research

The Cockroach’s Unique Genome That Can Contribute to Medicine

Dr. Sheng Li, an entomologist and professor of life sciences at South China’s Normal University in Guangzhou, is leading research on the recently sequenced genome of the American cockroach. This species of insect is remarkable for its resiliency and ability to survive and thrive in many different environments, making it a compelling specimen for study in the quest for knowledge and compounds that can contribute to human medicine. The American cockroach has one of the longest insect genomes ever sequenced, second only to the locusta migratoria. While there exists an overwhelming amount of genes to examine and design potential experiments around, Dr. Li’s team is currently focusing on the regeneration capabilities of the American cockroach and how that may translate into therapies for humans. Click here to review the paper published in Nature Communications. Read more on The Doctor’s Channel. Read more on how insects are combating the battle on Malaria: These studies point toward the possible efficacy of paratransgenesis in the war against malaria, but the experiments were carried out in the laboratory. A big hurdle is how to introduce recombinant P. agglomerans into mosquitoes in the field. The authors indicate that they have had some success in dealing with this crucial problem by placing baiting stations consisting of clay pots containing cotton balls soaked with sugar and recombinant bacteria surrounding villages where malaria is prevalent. But we don’t yet know...

The Case for Eating Fiber

I want to help you prepare for this situation because you might be expected to answer it soon. What are the benefits of eating fiber? Let’s go over a hypothetical situation. Your patient walks in to your office and says “Dr. I don’t know what to believe about fiber, is there really a benefit to eating brown rice instead of white rice? They have about the same number of calories and white rice tastes better, does fiber really make a significant difference?” And now, since you’ve read Why Should I Eat Fiber? An Overview, you’re prepared and have been waiting for this question for a while now. You light up with joy because you’ve had lectures for the past 8 years of your life and now it’s time for you to relay knowledge to someone else. So, you let them have it, and I mean really let them have it, like you’ve had this planned before they even came into the office. It went like this: Fiber is a carbohydrate that is unable to be digested by the body and is essential for maintaining proper health. Fiber helps regulate the use of sugar in the body, and keeps blood sugar and hunger in check [1]. There has been debate on how much fiber one should eat and the recommended is 20 to 30 grams daily, however I propose to...

Can Alcohol Damage our DNA? A New Study Suggests Yes

Can alcohol damage our cells and DNA? Scientists at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge discovered new evidence that suggests alcohol causes damage at a cellular level, with prolonged use leading to permanent damage to DNA. Ketan Patel, FRS FMedSci MRCP, professor and lead author of the study, has observed that alcohol consumption not only leads to permanent DNA damage, but also increases the risk of developing cancer. The research team at MRC Laboratory gave doses of ethanol to mice equivalent to a human drinking a full bottle of whisky in a compressed period of time. Some of these mice had a reduced ability to produce the enzyme that breaks down alcohol coupled with diminished DNA repair pathways. After a few weeks, they studied the DNA of the mice and found the harmful chemical compound acetaldehyde (ALDH) had built up due to the body’s processing of the large quantities of alcohol. This ALDH buildup damaged the DNA within blood stem cells, causing mutations in chromosomes which are known catalysts for cancer and the aging process. This study is being funded by Cancer Research UK. Click here to read more about the findings. Make sure to read “Three Med School Career Paths, and Their Alcoholic Drink Compliments“. A new study from the University of Greenwich’s Journal of Pain suggests that alcohol might be a better pain reliever than Acetaminophen‬‬ and other common pain relievers. The study suggests that alcohol...

