Showing posts with label new research. Show all posts
Showing posts with label new research. Show all posts
Showing posts with label new research. Show all posts
Showing posts with label new research. Show all posts

Friday, January 06, 2017

We have a new organ in our bodies!

Doesn't that sound crazy?
After years of research, scientists have discovered that we have a new organ in our bodies.
You'd think that with all of the dissections of the human body over 100 years of anatomy study, that we would know everything about the human body by now, but no! There is still more to learn and I wonder what else do we not know about our bodies?

The new organ is located in our digestive system, specifically connecting the abdomen and intestines and it looks like this and it's called the MESENTERY:

For hundreds of years, the mesentery had been considered a fragmented structure made up of multiple separate parts. However, research by Professor of Surgery at UL’s Graduate Entry Medical School, J Calvin Coffey, found the mesentery is one, continuous structure.

J Calvin Coffey, University of Limerick said: “In the paper, which has been peer reviewed and assessed, we are now saying we have an organ in the body which hasn’t been acknowledged as such to date.” 

So how does the mesentery work? I hear you ask.

It is a set of tissues which is formed by the double fold of peritoneum that attaches the intestines to the wall of the abdomen. Up until now, we only know the anatomy (structure) of the organ, more detailed functions of the organ are yet to be found out. 

The official google definition of the mesentery.
This is definitely a breakthrough in science. Knowing what this organ does will not only benefit research but further scientific research of the mesentery could lead to less invasive surgeries, fewer complications, faster patient recovery and lower overall costs.  We could also find out about diseases which could be affecting patients, and find a better and more specific cure for these diseases. 

The human body still has its ways of showing us how majestic it is and we can only wonder what else there is to find out about the forever-working-factory that is our bodies. 

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Sunday, January 17, 2016

Females are less prone to influenza than males, thanks to Estrogen.

Estrogen and its derivatives have been found to protect against respiratory infections such as influenza, in females more than males. This new study was published in the American Journal of Physiology-- Lung Cellular and Physiology.

A virus usually works/makes you ill by invading a cell in your body and making and replicating itself within the host cell. After being released from the host cell, the virus can go on to infect other cells in the body and also other people.   The less a virus replicates, the less severe the infection and the lower the risk it will be spread onto other people.

The researchers used human nasal epithelial cells (hNECs) from male and female donors- which are the main cells which the flu virus targets - and exposed the nasal cells to 17β-estradiol (i.e estrogen) or select estrogen modulators (SERMs) (these include natural and synthetic compounds which act like estrogen in the body and are used for hormone therapy). The cells were then infected with a seasonal influenza virus (IAV), with each test group of cells being tested against each SERM individually.

Within the group of SERMs is a compound called BPA (bisphenol A), which you may have heard of before. It is derived from a group of compounds called xenoestrogens. Xenoestrogens are a type of xenohormone - they are compounds that imitate estrogen and they can be either synthetic or natural chemical compounds. Bisphenol A is a chemical that is used in a wide variety of consumer products and exhibits hormone-like properties. BPA is a chemical that is used in a wide variety of consumer products, such as resins used to line metal food and beverage containers, thermal paper store receipts, and dental composites. BPA has been in the news recently because of its hormonal abilities and the negative effects that can be a result of high concentrations of BPA in the body. (There will be more blog posts on this in the future.)

The results showed that estrogen, raloxifene, and bisphenol A decreased the IAV titers in hNECs from female but not male donors. 

Definition: Titers 
The concentration of a solution a determined by titration. 

Which means that the estrogen and SERMs were able to reduce the replication of the flu virus in the nasal cells of the female donors but not in the male donors nasal cells.

Sabra Klein, Ph.D., of Johns Hopkins University and lead investigator of the study commented, "Other studies have shown that estrogens have antiviral properties against HIV, Ebola, and hepatitis viruses. What makes our study unique is two-fold. First, we conducted our study using primary cells directly isolated from patients, allowing us to directly identify the sex-specific effect of estrogens. Second, this is the first study to identify the estrogen receptor responsible for the antiviral effects of estrogens, bringing us closer to understanding the mechanisms mediating this conserved antiviral effect of estrogens."


