Monthly Archives: February 2014

How To Train (I Mean Feed) Your Vegan…


Ok so the myth is that vegans don’t have souls or was that about red-heads?

download(Sorry Guys)

Anyway….to some of you who don’t know, vegans (and gingers) are human beings just like you and me, who unlike the rest of us meat lovers, prefer to exclude meat or any form of dairy products from their diet (brave, so brave).

So the question is:
Do vegans even get enough protein from their diet?


Well, contrary to popular belief, one can obtain proteins from food sources other than meat (Gasp! I know, shocking right?)
And no I’m not referring to ‘supplements’, I’m talking about vegan-friendly foods such as: tofu, seitan, soy, lentils, chickpeas, nuts, seeds etc.

It’s easy for a vegan diet to meet the recommended amount of protein intake (0.8 grams per kilogram that we weigh) once their calorie intake is adequate.It has been calculated that the protein recommendation for Vegans amount to 10% of the calories originating from proteins. [0.9 g of protein/kg body weight (0.41 g/ lbs)]

For instance, a vegan male weighing 150 pounds with a 2000 calorie requirement:

easelly_visual (1)


Using this example, it’s clear to see that a vegan diet more than satisfies the daily protein requirement for a vegan male weighing 150 pounds. There isn’t much of a difference in their percentage calorie intake, so it’s fair to say that vegans can live healthy lives while consuming solely plant-based protein.


References: 2012. Nutrition for Everyone: Basics: Protein | DNPAO | CDC. [online] Available at:

Column Five Media & Ethical Ocean. 2014. Veganism Debunked. [image online] Available at:

Mangels, Phd, RD, R. n.d. Protein in the Vegan Diet — The Vegetarian Resource Group. [online] Available at:

Photo credit:

Contributors: Thalia, Roi (editor)


The Pros Stay Winning…


The word ‘protein’ was originally coined from the Greek word proteios meaning “holding the first place”.



It’s no surprise then that proteins (and hence their subunits amino acids) are one of the most basic biological molecules essential for life. These macromolecules are responsible for tissue growth and repair, along with the formation of hormones and antibodies.

Proteins aren’t your run-of-the-mill macromolecules, they actually have 4 structural levels :

1)    Primary Structure:


– found in all proteins; essentially it’s a special sequence of amino acids (joined via peptide bonds) in a peptide chain. This sequence is unique, not unlike every individual on this planet is unique in  his/her own way  *sheds tear*. 

2)    Secondary Structure:

– occurs when there is coiling or bending of a polypeptide into sheets (either α- helices or β-pleated sheets). Hydrogen bonds are usually found between the amide groups and are integral to holding these structures together. In an α-helix structure the bending is caused by the alternation of amino acid α-carbons.

Imagine this scenario.. a random guy finds a cork screw (this should represent the α- helix structure) and he also finds a bottle of unopened wine….he opens the wine; drinks all of it; ends up drunk and on top of his neighbour’s roof (galvanized roofing)  where the galvanized roofing represents the β-pleated sheet.


3)    Tertiary Structure:

-occurs where there is a folding back of a molecule upon its own self, (which is no easy feat) and certain bonds. These bonds include disulfide bridges and ionic,hydrogen and covalent bonds formed by amino acid R-group interactions; they hold everything in place and to add stability to the protein and their folding actually makes them functional (biologically active) proteins(Ferrier, 2014) .

Fig 3: The tertiary structure of proteins.

4)    Quaternary Structure:

(Woah…things are getting complicated  up in here)

These are complex structures formed by the interaction of two or more polypeptide chains . A variety of bonding interactions, namely hydrogen bonding, salt bridges and disulfide bonds, hold the various chains to a particular 3D shape (Ophardt, 2003).

Quaternary proteins are further classified as 1) fibrous & 2)globular.


Unlike their fibrous cousins, globular proteins actually have charged, hydrophilic ends at their surfaces (hence their water solubility) and hydrophobic amino acid residues at their cores. Their peculiar organization works to stabilise the protein structure (nature loves stability). Haemoglobin is a great example; this protein binds to oxygen molecules in red blood cells, which then transport the O2 throughout the body.




