Posted by: menotmd | June 9, 2010

Science Bootcamp #sciboot10!!!

Understanding Human Genetics…

Did you know that librarians organize mini conferences to help folks understand a particular science? Ummm-hmmm, this is where I am right now (i’d be tweeting, but seems like twitter done gotten a mutation in its code and acting funny) — I am at UMASS Lowell, listening to Dr. John Landers giving a brief overview (albeit comprehensive – don’t care what you say, the two aren’t mutually exclusive) of human genetics.

So we know that DNA = deoxygenated ribonucleic acid, that makes up the protein. Think: instruction manual to make house, car or crystal radio. You get bad instructions, you might not get what you wanted to build and sometimes that happens. This is known as a mutation. We see it everyday or hear about it everyday. Sickle cell anemia is the prototypical example of a mutation affecting a person. We need red blood cells to deliver oxygen to our body and in sickle cell anemia, red blood cells get about half way before saying, “MAN! It’s so hard to hang out here in this plasma. We aren’t getting along and I’d rather just be isolated and hang out with myself.” The red blood cell decides to sickle. Here’s what’s happening: so the instruction (DNA) to build a red blood cell (Protein) is messed up, and then it tells your cell factory to put the wrong part (valine) instead of the right part (glutamic acid – this kind of change is known as a point mutation), because of this mutation, your red blood cells is not attracted to the plasma and wants to get as far away as possible from the plasma, so it’ll fold into itself and cause blockage at your small arteries (capillaries) in your hand, sometimes it’ll just burst and die and resulting in no oxygen being deliver.

Wanna know more about Sickle Cell Anemia, and DNA? Peep out these videos:

This one is on protein synthesis.

When you are done watching these videos, you’ll understand Sickle Cell Anemia (hopefully – if not, then tell me or ask me questions, just let me know – please?).


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