God alone is Sovereign

1 Chronicles 29:11

Yours, O LORD, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, for all that is in the heavens and in the earth is yours. Yours is the kingdom, O LORD, and you are exalted as head above all.

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Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Anna Grace - July 20

So yesterday Anna Grace's incision started looking a little red to me, just at the top of the incision basically right under her chin. She's not running a fever, but I called the pediatrician yesterday to let him know. He said that I could bring her in if I wanted him to look at it, but that as long as it's not "oozing" and she is not running fever then it should be OK. I also talked with her cardiologist who basically said the same thing, but that he might start her on Keflex (sp?) if he thought it was getting infected. Basically I've just decided to watch it for the next day or so to see what happens before I take her in. If it starts looking worse then I'll take her in to have it looked at. Please join me in praying that this it just a little irritated from drooling and that a bib will solve the problem. I hate to take her in unless I HAVE to because it is so traumatic for her to go to the doctor (understandably so).

I also haven't mentioned the whole sleeping through the night thing in a while because why beat a dead horse...... she was just waking once during the night (usually about 4:00 am to eat) but for the last two nights she has been waking at midnight AND 4:00 to eat. I suspect it is because she is on a fat-free diet so her food is just not filling her up for very long, but Mommy is tired..... it has been almost 7 months now and I could really use a whole night sleep. I am hoping that once we make the switch from Portagen (on AUGUST 10) that her fat filled diet will do the trick and we can all get some much needed sleep. Chylothorax stinks!

I will leave you today with an article my Mother-in-Law e-mailed to me yesterday about some reserarch that is being conducted regarding Congenital Heart Defects (CHD's). It is exciting seeing research being conducted and although it will probably not help Anna Grace, it may help someone else's baby 50 years from now. Once things settle for us I am definatley planning on spending some time raising money toward CHD research.

They’re not much to look at - squishy little blobs, 5 or 6 inches long and transparent, lying inert at the bottom of an aquarium in a research lab.

But for Winthrop University biology professor Heather Evans-Anderson, these simple organisms are the subject of some pretty complex study - research that just earned her more than $419,000 in funding from the National Institutes of Health.

Winthrop Prof. Heather Evans-Anderson just received a National Institutes of Health grant for over $400,000 to study sea squirts, sea invertibrates with genes that allow them to repair damaged tissue in their hearts. Her research is focused on studying how this process might translate to humans.

They’re called sea squirts - or Ciona intestinalis - and what makes these sea-dwelling invertebrates interesting is their ability to repair damaged muscle cells in their hearts through the regeneration of cardiac myocytes, or heart muscle cells.

This is the process Evans-Anderson and her assistants will continue to study with funding from the NIH grant, which will pay researchers and a lab technician while covering costs of supplies and facility and equipment rental for the next three years.

“We’re trying to understand the basic questions about the biology of how the genes work using a simple model,” Evans-Anderson said.

Congenital heart defects are the most common birth defect in humans, according to the American Heart Association. Cardiovascular disease is another threat, Evans-Anderson added.

Research like Evans-Anderson’s is important because it could lead to changes in our understanding of the human heart and - years from now - provide the foundation for medical advancements.

Sea squirts get their names from how they behave in the wild, attaching themselves to things like wharfs, boats and reefs, where they live out their lives - sucking in water, filtering out the microalgae to eat and squirting water back out.

Sea squirts are hermaphrodites, meaning their reproductive organ produces both sperm and eggs. They reproduce by squirting out eggs and sperm in the water to mix with that of other sea squirts.

Other than that, their lives seem mundane. But what goes on inside their hearts is extraordinary.

During development, Evans-Anderson said, when a sea squirt’s heart is forming, the cells are proliferating - “growing to build the heart.”

The same process is going on in a human heart as the embryo develops.

But unlike the sea squirt, whose cells continue to multiply throughout life, allowing damaged heart tissue to heal itself, the cells of a human heart no longer proliferate, or regenerate, in a meaningful way after birth.

“If we can see why regeneration happens” in a sea squirt’s heart, she said, “we can then see what’s different” in human heart development.

The answers lie in genetic research.

Evans-Anderson and research assistants James Tucker and John Samies, both senior biology majors, are studying the development of sea squirt hearts - from fertilization to adulthood - by studying the genes that direct heart development and the processes that repair cells.

Running tests, looking through microscopes, and playing with petri dishes might seem a little slow, but Tucker and Samies are energized by it.

Samies plans to study orthopedics in medical school, but since he started working in research, he might see a different track ahead.

“I’m starting to get pulled toward research,” he said. “Going through tissue samples, extracting RNA and making DNA from it - that’s fascinating.”

Tucker already knows he wants to be a research scientist, maybe focusing on microbiology.

“A lot of the things we learn in here we haven’t learned in class,” he said.

And, as Evans-Anderson pointed out, turning down the grinding rock coming from her computer, “We are also big fans of Rage Against the Machine.”

Over the next three years, their work will involve isolating the sea squirts’ heart-development genes, removing them and then watching how the organism develops without the gene. That will tell them something about how the missing gene functions and how it interacts with other genes.

It’s like working on a car, Tucker said. Take something out, disconnect a wire, remove a part and watch to see what no longer happens.

Except with a sea squirt, it’s a gene they’re taking out.

It’s a complicated process made easier by the fact that the sea squirt’s genome is so much more simple than a human’s.

Unlike the human genome, which has multiple copies of certain genes, the sea squirt’s genome doesn’t have as many copies to sort through, making it easier to identify genes, isolate them, and see how they function together.

This simplicity makes the sea squirt an ideal model.

If scientists can isolate the genes in a sea squirt that allow its heart cells to regenerate, Evans-Anderson said, they might be able to figure out which human genes could do the same thing and somehow “turn them on.”

Read more: http://www.thestate.com/2010/07/19/1382309/sea-squirt-may-hold-answer-to.html#ixzz0u8iuhJnG

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