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Mosquitos: Friend or Foe? Possible use of mosquitos in modern epidemiology

With the warm weather of summer quickly approaching, a common enemy known as the mosquito will soon make a reappearance. Mosquitoes are more than just an irritation. In many areas of the world, mosquitoes are also carriers of infectious diseases such as malaria and the Zika virus. While the mosquito is a  major problem to many, scientists at Microsoft Research are attempting to exploit some … Continue reading Mosquitos: Friend or Foe? Possible use of mosquitos in modern epidemiology

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Cancer Immunotherapy: Fighting fire with fire

by Kimberly Hagel figures by Alexandra Was We, as humans, tend to idealize that which is bigger, better, faster, and stronger. It is in our nature to strive towards the best. To improve. To win. Indeed, the penetrance of this mentality reaches to our very core, even to the individual cells of which we are composed. A prime example of this: cancer. Today, cancer is … Continue reading Cancer Immunotherapy: Fighting fire with fire

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Scientists show predators could drive fish to colonize land

Scientists may have found an explanation for why the first amphibious fish moved from water to land. On a small island in the South Pacific Ocean, four species of blennies spend half their time in water and half on land. To test whether predation could be driving the transition to land, researchers created blenny mimics and dispersed them throughout the blennies’ habitats. They found that the aquatic mimics were attacked at a much higher frequency than the terrestrial mimics were, making predation a viable cause for the water-to-land transition. Continue reading Scientists show predators could drive fish to colonize land

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Microbial Physicians: Delivering drugs with bacteria

by Benika Pinch Fancy a pill packed with bacteria? Researchers are investigating using genetically modified bacteria, taken in pill form, to treat human disease. Informally, they are called “designer probiotics”. But, unlike probiotics (microorganisms with known health benefits), they can’t be obtained via a serving of yogurt from your local supermarket. Rather, the bacteria in question are feats of genetic engineering and are specifically designed … Continue reading Microbial Physicians: Delivering drugs with bacteria

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Diabetes, Cancer and the Drug that Fights them Both

by Megan L Norris figures by Bradley Wierbowski The emerging link between cancer and diabetes In the early 2000s, observations that diabetics are more likely to get cancer than non-diabetics began piling up. Was this because diabetes and cancer share general risk factors such as diet, aging and obesity? Or was there a direct link between them, with cancer benefiting from the sugar-rich and inflamed … Continue reading Diabetes, Cancer and the Drug that Fights them Both

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Ocrelizumab: The first treatment for primary progressive multiple sclerosis

by Tianli Xiao figures by Abigail Burrus Multiple sclerosis begins when a patient is as young as 20. It can start with blurry vision, tingling in the arms or legs, or a persistent feeling of tiredness. MS is a long-term, progressive disease that worsens over time, but there are few drugs available today. Even worse, patients diagnosed with a less common form of MS known … Continue reading Ocrelizumab: The first treatment for primary progressive multiple sclerosis

Pseudomonads II

Pseudomonads II

The adaptation of the opportunistic human pathogen Pseudomonas aeruginosa often produces phenotypic diversity. Here, mutants isolated from a genetic screen show notable differences in phenotype: the production of pigments, size, shape, and texture. The blue-green pigmentation seen in some mutants results from the production of pyocyanin, an excreted toxin that kills other microbes and mammalian cells. Whereas, the brown pigmentation is caused by the exocellular pigment, pyomelanin, which … Continue reading Pseudomonads II