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Everything posted by prion

  1. $10000 dollars a year???!!! :eek: wow I got a grant to cover accomodation, no fees, took a total of £5000 in loan that effectively is interest-free and doesn't have to be paid back until I earn quite a lot of money...!! And my grant for my PhD was enough that I've actually taken a pay cut with my first job!! The only difference from when I went to uni is that now some people have to pay fees, but it's added on the loan and paid back over decades or something. There were such big protests about the idea of anyone paying any fees, I still am against it!! If private uni's cost so much more isn't that a 2-tier system? Oh and if anyone tells you they actually remember all the formulas they're lying
  2. well vit D can be stored in the liver, so presumably that would tide you over as long as you were spending time outside summer and eating an unrestricted modern supermarket diet! I expect it was only a major issue historically because of poorer diet. People working in health labs swear there is a dip in people's calcium levels in the winter though.
  3. There are extremely strict rules about handling pathogens like that and the Centers for Disease Control in the US (where I think the 1918 flu was made?) has some of the best facilities in the world. They are used to handling deadly airbourne germs like anthrax, so the ethics of studying flu aren't really different from the ethics of studying any other disease that is just as deadly and contagious. I don't know exactly how their labs are set up, but I've worked at containment level 3, which is less strict (it's for things that are lethal but not airbourne) and that was very complicated - there are really complicated air handling/filtering systems, protective clothes, procedures for going in and out, etc etc. I think it's a pretty safe system.
  4. Vit D deficiency is actually getting to be more recognised. There are people campaigning for the elderly in care homes to be put on vit D supplements because they're not getting enough sunlight and are getting worse osteoporosis. Also it is well known in the UK at least that vit D deficiency is a risk for women who for religious/cultural reasons cover themselves all the time (esp if they have darker skin) and traditionally have a low vitamin D diet. They are at increased risk of osteoporosis and if they have children relying on their breast milk then the children can be at risk of rickets. Lancet review
  5. equilibrium hydrogen bonding
  6. prion


    major misconception: PATENTS DO NOT EQUAL OWNERSHIP. None of the human genome is privately "owned". But companies have taken out patents on applications relating to certain bits. For example a company took out patents to do with genes related to familial breast cancer. They don't own those genes any more than I do. What the patent means in that case is that only they have the right to develop, market and license tests which detect whether people have mutations in those genes. So it makes no difference if the patent is applied to a 'natural' thing, they certainly don't own it, they've just thought of a new use for it. Actually that's the second major misconception: a patent relates to an application of something, not the thing itself. You can't just say "I spotted that gene first". You have to say, "I've spotted that mutations in this gene might cause cancer and I reserve the right to test for that and develop treatments based on that". In my line of work, the main effect of patents is that newly-developed technologies that everyone wants cost a fortune. But then those things would never be developed if the company didn't (1) put massive investment in and (2) have some way of knowing that other people wouldn't be able to just copy their finished product and make loads of money with no investment. That's what the patent is for. Edit: by the way Decessus - what exactly does the homocysteine/B12 patent involve? Are they patenting the basis for a potential treatment? They can't patent a "link" between two things. In any case the reasons for the link are well-known (i.e. public domain). I'm guessing they must have found some new mechanism behind it or some new possible way to treat it? Edit2: Hmm they are implying what you said in the article you linked to. Either the courts have gone totally insane or the article is misleading. It's public domain information! I've just had a lecture on B12 deficiency and homocysteine from a national expert (UK) and no mention was made of royalties. Mind you the article was written by Michael Crichton, don't get me started on prions and The Lost World...
  7. Don't know if this helps but the small numbers of ligations I've done have always been in the fridge overnight - I understood that at higher temperatures you were more likely to get unwanted ligation products like plasmids with no insert, multiple inserts, etc. Can't vouch for this though. And protein stability isn't as simple as cold = stable, hot = unstable. They have a temperature of peak stability and it decreases each side of that. Some will cold-denature.
  8. Isn't it aldehyde dehydrogenase that some people lack? Alcohol is partly processed by the cytochrome p450 enzymes in the liver, and these are easily up-regulated. So if you drink lots, over time you make more cyt p450s and you speed up the processing of alcohol, so it takes you more to get drunk. Then if you drink less the enzymes will down-regulate and you'll get drunk on less again. (that step produces aldehyde, which makes you feel rough and which aldehyde dehydrogenase gets rid of. Catalase might come into it somewhere though, not sure.) Apparently a good way to prepare for a heavy night is to have a drink at lunchtime, and this will kick-start your liver enzymes into action and prepare them for the onslaught!
  9. The basics - the kidney kind of 'decides' what the body will excrete in the urine and what it will keep. When blood passes through the kidneys (all the body's blood will pass through many times each day) then nearly all the water and small molecules etc are filtered out and separated. from the cells. This includes things like glucose, sodium, potassium (the 'salts' in the blood) and lots of waste products. The kidney then controls what bits of the filtered liquid are needed and they get put back into the blood. For example, the brain tells the kidney if the body is short of water, and then the kidney will put more water back into the blood and less into the urine. Other hormones are very important in controlling what other ions and things the kidney puts back into the blood. All of this doesn't just affect the concentration of things in the blood, it also affects the pH of the blood and the blood pressure. The kidney does some other chemical reactions, like it activates vitamin D, which you need to absorb and use calcium.
  10. no it will move slower and pressure will drop, remember there's still the same amount of blood, but more room to spread out. Think of a big wide river versus a narrow gorge with the same amount of water running through it. It will pootle along near the skin losing lots of heat.
  11. Yeah of course there are more important effects, I just meant people not responding to testosterone would tend to be a bit taller, on average.
