Tuesday, January 15, 2019

French Jeanne Louise Calment, 2

Reportedly, Russian Gerontologist Valery Novoselov, in an interview with the Life Extension Advocacy Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to extending the human lifespan, expressed concern about the veracity of this data. Officially, it’s said that Jeanne Louise Calment's daughter died in 1934, but both Novoselov and Nikolai Zak, the mathematician who helped analyze the data on supercentenarians for the 2018 study, believe data actually are reversed. They surmise that in reality it was Jeanne Louise who had died, aged almost 59, and that her daughter (Yvonne) assumed her mother’s name and personality. Naturally the question becomes, “Why would a daughter do that?” Well, money may have played a role. (It often seems to be the bottom line in quite a few mysteries.) Yvonne may have assumed her mother's identity after her death in 1934 in order to not have to pay the inheritance tax. So when Jeanne (perhaps alias Yvonne) died in 1997, it may be that this individual was 99 years old and not 122 years 164 days as had been supposedly documented. More tomorrow.

Monday, January 14, 2019

French Jeanne Louise Calment

Since 1997 Jeanne Louise Calment of Arles, France, has been touted as having lived a documented age of 122 years 164 days. Well guess what? A Russian researcher recently raised questions about the authenticity of that documentation. Russian Gerontologist Valery Novoselov, who initially called for the investigation into the documentation of Jeanne's age, said he first became suspicious because Jeanne didn't fit typical data trends. A 2018 study suggests that the woman known as Jeanne Louise Calment may actually have been Jeanne's daughter, Yvonne, who may have assumed her mother's identity after her death in 1934 in order to not have to pay the inheritance taxes. The only way to solve this potential mystery is to exhume Jeanne and her daughter Yvonne and see which is which and who is who. Imagine the uproar if the Russian researcher’s theory is correct, as the city of Arles, France has received a great deal of attention because of Jeanne Louis Calment. More tomorrow.

Friday, January 11, 2019

DNA Replication and Cancer

According to Medical Press, a research team at Florida State University, led by Department of Biological Sciences Professor David Gilbert and post-doctoral researcher Ben Pope, has taken an in-depth look at how DNA and the associated genetic material replicate and organize within a cell's nucleus. Their work could be especially crucial for doctors and medical researchers who have found that the DNA replication process is typically disrupted in cancer patients. "Why does this process exist? Why is it awry in diseases? That's why this research is important for us as a society," Gilbert said. The paper, appearing in the Nov. 19 edition of the journal Nature, reported that the researchers were able to identify the units by which the genetic material replicated. This could become crucial information as scientists tackle complicated diseases where the replication timing is disrupted. Scientists believe continued research in this area could lead to novel treatment options for cancer patients 


Thursday, January 10, 2019

DNA Replication

DNA and its associated material replicate at regular intervals, a process essential to all living organisms. This process contributes to everything from how the body responds to disease to hair color. DNA replication was identified in the late 1950s, but understanding exactly how this process of replication occurs and how it is regulated has been elusive. A team of researchers at Florida State University appear to have unlocked a decades-old mystery about how a critical cellular process is regulated and what that could mean for the future study of genetics. David Gilbert and doctoral student Jiao Sima published a paper in the journal Cell in December that reported on experiments showing there are specific points along the DNA molecule that control replication. Examining a single segment of DNA in the highest possible 3-D resolution, they identified three sequences along the DNA molecule touching each other frequently. They found that these three elements together were the key to DNA replication.

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Mitochondrial Diseases, 2

Mitochondrial diseases are very rare, estimated to affect about 200,000 individuals per year in the US. They are very interesting because they are genetic diseases—or caused by mutations—and yet differ from other types of genetic diseases. Mitochondrial dysfunction has been linked with acquired conditions such as diabetes, Huntington's disease, cancer, Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, bipolar, schizophrenia, anxiety disorders, cardiovascular disease, and sarcopenia. Mitochondrial diseases may be more severe when the defective mitochondria are present in the cerebrum or nerve cells or in muscle cells since these cells consume more energy than most other cells in the body. Brain cells are said to use twice as much energy as most body cells and three times as much energy as muscle cells. Currently, mitochondrial DNA is an extremely active area of research.

