Geographic Variability of Active Ingredients in Spice as an Indicator of Mechanisms of Distribution and Manufacture Within Alaska

Designer drugs, like Spice, are synthetic psychoactive analogs of illegal substances with understudied health effects since they have traditionally been sold in packages labeled “not for human consumption” and the molecular structures can be specifically altered to circumvent legislation. Recent legislation has focused on regulating packaging and has reduced, but not eliminated, the distribution of Spice in Alaska. Legally obtained Spice samples from three geographic regions in Alaska were analyzed using liquid injection gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS). Most (70%) of the samples contained illegal cannabinoids that have been regulated by the Drug Enforcement Agency and 47% contained multiple active ingredients. We hypothesized that the heterogeneity of the active ingredients between brands and across regions could be used to indicate small or larger-scale manufacturing, and the results indicate multiple manufacturing scales.

Using CRISPR to Fight ALS

ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis), otherwise known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, is a fatal neurodegenerative disease that involves the loss of motor neurons in the spinal cord, brainstem, and motor cortex. This disease, estimated to be afflicting around 20,000 Americans, leads to progressive muscle weakness throughout the body. Recently, researchers at the University of California in Berkeley used the gene-editing technology, CRISPR-Cas9, to disrupt the mutant SOD1 gene expression in the spinal cord of mice with ALS, effectively extending their lifespan by 25%

Compacting DNA: real-time imaging of condensing in action

Compacting DNA: real-time imaging of condensing in action

Proteins are often intuitively named after their function, and condensin is no exception. It condenses DNA inside the nucleus of a cell into X-shaped chromosomes for cell division. The name, however, provides no insight into how this feat is achieved. In fact, the molecular mechanism of how condensin organizes DNA inside the nucleus has previously only been hypothesized to involve extruding DNA into large loops.