AP Biology class blog for discussing current research in Biology

Author: benmadryl

Hot dogs, Fries, and Chicken Nuggets Aren’t Good For Me?

Although foods such as soft drinks, chips, and breakfast cereals have been normalized as good meals, these foods are ultra-processed, and new research shows just how dangerous these foods can be. A recent study from the Imperial School of Public Health in London provides new and convincing evidence that ultra-processed foods lead to cancer, especially ovarian and breast cancer.

Now, you may be wondering how one develops cancer. One develops cancer when cells divide uncontrollably. These uncontrollable divisions begin due to a mutation in genes, sections of DNA. Proto-Oncogenes are genes involved in normal cell growth; these genes cause cells to divide. A mutation in a single allele of a proto-oncogene causes a protein to be produced that will exponentially increase the rate of cell division. Tumor suppressor genes are involved in the stopping of cell growth. When both alleles in a tumor suppressor gene are mutated, it leads to an inability to stop cell division.


So, how does ultra-processed food cause mutations in your genes? It is believed that these foods can eventually lead to the mutation of alleles in proto-oncogenes and/or tumor suppressor genes. All ultra-processed foods share the commonality of being created by substances extracted from foods: Fats, starches, added sugars, and hydrogenated fats. A diet consisting of these types of food can lead someone to develop type II diabetes. People with type II diabetes are twice as likely to develop liver or pancreatic cancer. These people also have a much higher risk of developing bladder, colon, or breast cancer. When someone has a lot of excess fat around vital organs, it makes it very easy for cancer cells to get the nutrition they need to keep uncontrollably dividing. The fat from glucose is what the cancer cells need to continue to divide; cancer cells are known to metabolize glucose at 200x the normal rate. When one has Type II diabetes, they have increased blood sugar. If the cancer cells have access to blood flow, the increased blood sugar gives the cancer cells even more nutrients to keep dividing. Even though one can not say for sure, it seems increasingly apparent that avoiding ultra-processed foods is best for your health. So, the next time you want a snack, maybe an apple and a glass of water are your best bet.


HOLD up COVID-19, HOLD Technology Just Developed A COVID-19 Neutralizer

At the time of this blog post being written, it has been 998 days since Covid-19 was declared a pandemic. Scientists have been able to lessen the severity of deaths due to COVID-19, but they have not stopped people from falling ill. This post will discuss why and what new technology is being created to stop people from falling ill.

Recycled RoomCoronavirus is not different from many other viruses in that COVID-19 uses a protein on its surface to attach to and enter our cells. So, to battle this, scientists created an mRNA vaccine. mRNA is a genetic material that instructs our cells to make proteins. mRNA is covered in a layer of fat to diffuse through lipid bilayers. Ribosomes read the vaccine mRNA, leading to pieces of the viral surface protein being made and displayed on the surface of a dendritic cell. The dendritic cells release cytokines, which leads to lymph nodes making a copy of the surface protein, leading to  Cell-Mediated and Humoral responses. This leads to the killing of infected cells and the prevention of reinfection, but the coronavirus repeatedly mutates and changes its structure. So, the antibodies that the B cells created don’t fit onto and block the newly mutated coronavirus surface protein. Don’t fret; there is hope, Professor Seung Soo Oh is working on a coronavirus neutralizer.

Professor Seung Soo Oh uses Hotspot-Oriented Ligand Display technology (HOLD) to create this coronavirus neutralizer.  The neutralizer contains a protein fragment and nucleic acids, which strongly bind to the protein spikes of the coronavirus. The HOLD COVID-19 neutralizer is created using technology that operates on the principle of natural selection, which makes it significantly better at dealing with the mutating virus. Professor Seung Soo Oh refers to it as “the world’s first self-evolving neutralizer-developing platform.” His discovery led the neutralizer to be much more effective against the mutating virus. The neutralizer is effective against the Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta, and Omicron variants. In fact, it is five times more effective than the current vaccine for Omicron. So, almost 1000 days after COVID-19 was anointed to be a pandemic, Professor Oh has made a tremendous leap in halting the effects of COVID-19.


Want To Replicate Cells?

If you are similar to me in that you aren’t satisfied with the current state of artificial cells and want to “more accurately replicate the gel-like properties of intracellular and extracellular biological environments” you’re in luck. New studies have been published that show how to do this, but first, we must understand what hydrogel is. Hydrogel is made of two polysaccharides: cellulose and chondroitin sulfate. A polysaccharide is a carbohydrate, meaning its elements are CH2O. Carbohydrates are found in sugars and starches, and they’re used for energy. Hydrogel is made by joining cellulose and chondroitin sulfate through a dehydration reaction. Forming a glycosidic linkage.


Now that we know hydrogel, how do you think it could be used to create artificial cells? The answer is in its backbone. Scientists graft anti-Hist-tag aptamers into the backbone of a bunch of polymers made up of cellulose and chondroitin sulfate, along with feeding nutrients this artificial cell can perform protein expression for more than 16 days. This discovery is used to accurately replicate intracellular and extracellular biological environments.

Here are some examples of how scientists plan to use these artificial cells: therapeutic delivery, biosensing, cell therapy, and bioremediation. Therapeutic delivery is the act of bringing a compound to a specific site in the body. Biosensing detects pathogens, such as E. coli, in food. Cell therapy is the act of injecting healthy cells into a patient. Lastly, bioremediation is when an organism consumes and breaks down pollutants in our environment. It’s astonishing to see every way these artificial cells can be used, and I hope you’re excited about how much these cells can help save lives.








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