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It’s Going Viral: (Re)-emerging viruses and epidemics in our increasingly global world

by Apurva Govande figures by Anna Maurer Viruses and the globe In a hidden part of our world exists the vastly diverse microscopic universe. This micro-universe exerts a great amount of influence on our lives via minuscule, unseen molecular packages like viruses. Viruses are tiny structures made of protein that can contain DNA or RNA (the more unstable cousin of DNA) to produce more viruses after infecting … Continue reading It’s Going Viral: (Re)-emerging viruses and epidemics in our increasingly global world

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Tooth Decay: An epidemic in America’s poorest children

by Leah Rosenbaum Last April, Dr. Paul Reggiardo saw a patient who was referred to his dental office in Huntington Beach, California from the local emergency room. She was an eight-year-old girl with facial swelling, the soft tissue on her head puffy from infection. It was facial cellulitis, said Reggiardo, caused by an infected tooth. He sees multiple cases like this each year: an untreated … Continue reading Tooth Decay: An epidemic in America’s poorest children

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What’s in Your Genes: Newly approved genetic testing for disease risks

by Catherine Weiner figures by Michael Gerhardt A decade ago, the idea of analyzing your DNA from the comfort of your own home seemed like science fiction. Tests required several weeks, thousands if not millions of dollars, and a lab of highly specialized PhDs. Today, thanks to technical advances and companies like 23andMe, you can perform this analysis for $199. The U.S. Food and Drug … Continue reading What’s in Your Genes: Newly approved genetic testing for disease risks

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Potential repurposing of sleeping-sickness drug for autism

Autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by impaired social interaction and communication. The cause of autism is unknown, but several theories have been proposed. One theory speculates that exposure to stress or other cellular threats can trigger a “cellular danger response” involving purines. If this self-defense mechanism is not regulated properly, the response can remain permanently active, ultimately affecting neuronal development and lead to autism. Based on this theory, Dr. Robert … Continue reading Potential repurposing of sleeping-sickness drug for autism

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The war on malaria gets a new weapon: a toxic fungus

As mosquitoes develop resistance to insecticides used to control their populations, scientists have been developing new tools. The latest idea: infecting mosquitoes with a fungus genetically engineered to produce arachnid toxins. After infecting the mosquitoes with fungal spores, the bugs showed increase mortality within 2.5 days after exposure and fed less in the days before their death, compared to their healthy counterparts. Continue reading The war on malaria gets a new weapon: a toxic fungus

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Turning the Immune System into an Equal Opportunity Cancer Killer

Results from a small clinical trial comprising 86 cancer patients have prompted scientists to rethink how different cancers are classified and treated. The drug being assessed was Keytruda, a recent addition to oncologists’ arsenal of cancer immunotherapy drugs.  Unlike traditional chemotherapies, which poison and kill cancer cells directly, cancer immunotherapy recruits the body’s own self-defense machinery to attack tumors.  Although our immune systems are very good … Continue reading Turning the Immune System into an Equal Opportunity Cancer Killer

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An Electrifying New Role for the Immune System in Heart Health

by Giulia Notarangelo figures by Rebecca Clements The human body fights off noxious intruders on a daily basis to maintain our health and prevent disease. The army of cells that is responsible for leading this fight is called the immune system. The immune system is comprised of a myriad of cells, each having their own defense strategy. Among these cells are the macrophages. As their … Continue reading An Electrifying New Role for the Immune System in Heart Health