Tuesday, June 23, 2015

For as long as I can remember obesity has been a problem in my family,  especially on my dad's side.  My mom, my brothers, and I are all very skinny but my dad is not the same.  He along with a couple of my aunts and uncles are overweight and that has led to some problems.  My dad has recently been diagnosed with diabetes and that is scary to think about.  At 5' 8" and 150 pounds believe it or not I am the biggest of the kids in my family even though I am the youngest by 6 years.  My brothers both got my moms genes when it comes to gaining weight and I got my dads.  They can eat whatever they want and never gain weight, but as for me I have to watch what I eat.  My dad may be overweight now but when he was my age he was skinnier than I am so as I think about my future I do not want to let that happen.
"Obesity is a complex disorder involving an excessive amount of body fat" according to Mayo Clinic.  Also, as mentioned by Mayo Clinic, a lot of health problems can stem from obesity one of them being diabetes as I mentioned earlier.
Let's look at some facts and statistics about obesity.  According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases: more than 2 in 3 adults are considered to be overweight or obese, more than 1 in 3 adults is considered to be obese, more than 1 in 20 adults is considered to be extremely obese, about one third of children and adolescents ages 6-19 are considered to be overweight or obese, and 1 in 6 children or adolescents ages 6-19 is considered to be obese.  Just looking at these facts is kind of mind blowing.  I feel bad for the kids who are obese because you and I both know that their obesity stemmed from their parents and the kids were basically destined to be overweight.  
After looking at those facts and statistics I would just like to encourage everyone to find some sort of exercise that they like to do.  For me, it started with running then I started swimming and eventually got into triathlons.  I also just like to play a pick up basketball game and different things like that in order to exercise.  I know a lot of people don't like running, but even walking will help.  Anything you do exercise wise is better than doing nothing at all and it will help.  Along with weight loss you can also reduce your risk of weight related illnesses or diseases and it can also make you feel better and feel better about yourself.  There are many benefits to exercising and keeping yourself healthy and I encourage you to go out and find those on your own.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Therapeutic Cloning

I decided to post something related to cloning, as I find it interesting part of medicine even though it comes with a lot of question, morals and ethics.
Therapeutic cloning is the transfer of nuclear material sequestered from a somatic cell into an enucleated oocyte in the pursuit of getting embryonic cell lines with the identical genome as the nuclear donor. Therapeutic cloning is a progression in medicine and biotechnology which offers an understanding of scientific principles and ethical consequences to be clinically appropriate in medicine. The basis of therapeutic cloning is in the hope of curing genetic diseases when used in union with gene therapy. The success of therapeutic cloning will give hope to people with Parkinson disease, Duchenne muscular dystrophy and diabetes mellitus.
Therapeutic cloning is faced with ethical issues as to the source, annihilation and moral status but I think it is confused with reproductive cloning. Therapeutic cloning is for developing embryonic cell lines with the identical genome as the donor while reproductive cloning is the conception of a person.
Recently, two teams were able to create human embryonic stem cells from adult patients by means of cloning, with this success, researchers are getting nearer to supplying patient-specific cures in the clinic. A paper was published in cell stem cell, a team of researchers developed a procedure for the generation of human embryonic stem cells (ESCs) via Somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT) using dermal fibroblasts from 35 and 75 year old males. The result shows that soon doctors will be able to provide patient-specific treatments for use in regenerative medicine.
Following their success, another group of scientist made a huge success as well in developing therapeutic approaches by producing a patient specific line of stem cells from a woman with type 1 diabetes. The success of producing cells that produce and secrete insulin demonstrates that it can be used to develop replacement stem cell therapies for type 1 diabetes. The success by these researchers was reached by improving the procedures established by Shoukhrat Mitalipov for somatic cell nuclear transfer. The researchers used oocytes from health donors, detached the eggs nuclei and nucleus was replaced from the somatic cell of the matured patients. The result of this procedure was an embryo, during the blastocyst phase, the researchers were able to develop unwavering embryonic stem cell lines that are practicable for therapeutic use.

Before now, the development of stem cells for therapeutic use was deemed challenging and impracticable, but these researchers has proved it is possible which a miracle is. This is a promising discovery but the question now, there will be a need for continuous source of donors for this to be practicable, will creating an egg donor center be considered illogical, unethical or both?

                                                                    Work cited:

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Vitamin D and the Sun

As many of you know, summer time means summer tans. What exactly is your body doing when you lay out in the sun for hours though? Research shows that the sun is not only turning your skin to leather, but actually initializing the release of vitamin D3 on the skin. Our bodies naturally need a healthy level of vitamin D in order to maintain strong bones. We normally get this from various foods we eat or supplements. The key to this research is the Sun's contribution to vitamin D in our bodies.

