Research Roundup (Fall ’14, Week 10)

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!

Massive Study Reveals Schizophrenia’s Genetic Roots | Scientific American

In the largest genetic study ever done, over 300 scientists collaborated to analyze the genomes of thousands of people with schizophrenia. They found 128 gene variants that are related to schizophrenia, proving that genetics play a big role in this mental illness.

If you are interested in genetics, consider taking Genetics (BICD 100).

— Jasmine Chau | Sr. Research Editor

Are Algae Blooms Linked to Lou Gehrig’s Disease? | Scientific American

Researchers believe that there may be a link between Lou Gehrig’s disease, or Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), and algae blooms. The cause of the disease is unknown, but some scientists noticed that many ALS patients live near water. It is believed that the toxic blooms of blue-green algae, also known as cyanobacteria, may be one of the causes of ALS.

If you are interested in diseases, consider taking Immunology (BICD 140).

— Jasmine Chau | Sr. Research Editor

Study establishes connection between gut microbiota and Parkinson’s disease | Medical Xpress

Based on a study conducted at the University of Helinski, those with Parkinson’s disease have different microbiota in their intestines than those who do not. Researchers are trying to determine if there is any connection between intestinal microbes and Parkinson’s. One of the key observations was that patients with Parkinson’s had far less bacteria from the Prevotellaceae family than the control group, which was comprised of those without the disease. Another notable discovery was that the amount of bacteria from the Enterobacteriaceae family in the intestine was connected to the degree of balance and walking problems in the patients; the more Enterobacteriaceae they had, the worse the symptoms. Researchers hope that their findings can be used to formulate a testing method that can improve the diagnosis of Parkinson’s 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

New targeted drugs could treat drug-resistant skin cancer | Science Daily

New cancer drugs, known as called panRAF inhibitors, could be effective in treating patients with melanoma who have developed resistance to BRAF inhibitors. In addition, the new drugs were shown to halt tumor growth in cancers for which BRAF-targeted drugs had not previously worked. Researchers showed that these new drugs work because they target both BRAF and growth pathways that cells rely on once they become resistant.

If you are interested in drug function and metabolism, consider taking Pharmacology (BIMM 118).

— Neil Srinivas | Jr. Research Editor