Ferrier, D. R. 2014. Biochemistry. Philadelphia: Wolters Kluwer Health/Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.

Ophardt, C. E. 2003. Quaternery Protein. [online] Available at:

Pover, A. 2012. OCR AS Level Biology: Globular and Fibrous proteins. [image online] Available at:

School Animated gif. 2013. [image online] Available at:

Contributors: Thalia, Roi (editor)

Meteors, Alien Amino Acids & …An Organ Transplant?


Welcome! To the twilight zone.

giphy (2)

Now we go from the interesting to the completely fascinating and the point where it’s kinda strange.

Remember when I said that there are more amino acids in existence other than the 20 that can be coded by our DNA?

Sure you didn’t.

These are known as the Non-proteinogenic amino acids. There are 140 that scientists have discovered so far and they can be found in the cell walls of bacteria,chemically synthesized and have been found in meteors that crashed into the earth (78 of 140 have been discovered from crashes). That may be enough to set your interest (and possibly Paranoia) levels at least a tad higher than usual.
giphy fly
In March, 2009, researchers at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., reported the discovery of an excess of the left-handed form of the amino acid isovaline in samples of meteorites that came from carbon-rich asteroids.

photo of a carbon-rich meteorite analyzed in the study. Credit: Antarctic Meteorite Laboratory/NASA Johnson Space Center

photo of a carbon-rich meteorite analyzed in the study. Credit: Antarctic Meteorite Laboratory/NASA Johnson Space Center


Gasp! This hints that perhaps the L-conformation that natural amino acids prefer, may have started out in space, where conditions in asteroids were ideal for the L-amino acids’ formation.

It’s been suggested that meteorite impacts could have supplied material abundant in L molecules, to Earth. The tendency towards the L conformation would have remained as this material merged with evolving life ( 2011).

These unnatural amino acids have many applications in pharmacology especially in the creation of antibiotics and cancer research. For example, 2-Amino-oleic Acid, is used as tissue treatment in Bio-synthetic heart valve transplant to prevent calcification in transplanted tissues


  • Meierhenrich, Uwe J, Guillermo M Mu\~Noz Caro, Jan Hendrik Bredeh\”Oft, Elmar K Jessberger and Wolfram H-P Thiemann. “Identification of diamino acids in the Murchison meteorite.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 101, no. 25 (2004): 9182–9186
  • “NASA – More Asteroids Could Have Made Life’s Ingredients.” 2011.

Contributors: Le Frenchie, Roi (editor)

AA Meeting?



Quiz time…

Which monomers:

-behave like salts

-are crystalline solids with somewhat high melting points

-are mostly mostly hydrophilic

-& have a charge which changes with pH.


…Amino Acids

Amino acids exist as zwitterions (overall charge= zero). They are subunits of proteins and peptides (linked by peptide bonds) consisting of an Amine (NH3) and a carboxyl (COOH) functional group along with a “R” side chain that is unique to every amino acid in existence.

aminostrc (1)

While there are generally 20 naturally-occurring amino acids (AA’s) in nature that can be directly coded by DNA, (yep, there are more in existence) it is estimated that there are a further  500 of these adorable guys. They can be found in any living organism; from the bacteria living inside your keyboard (which y’all should really clean more often) to the extremophile bacteria living in the hot water vents in Yellowstone National Park.

Of these naturally occurring amino acids, 10 of these are absolutely essential. Why? Our bodies can’t synthesize these on their own and must obtain them from the foods or supplements (shout to all our gym-junkies, we see your amino acid pill popping) that we consume.

In the body, AA’s can be synthesized from intermediates that are drawn from the citric acid cycle, the pentose phosphate pathway and the glycolic pathway. Also, they can be obtained from ketoacids and other biochemical pathways that exist in living organisms aaa

Interestingly, AA synthesis is regulated by feedback inhibition, to put it simply, the final product (our adorable amino acids) are the enzyme inhibitors themselves by allosterically binding to (i.e. changing shape to fit)  the enzymes’ active site.

