Researchers attempting to clone

a mammoth by 2017

By Tannith Cattermole

17:33 January 23, 2011

The last known mammoth lived around 4,500 years ago, but if scientists in Japan are successful then we might be able to meet one soon! Research to resurrect these awesome creatures was shelved when cell nuclei taken from a sample from Siberia were found to be too badly damaged, however a scientific breakthrough in Kobe successfully cloned a mouse from sixteen year old deep frozen tissue, and the research began again in earnest …

Mammoths are a species of the extinct genus Mammuthus, and closely related to modern elephants today. As anyone who’s been awed and amazed by a mammoth skeleton would know, some had long-curved tusks, and in colder regions, long shaggy hair. The last known mammoths died out 4,500 years ago, but in 1997 researchers at Kyoto University began to try and extract DNA from the tissue of a preserved mammoth carcass found in the Siberian permafrost.

Their efforts were thwarted however by damage caused by ice crystals that rendered the cells unviable. The breakthrough came in 2008 when scientist Dr. Teruhiko Wakayama from the RIKEN Center for Developmental Biology in Kobe, Japan, developed a new technique, and successfully managed to clone a mouse from tissue that had been deep frozen for sixteen years.

Now emeritus professor Akira Iritani and his team at Kyoto University are making preparations to fulfill their goal of cloning a live mammoth. They successfully extracted mammoth egg cell nuclei without damage, and used elephant egg cells to fill the gaps.

“Now the technical problems have been overcome, all we need is a good sample of soft tissue from a frozen mammoth,” he told The Daily Telegraph.

In the summer, Iritani will travel to Siberia to search for good mammoth samples. There are an estimated 150 million mammoth remains in Russia’s Siberian permafrost, some whole frozen specimens, others in pieces of bone, tusk, tissue and wool. If he is unsuccessful he will apply to Russian scientists to give him a sample.

If a mammoth embryo is successfully cloned then it will be transplanted into a surrogate African elephant, the mammoth’s closest living relative. Then will follow a gestation period of 22 months, the longest of any land animal.

“The success rate in the cloning of cattle was poor until recently but now stands at about 30 per cent, I think we have a reasonable chance of success and a healthy mammoth could be born in four or five years.” said Iritani.

There are other considerations however; “If a cloned embryo can be created, we need to discuss, before transplanting it into the womb, how to breed [the mammoth] and whether to display it to the public,” Iritani told the Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper. “After the mammoth is born, we’ll examine its ecology and genes to study why the species became extinct and other factors.”

Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha

Plant Extract May Be Effective Against

Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Science (July 11, 2010) — A South Dakota State University scientist’s research shows an extract made from a food plant in the Brassica family was effective in alleviating signs of ulcerative colitis, an inflammatory bowel condition, in mice.

The ongoing study by associate professor Moul Dey in SDSU’s Department of Health and Nutritional Sciences — funded by the National Institutes of Health — moves on now to examine the potential use of the plant extract against colon cancer.

“There is an established link between ulcerative colitis and colon cancer. People who have ulcerative colitis are at significantly higher risk to have colon cancer,” Dey said. “Whether this plant extract might help with colon cancer symptoms directly or perhaps delay the onset of colon cancer in ulcerative colitis patients, we don’t know the answers to those questions, but it is something we would like to look into.”

Dey and her team will carry out that research over the next two and a half years as she continues her work on a Pathway to Independence award for promising young scientists. That National Institutes of Health grant of nearly $900,000 over five years was awarded to Dey for work she began as a researcher at Rutgers University.

As a researcher at Rutgers starting in 2004, Dey developed a mammalian cell-based screening platform and screened nearly 3,000 plant extracts for potential anti-inflammatory activity. A plant-derived compound called Phenethylisothiocyanate, or PEITC, was one among others that showed potential anti-inflammatory activities. The NIH funded Dey’s proposal to study it further.

PEITC is found in the Brassica genus of plants, which includes cabbage, cauliflower, watercress and broccoli. Barbarea verna, also known as upland cress or early wintercress, a herb that is used in salads, soups, and garnishes, is one of the richest sources of dietary PEITC in Dey’s study.