Journal Reference:
  1. Jackye Peretz, Andrew Pekosz, Andrew P. Lane, Sabra L. Klein.Estrogenic compounds reduce influenza A virus replication in primary human nasal epithelial cells derived from female, but not male, donorsAmerican Journal of Physiology - Lung Cellular and Molecular Physiology, 2015; ajplung.00398.2015 DOI:10.1152/ajplung.00398.2015
  2. Quotes from American Physiological Society (APS). "Not the weaker sex: Estrogen protects women against the flu, study finds: Study in human cells supports why the flu may hit men harder than women." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 12 January 2016. <>.

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Wednesday, December 09, 2015

Reversing Type 2 Diabetes Just by Losing Weight

Its not easy living with type 2 diabetes and regulating your own blood sugar levels, through diet and exercise. Around 9% of the worlds population live with type 2 diabetes, with 80% coming from poor background and developing countries and it is now being found in young adults and children, after it was renowned for being as an "adult-onset" disease.

Type 2 diabetes causes too much glucose in the blood due to the pancreas not producing enough insulin -- a hormone which breaks down glucose into energy in the cells -- together with insulin resistance, a condition in which the body responds poorly to insulin.

The scientific team at Newcastle university found that by reducing the fat accumulating in the pancreas, even only one gram of fat, via weight loss can reverse diabetes. 

Via bariatric surgery 

In the clinical trials, 18 people with Type 2 diabetes and 9 people who did not have diabetes were measured for weight, fat levels in the pancreas and insulin response before and after bariatric surgery. The patients with Type 2 diabetes had been diagnosed for an average of 6.9 years, and all for less than 15 years.
The patients with Type 2 diabetes were found to have increased levels of fat in the pancreas.
The participants in the study had all been selected to have gastric bypass surgery for obesity and were measured before the operation then again eight weeks later. After the operation, those with Type 2 diabetes were immediately taken off their medication.
Both groups lost the same amount of weight, around 13% of their initial body weight. Critically, the pool of fat in the pancreas did not change in the non-diabetics but decreased to a normal level in those with Type 2 diabetes.
These results show that removing the excess fat from around the pancreas will let insulin production return to normal, and reverse diabetes- the patients were now diabetes free.
Via draining excess fat out of the pancreas
Currently the only way to reduce fat in the pancreas is via calorie restriction by any means -- whether by diet or an operation.  In patients who had started with Type 2 diabetes, fat levels in the pancreas (pancreatic triglyceride) decreased by 1.2% over the 8 weeks. Very exact methods were needed to be able to measure this and a new method using a special MRI scan was developed. With an average pancreas for a person with Type 2 diabetes having a volume of 50 ml, this is the equivalent of around 0.6 grams of fat.
However, the patients who had never had diabetes saw no change in the level of fat in their pancreas demonstrating that the increase in fat in the pancreas is specific to people who develop Type 2 diabetes. Especially, individuals vary in how much fat they can tolerate in the pancreas before Type 2 diabetes occurs.
Transforming the ideology of Type 2 diabetes
Older studies by Professor Taylor and his team highlighted the importance of weight loss through diet in reversing Type 2 diabetes. Their research in 2011 transformed the thinking in diabetes as it was the first time that it had been demonstrated that diet could remove fat clogging up the pancreas allowing normal insulin secretion to be restored.
  1. Sarah Steven, Kieren G. Hollingsworth, Peter K. Small, Sean A. Woodcock, Andrea Pucci, Benjamin Aribisala, Ahmad Al-Mrabeh, Ann K. Daly, Rachel L. Batterham, and Roy Taylor. Weight Loss Decreases Excess Pancreatic Triacylglycerol Specifically in Type 2 DiabetesDiabetes Care, December 2015 DOI: 10.2337/dc15-0750

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Tuesday, April 07, 2015

Stem Cells Do What They Do Because They Discriminate

Stem cells are the clean slates of the human body. They're the cells (usually found in bone marrow) that are stored till they have a significant job. Stem cells remain stem cells until they need to differentiate into a specific type of cell i.e  a heart cell, a kidney cell or even a skin cell.

New research goes into the way stem cells differentiate and what goes into the process. The study (conducted by the Institute of Biotechnology and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)) suggests that asymmetric apportioning of old cellular components during cell division may represent an anti-aging mechanism utilized by stem cells.