Many people believe the Sun "creates" vitamin D when it really causes the skin to release it as vitamin D3. This vitamin moves through our bodies to reach the liver where it produces calcitriol. The new molecule is the active form of the vitamin that leads to stronger bones. Without it, we would all suffer from osteoporosis and be brittle. Now this leads us to question how much Sun is enough to release a healthy amount of vitamin D from the skin?

 According to the article, people are in the Sun for 40-90 minutes out of their normal day. This is about the right amount that humans should get to keep vitamin D at a healthy level. The research shows that tanning in the sun is actually harmful to most people because they are processing too much vitamin D. Artificial ways of tanning like tanning salons are also very harmful to the body. Excess vitamin D leads to kidney stones and the excess UV rays lead to skin cancer. Some people also suffer from vitamin D deficiency. As stated above, this causes brittle bones and eventually osteoporosis. In the end, make sure that your body gets the Sun it needs. You do not want to be some shut-in that only sees the Sun on the way to work. You also do not want to lay in the Sun for hours on end. A healthy level of exposure is required to live a healthy life.


Convulsions Take Control

Convulsing is becoming more common as it has become a symptom of many other health problems. These convulsions usually relate to a seizure. By definition, a seizure is the physical finding or change in behavior that occurs after an episode of abnormal electrical activity in the brain. A convulsion is the actual uncontrollable shaking of the body where muscles are continuously contacting and relaxing. When a person begins to convulse, they lose total control of the body. The convulsions take control and can cause severe pain when a person awakes from a seizure.

There are many different types of seizures, with the most common being epilepsy. Epilepsy is diagnosed when there is a pattern of seizures. However, other types of seizures are: Myoclonic, Absence, Clonic, Tonic, Grand Mal, and Atonic seizures. All of these seizures occur in different parts of the brain, and their severity depends on the amount of electrical activity and where it occurs. 

What causes this excess electrical brain activity? There are many causes, some still unknown. Some include: Head injury, Drug abuse, heat related illness, tumors, poisoning, brain injuries that occur before birth or during birth. Though these are not all of the causes, they are a great portion.

There is one type and cause of seizures that is usually not classified when researching. This is called a Pseudo Seizure. For those that do not know, the word 'pseudo', means fake. However, there is nothing fake about these convulsions that take over the body. The cause of this seizure is a traumatic event. This is definitely broad, and the word traumatic can mean something different for everybody. Many people with anxiety, depression, and high stress levels are classified as suffering through a traumatic event. For the most part, people with pseudo seizures have been medically diagnosed with PTSD, or Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Unfortunately, these seizures are becoming more and more common as the convulsing is a way for the body to relieve some of the stress it is carrying. 

One last thing that I would like to point out is that not all seizures are shown through convulsing. There are seizures in which a person may stare off into a distance, pass out or struggle breathing. These can all be forms of seizures and will only be classified as one when an EEG shows there is abnormal brain activity. 

If a person is having a seizure, and you are around, it is important to remain calm and activate EMS unless otherwise told. Some people have a specific action plan for their seizures, so be willing to listen to those that are also present with the person. Always block a persons head from any hard objects. This can be done by laying a persons head on your thigh while they convulse - preventing possible brain damage. Stay with the person and remember to follow all directions given by the operator from the emergency medical services.


Life is Precious!

      I would like to speak of a rare, inherited genetic disease that claimed the short lives of my two beautiful nieces, it is called Tay-Sachs disease.  Tay-Sachs disease affects the central nervous system and is caused by not having enough or any of the enzyme called hexosaminidase A (HEX A).  Within the lymosomes of our cells we are supposed to have HEX A.  These special girls lacked that.  HEX A is a protein that is necessary for breaking down GM2 gangliosides in nerve cells.  Without HEX A they couldn't break down fatty substances in cells causing these fatty substances to build up and become toxic, slowly destroying brain cells until their nervous system stopped working.
Carlie  (3/4/99-4/9/04)
      My oldest niece was born what appeared to be a normal healthy little girl.  At about 10 months old she started to experience what seemed to be a lazy eye and was taken to the optometrist.  The optometrist found an abnormality called a cherry-red spot inside her eye.  Cherry -red spots is a characteristic for Tay-Sachs disease.  Carlie was diagnosed at 10 months old.  After months of genetic testing they found that her mother and father were both carriers of the mutated gene.  1 in 300 people are carriers and 1 in 320,000 newborns are diagnosed in the United States.  As Carlie got older her nerve cells became larger from the pressure of the fatty substances and mental and physical abilities became limited.  At one point she was able to sit, crawl, and play like any other healthy child.  Soon after her muscles began to stiffen, she was unable to swallow, her eyes drifted, she was startled easily, and she began to have seizures.  Eventually as time went on she had no control over her body and became paralized.  She had to have a feeding tube so she was able to get the proper nutrients and medicines she needed.  Sadly heaven gained this beautiful angel at the young age of 5.  
Cherry-red retina

