Photo by National Cancer Institute on Unsplash
By Boris Salinas
CRISPR-Cas9, a gene editing tool with the ability to edit DNA and potentially shift the course of evolution. CRISPR stands for, Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeat. What does this mean? In every genome there exists a certain repeating pattern of DNA sequence which are also regularly interspaced, these are called REPEATS. In between REPEATS there exists a genome sequence called SPACERS, these SPACERS are not identical in any shape or form. So, what does this mean? And what does it do?
The initial intention for the progression of CRISPR research was to innovate gene therapy and develop cures for genetic diseases. Unlike bacteria or viruses which medicine can treat directly or alleviate symptoms until the immune system kills all the remaining bacteria or virus. Genetic diseases are not identified as a threat by the immune system since it is a part of the blueprint by which you are built. To treat genetic disease, you would quite literally have to alter DNA and reprogram the whole organism. As you may imagine this is a very difficult thing to do.
The creation of CRISPR-Cas9 was derived from a protein called Cas9. Which is so to say the “immune system” of a cell. Cas9 has the ability to memorize viral DNA and later alter the DNA of the bacteria in which it resides to create a resistance against the virus. It was later discovered by an American Biochemist, Jennifer Doudna, that this protein could be directed or programmed. This meant that with the use of the Cas9 protein, the possibility of editing genomes however is needed becomes a possibility. This will alter the course of evolution. CRISPR-Cas9 is an extremely powerful tool.
Currently this technology is only about 18 years old. In November 2018, reports from China marked the first time in history that humans edited the genetic code of a future generation. These two subjects were Twin Girls who are now immune to HIV. In a sense, with this new technology we as a species exist in an era which could be considered the end of the beginning.
Youth4Better Partners with Ridge Hill Mall and Feeding Westchester in a Competition to Raise Money for Low-Income Families
Ridge Hill Mall partnered with Feeding Westchester to raise money through "Branches of Joy", a Christmas tree competition amongst local businesses and nonprofits!
Voting was conducted online and the mall planned to donate $5,000 if the goal of 5,000 votes was met. Many of the participants also donated, in food items and money. In total, the votes highly surpassed that number, as the winner garnered 7,535 votes!
The donations of Ridge Hill Mall, and other businesses and nonprofits that participated in the event, greatly impacted the abilities of Feeding Westchester. With several thousand dollars and several hundred food items, they are sure to feed dozens of families and help support our wonderful community through a difficult and unprecedented time.
Thank you to all New York volunteers who participated in this event!
Photo by freestocks on Unsplash
By: Boris Salinas
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has finally approved a treatment that gives children with a rare genetic disease that causes premature aging more time to enjoy life. Hutchinson-Gilford progeria syndrome (progeria for short), a disease that causes teenagers to die due to heart attack, stroke, or heart failure. Most of these children are expected to die before achieving the age of 15. Zokinvy is the first and only approved treatment for progeria which was approved on November 20, 2020.
In a clinical trial, which included 62 children receiving the drug, as well as 81 who would not take the drug. Zokinvy was proven to increase the life span by 3 months on average after the first three years of treatment. For those children who received Zokinvy for up to 11 years, their life spans were extended by about 2 years and 6 months.
Progeria is caused by a mutation of the LMNA, or lamin A gene. Lamin A is the framework of the nucleus that holds the cell together. Researchers currently believe that the mutation of the lamin A gene causes the defective lamina A protein to destabilize the nucleus. This instability is the cause of premature aging in progeria patients. Children with progeria have an elevated amount of progerin, generated by a single nucleotide polymorphism. The protein is unable to pass through the cell membrane and cannot be recycled for new proteins, causing cells to age prematurely, which then causes stiffness in connective tissue and blood vessels.
Everyone’s bodies make progerin, the amount is then elevated as a person begins to age. However, children with progeria create an abnormal amount of it. At birth, these children look like any other, symptoms appear later around the age of two. Over their lifetimes, these children will lose body hair and body fat, gain joint stiffness, cardiovascular disease, and many other symptoms that are associated with accelerated aging.
