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Kin Recognition in Arabidopsis

Posted by on Mar 14, 2018 in Blog | Comments Off on Kin Recognition in Arabidopsis

Plants are smarter than most people give them credit for. Darwin hypothesized that plants had cells dedicated to controlling root growth, like a brain. Darwin’s initial thoughts were published in 1880, but it took until the 1990’s for scientists to actually make headway in confirming that theory. Scientists first discovered that plants’ roots can determine whether roots are their own or not in a 1996 study using the desert shrub Ambrosia dumosa. They found that the roots would stop growing when they encountered the roots of other plants from...

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Searching for a Vaccine for Type 1 Diabetes

Posted by on Feb 14, 2018 in Blog | Comments Off on Searching for a Vaccine for Type 1 Diabetes

Diabetes is a condition in which the pancreas becomes unable to regulate the amount of the hormone insulin in the bloodstream. Without insulin, the body is unable to control the amount of glucose in the body (i.e. blood sugar). High levels of blood sugar, referred to as hyperglycemia, can damage the body’s tissues and be fatal if untreated. In fact, diabetes is the seventh-leading cause of death in the US, responsible for 2.9% of the total deaths in the county. There are two types of diabetes: type 1 and type 2. Type 2 diabetes is much more...

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Prions and Memory in Drosophila

Posted by on Jan 9, 2018 in Blog | Comments Off on Prions and Memory in Drosophila

Prions are proteins that can fold in multiple, structurally distinct ways. These folds can be transferred to other prions, and this propagation results in diseases that act like bacterial infections. In addition to scrapie and CJD (a human disease that causes brain tissue to rapidly decay, leaving the brain with a sponge-like texture), prions are also suspected as the cause of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE, a.k.a. “mad cow disease”). However, more and more research has been turning up other possible effects and uses of...

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Using Protein Purifiers in Chromatography Refigerators

Posted by on Dec 18, 2017 in Blog | Comments Off on Using Protein Purifiers in Chromatography Refigerators

Since the 1960’s, High Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC) has been used to separate, identify, and quantify components in mixtures. The mixture to be analyzed is pushed through a column containing a packing material (the stationary phase, usually silica or alumina) by a solution (the mobile phase) under pressure. Typical solutions can include water, alcohol, acetonitrile, or hexane. As the mixture moves through the column, different compounds within the sample are attracted to the stationary phase or mobile phase to varying degrees....

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Selfish DNA in C. elegans

Posted by on Dec 8, 2017 in Blog | Comments Off on Selfish DNA in C. elegans

Genes are the driver for all developmental functions. These strips of DNA code for everything required for biological life to function. The human genome totals over 20,000 protein-coding genes, and there are estimated to be over 5 million protein-coding genes across all life on earth. The first gene was sequenced in the early 1970’s, and since then researchers have been continuously marching onward to study genes in many different plants and animals. Recently, biologists at UCLA were studying the development of C. elegans, cross-breeding the...

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Can Plants “Hear” Dangerous Vibrations?

Posted by on Nov 3, 2017 in Blog | Comments Off on Can Plants “Hear” Dangerous Vibrations?

Studying the effects that the vibrations from sound waves have on plants is not a new area of science. For decades, scientists have been studying the effects of music on the growth and germination of various plants. Some studies show a correlation with plant growth and exposure to music, while some studies show that there is no correlation. Whether or not music influences the development of plants, music has such a wide range of vibration frequencies and amplitudes that it is not a useful stimulus for designing detailed experiments. For a...

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Fertility and Germline Stem Cell Transplants in Mice

Posted by on Sep 15, 2017 in Blog | Comments Off on Fertility and Germline Stem Cell Transplants in Mice

For many couples, conceiving a child can be a long and difficult process. The CDC estimates that 6.7% of married women aged 15-44 are infertile, meaning that they have not been able to get pregnant in over 12 months of attempting.  Further, 12.1% of women aged 15-44 have impaired fecundity, meaning that they have physical difficulty getting pregnant or carrying a pregnancy to live birth. Causes of these fertility issues can include serious medical issues such as early menopause or chemo-induced infertility. One of the dream treatments for...

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Living Antibiotics: The New Last Line of Defense?

Posted by on Aug 15, 2017 in Blog | Comments Off on Living Antibiotics: The New Last Line of Defense?

When Alexander Fleming discovered penicillin in 1928, it started a new era in medicine: the era of antibiotics. Once penicillin could be efficiently purified in bulk in the 1940’s, it gave doctors access to an incredibly powerful tool to cure previously deadly diseases such as pneumonia and gonorrhea. However, antibiotics did not quite turn out to be a class of miracle drugs. Over time, many bacteria have been able to able to adapt to antibiotic treatment and develop resistance to the drugs. This has created an arms race between...

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Serotonin, Nerve Cell Wiring, and Depression

Posted by on Jun 29, 2017 in Blog | Comments Off on Serotonin, Nerve Cell Wiring, and Depression

Depression, or major depressive disorder (MDD) as it is known clinically, is one of the most common debilitative disorders on the planet. In 2015, it’s estimated that 216 million people (about 3% of the world population) suffered from depression. In the United States, depression is the leading cause of disability for people between the ages of 15 and 44. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, MDD affects more than 15 million Americans annually – 6.7% of the adult population. Depression is believed to be caused by some...

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Modifying Mosquitoes for Genetic Sterility

Posted by on Jun 2, 2017 in Blog | Comments Off on Modifying Mosquitoes for Genetic Sterility

Dengue fever is one of the most pressing threats to global health. The World Health Organization considers it the most critical mosquito-borne virus. The symptoms include sudden-onset fever, headache (usually located behind the eyes), muscle and joint pains (thus the moniker “breakbone fever”), and a rash. The virus is spreading rapidly, with infection rates increasing by a factor of thirty over the last fifty years. More than 2.5 billion people in over 100 countries are at risk. While a vaccine for dengue fever was introduced in 2016, it is...

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