X ray Crystallography of crystals: Beginning of a new scientific era

Rafat Shahriar Islam

Around 100 years ago William Henry Bragg and his son William Lawrence Bragg used Sodium Chloride crystal to pass x ray beams through it that created a beautiful geometric pattern on a photographic paper placed behind it.

Being inspired by the experiment of Rosalind Franklin in 1953 producing images (also known as photograph 51) of crystal DNA from X ray, Watson & Crick described the double helical structure of DNA by ‘Diffraction pattern analysis’.

X-rays are electromagnetic radiation with wavelengths between about 0.02 Å and 100 Å. Because X-rays have wavelengths similar to the size of atoms, they are used to explore within crystals. Today it is scientifically established that X rays hitting these particulates obstacles interpret the atoms inside a crystal lattice to give a structure of regular geometric patterns.

X ray diffraction analysis is mainly diffraction pattern that is observed when the shower of electrons after diffracting the X ray pass through a crystal unit. Electron density map can be obtained from these diffraction patterns. These maps show contour lines of electron density. Since electrons more or less surround atoms uniformly, it is possible to determine where atoms are located. To get a three-dimensional picture, the crystal is rotated with a view to getting a three-dimensional picture in together with a detector connected to a computer producing two-dimensional electron density maps for each rotation.

Unfortunately, there is no known way to focus x-rays with a lens, unlikely with visible lights. Until then it is necessary to use crystals to diffract x-rays and create a diffraction pattern which can be interpreted mathematically by a computer. This turns the computer into a virtual lens to help us look at the structure of a molecule. Crystals have a repeated cell unit within them and so the x-ray diffraction from one unit cell would not be significant. Fortunately, a good crystal diffraction pattern is observed which is amplified enough to produce a 3D picture in a detector due to multiple cell units within a crystal.

There are various methods of growing protein crystals for x ray diffraction analysis:

Vapor Diffusion – (Hanging Drop Method)

The most common ways of crystal growth where a drop of protein solution is suspended over a reservoir containing buffer and precipitant. Water diffuses from the drop to the solution leaving the drop with optimal crystal growth conditions.

Batch crystallization

Crystals are grown by keeping a saturated protein solution put in a sealed container.

Microbatch crystallization

By lowering the saturation over time, diffusion of proteins into the oil is made happen by putting a drop of protein solution in inert oil and let the crystal grow.

Macro-seeding

By growing a crystal in a highly saturated solution and then placing it in a less saturated one to let the crystal growth happen.

Micro-seeding

A few crystals are grown, then crushed, and put into a final solution that combines them into a few nice crystals. This involves quite a bit of experimentation with solutions’ concentrations to get the desired number of crystals.

Free interface diffusion

A container has levels of varying saturation. Crystals form initially in the highly saturated part, but as the solution mixes, it eventually only supports crystal growth.

Dialysis

Similar to the previous, but with a semipermeable membrane separating the layers.

How does X ray crystallography work?

  1. X-ray beams are shot through a crystal of the atom keeping the crystal mounted to a Goniometer to keep it in place during the operation
  2. X-Ray after being diffracted through the crystal lattice leads the beam in a pattern based on their structure.
  3. A diffraction pattern is then finally observed.

Advantages of x ray crystallography technique:

  1. The nondestructive nature of X ray makes it suitable to characterize metals.
  2. Knowing the wavelength and diffraction angle and with the use of Bragg’s law, information on the crystalline condition of the sample, and thus phase proportions; texture and degree of preferred orientation can be calculated.
  3. Plastic strain and particle size can be interpreted using peak width.

Limitations of X ray crystallography technique:

Crystallizing Protein:

  1. Fragile
  2. Requires a crystal with the shortest side of 0.2 mm
  3. Crystallization may require conditions that may not be physiological.

Flaws of Crystallization:

  1. Disorder in Unit Cell
  2. Vibrations of molecules
  3. Distortion in crystallization
  4. Diffraction peaks are very crowded for complex macromolecules and are difficult to separate.
  5. Heavy atom substitution works for molecules larger than 600 atoms, so a gap is present for molecules in the intermediate size range.

Applications of X ray crystallographic technique:

  1. It is used to study materials such as salts, metals as well as various biological molecules etc. that can form crystal lattice structure.
  2. To determine the electron density, the mean positions of the atoms in the crystal, their chemical bonds, their disorders etc.
  3. To detect the size of atoms, and types of chemical bonds, and the atomic scale differences among various materials, especially minerals and alloys. The method also revealed the structure and function of many biological molecules, including vitamins, drugs, proteins and nucleic acids such as DNA
  4. To identify the atomic structure of new materials that may seem similar in other experiments
  5. X ray crystal structures can also account for unusual electronic or elastic properties of a material and also serve as the basis for designing pharmaceuticals against diseases.

The specificity of the protein’s active sites and binding sites is completely dependent on the protein’s precise conformation. X-ray crystallography can reveal the precise three-dimensional positions of most atoms in a protein molecule because x-rays and covalent bonds have a similar wavelength, and therefore currently provides the best visualization of protein structure. At present, this technique is helping the researchers to elucidate the folding of secondary protein residual structures depending on various external factors.

Rafat Shahriar Islam, is a graduate from Department of Pharmacy, East West University.  He can be reached at rafat.islam46@gmail.com

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Can Artificial Intelligence Beat Human Intelligence?