Is My Specialty Research? Here’s What To Know

When you’re vying for an acceptance letter to your program of choice, doing research is just one of those boxes everyone tells you should check off to be able to fit into a crowd of almost doctors. In fact, test prep company Kaplan encourages students to prepare an answer if they are asked during their admission interview why they didn’t participate in research. Whether it is financial or time limitations, Kaplan advises students to have a prepared response to this question. Just to provide another perspective, during my admissions interviews, I was never once asked about the absence of research on my list of extra-curricular activities. No one ever asked me why I didn’t do research. (In case you’re wondering, I also did not do any community service, another “must have.”) In talking to my classmates (other admitted students), they were not asked about research. Doing research is important, certainly, for certain programs such as dual degree programs with a PhD. It may even be a requirement. But, I would not take the words “highly recommend” to mean “absolutely mandatory.” This is all to say that many pre-medical students think they should do research because it is highly regarded and provides an additional boost from an admissions perspective. I don’t think it matters so much that you conduct research as much as the value of the research to you...

Mental Health Can Affect Your Job Performance

Wildgoose undertook a survey to examine employees at 250 businesses across the UK and revealed that there is still a substantial stigma surrounding mental health at work. Of those surveyed who have taken a day off work, just under half admitted to calling in sick with a different complaint to the one they were actually suffering with. When compared with the responses of those who haven’t taken a day off work, 43% indicated that they would say nothing and carry on as normal if faced with mental health issues, whilst 4% stated they would call in with a different issue. NHS mental health nurse, psychotherapist and podcaster, Aimee Leigh suggests: “To combat stress, one must learn to be present and grounded in their bodies, through the use of the senses. “Developing a practice of mindfulness helps the mind become resilient. Managing stress by training the mind to focus on one point for sustained periods of time stops the mind fluctuating, racing and catastrophizing. “When a person isn’t caught up in their thoughts, they’re more able to be focused and productive. They’re also less emotionally reactive and more proactive, productive and efficient. “Higher priorities need to be placed on supporting staff emotionally in the workplace, with more education for staff around taking responsibility for their health and well-being.” The survey also highlights differences in absence across various groups and demographics. On average, women...

With Data From “All of Us” NIH Launches Ambitious Data Repository

This month the National Institute of Health (NIH) launched the beta portal for “All of Us,” a project that aims to capture health data from over a million Americans. Born out of President Obama’s Precision Medicine Initiative, the data collected through “All of Us” will include not just health records or test results, but also lifestyle choices and, most importantly, genomic and biological data analysis to help fuel future medical research. What is precision medicine? Precision medicine, a term that is sometimes used interchangeably with “personalized medicine,” is a medical model that encourages healthcare professionals to customize treatments to the individual patient. Precision medicine takes into account the patient’s unique environmental and biological situation, in addition to the patient’s presenting symptoms. With this information, the healthcare professional may create a treatment plan that is tailored to that specific person, instead of using a standard treatment that is thought to work for the “average” patient. Why 1 Million? The All of Us program is specifically geared to be a broad and diverse program. Minority communities are often underrepresented in medical research, as most research populations tend to be homogenous, specifically white and male (Oh et al, 2015). All of Us aims to correct the gap in research data by aiming for a study population that better reflects the rich diversity of America. Researchers hope that this data will feed into...

The Prevalence of Munchausen Syndrome or Factitious Disorder in Medical Professionals

Munchausen Syndrome, sometimes known as Factitious Disorder, is a mental illness in which the sufferer acts as if s/he has a physical or mental disease when in fact the symptoms are self-inflicted (Cleveland Clinic). The ways in which those with Factitious Disorder fake illness include faking symptoms, making up medical histories, causing self-harm, and tampering with medical instruments and tests (Mayo Clinic). More women than men suffer from Factitious Disorder, and there is research showing an increased representation of the disorder in medical professionals (Burnel). Because one of the main warning signs of Factitious Disorder is extensive knowledge of medical terminology, hospitals, etc., it may be more difficult to diagnose among healthcare workers who would already possess such knowledge. In addition, medical workers have an understanding of and access to resources that they may use to further the fiction of their illness. For example, tampering with medical equipment and lab tests to skew the results of diagnostic procedures is very common. Healthcare workers with Factitious Disorder may contaminate their own urine samples with blood or other substances to alter results, or may heat up thermometers to fake a fever (Mayo Clinic). Those in the medical field have direct access to a number of other resources that they may use to. One study found that a significant subgroup of those with Factitious Disorder is made up of female healthcare workers...