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 STRIKING NEWS: SNAKE VENOM

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Snakes Incorporated
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PostSubject: STRIKING NEWS: SNAKE VENOM   Sat Dec 29, 2007 8:11 am

STRIKING NEWS: SNAKE VENOM

It may sound like a bad pun, but some striking news about snake venom is being discovered in the biology labs at Clarke College.
Clarke College Associate Professor of Biology Lon Alterman and sophomore biology major Jamie Slack of Mokena, Ill., are collaborating with a group at North Carolina State University on a project to determine how the chemical composition of snake venom varies throughout the year. Alterman and Slack receive samples of venom collected from water moccasins and cottonmouth snakes in North Carolina at different times of year and analyze them at Clarke.
“Since snake venom is used for hunting and the type of prey available to snakes varies throughout the year, our question is, `Is there a `cocktail' for mice when mice are around? Is there a different `cocktail' for frogs or other prey?” says Alterman. “What we've found out is that, yes, there are seasonal variations in the venom of cottonmouth snakes. It appears that a particular gene or a particular proteinaceous toxin is turned off and on seasonally, and that's striking news.”
Alterman says they hope to identify the proteins or find the structural genes and determine what induces them to be turned on. “Is it the sight of a mouse? Is it the sight of a frog? Is it temperature? Or, is it something else entirely?” he says. “And if we find this out, then we have a series of genes we can turn off and on.”
According to Alterman, learning how genes are turned off and on is vital in understanding human development. “For example, the idea of turning genes off and on is how we think the hemoglobin we have when we are in in-utero changes to the hemoglobin we have as adults,” he says. “When that gene doesn't turn on, a disease called `persistence of fetal hemoglobin' develops.”
He adds the research may provide hints as to how environmental factors turn genes on and off. For instance, seasonal variation due to the lack of light in winter is known to cause mood changes in people called SADS, or seasonal affective disorder syndrome. Studying other genes turned off and on by exposure to light or darkness may provide hints as to how such syndromes can be regulated.
Alterman and Slack will travel to North Carolina in March to work on a grant with their colleagues at NCSU to continue the research project.
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PostSubject: Re: STRIKING NEWS: SNAKE VENOM   Mon Dec 31, 2007 5:47 pm

OMG thats weird but it makes sense when you think about it.

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