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Teenager survives rare cancer and then wants to study it, helping scientists look for a gene mutation

WASHINGTON — First the teenager survived a rare cancer.

Technology academies explain global warming actuality

WASHINGTON — Man-made worldwide warming is worsening and will interrupt both the natural world and individual society, warns a joint statement of two of the world’s leadi

A trendy substance called glutathione

There is currently a large demand for glutathione. It is trendy among people who use it to lighten their skin. Others take it supposedly to cure certain ailments.

Glutathione, also known as L-gamma-glutamyl-L-cysteinylglycine, is a peptide made up of three amino acids: glutamic acid, cysteine and glycine. It occurs in two forms, like reduced glutathione (referred to since glutathione or GSH) that is a monomer with a single peptide unit and oxidized glutathione (referred to since glutathione disulfide or GSSG) this is a dimer consisting of two glutathione units joined together. One unit of GSSG can be converted to two units of GSH by the enzyme glutathione reductase.

Glutathione is the biologically active form that has antioxidant property. As a major antioxidant, it is found in virtually all cells and helps protect the cells from oxidative stress. The antioxidant function of glutathione is useful in detoxifying peroxides that the body generates in the course of growth and metabolism, by which GSH is converted to GSSG from the enzyme glutathione peroxidase. Also, glutathione is used in the synthesis of deoxyribonucleotides, the building blocks of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA).

The blood of healthy pediatric individuals was found to have 90 percent GSH and 10 percent GSSG (Pastore et al., Clinical Chemistry, 2001, vol. forty seven, pp. 1467-1469). The ratio of glutathione to glutathione disulfide (GSH/GSSG) can be used to assess oxidative stress in biological techniques. Alterations in this ratio have been shown in aging, cardiovascular disease and malignancy.

Healthy people do not need to take glutathione or food health supplement that enhances glutathione production. Under normal conditions, the liver generates sufficient glutathione to maintain healthy tissues, so glutathione supplement does not offer added benefit. The constituent proteins of glutathione are considered as non-essential amino acids because they can be made in your body from metabolites of proteins and glucose.

Glutathione is available only as a dietary supplement but there are claims regarding its usefulness for the treatment of various diseases, such as diabetes, hypertonus, atherosclerosis, osteoarthritis, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, autism, cataract, macular deterioration, glaucoma, cancer, heart disease, liver disease, asthma, cystic fibrosis, pulmonary emphysema, chronic fatigue syndrome, and male infertility. So far, there are no wide-ranging scientific evidence and clinical trials to back up these claims.

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As a side effect, glutathione whitens the skin by inhibiting the enzyme tyrosinase that has a role in the production of melanin. Melanin refers to a group of organic pigments that are present in most life. It is a derivative of the amino acid tyrosine and is made in specialized cells called melanocytes that are found in the basal coating of the epidermis. The most common type of melanin is eumelanin that is of brownish and black subtypes and is the most abundant in humans. The process of melanin manufacturing is called melanogenesis; it can be enhanced whenever skin is exposed to sunlight or indoor UV radiation, causing the epidermis to tan.

Having dark or fair skin is normally genetically influenced. In various ethnic groupings, the melanocytes differently express the particular melanin-producing genes giving rise to dark or fair skin according to the amount of melanin produced. Some people possess a genetic condition called albinism that is characterized by very little or no melanin manufacturing resulting in white skin and tresses.

Glutathione is found in skin-whitening products including soap and lotion, and in the forms of pill, sinus spray and injectable product. Glutathione that is applied on the skin is not effectively absorbed by skin cells; it offers poor stability of thiol (sulphur-hydrogen part in cysteine) that undergoes rapid autoxidation or formation of disulfide. Taking glutathione orally is just not an effective way to get it into the body circulation because glutathione is degraded by enzymes in the gastrointestinal system and so it is not absorbed as such. The efficacy of glutathione in sinus spray for the treatment of respiratory illnesses is uncertain. Intravenous injection is the preferred mode of administering glutathione.

Regular and unregulated injections of glutathione to lighten skin may expose people to potential health risks associated with long-term use of a high dose of the substance. There are biochemical reactions in the body that require oxidation processes. The folding of various proteins into their functional forms involves oxidation where the cysteine (amino acid) units form disulfide bonds. Flooding the cells with glutathione may cause “reductive stress” (the counterpart of oxidative stress) due to alteration in GSH/GSSG ratio that may adversely affect the protein folding process and may lead to certain degenerative illnesses associated with unfolded or misfolded healthy proteins that manifest as protein aggregates. A study has shown that reductive tension due to excessive level of antioxidant, like glutathione, aggravates protein aggregation that may cause heart disease (Kannan et al., Cardiovascular Research, 2013, vol. hundred, pp. 63-73). Although there is still scant scientific evidence regarding reductive tension, it may be worthwhile further looking into.

Concerning skin color, I wonder why people would want to change the hereditary feature that they have. About 15 years ago once i was in Salt Lake City, Ut, I met a lady who declared that she liked my natural tan; she was going to a tanning beauty salon because she said that her whitened skin looked like that of a seafood. In Boracay, I met fair-skinned people who exposed themselves to sunshine at midday to have a tan, unmindful of the risk of developing skin malignancy. On the other hand, many brown-skinned people invest resources to whiten their epidermis. Biologically speaking, a healthy glowing epidermis, whether it is dark or fair, has a “wow” effect.

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Elsie C. Jimenez, a biochemist and molecular biologist, is professor emeritus at the University of the Philippines Baguio. E-mail at elsiecjimenez@yahoo. com.

