Kamis, 08 September 2011

The Essentials of O Blood Type

Blood can be grouped using various systems. Two of the most well known systems are the Rh system and the ABO system. The ABO blood types were found in the beginning of the 20th century by Karl Landsteiner. He learnt that blood transfusions could sometimes result in the death of the recipient and then discovered the cause. He discovered that certain blood types had antigens and antibodies. For example: A type contains antigen A and antibody anti-B, B type has antigen B and antibody anti-A, AB type has both antigens A and B but no antibody, whereas O blood type contains no antigen but has both antibodies anti-A and anti-B. Antigens coat the surface of red blood cells and quite susceptible to rejection from the antibody. If a donor antigen was rejected by the recipient antibody, it would cause agglutination or destruction of the donor red blood cells in the body of the recipient.

A few O blood type facts are that O does not have ABO antigens therefore will not be rejected by other blood types and that it has all ABO antibodies therefore will always reject blood types aside from O. That is why people with type O blood are called “universal donors”. More fun facts of the O blood type are that mosquitoes in general prefer the O type to others (higher risk of contracting malaria) and that type O individuals are more susceptible to cholera and peptic ulcers. By natural selection, O blood type is probably the most common throughout the whole world.

The less scientific facts of the O blood type concern with personalities of type O individuals. Some consider type O people as energetic and social, as well as flexible in the terms of their viewpoint. Others think that type O people are quitters and often give up midway. Although most people agree that they are honest and respectful toward others and have very strong confidence.

As the most well known blood group classification system, the ABO system gives rise to a kind of fad diet called “The Blood Group Diet”. The base of this diet is the existence of antigens that form different blood types. These antigens allegedly react either positively or negatively toward certain kind of food. Based on this diet, type O people are basically carnivores, A are vegetarians, B are omnivores and AB are mixed diet eaters. For type O individuals, practicing this diet might have some pros and cons. The pros: they can eat meat and fish freely as the diet calls for high protein intake, vegetable haters don’t have to eat vegetable too much. The cons: facts stated that type O individuals are already susceptible to various diseases, so practicing this diet will only add a notch in the disease column because it increases the risk of developing heart disease.

Acne, What You Need To Know

Acne, a non-life-threatening but equally devastating skin disorder, is the factor that can cause a terrible case of low self-esteem in teenagers and young adults. If left untreated or treated incorrectly as to leave scars, it can also lead to depression.

Acne is a type of skin inflammation that is triggered by the plugging of the sebaceous gland. Sebaceous glands produce natural oil to protect our skin from drying. Some people might have slightly more active sebaceous glands than others.

Other factors that can trigger the growth of acne are hormones, diet, weather and unhygienic environment. Some bad habit can cause acne, including not cleansing the skin from makeup and using dirty makeup brushes. The state of a person’s peace of mind might also contribute the growth of acne. Psychological stress, as we all know, causes hormonal imbalance which is partial to androgenic hormones. These hormones increase the activity of the sebaceous glands and therefore, increase oil production. Aside from the above mentioned factors, we also cannot ignore the significance of genetics in the problem of acne.

The location of acne is not always on the face, but also on the chest, the back, the neck, and even the scalp. These areas have an abundance of sebaceous glands and have high oil production. Higher number of sebaceous glands in an area increases the risk of developing acne.

To treat acne, we need to focus on reducing oil production and preventing bacterial infection. One advice that has been the golden rule of handling acne is to never touch the acne with unwashed hands. Better yet, do not touch, period! Forget picking at it. Do not look at the mirror unless you need to apply acne medicine to prevent the urge to pick at the acne. The most important thing to do is to keep the face clean by washing it twice daily, using the correct cleanser (preferably containing salicylic acid). Avoiding excessive use of makeup and stress can reduce the risk of acne significantly, as well as avoiding acne-inducing food.

Kamis, 21 Juli 2011

Dare to Take a Chance in GRE?

Studying abroad had always been a dream of mine since I was a little child. I thought it would be a great experience to live in an entirely different environment with different culture. Not to mention, it would also be really cool to show off to friends and family. To accomplish that, I decided to take a GRE test required for application to this one University in Germany. I have already done my IELTS with adequate result. I would need GRE with the subject of Biochemistry, Cell and Molecular Biology.

So I checked the GRE website and found out that the test would have about one hundred and seventy five MCQs, divided into three sections. There would be problem-solving questions too. And each section would have a question in methodology, possibly statistics. Darn it! I hate statistics.

