Thursday, April 28, 2016

Got Gas?

Farting is a way of life - literally speaking. It is an essential aspect shared by all species . The technical term for fart is flateuis. Humans fart as a result of our digestive system. When food is ingested, we also take in air. That same air needs to be released from our system. in addition, when the food is being further broken down in the small intestine for nutrient uptake, the elements that are unable to be digested are further broken down by bacteria that inhabit the large intestine and colon. The bacteria carry out fermentation, and the byproducts released are hydrogen sulfide, oxygen, nitrogen, hydrogen, and methane gas. These elements compose gas, which is otherwise known as flatus.

The rate at which one passes gas highly depends on the person’s diet. The more carbohydrates one intakes, the more likely they are to pass gas given that elements such as sugars, fibers, and starches cannot be fully broken down in the small intestine alone. Eating foods such as beans, wheat, and even drinking soda can make you fart more than usual. Now what gives a fart its funky smell is the hydrogen sulfide. The richer your food is in sulfur, the smellier your fart will be. The smell of your gas can also be indicative of other health concerns; if the smell is always bad, it can be a sign of an infection. But keep in mind that the state of your stool also changes, so do not be too paranoid. So please, keep in mind the food that you do eat before heading out in order to spare those that are around you.

Post by: Soffie Jobarteh

Sperm Facial Anyone?

Have you ever once sat down to think about the benefits that come with sperm besides procreation? Generally speaking, I am sure that curiosity has gotten the best of people once they are behind closed doors given the existence of various kinks and fetishes. Curiosity got the best of me as well, however, it was for a different reason. I wanted to know if there were health and beauty benefits when it came to semen; weird, I know, nonetheless, after reading and hearing various stories I just wanted to increase and expand my knowledge on semen and how it can be utilized to benefit people in other ways.

“Extraordinary Things You Can Do with Sperm,” by Nikki Tucker, is an article that informs people on the properties and benefits of semen. Semen contains spermine, an antioxidant that is used to not only help rejuvenate the skin, but also help to prevent acne and wrinkles. In addition, it has been confirmed that semen can be served as an antidepressant. Semen is composed of prolactin, oxytocin, and serotonin, which are chemicals and neurotransmitters that assist and facilitate in boosting the mood of an individual. In addition to facials, one can use semen as an ingredient in their next home cooked meal, if and only if he and or she is that daring; “semen is very nutritious” you know! And on top of that, semen can be used as an alternative for invisible ink. 
So if you think that sperm is for one thing, and one thing only, think again my friend. Sperm comes with many benefits: from beauty and health benefits, to it being utilized in the kitchen. Thank me later!

Post by Soffie Jobarteh

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

The Promise of Poop

  Soon after Max Nieuwdorp started his residency at the internal medicine department of the Academic Medical Center (AMC) in Amsterdam on 2006, he was confronted with a sad case: an 81-year-old woman hospitalized for a complication after a urinary tract infection who seemed unlikely to survive. She had bed sores and high fevers and was unable to eat. After antibiotics had wiped out her colon's microbial population, an opportunistic bacterium called Clostridium difficile had taken over, causing terrible diarrhea and bowel inflammation.

C. difficile is a notorious pathogen that kills at least 14,000 patients a year in the United States alone.It is a major cause of antibiotic inducing diarrhea To treat it, the woman was given several courses of vancomycin, the standard antibiotic in such cases. But, as often happens, the bacteria had become resistant.
 "I want to try a fecal transplant” Nieuwdorp said.

The plan was simple: The duo would flush the contents from the woman's colon, including, hopefully, the C. difficilepopulation, and replace it with the healthy bacterial flora from a donor, in this case her son. To do so, they would mix the son's feces with saline in a blender and squirt it straight into the patient's duodenum, the upper part of her intestine, via a thin plastic tube inserted through her nose.
Three days after her treatment, the woman left the hospital—walking.

