AP Biology class blog for discussing current research in Biology

Author: gababoutbio

Are the teens on teen mom the only ones?

Many people talk about the teens on 16 and Pregnant and how we as a nation have increased our teen pregnancy rates, but according to News Day teen pregnancies are at an all time low. “There has been a phenomenal drop [of 9 percent] in the last two years,” said Brady Hamilton. Many people frown upon the the fact that now more than ever we have been hearing about teen pregnancies but according to this article there has been a 44% drop in teenage pregnancies since 1991.

copyright: Gabrielle A.copyright: Gabrielle Aaron

“The U.S. teen birthrate is still among the highest for industrialized countries, however.” This makes me wonder because we may have the most teenage mothers recorded but what about all of the other industrialized countries that don’t always record every teenage birth. Also in the US we consider 19 year olds teenagers but in many other countries any age above 18 is considered an adult.

The largest concern that I have with this article is that many teenage pregnancies are not considered pregnancies if they are aborted. While I do think that the rates have dropped due to education in schools I still believe that our rates of pregnancies are very high but we just have ways to invalidate it, thus causing less teenage moms. What do you think? Do you think this article is wrong or right?

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They Have It ALL WRONG.

As a AP Biology student we are required to learn about genes, but because we are just in high school we don’t go too much in depth about each specific gene that makes us who we are. One major topic that we have been studying is sex-linked genes. Sex-linked genes are genes that are usually recessive on the X chromosome and are mostly seen in males. As you may already know males have XY and females have XX (making us more superior of course). So why am I re-teaching what we have already learned?

Well a recent study was published in the The Lancet, a medical journal, claiming that males are at greater risk for heart disease. They found that 2 out of every 3 heart disease patients are male. This is not an outstanding ratio but it definitely  rose questions in the medical field. The funny thing is they are now speculating that this disease is linked to the y chromosome. A chromosome that rarely ever shows up in a woman’s DNA, but if that were true then wouldn’t heart disease be unseen in women. Dr. Tomaszewski found that there are two different types of y chromosomes and men with one type were more likely to have heart

disease.On the other hand “Dr. Daniel J. Rader, a heart disease researcher at the University of Pennsylvania, said it was also possible that simply having a Y chromosome instead of two X chromosomes, as women have, increased heart disease risk. The extra X could be protective.” While the whole New York Times Article speaks about the recent research, the article continuously claims that “A lot more work needs to be done.” I have to agree with this

statement. I think that there are too many other factors that play into heart disease. Is it possible that they are looking too far into this? Maybe it is just a normal recessive sex-linked trait on the X chromosome and because women have 2 X chromosomes they are less likely to have it. What do you think?


Could there be another reason?

From Chris Berwick's blog- White blood cells amongst red blood cells

Leukemia has always been a tough form of cancer to combat. It is the leading cancer found in children and can also be found in adults. Leukemia “is a cancer of the blood or bone marrow (which produces blood cells). A person who has leukemia suffers from an abnormal production of blood cells, generally leukocytes (white blood cells).”

In this specific case, long island doctor Steven Allen had a patient with cell leukemia. Cell leukemia is a rare form of leukemia and usually has fatal results within 6 months. Recently Dr. Allen’s patient died after just three months after she was diagnosed.

Cell leukemia is rarely treatable because most patients have a genetic mutation in a gene called KIT. This gene refutes any type of drug that is typically used on patients with leukemia. The phenomenon about Dr. Allen’s patient in particular case is that she did not have this genetic mutation on KIT, but her body still would not accept any drug, which resulted in her early death.

With her death came two discoveries that were ground breaking in the cure for leukemia. Researchers at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory have found two other gene mutations that refute the other drugs that have recently been studied as a cure for people with mast cell leukemia with a mutation on the gene KIT.

While Dr. Allen remains confident that this is going to change the direction of cures for leukemia, his colleague said “We must reallykeep in mind this was a single case study and we have to follow it up with many other studies.” These studies will help  “prove the mutations are present in other patients.”

What still confuses me is: if these mutations are the cause of mast cell leukemia, are there other mutations we have not yet discovered in all other forms of  cancer. If this be the case how do we know that the drugs we are using are not just a waste of time. Maybe it would be better for doctors to understand all gene mutations leading to each persons specific type of cancer before rushing into one form of treatment that has worked on others. Besides aren’t all humans different?

photo credit: angleys82


Are bad bacteria really bad?

That moment you finish pumping your gas and you think about all of the other hands that may have touched the same nozzle, so you become so disgusted until you remember that there is a bottle of Purell in the car. You suddely have the urge to open the cap, squeeze half of the bottle into your hand and rub them until your hands have never felt cleaner. The soothing idea that only .01% of bacteria may still lay on your hand rushes upon you and then you are able to go about your day picking up food with your fingers and proceeding to place it in your mouth.


Funny thing is, studies show that using Purell is not good for our hygiene. Does this mean that using Purell and  other anti-bacterial creams, sprays and medicine have actually been the cause of some of our ailments? Purell should not  be used on a day to day basis because it removes 99.99% of germs that means that you are not only killing the bad germs but also the good germs, and maybe leaving just .01% of them behind. Anti-biotics have a similar affect as Purell.