As I mentioned before, the GRE test is divided into three sections. The first one, BIOCHEMISTRY will take about 36% from the whole test.
1. Chemical and Physical Foundations
* Thermodynamics and kinetics
* Redox states
* Water, pH, acid-base reactions and buffers
* Solutions and equilibria
* Solute-solvent interactions
* Chemical interactions and bonding
* Chemical reaction mechanisms
2. Structural Biology: Structure, Assembly, Organization and Dynamics
* Small molecules
* Macromolecules (e.g., nucleic acids, polysaccharides, proteins and complex lipids)
* Supramolecular complexes (e.g., membranes, ribosomes and multienzyme complexes)
3. Catalysis and Binding
* Enzyme reaction mechanisms and kinetics
* Ligand-protein interaction (e.g., hormone receptors, substrates and effectors, transport proteins and antigen-antibody interactions)
4. Major Metabolic Pathways
* Carbon, nitrogen and sulfur assimilation
* Anabolism
* Catabolism
* Synthesis and degradation of macromolecules
5. Bioenergetics (including respiration and photosynthesis)
* Energy transformations at the substrate level
* Electron transport
* Proton and chemical gradients
* Energy coupling (e.g., phosphorylation and transport)
6. Regulation and Integration of Metabolism
* Covalent modification of enzymes
* Allosteric regulation
* Compartmentalization
* Hormones
7. Methods
* Biophysical approaches (e.g., spectroscopy, x-ray, crystallography, mass spectroscopy)
* Isotopes
* Separation techniques (e.g., centrifugation, chromatography and electrophoresis)
* Immunotechniques

The second section is CELL BIOLOGY (28%). The questions would no doubt be about cellular biology and the technology surrounding the imaging of it.
1. Cellular Compartments of Prokaryotes and Eukaryotes: Organization, Dynamics and Functions
* Cellular membrane systems (e.g., structure and transport across membrane)
* Nucleus (e.g., envelope and matrix)
* Mitochondria and chloroplasts (e.g., biogenesis and evolution)
2. Cell Surface and Communication
* Extracellular matrix (including cell walls)
* Cell adhesion and junctions
* Signal transduction
* Receptor function
* Excitable membrane systems
3. Cytoskeleton, Motility and Shape
* Regulation of assembly and disassembly of filament systems
* Motor function, regulation and diversity
4. Protein, Processing, Targeting and Turnover
* Translocation across membranes
* Posttranslational modification
* Intracellular trafficking
* Secretion and endocytosis
* Protein turnover (e.g., proteosomes, lysosomes, damaged protein response)
5. Cell Division, Differentiation and Development
* Cell cycle, mitosis and cytokinesis
* Meiosis and gametogenesis
* Fertilization and early embryonic development (including positional information, homeotic genes, tissue-specific expression, nuclear and cytoplasmic interactions, growth factors and induction, environment, stem cells and polarity)

The third section is MOLECULAR BIOLOGY AND GENETICS (36%)
1. Genetic Foundations
* Mendelian and non-Mendelian inheritance
* Transformation, transduction and conjugation
* Recombination and complementation
* Mutational analysis
* Genetic mapping and linkage analysis
2. Chromatin and Chromosomes
* Karyotypes
* Translocations, inversions, deletions and duplications
* Aneuploidy and polyploidy
* Structure
* Epigenetics
3. Genomics
* Genome structure
* Repeated DNA and gene families
* Gene identification
* Transposable elements
* Bioinformatics
* Proteomics
* Molecular evolution
4. Genome Maintenance
* DNA replication
* DNA damage and repair
* DNA modification
* DNA recombination and gene conversion
5. Gene Expression
* The genetic code
* Transcription/transcriptional profiling
* RNA processing
* Translation
6. Gene Regulation
* Positive and negative control of the operon
* Promoter recognition by RNA polymerases
* Attenuation and antitermination
* Cis-acting regulatory elements
* Trans-acting regulatory factors
* Gene rearrangements and amplifications
* Small non-coding RNA (e.g., siRNA, microRNA)
7. Viruses
* Genome replication and regulation
* Virus-host interactions
8. Methods
* Restriction maps and PCR
* Nucleic acid blotting and hybridization
* DNA cloning in prokaryotes and eukaryotes
* Sequencing and analysis
* Protein-nucleic acid interaction
* Transgenic organisms
* Microarrays

All these informations, I got from http://www.ets.org/gre/subject/about/content/biochemistry.

I would have to prepare the materials for months before I'm ready to take the exam. So If I wanted to take it in February, I would have to start studying ... now?

Sabtu, 06 Maret 2010

Anti Aging: Home Remedies for Wrinkles

Aging affects everyone. But for women in particular, the most bothersome is none other than wrinkles, the aging sign of the skin. Most women want to achieve and maintain youthful skin, which is wrinkle-free and supple, but very few know how to do it.

There are a lot of different skin care products designed for anti aging purposes, so it might be hard to choose one that will work the best for your skin. And chance is the one that does work a miracle costs an arm and a leg. Fortunately, there are a few budget-friendly alternatives we can try.

The first one is castor oil. No need to pay hundreds for a bottle. Women of the olden days have used this item to smooth wrinkles around their eyes. As it is definitely natural oil, so it should be safe. You only need to massage castor oil around the eye area before bedtime to get fresh looking skin when you wake up in the morning.

