AP Biology class blog for discussing current research in Biology

Tag: #neurotoxin

Do you really want to eat Sharks?

In a recent study at the University of Miami, scientists found high concentrations of toxins in shark fins and cartilage. These toxins have been very closely linked to neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s Disease or Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS). Therefore, the research team suggests that restriction for shark consumption will benefit the consumer’s health and for shark conservation.

Deborah Mash, Professor of Neurology and senior author of the study at the University of Miami, conducted a study to show the concentration of toxins found in a sample of sharks. Fins and muscle tissues were collected from 10 shark species found in the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. The samples were then found to have concentrations of two toxins, Mercury and β-N-methylamino-L-alanine (BMAA). Such toxins on their own pose a health risk, but together it can have a synergistic toxic impact.

Sharks have been known to live in the higher stages of the food web. Therefore, these water creatures have had a longer life span than other creatures in the water. As a result, sharks accumulate and concentrate toxins. This can be quite deadly for the human population as more and more people are in demand for shark parts.

In Asia and and globally in Asian communities, shark products have been used in many food selections. Shark fins, cartilage, and meat are used as a delicacy and as a source of traditional Chinese medicine. Therefore, 16% of the world’s shark species have been threatened with extinction.

“Our results suggest that humans who consume shark parts may be at a risk for developing neurological diseases.” said Mash. Limiting the consumption of sharks will provide health benefits and a positive conservation outcome for sharks.

So before you order the shark fin soup from the menu, think about how your health could be affected. Think about the endangered sharks in our oceans. Let’s do it for the sharks!


Lead Leads to Neurotoxitity

Have you ever heard of using bottled water to shower? Sounds ridiculous right, but the people of Flint, Michigan need to do this to save their lives. The city of Flint switched their water supply from Lake Huron to the Flint River in April 2014. The river was later discovered to be contaminated. Since the changeover, scientists have linked the high lead levels in children’s blood to the contaminated water. This is a serious problem.

Lead is a highly toxic substance that permanently affects humans’ brains by killing nerve cells. Not only does lead harm kids’ brain processes, it also may cause various future mental diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease and Schizophrenia. Throughout U.S. history, people have been exposed to lead poisoning through basic everyday mediums, such as paint, water (from lead-contaminated water pipes), and dust. Children who eat paint chips or lick their fingers after coming in contact with products that have a lead component are poisoning themselves. The lead enters into the bloodstream and travels throughout the body, stealthily making itself at home, poisoning the body.

So how does lead poisoning work? Basically, lead disguises itself as zinc. Zinc is needed to anchor proteins that switch genes on and off. When zinc is replaced with lead, the switches cannot function properly, eventually leading to mental diseases.

Lead Poisoning

Scientists have been researching the possibility that lead is transferable in DNA to offspring. This could be devastating to a population of a town like Flint, Michigan, where the mothers who have lead poisoning could pass this on to their babies. The worst part is that there is no cure for lead poisoning.

Because of the devastating effects of lead in bloodstream, governments have debated the topic of legalizing contaminated water as a bioweapon, using lead as the contaminant. Governments in the past have used poisoned water as an assassination method, proving the effectiveness of this strategy.

Preventing lead exposure and poisoning is critical for children’s health and for future generations.


Source Article

For more info on the biowarfare, click here.

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