UV Light: A New Tool for Disease Prevention

By Devorah Saffern

Ultraviolet (UV) light kills cells by causing thymine bases in the cell’s DNA to interact and form dimers, which are then removed by the DNA’s own correction mechanisms. Increased exposure to UV light increases the chances of these mechanisms incorrectly replacing the dimer or not replacing it at all, which changes the way the entire DNA sequence is read by its polymerase. This impairs the DNA and therefore the cellular functions, which can result in cell death or cause the cell to become carcinogenic (develop into a cancerous cell). Increased exposure to UV light, therefore, can cause cancer, most commonly skin cancers due to direct exposure from UV rays in the sun.

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Activation of the Hedgehog protein pathway: A potential solution to obesity?

By Nicholas Persaud

The United States has faced many epidemics in which diseases and illnesses have had adverse effects on the health and wellbeing of Americans. When we think of epidemics we typically think of Ebola, malaria, the flu, or anything that is infectious. However, the United States has been facing a different kind of epidemic for some time now, one that’s not caused by a virus or bacterium. This epidemic is obesity. Obesity affects children and adults alike, with 78 million adults and 13 million children in the US reported to be obese. The major issue with obesity is not the state of being overweight in and of itself but the many serious health complications that accompany it, which include diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and more. As a result, there has been a great government effort to reduce obesity in children and adults by attempting to change people’s eating and exercise habits. However, this is not the most effective solution since it’s very difficult for people to change their lifestyles. Fortunately, recent research shows that there might be a more effective solution to the obesity epidemic.

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Health Care Reform: Learning From Other Major Health Care Systems

By Mimi Chung

With the United States Senate recently dismissing modified plans for health care in the US, different health care systems in other countries have gained considerable public interest. Health care in the United States can vary dramatically depending on an individual’s personal circumstances. Factors like employment, military service, and age can change what kind of insurance – if any – someone is able to obtain. Exploring the strengths and weakness of each may illuminate different options for modifying US healthcare policy.

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Migraines: What, Why, and How to Fix Them

By Sharon Washio

Migraines are most commonly defined by their excruciating, pulsating pain. It is a prevalent disorder, with over 38 million Americans affected, of which approximately 28 million are women. It isn’t just your ordinary headache—some say that it feels like the side of their head is desperately trying to tear itself apart, inside out.

Take this quote from Anna Maria, featured on the Migraine Stories section of the Migraine Research Foundation site, for perspective. “As a child, I used to imagine putting an electric drill to my temple to open a hole that would release the pressure.” Migraines should always be treated tenderly without the stigma and judgement that sometimes unwelcomingly tags along perception of mental illnesses.

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New Findings in Princeton Rabinowitz Lab on the Role of Lactate and Glucose in the TCA Cycle

By Devorah Saffern

A study done at the Rabinowitz lab in the Chemistry and Integrative Genomics Carl Icahn Laboratory at Princeton University was published in this month’s edition of Nature. The work, which analyzed the role of glucose in the nutrient-metabolizing tricarboxylic acid cycle (TCA cycle), is particularly relevant now because November is pancreatic cancer awareness month. The study analyzes the role of different metabolites in the TCA cycle, such as lactate and glucose, that are involved in the breakdown of food to give energy to our tissues. The Rabinowitz lab’s discovery is directly applicable to tumor proliferation in the pancreas as well as to different types of cancer research, shedding some light on the pathways and importance of lactate as an intermediary metabolite. This paper elucidates some of the questions about the particular mechanisms of glucose in our metabolism.

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The Injury You Cannot See: The Effects of the Refugee Crisis on the Rohingya Children

By MaryAnn Placheril

Bordering India and China, Myanmar is a mainly Buddhist country with a sizable Muslim minority, the Rohingya. However, the government of Myanmar does not recognize the Rohingya as citizens, leaving them stateless. For decades, Buddhists have systematically oppressed the Rohingya, but this oppression has recently been taken to the extreme. The Rohingya are now being forcibly removed from the country and killed, while their property is seized and villages burned. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has even called the situation a “textbook example of ethnic cleansing.”

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