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.

 

 

 

 

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.

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.