artic land grab and huntington's disease

There's an International war going on and it's SURPRISE north of us-- not in the Middle East.

This war is still over oil and natural gas--no surprise there--but at least this time there's no bullets, just lawyers and scientists with the UN having ultimate control over the decision.

There's the story over on the left. If it's too small to read, just click on it to make it bigger. Magic!

Apparently there's lots of petro type resources under the Bering Sea as well as the ocean floor beneath the polar region north of Alaska and Siberia. And that's a little sticky legally because under the 1982 Law of the Sea Convention, coastal states can claim the seabed beyond those economic zones, if they can show it connects to the continental shelf on which they are located.

In this particular case, the coastal states in question are Canada, Denmark, Norway, Russia and the United States. They all have territory with the Arctic Circle so each controls an economic zone in the Arctic which extends 200 miles north of their coastlines.

Since Russian geologists have estimated that the Arctic seabed has at least 9 billion to 10 billion tonnes of fuel equivalent, about the same as Russia's total oil reserves, you can see why all these countries are trying hard to get a piece of the action. Right now Russia seems to be in the lead--but they've been working on the problem for the longest time.

By the way, just a few weeks ago a Russian submarine planted the Russian national flag on the North Pole's seabed. Uh-oh!

Here's a cartoon from today's issue of The Daily Tarheel. By coincidence they were covering he same topic today. I wonder if most people were aware of what the cartoon was referring to?

On the science front, it looks like there might be a new treatment for Huntington's Disease (HD) on the way. Apparently in victims of HD a protein named REST (RE1-silencing transcription factor ), a repressor protein which is usually found only in certain regions of the brain, invades the nucleus of neurons and decreases the expression of BDNF (brain derived neurotrophic factor).

I did a little work on HD way back when I was at Emory University and met some people with the disease. During the end stages HD patients become catatonic and it's quite unsettling to imagine you in their place. Can't move at all but your mind works fine. Seeing that will give you nightmares--and make you very glad your parents didn't give you the gene for HD!

According to Dr Lezanne Ooi, a researcher at the University of Leeds, “This is a really exciting breakthrough. It's early days, but we believe our research could lead to radical changes in treatment for Huntington 's sufferers. The fact that these cancer drugs have already been through the clinical trials process should speed up the time it takes for this research to impact directly on patients.”

Cath Stanley, Head of Care Services at the Huntington's Disease Association, said
“Any developments in the understanding of this disease are welcome, but this breakthrough is particularly exciting as it opens up an avenue for researching a possible treatment using drugs that are already available, rather than starting from scratch.”

I looked at a couple of Dr Lezanne Ooi's publications to see what drugs they tested and also to see if any of my papers were referenced--I was amazed to see just how closely their methods parallel the ones I use now. Give the paper a look if you're curious.


SassyAssy said…
Were any of your papers used?
utenzi said…
Nope. At least not in the two papers I checked. I did a lot more work in the immunology area and those papers are cited more often. I only did a little work in the Huntington's Chorea area--but I checked just in case. It's nice to see your name in print! :-)
Smug said…
I have been hearing about the Arctic Circle stuff on NPR, and I think that you are right, everyone is trying to catch up with Russia and get a piece of the action! The cartoon shows a lot of facial detail - scary to think what battles our country will get into next!!
kenju said…
I saw some people with HD when I was in high school. I am eternally grateful I don't have that gene.
tiff said…
Can't read the paper - the full-text link is for subscribers only, or so it would seem.

The Russian sub trip is an interesting story, not only did they plant their flag, but it was the deepest a manned sub has even gone, I believe. Kinda cool. Well, being as how it's the artic circle, it was probably really COLD, not just cool.

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