Research Roundup (Spring ’15, 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!

Human Embryo Editing Sparks Epic Ethical Debate | Scientific American

Chinese scientists have modified human embryos using a gene-editing technique called CRISPR/Cas9. They used this system to modify a gene for β-thalassaemia, a possibly fatal blood disorder. Although non-viable human embryos were used, this study brought up many ethical debates, of which the main one concerns editing human genes. Despite this backlash, there will likely be future gene-editing studies in human embryos because of these cells’ ease of use in vitro for research.

If you are interested in ethics in human gene testing, consider taking Human Genetics in Modern Society (BILD 20).

Jasmine Chau | Sr. Research Editor

Hit the Gym after Studying to Boost Recall | Scientific American

Research shows that working out after studying increases information retention. In the experiments, subjects who did various exercises shortly before or after learning were later able to recall information better. This may be due to physical arousal of the body, which creates longer-lasting memories. Other studies showed that people who lie on their backs have more insight into problems, people who wore white lab coats had more focus, and people who are happy are more creative.

If you are interested in the effects of exercise, consider taking Physiology of Exercise (BIPN 108).

Jasmine Chau | Sr. Research Editor

Scientists find new mutation that may lead to better diabetes medications and prevention | Science Daily

Researchers have discovered a genetic mutation in the gene GLP1R that protects people from developing Type 2 diabetes. Type 2 diabetes affects the production of insulin, a vital glucose-regulating hormone, and its ability to control metabolism. This discovery has the potential to lead to the development of a new drug that could treat Type 2 Diabetes, a life-threatening disease for which there is currently no cure.

If you’re interested in diabetes, consider taking Nutrition (BIBC 120).

Neil Srinivas | Jr. Research Editor

Beijing Olympics ‘natural study’ links pollution to lower birth weight | Science Daily

Researchers have concluded that exposure to high levels of pollution may have a significant impact on fetal growth and development. In their study, they observed that women who were pregnant during the 2008 Beijing Olympics, during which the Chinese government ordered a reduction in pollution levels, gave birth to children with significantly higher birth weights compared to those who were pregnant before and after the games. These results demonstrate a strong correlation between air pollution and birth weight.

If you’re interested in pollution, consider taking Marine Conservation Biology (BIEB 130).

Neil Srinivas | Jr. Research Editor