Many doctors now agree that intestinal C. difficile infections can be cured by transplanting stools from healthy people. Researchers also think that a wholesale replacement of the gut's microbial flora might help treat many other diseases, such as inflammatory bowel disease, diabetes, and the elusive chronic fatigue syndrome. 

Posted by: Mohammed Saleh


Saturday, April 23, 2016

Can Loneliness lead to Heart Disease?

The severity of mental illnesses are often ignored and overlooked. Scientists have found that poor social relationships lead to cardiovascular disease and an increased risk of stroke. There is a relationship between “mental health and aspects of physical health, from immune functioning to cognitive decline”. More specifically, social isolation has been proven to cause brain stressors, anxiety and further chronic subclinical diseases. Loneliness is described as a “survival impulse” similar to hunger, our body does not perform appropriately under those conditions. Researchers have revealed that loneliness can cause humans to fail at the cellular level. Such emotions can increase activities in genes that produce inflammation and apoptosis in cells that fight immunity. Risk factors of loneliness such as gender disparity and or socioeconomic position are often subconscious “yet hold the key to identifying people who may benefit from intervention”. Individuals often don’t realize the root of their mental illness- until they begin to question internalized feelings about their identity.

A healthy lifestyle is multidimensional and requires various forms of intervention when it is not maintained. Educational programs, social activities, and cognitive-behavioral therapy are resources provided to people that are socially isolated. This flow chart describes how social connections might impact your heart health and stroke risk. There are direct and indirect pathways that inform us of how social connections influence disease morbidity and mortality.

A systematic analysis was created to analyze a person’s level of loneliness and their heart rate. Results indicate that "we cannot infer causality from our findings, nor can we exclude confounding by unmeasured common causes, or reverse causation if deficiencies in social relationships are the result of subclinical disease."

By Donisha White


Friday, April 22, 2016

Basic Life Science Research is Seriously Flawed

Should we continue to invest billions of dollars into basic life science research? Well many taxpayers find this investment irrational and quite ludicrous. Each year drug companies, the federal government, nonprofits, and academia fund approximately $114.8 billion dollars of “wasted money on flawed results and expensive dead ends”.  It was notified to us that this is primarily due to common mistakes such as the use of wrong antibodies, contaminated or misidentified cell lines, and or poor data analysis. As we know, basic life science research is considered valid when several scientists can produce the same results.  Therefore, months or years of research “may be wasted, along with the money that funded it” if such research is not governed as authentic. Taxpayers argue that even though most of the fundamental discoveries of medicine were originated from basic life science research, scientists must challenge themselves to create more rigorous protocols and conditions that they abide by. It is unacceptable for mundane mistakes to occur daily when it affects each taxpayer’s salary. This is especially problematic when “more than half of all life sciences research is not reproducible”. 

As a taxpayer, funds should be allocated to basic life science research. There is an abundance of diseases as well as illnesses that we need to find treatment for. However, researchers should begin to strategize ways to minimize negligent mistakes from occurring. They should also make it their responsibility to ensure that our money is not being wasted on nonreproducible experimentation. 

Donisha White 

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Overcoming Paralysis

        In the United States today there are more than 5 million people who suffer some type of paralysis from monoplegia, where only one part of the body is effected, to quadriplegia, where all four limbs are effected. The mental toll of learning to live with paralysis knowing there's no cure can be devastating.
        However, there have been some new developments in terms of treatment with the most recent being a chip which is implanted in the brain to read brain signals. Those signals are then interpreted by a computer and a sleeve, fitted with 130 different electrodes, is able to stimulate different muscles in the arm causing them to contract. Ian Burkhart became paralyzed at age 18 after a serious car accident and had no use of his arms or legs for nearly six years. After undergoing this procedure, was able to regain some control of motion in his right hand to the point where he could move large objects, pour the contents of a glass and swipe a credit card among other things. Ian is hopeful that one day he will have full range of motion in both his hands using this new technology.
        While this isn't a "cure" for paralysis other technological workarounds already exists giving those who are paralyzed some degree of movement back. In 2012 a women was able to control a robotic arm with only her thoughts. With advancements like these it isn't crazy to think that, sometime in the near future, we could see new technology that allows those who are paralyzed to regain function of their limbs and improve their overall quality of life.

