The McLaboBurger?

Hello guys and girls,

For my last blog, I will change the topic to something more light hearted and more of a “fun fact” post. I was talking to one of my colleague workers at my internship asking for a “fun” non-internship related topic but ofcourse within the boundaries of biochemistry and biology. He came up with (in my opinion) quite interesting topic: Cultured meat in petridishes. Basically this means we can grow burgers and meat in the lab. Yes, I know the idea sounds a little bit distasteful but in the article they explain the petridish burger compares pretty good to a normal “burger”. It only needed some extra seasoning. The reason behind this research is the upcoming shortage of beef and meat in general for the always increasing population of mankind. So this would decrease the need for cattle but also lower greenhouse gas emmissions. The only downside at the moment is the cost. I think I read somewhere this one burger costed around 300 000 dollar to make, while still optimizing the protocol and the price will sure drop per burger, it still might be extremely expensive to make one. So what do you guys think? Could this be the solution for vegetariens and cattle? Anyways, Bon Appetit!

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link: http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/observations/2013/08/05/cultured-beef-a-380000-burger-grown-in-petri-dishes/
Credits go to: Wouter Geers

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Pocket Microscopes?

Hello followers,

Today I want to vent my opinion about something I find truly ridiculous. This blog will be more of a rant actually than anything but sometimes that’s what you have got to do.
Today I came across an article which made me a little furious inside and generally the way the world is going (help, am I getting old?). Today I read (I will give the link below), with a little tweaking you can convert your cell phone into a microscope. Ofcourse not as detailed and specific as microscopes used in labs (I have to use all sorts of microscopes in the lab) but still you can convert them to microscopes. So you might ask what’s so infuriating about that? Crafty tool right? Actually in my opinion: NO. Who and even more WHY would you use such a thing? Why is everything getting commercialized for everyone and we just make apps and things for our cell phone to let it be something its CLEARLY NOT. It’s a cell _PHONE_, that’s it primary function! I can’t even imagine one setting in which it could come in handy to have a pocket microscope. Things under a microscope should be looked at in a professional setting (for medicine and science anyways). Are people going to far with their (useless) inventions or am I just getting old, I’ll let you decide.

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/08/business/08novel.html?_r=0

Underwater fireworks!

Hello Followers,

Time for a new blog so without further ado, I want to talk about something different than last couple of weeks. As you might have noticed, last few weeks I’ve been talking alot about concepts to increase our health or even seek eternal life. This week I want to take you guys back to one of the core concepts of my internship: fluorescence and in general bioluminescence. In a modern world where science is getting visualized by fluorescent proteins for tracking (bio)molecules-dynamics and labeling you might wonder where these fluorescent molecules come from? Do we just invent them from scratch or are they harvested from for example: fireflies?

The actual answer lies in the sea and that’s what I want to inform you guys about this week. Did you know 80 to 90% of all underwater life display forms of bioluminescence? Scientifically speaking the most famous bioluminescent organism is probably the jellyfish Aequorea victoria. This jellyfish generated the foundation for the (well-known) fluorescent protein GFP (Green Fluorescent Protein (catchy name right?)) which even won the noble prize for 2008.

Besides using these shiny molecules for science, the underwater organisms use these forms of bioluminesence for communicating, getting attention or scaring/defending themselves and this gives just beautiful footage underwater for the human eye prooving that our world can be a breathtaking place. Just take a look at the following TED talk and see for yourself how beautiful nature can actually be.

Sleeping beauty

Hello everyone,

In this week’s blog I want to put my focus on something everyone probably heard and thought about: Cryogenic sleeping or less scientificly said: Freezing someone for X-amount of time, only to wake up in another new society, years from now with hopefully new medical breakthroughs and treatments.
(Fair and square, the credits for this week’s topic won’t go to me but to one of my readers which gave me the idea (you know who you are 😉 ).

While searching google and some more scientifc related websites I came across the story of Kim Suozzi, a 23 year-old student with a highly aggresive form of  terminal brain cancer. She made a post about it on Reddit and comments followed quickly, supporting her every needs for the time remaining. One of the comments though, got her interested in cryogenic preservation. With nothing to lose and the financial help from reddit, she got the costs she needed to cover the expenses and let herself be incased by ice after she clinically passed away.

Link to the article: http://venturist.info/kim-suozzi-charity.html

All in all, would you even consider this, if finances wouldn’t be an issue? Will science be able to “revive” these patients and cure them from their diseases in the future or do you think this plan is foolish and wasted money and research?

If you have an opinion about this, feel free to comment below!

See you next week!

The (in)finite battle: Humans vs Bacteria

Hello Everyone,

This week, I want to discuss a topic with you guys that should be discussed far more on a global scale as this subject is of very pressing nature towards society and human healthcare (in Dutch we would say: het is vijf voor twaalf!).

To begin my story, I was doing some regular labwork in which I have to work with antibiotics (they are used as selection markers for cloning target DNA) and last week I had a little bit of discussion about antibiotics with a friend of mine who works in the (clinical) medicine world specialized in bacterial and virus analyses. Basically his message and the message I want to emphasize this week is: the battle between antibiotics and bacteria is a ticking timebomb with a much shorter fuse than we all think.
Today we use antibiotics for everything. Time is money meaning we have to be fast and efficient in everything, why not for curing diseases, right? If we have a cold, people get antibiotics, if we have a seasonal influenza (flu), just get a prescription from the nearest doctor and get your antibiotics. While this is indeed efficient and fast, we are in fact destroying our own arms versus bacteria because we use them for everything and bacteria are “learning” how to beat our arms. The phenomenon, natural selection is making bacteria more resistant to our antibiotics such as penicillin and its different forms every day.
Ofcourse we are developping and inventing new antibiotics as we speak however the resources are not infinite. We (people in general) but certainly also doctors should really be more careful about what treatments we use and opt for alternatives if available (do you know any?), else bacteria will take the upper hand on us, sooner than you think!
I strongly advice you to take a look at the video below in which this man explains the gravity of this problem!

To end this blog, here’s a nice quote and analogy from the video below: “We are playing a game, a game called co-evolution, and co-evolution in this case can be compared with the co-evolution of cheetahs and gazelles. Cheetahs have been evolving to run faster because else they wouldn’t get any lunch, gazelles have also been evolving to run faster because else they would be lunch. So this is the game we are playing against bacteria, however we are the gazelles.”

Dries Verhelst’s Pliocenic Park?

Hello everyone,

Continuing on the last blog and within the context of cloning I want to discuss an article I found recently surfing the internet, looking for some interesting topics. Based on my previous blog, we established that most (all?) of us are against reproductive cloning but what about cloning animals and more in particular extinct animals?
Following article describes the discovery of an almost intact wooly mammoth carcass in Siberia (May 2013),preserved in the permafrost.

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The obvious goal of this discovery is to examine the female matriach (named Buttercup) further and discover some more details about it however scientists are also trying to recreate its genome and reproduce the whole animal.
Based on this article do you think this is a good idea, reproducing extinct animals and walk among for example mammoths once more? Maybe we can give some extinct animals a new chance to exist and “rebalance” the fauna or should history remain history and movies like Steven Spielberg’s Jurassic Park (yes I admit it sounds better than Pliocenic Park*) fiction?

article: http://www.livescience.com/48769-woolly-mammoth-cloning.html

*Pliocenic Park: Mammoths lived from the Pliocene Epoch (from around 5 million years ago) into the Holocene at about 4,500 years ago in Africa, Europe, Asia, and North America. (based on Wikipedia)