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Into Oblivion!

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This new science fiction film currently in cinemas is another visual masterpiece.  There are some stunning scenes of a space ship flying over an old and decrepit earth which contrast so sharply to the pristine and polished tablet technology used by the characters.

oblivion-movie

 

However, more is afoot than the mere clearing up of earth……we get a front row seat to witness what it would be like to have a fist fight with your own clone!  Amongst this one also gets to observe what it would be like to come to the realisation that you are a clone of many thousands of ‘you’ and that you were definitely not the original. 

The film provides a decent portrayal and forces you to reflect on what you would do if you were faced with your own ‘self’.  I’m not sure I’d cope as well as the character did here!


The Beauty of TRIMs

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Me gusta TRIMs – the extent of my Spanish knowledge.

TRIMs are extremely awesome and extremely important. Without them in fact, our body would be helpless against all sorts of bacterial infections and viruses.

For those of you who don’t know, TRIM stands for Tri-partite motif-containing proteins… which is basically a posh name for an antibody that has the purpose of binding onto specific immunoglobins. E.g. TRIM21 binds onto Immunoglobin G and M…

So anyway, what do TRIMs really do and what is their role in our constant war against pathogens?

Well, to put it simply… TRIMs are involved in pathogen-recognition and are created by the body to patrol the body’s pathways.

AND SO TO FINISH!

TRIMs are awesome and very amesomerespecterest… I LOVE TRIMs!


Closer to an understanding of the Human Genome

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The BBC has been hot on the case looking at what has happened recently in our advances in our understanding of our human genome: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-19202141

This is all part of the Encode project and this is now starting to provide more evidence for how our genes interact and how specialisation of cells occurs.  I sense that there is still a long way to go…..see below for more details:

http://www.nature.com/news/encode-the-human-encyclopaedia-1.11312


DNA computers

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It seems like something out of science fiction and indeed it is the premise of the film Jonny Mnemonic, where a vital piece of information is encoded into dear Jonny’s brain.  But can this work in reality?  Can we use genetic material to house digital information in the same way that current computers do?  Some think so:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-18158131


The future use of our genomes….is this exciting or scary?

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The future use of our genomes....

Professor George Church outlines his professional view on the future uses of our knowledge of the human genome. 

 http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-14919539

He states that “there are 2,200 genes (out of 20,000) that are predictable and actionable, that is, doctors have a sense of what will happen to you if you are missing any of these genes.”  This has a significant impact on the future of health provision and potentially to life spans.  But how much information would you want to know about yourself, as many of the genes provide probabilities of diseases, or risks of illnesses, rather than concrete evidence.  How much will this affect out own personal reponsibility to live a healthy lifestyle to provide for a healthy future, rather than having  a deterministic view based on your genes?


The future of tailor made medicine is near….

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With the advent of the Human Genome Project (see http://www.genome.gov/10001772) has come the idea that individual medical treatments can be provided in light of knowing the patient’s genetic make up.  This is the idea behind the field of medicine known as Pharmacogenomics and with computing power ever improving it could be with us very soon.  But are we ready?

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-15428202


The first chimeric monkeys born

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A chimera is an organism that is made up of a mixture of genetically different cells that have come from different zygotes.  This can be from the merger of two non-identical twins zygotes, for example.  Scientists have moved on from mice and rats to see how stem cells behave when they are within a primate:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-16427873

This study is useful to see how stem cells inserted in live animals behave, rather than just viewing their growth in the lab.  This has implications for future stem cell work in humans as the monkeys are more closely related to humans than other animals.  But animal rights groups donot like this approach as they believe it raises ethical questions about the welfare of the animals involved.  What do you think?


thomas davisthomas davis