Tilova Sumaiya

Lots of controversies I almost always hear about that “Does Artificial intelligence (AI) beat human intelligence?”  Yes, definitely this question comes in our mind since we can see the maximum capabilities of AI. At this era where we’re standing, we can say that Artificial Intelligence is a miracle invention of human brains.  We will be able to depend on it almost entirely within a very short time that we can predict. It has made possible lots of impossible things which were beyond our imaginations. So in my today’s writing, I’ll try to solve the answer for those who are more curious to know about this answer, based on few logics and illustrations.

In a short, we can say Artificial Intelligence is an intelligence which is been developed by a software or a machine. AI research is highly technical and specialized and is deeply divided into sub fields that often fail to communicate with each other. AI research is also divided by several technical issues. A few sub fields focus on to solve the critical reasoning. The Supreme area and problem where Artificial intelligence is working are reasoning, knowledge, planning, learning, natural language processing, perception and the ability to move and manipulate objects. The more areas include recently which are statistical methods, computational intelligence, and traditional symbolic Artificial intelligence. Artificial intelligence has another core part which is machine learning. Machine learning and data science are both dominating modern world. Different Startup’s around the world which is focusing on machine learning & data science, exploring new business innovations and bring success with the combination of both. Recently Microsoft has cited a study that noted over the past two years, above $1 billion of venture capital invested in machine learning & data science. For the new cohort about cognitive technologies which is considered one of the prominent technologies of future, Microsoft made a cross country tour in US & Canada across twelve cities to select 10 new Startup for investment.

It’s been an almost millennium, we have been hearing lots of prognosis about AI (Artificial Intelligence) that, it will take over the world.  At the 18th century, a couple of scientists predicted that within 10 years a digital would be the world’s chess champion. Though it happened at 1996, their predictions didn’t go wrong.  They also predicted that within 3 to 8 years there will be a machine with a general Intelligence of an average human being. British mathematician Alan Turning was one of the first humans who came up with the idea of machines that think in 1950. Turning test, which he had created is still used today, as a benchmark to determine a machine’s ability to think like a human. And after then, in the mid-1950 after Turning died, the term Artificial Intelligence got very well known to people. Elon Musk, The founder of Tesla, Stephen Hawking had described the promising future of AI technology. Today we all know, AI is using at every single sector and every single thing. At this century, AI is taking place in our everyday lives. We are hoping, tomorrow’s world will be replaced by Robot instead of employees in the firms and also in every sector.

Human intelligence:

Human intelligence refers actually functions of our mind which are developed by the capabilities to learn from the past incidents, experiences, lessons from our parents, teachers, friends, and surroundings, accustomedness with new circumstances, approaching towards the intellectual ideas and the ability to turn our own environment using acquired knowledge.

Core Differences between Artificial Intelligence and Human Intelligence:

  • Human intelligence (HI) focuses around accustoming to the environment using its cognitive process where as Artificial intelligence (AI) focuses on outlining machines that can work like human behavior. Human intelligence is the outcome of the natural evolutionary system, but Artificial means which is created by human.
  • Human intelligence is a specimen of the genuine circumstance where as AI is an attempt to model it. And in science, there is a differentiation between the actual circumstance and its equivalent model.
  • HI uses content memory and schema but AI is using the built in, outlining by scientist memory.
  • HI is bigger but AI, as the name suggests, is artificial and temporary. HI is dependable but AI is not, though there are people who debate that human makes more mistakes compared to AI.

Recently in this year, a major development of AI is, a computing system developed by Google has beaten a top human player at the game of GO, the ancient eastern contest. A machine has topped the best human at most games keep up as measures of human intellect, including chess, scrabble, Othello, even in jeopardy! But with go which is a 2500-year-old game, that’s more complicated than chess. Earlier in January of this year, top AI experts outsiders of Google questioned whether the development could happen anytime soon, and many predicted and believed another decade would take before a machine could beat the top humans but Google has proved that this has done. And then the French researcher Remi coulomb agreed and said that it happened faster than I thought.

So, as we can see, what we’re thinking today and predicting about AI, AI proves and solve those complexities faster than our imaginations. So based on the recent illustrations and the differences between Human intelligence and Artificial intelligence, as I have mentioned here in above, I can say, In near future AI have the potentialities that it can beat individual top intelligence human beings based on its own adaptive experiences, studies, and knowledge but when the question comes that whether it can develop its own intelligence by itself then answer will be “NO” which clearly refers its limitations to human intelligence.

Tilova Sumaiya Khan Priyanka is a Business Analyst in Silicon Valley Nest. She has completed her graduation from University of Dhaka. She can be reached at tilova_priyanka@yahoo.com

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Frugality: Saving Resources

arushi-madan

Frugality has helped a couple in the United States raise 13 children, own a 7-bedroom house, and 15-passenger van — completely debt free. But some say frugal living demands too many cutbacks on daily expenses, to the point of reducing the quality of life. Others say its benefits go beyond saving. I am of the opinion that frugality is not giving up fun, it is just making careful choices regarding purchases and saying NO to wastage of any kind. In a world where the culture of consumerism is flourishing, choosing a frugal lifestyle can sometimes mean living as an outcast. People may say you’re cheap or tight. My family and I have been living a frugal lifestyle, and we have realized that there are more benefits to frugality than what meets the eye. Frugality doesn’t just benefit people; it benefits our planet too. By making fewer purchases and consuming less, we positively impact the environment in a number of ways. Reusing and recycling old items means less trash in landfills, less energy used for production, packaging, and shipping. And buying a cheap, fuel-efficient used car (or ditching it altogether in favor of a bike or public transportation) helps reduce pollution and greenhouse gases. The bottom line: Being frugal means consuming fewer of the planet’s resources.

