BIOLOGY 111 Wikispaceby Erin Lynch


Post #10: Anti-Cancer Drug Enhancement


Recently there have been studies surrounding a popular lemon-lime soft drink. Based on recent studies it seems that drinking this soft drink actually enhances anti-cancer drugs' effectiveness. The drug this soft-drink was combined with is called Compound X - an unnamed oral, anti-cancer drug. This is great news but the problem is that there is question as to whether or not the drug will be effective still after enduring the stomach's acid. Everyone has different stomach acid levels; therefore, everyone's absorption levels will also differ. The studies showed that when a patient drank a "flat" Sprite that it helped balance out the acid levels in their stomach making it easier for the anti-cancer drug to get through the stomach and be absorbed into the bloodstream.

Mozo, V. (2010, October 14). Soft drink seemed to improve the effects of an anticancer drug, study shows. Retrieved from

Post #9: Lactic Acid
Over the Christmas break I took up a new hobby: snowboarding! I loved it surprisingly but I am not loving how sore I am right now! I remember from grade 10 gym class hearing about lactic acid and also from cellular respiration and fermentation!

Lactic acid is from hard working muscles. It is a waste product from anaerobic glycolysis. When your muscles work hard they produce lactate. When too much lactate is produced it is known as lactic acid. Some scientists believe it is the rise in lactate levels that cause the pain felt while others believe it is not the rise in lactate but the result of which- the presence of lactic acid. Either way, IT HURTS.

Some ways to prevent lactic acid are: doing warm ups before exercising and cool downs after such as stretching and having a healthy, high carbohydrate diet.

Here's a little funny video I found about what happens when you run out of oxygen, which would mean from glycolysis onto lactic acid fermentation!

MacArthur, J. (2010, November 6). What is lactic acid?. Retrieved from

Post #8: Herniated Discs


About a year ago, my mom got really sick, really quick and no one knew why in the beginning. She went to see many doctors and specialists but didn't get any answers as to why she was so sick to her stomach and in such intense pain. Finally, she was diagnosed with what are called "a herniated disc" and "a pinched nerve." Herniated discs may be referred to as bulging disc, ruptured disc, torn disc, slipped disc, collapsed disc, disc protrusion, disc disease, and black disc. All of these terms used by practitioners describe the spinal disc pathology.

A "disc" is a cushion that lies between all vertebrae of the spine. When a disc is herniated, it becomes less soft and elastic-like and can actually rupture. When this happens, a portion of the disc protrudes out of its normal boundary and sits beyond the vertebrae. There are two different types of pain associated with herniated discs.

There is a difference between a "disc pain" and a "pinched nerve."

Pinched nerve - a pinched nerve is when the disc herniation is pinching a nerve in the spine. This causes "nerve root pain" causing pain from the lower back to legs or even from the neck to the arms.

Disc pain - when the disc space itself is the root of the pain.

Symptoms of herniated discs - electric shock pain, tingling, numbness, and bowel and bladder problems.

Ullrich, P. (2000, October 13). What's a herniated disc, pinched nerve, bulging disc?. Retrieved from

Cluett, J. (2009, January 19). Herniated disc - what is a disc herniation?. Retrieved from

Post #7: Cocaine Cowboys - A Scary Reality
Last night I watched the first part of the documentary called "Cocaine Cowboys." Cocaine Cowboys is about all the cocaine that got smuggled into America from Colombia in the 1970's and 1980's. It shows the masterminds behind it all and how Miami, in particular, was basically developed entirely from drug dealer's money. If you haven't seen it, you should DEFINITELY watch it. It is INSANE. Because it is a documentary, it's all true even though the figures they discuss sound unreal! You get to see some of the head guys behind the operations and listen to them tell their stories about life as a head drug dealer, a pilot transporting cocaine, and even a paid murderer (who speaks from jail, fortunately). These were the guys that inspired the movies Scarface and Miami Vice!

Here is the video's trailer. CAUTION: there are pictures of some badly beaten people so you may not want to watch it!

ANYWAY, this video got me thinking about drugs, cocaine in particular. I read an article a little while ago about how Coca-Cola got its name - because one of the ingredients is coca leaves in which cocaine is derived. Along with Cocaine Cowboys and Coca-Cola's history, I got to thinking. Is there traces of cocaine found in more regular, every day substances or objects that we just don't know about whether purposely added or not?
Turns out, unfortunately, yes.

