How stress can change your DNA

A first link between chronic stress, genetics, and mental illness has recently observed in mice. Researchers have discovered that the genes of mice exposed to chronic stress change over time. Modifications were most associated with genes related to a variety of mental illnesses, such as depression, autism spectrum disorder, and schizophrenia.1-3 How exactly are genetics, stress, and mental illness related? DNA, serves as instructions for cells and is broken up into … Continue reading How stress can change your DNA

CRISPR 2.0: Genome engineering made easy as A-B-C

CRISPR 2.0 is causing quite the ruckus in the scientific community. Why? Imagine that you had written a note in permanent marker, but later decided you wanted to change a single word. Without the ability to erase, your options would be limited, and further changes might make the note illegible. New CRISPR technologies, or “base editors,” behave as molecular erasers. These molecular erasers enable you to very precisely … Continue reading CRISPR 2.0: Genome engineering made easy as A-B-C

Could Zika become a treatment for brain cancer?

Glioblastoma is one of the most deadly brain cancers because it is nearly impossible to destroy the cause of the cancer: cancerous stem cells. However, scientists are using Zika’s preference for stem cells to target and eliminate the cancerous stem cells in adults. The preliminary study shows the viability of this method, but more thorough research and a PR campaign may be necessary before Zika treatments for brain cancer can become standard protocol. Continue reading Could Zika become a treatment for brain cancer?

Catching Cancer: Blood Test for Early-Stage Diagnosis

What is the difference between a normal cell and a cancer cell? The answer lies in their DNA. Cancer results from the accumulation of genetic mutations, which trigger uncontrolled cell growth. Cancer’s mutated DNA can reveal its presence early on in the disease. Like leaving fingerprints at a crime scene, tumor cells release small pieces of DNA into the bloodstream. This “circulating tumor DNA” can now … Continue reading Catching Cancer: Blood Test for Early-Stage Diagnosis

Moon and Stars

If you look closely at this zebrafish embryo, you will notice bright spots that look like stars covering the entire body. The nuclei of each cell in this embryo has been labeled with a fluorescent protein so when you look at the nuclei under a microscope, they are resplendent. By labeling each individual nuclei, we can visualize changes occurring in each cell throughout development of … Continue reading Moon and Stars

Cross-section of the Developing Zebrafish Heart

There are a multitude of signals that elegantly orchestrate the proper development of the heart. In this image of a 3-day-old zebrafish heart, the signal that is localized to the developing atrio-ventricular valve and smooth muscle is labeled in green using green fluorescent protein (GFP). This particular signal is important for the formation of the cardiac valves, which will allow blood to pass from the … Continue reading Cross-section of the Developing Zebrafish Heart