This Week is Science!

By: Patricia Marie Cipriano


After studying genetic data from 589,306 adults, researchers found 13 lucky individuals who carried genetic mutations linked with severe Mendelian childhood diseases, but did not exhibit any symptoms related to it. Research leader, Stephen Friend of the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York, hypothesized that these genetic heroes have other components in their genes that help them make up or shield themselves against the effects of the mutations. Proof of this theory may help doctors and researchers in finding a cure for the not so lucky individuals.

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Source: ScienceNews


Scientist Eicke Latz and colleagues discover a certain sugar in air fresheners that helps in the natural cholesterol-removal process and induces immune cells to calm inflammation rather than aggravating it. Cyclodextrin, also known as 2-hydroxypropyl-beta-cyclodextrin, was tested on mice that were under a high fat diet. The sugar shunts cholesterol through the liver, so large cholesterol accumulation may lead to fat build up in liver, damaging the organ. Other side effects include hearing damage in mice and cats. Further research in humans is being done to see if this can be applied to us.

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Source: ScienceNews


An international research team reports that typhoid toxin, a protein created by the typhoid fever-causing bacterium Salmonella enterica Typhi, can help in the prolongation of survival and reduction of gut inflammation in mice infected with S. enterica. The toxin “modulates the host immune response,” according to Teresa Frisan, a cellular microbiologist. Researchers say that the results suggest that the “typhoid toxin promotes long-term, symptom-free infections.”

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Source: ScienceNews


What’s considered a waste for humans is known to some organisms as food. PET or polyethylene terephthalate is a strong and stiff plastic that is a component in polyester clothing and disposable bottles. Japanese researchers discovered that Ideonella sakaiensis releases a protein that decomposes the plastic into molecules that it can consume. This breakthrough may help us in plastic waste cleanup.

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Source: ScienceNews


Featured Element: Carbon!

Chemistry of Carbon
By: David Nathaniel N. Niro


If you’re all unique, then what makes you special? You should, therefore, be common in your own special way.

The element to be introduced this time is one of the most common, abundant and naturally occurring elements on Earth. After H, He, and O, this element is the fourth most abundant in the universe and fifteenth among those on Earth’s crust. Such abundance, in addition to its ability to form polymers on temperatures common to Earth, paves way to the diversity of organic compounds. Thus, this element was called “the common element of all known life.”

Carbon, (Latin: carbo or coal), the sixth element on the periodic table, is nonmetallic and tetravalent, which means that four electrons could form covalent bonds with it. It naturally occurs in three isotopes, with 12C and 13C being stable and 14C being radioactive. It is one of the oldest discovered elements, known since antiquity.

As stated earlier, C is so diverse since it can be configured in more than a million ways with each configuration leading to a different compound. For instance, Carbon can exist in more than one form in the same physical state (allotropy), like graphite, diamond, buckminsterfullene, and graphene sheets, which are resulted from the different bonding of C atoms. This entails widely varied physical properties.

Moreover, carbon is the basis of Organic Chemistry and organic compounds, which are compounds whose molecules contain C. Common examples would be hydrocarbons, which are compounds whose composition includes only Hydrogen and Carbon; the simples of which is methane. Different number of C atoms and different bonding structure would result to an entirely different, yet connected, compounds.

From the soft Graphite to the hardest mineral Diamond, such C-based allotropes vary in their physical properties depending merely on how its atoms are bonded. This is the reason as to why the chemical basis of all living organisms is linked to how carbon bonds with other atoms, or how its structure is configured.

Carbon is very common, abundant, and naturally-occurring on Earth, but this does not keep it from able to transform into unique, utterly relevant versions of itself.