AP Biology class blog for discussing current research in Biology

Author: joules

What came first, the chicken, the egg, or the allergic reaction?

A new study showed the beneficial effects CRISPR/Cas9 can have on those with allergies… in this case, to chickens! For those who don’t know, CRISPR/Cas9 is a gene-editing tool that is used to target certain parts of DNA and modify, disable or enable them. The tool haScreen Shot 2016-04-11 at 12.45.11 AMs been used all across science to inhibit diseases, fix problems with fetuses, change traits, and now to help genetically modify food. Using CRISPR/Cas9 is different than the current definition of genetically modified, which includes injecting chemicals into the food to maximize the amount or change some part of it. This means we humans are ingesting the chemicals; this has led to many concerns. However, CRISPR/Cas9 uses a different approach.

In this specific example, CRISPR/Cas9 creates knockout chickens, or chickens that have had their genes “knocked out”, turned off. Specifically, the ovalbumin (OVA) and the ovomucoid (OVM) genes.  These genes code for proteins that are found in egg whites. It has been discovered that many people are allergic to the proteins produced, so CRISPR/Cas9 targets the genes and turns them off and no proteins are produced. These “genetically modified” eggs are the same as regular eggs just hypoallergenic. In addition, some vaccines are made with egg whites, CRISPR/Cas9 will make it possible for the people who usually have an immune response to the egg whites in those vaccines, to safely receive them. One of the most notable vaccines that uses egg whites is influenza, a very popular vaccine that most of the population receives, and those who couldn’t were at a disadvantage before CRISPR/Cas9. The scientists have said they will continue to cross the modified chickens to see if they are able to knockout more common allergens. So no matter if the chicken or the egg came first, they are now both safe to consume by humans.


Daylight Hurting Time?

New studies have found that daylight savings time might do more hurting, than saving.  Apparently, changing human’s circadian rhythm (aka theiScreen Shot 2016-02-29 at 11.29.23 PMr sleeping cycle) can lead to higher risks of stroke. It raises the risk of a specific type of stroke, an ischemic stroke. An ischemic stroke is when blood clots block blood vessels that carry blood to the brain.  The risk of getting a stroke during or around daylight savings time was 8% higher for the average person. Cancer patients have a 25% increase and people over the age of 65 have a 20% increase after the time change.

Though these increases may be small…. they are still increases and that is significant. All problems root with changing the circadian rhythm; it controls the regulation of most of the daily routine. Throwing off a sleep schedule is never good because no one likes to be tired, however it’s possibly more dangerous than we originally assumed. I believe sleep is one of the most rejuvenating things and not something that should be messed with, therefore I agree that if daylight savings causes problem… it’s doing more hurting than saving.

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Did You Know Stress Could Cause…

Sorry! I got distracted. ADHD. Stress can cause ADHD. Many drug companies and family physicians blame ADHD on a chemical imbalance. It is so common in the US to simply get drugs to pacify children’s hyperactivity. In fact, kids as young as “4-year-olds can be diagnosed and medicated with amphetamines like Ritalin

6296020485_1130d59586_m.” (Huffington Post) This is great news for the drug companies… but is this idea that ADHD is solely form a chemical imbalance completely true?

Many people are starting to oppose this idea. Marilyn Wedge, family therapist, found in her cases that a lot of times children’s crazy or abnormal behavior can be attributed to stressful or changing situations. More times than not we forget that everyone from infancy to retirement is affected by stressful situations. Whether they show it or not, or are conscious of it or not, people’s actions are known for being dependent on situations. Though this can be the situation at any age, my article refers mainly to children. Family therapists found that children are like sponges, they soak up the feelings and emotions in any situation and reproduce them in their actions. Marilyn said “Some people may be amazed that a 4-year old child could be so tuned in to his father and have behavior problems because of a father losing his job. To a family therapist, however, this kind of situation is business as usual. We see it every day.” (Huffington Post) So, rather than a simple chemical imbalance, ADHD might be from a stressful environment, and there is no pill to fix that.

This debate brings us back to the nature versus nurture argument. The nature versus nurture argument can be applied to every situation, and it is; and there is almost always people fighting for both sides. The truth is, we may never have a clear answer. In fact, I would argue that most situations are influenced by both nature and nurture. In relation to ADHD, a child could truly have a chemical imbalance or have lack of blood flow to certain regions of the brain. Or, he or she could just as easily be immersed in a stressful situation and have “learned behavior”  from their parents, siblings or anyone that they are near. Do you find that it is much harder to work when you are stressed or something else is enveloping your mind? Do you maybe work best in these situations? Do you, in whatever situation, feel hyperactive and count it as part of your personality? Maybe you don’t have ADHD, or maybe you do. Regardless, you can look at yourself and see the effects of stress on you.


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