BioQuakes

AP Biology class blog for discussing current research in Biology

Tag: heart disease

Dogs Can Help You Live Longer, As If You Needed Another Reason To Get One

In a recent study, it has been proven that dog ownership has been associated with a decrease in cardiovascular risks. For example, high blood pressure, an aneurysm or heart disease in general. The study was performed with no consideration of previous cardiovascular diseases. The methods and results to the study led to the conclusion that “Dog ownership is associated with lower risk of death over the long term, which is possibly driven by a reduction in cardiovascular mortality.”

Many studies took place in order to help come to this conclusion. According to  Sandee LaMotte, “Dog ownership was associated with a 24% reduction in all cause mortality.” In this study, it was also discovered that people had better health outcomes after that had suffered from a heart attack or stroke.

In this photo, there is a golden retriever puppy.

This decrease in cardiovascular risks comes from the fact that when you own a dog you are more likely to play with it or take it on daily walks, constantly getting exercise and engaging in more physical activity. This study is not encouraging everyone to go out and purchase or adopt a dog because there are other conditions that were not taken into account throughout the research. For example, “the review’s authors mentioned in the analysis that some of the studies only featured small sample sizes, so the results are not totally indicative of the larger population. Some of the studies also did not take into account a number of other factors, like body mass index, smoking status and diet.”

All of these studies were based on observations which means that the researchers cannot directly prove that owning a dog causes people to live a healthier and longer life.

CRISPR, A Cure to Heart Disease?

Photo Source page: Flickr.com

     While CRISPR‘s full potential in the department of gene editing is still being researched, scientists have just successfully discovered CRISPR’s ability to correct a defective gene that causes a certain type of heart disease. Though scientists are unclear as to the type of gene corrected in order to cause this change, this discovery was made for the first time in the United States, by an experiment done on live human embryos. However the new information yielded from this experiment is extremely beneficial as it shows CRISPR’s potential in correcting genetic errors that cause disease, as well as in human embryos meant for pregnancy.

Another reason for which this study particularly stands out in its importance, is because it is much different from the other developments scientists have made in CRISPR’s abilities. Studies have been conducted worldwide using CRISPR to edit of somatic cell’s gnomes, however, this only affects individual people. This study (also done by researchers in China), has been done by editing germ line cells, which result in changes that are passed down through every following generation.

However since the changes made to cells do affect all generations that follow, scientists are unsure of the exact effects of this new technique. Although it seems that this technology will be very beneficial in stopping harmful genetic diseases, it can also be used for changing DNA to genetically determine the eye colors, height or even mental and physical abilities and intelligence. This new phenomenon is own as “designer babies”, and for many reasons, this is not something that the United States is trying to use CRISPR’s abilities for. For this reason, United States has recently created more severe guidelines regarding gene editing technology, as well as enforcing CRISPR’s use on embryos only for prevention of harmful genetic diseases, when other treatments were not successful – as a last resort – formed by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine.

In the study done, scientists edited out a mutant copy of MYBPC3, using CRISPR. MYBPC3 is a gene that encodes a protein that creates well maintained and structured heart muscles. Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, known as HCM, are caused by mutations in that gene, and cause spontaneous cardiac arrest. This occurs in even the youngest and healthiest of athletes, affecting 1 in 500 humans.

In this study, the mother was carrying the normal version of a gene, while the father had the mutant gene. Using CRISPR, the scientists were able fix the mutant version, by cutting and replacing the DNA. Directly after they placed the fertilized egg in a petri dish, while introducing the genome editing parts at the same time. The results of this process proved to be very effective, as 75% of the embryos showed no mutant genome. Without the use of CRISPR when egg fertilization occurred, the chances of mutation would have been present in 50%!

From these results the researchers came to the conclusion that they have realized the potential for mosaicism. Mosaicism is when only some of the cells are edited and the rest are not affected, which results in some normal cells, as well as some mutant cells. The scientists have also gathered the effects of off-targets. Off targets are the CRISPR edited genes that appear to look like mutant genes, but are actually not. Within this study, one egg fertilized from 58 showed mosaicism, and there was no detection of effects from off-targets. Theseare very impressive results, due to the fact that both of these possible situations can cause limitations in effectiveness and safety.

Though researchers need to do over this experiment many times in order to soliditfy the effectiveness of this study for the future, if they want to use this on eggs intended for pregnancy, as the eggs fertilized in the study were not meant for pregnancy… However, the results have yielded nothing but good news for the future of CRISPR technology (besides, the risk in advancements in “designer babies”, which couldchange the future of conceiving, forever…). This article was extremely interesting for me to read, as I am very interested in studying Biology in the future, or even pursuing a track to medicine. Perhaps, I may get the chance to even experiment with CRISPR at some time in my life, as it becomes a growing presence throughout the science world!

Primary Source Article: U.S. researchershave used gene editing to combat heart disease in human embryos

Biggest Ever Epigenetics Project!!

 

Marian_and_Vivian_Brown

Identical Twins

 

This article is about a project that has recently been planned out with respect to

epigenetics. It is the largest project to date and will cost around $30,000,000 to complete. Epigenetics is the study of cellular and psychological trait variations that are not caused by DNA sequence, but rather what within the DNA is triggered and shown. It is a relatively new field and has exploded in recent years. The heads of this project are TwinsUK and BGI, both very credited organizations in the realm of epigenetics. Epigenetics is the newest and recently the most popular field of all genetics and the goal of this project is to use the twins and the resources given to understand why and how epigenetics occurs.

