Dec 7, 2022 12:00:00 PM       by Kin Leung

The Ongoing Battle Against HIV and AIDS

December is a month of holidays and celebration, but it is also a time to raise awareness for a global epidemic that has lasted over four decades. During World HIV/AIDS Awareness Month, health organizations, including the United States Department of Veteran Affairs, serve to remind everyone about the importance of getting tested, to remember those who succumbed to the disease, and to improve access to advanced therapies.

Since its first identification and description in 1981, medical advances have offered effective therapies to keep the virus at bay, and in some cases even completely cure a patient of the human immunodeficiency virus, or HIV, and to prevent it from becoming the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome, or AIDS, which is often catastrophic to the patient. Unfortunately, as of 2021 per the World Health Organization (WHO), there are still over 38 million people living with HIV, with approximately 1.5 million new infections and 650,000 HIV-related deaths. Much of this has to do with lack of education or proper infrastructure and often obstacles to accessibility for treatment and prevention. I hope to explore HIV with you during this month of awareness so we can do our part to mitigate this persistent epidemic.

Nov 16, 2022 12:00:00 PM       by Kin Leung

Trim and Proper: A Nifty Method for Targeted Protein Degradation

A common experimental strategy in studying the effects of a specific protein in cells or organisms is to remove it. One can determine the physiological outcomes in the absence of that protein to ascertain its relative importance in maintaining normal functions, or in some cases, to note that it is dispensable or redundant and might have a backup within the cell to take up the slack. Some targeted techniques include RNA interference (RNAi) and CRISPR-based gene editing, and in many cases, it is possible to generate knockout cell lines or even organisms, like mice, that cannot express a specific protein. But when those strategies are not feasible for the experiment at hand, what is one to do?

Apr 22, 2022 12:00:00 PM       by Kin Leung

More Than a Feeling: The Science and Applications of Sensory Receptors

The 2021 Nobel Prize in Physiology of Medicine was awarded jointly to David Julius, of the University of California at San Francisco, and Ardem Patapoutian, a neuroscience researcher at the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, California. Working independently, Julius and Patapoutian discovered the key receptors (TRPV1, TRPM8, Piezo1, and Piezo2) in our bodies that sense heat, cold, and touch. Their work not only helps us to understand how we perceive and adapt to the surrounding world, but also paves the way for drug discoveries that target a wide range of diseases, including chronic pain, respiratory disease, and cancer.


Apr 8, 2022 12:00:00 PM       by Allen Zheng

The Cytoskeleton: Its Functional Importance in Cancer Research

Cancer remains one of the most prevalent and deadly diseases affecting humanity. According to the Centers For Disease Control, cancer was the second leading cause of death in 2020 for Americans behind heart disease. The American Cancer Society projects at least 600,000 deaths due to cancer each year, despite the fact that mortality continues to decrease each year. The majority of these deaths are from advanced cancer, which are cancers that do not respond well to treatment and therefore cannot be cured. It is when the advanced cancer progresses to a point where it can escape the primary tumor site, a process known as metastasis, that the prognosis becomes grim.

Dec 17, 2021 12:00:00 PM       by Cheryl Cheah

Cyclins and The Cell Cycle

The cell cycle is a series of phases that takes place in a cell as it grows and divides. The cell spends most of its time in interphase. During this interphase the cell grows, replicates its chromosomes, and prepares for cell division. Once the cell leaves interphase, it will undergo the process of mitoses and start divining in order to create daughter cells. These new daughter cells will then enter their own interphase and begin a new round of the cell cycle. The cell cycle and its cues are of the utmost importance, because without the cues the cells can either multiply continuously, forming masses, or will not multiply. These cues are cyclins which controls the cell cycle progression.

Dec 3, 2021 1:00:00 PM       by Fanyun Fang

The Role of Tumor Microenvironments in Cancer Development & Treatment

The tumor is an abnormal tissue mass formed when cells divide and grow excessively within the body. Tumors can be benign (not cancerous) or malignant (cancerous). Benign tumors may become larger but do not spread to nearby tissue or other parts of the body. Malignant tumors, on the other hand, can spread nearby to tissue and can also be transmitted to other parts of the body through the blood and or lymphatic system.1 But we are no strangers to tumors and how the develop.

On the other hand, many of us aren’t as familiar with a tumor’s environment. Tumor progression is profoundly affected by the subtle interaction of tumor cells with immune and non-immune cells within their environment. In particular, the interactions with the immune cell component of a tumor are fundamental in determining whether primary tumors are eradicated, metastasized, or established by dormant micro metastases.3 The environment that a tumor grows in is also much more complex than one would think because of its highly variable cell composition, large number of proteins, and structures involved in tumor formation.

This being said, tumor microenvironment includes:
• Heterogeneous populations of cancer cells
• A variety of resident and osmotic host cells
• Secretion factors
• Extracellular matrix proteins