New study could help predict which individuals are more susceptible to cancer-causing agent — ScienceDaily

New insights into the mechanisms behind how cancer-causing agents in the environment activate genetic recombination in DNA could help to explain some of the effects of exposure as well as predicting which individuals may be more susceptible to developing the disease, a new UK study has suggested.

Everyone is exposed to low levels of carcinogens (substances or radiation that promote the formation of cancer) in the environment. One of the most widely found is benzopyrene — a general chemical pollutant found in smoke from stoves such as wood burners, exhaust fumes and barbequed meat and fish. One active ingredient of benzopyrene, BPDE, directly damages the DNA sequence forming what is known as adducts which in turn promote cancer-causing mutations.

While models exist showing how BPDE causes these mutations, some of the pathways are still not understood. It is currently believed that a BPDE adducts cause mutations during DNA synthesis because

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Researchers light-up mouse brain, revealing previously hidden areas susceptible to opioids — ScienceDaily

Winding and twisting like a labyrinth, the brain consists of an elaborate network of passages through which information flows at high speeds, rapidly generating thoughts, emotions, and physical responses. Much of this information is relayed by chemical messengers, or neurotransmitters — like dopamine and serotonin.

Although fine-tuned and evolved for complex processing, the brain and its neurotransmitters are vulnerable to hijacking by chemical substances, including opioid drugs such as oxycodone, psychostimulants such as cocaine, and alcohol. Chronic use of any of these substances enhances the activity of a molecule known as the kappa opioid receptor (KOR), which is active in the brain’s reward circuitry. KOR activation produces dysphoria and an inability to feel pleasure. Its enhanced activity following chronic drug or alcohol use plays a crucial role in substance abuse.

KORs have been known to exist in certain brain regions, particularly those involved in pain processing, reward, and stress responses,

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Coastal permafrost more susceptible to climate change than previously thought — ScienceDaily

If you flew from the sea towards the land in the north slope of Alaska, you would cross from the water, over a narrow beach, and then to the tundra. From the air, that tundra would look like a landscape of room-sized polygonal shapes. Those shapes are the surface manifestations of the ice in the frozen ground below, a solidified earth known as permafrost.

Scientists long believed the solid permafrost extended offshore: from the tundra, below that narrow beach and below the seafloor declining at a gentle slope. They viewed that permafrost like solid brick, locking the subsurface — and the vast amounts of carbon it holds — in place.

But new research led by Micaela Pedrazas, who earned her masters at The University of Texas at Austin Jackson School of Geosciences working with Professor Bayani Cardenas, has upended that paradigm. They found permafrost to be mostly absent throughout the

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