They focus on tissue stem cells, that continuously renew our tissues which divide asymmetrically to produce 2 types of daughter cells: one a new stem cell, the second one will become the differentiating cell of a tissue. Stem cells undergo this technique to prevent cellular damage. Extra damage can cause stem cell fatigue and less tissue regeneration and aging.

To follow this method the researches devised a way to follow the different cell organelles; age-selectively during cell division.

"We found that stem cells segregate their old mitochondria to the daughter cell that will differentiate, whereas the new stem cell will receive only young mitochondria" said Pekka Katajisto, a Group leader and Academy research fellow at BI.

Since other types of cell organelles aren't age-specific and only mitochondria are age-specific, especially in stem-cells, also the inhibition of normal mitochondrial quality control pathways stops their age-selective segregation.

"There is a fitness advantage to renewing your mitochondria," says David Sabatini, Professor at MIT and Whitehead Institute. "Stem cells know this and have figured out a way to discard their older components."

Although we still don't know the exact mechanism of how stem cells recognize the age of mitochondria; the forced symmetric apportioning of aged mitochondria resulted in loss of stemness in all of the daughter cells. "This suggests that the age-selective apportioning of old and potentially damaged organelles may be a way to fight stem cell exhaustion and aging," says Katajisto.

Katajisto and his team are now researching how old and new mitochondria compare to each other and whether this phenomenon happens in other types of cells than stem-type cells.


Story Source:
The above story is based on materials provided by University of HelsinkiNote: Materials may be edited for content and length.
Katajisto P, Döhla J, Chaffer C, Pentinmikko N, Marjanovic N, Iqbal S, Zoncu R, Chen W, Weinberg RA, & Sabatini DM (2015). Asymmetric apportioning of aged mitochondria between daughter cells is required for stemness. Science (New York, N.Y.) PMID: 25837514

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Tuesday, March 31, 2015

The Newest Way to Get Rid of Acne & Spots

It is everyone’s desire to have beautiful, clear skin but sometimes that’s not always possible. Especially in our teenage years spots start to appear and if you’re really unlucky it turns into acne.  Although acne can take a long time to go away, there are lot of treatments for it available today; and here’s the newest, method of acne treatment & prevention.

Pimples form when follicles get blocked by sebum, an oily, waxy substance secreted by sebaceous glands located adjacent to the follicle. Excretion of sebum is a natural process and functions to lubricate and waterproof the skin. Occasionally, however, the openings of the follicles (pores) get blocked, typically by bits of hair, skin, dirt or other debris mixed in with the sebum. Overproduction of sebum is also a problem, which can be caused by hormones or medications. Changes in the skin, such as its thickening during puberty, can also contribute to follicle blockage. Whatever the cause, the accumulating sebum holds bacteria, which results in the inflammation and local infection that’s called acne.

Samir Mitragotri, professor of chemical engineering at UCSB along with private medical device company: Sebacia have cooperated together to “establish the foundation of a novel therapy” Prof. Mitragotri said.

Utilising low-frequency ultrasound, it pushes gold-silica particles are delivered into the sebaceous gland thought the follicles, and are heated by the laser. Silica and gold particles are extremely tiny (one-hundredth of the width of a human hair). The heat deactivates the sebaceous glands by converting light to heat via a process called surface plasmon resonance. The sebum, pore-blocking substances and particles are excreted normally.  "If you deactivate these overproducing glands, you're basically treating the root cause of the acne," said Mitragotri.

This new technology is also the first time, which has been proved that it is possible to transfer drugs for years, to deliver the particles though the skin.

Published in the Journal of Controlled Release, this new research hopes to open a door for other treatment methods over conventional treatments. Selective photothermolysis, is a very useful method that does not irritate or dry the skin's surface. Additionally, it poses no risk of resistance or long-term side effects that can occur with antibiotics or other systemic treatments. This method is particularly suited to patients with advanced, severe or difficult-to-treat acne.

After rapidly going from concept to clinical trials there still need to be more trials on this method to detect any possibility of follicular damage and obviously its positives and negatives.


