Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Will climate change seal the fate of another species?

Though some might debate this notion, most of us know the existence of climate change to be true. But despite all the documentaries, science articles and textbook readings about it, most of us aren’t really conscious of the impact it has on the environment; one of these reasons being that nothing in our immediate surrounding has really drastically changed. But to creatures living in extreme conditions, some changes in the climate have already been noticed, and no matter how small, it can affect them in huge ways.

Take the Antarctic fur seals for instance. These cute creatures are very delicate in the early stages of their lives, requiring huge amounts of energy to grow, and to begin living independently. Now, due to climate change, conditions in the Antarctica are becoming more wet and windy. As a result, these seal pups are finding it even harder to meet these energy requirements, as they now need to use more of their energy to keep themselves warm. These can result in lower survival rates, as these pups will have less energy available to them for growth. But that’s not all, as the climate changes so does prey availability, which means the pups now more than ever, need to conserve and allocate more of their energy to keep warm instead of growth.

According to scientist Birgitte McDonald, a postdoctoral researcher at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, these changes can have adverse effects on these seals as it they’ll find it a bigger challenge to be able to shift towards nutritional independence successfully. From a study she carried out, in which she studied the amounts of energy these pup seals invest in different areas (growing, thermoregulation, energy storage, etc), she found that the newborns use 60% of their energy they get from their mothers for growth. But as they progress to 1 month old, these number drops to 25%. This shows how important energy allocations to the right areas are in the early stage of the pup seal’s life. This is due to the fact that this stage is used to focus on growing, learning, and to prepare for a future independent from their mothers.

Even though predictions from climate models suggests that the places they live in will have higher temperatures, they expect rainfall , snowfall, and stronger winds to be more abundant, making these pup use more of their energy to keep warm, as they lack the insulation that an adult coat would offer. Therefore, it is important to be aware of the impacts that are affecting our planet, even if we don’t see it in our surroundings. The decisions we make in the next decade will shape the fate of such species and our earth as a whole.

-Hermann Kam (1)

Modern Caveman

Why aren't there Neanderthals anymore? It seems odd that such a close relative of humans wouldn’t be around anymore. Especially since modern humans occupy nearly every part of the planet. Why are we around and not the Neanderthals? There's an older theory that says that Neanderthals were driven to extinction by the ancestors of modern humans. This theory made sense because lets face it, humans have not always been accepting of those different from them.

However, recent evidence suggests that there is a different reason. Science Daily has an article that refers to research done by Barton and Julien Riel-Salvatore of the University of Colorado Denver. This research consisted of using stone artifacts to tract the paths of these ancient groups as well as computer modeling. Basically, their research says that during the the Upper Pleistocene the ancestors of modern humans, and Neanderthals encountered each other in Western Eurasia. The two groups then mated and hybridized, but because the Neanderthal population was much smaller than the ancient human population, the Neanderthal population became “absorbed” into the ancient human population.

The above is supported by genetic analysis which shows that some DNA (1-4% of the total human genome) that came from Neanderthals. This is especially seen in modern humans of European descent.

When you think about it, Neanderthals aren't the only ones thought be be extinct that actually live on today. Dinosaurs are technically living among us today. Many groups of dinosaurs actually went extinct but those that survived changed over time and became birds.

Posted by Joseph Frimpong Group A March 28 2011


Just like Dr. Evil from Austin Powers, you too can have your own Mini Me. A mini me mouse that is. However, this Mini Me is not an evil sidekick for diabolical plans, it is created to improve your health. These mice receive a transplant of your tissue and, because their immune systems have been suppressed, they will mimic your immune system. This breakthrough makes it so doctors can take risks and test possible cures on a mouse rather than a patient. Through testing different combinations of drugs on mice, doctors are able to see which combinations work the best without causing harm to the patient themselves. This improves the personalization of treatments. Instead of merely going off of a genetic profile, doctors are able to see the results on an exact replica of your immune system.

A team of Australian researchers were working on a patient with pancreatic cancer, trying to find a treatment for him. They took a piece of the man’s tumor tissue and put it in a mouse whose immune system they had suppressed. On this mouse they tested a drug that had been approved by gene screening but would have been risky to try out on a human patient. Instead of risking further harm to the patient, the researchers tested the drug on the mouse and found that the tumor shrank in the mice that had been treated. This was a huge breakthrough.

