Friday, February 19, 2010

Blood Doping

The purpose of this bioblog is to find out what the process, "blood doping" really is. I'd like to desrcibe some of my views on the issue regarding to blood doping and with sports/competitions. Blood Doping is pretty much the the increase of RBC's otherwise known as red blood cells which gives more oxygen to the muscles which in turn gives energy to an athletes performance in sports/activities. Yet this sounds like a marvelous idea, there are always complications and imperfections when it comes to new methods.

As said in the website below, I'll use this as my first example. The story of how bikers bikers tried to increase their red blood cells, so they could have a boost in performance and agility.
Before in the past, bikers removed their own blood, stored it, and transfused it back just before their race. Now this process, is not so easily used because contestants are tested to see if they have more RBC's than normal. By doing this, the use of "blood doping" has decreased.

We can also compare this to steroids, as it has the same purpose; to boost somebody's energy or willpower than normal. These two practices are let other athletes have an advantage on the other people who trained hard for that event/competition.

Some of the advantages of blood doping is as follows: it is highly effective to improve endurance exercise performance at the elite level of about 4%, It probably decreases the perception of effort during exercise to allow improved performance, and it may be easier to regulate hematocrit (percent composition RBCs of total blood volume) - a tightly regulated ceiling is placed on this value and is used for detection of both blood doping (and EPO use). (

Some of the known possible problems and side effects of blood doping is as follows: decrease in cardiac output, a decrease in blood flow velocity, and a reduction in peripheral oxygen content. Some of the other problems that could happen while doing a transfusion is as follows: phlebitis (inflammation of a vein, usually in the legs), septicemia (presence of bacteria in the blood (bacteremia) and is often associated with other severe infections), hyperviscosity syndrome (a group of symptoms triggered by increase in the viscosity of the blood).

All these problems arise just from a simple transfusion. My views on this topic is that it is unfair to other athletes as they are given an extra boost of energy to win, while the real athletes give more than 100% to win fair and square.


Monday, February 8, 2010

Designer Babies - Moral or Immoral?

So the question stands: Are things getting out of hand with research into genetic processes?

I'd like to go first on what designer babies are defined as. It refers to a baby's genes to be altered to any traits of the individual's liking. In many ways, I find the evolution of genetics - going in the wrong direction. First, to explain the method on how to put forth such an experiment - you have to destroy an embryo to make this happen, in some ways this is put into the same field as abortion, as it follows the same concept.

Now I'd like to go from a catholic perspective, based solely on the said information, I would say that they are playing God. We were taught that, with power comes great responsibility, which should not be put upon any humans, as none of us are ready for that. The reason why intimacy, and reproduction is in our world, is because the traits from both parents are what should be looked forward to, no matter what we receive or attain, we should be proud and consider it a blessing that a newborn child was born.

Now coming from a scientific perspective, is it right to genetically modify our child in cost of a life? To me, it wouldn't be worth it, but some questions to ask ourselves are not everyone is going to want perfect children, they might want to have a child that has a specific disorder - what would happen then? Would it still be considered safe and what was it tested on? Another thing to think about is what if you have a disorder or imperfection you don't want your child to attain - would you simply resort to the method of "Designer Babies" just because of that?

A good example of an imperfection of this method is Charlie from this source. ( - Charlie suffers from a rare blood disorder, Diamond Blackfan Anaemia, which only affects about 700 people in the whole world. The disorder occurs when a person’s bone marrow fails to produce enough red blood cells, which needed to carry oxygen to the rest of the body. It is treatable, but Charlie’s quality and length of life are both in jeopardy. Fortunately, Charlie’s condition is curable with a stem cell transfusion from an identical tissue match. And this is where Jamie comes in. After a genetic preimplantation diagnosis, the Jamie we know, was selected at the embryonic stage so, once born, he could give Charlie the stem cells he needs.

There are many things that should be put into consideration about genetically modifying a newborn baby. I find it immoral and should be ceased effectively.

References (Websites) :

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Stem Cells

First, I'm going to give a brief background on what stem cells are, and how they are being used. Stem Cells are basically regenerative cells, that can turn into other cell types to help the human body. They are used for helping people regain what they lost. Scientists now work with only two specific stem cells, and those are embryonic stem cells, and non-embryonic "somatic" or "adult- cells."

Before i start, i want you to know that stem cells are broken down into a few different types: totipoten(transform into any cell), pluripotent(most cells) and last but not least multi-potent. Stem cells are one of the most important parts of the living organism in the human body. They're capable of becoming many different types of cells. When a stem cell recieve's a specific type of gene it make's new proteins. It begins to differentiate or gradually changes into it's destined cell type. We have different types of stem cells, from nerve cells to skin cells and so much more. Skin is constantly rebuilding itself, so stem cells are always needed. This type of stem cell turns into keratiocyte, the cell that forms the tough outer layer of the skin. These are one of the amazing works of stem cells.

Stem cells have many different and exciting features to them. Although, stem cells have there pros they also have there cons. Due to the wonderful results of stem cells therapy, price becomes an issue. For the price of regaining a leg, or miraculously regenerating the body, it comes at a high cost. Due to its effect of being able to adapt to the affected area and create new healthy stem cells, most people won't be able to afford this expensive surgery.

As stated in the first website below, that mice were first tested for this treatment. Some mice died from brain tumours for as much as 20% of the cases. Also some researchers are losing hope into thinking of that stem cell research will be more efficient and safe, but other scientists think otherwise. Funds are being taken away from this field, to more promising research.