Mindblowing molecular biology animations

You simply have to watch this TED talk. Some new animations are revealed that show our latest understanding of how cellular and sub-cellular structures, such as our DNA, RNA machines, chromosomes etc, work.

The sheer beauty, complexity and magic of our cellular reality will blow you away.

TED talk on Animations of unseeable biology

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Alzheimer’s = type 3 diabetes?

Alzheimer's =  type 3 diabetes?

New evidence suggests that Alzheimer’s disease could be a form of diabetes or at least be linked to it. There are brain areas that are seriously affected by insulin and changes in the metabolism of this hormone.

Junk food, primarily processed food that is high in salt and sugar, seems to be the culprit. Those who have Type 2 diabetes have been shown to have 2-3 times the incidence of Alzheimer’s and predisposed rats that are fed junk food diets will readily develop dementia that physiologically and behaviorally closely resembles Alzheimer’s.

This is awesome news for discovering important links and potentially becoming empowered in conquering this disease, but it’s also a devastating discovery as the vast majority of societies are quickly shifting towards a junk food based diet (see, for instance, the latest Foreign Correspondent that shows how Mexico, India and many other developing nations have gone from starvation to drastic obesity in 20 years and the humungous health costs this change has brought with it in the form of diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, heart disease etc). This means skyrocketing rates of heart disease, obesity and diabetes… and now also Alzheimer’s, except Alzheimer’s develops later in life and therefore this spike has not materialised yet. We are sitting on yet another healthcare timebomb.

The only option would be to somehow manage this unfolding dietary crisis. Unfortunately the only efforts that show a modicum of efficacy, that is dietary and food industry regulation, is being thoroughly stumped in most countries by corporate and trade interests which so far tend to trump any efforts at containing a health crisis for which none of these industries are going to pay, unless they are going to be taxed for selling processed food. But that is mostly off the agenda. There are heroic attempts to tax the junk food industries to the example of the tobacco and alcohol industries, but so far the results are meager.

So… eating right is getting even more important. That high-fructose corn syrup stuffed food product that also contains huge amounts of processed grain (made with fertilizer derived from oil – aha, link that to wars!) and highly industrialised low safety meat has just become that much more scary. We already know it feeds into obesity, diabetes, heart disease and cancer… now we know that it may very well be also pushing your system towards dementia.

Want a raw lunch instead?

Alzheimer’s could be the most catastrophic impact of junk food

Brain diabetes: the ultimate food scare

Treatment for colds

Treatment for colds

A cure for the common cold?

According to the Asthma Foundation of Australia, Melbourne researchers had success with a new anti-viral, vepandavir. It’s meant to shorten the common cold and reduce nasty symptoms, at least in asthmatics. As an asthmatic this restriction is obviously acceptable for me :P Asthmatics suffer heaps more from colds and those that have auto-immune problems (ie. me) suffer even more, so this could be a breakthrough, at least for some.

So perhaps not a gigantic breakthrough for humankind, but a small step forward for asthmatics. Can’t wait (few years?) until it becomes available. Bring it on.

Australian of the year

Australian of the year

Wonderful to see that instead of a sportsperson we now have an eminent psychiatrist as the Australian of the year for 2010! Yay.

Professor Patrick McGorry works in the area of youth mental health, has championed early intervention and helped build up several institutions and initiatives. We so need to recognise outstanding Australian scientists more and definitely need more focus on mental health!

Awesome choice.

Prof McGorry, Australian of the year