Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Man made plant tech

Hmm, what do I remember about photosynthesis? I'm going to say not enough. Plants take in carbon dioxide and water and use light as energy to produce oxygen and glucose. This is carried out by the Calvin benson cycle and phosphorylation. Photosynthesis in general will yield minimal amounts of ATP.
From what I can tell, this isn't exactly photosynthesis that they replicated. It is simmilar in a way, but does not yield glucose. Instead various alcohols are produced. This whole concept interests me to be honest, I think it is so cool to see some of the massive steps people are taking right now in science. One thing I remember saying freshman year was what if we could wear skin that would give us energy through photosynthesis and have energy from cellular respiration. It was just one of my random thoughts, but now I'm getting thinking again, maybe it could work. Anyways, this seemed like a fairly basic general concept that was very interresting.
I do have a few questions though, especially involving real applications of this new technology. It is said to be 10 times more efficient than photosynthesis at producing energy, but photosynthesis isn't really that efficient in the first place I didn't think. The article states that it would take 1000 watts to produce 60 grams of alcohol. My question is how many watts is 60 of alcohol capable of producing. It would have to be over 1000 in order to have any application in the power industry. And As far as I can tell it would not have a "go green" application either because the alcohol will be most likely burned for fuel, which will just turn the carbons in the alcohol back into carbon dioxide. This was over all a really cool and interresting topic, but I wish more was covered in how this could apply to power usage.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Chinese Rish into Clinical Trials of Potentialy Deadly Cancer Treatment

This new CRISPR treatment is to me very biologically interresting. It does however have a scary factor to it when you think of the possible negative effects of it. It could cause the body to attack itself, particularly the gut and adrenaline glands. That sounds like one step forward to steps back to me. I guess if they are only trying it on people that are no responsive to chemo and other treatments, the possibility of living trumps dying for certain. Before they try this on anyone else besides those doomed to this last resort rushed test trial, they better get some pretty convincing evidence that the treatment can be successful without short or long term repercussions in the majority of people.
Anyways, let's get back to the science part(super awesome cool part). From what I understand, this gene PD-1, more or less is in charge of  preventing the body from attacking its self. In the case of cancer, the body needs to attack its own cells. This understanding has lead to many treatments including this one, revolving around blocking or getting rid of PD-1. CRISPR is the process of editing out that gene from the T cells, therefore allowing the cells to attack the cancer cells without hesitation. This process reminds me of the p-glo lab we did. Only we inserted a gene into the ecoli's DNA ring thing. They focused on the extraction part. This all connects to the concepts we were learning about in genetics. we learned about how enzymes can cut off specific sections of a chromosome based on nucleotide order. That section of DNA could then be introduced into another foreign cell's DNA. This having already been done, but mostly to plansts and animals to enhance their production capabilities. Now all that had to be done was six months of research and we are almost ready to GMO human subjects.
Yes this article also forces me to ask a few questions. The article mostly talks about blocking PD-1, but it does also mention extracting a second and inserting a third. What does that mean? Why are those other genes not mentioned? Also PD-1 seems to be pretty important in the protection of healthy cells, is this edit only evident  in the T cells of the blood, or will the rest of the rest of the body, as cells duplicate and die, phase this gene out all together? I guess I'm not totally understanding. Would this genetic change be passed on to future generations? The article said that all T cells would be active. Last big question, is 6 months a reasonable time frame? Is it safe for the Chinese to get politically involved to push forward the dates of clinical trial. I'm honestly I bit concerned for the mindset of the people developing this drug.the patient should come first, not China.
I would say I would like to learn more about the bodies immune response in general. What are T cells? What makes them special? How do they work. I guess that if I want to know how the body protects itself, I would want to know what against and how things like tumors form.
I understand the concepts of the article pretty well, I believe that most people could, but what I want to know now, is the details.