Monday, 28 January 2013

Targeting breast cancer in a surprising way

Scanning electron micrograph of a cluster of 
breast cancer cells showing visual evidence of 
programmed cell death (apoptosis)  in yellow. 
Credit: Annie Cavanagh (

Nowadays there are quite a few compounds in clinical trials to assay their potential as breast cancer treatments. Some of them are the so called “PARP inhibitors”. These inhibitors work very well in tumours that have a deficiency in DNA repair because PARP proteins are involved in that process. However, a group of researchers working on a different type of breast cancer without any problem in DNA repair has discovered that, unexpectedly, PARP inhibitors can kill the cells of this other type of breast cancer as well.

Breast cancer is not just “one” cancer. It can be the result of different mutations; therefore there will be different types of breast cancer. One of them is called “BRCA deficient tumour”. This tumour has a defect in BRCA proteins. These proteins are part of one of the DNA repair mechanisms, the Homologous Recombination (HR). Cancer cells with a deficient HR cannot repair their DNA properly leading to a higher genomic instability. This instability is an important survival factor for the tumour and DNA repair mechanisms are good targets for antitumor therapy.

Thursday, 16 August 2012

And the Labby goes to ...

The Scientist magazine organises the "Labbies" (multimedia awards). Each year a panel of judges picks some videos and images as finalists for the awards and people can choose the best one in each category.

This year the five finalists are quite different but all of them are impressive. From natural selection to stem cell research for diabetes these videos are a good example of different research projects presented in a very catchy way. 

Thursday, 5 July 2012

Truth and Beauty: The unseeable biology

Brain animation.
By Nevit Dilmen.
Source Wikimedia Commons
Sometimes it's difficult to tell you about things that happen inside the cells. And these things are difficult to teach as well. However, one of the ways we have to show you those beautiful things inside the cells is with animations.

These animations are based on accurate scientific data and show us, many times in a very spectacular way, those things that we can't see. Animations are a combination of truth and beauty.

As examples of these animations I want to share with you some videos that I hope you like.

Friday, 22 June 2012

"Science: it's a girl thing" disappointing campaign

This morning I discovered (via Clara Grima) a new campaign from the European Union (EU) to promote science among girls and I was very disappointed. It's called "Science: it's a girl thing".

This campaign was launched yesterday with a conference in Brussels and it looked like a very good idea. We really need to encourage girls to get interested in science but the way the EU chose to do it this time is making many people angry.

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Genetic Engineering as you have never seen it before

Source: Wikimedia Commons
I just came across this BBC documentary by Adam Rutherford through Jenny Winder in Google plus about Genetic Engineering. I do work with genetic engineering techniques myself in the lab but what it was shown in the video made me open my mouth. It´s really unbelievable how far we have gone nowadays in this field and how quickly this keeps evolving.

I won't say anything else... Just judge it by yourself.

Thursday, 7 June 2012

"Science is sexy and it is our job to tell everybody that"

Yesterday, I saw in twitter the link to a very interesting post published in Agora, the L'Oréal-UNESCO for women in science blog. And the reason is very simple. They posted Ingrid Scheffer's speech at the inaugural SOBR (Student Of Brain Research) in Melbourne. I loved her speech.

She talked about how important is to communicate our science to the non-scientists. She covered different issues from how to prepare a powerpoint to how to talk to the media. Quite a few and very interesting things in not many minutes.

So, here you have the videos of her speech. I hope you enjoy them as much as me. Becasue... "Science is sexy, and it is our job to tell everyone that." Never forget it.

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Open-Source Cancer Research

I'm always interested in cancer research and recently I became very interested in open data. Open data is a great tool. It's based on sharing the knowledge. And this is always very good. Mainly for research that is collaborative. Sometimes this is not easy because of the competition, mainly in the biomedicine field. This open science is increasingly growing but it won't succeed if only few scientists are involved in it. 

When I took part in the SciFund challenge one of the rewards I was offering was to write a blog post about whatever (related to science) the contributor wanted. Well, Frederic Baud, one of the contributors of my project asked me if I could write a post about open science, so here it is. The open science movement is fighting to make scientific research – especially publicly funded research – more transparent, freely accessible and reusable. And I want to encourage scientists to share their research and be part of this movement. As I said before it may not be easy but there are many good examples of very successful projects that were based in this open philosophy. 

Monday, 19 March 2012

It has been possible thanks to you

Yes, my SciFund project has been possible thanks to you. This is the post to thank all the fuelers who contributed to it for that and to thank other people who helped also with other things.

First of all I want to thank Jai Ranganathan and Jarret Byrnes for having the idea and making the challenge a reality. I also want to thank the researchers who took part in this first round of the SciFund challenge for their help polishing the project before publishing it, and especially to Jorge Mederos who has been a great team mate all this time.

I want to thank Esther Walker, from the Paterson Institute for Cancer Research, as well, for all her help choosing most of the nice pictures that appeared in the video of my project.

Finally I want to thank my sister Angélica for all her help spreading the word about my project and the other two Spanish projects in the challenge.

And because I wanted to do something more special than a blog post, here you have this video dedicated to all of you, who have made this possible.

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Job (in)stability in the early stages of the Research Career

Back in January I took part in the wrap up event of the public consultation on the future of the European Research Area (ERA) organised by the European Commission: "ERA Conference 2012: Fostering Efficiency, Excellence and Growth". You can find the preliminary report about the public consultation in the European Commission web and I really recommend you to read it if you are interested in these issues.

My intervention was in the session called "Researchers: Why the European Research Area?" and I was asked to talk about the specific topics that are important for young researchers related to this. My speech (a short one because we were asked to last around 5 minutes) was focus on the mobility and instability issues in the early stages of the research career. If you click in the link below you can watch my talk. 

I hope you like it and I would like to know what you think about it (in the comments box for example). You can also enjoy the rest of the talks here. Related to my talk I recommend you to watch Dr. Vannessa Diaz's talk. It was very clear and to the point. I loved it.

Just one more thing. One issue that was recurrent in the answers to the consultation was the gender inequality mainly at the top positions in academia. This is not exclusive of the academic environment but can be found in other places as well. To finish this post I would like to leave you with this video title "The lack of women at the top" by Euronews (clicking in the image will redirect you to the video in Euronews´web).

The lack of women at the top

Monday, 5 March 2012

How scientists see the world

I've just found this comic and I think it's great so I want to share it with you all... World View (cartoon) by Abstruse Goose


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