An article in Medical News Today reports about a study done on the genotype of the gene rs1051730-rs16969968. Studies show that this genotype is linked with objective measures of tobacco. This link indicates that lung cancer is mostly caused by the level of tobacco exposure.
The study was done by Marcus R. Munafò, Ph.D., of the School of Experimental Psychology at the University of Bristol and his team. In their research, they found that even after adjusting the self-reported cigarette consumption, the rs1051730-rs16969968 genotype is strongly linked to tobacco exposure through cotinine levels.
This research is significant because past studies were generally based on the participant’s self-reported smoking habits, but this could have led to overlooking certain links.
An article in Medical News Today reports about a new discovery of how antibiotics really work. It appears that bacteria are actually killed due to damage to their DNA. Antibiotics attack many parts of the cell, but recent studies done by MIT and Boston University researchers have found that the damage done to the DNA is what provides the fatal blow.
It was discovered that antibiotics kill cells by producing hydroxyl radicals which are highly destructive and attack just about every cell component. Although these hydroxyl radicals cause much damage to the cell, most of these blows are not fatal. It is the damage that they do to guanine, one of the four nucleotides of DNA.
Catherine Paddock, a PhD, states that it is “astonishing that we have been using antibiotics like penicillin for over 70 years, yet we did not know the exact mechanism by which they kill bacteria, until now.” Researchers believe that understanding this mechanism can greatly improve that drugs that we currently have in place, along with producing new ones. This discovery will also help provide a solution to the problem that occurs when bacteria become resistant to our current drugs.
An article in Medical News Today reports about a new study done on genes that promote the growth and development in embryos. The genes have also been found to help transmit chemical signals which help individuals learn, remember, forget, and maybe even become addicted. This signal pathway, named the Wnt pathway, was thought to retire after the growth and development phase, but recent research has proved otherwise. The Wnt pathway is called back into action in adults to change the properties of the nervous system in response to experiences.
During embryo development, the Wnt genes are known to “pattern the development and distribution of organs in the body.” When mutated, they can cause various types of cancer and other developmental defects. The Wnt pathway regulates the strength of the transmission of of nerve signals from one neuron to another. This allows “plasticity” and flexibility of synapses, which is crucial to the processes of learning, forgetting, and remembering.
Researchers on the subjects have also found that these genes may effect addiction as well. The results of this research are causing scientists to further investigate this topic for pharmaceutical purposes. There is already current psychiatric medication that alters synapse strength, but
more research must be conducted to enhance this type of medicine to treat mental disorders, including addiction.
A study featured in Medical News Today reports about the effects of walking for an hour per day on genes that affect BMI, or body mass index. Body mass index is the ratio of a person’s weight in kilograms per the square of their height in meters. A BMI of 30 kg/m2 or more is considered to be obese.
The study was done by examining 32 genes known to effect BMI and cause obesity. It was designed to test the effects of a leisurely lifestyle of multiple hours of TV watching daily versus an active lifestyle that consists of walking at least an hour a day. The data that the researchers collected supported the idea that physical activity reduces the effect of BMI increasing genes. Likewise, a sedentary lifestyle of watching TV multiple hours a day caused an increase in the effect of the obesity causing genes.
Researchers are not exactly sure how the genes affect body mass index from a biochemical point of view, but they plan to do more research to find the answer. From this experiment, we can infer that physical activity reduces the effect of the obesity causing genes, while living a sedentary lifestyle increases the effect of these genes. Researchers conclude that a combination of the two, increasing exercise and decreasing TV watching, will help reduce the effect of the BMI increasing genes even more. Just a brisk walk an hour a day, that’s all it takes.
A news article in Science Daily reports on a new tool that was developed by the group of Christian Schlötterer at the University of Vetrinary Medicine, Vienna. It is a software package called “PoPoolation2″ which makes it possible for even non-experts to compare populations.
The emergence of rapid throughput methods and the dropping of sequencing costs has made it possible for science laboratories to produce more and more data concerning the sequencing of DNA. Even still, it is hard to interpret the data.
This is where “PoPoolation2″ comes in to make data easy to understand. This new tool is a software package that offers a variety of statistical methods which aid in determining how allele frequencies vary among populations. This new technology makes it quick and cheap to compare how populations have adapated to their environments over time, thus giving more insight to evolution as a whole.
An article in Medical News Today, called Genetics of Hypertension, is about a recent discovery of the functions of messenger RNA (mRNA), microRNA (miRNA), and renin in the kidneys. The article tells about how they affect one another, causing hypertension of the blood.
Blood Pressure is defined as the force of the blood pushing against blood vessel walls. High blood pressure, or hypertension, is dangerous because it constricts the walls of the blood vessels, causing the heart to work harder to pump blood throughout the body.
The exact causes of high blood pressure are unknown, although scientists have been aware that kidneys play a role in blood pressure regulation. This is the first time that scientists have been able to identify specific genes that contribute to the process and also found miRNAs that control the expression of the hormone renin.
The findings were discovered during a gene expression analysis of the human kidneys. Researchers examined kidney tissue samples from 15 hypertensive males and 7 males with normal blood pressure and various techniques were used to study the mRNA and miRNA in the medulla and the cortex of the kidney.
Researchers commented on the findings saying that it is the first real evidence to implicate that the hormone renin is a cause of high blood pressure. The study also showed, specifically, which genes and miRNA produce renin. The results of this research has the potential to pave the way for new hypertension therapies and medicine.
An article in Medical News Today, features a study on honey bees and genetic variations between scouting bees and non-scouting bees. Bees that are considered to be scouting bees are females that go out and search for food all on their own, never being told where to go. When they find one, they fly back to their colony and perform what is known as the “waggle dance” to relay the message of the new food source to the rest of the bees.
Scientists conducted an experiment to test the genetic differences between scouting and non-scouting, or foragers. The did this by enclosing bee hives in a large mesh cage so the bees could not escape and placing a specific food source outside of the hives, letting the bees get used to it. A couple days later, a new food source was added to the enclosed area in different locations than the original food source. Researchers observed which bees found the food source first and painted a colored dot on them to keep track of them.
The process of adding a new food source and marking the bees was done two more times so some bees had three dots on them. Researchers then separated the scouting bees from the non-scouting bees. Bees with two or more dots on them were considered to be scouting bees. Then, the brains were taken from the captured bees and geneticists examined the differences between gene expression between the two types of bees.
What they found was extremely interesting; 16% of the 7,500 genes in honey bees were significantly different in the two. Some include genes that regulate neurotransmitter receptors of glutamate and dopamine. Even more interesting, when non-scouting bees were treated with octopamine, a chemical that activates the dopamine receptor, they started showing behavior similar to scout bees. Alternatively, when a scout bee was given a glutamate inhibitor, it would act like a forager.