The plan is to review the patterns of 20,000,000 sites in the DNA of each identical twin (they must be identical because their DNA must be the same and not vary) and compare the DNA with the other twins. The aim is to not look at similarities, but to look at differences and figure out how twins get different diseases if their DNA is identical. They will focus on obesity, diabetes, allergies, heart diseases, etc. at first. Until recently, science did not understand why twins could receive different diseases since their DNA is identical to their other twin, but by studying epigenetics and how genes can be triggered to do different things based on surroundings and circumstance, this idea is plausible.

Being able to locate what genes turn on to trigger certain diseases along with how to control this is something that will benefit not only our general knowledge but will also advance health care to levels that it has never seen. Experiments such as this have been done before but only with a handful of twins. The goal in this experiment is to increase the amount of twins tremendously in order to increase the accuracy of their data.

The Executive Director of BGI, Professor Jun Wang stated that the goal of this experiment is to “unlock many secrets about human genetics that we don’t currently understand, and to accelerate research and applications in human healthcare.”

 

Drinking Coffee May Have Health Benefits?

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Petr Kratochvil

A new study at the University of Georgia indicates that a chemical compound commonly found in coffee might prevent obesity-related disease. While previous studies show that coffee consumption can lower the risk of cardiovascular disease and Type 2 Diabetes, scientists have recently focused on chlorogenic acid, a compound also known to be in tomatoes, apples, blueberries, and pears.

The test consisted of a group of mice that were fed a high fat diet for 15 weeks while giving them CGA solution injections twice a week. Researchers found that the CGA shots helped the mice maintain normal blood sugar levels, a healthy liver composition, and prevent weight gain. It is important to note, however, that the mice received an extremely high dosage of CGA, much greater than what the average human would obtain by drinking coffee on a regular basis or eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables.

For the past 20 years obesity has become an issue of increasing incidence in the US. Obesity often leads to two major side effects aside from weight gain: increased insulin resistance and fat buildup in the liver. In the paper published in Pharmaceutical Research, researchers write that the CGA, significantly reduced insulin resistance and accumulation of fat in the livers of mice. They plan to extend the project to develop CGA formulation for humans.

As the Liu Lab writes “CGA is a powerful antioxidant that reduces inflammation,” but they are not to quick to jump to conclusions. Scientists still believe that proper diet and regular exercise are the most effective ways to reduce obesity-related risks. That being said, I definitely think this makes us feel better about drinking coffee every morning.

Original Article:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/11/141114124907.htm

For More Info:

http://www.medicaldaily.com/antioxidant-coffee-might-lower-risk-weight-gain-obesity-related-diseases-310816

Is Exercise really that important?

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Yes, exercise can have a ton of benefits not only for your heart, but for your overall health. First of all, cardiovascular disease (CVD-or heart disease) accounted for approximately 30% of worldwide deaths in 2008. Coronary heart disease and stroke are the leading causes of death. Why such terrible statistics? Well, let’s just say some people don’t take care of their bodies as well as they should be.

Obesity rates are sky high in people, mostly in the United States. It can drastically increase the risk of certain diseases like heart disease and diabetes (type II). Sometimes obesity and heart disease is beyond peoples’ control, either being born with a very slow metabolism or diabetes. However in most cases, heart illness can be prevented. The best way to fend off heart disease would be to exercise. In combination with a healthy diet, exercise is essential to a healthy heart. The essential benefactors of exercise are that it lowers ones blood pressure and lowers ones resting heartbeat. Your heart isn’t working so hard to pump at higher pressures, but it is being conditioned as the muscle it is to pump faster at certain points. Since you are exerting energy, you burn calories and lower your cholesterol levels (cholesterol levels in bulk could lead to clogged arteries). Of course there’s still more to exercise. Exercise leads to the release of natural endorphins, which create a sense of euphoria. Some people describe this state as a “natural high”. The release of endorphins could be considered positive reinforcement to exercise since it makes people literally feel good physically and mentally. In turn people would keep coming back to exercise to feel great and be in shape. This is overall highly effective for helping people to burn more calories (which would mean burning fat and stopping obesity from occurring within themselves). If one does not participate in exercise, they are much more likely to feel worse and overall have a higher risk of heart disease. According to the CDC, over 9 million cases of cardiovascular disease were due to lack of exercise. So why not exercise? Protect your health and well being. Even for a little bit every day, exercising is a helpful tool for better health and better morale.

Do you exercise on a regular basis?

 

Helpful link: http://www.webmd.com/fitness-exercise/guide/exercise-healthy-heart

Telomere the Tell all?

Scientists have recently discovered that they can predict life expectancy based on the length of the telomere in patients with heart disease. Telomeres which are protective, non coding regions at the ends of chromosomes get shorter over time due to cell division. The replication of DNA shortens our telomeres and our chromosomes. This makes us more susceptible to age-related “diseases such as heart disease or cancer, as well as exposure to oxidative damage from stress, smoking, air pollution, or conditions that accelerate biologic aging.” (http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/03/130310164232.htm)Telomere length used to be used to show age in a person but recently it also seems to be correlated with their chance of survival with heart disease. In a study conducted with 3,500 heart attack and stroke patients, researchers stated that those with longer telomeres had a greater chance of survival. In the future doctors believe that judging from the telomeres in patients, they could increase their effectiveness in treating heart disease.

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?

Sources: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/09/health/research/heart-disease-risk-may-be-tied-to-y-chromosome.html?_r=1&ref=health

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