Without this biochemical process occurring, high concentrations of amino acids would have very adverse effects on our bodies such as dehydration, weight gain, and potentially life threatening organ damage.

…Yikes !



Photo Credits:

Contributors: Le Frenchie, Roi (editor)

The Curious Case of Criminal Carbs…


Carbohydrates; Defense of an Oft’ Misunderstood Biomolecule.

Good Carbs? Usually you wouldn’t put those two words together but we think it’s time for a large dose of reality. If we’re innocent until proven guilty, why are our faithful friends so often in the dog house?
…We think it’s time for a good old-fashioned jailbreak.

Carbs are the fuel of life itself. Without these macromolecules we might have still been molecules floating around in a primordial soup in some God forsaken swamp, instead of being the (usually) supreme beings on Earth today.

Basically, Carbohydrates are macromolecules which consist of…
… (You guessed it) carbon, hydrogen and oxygen and are represented by the empirical formula of Cm(H2O)n. They have a wide range biological applications in the body, form being our main source of energy, to helping us keep our beautiful beach (and Carnival) bodies.

So if carbs are so awesome why do they have such a bad rep.? Unfortunately somewhere in the late 70’s, when dieting suddenly became popular, our unfortunate carbs were singled out as the scapegoat of all things unhealthy (Lies, all lies).

What makes carbs so loveable you might ask? Well, the fact that perhaps most of our bodies’ energy is drawn from carbohydrates (about 50-70%) and if it wasn’t for carbohydrates being our main source of energy our bodies would have been forever breaking down our muscle tissues in that dreaded process called muscle atrophy (thank the Gods for carbohydrates eh?).


Factoid: Ribose, and deoxyribose, important constituents of RNA and DNA (genetic information) are actually carbohydrates.Hear that? THAT’s the sound of the anti-carb movement being stopped in its tracks.

Sadly, there have been claims that our innocent carbs are killers.*Gasp*.


We stand by our hero. Are carbs responsible for your bad choices? Do they deserve the commendation for your carb addiction? No! That’s like blaming guns for killing people.

We’ve even included a couple visuals to drive home the point.  😉  😀


It’s not that carbs are villains that make you fat, it’s really your misconceptions that are messing up your life.

Hopefully, we’ve fixed that.

no dirt


Supercarb Saves Science!!


Copy of Cloud 1

For this number, I’m gonna mention two things seemingly unrelated to each other.

Carbohydates and Nobel Prizes.

What’s the link between the two? Well if you had to ask that, you probably didn’t know that if it weren’t for carbohydrates we wouldn’t have any Nobel prizes.
Alfred Nobel perfected Guncotton (A carbohydrate based explosive) by mixing it with ether and alcohol to make nitrocellulose, which he then mixed with nitroglycerin to make dynamite. Mr. Nobel’s original intention, was for dynamite to be used to help miners in the then booming coal and gold industry with blasting through hard rock to get to the material.

However, he saw the destruction his invention had caused in the Crimean and Franco- Prussian war, rumour has that he had a change of heart and bequeathed most of his remaining fortune to the establishment of the Nobel Prize to reward scientists that do research for the good of mankind.

Good on you carb! Thanks for saving science.




Tales From The Big City


A complicated little city, self-sufficient and perfectly functional, it basically runs itself (and no we’re not talking about a car).
Get it yet? No?
…Alrighty… Just gonna jump right in and present you with this bit of awesomeness:

EUKARYOPOLIS!!! Very original Hank, very original. His video is pretty good at describing the eukaryotic cell structure including organelles and their functions, (without going into too much headache-inducing detail). Starting with some basic cell history it mentions British scientist, Robert Hooke, and his discovery of the cell and even describes the selectively permeable cell membrane and cytoplasm as a “squishy swamp land”.

Every organelle does its job, ensuring that the cell functions efficiently. Lysosomes have enzymes for cellular and waste digestion, smooth ER contain enzymes for lipid synthesis, while rough ER have ribosomes for protein synthesis and the Golgi apparatus (kind of like a Fed-Ex or UPS) packages and sends proteins where they need to go.

