Science Talk

What are immunotoxins?

January 4, 2018
Immunotoxins are manmade proteins engineered in a lab that contain a deadly dose of a harmful substance, a toxin, and a molecule that activates a defensive immune response known as an antibody. The antibody finds and attaches to a specific cell and the toxin then enters and kills the cell. The targeted delivery approach solves a problem of traditional therapies, such as chemotherapy and radiation therapy, which cannot differentiate between normal, healthy cells and cancerous cells. Immunotoxins have been described as a “magic bullets” because they can achieve the desired results without having an effect on healthy cells in the… continue reading »

What are mitochondria and what role do they play in aging?

December 22, 2017
The part of a cell known as mitochondria are frequently referred to as the “powerhouse of the cell” because their main function is to break down carbohydrates and fatty acids to create energy that the cell can use. In addition to supplying energy, mitochondria also produce harmful by-products: oxygen-containing molecules with unpaired electrons, known as free radicals, that attack and damage various cell components. A popular theory of human aging maintains that as we age, the damage caused by free radicals becomes greater than the cell’s ability to neutralize it with antioxidants. This puts the cell under a condition known… continue reading »

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What are single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) and why are they important?

December 7, 2017
What are single-nucleotide polymorphisms? All of the information needed to build and maintain a living organism is determined by the order, or sequence, of DNA. Strands of DNA are made up of nucleotides, which are composed of four chemical bases: adenine (A), guanine (G), cytosine (C), and thymine (T). Throughout a person’s DNA, the sequence of nucleotides, represented by A, G, C, T, repeats in a predictable pattern. But every 300 instances or so, there are variations, meaning one nucleotide is replaced by a different one. These are called single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), and they occur normally in the genetic sequence.… continue reading »