Gov’t launches Open Data action plan

MANILA, Philippines — The national government recently released its Open Data Philippines (ODP) Action Plan 2014-2016 as part of the Aquino administration’s commitment “to promote transparency, empower citizens, fight corruption, and utilize new technologies to strengthen governance. ”

The plan of action was released more than a month after the govt launched the ODP website (, which seeks to provide the public with up-to-date government data ranging from registration in schools to budget info.

“None of us should make the mistake of thinking that Open Information Philippines stops at being a database of data. Its very title says otherwise. Opening data is all about making statistics understandable, through the use of reader-friendly visualizations, ” President Aquino mentioned during the launch.

The action plan defines the task of the ODP Task Force, which is composed of any office of the presidential spokesperson, the Department of Budget and Management, and the Presidential Communications Development and Proper Planning Office.

It also has an introduction to the open govt data portal and will serve as a blueprint for the open data plan until 2016.

“As the Philippines is one of the eight founding member-governments of the Open Government Collaboration, the country finds itself in a ideal position to further concretize its commitments to the OGP through this program, ” read the 25-page action plan.

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The action plan “presents and documents how the Task Force intends to carry out the country’s open govt data program as the government’s podium to deliver its pledge for an open up government, ” it added.

In addition to the launch of the site, an infographic released by the govt said the country already had a booth camp, ODP multi-stakeholder consultation, along with a hackathon.

It mentioned future events would include a learn class for senior government officials, online campaigns, and community associated with practice events.

Based on the infographic, the ODP has determined and will prioritize high-value data sets such as in the field of agriculture, education, economy, environment, health, infrastructure, public financial, social welfare, and statistics.

It said the data sets, which will be released on the ODP site, will be “brought to life through user friendly dashboards, static and dynamic infographics, and applications. ”

“The success of the Open Information Philippines requires a reciprocal relationship. Since government opens its doors in order to reveal its wealth of data, the wider public must be willing to enter — to understand and learn, to talk about, to create, and to innovate, ” understand a section of the infographic.

The ODP held a hangout about open data in celebration of Open Data Day last Saturday.

Earlier, advocates of the Freedom of Information bill mentioned the ODP website should not be regarded as an alternative to the measure.

“It cannot be an alternative to institutionalizing freedom of information, ” said Filipino Center for Investigative Journalism executive director Malou Mangahas.

“Even with the Open Data Philippines website, how sure are we that it will still be up after 2016? ” she said.

Manila Water recognizes ‘green’ accredited providers

MANILA, Philippines – As part of its continuing applications to motivate its various “green” contractors and vendors to take part in applying environmental initiatives and best environmental practices, Manila Water Company provides recognized 14 of its pool of accredited service providers for their exemplary efficiency and commitments to the Green Island destinations of Sustainability project.

The awarding took place during Manila Water’s 7th Contractor’s Forum called as “Greening the Supply Chain” that aims to educate and improve the environmental awareness of contractors and to ensure that they are in compliance with environmental legal requirements and reduction of environmental impacts as part of Manila Water’s greening the supply chain endeavours.

The Green Vendor Awards were given to CRL Environment Corp., Dolomatrix Philippines Inc., E. I. Construction and Development Corp., Electrical Equipment and System Incorporation Inc., G. D. Reyes Design, GPM Industries Corp., Honda Vehicles Philippines Inc., Lanange Construction, Lane Archive Technologies Corp., Link Energie Indus for their outstanding environmental efficiency and successful implementation of steps to lessen environmental impacts of their functions, reduce business cost, and provide a better workplace to their employees.

Manila Water also gave Eco-friendly Star Awards to Link Energie Industries and Moldex Products as they both achieved a four-star rating equivalent to 80-95 percent. Green Celebrity Awards are given by Manila Water to its contractors for attaining a four to five-star rating.

Manila Water Operations Group director Geodino Carpio stated the recognition they gives to their companies and vendors aims to impact and motivate their various companies to implement environmental initiatives in climate change mitigation and adaptation, and environmental protection through decrease of environmental impacts through the execution of best environmental practices.

“It has been a commitment of Manila Water to pursue environmental sustainability programs to protect our assets and environment, ” Carpio added.

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In the same forum, Manila Water Environmental Preparing Department manager Mark Tom Mulingbayan tackled the pressing problems of climate change and its impacts and also strategies on climate change minimization and adaptation.

Mulingbayan also cited the importance of what individuals and business entities can do to lessen their carbon footprints.

Aside from climate change, also talked about during the forum were the Philippine environmental laws and regulations that need to be complied such as the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, Philippine EIS System, Environmental Solid Waste Management Act, and Toxic and Hazardous Waste Behave.

Zen Institute opens QC branch

MANILA, Philippines – The country’s first medical spa, The Zen Institute, recently opened its newly renovated Quezon City branch.

Google aims to provide broadband in 34 more cities

SAN FRANCISCO — Google wants to offer ultra-fast Internet service within 34 more cities scattered throughout eight states in the company’s boldest challenge to cable

Comfort via clean surroundings

MANILA, Philippines – Villamor Airbase continues to be the ‘mecca of relief’ for Typhoon Yolanda survivors.

The journey as a scientist (Second of two parts)

Read Part 1 here

DOST scientists develop honey wound dressing up

MANILA, Philippines – Division of Science and Technology (DOST) scientists have developed a wound dressing up from indigenous honey, which shows promise as be