By Ralitsa Madsen, Institute of Metabolic Science, Cambridge, UK
Iris, the Greek Goddess messenger between humans on Earth and the Gods on Mount Olympus, has made an entry into human biology by providing inspiration for the name of a skeletal muscle-derived hormone. Irisin belongs to the class of myokines, which are molecules released by skeletal muscle in response to exercise and act as messengers to other tissues, including liver, fat and the brain. Given the beneficial effects of exercise, particularly in the context of obesity and Type 2 Diabetes, major efforts have been invested into discovering myokines of potential therapeutic value. Irisin seems to have it all, with multiple animal studies confirming its metabolic benefits such as lowering of blood glucose and lipid levels. Continue reading →
Tilly Potter, Department of Twin Research, King’s College London
I recently began my PhD during which I will be carrying out investigations into the human microbiome – that is, all of the microbes we harbour on and in our bodies and their genetic material. The reasons why I was attracted to this area are likely similar to those of other scientists who have entered this field; microbiome research is still in its relative infancy yet appears to hold enormous potential regarding understanding differences between health and disease, with the number of diseases or adverse health states examined continuing to increase with time. This makes it an incredibly diverse and exciting area to work within! Continue reading →
James Brown, Education and Public Engagement Officer, Biochemical Society
The dominating spectacle of dinosaurs and dodos seemed to spark the imagination of guests at the British Society for Gene and Cell Therapy’s annual Public Engagement Day, this year held at the Museum of Natural History in Oxford.
Biochemical Society members Evita Hartmane, Heba Ismail and James Tomkins joined me for the first outing of our new public engagement activity: Scientific Scissors. The activity is all about Genome Editing – What is it? How does it work? What can we do with it? What should we do with it? Why is it important? The aim is to start conversations about new technologies and give people the opportunity to ask questions whilst engaging with the ethical issues involved.
By Dr Kelly Davidge, Research and Development Manager at Kirkstall Ltd
In the Government’s recently published Green Paper on building the UK’s industrial strategy, they recognise the importance of investment in science, research and innovation and have committed to a number of strategies to boost the UK innovation economy. Although the UK has three of the top 10 and 12 of the top 100 world universities, we lag behind other countries when it comes to investment in innovation through research and development (R&D):
Currently, there is much interest in the ageing brain and how people can take measures to counteract the decline in mental function that appears to be an inevitable consequence of growing older. The World Health Organization predicts that between 2015 and 2050, the proportion of the world’s population aged over 60 will nearly double, from 12% to 22%. So more people are living for longer, meaning that age-related disease and disability is a major and escalating concern for society.
The term ‘cognitive decline’ is often used to describe the deterioration in some aspects of brain function that occurs with age. Dementia is used to define a decline in mental ability that is severe enough to interfere with daily life. It is characterized by memory loss and by difficulties with thinking, problem-solving or communicating. There are several causes of dementia, with Alzheimer’s disease being the most common type, followed by vascular dementia. Continue reading →