The frugal life is always the environmentally friendly life. Nearly every frugal strategy doubles as an environmental boon: driving less, rarely buying new things, not wasting food, using our heat and A/C sparingly – it’s all connected. Frugality is good for humanity too. It means being less wasteful with our already scarce resources. And when we make a commitment to wasting less in general, we’re reducing our carbon footprint and freeing up resources for others who might desperately need them.

Though frugal people are trying hard to make things they do have last longer, they don’t have to spend time shopping around for something new – like spending quality time with family, cultivating a new hobby, or simply relaxing. Frugality isn’t a tactic; it’s a mindset and a joyful lifestyle. Frugality isn’t a sacrifice; it’s a means to an end. Frugality is a positive principle to promote sustainable development.

Let’s look at food wastage. Food waste is a social crime. Food wasted is a food stolen from the hungry stomach. Food wastage is not only the wastage of food per say(disgrace to food too) but also wastage of all energy and other resources which have gone into producing it. I have seen people visiting restaurant and over-ordering which eventually they can’t finish and they leave it as waste. We should start ordering from small quantity and later depending on our appetite, we can order more, also we should not feel shy in getting the left-over packed & brought to home so that we can eat it later rather than wasting it.  The huge amount of food wasted at social gatherings contrasts sharply with the food shortages, often bordering on chronic starvation, faced by millions of poor.In most of the weddings, families are staging extravagant displays of food. The prodigious waste that follows is horrible. About one-fifth of the food served at weddings and social gatherings is discarded. It’s a criminal waste.For example, around 100,000 weddings and social events are held in India every day. Food wasted each day at weddings and family functions in Mumbai (India) alone would be enough to feed the city’s vast slum population.

Food wastage: Key facts and figures

  • The global volume of food wastage is estimated at 1.6 billion tons of “primary product equivalents.” Total food wastage for the edible part of this amounts to 1.3 billion tons.
  • Food wastage’s carbon footprint is estimated about 3.3 billion tons of CO2 equivalent of GHG released into the atmosphere per year.
  • The total amount of water used per year to produce food that is wasted is equivalent to the annual flow of Russia’s Volga River, or three times the volume of Lake Geneva.
  • 4 billion hectares of land – 28 percent of the world’s agricultural area – is used annually to produce food that is lost or wasted.
  • Agriculture is responsible for a majority of threats to at-risk plant and animal species tracked by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.
  • A low percentage of all food wastage is composted: much of it ends up in landfills and represents a large part of the municipal solid waste. Methane emissions from landfills represent one of the largest sources of GHG emissions from the waste sector.
  • Home composting can potentially divert up to 150 kg of food waste per household per year from local collection authorities.
  • Developing countries suffer more food losses during agricultural production, while in middle- and high-income regions, food waste at the retail and consumer level tends to be higher.
  • The direct economic consequences of food wastage (excluding fish and seafood) run to the tune of $750 billion annually.

Arushi Madan is a student of Electronic & Electrical Engineering of University of Birmingham, UK. She is an environmental activist and working on different climate issues and creating awareness to reduce environmental pollution. Besides she has been working as a Regional Ambassador of Tunza Eco- Generation.

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Recent prescription pattern and uncertain health future in Bangladesh

Salman Shah Bhuiyan

It’s too difficult to find any person who didn’t go to the physician. And it’s also a common scene of patients who hold a piece of paper in their hand after exit the doctor’s room which is filled up with a lot of medicines and tests. Is it prescription? According to Tripathi (2008) prescription, an order written by doctors for patients contains directions for pharmacists to compound or dispense medications regarding patient diagnosis history and diseased condition. World Health Organization (WHO) was suggested some guidelines to evaluate a prescription pattern. Most of the cases, in national aspects, physicians do not follow the guidelines. The irrational prescription pattern is a common finding in Bangladesh. Maximum physicians prescribe the patients in wrong as well irrational way.

Firstly, we can say the generic name of the drug which is totally absent in the prescription. Many brand name drugs have cheaper generic content which confers less therapeutic effects. On the other hand, polypharmacy is a common problematic issue. Polypharmacy refers to the use of four or more medications by a patient. Therefore, patients are easy to prone drug interaction, nonadherence, hospitalization, and mortality. In the rural area, this trend is spread tremendously. Another problem is prescribing of inappropriate antibiotic. Sorrowfully, in Bangladesh, most of the physicians think that without antibiotic a prescription will be incomplete. But it’s a great threat to patients, leading to adverse drug reactions, bacterial resistance, and elevated costs. Children are also arrested by this rule. A study of antibiotic use in a rural area of Bangladesh found that 26% of purchased drugs were antibiotics for children aged 0-4 years. The most frequently prescribed antibiotics are ceftriaxone, cefixime, and amoxicillin. Therefore, those drugs have abnormally high resistance.

Illegible hand writing in prescriptions kills than 7,000 people annually. It’s a shocking statistic of America, according to a July 2006 report from National Academy of Medicine. If it’s applicable to America, then how much the condition can be worse in Bangladesh? Just imagine!! Unclear hand writing of prescriptions can result in misinterpretation and mistakes which are a common incident in our country.

Besides, various lacking commonly found of the renal and hepatic patient’s prescription.  Renal disease affects drug elimination and pharmacokinetic processes. So it’s so significant to adjust the dosages of drugs according to creatinine clearance and filtration rate. Besides, dose adjustment also necessary for hepatic patients. The liver converts fat soluble medications into water soluble medications that excreted through the urine. So some fat soluble medications should be avoided totally. But in our country, almost all physicians do not pay attention about drug dose adjustment for those patients.

