In medical terms mutations are often viewed through a negative lens, as an occurrence that mostly leads to higher disease susceptibility or causes a disease itself. But what about mutations that protect us from infections or disable a gene that plays a role in chronic disease development?
Flashback to September 3, 1928. On an ordinary autumnal morning in foggy London, Alexander Fleming is returning to the Laboratory of St. Mary’s Hospital, ready to tackle the tasks he left before going on holiday. Firstly, quick and easy one- sorting the petri dishes, with, well, as Fleming thought, probably nothing interesting in them, just a bunch of life- threatening strains of bacteria that are currently killing millions of children and adults across the globe. But he was wrong, today was the day for “Eureka!”. On one dish was something unusual- it was dotted with colonies of growing bacteria, save for the one area where a blob of mold was growing. The zone immediately around the mold was clear, as if the mold had secreted something that inhibited bacterial growth. Today, we know that the mold was a rare strain of Penicillium notatum that secreted penicillin, very unstable substance at first, but many optimisations later, one of the greatest discoveries and advances in therapeutic medicine. The dawn of antibiotic era has begun.
It’s Presenting alumni again – this month we would like to introduce you to Dora Grbavac, a PhD student in molecular biology (there’s a good chance that you already know her since she organised as many as three Summer Schools of Science!).
Every year, an estimated 1 billion people worldwide are infected by seasonal influenza. In 1980 there were 50 000 reported cases of polio. One of the most infectious diseases of all time was mumps – up to 726 cases per population of 100 000 yearly have been detected around the globe. Unlike such highly contagious diseases, throughout history humankind has faced much rarer diseases, ones we don’t hear much about.
Among the deadliest diseases worldwide is diabetes. Despite the exhausting public health campaigns designed to raise awareness of the fatal complications that develop within one year of untreated diabetes, one in ten people around the world suffer from it. The “hidden” sugar is added to virtually every soda, not to mention the abundance of sweets in our everyday diet. Kids as young as two years old are exposed to such high sugar food in every social encounter and there’s no way to protect them from it, even if we want to. The fact that so many of us have become accustomed to the taste of sugar is scary if not alarming already and is starting to cost us not only money, but lives. Lives of so many lost over a little 6 carbon ring molecule.
However, not all of it is our fault. According to their literature, even the ancient Greeks and Egyptians noticed a sweet taste of their urine. The term diabetes was first used over 2000 years ago and the first medical texts describing it appear in 1425 in Britain. The diabetes mellitus they talked about is, as we call it today, of type 1. The onset of the type 1 diabetes is usually already in childhood, due to genetics and congenital pancreatic insufficiency. With the modern world came the type 2 – caused by the overconsumption of sugar and carbohydrates, usually starting later in the adult life. The difference is – in type 1 diabetes pancreatic cells produce very little or no insulin due to the organ dysfunction, whereas in type 2 it’s either all other cells in our body stop recognizing the insulin our pancreas produces and become blind to it in a way, or the pancreas stops producing the insulin because of the exhaustion caused by constant high blood sugar levels.
The school we’ve been all waiting for – the Summer School of Science was held again in person, in Požega, after a two-year break due to COVID! If you follow us on social media (if not, this is a sign to do so), you might have already had an insight into what our participants were exploring and how they were having fun. In this post, we bring you all of that in one place.
The most prescribed drug in the world is atorvastatin (the inhibitor of cholesterol production in the liver, used to lower blood cholesterol levels). However, the most prescribed group of drugs are benzodiazepines. Behind the elegant and “clean” chemical structure of three rings – benzene, diazepine and phenyl ring lays a group of drugs so powerful and potentially harmful, and yet… so safe. Their list of indications is amongst the longest of all drugs, but they are also known as most commonly used drugs without doctors’ prescription. Not only are they being sold in the streets and on the black market, but they are also shared with friends and family as a “help” to get through a stressed or hard period in one’s life. What’s worse, because of their clinical efficiency when used properly, even doctors often prescribe them for minor problems and in the wrong dosages, or for too long of a time period. Although there are many positive sides of benzodiazepines and they can be extremely useful for many patients, which we will talk about in a minute, there is also a great risk attached to them, which not so many people are aware of. But let’s start from the beginning – how do they work?
A Saturday afternoon on the Croatian seaside. The coastal air alleviates the nervousness of contestants waiting to present. Lights shine the stage. The clock strikes two in Zadar. The fourth finale of The Scientist in Me starts.
Some parts of the following article contain spoilers from the Netflix original series Stranger Things.
As the super fans of popular Netflix series Stranger Things (also, me) are waiting for the Season 4 Volume 2 episodes, I still cannot get over the very powerful scene of Max escaping the deadly claws of Vecna. It positively shook me to the core that I decided to share it with you, as well as analyse it from a scientific point of view.
On the 25th of April, the World Malaria Day 2022 took place. This year’s theme was “Harness innovation to reduce the malaria disease burden and save lives“, since the main goal of the World Health Organization (WHO) was to highlight the necessity of research and development for new therapeutic strategies to eradicate the disease. Today, malaria is entirely preventable and curable disease if the symptoms are recognized in earlier stages, but in some cases, it is unfortunately not possible. Therefore, the estimated number of new cases in 2020 was 241 million, and within that number there were 627 thousand malaria-related deaths in 85 countries. The region at highest risk is the sub-Saharan Africa, where more than two thirds of deaths were reported among the children under the age of 5. Despite the promising and steady advances in controlling the disease between 2000 and 2015, in recent years there was an evident set-back especially in the number of preventable deaths. What are the causes of this stagnation and what can be done to prevent the spread of this highly contagious disease?