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Thread: Are there unanswered questions in molecular biology?

  1. #1 Are there unanswered questions in molecular biology? 
    Forum Sophomore Dkav's Avatar
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    My prof. keeps saying there are so many questions, the book does not mention anything that needs answering.


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  3. #2  
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    How about: what is it about prion shape that makes different forms of prions react differently in different tissues?


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  4. #3  
    Forum Freshman Bellerophon's Avatar
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    Pick any of the psychoactive drugs in use. Trace the chain of effect and try to explain each link. How can we limit the affected area? Blocking postsynaptic dopamine channels in one part of the brain might alleviate the symptoms of hyperkinetic disorder, but in a different area of the brain it could cause psychotic behaviour. It would be nice if molecular biology could solve this.

    What are the neurochemical mechanisms of Long-Term Potentiation? The early phase (initiation) are pretty well know, but the maintenance phase of LTP1 and most of LTP2 & 3 needs more work. There's some evidence that blocking synthesis of certain proteins might end LTP prematurely, but there's a lot that is still open in regard to how the neuron can exhibit elevated output in lieu of elevated input.

    During the late pre-natal and early post-natal period, many catecholaminergic axons in the cortex are "put on hold", and do not innervate the subplate until some signal or event occurs, but we don't know what.

    The list just goes on and on and on...
    We really need more, clever neurochemists
    “All this science I don't understand. It's just my job, five days a week.” -RocketMan

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  5. #4  
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    Hullo,

    What is the molecular basis of cancer (substitute pretty well any disease you care to mention here)? Of these molecules, which prove to be important therapeutic targets? How can we develop suitable therapeutic interventions whilst minimising undesirable side-effects?

    In terms of normal physiology - what is the entire molecular basis of cell division? What is the complete molecular basis of cell death and differentiation?

    What is the nature of 'junk DNA' - does it actually have a purpose?

    How do short RNA molecules (siRNA, miRs) help to modulate gene expression?

    Etc etc etc...

    Granted, each of these questions has been answered to some extent or other. But none of these questions have been completely answered. Considering that the structure of DNA was elucidated only 58 years ago and that the sequence of 'the' whole human genome was delineated only about a decade ago, I think that we have a long way to go yet until we have an exhaustive understanding of Biology. There are a lot of functional Biology questions waiting to be answered. Questions are the life-blood of any Science and, indeed, any academic discipline. If it were true that all of the questions had been answered in Biology, you would see a lot of (deflated) researchers hanging up their Lab coats and a lot of depressed Principal Investigators throwing out their grant proposals. Oh, one last thing - it is impossible, by the very nature of scientific research, to predict which questions may arise in the future. Much like a series of Russian dolls, the knowledge gained upon answering one scientific question typically leads to the uncovering of one or more related questions (except, in this analogy, the series of research questions never really ends - unlike a series of Russian dolls). :P


    "I do not know what I may appear to the world, but to myself I seem to have been only a boy playing on the seashore, and diverting myself in now and then finding a smoother pebble or prettier shell than ordinary, whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me."

    Isaac Newton
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  6. #5  
    Universal Mind John Galt's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tridimity
    Much like a series of Russian dolls, the knowledge gained upon answering one scientific question typically leads to the uncovering of one or more related questions (except, in this analogy, the series of research questions never really ends - unlike a series of Russian dolls).
    The Russian doll analogy works perfectly, except we are working from the smallest doll inside towards the outside. Each new doll is larger and more extensive.


    Edit to correct messed up quote function.
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  7. #6  
    Forum Bachelors Degree 15uliane's Avatar
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    Here are allways questions that don't have answers no matter were you turn

    Ophiolite, thats some pretty advanced itlalian in your signature. :-D
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  8. #7  
    Universal Mind John Galt's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 15uliane
    Ophiolite, thats some pretty advanced itlalian in your signature. :-D
    I got tired of the weirdness of the universe.
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