Red Bull Cola - 0.13 micrograms of cocaine per can
Bank notes - traces of cocaine were found on 99 percent of Great Britain’s bank notes.
Money - a large percentage of U.S currency shows traces of cocaine

How does cocaine work?
Cocaine is a very strong nervous system stimulant. It increases levels of dopamine in the brain which is associated with pleasure and movement. Cocaine constricts blood vessels, dilates pupils, and increases heart rate, and blood pressure. It can also cause headaches, abdominal pain and nausea. Because cocaine tends to decrease appetite, chronic users can become malnourished. Yuck! Cocaine can even cause heart attacks and strokes. Cocaine is a very addicting and dangerous drug. If this is the case, why were so many people buying cocaine in the 1970's and 1980's? Scary, isn't it?

Mikkelson, B. (2007, February 19). Cocaine on money. Retrieved from

Adams, Christine. (1985, June 14). The straight dope: is it true coca-cola once contained cocaine?. Retrieved from

Hayes, N. (2009, September 29). Cocaine addiction information. Retrieved from

Post #6: Sleep Talking
After the last post about sleep deprivation, I got an idea. What about people who sleep talk? Do they sleep talk because they're not really fully asleep? Or are they in a deep sleep? I came across this funny video. Take a look. It's not very good quality as it is someone video taping the television, but you'll get the idea. Sleep talking, also known as somniloquy, is actually a sleeping disorder called parasomnia. Parasomnia also consists of sleep walking. Parasomnia can affect anyone but usually occurs more in children than it does in adults. To answer my question of what stage sleep talking occurs, it happens "in REM or any of the non-REM stages. REM is the rapid eye movement stage in which dreaming occurs." Experts say that sleep talking is, in fact, what you would be saying in your dream. This is possible because even though while sleeping our body takes on a natural paralysis, the transition to a deeper sleep may have the ability to break that paralysis - therefore sleep talking occurs. Weirdly enough, the person rarely remembers what they had said. Since the different parasomnia's occur more frequently in children than in adults, there is speculation that it is due to neurological immaturity. Different relaxation methods and vitamins may help sleep talking victims!Gupta, R. (2000). Sleep disorder: talking in your sleep. Retrieved from

Post #5: Sleep Deprivation
I don't know about you guys, but I feel my grade 11 year so far is summed up by the statement "sick of being tired, tired of being sick." I think we can all agree that we just don't seem to be getting enough sleep, right? Well. The suggested amount of sleep per night is 8 hours. Any less and you just don't feel right, do you? I imagine most of you are thinking "even when I get 8 I'm still tired." This is understandable as the crucial 8 hours we always hear about are not necessarily accurate. 8 hours of sleep a night is the minimum borderline amount required! So, here's a question. Do you think lack of sleep could kill you? Seems like a pretty easy answer.. No, right? When you take into consideration the most common causes of death in youth aged 10-24 such as motor vehicle accidents, homicide, and suicide, a thought arises. Lack of sleep could affect each of these scenarios or even be part of the cause as fatigue alters judgement. Studies have shown that individuals who do not receive enough sleep are more likely to become obese or even be more susceptible to disease. Just one night of less sleep than needed can throw off the chemical balance of your body. I know when I fail to get to bed on time it's usually for one of two reasons. I'm either doing homework or just awake, idle online. After doing some research I learned that the screen of my computer may be the culprit aside from me choosing to stay awake of course! It has been found that the blue light found in the computer screen alters the natural biological clock we all have in our minds. The light makes our body believe it is daytime when actually... it's not. Interesting, huh?
Weibell, T. (2010, January 27). Slumber by the numbers. Retrieved from

Post #4: Purses = Public Transportation
If any of you girls are like me, you probably don't go far without your purse, right? If that's the case,you're in for a splendid surprise. If you were to take a swab off the exterior of your purse right now I bet you would find thousands of bacteria. Sounds a little extreme and exaggerated, doesn't it? I thought so too, but research proved otherwise. Fecal bacteria was found on the exterior of some purses being tested. Fecal = from feces. GROSS! Once over 200 bacteria are present, health experts begin to worry. Some tests showed as many as 6.7 million bacteria on a single handbag! When 10 purses were swabbed, half of them tested positive for coliform bacteria. Coliform bacteria suggests the presence of either human or animal waste! I'm beginning to wonder where these women were putting their purses! Essentially, this is a huge health risk! Every time you touch your purse, whatever bacteria it may have picked up, you are being exposed to. We set them on the floor of public washrooms, on pigeon infested sidewalks, and many other gross places and then come home and set them on the counter or table and don't ever think twice! It could potentially be making you sick! Time to buy a new purse ladies!
Leamy, E. (2006, August 8). Your purse could be making you sick. Retrieved from