  • Deafness
  • Decreased eye contact
  • Blindness
  • Decreased muscle tone (loss of muscle strength)
  • Delayed mental & social skills
  • Dementia
  • Increased startle reaction
  • Irritability
  • Loss of motor skills
  • Paralysis or loss of muscle function
  • Seizures
  • Slow growth
      After suffering the loss of this beautiful angel,  her parents were told when they went through the genetic testing that their chance of having another child with Tay-Sachs would be 25%.  They decided to try again and she became pregnant.  After conception about 5 weeks into the pregnancy testing began.  Amniocentesis and chorionic villus sampling (CVS) were the names of the tests to be performed and this had to be repeated again at 13 weeks.  Both times the test results came back inconclusive.  On October 8, 2006 they gave birth to yet another beautiful little girl, Jasmine. 
Jasmine (10/8/06-7/3/10)

       At one day old blood was drawn and results indicated she too had the rare genetic disease, Tay-Sachs.  Although her life was shorter than her sisters, she experienced the same exact symptoms as Carlie.  She went to join her sister at just 3 1/2 years old. 
      The March of Dimes is a great organization for researching genetic diseases and offering support any way they can to families that suffer a loss or are pregnant.  Please consider donating to the cause. 


Saturday, June 20, 2015

Why do poppy seeds show up in drug tests?

At this point, I would say basically everyone -- or at least the majority of people -- have been drug tested at some point in their lives.  Whether this is was for a high school/college sport or for a job, drug tests are pretty common.  Whenever word about an athletic drug test got out at my high school, a  running joke among students was that all athletes should stay away from poppy seeds for a while in order to avoid their drug test producing a false negative.

As a former athlete myself, I was no stranger to the poppy seed joke, but I never fully understood why or how this random thing showed up in a test that was searching for drugs.  It turns out that a handful of opiates -- codeine, morphine, and heroin -- are actually produced from the seeds of poppy flowers.  All three of these opiates can be (and typically are) abused by some people.  Therefore, ingesting poppy seeds can almost immediately lead to traces of opiates in the system, which can then be picked up by drug tests which are administered either in schools or in places of employment.

Poppy seeds are totally legal to be used in foods in the United States, but consumers should be aware of the repercussions of ingesting this ingredient. People who fall victim to a false negative drug test due to poppy seeds being in their system can opt for a more specific test (usually done on a hair follicle or through a blood sample) to prove that their system is clean of actual drugs.



Friday, June 19, 2015

The Debate of Gene Editing

Gene editing is now becoming one of the most debated and controversial scientific topics of our time. In April of this year, a group of scientists reported in the online journal of Protein and Cell that they had edited the human embryos using a gene editing technique called CRISPR. Gene editing can be done by this CRISPR system and makes it possible for nearly any scientist to edit DNA in nearly any cell. CRISPR includes a gene-shipping enzyme and a guide molecule that is programmed to focus on the unique DNA then will put the enzyme in the cell to cut and correct the gene that mutated or not healthy. Scientists have made steady progress in their ability to edit DNA, but the CRISPR system marks a major advance in this process. This system allows parents to ability to chose anything from their child's gender to what eye color or hair color they would like them to have. Many believe the process to be inhumane, manipulative, and just a way for wealthy or plain right greedy people to "engineer the perfect baby". Many experts say that use of CRISPR on human embryos should be put on hold until several ethical questions can be addressed. Such as, mistakes might occur in the editing process that could result in severe birth defects and other even successful edits could affect other parts of the genome that were meant to be left alone. 
On the other hand though, many others believe that this process could be used for the common good of others. Interestingly enough, DNA editing could be a very positive and beneficial factor to our modern society. For example, many believe that gene editing could ultimately lead to producing children that are free of specific genes involved in inherited diseases. By editing the DNA of these specific cells or even the embryo itself, it may be possible to correct disease genes and pass those genetic fixes to future generations. Many researchers have used this system to modify certain genes to help restrain against specific diseases such as HIV, cystic fibrosis, down syndrome, and many more. Many others don't exactly see it that way though. They see it as a technical proposal to alter human heredity and consider it to be manipulative. 
So what is the right answer? Unfortunately, so far there is no one correct answer but it will be a debate that will be among us for years to come. In the future, research of genome editing needs to focus on improving the safety of this process. Ultimately, right now, certain opinions do not seem to matter. If scientists figure out to do this in a way that's safe for patients, gene editing could produce tremendously beneficial medical treatments. Regardless, if it is found that the benefits seem to outweigh the risks, it is said that medicine will take this chance.