Zokinvy was created by a company called Eiger Biopharmaceuticals from Palo Alto, California. This drug is meant to lower the amount of progerin that is produced, as well as lower the amount that is accumulated in cells. These oral pills do not fully block production, and the amount digested is limited due to side effects such as vomiting, diarrhea, infections, nausea, decreased appetite, fatigue, upper respiratory infection, abdominal pain, muscle and joint pain, and electrolyte abnormalities.
With the approval of Zokinvy by FDA, researchers can now focus on other drugs and therapeutics that could further extend the lives of children that suffer from progeria. The possibility of using gene therapy to fix the mutation that causes the disease are also being investigated.
By Fey Hong
Struggling to come up with your campaign ideas? Need something to boost your creativity? Here are the top tips for coming up with an effective, fun, and beneficial volunteering campaign.
Hopefully this article helped to get you thinking of a great campaign idea that you will enjoy doing and can leave a lasting impact on society and our world. Happy volunteering!
By Leonid Nevezhin
On March 15, 2020, Mayor Bill de Blaiso announced that all New York City schools will be closed in order to slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus. He stated that it was an “extraordinarily painful” moment for the city’s schooling system.
These were not the only schools that closed down in the country. At its peak,124,000 public and private schools closed and over 55.1 million students were affected.
However, the sudden change to students and teachers learning and working from home may have many varying effects on the educational system in schools and institutions.
1. Schools go online during snow days and out-of-school suspensions
As schools across America are wrapping up the 2019-2020 school year, it would mark about 2-3 months of school being conducted online.
These 2-3 months have allowed for both students and teachers to become better adjusted to the new situation. Now, students are much less shocked by this interface and way of learning.
An idea that schools and institutions might try out is continuing school online during snow days or for those students who are suspended out of school.
But, believe it or not, continuing education through school days may actually have more negative effects than positive ones.
According to an article published by the National Education Association, teachers actually use this time to catch up on emails, grading, and planning lesson plans which would be taken away with the introduction of online school during snow days.
And as for students, it is always assumed that more time spent learning contributes to better results. However, according to research conducted by a Harvard professor, the amount of snow days has absolutely no effect on children’s math and reading test scores.
Also, according to a study published in 2013 in the journal Evolutionary Psychology, cold temperatures cause people to be less cooperative and trusting, which are both essential skills in order to be able to learn.
So, continuing school during snow days is evidently not a good idea, but it’s a different story for out-of-school suspensions.
Students are most often suspended from school for the violent or inappropriate behavior that they have displayed. But when students go through the work they were assigned and receive little to no guidance, it results in long-term, negative impacts.
According to research conducted by the University of North Carolina Population Center, five years after a student’s first suspension, they were 8% less likely to receive a high school diploma and 40% more likely to have been arrested.
In conclusion, continuing school online through snow days will have a much more negative impact on both students and teachers, but teaching students who have been suspended online will have a very positive impact on the student’s lives and future development.
2. Better health services will be available in school
This would be a big change, according to a National Public Radio episode titled “No, The School Nurse Is Not In”, more than half of American schools do not have a full time nurse and many of these are being let go.
This is already adding to the problem that most schools have only one nurse to look after over 1,000-1,500 students.
The situation can be best summed up by a quote from Oakland school nurse, Liz Hurt, “It’s challenging, it’s nerve-wracking. Nurses are going to work and they’re afraid. They’re just praying to get to Friday with nothing bad happening!”
This pandemic might remind officials of the importance of healthcare and cause them to better staff schools with trained medical professionals.
3. More children can receive education online
These past few months, educators and students have gotten used to learning and working online.
This means that teachers can now teach children that do not go to school online. This can open a world of possibilities.
Theoretically, students can access the internet through a personal or public computer and attend classes, complete homework and assignments and learn.
So potentially, as a result of the closing of schools to prevent the virus, the 264 million students that do not go to school can receive an education, which is incredibly crucial to not only their development, but the development of the rest of the world and society as a whole.
Educated kids will grow up to be educated adults and educated adults will be better equipped to lead society forward.
In conclusion, COVID-19’s effect on school closures could lead to many new creative ideas and changes in the future that can be both bad and good.
The opinions and views expressed in this blog are those of the authors and do not reflect the views, opinions or standpoints of Youth4Better. Any content published in this blog is not with the intent of harm towards any religion, ethnicity, race, organization, club, society, individual, or anyone or anything.