Some physicians use the abbreviation in a prescription which has a chance of spelling error or ambiguous. In addition, diagnostic history of the patient is not mentioned clearly. They are used to prescribe a lot of unnecessary tests, vitamin tablets, and costly branded drugs which are a usual objection of suffering patients.

Notably, Bangladesh formulated its National Drug Policy in 1982 to ensure that common people can get the essential drugs easily and rational use of drugs through appropriate prescribing and dispensing the health care professionals. Has the policy fulfilled yet?

Now many questions may arise that, what’s the problem? Why this problem? One of the big problems is the autocratic tendency of a doctor. There is an uncomely proverb that “A physician is worse than a disease” but in many cases it’s true. Many doctors take very less period to consult a patient. They can never imagine co-relating with a pharmacist about patients case. And they are not accountable to anyone about their activities. Lack of knowledge or inadequate training of doctors is another reason.

In a rural area, community practitioners, health workers or quack doctors are prescribed to a patient that is in completely unethical and also bears health hazard probability. Pharmacists also have responsibility. They are failed to provide the proper use of drug information to the doctors. Pharmaceuticals company all time try to impress the doctor in many ways to write down their brand drug. Health regulatory authorities of Bangladesh also have some drawback. They are not concerned about those errors. Many directorates under Ministry of Health and Family Welfare have evaluated these sectors. But their dull activity can’t detect this problem properly.

The irrational prescribing pattern is a habit which cure is troublesome. But everything is possible. Physicians need to be clarified in their conception about the rational prescription pattern, clinical pharmacology, and pharmacotherapy to improve prescription practice rather. Doctors, pharmacists, and nurses all together should need to build triangle health care committee to minimize health problem. Though this trend is not turned on in our country yet it’s highly expected.

As a naïve pharmacist, I hope those problems will be solved immediately. Governing bodies have to be more concerned and should take necessary steps for the irrational prescribing pattern. No interruption is desirable in our public health care system. Patients will get their proper consultancy and be happy.

Trust me, I dream that!

Md. Salman Shah Bhuiyan is a student at Department of Pharmacy, East West University. He can be reached at   salman133145@ gmail.com

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Cupid’s chemicals

Abu Jar

Love is the most beautiful gift in this world which brings tons of happiness with joy for our life. When we first fall in love, we can’t stop smiling. It is a divine feeling! Suppose you saw someone and suddenly you are getting flushed cheeks, a racing heart beat, and sweaty palms, then congratulations my friend, you are in love. In other words you have love bug. Hence we can say that love isn’t a just random thing, there are some mysterious chemicals, neurons and hormones those are working together to make us fall head-over-heels for someone.

It can be said that love may be one of the most studied, but least understood, behaviors. Helen Fisher which is a biological anthropologist studied 166 societies and found evidence of romantic love, the kind that leaves one breathless and euphoric—in 147 of them. Another associate professor of psychiatry named Schwartz of McLean Hospital in Belmont said: “there’s good reason to suspect that romantic love is kept alive by something basic to our biological nature.”

Actually, falling in love is getting into a beautiful trap set up by nature. So love is nothing but a natural occurrence which we cannot fight or ignore. According to a science-based study by Arthur Arun, ‘the mind of a normal person takes between 90 seconds to 4 minutes on average  to determine whether it is struck by love or not.’ The study also points out that 55% of the role in love is played by body language; this means a brain detects the activities of body movement and decides. It also tells that 38% of the decision to be in love is contributed by the voice of our desired one and 7% is the reaction in love is due to a lover’s statement or choice of words.

A recent study based on the topic “science behind the love” is conducted at Rutgers University by Helen Fisher. She has proposed that we fall in love in three stages named lust, attraction, and attachment, each involving a different set of chemicals.

Lust, Lust is the first stage of love and it is driven by the sex hormones testosterone and estrogen. Testosterone is not only found in men but has also been shown to play a major role in the sex drive of women. These hormones as Helen Fisher says “get you out looking for anything”.

Attraction, This is the truly love-struck phase. Definitely, when we fall in love we can’t think of anything else! They often lose their appetite and some time may pass a sleepless night. Actually, they prefer to spend hours is day dreaming about their beloved one.

In the second stage of love, a group of neurotransmitters called ‘monoamines’ play a crucial role,

  • Dopamine – cocaine, and nicotine also activate it.
  • Norepinephrine – Also known as adrenaline. It makes us sweating and gets the heart pumping.
  • Serotonin – One of the love’s most important chemicals and one that may actually send us temporarily insane.

Attachment, Attachment is a bond which helps the couple to take their relationship to advanced stages. In other words, the attachment is the bond that keeps a couple together longs enough for them to have and raises the offspring. Many scientists believe that there might be two main hormones working behind the feeling of attachment. One of them is Oxytocin and the other one is known as Vasopressin.

Oxytocin, This is actually released by the hypothalamus gland during child birth and it also helps the breast to express milk. Therefore it is responsible for creating the strong bond between mother and child. It is also released by both males and females during orgasm and it is thought to have increased the bonding a couple when they are intimate.

Vasopressin, A very important chemical which plays a significant role in the long-term commitment stage. It is considered to be a pivotal controller of the kidney and its role in long-term relationships was first discovered when scientists looked at the prairie vole.

