Biggest Breakthroughs In The Field Of Biology In 2016

The field of biology had a big year in 2016 with several amazing breakthroughs making the news all around the world. Here are two of the biggest advancements biology saw last year.

The origin of multicellular life

When scientists found GK-PID, a molecule almost as old as life on this planet, they knew right away it was special. It was found that this particular molecule was a catalyst for what was to be one of the most important steps in the evolution of life on the planet. Around 800 million years ago, GK-PID was responsible for the transformation of single-celled organisms into multi-cellular organisms. GK-PID acted as a molecular carabiner by pulling chromosomes together before latching them onto the inner wall of a cell membrane. This leads to non-cancerous cell division. However, what scientists find fascinating is the fact that the ancient GK-PID wasn’t always like that. It only became a carabiner because it mutated.

Image source: unicellularorganisms7thblock.weebly.com

Stem cells and stroke patients

One of the most important discoveries last year happened at a clinical trial at Stanford University School of Medicine. Modified human stem cells were injected into the brains of several patients who suffered from chronic stroke. The experiment was a success, with no negative side-effects afflicting the patients. The worst were mild headaches due to the procedure. All the patients (18 in total) had a much more significant rate of healing, which included those confined to wheelchairs to stand up and walk.

Image source: sciencemag.org

Anouk Govil is a biology major at California State University Channel Islands. For more on her, visit this blog.

Colossal Investment Risks And How To Deal With Them

There are a lot of risks when it comes to investment. They can be confusing and intimidating. Some moves may seem conservative, but if increasing interest rates factored in, then it would seem like a bad idea in the first place.

Take for instance the volatility of the stock market. The prices of stocks and bonds can change at a moment’s notice. This is enough to cool the jets of even the most iron-willed investor. However, with a bit of research, this can be handled. How long can the money grow before it’s accessed? Questions like that arising from research can prepare people and help them avoid panicking and making bad decisions.

Image source: cu.edu

Another huge risk is a total loss, which can be easily achieved through being reckless. A total loss can end any plans a person has for the future, even ones made for retirement. A risk management strategy for this is to look into companies that pay dividends with high rates. Budget restructuring and lifestyle changes are also some ways of avoiding a total loss.

Image source: Forbes.com

Inflation is one of the biggest headaches investors encounter since it involves a lot of computation, and it’s a sure thing. Inflation causes people to buy less and fewer things. People should stay clear of bonds when it seems that a high inflation rate is on the horizon.

Anouk Govil is a risk analyst. Learn more about Anouk by subscribing to this Twitter account.

New Medical Adhesive From Tick ‘Cement’?

Image Source: phys.org
Image Source: phys.org

A new study is analyzing the anchoring properties of the tick’s “cement.” These pests are known for their ability to stick firmly on the skin so that they can suck blood for as long as they can. The mechanism relies on the cement-like substance that is secreted around the mouth of the tick. Scientists are taking note of these adhesive properties and are trying to recreate it chemically to build better biomaterials.

In particular, biologists are considering newer medical adhesives. One of the main challenges among medical professionals is finding a way to anchor tendons and ligaments to the bone without using synthetic materials. Traditional methods involved binding these parts with metal. This worked well with smaller injuries, but major surgeries that require larger plates carried a higher risk of infection. Scientists are exploring a new field called bioadhesion that uses medical materials made from natural sources. The initial supply was sought from mammals such as monkeys and pigs. However, newer tools are gathering prototypes from insects and pests. This is because these species have developed different survival methods that can actually have implications in the medical field. Around 300 Austrian ticks – and their adhesive cement – are currently being studied.

Image Source: checkthescience.com
Image Source: checkthescience.com

Other potential bioadhesive donors were considered too. For example, scientists studied the adhesive properties of blue mussels. The results though were discouraging since some people are allergic to the mussel’s glue. This is why more effort is being placed on studying the tick’s cement. Biologists say that if these resources can be replicated, it will dramatically aid the health profession.

Anouk Govil majors in biology and is passionate about the natural world around her. Keep abreast of the latest science and biology news when you follow this blog.