Patrick Cox's Tech Digest - View by Tag "dna"

Mitochondria, Sirtuins, and the Failure to Communicate

October 31, 2014

In last week’s essay, I went over the basics of mitochondrial structure and function. This week I want to take a step back and look at the bigger picture—why mitochondrial function declines and how this age-related problem is related to other critical genetic malfunctions that lead to diseases and accelerated aging. If this seems to you like dry and boring science, don’t be fooled. Ongoing research breakthroughs are revealing rather simple ways to reverse the deterioration in mitochondrial function as well as critical genetic functions.

Telomere Looping Activity Influences Aging and Disease Onset

November 18, 2014

UT Southwestern Medical Center researchers, writing in the journal Genes and Development, reveal how a “looping” process in DNA telomeres can turn certain genes off at a young age but turn them back on as a person ages and lead to disease onset. This looping mechanism in younger cells appears able to keep certain genes from expressing because the telomere itself is long enough to influence them. As the telomere shortens over time, however, it can’t “loop” far enough to regulate potentially disease-causing genes. More research into telomere function could lead to a variety of new ways to prevent age-related disease.

Epigenetics: A Primer

November 21, 2014

When I was a kid, there was a category of jokes that ascribed certain people’s characteristics to some fright suffered by the mother during pregnancy. Comedians in the era of World War II joked that someone was tall because his mother was scared by bigfoot. Or someone’s hair was bright red because her mother was frightened by a fire truck.

mtDNA Levels Directly Linked to Frailty and Mortality

December 18, 2014

Johns Hopkins university scientists, writing in the Journal of Molecular Medicine, report that mitochondrial DNA levels in otherwise healthy patients could be a predictor of near-term medical frailty. Subjects in a study who had just 9% less mitochondrial DNA on average in blood samples met the medical standard of frailty, and those in the bottom fifth overall were 47% more likely to die of any cause during the study time frame than those in the top fifth. Further research into mitochondrial DNA could lead to a frailty test or mitochondrial enhancers that support changes years ahead of time for those at risk of certain diseases.

Changing the Odds at the Big Casino

May 1, 2015

I remember a public service announcement (PSA), probably by the American Cancer Society, that aired on television when I was three or four. I clearly recall a picture on screen of five people sitting around a dinner table. The picture was starkly black and white, and a voiceover announced grimly, “One in five people will die of cancer.”

Move Over, Skynet—Brainet’s in Town

July 17, 2015

About once a week, I get a call from someone with a strong East Asian accent named Martha or Ralph or something else traditionally American. They tell me that they are calling from the “Microsoft Service Center” or “your computer service contract provider” because my computer is generating error messages, which they would like to help me fix.

mHealth, Genomics, and Interracial Marriage

September 4, 2015

In my digest piece last week, I included a video presentation by Dr. Eric Topol, the cardiologist, geneticist, researcher, and writer who serves as director of the Scripps Translational Science Institute in La Jolla, California. Topol is predicting rapid and radical change in the ways that healthcare is delivered; I’m currently reading his new book, The Patient Will See You Now: The Future of Medicine Is in Your Hands.

Virus-Americans and the Eternal War

February 26, 2016

I’ve been thinking a lot about viruses due to the emergence of the Zika threat. Then, a little over a week ago, some new virus came into my life. Most likely, it was a recently evolved serotype of the rhinovirus, the cause of the common cold. Rhino is, of course, from the Greek word for nose, which is where the virus was thought to enter the body.

The Difference Between Anti-Aging and True Regenerative Medicine, Part 1

April 9, 2018

For the last few weeks, I’ve been having a conversation with a friend and reader about the difference between geroprotection and induced tissue regeneration (iTR). Based on those conversations, it’s clear that I haven’t done a good job of differentiating these two concepts.

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