At the end, we call all these chemical reactions as love. To us, it feels like love because it makes us feel like flying in the sky. But the most important thing is that all these human emotions are probably nature’s beautiful way of keeping the humans alive and reproducing. When our brain entices us to fall in love, it feels like our body releases an irresistible cocktail of chemicals. We believe we’re choosing a partner, but actually, we may merely be the happy victims of nature’s lovely plan. We can agree that love is one of the most delightful feelings of our lives and may be it would be not wrong if we say that “love is blind” because you never know when your brain will encounter love.

 

Abuzar Ibn Faruk is a graduate pharmacist from East West University, Bangladesh. He can be reached at asif8ewu@gmail.com.

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Sunscreen – A protection or Threat to Skin Cancer

Sabera

Sunscreen, or sun cream, is a topical product like lotion, spray, gel or other formulations protect skin by absorbing or reflecting some of the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) radiation and thus helps protect against sunburn. Skin-lightening products have sunscreen to protect lightened skin because light skin is more susceptible to sun damage than darker skin. No sunscreen provides 100% protection against UV radiation. Some UV radiation will always reach the skin, damaging the cells below. This damage builds up over time and can increase your risk of skin cancer.

Sunscreen use has risen in past decades, as media outlets and doctors tout the benefits of sunscreen for protecting against skin cancer and sunburn.  When the product has a market of billion dollars a year, corruption arises. Not all sunscreens are created with equal quality and in many cases, the ingredients used in sunscreen are harmful, not helpful.

Sunscreen contains chemicals to filter UV radiation, as well as other ingredients such as preservatives, moisturizers, and fragrance.In rare cases, chemical ingredients cause skin reactions, including acne, burning, blisters, dryness, itching, rash, redness, stinging, swelling, and tightening of the skin.

There are two types of chemicals in sunscreen:

  • chemical filters, which absorb UV radiation before it can damage the skin
  • physical filters, which contain micro-fine particles that sit on the surface of the skin and act as a

physical barrier.

  • Mineral barriers are also used.

Mineral sunscreens typically include ingredients like zinc oxide or titanium dioxide, which create a physical barrier to protect the skin from the sun.Chemical sunscreens use one or more chemicals including oxybenzone, avobenzone, octisalate, octocrylene, homosalate and octinoxate.

New research reveals that the chemicals commonly used in sunscreen are endocrine disruptors, estrogenic and may interfere with thyroid and other hormone processes in the body.The most common sunscreen chemical, Oxybenzone, was found in 96% of the population by a recent study by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. This is especially alarming since oxybenzone is considered an endocrine disruptor, can reduce sperm count in men and may contribute to endometriosis in women. Such high percentage using oxybenzone is a health hazard and threat especially on children or pregnant/breastfeeding women.

Another reason is the use of Vitamin A derivative, retinyl palmitate, that is often used in sunscreens was shown to speed up the growth of cancerous cells by 21%. Spray sunscreens have become increasingly popular in recent years, but have additional dangers, especially if inhaled. Consumer Reports warns that spray sunscreens should not be used on children and that adults should exercise caution and make sure not to use on the face or inhale them.

Of the 1,400+ sunscreens tested by the EWG (Environmental Working Group), only 5% met their safety standards and over 40% were listed as potentially contributing to skin cancer.

Many sunscreens also contain methyl isothiazolinone, which the American Contact Dermatitis Society named as its “allergen of the year”. The EWG’s most recent report listed Neutrogena as the #1 sunscreen brand to avoid, citing high concentrations of oxybenzone and other hormone disrupting chemicals, and misleading claims about their SPF levels.

We’ve already established that some sunscreen is harmful and may do more harm than good, but another important consideration that is often ignored: Vitamin D.

Most sunscreens completely block the body’s ability to manufacture Vitamin D. Statistically, 75% of us are deficient in Vitamin D and Vitamin D deficiency has been linked to higher risk of cancer and heart disease (which kill more people than skin cancer per year). So it seems that we are literally cutting off our noses to spite our faces when it comes to sun exposure. We lather up with chemical sunscreens that have the potential to greatly increase skin cancer risk and reduce Vitamin D production in the name of avoiding skin cancer. The consequences are we increase our risk of more widespread diseases related to Vitamin D deficiency.

From the analysis, we may think that we shouldn’t exercise caution in exposure (especially overexposure) to the sun, as more and more evidence emerges about the dangers of most sunscreens. For this, it is important not to be dependent on sunscreens only.

In fact, a study in the Journal of Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics reports that:

Sunscreens protect against sunburn, but there is no evidence that they protect against basal cell carcinoma or melanoma. Problems lie in the behavior of individuals who use sunscreens to stay out longer in the sun than they otherwise would. Vitamin D inhibition is, at this stage, unlikely due to insufficient use by individuals. Safety of sunscreens is a concern, and sunscreen companies have emotionally and inaccurately promoted the use of sunscreens.

Despite the push for more awareness about sun exposure, and the advice to use sunscreen whenever we go outside, the incidence of skin cancer, especially melanoma, is rising dramatically.In fact, skin cancer rates are rising by 4.2% annually, despite the fact that we spend less time outdoors and wear more sunscreen.

Some mineral sunscreens are safer but also contain some of the chemical ingredients above and have the same risks. Additionally, if nanoparticles of zinc oxide or titanium oxide are used, these can enter the body and carry risks as well. Since these offer physical barriers, it is also more difficult to accurately pinpoint the SPF of some mineral sunscreens.