Post #3: Drug Bees?
We've all heard the announcement at school, seen the scary dogs walking down the halls outside our classroom, and wished we would of asked to go to the washroom sooner. If you didn't already know what these random dogs were doing in our beloved school, well.. they're trying to sniff out narcotics sadly enough. They are capable of doing this as they are very sensitive to smells and can smell things we as humans simply cannot. In order for the dogs to be able to differentiate these smells they must go through extensive training. Recent studies with bees though have shown that bees can actually do the same thing - with training of course! The training the honeybees are put through involves associating a certain smell with a reward. After doing multiple training rounds, the honeybees learn and memorize the odors in as little as a few hours! This can assist in finding narcotics as well as explosives in airports or in the military. Dr. Nesbit, a research scientist, says "Bees are at least as good as sniffer dogs but are cheaper and faster to train, and available in much larger numbers. It is dependent on the specific odour, but bees can detect some odours that are present in parts per trillion - that’s equivalent to detecting a grain of salt in an Olympic-sized swimming pool." Neat, eh?! For you animal lovers, the bees endure no harm! "Each bee works for a maximum of a two-day shift before it is returned, healthy and unharmed, to the hive, to enjoy the rest of its life working for its colony." These bees have the potential to not only assist with narcotics and explosives, but may even be able to assist in detecting different medical disorders. If the bees could train to smell specific odors being released in blood, breath, or urine that are associated with certain diseases then it would be easier to detect that way versus doing various other lengthy tests. So next time you get stung by a bee, be optimistic! :)

This video is a nice summary!

Khot, A. (2010, October). Honey bee detectives - sniffing out drugs and explosives in natural security. Retrieved from

Homework Post: Personal Views on Stem Cell Research


As an overall, general, point of view, I believe stem cells are extremely beneficial in both the science and medical worlds. That is not disputable regardless of personal, moral beliefs, because truth is, they are very useful for not only saving lives but having the capability of opening new doors in medical research which could potentially save even more lives. As for the four different sources of embryonic stem cells, my views are as follows:

Embryonic Stem Cells from existing Stem Cell lines - I have no problems with this measure of extraction. If something is accessible to us that could be beneficial, why not use it? Short and sweet.

Excess Embryonic Stem Cells donated through IVF clinics - I don't think it's right to be discarding embryos, so the excess from IVF clinics that are not implanted into a woman's uterus to assist in conceiving should be used for medical research. I know many countries allow this provided they have the donors consent, but is that even necessary? What else are these people going to do with their embryos? The donors do not get to keep their excess embryos, so why should they get a say in what is going to be done with them? I know that sounds blunt and harsh, but this couple must believe in medical advancement as it is, or they wouldn't be going to a fertility clinic, would they? So they should know going into the process that their excess embryos will be used in medical research to help find a cure for many diseases that their child even could be susceptible to someday. If it were their child that needed a transplant, etcetera, that could be done with the help of using embryonic stem cells, they would not think twice but to use what was available to them. If that research was not there though and was not allowed to be administered due to donors denying their consent, their would not be a hope.

Embryos made solely for research purposes - I think this measure of extraction is tricky to say whether or not it is right or wrong. I don't think we should be making embryos with no intention on letting it develop into the potential life it is, but then I know research would be conducted on them and it may result in medical advancement and the saving of another life. Regardless of that though, I think it is still on the border of being wrong and is easier just to say I don't agree with it. I guess the way that I look at it is that if we can simply make embryos in dishes to play around with and test as we please, then what's next?

Somatic Cell Nuclear Transfer (SCNT) Cloning - As for reproductive cloning, I think that it is both weird and wrong. Every person is their own individual and is unique in their own way. Cloning takes that satisfaction away. Cloning an organism, especially humans or animals, is ethically wrong in my eyes. Although I am not very religious, I think that if there was supposed to be two identical organisms, there would be already and I believe that is something that is not to be toyed with as it is trying to play the role of God.
Therapeutic Cloning, however, is a different story. I think that is fine. If scientists and doctors can somehow clone an organ to transplant to save a person's life, then I think that's wonderful. The only thing that concerns me though is the amount of anti-rejection drugs that would need to be taken. It makes me think is it even worth it? I guess that would be the patient's personal choice.

