Pancreas – 6 in 60

6in60, BEDA 2018

Hello and welcome to the last of four 6 in 60s for BEDA! Last week I talked all about the kidneys and for this last organ we’re moving not too far away to the pancreas.

  1. The pancreas is a gland organ located in your abdomen and is around 6 to 8 inches long.
  2. It is part of the digestive system and produces insulin and other important enzymes and hormones that help break down foods.
  3. A healthy pancreas makes about 2.2 pints (1 liter) of enzymes every day.
  4. Enzymes, or digestive juices, are secreted by the pancreas into the small intestine. There, it continues breaking down food that has left the stomach.
  5. The pancreas also produces the hormone insulin from the endocrine portion of the pancreas and secretes it into the bloodstream, where it regulates the body’s glucose or sugar level.
  6. The islets of Langerhans (located within the pancreas) are responsible for regulating blood glucose. Too little insulin production will increase the risk of diabetes, and blood glucose levels will rise.
pancreas diagram anatomy

image via achingao.net

That’s it for this blog, see you all tomorrow!

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Humains étranges – Syndrome d’accent étranger

BEDA 2018

For those who aren’t familiar with some very very poor french the title reads Weird Humans – Foreign Accent Syndrome.

See what I did there!

Foreign accent syndrome (FAS) is a weird and rare medical condition where patients develop speech patterns associated with foreign accents. It was first described in 1907 by neurologist Pierre Marie and it is such a strange condition that the accent can be from somewhere that the patient has never even visited! This rare disorder typically comes about as a side effect following stroke or other brain injury. The person with the condition not only changes the tone of voice, but will also change tongue placement during speech.

FAS has been documented in cases around the world, including accent changes from Japanese to Korean, British English to French, American-English to British English, and Spanish to Hungarian.

Some common speech changes associated with FAS include:

  • Fairly predictable errors
  • Unusual prosody, including equal and excess stress (especially in multi-syllabic words)
  • Consonant substitution, deletion, or distortion
  • Voicing errors (i.e. bike for pike)
  • Trouble with consonant clusters
  • Vowel distortions, prolongations, substitutions (i.e. “yeah” pronounced as “yah”)
  • “uh” inserted into words

Treatments generally include extensive speech therapy to try and correct FAS.

Here is a rather strange case study reported by the BBC:

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Disease Profile – HIV/AIDS

BEDA 2018

Hello and welcome to the second of four disease profiles. I’ll be giving you the top information on each disease. Today we’re looking at a disease that in the vast history of medicine has become a recent issue. It was once referred to as GRID and the 4H disease. It wasn’t until 1982 it was officially termed HIV/AIDS. It’s a disease with quite a complex history and effects many on a daily basis.

Name: HIV/AIDS; Human immunodeficiency virus infection and acquired immune deficiency syndrome

Type: HIV is a viral infection and AIDs is the set of symptoms/syndrome caused by HIV. AIDS is the last stage of HIV, when the infection is very advanced, and if left untreated will lead to death.

Symptoms:

HIV symptoms include:

A diagram of a human torso labelled with the most common symptoms of an acute HIV infection

AIDS symptoms include:

A diagram of a human torso labelled with the most common symptoms of AIDS

Transmission: HIV is transmitted by three main routes: sexual contact, significant exposure to infected body fluids or tissues, and from mother to child during pregnancy, delivery, or breastfeeding (known as vertical transmission). There is no risk of acquiring HIV if exposed to feces, nasal secretions, saliva, sputum, sweat, tears, urine, or vomit unless these are contaminated with blood.

Treatments: Currently there is no cure for HIV however with the right treatment and support, people with HIV can live long and healthy lives. Currently highly active antiretroviral therapy is a key treatment for those living with HIV which slows progression of the disease.

History: Both HIV-1 and HIV-2 are believed to have originated in non-human primates in West-central Africa and were transferred to humans in the early 20th century. The earliest well-documented case of HIV in a human dates back to 1959 in the Congo. The earliest retrospectively described case of AIDS is believed to have been in Norway beginning in 1966. However AIDS was first clinically observed in 1981 in the United States. There were a handful of cases with the main link being that they were gay men who were injecting drug users. The disease then became strongly linked with gay men, hense the name GRID ( gay-related immune deficiency) however once AIDS was discovered not to be simply linked with gay men the name was changed.

Deaths Caused: Thanks to treatment plans and better prevention methods (e.g. freely available condoms and better education/advertising) HIV/AIDS is no longer a death sentence as it used to be. However HIV/AIDS are worldwide and in poorer areas that don’t have access or can’t afford treatment plans millions die each year. With further work to create a vaccine, better treatment plans and better prevention methods it is hoped that this number will decrease.

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Disease Profile – Ebola

BEDA 2018

Hello and welcome to the first of four disease profiles. I’ll be giving you the top information on each disease, be warned for potentially slightly gross images.

Name: Ebola virus disease

Common Names: Ebola haemorrhagic fever; Zaire

Type: This is one of five viruses from the genus  Ebolavirus. (Sounds too good to be true but scientists love literal names).

Ebola virus em.png

Symptoms: (From WHO): The incubation period, that is, the time interval from infection with the virus to onset of symptoms is 2 to 21 days. Humans are not infectious until they develop symptoms. First symptoms are the sudden onset of fever fatigue, muscle pain, headache and sore throat. This is followed by vomiting, diarrhoea, rash, symptoms of impaired kidney and liver function, and in some cases, both internal and external bleeding (e.g. oozing from the gums, blood in the stools). Laboratory findings include low white blood cell and platelet counts and elevated liver enzymes.

Spread: The Ebola virus is spread in the blood, body fluids or organs of a person or animal with the infection.