The only scientific problem with this discovery is that it sometimes could take too long to create the “avatar” mouse, treat it, analyze the results, and treat the patient. The man studied by the Australians died before treatment could be administered. The obvious social problem with this breakthrough is the attitude of animal rights activists. Animal testing is a very controversial subject and it is very likely that several groups will be against it.

Whether this mouse avatar future actually does come about or not, it is interesting to think about walking into the hospital or your doctor’s office and instead of worrying about which treatment is most likely to succeed, your doctor will simply order a mouse avatar for you. Then the only step is to go home and wait for the test results as with any other health screening.

Posted By Erica Bonnell(1)

Possible Cure to Red Blood Cell Disorders

Just recently a group of scientists tested a type of gene therapy that can put an end to sickle cell anemia and beta thalassemia. The newly developed gene has a healthy beta globin gene that promotes a cell's hemoglobin production. With this new gene, the cells that were lacking this beta globin gene or have a non functioning can now hope to produce hemoglobin. And this type of therapy would bear few risks due to the fact that this new gene can be tested on a blood sample before it's actually given to you. By giving these new cells a functioning beta globin gene this can lead to the cure of beta thalassemia. The success rate in a process of gene therapy can be quite difficult though because when the gene is injected it will randomly place itself, meaning the gene could not be expressed, so an insulator is made to lure the gene into the genome area increasing the success rate of gene therapy.

With these new findings maybe it can be possible to master gene therapy and be able to replace any dysfunctional gene with a functional one. This can lead to the cure of many genetic disorders such as PKU.

Posted by Khoa Chu (A)

A Surgeon's Solution to Diabetes

While Type II, or Adult-Onset, Diabetes has tripled in the U.S. over the last three decade, its treatment has lagged sorrily behind. The most proven 'cure' of the disease is weight loss - certainly not an easy task. However, it did not pass unnoticed that weight loss due to surgery was enough to alter the level of gut hormones and in some cases send the disease into remission. Now the AAMC recommends gastric bypass for those with Type II Diabetes and a B.M.I. over 35. Recent research suggests an even broader recommendation.
A study conducted at Catholic University of Rome found a 75 percent remission rate of the disease after gastric bypass and an astounding 95 percent rate following biliopancreatic diversion - a surgery not performed in the United States. Both surgeries effectively shrink the stomach, altering the transition into the small intestine and the digestion of food. A similar study in Cleveland showed 42 percent rate for gastric bypass. The results may lie heavily in the hands of the surgeon, as these surgeries were all performed by those at the top of their field and it is yet to be seen if it the same result is found by a larger sample. However, 200,000 bariatric surgeries are performed each year so even modest results could have a resounding positive influence over the control of diabetes.

Posted by James Fargnoli (A)

Cameron: Earth's deepest spot desolate, foreboding

Filmmaker James Cameron has come up with some truly other world like ideas in the past but that wasn’t enough for him. Cameron, best known for his fantasy movie Avatar, has recently gone where not many other human beings have gone before. He has traveled 7 miles down under water into the deepest part of the world that we know of, the Mariana Trench. Cameron traveled to such great depths using a deep-sea submarine which he helped design called the Deepsea Challenger. The descent took around 2 and half hours and the ascent took a little over an hour. He has recorded some footage of the journey but plans to go back numerous times and film lots more 3D footage which will eventually air on National Geographic. Cameron described the setting as surreal and other worldly, and compared it to that of being on the moon. He couldn’t believe how alone he was and how truly desolate the area was. Being down that deep was kind of scary and the only other organisms he saw were small shrimp like creatures no longer than an inch in length. The submarine that he traveled in was somewhat cramped and uncomfortable, with the heat of the machinery making it over 100 degrees Fahrenheit inside the sub. As he got further and further down however, the temperature sharply fell as the surrounding waters were 36 degrees Fahrenheit. Being down so deep, the surrounding pressure of the water actually shrunk the submarine by 3 inches.

This is a great adventure for science. As technology progresses it is fantastic how we can now reach places that before we could only dream of reaching. I can’t wait to see the footage of this truly unique part of the world. The discoveries that await Cameron and his team are now endless. People have been incredibly eager to see what its like down in the deep ocean depths and this journey will finally give people some insight into the area.

Posted by Nicco Ciccolini (A)

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Fossil Discovery in China May Be New Unknown Human Species

As scientists, we're always constantly finding new fossil records that are breaking our conventional thoughts on our ancestors. We have set ideals on how we as a species evolved through time to the current state we're at now as "modern humans". But once in a while we stumble upon ancient evidence that is more bizarre than we could have ever imagined, and raises more questions than answers. We're always trying to piece together the puzzle that is our evolutionary ancestry. Each time we stumble across a new fossil record, it adds to that puzzle.

