Biology Current Events Essay

The article given to us published in the Toronto Star supplements our classroom learning on the nervous system by giving us a real life application of the knowledge. The article discusses the multiple research initiatives to repair damaged spinal cord nerves. The article argues that if the peripheral nerves in the finger can grow back and join together, there could be hope for the spinal cord. New research conducted by the Neuroscience Network of Canada discovered that the genes in the spinal cord are deactivated while other stop nerve cells from growing and stabilizes the essential nerve connections during adult life. Researchers are trying to find a way to activate the “switched off” genes. Scientist hope to repair nerves by isolating the cells that adults developed as children retain to be transformed into nerve cells outside the body and transplanting them into a damaged brain or spinal cord.

The article explains why severed nerves of the spinal cord do not grow back and it is because of the presence of myelin that stabilizes the circuit to prevent nerve fibres from forming unwanted connections. In other research, scientist have discovered a way to temporarily stop myelin of adult animals from stabilizing the circuit which can promote connection of up to 20 percent but it must to improved to work on humans. Additional research is focusing on isolating the dorsal root ganglions that has a dual nature to not regenerate while its connections to muscles and skin do regenerate. Scientists are working on isolating the dorsal root ganglions to promote growth in one half and prevent it in the other. Research has also found that exercise is the best way to keep neural links firing by increasing the production of growth protein in the brain that supports the nerve cells and protects against the free radicals.

This article adds to my learning of the nervous system, raises social and technological issues and advances and entices me to exercise more frequently to keep my neural links firing for a long time.

The article specifically explains how the nerve fibres are developed in the human embryo and the research being done in hopes of repairing a severed spinal cord adds a real life application to my knowledge of the nervous system. The diagram in the article illustrates a clear picture of the relationship between the spinal cord and the neuron which enhances my knowledge of the nervous system.

There are moral implications using aborted fetal tissues and harvesting their nerve cells and transplanted in humans. There has been debate about whether it would be proper to use, so to avoid moral dilemmas, scientists discovered other methods to repair damaged nerve fibres. There are also developments in technology with transforming and transplanting nerve cells. Discoveries to repair damaged nerve fibres would be very exciting for people who are permanently paralysis. It would be a great breakthrough for society. This article also encourages people to exercise often to keep neural link firing properly and reducing the risk of nerve damage by free radicals.

Current Events

DNA, Jim, but not as we know it

This article talks about a new discovery of DNA-like molecules using unnatural versions of the DNA bases. The result is a molecule that is more structurally stabile than natural DNA and can resist breakdowns by DNA-degrading enzymes in cells. The article explains the possible future uses of this molecular particularly in engineering. I chose this article because I thought it was really interesting how they can manipulate the structure of DNA to create a molecule that can form a double helix as well as a triple helix, which is created by replacing the regular bond with a triple bond.

I did not know the structure of DNA could be rearranged to create other molecules. This discovery shows how flexible the DNA structure is; it is really fascinating. I support the idea of synthesizing DNA into other DNA-like molecules to explore the DNA structure and to customize more forms of the structure. This article relates to our learning of DNA, its bases and the basic double helix structure. The article demonstrates that the DNA structure is very flexible and is not just fixed to the general structure we are learning. The discovery of the artificial DNA could be a building framework for constructing medical and nanotechnological structures. Also it creates opportunities to construct more DNA-like molecules that has the ability to store information. The capability to modify DNA’s structural characteristics could gives nanotechnologist more control as a material for engineering. It is more evidence of how technologically advanced our world is becoming.

Works Cited

Barry, Patrick. “DNA, Jim, but not as we know it.” Science News 2 Aug. 2008: 15.

Current Events

The Promise and Power of RNA

This article talks about the discovery of RNA interference against the production of the protein PCSK9 that causes the body to have high levels of cholesterol. It describes the importance of RNA and its ability to take out the genes that causes diseases or even cancer. It talks about the different arguments of the possibility of RNA interference in humans, the side effects, the precision of silencing genes and the method of the delivery of the drug. The article concludes by stating that RNA plays a powerful role in how the gene functions but the limit to its role is still a mystery. I chose this article because I thought it was really interesting to learn how powerful RNA truly is. I always thought of RNA as a sidekick to the DNA and nothing more. I believe this discovery could be the start many cures in the medical world and putting RNA in a whole different light.

This article relates to our course study of DNA, RNA and protein synthesis. We have learned that the genetic code for protein is transcribed through making a copy of a DNA strand. The copy is RNA, which then carries out to the cytoplasm to be transcribed by ribosomes. But scientists are now finding that a lot of DNA is transcribed into RNA without it leading to the production of protein. The RNA itself seems to be involved in determining which genes are active and which proteins are produced. I think the discovery of RNA interference is very amazing and it has the potential to do great things in the medical world like curing diseases and cancer. It is making progress in lowering cholesterol levels in the body and there are already companies testing a RNA interference drug that can be inhaled to treat a respiratory virus, drugs to treat age-related macular degeneration. RNA interference could change medicine forever.