Man is an impossibly complicated biological machine that obeys the laws of nature. Every second, hundreds of processes take place in the body. To understand their point, biophysics helps - a science that looks at life through the eyes of physicists. It describes how molecules are created, how various parts of a cell move and function, how the body works: the brain, blood circulation, immune system, endocrine system, etc. Modern biophysics is engaged in the development of methods for combating diseases, in the search for advanced medicines and technologies.
The basis of life
The human body is made up of trillions of cells that is well-coordinated and perform various functions necessary to sustain life. Almost all biochemical processes take place in them.
A cell is the basic structural unit of an organism. With its help is happening reproduction, due to their division we grow. Combined together cells and their derivatives form tissues: epithelial, connective, muscular and nervous. Tissues form organs.
Membranes implement the basic physiological processes of cellular life, as they provide interaction with the environment. For the role they play in managing cell life, biologist Bruce Lipton calls them "the actual brain."
All the signals are transported from cell to cell by chemical and electrical interactions on the surface of membrane. It turned out that besides all these functions membrane is able to affect regeneration of tissues.
Professor Michael Levine conducted interesting study about how membrane tension changed at the point where the tadpole's foot grew, then brought the frog's cells, which had a limb cut off, into the same electric field. Therefore the foot is subsequently grown.
Incredibly, by altering the membrane potential, a scientist can grow even a six-legged frog or tadpole with an extra eye. Perhaps, with further study of the bioelectric code, specialists will be able to achieve the regeneration of organs and even complex systems.
Perception of life
The sense organs, analyzers, sensory nervous system - these are all synonyms for structures that are responsible for the perception of incoming information and giving an adequate response. The organs of vision, hearing, smell, taste, touch can not provide sensation. It’s necessary that the nerve impulse enters the brain.
There is another sense — magnetoreception. This is the ability of a body to determine the direction of movement, height, location in space. In modern Biophysics, there are still arguments about whether humans have receptors that respond to magnetic fields. In one’s opinion, magnetoreception is carried out by chemical reactions with the protein cryptochrome, like in some animals and insects.
Scientists have conducted an experiment: the fruit flies with "off" gene cryptochrome was expressed human gene, and this allowed them to sense magnetic fields as well as before. Despite the fact that this study has created a furore in the scientific world, it’s still unknown whether cryptochrome works in the same way in the human body.
Nothing can be said clearly about magnetoreception in people, but some of the bacteria are precisely able to feel the magnetic field. Due to this property, canadian scientists "taught" them to effectively fight cancer.
The first time magnetotactic bacterias were found by Richard Blackmar. He was studying swamp mud samples under a microscope, in which some bacteria moved unidirectionally in one direction or another. At first, the scientist suspected that they could react to light, but later suggested that bacteria react to a magnetic field. This hypothesis was confirmed.
But how do they do it? It’s the magnetosomes. This is a small structure of the plasma membrane, which is filled with a small amount of iron. It’s crystal clear that scientists couldn’t ignore this useful ability. They attached a vial filled with an anti-cancer drug to the outer membrane of magnetotactic bacteria and, creating a three-dimensional magnetic field, "directed" the "armed" bacteria as close to the tumor as possible. Consequently most of the medicine was delivered to the destination. This method helped to reduce the toxicity of therapy.
Biophysical methods are widely spreaded in the treatment and diagnosis of diseases. For instance, laser technology allows you to remove a tumor without medical intervention. Also you can rapidly get an image of any organ or tissue with the help of rays.
One of the promising directions in Biophysics is the use of magnetic fields for various therapeutic purposes. The method of transcanal magnetic stimulation (TMS) is successfully used in the treatment of nicotine dependence for at least six months. In addition, it’s known to relieve headaches and help cope with prolonged depression. TMS allows you to stimulate the cerebral cortex with short magnetic pulses, and it does not even require surgery: magnetic pulses pass through the bones of the skull without interference.
Researchers from Northwestern University (USA) decided to test how electromagnetic radiation can affect memory. The experiment involved 16 people aged from 16 to 40 years. Volunteers were subjected to magnetic stimulation for five days, after which participants underwent various memory tests. MRI was used to construct "brain maps" for each participant of the experiment. The researchers claimed that the respondents’ memory improved by an average of 20-25%.
It turned out that magnetic fields are also able to influence cell division. For instance, Professor Abraham Liboff with the help of special equipment that changes the intensity of the magnetic field, showed that different magnitude regulates the growth of muscles and bones. The scientist demonstrated an experiment using this device on the hips of a chicken. Regenerative ability of tissues was significantly higher compared to control animals.
In 2012, the University of Alabama released a device capable of suppressing the growth of cancer cells under the influence of a weak intensity electromagnetic field. Clinical trials confirmed the effectiveness of this device in malignant brain tumors.
As it turned out recently, UV can stimulate neuronal activity. Researchers from the University of science and technology of China found that the neurons include urocanic acid, which is synthesized in the skin in response to ultraviolet radiation. Thus, UV radiation helps the brain to work better.
Biophysics helps to find answers about the vital activity of the human body: what it consists of, how it works and responds to environmental influence. Modern science and medicine can not do without the methods proposed by Biophysics. With the help of new drugs and advanced technologies, it improves quality and expectancy of life.