The Glucocorticoid Receptor (starts at 5:30): We interview Dr. Miles Pufall who studies the glucocorticoid receptor, a protein in cell membranes that is the target of drugs used to treat a variety of conditions from asthma to cancer. Binding cortisol causes the receptor to be moved to the nucleus where it turns on (or off) numerous genes. One of the big questions is how does each cell type ‘know’ which genes should be targeted?
Hosts: Beth Bennett, Joel Parker Producer: Beth Bennett Engineer: Beth Bennett Additional Contributions: Joel Parker, Susan Moran Executive Producer: Joel Parker
We offer two features on the Tuesday, Oct. 22, show:
Feature 1 – Antarctica Research (start time 4:15): Diane McKnight, a professor of civil, environmental and architectural engineering at the University of Colorado Boulder, talks with How On Earth contributor Brian Calvert about scientific discoveries from Antarctica. During the temporary government shutdown the United States Antarctic Program, which facilitates government-funded scientific research in Antarctica, was unplugged. Several expeditions were cancelled. Her research on the McMurdo Dry Valleys on the continent will resume, but a future government shutdown would threaten scientific research on penguins, extreme microbes, climate change-induced sea ice melt and so many other subjects.
Feature 2 – The Cancer Chronicles (start time 12:22): In his new book, The Cancer Chronicles: Unlocking Medicine’s Deepest Mystery, science writer George Johnson takes readers on his very personal quest to understand cancer on a cellular level: how it begins with one “renegade cell” that divides, mutates, and becomes a tumor. In the process Johnson also digs deep into history – per-history, in fact — to learn that not only our ancient human ancestors had cancer, but even some dinosaurs suffered from them. And the author dissects many scientific studies that debunk myths about the role environmental toxins play in cancer. And he challenges false beliefs that cancer in modern times is on the rise. “Yet running beneath the surface is a core rate of cancer, the legacy of being multicellular creatures in an imperfect world,” he writes. Johnson speaks via phone to host Susan Moran about the mysteries and discoveries of cancer.
And as we mentioned in today’s headlines, if you want to see the large fragment of the Chelyabinsk meteor being recovered from Lake Chebarkul, you can see the video here.
Hosts: Susan Moran, Joel Parker Producer: Susan Moran Engineer: Joel Parker Executive Producer: Beth Bartel
For the August 20 How On Earth show we offer two features:
Kepler Spacecraft’s Uncertain Future: (start time 5:48) Are we alone in the cosmos? Are there other planets out there, and could some of them support life? Or, is Earth somehow unique in its ability to support life? The Kepler mission was designed to start addressing that question by searching for planets around other stars. Since its launch in March 2009, the Kepler spacecraft has discovered many diverse candidate planets around other stars, but recently the spacecraft has run into some technical problems. Dr. Steve Howell from NASA’s Ames Research Center talks with co-host Joel Parker about Kepler’s past, present and future.
Cancer’s Impact on Fertility: (start time 14:52) It’s tough enough to receive a cancer diagnosis. For many patients, an added insult is that chemotherapy treatments can render them infertile. However, there are many options for cancer patients who want to have children, or more children – both men and women. A key problem has been that many of them aren’t educated by oncologists about their fertility options and they jump right into drug treatments. Dr. Laxmi Kondapalli, an assistant professor of reproductive endocrinology and infertility at the University of Colorado Denver and head of the CU Cancer Center’s Oncofertility Program, talks with co-host Susan Moran about the medical science of take cancer therapies and the latest in fertility-preservation options.
Hosts: Susan Moran, Joel Parker Producer: Susan Moran Additional Contributions: Shelley Schlender Engineer: Joel Parker Executive Producer: Susan Moran
Feature #1 (start time 5:36): Cancer drugs are much more targeted than they were many years ago. But researchers are still trying to find a way to deliver drugs much more precisely to cancer cells, partly to avoid damaging, sometimes lethal, side effects. A huge obstacle has been getting nucleic acids to cross the membrane of cancer cells. A new study has brought researchers closer to crossing this big hurdle. Dr. Tom Anchordoquy, a lead author of the study, speaks with co-host Susan Moran about the study and what it means for cancer patients and researchers. Dr. Anchordoquy is an investigator at the University of Colorado Cancer Center in Denver and a professor at the Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences.
Feature #2 (start time 15:02): Being an astronaut is a risky job, but perhaps one of the less-known risks is the high levels of radiation beyond the relatively protective cocoon of Earth’s magnetic field. This will be a particularly important problem to address for long-duration deep-space flight such as going to Mars. Until recently there have not been a lot of measurements available of the interplanetary radiation field for the types of radiation that could affect humans. But on the Curiosity rover of the Mars Science Laboratory, there is a radiation detector designed to make those important measurements. The instrument team recently published their initial results. Dr. Don Hassler, Science Program Director at Southwest Research Institute’s Boulder office and the Principal Investigator for the Radiation Assessment Detector on the Mars Curiosity rover, talks with co-host Joel Parker about the results.
Hosts: Susan Moran, Joel Parker Producer: Susan Moran Engineer: Joel Parker Executive Producer: Joel Parker
The World Health Organization has officially listed cells phones as a possible carcinogen. One expert who’s not surprised at the designation is University of Colorado, distinguished professor Frank Barnes. For decades, Barnes has cobbled together hard-to-find research dollars to study the biological effects of magnetic fields and radiation, including cell phone radiation. In 2008, he chaired a National Research Council report that called for more research into the health effects of all kinds of wireless technologies, including laptop computers, wireless phones, and cell phones. In today’s show, Frank Barnes talks with How on Earth’s Shelley Schlender about cell phone safety.
Hosts: Joel Parker, Tom McKinnon Producer: Joel Parker Engineer: Tom McKinnon