Paithankar D, Hwang BH, Munavalli G, Kauvar A, Lloyd J, Blomgren R, Faupel L, Meyer T, & Mitragotri S (2015). Ultrasonic delivery of silica-gold nanoshells for photothermolysis of sebaceous glands in humans: Nanotechnology from the bench to clinic. Journal of controlled release : official journal of the Controlled Release Society, 206, 30-36 PMID: 25747145

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Friday, March 13, 2015

Scientist of the Week 2: Ahmed Zewail

This weeks Scientist of the Week #SOTW is Ahmed Zewail, the famous, Egyptian scientist & Nobel laureate, for his amazing research in femtochemistry: studying chemical reactions across femtoseconds (1 fs= 10-15 seconds). 


Born on February 26, 1946 in a city not so far from Alexandria, Egypt; Zewail “lived an enjoyable childhood”.  His family’s dream was to see Zewail achieve a high degree abroad and return to Egypt to become a university professor.  Zewail completed his degree in Alexandria University with First Class Honours and it is the same place where he realised his strong passion for science especially the physical sciences.  

Zewail then went onto complete his Masters and PhD in Alexandria University where he was employed as a demonstrator (“Moeid”) where he gave lectures to undergraduates.  He then travelled o the United States where he completed his PhD in the University of Pennsylvania with advisor Robin M. Hochstrasser. Zewail then moved to Berkeley, U.S.A to complete a post-doctoral fellowship at the University of California, Berkeley with advisor Charles B. Harris.

After completing his post-doc, Zewail was awarded a faculty appointment at the California Institute of Technology where he has been working ever since 1976. In 1990 he was made the first Linus Pauling Chair in Chemical Physics.

Key research / awards

Of the notable works that Zewail has worked through; is his work in femtochemistry, studying chemical reactions across femtoseconds (1 fs= 10-15 seconds).  Before the late 1980’s it was almost impossible to study the events that occur in a chemical reaction, however Zewail was able to view the motion of atoms and molecules based on new laser technology capable of producing light flashes just tens of femtoseconds in duration (a.k.a femtosecond spectroscopy).  

For his contributions to science and for his public service, Dr. Zewail has garnered honours from around the globe. Fifty Honorary Degrees in the sciences, arts, philosophy, law, medicine, and humane letters have been conferred on him, including those from Oxford University, Cambridge University, Peking University, École Normale Supérieure, Yale University, University of Pennsylvania, and Alexandria University.

Recent research

4D Microscopy:  Professor Zewail’s current research is focused on the structural dynamics in chemistry and biology with focus on the physics of elementary processes in complex systems. The main research is based in producing four-dimensional (4D) ultrafast electron microscopy and diffraction for atomic –scale visualization in space and time.  Together with spectroscopy and large-scale computations, the goal is to understand complexity and nature of physical, chemical and biological transformations.
Prof. Zewail also is devoted to giving public lectures to enhance awareness of the value of knowledge gained from fundamental research, and helping the population of developing countries through the promotion of science and technology for the betterment of society.

Nobel Peace Prize

At 5:40 in the morning on Tuesday, October 12, Ahmed Zewail got a phone call - it was the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences informing him he had won the 1999 Nobel Prize in chemistry. The citation reads, in part, that Zewail "is being rewarded for his pioneering investigation of fundamental chemical reactions, using ultra-short laser flashes on the time scale on which the reactions actually occur"...  Dr Zewail studied atoms and molecules in “slow motion” during a reaction and seen what actually happens when chemical bonds beak and new ones are created.

Described as the world’s fastest camera, this utilises laser flashes of such short duration that are at the time scale on which the reactions actually happen – femtoseconds (fs). One femtosecond is 10-15 seconds that is 0.000000000000001 seconds. This area of chemistry as named femtochemistry.

Femtochemistry helps us understand why certain chemical reactions take place but not others, and also determine the speed and yields of different reactions.  This will aid the future research into the mechanisms of life and how the medicines of the future should be produced.

“At the age of 21, as a Moeid, I believed that behind every universal phenomenon there must be beauty and simplicity in its description. This belief remains true today.”
-          Ahmed H. Zewail, Autobiography

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Friday, February 27, 2015

New Segment: Scientist of the Week!

After my previous blog post Science: It's a Girl Thing I have decided to start a new segment where I will be featuring one scientist from different branches of science and could be male or female and provide a profile / case study dedicated to that scientist every week. This segment will be: Scientist of the Week and will be posted every Friday commencing from Friday 6th March 2015 !

