We discuss and comment on the role agriculture will play in the containment of the CO2 problem and address protocols for terraforming the planet Earth.
A model farm template is imagined as the central methodology. A broad range of timely science news and other topics of interest are commented on.
Friday, October 11, 2013
Chemical That 'Cancer-proofs' Naked Mole Rat's Cells
the only large organic molecule out there that I have actual
knowledge off from a prior business interlude is hyaluronic acid of
all things. It was been extracted from chicken combs at the time and
it was indicated for skin rejuvenation. We were attempting to use
nano sized particles of carbon to create micro droplets able to
penetrate the skin. I was forced to address the impact of nano sized
particles of process chemistry as well as the unique nature of
elemental carbon. All this led to my discovering the article on
agricultural zeolites and the article on Solid Crystalline Acids
which led directly to my conjecture of the agricultural utility of
elemental carbon as a nutrient retainer. This was in 1993.
understood the importance of the elemental carbon protocol then but
also understood that commercialization would mean somehow funding
twenty years of inconclusive field trials and personal futility.
Nice insight but no plausible future. Thus when I started this blog
in 2007 and immediately discovered recent work revealing three
thousand years of field trials in the Amazon through terra preta, I
was very pleased.
it appears that hyaluronic acid is going to be important also. This
is when you wonder why I am so lucky as to be shown all this when it
was a really minimal amount of raw data. Hyaluron needs to be
investigated as a potential carrier for telomeres based therapies
aimed at human life extension. This is all extremely suggestive and
I would welcome budget funding to follow these tantalizing leads.
Discover Chemical That 'Cancer-proofs' Naked Mole Rat's Cells
reported in ScienceDaily, two researchers at the University of
Rochester have discovered the chemical that makes naked mole rats
cancer-proof. This is big news -- for the rats and for humans!
findings could eventually lead to new cancer treatments in people,
according to the study authors Andrei Seluanov and Vera Gorbunova.
Their research paper will be published in the June 2013 edition of
the journal, Nature.
Backstory: Understanding what cancer actually is...
viewzone article I
wrote about why we get old, worn out and eventually die. It has to do
with a string of molecules that grows on each end of our DNA
molecule. Called a "telomere" this
substance has no apparent reason for existing except to provide a
kind of blank leader -- like the blank film on an old reel movie --
that protects the vital DNA code each time it makes a copy of itself.
we could only prevent the telomere from wearing down and shortening
-- exposing the vital DNA to errors of replication -- then we could
amount of times the DNA can reproduce before this vital telomere is
worn away is called the Hayflick limit. For humans it is around 60
times. After that the important pieces of the DNA code start to be
lost and the cell eventually cannot reproduce any more.
cancer cells, the opposite occurs.
some reason cells begin to grow their telomeres so that their
Hayflick limit is infinite -- they become immortal.
Usually these cells are defective in other ways besides their
telomeres and, by making more copies of this defect, they form a
tumor. Because they outlive the normal cells, cancer is usually
their attempts to make people live longer, scientists have learned
how to save and restore telomeres with interventions such as medicine
and stem cells. But, in doing so, they encounter another problem.
Treating the whole person (i.e. collection of cells) to prevent
telomere deterioration also promotes the immortality of pre-cancerous
cells. These cells occur naturally and their defects usually cause
their inability to divide and the cancer is thwarted. Bu if these
cells are given immortality they will continue to grow and make
copies of the defect.
Two Prong Attack
order to fight cancer and prolong life (since the two are entangled)
we must find a way to preserve the telomere and at the same time
prevent defective cells from proliferating. The potential solution
came as a surprise.
the last three years, Gorbunova and Andrei Seluanov, research
professor of biology at the University of Rochester, have worked to
understand the similarities and differences of how varied but closely
related species of rats deal with cancer. When Gorbunova and her team
began investigating mole rat cells, they were surprised at how
difficult it was to grow the cells in the lab for study.
mole rat cells simply refused to replicate once a certain number of
them occupied a space in the petri dish. Other cells, such as human
cells, also cease replication when their populations become too
dense, but the mole rat cells were reaching their limit much earlier
than other animals' cells. Why?
mole rats are strange, ugly, nearly hairless mouse-like creatures
that live in underground communities. Unlike any other mammal, these
communities consist of queens and workers more reminiscent of bees
than rodents. Naked mole rats can live up to 30 years, which is
exceptionally long for a small rodent. Despite large numbers of naked
mole-rats under observation, there has never been a single recorded
case of a mole rat contracting cancer. Adding to their mystery is the
fact that mole
rats appear to age very little until the very end of their lives.--
Gorbunova and Seluanov's research, the prevailing wisdom had assumed
that an animal that lived as long as we humans do needed to suppress
the telomere activity to guard against cancer. Telomeres help cells
reproduce, and cancer is essentially runaway cellular reproduction.
