Reminder that our TRU benefit night is TOMORROW from 5-9PM. Come out and bring all your friends to support Carolina Scientific!
Come out to our TRU benefit night to support the publication of our magazine! See you there!
Written by Erin Sanzone
“I have a bad gut feeling about this” may have more meaning than one has believed before. Dr. Margaret Morris works with gut bacteria at the University of South Wales in Sydney, Australia. Her research discusses how the foods we consume change the types of bacteria in our gut and how these gut bacteria and brain communicate. Dr. Morris works with rodents to determine the effect of consuming unhealthy, fast food on the memory and behavior of the mice.
Her previous research has highlighted the association between the brain and gut, called the gut-brain axis. Our brain and gut are in constant communication with each other, and their communication often has a great impact on our mood and thought processes. The vagus nerve sends signals from the brain to the digestive system, controlling hormones that regulate hunger and the speed of digestion. As the gut breaks down the food consumed, it releases chemical messengers. The chemical messengers are dispersed throughout the body. Some of the chemicals respond to the brain via the vagus nerve, in which hormones are released and affect mood, behaviors, and memory. Furthermore, the chemical messengers also control the immune system, where they help to protect the body from disease or infection. The process of the gut bacteria communicating with the brain is referred to as neurotransmission.
The bacteria in our gut are heavily dependent on the food consumed and therefore change the communication with our brain. To test this idea, Dr. Morris fed the rats of the experimental group junk food (mainly consisting of cake and French fries) for two weeks and the control group “healthy” foods, consisting of mainly vegetables. In order to test the rat’s memory, Dr. Morris and her lab placed the rat in a space with different pieces of furniture. The rat was then removed, and Dr. Morris moved the pieces of furniture in the space. If the rat had a good memory of the original position, it would sense the change and sniff the area where the objects once were. Dr. Morris discovered that after a two-week diet of fried and overall unhealthy foods, the memories of the rats in the experimental group were deteriorated as opposed to the rats that were fed healthy food.
Dr. Morris explained this based on gut bacteria diversity. The rats that consumed junk food had a significantly less diverse set of gut bacteria, which in turn limited their memory. However, after feeding the rats a probiotic, their memory improved. Science News described the probiotic as “a mix of beneficial gut bacteria.”
While Dr. Morris’s findings were based on rodents, and researchers cannot yet extrapolate their meaning to humans, Dr. John Cyran from the University College Cork has found through a series of human studies that altering the food consumed will alter human’s microbiome.. He set up an study design in which a group of health men drank a set of microbiomes for four weeks. After a month, the 22 men that he tested performed better in stress tests and memory tests, comparing to the baseline week 0.
While there still needs to be more research on the benefits of probiotics, Dr. Morris claims that for now, humans can focus on eating a healthy diet to promote diversity in the microbiome, boost “conversation” with the brain, and positively alter mood and behavior.
Brookshire, Bethany. “Belly Bacteria Can Shape Mood and Behavior.” Science News for Students, 14 June 2018, www.sciencenewsforstudents.org/article/belly-bacteria-can-shape-mood-and-behavior.
To kick off Carolina Scientific's Fall of 2018 publication timeline, we will be hosting two writing workshops. These workshops are mandatory for new CS writers who are excited about contributing an article to our Fall 2018 edition.
Workshop 1: 9/4 at 9PM in Union Room 3408
Workshop 2: 9/5 at 9PM in Union Room 3411
Reminder: you are required to attend only one of the workshops. We'll see you there!
By: Janet Yan
The cure to cancer. It is oftentimes thought of as the highest achievement in the medical field. And this year, we’re one step closer.
Pediatric acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) is a blood cancer that affects white blood cells known as lymphocytes, causing them to multiply boundlessly and aggregate in the liver, spleen, and lymph nodes. Every year in the United States, approximately 3,100 patients under age 20 are diagnosed with ALL, and most of these cases are in children aged 3 to 5. Although 90% of children with ALL can be cured, many are unable to respond to standard treatments, which include chemotherapy, stem cell transplant, and radiation therapy.
In August 2017, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced the approval of a new form of immunotherapy, a form of therapy that utilizes the body’s immune system to fight cancer, for the indication of ALL in patients aged 25 or below who have failed to respond to treatments or have relapsed. Known as Kymriah, the treatment involves taking T-cells from the patient’s own immune system, genetically modifying and programming them to fight cancer cells, and then re-introducing them into the patient. Developed by the University of Pennsylvania in collaboration with Novartis, a global pharmaceutical company, the treatment is the “first therapy based on gene transfer approved by the FDA.” A clinical trial studying the effectiveness of the Kymriah therapy showed impressive results; 52 of the 63 (83%) patients evaluated for efficacy achieved remission within three months.
While Kymriah seems very promising, the trial also shed light on possible adverse reactions, or side effects, such as cytokine release syndrome, a potentially deadly immune reaction. Other adverse reactions that patients experienced during the trial included, but were not limited to, fatigue, headaches, hypotension, nausea, and vomiting. Additionally, the one-time treatment has a rather outrageous price tag of $475,000.
Nevertheless, the development of Kymriah is an exciting medical achievement, and its approval is an equally significant step towards adopting new treatments and technologies. It also brings up interesting ethical questions regarding genetic modification and its use in medical treatments or beyond.
Writing workshops are mandatory for new staff writers interested in contributing an article to the Fall 2017 edition of Carolina Scientific. They will be held on:
9/12/17 Tuesday from 6 pm - 7 pm in Genome G1377
9/14/17 Thursday from 6 pm - 7 pm in Genome G1377
You only have to attend one! Please contact Aakash or Ami with questions or concerns.
We are looking to recruit new members for our Fall issue! Carolina Scientific is UNC’s premier research magazine written, designed, and edited by undergraduate students. Learn how to get involved at our interest meeting on Tuesday, September 5th in Genome Sciences Room 1378 at 6pm. We’ll talk about writing, illustrating, designing, and blogging. Hopefully we can help hone your science writing skills and get you published in our magazine by the end of the semester!
For questions, contact Aakash Mehta at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The latest edition of Carolina Scientific is available at https://issuu.com/uncsci. Check out some of the incredible research being conducted at UNC-CH!