In China, they found new fossils that are carbon dated between 11,500 and 14,500 years old, precluding that they were around when modern humans were in China. Scientists working on this new found group haven't yet scientifically supported whether they're a whole other group closely related to humans such as neanderthals, or actually human. One reason is that it's difficult to even discern what makes us homo sapiens to begin with, let alone distinguish a possible whole new species of ape.

Scientists are interested in these new fossil records because they lived in caves in China that has evidence of them cooking Red deer, a large extinct deer, during the time when early man was starting to farm. Yet, they have odd anatomical features not congruent to our understanding of our ancestors, which is odd and exciting. The red deer cave people as they're called for their living habitats and diet, have prominent brow ridges, thick skull bones, flat upper faces with a broad nose, jutting jaws that lack a human-like chin, brains moderate in size by ice age human standards, large molar teeth, and primitively short parietal lobes — brain lobes at the top of the head associated with sensory data. All of these features are found in ancient humans hundreds of thousands of years ago, not just a couple thousands of years as these fossils suggest. It's fascinating just to think about this. Simply, the red deer cave people are possibly a whole new branch of human, as they don't fit with our conventional thought of humans during this time.

Now that the studying scientists have covered the possibility of finding a new human species. It opens up questions that have yet to be answered. Such as, if these primitive human features did survive up to modern humans, why did they go extinct all of a sudden? Did this new fossil group genetically interbreed itself with modern day humans? Or did they fall in line with neanderthals? What whatever the possible outcome of their study, it's a evolutionary breakthrough for humans in understanding our development as a species.

Posted By: Andy Zou (C)

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Invasive Snakes

Invasive species introduced by humans can wreak havoc on any ecosystem. One prime example is the snake problem in South Florida. Florida has the highest number of nonnative herptiles out of any state. The problem arises from the trend of Floridans buying huge snakes, then realizing they are unable to care for such a cumbersome animal, then releasing it into the wild for lack of a better way to get rid of it.The wet, swampy biomes of Southern Florida are the perfect habitat for large reptiles like snakes and crocodiles, so as soon as they are released the snakes began feeding on native wildlife and reproducing. The invading snakes routinely devour deer, alligators, and people. Floridan legislature is currently trying to push a bill that would list the large pythons as an "injurious species," sort of an opposite to an endangered species. Their removal from the ecosystem, whether by capture or killing, would be permitted and encouraged. Purchase and sale of the offending species is already illegal. Recent years have shown a trend of decreasing snake populations, hopefully meaning that efforts are being successful. Reclaiming an ecosystem so heavily affected by an invasive species will be a very difficult task, but hopefully someday they will be able to restore the Everglades to their former glory.

Rhys Ursuliak

Tooth Fairy Contributes to Evolution

Browsing through a few science news web pages this afternoon, it dawned on me that there was a lot of information on two subjects. Frogs and teeth...even a fanged frog! The evolution of teeth suddenly became very interesting and I was overwhelmed with articles and battling with myself as to which article to read next. They all resonated the same message though: you are what you eat!
Teeth are extremely important, they are the tools to help us, as well as many other species, eat. They cut and grind food, but not all teeth are alike, and evolution has played a huge role in determining tooth size and shape. Scientists are able to observe various teeth shapes to determine diets and hypothesize about competition, dating back to the era of dinosaurs and older. Recent studies have shared that multituberculates, rodent-like mammals, that lived during the era of dinosaurs may have been able to use their teeth to outcompete dinosaurs since their teeth developed complex cusps that allowed them to devour newly spudding angiosperms, even accounting for increased body size from about the size of a mouse, eventually evolving to the size of beavers. Multituberculates, despite their toothy advantage, wouldn't last long as primates and other mammals developed similar complex back teeth (i.e. molars) and simpler front teeth, allowing for breaking down abundant vegetation and eventually multituberculates became extinct too.
Millions of years prior to dinosaurs existed, conodonts floated through the sea, vertebrates whose skeleton lies within their mouth. Scientists have measured their razor sharp teeth as the 'sharpest dental structures ever' but they are only 2 micrometers long! Despite lacking jaws, their sharpened weapons allowed them to attack with intense pressure in order to eat. Humans and other mammals, however, developed jaws and less complex, smoother teeth, such as molars, to increase force. Carnivorous animals, however, mimic conodonts, so that their sharp teeth can plow through meat and insects.
Of course, I could go on an on about evolution and teeth, but as stated before, the evolution of teeth is because we are what we eat. So next time you struggle with something chewy, tough or painful to your teeth, remember that millions of years development influenced the shape of your chompers today, and maybe it just wasn't meant to eat.
Karen-Maria Melendez Group C

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Arabians Make A Come Back!

