Archive: June 2021

Social Initiatives

Media, especially in the form of film and television, is at the forefront of the entertainment industry. Over the past century, it has rapidly evolved into a widespread medium for storytelling, art, knowledge, and enjoyment. We engage in these forms of media because they share something special—whether opening our eyes to a life vastly different than ours, enforcing a lesson previously beyond our perception, or unearthing our roots as individuals, society, and humanity as a whole. Yet too often, the media fails to accurately represent the people they portray.

The pandemic has presented new forms and locations of work. Prior to the strike of COVID-19, most working and learning was done in-person, and accompanied by daily commutes and frequent social interaction. During lockdowns, this in-person reality turned virtual. Working from home has posed both pros, such as greater schedule flexibility, and cons, including an increase in social isolation. In the coming months, many Canadians will be required to re-adjust to an in-person work environment, and only time will tell how the pandemic has affected work habits across the nation.

Media can often be a source of polarized and biased information, which can lead to us having a single perspective on a topic. In her TedTalk, novelist Chimamanda Adichie discusses her experiences with stories told from single perspectives and how that affected her point of view since her childhood. Our world can be truly limiting in how we understand our lives, so it’s important to recognize biases and strive to have a holistic understanding of subjects through using strategies including understanding a source’s purpose. We must become more aware of the variety of views that exist to be able to tackle issues in an informed manner.

This year has been filled with insurmountable hurdles leading all the way up to this point, and this goes double for the class of 2021.

 

Scientific News

Pharmacogenomics is a relatively new area of research that looks at how a person’s genetic makeup influences how they react to medications. As part of the precision medicine field, which seeks to treat each patient individually, pharmacogenomics combines pharmacology (the science of how drugs work) with genomics (the science of the human genome and its function) to develop effective, safe drugs and doses that will be tailored to a particular person’s genes. Many different factors influence how a person will react to a medication, including a person’s genetic makeup and their lifestyle factors. Overall, the future of pharmacogenomics looks bright, as it could yield many potential benefits.

Sodium can be found in a variety of things we, as humans, consume; primarily, however, the sodium in our bodies comes from salt, or sodium chloride. The levels of this element in our system affects quite a few of our bodily functions, as with either too little or too much sodium,  we become at risk of certain diseases. The role of sodium within the immune system has been an emerging research topic, as multiple relatively large-scale studies have begun to come to conclusions on how having an excess of sodium could potentially suppress our immune cells and system.

What is Procrastination? According to Ness Labs, In Latin, procrastination comes from “pro”, which means “forward”, and “crastinatus”, which means “till the next day”. Some researchers define procrastination as a form of self-regulation failure characterized by the illogical postponing of tasks despite possibly negative consequences. The COVID-19 pandemic has forced most of us to learn or work from home, and some of our typical routines became muddled.

Diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa at 18 years old that resulted in complete blindness, a 58-year old man underwent optogenetic therapy to restore his vision. The process involved scientists inserting the genes of a light-sensitive protein into a modified virus and injecting it into one of the patient’s eyes. This gene code will prompt neurons to respond to light and send visual information to the brain. After several months of proteins building up in the eye, the patient reported seeing the stripes of  a crosswalk. Although his vision isn’t perfect, this innovation is a major breakthrough in gene therapy and what it can accomplish.

You have probably already heard about Parkinson’s disease, a condition that affects the central nervous system of the body. Typically, it involves gradual and progressive muscle rigidity, a mask-like facial expression, shuffling walk, tremors, and clumsiness. Although this disease is incurable, music therapy, consisting in some way of movement, creativity, and rhythm, has recently shown promising benefits to patients. In fact, research has shown that music therapy improved the production of dopamine, the neurotransmitter whose quantity decreases during the progression of the disease, as well as the production of serotonin.

A change or damage in genes causes cancers. These changes are called mutations, which stop genes from functioning normally. One of the most commonly mutated genes that is found in people with cancer is called the p53 gene (also known as TP53). The p53 gene belongs to the tumour suppressor gene family. This gene produces a protein located in the nucleus of cells and is essential in directing cell division and death.