-Cole DiStasio (Group 1)

What's That Smell?

Have you ever thought about why you were attracted to someone? Did you ever thing it is because of the smell that they secrete? These smells are known as pheromones. Most people and animals use them to communicate and attract one another. Scientists have tried to identify and bottle up human pheromones, but haven't been able to discover it. Scientists do have concrete evidence that pheromones do help you smell someone gender. They have also discovered that the smell of pheromones has been linked to attraction and fertility.

Studies have been conducted on both men and women. Men where asked to smell shirts of women that were close to ovulation. When they smelt these shirts they had increased testosterone levels, then when they smelt the placebos. Another study showed that when women smelt the smell of men's sweat they felt less tense and more relaxed than when they smelt the placebo. These studies are linking pheromones to sexual attraction and regulating mood.

Each person had a unique smell that give off. This is said to be because of the protein MHC, which regulated the immune system. Most people are likely to be attracted to someone who has a different immune system then your own. Researchers say that this would increase the immune system of offspring and the offspring would have a better chance of fighting off disease. Each person experiences smells differently and no two people have the same smell.


Caitlyn Cordaro (1)

Friday, April 8, 2016

Why doesn't your immune system kill you?

The Immune system has particular signaling systems in which it can regulate the amount and type of bacteria in the gut in order to control the microbial environment without bacteria taking over the body. The job of the human immune system is to destroy pathogens. Using a combination of immediate responses (the innate immune system) and long-term memory (the adaptive immune system) in humans, the cells of the immune system are perfectly primed to seek out any cells that are foreign to the body.

This leads to a slight problem, because rather a lot of the cells within your body are 'Other' cells, and their existence is vital to your health. Within your stomach, and your respiratory tract, live a number of commensal bacteria, friendly and harmless that can survive quite happily inside you and help to fight against incoming pathogenic bacteria. Stripping away the bacteria in the gut leads to all kinds of problems including digestive problems and increased risk of disease-causing bacteria invading the now bacteria-free stomach.

Several notable yoghurt making companies are making a lot of money by selling you drinks with bacteria in them. They reassure you that the bacteria aren't dangerous, which is all well and good, but they never quite explain why the ingestion of many bacteria doesn't cause your immune system to have a panic attack.

The 'gut micro biome' is the collection of bacteria that start colonizing the inside of your intestines soon after birth, both from your mother, and from the general environment. It's helpful here to remember that technically your intestinal tract isn't actually inside your body. However there still is a trade off. The cells that make up the intestinal walls still need to be able to respond to bacteria, and the commensal bacteria still need to be contained. A non-regulated population of bacteria will simply keep growing until all available space is filled.

Starting with the innate immune system which works by recognizing molecules found in all pathogens (called PAMPs) these are recognized by human cells using receptors called TLRs (Toll-like receptors - long story) and lead to a signaling cascade that result in a huge number of cytokines and other inflammatory agents being released to kill the bacteria. In the gut this wouldn't just lead to the massive slaughter of the micro biome, but also to a huge amount of damage to the surrounding human cells. Enough exposure to microbial elements such as lipopolysacharrides can downregulate this response; the lipopolysacharrides, which are in the bacteria cell wall, down-regulate one of the key components of the signaling system, a molecule called IRAK1. This prevents the cell from mounting a response to the bacteria.


Written by Michael Sheikhai (group 3)

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Smile a While

Do you ever wish your phone understood wat you wanted without having to type it out or resorting to voice command?  What if the technology around you could function in a way that reflect your mood and work to improve it?  Rana el Kaliouby, co-founder of a tech start up called Affectiva, has been working to find ways to incorporate emotions into technology.  This technology, called “affective computing,” adds the component of human emotion to computers.