BONUS- Banning Creatine


2. Forming Your Opinion - page 233
I don't think athletes should be allowed to take the creatine supplement while involved in professional sports as I believe it is a kind of steroid as it enhances their performance. There most definitely are pros and cons to creatine:
- helps build muscle strength and performance
- is a natural substance already found in human cells
- no serious side effects have been reported.
- like any natural substance, creatine can be abused
- there is not sufficient reseach done as to the side effects of abuse are; therefore the possibilities are unknown.
- causes dehydration, muscle injury, diarrhea, kidney failure, and perhaps even death

Since whether or not creatine is a steroid or not, the question of banning it or not in professional sports is still up in the air. Although most sports foundations have taken a look at the idea, no action has been made simply because there is so much unknown about this supplement.
I believe the against argument is more powerful and outweighing as to whether or not creatine should be banned from professional sports. When you think about it, creatine is still a fairly new and unknown substance. Although it is already present in our human cells, that does not mean adding more is beneficial or healthy. That is like proteins- we all have protein in our cells but having too much in the human body can result in kidney failure. Since this substance is still being questioned, I think the safest idea is to stay away from it altogether until further research has been made. Who would want to put a questionable substance in their body willingly?

Creatine and ATP
Creatine and ATP are similar in the ways that they both give off energy, but creatine has a reserve for intense activity almost twice as large as that of ATP. Just like ATP, creatine can convert ADP into ATP- in a matter of milliseconds. The more creatine phosphate a muscle contains, the longer it can sustain intense physical activity.
Clifford, JP. (2002). The creatine faq. Retrieved from

Post #2: Thanksgiving Dinner: A Homework Killer


While sitting here trying to figure out what I am going to write as my second wiki post, I'm thinking "I am so extremely full and tired right now. I can't honestly do this." And from the title of this, you can probably predict that the reason why is because of my favorite holiday and what it brings: Thanksgiving dinner. I am truly hoping all of you had the luxury of enjoying a nice family get together and supper this long weekend filled with turkey, pie, vegetables, gravy, and my personal favorite: dressing. Yum. And yum again. Although the dinner is absolutely scrumptious, the aftermath.. not so great. Don't you get tired and lazy afterwards? I know I do. Exactly what I'm feeling right now- fatigue. Where does that feeling come from though?

Turns out, there are a few reasons! One being that turkey contains an amino acid with a "documented sleep inducing effect." This amino acid is called L-Tryptophan. Tryptophan can also be metabolized into serotonin and melatonin- neurotransmitters that exert a calming feeling and help regulate sleeping patterns. Although, this amino acid would need to be alone on an empty stomach to be strong enough to be capable of causing drowsiness. Even though we consider turkey to be a single food that makes us tired and lazy after eating, there is, in fact, other foods that contain a larger amount of L-Tryptophan such as chicken, pork, and cheese to name a few. So if it's not entirely this L-Tryptophan amino acid that makes us tired after Thanksgiving dinner, what is it?

Although we know turkey and all the proper fixings to be a protein enriched meal, it also has a high number of carbohydrates. The high number of carbohydrates causes the pancreas to produce insulin which pushes out amino acids that do not like tryptophan into the muscle cells, creating a relaxing, sleepy feeling. Another reason as to why this certain meal makes us sleepy is the amount of fat present- which is a lot especially since we all overeat when it comes to Thanksgiving dinner. Fat takes a lot of work to digest, taking blood from other areas to complete the digestive task, making a person feel less energetic.

So the reason behind turkey aftermath fatigue? The type and amount of food being ingested, not simply the fact that it's turkey.

Helmenstine, A. (n.d.). Does eating turkey make you sleepy?. Retrieved from

Post #1: Hair and Nail Growth
I just recently got my nails done and was wondering if what people say is really true about nails- that they're simply dead cells. So I did a little research on the subject and discovered that they are actually accumulations of dead epidermal cells so once more cells die and need to be disposed of, the hair and nails grow. The video below shows how this process takes place.

This brought me to my next question or next theory to investigate: If nails and hair really are dead cells, do they keep growing when we die? Do they get really long because all of the skin cells are dying so they are pushed out in the form of new nail growth or do they stop growing all together? There are a lot of beliefs or myths surrounding what happens to the human body after death, but is this fact or fallacy?

Fallacy. Nails and hair do not keep growing after death. What actually happens is that the skin and body loses moisture and dehydrates, therefore shrinking the body with the skin around the nail, making the nail more visible. This is where the idea of nails growing after death originated from.

Goli, R. (2009, July 19). Do hair and nails continue to grow after death?. Retrieved from