Protein Crystallization (In Space!)

One of the techniques that have arose more recently (past 50 years or so) and has become a foundation in all of biochemistry and medicine is X-ray crystallography. 

This is the idea that a purified sample of protein can be first crystallized under unique conditions, then shot by x-rays to create an image which can be then translated into a structure using fourier transformation. 

Of course this is harder than it sounds and can take up to years to figure out. I am currently taking a course where my professor is an excellent (and one of the first) biochemical crystallographers. There was the original discovery of the hemoglobin tetramer, which took decades to figure out, but with recent technological advancements, most crystals take only a few years to analyze. 

The above pictures show the beauty of these crystals… isn’t it surreal that such beauty can be found in proteins in our bodies? One of the most challenging parts of this process is figuring out the conditions in which the protein crystallizes. There are many things that can affect it, including temperature, pH levels, ionic strengths… and in addition the formation of the crystal can take up to months or even years in a given environment. 

Researchers working on Huntington’s diseases at Caltech found a new variable in this search for crystallization. They believe their protein will form crystals under zero-gravity situations and have partnered with SPACEX to send in samples of their protein into space this past weekend in hopes that they will be able to crystallize their protein for further analysis. 

While we wait for the results… enjoy the beauty of the crystals (from various sources) above!

Wind through your.. Armpipe?

We already talked about the artificial windpipe that was grown and used for implants. A lot of it was pioneered by Dr. Alexander Seifalian, and since the beginning even more advancements have been made. 

One interesting method that was adapted by a team in Belgium was to implant the trachea into the patient’s arm before the actual transplant. By doing this, the trachea was able to have adequate blood supply from creating its own vessels to grow to its full potential, and also gave it an opportunity for the patient not to be immersed in immunosuppressive drugs for an extended period of time. 

Of course there are other thoughts and objections, but it is always exciting to see such innovation!

(The pictures are from various trachea transplant/growing procedures. It is not from the specific study/researchers mentioned)

Dr. Alexander Seifalian does amazing work on regenerative medicine.. growing custom organs for those in need. He has successful grown tracheas, tear ducts, and other various blood vessels and has even started to grow organs for the face. 

As he continues his amazing work, I cannot wait to see what he grows in his lab next! 

His work at UCL has evolved quickly and has already begun human trials. He has already successfully grown a nose using a template and the necessary stem cells, and then implanted it on a patients arm so that skin can grow around it and look flawless. It was then implanted on the patients face.

Science is for everyone. To one day have a world where doctors come from all sorts of backgrounds and to have the general public more aware of the scientific world we need education like this. 

Misophonia The other side of ASMR
@maunzendemaus and heroinandotherdrugs both commented on the last post regarding their complete opposite reaction to certain sounds. This kind of negative experience whether it be hatred, disgust, or even anger is categorized as Misophonia. The sound can result from many different types of sounds, starting from small whispers to other repetitive louder sounds. 
The origins of Misophonia is still argued, and there are categorizations into both neurological and psychiatric disease. Other similar, but unique sound -related pain include hyperacusis, which is categorized to specific frequency or volumes. 
There are no current cures for misophonia but psychiatric therapy seems to have been effective for many patients along with physical sound barriers such as ear pieces. 

Misophonia The other side of ASMR

@maunzendemaus and heroinandotherdrugs both commented on the last post regarding their complete opposite reaction to certain sounds. This kind of negative experience whether it be hatred, disgust, or even anger is categorized as Misophonia. The sound can result from many different types of sounds, starting from small whispers to other repetitive louder sounds. 

The origins of Misophonia is still argued, and there are categorizations into both neurological and psychiatric disease. Other similar, but unique sound -related pain include hyperacusis, which is categorized to specific frequency or volumes. 

There are no current cures for misophonia but psychiatric therapy seems to have been effective for many patients along with physical sound barriers such as ear pieces. 

Follow Up on Awkward Yeti Cartoon

Despite the excellent job that the comic strip did on making the characters.. people seem to have a very diverse opinion on what the green organ is suppose to be. 

1. Gallbladder: Of course this is the correct answer, people seem to either be empathetic towards him because he is so sad.. or spiteful because it caused them gallstones in the past.

2. Bladder: Yes, the bladder can have stones, usually the kidney stones that travelled down there which is shown in the other cartoon. But yeah.. our bladder isn’t bright green. And gallbladder and bladder do completely different things. The word “bladder” refers to an inflated or hollow bubble/sac, so that’s why they both have the word in it. To be more accurate we can call one urinary bladder, and the other gallbladder.

3. Kidney. Surprisingly this is one that has been constantly showing up. I think this goes back to “kidney stones” and just somehow jumping to the conclusion that since there are stones involved, that it must be the kidney. But yeah.. once again, completely different. And more importantly.. it says gallbladder in the cartoon. 

I thought it was interesting to see how this comic had been read by many others. We should have anatomy as a requirement sometime in our high school education, not just as a chapter in a freshman bio class. 