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Mitochondrial Diseases

Mitochondrial diseases are a group of disorders caused by dysfunctional mitochondria, the organelles that generate energy for the cell. Mitochondria are found in every cell of the human body except red blood cells, and convert the energy of food molecules into the ATP that powers most cell functions. Reportedly, the first pathogenic mutation in mitochondrial DNA was identified in 1988. Between then and 2016, over 275 other disease-causing mutations were identified. Symptoms of mitochondrial diseases may include poor growth, loss of muscle coordination, muscle weakness, visual problems, hearing problems, learning disabilities, heart disease, liver disease, kidney disease, gastrointestinal disorders, respiratory disorders, neurological problems, autonomic dysfunction, autism-like symptoms, and dementia.

Monday, January 7, 2019

Mitochondrial DNA

As you know, all human beings are is “energy,” and the mitochondria are the “energy factories” of the body, several thousand of which are in nearly every body cell. Their job is to process oxygen and convert substances from the food you eat into energy. Mitochondria produce 90 percent of the energy needed for the brain and body to function, stored as ATP. According to the Cleveland Clinic, mitochondrial diseases are usually inherited genetic disorders that occur when the mitochondria fail to produce enough energy for the body to function properly. Estimates are that one in 5,000 individuals has a genetic mitochondrial disease. Sometimes the mitochondria mutate and disease occurs that is not inherited. (Mitochondria DNA seems to mutate more frequently than chromosomal DNA.) Any cell in the brain and body can be impacted and depending upon the location of the affected cells, symptoms can differ—and some individuals have no symptoms whatsoever..

Friday, January 4, 2019

Paternal Mitochondria

Recent studies have shown that in some cases, fathers also pass on mitochondrial DNA. It began with studies of a 4-year-old boy who presented with fatigue, muscle pain and muscle weakness. Suspecting there might be some defects in the child’s maternal mitochondria, researchers looked for abnormalities, which they did not find. They did find that the child had mitochondria from both parents. Subsequently, they also found biparental mitochondria in four other family members in several generations. They found that at least four people across multiple generations in the boy’s family have significant levels of biparental mitochondrial DNA. They also found multiple members in two other families who also had biparental mitochondrial DNA. According to the authors of the study published recently in PNAS, this discovery may help the development of new treatments for devastating mitochondrial disorders, which currently can be treated but not “cured” per se. More tomorrow.

Thursday, January 3, 2019

Mitochondrial DNA

The average human being has 46 chromosomes containing 25,000-30,000 genes that are in each cell’s nucleus that contain. However, reportedly there are 37 special genes located in mitochondria, energy factories also located in the cell nucleus. For years it was believed that the DNA contained in these 37 genes was transmitted to a fetus exclusively from the mother. It apparently is not completely clear the reason that the father’s maternal DNA does not seem to transfer to the fetus, although research has indicated that sperm cells have a gene that triggers the destruction of paternal mitochondria when fertilization occurs. In 2002, one case of biparental mitochondrial DNA was found in one man in his skeletal muscle cells but was thought perhaps to be a fluke or the result of a contaminated specimen because the mitochondrial DNA in his other tissues was exclusively maternal. It was not believed that it was even possible for maternal and paternal mitochondrial DNA to even co-exist in humans. More tomorrow.

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

New Year Traditions

A common New Year tradition is that of making resolutions, which often mean giving up some deleterious habits in favor of developing more helpful ones. The most common New Year resolutions are said to include ‘stop smoking’, ‘lose weight’, ‘stay healthy and fit’, ‘save more money’ and ‘become more organized’. Fireworks are common in many countries but there are some other rather interesting traditions, including:

·       Spanish tradition is to eat 12 grapes at midnight while making wishes.  
·       Japan tradition is to ring the bells in Buddhist Temples 108 times.
·       Greek tradition involves hanging onions on their doors and wishing their children’s goodwill.
·       Dutch tradition is to burn Christmas tree bonfires to signify purging of the old and launching fireworks to signifying welcoming the new.

And, of course, there are many more!

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!

New Year celebrations are not new. The concept actually dates back to 2000 BC. The Mesopotamians used to celebrate New Year as far back as 2000 BC—but not on January 1st. The Romans celebrated on March 1st with other cultures selecting the winter solstice or summer equinox. In 46 BC Julius Caesar accepted January 1st on the Georgian Calendar as New Year per the Georgian Calendar, and this was adopted by England and American colonies in 1752. In the United States the Rose Bowl tradition started in 1890 with the Rose Parade in California’s Pasadena—with floats covered with eighteen million flowers or more. The most popular tradition involves dropping of the New Year Ball exactly at 11:59 PM in Times Square began in 1907. The ball, originally made of iron and wood has been replaced with a Waterford Crystal ball that takes exactly one minute to “fall” to the ground at the stroke of midnight. However you celebrated, may 2019 be your best year ever. . . as you take very good care of your brain and body!