Arabians Make A Come Back!

The most majestic of horse breeds, the Arabian is making a comeback in numbers. Arabians carried ancient kings and soldiers into battle in the time of the Ottomans. Their breed gave rise to the race horses we see today, thoroughbreds. An Arabian can be identified by its seahorse-shaped head and slender body. They hold their tails high and have the most spirit out of all the equine breeds.

Scientists are breeding Arabians through embryo transfer at Al Shaqab facilities in Doha, Qatar. There is a beautiful facility where 55 foals have been born via embryo transfer. Stallions are brought into a room and shown fertile mares to get them to produce sperm which we obtain and freeze in nitrogen until used. Some of the horses are not allowed to be ridden. Al Shaqab is not only a gym for horses by having treadmills, pools, showers. There are competitive teams who train there including jumping, dressage, and endurance. Beginner riders are welcome through the riding school offered. All the exercising stations are designed to help the horse’s muscles in a particular way before they return to their clean, cool, dry stalls. They are athletes. Al Shaqab was founded for research advancements and innovation. It is a non-profit organization.This establishment uses science to produce kind, beautiful, athletes for not only competition, but companionship.

Check it out by watching this clip!

Posted by Jen Silva (3)

Are bacteria the solution to global warming?

Alright it's no mystery that humanity is effecting the global climate. Every year we pump more and more CO2 into the atmosphere, creating a greenhouse effect. Unless we want our planet to end up like the hothouse Venus we are going to need to find a lasting solution. Well, it just so happens that a group of geneticists think they might have a solution. Researchers believe tat capturing CO2 and trapping it in buried rocks could lower the risk heavy climate change. The only problem is that we can only do this process so well. However a certain bacteria has been shown to accelerate this process significantly.
A team at Berkeley labs have genetically modified a strain of bacteria to speed up the process of transforming CO2 the gas into CaC03 a mineral carbonate, which normally takes thousands of years naturally. Apparently it works! When CO2 was pumped into the environment, they found that calcium carbonate formed faster in areas where the bacteria were living than it did in sterile solutions. Could this be a step in the right direction, or just another wild goose chase? What do you guys think?

Posted by Dorian Pillari ( C)

Monday, March 12, 2012

Tricking The Immune System For A Good Cause

Your immune system is an interesting thing, it's actually extremely smart. Despite not having an intelligence of its own, it is filled with antibodies that can identify and mark things not belonging to your body for destruction. Generally this is a good thing because it finds things that don't belong and gets rid of them, but what if you want something inside of your body that isn't normally there?

Organ donation is miraculous, the idea of replacing someone's failing organ with one that works fine from a different host sounds extremely futuristic, but it is very much a reality. The problem is that the replacement organs aren't exactly what would have been developed by the new body on its own, so it looks foreign to the new body. When antibodies find these new organs they often mark them for destruction and start attacking them, trying to dissolve them so that they don't "infect" the organ recipient. This means that an organ recipient is in danger of losing their new organ if it isn't carefully monitored and cared for. Many organ recipients have to take drugs to suppress their immune system so that it won't attack the new organ, but this has many nasty side effects. The immune system is pretty important, and with it in disarray an organ recipient can be open to many different types of diseases and infections. The side effects from the drugs can include high blood pressure, diabetes, infection, heart disease, and cancer. The drug regimen sometimes has to be continued for the rest of the patient's life, which is a huge hassle for the patient.

There is now a new method of doing an organ transplant that tricks the immune system into accepting the new organ without suppressing itself and doesn't rely on drugs. The method uses donor-derived stem cells in the new body that can serve as a sort of bridge between the donor's organ and the recipient's body. Since stem cells are capable of becoming almost anything they end up conforming to their environment and not getting attacked by the host body.

This new method of transplanting has greatly reduced the percentage of patients that need to take immune system repressing drugs, thus reducing the number of people who have to deal with the symptoms. This makes for a healthier older population and can help make the treatment for many things once though lethal far less obtrusive.

by Mike Selden (C)


What would it be like if humans could not taste the rich, delicious goodness of a hot fudge sunday, or the warm chocolate sweetness of a chocolate chip cookie? I cannot imagine a world without tasting sweets yet much to my surprise, cats and many other carnivores can. Lions, dolphins, cats and hyenas are just a few of the many our carnivores who have lost their
ability to taste sweet food.