Hydraulic fracturing is one of the most widely used technological phenomena to recover natural gas and oil found in non-porous rock formations. The process involves the creation of a hydraulic well by drilling into the ground, surface casing to protect surrounding natural infrastructure, perforating the wellbore, and finally, hydraulic fracturing. For more than six decades, fracking technology and practices have had staggering effects on the global ecosystem, resulting in a devastating impact on wildlife habitats. Now, an important question must be addressed: is hydraulic fracturing going to destroy important ecosystems?

The use of lasers is a groundbreaking invention using fundamental physics concepts. Due to their versatility, lasers are used in medicine, metal-cutting machines, CD players, etc. According to the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, LASER is an acronym that stands for Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation. Simply, a laser is a device that emits a beam of light. They can be made from visible light, X-rays, ultraviolet rays or infrared light.

High-intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU) is a newly developed treatment for cancer. It is a non-invasive therapy that uses focused ultrasound waves to albate or heat cells or tissues. The intense heat causes coagulation of tissues and heat shock to cells, which ultimately destroys them. This treatment is suitable for cancers that are benign and other specific types of cancer such as prostate cancer and liver cancer. It can also be used for cosmetic purposes on the face. Many of the functions of HIFU are still being explored, but the results look promising.

Pain in the jaw or teeth can often be one of the first symptoms of a heart attack. Pain felt in the shoulder blades could specifically indicate a ruptured or injured spleen. This is a phenomenon called referred pain, where the pain in one part of the body is actually caused by injury or pain in a different part of the body.

 

Advice/Tips

Reading has recently gained popularity among youth, especially on social media platforms where good book recommendations and passionate post-reading discussions are constantly trending. If you’re looking to join a community of readers, take it a step further and make your reading experience enjoyable and personalized for you! This article shares exciting ideas including posters that recommend good reads, unique book jacket designs, ways to brighten up your bookshelf, and a brief guide on annotating—you are sure to find something that piques your interest.

 

Other News

The class of 2021 has been through an unparalleled year as far as graduating students go. While many are preparing for summer and time for relaxation, high school seniors are preparing to complete a huge milestone, and begin a  new chapter. For many, in person activities and ceremonies have been postponed, or scheduled to be fully-virtual. There are, however, some events that graduating students will be able to take part in. Some examples of Covid-safe activities are drive-in celebrations, sending care packages to fellow graduates, and virtual dinner parties. The situation may feel anticlimactic or sad at the moment, but there will come a time where we’ll all be able to celebrate together in full.

 

Les articles en français

Les cancers sont causés par un changement ou un dommage dans les gènes. Ces changements sont appelés mutations, qui empêchent les gènes de fonctionner de façon ordinaire. L'un des gènes les plus fréquemment mutés chez les personnes atteintes d'un cancer est le gène p53 (également connu sous le nom de TP53). Le gène produit une protéine située dans le noyau des cellules et joue un rôle essentiel dans la division et la mort des cellules.  Le gène p53 appartient à la famille des gènes suppresseurs de tumeurs.

Une douleur au niveau des mâchoires et des dents peut souvent être l’un des premiers symptômes d’une crise cardiaque. Une douleur ressentie au niveau des omoplates peut spécifiquement indiquer une rupture ou une blessure splénique. Il s’agit d’un phénomène appelé douleur référée, où la douleur dans une partie du corps est en fait causée par une blessure ou une douleur dans autre partie du corps. La douleur référée a  une base neurale, ce que signifie qu’il existe des voies et des connexions spécifiques dans le cerveau qui sont responsables de la douleur référée.

Le remdésivir est un médicament antiviral, développé par Gilead Science, Inc, qui traite des patients souffrant de symptômes graves de COVID-19. Les médicaments antiviraux réduisent les symptômes de l’infection et la durée pendant laquelle une personne est infectée par le virus. Avec l’autorisation d’utilisation d'urgence, le remdésivir a été approuvé par de nombreux pays, comme L’Inde et la Singapour. Même si plusieurs études montrent que le remdésivir a un certain effet sur le temps du rétablissement des patients, l’efficacité du remdésivir est toujours un essai en cours. D’autres études et tests complémentaires sont essentiels pour parvenir à une conclusion définitive.