AP Biology class blog for discussing current research in Biology

Author: migottlieb

The End Of Malaria


Attention everyone, what if we told you that there is a way to potentially wipe out the bad mosquito species that causes malaria? Scientists have developed a genetic weapon, a self replicating bit of DNA called a gene drive, that interferes with the mosquitoes ability to reproduce. This can be revolutionary and save millions of children’s lives in the future.

What is malaria

Malaria is a deadly disease killing about 643,000 people every year. It is transmitted by a parasite -mosquito bites. The symptoms of malaria include fever, chills, and other flu-like symptoms.

Malaria knocks you flat, keep covered, use your repellent (4647891178)

How it works 

Gene drives work starts with taking one transgenic organism into the lab so it can be modified. It then can be engineered for release into wild populations to spread an altered allele. Two types of drives are possible: modification drives spread an advantageous gene, while suppression drives spread a gene that reduces the population. As the gene spreads this ultimately allows for the death of mosquitoes to spread exponentially. This topic also relates to what we learned in the AP Biology units on genetics and DNA. The connection to genetics is evident in the ability to control breeding of species, such as mosquitoes, using the knowledge of Punnett squares and the principles of dominant and recessive traits. However, the most significant connection between genetics and mosquito control lies in the ability to manipulate and alter DNA.

CRISPR illustration gif animation 1


Gene drives can potentially save millions of lives by reducing mosquito populations and preventing the spread of malaria. The technology is being tested in Africa, where malaria is most prevalent. Soon it will hopefully be around the entire world and save millions of lives all together. 



The Chemotherapy-Free Way Of Curing Cancer


Chemotherapy has been one of the only ways to cure cancer for a long time, but this is not the case anymore. According to a report in the journal Nature, CAR-T cell therapy has shown long-lasting success in treating blood cancer, with two patients remaining cancer-free over a decade later. This can be a new efficient way to cure cancer and it will also allow for less severe side effects like our fast-growing cells to still function properly. 

Life of a Cancer Cell

How it works 

The treatment uses genetically engineered immune cells to target and kill cancerous cells. CAR-T cells are a type of immune cell that is engineered in a laboratory to recognize and attack cancerous cells. The process of creating CAR-T cells involves extracting T-cells, from blood. These T-cells are then genetically modified in the laboratory to produce antigen receptors. These are engineered to recognize and bind to cancer cells. After CAR-T cells binds it triggers death to the cancer cell, ultimately getting rid of the cancer.


Connection to AP Biology

CAR-T cell therapy reflects what we learned in AP Biology. Unlike chemotherapy which kills fast-growing cells. CAR-T cell therapy selectively targets cancerous cells which eliminates possible symptoms. This is also similar to the topic of the immune system in AP Bio. For example, we learned that Cytotoxic T cells are part of the adaptive group of the immune system. When the Cytotoxic T cell sees an infected cell it binds to it and causes apoptosis (self destruction of cell )to occur.

How a killer T cell destroys a cell infected with viruses

Potential Drawbacks

Though the treatment seems ideal, there are still drawbacks. The treatment does not work for everyone and can have dangerous side effects. Researchers are working on expanding the therapy’s effectiveness by understanding how and why it works. CAR-T cell therapy is still new but has potential in the near future for curing cancer. 

Side effects listed:

  • High fever and chills.
  • Trouble breathing.
  • Severe nausea, vomiting, and/or diarrhea.
  • Feeling dizzy or lightheaded.
  • Headaches.
  • Fast heartbeat.
  • Feeling very tired.
  • Muscle and/or joint pain.



The Revolutionary Way Of Detecting Diseases

How it works

Has our way of detecting diseases changed to become more efficient? Well, let’s find out. Scientists at Wenzhou Medical University in China developed a new technique for detecting illness, which uses human tears to identify eye diseases and even early signs of diabetes. The researchers discovered that different types of dry-eye disease produce unique molecular fingerprints in tears and that tears could potentially be used to monitor the progression of diabetes in patients. The technique involves:

  • Collecting tears and adding them to a device with two nano porous membranes.
  • Vibrating the membranes.
  • Sucking the solution through allows small molecules to escape and leaves exosomes behind for analysis.Tears

How it connects to AP bio

The technique for detecting disease using human tears connects to AP Biology in several ways. First, exosomes, small vesicles found in tears, play an essential role in immune system function. Exosomes are involved in the communication between immune cells and can facilitate the transfer of immune-related molecules between cells. Additionally, the mechanism by which exosomes are collected from tears using nano porous membranes is similar to how viruses can latch onto and enter host cells. In this way, the research on exosomes in tears highlights the complex interactions between the immune system and viruses, which is an essential topic in the study of immunity, as we learned in AP Biology.