Recent findings, sited in the article, “Why Cats, Other Carnivores Don’t Taste Sweets” explain that genetic mutations are the cause to why carnivores are not able to taste sweets. However, it was found that omnivores, animals who chew their food, are able to taste sweet foods. Their ability to taste carbohydrates serves as a survival mechanism, yet what separates them from carnivores?

The point of this information is to better understand the complexity of taste perception. It has been known for many years that cats have not been able to taste sweets, and a study completed in 2005 explained this to be true as they possess a rare mutant not enabling their taste receptors to bind to sweet molecules. To test to see if other animals shared this same mutant, researchers from the Monell Chemical Sciences Center in Philadelphia collected data from 12 different carnivorous species testing the taste receptors for sweet, salty, sour, bitter and umami. Then using computer algorithms the researchers studied each gene within every one of the 12 species to see if it contained any sequences that would stop or prevent the proteins made to sense every taste. The researchers found that seven of the 12 species studied contained the mutant, as
they were unable to taste sweet food. The researchers also found these 7 species to only consume meat and some to swallow completely without chewing, unlike omnivores as mentioned previously. Looking more closely at the genes, researchers were able to conclude that the mutations found independently inhibited sweet receptors in different species. It seems as if the species diet is directly related to the presence of these mutants which seem to have recently evolved.

This research completed explains how much the world is constantly evolving, as species are selecting traits to best suit their living environments. With this information known, pet owners or zoo keepers can learn how to best accommodate their animals for ultimate survival and satisfaction. Through better understanding of this research it could also benefit humans with the production of better artificial sweeteners to enhance our taste.

Posted by: Tara Reynolds (3)

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Science and The Big Question

Science is ever evolving. New evidence is presented all the time that either supports current hypotheses or casts doubt on our long concepts of reality. This is a tricky thing to juggle. The human mind likes foundations, categories and absolutes. It is not comfortable to leave things unknown – especially when those things unknown are so essential to our understanding of our selves. Thus we have the great debate over evolution and its validity. I, myself, am a hard lined believer in the theory of evolution. Although, I understand (philosophically) why not everyone is agrees with me on this one. Therefore, I think it is important to continue to research our origins and gather evidence to usher the more skeptical of us into the fold of scientific truth. Fortunately, this is what is happening. Recent research has unlocked more information regarding our evolutionary relationship to gorillas – and we are a bit more alike than we previously thought.

Over the past decade researchers have been trying to fully sequence the genomes of all the great apes. Gorillas, orangutans, chimpanzees and bonobos are our closest evolutionary ancestors still extant (we, of course, are great apes as well) and their genomes hold clues as to our evolutionary past. It is well known that chimpanzees are our closest extant relative - their genome being only 1.37% different than ours. But did you know that gorilla’s genomes are merely 1.75% different? Beyond that it appears that 15% of the human genome is closer to the gorilla’s genome than that or the chimpanzee’s. The lead researcher or the study, Aylwyn Scally, says: “Some of our functional biology is more gorillalike than chimplike.” Additionally, this research is allowing researches to paint a better picture of when and how the great apes diverged. As well as, increasing knowledge of how the basic mechanics of evolution work.

This research is, of course, incredibly important to understanding our past and maybe even our future. There are legal battles and societal splits occurring all over our nation about the nature of our existence. It is possible that research like this can bring us to a better picture of our existence? I think so. Some find a sense of completeness and spirituality from the arguments made by the creationists. Which, is not so crazy – it is what we all want. I, however, find completeness and a sense of spirituality from science research like this.

Posted by William Mohn

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Pten, the New Miracle Gene?

Brown fats are a type of tissue found in mammals and is often abundant in ones that hibernate. It generates body heat, and hyperactive brown fats burn energy instead of storing it. Newborns are born with brown fat to help regulate body temperature, but with age it changes to white fat (the fat that no one wants). Because brown fat burns calories, it can actually allow people (if they had it) to lose weight without going to the gym or changing their eating habits. So what would you do if I told you there was potentially a gene that produces excess brown fat, while also suppressing cancer? It would seem to good to be true.

