So, as you probably know, humans inhabit a planet, which exists in a solar system, which orbits a star, which is a tiny spec within one of billions of galaxies in our universe. Don't believe me? Then check this out...

And, what makes a human a human? It is something that lies within our genome. And what is a genome? Well, its a bit complicated, but if you have a spare 3 minutes and 33 seconds, this lady introduces it fairly well, and with a soothing voice nonetheless...

Why in the hell should you care about human genetics? Well, you probably shouldn't. But I do. Whether we like it or not, as this lady told you, our genes ultimately control everything in our lives through the synthesis and expression of proteins.

In our ~ 6 feet of DNA, there are about 30,000 genes. That may sound like a lot of genes, but it isn't... a grain of rice has 45,000 genes. Out of the 3 billion base pairs in our chromosomes, only about 1-2% of them code for our genes. That means there is a lot of 'junk' in our genome. Junk that makes things more complex, more confusing, and probably more susceptible to becoming mutated.

What is a genetic mutation? And how can such a thing occur? It is simply a change in the sequence of your DNA base pairs from normal. Since our cells are continuously dividing to produce new cells, our DNA is being replicated as well. A mistake in DNA replication can result in a mutation. A mistake can be completely spontaneous, or it can result from stress put on the cell, or it can result from a 'carcinogen.' 99.99% of the time a mutation within our DNA will go completely unnoticed, that is to say it will not effect the structure or function of its' protein product. However, on the rare occurrence that the structure of the protein is modified, even by a simple swap of one amino acid for another, serious consequences can occur (i.e. cancer).

If you are still with me... Bravo. That must mean that you and I are doing a good job of understanding and explaining respectively. Now, maybe I can explain my 'project' here at Debreceni Egyetem.

ErbB2, one of our ~30,000 genes, is involved in (some types) of cancer. From a large, comprehensive collection of clinical data from patients with glioblastomas (most common and deadly primary brain tumor), it was found that this protein was found to be mutated in 7 out of ~450 patients (most likely along with a number of other genes). With todays technology, precise information about the mutated gene could be gathered about the gene such as which chromosome, EXACTLY where on the chromosome, and how the amino acid sequence was altered. It turns out that the gene of interest was identically mutated in 2 of these 7 patients.
Through further research and reading that I have done within the literature, this specific mutation seems worthy of further experimentation. Therefore, my plan of action is to recreate this specific mutation within brain cells in order to conduct further experiments and hopefully collect data that can help identify how this protein affects the glioblastoma tumorgenesis.

Yea, I know this is a pathetic attempt to understand cancer the slightest amount more than we do. The insignificance of my impact in the world of cancer research made me think of the insignificance of the human race within the universe. I don't know which is more likely... earth being the only spec within the universe with life, or ErbB2 playing a definitive role in glioblsastoma tumorgenesis?



  1. I think it's cool Beeeeyyyn. Not many kids these days are putting the actual knowledge they learned in school to good use, so BEWKAW to you. Oh, and hey Beeeeyyyyyn, I think you're a stallion. oops!

  2. All of this reminds me that astronomers just found another planet in another solar system that they think might sustain life. Remarkable! Just as your potential discovery could change the world.