Scientists had already studied the compound for its anticarcinogenic properties prior to Dey’s investigation on its anti-inflammatory activities.

“I tested this substance in a mouse model that is already established and widely used. What we found is that it not only alleviates several clinical signs of ulcerative colitis — for example, it attenuates the damage that occurs in the colon tissues and colon epithelium, as well as the clinical signs like diarrhea and blood in stool. The weight loss is a major sign in colitis and that was alleviated, too.” However, she noted that although mammalian animal models are routinely used for an initial test of biological effects of compounds targeted for potential human use, obtained results may not always repeat in humans.

Inflammatory bowel disease, or IBD, is a set of chronic and relapsing inflammatory disorders of the intestine that affects an estimated 2 million people annually in the United States. Two common forms of IBD are Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.

When Dey and her colleagues looked into the mechanism by which the compound might be working against IBD, they found that it downregulates many of the genes that are known to be upregulated in human patients with colitis. That means the compound acts on cells to decrease the quantity of cellular components such as specific proteins that are produced abundantly in colitis patients. One such protein is a novel transcription factor. Transcription factors are one of the groups of proteins that read and interpret the genetic “blueprint” in the DNA.

“We are excited about these findings and our next step would be to see how this plant and the compounds from this plant may be effective against colon cancer, alleviating colon cancer or preventing the onset of colon cancer,” Dey said.

“I am not a cancer biologist per se. My interests are really in cellular mechanisms of inflammatory diseases. The only reason we are going to study colon cancer in this particular project is because ulcerative colitis is very closely linked to colon cancer.”

Colon carcinogenesis is highly preventable, yet colon cancer has one of the highest death rates among all cancers due to typical late diagnosis.

Since people already eat vegetables containing PEITC, there is a long history of human consumption with no adverse effects.

“Obviously the dose we are testing is significantly higher than what we eat in a vegetable, but we have done multiple safety tests and found that this dose is safe in animals,” Dey said.

Dey has no plans to test the extract in humans as part of the current project, but said additional tests would be required if the extract leads to new drugs or treatments in humans.

Dey’s co-authors are Peter Kuhn of Phytomedics Inc., of Jamesburg, N.J.; David Ribnicky, Kenneth Reuhl and Ilya Raskin of Rutgers University, and VummidiGiridhar Premkumar, who is currently at University of Cincinnati

Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha

Rust Removal Using – Soda Pop?

When I was about 12 years old and just getting interested in engines I heard my uncle swear that he got a stuck piston out of a motorcycle he had by using bottle of Coke. It had set out in the yard all winter and had rusted up inside. But we all know pop is sticky, water based and wouldn’t it make a worse mess? After all, Mom always said “don’t spill your pop, it will make everything sticky”.
As I grew up and got interested in cars and motorcycles myself I started to hear of other such “urban legends” and decided, hey, maybe there is something to this. The people that said it worked were quite insistant, and there sure was no proof that it did NOT work. So I decided to investigate. (amazing what little it takes to entertain me)

So here is what I’ve found – many carbonated beverages will remove rust. This is because the gas used, carbon dioxide when mixed with water, makes carbonic acid. To make rust, the iron oxidizes – it combines with oxygen. This is why rust is also called iron oxide. The carbonic acid reverses this reaction – this reversal is called “reduction.” Here’s a better reason – take a look at your Coke can – it has phosphoric acid as an ingredient. Phosphoric acid is the basis of Naval Jelly, a commercial product used for rust removal. Phosphoric acid dissolves iron oxide very quickly while etching metallic iron very slowly so you can leave metal in phosphoric acid with little damage.

The downside is that all acids contribute some hydrogen to the metal structure, weakening the steel by hydrogen embrittlement – so always use only as much time as is absolutely necessary to remove the rust. An advantage of phosphoric acid is that it leaves a fine protective coating of iron phosphate. Because this coating is not thick or durable some protection is still required. Years ago supposedly Volkswagon use a process of phosphating metal prior to painting as it provided a chemical protection against rust under the paint layer.
So, spilling your Coke into your old engine wouldn’t really be a bad thing if you were trying to remove some rust.

Sourced and published by Henry Sapiecha 27th April 2010