All posts by bimullin

Can Polio Cure Cancer?

By Briga Mullin, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, ’15

The human body’s immune system has been developed to successfully battle foreign invaders including bacteria, parasites, and viruses. Immunotherapy is the idea that the power of the immune system can be utilized against diseases such as cancer. Typically, the immune system does not harm the body’s own cells, preventing it from being extremely effective against cancer. However with different medical interventions to strengthen the body’s immune response, it is possible to get an effective treatment (Cancer Immunotherapy 2015).

A unique and exciting branch of immunotherapy involves oncolytic viruses, genetically modified viruses that are used to infect tumor cells and fight cancer (Vile, Ando, and Kirn 2002). One example of an oncolytic virus is Oncolytic Polio/Rhinovirus Recombinant (PVS-RIPO), a genetic combination of poliovirus and a strain of the common cold. Continue reading Can Polio Cure Cancer?

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Bhutan Rice Fields

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By Elizabeth Ridolfi

This is a photograph of the rice fields in Bhutan, where I did a 6- week field research program through the School for Field Studies in Summer 2014. Bhutan is a small, Himalayan country located near India and Nepal.The spread of rice cultivation in Bhutan is an illustration the effect of global climate change. Rice typically grows in low lying, relatively warm areas with high precipitation certain times of the year. The vast majority of the country’s land area is above 6000 feet, which is considered too high of an elevation for rice cultivation under normal circumstances. Continue reading Bhutan Rice Fields

AGGIE TRANSCRIPT IS RECRUITING FOR SPRING 2015!

Interested in both science and writing? Want some practical experience managing a student-run life sciences journal? Consider applying to the editorial board of the Aggie Transcript, an undergraduate life sciences journal run by UC Davis students!

Editors are expected to solicit and review submission articles, as well as to submit their own pieces of original writing. This is an excellent opportunity for anyone hoping to gain valuable experience in critical analysis, strengthen their written communication, and share their work with others at UC Davis and beyond!

The editorial board meets weekly and editors are offered 1 unit of credit. To apply, please submit a writing sample and a cover letter to: aggietranscript@gmail.com.

The letter should discuss why you are interested in being part of The Aggie Transcript, what you can bring to the journal, and what you hope to gain from this experience. The writing sample should demonstrate strong written and literacy skills in the biological sciences.

The deadline to apply is: April 13, 2015 (Monday)

If you have any questions or concerns,

email us at: aggietranscript@gmail.com

A Breakthrough in Breast Cancer Treatment

 Exciting, new gene therapy treatments for breast cancer are on the verge of making a breakthrough. With proper funding, these procedures could reduce the need for the surgical removal of organs.

By Rayan Kaakati, Neurobiology, Physiology, and Behavior

Being born female automatically enters one in a game of Russian roulette: About 1 in 8 women will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of their lifetime; for American women, breast cancer is the second leading cause of death (U.S. Breast Cancer Statistics).

Breast cancer is a disease that starts in the tissues of the breast and is statistically fatal for one in thirty-two women (Breast Cancer Facts). Many women, throughout recorded history, have succumbed to this malignant disease. Rapid advancements in research have been very promising for cancer cell-targeting medications and for gene modification techniques.

Medicine in the twenty-first century is still resorting to what the ancient Chinese and Arab doctors used to practice: “If cancerous, cut it out if possible,” or in current-day terms, order a “lumpectomy” or a “mastectomy” (if the entire breast is to be removed). In recent years, a toxic chemo “smoothie” and an intensive radiation regimen have been added, coupled with hormone therapy.  While these medical procedures are credited with saving thousands of lives, they are still primitive compared to current, promising research works.

Continue reading A Breakthrough in Breast Cancer Treatment

From Embryo to Tumor: the widespread applications of Epithelial-Mesenchymal Transition

By Briga Mullin, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, ’15

What do a smoker, a two week old embryo, a child with a broken wrist, and a metastatic tumor all have in common? While these are a diverse group of conditions, they all have cells that are experiencing the same process known as epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT). Mesenchymal cells are non-polarized, mobile, invasive, and their main function is to secrete extracellular  matrix. In contrast, epithelial cells form our skin and the linings of our internal organs. They are normally polarized which means they have a directional structure and are uniformly oriented and are attached to a membrane to form a layer of epithelial tissue.  Under certain conditions an EMT will occur and epithelial cells will change  their transcription patterns, produce new proteins, destroy the basal membrane they are attached to, and totally convert their phenotype to become motile  mesenchymal cells.  EMT can be triggered by a variety of conditions and can yield very beneficial or extremely detrimental results depending on the circumstances. Continue reading From Embryo to Tumor: the widespread applications of Epithelial-Mesenchymal Transition