Can you guess which scientist I will be starting with?

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Monday, February 02, 2015

Pineapple Juice : An Excellent Catalyst for Biginelli Reaction

Pineapple is almost everyone's favorite fruit and favorite juice. but not only is it good to consume, its also great for chemical reactions and green chemistry; cleaner ways to make pharmaceutical products. 

An efficient and greener synthesis of a series of dihydropyrimidinone (DHPMs) derivatives were accomplished via three-component one-pot cyclocondensation between substituted aryl aldehydes, diketone/ke- toester and urea. This solvent free approach is totally nonpolluting having several advantages such as shorter reaction time, mild reaction conditions, simple workup and reduced environmental impact.

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Friday, January 09, 2015

The Mystery of the Yellow Taj Mahal

Back in 1631 the emperor Shah Jahan built the Taj Mahal for his deceased wife, Mumtaz Mahal, to honor her memory . It is regarded as one of the seven wonders of the world. Sadly this wonder is becoming tarnished by the day. Due to pollution, the Taj Mahal marble is starting to turn yellow.
Even though, every couple of years the mausoleum is given a clay mask to remove all the grime and restore the sparkling white marble, the grime returns over and over again every few years.

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Wednesday, January 07, 2015

Don't believe the science lies: Wear your coat or you’ll get a cold!

Can you really catch a cold when it’s cold outside? It turns out that actually staying warm can be useful and our mums were right in telling us to wrap up and keep warm and to wear a jacket when we go out.

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Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Micro-needle Plasters

My previous post was on the success of research for finding a vaccine for the Hepatitis-C virus, this posts looks into a new way to prevent Hep-C along with other blood transmitted diseases in a magnificent way.

Since using sharp, medical needles are risky and have been a transmitter of diseases, when used incorrectly; it’s suggested that healthcare professionals use the needle only once and with the correct procedure and is disposed of safely. But there’s also an alternative option, which is much safer and painless. Micro needles affixed to plaster are painless and safe to administer and they don’t get through to the nerves, which almost gives a Velcro-like texture. The micro-needles are made of soft contact lens like material and at their dry state, the needles are hard and can penetrate the skin (50 microns) and once in the skin, can rapidly take up fluid from the interstitial fluid, into the micro-needles, and swell.

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Thursday, November 06, 2014

Ozone Nano-Bubble Water: Breakthrough for Chemists and Dentists

Ozone is typically associated with the ozone layer that surrounds the Earth and any articles about it are usually about the size of the hole in the ozone layer and how and what affects it every day. But that isn't what this article is about.

This blog post is about how ozone can be bubbled into water to make nano-bubble water that is a powerful antiseptic agent that can be used to treat periodontitis and other dental related problems. The new research was published in the journal: Science and Technology of advanced materials.

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Wednesday, August 20, 2014

A new hope for Parkinson’s disease …?

First of all I’d like to dedicate this blog post to my late uncle who was a victim of Parkinson’s disease. May he rest in peace…

Parkinson’s disease was discovered by James Parkinson in 1867 and had initially called it “Shaking palsey”. Parkinson’s is the 2nd most common neurodegenerative disease after Alzheimer’s, and can be identified by shaking hands (tremor), rigidity and posture instability; cased by the loss of neurons in the Substantia Nigra (in the brain), and the lack of dopamine (dopamine smoothes out skeletal muscle movements) due to the death of dopaminergic neurones in the Substantia Nigra (black substance) in the brain and also the accumulation of lewy bodies. Other symptoms of Parkinson’s are shuffling gait, depression and anger.

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Monday, August 11, 2014

Should we fear the Ebola virus or not?

“Breaking news: Ebola virus has been declared as an international public health emergency by the World Health organization”

That sentence was the first thing I saw when I logged into Facebook as I’ve started planning and writing this article.

What is the Ebola virus (EBOV)?

The Ebola virus is a very terrible disease and lethal if caught and it has a high fatality rate of 60% (WHO 01/04/2014) [1] Ebola is not an airborne virus but it can be spread via bodily fluids such as sweat and its recommended that you don’t shake hands with anyone who could potential carry the disease or has recovered and still in recuperation period.

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