by Catherine Weiner figures by Elayne Fivenson Every cell in our bodies is constantly on the edge of danger. Our DNA, the molecular blueprints that tell our cells how to function, brought us to life. But it is also just one error away from catastrophe. Our cells are constantly fighting to preserve this fragile balance, for if they fail, they send us down a path … Continue reading Six Ways Our Cells Can Turn Against Us
For a long time, scientists did not often carefully consider sex as a variable in their research, and often worked with only male or only female animals depending on the ease of housing and handling these animals. In 2016, the NIH began requiring grant applications to justify the choice of sex of experimental animals, as part of a growing movement to consider sex as a … Continue reading Pain works differently between the sexes
by Sophia Swartz figures by Abagail Burrus It was only three weeks into the fall semester, and I was starting to sniffle. When I had woken up that morning with a tell-tale tickle in the back of my throat, I had tried to deny the obvious. However, by the end of the day, sneezing and sore, I surrendered to my cold and trudged to my local CVS. … Continue reading Extracellular DNA, in Plant Health and Hardship
Bleeding sharks for science? That’s commonplace for Helen Dooley, a researcher at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. Over the past decade, investigators have come to realize the value of shark, llama, and camel blood. Blood from these animals contains molecules called antibodies that can specifically recognize and destroy foreign substances, such as bacteria, viruses, and cancer cells. While human blood, and blood from … Continue reading Shark and camel blood contains small disease-fighting molecules
by Hannah Schulze figures by Sean Wilson If you’ve ever felt lonely, know that you’re not alone. According to a study from the British Red Cross, over nine million adults in the U.K. feel the same way—that’s about 1/5 of the country’s population! Loneliness is increasingly being considered a hazard to human health comparable to obesity and smoking. Now, even governments are getting involved—in 2018, … Continue reading Loneliness: An Epidemic?
Ever wonder why we make snot? Mucus lines our respiratory and gastrointestinal tracts, acting as a sticky glue that traps unwanted substances before they can get into the body. However, research from Jeremy Barr’s lab in Melbourne, Australia has shown that there might be a lot more to the story of snot. Barr and his team have found that mucus contains a far higher concentration … Continue reading Bacteria-killing viruses: an army of disease-fighters within us?
by Cathy Gutierrez figures by Lillian Horin “The history of cancer vaccines is a history of failure.” This is the leading sentence of a 2005 article that summarized the history of cancer vaccines. Cancer vaccines have long been the Holy Grail of cancer research. For centuries, scientists have been devising ways to train the body to destroy tumors. Despite the success of early preventive cancer … Continue reading Cancer Vaccines: How scientists are turning cancer against itself
by Giulia Notarangelo figures by Abagail Burrus A drug that might significantly reduce the risk of heart attack and lung cancer is being hailed by researchers as the biggest breakthrough in the treatment of cardiovascular disease since the introduction of cholesterol-lowering drugs called statins over 30 years ago. Despite the fact that drug companies sell over $30 billion worth of statins annually, roughly 600,000 people still … Continue reading How Our Immune System Causes Heart Attacks (and Cancer)
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
2016 was a tumultuous year in many respects, but it ended with a major victory against Ebola hemorrhagic fever. Ebola’s most recent outbreak ravaged West Africa from 2013 to 2016, killing roughly two out of every five patients and tens of thousands of people in total. Treatment options are limited once the disease takes hold, so researchers have been pursuing a vaccine that protects against … Continue reading Virus Beware: Ebola Vaccine Successfully Developed