Research Roundup (Fall ’14, Week 6)

Every week our Research Editors highlight a few of the latest headlines in science news and explain why these pieces are interesting and applicable to our classes at UC San Diego. If you find an engaging science article, share it with us on our Facebook page and your highlight may just be featured!

Infection Secrets of Ebola Explained | Scientific American

Scientists explain that the reason the Ebola virus is so deadly is because of the way it infects the body. It first disables dendritic cells, monocytes, and macrophages, which are key cells in the immune system. This allows the Ebola virus to spread to other parts of the body quickly. Very little amount of the virus is needed to infect a person.

If you are interested in the immune system, consider taking Immunology (BICD 140).

Jasmine Chau | Sr. Research Editor

New Amazon Carbon Maps Could Slow Deforestation | Scientific American

Researchers are using satellites and other high-tech instruments to create a carbon map of the Amazon. This helps researchers locate which parts of the rainforests are most threatened by deforestation and which parts contain the most carbon, and thus need the most protection. Forest carbon can possibly slow climate change, so it is important to track changes in the rainforests.

If you are interested in global ecology, consider taking Ecosystems and Global Change (BIEB 174).

– Jasmine Chau | Sr. Research Editor

Researchers take new approach to stop ‘Most Wanted’ cancer protein | Science Daily

Researchers have discovered a method to defeat one of the most elusive target proteins in cancer cells, known as MYCN. MCYN are transcription factors, or proteins that bind to DNA and actively influence which genetic information is utilized by the cell. MYCN repeatedly produces a surplus quantities of itself, which results in greater cancerous growth. Essentially, the target protein’s own molecular machinations are used against it. A special compound was created to hinder the protein’s ability to increase its own production as well as that of other target proteins linked to tumor growth in a very aggressive form of neuroblastoma. This resulted in the shrinkage of tumors with little to no harm at all for normal cells.

If you are interested in learning about the metabolism of cancer cells, consider taking Biology of Cancer (BIMM 134).

~ Neil Srinivas | Jr. Research Editor

New genetic cause of epilepsy identified | Science Daily

Through the use of whole genome sequencing, researchers at the Scripps Translational Science Institute (STSI) have identified a new genetic cause of a complex and rare form of epilepsy that is found in the early stages of childhood and will most likely lead to early death. It was found that a mutation in the KCNB! gene could be the cause for epileptic encephalopathy. The knowledge of the link between this mutation and epilepsy allows for the development of better diagnostic tools and better drugs that offer treatment to those who suffer from this disease.

If you are interested in learning more about neurological diseases, consider taking Diseases of the Nervous System (BIPN 150).

~ Neil Srinivas | Jr. Research Editor