If sun exposure is a major concern for you or you have a family history of skin cancers than the safest option for you is to avoid the sunscreens that the EWG has said might contribute to skin cancer and use the safest form of sun protection by covering up.With all the information and misinformation about sunscreen out there, the easiest and safest way to avoid sun damage is to stay in the shade, wear a hat or long sleeves.Another important step to protecting the skin from sun damage is supporting the body internally by eating healthy food and food containing more antioxidants.

Sabera Rahmanis a master’s student of pharmaceutical science, she has completed her graduation under the department of Pharmacy, East West University. Sabera is a student correspondent at Association of Life Science and Engineering Writers (ALSEW). She can be reached at sabera.rahman@ymail.com

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Serial Killer: The Hidden Mystery of Science!

Tahiya

Young generation is accustomed with the terms “serial killer” and “psychopath” because of various movies and TV series based on these characters. These killers are often addressed as the most dangerous characters on earth. Researches indicate that serial killers may have the most harmless look and who can go on to any extend to commit all kinds of immoral activities starting from torture to rape and ends with unmerciful killing. But the major point to be focused is that do they become serial killers because of moral degradation or there is any mysterious influence of science behind the character?

Dr. Helen Morrison has interviewed over 135 serial killers all around the world and has come to a conclusion that no country is immune to serial killers. She found that all the serial killers irrespective of their ethnicity, religion, society, financial condition, family background; possess the same mentality. Chromosomal abnormality has also been observed in the genes of the killers. This abnormality starts exposing itself when a person hits puberty, specially a man! And during this time, the killers start becoming homicidal and mostly they kill the victims at their first stages of puberty.

As we all know serial killers are out of mercy and having no emotion to think about the lives of victims. After killing they do not feel any sort of guilt, regret or any kind of moral dilemma about their deeds. It leads them to do further experiments on their victims after killing them. Some try necrophilia, some become cannibal by eating the flesh, skin even lungs; some preserve their body parts or organs as hobby. Experiments are going on because the part of the brain that manages the emotional state of a human being has a slight different structure in a serial killer than that of a normal person.

Adrian Raine, Professor of criminology, psychiatry and psychology in the University of Pennsylvania has discussed about the anomalies of the structure of the brain of the serial killers. His experiment ended with the result that they have a shrunken ventromedial cortex, which is responsible for the abilities of decision making. It is thought that the shrunken structure is an indication of the killers to behave in ways where they are incapable of making moral decisions.

There are some interesting facts about serial killers. They are generally men and the number of women being a serial killer is very less. Most of them have an abusing childhood where either they were harassed physically, sexually or mentally. Serial killers who are men appear to be very charming and charismatic which make their victims go head over hills for them or feel safe around them. They are very calm and quiet in their appearances. It becomes very difficult for the law enforcement to identify serial killers because they keep their works clean and the issue is not in physical rather hidden in the deep of brain.

Organized killer, disorganized killer and medical killer are the various kinds of serial killers according to Crime Museum. The organized killers are very difficult to identify because all of their plans are arranged preciously. They are too smart to do everything to keep their crimes in the dark. They are much planned in their works. On the other hand, the disorganized killers are those who do not plan their killings. They just grab an opportunity of killing anyone whenever they can and flee away to save themselves from being captured. They are not cautious about their works. The medical killers are very rare but there have been some doctors in the past who have killed dozens of patients and made them appear as natural deaths so that they will not be blamed for the murders. They easily take the chance of being a medical official and pursue their nastiest activities.

Serial killers are such people who need continuous monitoring and treatment if possible. Psychotherapy is provided but this does not help much as they are reluctant to be communicative. Most of the time, treatment, punishment and rehabilitation do not work. Death penalty becomes inevitable because their crimes are not forgivable by the law.

It’s not that easy to understand that the person sitting beside you aren’t a serial killer. At the same time it’s not a so emerging issue so that govt. will enforce highly regulated law to find these psychopaths. Though these are so rare but it is not vanished from the society. So let know the science behind this incidence and be safe cause hazard doesn’t come with notice!

Tahiya Islam completed her graduation under Department of Pharmacy, East West University. She is a student correspondent at Association of Life Science and Engineering Writers (ALSEW). Tahiya can be reached at tahiya945@gmail.com

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Guillain-Barre syndrome: A Demyelinating Disorder

Abir Sur

We should be known of GBS first while studying it. Guillain-Barre Syndrome is a rare neurological disorder characterized by weakness or tingling in the legs or sometimes in the arms and upper body.

It is mainly characterized by a relative sudden, unexpected onset of symptoms. They usually develop over the course of about 3 weeks, but can develop as rapidly as days or hours. The sensations— weakness, tingling, numbness, and sometimes paralysis-usually begin in legs, but may then spread to the arms and upper body (breathing muscles and face). The nerves do also lose their reflexes (e.g. knee jerks).

There is a wide range of symptom severity, from mild cases with brief weakness that may not even be enough for the person to seek medical care, to life threatening paralysis with an inability to swallow and use breathing muscles. It depends on which particular nerves are affected by the demethylation. In addition to paralysis and abnormal sensations, patients with GBS may also have symptoms of damage to the autonomic nerves, such as abnormal heartbeat or blood pressure, impotence, urine retention or bowel paralysis.

In a country like Bangladesh the term GBS is a protocol that to be removed but the protagonist is to be antagonized easily. GBS in its early stage is unpredictable, so most newly diagnosed patients are hospitalized. It is extremely important to keep the patient’s body functioning while the nervous system gradually recovers. This is usually done in the Intensive Care Unit, where changes in heart rate, breathing and other functions can be carefully monitored.

