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The Need for Climate-Friendly Refrigerants & Technologies

Posted by on Apr 28, 2017 in Blog | Comments Off on The Need for Climate-Friendly Refrigerants & Technologies

Ever since the development of vapor-compression refrigeration in the early 20th century, chemists have constantly been tinkering to find more efficient and cost-effective refrigerants. Until the late 1980’s, the most common refrigerants were chlorofluorocarbons, or CFCs. CFCs are organic compounds made up of carbon, chlorine, and fluorine (derived from methane, ethane, and propane), and are best known by their DuPont brand name: Freon. However, CFCs were found to be contributing to the depletion of the ozone layer, and in 1987 the...

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Minimizing Water Loss in Plants Through Genetics

Posted by on Mar 30, 2017 in Blog | Comments Off on Minimizing Water Loss in Plants Through Genetics

Photosynthesis, the driver for all plant life on earth, requires three things: water, carbon dioxide and sunlight. Carbon dioxide and sunlight are in plentiful supply across the earth, but water can be much more difficult to come by in certain areas. Of course, a scarce water supply does not mean that plants can’t survive – many plant species can do just fine in very dry climates. One of the key principles for plants to grow in these areas is to conserve as much water as possible. Most plants bring carbon dioxide into their system by...

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Trying to Turn Back the Aging Clock

Posted by on Mar 2, 2017 in Blog | Comments Off on Trying to Turn Back the Aging Clock

DNA is fundamental for carrying genetic instructions for the growth and development of all known living organisms. However, DNA is not the sole tool for implementing genetic instructions. Epigenetic marks are cellular features that are made up of various amino acid and protein groups that can modify proteins within a cell. These epigenetic marks are not governed by the genetic code, but are nevertheless capable of influencing the way genes are expressed. The buildup of these epigenetic marks in our cells has been suspected as a driving factor...

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Engineering Plants to Survive Salt

Posted by on Jan 27, 2017 in Blog | Comments Off on Engineering Plants to Survive Salt

According to the United Nations, over 12 million hectares of arable land are lost to drought and desertification every year. 12 million hectares is approximately the land area of Louisiana, and represents the potential loss of up to 20 million tons of grain that could have been grown in these areas. Salinity is also a huge problem for agriculture: nearly 25% of the irrigated land in the world now is now plagued by overly salty soil. These salt-filled soils are caused by factors like poor irrigation practices and saltwater intrusion from rising...

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Possible Dangers of Cool White LED Lights in Animal Research

Posted by on Dec 22, 2016 in Blog | Comments Off on Possible Dangers of Cool White LED Lights in Animal Research

The light of the sun fuels all life on Earth. Of course, with the massive amount of electromagnetic energy the sun delivers to the planet, there are going to be some dangerous side effects. For example, the toxic effects of ultraviolet (UV) light are well established. Short-wave (i.e., UVB and UVC) radiation in particular is known to cause damage to DNA, which leads to skin cancer in humans as well as having lethal effects on other animals and microorganisms. However, the potentially harmful effects of visible spectrum light on organisms are...

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Stability Testing Standards

Posted by on Nov 30, 2016 in Blog | Comments Off on Stability Testing Standards

The development of pharmaceuticals is a lengthy ordeal. Large amounts of time and money are devoted to the process of testing the efficacy of a new drug in patients. However, it is also important to test that the drug will remain effective after it has spent several months sitting on the shelf in a pharmacy. Standards and practices are necessary to make sure that medications are comprehensively tested for potency under long-term and potentially stressful environmental conditions. The International Council for Harmonisation (ICH) is the...

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Searching for Answers to Alzheimer’s via the Microbiome

Posted by on Oct 26, 2016 in Blog | Comments Off on Searching for Answers to Alzheimer’s via the Microbiome

As medical technologies continue to develop, the average human life span is increasing along with them. The world population is getting older on average, a trend that will continue as members of the Baby Boom generation enter their later years. However, as humans live longer and longer, they are more at risk for certain diseases that tend to manifest later in life. One of the diseases we are increasingly susceptible to is Alzheimer’s disease. Alzheimer’s disease is a chronic neurodegenerative disease affecting 48 million people as of 2015;...

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Zebrafish and the Microbiome

Posted by on Sep 27, 2016 in Blog | Comments Off on Zebrafish and the Microbiome

Human beings can never truly be alone. Even when apart from other humans, we still share our body with trillions of microorganisms. In fact, there are likely more non-human cells in your body than there are human cells; the most recent estimates of that ratio approximate that you have three non-human cells in our body for every human cell. This complex system of microbial organisms living inside us is referred to as the microbiome. Some of these bacteria live in your mouth or on your skin, but a majority of them (around 100 trillion or so)...

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A Possibility of Prions in Plants

Posted by on Aug 31, 2016 in Blog | Comments Off on A Possibility of Prions in Plants

In the 1960’s, two researchers in London were investigating why diseases like scrapie and Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease (CJD) resisted ionizing radiation. What they hypothesized was that these diseases were caused by proteins, rather than a biological agent. However, it wasn’t until the 1980’s that these hypothetical proteins, dubbed prions, were isolated and purified. Prions are proteins that can fold in multiple structurally distinct ways. These folds can be transferred to other prion proteins, and this propagation results in diseases...

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The Science of C. elegans

Posted by on Jul 25, 2016 in Blog | Comments Off on The Science of C. elegans

In 1963, Dr. Sydney Brenner, a South African biologist, went looking for a model organism to advance the study of biological development, specifically targeting the nervous system. What he found was Caenorhabditis elegans, or C. elegans for short. C. elegans is a small, free-living (i.e. non-parasitic) roundworm. Dr. Brenner chose C. elegans to be the model organism since it is one of the simplest organisms with a nervous system. The nervous system of every C. elegans specimen contains exactly 302 neurons, and this consistency between...

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