Refugees’ Gut Bacteria Become Westernized After Moving to the US

In each human gut, a community of trillions of bacteria help digest food and make certain nutrients. Some of these bacteria are associated with disease such as diabetes and Crohn’s, while some prevent disease. The composition of bacteria varies from one person to another, with diet and geographical location contributing to the diversity. In modern times, where millions of people migrate around the globe, their … Continue reading Refugees’ Gut Bacteria Become Westernized After Moving to the US

Probing Probiotics: the scientific process behind the hype

by Ilia Gelfat figures by Nicholas Lue Whether you are perusing the aisles of your local grocery store or scrolling through news articles, there’s a term that has been hard to miss in the past few years – probiotics. You might know it has something to do with bacteria helping digestion, but this broad view of the concept might leave you fuzzy on some of … Continue reading Probing Probiotics: the scientific process behind the hype

Probiotics prevents dangerous pathogen infection by making the bacteria ‘deaf’

If you’ve visited a supermarket recently, you might have noticed that yogurts and kombucha are taking up more shelf space. These products are two popular examples of probiotics: living bacteria touted to provide human health benefits. It’s not just a millennial fad – the probiotics market is projected to be over $60 billion by 2023. The accepted belief is that good bacteria drive out bad … Continue reading Probiotics prevents dangerous pathogen infection by making the bacteria ‘deaf’

The Quest for Better Bandages Turns to Nanofibers

Our skin is a protective barrier to bacterial infection, but damage to the skin allows bacteria to enter. Normally, our immune system kills the bacteria and allows wounds to heal. However, certain diseases can overload the immune system and lead to heavy infection. Antibiotics are commonly used to treat heavy bacterial infection, but bacteria can develop drug resistance after too much exposure. A team at … Continue reading The Quest for Better Bandages Turns to Nanofibers

Vaccines for World’s Most Deadly Infectious Diseases Unlikely

Infectious diseases — including HIV, tuberculosis, and malaria — are a leading cause of death worldwide, particularly in low income countries and among young children. A new study found that the vaccines aimed to prevent many of the world’s most deadly diseases may not be developed any time soon. The study, funded by the Gates Foundation and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, focused on 538 … Continue reading Vaccines for World’s Most Deadly Infectious Diseases Unlikely

Why Mosquitoes Like You The Most

Carrying diseases such as malaria, West Nile virus and yellow fever, a few species of mosquitoes are responsible for more than one million deaths each year. Certain species of mosquitoes actually prefer feeding on humans, and even show preferences between people. A common wives’ tale suggests to kids that mosquitoes prefer sweeter blood (“eat more veggies!”). However, there is no scientific evidence supporting changing your … Continue reading Why Mosquitoes Like You The Most

Less of the Same: Rebooting the antibiotic pipeline

by Francesca Tomasi figures by Aparna Nathan Too Much of a Good Thing? Ninety years ago, Alexander Fleming happened upon the chemical compound penicillin and sparked a medical revolution. It was a serendipitous occasion – Fleming had been growing plates of bacteria in his lab when he noticed some mold growing on one of them. Just some classic contamination, he probably thought, ready to discard … Continue reading Less of the Same: Rebooting the antibiotic pipeline

Bacteria snatch up foreign material using specialized arm-like structures

In order to adapt to their environments, it is important that bacteria be able to mix up their genetic code. One way that bacteria do this is by taking up bits of free-floating foreign DNA that can be released by other kinds of bacteria into their environments when they die. This process is called ‘transformation.’ The pieces of DNA can occasionally encode components that make … Continue reading Bacteria snatch up foreign material using specialized arm-like structures

Viruses to the Rescue: Can we use viruses to find bacteria in our environment?

Is this apple safe to eat? Did that course of antibiotics work? To answer these types of questions we often need to know how to find and count illness-causing bacteria. Several bacteria counting techniques already exist. However, these approaches are slow and sensitive to laboratory conditions. Sam Nugen and his team from Cornell University are streamlining this process using a type of virus called phages, … Continue reading Viruses to the Rescue: Can we use viruses to find bacteria in our environment?

All About That Mucus: How it keeps us healthy

by Jenny Zheng figures by Rebecca Clements With winter soon coming to an end (hopefully), many of us have been plagued by seemingly endless hacking that’s accompanied by phlegm, a type of mucus produced by the respiratory tract. The body starts feeling better after a week of sickness, but even after that “hell-week,” one final foe has to be dealt with: the phlegm. It’s such … Continue reading All About That Mucus: How it keeps us healthy