found today and causes typhus like illness and is in most developing places, and if left untreated kills 10-15%.

Some things to consider is that modern medicine helps a lot and they didn’t have the same treatment to counter this threat. Also there is a question of origin which they think it came from Europe which if that is the case, this would leave the Natives to almost no immunity because they didn’t have contact with Europeans prior. Due to the lack of Sanitary conditions as well, this may have been a thriving source for Salmonella.

This is important because we have a better idea of what happened and can now trace ancient pathogens and the team looks to continue its findings and study other places such as in the Caribbean burial sites.