It has been found recently, that mice with an extra gene of Pten are cancer free. Pten is a tumor suppressor commonly lost in human cancer. When the mice received an extra gene of Pten, they ended up not only being cancer free; they were leaner and ate more than the controls. When the extra Pten gene was turned on, the brown fat cells were also in a sense "turned on." Studies of the isolated brown fat cells in these mice showed that Pten confirmed a boost in these cells. Pten also made it easier for brown fat to form. The brown fat caused the mice to burn more calories than usual, which led to them having less fat in their livers and and were more prone to insulin resistance. Because of this, not only were these mice leaner but they lived longer too. "This tumor suppressor [Pten] protects against metabolic damage associated with aging by turning on brown fat," said Manuel Serrano of the Spanish National Cancer Research Center.

These mice seem to have it all, right? They are more youthful, living longer lives, staying fit while eating as much as they want, all while remaining cancer free. It is said that a small compound inhibitor that mimics the effects of Pten also came with those varied benefits. It's a start, but maybe one day we'll be able to find a drug that does the same for us that Pten does for mice.

Taylor Pirog (2)

Monday, March 5, 2012


Autism is an ever-increasing concern for new parents, as one in every 91 children in the United States is born with autism as of 2011. Although the ultimate causes of all of the various forms and grades of autism are not fully known, there have been many studies of how to best improve the lives of those children that do have autism. Who would have thought that what you feed your autistic child could have a great impact on their symptoms and functioning?

According to an article on, researchers at Penn State have been studying gluten-free and casein-free diets in autistic children, and the improvements this new diet has made to their behavior and physiological symptoms. This study was based on the suggestions by experts that gluten and casein contain peptides that can potentially cause an immune response in children with ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder), and thus trigger GI symptoms and behavioral problems.

The reason that gluten and casein were specifically targeted in this study is that they have been identified as the most immuno-reactive food components in children. Often, skin allergy tests will show no allergy to these proteins in children, but a local immune response in the gut can still occur, leading to increased behavior and physiological problems. Soy is another protein that may be researched in future studies.

According to one of the leaders of the study, Laura Klein, “There are strong connections between the immune system and the brain, which are mediated through multiple physiological symptoms.” Because a majority of the pain receptors in the body are located in the gut, avoiding casein and gluten can reduce inflammation, thus lessening discomfort and improving many ASD symptoms.

The study included a survey of 387 parents/primary caregivers of autistic children, and the questions they answered about symptoms, allergies, behaviors, and adherence to the diet showed elimination of both casein and gluten, for at least 6 months or more, was the most effective. This study shows that autism may be more than just neurological, and could open doors for new treatments, more important now than ever before due to the increasing number of children born with autism in recent years.

Source Article:

Posted by Laura Moro (2)

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Possible Parkinson's Cure: Break Up of Aggregations of Toxic Proteins Halt Progress of Disease in Animals

Parkinson's Disease affects millions of people around the world, yet the underlying cause of this ailment has yet to be verified. Parkinson's is a common neurodegenerative disease where the neurons associated with the central nervous system are "attacked", by toxic proteins and lead eventually to many coordination, comprehension, and muscular problems. The disease affects 1-2% of adults and is currently linked to dopamine deficiencies as well as toxic bundles of protein called Alpha Synuclein (A.S). All patients suffering from Parkinson's had this common protein buildup, that ultimately becomes toxic once is aggregates.

Now researchers at UCLA, believe they have found a method with wich they can prevent the buildup of Alpha Synuclein; which they believe to be the primary cause of this disease. They have created a compound known referred to as "molecular tweezers" which, in animal models, broke up deposits of A.S, stopped their toxicity, and did all of this without affecting normal brain function or other cells. This "molecular tweezer", known by its lab name of CLR01 binds with the proteins associated with the "C" shape of A.S, and help break aggregations down.

The first animal testing was done in Zebra fish, due to their ease of genetic manipulability. Using fluorescent proteins, scientists tracked the progress of A.S and how its buildup affected the brain. Just as in cell cultures preformed prior to the live animal trial, CLR01 was successful in preventing A.S aggregation and neuronal death. Results look promising, and the group plans on moving on to trials in mice before moving on to human trials.

This is an incredible advance in the prevention and possible cure of Parkinson's. Although the trials have only been preformed on zebra fish and lab cultures, the results are astonishing. CLR01 has so far resulted in the prevention and ultimately the cure of Parkinson's in test trials. This creation's reach will extend far beyond the boundaries of Parkinson's, and will have implications for the whole field of neurodegenerative diseases. Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, and Huntington's Disease are all similar in terms of systemic problems, and this breakthrough could very well help cure more than just Parkinson's.

- Jeff Keating (2)