The hypothesis:

H. pylori in the stomach- photo taken from

Dr. Blaser, a profesor of microbiology at NYU, decided to research what are the consequences of killing all of the bad bacteria in the human body by using anti-biotics and anti-bacterial creams. He came upon the hypothesis that “the overuse of antibiotics increase the risk of obesity.”  He discovered that anti-biotics have been prescribed to patients with ulcers and gastric cancer, even when the patients showed no symptoms. These anti-biotics actually kill a bacteria called Helicobactor pylori (H.pylori). Studies show without H.pylori, a hunger hormone ghrelin, increases its secretion after a meal, when the hormone is actually suppose to drop in secretion levels. Thus by removing H. pylori the person is actually eating more frequently and consequently gaining more weight. It is also shown the children who have been treated with regular doses of anti-biotics to treat throat and ear infections had a marked increase in body fat while maintaining a constant diet. So can it be blamed on doctors that what they say is so-and-so “baby fat” is actually a result of their over prescription of anti-biotics when we had ear infections? Ok. maybe I went a bit to far, but it seems simple, some bad bacteria is meant to be in our system, not only to keep us healthy but also so that we can form some resistance to the bad bacteria.


By overusing anti-biotics we have created superbugs such as methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus. What a big word, what does it mean? Methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus is a bacteria better known as MRSA and is derived from a bacteria that was known to create staph infections. That bacteria was able to be treated through an assortment of anti-biotics but this new superbug does not respond to most anti-biotics. Thus more and more anti-biotics are being given to MRSA patients resulting in a large concern for obesity in these patients.

Back to the Hypothesis of Dr. Blaser: 

Yu Chen, an epidemiologist at NYU, has agreed with Dr. Blaser that the overuse of anti-biotics and the correlation to H. pylori has also been the cause of many childhood infections such as: hay fever, asthma, and skin allergies. Peter Turnbaugh, a Harvard University geneticist, and  Dr. Jeffrey Gordon, a gastroenterologist at Washington University in St. Louis have also agreed with Dr. Blaser that the use of anti-biotics alter the healthy ratios of bacteria in the stomach, which results in an on-set of weight gain.

This is just the start of Dr. Blaser’s studies, he was granted over 100 million dollars from the National Institute of Health and plans on researching more bacteria, not only H.pylori. SO, what does this mean? Can anti-biotics be killing too much bacteria? Should we be waiting until our sickness has reached its peak before we take an anti-biotic? What about Purell is that creating superbugs?

A solution may be to wash our hands before we eat, but not be too narcotic and kill all of the bacteria that may lay on our hands, what do you think?


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What does it take to get a good nights sleep?

Recent studies show most people believe it is the mattress quality which determines how well they can sleep, but is this true?

Have you ever been to a hotel or slept over someone’s house and felt that the mattress wasn’t comfortable enough and thus it was the “worst sleep ever?” Well what about the nights you struggle in your own bed to fall asleep, all the tossing and turning trying to find the perfect spot on your mattress.

Well if its not the Mattress what is it? 

It is not the mattress that is affecting everyday sleep but rather various things such as sleep disorders that can disrupt a night, or nights, sleep.  These disorders include sleep apnea, insomnia, sleep terrors,  nightmares, and sleep walking. Many of these disorders they can be monitored in a sleep clinic and then dealt with accordingly. Dr. Emsellem suggests that one way to fight distractions that may disrupts your sleep is to buy a white noise machine.A white noise machine helps cancel all distractions your mind may have while asleep. Many people also turn towards sleeping pills to cure their sleep problems. Mr.Wyatt says, “For short-term insomnia, such as one to two weeks, it’s perfectly appropriate to consider sleeping pills.”The problem with pills is they cannot be used as a long-term cure. Beyond all that is said, it is neither the mattress nor the distraction one has when trying to sleep but rather, in the bigger scope of things: the want to sleep is needed in order to sleep well.


How do you know if it’s the mattress?

Is buying a $5,000 or $20,000 mattress better than getting a $500 mattress? The only way that certain mattresses are better than others is when someone has  lower back pains or other muscle pains. Many doctors recommend mattresses with softer pillow tops or instead of buying a new mattress. It is easier and cheaper to buy a pillow top for a mattress. Besides muscle pains the type of mattress you sleep on is not the problem. Buying expensive mattresses and thinking that will help for a better nights rest is considered a “placebo effect” according to Mr. Wyatt.

If its not my mattress and I don’t have a sleeping disorder, why cant i sleep?

The problem with today’s generation is not that we are incapable of sleeping but rather we find sleep at the bottom of our priorities. Whether it is staying up late to study for an AP Bio exam or watching an episode of Friends on Nick@Nite, we find so little time to sleep in between. On average an teen/adult needs 7-9 hours of sleep in order to be well rested the next morning. What do we do if our schedules don’t allow for so many hours of being unproductive? What if we can’t possibly get into bed at 10 o’clock at night to wake up at 7 AM the next morning? Where do we find our energy that we are lacking? Is it really healthy to constantly be using alternate energy sources rather than sleeping? The solution is easy; if we were to take 1 or 2 hours out of our everyday lives and sleep, then the hours we lost sleeping would be returned in the rate at which we could do things with the correct amount of energy in our system. Right?



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