Another home remedy for wrinkles is orange juice, used topically. Soak cotton pads in orange juice, place them on the eyes, then sit back and relax for around ten minutes. The chemical compounds within orange juice will help toning and tightening the skin, and thus reduce wrinkles and fine lines. Or you can also make facial mask by beaten egg white, two tablespoons of orange juice, one-half teaspoon of lemon juice, and a few drops of sweet almond oil. Apply the mask to your skin and let dry for thirty minutes, then rinse.

Of course, using only topical means is not effective in fighting wrinkles. It needs to be helped with diet. Your daily meals have to be balanced, full of antioxidants and vitamins (especially vitamin A through E) as buffer against free radicals and the loss of elasticity. Also, it won't hurt to add Omega-3 oils in the list, because those are important elements in maintaining smooth skin and keep skin elasticity and flexibility. Keep a healthy lifestyle and you might have a big chance to fight wrinkles off your face.

Rabu, 17 Februari 2010

Anti Aging: Slow the Aging Process

Since the dawn of time, we are taught to believe that aging is inevitable and there is nothing we can do about it. Is this the inarguable truth? Well, yes and no. It is true that no one can alter the flow of time. No one can turn back the clock and make old people young again. Short of plastic surgery. And even that only alters the outside appearance, not the actual age. But we can somehow slow it down a little.

Take Nicole Kidman, for example. Does she look 40? Not to me, she doesn't. To me, she looks ten years younger than her actual age. Why? Is it the slimness of her figure? Or maybe, the lack of wrinkles? She definitely looks healthy for a skinny girl, which means we have to dump the issue of anorexia. No anorexic can look that bright.

As mentioned from previous posts, the aging process is affected by both internal factors and external factors. Some of those factors can be manipulated to our advantage. The way to achieve this is rather simple. Be healthy, inside out. That's it. It means regular exercise, healthy diet, no stress, no toxin (alcohol and nicotine included), and plenty of relaxation. Think positive, think young. Everyone can do this.

Most people will argue. What about environmental pollution? It is a difficult question to answer. We don't have that much power to alter the condition, aside from doing what we all can. The three Rs from the three arrows symbol. You know, reduce-reuse-recycle. If we all do these, maybe we can bang the government to pay more attention.

Kamis, 05 November 2009

Aging: Assessment of Aging Process

After knowing what aging is and how aging progresses, we'll want to know in what aging stage we're in. We start by assessing the parameters of aging, also called the biomarkers of aging. The first step is listing health status and risk factors, such as family history of disease, nutrition status, our exercising habit, environmental risk factors (e.g.: pollution), and our own history of medicine taking. Additional factor that effects aging is psychiatric condition, how we handle stress.

The second step is physical examination, including blood pressure, heart rate, respiration, and temperature. Systolic blood pressure need to be observed closely for people over 45 years of age. On the other hand, diastolic blood pressure is the more important point for people below 45 years of age. One simple examination that we can do at home is the skin elasticity examination. We only need to look in the mirror and see if we can find wrinkles. Another one is to lightly pinch your skin and see if it returns back to its smooth state in an instant or not.

Some examinations need to be done in a clinic or a hospital, including the functional capacity examination and the biochemistry examination. Functional capacity is an important indicator of aging as it connects directly to daily activity. These include the lung and heart capacity, neurological capacity, kidney function, and bone density. Biochemistry examination needs to be done in a laboratory, including the assessment of neurotransmitters, hormones, tumor markers, genetic markers, toxins, and mineral serum level.

These biomarkers of aging closely relate to the quality of life. Therefore, assessment for these signs of aging should be done before the symptoms start to disturb your daily life activity.

Rabu, 21 Oktober 2009

Aging: Stages of the Aging Process

The aging process is commonly divided into three stages. They are the subclinical stage, the transitional stage, and the clinical stage.

In the subclinical stage, hormone production level decreases. Testosterone, growth hormone, and estrogen are only a few of them. Free radicals may start to disrupt our cell's DNA. These processes however are not visible from the outside. There are no symptom or complaint of aging here. This stage happens around the age of 25 to 35, still can be considered young.

The next stage, called the transitional stage, happens around the age of 35 to 45. Hormone level drops to around 25 %. Muscle mass also starts to decrease, while body fat composition increases. People at this stage may complain about losing energy, losing the "spark". The changes in hormone level, muscle mass, and body fat might cause insulin resistance, higher risk of coronary heart disease, and higher risk of obesity. Other symptoms may appear, such as vision and hearing deterioration, lower melanocytes activity, lower skin elasticity, and lower libido, the bane of human kind. Around this period, people may look less fresh and less young.

The last is the clinical stage that happens over the age of 45. The level of hormone production continues to drop. It may start to effect the gastrointestinal tact and disrupt nutrition absorption, including vitamins and minerals absorption. Besides muscle mass, bone density also starts to decrease. Lack of energy significantly disturbs daily activity. Sexual dysfunction is more prominent. All in all, it's an impending disaster waiting to explode.