GBS is usually self-limited, with recovery occurring on its own, eventually, as long as the patient’s vital functions (e.g. breathing) are supported during the recuperation time. GBS usually does not occur more than once in the same patient.

There is no known cure for Guillain-Barre syndrome, but there are treatments that can shorten its course:

  • Plasmapheresis (plasma exchange) and
  • High dose immunoglobulin therapy

The acute phase of GBS can vary from days to months, but over 90% of patients move into the rehabilitative phase by 4 weeks. Then a stable time of lower-level impairment (e.g. weakness) can linger for additional days.

It is regarded that patient care involves the coordinated efforts of a team, such as: Physiatrist, Neurologist, Internist, Physical and Occupational Therapist, Social worker, Psychologist or Speech therapist if speech muscles have been affected.

The rehabilitative phase is important, but rehabilitation itself does not improve nerve regeneration. The main goal is to help the patient with optimal use of their muscles as their nerve supply returns, and to adapt to a lifestyle within their functional limitations. In addition, rehabilitation centers can treat minor medical conditions and help prevent complications.

If we consider the risk factors of GBS we may parentheses these. Such as:

  • Viral infections, such as HIV/AIDS, herpes, respiratory infections, and mononucleosis
  • Bacterial infections
  • Hodgkin disease, a malignant disease of the lymphatic system
  • Systemic lupus erythromatosus, an autoimmune disease of the skin and other organs
  • Recent surgery

Prevention is better than cure, as we all know this but recovering GBS is not rendered any prognosis. There is no cure for Guillain-Barre syndrome but several treatments can alleviate the symptoms and accelerate recovery of the affected nerves. In the majority of cases, the symptoms resolve completely or almost completely within weeks.

The GBS occupies a venture in its pathological conditions of patients. Early neurophysiological studies revealed that, despite the demyelinating pathology, many patients retained normal conduction velocities until the disease was well established. The earliest changes appear to be a delay in F waves (implying root demyelination) and reduction in nerve motor action potentials. This last abnormality may be difficult to determine precisely for technical reasons until the abnormality is severe. Patients with early Guillain Barre syndrome frequently have conduction block or dispersion of the responses at sights of natural nerve compression, such as carpal tunnel. The extent of reduction in the motor nerve action potentials appears to correlate with prognosis. It is exceptional for extensive neurophysiological tests to be normal in Guillain Barre syndrome, but this does sometimes occur, presumably because demyelinating lesions have occurred in anatomical sites that are exclusively proximal and not amenable to easy neurophysiological study.

In Bangladesh GBS exceeds more than a verge to its supreme onset. Guillain-Barre syndrome has a diverse clinical phenotype related to geographical origin. To date, the majority of large-scale studies on Guillain-Barre syndrome (GBS) have been conducted in developed countries. We aimed to evaluate the key diagnostic features and assess the suitability of the Brighton criteria in 344 adult GBS patients from Bangladesh. All patients fulfilled the National Institute of Neurological Diseases and Stroke (NINDS) diagnostic criteria. Standardized data on demographic characteristics and clinical features, cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) analysis, and nerve conduction study (NCS) results were elaborated to measure the sensitivity of Brighton criteria. Most patients (88%) were admitted to hospital after the nadir weakness. Symmetrical weakness and reduced reflexes were found in 98% of patients. CSF albuminocytologic dissociation was detected in 238/269 (89%) cases and abnormal nerve physiology in 258/259 (>99%) cases. Only 27 (8%) patients received either intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIg) or plasmapheresis. In total, 200 (58%) patients met level 1 of the Brighton criteria; 97 (28%) patients met level 2; 42 (12%) patients met level 3; and 5 (2%) patients met level 4. This analysis showed that despite the heterogeneity of GBS in Bangladesh, the Brighton criteria showed a high sensitivity in the diagnosis of GBS.

From the pronominal data it can be concluded that Bangladesh is not very superb condition to avoid the risk of GBS but rationally it is to be overcome soon. And I would promptly say that the proper medicaments and very other superficial techniques would help us to get aware of GBS.

Abir Sur is an undergrad student in Department of Pharmacy East West University, Bangladesh. He can be reached at abirsur777@gmail.com

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Epigenetics: The Mystery behind Three Biological Parents of One Child

Fariha Tasnim

“How a baby can have three biological parents”?-we often get curious when this sort of question arises in our mind. But it’s true indeed that it is possible. More or less we all are quite familiar with the word surrogacy, but what that surrogacy actually mean, does it only mean to carry a baby for an intended parents or does that carrying womb has an influence on that implanted embryo. It’s really crazy to find out the truth whether the baby will only bear the characters of its intended parents or both its parents and surrogate mother (gestational carrier).

Surrogacy is basically of two types. One of which is Traditional surrogacy and other is Gestational surrogacy. Traditional surrogacy is the one where sperms are collected from intended father, which is then artificially combined with the egg of surrogate mother. However, Gestational surrogacy is more like natural parenthood where the intended parents can be the biological father and mother despite begetting their child. This is where the sperm is collected from intended father and the egg is harvested from intended mother. In this process, in vitro fertilization (IVF) takes place followed by intra uterine implantation.

Now, is this implantation simply, for nurturing the embryo, the answer would say no. There is a term called ‘Epigenetics’ which refers to the potentially heritable changes in gene expression rather than alteration of genetic code itself, due to the influence of environment. It is a biological mechanism that switches gene on and off. We basically, inherit the genetic code so our genetics is solely determined by the DNA we inherit from our parents. But the expression of this genetic code, to some extent is dependent on its environment. It is more likely the change in a phenotype than the change in a genotype. In surrogacy epigenetic information (that is not encoded in the DNA sequence of the intended parents) is transmitted from womb to the fetus through cell division. Behaviour, emotions, function of the immune system, metabolism pattern, health pattern etc. are the epigenetic changes that can be inherited from surrogate mother to the fetus.

