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Using DNA Barcodes to Evaluate Ecosystem Health in the SWRCMS Reserve

Horton et al. | Sep 27, 2018

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Although the United States maintains millions of square kilometers of nature reserves to protect the biodiversity of the specimens living there, little is known about how confining these species within designated protected lands influences the genetic variation required for a healthy population. In this study, the authors sequenced genetic barcodes of insects from a recently established nature reserve, the Southwestern Riverside County Multi-Species Reserve (SWRCMSR), and a non-protected area, the Mt. San Jacinto College (MSJC) Menifee campus, to compare the genetic variation between the two populations. Their results demonstrated that the midge fly population from the SWRCMSR had fewer unique DNA barcode sequence changes than the MSJC population, indicating that the comparatively younger nature reserve's population had likely not yet established its own unique genetic drift changes.

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Can children acquire their parents’ history of fracture?

Boulis et al. | Sep 24, 2018

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While the genetic basis of hip fracture risk has been studied extensively in adults, it is not known whether parental history of bone fractures affects their children's fracture risk. In this article, the authors investigated whether a parental history of bone fractures influences the rate of fractures in their children. They found that adolescent children whose parents had a more extensive history of fractures were more likely to have a history of fractures themselves, suggesting that parents' medical histories may be an important consideration in future pediatric health research.

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The Prevalence of Brain-Eating Roundworm Baylisascaris procyonis in Merrick County, Nebraska

Reeves et al. | Sep 20, 2018

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The authors investigated an important parasite-host relationship between the raccoon roundworm and the raccoon to understand how parasite prevalence is affected by location. They found that the parasite infection was more prevalent in raccoons found closer to human dwellings, though the number of roundworm eggs was not significantly different. These results are important human health, since roundworm infection is lethal to humans and can be transmitted from raccoons to humans - the authors suggest that more research into this parasite and awareness of its prevalence is needed to prevent disease.

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Effects of Paan Extracts on Periodontal Ligament and Osteosarcoma Cells

Venkatachalam et al. | Sep 20, 2018

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In South Asian countries, the major cause of oral cancer is reported to be chewing paan, which is comprised of betel leaf daubed with slaked lime paste and areca nut. To investigate how paan may contribute to the onset of cancer, the authors treated two immortalized cell lines with extracts of betel leaf, areca nut, and lime and evaluated how these treatments affected cell proliferation and cell death. Initial results indicate that while betel leaf alone may inhibit cell growth, areca nut promoted cancer cell survival and proliferation, even when co-treated with betel leaf. These data suggest that areca nut could exacerbate the progression of oral cancer in humans.

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Increasing Average Yearly Temperature in Two U.S. Cities Shows Evidence for Climate Change

Savage et al. | Sep 20, 2018

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The authors were interested in whether they could observe the effects of climate change by analyzing historical temperature data of two U.S. cities. They predicted that they should observe a warming trend in both cities. Their results showed that despite yearly variations, warming trends can be observed both in Rochester, NY and Seattle, WA which fit the predictions of climate change forecasts.

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Starts and Stops of Rhythmic and Discrete Movements: Modulation in the Excitability of the Corticomotor Tract During Transition to a Different Type of Movement

Lim et al. | Aug 27, 2018

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Control of voluntary and involuntary movements is one of the most important aspects of human neurological function, but the mechanisms of motor control are not completely understood. In this study, the authors use transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) to stimulate a portion of the motor cortex while subjects performed either discrete (e.g. throwing) or rhythmic (e.g. walking) movements. By recording electrical activity in the muscles during this process, the authors showed that motor evoked potentials (MEPs) measured in the muscles during TMS stimulation are larger in amplitude for discrete movements than for rhythmic movements. Interestingly, they also found that MEPs during transitions between rhythmic and discrete movements were nearly identical and larger in amplitude than those recorded during either rhythmic or discrete movements. This research provides important insights into the mechanisms of neurological control of movement and will serve as the foundation for future studies to learn more about temporal variability in neural activity during different movement types.

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Upregulation of the Ribosomal Pathway as a Potential Blood-Based Genetic Biomarker for Comorbid Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) and PTSD

Ravi et al. | Aug 22, 2018

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Major Depressive Disorder (MDD), and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) are two of the fastest growing comorbid diseases in the world. Using publicly available datasets from the National Institute for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), Ravi and Lee conducted a differential gene expression analysis using 184 blood samples from either control individuals or individuals with comorbid MDD and PTSD. As a result, the authors identified 253 highly differentially-expressed genes, with enrichment for proteins in the gene ontology group 'Ribosomal Pathway'. These genes may be used as blood-based biomarkers for susceptibility to MDD or PTSD, and to tailor treatments within a personalized medicine regime.

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The role of temporal lobe epilepsy in cardiac structure and function

Choi et al. | Aug 15, 2018

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Cardiac autonomic and structural changes may occur in temporal lobe epilepsy patients and contribute to the risk of sudden unexpected death in epilepsy patients. Choi and colleagues reviewed clinical charts to obtain patients’ lifetime seizure count, antiepileptic drug use, and history of heart disease, followed by transthoracic echocardiogram to calculate left ventricle dimensions, ejection fraction, and left ventricle mass. By comparing epilepsy patients to control subjects, they found that epilepsy patients had thinner left ventricle walls and smaller ejection fraction, but with no significant difference in left ventricle mass.