The nucleus, being the all-powerful the leader of this great civilization, controls all of the organelles within its city, and believe me, it’s definitely not a democracy. Nevertheless it’s incredibly important as it contains our DNA and has a nucleolus which makes ribosomal RNA; dictator though it may be, we probably wouldn’t be here without it.

Chromosomes, fruit flies and hedgehogs were briefly mentioned (don’t ask, just watch the video if you haven’t yet) and then finally there was the all mighty, defiantly different Mitochondria!


No matter how awesome (or different) our mighty mitochondria are, sometimes the poor things just don’t get it right. Mitochondrial diseases are often caused by spontaneous or inherited mutations in mitochondrial DNA. One such disease is the rare Leigh’s Syndrome, in which the genetic mutation disrupts one or more of the protein complexes needed for ATP production in oxidative phosphorylation. Bad things happen when ‘M’ has a bad day on the job.


The history of cell biology is as convoluted as the cell itself. From vague theories to weird bold ideas, cell city has a very strange and interesting history. Brave pioneers like Hooke, Schleiden, Schwann and Virchow led the way in what we now call cytology, the study of cells, kicking butt and taking names (not really).

These brave men (after much deliberation, and disagreement), contributed to what we know today as “The Cell Theory” paving the way for countless other developments in the field of Biology. Gentlemen, we salute you!


Just to sum up everything, a little parting gift/study guide  B) :
SC Biology A



Viva La Biochem


Who’s Who?

Fun, easy going and down to earth (but that’s always) a matter of opinion. I’ve always loved the sciences, especially biology,                 but funnily enough I actually plan on pursuing a career in Law (Medical or Environmental still can’t decide) as I also love history, philosophy and literature. My Kryptonite is my love of video games and anything and everything science fiction related (COMIC CON is the dream!!!).I believe that a person can never learn too much and this course is one I think I will greatly enjoy (fingers crossed!!!).  

Laid back, friendly and open person.I plan to pursue a career in Pharmacology as well as becoming an entrepreneur, getting involved in real estate and philanthropy and fulfilling my dream of travelling the world. I am also fond of adventure, nature trips and  extreme sports… and that’s just the beginning.

Le Frenchie:
(Le-Fraun-Che) I like anything interesting, controversial, exciting and probably dangerous (kidding) (not really). Loves:  skydiving, Bungee jumping, hiking. Football (ChelseaFC), social media. I love reading (anything) about history,psychology and anything based off of real events. My dream Job is to become a virologist, and geneticist (why stop at just one?).


Is going to change the world some day. Loves: artistic expression (singing, drawing, and poetry), volunteering and accumulating copious chunks of information from books of every genre. I hope to become either a Medical Doctor or a research Scientist in the field of Immunology.Chemistry aspect scares me more than that zombie looking girl from movie, “The Grudge”; I’m still determined to succeed!

Quirky resident bookworm, music, art, history and tech enthusiast.  Basically I’m an all-round dork with the vision impairment and awkwardness to prove it. While my hand-eye coordination is nothing to speak of, I more than make up for it with sassy wit and charm… (sometimes) I hope.Fantasy novels have always my absolute weakness
(Game of Thrones had me hooked from the first page y’all).


       Life goal: To be a game-changer… the world is my oyster.


Starting out, we weren’t sure what to expect from the dreaded Biochemistry. The horror stories are usually enough to make you run screaming in the other direction. Now that it’s just over the horizon we’ve caught an umm… “exciting” glimpse.
It’s a twisted path but what kind of adventurers would we be if we didn’t keep going anyway.


…gonna roll with the punches.


“To live will be an awfully big adventure.” -Peter Pan

It is, isn’t it? Every day is a new quest, part of a bigger journey. Alone, they may seem trivial, but eventually, your little quests are the stuff that epic tales are made of. 
We don’t know about you, but we think this may just be a tale unlike any other. You’re welcome to read along and share it with us.

“To live will b…