  12. Testosterone is essential in genetic males though, to fuse the growth plates and halt growth. Castrati opera singers who were castrated before puberty grew very tall. Also the oestrogens the pseudohermaphrodites are producing would act unopposed by testosterone, which normally has some effect in women, so they would be expected to be particularly tall and feminine-looking. As for the House episode, some of their biochemical stories are not realistic. I'd have thought the poor woman would have noticed something was wrong before, having no periods and only a partial vagina...
  13. Just a nitpick, I don't think models are less curvy, they're just slim and tall but with normal waist:hip ratios etc. There's a difference. And models are real women too! OK nitpick over I've was just learning about this kind of thing a couple of weeks ago. I've been told that pseudohermaphrodites with androgen insensitivity (genetically male and with internal testes but female external body shape as they don't respond to the testosterone the testes produce) are totally female in appearance and identity, but do tend to be "tall and attractive" - this is according to a medical consultant who diagnoses them. As an example we were shown a picture of a woman modelling in a bikini. So I have no idea if they are more likely to be models but it's plausible! Also they have no pubic hair so would not have to have every bit of themselves waxed!!
  14. oooo that's really kind of soothing. With the odd burst of madly trying to kill something. Nice.
  15. not sure about sleeping tablets. I think with most drugs it's an exaggeration of what they do normally, and then some other toxic effects that only happen when there's too much of it. For example alcohol is a depressant, so a bit will impair your mental function, a lot will affect your physical function, and a huge amount will totally stop you breathing. Presumably other depressants would do the same
  16. Thats' such a shame you can't see the website! They say it's "because the member organisations who supply the content are funded with public money to serve the UK population". Maybe they'll let you read the press pack. There was some amazing footage of snow leopards, apparently the first decent footage of them in the wild - then they described how it had taken them 3 years to get a few minutes of pictures. They also had a wild giant panda and her newborn cub in a cave. It was all filmed in 'high definition'. The best I could do is this picture of a great white hunting, from BBC Brasil. .
  17. For all of you unfortunate wildlife lovers without access to the BBC (UK TV), you might like to know that they are currently showing an absolutely breathtaking wildlife series called "Planet Earth". I've just discovered that they have put all the best clips on their website on a Planet Earth Explorer page. Have a look and especially check out the great white shark attack off the coast of South Africa - stunning.
  18. lines of best fit are plotted so that they are as close as possible to all the data points, regardless of where they cross the axes. If you knew for sure that 10% ethanol is 100% transmission then presumably you would have a data point there? Whether you draw it across the axes is up to you and depends what you're trying to show or work out.
  19. The only one I really know about is paracetamol (aka acetaminophen). Paracetamol itself isn't toxic even in an overdose. The damage is done by a metabolite of paracetamol. When you take a normal dose of the drug, the liver processes it into harmless metabolites that pass out in the urine. When someone takes an overdose, those normal processes get overwhelmed and the drug undergoes other chemical reactions in the liver, that make a very toxic metabolite called NAPQI. This can still be safely and quickly inactivated by the liver by joining it to glutathione. But if you take enough paracetamol, the liver will eventually run out of glutathione so that the NAPQI builds up and damages the liver cells. The worst thing is that in a healthy person it can take a couple of days to get to that point, and the person could walk round feeling only a bit ill, then suddenly go into liver failure. It's so sad when people come into hospital because of it, they probably thought it hadn't done anything to them and all the time their liver's been slowly wrecked. It's really nasty stuff in overdose, that's why there are such strict rules about how much you can buy at one time in the UK. I think the other ones you mentioned have more of a direct effect, i.e. too much of the drug causes problems by itself. I know aspirin upsets the body's pH.
  20. hope you're not thinking of spiking anyone's drink!!!
  21. Goodness Peter you must have had real problems publishing if your desparation to defend your work extends to chasing up every person who makes any slightly negative comment on an informal internet forum, of which the members are mostly students. The only "harsh words" I said were that what was written on prions was nonsense. Having got a PhD in human prion protein folding from Imperial College, London, I absolutely stand by that. Tell it to the peer reviewers mate.
  22. yeah they do quite a bit. Regulate ions, pH, blood pressure, water balance, activation of vitamin D, stimulate red blood cell synthesis...erm...
  23. There's a novel based on that concept: "The Terminal Man" by Michael Crichton. A guy gets electrodes put in his brain's 'pleasure centres' as a treatment for epilepsy. Obviously, being a novel, this causes the guy to go on psychotic murderous rampages...
  24. The biochemical information can be looked up in the UK online guide to clinical biochemistry: labtestsonline. If you look up creatine kinase and select "the test" it says "People who have greater muscle mass have higher CK levels (for example a young fit male will have more muscle mass and hence a higher CK level than an elderly female), and Afro-Caribbeans may have higher CK levels than other ethnic groups.". Also for creatine: "creatinine levels are in proportion to muscle mass"; it is higher in black people, but they don't mention ethnic groups because the influence is small and doesn't have to be taken into account. Sorry they're not 'proper' references. But obviously these are quite specific and unimportant differences and are just based on population averages. I just think sometimes it's a bit naive to say "we're all the same, there's no such thing as race", when racial differences are staring you in the face. The important thing is that whatever differences there are are pretty inconsequential.
  25. They're not ALL myths. For example Afro-Caribbean people on average are more muscular. This observation is backed up by higher blood levels of creatine kinase and creatinine, which correlate with muscle mass. I've always wondered why there are so few black swimmers though, compared to other sports. I know there are a lot of silly racial myths, but they should be ignored because they are false, not just because they attribute traits to races.
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