Our favorite kind of Gene

Our favorite kind of Gene

In an attempt to satisfy the 1% of Bwog readers who are science majors, we’re bringing back an old favorite: BunsenBwog—a brief review of some of the science-related findings and contributions done by members of our campus community. This week, we sent mad scientist Mason Amelotte to the CUMC newsroom to find out what’s new.

Find yourself buying too many $3 Rolling Rock’s at 1020 every weekend? Fear not, thirsty undergrad. Neuroscientists at Columbia University Medical Center have identified neurons in the brain that both trigger and suppress our sense of thirst. CAMKII neurons were found to turn thirst on when activated, and VGAT neurons were found to turn thirst “off.” Both neurons were found in the subfornical organ in the hypothalamus through “mind control” experiments on mice.

“But what about controlling my appetite?” you ask. “How am I supposed to say no to JJ’s Place when my heart (and stomach) tell me otherwise?” Well lover of food, researchers at CUMC and at the New York Stem Cell Foundation have found a way to generate hypothalamic cells, generally inaccessible neurons that control appetite. Through genetic reprogramming, researchers converted human skin cells into induced pluripotent stem cells, which they then turned into hypothalamic neurons. This now gives researchers means by which to study diseases like obesity.

“But I’m not worried about eating all the time! I’m so tired that I can barely keep my eyes open” Well, researchers at the Center for Infection and Immunity have you covered there, as well. Are you someone that identifies as having myalgic encephalomyelitis, otherwise known as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome? If so, you must be exhausted from being told all the time that your disease is merely psychologic (double entendre intended)! Scientists have actually discovered distinct immune changes in patients with the disease that may actually make diagnosis easier and more accurate!

“None of these apply to me because I’m perfectly healthy! Do you have any news related to something a little bit more mainstream?” Of course we do, pseudo-science intellectual. Remember that #IceBucketChallenge that clogged newsfeeds everywhere last summer? Well it turns out that researchers have found a new specific gene that’s related to sporadic amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as ALS. This new gene, called TBK1, plays an important part in affecting patients’ inflammation and autophagy. Tell that one to your friends in Mel’s!

Bob’s Burgers is amazing via Wikia