Image result for ebola

Treatments: (From WHO) Supportive care-rehydration with oral or intravenous fluids- and treatment of specific symptoms, improves survival. There is as yet no proven treatment available for EVD. However, a range of potential treatments including blood products, immune therapies and drug therapies are currently being evaluated.

An experimental Ebola vaccine proved highly protective against the deadly virus in a major trial in Guinea. The vaccine, called rVSV-ZEBOV, was studied in a trial involving 11 841 people during 2015. Among the 5837 people who received the vaccine, no Ebola cases were recorded 10 days or more after vaccination. In comparison, there were 23 cases 10 days or more after vaccination among those who did not receive the vaccine.

Location/ History: The largest outbreak of Ebola occurred in 2014-15 in many African countries where there was around 11,000 deaths and 28,000 cases.

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Human Evolution 101

BEDA 2018

Hello and welcome to day 4 of BEDA!

So every Wednesday in BEDA we are going from Birth to life to death as humans (Human 101 if you will) but to start off the series we’re going to try and break human evolution down into simple stages.

Human evolution is basically the process that took us from being apelike creatures to the humans we see today. Scientific evidence shows that the physical and behavioral traits shared by all people originated from apelike ancestors and evolved over a period of approximately six million years. The process of evolution involves a series of natural changes that cause species to arise, adapt to the environment, and become extinct. All species or organisms have originated through the process of biological evolution.

Image result for human evolution timeline

One of the key features of humans evolving include bipedalism which is a fancy word for walking on two legs. This is unlike the apes that use all four limbs to get around. It is not truly known what first caused early humans to get up and walk like this but there are a few theories. These theories include that humans that walked on two feet could gather more food and were therefore more successful, others have suggested that this method of movement allowed early humans to use tools more successfully. However the truth is simply not known.

Other traits include the ability for humans to use tools, a large and complex brain and the ability to use language.

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The Skin – 6 in 60!

6in60, BEDA 2018

Hello and welcome to the first of four 6 in 60s for BEDA! I once did a month of organ related 6 in 60s which you can find here. So I’m back to bring you another four! Today we’re starting off with the largest organ the skin!

  1. There are two general types of skin, hairy and hairless (glabrous) skin. Glabrous skin can be found on your palms and the soles of your feet.
  2. The skin plays a vital role in protecting the body from pathogens, excessive water loss, insulation, production of vitamin D, temperature regulation and sensation. We wouldn’t be able to exist without it.
  3. The skin is built up of several different layers and components which each have a different task (see the picture below)
  4. Skin varies in thickness around the body, its thinnest on the eyelids and thickest on the palms, soles of your feet and bum!
  5. Skin pigmentation is controlled predominantly by genetics.
  6. Skin changes over time and is the biggest sign of aging. This includes the skin wrinkling which is cause by a loss of elasticity
Anatomy of the skin with melanocytes; drawing shows normal skin anatomy, including the epidermis, dermis, hair follicles, sweat glands, hair shafts, veins, arteries, fatty tissue, nerves, lymph vessels, oil glands, and subcutaneous tissue. The pullout shows a close-up of the squamous cell and basal cell layers of the epidermis above the dermis with blood vessels. Melanin is shown in the cells. A melanocyte is shown in the layer of basal cells at the deepest part of the epidermis.

Image Credit: National Cancer Institute

Hope you’ve enjoyed see you tomorrow!

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Weird Humans – Alice in Wonderland

BEDA 2018, Fairyology

Happy Monday! It’s a bank holiday today in the UK so I’m relaxing after having had far too much chocolate. So it felt like the perfect time to talk about a weird human condition.

There are many things that can go wrong with the human body many of which you’ll know about but here is one you might not. It’s called Alice in Wonderland Syndrome or otherwise known as Todds syndrome. The neurological syndrome presents as a migrane and causes the patients to have distorted vision. This can make things appear very big, small or far away. Just as Alice did when she drank the potions in the book. It can also cause hallucinations and cause the patients to have an inaccurate sense of time passing again just as in the book.

Photo credit: Lars Leetaru

This is one patients description of his symptoms caused by the syndrome:

“quite suddenly objects appear small and distant (teliopsia) or large and close (peliopsia). I feel as I am getting shorter and smaller ‘shrinking’ and also the size of persons are not longer than my index finger (a lilliputian proportion). Sometimes I see the blind in the window or the television getting up and down, or my leg or arm is swinging. I may hear the voices of people quite loud and close or faint and far. Occasionally, I experience attacks of migrainous headache associated with eye redness, flashes of lights and a feeling of giddiness. I am always conscious to the intangible changes in myself and my environment.”

The symptoms can occur several times a day and often before sleep. However the syndrome is not dangerous and it appears to fade over time.

If you’d like to read more on the syndrome have a read of this new york times article!

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Blogging Every Day in April 2018

BEDA 2018, Miscellaneous

Hello and welcome to BEDA!

If you don’t know what that is well I shall explain. I tried this out last year and was mostly successful but it is where I will be posting a new blog every single day on ThatBiologist! This month I’m going with the theme of Humans!

I write a lot about the environment and other areas of biology but this month will be dedicated to all things Human Biology. Alongside the blogs will be a new photo on instagram every single day so check me out over there!

Last year I had a theme each day which is mostly true of this year as well. So:

Mondays – Weird Humans!

Tuesdays – 6 in 60 – It’s back again 6 facts that’ll only take you a minute to read!

Wednesdays – Humans 101 – We’re going back to basics taking you from birth to death

Thursdays – Disease Day – I’ll be looking at a different disease every Thurday, this might get a little gross.

Fridays – Genetics  – What is it and why your genes are so important?!

Saturday – Scientist Saturday – A little profile about a human biology scientist!

Sunday – Random!

I hope you’ll really enjoy these blogs over the next month!

See you tomorrow!

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