Tag Archives: Fancy

Got Blue Eyes? Better thank that one person that lived 10,000 years ago

Got Blue Eyes?  Better thank that one person that lived 10,000 years ago

As a person whose favorite color is blue and lives in the town where wearing anything but blue in March is equivalent to asking for your friendships to end (Lexington KY), I thought I had to share this with you. Apparently, the mutation in OCA2 gene that resulted in blue eyes can be traced back to a single individual who lived around 10 centuries ago. But, the research also used mitochondrial DNA to determine inheritance patterns (it’s really hard to say anything conclusive with each generation that you go back when working with mtDNA). Still thought it was pretty Fancy. Go Blue!


Justin, Alligators, Teeth, and Stem Cells

Let’s get one thing clear.  Scientists will go to low levels to try to grab your attention and make you interested in their research.  I have been to talks where the researcher threw up a pic of actors from Baywatch to make an analogy to methylating protein complexes.  So…naturally this post has absolutely nothing to do with JT… but now that I have your attention, I wanted to share with you recent developments regarding teeth science! As diphyodont species, we can only generate two sets of teeth in our lifetime, and after that we are SOL (SIMPLY Out of Luck).  But other species such as the American alligator can undergo life-long teeth regeneration.  Dr. Chuong and his team at the University of Southern Californiaset out to study the American alligator based on the similarity of teeth layout in the organism compared to humans and to learn more about the nature of stem cells that contribute to teeth regeneration.  The presence of a layer of epithelial tissues known as the dental lamina seems to serve as the home to dental stem cells for the alligator, whose each 80 teeth “can be replaced up to 50 times over their lifetime.”  It is interesting that humans also have the dental lamina layer of cells.  All in all, the group would like to use this alligator model and to isolate cells from the dental lamina to create to see whether they can regenerate teeth in the laboratory.  While you should still brush your teeth twice a day, I think the research creates hope for those suffering form dental diseases to have their own teeth that might look just like Justin’s when restored at the dentist.  Definitely a Fancy thought.


Here’s the link for the full article that published the research in PNAS:


Doublemint Twins and the Barnstable Brown Symposium

Doublemint Twins and the Barnstable Brown Symposium

So Alex and I were having lunch with my summer research professor at UK when he told us about the history of the doublemint barnstable twins and the diabetes conference. After passing of the husband of Patricia, the twins decided to raise money for diabetes to help battle the disease. I thought this related to the theme of our class on how politics and individuals contribute to the progress of science. Regardless of whether you like doublemint gum or not, you have to admit that celebrity twins throwing a Derby after-party to help support diabetes research is definitely fancy!

Intronic snoRNAs, Lipid Induced Oxidative Stress, and why the term “Junk DNA” should be BLASPHEMY

schafferLike many of my fellow bloggers, I too attended the talk by Jean Schaefer at the Barnstable Brown Diabetes Research Symposium at the University of Kentucky.  In her talk, she showed that snoRNAs in the intronic regions of fatty acid metabolic genes are important in regulating the oxidative stress and lipidtoxicity which cause cell death.  When they made a…wait for it….fluorescent construct to act as a reporter for the expression of snoRNAs in presence of high lipid levels in cell culture, many of these snoRNAs were shown to accumulate in the cytosol of the cell!  This is fascinating since small nucleolar RNAs are “expected” to be mostly localized to the nucleus.  Furthermore, she was able to show that both intronic microRNAs expressions and lipid linked oxidation change upon mutating specific snoRNAs.  Specifically, mutation of the snoRNAs U32a, U33, and U35a resulted in decrease of apoptosis in cells under metabolic stress conditions (high amounts of lipid).  In addition to the slides upon slides of data that she showed, I enjoyed how her talk showed the importance of intronic sequences and noncoding RNAs (RNAs and DNA sequences that do not directly contribute to making proteins in an organism) that have been traditionally ignored in genetics until recently.  Also I am creepingly stalking her, as I do with most scientists that I like, by directly sitting in front of her while typing this post.  (She was telling one of her colleagues about her path to science as a cardiologist who went to MIT to learn cell biology and ended up spending five years and becoming dedicated to basic research now with little clinical work–creeping clearly makes you find out interesting information).  Anyways, click on her picture to get to her lab’s website and all the interesting projects that go on in there.  She is…Definitely FANCY!

Diabetes Research Symposium Directions


So Excited for the Diabetes Research Symposium Tomorrow!!!  Here is the google maps directions to get there.  Also I think there is usually parking behind the building but you can usually park on State or Terrace Street which are really close to the Biomedical Pharmaceutical Complex Building.  Just keep going a block or two after you see the Pharmacy building on Limestone and turn right onto them.  See you at room 124!!!  Also the link to the program:  http://www.mc.uky.edu/odrd/2013%20Program.asp

Music and why our brain likes it so much.


Based on fMRI and PET studies, it has been shown that music activates the same dopamine pathways in the brain that some of the most important activities such as eating and sex  do. Coupled with previous theories, researchers believe that it is the pattern recognition and analysis element involved in listening to music that activates these reward pathways in the brain. So the next time you have a song stuck in your head, take satisfaction in the fact that your brain is solving patterns and is proud of it! Brains are Fancy!

How Fluorescent Tagging Can Helps Surgeons Excise Tumors

This is another “old”  Ted Talk Video, but still one that shows how basic science using fluorescence can help surgeons identify tumors and identify organ specific cancers visually rather than solely depending on pathologists in the laboratory.  I don’t think Roger Tsien set out to study Aequorea victoria and isolated Green Fluorescent Protein so that we could do better surgery one day. But as a result of his basic–nobel prize winning–research many cancer patients are able to benefit from improved surgical techniques. It’s Fancy! Hope you enjoy it!

HIV-Vaccine…It Made the Cover!!!

Cover of Science

I know many of us have talked about the potential for the new HIV vaccine (NOT to be confused with the HVTN 505), but I wanted to share the actual journal article that published the findings initially.  It was the cover of this week’s issue of Science.  There is some heavy information packed in there but what I appreciated most was the interaction between the fields of immunology, biochemistry, genetics, and nanoparticle chemistry that took in developing this immunagen that engages B cell receptors and results in an antibody response.  The innovation has the potential to revolutionize not only vaccine methods targeting HIV but also other diseases where highly variable viruses are involved.  Furthermore, it shows how the lines between the traditional established “fields” and “disciplines” are fading and how research is becoming more and more interdisciplinary.



Discovery of A New Leukemia Oncogene

Discovery of New Leukemia Gene

The molecular cause of many cancers associated with blood remains unclear. However, using deep sequencing techniques, scientists at the Oregon Health & Science University were able to identify mutations in colony-stimulating factor 3 receptors (CSF3R) in 16 of 27 patients (59%) with chronic neutrophilic leukemia or chronic myeloid leukemia. These mutations caused alterations in kinase signaling pathways (JAK and TNK2). The discovery could serve as a new tool for diagnosing leukemia in patients.