Let us now reveal the truth behind this third biological mother. It is quite absurd, a baby will stay in a womb, but it will not take anything from it. As we all know that there develops a placenta during pregnancy which control the passage of substances from mother to fetus and vice versa. Placenta never allows blood and cell to pass from mother to fetus or the waste from the fetus to mother. But a few DNA can pass through the placenta from mother to fetus. This has effect on the child’s future life. There is a process called DNA methylation which takes place after implantation of embryo. It is essential for the development of embryo. Number of methylation which will take place is controlled by the environment. This methylation is responsible for this epigenetic change which leads to the alteration of the physical structure of DNA without changing the DNA sequence. This only affects the process, how cells ‘read’ genes. This process ‘how cells read gene’ or gene expression of the fetus is affected by the womb where it grows up. So, here the fetus will bear the genes of its intended parents but the instructions on the expression of those genes are got from the mother who carries the baby to term. This epigenetic information is passed from cell to cell during cell division.

How this DNA methylation does this epigenetic change is very simple. Methyl group is highly specific to cytosine nucleotide of DNA where it gets bound with the help of methyl transferase. This leads to the change in structure of DNA and modify the gene’s interactions with other substances inside the nucleus needed for translation. This is the subtle way how DNA changes its behaviour according to its environment.

There are many ways to change the external structure of DNA, where DNA methylation is one of such. This process of turning the gene on and off is responsible for building phenotypic characters of the baby. To conclude, technology has lessened, up many barriers and made things possible out of impossibilities. Surrogacy is one such instance where Epigenetics has flared up to prove that genetics can also be shaped by environment. Now, it is not at all outlandish to say that babies born through gestational surrogacy have three biological parents instead of two. But there is nothing to worry about, because the change is so small that it can hardly affect the child.

Fariha Tasnim is a student at the department of pharmacy, East West University, Bangladesh. She can be reached at farihatasnim15@yahoo.com

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Every Diabetic Patients Should Take Care Of Their Foots

Sifat-Sharmin-Shiba

In most of the cases, of all the organs of our body the ones we care about the least are the legs. Most of the people are not concern about their legs and but in case of the disease like diabetics it is like to invite the risk if legs are not taken care of. it creates great danger in diabetes if we don’t take care of our legs.Old diabetic patients on a long-term  often faces a problem is that the loss of  blood flow and nerve damage to the legs. Due to nerve damage in the leg-burning, uncontrolled feeling, a feeling of being thrust thrust, foot has not felt any pain that happens these kinds of things. The problem is that if barriers to the flow of blood to the rest of the pain, especially at night and ankle pain when walking in cold conditions.

Every year, due to various problems related to diabetic patients- foot, legs, fingers, feet had to be amputated. but if legs are taken care of, one can get relief from this sufferings. So the habit of personal cleanliness should be maintained. Epsom salt and washing soda should not be used in foot bath. if any cut leg torn and cracked are seen patients should be taken care of their legs so that further any infections cannot be occurred. For dry feet itching and burning has been seen.

It can be removed by keeping the skin moist feet. Wearing the shoes that do not fall under the size of the leg and foot rings also Corn and calluses can be free from unwanted result. If a lots of pressure is given in legs due to the weight or stand for a long time , or due to the wearing small size of shoes can create accumulation of calcium which causes ankle and toe pain. so it is very important to rest the feet of diabetic patients .

During diabetes, leg blood flow may be reduced. Legs do not feel any sense of the leg and could not understand anything. The numbness of the feet has been seen due to low blood flow which causes a variety of problems.in that case patients should see a doctor if the pain and problems are become severe. Geriatric diabetic patients have to suffer various physical problems more than others patients and their  Physical strength is not like before for this reason they cannot take care of themselves.

With increasing the age, the skin tends to be thin, elasticity decrease and the skin problems grown up. Most of the old times, they cannot cut their toe nails because of their eye problems. So the young people of their family can help to take care of the legs. Most important things It is better to give up smoking because its disrupts the flow of blood to the feet. Pressed extra socks, shoes or too should refrain from wearing clothing to cover the feet. For a long time sitting can hampered the blood flow is hampered so patients should move the legs and toes for sometimes and have to do physical exercise and should also have to take the proper diet because it will maintain the high sugar level of blood as well.

Fade or yellow toe nails,curved nails,infection inside the skin of the nails,feet,loss of feeling in the time of diabetes should be noticed and with the help of physician or doctor this problem has tobe solved out as early as possible. Foot lotion or oil can be used to keep the skin soft and healthy. If itchy or fungus feet has been came out then one should keep in mind that the treatment should be needed.Diabetic patients should wash their feet in mild and warm water.talcum powder can be used to prevent infection between the toes.using pumice stone in an one direction that can reduce skin torn.

Actually Diabetes isn’t a disease, it’s a heterogenous group of metabolic disordered or syndrome which can be characterized hyperglycemia and related to many complication of  bodies. So diabetic patients shouldn’t neglect any kind of problem which happens with the any organs of body.

Sifat Sharmin Shiba is an undergrad student in Department of Pharmacy East West University, Bangladesh. She can be reached at sifatshiba2015@gmail.com

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