Stromal lipofuscinosis of the seminal vesicle -- extremely low mag

What can this do for our future?

Ultimately, this efficient method of disease testing using tears has the potential to speed up the diagnostic process and improve patient outcomes significantly. Doctors can make faster and more accurate diagnoses by providing a quick and non-invasive way to gather important information about a patient’s health, potentially leading to earlier treatment and better patient outcomes. Additionally, the ability to test for diseases at home using just a few drops of tears could help to identify and address health issues before they become more serious, potentially saving lives in the long run. But the most important reason is that you will feel no pain because you won’t have to get your blood taken!!!!!!!!


The Revolutionary Face Mask

Since the start of the pandemic, society has struggled to develop an efficient way to detect the presence of the SARS-CoV-2 virus in the atmosphere around you. Well, this is no longer the case thanks to young inventor Yin Fang. The intelligent Yin Fang has developed a complicated face mask that can detect the virus in the atmosphere, and on the mask. Though this does seem extreme, it is ultimately revolutionary as it will allow the us to detect COVID-19 everywhere, which will help stop the spread of it. 

3M N95 Particulate Respirator

How the virus spreads 

SARS-CoV-2 is an airborne virus that hitches a ride between hosts when we breathe in and out. The virus can spread from an infected person’s mouth or nose in small liquid particles when they cough, sneeze, speak, breathe, ect…

Coughing icon

How the mask works 

The mask uses special sensors that react when the viral proteins connect to the face mask. It uses an extremely thin chamber that is filled with the virus proteins so that they bind together and cause the sensor to activate. When the connection is active, the sensor communicates with an app on your phone, to tell it the virus is present. 

How the face mask works is quite similar to what we have learned in our AP Biology. The protein spikes on the virus bind to the mask, almost like how the COVID-19 virus enters the cell. COVID-19 enters a cell when it binds to a receptor and when it does, it enters the cell through phagocytosis and forms a vesicle around it. Though the virus does not get engulfed on the mask, it binds to the receptor, which activates the alarm on your phone, similar to how a virus binds to a cell. 


Physical features on the face mask 

According to Fang, the mask is extremely lightweight and portable. It has a similar design to your N95 Which allows for a mixture of protection and comfort while wearing the mask. 


The Future of the Mask

The new face mask will ultimately allow us to be in indoor spaces while staying safe during a viral breakout. It will enable us to be cautious of our surroundings if the virus is detected. But most importantly, Fang says “The system on the mask could also be updated with aptamers that recognize different pathogens”

Robot Pills And The Future Of How Medication Is Delivered

For years society has struggled to develop an efficient way to deliver complex drugs through the body. But this is not the case anymore; thanks to biomedical engineer Shriya Srinivasan we can take pills for medicines that we would not usually be able to. For example, Cancer drugs, Diabetes drugs, and many other drugs that require a shot. 

Smallpox vaccine

“say goodbye to painful shots”

According to Megan Rosen’s article, Shriya Srinivasan’s invention of the robot would be “a huge game changer” in the medical industry. Before her invention, pills struggled to enter the bloodstream because of the mucus that would trap the pill from entering the stomach acids so it could dissolve. However, with the Robot pill, we can overcome the mucus and enter the stomach, where the acid will dissolve, and the desired drug will enter the bloodstream.

Robot pill in action video link

The robot pills use unique engineering methods to break up the mucus in a path. Some of these methods consist of surface grooves and small torpedo fins to break up the mucus in the human body. But, there is only one problem; breaking up mucus is a difficult task. This is because mucus has proteins, specifically glycoproteins, bonded strongly by covalent bonds. Covalent bonds are the strongest because they share an even amount of electrons. The strong covalent bonds make it difficult to break up the substance, which is where the fin and surface grooves come to break up the bonds of the strong mucus proteins.

Human alfa2beta2 hemoglobin

With new inventions, people save lots of time and pain. Society will no longer have to inject shots into the body but rather take a pill. That said, we ultimately conclude that robotic pills are the future of medicine.


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