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Issue 23 Science Shoutout

The Need, the Needle or the Needless?

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.

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Issue 23 News

S3 2022

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.

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Issue 22 Science Shoutout Understanding Science

Danger in disguise

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?

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Issue 22 News

An afternoon of popsci

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.

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Issue 22 Science (of) Fiction

Stranger Things 4: The effect of music on our emotions

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.

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Issue 21 Understanding Science

Malaria: Why is it (still) a global problem?

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?

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Issue 21 Understanding Science

Clinical Trials – Part Three: Vaccines in Clinical Trials

“Our primary mission is life critical. Our goal is very clear: to address the gross inequities in child health still existing in the world today. Life or death for a young child too often depends on whether he is born in a country where vaccines are available or not.”

Nelson Mandela, addressing the Vaccine Fund Board 2003 meeting in Johannesburg

The last topic in the series on medical research and clinical trials is related to studies on vaccines and, what better example to explain vaccines research than the recent Covid-19 pandemic. Similar to pharmaceutical products, vaccines trials occur in 3-4 phases (Phase I-III pre-marketing authorization and Phase IV after the vaccine is licensed).

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Issue 21 Presenting Alumni

Julia Hamblin-Trué: “Seek discomfort – the uncomfortable things we say yes to make us grow the most”

This issue comes with yet another alumni interview. This time we wish to present to you Julia Hamblin-Trué, a pretty loyal alumni member and, as you’ll probably agree after getting to know her, a Swiss knife of Summer School of Science. Julia is currently an undergraduate student at CODE University of Applied Sciences in Berlin, where she studies Product Management. Her Summer School of Science journey started back in 2017 when she was a participant in S3++ camp. Continue reading and you’ll find out how her S3++ journey continued, where she is now and how she got there.

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Issue 20 News

S3 is back in Požega

Co-author: Dora Grbavac

Those of you who have been around these parts of the web long enough to remember last year’s Summer School of Science announcements, as well as all the S3 alumni among you, may be pleased to read the title of this post. ‘Tis true! We are proud to announce that the Summer School is back – in person – and in spite of the pandemic that led to its cancellation twice in a row. If by some chance you have found this post without having heard of S3 before, read ahead a quick rundown. We urge all of you to check the School’s website for up-to-date information on what we are preparing for you.

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Issue 20 Understanding Science

HIV – a hero?

Several studies conducted in the 90’s suggested that prevalence of HIV infection was smaller in patients with sickle cell anemia than in healthy individuals. Although the mechanism behind that is still not fully understood, today we know a lot more than we did back at the end of the century. In order to understand the connection between sickle cell anemia and HIV infection, let us first take a look at both of them separately.