Racial Minorities’ Trouble with Stem Cell Transplants: a dearth of donors

by Jordan Wilkerson figures by Nicholas Lue Desimond Viray is a Californian in his early ‘30s. He works in IT support for Jelly Belly Candy Company and lives with his wife and four children. Ten years ago, he was diagnosed with a rare form of blood cancer, chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML). Each year, nearly 9000 new cases of CML arise in the U.S. While Viray — … Continue reading Racial Minorities’ Trouble with Stem Cell Transplants: a dearth of donors

The New Trojan Horse: Using tumor cells to kill tumors

Cancer immunotherapy exploits our immune system to kill cancerous cells. Recently, researchers have discovered a novel way to do this. They engineered cells that are programmed to die and injected them into tumor. They have successfully shown that the dying cells is able to kill tumor cells via recruitment of the immune system. This strategy might be a potential new method to improve the efficacy of current cancer immunotherapy methods. Continue reading The New Trojan Horse: Using tumor cells to kill tumors

A Sweet Solution for Preserving Vaccines

Researchers at McMaster University have developed a novel method for stabilizing vaccines, removing the strict requirement that the components be maintained within a specific low temperature range from development through delivery. The technique is based on drying the vaccines using two FDA-approved sugars and was shown to be successful in preserving vaccine effectiveness at elevated temperatures for twelve weeks. While it must still be validated on other vaccines, this method could be a major step toward cheap, accessible immunization in developing areas. Continue reading A Sweet Solution for Preserving Vaccines

The Big Eater: How the immune system alters the pancreas during obesity

by Lara Roach figures by Rebecca Senft In Greek, macrophage means “big eater,” and that is exactly their job. Like a growing teenager or athlete after a big game, macrophages are activated immune cells whose primary focus is to “eat.” But instead of, say, a plate of pasta, macrophages take in and digest pathogenic microbes, unhealthy molecules, and even other cells in the body when they … Continue reading The Big Eater: How the immune system alters the pancreas during obesity

CHIP-ping Away at the Heart

by Sangrag Ganguli and Uche C. Ezeh figures by Rebecca Clements Every year, thousands of people are rushed into hospitals with crushing chest pain and shortness of breath. While some recognize these signs of a heart attack in time to receive proper treatment, over half a million others are not so fortunate. To combat these fatalities, doctors often warn patients about the common risk factors of … Continue reading CHIP-ping Away at the Heart

The Actual Master of Disguise: The Flu

Influenza A is the virus responsible for the Spanish Flu pandemic, which wiped out 3-5% of the human population in the early 20th century. The annual influenza outbreak occurs in the autumn and winter, although it is not normally deadly for healthy adults. There is currently no vaccine providing permanent protection against influenza A because the virus mutates and changes so often, requiring a yearly … Continue reading The Actual Master of Disguise: The Flu

A cure for peanut allergies in sight?

With peanuts being the most common children’s food allergen and the rising prevalence of allergies, discovering a cure for peanut allergies is crucial. Symptoms of an allergic reaction – such as anaphylaxis, leading to the inability to breathe – can be life-threatening and occur rapidly. While EpiPens are used to control general allergic reactions, there is no specific treatment available for peanut allergies – until … Continue reading A cure for peanut allergies in sight?

A major obstacle to CRISPR/Cas9 – preexisting immunity

The discovery of CRISPR/Cas9 is one of the biggest scientific breakthroughs in recent memory. This technology, first discovered in microbes, enables the cleaving of DNA in order to remove or replace existing genes. For a crash course into the history of CRISPR/Cas9 discovery and development with primary sources please refer to the footnote*. This technology will enable us cure many genetic diseases. Work is currently … Continue reading A major obstacle to CRISPR/Cas9 – preexisting immunity

Scientists Grow Turtle Skin to Study New Virus

Thierry Work and a team of wildlife disease researchers are manufacturing reptile skin in the hopes of saving endangered turtles. A virus, ChHV5, has been infecting endangered green sea turtles, causing tumors to grown on the their skin and inside their bodies. The infection eventually weakens the immune system, and leads to death. Studying this virus proved incredibly difficult. Traditional methods of growing viruses to study ChHV5 in the lab … Continue reading Scientists Grow Turtle Skin to Study New Virus