Help!

Wanted: Help from generation Xer’s, millennials, or just about anybody younger than I am which is pretty much everybody at this point.  I am a baby boomer in the woods when it comes to social media. I admit it. Guilty as charged. I can’t keep up with the youngsters anymore, even grandkids on bicycles!  Here’s the problem: I am so old fashioned and old school that I actually thought it would be a good idea to allow comments on my blog. The idea was to interact with the public and get some honest feedback.  Now I get comments from people selling something like viagra or other junk. It seems the bots have latched onto my website as a feeding station for selling other people’s stuff. I guess they take whatever they can get; pretty desperate if you ask me. So let me make this sweet and simple: If you send me a comment from another website that has anything to do with selling something, don’t bother because I will trash it no matter how generically “flattering” it may be. Simple as that. I’m just an old school retired scientist from the mid 20th century and I don’t need to be doing any of this. If you want to learn something, by all means, send me a message. If not, go away and harass somebody else.

Best regards,

Frank

Posted in Fallacies in science, Introduction, What are they? | Leave a comment

Growing Human Tissue on Demand is Now Possible.

Ohio State University researchers at the Wexner Medical Center in Columbus, Ohio have collaborated with 26 other researchers from such fields as engineering, science, and medicine to create a fingernail sized chip that can be placed on the skin to force it to generate other kinds of tissues (article by JoAnne Viviano from the Columbus Dispatch, August 8, 2017).

Wow! This is my last alma mater! Kudos to all involved in this amazing project!

Hmmm…at first glance, this research appears to fly in the face of what I have said in the past regarding cellular differentiation, i.e., that’s it’s irreversible because the composition of the DNA changes and information is permanently lost. However, when hypotheses are challenged by data, the appropriate thing to do is adjust them accordingly. I did this quite a while back. Let me explain:

When an egg is fertilized by a sperm it generates a new organism that is totipotent., i.e., a cell with all the genetic potential to produce every tissue in the body as well as extraembryonic membranes. As time passes and tissues begin to form, this totipotency is eroded for each individual cell produced. One of the main reasons for this is that DNA information gets lost in the process. However, the DNA that is lost is not the same DNA for every kind of cell: Cells destined to become skin cells lose DNA that is different from cells destined to become some other kind of tissue. As the cells continue to differentiate, they lose progressively more and more DNA until they become fully differentiated.  A textbook example of this is in the generation of white blood cells like lymphocytes. However, more subtle kinds of DNA loss may also be occurring in all kinds of cells during differentiation.

So therein, lies the kicker:  If cellular differentiation results in permanent losses of DNA, how can scientists take skin cells and turn them into other kinds of tissues? Well, there is another process that facilitates cellular differentiation that I will call DNA sequestration. This involves something called heterochromatin which I have talked about before.

Hiding in plain site…
How does a cell become a baby…
 Cellular differentation…
…endosymbiosis revisited
…pilot study

Instead of thinking of chromosomal DNA as one long continuous thread, visualize it in another way: Imagine that you placed an order to Amazon in order to build a certain kind of cell. When you get the box at your door and take it inside, you open it up and find a set of instructions you will need to build your cell. After reading the instructions carefully, you begin to follow them to a tee. There are all kinds of boxes inside the larger box, so you begin to take them and stack them neatly on the floor. The manufacturers of the “cell” have found it easier to just package everything together rather than send you only the stuff you need to make your favorite cell, so some of the boxes aren’t really needed for what you want to do. You set them aside and continue opening up the boxes you actually need. When these boxes are opened up, you find (guess what?), more boxes! Of course, some of these boxes aren’t needed either so you set them aside and go about your business. Finally you get to the motherlode and begin assembling your cell. This requires removing packing material and putting pieces together with glue, nuts and bolts. Some of the pieces have to be trimmed from the packaging material. Finally, you complete your masterpiece!

Oops! What happened? You read the wrong instructions! You built the wrong “blankity blank” cell! You go outside to vent your anger and frustration lest you kick a box inadvertently down the hallway. Don’t smoke a cigarette, they’re not good for you. Finally, you recuperate in your own healthy way and go back inside to survey the damage. Hmmm.. the instructions you followed were actually for a completely different kind of cell. Thanks, Amazon!

So what to do? Suddenly, an idea sparks within your brain. The boxes you really needed are still unopened. Maybe there is a way to salvage your project after all! You go online, tell Amazon what you think of their instructions, they apologize and send you a link to the correct instructions which you promptly print out. You begin by opening up other boxes which are applicable to the cell type you wanted in the first place. Soon, you have your cell in place and prepare to “fire up” the engine. You heard me right: Your cell is a finely tuned engine that actually generates a product you can sell. You plug her into the wall and voilà: She starts to smoke, groan, and heat up. You quickly unplug the thing before you start a fire. What happened? Well, you forgot about the other engine you created to make the wrong cell. It’s screwing everything up because they are both on the same circuit board and can interact with each other! So you disassemble the first cell as best you can and stuff it back into its boxes so it won’t interfere with the second one. It’s not perfect, but at least it works now.

