Vol.5 No.1: In This Issue…

Conference Call
The “weblog”, or “blog” for short, is no longer reserved as a forum for the disgruntled employee to gripe about his malevolent boss, or the rival candidate to defame her political foe. Scientists have emerged as the latest assembly of bloggers, with intentions to put their journaling skills to good use. Educators and bloggers from around the globe met this past January at an event created to improve and expand scientific communication through the use of blogs: the North Carolina Science Blogging Conference. Participants attended informative sessions describing (but not limited to) accessibility, content, and illustration. Bloggers shared their experiences through simultaneous reporting, or “liveblogging”. (News p. 5)

Can water be bad for you?
Water, the universal solvent in living systems, exists in a highly organized structure, forming important interactions with the proteins of our cells. Therefore, changes to this ordered medium, caused by environmental factors or stressors, might affect protein conformation in genetically susceptible individuals. These alterations may accumulate in biological elements like receptors, antibodies and tumour suppressors. Changes to structured water may ultimately be responsible for a person’s vulnerability to cardiovascular damage, Alzheimer’s disease, and cancer. (Article pg. 7)

MacroResults from Microarrays
Microarray analysis, though relatively nascent on the scientific stage, is fast-becoming a widespread experimental technique. While potentially powerful and revealing, there are many caveats to its use. Inherent in the multi-step analysis of microarrays are many mathematical steps which are either hidden by the software package used, overlooked by the experimenter, or both. The use of these algorithms needs to be monitored by examining statistical “checks and balances” along the experimental trajectory. Each step is crucial to a successful outcome, and each step has its particular pitfalls. By understanding the method clearly, experts and novices alike can improve their microarray analyses. (Reviews p. 15)

Innovation on the psychiatric front
Schizophrenia, though a disease with a long history and one that affects more than 30 million people worldwide, remains elusive to current scientists. The application of current techniques in molecular biology, biochemistry and psychiatry are all being applied to attempt to unravel the root causes of the disease. Specifically, a close examination of patient neurotransmitter levels, genetic mouse models and the application of endophenotypes are all shedding new light on the current understanding of schizophrenia, and how therapies can be better understood and improved. Current hypotheses, specifically examining classical treatments and causes are helping revolutionize some of the thinking in schizophrenia research today. (Reviews p. 23)

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