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Current Topic: Biology

Zika Update
Topic: Biology 11:32 pm EST, Feb 24, 2016

Stat news is a new source for science and medical news. So far, I have really been enjoying their morning round emails, which summarize interesting tidbits around different corners of the internet/science journals. For those interested in keeping up with the Zika outbreak, they offer a 30 second daily update including new information collected about this virus.

Zika Update

BBC NEWS | Health | Immune block tackles Alzheimer's
Topic: Biology 2:20 pm EDT, Jun  3, 2008

The body's immune system could be harnessed to fight back against Alzheimer's disease, research suggests.

Turning off a part of the immune system cleared away harmful brain deposits and improved memory, the mouse study found.

US scientists, reporting their discovery in the journal Nature Medicine, said it was like a "vacuum cleaner" had been working in the brain.

What is neat about this study is that taking away the amyloid plaques actually improved memory....very promising.

BBC NEWS | Health | Immune block tackles Alzheimer's

Intels Andy Grove roasts the biomedical industry
Topic: Biology 6:48 pm EST, Nov 10, 2007

On Sunday afternoon, Grove is unleashing a scathing critique of the nation's biomedical establishment. In a speech at the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience, he challenges big pharma companies, many of which haven't had an important new compound approved in ages, and academic researchers who are content with getting NIH grants and publishing research papers with little regard to whether their work leads to something that can alleviate disease, to change their ways.

There is only one section of this entire article that makes sense. It is the final question of the interview, where Grove discusses the problem of conformity in the biomedical sciences. With that, I agree...with the grant system the way it is, there really is no good place (at least where government money is concerned) for extreme innovation. However, I think that Grove seriously underestimates the complexity of drug design and misses a basic understanding of much of biomedical research. The reason why there are no "new" big therapies for diseases like Parkinsons is that research hasn't found a way to fix it yet. Its not that we are not trying hard enough. As well, although not every scientific paper published seems to have a direct line to therapies, they are all important. The human body, and even just a single human cell, is so complex that even after over 100 years of intense study, there are still hundreds of questions left about how basic cellular machinery works. Its not that the pharmaceutical companies are hording a bunch of great new drugs and are too lazy to getting around to testing them. Its just that all too often, a drug will work great until it gets to clinical trials, where the complexity of the body causes the drug not to work as well as it did in the mouse models. Until we understand *EVERY* pathway and machine within a cell and between cells and between organs, we will never be able to design drugs that will cure all the horrible diseases. He makes an analogy between designing computer chips and design of drugs, which I think is a poor analogy. Whereas he can open a computer, take it entirely apart, and put it back together (thus understanding every connection making that computer run), biomedical scientists are unable to do the same with the human body. They struggle to make sense of the human body by studying every organism that is ethical to work on, and try to draw parallels. Anyway, I wish I could have been at this talk to see the reaction of the crowd. Something tells me he didn't receive a standing ovation. While the funding system may need an overhaul in some people's opinion, innovation isn't entirely muted in the research community. The NIH do have grants for new investigators and new lines of research, and as well, the NSF funds science that is a bit more out of the box as well. I think Grove should have done a bit more research before unleashing on the biomedical research community. I am sure it must be frustrating to be diagnosed with a horrible disease such as Parkinsons, but instead of lashing out, perhaps his time would be better spent raising awareness and funds for the biomedical research community.

Intels Andy Grove roasts the biomedical industry

3-D images of a flu virus | Emerging Technology Trends |
Topic: Biology 8:28 pm EST, Jan  1, 2007

Last week, The Lancet released a study stating that an influenza pandemic similar to the so-called Spanish flu pandemic that killed between 50 and 100 million people between 1918 and 1920 would kill about 62 million people today, with 96 percent of the deaths occurring in developing countries (details here, free registration required). It is reassuring to learn that researchers from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) have succeeded in imaging one of the viruses that causes influenza. So far, they've studied the H3N2 strain, but they could soon image other ones. This finding could help to discover how antibodies inactivate the virus — and maybe save millions of lives.

3-D images of a flu virus | Emerging Technology Trends |

harvard.swf (application/x-shockwave-flash Object)
Topic: Biology 4:28 pm EDT, Oct 27, 2006

Nanochick can probably explain what all of this stuff is. For the rest of us its just a freak out video...

This is a really exceptionally well done video. These processes shown really are the processes going on within a cell. What this video is depicting (for those that don't know) is an immune response. It shows white blood cells at the beginning drifting along in a bloodstream, and then goes on to show a cells inner processes in signalling to the immune system that there is an issue. Its really beautiful:) I can provide more details for those that are interested.

harvard.swf (application/x-shockwave-flash Object)

Boing Boing: Wasp performs roach-brain-surgery to make zombie slave-roaches
Topic: Biology 6:49 pm EST, Feb  3, 2006

Zombie Slave kicks total ass. Sometimes biology is so much more sci-fi than fiction

The wasp slips her stinger through the roach's exoskeleton and directly into its brain. She apparently use ssensors along the sides of the stinger to guide it through the brain, a bit like a surgeon snaking his way to an appendix with a laparoscope. She continues to probe the roach's brain until she reaches one particular spot that appears to control the escape reflex. She injects a second venom that influences these neurons in such a way that the escape reflex disappears.

From the outside, the effect is surreal. The wasp does not paralyze the cockroach. In fact, the roach is able to lift up its front legs again and walk. But now it cannot move of its own accord. The wasp takes hold of one of the roach's antennae and leads it--in the words of Israeli scientists who study Ampulex--like a dog on a leash.

Boing Boing: Wasp performs roach-brain-surgery to make zombie slave-roaches

Antarctica Penguin-Cam
Topic: Biology 9:37 pm EST, Dec 20, 2004

Updated every 30 minutes, a webcam feed from Antarctica, showing a colony of Gentoo penguins. Looks like the chicks have already hatched...

[Cool! -Nano]

Antarctica Penguin-Cam

EE Times -Experts worry that synthetic biology may spawn biohackers
Topic: Biology 10:44 pm EDT, Jul  8, 2004

] "There is an opportunity here because the
] oligonucleotides contain a lot of information which can
] be used to track and monitor what is being done with
] them."

A very interesting article on EE Times on the Bill Joy tip.

EE Times -Experts worry that synthetic biology may spawn biohackers

EE Times -BioBricks to help reverse-engineer life
Topic: Biology 1:04 am EDT, Jun 15, 2004

] Leaders of a new movement are kicking
] off the first Synthetic Biology 1.0 conference at the
] Massachussets Institute of Technology this week.
] "Synthetic biology" is the blanket term for a
] multidisciplinary attempt to identify a class of standard
] operational components that can be assembled into
] functioning molecular machines.
] Central to that effort is the ability to isolate discrete
] biomolecular mechanisms and define standard interfaces
] for them so that they can be assembled in much the same
] way as electronic circuits. This confluence of computer
] science and biology is so remarkable that this new
] movement rises to the level of moon shot initiatives: to
] reverse-engineer life itself.

] "Biology is the nanotechnology that works."

EE Times -BioBricks to help reverse-engineer life

GA Superintendent backs down on Evolution
Topic: Biology 1:45 pm EST, Feb  5, 2004

] State Schools Superintendent Kathy Cox, in a press
] release Thursday morning, said she would ask that the
] word evolution be put back in the state's proposed
] curriculum.
] "I made the decision to remove the word evolution from
] the draft of the proposed biology curriculum in an effort
] to avoid controversy that would prevent people from
] reading the substance of the document itself," wrote Cox.
] "Instead, a greater controversy ensued."

GA Superintendent backs down on Evolution

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