While El Kaliouby sees a variety of ways that this new advance could benefit people, her main goal is to apply the technology to healthcare. Specifically, she thinks that a face recognition and emotion detector could help researchers more accurate feedback regarding clinical trials, so patients do not feel like they need to please the doctor. If they are uncomfortable or feel pain, the software would detect that and an accurate adjustment can be made to the product.

The program is trained to recognize “action units,” or tiny muscle movements happening across the face, twenty times per second. These action units include blinks, winks, lip puckers, inner and outer brow raises, and many more tiny movements.  Affectiva’s program analyzes the movements and categorizes into seven basic emotions happiness, sadness, surprise, fear, anger, disgust, and contempt.   After analyzing countless videos of facial expressions, the company database has archived over 40 billion “emotion data points.”  Ideally, computers, phones, and even our refrigerators would use this technology to recognize how we are feeling and react accordingly, or at least make a suggestion.

Emotion-processing technology could drastically change the way we use technology, the way we interact with technology, and the way it interacts with us.  Would you want your phone to react to your facial expressions and suggest different ideas of what to do, or would you rather have technology stay out of your feelings and just do as you tell it to?

Erina Taradai (Group 3)

Microbial Death Clock

The field of forensics has evolved tremendously over the years. The discovery and knowledge of DNA has made forensics far more precise and accurate. To help figure out the unsolved crime along with DNA evidence, time of death has always been an important factor. Originally rigor mortis, temperature, and insects were the most reliable source to determine time of death. In resent findings, microbes that arrive on the corpse after death seem to present themselves in a familiar pattern. This pattern can be traced and analyzed to make benchmarks for future deaths.

Jessica Metcalf from the University of Colorado Boulder has been researching this phenomenon in mice. In research, her error was only two to four days from actual time of death. Further research was performed on deceased humans. A major pattern was presented in early decay of the corpse. The microbial families of Moraxellaceae and Acinetobacter were first discovered on the corpse. As time passed, the Rhizobiaceae family broke down nitrogen sources, and then began multiplying. From the gases of the body, aerobic species began to flourish. Worms multiplied and fed on what the Rhizobiaceae family released from the body. Since this discovery, many of the human cadavers follow this same pattern.

Essentially the main goal of this research is to create a concrete statistical model that can accurately state the time of death of an individual. Hopefully with this discovery, this model will be used to help solve more crimes in the future.

Posted by: Cara Murphy (3) 

Kupferschmidt, Kai. "How ‘death Microbes’ Can Help Police Solve Crimes." Science (2016).        Web. 3 Apr. 2016.

Butterflies in your Stomach?

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Almost everyone has encountered a situation that has given that uncomfortable or fluttery feeling in the stomach, whether it’d be during a first date or a big presentation. All of us commonly refer this feeling to the un-scientific name of having the “butterflies.” So why are we able to feel such a sensation in our stomachs?
What really is going on, is that you are experiencing stress.  Stomach butterflies are related to the body’s “fight- or- flight” response, which is the brain sensing a potential threat to survival. Signals from the brain are sent to the hypothalamus and pituitary glands, that both control our bodily functions Once the signal reaches the pituitary gland, adrenaline is immediately released into the blood stream. The autonomic nervous system sends a rush of this blood mainly to the brain and muscles rather than to organs that are “farther away” or non-essential (during the moment) such as the stomach. The reduction of blood flow may be the cause for the fluttery sensation in that area of the body. the next time you are taking a test or about to speak in front of a large crowd, just think that it is your body’s “fight- or- flight” response that is making your heart beat faster, mouth feel drier and hands being damper and shaky. It is normal, just don’t forget to take a deep breath. 

Sarah Ona (Group 3)