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Synergistic effects of Metformin and Captopril on C. elegans

Kadıoğlu et al. | Jul 10, 2018

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Kadıoğlu and Oğuzalp study the synergistic effects of Metformin and Captopril, two commonly prescribed drugs for type 2 diabetes and hypertension, respectively. Using C. elegans nematodes as a model system, the authors find that the nematodes decreased in average body length when exposed to Metformin or Captopril individually, but grew 11% in body length when both drugs were used together. Because C. elegans body size is regulated in part by the TGF-β signaling pathway, the authors suggest that synergistic effects of these two drugs may be modulating TGF-β activity, a previously uncharacterized phenomenon.

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The Effect of Radiant Energy on Radish Seed Germination

Simon et al. | Jul 06, 2018

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Simon and colleagues test how exposure to microwaves affect radish seed germination, either microwaving seeds for ninety seconds or four minutes prior to planting. Surprisingly, the authors found that seeds microwaved for four minutes exhibited 150% increased germination as compared to controls. The authors hypothesize that breakdown of the radish seed coat when exposed to heat may allow seedlings to sprout more efficiently.

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Development of Diet-Induced Insulin Resistance in Drosophila melanogaster and Characterization of the Anti-Diabetic Effects of Resveratrol and Pterostilbene

Dhar et al. | Jul 02, 2018

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Dhar and colleagues established a Type II diabetes mellitus (T2DM) model in fruit flies, using this model to induce insulin resistance and characterize the effects Resveratrol and Pterostilbene on a number of growth and activity metrics. Resveratrol and Pterostilbene treatment notably overturned the weight gain and glucose levels. The results of this study suggest that Drosophila can be utilized as a model organism to study T2DM and novel pharmacological treatments.

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A Novel Method for Assessment of Proprioception

Trevithick et al. | Jun 22, 2018

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Trevithick & Park were interested in whether proprioception, the sense of the relative position of body parts and movement, differed between varsity and non-varsity athletes, as well as between the sport practiced. The authors found that there was no correlation between athleticism and better proprioception, but that dancers had superior proprioceptive abilities compared to those that practiced other sports.

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A Novel Method for Auto-Suturing in Laparoscopic Robotic-Assisted Coronary Artery Bypass Graft (CABG) Anastomosis

Levy et al. | Jun 21, 2018

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Levy & Levy tackle the optimization of the coronary artery bypass graft, a life-saving surgical technique that treats artery blockage due to coronary heart disease. The authors develop a novel auto-suturing method that saves time, allows for an increased number of sutures, and improves graft quality over hand suturing. The authors also show that increasing the number of sutures from four to five with their new method significantly improves graft quality. These promising findings may help improve outcomes for patients undergoing surgery to treat coronary heart disease.

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Don’t Waste the Medical Waste: Reducing Improperly Classified Hazardous Waste in a Medical Facility

Hemani et al. | Jun 20, 2018

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Hemani et al. tackled the problem of rampant hospital waste by implementing staff training to help inform hospital workers about proper waste disposal. The authors observed a significant increase in proper waste disposal after the training, showing that simple strategies, such as in-person classroom training and posters, can have a profound effect on limiting improper waste handling.

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FRUGGIE – A board game to combat obesity by promoting healthy eating habits in young children

Huprikar et al. | Jun 13, 2018

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The authors created a board game to teach young children about healthy eating habits to see whether an interactive and family-oriented method would be effective at introducing and maintaining a love for fruits and veggies. Results showed that children developed a liking for fruits and vegetables, and none regressed. Half maintained their level of enjoyment for fruits and vegetables during the research period, while the other half had a positive increase. The results show that a simple interactive game can shape how young children relate to food and encourage them to maintain healthy habits.

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Overcoming The Uncanny Valley Through Shared Stressful Experience with a Humanoid Robot

Bing et al. | Jun 12, 2018

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The "Uncanny Valley" is a phenomenon in which humans feel discomfort in the presence of objects that are almost, but not quite, human-like. In this study, the authors tested whether this phenomenon could be overcome by sharing a stressful experience with a humanoid robot. They found that human subjects more readily accepted a robot partner that they had previously shared a stressful experience with, suggesting a potential method for increasing the effectiveness of beneficial human-robot interactions by reducing the Uncanny Valley effect.

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DyGS: a dynamic gene searching algorithm for cancer detection

Wang et al. | Jun 05, 2018

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Wang and Gong developed a novel dynamic gene-searching algorithm called Dynamic Gene Search (DyGS) to create a gene panel for each of the 12 cancers with the highest annual incidence and death rate. The 12 gene panels the DyGS algorithm selected used only 3.5% of the original gene mutation pool, while covering every patient sample. About 40% of each gene panel is druggable, which indicates that the DyGS-generated gene panels can be used for early cancer detection as well as therapeutic targets in treatment methods.

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