AP Biology class blog for discussing current research in Biology

Author: angelatin

Could This New Gene Editing Technique Increase Burger Supply?

A gene editing technique by the name of CRISPR is a very important and useful tool in the scientific world of genetics. CRISPR is essentially a way for scientists to edit genes which is becoming useful in many different studies such as cancer research. CRISPR stands for Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats. The process contains two main components: a Cas9 protein and a guide RNA. The Cas9 protein’s job is to cut DNA while the guide RNA is what recognizes what needs to be edited. Once a specific guide RNA is created for a specific part of the DNA that scientists want to edit, it is then attached to Cas9. This complex is then added to theVaca (Bos primigenius taurus), Tierpark Hellabrunn, Múnich, Alemania, 2012-06-17, DD 02 target cells where it cuts finds and cuts the matching DNA portion to then be edited. This gene editing process is not only used on human cells, but animal cells as well.

U.S. regulators have now said that certain cattle produced through CRISPR are going to be able to be raised for the production of meat. These specific cattle are called the PRLR-Slick cattle which are among a few of the CRISPR animals that are approved for food purposes. These specific cattle were the first to receive a “low-risk determination for enforcement discretion”. When looking at the specific gene editing that was done to the cattle it was very similar to the natural mutations that occur when cattle are placed in hot climates. They were therefore able to conclude that these cattle who were short-haired cattle were the same as the non edited cattle with the same hair mutation trait (caused by CRISPR). The company who produced the cattle, Acceligen, claim they produced the cattle in order to tolerate hot weather better.

Could A Simple Plant Principle Help Us Better Manipulate The Brain?

The researchers and scientists at Weill Cornell Medicine are working on a family of light-sensing molecules with great haste. This research can advance the very complicated field of optogenetics. There are light-sensitive proteins that play a very important role in the field of biology as a whole. This has to do with topics ranging from its use in photosynthesis to even our own vision. In photosynthesis these proteins are how plants are able to absorb the photons given off from the sunlight and react by using it as an energy source. Most of the information on these types of proteins are from the specific protein bacteriorhodopsin, which is seen in these photosynthetic reactions. However we can only study this protein to a certain point given the technology we have which has lead researchers to a road block. This new study which is being called; line-scanning high-speed atomic force microscopy, will help pass this block. 

Rat primary cortical neuron culture, deconvolved z-stack overlay (30614937102)


The problem that was occurring when studying this field was that the tracking of activity of individual molecules was too slow to see the protein actually change, for example how bacteriorhodopsin reacts to light. The new approach involves sacrificing the image detail of the altering molecules for a much faster frame rate. It is as if one was taking blurrier pictures of a horse in order to capture its entire journey. According to Dr. Perez Perrino they are tracking the protein every 1.6 milliseconds in order to speed of bacteriorhodopsin in its natural, wild-style habitat. As a result of light it will switch between open and closed states. With this new method of imaging they have concluded that the transition to the open state and the its duration always happen at the same speed. However the molecule remains in the closed state for a longer period of time as the light increases.

Optogenetics begins to play a role because researchers in this field insert genes for light-sensing molecules in neurons or other cells, causing them to alter the cell’s activity. This work could potentially help us control the brain in ways we could never imagine. This could lead to eventually treating neurological diseases in the near future.

Could This Chewing Gum Help Prevent COVID-19?

With COVID-19 being the topic of discussion in the world right now scientists all around the world are trying to find any solution they can to help prevent this virus. A recent study has found that a specific chewing gum could actually reduce the spread of COVID-19. The research was led by UPenn’s School of Dental Medicine’s scientists. The study involved using samples of saliva from COVID-19 patients.

The transfer of COVID-19 to the body involves spike proteins and ACE2 proteins. The COVID-19 virus is surrounded by receptor proteins which are what actually bind to other receptors of our cells in our bodies. This binding is how the virus is able to enter our body and affect the different cells. The specific protein that the COVID-19 spike proteins bind to in our body is called the ACE2 receptor protein. Scientists began researching 3D medical animation coronavirus structurewhether they could inhibit this binding to the ACE2 protein.

The research done at Upenn led by Henry Daniell actually had began their research before they knew it. Prior to COVID-19 the team was researching the ACE2 proteins to prevent hypertension. They were able to grow this protein in the lab using a plant based production system. This involved putting DNA that was specific to creating the ACE2 proteins into the plants. This plant material could be a new means of delivering this protein. The Dental School had been working on a chewing gum that also used such plant proteins to prevent plaque in their patients. Daniell began to wonder if his team’s ACE2 plant based proteins could combine with the chewing gum plant protein based compound. This sparked the collaboration of both teams to combine their research into one solution for COVID-19. When the ACE2 plant receptor proteins were implanted into the chewing gum they tested the saliva from COVID-19 patients to see the change in the cells. After the chewing gum was exposed to the saliva the viral RNA that was present in the cells was almost eradicated completely. This was able to work because the COVID-19 spike proteins bind to the chewing gum’s ACE2 receptor proteins instead of the body’s cell’s ACE2 proteins. It served as a barrier or replacement for the proteins to bind to distracting it from the human cells. This prevented almost all the viral cells from affecting the important human cells.  Though this research is both new and in its early stages of development it could be a great asset in preventing the spread of COVID-19 in the future.

Could This Common Spray Help Prevent COVID-19?

A recent study has found that the use of nasal spray can put people at a lower risk for COVID-19. The study was done at the Cleveland Clinic and the data was taken from already existing COVID-19 patients in the healthcare system. The study compared those who used nasal spray and those who didn’t and saw how they were affected by COVID-19. The study concluded that those who used the nasal spray were 22% less likely to be FACT- Rinsing your nose with saline does NOT prevent COVID-19 (cropped)hospitalized, 23% less likely to need intensive care, and 24% less likely to die from the virus.

The study focuses on the effects of the COVID-19 on the nose. Research in this area has come to learn that a certain protein receptor is very important when it comes to actually acquiring COVID-19. This is the ACE2 protein receptor. A protein receptor is the way the virus actually enters the cells of the body. The receptors are all around the cell and are used to allow certain type of bacteria, molecules, and many other structures into the cell. The COVID-19 virus is aligned with spike proteins which are what connects to the ACE2 receptors. The only way something can successfully enter the cell is if it can successful attach to the receptor by having the corresponding configuration and shape. The ACE2 receptor can actually be found all over the body, but it was found to be crucial in the spread of coronavirus to the rest of the body when in the nose. When there are more of these receptors is when a person is more susceptible to COVID-19.

There are certain nasal spray steroids that are known to reduce the ACE2 receptor activity and Dr. Ronald Strauss, a member of the Cleveland Clinic, wondered if this could affect COVID-19. The study consisted of 72,000 patients who had been positive for the coronavirus between April 2020 and March 2021. Approximately 10,000 of those patients were on a nasal spray prior to the virus. Those using ended up having less admittance to the ICU, less hospitalization, and less cases of death. The nasal spray that was used to block the ACE2 receptors for other reasons was actually able to limit the amount of COVID-19 virus cells that could bind successfully to the cells and spread through the body. The nose is a very important part of our body that serves as an entry way to the rest of our body. Nasal sprays are a great way to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and are available over the counter at a low-cost.

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