Blood vessel growth and metabolic stress

By Sayan Chakraborty, Senior Researcher at the Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology, A-STAR, Singapore

In our hectic modern lifestyle, we are constantly subjected to stress of many kinds including the stress experienced by our body from weight-gain. From the physiological perspective, these symptoms are managed by signalling molecules present in the body that control energy expenditure and form new blood vessels (angiogenesis) to cope with increased ‘cellular stress’ levels. These physiological consequences can be precursors to conditions such as type 2 diabetes, one symptom of which is increased angiogenesis.

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Proliferative retinopathy, an advanced form of diabetic retinopathy, occurs when abnormal new blood vessels and scar tissue form on the surface of the retina. (Credit: National Eye Institute, National Institutes of Health, USA) Continue reading

Research on the brain

By Aideen Sullivan, University College Cork

neuronal-signalling-coverI am very excited about the launch of Portland Press’s new journal Neuronal Signaling, which will publish research articles on all aspects of communication within the nervous system, and, crucially, make these articles available online for everyone to read. One aspect of Neuronal Signaling that is particularly appealing to me is the intention to produce lay summaries of some of the articles. The aim of this is to explain to the public, in non-scientific language, the meaning of the research and the impact that it may have to patients and to society.

Communicating science to the public is something that interests me greatly. As scientists working in biological research, we strive to cure disease and disability, to help people live for longer with able bodies and able minds, and to improve the world in which we live. This boils down to a fundamental aim of enhancing the lives of each individual and of society. To achieve this aim, we must strive to always keep that individual in mind when designing and conducting experiments. Continue reading

Obesity, on the molecular level

By Emma Pettengale, Commissioning Editor, Portland Press

According to the World Health Organisation, as of 2014 over 600 million adults worldwide are obese, with obesity posing a significant risk to individuals for diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, osteoarthritis and some cancers.

It’s not just about how much you eat and exercise, molecular factors play a part – the genes you inherited from your parents might pre-dispose you to have an increased risk of obesity, interactions between the environment and your genes have a role and energy balance is not a simple equation.

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Peer Review: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

By Mariana Arroja, PHD STUDENT, University of Glasgow

peer review workshop“How was this paper published?” This is a question that every scientist has asked themselves at least once. Assessing specialised literature can be quite challenging, but as experience develops the easier it is to identify the bad science that is published on a daily basis. Prior to having a manuscript accepted for publication, it will have been subject to the scrutiny of a select group of scientists in a process called peer review. Despite this, poor quality research is still sometimes accepted for publication in peer reviewed journals and for some of those starting a scientific career, this reality can be, let’s say, a bit discouraging. So what exactly is happening? Is it peer review that is failing? Continue reading