The Quieter the Better (The Euphoria Whisperer)
So I’m not sure how many of you heard about autonomous sensory meridian response (ASMR), but it has been gaining more and more followers everyday. The sensation is described as a tingling feeling on the top of the head, a pleasure down your spine, or more simply put: a brain orgasm. It was first related to the sound of whisper. People whispering triggered this feeling in many people.. and then it took off. People started making youtube videos of them trying to trigger ASMR for other people. The people who were able to recreate the feeling for others more often started gaining a cult following, as master whisperers. Today there are videos with millions of views, with people asking for hundreds of requests. As the videos got more popular, the triggers evolved also. It started turning to role playing, to additions of certain type of sounds such as clicking noises, or waves. 
One main critique is the strange relationship it seems to have to porn. The whisperers are more often women, and all the people experiencing ASMR have their own tastes. They have different things that turn them on, and the idea of a woman whispering in their ears is strangely reminiscent of bed talk. 
It is still very new, so no real methods of measurements have been figured out. Dr. Stafford from University of Sheffield:

It might well be a real thing, but it’s inherently difficult to research. The inner experience is the point of a lot of psychological investigation, but when you’ve got something like this that you can’t see or feel, and it doesn’t happen for everyone, it falls into a blind spot. It’s like synaesthesia– for years it was a myth, then in the 1990s people came up with a reliable way of measuring it.

If you get the chance check out a video here by Gentle Whispering. Unfortunately, I don’t really know what the feeling is suppose to be like.. but do you feel anything?

The Quieter the Better (The Euphoria Whisperer)

So I’m not sure how many of you heard about autonomous sensory meridian response (ASMR), but it has been gaining more and more followers everyday. 

The sensation is described as a tingling feeling on the top of the head, a pleasure down your spine, or more simply put: a brain orgasm. It was first related to the sound of whisper. People whispering triggered this feeling in many people.. and then it took off. 

People started making youtube videos of them trying to trigger ASMR for other people. The people who were able to recreate the feeling for others more often started gaining a cult following, as master whisperers. Today there are videos with millions of views, with people asking for hundreds of requests. As the videos got more popular, the triggers evolved also. It started turning to role playing, to additions of certain type of sounds such as clicking noises, or waves. 

One main critique is the strange relationship it seems to have to porn. The whisperers are more often women, and all the people experiencing ASMR have their own tastes. They have different things that turn them on, and the idea of a woman whispering in their ears is strangely reminiscent of bed talk. 

It is still very new, so no real methods of measurements have been figured out. Dr. Stafford from University of Sheffield:

It might well be a real thing, but it’s inherently difficult to research. The inner experience is the point of a lot of psychological investigation, but when you’ve got something like this that you can’t see or feel, and it doesn’t happen for everyone, it falls into a blind spot. It’s like synaesthesia– for years it was a myth, then in the 1990s people came up with a reliable way of measuring it.

If you get the chance check out a video here by Gentle Whispering. Unfortunately, I don’t really know what the feeling is suppose to be like.. but do you feel anything?

Grades question here... In my freshman year, my first semester GPA was a 2.5 and my second one was a 2.7. My mom passed away the second semester & the first semester I had stress of homelessness and yadda yadda. I'm worried that medical schools will deny me because of this.. What do you think? — Asked by Anonymous

I’m just going to refer you to my past post! I am really not in the best position to answer these types of questions.. but nothing is impossible! Don’t let a few numbers get you down. If you want it badly enough, you’ll make up for it somehow :). 

That being said.. I am going to take some time in the next few weeks going through my past posts and re-organizing all the hashtags and stuff so that everyone can better utilize the search function (including me). If anyone has any tips, let me know!

I read that most of the surgeon are psychos ? What do you think about that? Is that a true fact? — Asked by Anonymous

In my personal experience… yes. But I think a lot of people who are in the medical field experience some sort of psychosis. It might be the long hours that they dedicate to their profession, or just the sheer amount of books they have had to read to be where they are…

Psychos might not be the best word to describe everyone, but definitely there are some scary surgeons out there. I saw one that had a bad temper who would throw surgical tools across the room when things went bad. There was also another surgeon who was really nice to his residents and fellows.. but then during a staff meeting brought up the performance of one of his residents and made him repeat a year..

The bottom line is, surgeons are very directly involved with a patient’s physical health because of the invasive nature of their work. So they have to be a little bit crazy, and more importantly be all-in for their patients to provide the best level of care.

That being said,  I hope I’m a psycho(tic) for my work one day.

You speak Korean?!! Omg I'm self-learning it! It's awesome great I mean you are one of the few people that I follow here that actually knows this language! Are you Korean or how came you know it? I'm sorry I'm just a bit excited ^^ Awesomeee — Asked by hoshilin

That’s awesome that you are learning Korean! The only reason I speak it well is because I am Korean; and since my parents are first generation immigrants, I speak Korean with them. 

If you ever have any questions, let me know through a pm and I can help you in any way possible! Maybe we can even become penpals in korean or something.

P.S. I really love your travel blog… Makes me want to get up and take off somewhere!