So what happens in a skin cell when it is forced to convert into another kind of cell? A chimera or hybrid cell is created with two active compartments. If one of these compartments is not deactivated, the cell will go nuts trying to figure out which tissue to become. It will probably randomly deactivate one or the other compartments as it reproduces itself, generating a population of both kinds of cells. This is why cloning animals from stem cells has been so difficult to achieve. One possible way to eliminate the offending cell would be to use a selection process that either kills it off or prevents it from reproducing.

That’s my best guess for now. This is a very exciting, dynamic field of study. If you want to do “dry” research on this, by all means go for it and let me know what you learn.

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Would you like to learn more?

Howdy, folks!

I have been receiving a number of comments from people who say they are struggling with the blog concepts. As a teacher, I find this a little frustrating because I have no idea what concepts are causing issues without more information. I would like to engage in a more interactive discussion, much like a student does on those rare occasions when they actually visit the professor during office hours and ask him/her to please explain something they are not getting in class. I have found in the past that addressing one person’s questions can satisfy the needs of many other people as well. If you are a bit shy, that’s all right too. Just send me an e mail at fabernathy@sbcglobal.net. If you don’t want me posting your question and my answer to the blog, please say so and I will respect your wishes.

Let’s do this!

Posted in cancer, cell cycle, cellular differentiation, endosymbionts, evolution, Fallacies in science, mitosis, Stem Cells, virus, What are they? | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Salk Scientists See 3D Structure of DNA

When I was a very young man (pre-college I believe) I wrote a letter to Jonas Salk about a way to combat cancer using immunotherapy. He actually wrote me back and asked if I was working in the field! Amazing, huh? Back then, people could write snail mail letters to famous people and actually get personal responses from them! I even heard that Elvis did the same thing, but I never wrote Elvis. I have tried to find Dr. Salk’s letter, but apparently it has been lost or misplaced. So in this day and age, I guess that means it never happened. Anyway, I just found this video that the Salk Institute put out in July about chromatin, i.e, DNA all wrapped up in a blanket of protein and a few other odds and ends. You absolutely have to watch it because your level of understanding about this complex subject will immediately jump to absolutely amazing…………, uh, astounding levels of………….nothing.

I don’t fault Dr. Salk for this. He’s been dead since 1995. His fine institution has engaged in the latest and greatest 3D microscopic technology to show that when spaghetti is all wrapped up in itself, it looks, well, complicated. So stay away, ye amateurs! Chromatin is not for the faint of heart! If ye not believe me, watch the video for thyself! And remember, millions of dollars were probably spent getting this valuable information to you. So enjoy it and revel in your continued ignorance!

 

Posted in cancer, cell cycle, cellular differentiation, endosymbionts, evolution, Fallacies in science, mitosis, Stem Cells, virus, What are they? | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Most Scientific Studies Today Are ‘Fake” Science’

Sigh! Yet again, another sad commentary on the current state of peer-reviewed science. I for one, have done everything but beg investigators to replicate my work. If there are any takers, they haven’t told me about it! I even presented my results at a scientific meeting in Washington, D.C. (Olympus Bioscapes, 2011). I received an honorable mention and they gave me back a nice framed reproduction of one of my photographs. In fairness, the competition was about how “pretty” your photomicrographs were so they could plug their microscopic equipment. In that regard, I was lucky I got an honorable mention because many of the photomicrographs were more like works of art rather than simple photography. Here is a photo of the framed picture:

Olympus Bioscape

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in cancer, cell cycle, cellular differentiation, endosymbionts, evolution, Fallacies in science, mitosis, Stem Cells, virus, What are they? | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Trailer Park Guy Upturns 150 Years of Biology

I love this kind of stuff.

How a Guy From a Montana Trailer Park Upturned 150 Years of Biology

 

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Circular DNA throws biologists for a loop

Well, the biological community is finally starting to wake up to the fact that circular DNA may have some valid reason for more rigorous study because it comes in all different sizes, packed with (guess what?) chromosomal genes! These circles appear abundant in cancer cells, but apparently, they are having a hard time finding them in normal cells. They call them “circulomes”. Fine by me. It only took them 20+ years to catch up to what I have been saying all along.  Better late than never, I guess. Here is a summary of the work:

Summary

Are geneticists ready for the circulome? At a recent Biology of Genomes meeting, a biologist showed off a new method to extensively survey human cells for mysterious, sometimes gene-filled loops known as extrachromosomal circular DNA (eccDNA). These genetic rings, which come in varying sizes, are gaining new respect as researchers find more evidence that eccCDNA plays roles in health and disease, particularly in cancer. Recent work shows the biggest ones are abundant in many cancer cells but not healthy cells and that these circles may aid the cancer’s evolution and recurrence. Another new paper even suggests the DNA loops are released to influence distant cells.

I too, found circles in mouse L-1210 cancer cells. However, I had to dislodge them from the chromosomes before I could see them and I very much doubt that the researchers recovered the level and size rang of circles that I did. My circles can do “tricks”. They can fuse together. They can also form intricate geometric patterns.  I also discuss how apoptosis prevents such kinds of DNA from entering adjacent healthy cells, thereby, preventing corruption of the genetic machinery which could lead to cancer (see last sentence in the above summary).

So the obvious question to answer here is why these researchers cannot find circles in normal cells? Perhaps they need to ask somebody who could show them how.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in cancer, cell cycle, cellular differentiation, endosymbionts, evolution, Fallacies in science, mitosis, Stem Cells, virus, What are they? | Leave a comment