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Being Multicellular

Explorations in science.

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health

What is Charcot–Marie–Tooth disease (CMT)?

Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease is a group of diseases that damage the nerves that are outside the brain and spinal cord- the peripheral nerves- which control the muscles and sensory stimuli. CMT is caused by an abnormality in one of the genes (sometimes inherited from parents) that control the development of the peripheral nerves leading to the nerves becoming damaged. The reason why CMT is the umbrella term for ‘a group’ of diseases is because no single gene or fault causes CMT, there are a range of genetic faults that can damage the peripheral nerves. One of the genes that cause CMT causes the myelin sheath to wear down and so the axon, the part of the nerve cell that transmits electrical impulses, become damaged without the protection the myelin sheath provides; therefore, impulses to the brain and muscles are affected leading to numbness and weakness.

It is a progressive condition; it gets worse as the individual gets older. CMT may cause muscle weakness and numbness in the feet, ankles, legs and hands, have very arched feet and curled toes, cold hands and feet due to poor circulation and having an uneven gait. These symptoms may appear in childhood, usually between five and fifteen years old, but they may not develop until middle age [1]. A common sign is when a child has difficulty walking due to having trouble lifting their feet of the ground.

There is no cure but there are treatments that can increase mobility and the independence of the individual such as physiotherapy, occupational therapy and walking aids and surgery can be used to flatten the arch of the foot and correct muscles contractions where the muscles shorten which limits the range of movement[1].

[1] http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/Charcot-Marie-Tooth-disease/Pages/Introduction.aspx

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What is Hepatitis?

It’s World Hepatitis Day and so I’d like to briefly explore what Hepatitis is. Before research for this post, I didn’t know that there were so many types of hepatitis and that for some of them, especially autoimmune, the causes are unknown.

Hepatitis is the term used to describe inflammation of the liver. The causes are viral infection or liver damage by alcohol. The type determines whether the hepatitis will

Continue reading “What is Hepatitis?”

The Stress Hormone

Cortisol is a steroid hormone made from cholesterol in the two adrenal glands above each kidney. It is best known for its role in the ‘fight or flight’ response and how, in stressful situations, it can increase the body’s energy production temporarily.

The secretion of cortisol is controlled by the hypothalamus, the pituitary gland and the adrenal gland [2]. When there are low cortisol levels in the blood, Continue reading “The Stress Hormone”

Why Are Women More Likely to Get Alzheimer’s?

In the US, out of 5 million people living with Alzheimer’s, 3.2 million of these are women [1] and I thought that this was due to women living longer than men collectively but this gap between living ages of men and women is not substantial enough to be the whole story; Alzheimer’s is a disease that can last for as long as 20 years before the individual passes away and so the life expectancy of 5-8 years doesn’t add up. Continue reading “Why Are Women More Likely to Get Alzheimer’s?”

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