An animal living for 70 years has a lot of chances for its cells to
mutate into cancer.
2006, Gorbunova made
the surprising discovery that telomerase -- the enzyme that makes up
the telomeres -- is highly active in small rodents like the mole rat.
points out that a rat's life expectancy is often shortened by other
factors in nature, such as accidents or being hunted. Since they were
not expected to live long enough to get cancer anyway, the regrowth
of their telomeres for improved healing of wounds and injuries made
sense. But the naked mole rats live longer than other rats --
sometimes 30 years. They should show signs of cancers and tumors, but
they do not.
is different about these naked mole rats? Do they contain some
chemical that prevents cancer from starting?
cancer is basically runaway cell replication, we realized that
whatever was doing this was probably the same thing that prevented
cancer from ever getting started in the mole rats." --Gorbunova.
believes she found the primary reason these small animals are staying
cancer-free, and it appears to be a kind of "overcrowding
that the naked mole rat expresses in its cells.
findings, presented first in 2009 in The
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences,
that the mole rat's cells express a gene called p16 that
makes the cells "claustrophobic,"stopping the cells'
proliferation when too many of them crowd together, cutting off
runaway growth before it can start. This is why the cells refused to
grow beyond a certain density
in the petri dish.
is a new way of thinking about cancer and the various strategies for
eliminating it. Previous work has sought to kill the cancerous cells
as soon as they begin to grow. This often involved toxins which are
given to the patient to kill the cancer, but which have negative
side-effects on healthy cells. The technique which shuts down
reproduction when a certain tumor size is reached seems to be a more
natural response as it does not involve toxins.
effect of p16 is so pronounced that when researchers purposely
mutated the cells to induce a tumor, the cells' growth barely
changed, whereas regular mouse cells became fully cancerous.
there is more to the picture.
single molecule with a tongue-twisting name
and Gorbunova discovered that these naked mole rats are protected
from cancer because their
tissues are very rich with high molecular weight aan (HMW-HA)
biologists' focus on HMW-HA began after they noticed that a gooey
substance in the naked mole rat culture was clogging the vacuum pumps
and tubing. They also observed that, unlike the naked mole rat
culture, other media containing cells from humans, mice, and guinea
pigs were not viscous.
needed to understand what the goo was," said Seluanov.
and Seluanov identified the substance as HMW-HA, which caused them to
test its possible role in naked mole rat's cancer resistance.
and Gorbunova observed that when HMW-HA was removed, the cells became
susceptible to tumors, confirming that the chemical did play a role
in making naked mole rats cancer-proof.
identified... Now what?
Rochester team also identified the gene, named HAS2, responsible for
making HMW-HA in the naked mole rat. Surprisingly, the naked mole rat
gene was different from HAS2 in
all other animals.
In addition to its production, the naked mole rats were very slow at
recycling HMW-HA, which contributed to the accumulation of the
chemical in the animals' tissues.
next step will be to test the effectiveness of HMW-HA in mice. If
that test goes well, Seluanov and Gorbunova hope to try the chemical
on human cells.
indirect evidence that HMW-HA would work in people. It's
used in anti-wrinkle injections and to relieve pain from arthritis in
knee joints, without any adverse effects.
Our hope is that it can also induce an anti-cancer response.
lot of cancer research focuses on animals that are prone to cancer.
"We think it's possible to learn strategies for preventing
tumors by studying animals that are cancer-proof." --Seluanov
research from the Gorbunova and Seluanov labs will focus on
determining whether the HMW-HA from naked mole rats may have clinical
value for either treating or preventing cancer in humans.
in the not so distant future the human genome will incorporate the
naked mole rat's HAS2 gene, hopefully without the goo.